Why The National League Will Win The All-Star Game In 2009 / HR Derby Predictions
The All-Star Game is one of the most anticipated events for me every year. Unfortunately, I am a National League supporter and they have no faired to well in my lifetime. Since I was born, there have been 17 all-star games. Of those 17 games, the National League has a record of 2-14-1. That is not good. Some say it’s because the American League has more talent than the National League, well I just call it luck. Here are 5 reasons why the National League will win their first all-star game since 1996 this year:
- Pitching. The National League roster features 3 of the top 5 arms in baseball, which is better than 2 of the top 5. Tim Lincecum, Johan Santana, and Dan Haren will all make appearances Tuesday. Although the back end of the bullpen is probably weaker than the American League, I still think they have good enough arms to get it done (Trevor Hoffman, Fransisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell, Francisco Cordero). The American Leagues big arms come with a lot of youth and inexperience. Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and Felix Hernandez have 1 all-star appearance between them (Verlander in ’07).
- The ballpark. The National League has always seemed to fair better in NL Central ballparks. In 2007 the NL lost in the 9th inning in PNC Park. In 2002 the National League tied in Miller Park. In 1994 the National League won the game in Three Rivers Stadium. The only time they haven’t been competitive was in 2004 when the AL won 9-4 in Minutemaid Park.
- The current state of the game. Over the last few years, Major League Baseball has shifted towards a more defensive, youthful, fast core of players. It seems the teams that are successful have a lot of young, 5-tool talent. The National League squad has a lot more of these types of players than the American League. Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Orlando Hudson, Ryan Zimmerman, Justin Upton, and Shane Victorino all fit this mold. The American League has a couple of these guys as well (Carl Crawford, Adam Jones) but they don’t nearly meet what the NL has. The game has been changing slowly and we are really seeing it in full force this season, and the NL squad best accompanies those changes.
- Freddy Sanchez & Zach Duke. No, I am not saying that Sanchez and Duke are going to greatly attribute to the victory. What I am saying is that the last time the NL won an all-star game (1996) the Pirates had 2 all-star representatives. Jason Kendall and Mike Williams both made the team. This is one of the only times in my lifetime that the Pirates have had 2 all-star representatives and they made the most of it in 1996.
- Because I Said So. If I didn’t have one of those feelings about this game, I wouldn’t have made this post. Something is just telling me that the NL is going to get the job done this year. This is the 13th All-Star game since the National League’s last victory, and 13 is the lucky number. Yes, that just happened.
Tonight is shaping up to be a great contest with some big names in the contest along with some up and coming stars. The National League has a definite advantage sporting 4 of the league’s top slugging first basemen. Ryan Howard (22 HR), Prince Fielder (22 HR), Adrian Gonzalez (24 HR), and Albert Pujols (32 HR) will take the stage to represent the NL tonight. Joe Mauer (15 HR), Nelson Cruz (22 HR), Brandon Inge (21 HR), and Carlos Pena (24 HR) put on for the AL.
I just don’t see those two guys doing well in this competition. Neither of them has ever been known as a big power hitter. Joe Mauer makes his living with singles and gap shots, being of the best average hitters in the game. Brandon Inge has really come out of nowhere this season and I really don’t see him hitting more than 3 homers in the first round. I pick these two, along with Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez to be eliminated in the first round. As much hype there is for Albert in this contest, he has just never struck me as a guy who can put on a show in batting practice. It just seems like he is too good of a hitter to do well in this competition. Let’s just hope it doesn’t throw off his swing and affect his run at the triple crown when the season starts up again.
My first-round studs are Nelson Cruz and Ryan Howard.
I personally love Nelson Cruz. I think he is going to be the surprise of this contest and put up a big number in the first round. I’ll give him 15 homers. Ryan Howard is quickly becoming a seasoned veteran in this contest, he won it in 2006 at PNC Park and I like his chances again this year. He is the most experienced of the bunch this year and I think he should be the favorite tonight. I would look for 12-16 homers from him in round 1 tonight. So these two, along with Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez advance to the second round.
From there I forsee Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder advancing to the finals. I think Cruz will be tired out from his surprising first round and won’t fair well in the 2nd round. Adrian Gonzalez will fall short by a couple home runs and it’ll be Fielder vs. Howard.
I can see this becoming one of the greatest slug-offs in derby history. Both of these guys have unhumanlike power and can pound the ball all over the place. They are young and will have a lot of gas in the tank to put on a show deep into the St. Louis night. My emerging champion is Prince Fielder, by the score of 11-10. In honor of Prince, I am dawning his player t-shirt all day today. At the end of the night, a home run Prince will become a home run King.