Every new season brings new hope among all thirty teams around Major League Baseball. No matter how badly you did the year before, there’s always a chance that any given season could be your year. However, the yearly aspiration of postseason baseball ended for nineteen teams on Sunday afternoon — leaving just the Red Sox, Tigers, Athletics, Indians, Rays, Rangers, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates and Reds with shots at winning it all.
But it’s not going to be an easy road for any of them.
The Rays and Rangers face arguably the most difficult path, as they ended the season tied for the second American League Wild Card spot, and therefore will have to play in a one-game tiebreaker game Monday night in Arlington — game 163 of the season. It’s do or die for both teams, as a win could mean playoff glory, with a loss meaning the end of the season.
It’s sure to be an incredibly great game.
While eleven teams are still battling it out for a shot at becoming World Series Champions, the remainder of the teams are done for the year. But some players on those teams are finished forever, as they announced their retirement earlier in the season.
Rivera — the greatest closer in MLB history — is the definition of greatness, both on and off the field. Rivera will go down as one of the best players and people the game has ever seen, and will undoubtedly be missed by everyone around the baseball world.
Another player of equal caliber is Todd Helton, who made a name for himself as arguably the best player in Rockies history, as well as a player who is well respected all around the game.
It will be interesting to see how both the Yankees and Rockies — teams that had subpar years — will do next year without their long-time star players.
In the end, no matter what next year brings, it’s extremely sad to see them go.
But Sunday wasn’t completely full of sadness.
Henderson Alvarez, of the Miami Marlins, threw the fifth no hitter in franchise history, however, it wasn’t done in the most conventional way; part of what makes it so intriguing. Alvarez recorded the twenty-seventh out of the game in the ninth, without having allowed any hits, but it wasn’t officially a no-no just yet. The Marlins gave Alvarez absolutely no run support, and it took a bases loaded, wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to secure both the Marlins win and, more importantly, Alvarez’s no hitter.
Truly a remarkable way to end the year.
If the 2013 postseason winds up providing anywhere close to the level of excitement the last day of the 2013 regular season brought, it’s sure to be an amazing month of October.
My final latest leaders blog post, which I was planning to post tomorrow, will have to be moved to Tuesday, as game 163 of the year is being played tomorrow night between the Rangers and Rays, with the stats counting towards the regular season stats. After that, my postseason predictions will be posted on Thursday as scheduled. Be sure to check back to see who I have making it to the World Series. (My World Series predictions will come after the two teams have been decided a few weeks down the road.)
The biggest news of the day on Tuesday was the announcement that Major League Baseball plans to make an attempt to suspend approximately 20 players, with connections to the biogenesis clinic in Miami, for accused use of PED’s; including stand out players such as Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, who could be forced to sit out up to 100 games. While this has been in the news since January, this “major development” certainly got people talking again.
A-Rod’s situation is a bit different than many of the other players on the list of those with connections to use of PED’s. Unlike most of them, Rodriguez doesn’t have all that much time left in his career, if any at all. He’s currently in the process of coming back from hip surgery, and if suspended, wouldn’t be able to play in another game until the middle half of next season; assuming Rodriguez returns by August as expected.
In my opinion, if Alex Rodriguez does receive a 100-game suspension, we may have seen the last of him in a Major League uniform.
But despite all of this, Tuesday wasn’t entirely fully of negative news stories. A couple of highly coveted prospects hit their first career home runs, which will likely be just the first of many to come once all is said and done.
Jackie Bradley Jr.–the number 29 overall ranked prospect in all of baseball, and number two prospect in the Red Sox’ organization–cranked the first homer of his career to left field, over the bullpen, off of the Rangers’ Justin Grimm, in last night’s 17-run game by the Red Sox.
Yasiel Puig–the number 70 overall ranked prospect in all of baseball, and number one prospect in the Dodgers’ organization–hit both his first and second home runs, in his second career game, in which he went 3-4, with 5 RBI’s.
Many thought Puig should’ve stuck with the Dodgers out of Spring Training, as he had one of the best performances of any Dodger, however, he has spent the year to this point at Double-A Chattanooga. But nonetheless, Puig is in the big leagues now, and he’s fitting right in.
