May 2013

Time to Start Giving Manny Machado Due Credit

Manny Machado has played in a total of 102 games in the Major Leagues and in that time he’s matched or exceeded the stats of young phenoms Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, yet he’s still not getting a lot of recognition. manny-machado-mitchell-layton-getty-images

Batting .335 with five home runs and 28 RBI’s, including leading all of the majors in doubles so far this season, Machado is well on his way to becoming a full on superstar, but even before that happens, it’s time to start including Manny Machado in the conversation of best all around young player in the game.

I think part of why Machado isn’t getting enough attention has to do with the media. You hear nearly everyday about Trout and Harper, with them getting compared so often, but you fail to notice as much what’s unfolding with Machado. Admittedly, he gets some recognition here and there, but the spotlight that’s on Harper and Trout is far brighter than that on Machado.

Let me take a second to compare the three statistically:

Mike Trout, winner of the 2012 American League Rookie of the Year award, put up great numbers last season, and while he struggled a bit to start 2013, Trout is now starting to get things heated up again. Through 51 games played, Trout is batting .304 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI’s–hitting his first career cycle on May 21st.

Bryce Harper, winner of the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year award, has been injured as of late, however, through 44 games player, Harper has been even better than last season. Batting .287 with 12 home runs and 23 RBI’s, Harper continues to live up to the hype that has been on him for years.

Manny Machado is batting 73 points higher with two more RBI’s and fifteen more doubles than he had last season. Machado has also collected 75 hits this year, which stands as the most hits ever before June by a player under the age of 21. It’s the little things like that, that make me scratch my head as to why Machado is so underrated.

So, while baseball fans around the country have reason to be in awe of what Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have done and continue to do, it’s time they start noticing just how good Manny Machado is. The crazy part being, Machado will undoubtedly continue to get better.

Kevin Gausman Makes MLB Debut

Though highly thought of by many around the baseball world, being ranked as the number 35 overall prospect, I was fairly shocked when it was announced that the Orioles had called up Kevin Gausman to make his Major League debut on Thursday night, versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

I had been keeping track of Gausman, and seeing that he had gone 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA in eight games pitched at Double-A Bowie, despite the need for a pitcher on the big league club, I didn’t think Gausman was ready.12101446

After watching Gausman pitch on Thursday night, however, I’m very happy to state that I was wrong.

While the box score doesn’t show it, Gausman was impressive. Maybe not overly impressive, but impressive nonetheless. Gausman allowed four runs in five innings pitched, but they didn’t come until the fourth and fifth innings–a pair of runs in each.

He matched his punch outs to innings pitched, striking out five, and even though he got the loss, Gausman gained his first innings of big league experience of what looks to be a promising career.

At just 22 years old, Gausman’s road to the majors was a very short one, as he was the fourth overall pick, out of LSU, in the 2012 MLB draft. With only 61.1 professional innings under his belt, you still have to question whether or not he’ll be able to perform consistently at the big league level, or if the Orioles rushed him to the majors, but if Thursday is a sign of more things to come, I’d say the Orioles have a future ace on their hands.

Miguel Cabrera On Pace for Triple Crown….Again

Homering three times in Sunday night’s game versus the Texas Rangers–increasing his season stats to 11 homers and 47 RBI’s, to go along with a .387 batting average–there’s no denying that Miguel Cabrera is currently the best hitter in all of baseball. Having won the Triple Crown last season–the first player to do so since Carl Yastrezemski, in 1967–Cabrera is currently on a good pace to do so again, as he’s already ahead of his miguel_cabrera-167stats from last year; some by a fairly good margin.

Through 43 games played, Cabrera is batting 83 points higher, with three more home runs and thirteen more RBI’s than he had through the same number of games last season, in which he won the Triple Crown. If Cabrera can continue his hot pace, he stands a good chance of becoming just the third player in the history of Major League Baseball to win two Triple Crown awards in their career–Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby being the other players. (No player has ever accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons.)

As is to be expected with a player as good as Cabrera, many are beginning to form comparisons of his stats to other players’, such as HOFer Hank Aaron, as well as star players, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. ESPN even went as far as to say that Miguel Cabrera is the Babe Ruth of our generation, in a tweet after Cabrera’s three home run performance Sunday night. While I strongly disagree with that statement, I do agree that Cabrera is one of the best hitters the game has ever seen.

