MLB All-Star Game Betting Odds, Model Projections & Preview: National League Showing Slight Edge
Win McNamee/Getty Images. Pictured: Max Scherzer
- The American League and National League square off tonight for the MLB All-Star Game from Coors Field in Denver.
- With several players opting out of the game, handicapping the matchup is tricky, but Sean Zerillo has identified an edge for the NL.
- Read below for Zerillo's full betting preview for tonight's game.
2021 MLB All-Star Game Odds
|American League Odds||+100|
|National League Odds||-120|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
The 2021 MLB All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX) from Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.
The American League holds a 45-43-2 advantage in the Midsummer Classic, including seven consecutive wins dating back to 2013. The junior circuit is on quite a run with a 16-3-1 record since the turn of the century and a 25-6-1 record since 1988.
A high number of injuries impacted the rosters for both teams this year — plus several optional absences, including Jacob deGrom and all four representatives from the Houston Astros.
Let’s take a look at the rosters that both teams will compete with on Tuesday night and attempt to handicap the 91st All-Star Game in MLB history using my player-level projections.
Both teams will carry 12 pitchers — eight starting pitchers and four relievers — for Tuesday’s contest.
Shohei Ohtani (4-1, 3.49 ERA) will bat leadoff and get the start for the AL against Max Scherzer (7-4, 2.66 ERA) — a late replacement for the NL who will become the sixth pitcher in history (joining Hall-of-Famers Don Drysdale, Lefty Gomez, Robin Roberts, Jim Palmer and Randy Johnson) to start four or more All-Star games.
I had anticipated a matchup between Carlos Rodón (2.56 xERA) and Corbin Burnes (1.68 xERA) to kick off this contest, but I suspect that we’ll see both of those arms warming up early, instead.
I can’t help but think that the physical toll of preparing for and participating in Monday’s Home Run Derby might make both the legs and arms of Shohei Ohtani a bit heavy on Tuesday night.
Furthermore, Scherzer (1.34 HR/9 in 2020, 1.38 in 2021) has given up homers at an increased rate since the start of last season, and Coors Field is likely the last place he wants to pitch.
Considering those two factors, I would blindly consider a play on the Over 0.5 Runs (-141) in the first inning.
While I misread the starting pitching situation earlier in the week, I correctly identified the National League DH (Max Muncy) and the AL’s center field replacement for Mike Trout (Cedric Mullins) when projecting out lineups.
However, I never imagined that these two managers would select hitters who rank among their least effective offensive threats (Xander Bogaerts, Nolan Arenado) to hit in the middle of their respective lineups:
Bogaerts’ expected wOBA or xwOBA is more than 20 points below his actual mark (.396), and he’s ranked as the worst defensive shortstop in baseball (-11 Defensive Runs Saved, -11 Outs Above Average) this season.
Arenado is getting a prime lineup position in front of his old fanbase in Colorado. Still, his wOBA (.345) also outpaces his expected mark by 20 points, and he has only rated as an average defender at third base (+3 DRS,+ 2 OAA) in 2021 after sitting atop the defensive food chain for a full decade.
Team Averages and Model Projections
Taking the above player performance data into consideration, in addition to preseason projections, which are also incorporated into my model, the two teams compare as follows:
The NL owns slightly better pitching metrics and superior offensive reserves compared to the AL.
The AL starting lineup has performed slightly better offensively than the NL lineup this season, and it has saved more defensive runs as a collective group of position players.
However, after incorporating preseason projections, the NL group ranks above average (close to 9%) defensively, while the AL is a below-average defensive unit.
Furthermore, I projected the NL pitchers, their starting lineup, and their reserve lineup as a superior group of players compared to the AL across the board.
- Pitching: -0.09 runs allowed per game
- Starting Lineup: +0.19 runs scored per game
- Reserve Lineup: +0.10 runs scored per game
- Defense: +10.9%
Weather and Umpire
Coors Field is the most offensive-leaning park in baseball, with a run-scoring environment more than 30% higher than the major league average.
The wind should be blowing out to the right-center field for most of Tuesday’s contest, but the wind speed is probably not enough to factor into the total.
Data via ActionLabs
“Tornado” Tom Hallion is the home plate umpire for the All-Star Game. Hallion is a very neutral umpire concerning totals (246 Over, 246 Under since 2005).
He was also partly responsible for one of the best manager rants in MLB history. Aside from his strike-three technique, that clip might end up as Hallion’s legacy.
All-Star Game Pick
I projected the National League as -130 favorites (56.5% implied), both for the first five innings (F5) and the full game on Tuesday.
I’m comfortable betting both the F5 and full-game moneylines to -120 (54.5% implied) at a two-percent betting edge, but I would have a larger bet on the full game moneyline:
I initially bet Over 10.5 when the game total opened, but the line has continued to climb and now sits at a flat 11 (-110 on either side) at most books.
If the total drops back down to 10.5, I would bet the Over to -115. Otherwise, I would pass on the total and stick to a moneyline wager on the senior circuit.
Picks: National League (bet to -120, 1 unit) | National League F5 (bet to -120, 0.5u) | Over 10.5 (bet to -115, 0.5u)