Before 2003, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game was simply a showcase of baseball’s best and brightest stars. The game had no weight other than bragging rights for the victors. In 2003, however, the stakes greatly increased: the winning league would earn home field advantage in the World Series, a huge asset to any team.
Since the rule was established, six out of the last nine teams with home field advantage have gone on to win the World Series. In other words, the Midsummer Classic is worth watching due to its new incentive.
On Tuesday night, baseball’s best will head to Kansas City, Missouri for the 83rd All-Star Game. Here are four things to look out for:
1) Bryce Harper, Buster Posey and the Breakout Youth of the National League
Nineteen-year-old Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, who is available as an outfield reserve tonight for the NL, is a breakout, young phenomenon. This season thus far, he is batting .282 with 8 home runs and 25 runs batted in, impressive numbers for a rookie. As impressive is Buster Posey, who is starting for the NL in his first All-Star Game; in his second season thus far, he is batting .289 with 10 home runs and 43 runs batted in. Along with Harper and Posey, 22-year-old Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs, and 25-year-old Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds have both earned their second ticket to the All-Star Game.
2) Mike Trout, Chris Sale and the Breakout Youth of the American League
Twenty-year-old Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels has put up impressive numbers thus far this season that have earned him an All-Star Game selection. He is batting an amazing .341 with 12 home runs and 40 runs batted in. Along with Trout is 23-year-old Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox, who has a 10-2 record this season with a 2.19 earned run average and 98 strikeouts. Finally 25-year old Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers has a 10-5 record in his first season in the MLB, with 117 strikeouts and a 3.59 earned run average.
3) Texas’ Dominance
The Texas Rangers, who are a half game behind the New York Yankees for the best record in the MLB, have sent eight players to this year’s All-Star Game, including three starters (Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre, and Josh Hamilton), three pitchers (Darvish, Matt Harrison, and Joe Nathan), and two reserves (Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler). To put this into perspective, the number of Rangers in Kansas City equal the number of representatives from the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s, Seattle Mariners, and Los Angeles Angels combined.
4) Robinson Cano vs. Kansas City Fans
Robinson Cano (20 HR in 2012), the captain of the American League Home Run Derby team who hit zero home runs Monday night, chose Jose Bautista (27 HR), Mark Trumbo (22 HR), and Prince Fielder (15 HR), the ultimate winner, to compete on behalf of the AL. However, given that the contest took place in Kansas City, home of the Royals and Billy Butler, who has 16 home runs thus far this season, fans were disappointed by his absence. Cano was booed off the field last night, and it will be interesting to see if the negativity continues tonight.
Below is information on this year’s MLB All-Star Game:
TV: FOX at 7:30 p.m. EDT
Radio: ESPN Radio at 7:00 p.m. EDT
American League Starting Lineup
1. Derek Jeter NYY SS
2. Robinson Cano NYY 2B
3. Josh Hamilton TEX LF
4. Jose Bautista TOR RF
5. Prince Fielder DET 1B
6. Adrian Beltre TEX 3B
7. David Ortiz BOS DH
8. Mike Napoli TEX C
9. Curtis Granderson NYY CF
Justin Verlander DET P
National League Starting Lineup
1. Carlos Gonzalez COL DH
2. Melky Cabrera SF CF
3. Ryan Braun MIL LF
4. Joey Votto CIN 1B
5. Carlos Beltran STL RF
6. Buster Posey SF C
7. Pablo Sandoval SF 3B
8. Dan Uggla ATL 2B
9. Rafael Furcal STL SS
Matt Cain SF P