All-Stars Let Their Hair Down
New York — For All-Stars, it appears that it’s hairier, the better.
According to a study done by STATS and the grooming products maker Wahl, All-Stars with facial hair perform on a higher level than their clean-shaven teammates in the Midsummer Classic.
Players sporting beards have won the past six All-Star game MVP awards. Melky Cabrera, who soon after winning the MVP last year tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, homered in the game at Kansas City. Meanwhile, clean-shaven players have not connected in four years and 152 at-bats.
There’s also this: Scruff-sporting sluggers over the last 10 games have hit .287 with a .441 slugging percentage. Smooth-skinned stars come in at .226 with a .382 slugging percentage.
No razor-thin margin.
So do guys like Boston’s bearded Dustin Pedroia think “fear the beard,” made famous by scraggily haired Giants closer Brian Wilson, really give them the edge?
“No, no,” the 5-foot-8 second baseman said. “I’m pretty sure they don’t make you intimidating, either.”
Cry-Baby: Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis had a sizable white bandage wrapped around his right hand Tuesday after he popped a blister during the Home Run Derby the previous night.
Davis hadn’t tested his hand in batting practice yet, but said he wouldn’t have any trouble swinging or throwing. He said he’s dealt with blisters and worn a bandage on that hand before without a problem. He remained in the starting lineup for the American League, hitting cleanup and playing first base.
“I’ll be all right. I’m just going to swing one-handed,” he joked in the clubhouse. “I’m not that tough. If you see me crying in the dugout, it’s not because of my hand. I’m just an emotional person.”
Have Pen Handy: Mets captain David Wright looked down the row of dozens of baseballs lined up in his home clubhouse for the All-Stars to sign and sighed.
Being one of the host players for this year’s All-Star game, demands on his time have been high. There is one part of the festivities that excites him, though.
“The special part for me is when the doors close and you kind of get to hang out with the guys and be around the best players in baseball,” he said.
Wright then got back to signing the 27 dozen balls, 15 bats, 10 player placards and 11 All-Star jerseys laid out for everyone to autograph.
Numbers Guy: Clayton Kershaw’s not a fan of using win-loss records to evaluate pitchers. Two seasons ago, he went 21-5, helping him to win the Cy Young Award.
He’s aware that wins and losses rely on lots of factors beyond pitchers’ control.
“It definitely feels good as a starting pitcher to have a good win-loss record,” Kershaw said. “I don’t think it’s the most important thing, by any means.”
What, then, does the three-time All-Star think is a more useful stat? Kershaw is 8-6 with a 1.98 ERA this season.
“I think innings pitched is the most important. I think it kind of just encompasses everything. If you’re going deep into games you’re giving (your) team a chance to win, you’re setting up your bullpen, it’s probably going to be a close game if you’re still in there late,” he said.
Kershaw has pitched 145 1∕ 3 innings in 20 starts this year, a little more than seven per start, meaning that topping his career high of 2331∕3 from 2011 is in reach.
Extra Bases: During pregame introductions, the PA announcer confused Tampa Bay teammates Ben Zobrist and Matt Moore. The two laughed about it. ... Twins closer talking to teammate Joe Mauer and Yankees 2B Robinson Cano: “You are the same,” he said, pointing at each player, “I can’t get you out.” ... Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He lined up on the rubber, then shuffled forward a few steps to laughs before throwing a wild one to Mets third baseman David Wright. ... MLB honored 30 military veterans who were winners of “Tribute for Heroes” campaign. All-Stars, including Mariano Rivera, gave the veterans flags. Cleveland’s Justin Masterson pushed the wheelchair of the veteran he was paired with off the field. Zobrist was matched with a vet and his dog.