Tag: 2015 MLB All-Star Game

MLB All-Star Game 2015: Bold Predictions and Picks for the Midsummer Classic

Starting pitching and superstars from both sides will determine who earns home-field advantage in the World Series when the American League and National League clash Tuesday in the 2015 MLB All-Star Game

The Houston Astros’ Dallas Keuchel (11-4, 2.23 ERA) will take the hill for Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost and the American League. Zack Greinke (8-2, 1.39 ERA) of the Los Angeles Dodgers will start for San Francisco Giants’ Bruce Bochy and the National League. 

Greinke has been stellar for the Dodgers this season, but he may end up in some trouble against this AL lineup. Keuchel leads an AL pitching staff featuring eight first time All-Stars, according to Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway. The group may be slightly inexperienced, but they may be the key to an AL victory. 

Bryce Harper, 22, of the Washington Nationals and Mike Trout, 23, of the Los Angeles Angels lead a youth movement that will take over Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati for the Midsummer Classic. A record 20 players under the age of 25 are on the two rosters, per the Star Tribune

Here are some bold predictions for the game based on statistics, history and the abilities of some of the key players involved.

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MLB All Star Game 2015: Live Score, Highlights and Reaction

The 2015 All-Star Game has arrived! Keep it here for the latest from Great American Ball Park.

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2015 MLB All-Star Game Roster: Starting Pitchers and Lineup for AL and NL Squads

Simply looking at the rosters for the MLB All-Star Game should get fans excited for the Midsummer Classic.

Between young superstars and veterans who can still play at a high level, there is tons of variety on both the American League and National League squads. The first few innings should be especially enjoyable with a deep pair of starting lineups that didn’t feature much drop-off even after injury replacements.

Meanwhile, very few people could have predicted the starting pitchers for this showcase when the season started, but both are deserving of the honor.   

Although most players will find a way to get into the game eventually, here is a look at the starting lineups for each squad, as announced by the managers.

The big story here is the announcements of the two starting pitchers. Both Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost had difficult decisions with plenty of reasonable options, but Zack Greinke and Dallas Keuchel ended up winning out.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is one person who agrees with the choices:

Max Scherzer wasn’t eligible for selection in the National League after pitching on Sunday, although you could argue he still hasn’t been as good as Greinke, even with a no-hitter on his resume. Gerrit Cole also had a legitimate case thanks to his major league-leading 13 wins with a 2.30 ERA.

However, Bochy explained the difference in his decision:

Greinke leads the majors with a 1.39 ERA and hasn’t allowed a run in the last 35.2 innings, a run that spans five games. Although he doesn’t rack up the strikeouts like Scherzer or others, he has been almost unhittable this season, allowing just a single hit in eight innings his last start.

Coming out of the other dugout will be Keuchel, who currently ranks second in the AL with a 2.33 ERA. This came as a bit of a surprise for someone who came into the year as a relative unknown despite a 2.93 ERA last season.

As the Houston Astros star pointed out, the new-age stats have helped him become a star:

Considering he trails only Clayton Kershaw among pitchers with a 4.7 WAR this season, per Baseball-Reference.com, he might be on to something with this assessment. It helps that Sonny Gray—like Scherzer—wasn’t eligible after pitching Sunday, but Keuchel deserves plenty of credit for his incredible run to this point.

As far as the lineup is concerned, fans should be ready for a lot of power from each side.

Between Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, Albert Pujols and Nelson Cruz, the AL lineup begins with four players who have all hit at least 21 home runs this season. Fans in the outfield better be ready for the possibility of a lot of souvenirs.

In the NL, we have a few more well-rounded hitters in Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt and Buster Posey, players who can hit for a high average as well knock it out of the park.

There are some downsides, as fans were robbed of a chance to see top players such as Miguel Cabrera, Giancarlo Stanton and others, but we will be just fine with Pujols, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Joc Pederson as replacements.

While he’s not a household name, DJ LeMahieu will also get a chance to shine as a late replacement for the injured Dee Gordon.

