Archive for All Star Game
They don’t call them the Bronx Bombers for nothing, s0 I was somewhat surprised to see that just three Yankees have participated in the Home Run Derby a total of four times since the event started in 1985. Robinson Cano will make it four players and five appearances later tonight, when he takes his hacks at Chase Field in Arizona with seven others. It could have been Mark Teixeira, but he decided to spend the All-Star break at home with his family after not making the AL team. Oh well. Let’s go back in time and relive the four Derbies the Yankees graced with their presence…
Tino Martinez, 1997
I was pretty young and naive in 1997, so I thought Tino’s monster 44 homer campaign was a sign of great things of come. Of course that was his career season, and on only two other occasions did he top even 30 homers (1995 and 2001). Tino’s first half in 1997 was beastly, a .302/.370/.619 batting line with 28 homers (!!!) in 85 games. The Derby was a little different back then, it had ten players (not eight) taking their swings at the brand spanking new Jacobs Field in Cleveland.
Tino hit five homers in the first round, tied with Mark McGwire for the second most behind Larry Walker (nine). Martinez went deep eight times in the second round, again the second most behind Walker’s nine. Although the Colorado outfielder and eventual NL MVP out-homered the Yankees’ first baseman 19-16 over the course of the event, Tino’s timing was better. He hit three homers in the finals to Walker’s one, and that was that. The first Yankee to compete in the Derby had won it. Tino production dropped a bit in the second half, but he still hit a crazy good .289/.372/.525 with 16 homers in 73 games down the stretch.
Jason Giambi, 2002
The Giambino’s first year in pinstripes was insanely good; he hit .318/.430/.602 with 22 homers in 86 games heading into the break. The first round of the Derby in Miller Park wasn’t much of a problem, Giambi hit 11 homers. Only Sammy Sosa (12) had more. Back in those days, the four players that advanced to the second round faced off head-to-head, one seed vs. four, two vs. three. Giambi drew Paul Konerko as the two seed, then out-homered him seven to six in the second round. Sosa (five) beat Richie Sexson (four), so he and Giambi met in the finals even though Konerko had the second most homers in the round.
Sosa was no match in the finals. Giambi out-homered him 7-1 to win the event, and his 24 total homers were the second most all-time behind the 26 Sosa hit in 2000. Two Yankees in the Derby, two wins. Giambi’s production didn’t slip at all in the second half, he hit .309/.442/.593 with 19 homers in his final 69 games.
Jason Giambi, 2003
MLB invited Giambi to the Homerun Derby for the third straight year and why not? He was one of the game’s premier sluggers at the time. He had hit .267/.419/.547 with 26 homers in 91 first half games, so not that far off from his 2002 first half in the OBP and ISO departments. U.S. Cellular Field loves left-handed batters and Giambi took advantage, leading the way with a dozen first round homers. Garrett Anderson hit seven, and no one else topped four. Giambi drew Albert Pujols in the second round, though his eleven homers were not enough. Pujols hit 14 and advanced to the finals, losing to Anderson 9-8. Despite being bounced in the second round, Giambi’s 23 total homers were the second most in the event, three behind Pujols. His production dropped in the second half, down to .226/.401/.498 with 15 homers in 65 second half games.
Nick Swisher, 2010
Swisher wasn’t even supposed to participate in the event in the first place. He was a replacement for Cano, who had to withdraw due to a sore back. Swish didn’t make it out of the first round, hitting just four balls out of Angels Stadium. He was spared the embarrassment of hitting the fewest homers in the event by Chris Young (one) and Vernon Wells (two). David Ortiz eventually beat Hanley Ramirez in the finals. After hitting .298/.377/.524 with 15 homers in 84 games in the first half, Swisher dropped to .275/.336/.494 after the break, but he did hit 14 homers in 67 games.
* * *
Aside from the superhuman Giambi in 2002, everyone’s production declined in the second half, but they were hardly useless. I think it has more to do with those guys having outrageously good first halves and just coming back to Earth down the stretch. Cano is at .296/.342*/.521 with 15 homers through the team’s first 88 games, and it’s worth noting that he’s traditionally been a better hitter in the second half. That was not true last year, however. Either way, I’d love to see Cano win the thing, but I’ll take the field on this one.
