The best of the American League and National League will descend upon Marlins Park in Miami, Florida, for the 88th playing of the MLB All-Star Game and things will be done a little differently this year (8pm ET Tuesday on ESPN).
For the first time since 2002, which is when interleague play was introduced in major league baseball, this year’s game will not determine which league gets homefield advantage throughout the World Series. Rather, the team with the better regular-season record will serve as the host meaning this year’s mid-summer classic, is merely being played for pride.
A Little Bit of History
The first All-Star game was played in 1933 at Comiskey Park in Chicago and was won by the American League in a 4-2 final. The AL then went on to dominate for the next 16 years, winning 12 of the first 16 total games.
The NL won their first classic in 1936 at Braves Field in Boston, but it wasn’t until 1950, when the game returned to Comiskey, that they rattled off their first winning streak, taking four in a row. The NL would start a new winning streak in 1959, a year which also began a stretch of the league winning 23 of 25, including an all-star record 11 in a row.
The AL began a period of success following a victory in 1988 at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, winning 18 of the next 22, including separate five and seven game winning streaks of their own.
The NL got back into the winning column in 2010 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, winning three in a row, before the AL took over in 2013 at Citi Field in New York, to win each of the next four.
Entering 2017’s edition of the game, the AL is still riding that four game winning streak and has a chance to tie the all-time standings (at 43 victories a piece) for the first time since 1965.
AL Roster by the Numbers
- Catchers: Salvador Perez (KC), Gary Sanchez (NYY)
- First Basemen: Justin Smoak (TOR), Yonder Alonso (OAK)
- Second Basemen: Jose Altuve (HOU), Starlin Castro (NYY), Robinson Cano (SEA)
- Third Basemen: Jose Ramirez (CLE), Miguel Sano (MIN), Mike Moustakas (KC)
- Shortstop: Carlos Correa (HOU), Francisco Lindor (CLE)
- Designated Hitter: Corey Dickerson (TB), Nelson Cruz (SEA)
- Outfield: Aaron Judge (NYY), Mookie Betts (BOS), George Springer (HOU), Avisail Garcia (CWS), Michael Brantley (CLE)
As has been their strength over the past several years, the American League brings a roster that is a well balanced attack of power and pure hitting. Among the starters, the AL totals 180 home runs and over 400 RBI.
Leading the way on the power side is the 25-year-old rookie standout, Aaron Judge, who leads all of MLB in home runs, OPS (1.139), SLG (.691) and OBP (.448). He is also ranked first in the AL in walks (61) and second in runs (75). The person who is first in those two categories is Judge’s all-star teammate, George Springer. Just 27 himself, Springer leads his league with 76 runs, and is second to Judge in home runs (27), SLG (.613) and OPS (.993).
Looking from a pure hitting standpoint, the AL is led by baseball’s top average right now in Jose Altuve’s .347 clip. Also over .300 among the starters are Jose Ramirez (.332), Judge (.329), Carlos Correa (.325), Corey Dickerson (.312) and Springer (.310). Overall, the starters combine to average .312, with the lowest individual average being Mookie Betts at .272.
NL Roster by the Numbers
- Catchers: Buster Posey (SF), Yadier Molina (STL)
- First Basemen: Ryan Zimmerman (WAS), Paul Goldschmidt (ARI), Joey Votto (CIN), Cody Bellinger (LAD)
- Second Basemen: Daniel Murphy (WAS), Josh Harrison (PIT), D.J. LeMahieu (COL)
- Third Basemen: Nolan Arenado (COL), Jake Lamb (ARI), Justin Turner (LAD)
- Shortstop: Zack Cozart (CIN), Corey Seager (LAD)
- Outfield: Bryce Harper (WAS), Charlie Blackmon (COL), Marcell Ozuna (MIA), Ender Inciarte (ATL), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA), Michael Conforto (NYM)
The National League’s roster may not have as much power as that of their rivals, but they make up for that run production in other ways. Offensively, the NL lineup is stacked with hitters, three of which are teammates on the Washington Nationals.
Daniel Murphy has the NL’s top average and second in all of MLB at .342. Two spots behind him is Ryan Zimmerman at .330 and just three spots behind Zimmerman is Bryce Harper at .325. In a year where home field advantage is not up for grabs it’s a shame because the Nationals, which could reach the World Series, are likely to make a huge impact in the outcome of this game as well.
Among the rest of the starters, all eight are hitting above .300 which puts them in the top-30 of batting averages across all of baseball. Excluding Nolan Arenado (.301), the rest of the NL hitters are all ranked even higher, within the top-13 and with a batting average no lower than .316.
Seeing these numbers it should serve as no surprise that the NL is better than the AL in the RBI department as well. Arenado is tied with his NL teammate Marcell Ozuna and AL reserve, Nelson Cruz, for the most in MLB with 70. Murphy, Zimmerman, Harper and Charlie Blackmon are also in the top-15 among NL starters. Including reserves, nine of the league’s 20 players have at least 60 RBI on the year.
MLB All-Star Game Betting Predictions & Picks
It’s an all-star game so both of these rosters are stacked. Offensively, we are talking juggernauts, both from a power and pure hitting standpoint. In fact, this may be one of the best offenses fielded in the game in sometime. Again, with the year offense is having overall, with stats up across the board, this really isn’t a shock.
Now this preview takes everything into account and decides where to place its all-star game betting money, so here are our picks and predictions:
- Both leagues are bringing strong pitching to the game and in the past, all-star contests have been known to favor the guys on the mound. Recently however, that trend may be shifting as only five times since 2000 has the final score totaled six runs or fewer. That being said, only seven times since 2000, has the total number of runs scored been nine or greater, which is what this year’s spread is with most of the US sportsbooks. Offensively, both lineups have the ability to top this mark so go against the stats and take the over nine total runs @ best odds of evens with Bovada, Intertops or MyBookie.
- The NL, despite having lost each of the last four, is favored at their home ballpark by 1.5. This preview expects the National League to get back to the winning side of things in the midsummer classic. Looking at the betting, we’ll avoid the spread and back NL on the moneyline at best odds of -115 with Bovada or Bookmaker.
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.