Betting Guide for the 2022 MLB All-Star Game

The National League will send hometown lefty Clayton Kershaw to the mound first, and dominant relievers should follow him. Will that be enough to buck the American League's 25-year trend of dominance?

No exhibition event in sports gets attention like the MLB All-Star Game.

"The Midsummer Classic" has become a time-honored tradition because the sports world comes to a four-day lull during baseball's All-Star break, marking the only time each year where all four major professional sports in North America are out of regular season or postseason competition.

As a result, it will be a popular place to wager -- as it always is -- on Tuesday night. However, it can feel "random." After all, baseball's best aren't trying with full effort and force like a normal game. Dominant hurlers are facing superstar batters all night. It's tough to tell which side will win out on the surface.

With that said, where can we dig in and find an edge when betting on the 2022 MLB All-Star Game?

A Look Backwards

As "random" as the All-Star Game can feel, we can latch onto a few trends we've seen in recent seasons.

Of course, one that means very little is that the American League has historically dominated this game. They've won 21 of the last 25 contests. However, that remarkable run doesn't hold a ton of weight with 30 first-time stars occupying spots on both rosters, and the balance of "superteams" is swinging each season.

The Yankees and Red Sox have historically been the cash cows feeding participants to this game, but four of the top five payrolls in baseball now belong to the National League.

Here's the key trend I want to dig into -- each of the past 10 MLB All-Star Games have been won by the team that was leading at the end of the fifth inning. The natural reason for that is the dominant flamethrowers coming out of each bullpen as the game hangs in the balance.

As a result, we can actually gather quite a bit by examining the starting lineups for each squad, which usually get a pair of plate appearances and a handful of innings in the field.

On the Mound

A look at expected ERA (xERA) can help us truly make sense of the quality of talent on the mound versus a great first half of results.

For instance, Gregory Soto of the Tigers has had a breakout season with a 2.59 ERA as their primary close, but his 4.24 xERA might mean he's a bit more vulnerable to some of the game's greats in this contest. Soto has an elevated hard-hit rate (44.1%) that could be the one vulnerability that leads to a game-winning homer.

With that in mind, let's take a look at how each squad grades out in terms of expected ERA:

NL Pitcher xERA AL Pitcher xERA
Edwin Díaz (NYM) 1.61 Clay Holmes (NYY) 1.49
Ryan Helsley (STL) 2.00 Emmanuel Clase (CLE) 1.87
Devin Williams (MIL) 2.00 Shane McClanahan (TB) 2.24
Joe Mantiply (ARI) 2.20 Shohei Ohtani (LAA) 2.44
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 2.37 Liam Hendriks (CWS) 2.68
Sandy Alcantara (MIA) 2.54 Nestor Cortes (NYY) 2.80
Corbin Burnes (MIL) 2.62 Alek Manoah (TOR) 2.88
Max Fried (ATL) 2.82 Jorge López (BAL) 2.97
Carlos Rodón (SF) 2.84 Justin Verlander (HOU) 3.06
David Bednar (PIT) 2.97 Gerrit Cole (NYY) 3.08
Tony Gonsolin (LAD) 2.99 Martín Pérez (TEX) 3.19
Joe Musgrove (SD) 3.08 Framber Valdez (HOU) 3.22
Tyler Anderson (LAD) 3.10 Paul Blackburn (OAK) 3.65
Luis Castillo (CIN) 3.15 Jordan Romano (TOR) 3.83
Josh Hader (MIL) 3.36 Gregory Soto (DET) 4.24
Miles Mikolas (STL) 3.68
Average 2.71 Average 2.91

By a significant margin based on the top-notch samples at hand, the NL should have the edge on the mound.

They'll send hometown lefty Clayton Kershaw to the mound to start. Kershaw's 2.37 xERA is his best mark since 2016, and he rates out just fifth amongst NL pitchers in that category. Those ahead of him are four of the top six in all of baseball in that category.

Only one pitcher last year worked more than 1.0 innings on the mound, so we'll likely empty quite a few of these guys out of the bullpen on Tuesday.

At the Dish

The fifth-inning trend is so vital when trying to forecast how the offenses fare.

We know roughly nine arms will check in at some point for both leagues, but it's impossible to say how long each reserve will bat and play the field. It's equally challenging to know which handedness the batters will face beyond the first inning, too.

As a result, we'll have to settle for looking at the starting lineups for each side. Last year, every starter got at least two plate appearances, and some players were in the field into the fifth inning.

Using weighted runs created plus (wRC+) as an overall measure for value added at the plate, here are how the batting orders for Tuesday's contest rate out:

NL Batting OrderwRC+ AL Batting OrderwRC+
Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)119 Shohei Ohtani (LAA)133
Mookie Betts (LAD)143 Aaron Judge (NYY)172
Manny Machado (SDP)150 Rafael Devers (BOS)170
Paul Goldschmidt (STL)184 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR)130
Trea Turner (LAD)138 Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)134
Willson Contreras (CHC)133 Byron Buxton (MIN)130
William Contreras (ATL)142 Tim Anderson (CWS)121
Joc Pederson (SFG)135 Andreas Gimenez (CLE)138
Jeff McNeil (NYM)128 Alejandro Kirk (TOR)150
Average141.3 Average142.0

These offenses are really evenly matched -- even at the bottom.

Relative to their superstar peers, Tim Anderson and Joc Pederson could be easier outs in the wrong platoon. Anderson's 1.056 OPS against lefties drops to just .709 against righties, and Pederson has posted just 78 wRC+ against southpaws.

Most of the rest of both lineups -- including injury replacements William Contreras, Jeff McNeil, and Andres Gimenez -- hit well against either handedness.

The Verdict

National League to Win (-116) - 1 Unit

The public generally loves betting trends, and with the American League so dominant in this series historically, their placement as the underdog here speaks volumes.

Overall, the NL has so many dominant arms this year in comparison to the AL. Just three AL starters have a sub-2.85 xERA (Shane McClanahan, Shohei Ohtani, and Nestor Cortes), and six NL starters fit that bill. The NL also has four of the top-six relievers in xERA.

The number of poor teams at the bottom of the American League -- namely Oakland, Detroit, and Baltimore -- sending a pitching representative has really carved into their depth in that department. It could make all the difference in a game that is rightfully lined closely.

Under 7.5 Runs (-105) - 1 Unit

In the last 10 years, the All-Star Game has featured a total of 7.1 runs on average.

It's been a pretty even split of park factors across those 10 sites. Five of the venues have a Baseball Savant park factor of at least 100 this season, and five have fallen short of that, leaning towards the side of a pitcher's park.

Dodger Stadium is at exactly 100. While its home run factor is quite high (125), it's also below-average for singles, doubles, triples, and walks. Personally, it's about as neutral as a venue can get -- including the mild weather expected.

As a result, I'm willing to lean on the historical average to take the under at slightly better odds.