The American League has the edge for the same reason the AL has the edge every year - superior hitting and competitive pitching. Not NL-quality pitching, of course, but they are competitive. And, they're used to facing the DH. NL pitchers get to pad their stats facing each other wiggling a stick at home plate.
And, the NL is missing the Herculean presence of St. Albert Pujols. The Legend of Albert won't get any new paragraphs at this years' All-Star Game.
And, Robinson Cano is hitting ... er ... eighth? for the AL squad? Is that right? Eighth? Holy Thunder down low, Batman!
Rickie Weeks 2B
Matt Kemp CF
David Ortiz DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Scott Rolen 3B
Head-to-head comparisons (offense):
Rickie Weeks is a monster - or, he can be. He can also disappear completely. His season batting average? .278 - not bad... but, over the past two weeks, he's hitting only .208 ... His team probably misses him.
Curtis Granderson is a monster - or, he can be. He also has a flickering personality. His season batting average is .269 - a little weak... but, over the past two weeks, he's hitting ... huh? .216???
These guys are leading off for their respective leagues. Granderson tosses in 15 stolen bases & 79 runs scored while Weeks 7 steals and 67 runs scored. Let's hope they've been looking forward to the All-Star Game and haven't been paying attention to the "ordinary" regular season games they've been playing or we could see some serious O-fers here.
Edge: AL (slight)
Carlos Beltran used to be a monster. Injuries and sub-par play have really cost his Mets both in production and in dollars. This year is better for him, though and his numbers are up. Typically a run-producer, he's been slotted into a setup role in the lineup bridging the sparkplug leading off to those run-producers in the three and four holes. He's been hot the last 14 days hitting .321 and scoring 14 runs - that's one per game and a fantasy owner's dream.
Asdrubal Cabrera, on the year, has eerily similar numbers to Carlos in average (.293 to .285), runs (55 to 52) and RBIs (51 to 58)... but, Asdrubal's youthful legs has stolen 12 bags while the aged one has only 3.
Edge: AL (slight)
Matt Kemp is clearly the best player on the legendary LA Dodgers' juggernaut. Wait... well... maybe not this year. But, he is their best player and is being touted for MVP of the National League. His stats are solid (.313 avg, 22 HR, 67 RBI) and he makes great contact - a quality trait for a #3 hitter in your lineup. He also, just to get under your skin, offers 27 stolen bases making it dangerous to just walk him if you have a guy on third.
Adrian Gonzalez just came to the AL this year. And, with him comes a .354 average, 17 HRs and 77 RBIs in a lineup that has already seen more runners in "scoring position" this half than his counterpart will likely see for the whole season.
Edge: Toss up
The top third of the lineup sets the table for the run producers. They get on base then create as much havoc as possible for the opposing pitchers so the "meat of the order" that follows in the middle of the lineup can pummel destracted hurlers. Both teams have significant set up men with only a slight edge going to the AL.
Prince Fielder brings prodigious power to the lineup. Actually, his numbers are about the same as those for Matt Kemp, but the moon shots Fielder offers up are much more impressive - don't make a mistake when he's got a bat in his hand or you likely will be rubbing up a new baseball.
Jose Bautista leads the world in home runs. And, he's done so since the beginning of last year. He also has scored a whopping 73 runs, driven in 65 teammates and does so at a dazzling .334 clip. Between he and A-Gone, they will be very difficult to keep off the bases.
Brian McCann is a catcher. Catchers are notoriously weak hitters that can't run. Exceptions are... well, McCann... along with just a few others. His .313 average is very good and his 15 dingers is good, but not great. And, he doesn't steal unless the other team goes to sleep on him (twice, so far, this year). And, he doesn't score a lot. Very curious why he's slotted in the five hole and not eighth.
Josh Hamilton is Superman. His exhibition in the All-Star Home Run Derby a couple of years ago is the Stuff of Legend. But, like most power hitters, he is prone to being suckered into swinging at the pitcher's pitch rather than taking the walk and letting a teammate have a whack at driving him in. Heroism typically doesn't allow for that. Josh missed a significant chunk out of the first half so his numbers are a little light. But, he does bring 11 bombs and a .301 average. That's a little below his norm and he's getting healthy. Between the two, Josh is more likely to destroy a pitcher's gameplan than Brian.
