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Does the MLB All-Star Game Really Count?
In 2002, Major League Baseball's Mid-Summer classic, the All-Star game, ended in a 7-7 tie when each team exhausted their pitching staffs. With low ratings for that game, and apathy in general towards the game amongst its players, MLB started, perhaps in a panic, to develop a means to respark interest in the All-Star Game for both fans and players alike.
Their idea to that end was simple albeit misguided: the winning league in the game would have home field advantage in the World Series. Now, previously, home field just alternated between leagues each year, which wasn't any better, but its not nearly as good as, say, giving the team with the better record home field advantage in the World Series. MLB believed players would star to give more effort in these games knowing something was at stake (ignoring that each year most of them would be playing on teams that wouldn't even be playoff bound), and they believed fans watch again because it "mattered".
However, it really hasn't mattered all that much. In eleven All-Star games since (not including the 2014 game which was just played), the team that was given home field advantage for the World Series went on to win seven out of eleven times, a decent average actually. In the eight years the American League won home field, that league's representative won the World Series only four of those times. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 both the All-Star game and the World Series have belonged to the National League.
Looking deeper, each year there are only a handful of players who will have played in both the All-Star game and the World Series for that season. Thus, for these players, the team that got home field advantage in the World Series was determined not by them, but by players of other teams who did not make it that far. With the exception of a couple of All-Star games, you'll find that there is very little correlation between the All-Star game's results (including the play of the relevant players of said game), and the result of the World Series. To that end, I'll look back at each All-Star game and its corresponding World Series since 2003, the first time the All-Star game "counted". For each season, I'll give a rating signifying how much the All-Star game affected the subsequent World Series. Factoring into that score would be the team with home field winning the title, and players in the World Series playing well in the All-Star game itself.
2003 All-Star Game
- Where: Chicago (U.S. Cellular Field)
- Final Score: American League victory, 7-6
- All-Star Game MVP: Garret Anderson (Anaheim Angels, who were under .500)
- World Series Result: Florida Marlins over [New York Yankees], 4-2
- World Series MVP: Josh Beckett (not an All-Star that season)
The team formerly known as the Florida Marlins had only three players in the 2003 All-Star game: Mike Lowell (doubled in his only plate appearance), Luis Castillo (0-2) and Dontrelle Willis (DNP). The Yankees, meanwhile, had five All-Stars who made several key impacts in the All-Star game. However, the Yankees were unable to make use of their league's victory as the Marlins celebrated their 2nd title in Yankee Stadium.
All-Star Contribution to World Series Result (aka CountScore: 2/5)
2004 All-Star Game
- Where: Houston (Minute Maid Park)
- Final Score: American League victory, 9-4
- All-Star Game MVP: Alfonso Soriano (Texas Rangers, who had 89 wins but missed the postseason)
- World Series Result: [Boston Red Sox] over St. Louis Cardinals, 4-0
- World Series MVP: Manny Ramirez (All-Star)
The 2004 game was great for Boston's All-Stars, as both David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez hit home runs in that game. The Cardinals also played well in that All-Star game in vain, but given how badly Boston beat St. Louis in the World Series, home field may not of mattered.
2005 All-Star Game
- Where: Detroit (Comerica Park)
- Final Score: American League victory, 7-5
- All-Star Game MVP: Miguel Tejada (Baltimore Orioles, who were under .500)
- World Series Result: [Chicago White Sox] over Houston Astros, 4-0
- World Series MVP: Jermaine Dye (not an All-Star)
Chicago's Mark Buehrle was their biggest All-Star contributor, pitching two decent innings of three-hit ball with three strikeouts. Otherwise, the White Sox impact in the All-Star game was minimal. Houston's players were not that great in game, from Roy Oswalt (1 IP, 2 R) to Morgan Ensberg (0-2, K). Brad Lidge was also okay in this game, but this was the same year Albert Pujol's massive HR off him in the NLCS was a major catalyst towards his career derailment. Again, like in 2004, the impact of home field was lessened when Chicago swept Houston anyway.
2006 All-Star Game
- Where: Pittsburgh (PNC Park)
- Final Score: American League victory, 3-2
- All-Star Game MVP: Michael Young (Texas Rangers, who finished 80-82)
- World Series Result: St. Louis Cardinals over [Detroit Tigers], 4-1
- World Series MVP: David Eckstein (he actually was an All-Star that year)
Detroit's Kenny Rogers was the AL starter for that game, but he gave up three hits and a run over two innings. Detroit's two hitters in the game, Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez, were hitless. For St. Louis, Albert Pujols went 0-3 with a strikeout, Eckstein struck out in his only appearance, and neither Scott Rolen nor Chris Carpenter played. This All-Star game had very little relevance to the World Series that year.
2007 All-Star Game
- Where: San Francisco (AT&T Park)
- Final Score: American League victory, 5-4
- All-Star Game MVP: Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners, who won 88 games but missed the postseason)
- World Series Result: [Boston Red Sox] over Colorado Rockies, 4-0
- World Series MVP: Mike Lowell (All-Star)
Boston sent six players to the All-Star game, including Lowell (hit, run), David Ortiz (0-2) and Josh Beckett (2 IP, W). Colorado didn't have much presence, as their only player who played in that game, Matt Holliday, went 0-2 with a strikeout. Boston's relative success in the AL victory may not of meant too much as Boston went on to sweep Colorado in the World Series.
