By Thom Tsang @ThomTsang on July 15, 2014
Love it or hate it, it's hard to argue that the annual MLB All-Star game doesn't generate its fair share of storylines as the official midway marker of the season. Whether you're genuinely excited about the game's best putting on an exhibition (with World Series consequences), or if you're just tuning in so you can grumble about how silly the whole endeavor is afterwards, here are 10 things that you need to know about the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.
As fantastic as manager Mike Matheny's chosen NL starter Adam Wainwright has been in 2014, Kershaw has been that much better. The Dodgers lefty tops the Cardinals ace in ERA (1.78 vs. 1.83), FIP (1.60 vs. 2.52), BAA (.190 vs. .198), WHIP (0.83 vs. 0.91), K:BB (a ludicrous 9.69 vs. 4.26), and has been worth 3.7 fWAR compared to Wainwright's 3.4 ... while throwing 41.2 fewer innings. Kershaw says he doesn't feel slighted, but some fans probably do.
While third-time All-Star Yu Darvish jokingly told Dallas News that he is "planning to throw a super-slow pitch, 10 mph" if he were to get into the All-Star Game, the Rangers ace could actually make good on the joke by making his first appearance in the Midsummer Classic. He's coming off plenty of rest, and manager John Farrell will likely use the AL leader in K/9 (SPs) for an inning or two. Could Darvish reprise his closer role from the WBC?
No, Derek Jeter isn't the only member of the MLB world experiencing his final All-Star Game, though you could say that commissioner Bud Selig's last hurrah probably won't come with the same kind of fanfare. That said, the much-maligned commish did make his share of notable marks on the game during his tenure, including giving home-field advantage in the WS to the winning league of the ASG, of course. Whether it was a good idea, though ...
Is 2014 the year that the Oakland Athletics finally shake off the bad Moneyball jokes and become a baseball juggernaut? Their league-leading 59-36 record and incredible +145 run differential at the break seem to say so. Naturally, the A's are dominating the All-Star field too, as they'll send a league-leading six players to the Midsummer Classic: Josh Donaldson, Sean Doolittle, Scott Kazmir, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss and Derek Norris.
On the other hand, the NL East-leading Washington Nationals were almost shut out of the festivities entirely after starter Jordan Zimmermann became unavailable due to injury. Matheny did pick reliever Tyler Clippard as a very last-minute replacement, but it's hard to believe that a worthy replacement couldn't initially be found among the likes of Stephen Strasburg (2.9 fWAR, third in NL), Tanner Roark and Doug Fister.
Speaking of unfair, Jeff Samardzija, a deserving All-Star who put up fantastic numbers with the Chicago Cubs prior to being traded to the Oakland Athletics, will be recognized in name only. He has been ruled ineligible to participate due to front office dealings beyond his control. The unique situation robbed the Oakland Athletics of a seventh player in the Midsummer Classic, and also took away a potent weapon for the AL.
Well, obviously it means something with home-field advantage in the World Series on the line, but how has that affected past winners? It's a small sample, but the league that won the Midsummer Classic in each of the last five seasons also happened to produce the World Series winner in those years. Take that for what it's worth.
Perhaps an indicator that one generation of baseball greats will truly be passing the torch to the 'new kids', there were 25 first-time MLB All-Stars on the initial rosters announced on July 6. Will the All-Star debuts for players like Josh Donaldson significantly elevate their star status among casual fans around the league? A strong performance in the Midsummer Classic itself certainly wouldn't hurt.
Matt Wieters. Edwin Encarnacion. Alex Gordon. Yadier Molina. Victor Martinez. Masahiro Tanaka. Tyson Ross. Julio Teheran. Jordan Zimmermann. David Price. Johnny Cueto. Madison Bumgarner.
You know, if you were to put together an All-Unavailable All-Star team (not that there are enough bats), it probably wouldn't do half bad against either of the All-Star rosters.
Should Derek Jeter be starting in the 2014 All-Star Game? If you're going by performance alone, the answer is unequivocally no. However, fans know that there was simply no way the Captain would not receive this lifetime achievement honor in his final season as a player. In that context, it's a gesture that's been well earned by the all-time sixth-ranked SS by fWAR (74.3), whose impact on the game as the longtime face of MLB shouldn't be denied.
October 9, 2015 by Doug LaCerte
Game 2 of the ALDS between the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals begins just moments from now. Fans in KC are hoping that today's starter for Houston continues to struggle. Read More
October 9, 2015 by Paige Wells
Here are the top five reasons why the Texas Rangers will not only make it to the Fall Classic, but they will come out on top with a World Series victory. Read More
October 9, 2015 by Nick Vorholt
The Marlins are about to turn things around and here are the five players to get them over the hump in 2016. Read More
October 9, 2015 by Chad Troyan
It's believed that a little change can be a good thing. While that may be true, these five teams are in need of a roster overhaul. Read More
There are five players that the Atlanta Braves need to go after if they want to contend in 2016. Read More
October 8, 2015 by Jason Fletcher
Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta has been so good that people are beginning to accuse him of cheating. Read More
October 8, 2015 by Doug LaCerte
The Kansas City Royals begin their 2015 playoff run in just hours. Find out which Royals need to step up after having subpar performances in October last year. Read More
While it may seem a little bit taboo to have a toddler handling a bottle of champagne, in this moment it's perfectly fine with me. Read More