It’s on TV and it’s a baseball game, so you’re probably going to bet it. With that in mind, it’s probably best that we take a look at the MLB All-Star Game tonight between the American League and the National League at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The American League is a small favorite across the market with a total of 8.5, which is amazing given all of the high totals we’ve seen this season because of the home run explosion.
A few quick, fun (maybe) facts about the All-Star Game. This is the 90th MLB All-Star Game. The AL holds a 44-43 lead all-time with two ties. If this one goes to extra innings, minor league rules will be in place with a runner on second base in hopes of expediting the process. The AL has scored 369 runs and the NL has scored 367 runs in the 89 All-Star Games.
This is the sixth time that Cleveland has hosted the All-Star Game, with the most recent back in 1997. Sandy Alomar Jr. was the hometown MVP in that one for his two-run homer in the seventh inning.
This is the first All-Star Game in an AL park since 2014 at Target Field. The league used to alternate as much as possible between AL and NL, but that hasn’t been the case recently. Dodger Stadium will host next year’s.
A lot of baseball’s best are on hand, but there have been a lot of injury replacements or replacements because pitchers started for their teams on Sunday. There are, of course, injuries as well. Justin Verlander will get the start for the AL and Hyun-Jin Ryu will start for the NL.
While Verlander is the more accomplished of the two, Ryu may be having the better season. Verlander has a 2.98 ERA, but a 4.19 FIP and a 3.67 xFIP. He has allowed 26 home runs in 126.2 innings. He only allowed 28 in 214 innings last season and has never allowed more than 30 in a season. He will this year.
Ryu has been spectacular this season with a 1.73 ERA, a 2.88 FIP, and a 3.09 xFIP in his 109 innings of work. He’s finally been healthy enough to pitch every five days and has really taken advantage of the opportunity. Ryu has walked just 10 batters in those 17 starts. He’s only given up 10 home runs.
Verlander is more accustomed to the spotlight than Ryu, who may exhibit some nerves in his inning or two of work. Something worth keeping in mind about this All-Star Game format is that these starters don’t have to worry about pacing themselves to work five or six innings, so everybody is likely to be throwing a tick or two harder. The relievers won’t, but the starters will, so they may be that much more difficult to hit.
Yesterday’s windy conditions are a thing of the past, as it will be a picture perfect night in The Land. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the total go up a little bit as a result.
In scouring the bullpen rosters, I think it’s hard to pick a side. Both teams have good relievers and starters waiting in the wings that have excellent stuff. Both teams have three left-handed pitchers in reserve, so the managers can match up if they choose.
As far as a pick for tonight’s game, I’d take the over 8.5. The baseballs are pretty clearly juiced and even the best pitchers are giving up more home runs this season. Progressive Field should play fairly neutral tonight, but plays well for left-handed power and most of the pitchers are right-handed. Unfortunately, there are a lot of right-handed batters on the reserves list, but still. There are enough lefties to make it worthwhile.
As far as the different prop offerings go, it is really interesting to see NL scores first -150 at 5Dimes, but the AL is still favored. That’s a pretty interesting commentary on Verlander and his home run problems. I agree with that line move.
1st Inning Run Yes/No is -115 to the Yes. That would likely be a Verlander solo home run if anything. I think that one is a tough bet to make.
Books should start posting MVP odds over the course of the day. Here are a few players I’d keep an eye on:
Christian Yelich – I don’t know if anybody will get three plate appearances, but keep in mind that only the starters, and the ones near the top of the order in particular, are almost guaranteed at least two plate appearances. Yelich is batting leadoff for the NL team, so if they make a little bit of a run in the early innings, he might get three chances to fill the stat sheet.
That means that guys like George Springer, Mike Trout, Javy Baez, and Freddie Freeman fall into this category.
Cody Bellinger – If I was picking the guy most likely to hit a home run, it would be Bellinger. Bellinger ranks eighth in Pull%, which, as we saw with teammate Joc Pederson last night, plays well in Cleveland. He’s also only hitting a ground ball 28.5% of the time. Only Jorge Polanco, Mike Trout, Jay Bruce, Daniel Vogelbach, and Rhys Hoskins have a lower GB%. Bellinger’s LD% is second only to Whit Merrifield. He hits the optimal types of contact for extra-base hits. He also makes a ton of hard contact.
Francisco Lindor – Francisco Lindor may only get one chance, but if he makes it a memorable one, it will be hard for him not to win the MVP. He is a perfect ambassador for the game of baseball and this is in his home ballpark. He’ll really have to maximize that one plate appearance he’s likely to get, but you can bet that if he gets a hold of one, it will be a spectacle and it will be a shining moment for the game and the league.
Pitchers – Mariano Rivera won the MVP in 2013, which was the year that he retired and the entire baseball world was celebrating his career. Before that, the last pitcher to win MVP was Pedro Martinez in 1999. It is extremely unlikely to happen. That was some hometown bias as well. Before that, you have to go back to Roger Clemens in 1986.
Don’t bet a pitcher to win the MVP.
Have fun. Enjoy the game. Then enjoy two very much needed days off from betting baseball.