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.
Heading into Wednesday’s game against the Marlins, Bryce Harper was batting around .250 with just five home runs and 15 RBI’s on the season. Coming off a somewhat disappointing 2014 due to injuries, it wasn’t looking like Harper was going to do all that much to prove that 2015 was finally going to be the year he broke out as a full on superstar player.
In Harper’s first at-bat of the game, he took Tom Koehler deep for his sixth home run of the season. But Harper was far from done. In his very next set of swings, Harper again drove a ball in to the stands. Still, Harper had more to show off on the day. In his next plate appearance, Harper slugged yet another ball out of the ballpark, giving him three straight at-bats with a home run, on a day in which he collected five runs batted in. A truly spectacular game. But it was just one game. Nothing gave any indication that Harper would continue the power surge any further beyond that.
But then Friday happened.
This time against the Braves, Harper looked to continue on the three-home run, five RBI game he put together just 48 hours before, and he didn’t miss a beat. Going three for four on the game, Harper only managed two homers this time around, but still was able to rack up five RBI’s on the day. Combined with the previous game, that gave Harper five home runs with ten RBI’s over the course of two games, making him the youngest to ever hit five home runs combined between back-to-back games. If that doesn’t make a player a superstar, I don’t know what does.
Even after seemingly hitting a performance peak that would be impossible to top, baseball fans from all over likely found themselves looking at Harper to crank out multiple home runs again on Saturday. Admittedly being an unfair expectation, that’s simply what comes with the territory of being such a big name star at such a young age.
Nonetheless, Harper has always come off as the type to love the expectations and spotlight, and therefore was inevitably looking to show off again on Saturday. But Harper didn’t kick off the game with a homer, instead hitting a fly ball deep into center which was caught on the warning track.
His following at-bats resulted in a walk, a single and a strikeout. With the Nationals up 6-4 going into the eighth inning, it seemed that Harper wouldn’t be able to have a third straight game with a home run.
But a two-run double from Christian Bethancourt that tied up the game quickly got everyone thinking about Harper getting another shot to continue the streak, and subsequently be the hero.
It would come down to Harper in the bottom of the ninth with Jayson Werth on first and the game tied.
Amazingly, but not all that surprisingly, Bryce Harper came through, demolishing a decent pitch (down in the zone) from Braves’ reliever, Cody Martin, deep into the center field seats for a walk off home run.
Three games, six home runs, twelve RBI’s. Absolutely incredible.
Harper is now batting .292 for the season, with 11 home runs, 27 RBI’s and an on base percentage of over .400. Holding a season high home run total of 22 home runs from 2012, Harper already having half of that number just over a month into the season leads many to believe that he could be on a pace that everyone has been waiting for him to set.
The former Rookie of the Year has rubbed some people the wrong way in the past, but it’s hard not to root for such a talented young star in the making. Bryce Harper may not be the best player in baseball, but he is hands down the most exciting to watch.
Come July, Harper is likely looking at his third All-Star game of his short career; when October rolls around, he could be leading the Nationals deep into the playoffs; and once the calendar flips to November, Harper quite possibly could be receiving the award that takes every player from star to superstar: The Most Valuable Player award.
After a month of the 2015 regular season, there are already several newcomers that are standing out from the crowd. The numerous rookies around Major League Baseball are all doing their best to make an immediate impact on their club, and some are making good starts to their campaigns for the Rookie of the Year award. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at who I feel are currently the top five rookies in the American League and the National League:
American League Rookies
2. Mark Canha
3. Roberto Osuna
4. Steven Souza Jr.
5. Carlos Rodon
The American League rookie players possess many future star names, however, only a few of them are playing above average at the moment. Of those, kicking things off on the list is Devon Travis, who is batting .309 with 7 home runs and 23 RBI’s for the Blue Jays. Currently the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year award if he can keep things going, Travis looks to be a star for years to come.
Following Travis on my list are Mark Canha, who is hitting a solid .271 with 4 homers and 14 runs batted in, and Roberto Osuna, who has a great 1.38 ERA through ten appearances for the Blue Jays. Those first three are off to great starts, however, Steven Souza Jr. and Carlos Rodon are merely mediocre at the moment. Souza has a .232 batting average, despite having hit 4 homers, and Rodon has yet to live up to his stardome, despite holding a 2.84 ERA. They made my list simply because the rookie talent level in the American League is currently thin.
National League Rookies
2. Alex Guerrero
3. Yimi Garcia
4. Kris Bryant
5. Archie Bradley
While the American League rookie standouts are hard to come by at the moment, the National League side is just the opposite. Joc Pederson of the Dodgers leads the way, currently living up to all of the hype surrounding him coming into the season, having hit 7 home runs already to go along with 16 RBI’s and a .260 batting average. His teammate, Alex Guerrero comes in second on my list, with a .333 average and 5 blasts to this point, as does fellow Dodger, Yimi Garcia, who has a superb 0.66 ERA over the course of 13 appearances.
