2013 All-Star Game: Full Preview and Predictions for the Midsummer Classic

Doug MeadCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2013

2013 All-Star Game: Full Preview and Predictions for the Midsummer Classic

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    The 84th edition of the MLB All-Star Game is on Tuesday night as the American League and National League battle for the right to gain home-field advantage for the World Series once again.

    While the merits of determining such an important postseason advantage in a midseason exhibition game has been debated ad nauseum, it's still a game that commands public attention.

    Here is a complete breakdown of the starting lineups, starting pitchers and a few predictions for the 2013 Midsummer Classic.  

American League Starting Lineup

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    The American League starting lineup was announced on Monday, and manager Jim Leyland will have plenty of firepower with a stacked batting order.

    1. Mike Trout, LF, L.A. Angels
    2. Robinson Cano 2B, New York Yankees
    3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers
    4. Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
    5. Jose Bautista, RF, Toronto Blue Jays
    6. David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox
    7. Adam Jones, CF, Baltimore Orioles
    8. Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins
    9. J.J. Hardy, SS, Baltimore Orioles

    Leyland has seven consecutive hitters all capable of going deep. The four players hitting third through sixth in the lineup have all had single seasons with at least 40 home runs—assuming Davis gets there with his current 37 bombs—and Trout, Cano and Jones have registered 30-plus home run seasons in their careers as well.

    This is a lineup that former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver would have loved.

American League All-Star Reserves

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    The list of American League All-Star reserves is also impressive and promises to give fans a glimpse of greatness in the later innings.

    • C: Jason Castro, Astros
    • C: Salvador Perez, Royals
    • 1B: Prince Fielder, Tigers
    • 2B: Jason Kipnis, Indians
    • 2B: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
    • 2B: Ben Zobrist, Rays
    • SS: Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
    • 3B: Manny Machado, Orioles
    • OF: Nelson Cruz, Rangers
    • OF: Alex Gordon, Royals
    • OF: Torii Hunter, Tigers
    • DH: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

    While AL manager Jim Leyland has hinted that he'll give his starters plenty of playing time, the reserves will still have their moments to shine and possibly impact the outcome of the game.

    Fans will have the chance to see an infield boasting of Fielder, Pedroia, Machado and Peralta. Both Fielder and Pedroia have been selected as starters during their careers, and first-time All-Star Machado could give fans a chance to witness a play at third base similar to the one he pulled off last week

    What fan wouldn't want to see a web gem during the All-Star Game?

     

National League Starting Lineup

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    Manager Bruce Bochy has a lineup that is not quite as powerful as that of the American League, but it is a diverse group.

    1. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds 
    2. Carlos Beltran, RF, St. Louis Cardinals 
    3. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds 
    4. David Wright, 3B, New York Mets 
    5. Carlos Gonzalez, LF, Colorado Rockies 
    6. Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals 
    7. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies 
    8. Michael Cuddyer, DH, Colorado Rockies 
    9. Bryce Harper, CF, Washington Nationals

    Home-field favorite Wright will be batting just ahead of CarGo, who has logged 25 home runs and 64 RBI so far this season. The Rockies alone boast plenty of power, and the rest of the lineup packs some punch as well.

National League All-Star Reserves

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    Bruce Bochy will have his own group of reserves who all have the chance to impact the game and give the senior circuit an opportunity for home-field advantage in the World Series.

    • C: Buster PoseyGiants
    • C: Brian McCann, Braves
    • 1B: Paul GoldschmidtDiamondbacks
    • 1B: Allen Craig, Cardinals
    • 1B: Freddie Freeman*, Braves
    • 2B: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
    • 2B: Marco Scutaro, Giants
    • SS: Everth CabreraPadres
    • SS: Jean SeguraBrewers
    • 3B: Pedro AlvarezPirates
    • OF: Domonic BrownPhillies
    • OF: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
    • OF: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

    *Inactive (Thumb)

    A combination of veterans and first-timers have a chance to etch their names in All-Star lore.

    Imagine a scenario where Gomez has a game-saving catch in the top of the ninth inning or Domonic Brown hits a grand slam to win a comeback effort.

    Anything could happen with this group of All-Stars.

American League Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer

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    Considering his 13-1 first half, there can't be too many people arguing the selection of the Detroit Tigers' Max Scherzer as the American League starting pitcher.

    Scherzer suffered his first loss of the 2013 season on Saturday, breaking a string of 19 consecutive starts for him without a loss dating back to last September.

    Scherzer absolutely earned this honor. He is averaging 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings after leading the majors with a 11.1 K/9 rate last year, and his 2.2 BB/9 rate is the lowest of his career.

