With the first half of the 2015 MLB season in the books, the best players from both the National and American leagues will converge on Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the 86th edition of the MLB All-Star Game (Tuesday, July 14 @ 7pm ET on FOX).
Read on to see our preview’s predictions and betting picks for which league wins the Midsummer Classic and with it, home field advantage in the 2015 World Series.
All-Star Trends Back the AL to Win Third in a Row
One of the most important things to know about the MLB All-Star Game is that it is, and has always been, a game of streak-based performances. In fact, since 1945, the first year the game was not held due to the MLB strike, there have only been eight years in which one of the leagues did not win at least back-to-back contests.
Since 1963, this trend has held especially true and both the NL and AL have enjoyed periods of prolonged success. At one point, the NL was winners of 19 of 20 including a stretch of eight in a row. It is only fair to mention however, that this was before the inception of the DH, a rule that has been in play in the All-Star game regardless of the home park, since 2010.
In 1997, the AL began perhaps the most dominant stretch the game has seen, including victories in 12 of 13 games and as winners of 14 of the last 18. However, it was during this AL period of dominance that the NL recorded the largest margin of victory (eight runs) since the AL won by 10 back in 1983. This same game marked the first all-star game shutout since 1996. It was followed up the next year by the AL blanking the NL, making it the first time in the game’s history that there were consecutive shutouts.
In addition to the streaks, All-Star trends also back the game to be closely contested. Since the tie in 2002, only two of the AL’s nine wins have been by more than two runs. Five of these nine have been by just a single run. Those are just a few things to keep in mind when making a betting pick for this year’s game.
Highlighting the Rosters
This year’s All-Star Game is notable in that 30, count them, 30 players are first time all-stars. This is the largest field of first timers in the game’s history. Of course, there are also veterans among the remaining 34 players, including 10x all-stars, Miguel Cabrera (pictured above) and Albert Pujols, 7x All Star Yadier Molina, 6x All Star Felix Hernandez, 5x all-stars Clayton Kershaw and Adrian Gonzalez, and many more.
The AL Team was expected to boast the best player in both leagues in Cabrera, but he is injured and is expected to miss at least six to eight weeks. This leaves the NL, with the pair of Paul Goldschmidt (.340/ .455/.610, 70 RBI, 21 HR, 20 2B, 60 R) and Nolan Arenado (.293/.329/.598, 70 RBI, 24 HR, 22 2B, 52 R) as the top RBI getters in the game. The NL also boasts one of the league’s active HR leaders in Bryce Harper (26), who is just one behind fellow but also injured all-star Giancarlo Stanton, for the MLB lead.
Losing Cabrera is a blow to the AL side for sure, but the team still has the top four run scorers in baseball in Mike Trout (.312/.405/.614, 55 RBI, 26 HR, 18 2B, 68 R) who is also the co-home run leader with Harper and last year’s All Star Game MVP, Brian Dozier (67 R), Josh Donaldson (65 R) and Brett Gardner (63 R).
Both rosters are loaded with players who can get on base, but the NL is just a little better, leading the way with Harper, Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo (.298/.413/.542, 24 2B, 48 RBI, 48 R) with Trout coming in fourth.
This might be the first year in a while that the NL roster appears on its face, to be the stronger of the two offensively. And as far as pitching, which usually favors the NL, which once again seems to be the case.
The NL starter profiles to be Zach Greinke who is head and shoulders above all of his competition. Greinke leads baseball with a 1.39 ERA, making him the only pitcher to be under 2.00. He is second in WHIP (0.84) to fellow NL All Star Max Scherzer, who started last year’s game for the AL but is ineligible to start this year, because he pitched Sunday. Greinke is third in MLB in opponent’s BA as well (.191).
The AL’s roster, while not as ERA-friendly, is comprised of power pitchers as from Chris Sale (157 SO), the likely starter, to Chris Archer (147 SO), each of the top three AL pitchers has over 145 strikeouts.
Up and down the lineup and in the pitching rotation there is nothing but talent. That’s unsurprising given the nature of the game. That said, the NL roster does enter this game with slightly more talent and slightly more health on their side.
All-Star Game Preview’s Predictions & Betting Picks
Just three wins and six runs separate the two leagues over the course of the 85 games. Each game, exciting in its own right, is also important in the grand scheme of things. Home field advantage is on the line, making the MLB All Star Game the only one of the four major US sports that something more than bragging rights is on the line. For that reason, expect the best players to play and the top pitchers to pitch. Expect guys to make great plays and to hustle out every ball. That’s what makes the All Star Game great and that’s why it’s the Midsummer Classic.
The AL is riding a two game streak but it is right on the heels of the one three game one by the NL. The NL has a top team this year and they have the benefit of playing in an NL ballpark. Having the DH might actually benefit them given it will allow an additional one of their top bats in the line-up. So here are our All-Star game preview’s betting picks predictions:
- Take the NL to break the streak and to get back to one of their own. I recommend betting on the National League -1.5 on the runline @ best odds of +185 with BetOnline. It is +175 with 5Dimes.
- I would also advise sticking with the over. Again Betonline has the best betting line odds, going over 7 runs @ -120 while 5Dimes go -125 for the same number. Bovada Sportsbook was yet to publish their betting lines at time of writing.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.