Puig has been extremely impressive so far in the majors. Though he’s only had eight at-bats, Puig has gotten a hit in five of them, and has also been able to show off his other tools, including his rocket arm as well as his above average speed. Both of which have the potential to develop even more.
Though you can tell Puig is still figuring things out, as is to be expected with a player this new to the big leagues, he’s been able to show a decent amount of his overall potential. Puig just might end up being what the struggling Dodgers need to help get their disappointing season back on track.
When it was first reported that the Cincinnati Reds had plans to convert Aroldis Chapman–known for his overpowering fastball, that’s been clocked up to 106 MPH–from closer to a starter, to begin the 2013 season, I couldn’t help but question the decision.
Chapman struggled a bit last year after pitching in multiple outings in a row, so I don’t understand what good would it really do to make him a starter. And now, with the recent comments from Chapman himself that he would prefer closing out games over starting, I question the change even more.
“In the beginning when I started closing, it was something I didn’t know,” Chapman stated in an interview. “But as I started throwing and getting into the late part of the game when the game is more exciting and has more meaning, I kind of liked it. Yeah, the adrenaline goes up and I like to be in that situation. I would like to be a closer, yeah, but there are some things that I can’t control.”
I understand that the Reds would like for Chapman to have a greater impact on the entire game, rather than just the ninth inning, but I feel they should just leave things the way everyone’s used to: With Chapman as their closer. That’s where Chapman feels the most comfortable, and where he has proven to be the most dominant–recording 38 saves off a 1.51 ERA, with 122 strikeouts in 71.2 inning pitched, last season.
To me, there’s too much uncertainty to have the move work out in the long run, especially with Chapman not fully on board.
In other news, Wil Myers was reassigned to minor league camp on Saturday, ensuring that he will begin the 2013 season with Triple-A Durham. Thus finally answering the question everyone had on their minds throughout the entire offseason, of whether or not Myers would break camp with the big league club.
Myers seems to be taking the news well, stating, “It was something I knew was going to come eventually. It wasn’t a surprise at all…I’m really looking forward to getting down there [to minor league camp] and getting some at-bats….I really enjoyed my time here, it was a blast. But now I’m ready to get down to business.”
While I somewhat disagree with the Rays’ decision, Myers beginning the year with Durham guarantees the opportunity for fans, like myself, to see the number four prospect in all of baseball in action. So I can’t really complain all that much.
The Reds have made the decision to leave Aroldis Chapman as their closer.
If you’ve followed this blog for awhile you’re aware that although this is a Major League Baseball blog for the most part, I tend to throw in entries on the Minor Leagues every now and then. Well, get ready for the biggest MiLB blog entry I’ve ever put together, as I’m set to attend tomorrow’s Triple-A National Championship game in Durham, NC.
The Championship game will see the Pawtucket Red Sox (International League) and the Reno Aces (Pacific Coast League) squaring off in a winner-take-all game in front of a sellout crowd. Trevor Bauer, of the Aces, and Nelson Figueroa, of the Red Sox, are due to take the mound for their respective teams. If you can’t make it to the game you can still watch it all unfold on NBC Sports Network at 7:05 EST. It’s sure to be a great game.
And….that’s pretty much it. Not much else can be said about it. Check back on Wednesday* for a recap of my time spent at the ballpark, and the game itself. With the kind of storms we’re supposed to have around here tomorrow, who knows; I might have a story of what it feels like to be struck by lightning. (Fingers crossed that I don’t.)
*The game is set to be played on Tuesday, however, there is a good chance of rain so it may not be played until Wednesday. If that occurs, my blog entry on the game obviously won’t be able to be posted until Thursday, as the game wouldn’t have taken place yet by Wednesday afternoon.
Since the beginning of the season the Washington Nationals have had a plan. A plan for their Ace, Stephen Strasburg, that they hope will ensure a healthy arm in the many years to come; as this is his first full season since having Tommy John surgery, in 2010.