* I was surprised to see his OBP that high, but then I realized that it’s inflated by a career-high nine hit-by-pitches. He got plunked eight times last year and eight times 2007. If we remove those HBP’s from his time-on-base and plate appearance totals, his OBP is just .326. I don’t want to think about what it would be if we removed the four intentional walks.
Michael Kay just announced during this afternoon’s broadcast that David Robertson has been named to the All-Star Game as a replacement for David Price, who apparently withdrew. Awesome, congrats David.
Update: CC Sabathia was also named to the All-Star Team as a replacement for Jamie Shields, though he can’t pitch in the game because he’s starting today. Alexi Ogando has taken Sabathia’s spot. Good job of watering down the value of being an All-Star, MLB.
Via George King, there’s a chance Alex Rodriguez will skip the All-Star Game next week to give his ailing right knee some rest. It’s been bothering him for at least two weeks now, though Alex did tell King that it’s “getting better.” A-Rod was voted as the starting third baseman for the All-Star Game and deservedly so; he leads all big league third baseman with 4.1 fWAR and 3.3 bWAR. As great as it would be to see a bunch of Yankees in the All-Star Game, I’d rather them stay home and get healthy.
Via Mark Feinsand, Robinson Cano has accepted an invitation to participate in the Homerun Derby next week. AL captain David Ortiz asked him to join after Mark Teixeira declined the invitation to spend the break with his family. Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista will also take their hacks. Cano was originally named to the Derby last year, but withdrew because of a minor back injury that may or may not have been real.
Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson will start the All-Star Game at their respective positions thanks to the fan voting. Alex Avila surged past Russell Martin in the voting last week, so he’ll (deservingly) start behind the plate. Adrian Gonzalez will start at first, David Ortiz at designated hitter, and Grandy will be flanked in the outfield by Josh Hamilton and Jose Bautista.
Update: Ortiz, captain of the AL Homerun Derby squad, has asked Mark Teixiera will join him on the team. Adrian and Bautista are confirmed as the other two participants, but Tex has yet to accept.
Update Part Deux: Mariano Rivera was named to the All-Star pitching staff but CC Sabathia was not. Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander made the team but are scheduled to start next Sunday, which would make them ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game. They’ll be replaced on the roster, though CC is scheduled to pitch that day as well.
Update Part Three: Martin makes it as a reserve. So six total Yankees are heading to the desert in a week. It’s A-Rod‘s 14th All-Star selection, Jeter’s 12th, Mo’s 12th, Cano’s third, Martin’s third, and Granderson’s second. Congrats to all.
MLB released the early results of the AL All-Star voting today, and Yankees claim the top spots in six of nine positions. The entire infield – Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez – lead at their respective positions, as does Russell Martin behind the plate. Curtis Granderson is second behind Jose Bautista in the outfield voting, which is enough to earn a starting spot. These aren’t small leads, either, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of votes between first and second place at most spots. Cano has more than twice the votes as the runner-up at second. You know what the cool thing is? Aside from Jeter, you can at least make a case that all those guys deserve to start.
All 30 big league teams are off today, with the Yankees even getting to enjoy one extra day off before returning to work on Friday. That doesn’t mean we’ll have to go without real live baseball though, because the Triple-A All Star Game is being played this evening in b-e-a-utiful Allentown, PA.
Three Yankee farmhands made the International League squad: Jesus Montero (right), Eduardo Nunez, and Jon Albaladejo. Nunez was voted in as a starter by the fans, Montero was selected as a reserve. The Yanks’ top prospect is hitting .312/.380/.550 in his last 30 games, helping erase any concerns about his slow start to the season. It just took the 20-year-old Montero a little time to adjust to Triple-A pitching, that’s all.
