Home run (Safe bet)
Take the American League to score first at 2.25.
There are typically no safe bets at Major League Baseball’s All Star game as both teams have massive firepower and ace pitchers going in this contest. Not to mention there is so much substituting in the game that it’s hard to know who will be in at what point. (As a result, the Most Valuable Player is often a surprise as it’s more a reflection of getting an opportunity at the right time.)
Still, there is reason to go with the AL to open scoring and that reason is how Felix Hernandez throws the first time through a lineup, which – considering the nature of the All-Star game – will almost certainly be all he gets to pitch. This season, hitters own a .164 batting average, .206 on base percentage and .216 slugging percentage against King Felix their first at bat against him. Clearly, he does not normally face such a quality lineup but his success early in a game bodes well.
The National League will rely on Adam Wainwright, who will be making only his second appearance in an All Star game (He was chosen last year but didn’t pitch). There isn’t a ton of history between Wainwright and the AL hitters, but Jose Bautista does have a nice .333 batting average in eighteen at bats against the St. Louis starter. In only seven at bats, Miguel Cabrera has hit a home run.
Overall, the AL hitters will have more comfort – at least early on – playing at a stadium from their league (Target Field) because as a group they have more experience at the venue.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
Pick the American League, on at 1.91, to prevail over the National League.
As mentioned above, these games are hard to pick, so this is more of a gut call than anything. The American League won last year and this series has historically seen leagues win this game in bunches. The last time either the AL or the NL didn’t win at least two straight was between 1986 and 1988 when the NL reigned in 1986, the AL won the following year, and the NL the year after. Since then it’s been marked by dominance on one side or the other. So if history is our guide there, the AL will win its second straight.
Another factor is this will be Derek Jeter’s last All Star game. In the past, when a beloved icon has been known to be competing in his final Midsummer classic, his team has backed him. Last year, Mariano Rivera had announced his retirement before the season and triumphed as a member of the AL All Stars. In 2001 Cal Ripken, Jr. was similarly in his final campaign and he and his AL All Stars earned the victory. No doubt, Jeter’s teammates will be motivated to do the same.
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