2014 MLB All-Star Game Starting Lineups: Complete AL vs. NL Breakdown, Preview
As the middle of summer arrives, baseball is set to once again take over center stage in American professional sports. With the biggest stars in NBA free agency committed to new contracts, NFL training camps weeks away and the World Cup ending with a superb finish, the sporting world belongs to baseball's Midsummer Classic.
With the starting lineups set and the starting pitching battle announced, it's time to imagine what will unfold at Target Field on July 15. As the American and National Leagues battle for home-field advantage in the 2014 World Series, the opposing managers from last year's Fall Classic—Boston's John Farrell and St. Louis' Mike Matheny—will battle wits once again.
For each squad, let's take a look at the lineups, starting pitchers and moves to watch for in the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
American League Lineup
Here is your American League lineup for the 2014 All-Star Game:
1. Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees
2. Mike Trout, LF, Los Angeles Angels
3. Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers
5. Jose Bautista, RF, Toronto Blue Jays
6. Nelson Cruz, DH, Baltimore Orioles
7. Adam Jones, CF, Baltimore Orioles
8. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland Athletics
9. Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
It starts with Jeter. As Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post pointed out, the Jeter vs. Adam Wainwright confrontation will the first time the two stars have ever faced off in a game, despite yearly interleague play and a recent Yankees-Cardinals series.
What an incredible collection of right-handed hitting talent. Outside of Seattle's Robinson Cano, the entire AL squad will hit from the right side. From Trout to Cano to Cabrera to Bautista, four of the 10 or 15 most valuable players in the sport are present.
Beyond the top, a pair of powerful, free-swinging Orioles will take shots at the Target Field bleachers. At the bottom, Donaldson and Perez deserve the recognition and praise for all-around brilliance across the diamond.
National League Lineup
Here is your National League lineup for the 2014 All-Star Game:
1. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates
2. Yasiel Puig, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Giancarlo Stanton, DH, Miami Marlins
6. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers
7. Chase Utley 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
9. Carlos Gomez, LF, Milwaukee Brewers
Good luck, American League pitching. The top five hitters in the NL lineup are a mix of power, speed and dynamic athleticism.
While the outfield dimensions at Target Field aren't hitter friendly, every member of the NL starting lineup, including ninth-place-hitting Carlos Gomez, has the ability to hit a long ball during the early portion of the game on Tuesday evening.
American League Starter
One of baseball's strangest and more mind-boggling streaks is finally coming to an end. While the five-time All-Star and former Cy Young winner has been a regular in the Midsummer Classic over the last six seasons, Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will finally toe the rubber as the starter for the American League, marking his first All-Star Game start.
It's crazy to think that such an accomplished pitcher has never been tabbed with the first assignment for his league.
Thanks to a brilliant first half (11-2, 2.12 ERA, 2.04 FIP), the 2014 AL Cy Young favorite is deserving of the award and capable of shutting down the powerful and deep National League lineup over the first two innings of the game.
When Hernandez takes on the best of the NL, here are some career numbers to keep in mind:
Andrew McCutchen vs. Hernandez: 1-for-6
Chase Utley vs. Hernandez: 0-for-4
Carlos Gomez vs. Hernandez: 1-for-9
Over the first half of this season, opponents are hitting .164/.206/.216 during their respective first plate appearance of the game against Hernandez. While not every lineup can boast names like Andrew McCutchen, Yasiel Puig and Troy Tulowitzki, that slash line is a testament to Hernandez's overwhelming stuff.
National League Starter
Mike Matheny's decision to choose Adam Wainwright as the National League starter is fair, but curious. By most measures, Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the world and deserving to start the game for the NL. While Wainwright's sub-2.00 ERA is impressive, this came as a mild surprise.
"I have the utmost respect for Clayton as well as the others who were options," Matheny said. "From what we're able to see on a daily basis on leadership down to the execution — the day-in, day-out performance of what Adam's able to do — it is kind of an unfair advantage to the others. The numbers line up."
When Wainwright takes on the best of the AL, here are some career numbers to keep in mind:
Miguel Cabrera vs. Wainwright: 2-for-5, 1 HR
Mike Trout vs. Wainwright: 1-for-4, 2 SO
Jose Bautista vs. Wainwright: 6-for-18
Nelson Cruz vs. Wainwright: 1-for-3
Outside of 18 career battles with Bautista, there's not much sample size to work with. During the bottom of the first in the 2014 All-Star Game, Wainwright vs. Jeter will feature a slew of camera flashes throughout Target Field.
Moves to Watch: AL
If the American League needs a game-changing extra-base hit during the latter portion of the game, manager John Farrell has unprecedented firepower at his disposal. After the starters and reserves were announced, this quartet emerged as off-the-bench bats for the AL: Chicago's Jose Abreu (29 HR, .630 SLG), Texas' Adrian Beltre (.534 SLG) and Oakland's duo of Brandon Moss (21 HR) and Yoenis Cespedes (63 HR since 2012).
Outside of sending up a slugger to combat the hard-throwing NL bullpen, Farrell's biggest move will be when and how to remove Derek Jeter from the game. In his last All-Star appearance, the fans voted Jeter in to start at shortstop, but he won't play the whole game.
After two or three at-bats, don't be surprised if Farrell sends Jeter out for a defensive inning to remove him before a pitch is thrown. That type of sendoff will allow the Minnesota crowd and millions watching at home to celebrate Jeter as he walks off an All-Star Game field for the final time in a two-decade career.
Moves to Watch: NL
When taking a peek at Mike Matheny's National League roster, two things stand out: versatility and the potential for late-game dominance.
Let's start with the team's versatility. When Pittsburgh Pirates utility man Josh Harrison was selected by the NL manager, late-game substitution patterns and options were clearly in mind. Given Harrison's ability to play most positions on the diamond, your scorecard could get messy around the fifth or sixth inning.
If the NL can grab a lead through the sixth, the American League should prepare for three straight top-tier relievers. From San Diego's Huston Street (1.09 ERA, 24 saves) to Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman (2.12 ERA, 18.2 K/9) to Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel (1.91 ERA, 29 saves), Matheny can shorten the game and curtail any hopes of an American League comeback attempt.
Which part of the All-Star Game strategy are you most looking forward to?