Therefore, although there’s still a lot of the season left, in which anything can happen, Miguel Cabrera is a player you need to be keeping an eye on. Regardless of if he wins his second straight Triple Crown award, you’re watching a player that will inevitably go down as one of the games all-time greats, once all is said and done. That alone is reason enough to take the time to appreciate just how good Miguel Cabrera is while he’s still around.

My Thoughts On More Replay In Major League Baseball

There’s been more talk lately about expanding instant replay in baseball than there ever has been in the history of the game. This coming due to advancing technology, and with that technology comes concerns that more needs to be done to get the calls right every time. (Something that truly can’t be done.)MLB_Umpires_1

But the topic of increasing what’s reviewable and what isn’t is controversial among many. Some feel that things need to be left just the way they are, sighting the human error element that’s always been part of the game, however, others are saying that as long as you have the technology, you should use it.

I stand somewhere in between.

I love the idea of getting every call right, but at the same time, I don’t see how that would be possible, and I somewhat enjoy the human element to the game. If you lose that, it’s not the same game anymore. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don’t. That’s the way it works. But I understand wanting to get the call right more often than not.

The main complaint that comes from those who oppose further replay is that it would lengthen games, which have historically increased in length over the past few decades. If you begin reviewing everything, a game which already takes roughly three hours to complete, could begin taking closer to four, depending on the events of any given day.

The only thing I see as being “unreviewable” is balls and strikes. While there’s no denying that umpires blow a few calls of the strike zone every game, there’s also no denying that reviewing every single close strike call isn’t a realistic option. There’s absolutely no need to do so, nor is there the time to do so. Other than that, everything is discussable for possible replay, in my mind.

But while everything other than balls and strikes is worthy of replay discussion, not every close play needs to be reviewed. Some things will have to be left off the list of reviewable plays or it’ll turn into a big joke of reviewing every single close call. I would hate to see that happen. But this is where it gets complicated: What should be reviewable and what shouldn’t? And why choose some things and not others?

My thoughts, looking at all of the possible controversial plays that can take place in a game, are that the major plays worth reviewing are the ones in which runs are scored; be it a questionable home run, trapped/caught ball in the outfield in which a run does or doesn’t score, fan interference that would’ve scored a run, and close plays at the plate. If it could be argued one way or another, it should be reviewed. As far as everything else, it doesn’t involve a run scoring, and I feel the umpires do a decent job of those type of plays for the most part.

So, to sum everything up as best I can, I’m for more replay in baseball, to an extent. You’ll never be able to get every single call right, but if you can increase the chance that the outcome of the game doesn’t turn out differently than it should have because of a blown call, by reviewing certain run scoring plays, why not make an attempt to try?

What do you think: Should there be more replay in baseball?

How Much Better Can the New York Yankees Get?

When I made the bold prediction a couple months ago that the New York Yankees would have a great season despite all of the injuries to their lineup, going as far as to say they’ll make the playoffs, I didn’t have many people behind me, agreeing with my opinion. And that’s fine, I’m used to it. But now I get the pleasure of early-season bragging rights, as the Yankees have hung in there, sitting atop the American League East.

Though there’s still a lot of the season left, I think things will only go up from here.

chiro Suzuki, Vernon WellsLet me point out that while I predicted a playoff run, I was going more on a wild card spot, rather than a division title, getting them in. I never saw them above second or third place throughout the season. But now, with them sitting in first place, combined with Curtis Granderson expected to return any day, I could see the Yankees extending their lead even further; especially once Mark Teixeira returns next month.

What it’s come down to for the Yankees is the stepping up of every single player in the lineup. Not just the key fixtures, in Robinson Cano, Ichiro Suzuki and even Brett Gardner, but the newcomers in Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner. Everyone up and down the lineup has been doing a great job of not worrying about who they’re missing and just going out and playing great baseball–going 16-0 when they score first, so far this season.

The Yankees are certainly being helped out by the other teams in the division, which have been playing fairly poorly as of late–the Red Sox are 4-8 this month–but that’s not to take anything away from them. They’ve been surprisingly good for a surprising long period of time.

But just how good can the Yankees become?

