2010 MLB All-Star Game: Comparing American & National League Starters
On Tuesday night, the city of Anaheim will become relevant again as the top players in the MLB hit the field for the 2010 All-Star Game.
On Wednesday, it will go back to being a city that just added Los Angeles to its name for publicity.
But until then, there are two teams wrestling for something very crucial: home field advantage in the World Series.
While the exhibition may seem trivial to you, players want home field in the World Series as much as the Kardashians want their names in the news.
Well, unless they play for the Cubs. Then they know they aren’t going to the World Series.
Many people think the starters for these games aren’t important because they rarely play more than three innings each. However, many of the recent All-Star games have had runs scored early, so if a team wants a cushion, it will come down to these nine guys.
So who has a chance to make an impact early on?
Note: I chose Marisa Miller to give you all something pretty to look at.
If you've watched any of the recent All-Star games, it's the last thing pretty thing you will see during the break.
Catcher - Joe Mauer v. Yadier Molina
Mauer’s 2010 Stats: .293 Avg, 4 HRs, 35 RBI, .792 OPS
Molina’s 2010 Stats: .223 Avg, 3 HRs, 33 RBI, .595 OPS
The Pick: Joe Mauer
This one is as close as Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Clearly, Molina is a fan vote. He’s arguably the third-best catcher in his division, and the second-best in his own family.
However, I hear his dad has a cannon, so we might need to move him down to third.
Mauer missed a large part of the season due to injury and is having a “poor” season by his standards. When hitting nearly .300 is considered subpar, he clearly surpasses Molina.
But hey, at least they didn’t pick YaMo’s brother Jose.
Or as I like to call him, JoMo.
First Base - Miguel Cabrera v. Albert Pujols
Cabrera’s 2010 Stats: .346 Avg., 22 HRs, 77 RBI, 1.074 OPS
Pujols 2010 Stats: .308 Avg, 21 HRs 64 RBI, .992 OPS
The Pick: Miguel Cabrera
Picking between these two is like picking between King Kong and Godzilla.
Both will destroy everything thrown at them.
But the edge goes to Cabrera. He may be the only thing hotter than Ms. Miller this season, crushing AL pitching like he’s playing soft toss. He’s on pace to win the Triple Crown, something that hasn’t been done since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
And if he does, it will make the answer to “Who won the last Triple Crown?” much easier to spell.
It’s so hard to pick against Pujols. The slugger gets more walks than Lassie and still manages to always stay in the running for the Triple Crown.
That being said, Cabrera’s in position to do it, and Pujols is right behind.
Please refrain from laughing at that sexual pun.
Second Base - Robinson Cano v. Martin Prado
Cano’s 2010 Stats: .336 Avg., 16 HRs, 58 RBI, .945 OPS
Prado’s 2010 Stats: .325 Avg. 10 HRs, 39 RBI, . 851 OPS
The Pick: Robinson Cano
Let’s give a hand to Mr. Prado. He’s done a great job this year.
Too bad Cano is Prado version 8.0.
Sure, Prado’s leading the National League in average heading into the break. Yes, he’s able to slide into more positions than a Kama Sutra expert.
But tell me when you get a real second baseman, because Cano is beating him in that contest like Chris Brown.
Cano has been filthy in the first half of the season. Being the best player on a team full of stars is difficult, but Cano’s definitely doing it. While lip gloss lover A-Rod has struggled, Cano has anchored the Yankees' offense with ease.
And don’t get me started on his glove work.
Third Base - Evan Longoria v. David Wright
Longoria’s 2010 Stats: .300 Avg., 13 HRs, 61 RBI, .894 OPS
Wright’s 2010 Stats: .314 Avg., 14 HRs, 65 RBI, .924 OPS
The Pick: David Wright
This could be the closest race of them all.
So thank God it doesn’t involve A-Rod. Because that would make my decision heavily biased.
Wright gets the edge for one reason that isn’t really seen in his stats: his teammates.
Seen the Mets’ lineup lately? Alex Cora, Angel Pagan, and Rod Barajas are featured contributors. Those three would start almost nowhere else in baseball.
Except the Orioles. Their starters work part-time at Applebee’s to pay back the town for their awful performance.
Longoria’s got so much help around him, it’s almost unfair. Crawford, Upton, and the rest of the Rays provide him plenty of opportunities to pad his stats, while Wright has to mash with scrubs.
Actually, Zach Braff would probably make a better outfielder than what the Mets have now.
Shortstop - Derek Jeter v. Hanley Ramirez
Jeter’s 2010 Stats: .274 Avg., 8 HRs, 43 RBI, .732 OPS
Ramirez’s 2010 Stats: .301 Avg. 13 HRs, 53 RBI, . 866 OPS
The Pick: Hanley Ramirez
In a shocking twist, it’s finally Jeter’s turn to be beaten like a rented mule.
Similar to Yadier Molina, the Yankees legend definitely made the team due to fan voting, and not statistics. Yes, the captain has served long enough to earn a repeat spot, so I understand the pick.
However, if random shortstop X put up those numbers somewhere else, they’d be closer to the minors than the All-Star team.
On the other side, Ramirez is strutting his stuff every night. Despite the 26-year-old’s minor attitude issues, he’s been dismantling NL pitchers like a set of LEGOs.