But the decision to play it safe, by placing Strasburg on a 160-innings limit–combined with making him a starter out of the gates, on Opening Day–is proving to be a somewhat questionable one. As now that the Nationals are pretty much guaranteed a playoff spot, they won’t have Strasburg to mow down hitters in those all-important October games.
Had the Nationals taken the approach to Strasburg, that the Braves have taken with Kris Medlen–in this his first full season since Tommy John–by pitching him out of the bullpen to start out the year, they wouldn’t be in this situation. Strasburg would be nowhere near his innings limit, thus he could continue pitching on into the post season. Instead, the Nationals took the opposite route, and it’s costing them. (Though I truly don’t feel the Nationals will be hindered too much by the loss of Strasburg. They’re too good of a team as a whole.)
The thing that sets the Nationals apart from nearly every other team in the Majors is the fact that they not only have a heavy duty line-up–consisting of guys like Danny Espinosa, Michael Morse and of course, rookie phenom, Bryce Harper, who’s been heating up as of late–but they also have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. A lot of teams vying for a spot in the post season have one or the other, but very few have both. That’s what makes the Nationals special. And that’s what I think will enable the loss of Strasburg to be more of a speed bump, rather than a road block.
While it would be impracticle to say that the loss of Stephen Strasburg will have absolutely NO impact on the Washington Nationals, I also find it rather ill-informed to state that the Nationals have little chance to win in the post season without Strasburg. They certainly have a chance. (An extremely good one, at that.)
What it really comes down to is whether or not the Nationals pitching staff can step it up without Strasburg in the rotation. The key three to their staff, being Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson, can’t let it get to them. The line-up shows no signs of slowing down–thus they should perform well come crunch time–but if the starting pitching isn’t there, it’s a lost cause.
In the end, anything short of a World Series title, come November, and the spotlight will be immediately bestowed upon Mike Rizzo and Nationals, with the question forever being: “What if?”
Stephen Strasburg is 15-6 on the year, with a 2.94 ERA. He’s set to make his final home start of the season on Friday; with his final start of the season coming September 12th in New York, versus the Mets.
Stephen Strasburg was officially shut down for the season after his start on September 7th. He finishes the year 15-6, with a 3.16 ERA.
With the first five months of the 2012 MLB season in the books I thought I’d take the first day of the September to recap the season thus far.
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’m planning on posting an entry like this on the first day of each month. (That would make 1 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-Michael Bourn and Chase Headley. (132)
Most At-Bats-Derek Jeter (553)
Most Hits-Derek Jeter (177)
Highest Average-Melky Cabrera (.346)*
Most Runs-Mike Trout (106)
Most Triples-Dexter Fowler (11)
Most Home Runs-Adam Dunn (38)
Most RBI’s-Josh Hamilton (112)
Most Base On Balls-Adam Dunn (94)
Most Strikeouts-Adam Dunn (190)
Most Stolen Bases-Mike Trout (42)
Most Caught Stealing-Jose Tabata (12)
Most Intentional Base On Balls-Prince Fielder (17)
Most Hit By Pitch-Carlos Quentin (16)
Most Sacrifice Flies-Mark Teixeira (11)
Most Total Bases-Miguel Cabrera (300)
Most Extra Base Hits-Miguel Cabrera (67)
Most Grounded Into Double Plays-Miguel Cabrera (23)
Most Ground Outs-Derek Jeter (256)
Most Air Outs-Ian Kinsler (185)
Most Number of Pitches Faced-Adam Dunn (2,488)
Most Plate Appearances-Michael Bourn (608)
MLB LEADERS (AL and NL)- Pitching
Most Wins-Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez and R.A. Dickey. (17)
Most Losses-Erik Bedard, Ubaldo Jimenez and Tim Lincecum. (14)
Best ERA-Felix Hernandez (2.43)
Most Games Started-Seven players tied for most. (28)
Most Games Pitched-Shawn Camp (68)
Most Saves-Jim Johnson (41)
Most Innings Pitched-Felix Hernandez (196.2)
Most Hits Allowed-Rick Porcello (194)
Most Runs Allowed-Ricky Romero (105)
Most Earned Runs Allowed-Ricky Romero (99)
Most Home Runs Allowed-Tommy Hunter (32)
Most Strikeouts-Justin Verlander (198)
Most Walks-Edinson Volquez (91)
Most Complete Games-Justin Verlander (6)
Most Shutouts-Felix Hernandez (5)
Most Hit Batsmen-Gavin Floyd (14)
Most Games Finished-Alfredo Aceves (54)
Most Groundouts Achieved-Clayton Richard (277)
Most Double Plays Achieved-Henderson Alvarez and Clay Buchholz. (26)
Most Wild Pitches-Ubaldo Jimenez (15)
Most Balks-Franklin Morales (5)
Most Stolen Bases Allowed-Ubaldo Jimenez (28)
Most Pickoffs-Clayton Kershaw and Ricky Romero. (8)
Most Batters Faced-Justin Verlander (784)
Most Pitches Thrown-Justin Verlander (3,084)
For once I’m not using an entry to get caught up on the things that I’ve failed to blog about. There really hasn’t been much for me to write about since the last time I blogged. The three things that I’m going to discuss in this entry are things that have happened very recently in baseball, and I just want to get my personal opinion out there.
