Ryan Braun

Mike Trout

Mike Trout shines as the American League beats the National League 6-3 in the All-Star Game


CINCINNATI — Mike Trout is the best baseball player in the game today. You can doubt this if you wish, but you’d be wrong to do so.

No matter what you think about that, Trout led the charge for the American League on Tuesday night, reaching base three times, scoring twice, launching a home run and showing off some serious speed as the American League beat the National League 6-3. It was the American League’s 16th win in the past 19 All-Star Games and ensures that the AL representative will have home field advantage in the World Series.

After the game Trout was named the All-Star Game MVP for the second straight year. It’s the first time any player has won the MVP Award in back-to-back years and the fifth time a player has won the MVP Award more than once. As part of a sponsor tie-in, he got to choose between a brand new Chevy Silverado truck or a Camaro for winning it. He picked the truck this year, after taking a Corvette last time around. He doesn’t turn 24 for a couple of weeks. He’s gonna have a lot of trucks by the time his career is over.

Trout, batting leadoff, came to the plate four times on Tuesday night, making him the first player to have four plate appearances in an All-Star Game since Jose Reyes did in 2007 and the first AL player to do so since Ichiro did in 2004. But of course, when you’re the best player in baseball you should get to play more than anyone else. And he had a good night, homering in the first inning, beating out what should’ve been a sure double play in the fifth and eventually coming around to score. In the seventh he drew a walk and his pinch runner, Brock Holt, came around to score. He finished the night 1-for-3 with a walk, a homer and two runs scored.

The American League had other heroes of course. Brian Dozier homered. Manny Machado doubled in Holt. Prince Fielder singled in a run. Lorenzo Cain doubled one in. But on the offensive side of things, it was the Mike Trout show.

The National League wasn’t totally silent on this night, but their biggest highlights were more sound and fury than anything else. Jacob deGrom struck out the AL side in the sixth on ten pitches. Aroldis Chapman did the same in the top of the ninth on fourteen pitches, hitting triple digits over and over and over again. The AL hitters had no idea what to make of him. If an AL team picks him up at the trade deadline, it’s gonna be trouble for that team’s opponents in the late innings.

On the offensive side the Senior Circuit scored on a Jhonny Peralta single in the second, an Andrew McCutchen homer in the sixth and a Ryan Braun triple plus a sac fly in the ninth. But that was all they’d get.

The winning pitcher: David Price, not that a pitcher’s win matters much in a game in which no pitcher threw more than two innings and most only pitched a single frame. The loser: Clayton Kershaw, who gave up two runs in the fifth. This game didn’t matter too much and the NL’s loss had many helpers, but I’m sure someone will still try to hang the “can’t win the big one” label on Kershaw as a result. It’s a shame, but that seems to be his lot in life lately, at least in the minds of people who like contrived narratives more than actually analyzing baseball.

Whatever the case, that’s it from the Mid-Summer Classic, folks. See you in the American League pennant winner’s home park for Game One of the 2015 World Series. And in San Diego for the 2016 All-Star Game when we’ll do this silly thing once again.

Ryan Braun replaces Matt Holliday on the NL All-Star roster

Ryan Braun

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has been named as the replacement for injured Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday on the National League All-Star roster, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. Holliday, dealing with a strained right quadriceps, was hoping to be healthy enough to participate in the midsummer classic, but he’ll shoot for a return not long after the second half begins.

Braun, 31, has turned in a productive season for the last-place Brewers, entering play Sunday batting .272/.338/.485 with 15 home runs, 55 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. He was a five-time All-Star consecutively between 2008-12 but hadn’t been part of the festivities since.

Bobby Bonilla’s isn’t the only deferred money deal in the game. And isn’t even the worst.

Bruce Sutter

As we noted before, Bobby Bonilla’s deferred deal with the Mets isn’t anywhere near as bad and mockworthy as it’s often made out to be. But the fact is, it isn’t even the worst in the game, either as far as the money or the optics go.

Check out some of these gems, most of which was gathered from an article by ESPN’s Doug Mittler back in 2012:

  • Manny Ramirez has a 16-year, $32 million deferred money deal from the Red Sox which, like Bonilla’s, kicked in on July 1, 2011. It costs them $1.968 million a year and goes through 2026 when Ramirez is 54;
  • The Cardinals are paying Matt Holliday to play now, but they’ll still be paying him through 2029 under the $120 million, seven-year contract he signed in 2010;
  • Retired Rockies first baseman Todd Helton deferred $13 million of his 2011 salary (total was $19.1 million) and will be paid through 2024;
  • The Nationals will pay Ryan Zimmerman $10 million over five years after he’s retired, with a nominal organization job;
  • Ryan Braun will receive $18 million in payments in equal installments each July 1 from 2022 to 2031;
  • The Tigers are still paying Gary Sheffield between $1 million and $2.5 million annually through 2019;
  • The Mariners are paying Ichiro Suzuki a chunk of his last big deal through the year 2032;
  • The Reds signed Ken Griffey Jr. to a $116.5 million contract in February 2000, but more than half of that is still being paid by the team and will continue to be so until Griffey is in his 50s.

My favorite one, however, has to be from my Atlanta Braves, who tried to make a big splash by signing Bruce Sutter before the 1985 season. He was a bust of course, but this is how he was paid. From a 1985 Los Angeles Times report:

Bruce Sutter was to receive payments totaling $44 million over the next 36 years from his new club, the Atlanta Braves . . . Sutter will receive a $750,000 salary for each of the next six years and a minimum of $1.12 million a year for the remaining 30 years of the contract. In addition, he will get the $9.1 million in so-called “principal” at the end.

Bruce. Sutter. And you think Bobby Bonilla’s deal was a bad one.