Kris Bryant is the first non-Dodger on my list. Although Bryant was expected to be a big power bat in the big leagues, as he was last year in the minors with his 43 home runs, Bryant is yet to get his first major league home run. Still, Bryant has been a presence in the Cubs’ lineup, holding a .442 on base percentage with 12 runs batted in. Archie Bradley comes in at number five on my list, as despite currently being out due to an injury as a result of a ball hitting him in the face, Bradley started his season well, with a 1.80 ERA over four starts. Bradley, along with every other player previously mentioned in this post, is a star in the making.
With the first month 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 – Twenty players tied for most (23).
Most At-Bats – Jose Altuve and Wil Myers (98).
Most Hits – Dee Gordon (38)
Highest Average – Dee Gordon (.409)
Highest OBP – Matt Holliday (.500)
Highest SLG – Adrian Gonzalez (.790)
Most Runs – Matt Carpenter and Wil Myers (21).
Most Doubles – Matt Carpenter (13)
Most Triples – Paulo Orlando (5)
Most Home Runs – Nelson Cruz and Hanley Ramirez (10).
Most RBI’s – Nelson Cruz and Hanley Ramirez (22).
Most Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (22)
Most Strikeouts – Jorge Soler (33)
Most Stolen Bases – Billy Hamilton (13)
Most Caught Stealing – Dee Gordon (6)
Most Intentional Base On Balls – Victor Martinez (6)
Most Hit By Pitch – Anthony Rizzo (7)
Most Sacrifice Flies – Five players tied for most (3).
Most Total Bases – Adrian Gonzalez (64)
Most Extra Base Hits – Matt Carpenter and Adrian Gonzalez (17).
Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Casey McGehee (8)
Most Ground Outs – Jean Segura (41)
Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Bryce Harper (440)
Most Plate Appearances – Jose Altuve (106)
MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING
Most Wins – Seven players tied for most (4).
Most Losses – David Buchanan (5)
Best ERA – Nick Martinez (0.35)
Most Games Started – Fifty players tied for most (5).
Most Games Pitched – Eleven players tied for most (11).
Most Saves – Jeurys Familia, Joakim Soria and Huston Street (9).
Most Innings Pitched – Johnny Cueto and Dallas Keuchel (37).
Most Hits Allowed – Kyle Kendrick (39)
Most Runs Allowed – Kyle Kendrick (26)
Most Earned Runs Allowed – Kyle Kendrick (26)
Most Home Runs Allowed – Brandon McCarthy (9)
Most Strikeouts – Clayton Kershaw (43)
Most Walks – Tyson Ross (18)
Most Complete Games – Five players tied for most (1).
Most Shutouts – Josh Collmenter and Felix Hernandez (1).
Best Opponent Avg. – Dallas Keuchel (.130)
Most Games Finished – Joakim Soria (12)
Most Double Plays Achieved – Shane Greene and Alex Wood (7).
Most Wild Pitches – Matt Garza, Nathan Karns and Corey Kluber (4).
Most Balks – Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels and Edward Mujica (2).
Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Jon Lester (8)
Most Pickoffs – Four players tied for most (2).
Most Batters Faced – Corey Kluber and Jeff Samardzija (141).
Most Pitches Thrown – Dallas Keuchel (523)
Once again, Alex Rodriguez is nearing history. And once again, it would seem that no one cares.
After hitting home run number 659 of his career on Sunday night, Alex Rodriguez sits just one shy of Willie Mays on the all-time home run list. But more importantly, A-Rod is just one blast away from collecting a six million dollar contract bonus.
However, it’s the money that has more people talking than the actual record that Rodriguez is approaching. For any other player, fans would be buzzing with excitement for a current player to surpass an all-time great on the home run list. But with A-Rod, he doesn’t exactly have too many people on his side.
After serving a 162-game suspension in 2014 for PED use, the few fans that Rodriguez still had finally reached their breaking point with him and wrote him off altogether. But even so, Rodriguez is still surprising some people with the great start he’s gotten off to — myself included.
I knew A-Rod would likely hit his stride at some point, but I figured it wouldn’t add up to a whole lot. It’s been nearly five years since A-Rod hit his 600th homer, and it was nearly certain that he would be a bit sluggish with his swing. But Rodriguez has gone out there and done his best to prove everyone wrong, and he has done just that, blasting five homers to this point in the season.
It’s yet to be seen how many home runs Alex Rodriguez will finish out the season with, or, for that matter, how many he will end up with when his career has drawn to a close. But what is for certain is no matter how much fans dislike him, no matter how much they wish to see him fail, there will always be a small part of everyone that keeps them coming back to see how A-Rod performs on any given night.