Edge: AL (significant)
Lance Berkman was a one-time wonder child with the ability to command the middle of a lineup like few others. High average, prodigious power and very good baserunning made him a one man wrecking crew. By the time he got to the Yankees at the trade deadline last year, his balky knees had pretty much relegated him to an afterthought. And, the Yankees dumped him. St. Louis had the good fortune of picking him up over the winter and he has gotten healthy. Very healthy. His .290 average still is below his lifetime average, but solid and his 24 homers recall his wonder years in Houston. Runs and RBIs are solid, too.
Adrian Beltre isn't in a contract year. If he were, there'd be no comparison - the AL would own his slot in the lineup. As it is, he's still #2 in the AL in RBIs and his 19 round trippers is still solid. His .254 average up to a couple of weeks ago, however, wasn't getting the job done. Lately, though, he's been on a tear and he and teammate Michael Young have been eating pitchers like candy raising his average to .278.
Edge: AL (barely)
The middle of the lineup is, typically, the run production on a team. Both squads are laden with run producers, but McCann in the fifth hole is baffling. The edge Hamilton provides there makes this part of the lineup a decided edge for the AL.
Matt Holliday is famous for how strong he is. It is estimated he could tip the St. Louis Arch on end so that his buddy, Albert Pujols, could walk through carrying Mt. Rushmore to an engraver for modifications. His .324 average is excellent, but he only has 14 homers and hasn't reached 50 RBIs or runs scored. Still, he's hitting in a lineup that doesn't really feature much more than he and Albert and Pujols did miss a couple of weeks in there with his broken wrist. Of course, anyone else would have missed half a season.
David Ortiz has been the marquee bat in a marquee lineup for years. But, he's pretty much only a shadow of what he was in his hey day. Still, his average is above .300, he has 15 homers and 55 RBIs.
Edge: AL (slight)
Troy Tulowitzki is a premier shortstop offensively. He has power, speed and patience. His 17 home runs as a shortstop are excellent especially considering he saves them for when games are on the line to be won. His average (.268) is only fair, but his run production is premier. But, he won't be hitting in Coors Field.
Robinson Cano is hitting eighth? Really? He's hitting almost .300 (.296) and has 57 runs and RBIs - of course, that's in a stacked Yankee lineup where there's generally always someone to be driven in and someone behind you that can drive you in. And, he can sneak a freebie base as his 6 steals attests. Tulo has the same, there.
Scott Rolen, when healthy, is an elite star offensively and defensively. His numbers, on the year, are mostly down, though (.241 average and only 31 runs and 36 RBIs). They're much worse the past couple of weeks, though. He may bat once then dumped from the lineup to put a more productive 3B on the field.
Alex Avila is a catcher. So is his mentor, Victor Martinez. V-Mart noticed the strength of Alex's hands and suggested a slighter heavier bat. The result has been impressive. He's still prone to slumps, but who, not named Albert Pujols, isn't? His .286 average is good, his 10 homers are decent as are his 46 RBIs. The Detroit lineup has seen a number of its stars miss a number of games, so his numbers may be slightly depressed from what they would be if the team had been healthy over the first half.
Edge: AL (significant)
The lower third of the batting order is the meat and potatoes of the team. Their success generally is the difference in a team being a champion lead by the middle of the order or an also-ran. And, Robinson Cano is hitting eighth? Big edge to the AL.
The NL's Andre Ethier, Joey Votto, Brandon Phllips, Hunter Pence, Justin Upton and Andrew McCutchen head a solid group that would be better if Jay Bruce wasn't in a funk. Still, you have his 21 HRs along with 15 from Upton, 14 from McCutchen, 13 from Votto and 11 from Pence waiting to get into the game.
The AL's Miguel Cabrera, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Quentin, Paul Konerko and two-time All-Star Game winning hitter and former ASG MVP Michael Young are very strong as well. Not sure why Russell Martin with his .220 average is in this group instead of Victor Martinez, though.