Please leave a comment if you have anything further you’d like to say about the topics being discussed.
ALBERT PUJOLS’ HOME RUN DROUGHT
Albert Pujols homered 37 times in 579 at bats last season. That’s once every 15.6 at bats, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll round it up to 16. So far this year Pujols has had 45 at bats, and has hit a grand total of zero home runs. If you go by last year’s trend of 1 homer per 16 at bats, he should have 2-3 home runs already. So what’s going on?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Albert physically, nor do I feel it’s the mental emotion of being with a new team. In my personal opinion, I just think it’s a streak of bad luck. Every player goes through a rough patch from time to time. It’s just that Pujols has had so few in his career that when a long streak of bad luck like this hits him, it’s big news.
Now I’m not saying that Pujols will get his first home run this week or even this month, but I am saying that he won’t end the season still stuck at zero home runs. For a guy like him, once he gets that first one past him, the pressure will be gone, and he’ll become the old Pujols that the Angels were looking for when they shelled out big money for him.
One thing’s for sure. If Albert Pujols wants to keep of his steak of at least 30 home runs in every season of his career, he needs to figure things out, and start getting hot.
JAMIE MOYER WINS AT AGE 49
Jamie Moyer made his start last night against the Padres with the hopes of becoming the oldest pitcher in MLB history to win a regular season game. He would achieve his goal, as although he never even reached 80 miles per hour on the gun, he was still able to have a successful outing and record the win at age 49 and 150 days.
To record a win in a MLB game at age 49 is truly incredible. To give you an idea of how long Moyer has been playing, the starting pitcher for the Padres, Anthony Bass, was born a year after Moyer’s debut. Pretty insane if you think about it.
The oldest pitcher to ever play in a MLB game was Satchel Paige at age 59, though he didn’t record the win.
JOHNNY DAMON MAKES IT OFFICIAL
I talked about the Damon deal a little while ago, but now that he’s officially an Indian I thought I’d bring it up again.
Damon joins the Indians just 277 hits shy of 3,000 for his career. If he hopes to reach the milestone he’ll have to play at least one more season longer that his 1-year 1.25 million dollar contract from the Indians. It’s unclear as to whether or not he plans to do that, as he has to make it through this season first.
The plan for Damon is for him to continue working out at the Indians’ spring training facility in Arizona. He’s then expected to join the Triple-A affiliate of the Indians (the Columbous Clippers) for a short while, before joining the Indians up in Ohio in early May.
It should be interesting to see if Damon still has the ability to help his team win. According to Damon, that’s his main goal for the year, as he made the following statement after signing:
My track record shows that I play hard and I play to win. That’s why I’ve helped teams win championships, and I’ve helped some teams that aren’t so good be better…I play for the organization, not for myself.
I hope things work out between Johnny Damon and the Cleveland Indians. Damon can be a really exciting player to watch when he’s performing well.