If you ask me, the first month of the season is a sign of things to come. Once the Yankees get back their big bats in Granderson and Teixeira, they’ll get even better, which may seem impossible with the way they’re currently playing. If their pitching rotation can keep on the same pace, though it could always be better, I can fully see the Yankees making the playoffs, as I originally predicted.

R.A. Dickey and David Price On Pace for Rare Feat

Normally when you’re talking about a couple of former Cy Young award winners having a rare season, it’s a good thing, but in this case, it’s just the opposite. Both R.A. Dickey and David Price, who won the Cy Young last year, are off to poor starts this season, putting them with in line to join elite company.

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Just five times since 1967, when the Cy Young award began to be given out to a pitcher in each league, have two first-time winners in the same season gone on to have poor seasons the next year–the award originated in 1956, but was given out to just one pitcher each season until 1967.

The select group of players who won their first Cy Young awards only to go on to have poor next seasons include: Jim Lonborg and Mike McCormick, in 1967; Hall of Famers, Steve Carlton and Gaylord Perry, in 1972; John Denny and LaMarr Hoyt, in 1983; Willie Hernandez and Rick Sutcliffe, in 1984; as well as Bob Welsh and Doug Drabek, in 1990.

While it’s looking like Price and Dickey may join them, it’s still far too early to count them out just yet. They’ve proven to be too good of pitchers. But it’s something worth looking at, nonetheless.

R.A. Dickey became the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young award, last year, when he went 20-6, with a 2.73 ERA, however, so far this season he’s experiencing far less success, going 2-5, with a 5.06 ERA, through his first eight games pitched. The one thing that’s most noticeable for Dickey this season is that his knuckleball doesn’t have the late, drastic movement it had last year. Unless he finds a way to get back on track, I don’t see Dickey having a very good season, as the knuckleball doesn’t leave much room for error.

David Price became the first Rays pitcher to win the Cy Young award, in 2012, going 20-5, with a 2.56 ERA, but he’s been struggling this year, having gone 1-3, with a 4.78 ERA, over his first eight games of the season. Price had a decent start his last time out, but his command just doesn’t seem to be there this season, for one reason or another. I could see Price having a better overall season than Dickey, however, if he doesn’t figure things out, Price is likely to still have a disappointing 2013.

Whether or not R.A. Dickey and David Price can turn things around is something that only time will tell. If the first month of the season is any indication, it’s not looking all that promising, but these kind of things are unpredictable; part of what makes baseball such a great sport.

David Ortiz Extends Hit Streak: Worth Watching Yet?

David Ortiz didn’t waste any time extending his hit streak to 27 straight games in Tuesday’s game versus the Twins, singling in his first at-bat of the game. Given, only 15 of the games in Ortiz’s streak have come this year, with the remaining 12 carrying over from last season, but it’s still anmlb_g_ortiz11_600 impressive streak, nonetheless. Which begs the question: When do you need to start paying attention to a hit streak?

To me, a hit streak doesn’t become worthwhile until a player passes the 30 game mark. Up until then, it’s not all that rare of a feat. But once a player begins to climb up through the thirties, as a baseball fan, you generally begin to pay attention–speculating how far the particular player can take it.

Of course, the all-time hit streak is held by Joe DiMaggio, who hit in an unbelievable stretch of 56 straight games, from May 15, 1941 through July 16, 1941. A record which many believe will never be broken–the ultimate feat for a baseball player.

But while it’s a long-shot that Ortiz will go on to pass Joe DiMaggio–if he does, playing in every game, the record breaking hit will take place on June 8th in Boston–many are disputing over whether it should count as a streak at all; saying that a true hit streak is one that takes place over the course of a single season. I somewhat agree, but at the same time, I’d love to see a guy like David Ortiz be the one to break the record. He’s one of those guys who you can’t help but root for.

David Ortiz sits 12 games shy of the all-time hit streak for a designated hitter, and 29 games back of the all-time hit streak in the history of Major League Baseball.

UPDATE

David Ortiz went hitless in his next game, ending his streak at 27 games.

2013 All-Star Game Ballot: The Players I Voted For

It seems a bit too early to be thinking about the 2013 All-Star game, which doesn’t take place until July 16th, but the ballots have already been released, allowing fans all across the 2013_All-Star_Game_Logocountry to cast their votes for who they want to see participate. Therefore, I figured I’d take the time to type up a blog post discussing who I voted for, and why I voted for them.

