The 2017 MLB All-Star Game: this time, it’s meaningless!
No longer the determiner of home-field advantage in the World Series, the Midsummer Classic (Tuesday, July 11, at Marlin Park, Miami) loses some of its luster this year. Now the best of the best in the MLB are merely competing for a big pile of money ($20,000 apiece), something they already have.
As if to say, “we gotst you, fans,” the baseball gods took it upon themselves to replace the missing intrigue by taking their finest clay and shaping a gigantic, baseball-devouring Golem (pictured below), that is somehow as handsome as it is terrifying.
With Aaron Judge and hometown favorite Giancarlo Stanton strapping on the batting gloves for the home run derby, the build up to the game could overshadow the main event. Judge has been hitting home runs at a record pace (for a rookie) and at record distances (for a human).
Will he do Frank Costanza proud and continue his feats of strength in the derby? Will he follow that up with an MVP-worthy performance in the game, itself? Your guess is … probably much worse than mine, because I’ve spent the last three days trying to figure that out. Have you? Didn’t think so.
2017 HOME RUN DERBY ODDS
ODDS TO WIN HR DERBY
- Aaron Judge: 3/1
- Giancarlo Stanton: 9/2
- Cody Bellinger: 11/2
- Miguel Sano: 7/1
- Mike Moustakas: 7/1
- Charlie Blackmon: 14/1
- Justin Bour: 19/1
- Gary Sanchez: 24/1
If you haven’t seen the bracket yet, here’s a look:
— theScore (@theScore) July 6, 2017
Regardless of matchups, and with all due respect to reigning champ Giancarlo Stanton, there is only one man who can be seen as the favorite here: Aaron Judge. He’s on pace to break Mark McGwire’s MLB rookie home run record (49), and is making it look far too easy.
We all thought Stanton was a beast at 6’6, 245 pounds, but Judge has a full inch and nearly 40 pounds on him. He’s literally the biggest position player in baseball history. The dream is to have the two meet in the finals, so we can sit back and watch two monsters feast on (juiced?) baseballs. But my money is being firmly placed on the Yankee.
If you’re looking for a darkhorse, Mike Moustakas currently sits tied for second in the Majors for home runs. The Royal is in a groove, and could provide an early upset on the weaker side of the draw.
ODDS TO HIT MORE HOME RUNS IN THE FIRST ROUND
- Aaron Judge & Gary Sanchez (Yankees): 7/8
- Giancarlo Stanton & Justin Bour (Marlins): 8/7
Entering last night, both pairs had 42 home runs. I foresee Judge coming out hot and carrying his fellow Baby Bomber here.
ODDS TO HIT THE LONGEST HOME RUN
- Aaron Judge: 7/3
- Giancarlo Stanton: 3/1
- Miguel Sano: 17/3
- Charlie Blackmon: 9/1
- Cody Bellinger: 10/1
- Justin Bour: 19/1
- Mike Moustakas: 29/1
- Gary Sanchez: 33/1
We’ve seen Judge hit an enormous 495-foot bomb in a game, the longest recorded homer (since ESPN started tracking distance in 2009), and his batting practice is the talk of the league. His biggest competition will come from fellow giant Stanton, whose name is scattered all over the list of longest home runs this season. Miguel Sano packs a ton of power, too.
OVER/UNDER LONGEST HOME RUN: 499.5 feet
The potential distance in the home run derby is actually curtailed by the relatively slow speed of the pitches. The faster and harder a ball comes into the plate, the faster and harder it will leave the bat. (Science!) The best recipe for long home runs would be one part 100-MPH pitching machine, one-part 285-pound monstrosity of a batter (a.k.a. Aaron Judge). That said, Stanton managed a 497-foot bomb last year, and Judge has gone 500-plus in batting practice this year. There’s a solid chance we see that magical barrier broken.
