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October to Bring Uptick of Blog Posts

I haven’t been blogging all that often lately, but that’s about to change in a big way.

On Sunday night, I’m planning to post the final “Latest Leaders” blog post of the 2015 season. (I’m not doing it on the first day of the month because the season is ending on the 4th.) So be on the lookout for that.

But that’s just the beginning.

After that post, things will get hectic. On the 5th, I’ll be posting my postseason predictions for the 2015 playoffs. With the two Wild Card games being played on the 6th and 7th, it seemed to be the perfect time to do so. It should be interesting to see how I do with so many teams in the postseason that I hadn’t predicted at the start of the year.

Then, at some point towards the end of that week, I’m going to publish a pair of blog posts on who I feel should be the American League and National League Rookie of the Year, Cy Young winner and MVP’s. I’ll also be giving my reasoning behind those. I’m planning to post the AL version and NL version of each award on back to back days, with a day in between each of the three awards. That may not make a lot of sense, but it will be more understandable as I publish them.

Once the World Series teams have been decided, I’ll also be posting a blog post with my predictions on who will win the World Series. But that’s still several weeks down the road. I have a very busy blog schedule remaining between now and then.

Cubs Make Playoffs for First Time in Seven Years

Heading into Friday, the Cubs were a mere one game from clinching a playoff berth. Either a win by the Cubs or a Giants loss would mean October baseball for the Cubs for the first time since back in 2008. However, it appeared that things may have to wait for another day after the Cubs lost to the Pirates 3-2 in the afternoon’s game.MLB: Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox

With the loss, attention swung to Oakland, where the Giants were playing that night. If the A’s could pick up the win, the Giants would be eliminated from Wild Card contention, and the Cubs would become the fifth team to clinch a playoff spot. The Giants would end up come through for the Cubs, losing to Oakland, and being knocked out of the running.

Now that the Cubs have officially made the playoffs, it allows baseball fans from all over to set their sights on perhaps bigger things in Chicago. It’s common knowledge for any follower of the game that the Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908, having not even reached the Fall Classic since all the way back in 1945. To say fans in Chicago have been waiting for a World Series appearance for awhile would be a vast understatement.

But with the Cubs making the postseason, there officially begins to arise a bit of hope. Perhaps — maybe, just maybe — this is finally the year the Cubs break the longest World Series drought in baseball history and finally go the distance. However, they face a tough road to even reach the final seven game series.

Friday’s game against the Pirates was likely a preview of the Wild Card game set to take place on October 7th, assuming the Cardinals can hold onto their three game lead over the Pirates. But if Friday’s game was any indication, the Cubs will have to be on top of their game to advance to the Divisional Series.

One of the upsides for the Cubs is that they will likely have Jake Arrieta on the mound against Gerrit Cole, instead of Jon Lester as they had on Friday. While Lester is a terrific pitcher, Arrieta has had an unbelievable season and will YoungCubslikely give the Cubs their best shot at advancing.

The Cubs certainly have a good enough lineup to compete with any team they may encounter. With Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo, among many other young stars and veteran players, run scoring shouldn’t be a problem for the most part. On the flip side, while their pitching isn’t terrible by any means, it’s also not that dominant either.

Past Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, their rotation falls off a little bit, but they are each more than capable of picking up a win, especially with the lineup they have to score runs. In the long run, the Cubs may find they can’t compete with other teams’ pitching staffs, but I feel they will at least make it past the win or go home Wild Card game.

As history has shown, once a team reaches the first five game playoff series, pretty much anything can happen. While on paper the other teams around baseball would appear to have an advantage, October baseball has a way of throwing stats out the window. After all, the Cubs were supposed to still be “a few years away” from contention. They’ve already proved a lot of people wrong by breaking those odds.

This may turn out to be a historical year when all is said and done.

Play MLB.com’s Beat the Streak In A Day

The ‘Beat the Streak’ fantasy baseball game has been around for over the past decade. Offering the chance for any fan to pick up 5.6 million dollars if they can amass a consecutive 57 players picked with a hit, it’s no surprise why it’s so popular.Streak

And yet, no one has ever taken home the top prize. Several have come close, but none have even cracked the 50 mark. With only a couple of weeks remaining in the season, it appears that the money for a 57-game hit streak is safe again.

