Sunday, July 14, 2013

All Star Preview

                              Molina and Mujica:Two of the Six Cardinal All Stars

A record 38 first time All Stars have been named to this year's rosters. That been said, there is a few veterans returning. Mariano Rivera made his 13th All Star team in his final season at age 43. Rivera's 13 All Star appearances is a record for a relief pitcher. Goose Gossage is the closest with 9 and pitchers of Rivera's generation like Billy Wagner or Trevor Hoffman only made 7. David Ortiz is next, getting voted into his 9th All Star appearance, which is a record for designated hitters. Carlos Beltran returns for his 8th appearance.

A couple other players will make the first All Star Game in their mid-30's. The Pirates Jason Grilli is 36 years old and with his ninth organization, but has revived his career since joining the club in mid-2011. Grilli was a first round draft pick by the Giants in 1997 and was traded to the Marlins for Livan Hernandez two years later. Grilli made his major league debut in 2000 with the Marlins, but struggled and bounced around for the next decade. The Pirates traded away Joel Hanrahan last offseason and moved Grilli into the closer role. Mark Melancon was one of the players acquired for Hanrahan, and has also been named to the All Star team after a dominant first half in relief. Marco Scutaro has been a solid middle infielder for many years, but never a big name. Scutaro was key in the Giants World Series run last year after being acquired at the trading deadline. He is batting .313 this year and is easy to see why Bochy rewarded the 37 year old second baseman with his first All Star appearance.

Sometimes, a highly touted prospect struggles when they first reach the big leagues and have to be sent back down to the minors. There are a few players on this year's team that have revived their careers after some early struggles. The Royals Alex Gordon was one of the top prospects in baseball in 2007 and had a OK rookie season as their third baseman that year. He struggled after that and was spent parts of 2008 and 2009 in the minors. He came back as a left fielder and has won two Gold Gloves and improved as a hitter. Gordon is one of three Royals on this years team, joining teammates Salvador Perez and Greg Holland. The Royals haven't had that many All Stars since 1988 when George Brett, Mark Gubicza, and Kurt Stillwell made the team.

Gordon was able to revive his career with the team that drafted him, but Chris Davis and Edwin Encarnacion needed a change of scenery. Davis has a league high 37 home runs and could threaten to hit 60 this year. Davis was traded to the Orioles from the Rangers in 2011 in a deadline deal. He had a good year last season as the Orioles made their first postseason appearance in 15 years. This year, he's a MVP candidate. Encarnacion was traded to the Blue Jays from the Reds for Scott Rolen in 2009. He had a up and down career until last season when he broke out. Encarnacion, like his All Star teammate Jose Bautista; took awhile to develop.

For the most part, the fans picked the right choices for starters, although there is a couple debatable choices. One could argue that Andrew McCutchen or Carlos Gomez should be starting over Bryce Harper, who has missed a good chunk of games due to injury. Matt Carpenter has a case over Brandon Phillips. The starting pitchers haven't been named yet, but I think the Tigers Max Scherzer and the Mets Matt Harvey are the most likely choices for starter. Since the game is in New York, I would be shocked if Harvey didn't get the start. Jim Leyland talked about starting Rivera, but Rivera said he wanted to close the game.

The Cardinals have six All Stars for the second straight season. Yadier Molina and Beltran were voted in, Carpenter and Allen Craig were picked as reserves, and Adam Wainwright as a pitcher. Wainwright won't pitch in Tuesday's game since he started Sunday night's game, so teammate Edward Mujica was named to replace him. Carpenter is the Cardinals first All Star second baseman since Tommy Herr in 1985. Carpenter, Craig, and Mujica are all first time All Stars. Since 2000, the Cardinals have had 24 different players named to a combined 51 All Star appearances.

The Yankees only had two representatives this year with Rivera and Robinson Cano making the team. That is their lowest amount in 20 years when Wade Boggs and Jimmy Key made the team. The Pirates are represented by Grilli, Melancon, Jeff Locke, Andrew McCutchen, and Pedro Alvarez, giving them five All Stars. That is their most since 1972, a year after they won the World Series. The Orioles also have five All Stars in Davis, JJ Hardy, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, and Chris Tillman, which is their most since 1997. Despite star studded rosters, the Angels and Dodgers only have one rep apiece with Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw making the team.

All Star Rosters

National League

Starters: Yadier Molina, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Troy Tulowitzki, David Wright, Carlos Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Carlos Beltran

Reserves: Buster Posey, Brian McCann, Paul Goldschmidt, Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Marco Scutaro, Jean Segura, Everth Cabrera, Pedro Alvarez, Dominic Brown, Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutchen, Michael Cuddyer

Pitchers: Matt Harvey, Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Patrick Corbin, Travis Wood, Jose Fernandez, Madison Bumgarner, Mark Melancon, Edward Mujica, Craig Kimbrel, Sergio Romo, Aroldis Chapman, Jason Grilli

Named, Won't Play: Freddie Freeman, Jeff Locke, Jordan Zimmermann, Adam Wainwright

American League

Starters: Joe Mauer, Chris Davis, Robinson Cano, JJ Hardy, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Adam Jones, Jose Bautista, David Ortiz

Reserves: Jason Castro, Salvador Perez, Edwin Encarnacion, Prince Fielder, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis, Ben Zobrist, Jhonny Peralta, Manny Machado, Alex Gordon, Nelson Cruz, Torii Hunter

Pitchers: Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, Chris Tillman, Matt Moore, Yu Darvish,  Justin Masterson, Chris Sale, Greg Holland, Steve Delabar, Brett Cecil, Grant Balfour, Glen Perkins, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera

Named, Won't Play: Justin Verlander, Bartolo Colon, Hisashi Iwakuma, Jesse Crain, Clay Buchholz

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