2013 MLB All-Star Game Rosters Announced

06 Jul

By Andrew Goodman

The rosters for the 84th annual Midsummer Classic were announced today. Once again, the American League and National League put their best up against each other with home field advantage in the World Series on the line. Here are what the rosters for each side look like:

Many of the players we're used to seeing year after year will be adding another All-Star appearance to their resume, while some youngsters are making their first of potentially many All-Star appearances.

For the American League, it was breakout first baseman Chris Davis who attained the most votes, followed by reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera and reigning AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout. For the NL, Mets superstar David Wright, Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez and the young phenom Bryce Harper who received the most votes.

So now that both rosters are out there, the question is simple – which team is better?

Obviously both teams are stacked, as only the best make it onto the All-Star team. However, sometimes the wrong players get voted in due to fan favoritism. This year, it seems like the fans got it right.

Let's start off with the position that had perhaps the most heated battle in the All-Star race – catcher. Yadier Molina and reigning NL MVP Buster Posey were neck-and-neck right up until the voting ended, but Molina came out on top. On the AL side, Joe Mauer, a former MVP, provides a strong presence behind the plate as well. The American League also added Jason Castro and Salvador Perez to its roster, both first time All-Stars, while the NL felt more than comfortable with only Molina and Posey.

Both Molina and Mauer are great at what they do. Neither of them has much power, but make up for it by getting on base. Molina leads the National League in batting average, hitting .346, while Mauer is hitting .314, still impressive but far behind Molina. Mauer has 25 double and eight home runs compared to Molina's 26 doubles and six home runs, so their power hitting is almost identical. Molina has 50% more RBIs than Mauer (45 compared to 30), and also has three stolen bases. Mauer has a better on base percentage (OBP) than Molina, as he has been walked more than twice as much as Molina. The two catchers have a very similar style of play. Mauer is slightly more powerful than Molina, but Molina is a little bit better on the defensive side. So, who gets the edge? In my opinion, these two catchers are just as good as one another, so we're going to have to take a look into the reserves to decide.

When you take a look at the reserves, it becomes very clear that the National League has the advantage behind the plate. Jason Castro is only on the time because the All-Star team must have one player from every team and he is the only decent player on a pathetic Houston Astros team. Perez is batting a solid .302, but with only four home runs, no stolen bases and only 15 doubles, he isn't doing anything amazing to help is team. Posey, on the other hand, is a clear cut All-Star. He's batting .310 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs. It's no wonder why he and Molina were neck-and-neck up until the last day, as the National League would be well off with either of the two behind the plate. It makes sense why the American League needs three catchers, because the three of them combined still don't equal the talent of Molina and Posey. The National League definitely has the edge when it comes to this position.


Advantage: National League

Starting our way around the diamond, we look at the first base position. On the AL side we have Chris Davis, who is on pace to hit 60 home runs this year and is having what I think can be the best season since Babe Ruth's 1921 season. He leads the majors in home runs with 33 and is second in the AL in both batting average and RBIs behind only reigning MVP and fellow All-Star Miguel Cabrera. On the NL side we have former NL MVP Joey Votto, who is having a good season but whose numbers are nothing compared to Davis's. Votto has 15 home runs, 38 RBIs and is batting .325. While these are impressive numbers, they don't come close to Davis's stats, so the advantage at first base goes to the American League. However, the NL first basemen aren't to be counted out. Paul Goldschmidt and Allen Craig are both having breakout years and add some additional power to the NL reserve, while proven All-Star Prince Fielder equalizes theat power on the AL side. While I think the American League has the edge, it can really come down to whoever is having a better day come July 16th.