But MLB.com is giving the fans one last shot at becoming a millionaire overnight — admittedly, it is a long shot at best.

As they have done several times this season and over the past several years, fans are being given the opportunity to beat the streak in a day (tonight, to be specific). If anyone picks 57 players who all record at least one hit tonight, they will win the grand prize. Therefore, I’m giving it one last go as well.

I already selected my 57 players, and you should too by clicking HERE.

Maybe you’ll get really lucky and wind up winning the money. That certainly wouldn’t be a bad exchange for 10 minutes of your time.

2015 Postseason Picture Taking Shape

There are less than twenty games left to be played by each team around baseball. If the season ended today, the ten teams making the playoffs would be the Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers, Astros, Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates and Cubs. With half of those teams not having seen the playoffs in years, that would certainly make for an exciting October.Postseason

However, while things are beginning to become more clear as far as postseason races are concerned, there are a few spots that are by no means set in stone.

The Twins and Angels are within five games of the American League Wild Card, and there are anumber of other teams that theoretically stand a shot at making somewhat improbable last-minute playoff pushes. With that said, however, they do seem like a long shot for the most part.

With the exception of perhaps a few teams, the ten teams listed at the beginning of this post stand the best shot at making the playoffs of any teams in baseball.

When all the teams have officially been locked in for the postseason, I’ll be posting a blog post on my predictions of the 2015 postseason. Until then, it should be an intriguing finish to the regular season to watch.

David Ortiz Launches Home Run Number 500

With one swing of the bat on Saturday night against the Rays, David Ortiz became the 27th player in Major League Baseball history to hit 500 career home runs.Ortiz

The historic homer was his second of the night and came off of Rays’ lefty Matt Moore. In a season that’s destined to wind up with another last place finish for the Red Sox, Ortiz achieving the impressive milestone is one of the few bright spots from the year.

But it didn’t seem as if Ortiz would get there this season with the slow start he began the year with. Through the All-Star break, Ortiz was hitting just .231 with 15 home runs and 43 RBI’s. However, since the Midsummer Classic, Ortiz has been on a tear, blasting 19 home runs while hitting around .340.

Ortiz leads the Red Sox in home runs (his next closest rival is 15 home runs back) as well as RBI’s in 2015, and is just five RBI’s from another 30+ homer, 100+ RBI season — his third straight and ninth overall. Ortiz’s 442 homers with the Red Sox is good enough for third in franchise history, behind just Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.

However, despite tremendous career stats, there still remains the question of whether or not David Ortiz is worthy of the Hall of Fame. In my mind, he absolutely is. Not only is he one of the best Red Sox players in history, he is simply one of the best baseball players in history.

Time to Panic In D.C. for the Nats

There is now less than a month remaining in the 2015 MLB regular season, and things aren’t looking too good for the Nationals.

StrugglingCurrently sitting six games back of first in the National League East division, it will take a major run for the Nationals to catch the somewhat surprisingly good first place Mets.

Their best shot at making a dent into the Mets’ lead began on Monday, when a three game series between the Mets and Nats kicked off. However, instead of capitalizing on the major opportunity, the Nats have dropped the first two games of the series.

Tuesday night’s game was a bigger loss than most, though. Up 7-1 at one point, the Mets proceeded to battle back in the sixth via good at-bats and wild relief pitching. The result was a comeback that saw the game tied by the end of the inning, and had the Mets take the lead on a Kirk Nieuwenhuis homer in the eighth.

The comeback in the seventh came on 54 pitches, with only 19 of them being strikes, and is the largest lead lost by the Nationals this season. For a team that was supposed to completely blow away the competition with all of the offseason additions they made, the Nationals aren’t exactly producing the way many people think — and know — they should.

With the Mets’ young star pitcher Jacob deGrom taking the mound on Wednesday night, the Mets have to like their chances. Not only of winning the game, but of putting the division out of reach for the Nationals as the weeks go on.

