With the All-Star game coming up, I thought I would go ahead and knock out the two All-Star Factory Team Sets from 2014 that supposedly feature 2013 All-Stars. I'll do the defending champion American League this week and tackle the National League next Saturday.
Rather than compare Series One, Opening Day and the team set like I've been doing, I'm going to compare the set to the actual game. I'll go in order of the corresponding position number, starting with the pitchers and end with the
The American League set featured three pitchers, Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish and Felix Hernandez. Which one of these three would you guess started the game? Oh sorry, that's a trick question. Justin Verlander's Detroit Tigers teammate, Max Scherzer pitched a perfect first inning but was left out of the set.
OK, so in this modern All-Star era where the starters are only in for a couple of innings and the pitchers usually only one, which one of these guys got the win? Whoops, sorry again. That would go to Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox who was also perfect in his 2 innings of work and was the pitcher of record when the American League scored and took the lead in the top of the 4th. Oh, but he was left out of the set, too.
Maybe one of these three pitchers earned the Save since the final score was 3-0? No tricking you anymore, right? Of course none of these guys got a save. That went to Yu Darvish's former Texas Rangers teammate (and current Tiger), Joe Nathan. Also left out of the set.
So did any of these guys actually play in the 2013 All-Star game? Neither Verlander nor Darvish did although both were technically on the team. Felix Hernandez faced four batters, giving up one hit in the 4th inning.
Not off to a good start, Topps.
The American League carried three catchers on the team, but only starter Joe Mauer got a card. He went 1-2 with 6 innings behind the plate. Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals replaced him in the 7th and went 1-1 for scored the third run of the game. Jason Castro of the Houston Astros did not play.
At first base, the American League again had three represented in the game but this time they had
three two in the set. From the Baltimore Orioles, Chris Davis got the start. Prince Fielder relieved him. Oh, and why did I cross out three? You'll see when I got to the third basemen.
At second base, the AL had four representatives at the game and two in the set. Robinson Cano of the Yankees, not the Mariners as shown, got the start but was hit by a pitch as the second batter of the game and pinch run for by the Red Sox second baseman, Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia was later replaced by Jason Kipnis of the Cleveland Indians. Fourth stringer Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays did not enter the game.
I have no idea why Derek Jeter was included in this set. Because he was hurt most of the year, he was only sixth in the voting for shortstops and was not a part of the official roster. Oh yeah, he's a Yankee. So Jose Reyes, the other shortstop included in the set must have been the starter, right? Nope, he was fifth on the ballot and also left off the roster.
Starter JJ Hardy was left out of the set as was the only other shortstop on the roster, Jhonny Peralta. Both played in the game.
Third base was just as screwy as the rest. Starter and leading vote getter, Miguel Cabrera is listed as a first baseman on his card. Which is odd, because his Series One counterpart correctly lists him as a third baseman, but his Opening Day contains the same first base error.
Runner up in the voting was the Orioles' Manny Machado who made the team but was left out of the set. Whereas third and four place vote getters, Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria were left off the roster but showed up in the team set.
In the team set, we've got a pair of Angels in the outfield along with an Oriole. While Adam Jones and Mike Trout were the lead vote getters and starters, Josh Hamilton finished 13th in voting and was not part of the team. The third starting outfielder was Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, while Nelson Cruz, Alex Gordon and Torii Hunter also made the team and got some playing time.
Here's one of the few that they did get right, designated hitter David Ortiz. Although listed on the Baseball Reference page for the All-Star game and on his Series One card as a first baseman, Edwin Encarnacion pinch hit for Ortiz and did not end up playing in the field, so was essentially a DH as well.
Doing my best with cards I had from Series One, Series Two and Opening Day, I decided to make a 17-card set the way it should have been done. Nine defensive starters, a DH and seven reserves that actually played in the game. Yes, there will still be snubs as the American League played 29 guys in the game, but whatever.
So, above is the official set. Below is what should have been, in my humble opinion.
The starter, the winner and the closer seems pretty self explanatory to me.
Joe Mauer started and Salvador Perez got a hit and scored a run in a close ballgame.
Topps got this one right. I'll give them credit here, even though Prince Fielder was a Tiger during this game.
Yikes, Robinso Cano was technically the starter as I mentioned but Pedroia played most of the game at second when Cano was hit by a pitch. And Jason Kipnis got an RBI double. If this set had 20 cards, or even just 18, Cano makes it. I do feel bad about leaving out a starter though, but not as bad considering Topps had him as a Mariner instead of the Yankee he was.
I already explained this one. Hardy started, Peralta relieved him. No Jeter, no Reyes.
Despite the first base designation, Miguel Cabrera still gets included. Back up Manny Machado gets a card, too.
Gotta have the starting outfield correct as well. Swapping Jose Bautista in for Josh Hamilton, especially since he had what would be the game winning sacrifice fly in the 4th inning.
Along with first base, the only position that Topps got right. Sad.
And just for fun, here are a couple more snubs I made when I thought I was going to do them all. Not enough Series Two yet in my collection to make the whole team though.
Let's hope the National League fairs a little better next week!