With the All-Star Game counting toward home-field advantage in the World Series, these players should provide a quality effort for as long as they are in the game. No matter who wins, though, fans should be ready for quite a show.


Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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MLB All-Star Game 2015: Ticket Info, TV Schedule, Rosters and Predictions

What made the All-Star Game so noteworthy in the 1960s and ’70s was the specific identities of the American League and National League.

Players like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente were identified as quintessential National League baseball players, and when they stepped onto the field in an All-Star game, they wanted to win for their league just as they wanted to win for the Giants, Braves and Pirates, respectively, during the regular season.

American League players like Al Kaline, Carl Yastrzemski and Reggie Jackson were clearly identified with their league as well, and they wanted to win just as much as the National Leaguers. However, they simply did not have anything close to the talent level of their National League counterparts.

The game has changed so much since those memorable days. Free agency and interleague play are two of the major factors that have taken away or dulled each league’s specific identity.

As Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson lead the American League into the All-Star Game and Bryce Harper and Buster Posey do the same for the National League, is there the same feeling of league pride on either side?

Former major league commissioner Bud Selig came to the conclusion that neither side had the inspiration to compete in the All-Star Game the way it once did. As a result, Major League Baseball attached home-field advantage to winning in the All-Star Game.

This innovation, which came about after the infamous 7-7 tie in the 2002 edition, has been widely ridiculed since then. Since managers are trying to get as many players in the game as possible, which often seems to be the top priority, the critics have a point.

However, home-field advantage merely alternated back and forth between the two leagues prior to the Selig decision. Home-field advantage in playoff games in the NFL and postseason series in the NBA and NHL go to teams that earned the best regular-season records.

Baseball never went that way, so Major League Baseball never lost anything.

Some of the juice has returned to the All-Star game, and while it may not be at the same level as it was when Mays was running circles around the American League and Johnny Bench was blasting long home runs, fans will get a chance to see the best players in each league attempt to put their imprints on the sport and win for their leagues on Tuesday night.

It may not be perfect, but it is quite a bit better than what the NBA and NHL offer and miles better than the NFL’s weak link of a Pro Bowl.


When: Tuesday, July 14

Where: Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati

TV: Fox

Ticket Info: Score Big

Broadcast Start Time: 7 p.m. ET

Game Time: 8 p.m. ET 




There have been three major chapters written as the 86th All-Star Game gets ready to take center stage.

The American League dominated in the early years of the game, winning 12 of the first 16. However, that changed in 1950, when the National League began to turn things around. From that year through 1982, the National League was nearly unbeatable, rolling off a 30-5-1 streak.

The American League rebounded with a memorable 13-3 triumph in Chicago’s Comiskey Park in 1983, and the Junior Circuit has pulled off an impressive 22-9-1 run heading into the 2015 game. The AL has often had the more talented starting lineups and greater depth since the 1983 game, which may be the case again this year.

The National League lineup features slumping rookie Joc Pederson (.230, 20 HR, 40 RBI) of the Los Angeles Dodgers and second baseman DJ LeMahieu (.311, 4, 35) of the Colorado Rockies in the eighth and ninth spots. Those two could be weak spots for National League manager Bruce Bochy, even though Pederson was impressive in the Home Run Derby.

The American League has Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar (.290, 2, 33) in the ninth spot; he does not measure up with the other Junior Circuit starters.

The bigger advantage could come off the bench. The American League is going to be able to bring in difference-makers like Manny Machado (.298, 19, 48), Stephen Vogt (.287, 14, 56), Jason Kipnis (.323, 6, 37), Prince Fielder (.339, 14, 54) and J.D. Martinez (.289, 25, 59).

The National League will try to counter with Yadier Molina (.284, 2, 32), Adrian Gonzalez (.283, 18, 55), Nolan Arenado (.293, 24, 70) and Justin Upton (.253, 14, 48). 

The pitching appears to be relatively even on both sides, with Chris Sale (157 K, 2.72 ERA, 0.947 WHIP) of the Chicago White Sox having had the most impressive first half thanks to his consistent ability to strike out top-level hitters.