Keep in mind, with it being so early, I voted for players I felt would be the best at their position around the All-Star break; given their current stats and past history–there might be a little bit of favoritism thrown in their as well. The All-Star ballot is mostly a popularity vote, anyway. (If you’d like to cast your own vote, up to 25 times, CLICK HERE. But no hurry; you have until July 4th to do so.)

So, with all of that said, here’s my 2013 All-Star Game ballot:

FIRST BASE–Prince Fielder (AL) Joey Votto (NL)

For my American League vote, it came down to Prince Fielder and Mike Napoli. Normally, I would’ve voted for Fielder without a second thought, but Napoli has really been performing well this year, so I had to at least consider him. But in the end, I decided on Fielder, for his overall track record and defensive skills at first.

My vote also came down to two players in the National League: Joey Votto and Ryan Howard. Both are having good seasons so far, and both have great gloves at first base, but I voted for Votto, just because I feel he’s the better player at the current moment, and will probably be so in July.

SECOND BASE–Robinson Cano (AL) Brandon Phillips (NL)

I glanced at Dustin Pedroia’s stats for a few minutes, but for me, the AL portion of this vote is a no brainer. There’s no other second basemen in all of baseball with a better combination of power, range and overall defensive abilities than Robinson Cano. Thus, I voted for Cano, who should see himself taking part in his fourth straight All-Star game.

It would’ve been easy to pick Chase Utley for NL second basemen, with him having a great comeback season, but I couldn’t overlook Brandon Phillips. Though he doesn’t supply the same amount of power as Utley, Phillips still has some pop, but I picked him for his glove alone. Other than Cano, Phillips is the smoothest-looking second basemen in baseball.

SHORT STOP–Jed Lowrie (AL) Troy Tulowitzki (NL)

As much as I wanted to, and almost did anyway (why not?), I couldn’t vote for Derek Jeter to play short stop in this year’s All-Star game, for the AL. With the further setback to his ankle, there’s doubt that Jeter will even be back by then, thus he wouldn’t be able to participate. So I ended up settling on Jed Lowrie. He’s having a fairly good season thus far.

The National Leauge portion of the short stop position was far more difficult to decide. When you have guys like Starlin Castro, Troy Tulowitzki and Andrelton Simmons to choose from, it makes things difficult. But in the end, I went with Troy Tulowitzki, who, if he can keep up his hot start, should be a front-runner for comeback player of the year.

THIRD BASE–Miguel Cabrera (AL) David Wright (NL)

Choosing between guys like Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado and Evan Longoria, the AL third basemen position took me the longest of them all to decide on, but I went with Miguel Cabrera. Having won the Triple Crown in 2012, and currently sitting just back of the leaders in average and RBI’s, Cabrera stands just above the rest.

I nearly went with Ryan Zimmerman for the NL third basemen, but I changed my vote to David Wright. Wright is one of the best defensive third basemen in all of baseball, and his ability to hit for average as well as power is unmatchable. Wright should easily make the cut to take part in his seventh career All-Star game.

CATCHER–J.P. Arencibia (AL) Buster Posey (NL)

Joe Mauer is having a better season so far than J.P. Arencibia, in terms of batting average, but I decided to vote for Arencibia, nonetheless. Arencibia has never participated in an All-Star game, in his three full season career, but I hope this year things turn out differently. He certainly has the talent, but it’s going to take continued success to make it.

This could’ve been somewhat of a difficult decision, having to choose between Brian McCann and Buster Posey, but given that McCann is yet to play in a game this season, I went with the obvious choice of Posey. On pace to have the best season of his career, Posey is sure to be behind the plate for his second straight All-Star game.

DESIGNATED HITTER–David Ortiz

Designated hitters, Travis Hafner, David Ortiz and Mark Trumbo are all having fantastic seasons so far, but going off of who is performing the best at the current moment, there’s no argument that it’s Ortiz. Considering the fact that he’s on a 23-game hit streak, dating back to last season, I’d say there’s no other DH who deserves a vote more than Ortiz.