Advantage: American League

Continuing around the diamond, we take a look at the second basemen. For the American League, Robinson Cano, the only Yankee in the starting lineup, will take the field. For the National League, defensive star Brandon Phillips owns the starting role. Both men have been in this role before, as second base is never a position that is stacked throughout the majors. Phillips has been a staple in the Reds lineup for a while now, while Cano has emerged as the future of the Yankees franchise (if he decides to stay there).  Cano is definitely the better player. He leads Phillips in baseically every offensive category besides RBIs, but that is because the Reds score more than the Yanks. He has seven more homers and is hitting almost a full 30 points above Phillips. Phillips definitely has more speed than Cano, but I'd rather have Cano on my team.

On the bench,  both teams are fully stocked of second basemen. The American League has three second basemen in the reserves, while the National League has two. Even the AL reserved second basemen are better than those on the NL bench. Pedroia is a former AL MVP, Zobrist has been to the All-Star game before, and Kipnis has numbers that rival those of Phillips. The National League has a pair of second basemen making their All-Star debut on their bench. Marco Scutaro is near the top of the league in batting average, as is Carpenter, but neither have any pop in their bat that can make the difference in an All-Star matchup.


Advantage: American League

We stop halfway along our trip towards third base to analyze the shortstop position. For years, the American League dominated this position with players like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra. Times have changed since the golden age of shortstops. Starting for the AL is J.J. Hardy, a former NL All-Star who is now playing for the other side. Hardy has some pop, as he has 15 homers and 46 RBIs, but is batting only .254 and has an OBP under .300. For the National League, Troy Tulowitzki gets the start. Tulowitzki has 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 27 less games played than Hardy. He is batting .347, which with an OBP of .413. Tulowitzki is the future of the shortstop position. He has power, speed, defensive prowess, and natural ability. He is in an entirely different league than Hardy, and no I don't mean the National League. The shortstop battle is so one-sided that I'm not even going to go into the reserves, because that too is one-sided in favor of the National League.


Advantage: National League

The battle at the hot corner position is the hardest one for me to discuss, because I am heavily biased in favor of the National League. As a Mets fan, David Wright is one of my favorite players. Unfortunately, he pales in comparison to the AL's Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is the reigning AL MVP and the only offensive Triple Crown winner in over 30 years. Cabrera is having another MVP-like year. He leads the league in batting average and RBIs, and is second in home runs behind only Chris Davis. David Wright is the better defensive third baseman, but there isn't a batter that pitchers fear more than Miggy. In the reserves, the AL has Manny Machado, who just turned 21 today. Machado is on pace to break the single season doubles record, as he has 39 halfway through the season. He's also batting .315. For the National League, Pedro Alvarez provides home run potential, as he has hit 22 this season, but hasn't dne much else. He's hitting only .243 and has already struck out 103 times. As much as it hurts me to say it, the AL definitely has the edge.


Advantage: American League

The outfield is pretty even on both sides. For the American League, the outfield consists of Jose Bautista, who led the league in home runs last year, reigning rookie of the year winner Mike Trout and Adam Jones, not to be confused with Adam "Pacman" Jones. On the NL side of things, a rejuvinated Carlos Beltran, the hard-hitting Carlos Gonzalez and the young Bryce Harper makeup the outfield. Jones has 15 homers, 59 RBIs and is hitting .290, Bautista has 20 homers, 52 RBIs and is batting a mediocre .264, and Trout has 13 homers with 55 RBIs and a batting average of .314. This is a well-balanced outfield. Bautista has more power than the other two, Jones is best with men on base, and Trout is best at getting on base. They complete each other to make up a very good outfield.

Since joining the St. Louis Cardinals, Beltran's career has been revamped. He has 19 homers and 51 RBIs and is batting .305. This is the Carlos Beltran that we all knew a few years ago, but it is good to see him back. CarGo is, in my opinion, the best outfielder in baseball. He has 23 home runs, 62 RBIs and is batting .295. He also has 21 doubles and six triples to add to that stat line, as well as 15 stolen bases. He is the definition of a full package. Bryce Harper is not having a great year, and personally I don't think he deserves to start. However, he is a fan favorite. He has had to deal with injury, but still has decent numbers. Harper has 13 home runs and 28 RBIs and is batting .264, but he has only played 50 games this year. HE may have as many as 20 homers if he played every game, but that is impossible to know.