    Scherzer is a fireballer, but he's transitioning from a thrower to a pitcher as well. 

National League Starting Pitcher: Matt Harvey

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    New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey has had quite the busy week.

    He was scratched from his last game before the All-Star break with a blister. Before that, he was one of the featured athletes who posed nude in ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue. 

    On Monday, Harvey capped off a whirlwind week by being named the starting pitcher for the National League in the All-Star Game.

    That news shouldn't be much of a surprise since the game is at Harvey's home field. He'll also skip his start after the All-Star break as well, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

    While the Mets want his blister to heal and will monitor his pitch count, they weren't about to miss out on him participating in a signature event being held at Citi Field. 

American League First-Time All-Stars

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    Every major league ballplayer who has ever participated in the All-Star Game likely has fond memories of his very first ASG appearance. For younger players, they are often awe-inspired to be on the same field with veterans of the Midsummer Classic.

    A record 39 first-time All-Stars were selected, 18 from the American League.

    • SP: Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners
    • SP: Justin Masterson, Indians*
    • SP: Matt Moore, Rays*
    • SP: Max Scherzer, Tigers
    • SP: Chris Tillman, Orioles*
    • RP: Grant Balfour, A's*
    • RP: Greg Holland, Royals*
    • RP: Brett Cecil, Blue Jays
    • RP: Steve Delabar, Blue Jays
    • RP: Jesse Crain, White Sox
    • RP: Glen Perkins, Twins*
    • C: Jason Castro, Astros
    • C: Salvador Perez, Royals
    • 1B: Chris Davis, Orioles
    • 2B: Jason Kipnis, Indians
    • 3B: Manny Machado, Orioles
    • OF: Alex Gordon, Royals
    • DH: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

    * Replacements

    Middle relievers like Delabar and Cecil rarely get recognition for the work they do, so to have two from the same team is indeed an anomaly. 

    Scherzer and Davis will celebrate their debuts in the Midsummer Classic with starts, sweetening the pot. 

    Balfour becomes just the second Australian ever selected, following in the footsteps of former Milwaukee Brewer Dave Nilsson, selected back in 1999. 

National League First-Time All-Stars

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    With 21 first-time All-Stars on the roster, the National League has a collection of stars who will be wide-eyed and taking in all of the sights and sounds of the Midsummer Classic. 

    • SP: Madison Bumgarner, Giants
    • SP: Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
    • SP: Jose Fernandez, Marlins
    • SP: Matt Harvey, Mets
    • SP: Jeff Locke, Pirates
    • SP: Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals
    • SP: Travis Wood, Cubs
    • RP: Jason Grilli, Pirates
    • RP: Mark Melancon, Pirates
    • RP: Edward Mujica, Cardinals*
    • RP: Sergio Romo, Giants
    • 1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
    • 1B: Allen Craig, Cardinals
    • 1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves
    • 2B: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
    • 2B: Marco Scutaro, Giants
    • 3B: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
    • SS: Everth Cabrera, Padres
    • SS: Jean Segura, Brewers
    • OF: Domonic Brown, Phillies
    • OF: Carlos Gomez, Brewers

    * Replacements

    Pirates fans can puff out their chests with five total All-Stars, four of whom are representing the Steel City for the first time. Bruce Bochy could easily trot out the duo of Melancon and Grilli in the eighth and ninth innings to show casual baseball fans how the back end of the Shark Tank does things. 

    At 37 years of age and in his 12th season, Scutaro gets his first inside look at the All-Star Game festivities. Fernandez will be participating for the first time as well—not too shabby for a youngster who had never played beyond the High-A level before this season. 

Youth Is Being Served at the Midsummer Classic

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    The future of baseball is bright, as the following list includes 17 players who should be stars for years to come. 

    All-Stars 25 Years of Age or Younger

    • Mike Trout, OF, Angels (21)
    • Salvador Perez, C, Royals (23)
    • Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles (21)
    • Matt Moore, SP, Rays (24)
    • Chris Sale, SP, White Sox (24)
    • Chris Tillman, SP, Orioles (25)
    • Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals (20)
    • Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks (25)
    • Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves (23)
    • Jean Segura, SS, Brewers (23)
    • Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies (25)
    • Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants (23)
    • Jose Fernandez, SP, Marlins (20)
    • Matt Harvey, SP, Mets (24)
    • Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers (25)
    • Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves (25)
    • Jeff Locke, SP, Pirates (25)

    Trout, Harper and Machado is a trio of players that brings much excitement, and each has garnered his fair share of fame and glory already. 

