The ‘Boys of Summer’ take a break from regular season action early next week as the top players from both the National League and the American League clash in the 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game this upcoming Tuesday, July 12. This year’s Midsummer Classic will be played at Chase Field in Phoenix starting at 8 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on FOX.
The All-Star festivities kick-off on Sunday with the XM All-Star Futures Game and the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Game, but the most anticipated event besides the game itself is the State Farm Home Run Derby, which takes place on Monday night.
In a bit of a twist this season, the NL Captain, Prince Fielder and the AL Captain David Ortiz were allowed to hand-pick the rest of the participants for each league. Fielder selected his Milwaukee teammate Rickie Weeks along with St. Louis slugger Matt Holliday and the LA Dodgers Matt Kemp. Boston’s Ortiz also pulled a homer move by selecting Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez, followed by Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays and Yankee 2B Robinson Cano. Fielder earned NL Captain Honors by virtue of winning this event in 2009 and Ortiz earned his captain status with a win in last year’s derby.
The early prop line mlb odds to win the Home Run Derby have yet to be released, but you would have to think that Bautista would be logical favorite given that he currently leads the Majors with 28 home runs. Another guy to watch in this event could be Matt Kemp, especially if his odds are long. This will be his first appearance in the Derby, but he comes in good form with 22 homers on the year.
As for the All-Star Game itself, it has taken on much more meaning over the past several seasons as whichever league wins the game also secures home field advantage in the World Series. The National League roster features last year’s Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, who will most likely be the starting pitcher since his last regular start before the break is this Friday. Given that his Philadelphia Phillies currently have the best record in the Majors, he will do everything in his power to get this game off to a good start for the NL.
The American League will most likely go with Boston’s Josh Beckett, who will going on four days rest as well. His team is right in the thick of the AL East Division race, but still the odds-on-favorite to win the American League this season, so the added incentive is there for him as well.
The National League’s 3-1 victory last season, was the first time it had won this game since the infamous 7-7 tie in 2002, which prompted the rule change concerning World Series home field advantage in the first place. The AL’s string of consecutive wins in this game actually extends all the way back to 1997 as the NL is a woeful 2-17-2 in the last 20 All-Star games played.
Despite this overwhelming advantage for the AL, do not expect the opening moneyline to be heavily in its favor. The line on this game tends to remain fairly close as the margin of victory has been two runs or less the last six years. The best bet if you want to make a play remains which ever league is the underdog, which will most likely be the National League, given the overall level of talent on each side.