Kyle Smedley is a journalism and telecommunications major and writes for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
While Major League Baseball (MLB) gets a lot of slack about how long their season is at 162 games or how slow the pace of play is, an average of three hours and 10 minutes per game, there is no denying just how fun their All-Star Game is.
Yes, the All-Star Game is a fun spectacle in most sports (NFL not included), but it seems a little more so in the MLB. Stay tuned this time next week for a column outlining how the MLB’s All-Star game/week is the best in all of professional sports.
Speaking of the Midsummer Classic, All-Star starters were announced July 8 with the All-Star reserves announced July 10, filling out both the American (AL) and National League’s (NL) rosters. There’s not a better time than now to dive into each team and break down each team, as well as name some snubs as well.
The MLB All-Star Game starters are determined via a fan vote, as is the case in most professional sports' All-Star Games. With that, there are bound to be a few positions that may not have the very best representative, just the most popular one.
Case in point, Yordan Alvarez. Now, before you get all bent out of shape, I am in no way suggesting Alvarez is a more valuable or better player than reigning AL Most Valuable Player (MVP), Shohei Ohtani, however, if it weren’t for Aaron Judge, Alvarez would be the front-runner for 2022 AL MVP.
The Houston Astros Designated Hitter (DH) has 26 home runs, 60 RBI, a .306 batting average, a .405 OBP, a .653 slugging percentage and a 1.058 OPS, all better than Ohtani. Alvarez is putting up astronomical (get it?) numbers but was not rewarded with an All-Star start.
Alvarez was voted on July 10 as an AL roster member, however, he will miss the game entirely as he was put on the Injured List (IL) the same day, rendering this argument pointless.
As for the rest of the All-Star starters, the fans actually seemed to vote for the best player at each position, as there really isn’t much argument to be made for any other starter to be replaced by another player, though a case could be made for the Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber to replace the San Francisco Giants’ Joc Pederson in the NL outfield.
As for the reserves, this is where I have issues.
Easily the biggest snub was Chicago White Sox right-handed pitcher, Dylan Cease. Cease is 7-4 on the season with a 2.45 ERA, 133 strikeouts while averaging 13 strikeouts per nine innings, has allowed zero runs in seven of his 17 starts and has a 2.81 FIP. Cease should certainly be on the AL All-Star pitching staff instead of New York Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole if I have to choose.
Each MLB team has to have one representative at the All-Star Game, and the Cincinnati Reds 2022 representative is right-handed pitcher Luis Castillo. As great as Castillo has been, he has not been better than the lefty from the Giants, Carlos Rodon.
Rodón has an 8-5 record, a 2.70 ERA, 100 innings pitched, 124 strikeouts, a 2.13 FIP, a 1.06 WHIP and is averaging 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings. While Rodón is more deserving than Castillo, Cincinnati still needs a representative in this scenario.
In comes third baseman Brandon Drury, who would replace the New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil In the Reds' pitiful offense, Drury (along with catcher Tyler Stephenson) has been a bright spot. In 2022, Drury already has a career-high in home runs at 18 along with other current career highs in OBP (.333), slugging (.540) and OPS (.873) on top of a very solid .277 batting average and 50 RBI.
There are plenty of other snubs, like Seattle Mariners first baseman Ty France and starting pitcher Logan Gilbert, Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley and Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell, among others. Unfortunately, All-Star snubs are the subject of yearly arguments, as only a select few players are named to each team.
If an injury pops up, look for one of these names to get their spot on an All-Star roster as a replacement.
That brings me to my final question, when all is said and done, who has the better team?
While both teams are extremely talented, as the MLB has boundless talent where either team could realistically make a claim to be better, I have to go with the AL. The American League’s lineup is so dynamic, as it features huge power hitters like Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladmir Guerrero Jr., and Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, great contact hitters with pop in their bat like White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk as well as two phenomenal all-around hitters (not to say the others aren’t) in baseball’s best player, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout and Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers.
Even on the pitching side, I feel the AL has the slight upper hand on the NL, although that is much closer. While the NL has a phenomenal lineup and pitching with some of the game’s best players, the AL’s roster is simply too deep and supremely talented, meaning I have to go with the visitors on the scoreboard.
All I know is, as a baseball fan, I am always pumped to watch the cream of the crop go at it in one of the most fun nights of every MLB season. Check back next Monday for my follow-up column on MLB All-Star week right before the Home Run Derby, Monday July 18 and All-Star Game itself Tuesday, July 19.
Contact Kyle Smedley with comments or concerns via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @smedley1932.