Each year, one of the biggest storylines to watch during the MLB All-Star Game is the event's ace pitchers against the league's best sluggers. When the middle of July rolls around, one question is on every baseball fan's mind: Will pitching prevail, or will we see a bevy of runs scored? It's different every year.
So, will this year be a reflection of last year's 3-0 game dominated by pitching, or will we see a score similar to the 2004 hitting bonanza that ended in a 9-4 American League win?
Based on what we've seen out of this season's sluggers so far, we can expect the latter.
Let's predict which hitters will shine above the rest at Target Field Tuesday.
The NL's shortstop is poised to go off in this year's Midsummer Classic.
This is Tulowitzki's fourth All-Star Game, and he's recorded only one hit over his first three appearances, but that's set to change this time around.
The league-leading batter with an impressive .349 average, Tulowitzki is extremely versatile. He's knocked 21 balls out of the park, but he's also been a huge small-ball factor with 105 hits and 17 doubles. What makes him even more dangerous is his ability to connect with pitches in a variety of locations. ESPN Stats & Info backed up that fact with this great graphic:
Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki now has 6 seasons with 20 or more HR & he hits them when thrown inside/outside/down middle pic.twitter.com/9AuBi1XyUC— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 10, 2014
That will make a world of difference due to the possibility he'll face different ace pitchers during the Midsummer Classic.
It's also worth mentioning that Tulowitzki is on a major hot streak right now. As of Saturday, he's managed at least one hit per game since June 28.
If someone on the AL roster is going to keep up with Tulowitzki and Co., it's Trout.
We all know the center fielder has plenty of power at the plate—he's already racked up 22 jacks this season—but he's extremely consistent and capable of manufacturing runs in a variety of ways. This year, Trout's batting .310 and has accumulated 104 hits, 24 doubles, five triples and 69 RBI to go along with his home runs.
Speaking of his home runs, they aren't just leaving the park, they're absolutely blasted, according to this tweet from ESPN Stats & Info:
No stranger to producing in the Midsummer Classic, Trout has two hits, including one double, and one walk in four at-bats in his previous two appearances. Expect him to make the most of his plate appearances once again this year.
Considering Cabrera's history at the All-Star Game—he's recorded just two hits in 12 at-bats over his eight previous appearances—this may seem like an unusual selection. However, he appears poised to flip the script this time around.
One of the league's most feared hitters, Cabrera can get it done at the plate in an extremely efficient manner. After all, he's recorded a batting average of less than .300 only once in his previous nine seasons (not including 2014).
This year, he's batting .313 with 105 hits, 14 home runs and 74 RBI (which is tied for the league lead). But that's not the most impressive part of his numbers. Cabrera has also accumulated a total of 34 doubles, good enough to rank second in the majors. Here's a look at what makes him so dangerous as a hitter:
If he can rattle off a double or two during the Midsummer Classic, rest assured that he'll have one of the biggest impacts of every star in action Tuesday.