Edge: AL (slight)
Scott Rolen winning the vote for 3B really hurts the NL and ... Robinson Cano is hitting eighth? Surely not... Missing Albert Pujols will hurt the NL and the overall ability of the AL squad is superior to that of their NL counterparts at almost every position.
Edge: AL ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
I'd hate to be the guy going against Doc Halladay (11-3 & 2.45 ERA). He's an ace of aces - literally. He pitches on the same staff as Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hammels. His stuff is nasty, his attitude is nasty and his record? Nasty.
Unfortunately for Doc, his opponent, Jared Weaver, doesn't really care about all that hype. His numbers (11-4 & 1.86 ERA) are even better - and, in a league that doesn't have the fluff of a pitcher batting in the nine hole.
Edge: AL (slight)
The NL can trot out the aforementioned Lee along with the Amazing Mr. Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong - both of the Giants - and continue on with Clayton Kershaw and Jair (Jair?) Jurrjens. That, my friends, is an impressive staff. Cole Hammels and Matt Cain are ineligible due to having started on Sunday or this group would have been Legen... wait for it... dary!
The AL counters with a scrappy bunch of late-comers and former relievers once Weaver throws his two innings. They do have Josh Beckett of the Red Sox. But, after that? Former relievers C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando of the Rangers, youths Gio Gonzalez of the A's and Michael Pineda of the M's and the old man, Ricky Romero (and his 7-8 record) of the J's... er, Jays. Jon Lester (Red Sox) and David Price (Rays) are out with injury. The ALers are also hurt by the fact that King Felix Hernandez (M's), CC Sabathia (Yanks), Justin Verlander (and his 104 mph fastball / Tigers) and James Shields (Rays) are ineligible because of their Sunday starts. Ouch.
Update: Josh Beckett also dropped out further reducing the quality of the AL staff.
Edge: NL (significant)
Elite Closers Heath Bell (a Padre who could be a Ranger, Yankee, Phillie, Cardinal or even D-Back soon) and Brian Wilson (who still has that beard) are practically impenetrable at the end of the game. The Braves seem to have finally found someone who won't implode in the nineth inning in uber-reliable Craig Kimbrel and the Pirates (who normally don't have any wins to close out) offer Joel Hanrahan as back-of-the-bullpen doorlocks. The Nats Tyler Clippard and the Braves' Jonny Venters made the team as setup men and are solid in that role.
The AL squad will start out short the all-time saves guru, Mariano Rivera of the Yankees who is nursing a few aches and pains on his old body. Ever-reliable Jose Valverde of the Tigers is about the only proven commodity for closing the ALers can offer. Recent sensations Jordan Walden (Angels) and Chris Perez (Indians) plus fill-in Brandon League (Mariners) are the other AL closers. The Yanks David Robretson and the Royals Aaron Crow slipped onto the team as setup men.
The AL are missing a lot of quality on their roster for one reason or another.
The NL will be mostly at full-strength.
Brian McCann (Braves) is a certifiable all-star. Jadier Molina (Cards) is a defensive wiz and Miguel Montero (D-Backs) is an up-and-coming star. Together, they form a formidable group who could handle any pitching staff - this should be a walk in the park for them.
Alex Avila (Tigers) beat out Russell Martin (Yankees) in the last couple of days of voting... it shouldn't have been close, but the Evil Empire does cast a lot of ballots. Anyway, the right guy got the nod. Both call good games and Martin is a veteran and both have cannons. Baltimore's Matt Wieters brings his youthful enthusiasm, game intelligence and his howitzer of an arm to round out the catching situation for the AL.
Edge: NL (barely)
Prince Fielder (Brewers) is far more capable a defender than his tremendous girth would testify. But, he likely won't win any gold gloves in a fair vote (that would be anyone other than the BBWAA voting). Joey Votto (Reds) and Gaby Sanchez (Marlins) are also solid defenders, but I wouldn't call them gold glovers.
Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox) is a gold glove caliber player. Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) and Paul Konerko (White Sox) are veterans and, in another era (sans Mark Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez) would be worthy of gold glove consideration.