This is my second year playing Beat the Streak and quite frankly I’m not very good at it. I didn’t get started last season until sometime around July, so I figured starting out from day one of the 2012 season would give me a better chance of getting to that magic number of 57 needed to win the grand prize of 5.6 million dollars. Well, I was wrong. If anything I’m having worse luck than last year. But it’s still early, and I’m hoping things will begin to turn around for me in the coming days/weeks.
The fantasy baseball game Beat the Streak has been around for the past several seasons, and the rules are fairly simple: Pick a player everyday that you think has the best chance of getting at least one hit. (Can be the same player or a different one. It’s up to you.) As long as that player gets a hit your streak continues–whether they go 4-4, or a mere 1-4 in that particular game.
A slight twist has been added this year to make it more exciting. In years past you would pick your one player and that was it. This season you have the option to double down and pick two players that you think will get a hit. If they do, your streak increases by two instead of the conventional one. Like most things in life however, there is a catch. If either of your two picks fail to get a hit your streak goes back down to zero. So it’s high risk, but can also be high reward if you’re lucky enough to have both players record a hit.
So far this season I’ve failed to increase my streak to more than two. Each day of the season thus far I’ve chosen to take “advantage” of the double down feature, but haven’t had much luck. I might just end up doing one pick at a time if this continues to be a problem for me.
If you’re not already playing, I suggest you start. CLICK HERE to be taken to the main page. If you have an account already, just log in. If not, don’t worry, it’s really easy, and most importantly, free. Even if you’re like me and have terrible luck, it’s still fun to play. And who knows? You might just get lucky and win the 5 million bucks. (In which case you have to give me half.)
I decided to do something a little different today. Instead of blogging about the latest news, or my opinion on something, I decided just do an entry on home run milestones.
Below you’ll find a bulleted list of the home run milestones that *should* occur in 2012. I say should because there’s no guarantee that any given player on the list will reach the milestone; they could get injured, have a bad season, or whatever.
In order to make the list, the player had to meet the following criteria:
You can’t be a pitcher. Although there are some pitchers that can hit home runs, you won’t find any on my list. Reason being is that they’re not everyday players.
You have to have hit at least one home run in the Major Leagues. There are around 50 players going into 2012 that haven’t hit an MLB home run, but adding them to the below list just didn’t make sense.
You have to be closing in on an even milestone, like 100, 200, 300, etc. I din’t include anyone that’s a few homers away from number 50, 75, 125, etc. It just didn’t seem necessary.*
The list is organized by player name–team–milestone they’re going for–and how many home runs they are from that particular milestone:
2012 Home Run Milestones
Geoff Blum, Diamondbacks–Home Run number 100 (1 home run away)
Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks–Home Run number 100 (2 home runs away)
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners–Home Run number 100 (5 home runs away)
Mark Ellis, Dodgers–Home Run number 100 (8 home runs away)
Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays–Home Run number 100 (8 home runs away)
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks–Home Run number 100 (9 home runs away)
B.J. Upton, Rays–Home Run number 100 (10 home runs away)
Orlando Hudson, Padres–Home Run number 100 (10 home runs away)
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies–Home Run number 100 (23 home runs away)
Adam Jones, Orioles–Home Run number 100 (25 home runs away)
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox–Home Run number 200 (5 home runs away)
Dan Uggla, Braves–Home Run number 200 (10 home runs away)
Travis Hafner, Indians–Home Run number 200 (11 home runs away)
Chase Utley, Phillies–Home Run number 200 (12 home runs away)
Justin Morneau, Twins–Home Run number 200 (15 home runs away)
Nick Swisher, Yankees–Home Run number 200 (15 home runs away)
David Wright, Mets–Home Run number 200 (17 home runs away)
Curtis Granderson, Yankees–Home Run number 200 (33 home runs away)
Jose Bautsta, Blue Jays–Home Run number 200 (44 home runs away)
Ryan Howard, Phillies–Home Run number 300 (14 home runs away)
Bobby Abreu, Angels–Home Run number 300 (16 home runs away)
Torii Hunter, Angels–Home Run number 300 (19 home runs away)
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers–Home Run number 300 (23 home runs away)
Paul Konerko, White Sox–Home Run number 400 (4 home runs away)
David Ortiz, Red Sox–Home Run number 400 (22 home runs away)
Jim Thome, Phillies–Home Run #610 to pass Sammy Sosa (6 HR’s away)
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees–Home Run #631 to pass Ken Griffey Jr. (2 HR’s away)
I don’t know whether or not you noticed the asterisk on criteria number three, but I did it because Jim Thome and Alex Rodriguez don’t meet the criteria of having to be going for an even number such as 100, or 200. Thome and A-rod were included in the list just for the fact that they’ve hit SO many home runs that they’re going for milestone home runs such as passing the games greats.