Recapping My 2015 MiLB Baseball Season

Last year I did a post at the end of the 20 games I spent out at a baseball park recapping my 2014 MiLB and MLB season. Unfortunately, this time around, I wasn’t able to make it to any MLB games, however, with the 2015 MiLB season now over for me, I wanted to post an overview of the games and of the autographs I received this year, nonetheless. In all, I managed to make it to 16 baseball games this season. It was a great year, full of fun, and I thought I’d take the time to recap it all:

April 3rd — Greensboro Grasshoppers Vs. Miami Marlins

I went into this game looking forward to the opportunity to get autographs from the likes of Giancarlo Stanton and Ichiro Suzuki, but things didn’t go as I had hoped. Both Ichiro and Stanton signed for a few people, but I wasn’t able to get either one. Even so, I still managed to get Brett Butler and Donovan Solano to sign a couple of cards each, with Steven Cishek and Tom Koehler signing a card for me as well:

DSCN7765April 10th — Myrtle Beach Pelicans Vs. Wilmington Blue Rocks

Myrtle Beach has one of my favorite ballparks that I’ve ever visited, and the last time I was there they had a roster that included Joey Gallo, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams. This time around, their team wasn’t quite as good, but I still managed to get autos from some of their standouts, including Tayler Scott on my ticket, Duane Underwood on a couple of cards, and Billy McKinney and Shawon Dunston Jr. on a card:

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April 24th — Carolina Mudcats Vs. Salem Red Sox

I was hoping that the Red Sox would have their top prospect, Yoan Moncada, as part of their lineup at this game, but he hadn’t yet been promoted. Instead, I settled for Sam Travis, and a couple of autos from Wendell Rijo. So all in all, it was an okay night:

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May 2nd — Carolina Mudcats Vs. Frederick Keys

With Hunter Harvey, Chance Sisco and Josh Hart all on the disabled list, this wasn’t the best of teams, but I had already planned on going out to the game and decided to keep my plans. I was able to get a card signed by Adrian Marin, as well as a 4×6 photo signed by Drew Dosch, so it wasn’t a complete loss:

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May 5th — Carolina Mudcats Vs. Lynchburg Hillcats

This turned out to be the first good game of the year for me. Lynchburg possessed the Indians’ number one overall draft pick from the 2013 as well as the 2014 draft, and I was looking forward to seeing them both. In the end, I got three autographs from Clint Frazier, two from Bradley Zimmer, two from Nelson Rodriguez and one from Mike Papi:

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May 14th — Durham Bulls Vs. Scranton/Wilkes Barre Railriders

The game started off fairly poorly for me, with me only getting Rob Segedin and Jacob Lindgren before the game, but I made up for it by getting Slade Heathcott, Jose Ramirez, Tyler Austin (on three cards) and Bryan Mitchell outside after the game:

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May 31st — Durham Bulls Vs. Syracuse Chiefs

I was looking to get A.J. Cole at this game, but apparently he wasn’t there for whatever reason, and Jose Valverde absolutely refused to sign for anyone. Other than that, I did alright, getting most of who I wanted. I ended up with two autos from Bob Milacki, and one from Ian Stewart, Tony Gwynn Jr., Jason Martinson, Cutter Dykstra and Matt den Dekker:

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June 8th — Carolina Mudcats Vs. Potomac Nationals

There was basically only one reason I was attending this game: Luas Giolito. As the number five prospect in baseball at the time, I was really looking forward at trying to get his autograph. Not only did I get Giolito (a total of three times), but I also got Drew Ward, Chris Bostick and Jake Johansen on two cards each, and Reynaldo Lopez on a 4×6 photo:

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As brief side notes, the “Go Nats” inscription from Jake Johansen was done without asking, and Lopez signed the photo sideways. Interesting, to say the least.

June 10th — Durham Bulls Vs. Lehigh Valley Ironpigs 

I’ve always liked day games, and this was the third straight year I had attended one in Durham. I was looking to get autographs from players in Lehigh Valley, but it just wasn’t my day. For the first time in my memory, I didn’t get a single autograph at a minor league baseball game — not one. I could’ve, and really should’ve, but there was a combination of players ignoring me, people blocking my view, or whatever. But it’s all okay. My next game was going to be a big one, and I was determined to redeem myself.