Prediction: American League 7, National League 5

MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (2-for-3, HR, 3 RBI). Trout will become the first player to win back-to-back All-Star MVP awards.

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Home Run Derby 2015: Participants, Breakdown of New Rules for All-Star Showcase

Can you believe the MLB All-Star Game and Home Run Derby are less than one week away? It seems like the baseball season just started, but now all of a sudden it’s the middle of July, and baseball’s Midsummer Classic will be here before you know it.

As you know, the MLB All-Star Game is used to give the players who have had the best season so far a chance to show off their talents. It also determines home-field advantage for the World Series, but that’s another discussion altogether.

The highlight of the All-Star festivities used to be the Home Run Derby. It’s baseball’s version of the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest. But like its NBA counterpart, the Derby has lost some of its luster over the years.

But MLB is looking to infuse new life into the long-ball contest with a complete overhaul of the rules. This year’s Derby will be held July 13 at 8 p.m. ET. You can see the contest on ESPN and WatchESPN.

Here’s a look at this year’s participants, followed by an explanation of how this year’s Derby will work. Both the lineup and rule changes are courtesy of MLB.com.

Player 2015 HR as of July 10
Albert Pujols, Angels 26
Prince Fielder, Rangers 14
Kris Bryant, Cubs 12
Joc Pederson, Dodgers 20
Manny Machado, Orioles 19
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays 21
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs 16
Todd Frazier, Reds 25

The biggest names in the field are Albert Pujols and two-time champ Prince Fielder. But young guns Joc Pederson, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo will be looking to make a name for themselves under the bright lights.

One of the most notable changes to the format is that the Derby will now be a single-elimination tournament. Here’s the bracket, thanks to ESPN Stats & Info:

Another major change to the contest is that instead of each hitter getting a set number of outs, there will be a running five-minute clock during which the batter tries to hit as many homers as he can. That seems simple enough, but there are also a few wrinkles that can create some excitement.

During the final minute, the clock will stop after each home run hit and will restart after a non-home run lands or the batter whiffs on a pitch. And since we know chicks dig the long ball, batters will be awarded bonus time if they hit two bombs that go at least 420 feet and even more time if they hit another fly at least 475.

For those who prefer visual aids, ESPN Stats & Info also provided a glance at the relevant new rules:

If the NCAA tournament has taught us anything, a win-or-go-home format is inherently more exciting There will be built-in drama when time is running out and players know how many homers they need to advance. 

This may not be a perfect solution to maximize the excitement of the Home Run Derby, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. We will have to see how it plays out, but the Derby has enough star power and potential drama to be a worthwhile watch.


What do you think of the new Derby format? How else could MLB change it to make it better? Sound off in the comments below, or let Justin know on Twitter @JustinNeuman10.

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2015 MLB All-Star Game: Full Rosters and Viewing Info for Summer Showcase

Although meant to honor and bring baseball’s best together, the MLB All-Star Game instead welcomes a sea of negativity and resentment.

Too often fans and analysts get caught decrying the biggest omissions rather than praising the deserving selections. After all, this is a game that foolishly counts. With the stakes so high, it stinks to see Clayton Kershaw, Joey Votto and Brian Dozier left out.

Yet there are several other feel-good stories to instead celebrate. Some have blossomed before our eyes. Others have overcome injuries, and one has enjoyed an incredible bounce-back campaign to possibly conclude his career.

After running through the full 2015 rosters and viewing info, let’s single out a few of those heartwarming stories.


2015 MLB All-Star Game 

Date: Tuesday, July 14

Where: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati 

Time (ET): 7 p.m.

TV: Fox

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

Tickets: ScoreBig.com


American League Roster


National League Roster


Best Stories

A.J. Burnett, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

A 38-year-old pitcher who considered retirement after a dreadful 2014, A.J. Burnett will make his first and final All-Star appearance.

After taking less money to reunite with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he stated his intentions on ending a career he began in 1999. 

“The past couple of years, it was year by year,” Burnett told Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in February. “I thought about (retiring) a few years ago in New York. But now this is it. This is my last hurrah. I’m cool with that.”

