Interleague play was introduced by Major League Baseball in 2003 to create new geographic rivalries and instill some unique matchups within an already unbalanced schedule. Prior to the institution of interleague play, the Mets never played the Yankees, the Angels never played in Chavez Ravine, and the Giants never traveled across the Bay Bridge to play in Oakland against the Athletics.
Purists and traditionalists hated the concept (as they are wont to do in this game of baseball), but for the casual fan the idea of playing different teams and seeing different players brought in some new energy.
This all brings us to the 2015 All Star Game. So far, the National League will be playing the Kansas City Royals plus Mike Trout...and yes, this somehow includes Omar Infante. Yikes. Rather than subvert what is traditionally a fun time in the middle of July, why not embrace the global game at the expense of League against League that we have seen everyday since the Astros switched leagues?
The era of American versus National Leagues has passed. The designated hitter is the only difference, and it would be surprising if at some point this wasn't changed. Since the dawn of interleague play, league pride has waned. We as a baseball community have become spoiled, and with the advent of MLB.tv and the myriad ways to see different teams virtually and locally, the mystique of a Kershaw v. Trout, a Felix Hernandez v. Giancarlo Stanton, has tempered ----- we see this every day!
The game of baseball has become far more global, and all teams (even the Phillies) have made significant investments in various international markets in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. Not only are teams recruiting players from abroad at a staggering rate, MLB has spent a significant amount of time, money, and effort to promote their World Baseball Classic. A great way to improve the global brand and give some credence to the Mid-Summer Classic would be to have a United States against the World All Star Game.
Based on Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement, here is what the starting lineups would look like. Sorry Royals fans.
|United States Roster||World Roster|
|C||Buster Posey||Russell Martin|
|1B||Paul Goldschmidt||Miguel Cabrera|
|2B||Jason Kipnis||Jose Altuve|
|3B||Josh Donaldson||Adrian Beltre|
|SS||Brandon Crawford||Jose Iglesias|
|LF||Alex Gordon||Yoenis Cespedes|
|CF||Mike Trout||Jose Bautista|
|RF||Bryce Harper||Nelson Cruz|
|SP||Max Scherzer||Michael Pineda|
Putting together the United States lineup includes a nice crew of established veterans and new faces on the scene. An outfield trio of Gordon, Trout, and Harper provides exceptional fielding and two of the best young hitters in the game. The infield is a mix of newish names, as Paul Goldschmidt is breaking out into possibly the best hitter in baseball this season, as well as some under appreciated up-the-middle players in Kipnis and Crawford.
Interestingly enough the World roster consists of mostly veterans, but it is telling how many countries are represented in the starting roster. The Dominican Republic is represented with Cruz, Bautista, and Pineda. Cabrera*, Altuve, and Beltre are the representatives from Venezuela, and Iglesias and Cespedes defected from Cuba. It would also be possible and encouraged to have more nations represented in reserve roles. Wouldn't it be fun to have Ichiro Suzuki pinch hit as a representative from the Far East? Whether or not the Netherlands representative, Didi Gregorius, would make the team can be tabled..we're working in theory here!
Having a U.S. versus the World showdown would be unique and fun and provide for some entertaining teammates and coaching matchups. Oh, and as a gift to everyone, this one will not count for home field advantage.
*Editor's Note: The original text incorrectly attributed Miguel Cabrera to the Dominican Republic.
Steven Martano is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score and a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.