2011 MLB All-Star Game Breakdown: Comparing AL and NL Starting Lineups

Matt Sheehan@@MattSheehan333Analyst IJuly 11, 2011

2011 MLB All-Star Game Breakdown: Comparing AL and NL Starting Lineups

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    Ted Williams and Pete Rose. Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds*. Yankees and the Red Sox.

    All of these topics have been broken down by baseball fans around the country for quite a deal of time, but Tuesday night all debates shift to Arizona where baseball's best will play in the 2011 All-Star Game.

    Unlike most professional All-Star Games, the MLB game of fame will decide which team gets home-field advantage for the upcoming World Series, so matchups can be crucial to see which team will get the advantage in October. In this breakdown, we compare the starting lineups of the American League and National League to see which league will have the upper hand in securing home-field advantage.

Catchers: Alex Avila vs. Brian McCann

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    Alex Avila (AL)

    The Tiger's man behind the dish is also the man behind their success as Avila has put up impressive numbers on the offensive and defensive side of the plate. His .286 batting average is third best in the majors amongst starting catchers, and his 46 RBI is the top number for American League catchers. On defense, Avila is slightly above average when it comes to gunning out runners, sporting a .644 stealing percentage and he just has three errors, which is about par for the course when it comes to catchers. 


    Brian McCann (NL)

    With all due respect to Avila, the conversation for who has the better catcher is about to end once these stats are fired off. Brian McCann leads all starting catchers in the majors in hits (91), home runs (15), RBI (50) and batting average (.310). In the fielding department, McCann is struggling just a tad with his stealing percentage at .785 and having four errors against him.


    Advantage: Brian McCann

    Sorry Avila, but there is a catcher out there having a better season than you, and his name is Brian McCann. His tremendous hitting is enough to overpower his fielding disadvantage and that is why McCann is the better starting catcher on Tuesday night.

First Baseman: Adrian Gonzalez vs. Prince Fielder

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    Adrian Gonzalez (AL)

    Adrian Gonzalez isn't just the best hitting first baseman, he is arguably the best hitter for any position, period. Gonzalez leads the majors in hits (128), RBI (77) and batting average (.354), already making himself a Triple Crown contender. Another plus for the first-time Red Sox player is that he only has two errors on the season, which is very impressive considering he's played in 88 of them.


    Prince Fielder (NL)

    Throwing out stats after Gonzalez will be one tough act to follow, but Fielder still puts up a good fight, leading the National League in RBI (72) and second in homers (22). As far as fielding goes, Fielder's name doesn't do him any justice. With nine errors, Fielder puts himself in the category as one of the worst defensive first baseman in the majors.


    Advantage: Adrian Gonzalez

    Even Brewers fans can't argue this one. Adrian Gonzalez makes the case to not only be the best first baseman in the game, but the best player overall.

Second Baseman: Robinson Cano vs. Rickie Weeks

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    Robinson Cano (AL)

    Cano got help from the loyal Yankee fanbase to get into this year's All-Star Game, but he still has a strong case that he deserves to be out there come first pitch. Robinson Cano tops the AL amongst second basemen when it comes to hitting. Leading all American League second basemen in hits (100), RBI (57) and homers (15) gives Cano an impressive resume at the plate. In the field Cano has only six errors, giving him a .987 fielding percentage.


    Rickie Weeks (NL)

    Weeks had to rely on Brewer Nation to get a starting spot in this All-Star Game, because his numbers aren't quite the best for NL second basemen. The only categories of hitting he leads in are doubles (22), home runs (17) and on base percentage (.351). On defense, Weeks looks rather weak with 12 errors, double of what Cano has, and a .969 fielding percentage.


    Advantage: Robinson Cano

    The right side of the infield is far superior for the AL, but how will the chemistry between a Sox player and a Yankee be?

Third Baseman: Adrian Beltre vs. Scott Rolen

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    Adrian Beltre (AL)

    Taking A-Rod's spot due to injury in this year's All-Star Game, Beltre will have the opportunity to display his hitting ability as a starter. He may not have an extraordinary batting average with .273, but his 19 long balls and 98 hits are both second within third basemen. Beltre's defense is nothing to write home about with 11 errors pinned next to a .957 fielding percentage.


    Scott Rolen (NL)

    Rolen may not be here for his bat, but the glove that he possesses is reminiscent of his mid-20-year-old self. Rolen, who is the oldest starter this year, has only three errors at the hot corner in 150 chances. Now for the side that Rolen wouldn't want to boast: hitting. Batting only .241 with 36 RBI, Rolen is seen as only a marginal hitter at best, having him thankful that the Reds have a forgiving fanbase that votes in big numbers.


    Advantage: Adrian Beltre

    Rolen has very impressive fielding numbers, but Beltre's bat over Rolen's is too big of a difference to make up for. This also makes him the second player named Adrian to make this elite list.

