MLB Week in Review (June 26-July 2)

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It’s just about that time again as the MLB shuts down for most of the week to celebrate the best of the best in the game.

The MLB all-Star game is right around the corner and once again the debates over the value of the game will swirl.

That debate is an interesting but the fact is that all-star games will never go away no matter how pointless they are.

So we might as well accept the fact that they are here to stay and enjoy them for what they are. It is a display of the greatest players in the game all getting together to play a game that will determine home field advantage in the World Series.

In baseball it is not necessarily a meaningless game and it is not necessarily a terrible game either.

In many of the other games across the sports world defence disappears and the game becomes a display of offence that eventually gets boring.

Baseball is somewhat different though as the game itself is defence first with pitchers all looking to perform well, even if that is only for a few innings at a time.

Not many defensive players will go all out to make a play but the game is not a complete write off like many of the other all-star games.

There is one major problem with this game though and that is the way that all-stars are named to the roster.

In an attempt to get the fans more involved in the all-star game the MLB does what every other league does in allowing fans to vote for all-stars.

Generally that works fine as plenty of players are voted into the game from a number of teams.

Every now and then though the system’s flaws are exposed in a big way which is what has happened this year.

In the American League the fans of the Kansas City Royals have come out in a big way to vote for their team.

In all before this week the Royals had seven total starters voted into the All-Star game with only two players, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, from other teams making the starting lineup.baseball-sidebar

In some ways it is understandable that the Royals are starting the All-Star game as they are one of the best teams in the first half of the season but not all of the players that have been voted as starters deserve the starting role.

This week part of that changed but it took a big effort for two more players to take away starting spots.

At third base the Royals fan had put up big numbers for Mike Moustakas. The Royals third baseman has been having a good year and ranks among the best averages for a third baseman in the league.

Where he falls just short is his power and run production though as his OPS ranks only 8th in the league while he ranks out of the top ten in home runs and RBIs.

Batting average is a good measurement of a player but when there are players in the same position who rank among the top five in almost every category it is hard to argue that they don’t belong in the starting lineup for the all-star game.

That player is Josh Donaldson who ranks fourth in average, third in OPS, third in home runs, and third in RBIs along with a top ten WAR.

Still with that type of performance it took a record-breaking number of votes to make Donaldson a starter this week.

Nelson Cruz was the other new starter this week beating out Kendrys Morales for the designated hitter spot.

It might be the most glaring weakness of the system as Cruz ranks around the top 20 for every major hitting category while Morales ranks top 20 in RBIs but sits closer to 50th in every other major category.

Having him as the designated hitter is simply another way to get another Royal into the game that doesn’t belong in as that position at least.

The Royals are dominating the all-star game and some of them do belong there with some of them belonging in starting roles.

The problem with the system is that not every Royal belongs in the all-star game and not everyone belongs as a starter in the all-star game yet still there are more Royals starting for the American League than all other teams combined and that shows the flaws in the voting system where deserving players are left out of the game.

Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Sale Makes History
Chris Sale is on a role right now as he has put together a great run of dominance striking out ten batters in eight straight games matching Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez’s record for most games consecutive games with at least ten strikeouts

Legendary Park Gone
The Eugene Civic Stadium was home to the Eugene Emeralds of the Minor Leagues since it was opened in 1938 but the legendary stadium is no more after it burnt down this week in an act of arson reportedly perpetrated by five children ages 10 to 12 years old

Managing Change in Philly
In a surprise act Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg resigned from his position leaving Philadelphia without a manager an issue they solved for the time being in naming Pete MacKanin, the former field manager, as the interim manager for 2015

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Key Series:
Kansas City Royals 3 – 0 Oakland Athletics
– The Royals proved why they own many of the all-star spots in their sweep of the Athletics who themselves showed the issues that have plagued them all year in another series loss against a team that has been a thorn in their side this year

Detroit Tigers 2 – 0 Chicago White Sox
– Another matchup between two teams who e used to being at the top showed that the Tigers are still in the hunt with the Royals while the White Sox continued to fall further behind in the race for the Central

Boston Red Sox 3 – 1 Toronto Blue Jays
– The Toronto Blues Jays’ offence fell asleep as they came back home against Boston and they couldn’t keep up only taking their Canada Day matchup between the two teams while the Red Sox took three from this four game series

Chicago Cubs 3 – 0 New York Mets
– The Cubs had a great start to the year but have struggled to get back to winning which is the same for the Mets as both faced off looking for a boost as the midseason point approaches and the Cubs getting it in a series sweep

Upcoming Series:
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Detroit Tigers [July 3/4/5]
– It is an old rivalry that fell off when the East was split up but the Tigers are the only natural rival to the Jays from proximity and they will look to get their offence going against a good pitching staff while the Tigers try to stay in the hunt in the Central

New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers [July 3/4/5]
– Two of the biggest cities in the USA face off in a series that includes a July 4th meeting as both teams hope to celebrate the birth of their country with a win as the Dodgers try to stay atop the West and the Mets try to gain back their lead in the East

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs [July 6/7/8]
– The cubs were at the top of the division at the start of the year but lately have given way to the best team in baseball and have fallen to third as they look to get back to the top by beating the Cardinals

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Texas Rangers [July 7/8]
– The D-Backs and the Rangers are in interesting positions as the D-backs were not expected to be in third in the West while the Rangers were a complete question mark but both face-off looking to stay in the hunt in their respective division with this two-game series

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