Another All Star game on the books, and this one – at least from BBRT’s point of view – lived up to its promise. There’ll be plenty written about this contest, so I’d just like to share a handful All Star related events/achievements that grabbed my attention.
The game clearly reflected a “changing of the guard in baseball,” with a record 20 players 25-years-old or younger and 33 first-time All Stars.
Mike Trout may have provided the most compelling evidence of baseball’s new “guard,” leading the game off with a home run and becoming first player to win consecutive ASG Most Valuable Player Awards. The only other players to win two ASG MVPs – and none of them consecutively – are Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Gary Carter and Cal Ripken, Jr. And, keep in mind, this is Trout’s fourth All Star Game, and he’s just 23-years-old.
Now, a few more BBRT ASG observations:
- Monday night’s Home Run Derby got the whole event off to a good start. I’m usually a traditionalist, and I do oppose imposing a “clock” on regular season games, but the time element added to the HR Derby worked. It added a sense of urgency, and ended the days of watching MLB’s top power hitters wait (pitch-after-pitch) for the perfectly placed offering. This year’s HR Derby was, indeed, a swinging event.
– It didn’t hurt that home town hero Todd Frazier won the competition – it really got the fans into it.
– The event included a great balance of “stars,” – from rookies like the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson and Cubs’ Kris Bryant – to veterans who have rediscovered their strokes like the Angels’ Albert Pujols and the Rangers’ Prince Fielder – to star-players in their prime like the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson and Reds’ Todd Frazier.
Baseball is a game that invites conversation and debate, but Reds’ southpaw closer Aroldis Chapman once again provided evidence of the undebatable – he is, without a doubt, the fastest pitcher in MLB. He came on the ninth inning and struck out the side on 14 pitches, with 12 of the 14 reaching at least 100 mph (his fastest pitch at 103, the slowest at 98). Still want to debate? MLB.com lists the major league’s 50 fastest pitches of 2015 – and numbers one-through-fifty belong to Chapman. More evidence? This season Chapman has thrown 284 pitches of 100 mph or faster. That’s 46 more than the all the rest of MLB’s pitchers combined. The look on the faces of the AL All Stars watching from the dugout told it all. Note: Coming into the game, Chapman was 3-3, 1.69 ERA with 18 saves on the season – and 65 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings pitched.
- It was also an eye-opening pleasure to watch the Mets’ Jason deGrom work from the hill. DeGrom – relying primarily on a high-90s fastball with movement – came on in the sixth inning and struck out the side (Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias) on just ten pitches (the fewest pitches to strike out the side ever in an All Star Game). DeGrom, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year is 9-6, 2.14 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 113 2/3 innings this season.
- It was great to see the Twins’ Brian Dozier – added to the All Star team, very deservedly, at the last minute – hit a home run in his first All Star at bat. The only other Twins with All Star Game homers. Harmon Killebrew (3) and Kirby Puckett. Good company!
- Tigers’ SS Jose Iglesias made the defensive play of the game in the eighth inning, back-handing a grounder by the Dodger’ Yasmani Grandal deep in the hold between short and third and then making jumping, twisting throw to first.
- Really not fond of the online All Star fan voting process. Would like to see more emphasis on voting “at the ballpark” – and fewer online votes allowed per fan.
- Fantastic to see the Greatest Living Players honoring Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays. Can’t really argue with those choice – although there are others deserving recognition (perhaps Greatest Living Player at each position next year). Glad to have had the chance to see all four of them play.
- Found it interesting that Nolan Ryan led the way by being named to three of the fan-voted, greated “Franchise Four” lists – Angels, Astros, Rangers. Vlad Guererro is the only other player on multiple Franchise Fours (two – Angels and Expos/Nationals).