Featuring Trevor Utley, Andrew Sanford, & Lou Kessler
By Trevor Utley
The 85th edition of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the Mid-Summer Classic if you will, is tonight on Fox in about twenty minutes. The best and brightest will descend upon Target Field in Minnesota in a game that for some reason still determines home field advantage in the World Series. That is another topic of debate for another day but this article will once again shed light on yet another thing I am not very good at: making preseason predictions. Honestly, outside of picking the World Cup winners the past three tournaments I've been poo poo at prognosticating pretty much anything sports related. It should come as no surprise then that in my preview for the 2014 season some of my All-Star picks were riddled with duds. You can never really foresee injuries and those took befell some of my more rational selections. Some I wish were injured just so they didn't look as horrible. You can view the entire rosters here, Final Vote, replacements, and all but let's dive in to the lovely game: HOW'D I DO?
HITS: Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez (Detroit); Jon Lester (Boston); Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre (Texas); Derek Jeter, Masahiro Tanaka (New York); Mike Trout (Los Angeles); Josh Donaldson (Oakland); David Price (Tampa Bay); Greg Holland (Kansas City); Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano (Seattle); Nelson Cruz (Baltimore); Jose Bautista (Toronto); Chris Sale, Jose Abreu (Chicago); Jose Altuve (Houston)
Any schmuck can pick Miguel Cabrera or Felix Hernandez to make the All-Star Team but my two preseason picks that I will give myself a pat on the back for are Jose Abreu from the White Sox and Nelson Cruz from the Orioles. Abreu had lofty expectations heaped upon him before his first season in Chicago but not even the staunchest of Abreu backers saw this type of production coming this quickly. Nelson Cruz didn't draw the big money interest this past offseason but he has rewarded Baltimore for their faith in him so far.
DUDS: Justin Verlander, Joe Nathan (Detroit); Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Felix Doubront (Boston); Elvis Andrus (Texas); Brian McCann (New York); Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, Ernesto Frieri (Los Angeles); Jim Johnson, Jed Lowrie (Oakland); Evan Longoria, Alex Cobb, Grant Balfour (Tampa Bay); James Shields, Luke Hochevar (Kansas City); Hisashi Iwakuma (Seattle); Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana (Cleveland); Chris Davis (Baltimore); Jose Reyes (Toronto); Joe Mauer (Minnesota)
Ugh, what was I thinking? Injuries and ineffectiveness wiped out a lot of these picks but there are still some head scratchers from several months ago me. I've had two duds actually get traded for each other in Los Angeles' Ernesto Frieri for Pittsburgh's Jason Grilli. New homes have not been kind to Joe Nathan, Brian McCann, and Jim Johnson. Even though relievers are always tough to gauge from year to year I still can't fathom why I thought Grant Balfour or Luke Hochevar would be Minnesota bound. The worst pick? Easily Felix Doubront from the floundering defending champ Boston Red Sox. Doubront was my "sneaky" pick to break through this year. The only thing the left hander has broken though is my balls as he has pitched to an inept 5.17 ERA and has been relegated to long relief duty.
HITS: Yasiel Puig, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke (Los Angeles); Matt Carpenter, Adam Wainwright (St. Louis); Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta); Hunter Pence, Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco); Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado); Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona); Huston Street (San Diego); Carlos Gomez (Milwaukee); Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh); Jeff Samardzija (Chicago)
The hits don't feel so good when you only connect on 37%. Nine of those fifteen correct came from just four teams: Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Atlanta. I like that I put Samardzija rightfully into the All-Star Game even if he won't play due to his trade last week to Oakland. Hunter Pence feels like another win for me since he is grossly underrated in my eyes and that is probably the highest praise I'll lay at the feet of a Giants player. I really took more hits than I gave with the National League.
DUDS: Hanley Ramirez (Los Angeles); Trevor Rosenthal (St. Louis); Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Rafael Soriano (Washington); Andrelton Simmons (Atlanta); Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Mat Latos (Cincinnati); Gerrit Cole, Jason Grilli (Pittsburgh); Matt Cain, Sergio Romo (San Francisco); Carlos Gonzalez, Jorge de la Rosa (Colorado); Mark Trumbo (Arizona); David Wright, Bartolo Colon (New York); Jose Fernandez (Miami); Ryan Braun (Milwaukee)
Yikes! I completely whiffed on four teams (Washington, New York, Miami, and Cincinnati) in the National League after only two (Cleveland, Minnesota) for the junior circuit. I took five cracks at the Washington Nationals and not a single correct pick. Injuries, especially to Jose Fernandez, of course played a huge part of my downfall but I really stunk out the joint here. I found myself trying to talk up some of my shakier New York league fantasy picks to myself in Andrelton Simmons, Trevor Rosenthal, and Sergio Romo. Romo has by far been the shittiest of the three. He lost his closer's role in the Bay by blowing three games in five days and giving up nine runs in just 2 1/3 innings. He beats out Jorge de la Rosa who somehow has 10 wins despite a 4.56 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. I'm sorry National League I have failed you.
Enjoy the game everyone! It still counts! Barf.
Trevor Utley is of course rooting for the National League in tonight's All-Star Game even though he always thinks a Dodger will blow it after that Hank Blalock homer off Eric Gagne in 2003.
Image Credits: All-Star Logo, American and National League crests (Wikipedia.org)