Whether or not you found the above information useful, I hope you at least found it enjoyable to read. I’m planning on doing a stats blog entry the first day of every month during the season, of the leaders of different categories from month to month. Similar to the one I did last season. So be looking out for that starting May 1st.
I apologize for being lazy and not blogging for nearly two weeks. I couldn’t seem to motivate myself to type one up, but I’m back now, and ready to go. Look for at least three blog entries a week starting Monday.
Going into Sunday’s Spring Training game against the Phillies, the number one thing on the minds of the Yankees–owners, players, and fans alike–was whether or not their highest paid player and power slugger, Alex Rodriguez, was going to perform well. After having a less than satisfactory end to the 2011 season, A-rod had to do something to get the fans back on their feet again. They needed a reason to cheer, and aiming to please, Rodriguez delivered.
The first pitch to Rodriguez–a fastball from Phillies Ace, Roy Halladay–was drilled the opposite way for a home run. Given the wind was whipping in that general direction, which no doubt helped carry the ball further than it would have traveled on a less blustery day, it was impressive none the less; and he wasn’t done yet.
Rodriguez reached base safely in each of his next two plate appearances. Recording a single and an RBI double, before being plucked from the game. Just a short glimpse at the old, injury free, Rodriguez, was a sight for sore eyes.
The problem with Rodriguez is that he can’t seem to stay healthy for very long, and using last year as an example, takes a while after recovering from an injury to get back into the groove of things. Taking all of this into consideration, many people foresee A-rod having a season similar to 2011, but I for one don’t see that taking place.
First of all, Rodriguez is too good of a player to not put up impressive stats, while healthy. He obviously wasn’t his normal self last season, due to injuries. However, if his first game of the year is any indication, Rodriguez seems to be fully healthy, and ready to go for 2012. Subsequently, that should equal a season with similar stats to years past. Yes, Rodriguez is older than he was back in the day, but he’s still not THAT old. At age 36, Rodriguez more than likely still has two or three more good seasons left in him; if he can stay injury free.
If in fact Rodriguez can avoid the injury bug for the full duration of the season, he should be able to reach several milestones. Currently one home run shy of tying Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all time home run list, A-rod should be able to check that off his list of things to do before he retires within the first week of the season. The next stop would be Willie Mays, who is currently fourth on the list with 660 career home runs. While I feel Rodriguez will come close, I don’t think he’ll quite reach it this year.I could however see Rodriguez tying (or passing?) Lou Gehrig for first on the all time grand slams list, with 23. (Rodriguez currently has 22 for his career.)
Moving onto a few other milestones that I could see A-rod achieving this season. Needing to drive in 107 base runners I could easily see Rodriguez reaching the 2,000 RBI mark. However, just like with passing Willie Mays in all time home runs, he might have to wait until 2013 to do so. 500 doubles is pretty much a guarantee, however, as he needs a mere 5 to reach the milestone.
I’m not trying to be unrealistic. Rodriguez isn’t going to come out and hit 40 home runs, and drive in 130 runs, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for him to have a 30 home run, 100 RBI year. He still has the determination, and most importantly the talent, that he’s had in years past.
I look for Alex Rodriguez to surprise a lot of people this year. He’s no longer 20, and thus is never going to play at the same level he was playing at in the prime of his career, but even a healthy 36-year old Rodriguez is enough to put fear into any opposing pitcher’s eyes. Or at least it should be.