It’s tough constructing the perfect lineup.
AL manger Jim Leyland and NL manager Bruce Bochy can speak to that statement.
Major League Baseball announced the lineups and starting pitchers for the American and National League, according to the league’s official Twitter account:
Every time someone gets to choose one player over another, there are going to be disagreements on that decision. Where someone is hitting in the lineup, which position they’re playing, who the designated hitter is and who the starting pitcher is are all topics that are being discussed across the world right now.
Not everyone is going to be in the ideal situation, and some will be in better shape heading into Tuesday night than others. That being said, here are the winners and losers from the announcement of each league’s lineup.
Loser: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Bochy got this one wrong.
The NL manager decided to bat Harper ninth in the lineup for Tuesday night. Many seem to doubt that the Nationals outfielder has ever hit that low in his life. Put Jerry Crasnick of ESPN on the list of credible people who agree with that statement:
Wonder when was the last time Bryce Harper hit ninth? #never— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 15, 2013
Looking at Harper’s career numbers with Washington, he has four at-bats from the nine spot in the lineup, but he’s never started a game where he hit ninth, according to Baseball-Reference—meaning he was likely a pinch hitter. But still, what kind of world do we live in where Bryce Harper hits ninth in any lineup?
Sure, Harper was banged up for a portion of the season, but that doesn’t mean that he should be hitting that low in the lineup. Through 58 games, he’s hitting .264/.371/.522 with 13 home runs and 29 RBI. B/R MLB Lead Writer Zach Rymer thinks that Harper should hit first and Brandon Phillips should hit ninth:
The more I sit here, the more it bothers me that Phillips is batting leadoff while Harper is batting ninth. Not too late to flip-flop them.— Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer) July 15, 2013
That’s not a bad argument at all. Bochy didn’t seem to truly know how to position all of these stars in the lineup. In fact, he couldn’t even get everyone’s name correct when he was announcing who was hitting and playing where. He called Harper “Bryan,” according to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post. That’s just embarrassing.
Harper will definitely show Bochy why he should’ve batted him higher and that his first name is “Bryce” and not “Bryan.” You can bet on that.
Winner: Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies
It was a surprise when NL Home Run Derby captain David Wright announced that Cuddyer was going to be on his squad. It was even more of a shock when Bochy announced that the Rockies outfielder was going to hit eighth and be the Senior Circuit’s designated hitter for the Midsummer Classic.
Cuddyer has definitely had a great season. Through 74 games, he’s hitting .330/.391/.568 with 16 home runs and 55 RBI. But is he the best person to be starting for the NL? If I were Bochy, I would’ve started someone else and had Cuddyer come in during the sixth or seven inning to get an at-bat.
There were several better candidates to start at DH for the NL.
Why not Paul Goldschmidt, who will be one-of-three first basemen sitting on the bench on Tuesday night? The Arizona slugger is hitting .313/.395/.557 with 21 home runs and 77 RBI through 94 games this season. It would likely be easier to find a way to play four outfielders than it would be to play three first basemen.
One of the flaws with the way the All-Star Game is formatted is that the public has no say in who DH’s for the NL since there isn’t a designated hitter in the Senior Circuit. The manager gets to decide who fills the role. This year is a prime example of why the manager shouldn’t have that call.
Good for Cuddyer, though. Who would’ve thought that he’d be participating in the Home Run Derby and starting for the NL at the All-Star Game at the start of 2013?
Loser: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
It wasn’t much of a surprise, but Kershaw didn’t get the nod for Tuesday night.
Instead, hometown hero Matt Harvey will be taking the mound in the first inning of the Midsummer Classic. It’s not that Harvey isn’t deserving of the start—he most definitely is—but Kershaw didn’t appear to even be in the conversation. For the last few weeks it seem to be just Harvey and Adam Wainwright.
Wainwright was erased from the conversation when he started on Sunday for the Cardinals. When Bochy announced that Harvey was his guy, he did mention that the Dodgers lefty was one of the candidates, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
“Kershaw, Wainwright, all of those guys were candidates,” Bochy said. “I just think we’ve got the perfect guy, with the year he’s had, and he plays for the Mets.”
Bochy also mentioned that Harvey would be the starter even if the All-Star Game weren’t being played at Citi Field in New York. I’d like to see if he would've said the same thing if the game were scheduled to be played at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw is 8-6 on the season and leads the league in several categories, including ERA (1.98), starts (20), shutouts (2), ERA+ (181), WHIP (0.908) and hits per nine innings (6.0). Harvey leads the league in strikeouts (147) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.2). You make the call—even though Bochy has already made it for you.
The Los Angeles ace will still be effective no matter when he pitches Tuesday.