A year after weaving a 4.59 ERA with the Philadelphia Phillies, the veteran righty has registered a 1.99 ERA through 113 innings for Pittsburgh. Even with a diminished 94 strikeouts, he has performed better than ever due to a 54.4 ground-ball percentage and career-low 2.39 walks per nine innings.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, via ESPN.com, Burnett can become the fifth starting pitcher aged 38 or older to enter the break with an ERA below 2.00. To join Roger Clemens, Phil Niekro, Spud Chandler and Dutch Leonard, he’ll need a strong showing against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.


Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers

Before undergoing season-ending neck surgery last year, Prince Fielder had not missed a game from 2011-13. The slugger went from playing all but one contest in five years to sitting out 120 bouts. 

Even before succumbing to his first serious injury, the feared first baseman recorded a microscopic .360 slugging percentage in 2014. The Texas Rangers had no idea what to expect from a big-bodied 31-year-old under contract for six more seasons.

To their relief, they’ve received the Fielder of old. Serving primarily as the designated hitter, he’s batting .345/.409/.530 with 14 homers. He’s not exactly the guy who once belted 50 long balls, but he is pulling the ball less in hopes of remaining relevant once his strength wanes.

Although his rebound is fueled more by contact than power, Fielder will also participate in the Home Run Derby, per the team’s Twitter page:

Everyone can blame/thank Fielder for blocking Alex Rodriguez from the American League roster. Two designated hitters is more than enough for a game operating under National League rules.


Joe Panik, 2B, and Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco Giants

Here’s a look at how the San Francisco Giants middle-infield pairing of Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford performed last season:

Now let’s fast-forward to the present day, where both are All-Star reserves:

Granted, Panik received a helping hand from Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who made the second baseman one of his final selections. Yet it was hardly a charity case to choose a player leading the NL in WAR at his position.

Possessing the power to match his stellar glove, Crawford also should have received more recognition from the fans. Only Troy Tulowitzki—whose gripe in being left off the roster belongs with teammate DJ LeMahieu—holds a higher slugging percentage among shortstops.

He didn’t make the cut, but Matt Duffy has also defied all reasonable expectations at third base. A bunch of supposedly light-hitting infielders are carrying the defending champion’s offense with Hunter Pence sidelined.


Note: Advanced stats are courtesy of FanGraphs

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Scouting Reports for Mets Prospects in the 2015 Futures Game

On July 12, the 2015 MLB Futures Game will showcase some of the best minor league talent for this season. The American prospects will face off against the international-born prospects in Cincinnati during All-Star weekend.

The Mets will have two representatives on the American team this year in outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. This will be Nimmo’s second trip to the Futures Game, with the first appearance occurring in 2013 when the Mets were the host team. Conforto, the Mets’ 2014 first-round pick, is making his first trip to the Futures Game.

What can we expect to see from each of these outfielders in a few days? Let’s find out! Here are some scouting reports on both Nimmo and Conforto.

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2015 MLB All-Star Roster: Complete Lineups and Top Storylines to Watch

Announcing the MLB All-Star roster now comes in three waves.  We’ve already passed the first two, with the fan-selected starters and manager-selected reserves.  But with the slew of injury replacements who find their way onto the roster, both the American League and National League dugouts begin to resemble college football rosters by the time the actual game rolls around.  

So the current snapshot below represents a more accurate representation of who has most deservedly earned the All-Star moniker.  And even excluding the next wave of players, there’s still a fair degree of uncertainty as to how Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost will actually manage these rosters, which creates some intriguing questions that won’t be answered until the game.

Check out the current AL and NL rosters below while also looking ahead to which players could find themselves most prominently featured in the Cincinnati spotlight.


2015 MLB All-Star Game Lineups


Storylines to Watch

Who Starts on the Mound?

The final vote might be the most immediate roster concern in the spotlight, but the most glamorous decision will come with the starting pitcher announcements.  Whereas one league has a fairly clear front-runner, the other squad will have a much wider net to cast to field its range of possible candidates.