For some reason, people just can’t get enough.
It’s still early, but now that the 2015 MLB regular season is over two weeks underway, fans around baseball are beginning to get a feel for how their team is going to perform throughout the year. Given, there’s still a ton of baseball left, where any team could see a major rise or fall in the standings, but for the most part teams have shown whether or not they have the talent to compete this season.
With that in mind, I decided to take a look at the current standings in each division and give my overall thoughts on where each team stands.
American League East
So far, this division hasn’t surprised me at all. Every team is close to where I felt they would be heading into the season, and each team has performed close to the way I pictured. If I had to give an answer for which team has surprised me the most, it has to be the Blue Jays. They are doing really well so far this season, and it would be great to see them keep it up as the season continues to roll along.
National League East
Unlike the American League East, the National League portion is completely mixed up to this point from where I thought it would be. For starters, the Mets being in first place simply amazes me, as does the Marlins being in last place. Both have surprised me with their play so far in the season. The Nationals also haven’t been playing as well as I thought they would have, but they have time to turn things around.
American League Central
The Tigers being at the top of the division is no shocker, but the Indians being near the bottom does come as a bit of a surprise to me. The Indians pitching isn’t as good as some of the other teams in the American League Central, however, their lineup can be just as good as any other club if they put everything together. No matter what, this will likely turn out to be one of the most interesting divisions to keep an eye on.
National League Central
After such a long time of being down near the bottom of the division, it’s nice to see the Cubs up near the top of the rankings. Admittedly, with all of the talent they possess, it comes as no surprise. What does come as a bit of a surprise, however, is the Brewers sitting dead last in the division with one of the worst starts they’ve gotten off to in years. If they don’t fix whatever their problem is, it could be an ugly season in Milwaukee.
American League West
I surely never saw the Houston Astros in first place of their given division two weeks into the season. They have plenty of time to slow down their hot start and fall back down in the standings, but so far they are looking pretty good. One of the teams that has surprised me in a negative way is the Mariners. Sitting in last place, they have the talent to pull out of this early hole, but it will take a full team effort to do so.
National League West
The Dodgers look to be in mid-season form extremely early in the season, standing atop the division board in the National League West division. San Diego is also doing their fair share of winning games, sitting just behind the Dodgers and looking really good to this point. The Giants have been doing worse than I had anticipated to this point in the year, but as with every other team around the league, there’s still numerous games to play for them.
This quite possibly could be one of a million articles written about Kris Bryant making his Major League debut on Friday afternoon, but it was such a big deal that I felt the need to write a little bit about it as well.
As nearly everyone around the baseball world is aware, Bryant has quickly made a name for himself down in the minors to this point in his career. After being the second overall draft pick in the 2013 draft, Bryant proceeded to slug a league leading 43 homers in the minors last season.
This year, he picked up where he left off. Following a great Spring Training showing, Bryant headed to Triple-A where he hit .321 with 3 homers and 10 RBI’s over 7 games before his call up, forcing the Cubs to bring him up.
Now that Bryant is in the majors, I expect him to make a solid run at the National League Rookie of the Year award. It’s truly his to lose, as his power is already as good as any other player in the majors.
But you wouldn’t have known that by just watching the Cubs game on Friday. In Bryant’s big league debut, he went 0-4 with three strikeouts, and simply looked lost at times at the plate. Even so, he made a couple of good plays at third on the afternoon, and finally ended the never ending question of when Bryant would make his debut.
Despite the poor showing by Bryant, the Cubs are off to one of their best starts in years — given, it’s still early. But if Bryant can begin to contribute the way many people feel he can and will, the Cubs could be celebrating a postseason appearance in October after such a long playoff drought.
Red Sox phenom, Mookie Betts, can do it all. He’s a great outfielder, a fast runner, and can even tap into some power every now and then.
Things got kicked off for Betts in the very first inning of the game. Bryce Harper cranked a ball deep toward the outfield bullpens, which looked to be gone off the bat. But Betts did a great job getting a jump on the ball, making the leap at the wall and robbing Harper of a home run.
In the bottom half of the inning, Betts continued his great day. After a walk, Betts slid in safely to second on an attempted steal attempt. Wisely noticing that no one was covering third base, due to the shift on the current batter, David Ortiz, Betts took off for third and successfully swiped that bag as well. Two stolen bases on one attempt.
But not to go without showing off all of his tools, Mookie stepped to the plate in the bottom of the second and cranked a three-run homer over the green monster in left field to give the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.
All in a day’s work for Betts.
With all of the contributions from Betts — who went 2-4 on the day, with 4 total RBI’s — the Red Sox cruised to a 9-4 win over the Nationals. If things can continue to go the way they did on Monday for both Mookie Betts and the Red Sox, 2015 could end up being special years for both of them.