June 20th — Durham Bulls Vs. Columbus Clippers

I had been looking forward to seeing Francisco Lindor again for the third time in three years, but he was called up a week before the game. Still, Columbus had a good enough team. I ended up getting autos from Jose Ramirez, Carlos Marmol, Tyler Naquin and James Ramsey on the Columbus side, and Richie Shaffer and J.P. Arencibia on the Bulls side:

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June 24th — Durham Bulls Vs. Toledo Mud Hens

The second day game of the season for me, I was looking forward to this game a lot. Not only did I enjoy day games (as mentioned earlier), but Toledo had a really good team that included Steven Moya. Unfortunately, Moya didn’t sign, and all I walked away with was an auto from Mike Hessman, Leon Durham and Corey Jones:

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June 30th — Hickory Crawdads Vs. Greenville Drive

This was the last Single-A or higher minor league ballpark in North Carolina that I had never visited, and I was excited to finally make the trip. The visiting team happened to have Red Sox uber prospect, Yoan Moncada, as well as several other of their top prospects. I ended up getting autos from Michael Chavis, Rafael Devers, Joseph Monge, Bryan Hudson and Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, and Jairo Beras from the Rangers:

DSCN7781August 1st — Durham Bulls Vs. Gwinnett Braves

With Gwinnett not being that great of a team, with the exception of their starting pitcher, Tyrell Jenkins, I went for the Bulls’ side instead. I ended up getting Luke Maile, Corey Brown, Richie Shaffer, Taylor Motter and Blake Snell to sign a card (or two), as well as a rehabbing Desmond Jennings:

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August 9th — Durham Bulls Vs. Louisville Bats

This turned out to be the best game of the entire season for me. I was able to get Ted Power, Delino DeShields, Donn Roach, Brennan Boesch, John Lamb, Robert Stephenson, Kyle Waldrop, Brandon Finnegan, Sam LeCure, Tony Cingrani and Matt Moore to all sign a card or two:

DSCN7790August 20th — Carolina Mudcats Vs. Salem Red Sox

There was really no point in me attending this game, as I had seen a good Salem team earlier in the year, but I decided to go out anyway. With me not needing much of anyone, I ended up getting just one auto, from Teddy Stankiewicz:

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August 30th – Durham Bulls Vs. Charlotte Knights

This was the last game of the year for me, and I did alright. I ended up getting an autographed card from Rob Brantly, Dayan Viciedo (the rain caused it to smear a bit at the end), Blake Smith, Onelki Garcia, Micah Johnson, Tyler Colvin and Kyle Drabek, as well as an autographed 4×6 photo from Jason Coats:

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By the Numbers

Though you could take the time for yourself to add it all up, I figured I’d make things a bit easier. Here’s a numbers recap of my 2015 MiLB season:

Games attended: 16

Win-loss record for the home team: 8-8

Total runs scored (Home Team-Visitor): 72-70

Top 100 prospects seen in person: 10

Autographs from top 100 prospects: 9

Total autographs: 102

Total miles traveled to & from games: 2,140

Latest MLB Leaders (April 5th – August 31st)

With the first five 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 – Manny Machado and Kyle Seager (131).

Most At-Bats – Yoenis Cespedes (523)

Most Hits – Jose Altuve and Dee Gordon (161)

Highest Average – Miguel Cabrera (.358)

Highest OBP – Miguel Cabrera (.460)

Highest SLG – Bryce Harper (.626)

Most Runs – Josh Donaldson (101)

Most Doubles – Michael Brantley (40)

Most Triples – Kevin Kiermaier (12)

Most Home Runs – Nelson Cruz (39)

Most RBI’s – Josh Donaldson (108)

Most Base On Balls – Joey Votto (115)

Most Strikeouts – Chris Davis (175)

Most Stolen Bases – Billy Hamilton (54)

Most Caught Stealing – Dee Gordon (16)

Most Intentional Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (24)

Most Hit By Pitch – Anthony Rizzo (25)

Most Sacrifice Flies – Edwin Encarnacion and Ryan Zimmerman (9).

