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Jul 13, 2018
Jul 13, 2018

MLB All-Star Game betting: What should you consider?

Could a lack of competitiveness lead to value?

Who’s playing in the MLB All-Star Game?

Does form matter in the MLB All-Star game?

MLB All-Star Game betting: What should you consider?

The MLB season has just passed its halfway point and now it’s time for the Midsummer Classic; MLB’s All-Star Game. The best and brightest will come together, representing their respective leagues in a friendly game that breaks most of the rules of convention where competition is involved. Is there value betting on the MLB All-Star Game? Read on to find out.

Could a lack of competitiveness lead to value?

The single most important element of betting on the All-Star Game is understanding its nature. This will not be a tightly managed game with 25-man rosters whose assets are guarded for optimised use. Instead, we’ll see some far more expansive rosters dominated by a “let them all play” mentality.

The fact that the MLB still employs a rule that every team must have at least one representative is as good a place as any to start when trying to determine the degree to which victory matters. The All-Star Game is never going to be as hotly contested as the World Series, but it does offer a unique proposition for bettors.

Generally, with an American League game, at least seven players are playing the full nine innings; in the NL, that number might be six because of the increased strategical importance of using the bench optimally, but those differences are negligible. In the Al-Star Game however, none of the starters will make it to the end. They probably won’t make the fifth inning.

Playing in the game is still considered an honour, but the break is the only time in a six month season that these players can go more than 48 hours without playing hard-nosed baseball. They’re happy to be taken out and the managers don’t want to deal with griping honorees who made the trip only to not get their appearance in.

Who’s playing in the MLB All-Star Game?

The starters:

MLB All-Star Game starters

Position

American League

WAR

National League

WAR

C

Wilson Ramos

1.6

Willson Contreras

2.5

1B

Jose Abreu

-0.1

Freddie Freeman

3.6

2B

Jose Altuve

4.1

Javier Baez

3.2

SS

Manny Machado

3.6

Brandon Crawford

2.4

3B

Jose Ramirez

6.0

Nolan Arenado

3.8

OF

Mookie Betts

5.7

Nick Markakis

2.6

OF

Mike Trout

6.5

Matt Kemp

1.9

OF

Aaron Judge

4.7

Bryce Harper

1.5

DH

JD Martinez

3.6

TBD

 

WAR sourced from Fangraphs (all data correct as of 12/07/18)

The benches:

MLB All-Star Game benches

American League

Position

WAR

National League

Position

WAR

Salvy Perez

C

0.4

Yadier Molina

C

1.3

Mitch Moreland

1B

1.4

J.T. Realmuto

C

3.5

Jed Lowrie

2B

3.4

Joey Votto

1B

2.7

Francisco Lindor

SS

5.3

Paul Goldschmidt

1B

3.5

Alex Bregman

3B

4.2

Scooter Gennett

2B

3.2

Michael Brantley

OF

1.3

Ozzie Albies

2B

3.6

George Springer

CF

1.8

Trevor Story

SS

2.6

Mitch Haniger

OF

2.8

Eugenio Suarez

3B

3.2

Shin-Soo Choo

OF

2.9

Lorenzo Cain

CF

3.7

Nelson Cruz

DH

1.8

Christian Yelich

OF

2.2

Jean Segura

SS

3.2

Charlie Blackmon

OF

0.9

 -

 -

 -

Jesus Aguilar

1B

3.0

The pitchers:

MLB All-Star Game pitchers

American League

WAR

National League

WAR

Corey Kluber

2.8

Max Scherzer

4.3

Chris Sale

4.9

Jacob deGrom

4.4

Luis Severino

4.2

John Lester

1.0

Gerrit Cole

3.3

Aaron Nola

4.0

Jose Berrios

2.2

Patrick Corbin

3.1

J.A. Happ

1.7

Mike Foltynewicz

2.1

Trevor Bauer

4.9

Ross Stripling

2.4

Edwin Diaz

2.4

Josh Hader

2.0

Joe Jimenez

1.2

Kenley Jansen

0.9

Craig Kimbrel

1.2

Brad Hand

0.7

Aroldis Chapman

1.7

Felipe Vazquez

1.5

Blake Treinen

2.1

 -

 -

A quick assessment here suggests the American League team is particularly beastly. Five WAR is generally considered all-star calibre, and this team has seven starters projecting to seven WAR. One thing that should be clear after looking over these lists is that the best players don’t always start, and the replacements are generally almost as good (and sometimes even better) than the starters.

Will the missing players matter?

In the lead up to the All-Star Game, the news is dominated by the names of players who are choosing to not play, for whatever reasons. While this data has less of an effect than it would in the regular season (given strength of replacements and expected diminished participation) it’s still relevant and can be used to get ahead of market movement.

The American League have won the last five MLB All-Star Games and hold a record of 17-3-1 over the last 21 games.

Thus far, four players have already opted out of either making the trip or participating in the game (Buster Posey from the Giants, Gleyber Torres of the Yankees, the Nationals’ Sean Doolittle, Justin Verlander from the Astros and Miles Mikolas of the Cardinals).

More names will be added to that list in coming days (they always are). More likely than not, their spots will be filled by players such as; Andrew Benintendi (Red Sox), Andrelton Simmons (Angels), Eddie Rosario (Twins), James Paxton (Mariners), Blake Snell (Rays), Max Muncy (Dodgers), Trea Turner (Nationals), Zack Greinke (Diamondbacks) and Adam Ottavino (Rockies).

Of course, as mentioned, you can probably add the eighteen players in the starting lineup as of the fourth inning.

Does form matter in the MLB All-Star game?

A look at the history books might make you think this is an even encounter - the two leagues are currently tied at 43-43. However, recent results paint a much different picture with the American League winning the last five and holding a record of 17-3-1 over the last 21 games. There’s a logic that says you should ignore that fact; after all, these are different players.

There are two views you could take as a bettor when looking at the recent American League dominance. Firstly, AL players may feel pressure to maintain that superiority, given how the narrative will be pushed at them by media in the lead up to the game. Secondly, NL players (faced with similar questions) may play just a little bit harder in the hopes of avoiding the need for a post-game explanation.

Home field advantage and interleague play

There appears to be no measurable recent home field advantage in the MLB All-Star Game given the recent AL dominance. The game is being played at Nationals Park in Washington and while it is traditionally an NL park, it will use AL rules.

The American League has dominated interleague play right alongside the All-Star Game, so it may be worth noting that this is the first year in recent memory where the National League has sported superior W-L numbers heading into the All-Star break. NL teams have gone 74-64 against their AL counterparts.

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