In the senior circuit, Max Scherzer has been the clear class of the National League.  The Washington Nationals’ ace has been spectacular apart from a brief early June blip and, according to FanGraphs’ WAR, has accumulated nearly a full win more than any other pitcher in the league.

Scherzer has always harbored swing-and-miss stuff, but his control hasn’t always been great, something that held him back early in his career.  His newfound elite control has elevated his pitching again, though, as his 1.02 walks-per-nine-innings rate (BB/9) currently ranks third among qualified starters.  Assuming he does get the starting nod, Scherzer will join some historically elite company:

Yost won’t have nearly as simple a choice for the AL.  Reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber is somehow not on the roster despite leading the league in WAR, though he might sneak his way onto the roster later.  One possible alternative could be Dallas Keuchel, the ace of the Cinderella first-place Houston Astros.  

The Astros don’t really have a signature player serving as the mainstream face of the franchise, and a starting All-Star nod for Keuchel could vault him into that role.  The 27-year-old has maintained a sparkling 2.14 ERA and 11-3 record despite some poor fly-ball luck, and he’s certainly earned the respect of his peers:

The Chicago White Sox’s Chris Sale might get the nod based on pedigree, as he’s now a four-time All-Star who’s been on the precipice of starting previous games without actually earning the distinction.  Sale’s absurd 11.78 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) rate leads all qualified starters as he continues to carry the mantle for an otherwise nondescript White Sox squad.

Chris Archer, Sonny Gray and David Price are among the others who could at least make an argument for the starter’s role.  Whoever gets the assignment will likely face off against Scherzer, but the guess here is that it boils down to Keuchel vs. Sale.


Who Replaces Injured Starters?

The starting pitcher’s slot isn’t the only starting job that will be up for grabs.  As you can see in the lineups above, there are at least three fan-voted starters who will be unable to participate because of major injuries: Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton.  

St. Louis’ Matt Holliday has also been on the disabled list for the past month with a torn quad, but the Cardinals vet is pushing for a return and plans to play in the All-Star Game, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Derrick Goold.

For now we’ll operate under the assumption that Holliday does play, leaving three spots open for current reserves.  It’s important to note that the managers don’t simply need to take the next-highest vote-getters to replace their injured starters, as Yost and Bochy will both be able to pick their own starters.

On the AL side, the pickings are slim to replace Cabrera.  Eight of the top 10 leaders in WAR among first baseman are from the NL, and Cabrera is one of the two AL reps.  Albert Pujols is the other one, and given his MVP pedigree and power resurgence (which will see him featured in the Home Run Derby), the Machine seems like the most logical candidate to replace the Detroit Tigers first baseman.

Yost doesn’t have to stick with a natural left fielder to replace Gordon, but if he does, he might have to go off the roster for the best candidate.  

Yoenis Cespedes is currently on the Final Vote ballot and has accumulated the second most WAR among left fielders behind Gordon.  Cespedes won’t get a chance to win a third Home Run Derby title, but giving him the starting nod would provide a platform to feature his power for the Cincinnati crowd nonetheless:

Figuring out Stanton’s replacement is a little trickier.  Former MVP Andrew McCutchen has the biggest name and most popularity, but he has a bit of an offensive dip this season.  The honor should probably go to one of three young breakout stars: Joc Pederson, Starling Marte or A.J. Pollock.  Pederson’s power and status as a big-market star make him the most marketable, but would Bochy pick a Los Angeles Dodger to start?

None of this will have an impact on the game’s outcome, of course, but it’s a good way to evaluate the reputations and resumes of baseball’s biggest stars.  And though home-field advantage throughout the World Series controversially remains on the line, those status evaluations are the most interesting part of the All-Star selection process.


Advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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MLB All-Star Voting 2015: Roster Breakdowns, Final Vote Candidates for AL and NL

The 2015 MLB All-Star Game is set to descend upon Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 14, and this year’s star-studded rosters shouldn’t disappoint. 

And the biggest question this year revolves around the National League’s ability to snap the American League’s two-year winning streak. After shutting out the AL 8-0 in 2012, the NL has been downed in consecutive years by superior squads from the land of designated hitters. 

