It's difficult to look at the 2018 All-Star Game and predict that this is the year the National League turns things around against the American League.
The American League has dominated over the short term and the long term. The Junior Circuit has won five games in a row and is on a 23-6-1 run over the last 30 years. As a result, the series is tied at 43-43-2, and the American League can take a lead in the series for the first time since 1963 if it can win Tuesday night at Nationals Park in Washington.
That's one of the storylines of this year's All-Star Game, and while it may not be headline material to many who view it as a meaningless exhibition, that's not the case to those who have followed the history of the sport.
2018 MLB All-Star Game Information
Date: Tuesday, July 17
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Wilson Ramos. C, Tampa Bay
Jose Abreu, 1B. Chicago White Sox
Jose Altuve. 2B, Houston
Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland
Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
Mookie Betts, OF, Boston
J.D. Martinez, OF, Boston
Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City
Mitch Moreland, 1B, Boston
Jed Lowrie, 2B, Oakland
Gleyber Torres, 2B, New York Yankees*
Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland
Jean Segura, SS, Seattle
Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Texas
Mitch Haniger, OF, Seattle
George Springer, OF, Houston
Nelson Cruz, DH, Seattle
Trevor Bauer, Cleveland
Jose Berrios, Minnesota
Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Gerrit Cole, Houston
Edwin Diaz, Seattle
J.A. Happ, Toronto
Joe Jimenez, Detroit
Craig Kimbrel, Boston
Corey Kluber, Cleveland
Chris Sale, Boston
Luis Severino, New York Yankees
Blake Treinen, Oakland
Justin Verlander, Detroit*
Willson Contreras, C, Chicago Cubs
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta
Javier Baez, 2B, Chicago Cubs
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado
Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco
Nick Markakis, OF, Atlanta
Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Bryce Harper, OF, Washington
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis
Buster Posey, C, San Francisco*
J.T. Realmuto, C, Miami
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Milwaukee
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati
Ozzie Albies, 2B, Atlanta
Scooter Gennett, 2B, Cincinnati
Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Cincinnati
Trevor Story, SS, Colorado
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado
Lorenzo Cain, OF, Milwaukee
Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Milwaukee
Patrick Corbin, Arizona
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
Sean Doolittle, Washington*
Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta
Josh Hader, Milwaukee
Brad Hand, San Diego
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs*
Miles Mikolas, St. Louis*
Aaron Nola, Philadelphia
Max Scherzer, Washington
Ross Stripling, Los Angeles Dodgers
Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh
Zack Greinke, Arizona
Jeremy Jeffress, Milwaukee
*-denotes player won't be participating in All-Star Game.
The American League started off the All-Star Game series as the dominant league, and that's no surprise considering it had stars like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. However, the National League turned things around in the 1950's and dominated the series completely in the 1960s and '70s.
The National League went on a 19-1 run from 1963 through 1982, as players like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Johnny Bench and Pete Rose were simply better than their American League counterparts. They also had a huge edge on the mound with pitchers that included Warren Spahn, Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Ferguson Jenkins.
If the talent gap didn't tell the whole story, it was a player like Rose, who left everything on the field in each game. He would also implore his National League teammates to not let their American League opponents win even a single game.
The American League finally turned it around in 1983 with an overpowering 13-3 win at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The turning point came in the third inning when Fred Lynn of the California Angels hit the first, and to this point, only Grand Slam in the history of the All-Star Game. It was as if a poisonous boil had been lanced, and the American League finally got healthy.
In addition to the historical aspect of the All-Star Game, much of the focus will be on Washington's Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer.
Both are stars for the Nationals, and while Scherzer is having a stellar season with an 11-5 record, a 2.33 earned-run average and 177 strikeouts in 127.2 innings, Harper has not been having the dominant season he had hoped for as he prepares for potential free agency.
Scherzer has a good chance of being named the National League's starting pitcher by team manager Dave Roberts. Harper was voted into the starting lineup by the fans, and he would like nothing better than to put on a show for the Washington fans and the national TV audience.
Harper has a .213/.367/.473 slash line, but he has hit 23 home runs and driven in 53 runs. He will be under the spotlight, and a strong performance in the All-Star Game could help get his season on track.
It should also be a big night for Mike Trout, as he comes into this game largely considered the best player in Major League Baseball. Trout has already won two All-Star Game Most Valuable Player awards.
Trout has a .314/.457/.618 slash line with 25 home runs and 50 RBI. Since the Angels are far behind in the American League West race, Trout does not seem to be getting the publicity he has earned. Another stellar All-Star Game could be on the horizon.
The All-Star Game often comes down to the final innings, and that means that the reserves may play a decisive role in the outcome.
Key National League reserves include Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett, Atlanta's Ozzie Albies, Milwaukee's Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich and Colorado's Charlie Blackmon.
The most impactful American League reserves include Francisco Lindor of the Indians, Alex Bregman and George Springer of the Astros and Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz of the Mariners.
Late inning closers Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers and Brad Hand of the Padres will try to protect a late lead for the National League, while Craig Kimbrel of the Red Sox, Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees and Blake Treinen of the A's will attempt to do the same for the American League.