When you look at these two outfield packages, it is hard to choose one, but I have to give the edge to the National League. They are all-around better players. They have more power, better batting averages and are better defensive players. The outfield dominated by men named Carlos has a slight edge, but if Harper plays like he did last season, they can easily pull away. However, the same could be said about Jose Bautista on the AL side.

As for the outfield reserves, the NL has the advantage there as well. Any combination of Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez, Dominic Brown and Michael Cuddyer could prove to be a starting All-Star outfield just as easily as anybody else. They are far superior to the AL reserves, comprised of Torii Hunter, Alex Gordon and Nelson Cruz.


Advantage: National League

Now that we've completed our trip around the field, we head to the bullpen. The American League has some big names in their pen. Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez are as dominant a set of four pitchers can be. They are all strikeout machines. Scherzer leads the league in wins, and is the only pitcher to start the season 13-0 since Roger Clemens did the same in 1986. Throw Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson into the mix, and you have quite the starting rotation. However, none of these six pitchers are in the top five when it comes to ERA. On the other hand, the National League pen is full of pitchers who not only strike batters out but don't allow runs either. Matt Harvey, who I consider to be the best pitcher in baseball will likely start the game for the NL. Harvey leads the NL in strikeouts and is in the top five in ERA and WHIP. His win-loss record does not reflect his talent, as he pitches for the struggling Mets. Clayton Kershaw also has that problem. However, Kershaw leads the majors with an ERA of 1.93. Adam Wanwright is another talented young pitcher who is in the top five in the league in both ERA and wins, and not far out of the top five in strikeouts. Jeff Locke of the Pirates is second in the league in ERA. Kershaw, Locke, Harvey and Wainwright are all in the top five in ERA, so they have a better chance of shutting down the American League's offense as anybody. Washington's Jordan Zimmerman is second in the league with 12 wins, and Cliff Lee adds a veteran presence that can definitely help guide the other young pitchers. Arizona's breakout star, Patrick Corbin, is another weapon in the NL pen, as he has shocked all who have faced him.

So for pitchers, it comes down to strikeouts versus ERA. The National League pitchers have lower ERAs, but that makes sense because they are pitching to a ninth batter whom is a pitcher, while the American League pitchers subsitite the pitcher's batting spot with the designated hitter (DH). The American League pitchers have more strikeouts, but that also makes sense, as powerful DHs often either hit home runs or strikeout. Although this is a close battle, I have to give the edge to the National League. They simply have more young talent, and as we've seen in the past, having pitchers that last longer can change an All-Star Game. Harvey is pitching in his home stadium, so he will likely want to display exactly what he can do. If he pitches the first few innings like he has the rest of the season, the National League will start the game with an early advantage.


Advantage: National League

Last, but certainly not least is perhaps the most important position on an All-Star team – the closer. Mariano Rivera has been in this same role time and time again in his career, and he is the best at it. While Grilli will close the game out for the NL, nobody can compare to Mo. He is the greatest closer of all time, so who better to have on the mound come the end of a game? He's also pitching in his own city. This may also be Rivera's last All-Star Game, so you can bet he wants to make it a memorable one.


Advantage: American League

Now that we've made our way around the diamond, through the outfield and into the bullpen, the question still remains – which team is better?

I believe that the National League squad is far better than the American League's. While the American League has the advantage when it comes to power, the National League's pitching is simply phenomenal. Toss in an outfield like the NL has and the huge advantage at shortstop, and the National League should have this game wrapped up. Perhaps it is time for the National League to reign supreme like they did in the 60s and 70s, or maybe the American League will brush off last year's loss and continue its All-Star dynasty that has formed this millennium. The only way to find out is to watch the game, so check it out on July 16th, from Citi Field, the 84th MLB All-Star Game.