OUTFIELD

It’s never easy to narrow down 47 players to just three, especially when you could make a strong case for a dozen of the outfield choices for each league, but it’s a requirement when casting a vote. So while I voted for the players who I felt were All-Star caliber players, there are a few more I would’ve liked to vote for, but couldn’t. Keep that in mind when reading the outfielders I selected for the AL and NL:

Mike Trout, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Morse (AL)

There’s no doubt that both Mike Trout and Yoenis Cespedes are worthy of the All-Star game, however, Michael Morse is somewhat debatable. Even so, I voted for Morse to participate. I feel that although he doesn’t hit for a high average, nor does he make gold glove caliber plays, Morse is deserving of his first career All-Star game.

Bryce Harper, Justin Upton, Ryan Braun (NL)

Voting for Bryce Harper, Justin Upton and Ryan Braun meant leaving out players such as Matt Kemp, but I feel these three are most deserving of the All-Star game. All are off to great starts so far this season, each leading their team in home runs and RBI’s, and therefore, I felt each was worthy of my vote.

So there you have it: My 2013 All-Star game ballot. I might end up regretting a few of the players I voted for, as their stats might fall short of where I’m predicting them to be in July, however, it is what it is. I’d be happy with whoever participates.

Latest MLB Leaders (March 31st-April 30th)

With the first full month of the 2013 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been exciting, as well as disappointing, depending on how you look at it, and who you’re rooting for.

Instead of talking about the events that have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that lead that particular category. I did the same thing last year, and it was so well-received that I wanted to do it again this season. I’m planning on posting an entry like this on the first day of each month. (That would make 5 more of these if you’re keeping score at home.)

The following lists are categorized into hitting and pitching, but NOT AL or NL:

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL)- HITTING

Most Games Played-Five tied for most. (28)

Most At-Bats-Jay Bruce, Manny Machado and Martin Prado. (115)

Most Hits-Four tied for most. (37)

Highest Average-Carlos Santana (.389)

Highest OBP-Shin-Soo Choo (.477)

Highest SLG-Justin Upton (.734)

Most Runs-Austin Jackson (25)

Most Doubles-Mike Napoli (13)

Most Triples-Four tied for most. (3)

Most Home Runs-Justin Upton (12)

Most RBI’s-Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis. (28)

Most Base On Balls-Joey Votto (26)

Most Strikeouts-Chris Carter (46)

Most Stolen Bases-Jacoby Ellsbury (11)

Most Caught Stealing-Gerardo Parra and Eric Young. (4)

Most Intentional Base On Balls-Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun. (6)

Most Hit By Pitch-Shin-Soo Choo (10)

Most Sacrifice Flies-Miguel Montero (4)

Most Total Bases-Justin Upton (69)

Most Extra Base Hits-Mike Napoli (18)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays-Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Kendrys Morales. (7)

Most Ground Outs-Ben Revere (55)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced-Joey Votto (542)

Most Plate Appearances-Joey Votto (132)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL)- PITCHING

Most Wins-Clay Buchholz, Yu Darvish and Matt Moore. (5)

Most Losses-Philip Humber (6)

Best ERA-Jake Westbrook (0.98)

Most Games Started-48 tied for most.

Most Games Pitched-Brad Ziegler (17)

Most Saves-Four tied for most. (10)

Most Innings Pitched-Adam Wainwright (44.1)

Most Hits Allowed-Joe Blanton (47)

Most Runs Allowed-Edwin Jackson (28)

Most Earned Runs Allowed-Matt Cain and Philip Humber. (25)

Most Home Runs Allowed-Brett Myers and Marco Estrada. (10)

Most Strikeouts-Yu Darvish (58)

Most Walks-James McDonald (20)

Most Complete Games-Jordan Zimmermann (2)

Most Shutouts-Eight tied for most. (1)

Best Opponent Avg.-Matt Moore (.121)

Most Games Finished-Sergio Romo (13)

Most Double Plays Achieved-Lucas Harrell (10)

Most Wild Pitches-Jeff Samardzija (6)

Most Balks-Alfredo Aceves and Shawn Camp. (2)

Most Stolen Bases Allowed-Edinson Volquez (9)

Most Pickoffs-Julio Teheran, Clayton Kershaw and John Lannan. (2)

Most Batters Faced-C.C. Sabathia (177)

Most Pitches Thrown-Justin Verlander (649)

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