With the first half of the baseball season behind us, it’s time for the 2018 MLB All-Star Game. Despite winning 17 of the last 20 Midsummer Classics, the American League is only a slight favorite at -105. Meanwhile, the National League is -115 as they look to snap their five game losing streak in the Midsummer Classic tonight at Nationals Park.
More times than not, all-star games are low-scoring affairs that are dominated by pitching. If that’s the case, the National League may have a slight advantage. The American League will be missing the services of Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander, and Aroldis Chapman, three pitchers who would be most useful. Meanwhile, Joe Jimenez, Jose Berrios, and J.A. Happ are all a part of the American League roster. While all three are solid pitchers, they are more or less participating because each team needs at least one representative, potentially weakening the American League pitching staff.
On the other hand, the National League has a more balanced pitching staff despite missing the services of Miles Mikolas and Jon Lester. Aces like Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom appear poised to take care of business in the first few innings. The National League then has a nice contingent of relievers like Brad Hand, Josh Hader, and Felipe Vazquez to shut the door if they can get a lead.
Naturally, each team will want to put its best foot forward. However, we all know that all-star games are filled with substitutions, and so it could be the players who start out the game on the bench that end up deciding things in the later innings. Oddly enough, it’s the National League bench that’s filled with power hitters like Paul Goldschmidt, Jesus Aguilar, Trevor Story, and Christian Yelich. Meanwhile, the American League brings the speed and athleticism of Francisco Lindor, Jean Segura, George Springer, and Shin-Soo Choo. This would seem to give the A.L. a little more flexibility in the late innings, which could prove advantageous.
Most all-stars are selected because of their offensive prowess, and so defense is overlooked. Of course, we all know that it can play an important role in any game. The National League, for instance, has some elite defensive infielders starting the game, although once the backups enter they will be much stronger defensive in the outfield. The American League, on the other hand, should be solid defensively all around with their starters, although they could get weaker in some spots as they make lineup changes.
On the surface, the MLB All-Star Game is a difficult game to predict. Every player who steps on the field is among the best in the game at his position and capable of being a difference maker. If there’s a slight edge in talent, it may belong to the National League, which has not had to use as many roster spots to satisfy the quota of all 30 teams having at least one representative. That could end up being the difference in the game, despite the history working against the N.L. Take a chance and bet on the National League -115 on Tuesday night in the MLB All Star Game.