2008 All-Star Game
- Where: New York (the late, former Yankee Stadium)
- Final Score: American League victory, 4-3 in 15 innings
- All-Star Game MVP: J.D. Drew (Boston Red Sox, who made the postseason as an AL Wild Card, losing to Tampa Bay in the ALCS)
- World Series Result: Philadelphia Phillies over [Tampa Bay Rays], 4-1
- World Series MVP: Cole Hamels (not an All-Star)
Well, the game itself finally manifests that "it counts" mentality that MLB wanted. Whereas the 2002 game ended in a tie after 10 innings, rules allowing for more pitchers to play allowed this game to go to 15 innings and likely more. Interestingly, the 15th inning featured pitchers on both sides that played in the World Series that year: Tampa's Scott Kazmir got the win, our friend Brad Lidge got the loss. A few months later, Kazmir would take a loss in Game 1 of the World Series, a game Lidge saved. Lidge also saved the championship-sealing Game 5.
2009 All-Star Game
- Where: St. Louis (the current Busch Stadium)
- Final Score: American League victory, 4-3
- All-Star Game MVP: Carl Crawford (Tampa Bay Rays, who missed the postseason)
- World Series Result: [New York Yankees] over Philadelphia Phillies, 4-2
- World Series MVP: Hideki Matsui (not an All-Star)
Mark Teixiera and Derek Jeter combined to go 0-5 in the game, though Jeter did get HBP and scored two runs. Mariano Rivera also got the save. Five Phillies hitters played in the game, but combined to go 1-6 with three strikeouts. Not too much individual effect, though this time around the Yankees did take advantage of home field to win this World Series.
2010 All-Star Game
- Where: Anaheim (Angel Stadium)
- Final Score: National League victory, 3-1
- All-Star Game MVP: Brian McCann (Atlanta Braves, the NL Wild Card who lost to San Francisco in the NLDS)
- World Series Result: [San Francisco Giants] over Texas Rangers, 4-1
- World Series MVP: Edgar Renteria (not an All-Star)
The NL finally breaks the AL's 11-year unbeaten streak, which includes that 2002 tie. San Francisco had only two pitchers at the game: Tim Lincecum who didn't pitch and Brian Wilson who pitched one inning. Texas, however, was heavily represented, and their six players overall fared poorly, albeit not as badly as how they performed in the subsequent World Series.
2011 All-Star Game
- Where: Phoenix (Chase Field)
- Final Score: National League victory, 5-1
- All-Star Game MVP: Prince Fielder (Milwaukee Brewers, who won the NL Central but lost to St. Louis in the NLCS)
- World Series Result: [St. Louis Cardinals] over Texas Rangers, 4-3
- World Series MVP: David Freese (not an All-Star)
Texas was literally one strike away from winning the World Series in both Games 6 & 7, but lost both games. Perhaps if those last two games were in Arlington things would've been different, but they didn't help themselves in the All-Star game. Texas started C.J. Wilson pitched one inning in the All-Star game, giving up three runs on three hits, eventually taking the loss. St. Louis was mostly a non-factor in the All-Star game, but once again Texas was a big factor in the AL's loss, their loss of home field and perhaps their losses in two consecutive World Series.
2012 All-Star Game
- Where: Kansas City (Kaufmann Stadium)
- Final Score: National League victory, 8-0
- All-Star Game MVP: Melky Cabrera (San Francisco Giants, the World Series champions)
- World Series Result: [San Francisco Giants] over Detroit Tigers, 4-0
- World Series MVP: Pablo Sandoval (All-Star)
You want your All-Star games to count? The 2012 game is the very definition of what MLB wanted to happen. In the All-Star game, the San Francisco players were tremendous while the Detroit players were terrible. Notably, AL starter Justin Verlander gave up five runs on four hits and two walks in the first inning alone to seal the AL's fate in this game while Giants starter Matt Cain was given the win for the game. This would continue in the World Series, where the Giants completely dominated the Tigers in strikingly similar fashion. This is also the first time the All-Star game MVP played for the eventual champion, though Melky Cabrera would soon be suspended for PED abuse and was not on San Francisco's playoff roster.
CountScore: 5/5, THIS TIME IT COUNTED
2013 All-Star Game
- Where: New York (Citi Field)
- Final Score: American League victory, 3-0
- All-Star Game MVP: Mariano Rivera (New York Yankees, who missed the playoffs)
- World Series Result: [Boston Red Sox] over St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2
- World Series MVP: David Ortiz (All-Star)
How fitting, that in his final All-Star game in his home, well, city, Mariano Rivera would help seal the deal for the AL to win its first All-Star game after three losses. How fitting it also is, then, that Rivera's, well, 'hold' (Joe Nathan pitched the 9th) helped out Boston, who made the World Series that season and won Game 6 in Fenway Park. Boston's two hitters in the game, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, combined to go 0-4, though St. Louis' hitters were hardly any better and neither team's pitchers saw any action. For an All-Star game all about New York, Boston ended up benefiting.
2014 All-Star Game
- Where: Minneapolis (Target Field)
- Final Score: American League victory, 5-3
- All-Star Game MVP: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels, in good position to make the postseason)
- World Series Result & MVP: ???
Who knows just how much of an impact this All-Star game will have on the 2014 World Series. If the Angels get in and Mike Trout dominates to give the Angels a title, then this All-Star will be looked upon as having a high impact. However, if, say, St. Louis gets it together to win the World Series in spite of their relative poor performance in the All-Star game (particularly Adam Wainwright), then this All-Star game ended up being meaningless to that end.
Regardless, overall the All-Star game's impact has been relatively minor these past 11+ seasons. Even less so was the impact by players who played in both the All-Star game and the World Series that same year. There's hardly any correlation between the two beside the jarring results in 2012, so that begs the question: why does it still count?