Although we don’t yet know who the captain for the American League and National League home run derby team is going to be, I wanted to go ahead and give my take for which players I’d like to see in the home run derby up in Cincinnati on July 13th. Assuming the rules change from 2014 that saw an additional player being added to each league’s derby team stays the same, I selected the five players from each league that I wanted to see in the derby.
While there are some players that I left off, for one reason or another, I feel the players I selected would make for a great 2015 home run derby, as they all have to ability to hit a good amount of home runs as well as doing so for big power. With the 2015 home run derby just over three weeks away, here are the players I’d most enjoy seeing take part:
Nelson Cruz: Of all the players from the American League to choose from, this was the easiest of them all. Nelson Cruz led all of baseball in home runs back in 2014, and is well on his way to finishing near the top again. Although Cruz can hit tape measure shots, I think he would do well in the derby due to his ability to hit numerous home runs as well. He would put on a show.
Josh Donaldson: Donaldson isn’t that widely known as a slugger, but he has been a breakout player over the past few seasons, and is having a great year with the Blue Jays this season. Donaldson can really launch the ball a long way, and I think that he would stand a shot at winning if he can find a groove and stick with it. Having him in the derby would definitely be fun.
Mark Teixeira: This isn’t the most obvious of picks, as Teixeira has been up and down over the past few years, but he is having a good season this year, and he should be in the home run derby. Somewhat surprisingly sitting in the top five of the American League in homers, Teixeira would be a general sleeper pick for the derby, but if he could get things going, he would last awhile, I believe.
Mike Trout: There truly isn’t anything in baseball that Mike Trout isn’t good at, and that includes hitting home runs. Trout is currently one of the most well known and liked players in baseball, and having him take part in the derby would get more people to watch. And I feel that they would be treated to a show, as Trout would likely hit several long homers on his pursuit of the title.
Edwin Encarnacion: Josh Donaldson’s teammate, Edwin Encarnacion, can hit a ball just as far, if not farther, than nearly every other player in the big leagues. It’s that ability to launch balls a great distance that I think would make him great for the derby. He would be able to put on a show, hitting balls deep into the stands, and would stand a good chance at making it deep into the derby.
Paul Goldschmidt: Goldschmidt is well on his way to having a great season yet again, and that includes posting a large number in the home run category. Goldschmidt has the ability to hit numerous home runs in addition to hitting them a great distance, and that makes him perfect for the home run derby. He would represent the National League extremely well in the competition.
Todd Frazier: Frazier would be on my list of derby participant regardless of the fact that his team is hosting the All-Star festivities, as he has great stats that warrant the selection. However, it is an added bonus that Frazier is a Red, and that would inevitably make him a fan favorite among the crowd. Frazier might not win, but he will give the fans an extra something to cheer for.
Giancarlo Stanton: Stanton was the favorite to win the 2014 derby by nearly everyone, but he disappointed to say the least. But although he didn’t win, Stanton hit balls further than nearly all of his competition and was still able to put on a show. With him having another great year, I think Stanton would do better in the derby and deserves another shot at winning the whole thing.
Joc Pederson: The fact that Pederson is merely a rookie and is launching home runs as if he’s been in the majors for a decade is remarkable. And that’s why he deserves to be in the derby. Pederson would likely hit balls farther than anyone with the exception of Stanton, and he would be able to put on a great show. Therefore, having Pederson in the derby is something I’d really like to see happen.
Bryce Harper: Harper surprised some people in the 2013 derby with how well he did, and with him having such a good season this time around, I think he should be in the derby once again. Harper isn’t liked by some around the baseball world, but his talent can’t be denied. If Harper can find a pace he’s comfortable with, I think he stands a really good shot at the derby crown.
So, those are my picks for who I’d like to see in the 2015 home run derby up at Great American Ballpark on July 13th. Odds are that not all of them will be selected, but I truly hoped the majority of them are in the derby. Do you agree or disagree with my picks? Who would you like to see participate? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Over the past several seasons, teams around Major League Baseball have been looking more and more towards their top prospects to make it to the big leagues and make an immediate impact on their club. The most recent examples of that being Kris Bryant, Joey Gallo and Carlos Correa, who all made it to the bigs within three years of getting drafted and are all now beginning to make a difference with their team. With that in mind, there are several players ranked in the top 100 prospects right now who could be making impacts but haven’t been called up for one reason or another.