ODDS ANYONE BREAKS STANTON’S TOTAL HOME RUN RECORD (61): 5/1
The show Stanton put on last year was one for the ages. He absolutely smashed the previous record of 41, belting 24, 17, and 20 in the three rounds. Those were the three highest totals of the night. But the stadium is a factor here. Petco Park (site of the 2016 derby) is more home-run friendly than Marlins Park. While Aaron Judge is a beast (are you noticing a recurring theme to these odds?) matching a historic night from Stanton in tougher confines is a tall order, perhaps even taller than 6’7.
2017 MLB ALL-STAR GAME ODDS
Oh right, people aren’t just showing up to watch Judge and Stanton take BP. There’s an actual game taking place. I guess we can address that, too.
ODDS TO WIN THE 2017 ASG
- National League: 5/6
- American League: 6/5
The NL likely won’t have Clayton Kershaw available, which is kind of a big deal. The NL could have a distinct pitching advantage if they were able to trot out the cream of their crop (Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Grienke) one after another. The best AL starters (Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Dallas Keuchel) don’t quite reach the Kershaw/Scherzer stratosphere, and there’s a sizable drop to guys like Jason Vargas.
But with Kershaw out, they lose some of that edge. They still come out as the favorites, though, because the balance of (literal) power no longer resides in the AL, as once did. Between Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, and Cody Bellinger, the National League is fielding a batting order that is just as potent. Add in the fact that the AL won’t have perennial ASG hero Mike Trout, and then sprinkle on a little home-field advantage, and the NL is a small but deserving favorite.
ODDS TO WIN 2017 ASG MVP
- Marcell Ozuna: 8/1
- Giancarlo Stanton: 9/1
- Bryce Harper: 10/1
- Aaron Judge: 14/1
- Mookie Betts: 16/1
- George Springer: 16/1
- Jose Altuve: 18/1
- Nolan Arenado: 18/1
- Buster Posey: 18/1
- Cody Bellinger: 20/1
- FIELD: 3/2
Only one pitcher has won since 1999, and that was feel-good-story Mariano Rivera in his farewell season. Pitchers don’t stay in the game long enough to make an MVP-worthy impact. Cross them off.
History indicates that players don’t often win in their home park, but the Rivera nod (and Cal Ripkin back in 2001) shows that sentimentality plays a role in the voting when it’s warranted. With all the tragedy the Marlins have suffered this year, voters would love to give the MVP to a home-town guy if it’s reasonable. As their home/road splits show, Stanton and Ozuna both mash at Marlins Park. Ozuna’s OPS is nearly .250 points higher at home.
PITCHERS LEAST LIKELY TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE (among those available):
- Yu Darvish: 5/4
- Jason Vargas: 5/4
- Corey Knebel: 6/5
- Pat Neshek: 6/5
- Dellin Betances: 1/1
- Brad Hand: 5/6
- Andrew Miller: 4/5
In total, 19 pitchers were used last year (ten by the AL, nine by the NL); 16 the year before (eight each); and a ridiculous 21 in 2014 (11 by the AL, ten by the NL). Each team has 12 pitchers on staff this year, meaning — all else being equal — everyone has a pretty good chance of getting into the game.
But all else isn’t equal. Joe Maddon is going to be a lot quicker to insert Kenley Jansen than Corey Knebel. No offense to Knebel — he’s having a phenomenal season for the Brewers (1.11 ERA) and fully deserves his spot — but he also had a 4.68 ERA last year, whereas Jansen (2.11 career ERA) has been one of the best relievers in baseball for the last seven years.
On the AL side of things, look no further than Jason Vargas and Yu Darvish for the “favorites.” After a torrid start which sealed up his All-Star spot, Vargas is coming back to earth, surrendering five homers in his last three starts, and giving up eight hits in three of his last four. It’s not like he’s turned into Josh Tomlin (some offense, Josh) but there will be better options for whomever manages the AL.
Same goes for Darvish. He’s lost four straight starts and looked sub-par in three of them, giving up 28 hits and 14 earned runs, total. Both he and Vargas are coming off arguably their worst outings of the year. Bad timing.