So with starters and reserves officially announced, it’s time to examine which players could be the biggest difference-makers at this year’s Midsummer Classic. 


National League Roster

Let’s kick things off with the NL starters, who were conveniently announced in graphic format by Baseball Tonight

Two key names to watch among that nine-man outfit will be Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper and Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt

Each player has been absolutely cleaning up at the plate this season, with Harper (25) and Goldschmidt (20) ranking second and fifth, respectively, in the NL in home runs. 

“Being able to play with some of the best in baseball at the All-Star Game and having a good time with everybody is definitely going to be exciting,” Harper said, according to the Washington Post‘s James Wagner. “I’m very happy and blessed to be a part of it. I thank all our fans and fans across the country that voted for me.”

Harper and Goldschmidt are also on torrid paces as it pertains to consistency at the plate.

Arizona’s first baseman ranks tops in the NL with a batting average of .348, while Harper is hot on his tail at .344.  

If the NL can ride those hot bats to an early lead, it could have a shot at bucking some recent trends. 

And when it comes to reserves and pitchers, the NL certainly isn’t short on quality talent, according to Baseball Tonight

As is the case on both sides, all eyes will be on the game’s promising youngsters.

In this case, it’s all about Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson.

According to the Chicago Sun-TimesGordon Wittenmyer, Bryant “became the first Cub rookie selected to an All-Star team since catcher Geovany Soto and outfielder Kosuke Fukudome in 2008.” 

While Bryant has been steadier at the plate, batting a superior .278 to Pederson‘s .233, the Los Angeles lefty has already bashed 20 homers—eight more than Bryant.

With an influx of up-and-coming franchise building blocks starting to solidify their places among the league’s elite, this year’s Midsummer Classic could be packed with fireworks. 


American League Roster

Once again, Baseball Tonight provides a look at this year’s starters: 

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the obvious headliner here individually, but from team-specific standpoints, the Kansas City Royals dominate the AL side. 

All told, the Royals have four starters in this year’s exhibition, including catcher Salvador Perez, shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and outfielder Alex Gordon. 

According to ESPN.com, “the Royals have more starters this season than in the previous 25 years combined.”

Talk about a changing of the guard. 

As Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller explained, this is the first time in 16 years that a New York Yankees player won’t make an All-Star start, and it’s just the second time that’s happened since 1992. 

The Yankees did sneak a player onto the reserve side and the pitching staff, though, according to Baseball Tonight:

And while the AL fields a stellar crop of backups, fans will be attuned to the production of Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who set an All-Star voting record after fans punched his name on the ballot more than 14 million times.  

“It’s a big honor to represent this team, for how many good players we have,” Donaldson said, according to MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “It’s an honor to be ticketed by the fans, and really just something that hasn’t really been done before. I honestly could never tell you I would ever expect this; it’s kind of mind-blowing a little bit.”


National League Final Vote

Every player in this year’s NL Final Vote field has insanely qualified credentials, but one player, in particular, sticks out above the rest.

Baseball Tonight provided a comprehensive rundown of the five finalists:  

Among that crop, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto represents the most compelling option.

The hometown Red—the All-Star Game is in Cincinnati this year—has a 2.84 ERA (136 ERA+) with a career-low 0.92 WHIP and a 100/20 K/BB in 104.2 innings,” CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa wrote. “Cueto’s record (5-5) doesn’t reflect how well he’s actually pitched.”  

The Reds have underwhelmed to this point in the season, but it would be fitting if fans allowed Cueto to validate this career year with an appearance in front of the Cincinnati faithful. 


American League Final Vote

And lastly, we have the AL Final Vote candidates, courtesy of Baseball Tonight:  

Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts could be the front-runner here, as he’s been one of the most impressive players at the position all season long. To date, the 22-year-old is batting .302 with 89 hits, 122 total bases and 37 RBI.

Bogaerts‘ eligibility is also interesting because teammate and utility-man extraordinaire Brock Holt was named to the AL All-Star team as a reserve. 

Should Holt slot in at second base, there could be a chance for the Red Sox young duo to flash their double-play prowess on one of the game’s biggest stages. 

