The NFL Pro Bowl and NHL & NBA All-Star Games are completely non-competitive exhibitions where guys don’t pretend to give anything close to 100 percent. You will find little to no defense being played.
The most competitive All-Star Game has long been Major League Baseball’s Midsummer Classic, and this year’s is Tuesday night from Marlins Park in Miami. The MLB All-Star Game odds are currently set as a Pick ’em with a total of 9.
MLB All-Star Game Odds
It’s the first time Miami has held the All-Star Game. The Marlins joined MLB as an expansion franchise in 1993, and in 1995 the city was awarded the 2000 game. However, in 1998 MLB pulled the game from south Florida and moved it to Atlanta. Why? The league was embarrassed with how then-owner Wayne Huizenga basically sold/traded all the key players from the 1997 Marlins World Series championship team.
Oh, that’s not what MLB said publicly but that the reason was Miami needed a new stadium to host the game. At great taxpayer expense, which is still a hot topic in south Florida, Marlins Park opened in 2012 and the city was finally awarded the game. It rains often in the summer in Florida, but Marlins Park has a retractable roof so there’s no threat of the game being rained out.
Last December, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred eliminated the All-Star Game’s link to home-field advantage in the World Series. Former commissioner Bud Selig came up with that rule in 2003 after the 2002 All-Star Game ended in a tie in Selig’s hometown of Milwaukee when teams ran out of pitchers. Some liked that rule, but many didn’t. Now the World Series home-field advantage goes to the team in the Fall Classic that had the best regular-season record. Last year, the Cubs surrendered home-field advantage in the World Series to Cleveland despite Chicago winning nine more regular-season games. Of course, the Cubs rallied from a 3-1 series deficit by winning the final two games in Cleveland.
So what’s the incentive for the players Tuesday? The winners will receive $20,000 and the losers nothing. Don’t feel too bad for the loser as most MLB players have bonuses for being named an All-Star.
Smoak, Osuna Represent Toronto Blue Jays
The American League has won the past four All-Star Games. Last year in San Diego, it was 4-2. Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez both homered in a three-run second inning. Hosmer added an RBI single an inning later and became the first Royal since Bo Jackson in 1989 to take home MVP honors. Hosmer wasn’t selected this year, while Perez is starting at catcher again for the AL.
Perhaps the most surprising All-Star starter is Toronto’s Justin Smoak. The franchise used a “Smoaked the Vote” marketing campaign that helped Smoak overtake Hosmer for the most votes among AL first basemen. Smoak is in his first All-Star Game and is the lone representative from the Blue Jays. Last year, Smoak hit just .217 with 14 homers and 34 RBIs and was part of a platoon. This season, Smoak is the full-time first baseman and is hitting .294 with 23 homers and 56 RBIs. The 30-year-old has clearly been the Jays’ best player and will set career marks in just about every major offensive category. Meanwhile, Jays closer Roberto Osuna is making his first All-Star game appearance and rightfully so. The 22-year-old righty is working on a 21-game save streak.
Also starting for the AL in the infield are Houston’s Jose Altuve (second base) and Carlos Correa (shortstop) and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez (third base). In the outfield, it’s Yankees rookie Aaron Judge, who is in Monday’s Home Run Derby, Houston’s George Springer and Boston’s Mookie Betts, a replacement for the injured Mike Trout. Tampa Bay’s Corey Dickerson is the DH.
The starting pitcher is Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who is also the Sports Interaction -400 favourite to win his first AL Cy Young Award. Sale (11-4, 2.75) leads the American League in innings (127.2), strikeouts (178 – most of any pitcher entering break since 2002), WHIP (0.90) and is second in wins and ERA. Sale also started the ASG last year while with the White Sox. He is the first repeat All-Star starter for the AL since Toronto’s Dave Stieb did it from 1983-1984.
The AL was to be managed by Cleveland’s Terry Francona, but Francona had a heart procedure on Thursday due to an irregular heartbeat. Indians bench coach Brad Mills will manage the AL All-Stars while Francona recuperates.
The NL infield starters are San Francisco catcher Buster Posey, Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and second baseman Daniel Murphy, Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart, and Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado. In the outfield, it’s Washington’s Bryce Harper, Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon (also in Home Run Derby) and Miami’s Marcell Ozuna. The Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton is the DH.
The starting pitcher is the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, who is the reigning NL Cy Young winner and a +140 second-favourite to repeat. Since 1913, 22 qualified starters have finished the first half of a season with at least 170 strikeouts and seven with a WHIP under 0.80. Just one has finished with both numbers: Scherzer. He’s 10-5 with a 2.10 ERA, 173 Ks and 0.78 WHIP.
The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw is -150 to win a fourth career Cy Young, but he pitched Sunday and thus is ineligible to throw in the All-Star Game. Pitchers who start their team’s final game before the break aren’t eligible for the ASG and are replaced on the roster. The NL is managed by the Cubs’ Joe Maddon.
All-Star Game Predictions
Flip a coin with this one. The AL doesn’t have to face Kershaw for an inning or two, so that could be an advantage, but then the NL pitchers don’t have to deal with Trout, a two-time MVP of this game, either. Let’s go with the NL simply as it bats last. Like the under as well. For MVP, the choice is the Nats’ Murphy. He leads the NL with a .342 average.