Shortstop: Astrubal Cabrera vs. Troy Tulowitzki

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    Asdrubal Cabrera (AL)

    If it wasn't for fan voting, Cabrera would have been the original starter for Tuesday's game. Cabrera has used his bat to give the Indians a surprise shot at winning the AL Central by leading American League shortstops in RBI (51) and an overwhelming lead in hits with 105. On defense, Cabrera has turned a whopping 51 double plays and has only committed seven errors.


    Troy Tulowitzki (NL)

    If Tulo has anything All-Star worthy about him, it's his ability to hit the long ball in his high-altitude ballpark. Tulo has a shortstop-high 17 home runs and has driven in 57 RBI, but everything else is mediocre. Tulo's batting average comes in at .268 and he has just 89 hits, both of which would be considered middle of the pack amongst big league shortstops. Tulowitzki's saving grace is his fielding where he has only committed four errors, earning himself a .991 fielding percentage.


    Advantage: Troy Tulowitzki

    Very hard decision to make here, but it's not all about hitting. Topping Cabrera in RBI and having less errors on more chances stops the American League of having a clean sweep through the infield.

Outfield: Jose Buatista vs. Matt Holliday

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    Jose Bautista (AL)

    Anyone that watches the game of baseball knows that "Joey Bats" can go deep, but did you know he can also hit for average? Throwing up a .334 batting average and clobbering 31 balls earned him a spot in the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, but how is his fielding? In the outfield, Bautista only has one error, but some people are skeptical of his range out in left field.


    Matt Holliday (NL)

    Leading the NL outfielders with a .324 batting average does Holliday some favors, but there is only 78 hits paired with that due to injury. In just 67 games, Holliday already has 41 RBI and 45 runs to his name, putting him on pace to lead the NL if he was healthy the whole first half. With his glove, Holliday has two errors, putting him one in front of Bautista.


    Advantage: Jose Bautista

    This may be different if Holliday had a healthy start, but I cannot make a judgement on guessing. And besides, it's not every year where you see a player on pace to have another 50-plus home run season at the break.

Outfield: Curtis Granderson vs. Matt Kemp

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    Curtis Granderson (AL)

    Granderson leads the American League outfielders in runs (79) and is second in home runs (25) and RBI (63), both behind power hitter Jose Bautista. You also have to take into account how those numbers would look if his home field wasn't Yankee Stadium, where the poles are the distance of many high school fields. As usual, Granderson is having a great defensive season in center field, only committing one error to this day.


    Matt Kemp (NL)

    Matt Kemp is having himself a season by placing in the top three in hits (103), home runs (22), RBI (67) and batting average (.313) amongst National League outfielders. His fielding is just a little less superior than his hitting since he has four errors in the books so far this season.


    Advantage: Matt Kemp

    Granderson's fielding is great, but Kemp's ability to hit the ball in more of a pitcher's park is more vital in my mind. Coming in near the top in four major hitting categories has never looked so good if you're a Dodger's fan.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton vs. Lance Berkman

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    Josh Hamilton (AL)

    In just 56 games, Josh Hamilton has 65 hits and 49 RBI, which is not too shabby considering he's battled back from a broken arm. In the outfield Hamilton isn't doing anything too notable with his two errors on the season so far. Since he has been injured for most the season, it's hard to say whether or not he would be a starter with a healthy first half.


    Lance Berkman (NL)

    For a guy that is supposed to be past his prime, Berkman is still in the full swing of things. Berkman is leading the National League with 24 homers and has a fourth best 63 RBI attached to it. When it comes to fielding, Berkman has three errors on the year, but it's not enough for there to be a huge difference between him and Hamilton.


    Advantage: Lance Berkman

    At the age of 35, Berkman might as well be the best "old guy" playing on Tuesday. His display of power and just hitting in general gives the National League the upper hand for starting outfielders.

Pitchers: Jered Weaver vs. Roy Halladay

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    Jered Weaver (AL)

    If anyone knows how to keep a game low-scoring, it's Jered Weaver. With a league best 1.86 ERA and an opposing .194 batting average, the opposing team doesn't seem to get a lot of solid hits. With a fourth best 11 win total, it looks to be a no-brainer for Ron Washington to put Weaver on the bump to start off Tuesday night.


    Roy Halladay (NL)

    Doc Halladay, what a year you are having. Sporting a major's fourth best 138 strikeout count and surrendering only 17 walks, Halladay is the undisputed starter for the NL. Like Weaver, Halladay has 11 wins that have helped his Phillies stay on top of the NL East and looking at a World Series title.


    Advantage: Jered Weaver

    This could have been a coin toss, but Weaver's stunning ERA and opposing batting average is just too impressive. Halladay is on his way to another Cooperstown season, but on Tuesday Jered Weaver will be the man to watch on the mound.