Will Leitch took an in-depth look at the game in 2019 with a series exploring Major League Baseball's Data Decade. From the best World Series, to the best starting pitchers and more, Leitch ranked, dissected and celebrated all the things we loved most about the Great American Pastime during the past 10 years.
The All-Star Game was still deciding home-field advantage for the World Series for most of this decade, but it is encouraging -- and perhaps telling -- that the competitiveness of the games themselves did not decrease once home-field advantage in the World Series was separated from the All-Star Game following the 2016 season; if anything, the games got a little better, with the first two Midsummer Classics in the post-"This Time It Counts" era both going into extra innings. But as always, the games rise and fall by the setting, the big moments, and the stars themselves. Winning isn’t the only thing that matters in the All-Star Game. That doesn’t mean the game itself can’t matter.
So we rank the 10 All-Star Games this decade.
1. 2013 in New York: American League 3, National League 0
MVP: Mariano Rivera, RHP, Yankees
This is forever known as the Mariano Rivera All-Star Game: All of Citi Field stopped and gave Rivera a standing ovation when he came in to pitch in the eighth inning, just a few months after he’d announced his retirement at the end of the season. (Contrary to what your memory tells you, he did not get the save: Joe Nathan took over the ninth.) Rivera threw a perfect eighth, and an otherwise normal All-Star Game became immortal because of the farewell to Rivera.
2. 2018 in Washington, D.C.: AL 8, NL, 6
MVP: Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros
What’s the best way for an All-Star Game to sum up baseball in the back half of the decade? How about a game in which half the hits were home runs? The two teams combined for 10 homers, an All-Star Game record, and every run but one was scored by a homer. We also had 10 innings, with the AL scoring three in the top of the 10th with teammates Bregman and George Springer hitting back-to-back shots off the Dodgers' Ross Stripling. But the NL flirted with a comeback on a Joey Votto homer in the bottom half before ultimately falling short. Also: Cameras on the field!
3. 2014 in Minneapolis: AL 5, NL 3
MVP: Mike Trout, CF, Angels
A year after saying farewell to one Yankees legend, we said goodbye to another one, with Derek Jeter’s final All-Star Game. This one had a little more controversy, with Adam Wainwright famously delivering a “pipe shot” to Jeter, who led off the game with a double. (Wainwright admitted this at the time, then backed off, then ultimately admitted it again.) While we were all focused on the Jeter business, Trout was going 2-for-3 and winning his first All-Star Game MVP.
4. 2019 in Cleveland: AL 4, NL 3
MVP: Shane Bieber, RHP, Indians
The game was closer than it was necessarily deeply compelling or dramatic: It’s always a sign you’re searching for heroes when the MVP is a hometown pitcher who set down all three guys he faced in order. Still, one-run All-Star Games are rarities, and the win kept the AL win streak alive, reaching seven wins in a row. And fitting of the time: It had many strikeouts.
5. 2010 in Anaheim: NL 3, AL 1
MVP: Brian McCann, C, Braves
The NL ended a 13-game losing streak -- it hadn’t won since 1996! -- thanks to a three-run seventh inning, completed by a two-run double by McCann. This game was played the day George Steinbrenner passed away; a tribute to him ran pregame.
The big controversy of this game involved manager Joe Girardi not pinch-hitting an available Alex Rodriguez during a ninth-inning rally, instead of letting Ian Kinsler fly out to center field.
6. 2017 in Miami: AL 2, NL 1
MVP: Robinson Cano, 2B, Mariners
The first of two consecutive extra-inning All-Star Games, this one was a tight pitching duel, with only three runs scored in 10 innings. Cano finally broke a 1-1 tie with a 10th-inning homer off the Cubs' Wade Davis. The thing you might remember the most from this one, before that homer, might have been Yadier Molina’s incredibly shiny golden shinguards … or maybe him taking an in-game photo of Nelson Cruz with umpire Joe West.
7. 2015 in Cincinnati: AL 6, NL 3
MVP: Mike Trout, CF, Angels
Because he somehow has yet to win a postseason game, the country as a whole doesn’t get to see the brilliance of Trout nearly as often as it should. At least he has the All-Star Games. He won his second consecutive MVP award in this one, leading off the contest with a home run off Zack Greinke and scoring another run later in the game. To many, this one will be remember for Pete Rose appearing on the field alongside fellow Reds legends Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Barry Larkin during a pregame ceremony celebrating each team’s “Franchise Four.” Rose mostly received applause, but the biggest ovation went to the Reds’ Todd Frazier, who won the Home Run Derby the night before.
8. 2016 in San Diego: AL 4, NL 2
MVP: Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
This was the final year they used the All-Star Game to determine home-field advantage in the World Series, and it turned out to be a pivotal one: This game is the reason the Cubs broke the curse in Cleveland rather than at Wrigley Field. The defending-champion Royals were the ones who made the difference, with homers from Salvador Perez and Hosmer off Johnny Cueto in the second inning, giving the AL a lead it never relinquished.
9. 2012 in Kansas City: NL 8, AL 0
MVP: Melky Cabrera, OF, Giants
During a year when the Giants would eventually win the World Series, the NL lineup was stacked with them: Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Matt Cain and eventual 2012 All-Star Game MVP Cabrera, who hit the game’s only home run. This was the first All-Star appearance for both Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, who was only 19 at the time. This was also the game in which the NL manager had to come out of retirement to manage the game: Tony La Russa -- who had retired after leading the Cardinals to a World Series title the year before -- put on a uniform again to lead the NL to victory.
10. 2011 in Phoenix: NL 5, AL 1
MVP: Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers
This was the first All-Star Game in Phoenix, and the star was Fielder, who hit the first Brewers homer in the All-Star Game. The leading NL vote-getter was teammate Ryan Braun, who went on to win the NL MVP Award that season.