Much has been made about how much pitchers are continuing to dominate Major League Baseball. Maybe the 2014 All-Star Game can be a welcome change of pace.
This is not to say that baseball should go back to the polarizing Steroid Era, but the pendulum has swung a bit too far toward pitching and defense. Fans love to see offense, and they love to see the baseball leave the yard.
The Midsummer Classic has no shortage of studs who can—for one night at least—give the viewing public some pure, unadulterated offense.
Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
In the All-Star Game, Yasiel Puig can flip bats to his heart's content. In fact, don't be surprised that when he's patrolling the outfield in between pitches, he kills the time by honing the exact angle and strength necessary to pull off the perfect bat flip.
In all seriousness, not since Manny Ramirez in his prime has one player been so unpredictable on the field—in a good way. One moment, Puig makes an insane diving catch that should've broken his wrist. The next, he messes up something as simple as hitting the cutoff man.
In the All-Star Game, Puig can do all the risky things he does normally but not have to deal with any of the consequences.
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Nobody hits the ball farther than Giancarlo Stanton. According to ESPN's Home Run Tracker, the Miami Marlins star ranks first in average true distance for home runs (423.8 feet). The longest of his 21 home runs traveled 484 feet in terms of true distance, while five have gone at least 450 feet.
Four of those five homers were in Marlins Park, which is 25th-worst for home runs, according to ESPN.com.
Target Field will look like a bandbox in comparison.
Stanton is the best power hitter in the major leagues today. When he's up to bat, you know there's a better-than-average chance he'll connect with a pitch and send it into a different plane of existence altogether.
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Although he's walked 51 times this year, Mike Trout isn't afraid to go out of the strike zone if he sees a pitch he likes. Like Ivan Drago, whatever he hits, he destroys, like this home run he hit off Tony Sipp to give the Los Angeles Angels a 7-6 win over the Houston Astros on July 4, per ESPN Stats and Info's Mark Simon:
Given his versatile skill set, Trout is a player you want to watch on just about every night, including the All-Star Game. He can make a highlight-reel catch just as easily as he can hit a mammoth home run.
The 22-year-old also knows that he's carrying the Angels banner all by himself after no other LA players got in.
"It sucks," he said, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. "I can't take it away from the A's, they're playing great baseball over there, but seeing [Garrett] Richards and [shortstop Erick] Aybar pitch and play every day ... I don't know. It's tough."
Maybe he'll take some of that anger with him to Minneapolis and release it on National League pitching.
Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics
Like his Cuban counterpart, Yoenis Cespedes is always a ton of fun to watch. He's a great hitter with a great arm.
The 28-year-old didn't take part in the All-Star Game last year, but he stole the show during the festivities with his win in the Home Run Derby. Jane Lee of MLB.com reported that Cespedes will most likely defend his crown:
That can be a double-edged sword in terms of the All-Star Game. You always love to see a champion try to repeat, but taking part in the Derby might tire him out before next Tuesday night.
Luckily, his contributions don't have to strictly come from the plate.
It's not necessarily offense, but Cespedes might also get an opportunity show off that cannon of a right arm he has.
You can watch him throwing out Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick all day. Here's to hoping MLB institutes an "Outfield Assist Contest" next year.
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