Rickie Weeks (Brewers) starts for the NL and has the ability to make the spectacular look routine. His twin, Brandon Phillips (Reds) is a big ditto.
Robinson Cano (Yankees - eighth? Seriously...) is also a capable fielder who seldom makes a mistake. His range is close to that of Weeks and his consistency easily makes him an equal. Howie Kendrick (Angels) is a rangy and athletic fielder, but he won't be mistaken for Weeks or Phillips and certainly not for Cano.
Edge: NL (slight)
Scott Rolen (Cards), as mentioned, is one of the top defensive wizards in the game - when healthy. But, how healthy is he and how much is age holding him back? Portly Pablo Sandoval (Giants) will likely get more innings at the position than Rolen and isn't the quality of defender even an aged, creaking Rolen still is. Still, he isn't clumsy and he makes plays.
Adrian Beltre (Rangers) starts for the AL and his defensive prowess may be unmatched in baseball at 3B. Plus, he plays for AL manager, Ron Washington. His backup is Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) who could be a candidate for a gold glove at first base is still solid at the hot corner.
Edge: AL (significant)
Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) is solid, defensively, at short. He has a strong arm and decent range and doesn't make many mistakes. Starlin Castro (Cubs) backs him up. He provides amazing range and a rocket arm, but, your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not he can complete the play without blowing it up.
Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians) was the fortunate replacement for Derek Jeter (Yankees - injured). The slow-footed Jeter is an unquestioned leader and almost never makes a mistake, but Asdrubal is sensational with the glove and with his arm. Jhonny Peralta (Tigers) is also a solid defender with decent range and a good arm.
The NL team lacks the electric range of gold glovers at any position. They are solid and make the plays they can get, though.
The AL team is electric. Range will not be a factor and, if any rollers get through, they not only had eyes, but also had a wizard's touch. Plus, Michael Young (Rangers) can play any of the four positions as yet another backup.
Edge: AL (significant)
Matt Holliday (Cards) is a solid left fielder. He has a good arm and can get to most fly balls. He is more renowned for his bat than for his defense, though.
Josh Hamilton (Rangers) would be a center fielder if he weren't so apt to run into a wall and injure himself. His range is superior and his arm is as big as there is. He makes plays most other left fielder would be chasing to the wall to pick up and throw in.
Matt Kemp (Dodgers) can go get 'em with the best of 'em. He has range to get to balls centerfielders should get to and the arm to give baserunners pause.
Curtis Granderson (Yankees) may not have the arm of a Kemp, but it's still a good arm and his range may be a little better than his counterpart.
Nobody will confuse Lance Berkman (Cards) with Roberto Clemente defensively, but he's solid and has a good arm. His best position is 1B, but the Cards already had some Pujols there.
Jose Bautista (Jays) normally finds himself in left field or at third base. Still, he's rangy and has a good arm.
Starter-wise, the NL outfield is solid, defensively. But, their best defenders are in reserve with Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Andre Ethier (Dodgers), Hunter Pence (Astros) and Justin Upton (D-Backs) chomping at the bit to be turned loose in Chase Field. Jay Bruce (Reds) rounds out the "field".
The AL starting outfield is spectacular. Reserves include Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox), Carlos Quentin (White Sox), Matt Joyce (Rays) and Michael Cuddyer (Twins). The latter three are good-to-very-good and Ellsbury is a centerfielder by trade.
Carlos Beltran starts at DH for the NLers.
DavidOrtiz starts at DH for the ALers.
Edge: Irrelevant (DHs don't play defense)
Bruce Bochy (Giants) has a World Series ring on his #3 finger. He seldom makes a mistake - but, he seldom takes chances. With the pitching staff he has, why take chances?
Ron Washington (Rangers) is known to gamble. He's also known to fail to have a response for a situation (ready reliever or lefty/righty pinch hitter) when needed. Still, he's the manager of the defending American League Champions...
Edge: NL ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
Overall Edge: AL
Score Prediction: AL 6-3
Update: Great pitching will stop great hitting. The NL pitchers dominated the game and the NL won 5-1. Bummer.