The All-Stars appear to walk tallest in the American League.
If the All-Star Game runs in cycles, the American League put a halt to the National League dominance with a memorable win in 1983, and the Junior Circuit began its own surge in 1988. If it’s going to end in the 89th All-Star Game at Nationals Park July 17, it would be something of a surprise.
The American League has won five straight All-Star games, and the all-time series is tied at 43-43-2.
The American League has Mike Trout, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve, and that foursome seems much stronger than National League heavyweights Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, Nolan Arenado and Javier Baez.
The edge is not just with the top players in both starting lineups. It appears to run the full length of the roster, including pitchers and reserves.
Trout is almost universally conceded to be the best player in the game, and he is often compared with legendary Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle because of the impact he has due to his power, speed and overall ability in center field.
The 26-year-old Trout has a slash line of .312/.455/.627, with 25 home runs and 50 RBI with the Los Angeles Angels, and he has already won two All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Awards in his career. He appears to get pumped up for this game, and it would not be a surprise if he puts on another memorable show.
“He’s definitely the best player I’ve ever played with or seen live,” Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons said, per Maria Guardado of MLB.com. “It’s an honor playing next to him day in and day out, and no surprise he’s always up there in the MVP votes and, of course, an All-Star.”
Martinez is the game’s best slugger, and he has brought a surge of power to the Boston lineup. Martinez became a solid hitter in the Detroit Tigers lineup, and then became a star last year after the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired him prior to the trade deadline. Martinez has mastered the concept of launch angle while using the entire field.
He is just as likely to hit a home run to right field as he is to pull one to left, and he has put together a .329/.392/.646 slash line, with 27 home runs and 74 RBIs.
Martinez’s teammate, Mookie Betts, may be Trout’s biggest rival when it comes to all-around ability. Betts is starting in the All-Star Game for the third consecutive year, and he is having a tremendous year with a .343/.432/.673 with 22 homers, 44 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
“It’s a blessing to go there and enjoy those couple of days,” Betts said, per Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “It’s pretty exciting. It doesn’t get old. We don’t play this game very long in the grand scheme of things. Every year I can make it, I definitely want to go.”
Altuve is the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, and the Houston Astros’ second baseman led Major League Baseball with more than 4.8 million votes. His .339/.406/.482 slash line indicates he is capable of taking over a game at any time.
On the National League side, it was assumed that Harper would be the face of the National League team since the game is in his home city—at least from an MLB perspective. Harper is having a perplexing year, at least by his standards. He has 21 homers and 50 RBI, but he is hitting .218 and has already struck out 91 times.
Freeman has been one of the game’s more underappreciated players because he is a master at first base for the Atlanta Braves, and he has one of the game’s sweetest swings. Freeman has a .315/.406/.542 slash line with 16 home runs and 59 RBI.
Arenado has made a name for himself as one of the best all-around third basemen in the history of the game because of his sensational fielding ability and his consistent hitting. It would not be a surprise if Arenado put on a Brooks Robinson-type show at any point in the field, and the Colorado Rockies All-Star has blasted 22 home runs and knocked in 63 runs this season.
If any NL player is capable of stealing the spotlight from the American League, it appears to be Baez. The Cubs’ second baseman is a showman in the field as his ability to snag a throw and slap a tag on a baserunner with flair is always eye catching. He is also having a tremendous year at the plate with a .295 batting average, 17 homers and 65 RBI.
Pitchers Chris Sale of the Red Sox and Max Scherzer of the Nationals have excellent chances to start for their respective leagues, and pitching often dominates in the All-Star Game. While that may be difficult this year, both of those pitchers are capable of having shut-down games.
Look for Trout to set the tone for the American League with a home run, a stolen base and a memorable catch in center field. He is made for the All-Star Game the way that Willie Mays was made for the Midsummer Classic in the 1950s and ’60s.
Betts should be nearly as good as Trout in this game, as he is attacking the baseball this year and we see him with at least one extra-base hit and showing off his speed and accurate arm.
On the National League side, Harper may put on a show in the Home Run Derby and in pregame batting practice, but he will struggle to put his bat on the ball, especially when he faces Sale.
Freeman’s consistency and superb swing will allow him to hit a couple of line drives in this game.
The key to the National League’s ability to turn the All-Star Game around may be Baez. His charisma and swagger should be on full display, and if he can make a big play early or get a hit in his first at bat, he could dominate the game. Baez will show off his power with a home run here.
Trout, the best player in the game, will win the MVP as the American League wins its sixth straight game and takes the lead in the all-time series.
Here’s a look at the full rosters for both teams:
C, Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays
1B, Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
2B, Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
3B, Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
SS, Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
OF, Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
OF, Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
OF, Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
DH, J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox
SP, Luis Severino, New York Yankees
SP, Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
SP, Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
SP, Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians
SP, Justin Verlander*, Houston Astros
SP, Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros
SP, J.A. Happ, Toronto Blue Jays
SP, Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins
RP, Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
RP, Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
RP, Joe Jimenez, Detroit Tigers
RP, Blake Treinen, Oakland A’s
RP, Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox
*Verlander inactive for game
C, Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
1B, Mitch Moreland, Boston Red Sox
2B, Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees
3B, Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
SS, Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
OF, Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers
OF, Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
OF, Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners
OF, George Springer, Houston Astros
DH, Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
C, Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
1B, Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
2B, Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
3B, Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
SS, Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants
OF, Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves
OF, Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
OF, Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
SP, Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
SP, Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
SP, Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
SP, Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves
SP, Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals
SP, Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs
SP, Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
RP, Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers
RP, Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals
RP, Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
RP, Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
RP, Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates
C, Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
C, J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
1B, Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
1B, Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
2B, Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves
2B, Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati Reds
3B, Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds
SS, Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
OF, Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers
OF, Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
OF, Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies