Death, Taxes, and the AL winning the MLB All-Star Game. For the last 13 years at least, these three things in life have been certain. As a result of their 4-3 victory last night, the AL will have home-field advantage in the World Series, which Tim Keown thinks is just the dumbest idea in sports history. Jayson Stark has more on the streak.
Not that Brad Hawpe and the NL didn't put up a good fight. Only Carl Crawford, the MVP of the game, could keep Hawpe from hitting a tie-breaking home run leading off the seventh, but alas, the Tampa Bay left-fielder showed off his mad hops and stole the night's glory from the unassuming Texan.
Hawpe also struck out in the ninth inning on a borderline pitch from Mariano Rivera. Meanwhile, the Rockies' other All-Star, right-handed pitcher Jason Marquis, warmed up in the ninth inning but never did enter the game. Don't cry too much for Jason though. He made a cool $75,000 (Hawpe made $25,000) for his Midsummer Classic trip. That's not to say that they aren't spreading the joy:
They are sharing the wealth, treating more than 35 family members this week who were at the game, along with bringing back presents for teammates. The pair bought 30 bats and 50 All-Star Game shirts for the Rockies players, and Marquis purchased game jerseys for all the coaches, trainers and clubhouse staff.
"Maybe they will use it to wipe their hands," joked Marquis, a former Cardinal who received warm applause when introduced. "But I want them to know how much they are appreciated. They helped us get here."
Tracy Ringolsby poses this question: Do the Rockies have what it takes offensively?
My take is that the Rockies have the personnel to have a dangerous lineup, with consistent power and patience, though they have tended to slump all at once and haven't been great at playing their best players (Carlos Gonzalez over Seth Smith being the most egregious example of this). Bottom line though, I believe that the Rockies do have enough in the tank for another deep run into October.
One avenue of offensive success that I hadn't previously considered is good baserunning--but luckily, Beyond the Boxscore has. Sky Kalkman opines that the Rockies have the best baserunning in MLB, good for 14 runs above average (or 1.4 extra wins)--four more runs above the next highest team (Florida). Considering that last year Minnesota led the league with 16.1 RAA, this number really is spectacular.
Note that these numbers are for live baserunning only, eliminating stolen bases and caught stealing from the equation as they are already included in most other run scoring metrics. Here's the individual rankings by team.
I was mildly surprised by this ranking (especially by the fact that Clint Barmes was rated our top baserunner) but it looks like this team is taking full advantage of getting on base. As Kalkman says, it's another talking point in the "Rockies-for-the-playoffs" campaign.
Finally, Baseball America writes about two Rockies prospects in their Daily Dish, Jhouyls Chacin and Esmil Rogers (no subscription required). There's a lot of good stuff in the article about two of the Rockies' top pitching prospects.