Between profit sharing and salary caps and David Stern blocking Chris Paul’s trade to the Lakers a few years ago, those in power seem to try everything possible to even the playing field between the division in their respective association. While efforts have failed beyond miserably in the NBA with the Eastern Conference becoming essentially the G League Part Deux, things have worked out a bit better in baseball, with World Series wins pretty balanced in recent history.
Regardless, the American League has dominated the National League over the last few decades, and that dominance continued last night with another All-Star Game win for the AL. Yeah, it took extra innings, but a win’s a win.
The two-day All Star extravaganza started off exactly how we expected it with Aaron Judge sleepily sending Apollos 18-64 into orbit, but ended with an interestingly unspectacular All-Star Game.
The Home Run Derby Needs Fixing
I don’t think anybody truly believes Giancarlo Stanton could have beat Judge in the Derby. Yes, they’re comparable in size and sheer power, but apparently one inch of height and forty pounds of weight has put Judge far out of reach for even Stanton’s superpowers.
It was clear from the beginning that the organizers were trying to set up a Stanton-Judge final. In principle, Stanton really didn’t have any competition in his bracket, and the organizers were always wanting Judge to face Cody Bellinger in the second round, and solid competition between rookies with high power numbers.
That Gary Sánchez beat Stanton in the first round is not the issue at all. The issue is that Miguel Sanó is one of the most boring players to watch, and he was able to make it to the finals with the same total that Justin Bour put up in the first round.
If MLB took it to a “top four advance” format, the second round would have been Judge, Bour, Sánchez, and Stanton. That’s a helluva lineup, and an unforeseen Marlins-Yankees matchup. The Marlins have worried about publicity and getting their fanbase pumped up, let me tell you, there is nothing better you can do to pump up your fanbase than to convince them that their hometown team is rivals with the Yankees. I’m a lifelong, diehard Seattle Mariners fan, and seeing the Mariners matchups with the Yankees in the past makes me understand soccer riots for a few minutes.
Apart from that, if you get these four guys in the finals, you get everything you need: entertainment, first off, a dark horse in Sánchez, and the possibility of a Stanton-Judge matchup. The fact that the Yankees have two guys in it is enough for ESPN to cover 30 minutes of SportsCenter for the next year. Heaven forbid they make it to the ALCS this season.
Home Runs Take Backseat to Strikeouts in ASG
If you love stats or have simply heard of Fangraphs before, you understand that the home run surge this year is making people go insane. There are home runs everywhere, and while some people say it’s boring, try taking a date to a 2-1 “defensive showcase” where the only runs scored are on sacrifice plays. There will be zero second dates.
I’m not qualified to fully answer this question, but it seems that Major League Baseball is top heavy when it comes to pitchers. The best pitching team in baseball this year the Houston Astros, has a K/9 rate of 10.15, meaning they record an average of 10.15 strikeouts per game. American League pitchers struck out 9 National League batters, while National League pitchers struck out 14 American League batters.
Now, the obvious issue here is sample size, it’s one game, taken much less seriously than the others, against half a season of statistics. However, it’s interesting that the group of allegedly the best batters in the world struck out 23 times in one game to the best pitchers in the world.
While two home runs were hit, one of which was the decisive run of the game, perhaps the home run is not the most dominant force in the game this year.