Just another layer of intrigue for a game with fascinating-storylines galore. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB All-Star Game 2015: Best Twitter Reactions to Roster Announcements

The full All-Star Game rosters were released on Monday night, and players like Prince Fielder, Jason Kipnis and Nolan Arenado—whom many felt should have started at their respective positions—made it as reserves.

Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer headline the starting pitchers on the National League team, while American League manager Ned Yost will have to choose between Felix Hernandez, Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel, Chris Sale, David Price and Sonny Gray to start the game.

Here are the full rosters for both the AL and NL teams:

This year, more than in past seasons, there seem to be a lot of worthy candidates who were left off the roster because of competition at certain positions.

With the fans voting in Nelson Cruz as the starting designated hitter and Fielder’s being recognized by his peers for his efforts at DH halfway through the season, Alex Rodriguez was left off the AL team and the final fan vote.

Considering Rodriguez’s contributions to the success of the first-place New York Yankees to this point—16 home runs, 47 RBI and a .903 OPS—Jayson Stark of ESPN told Mike and Mike that A-Rod got snubbed:

There were snubs on the NL side as well.

An argument can be made that a guy like Justin Turner, who is having a breakout year, hitting .315 with 11 home runs and a .948 OPS, deserved the nod over D.J. LeMahieu of the Colorado Rockies. 

Apparently Turner hasn’t impressed his fellow players throughout the league as much he has D.J. Short of NBC Sports:

But Monday night wasn’t all hard feelings.

Jacob deGrom and Keuchel, two of the more promising young pitchers in the game, were among those who learned they’ll be playing in their first All-Star Game:

The kids weren’t the only ones receiving the news for the first time in their careers, however.

A.J. Burnett is in the midst of perhaps his best season this year with the Pittsburgh Pirates, pitching to a 1.99 ERA and a 7-3 record.

Burnett has accomplished a lot over his 17-year big league career. He’s led both leagues in shutouts, won a World Series and tossed a no-no while walking nine batters. 

But he had never made an All-Star team until Monday night. Pirates and NL teammate Andrew McCutchen is delighted for Burnett, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Yost and NL manager Bruce Bochy have the unenviable task of choosing the starting pitchers, with a myriad of justifiable options at their disposal.

Scherzer may have been the best pitcher in the sport over his past four starts, Greinke has the lowest ERA in MLB and Cole has an MLB-leading 12 wins. You would have to figure Bochy will hand the ball to one of those three to start the game, passing over his own guy, Bumgarner.

Stark noted that Scherzer could join elite company next Tuesday in Cincinnati, but according to Chris Johnson of MASN, Scherzer’s in line to start on Sunday for the Washington Nationals, which would take him out of the discussion:

Yost, meanwhile, has to decide between former Cy Young winner Price, the three pitchers with the lowest ERA’s in the AL—Gray, Keuchel and Archer—and Sale, the AL leader in strikeouts with 147.

John Buccigross of ESPN believes Keuchel deserves the distinction, and Keuchel’s peers seem to agree, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.

We’ll see if Yost shares the same sentiment.

For now, fans have to decide which AL and NL players merit the final roster spots on each team.

Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Martinez and Troy Tulowitzki are the candidates for the NL, while Xander Bogaerts, Yoenis Cespedes, Brian Dozier, Brett Gardner and Mike Moustakas earned the last chance to make the AL squad.

Twitter campaigning is in full effect:

Cueto and Kershaw haven’t been as dominant as people have grown accustomed to, but they still have had very good seasons, with a 0.92 and 1.04 WHIP, respectively.

Familia, meanwhile, has a 1.13 ERA and 0.88 WHIP and converted 23 of 25 save opportunities.

There are enough great starting pitchers in this game, but Familia—someone probably unfamiliar to many fans—deserves to put his talents on display on the big stage.

The AL candidates are all pretty even, but Bogaerts is a guy a lot of people were starting to write off but is really proving some doubters wrong with a nice first half.

So with that, it’s up to the fans to round out the two rosters and play the role of general manager, something they love to do in the comments sections.

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