Most Total Bases – Nelson Cruz and Josh Donaldson (298)

Most Extra Base Hits – Josh Donaldson (72)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Trevor Plouffe (24)

Most Ground Outs – Nick Markakis (191)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Joey Votto (2,454)

Most Plate Appearances – Josh Donaldson (578)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins – Jake Arrieta (17)

Most Losses – Matt Garza and Aaron Harang (14).

Best ERA – Zack Greinke (1.61)

Most Games Started – Four players tied for most (28).

Most Games Pitched – Kevin Siegrist (66)

Most Saves – Mark Melancon (43)

Most Innings Pitched – Corey Kluber (200.1)

Most Hits Allowed – Jeff Samardzija (195)

Most Runs Allowed – Jeff Samardzija (102)

Most Earned Runs Allowed – Jeff Samardzija (98)

Most Home Runs Allowed – Dan Haren and Anibal Sanchez (29).

Most Strikeouts – Clayton Kershaw (236)

Most Walks – Tyson Ross (74)

Most Complete Games – Mark Buehrle and Corey Kluber (4).

Most Shutouts – Nine players tied for most (9).

Best Opponent Avg. – Zack Greinke (.189)

Most Games Finished – Mark Melancon (54)

Most Double Plays Achieved – Kyle Gibson and Mike Pelfrey (24).

Most Wild Pitches – Nathan Karns and Garrett Richards (14).

Most Balks – Johnny Cueto (4)

Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Jon Lester (39)

Most Pickoffs – Brett Anderson (6)

Most Batters Faced – Corey Kluber (793)

Most Pitches Thrown – Corey Kluber (2,931)

My Final Baseball Game of 2015

Sunday will mark the 16th and final game I will attend of the 2015 MiLB season.

It’s certainly been a fun year, and it seemed to fly by. But with neither the Mudcats or the Bulls (my two local teams) set to make the playoffs this season, Sunday’s game between the Durham Bulls and Charlotte Knights will be the last one for me this year.

The previous fifteen games I’ve gone to so far this year were all exciting, and saw me heading to ballparks in Hickory, Greensboro, Durham, Zebulon and Myrtle Beach. Throughout the year, and my travels, I managed to get around 100 autographs again this year, and I’ll be detailing them all in full within the next week or two.

With the Bulls schedule for next year already released, I’ve already been looking ahead to the 2016 season, trying to project which players will be coming to town. From the way I’m viewing things, next year could be even more eventful than 2015, but that’s a long time down the road, and anything can happen.

Kris Bryant Even Better than We Thought?

Ever since he blasted 43 homers in the minor leagues back in 2014, nearly everyone around the baseball world has heard of Kris Bryant. Viewed by many as the player that would send the Cubs back to the playoffs — so far, so good — there was no doubt that Bryant was going to be a great player.Bryant

But him becoming a great player as quickly as he has become one is somewhat shocking for many people. At only 23 years old, the former first round draft pick from 2013 has already been through some ups and downs in the majors, but Bryant has been swinging a hot bat as of late. Over his last 15 games, Bryant is batting .339 with 6 homers and 14 RBI’s — including a walk off homer on Monday afternoon (already the second of his career).

Collectively so far this season, Bryant is hitting .262 with 20 home runs, 75 RBI’s and 12 stolen bases, leading all rookies in RBI’s by a wide margin. With stats like that, it’s no wonder that the majority of fans around baseball are projecting him to walk away with the National League Rookie of the Year award. But many see even greater things for Bryant and the Cubs in 2015.

It’s far too long into the season for anyone to write off the Cubs’ record as a fluke or a hot streak. The Cubs are good — it’s as simple as that. While young stars Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo are helping lead the charge, it’s Bryant who is truly powering the postseason push. Currently holding the second Wild Card spot, the Cubs look to be in good position heading into the final month of the season.

No matter if the Cubs make the postseason or not, Kris Bryant is having an unbelievable season. The amazing thing is, he will get better and better in the years to come. That should be enough to make Cubs fans see visions of playoff runs for the next several seasons, with Bryant leading the way.

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