Francisco Lindor is the first player on my list, as although he hasn’t been dominating offensively in the minors, he has been heating up as of late. His defense is already big league ready, but it’s his bat that has been developing in the minors. But now that he is batting in the upper .200’s, I feel he is ready. He may not get the call for a few more weeks, but I expect to see him up before the All-Star break, as the last place Indians could use his presence at shortstop.
Henry Owens is another prospect who would really help out his big league team. Currently with an ERA just over 3.50, Owens is the type of player who could spark the Red Sox’ struggling rotation. After making several offseason moves, it appeared that the Sox would be bound for another great season, but things aren’t panning out that way, thanks in large to their underperforming rotation. Owens could play a big role in helping that.
Despite having just three games started above Double-A, Luis Severino is a pitcher who could help the Yankees out a lot. Admittedly, they are doing just fine without him, as they are currently in first place, but they could always use another good arm in their rotation to help get them into October. In reality, it is more realistic to wait until closer to the end of the season to move up Severino, but he would definitely be an impact even now.
The second Red Sox pitching prospect on my list, Brian Johnson could also bolster the Red Sox rotation along with Henry Owens. While there is the issue of where to place them with the rotation the Sox already have, the Sox’ rotation is horrible at the moment. Of their four starters with 12 starts, the lowest ERA is 4.07, with the other three with an ERA above 5.00. That isn’t getting the job done, and I feel that the addition of Johnson would help them out.
Some honorable mentions that didn’t make my list include Byron Buxton, Corey Seager, Jose Peraza and Steven Matz. All of them are having great seasons down in the minors, but I feel they each need a little more time before they get called up to the big leagues and begin to help their teams. In the end, however, they will all likely have impacts at the major league level for many years to come.
Brendan Rodgers, Dansby Swanson and Carson Fulmer were ranked as the number one, two and three draft prospects going into Monday’s 2015 first-year player draft, but they went in a completely different order than predicted. While Swanson and Rodgers were in fact taken in the top three picks, Fulmer didn’t go until the eighth pick, with Alex Bregman moving up a few spots to the top three.
Dansby Swanson went first overall, getting drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Although he wasn’t the top choice heading into the draft, there’s no real surprise why the Diamondbacks took Dansby Swanson number one overall. This past season at Vanderbilt, Swanson hit .348 with 14 home runs and 61 RBI’s, helping to lead his team back to the College World Series for the second straight season. With the D-backs not very deep at the shortstop position at the big league level, Swanson should progress quickly if he can stay healthy and post decent numbers.
Alex Bregman went second overall, getting drafted by the Houston Astros.
Despite the fact that the Astros’ number one overall pick from 2012, Carlos Correa, made his big league debut at shortstop on Monday night, the Astros decided to pick up fellow shortstop Alex Bregman as the number two overall pick. Bregman hit .312 and recorded 37 stolen bases this past season at LSU, and has drawn comparisons to Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. While Bregman has stated a desire to remain at shortstop, he may find himself shifting to second in the future with Correa blocking his way.
Brendan Rodgers went third overall, getting drafted by the Colorado Rockies.
Brendan Rodgers was ranked the number one overall prospect heading into the draft, but he stuck around until the third pick. The selection of Rodgers made history, as it was the first time in the history of the draft that three shortstops were taken as the top three picks. Coined as the best power hitting shortstop since Carlos Correa, Rodgers hit .360 with 8 homers this year at Lake Mary high school. With his ability to hit for power, and with a plus arm at short, Rodgers should have a long career in the majors.
The remainder of the draft saw many surprises. A lot of players went higher than anyone expected, while others stuck around longer than many thought they would. But that usually happens every year with the draft.
The rest of the 1st round of the 2015 draft, following the first three picks, went as follows:
4. Rangers: Dillon Tate
5. Astros: Kyle Tucker
6. Twins: Tyler Jay
7. Red Sox: Andrew Benintendi
8. White Sox: Carson Fulmer
9. Cubs: Ian Happ
10. Phillies: Cornelius Randolph
11. Reds: Tyler Stephenson
12. Marlins: Josh Naylor
13. Rays: Garrett Whitley
14. Braves: Kolby Allard
15. Brewers: Trent Clark
16. Yankees: James Kaprielian
17. Indians: Brady Aiken
18. Giants: Phil Bickford
19. Pirates: Kevin Newman
20. Athletics: Richie Martin
21. Royals: Ashe Russell
22. Tigers: Beau Burrows
23. Cardinals: Nick Plummer
24. Dodgers: Walker Buehler
25. Orioles: D.J. Stewart
26. Angels: Taylor Ward
27. Rockies: Mike Nikorak
28. Braves: Michael Soroka
29. Blue Jays: Jon Harris
30. Yankees: Kyle Holder
31. Giants: Chris Shaw
32. Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes
33. Royals: Nolan Watson
34. Tigers: Christin Stewart
35. Dodgers: Kyle Funkhouser
36. Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle
Lottery Round A
37. Astros: Daz Cameron
38. Rockies: Tyler Nevin
39. Cardinals: Jake Woodford
40. Brewers: Nathan Kirby
41. Braves: Austin Riley
42. Indians: Triston McKenzie
Make sure to follow the list of players above as the majority of them begin their professional careers. Odds are at least a few of those names will become MLB All-Stars, with the possibility that some may become a future Hall of Famer. You never know what can happen when you have so much young talent entering their given MLB organizations, and that’s reason enough to pay close attention to them all.
Set to air live on MLB Network Monday night, and continuing through June 10th on MLB.com, the draft has become a bigger focus each and every year as time has gone by. With teams now counting on their first few picks to make it to the big leagues within a couple of years and have an immediate impact, choosing the right player for your organization has become a huge deal.
Already, two of the top picks in last year’s draft — Carlos Rodon and Brandon Finnegan — have made it to the majors, with numerous former first round picks making solid runs toward a big league call up this season.
This year’s draft is the 50th anniversary of the first draft back in 1965, and it has a fairly even mix of both pitchers and position players, making it a difficult decision as to whether to select a future ace or a future star slugger as a team’s first pick. But no matter which one teams choose, they’re likely to have that person making a big impact shortly down the road.
As I did last year, I’m planning to blog about the results of the draft, along with a few of my thoughts, the day after the first round takes place. With the first five picks going to the Diamondbacks, Astros (compensation for not signing their first pick from the 2014 draft), Rockies, Rangers and Astros, it should be interesting to see how teams play things, depending on their overall biggest needs that they need to fill for the future.
Though I’m not going to give any predictions for the order in which the players are chosen (I’m by no means a draft expert), I do want to talk a bit about the “experts’” picks for who will likely be some of the first off the board.
For the number one overall pick, there is no player that everyone whole heartedly agrees upon as being the number one pick, but for the most part people are banking on it being high school shortstop Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers has been at the top of many draft orders for the better part of the season, with him looking to become the first high school shortstop since Carlos Correa in 2012 to be the number one overall pick. With his strong arm and power bat at the shortstop position, it’s no wonder that he’s so highly thought of.
But there’s another draft prospect who is thought highly of as well. Dansby Swanson, a fellow shortstop currently with Vanderbilt, is projected to go second overall in the draft, but if the D-backs decide to do so, he could quite possibly be taken in front of Rodgers. While Swanson doesn’t have the same arm strength as Rodgers or the same pop in the bat, he may be able to hit for a higher average over the course of his career.
On the pitching side of things, Carson Fulmer is the highest ranked pitcher in the draft. Currently ranked as the third overall projected pick, you never know if the Diamondbacks will decide to pick up a star pitcher in the making instead of a position player as the number one pick. Like Swanson, Fulmer is finishing out his season with Vanderbilt, and with his above average fastball, great curveball and developing changeup, he could turn out to be a front of the rotation pitcher for years to come.
No matter which player is taken number one overall on Monday night, the entire draft is sure to be fun to watch. With so much fantastic talent, from position players to pitchers, the 2015 draft should turn out to be an extremely good one.
Any time a top ten prospect in all of baseball makes his major league debut, fans are likely to take note. But unfortunately, more often than not, an extremely hyped prospect usually fails to live up to the high expectations — at least early on — and underperforms in their debut.
A recent example of that being Kris Bryant, who after hitting 43 homers in the minors last year was expected by Cubs fans to catch on immediately as the Cubs’ biggest power threat. Instead, he went hitless with three strikeouts in his debut. (Given, he’s found his groove now.)
But underperformance isn’t always the case in a player’s debut.
Rangers’ top prospect, Joey Gallo, received the call up from Double-A for Tuesday’s game to take the place at third base of the injured Adrian Beltre. Following his 42 home run minor league performance in 2014, Gallo had picked up right where he left off in the minors this season (coming after a missed month due to ankle surgery), having hit .314 with 9 homers and 31 RBI’s in the minors so far in 2015.
But unlike some players who fail to have their minor league success translate right away, Gallo’s success immediately carried over to the majors, as in his very first career at-bat on Tuesday against the White Sox, Gallo rocketed a two-run single into left field. Following that, he proceeded to blast a moonshot homer into the second deck in his next at-bat, giving him four RBI’s for the game — the most in Rangers’ franchise history for a player’s debut.
However, Gallo wasn’t finished yet. In his third time at the plate, Gallo hit a long double to center field that hit off the wall, giving him a perfect 3-3 record for the game. While he would later strike out with the bases loaded, and draw a walk in his fifth plate appearance, Gallo’s presence was definitely made known in the Rangers’ 15-2 blowout win over the White Sox.
Though it’s an extremely small sample size, Joey Gallo performing so well in his debut is extremely promising, both for him and the Rangers. Gallo is set to remain in the bigs just until Adrian Beltre returns to take his spot at third. But if Gallo can keep up his hot hitting, it may be tough for the Rangers to send him back down.
Still, Gallo will get his chance to prove himself, as Beltre is expected to be out for roughly two weeks. That’s a lot of games for Gallo to either keep standing out or show that he still needs seasoning down on the farm. But whatever happens in the coming weeks, Gallo certainly didn’t disappoint on Tuesday night.
At just 21 years old, a lot of people made statements regarding the fact that they felt Gallo was being rushed to the majors, and that he wasn’t ready yet. While I agreed with that somewhat, I’ve seen Gallo in person and saw first hand that he is a special talent. And there is now no denying that he can handle the pitching that comes at the major league level.
After blasting 40 homers in 2013 and 42 last season, Gallo looks to be heading for a long career as one of baseball’s most promising future left handed power hitters. Although the Rangers are struggling at the moment for the most part, with a lineup that includes Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton and now Joey Gallo, the Rangers seem to have a lot of power hitting lefties on their hands.
That’s always a good problem to have.
With the first two months of the 2015 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.
But 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 leads that particular category. I’ve done lists like these for the past several years, and they have been well received, so I decided to do it again.
The following lists are categorized into hitting and pitching, but not AL or NL:
MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – HITTING
Most Games Played – Marcus Semien (53)
Most At-Bats – Dee Gordon (207)
Most Hits – Dee Gordon (78)
Highest Average – Dee Gordon (.377)
Highest OBP – Bryce Harper (.469)
Highest SLG – Bryce Harper (.724)
Most Runs – Josh Donaldson (43)
Most Doubles – Four players tied for most (17).
Most Triples – Paulo Orlando (5)
Most Home Runs – Nelson Cruz and Bryce Harper (18).
Most RBI’s – Giancarlo Stanton (44)
Most Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (44)
Most Strikeouts – Chris Carter (69)
Most Stolen Bases – Billy Hamilton (21)
Most Caught Stealing – Dee Gordon (7)
Most Intentional Base On Balls – Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt (10).
Most Hit By Pitch – Anthony Rizzo (13)
Most Sacrifice Flies – Stephen Vogt (5)
Most Total Bases – Nelson Cruz (128)
Most Extra Base Hits – Josh Donaldson (29)
Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Casey McGehee and Andrelton Simmons (12).
Most Ground Outs – Nori Aoki (89)
Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Mookie Betts (925)
Most Plate Appearances – Jason Kipnis (238)
MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING
Most Wins – Bartolo Colon and Felix Hernandez (8).
Most Losses – Four players tied for most (7).
Best ERA – Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller (1.48).
Most Games Started – Twenty players tied for most (11).
Most Games Pitched – Jeremy Jeffress (27)
Most Saves – Glen Perkins (19)
Most Innings Pitched – Dallas Keuchel (81.2)
Most Hits Allowed – Jerome Williams (78)
Most Runs Allowed – Kyle Lohse (45)
Most Earned Runs Allowed – Kyle Lohse (45)
Most Home Runs Allowed – James Shields (15)
Most Strikeouts – Corey Kluber (96)
Most Walks – Aaron Sanchez (37)
Most Complete Games – Four players tied for most (2).
Most Shutouts – Felix Hernandez and Shelby Miller (2).
Best Opponent Avg. – Shelby Miller (.175)
Most Games Finished – Glen Perkins (23)
Most Double Plays Achieved – Kyle Gibson (13)
Most Wild Pitches – Scott Feldman, Aaron Sanchez and C.J. Wilson (7).
Most Balks – Johnny Cueto (4)
Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Tyson Ross (21)
Most Pickoffs – Julio Teheran and Alex Wood (4).
Most Batters Faced – David Price (314)
Most Pitches Thrown – Cole Hamels (1,169)
Nearly every day, at least one pitcher — if not multiple pitchers — has a fantastic outing. But that wasn’t what made Noah Syndergaard’s afternoon on Wednesday a very special one.
As the number ten overall prospect in all of baseball, Mets fans have been looking forward to his arrival for quite some time, but I’m not sure they ever expected a performance out of Syndergaard that they received in just his fourth big league start.
Syndergaard pitched 7.1 strong innings, allowing zero runs over that stretch, but it was what he did at the plate that amazed people. Syndergaard went 3-3 on the day, including a 427-foot blast to left center field.
With his 7+ dominant innings and three hits that included a homer, Syndergaard becomes the first pitcher to accomplish those feats in the same game since 2001, as well as the first Mets pitcher in three years to hit a homer. Not bad for a 22-year-old with around a month of major league experience.
But good hitting and good pitching is nothing new for Noah Syndergaard. Over the course of his minor league career, Syndergaard holds a 3.16 ERA as well as a .270 batting average. Through four big league starts, he has posted a 2.55 ERA and is 4-9 in his at-bats. Truly remarkable for such a young pitcher.
With a rotation that includes the likes of Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, with Steven Matz soon to be in the mix, the Mets look to be good in the young pitching department for quite some time. But while all of their starters can put up a good outing, I’m not sure any of them can swing the bat quite the way Noah Syndergaard does.
We’re already nearly half way through the baseball (and blogging) season, and therefore are getting into the final month or so leading up to the All-Star break. I already blogged about who I voted for in my last blog post, and in this post I’ll briefly go over what I plan to write about over the next few weeks.
Nothing is planned out for the rest of the month, but things pick up in June.
On the first day of the June, I’m going to type up a latest leaders post like I do on the first day of every month of the season. That’s always interesting, as a lot of players lead categories I never could’ve expected. I truly learn a lot when I go about forming those lists.
After that, the MLB draft is set to take place on June 8th, and I’m going to be giving my thoughts on the draft once again. I’m looking forward to seeing which players are taken in the first round, which is the round I’m going to be writing about. Odds are, those are the players that will make the biggest impact at the big league level.
Following the draft post, I’ll probably do a post about who I’d like to see in the home run derby, but I don’t have a whole lot planned for June. That will change, however, when July rolls around. With the home run derby and All-Star game taking place in July, I’ll have a lot to write about. I’m looking forward to that.
The ballot for the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star game has been out for awhile now, but I’ve been holding off with casting my votes for who I’d like to see in the game up in Cincinnati on July 14th. With it seeming like the ballot is coming out earlier and earlier each year, I wanted to give players enough time to put up quality numbers before I made any decisions. But I finally feel there are enough stats to make a logical decision.
Voting is simple. Although there are no longer paper ballots that you can pick up and fill out at your local ballpark, you can head over to MLB.com and fill out an online ballot with the player you feel most deserves the honor for each position. You can vote up to 35 times for the players of your choice. (Voting is open until July 2nd.)
I cast my maximum 35 votes a few days ago. Although the All-Star game is still just under two months away, I figured I’d go ahead and go over the players I picked for the Midsummer Classic. A lot of things can change, with my picks subsequently changing as well, but these are the players I went ahead and voted for to make the All-Star game:
FIRST BASE: Miguel Cabrera (AL), Adrian Gonzalez (NL)
It came down to Miguel Cabrera, Eric Hosmer and Mark Teixeira for me in the American League portion of the first base spot. While Teixeira leads in homers and RBI’s, his batting average was too low for me to select him. In addition, Eric Hosmer has fewer homers and RBI’s than Cabrera in more at-bats, and thus, I picked Miguel Cabrera.
In the National League, it was another tough decision. While Paul Goldschmidt is producing another year worth of MVP caliber numbers, and although Anthony Rizzo is getting better and better, I voted for Adrian Gonzalez. Getting off to a hot start to begin the year, Gonzalez holds the second highest batting average in baseball and deserves to make it.
SECOND BASE: Jose Altuve (AL), Dee Gordon (NL)
Jose Altuve leading all of American League second baseman in stolen bases, sitting second in average and third in homers was enough to get him selected by me to make the All-Star game. Although Devon Travis of the Blue Jays has been a highlight reel each night, Altuve is one of the most exciting second basemen in baseball.
The National League race for All-Star second baseman was an easy decision on my part. Dee Gordon is deserving of the spot, no question about it. Gordon doesn’t have any home runs, but that’s not his game. He leads all NL second basemen in stolen bases, and holds a batting average above .400. That’s deserving of All-Star recognition.
SHORTSTOP: Marcus Semien (AL), Brandon Crawford (NL)
I’ll be honest — I had to double check Marcus Semien’s stats when I was casting my vote for American League shortstop. I knew he was having a good year, but I didn’t realize how good. Leading the American League shortstops in homers and stolen bases, Semien is the unlikely frontrunner for the honor.
It was no easy task to choose a shortstop that had the best stats for the All-Star game. There are a ton of them with good numbers in one category or another. But while names such as Zack Cozart, Jhonny Peralta, etc., stood out, I went with Brandon Crawford, who has good numbers as well as the amazing defense to match.
THIRD BASE: Josh Donaldson (AL), Todd Frazier (NL)
You could make cases for Manny Machado, Mike Moustakas, Josh Donaldson and even Evan Longoria for the American League third base spot in the All-Star game. But I went with Donaldson, who is having a fantastic year. Sitting second in homers but first in RBI’s among AL third basemen, Donaldson should be in Cincy in July.
The first and only Red on my list — likely to be a favorite with the Reds hosting the All-Star game — is Todd Frazier, who I selected for NL third base in the midsummer classic. His batting average isn’t the best, but he is at the top in homers and is deserving in my mind of the honor.
CATCHER: Stephen Vogt (AL), Buster Posey (NL)
This is somewhat of a shocking pick, but a very deserving one. Stephen Vogt wasn’t all that well known as recently as a year ago, but his bat is making him more of a common name. Vogt leads AL catchers in average, home runs and RBI’s, and should lead them in voting when all is said and done.
I could’ve easily picked Miguel Montero or Yasmani Grandal to make the start behind the plate for the National League, but I went with the always consistent Buster Posey instead. Posey leads AL catchers in homers, and should be adding another All-Star game to his already impressive resume.
DESIGNATED HITTER: Nelson Cruz
Although the designated hitter role in the All-Star game goes to David Ortiz the majority of the time, there is simply no other choice for DH this year than Nelson Cruz. It’s not even close. Cruz leads all designated hitters in homers, runs batted in and average, and will be in the All-Star game up in Cincinnati.
It’s never easy to narrow down several dozen players to three All-Star picks for each league, 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 ballot. So, while I voted for the players who I felt were All-Star caliber players at the moment, 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 American League and National League:
Mike Trout, Josh Reddick and Adam Jones (AL)
Mike Trout was a nobrainer, as he once again is in the process of posting another fantastic season, but the other two spots were somewhat difficult with all of the great players. In the end, after examining all of the stats, I made the tough choice of Josh Reddick and Adam Jones. I hope to see them in the All-Star game starting lineups.
Bryce Harper, Justin Upton and Giancarlo Stanton (NL)
As with Mike Trout in the AL, picking Bryce Harper for National League outfield was the easiest choice of the three. But after a lot of debate between the candidates to fill the other places, I wound up choosing Justin Upton and Giancarlo Stanton. Upton is having a good year, and despite a subpar average, Stanton is dominating yet again.
John Lackey had a decent start on Wednesday night against the Indians. After allowing two runs in the first inning, Lackey threw shutout ball in the remainder of his 5.1 inning outing, striking out two batters along the way. But Lackey’s adversary, Corey Kluber, struck out quite a few more batters in his own impressive start.
Lasting a sufficient eight innings of the ballgame — going 6.2 innings before allowing the first and only hit of the game for the Cardinals — Kluber struck out a career high 18 batters, tying the Indians’ all-time strikeout record by a single pitcher set by Bob Feller back in 1938.
After starting the season 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA over 7 starts, this amazing outing by Kluber wasn’t merely important to get him back on track, but a big deal for the rest of the team as well. Picked by many to at the very least contend for a Wild Card spot, the Indians are currently in last place in the division, having won fewer games than every other team in the American League, and needed a boost.
But this sudden turn around isn’t anything new for Kluber. After all, Kluber held a 4.32 career ERA through 2013 before exploding onto the scene in 2014. That year, Kluber went 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA, earning him the Cy Young award, and subsequently a 5-year, 38.5 million dollar contract extension from the Indians.
The Indians are going to need the Corey Kluber they paid for — the one like they saw on Wednesday night — for them to have any shot at meeting the preseason expectations set by many. Their offense has been underperforming, with only four of their players hitting above .300, and three of their starters ERA’s sit above 4.00. There has to be some point that the Indians finally click.
It will be interesting to see if Wednesday’s start by Kluber can get things going.