All-Star Game 2012 Results: Best and Worst Starters of the Midsummer Classic

Brian KleinCorrespondent IIJuly 11, 2012

All-Star Game 2012 Results: Best and Worst Starters of the Midsummer Classic

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    The 83rd edition of the MLB All-Star Game has come and gone from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

    The controversy surrounding the game is always running rampant.  Were the correct players in the game?  Why did a certain player get to start over a much better player for my franchise?  Why does a game voted on by the fans dictate which league gets home-field advantage during the World Series? 

    The rosters have been dissected, discussed and argued about since Monday, so let’s add a little fuel to the fire. 

    Let’s grade the best and worst performances of the starters for the Midsummer Classic.  One factor that made these decisions even more difficult is that so many of the starters could have fallen into either of these categories.  I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the individuals who stood out among the rest.    

    Grading an individual player’s performance among a team game is never easy, but let’s look at the best and the worst from the 2012 Midsummer Classic.

The Worst: Justin Verlander, SP

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    I hate to keep the hate flowing toward Justin Verlander, but when you're making $20 million this season and are the reigning AL CY Young and MVP award winner, I guess you open yourself up for a little criticism.

    The American League starting pitcher opened up the game in spectacular fashion by dazzling the fans with a 97 MPH fastball down the middle against leadoff hitter Carlos Gonzalez.  Opening the game in quality Justin Verlander fashion, the flame-thrower for Detroit continued his early dominance and struck out the NL leadoff man.

    That may have been the highlight of his All-Star performance.  Verlander then proceeded to give up two opposite-field hits.  The first was a single to Melky Cabrera, and the next was an RBI double to Ryan Braun.

    Verlander struck out his second victim in Cincinnati first basemen Joey Votto.   

    Following his second strikeout, Verlander walked Carlos Beltran, which placed runners on first and second.  Verlander then walked San Francisco Giants’ catcher Buster Posey on four straight pitches to load the bases. 

    With the bases loaded, Verlander had to face Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval.  Sandoval took advantage of the opportunity by blasting a bases-clearing triple to right-field. 

    The National League was not done there.  Dan Uggla hit a grounder into the hole between short and third and beat Derek Jeter's throw to first to score Sandoval. 

    Final line for Justin Verlander: 1.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 H, 2 K's, 35 total pitches, and faced nine National League hitters.

The Worst: Joey Votto, 1B

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    This was really a tie between both Votto and Prince Fielder.  Both of the All-Star first basemen looked very pathetic in their All-Star at-bats from a position that is traditionally known for its power and hitting ability.

    The decision to choose which first basemen played worst was not easy.  Fielder’s defense and picking ability at first base left a lot to be desired.  But unfortunately for Votto, he had an extra at-bat in which he accomplished nothing.  Fielder’s bat also had a small excuse in my eyes for not producing, as he won the Home Run Derby the night before.

    Votto had large expectations heading into his third All-Star Game.  His numbers so far for the Cincinnati Reds have been MVP-caliber.  He entered the All-Star break with a .348 average, a league-leading .471 OBP, a 1.087 OPS and 35 doubles.

    In his first at-bat, Votto got completely fooled on a breaking ball and struck out against Justin Verlander with a runner on. 

    While facing the Tampa Bay Rays David Price during his second at-bat, Votto grounded out weakly to Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre. 

    In his final at-bat of the night, Votto grounded out to Robinson Cano for the final out of the fourth inning. 

    Final line for Joey Votto: 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

The Best: Melky Cabrera, CF

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    Winning your first MVP honor in your first All-Star appearance is impressive.  Winning your first MVP honor in your first All-Star appearance that is also your first time starting is even more remarkable.

    From his first at-bat, Cabrera showed why he leads the league with 119 hits.  Cabrera took the first pitch he saw from Justin Verlander and drove it into left-center field for a single. 

    Cabrera’s firsts did not end there.  Cabrera came around and scored on a double by Ryan Braun, which was the first run of the game for the National League. 

    In his second at-bat in the second inning, Cabrera faced Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan.  Cabrera was much less successful against the closer, and hit a sharp ground ball to second baseman Robinson Cano for the second out of the inning. 

    Cabrera concluded his evening by facing another Texas Rangers pitcher in Matt Harrison in the fourth inning.  Cabrera absolutely dominated this at-bat and concluded his evening by hitting a two-run home run into the left field bullpen. 

    Final line for Melky Cabrera: 2-for-3 with a HR, two RBI, and two runs scored.

The Best: Ryan Braun. LF

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    To say Ryan Braun had something to prove this season after an offseason of turmoil and performance enhancing drug speculation might be an understatement.

    For the Brewers faithful, Braun has really not disappointed.  Last night, Braun was making his fifth All-Star appearance in just his sixth season. 

    In the first inning, the reigning NL MVP took a Justin Verlander fastball to the opposite field.  Braun drove the ball over the head of right fielder Jose Bautista to score Melky Cabrera on a RBI double. 

    Braun faced Joe Nathan in his second at-bat in the second inning, hitting a fly ball to short right field that Jose Bautista had to make a terrific sliding catch on to end the half of the inning. 

    Facing Matt Harrison in the fourth inning, Braun hit a scorcher down the right-field line.  In this at-bat, Braun recorded his first triple of the night.  Braun’s triple gave the National League their second triple of the inning and third in the game. 

    Final line for Ryan Braun: 2-for-3 with a double, triple, one RBI and one run scored.