Do you like monstrous power at the plate? How about unhittable pitching with some of the nastiest stuff from some of the best hurlers in the game? Throw in a few hints of unbelievable defensive gems, and that's exactly what fans will feast their eyes on during the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.
Multiple mashers like Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen and Troy Tulowitzki will look to put on a show at Target Field. But with aces in Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright looking to silence those big bats, a battle of attrition will take place during every at-bat.
As for the depth of the rosters, it appears the American League might just have the upper hand. With huge hitters in Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes on the bench along with Chris Sale missing out on the initial roster, there is plenty of talent to go around for the AL team.
With the All-Star Game set to start on July 15, here's a look at the full rosters after the reveal and some of the top projected performers for the Midsummer Classic.
|American League||National League|
|Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals*||Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals*|
|Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers*||Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks*|
|Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners*||Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies*|
|Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees*||Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies*|
|Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland Athletics*||Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers*|
|Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels*||Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates*|
|Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays*||Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers*|
|Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles*||Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers*|
|Nelson Cruz, DH, Baltimore Orioles*||Giancarlo Stanton, DH, Miami Marlins*|
|AL Reserves||NL Reserves|
|Derek Norris, C, Oakland Athletics||Jonathan Lucroy, C, Brewers|
|Kurt Suzuki, C, Minnesota Twins||Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds|
|Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox||Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves|
|Victor Martinez, 1B, Detroit Tigers||Dee Gordon, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays||Daniel Murphy, 2B, New York Mets|
|Brandon Moss, 1B/OF, Oakland Athletics||Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs|
|Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros||Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds|
|Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox||Matt Carpenter, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals|
|Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers||Josh Harrison, IF/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics||Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies|
|Alex Gordon, OF, Kansas City Royals||Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants|
|Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians|
|AL Pitchers||NL Pitchers|
|Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas Rangers||Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati Reds|
|Max Scherzer, RHP, Detroit Tigers||Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners||Zack Greinke, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, New York Yankees||Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants|
|Jon Lester, LHP, Boston Red Sox||Adam Wainwright, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals|
|David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays||Tyson Ross, RHP, San Diego Padres|
|Scott Kazmir, LHP, Oakland Athletics||Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, Washington Nationals|
|Mark Buehrle, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays||Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves|
|Sean Doolittle, LHP, Oakland Athletics||Craig Kimbrel, RHP Atlanta Braves|
|Greg Holland, RHP, Kansas City Royals||Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Cincinnati Reds|
|Glen Perkins, LHP, Minnesota Twins||Francisco Rodriguez, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers|
|Dellin Betances, RHP, New York Yankees||Tony Watson, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Pat Neshek, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals|
Projected Top AL Performers
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
In a loaded AL lineup, there are several offensive players worthy of taking this honor. But with Trout, baseball fans get a little bit of everything.
The five-tool player is capable of just about anything on the diamond and flashes every tool almost every time he takes the field. Rather than getting big-headed about his ability, Trout remained humble when he earned the starting nod:
Very honored to be picked to represent the American League in the All-Star Game.Thank you team and fans for your support. #Angels#VoteGRich— Mike Trout (@Trouty20) July 7, 2014
Then there's what he's done on the field already this season. Hitting .308 with 20 home runs, a 1.005 OPS and 63 RBI, Trout leads the Angels in each category. In a lineup that includes both Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, that's saying something for the 22-year-old.
He's also been one of the most clutch players in the MLB this season, as ESPN Stats & Info notes a pretty remarkable stat:
That was @Trouty20's 2nd walk-off HR of '14. He's the 1st player age 22 or younger with 2 walkoff HR in a season since Ryan Zimmerman in '06— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 5, 2014
Don't worry, he's still flashing the leather as well. MLB's official account passes along footage of an insane catch from earlier this month:
If he doesn't do it with the bat or glove, Trout has a good chance of stealing the show on the basepaths as well. With 10 stolen bases this year, Trout literally could impact every part of the Midsummer Classic with his ability.
Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners
During a season where the Seattle Mariners are working hard to establish themselves as a contender in the AL West, Hernandez has been one of the biggest reasons—as usual.
As absurd as it sounds, Hernandez might just be putting together his best season yet, per MLB:
The 28-year-old might be in line for yet another Cy Young Award with those numbers, but he's also established himself as the best in the AL so far. King Felix leads the AL in ERA (2.11) and innings pitched (136.1) thus far this season.
Though he likely won't have several innings to make a difference in the game, Baseball Tonight believes he is one of three starters who might potentially start the contest:
Whether it's his 90-plus fastball or his devastating breaking pitches, Hernandez has an entire arsenal that will baffle NL hitters. Regardless of whether or not he starts, Hernandez will make an impact for the deep pitching staff.
On the biggest stage during the regular season, Hernandez will come out and prove yet again why he's considered one of the best in the game.
Projected Top NL Performers
Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
We could have stayed with the young guard and said Yasiel Puig. Or maybe gone with last year's NL MVP in McCutchen. Then there's the league leader in batting average in Tulowitzki, who also has 18 home runs this season.
But on the All-Star stage, something about Carlos Gomez just screams out MVP potential. For one of the hottest teams in the MLB, Gomez has led the Milwaukee Brewers this season and truly put himself in the same category as some of the National League's best outfielders.
As the MLB account notes, it's difficult to crack such an athletic group of players:
The irony here, of course, is that Gomez and Puig, two of the most polarizing figures in the game, both earned starter duties by the fans. While fellow players and some fans might get riled up by their antics, both Gomez and Puig have done enough to be revered by the majority of the MLB audience.
Ian Casselberry of The Outside Corner provides his thoughts on the situation:
Carlos Gomez and Yasiel Puig being All-Star starters should indicate what fans think of their "hijinks" and breaking "unwritten rules."— Ian Casselberry (@iancass) July 6, 2014
Regardless of what some fans might think of Gomez, he'll certainly bring the wood on July 15. Much like Trout, he has the potential to change the game in a multitude of ways, but his bat will shine at Target Field—a park where he hit a three-run homer just last month.
On a star-studded roster with several potential top performers, look for Gomez to shine.
Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
You didn't think the best pitcher in the game was going to be left off the list, right?
Despite missing the first part of the season for the Dodgers, Kershaw has still been phenomenal. The two-time Cy Young winner is making a case yet again with a 10-2 record, 1.85 ERA, 115 strikeouts and, of course, a no-hitter.
How unhittable has Kershaw been this season? Mark Simon of ESPN shares a look at a heat map from his last four starts:
Also awesome ... Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw. Here's his heat map from his last 4 starts pic.twitter.com/U2PC7gbSD2— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) July 5, 2014
Kershaw has also made a case to be the All-Star starter on a deep roster with his recent pitching. Along with the low batting average against him, every team during the last 36 innings has been unable to put up a run against him, as ESPN Stats & Info notes:
Clayton Kershaw's 36 consecutive scoreless IP is longest streak by starting LHP since Kenny Rogers' 39 in 1995. http://t.co/rkMQCHM2pQ— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 5, 2014
In a rotation that includes teammate Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto and Wainwright, Kershaw will once again be the top player to toe the rubber at Target Field. Coming into the game pitching some of the best baseball of his career, he'll do the same on the All-Star stage.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter: