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Last year the MLB Futures Game was highlighted by Mike Trout and Bryce Harper being elected to the game. Now Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are both in the MLB All Star game. They are both having great seasons and are probably future baseball stars. So who will be this year’s Mike Trout or Bryce Harper? I’m going to take a look at the rosters and give my best guess as to who out of the many great players in this game will be the next star.

The US Team has some of the best pitchers from last year’s draft including Dylan Bundy and Gerrit Cole. Both of those pitchers have the possibility to become the next great pitchers. Bundy has done ridiculous things so far in the minors and will be fun to watch in this game and for years to come. Cole has been consistent all year and has the possibility to be the Pirates ace in a couple years.

Fernandez leads the World Team pitchers when it comes to the best future. He has been one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues this year and is one of the best international players to be drafted in the past few years.

Arenado and Hamilton lead the US Team as fielders. Arenado is one of the best hitting prospects in the minor league and is generating a lot of buzz when it comes to talk about him online. Hamilton might be the best known minor leaguer out there. He has stolen over 100 bases already this year and will probably set a minor league record this year. He’s the fastest player in baseball and many think he’ll move to center field at some point. He’ll be fun to see steal some bases hopefully in the futures game.

Profar and Taveras lead the names for the World Team. Just as with Arenado, he is regarded by some as the best player in the minor leagues. He is one of the best prospects out there and will be very exciting to watch. I personally like Oscar Taveras to be a future star. He is a prospect in the Cardinals system that didn’t have a great season last year. This season, he has improved a lot and has shown that he wants to make it to the major leagues. He’s developed power and added that to his many tools. I think he’ll be in the major leagues soon and will do well there.

The Futures game is a great game for anyone that loves baseball. It’s like watching an All-Star Game of all of the minor leagues. Even if you don’t follow minor league baseball or scouting, you should watch the game because every team has one player and your team’s player might do something great there.

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Earlier in the day, the selections for the 2012 MLB All Star Game were made. Every year fans of different teams around the league complain about being “snubbed”. The players that they cheer for and love or maybe even the players they voted for didn’t make it and they think they have a real reason why the player that they love should get in. A lot of the time, the fan has a good argument.. The problem is that the way that players are selected isn’t always fair. Players that deserve to be in aren’t always in. So, unlike most other baseball blogs I’ll be focusing on the positive of the players in the game and not the negative.

Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton battled to see who could get the most overall votes. Hamilton won by a lot and definitely deserved it as he’s putting together another possible MVP season. He’s got average and power like nobody else in the game right now. Once again Jose Bautista leads the league in home runs going into the All Star break and that’s a good reason for him to be deserving of the All Star game.

Derek Jeter was selected once again and deserves it because he’s one of the best short stops to play the game. Ortiz is playing great this year and deserves the honor of being the DH for the American League. Robinson Cano has changed the game for second basemen. He’s a great hitter and he hits for power.

One of the best stories this year is how well Chris Sale is pitching after being drafted only two years ago. The only pitcher that got more votes from the selecting group was Justin Verlander. That’s pretty impressive for such a young pitcher.

Miguel Cabrera is in the All Star Game again and definitely deserves to be there. He has been one of the best hitters in the American League over the past three years. Mike Trout is another one of those great stories. He’s one of only a select list of players that in one year play in the Futures Game and the next year play in the All Star game. He is a five or six tool player that has a ton of potential and was happy that he got selected to the game. Adam Jones, Paul Konerko, Mark Trumbo, and Adam Dunn are also among deserving reserves in the AL.

In the National League, Buster Posey got the most votes. He was very deserving of that after having a terrible season ending injury last year. He has worked hard since that injury and is back to having a fantastic year both defensively and offensively. Joey Votto was extremely deserving of being in the All Star Game because he’s having another year where he can go for the triple crown and be in the MVP race. Uggla is having a great season and deserves being part of the team. Seeing Melky Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval as starters just shows how many San Francisco Giants fans voted and how much they care about getting their guys in. A great showing by a great fanbase.

It’s great to see that pitchers like Wade Miley, Gio Gonzalez, and especially RA Dickey were selected. Young guys like Chapman, Strasburg, and Kershaw show that there will be plenty of good pitching in the future. Closers like Papelbon and Hanrahan are having great years and deserve to be in the All Star game for sure.

Carlos Gonzalez and Giancarlo Stanton are making their first All Star appearances and even more impressive they are among the better hitters in the National League right now despite being young. Yadier Molina is having his best offensive year yet and is still just as good behind the plate as he was before this season. Ryan Braun, last year’s MVP, is having another great season and deserves the selection for sure. The best story of all for the National League reserves is David Wright. He has a chance to be the Comeback Player of the Year because of everything that happened last night. This year he’s been on fire and has some great batting statistics. He’s having a great year and definitely deserves to be on the squad.

See, that wasn’t so hard. Taking the positive out of the All-Star game selections. There are so many players in the game this year that deserve being there 100%. The stories in this year’s All Star Game are great, so don’t get caught up in who isn’t there. Embrace who is.

  • Jim Thome was traded from the Phillies to the Orioles immediately after both of the teams’ games ended. In return for Thome, the Phillies got Kyle Simon and Gabriel Lino. Kyle Simon is the 18th prospect in the Orioles system and Gabriel Lino is the 21st prospect, according to Baseball America. This trade is a win-win for both teams. The Orioles get the DH that they desperately need if they want to contend in the AL East, and the Phillies get some prospects that will probably have a future at the Major League level.
  • The temperature in Atlanta before first pitch was 110 degrees. That took a big toll on the Nationals as it caused Stephen Strasburg to leave the game in the third inning. He was frustrated about being taken out in the dugout, but later said that he felt dizziness on the mound. He was also red-faced and was breathing heavily. After the game he was given 3 IVs of saline.
  • Earlier in the day, there were rumors saying that the Rangers were scouting both Zack Greinke and Cole Hamels. This makes sense considering the fact that the only problem that the Rangers really have is pitching. The Rangers later denied that they were going after Greinke, but made no mention of Hamels.
  • The All-Star Game selection show is on TBS at 1 ET today. Tune in to find out which players made it, so that you can all complain about which players made it and which ones didn’t (I might do some of that too).
  • Anthony Rizzo hit his first home run in a Cubs uniform today. Even more impressive was his great fielding play where he fielded a grounder and threw a perfect strike to throw the runner out. That play will be one of many to come and the home run will be one of many to come in a Cubs uniform. Something for Cubs fans to be excited about.
  • The Dodgers and Astros seem to be working a trade that involves Carlos Lee. He will make a decision about waiving his no-trade clause today. The Dodgers are confident that even if they don’t make this trade, they will make another before the deadline to improve their offense.
  • Last but not least, Yasmani Grandal set a new Major League record in his game against the Rockies. This was his major league debut and he is a switch hitter. In his first at bat, he batted from the right side and hit a home run. In his second at bat, he batted from the left side and hit a home run. He was the first player to ever have his first two hits be home runs from the two sides of the plate. That’s quite a feat, and yet, he got the silent treatment after his first homer (as shown in the GIF above).

Trevor Bauer was drafted 3rd overall by the Diamondbacks last year. He was a pitcher for UCLA in college and got close to winning a College World Series. Since being drafted, he has been on the fast track to the big leagues. After Daniel Hudson’s possible season ending injury, the call-up of Bauer is even more important to the Diamondbacks pitching staff … as long as he’s good.

He went four innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 runs, walked 3, and struck out 3. Not exactly a stellar start, but the Diamondbacks weren’t expecting him to pitch a complete game shutout. He did what was expected of him for his first start in the Major Leagues.

When asked of Kevin Goldstein, scout and writer about prospects for ESPN and Baseball Prospectus, what his thoughts on Bauer’s first start was, he replied, “Effective, inefficient, as expected.”

I think that just about sums it up.

Anthony Rizzo is a top prospect in the Chicago Cubs farm system. He is probably the first basemen of the future and possibly of the World Series champions for the Cubs. He has a lot of hype surrounding him and even more hype surrounding him being called up and playing his first game for the Cubs tonight.

Most of the talk is either someone sincerely believing that Rizzo will do great things and the rest of it is people being sarcastic about the level of success that Rizzo will succeed. So which is the right one? Is Rizzo the superstar of the future for the Cubs or is he going to bust? The answer is that we don’t know and he’ll probably be somewhere in between.

Some of the hype calls Anthony Rizzo the “Savior of the Cubs”. While that might not be true referring to his talent on the field, it is true in another aspect.

Right now the Cubs are 25-48. They are 15 1/2 games out of first place in their division. They have the worst record in Major League Baseball. It’s pretty hard to keep fans interested and going to the ballpark when they lose most of their games. The media and writers who cover the Cubs have to find a way to keep fans interest, they have to search harder than most teams to find a story.

Rizzo has been that story. He has played great for the Iowa Cubs and looks like he can be really good in the future. Maybe the media is over-hyping him, but that’s how they’re keeping the interest of fans. Rizzo is a big story because it’s something Cubs fans can finally be excited about. I don’t think any Cubs fan honestly believes that he’ll turn around the Cubs season, but they do think that he’ll really help in the future. Rizzo is something to believe in, and that’s something Cubs fans really need.

R.A. Dickey has been doing some great things for the New York Mets this year. As a knuckleballer, he is on the top of his game and is fooling hitters so well that he leads the Major Leagues in Wins, ERA, Ks, and WHIP. I would venture to say that he’s the best pitcher in Major League Baseball right now.

In his last 6 starts he is 6-0 with a .018 ERA. He’s allowed just 2 runs and 21 hits in 48 2/3 innings pitched and has 63 Ks/5 BBs in that time frame. He’s been absolutely lights out recently. His last two starts have both been one-hitters.

But what is the reason behind the great pitching this season and especially in the past few weeks? The answer is that he has a wicked knuckleball. The knuckleball is such a unique pitch, because it can move in almost any direction and it moves at the last second. This makes hitters guess and recently they’ve all been guessing wrong.

Dickey’s knuckleball is slightly unique in that it is almost a slider and a knuckleball combined. It also goes over 80 MPH more recently than it was earlier in the season causing it to be an even more unreadable pitch. Hitters are struggling with this pitch right now, but it isn’t all that Dickey has in his arsenal. The trick of a knuckleball is that you always have the hitter on their toes and a simple fastball could have them fooled because of the fear of the knuckleball.

If Dickey can keep his knuckleball unreadable and over 80 MPH, he can continue to be the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. At least until Verlander gets his act together.

The St. Louis Cardinals have won 2 World Series trophies in the last six years. Both of those years the Cardinals have not been even close to being the expected winners, and they had to work hard to make the playoffs and to get to the World Series. Above all of that, in both World Series they won recently, they had to work really hard and give the games everything they had to win that World Series. But after both of those World Series Champion seasons, they have been disappointing in the season after.

In the year after both of the Championships, the Cardinals didn’t even make the playoffs. Also in both of those years (2007 and 2012) the Cardinals were either below .500 (78-84 in 2007) or close to being below (32-31 this year) .500. Not exactly impressive for the defending World Series Champions. But what is the explanation for the Cardinals’ failures the year after winning the World Series?

In both years, the lineup didn’t change that much that would affect the way that the team played. Yes, before this season the Cardinals lost one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball in Albert Pujols. They also gained Carlos Beltran who is doing great on the Cardinals. Yes, in 2007 compared to 2006 the Cardinals’ pitching staff wasn’t as good, but in 2012 compared to 2011 you could argue that the rotation and staff is actually better. So, losing good players isn’t really the problem.

So let’s take a look at those stats that determine if the team has had good or bad luck. First, look at pitching. In 2012 and 2007, the team BABIP has been higher than in 2011 and 2006. This means that the pitchers are only a tiny bit unluckier than the pitchers in the championship years. But even though the BABIP was higher, it was only higher by a tiny amount and in all four years their BABIP has been right around league average.

Hitting, on the other hand, is a different story. In 2012 and 2007 the team BABIP was higher than in 2011 and 2006 which means the hitters are actually getting luckier on their balls put in play.

The funny thing about these stats is that the Cardinals are probably better at pitching this year than they are at hitting. Lynn and Lohse are a lot better than most people expected. Wainwright is back and he may not be as good as before yet, but he’s still ace type material. This pitching staff is actually really good.

So none of this has answered the question of why the Cardinals become worse after they win something. So, let me shed some personal opinion on the topic. I think it’s because the Cardinals teams that have won the World Series aren’t that good. I’m not saying they were bad teams, but the thing that got them to and through the playoffs is that they are a team that just works hard and wins the games when they matter.

Getting hot at the right time is really important to success in Major League Baseball. The Cardinals were the masters of that in 2006 and 2011.

The Cardinals also worked really hard to win the World Series Championships that they won. I’m not saying that the other teams that win don’t work hard, but I think the Cardinals have to work harder because when they win the odds are always against them. And after working hard like that, maybe it’s hard for them to put that much effort into the regular season. The guys are tired and worn out and they might feel like they’ve done “enough” by winning the World Series.

I don’t know if this is the real reason, but maybe it is. We’ll continue to watch the Cardinals play and see if they can improve and make the playoffs unlike in 2007.