    Add to that the talents of the rest of the youngsters, and the 2013 MLB All-Star Game will indeed be remembered as a magical event where youth played a major part in the outcome. 

Prediction: Matt Harvey Will Be Dominant

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    The top of the first inning of the 2013 All-Star Game will feature Matt Harvey facing Mike Trout, Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera in succession.

    While not quite Murderers' Row, it's still a formidable task.

    However, Harvey will have the benefit of over a week's rest when he faces that trio of terrific hitters on Tuesday night. Add to that the fact that he'll be pumped up in starring in his first All-Star Game in front of a decidedly pro-Harvey crowd, and it wouldn't be surprising at all to see Harvey completely dominate.

Prediction: 1 Home Run or Less Will Be Hit at Citi Field

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    Citi Field is not quite like AT&T Park, where home runs have become a dying breed, but given the amount of electric arms for both leagues in the All-Star Game, it could be a quiet night offensively.

    The American League is certainly stacked with power hitters, but National League manager Bruce Bochy has a collection of pitchers who can bring the heat.

    Ditto for AL manager Jim Leyland, who can send out a roster of pitchers beyond Max Scherzer who are capable of bringing a heavy, unhittable ball.

    The NBA All-Star Game is famous for a lack of defense and high-scoring affairs. In the MLB All-Star Game, every pitcher is looking to blow away hitters, much like Pedro Martinez and Carl Hubbell did before them. 

    If I had to pick one player to crack the pitching dominance by hitting a big fly, I'd take Chris Davis. 

    Davis was knocked out of the Home Run Derby in the first round on Monday night, tearing a callous in the process. However, he won't let that stop him on Tuesday night. By homering in his last four games, Davis tied Reggie Jackson for the most home runs hit by an AL player before the All-Star break. 

Prediction: Mariano Rivera Will Steal the Show

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    New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will be appearing in his 13th and final All-Star Game. He'll also be the talk of the town for the night.

    It's expected that American League manager Jim Leyland will do everything he can to get Rivera into the Midsummer Classic in the ninth inning. Considering that he has a lifetime 0.00 ERA with four saves in eight previous appearances, it wouldn't just be a sentimental choice. 

    Rivera could be entering the game with the chance to give the junior circuit home-field advantage with a save. In a tight game, it would be a fitting end to his stellar All-Star career. 

    Mets fans made no bones about their feelings regarding Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano during his Home Run Derby introductions, as they booed him rather lustily.

    That won't be the case for Rivera. He is simply one of the game's classiest players, and his swan song in All-Star competition at Citi Field will be one to remember. 

Prediction: Jason Kipnis Will Lead the AL to Victory with Late-Inning Heroics

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    At times, the All-Star Game has ended with an unsung performance by a dark-horse player, like the late-inning heroics provided by J.D. Drew of the Boston Red Sox back in 2008.

    Drew, a first-time All-Star, delivered a game-tying two-run home run in the seventh inning and won the MVP award with a 2-for-4 performance that included an outstanding defensive play as well.

    Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is participating in his first-ever All-Star Game. Given how hot he's been (.387 BA, five home runs, 31 RBI since June 1), he's a great option in the late innings for AL manager Jim Leyland.

    Kipnis could have a crucial hit much in the same way Drew did not too long ago.  

Prediction: J.J. Hardy Will Struggle Under the Bright Lights of Citi Field

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    In earning his first start in an All-Star Game, Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy was a surprise winner over Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers.

    Hardy's 16 home runs are tops among others at his position, but his current .251 batting average isn't all that impressive.

    Those who believe Jed Lowrie deserved consideration as an All-Star may feel justified when Hardy struggles at the plate on Tuesday.

    Peralta was the leader in several major offensive categories, with Lowrie placing behind him on occasion. Peralta was in fact selected as a reserve by his peers, something AL manager Jim Leyland had been hoping for

    Hardy will strike out at least once and fail to collect a hit on Tuesday. 

The American League Will Win Home-Field Advantage for the World Series

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    The American League got spanked in last year's All-Star Game, 8-0, with starting pitcher Justin Verlander giving up five first-inning runs.

    They'll be the road team this year at Citi Field and will walk away victorious.

    Do I have any scientific data to back up my prediction? No, it's just a hunch.

    But I do like the American League pitching staff, particularly the relievers.

    Citi Field simply won't be serving up many runs on Tuesday night, and the American League will be the beneficiary. With Jason Kipnis' late-inning heroics and Mariano Rivera putting a fitting end to his stellar All-Star resume, the AL will be victorious. 

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

    Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.