Albaladejo has been nothing short of fantastic this season, but I’m willing to bet he’ll handle the all important 8th inning tonight while Scott Mathieson of the hometown Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs gets the 9th inning glory. The game doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a matter of deferring to the hometown guy. I’m actually looking forward to seeing Albie again, just to see how much he’s changed since we last saw him. Supposedly he’s scrapped the sinker/slider approach and has gone with a four-seam fastball/curveball approach. Curious about how true that is.
Here is the rest of the roster, and here’s the team the Pacific Coast League is sending. The game starts at 7pm ET and can be seen on the MLB Network. You can talk about it here, or anything else you want in tonight’s open thread. You guys know what to do, so have at it.
Last night the All-Stars took mercy on us. After the folks at MLB tortured us with 50 minutes of pre-game dreck the game actually rolled along at a swift two hours and fifty-nine minutes, all the more impressive because of the extra-long Fox commercial breaks. A short All-Star game is a good All-Star game. The NL might have won, capturing home field advantage in the World Series for the first time since 2001, but it matters little. It was an exhibition, and if you’re a fan of watching hitters whiff it was a quality one.
A quarter of all batters in the game struck out against 12 different pitchers, three of them going down against Jose Valverde in the ninth. The pitching was so good that each team scored in only one instance. In the fifth Robinson Cano hit a sac fly to put the AL ahead 1-0, and then in the seventh Brian McCann hit a bases loaded double to capture the lead for good. Two of the baserunners were Phil Hughes‘s responsibility; he took the loss in the game.
The game itself was just as interesting as other All-Star games. The managers still manage it like an exhibition, and the players still play that way. It’s a spectacle for us to enjoy, and for the most part I enjoyed this one. That’s partly because I love watching strikeouts, but it’s also partly because Ben, Mike, and I got to watch Panasonic’s presentation of the All-Star game in 3D.
For the past few weeks YES has been running spots about the first ever HD game, so the details have been out for a while. The 3D broadcast only works on 3D TVs, and you need goggles to see it — but not the googles you get at the movie theater. These are battery powered and can focus on only one 3D image at a time. We could turn around the room and watch each TV, but it would take a few seconds for the image to come into focus.
Here are the googles:
And here’s me wearing the googles:
As you can see, they’re pretty dorky and I’m pretty sure I’d prefer to watch a baseball game without them, even if the image is pretty neat. Then again, we got to listen to a different commentating crew, so by wearing the glasses I didn’t have to listen to Buck and McCarver. So maybe the trade-off is worth it.
A few of observations on the 3D experience:
- It looks like they’re playing on a stage. The players do pop, almost like they’re inside a diorama, but the playing field and background are flat. I’m not complaining, because it’s kind of neat. You definitely see things in different proportions.
- The primary camera angle was behind the left-handed batter’s box. That took some getting used to, but once I did I loved it. You can pick up the pitcher’s delivery much better. It also takes a while to follow the ball after it comes off the bat. The cameras don’t maneuver well (or else they just don’t have enough of them to match the number of cameras we’re used to). I never did get a feel for the strike zone because of the off-center angle.
- There was a noticeable difference when viewing the screen from an angle and when viewing it from straight on. I was watching from an angle on the main TV, but found myself frequently turning to another because I had a better angle.
Two more days until real baseball.
It’s time once again for the Midsummer Classic, the game’s most important exhibition of stars. The AL should win it for home field advantage and win it for George. He was the biggest star of all.
Coverage starts at 8 p.m. on Fox, and Major League Baseball will offer a moment of silence in honor of the Boss prior to the start of the game. Here are Charlie Manuel’s and Joe Girardi‘s lineups:
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Martin Prado, 2B
Albert Pujols, 1B
Ryan Howard, DH
David Wright, 3B
Ryan Braun, LF
Andre Ethier, CF
Corey Hart, RF
Yadier Molina, C
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP
David Price, SP
Via Jack Curry, Nick Swisher narrowly beat out Kevin Youkilis for the final roster spot on the AL All Star Team. Curry says it was the closest vote ever, so go and pat yourselves on the back for all votes you cast. Congrats to Swish, great to see the Yankees well represented.