If this were 10 years ago, I’d take Jeter. But only because Ramirez hadn’t been to prom yet.
Left Field - Carl Crawford v. Ryan Braun
Crawford’s 2010 Stats: .321 Avg., 11 HRs, 50 RBI, .901 OPS
Braun’s 2010 Stats: .292 Avg., 13 HRs, 54 RBI, .817 OPS
The Pick: Carl Crawford
Honestly, Ryan Braun could have been hitting like Ted Williams, and I’d still have picked Crawford.
There’s too much man-love here for the Rays outfielder.
He’s faster than a virgin’s first time and scores more than Wilt Chamberlain. Sure, Crawford’s no power hitter, but he controls the plate so well, it’s almost as if he’s aiming when he swings for the perfect location.
Maybe he can teach Tiger to putt again.
Braun is no schlub himself. He’s been mashing for the Brew Crew, and even their drunkest fan could tell you he’s got the goods.
But who would you rather listen to: a drunk or the hotties in Tampa?
I rest my case.
Center Field - Josh Hamilton v. Andre Ethier
Hamilton’s 2010 Stats: .346 Avg., 22 HRs, 64 RBI, 1.015 OPS
Ethier’s 2010 Stats: .324 Avg., 14 HRs, 54 RBI, .932 OPS
The Pick: Josh Hamilton
This choice makes me sick to my stomach.
But honestly, it’s not even close.
There’s no doubt in my mind Ethier is having a great year. He’s arguably the best outfielder in the National League, and 2010 appears to be his breakout year.
Compared to Hamilton, however, he’s a reserve.
Hamilton has steamrolled every pitcher he has faced this year. He’s been so good this year, saying he’s on fire is an insult.
In fact, Cleveland has been describing all the burning LeBron jerseys as “on Hamilton.”
My allegiance to the Dodgers will never wane, but Ethier just got unlucky to be the David to Hamilton’s Goliath.
Except this time, Goliath wins like he should have thousands of years ago.
Right Field - Ichiro Suzuki v. Corey Hart
Suzuki’s 2010 Stats: .326 Avg. 3 HRs, 24 RBI, .786 OPS
Hart’s 2010 Stats: .288, 21 HRs, 65 RBI, .908 OPS
The Pick: Corey Hart
Ichiro may be the first player ever elected to start an All-Star game even after he retires.
The continent of Asia has his back like a chiropractor.
This year, it’s questionable as to whether he made it on talent or votes. Sure, he’s still hitting better than everyone in the NL, but nearly all of his numbers are below career averages,
Looking at Hart, it’s the exact opposite.
His out-of-nowhere explosion of power has made him many-an-expert’s pick for the Home Run Derby, and don’t be surprised if he carries it over to Tuesday.
He worked his way onto the roster, blue-collar style.
Designated Hitter: Vladimir Guerrero v. Ryan Howard
Guerrero’s 2010 Stats: .319 Avg. 20 HRs, 75 RBI, .918 OPS
Howard’s 2010 Stats: .294 Avg., 17 HRs, 65 RBI, .859 OPS
The Pick: Vladimir Guerrero
Almost any other year, this pick would have gone the other way.
But in 2010, it’s been all about Vlad.
Yes, his numbers have dipped a bit from his career averages. But after he was repeatedly doubted after his last season as an Angel, Vlad has impressed greatly in his new home, providing power to an already explosive lineup.
He’s also been doing it by swinging at any ball thrown in the stadium.
But that’s not to discredit Howard. He’s been his usual hitting machine, and his swing is one of the prettiest in baseball. He’s had the misfortune of being in an infield with more subs than Quizno’s, and that’s hurt his stock a little bit.
Plus, Vlad the Impaler is a way cooler nickname.
Pitcher - David Price v. Ubaldo Jimenez
Price’s 2010 Stats: 12-4, 2.42 ERA, 100 Ks, 1.20 WHIP
Jimenez’s 2010 Stats: 15-1, 2.20 ERA, 113 Ks, 1.05 WHIP
The Pick: Ubaldo Jimenez
Most MLB managers today would pick these guys as two of their top pitchers to build a franchise around.
But just going off this year, Jimenez is the man.
Ubaldo ”No-Hitter” Jimenez has made batters look silly all year. Some people think wins is a stupid category, but he didn’t get 15 by accident, something only two other pitchers have ever done before the All-Star break.
As Lil’ Wayne says, “He’s a beast, he’s a dog, he’s a mothatrucking problem.”
On the other hill, Price has been owning players like Dan Gilbert (too soon?). Throwing over 95 mph after the seventh inning is one thing, but having a change up in the high 80s makes batters miss the ball by a mile.
The reason Jimenez gets the nod is based on pure numbers. He has slumped a little as of late, but if a slump equates to a single loss and five wins in his last seven outings, fans across the nation hope their staff goes into a slump as well.
And the Winner Is?
The Pick: The American League
Sorry NL Fans, but the AL is about to extend its streak of consecutive wins to 13.
Not including the infamous tie. The Men In Black need to neutralize that memory away.
The American League won the starter’s battle 6-4, and Josh Hamilton will be the difference. He’s going to explode for at least one dinger, and will earn MVP honors.
Anyone care to disagree?