In game one of a doubleheader against the Red Sox on Monday afternoon, Albert Pujols blasted a homer to left for his 547th career home run. But as stunning as that is, it would turn out to be the second game on the day that would have people talking.
Facing Red Sox knuckleballer, Steven Wright, Pujols smacked a hanging knuckler into the left field seats in his first at-bat, tying him with Mike Schmidt on the all-time home run list. Later in the game, Pujols hit yet another dinger, giving him two for the game, three on the day, and moving him into 15th place on the all-time chart.
Pujols hasn’t been playing this way for quite some time. Since signing a 10-year, 240 million dollar contract with the Angels in 2012, the Angels have been expecting this kind of production from Pujols — the kind he recorded in his days in St. Louis. But Pujols has been just a shell of his former self; until recently, that is.
Since May 28th, Pujols has been on a tear, hitting 21 of his 29 homers on the season. Becoming the first Angels player since 1995 to homer in both games of a doubleheader, it would appear that Pujols is back in full force. But it’s not just Pujols who is putting on a show. Mike Trout also smacked a homer of his own on Monday, giving him 28 on the year in what has become a back and forth home run battle between him and Pujols.
Currently, Pujols is on pace to smack 51 home runs — that would be a career high — with Mike Trout on pace for 49. If that happens, they would become just the sixth pair of teammates to finish with 45+ home runs. If they can both reach 50, they would match a mark set by only one other pair of teammates in baseball history: Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in 1961.
But while on pace numbers are never a number to be set in stone, Trout and Pujols are well on their way to becoming the first teammates to finish in the top two spots for home runs on the season since Manny Ramirez (43 homers) and David Ortiz (41) did so back in 2004. That would still be an amazing feat.
With the Angels playing great baseball, thanks in large part to the hot bat of Albert Pujols, many people are foreseeing them making an even deeper run into the playoffs than the one they were swept out of in 2014. However, with Pujols just seven homers away from passing Manny Ramirez on the home run list, and just 15 away from jumping over Reggie Jackson, a lot of eyes will also be focused solely on Pujols.
Having stated that he plans to fully play out his contract, which runs through 2021, Pujols has a chance at making things really interesting down the road. 600 home runs is a lock for sure, but 700 isn’t out of the question. Assuming Pujols is sitting around 565-570 homers at the end of the season, with six full seasons left to go on his contract, that comes out to right around 22 home runs per season. Very doable, if you ask me.
It all just depends on how long Albert Pujols can keep the fountain of youth flowing.
Friday kicked off the first day of games around Major League Baseball following the All-Star break, and so begins the endless predictions of which teams will make it into October.
Back in March, I made predictions of my own as to where each team would wind up finishing the year. And while there are still a lot of games left in which anything can happen, the standings are taking shape more and more as each day goes by.
With that in mind, I thought I’d take the time to briefly go over the predictions I made four months ago and see how well they were panning out.
Beginning in the American League, I was banking on the Red Sox winning the division, with the Yankees finishing a mid-pack third. Instead, the Yankees are having a great season and the Red Sox are in the cellar. Drastically different than I would’ve ever imagined. In the Central, the Twins of all teams are holding a second place slot in front of the Tigers, which is truly remarkable. With the team they have, I never could’ve predicted anything like that from them, but they are amazing a lot of people. Finally, in the AL West, the Mariners are disappointing to say the least, with the Astros stunning people with how well they are performing. There’s still time left for the tables to turn, but things are certainly interesting to this point.
As far as the National League is concerned, things aren’t quite as crazy there.
In the East, the standings aren’t too far off from what I originally guessed, with the Nationals leading the way, but the rest of the division is a bit shaken up from what I predicted. The Central is actually very close at the moment to what I projected, with just the Cubs and Pirates having their slot swapped. The last division, the National League West, is more of the same, with most of the teams right where I placed them, with the exception of the Diamondbacks and Padres, who are flipped for one another in the standings.
But as I said, there is plenty of time left. Anything can happen.
Sunday marked the last day of MLB games until after the All-Star break, and although the baseball world is looking forward to seeing baseball’s best sluggers put on a show in the home run derby, I wanted to quickly focus my attention on the players who have posted amazing performances throughout the first half of the season.
For this post, I’m covering the players who I feel stand the best chance right now (given, it’s still early) of winning the three major awards of Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Cy Young. All three awards have multiple players who can be argued as being deserving, but I have my own opinion as to who deserves each award the most at this point in the season.
Most Valuable Player Award
After a couple of seasons of getting beaten out for the award by Miguel Cabrera, Trout is finally breaking out into an every season Most Valuable Player. Already having blasted 26 home runs, and well on his way to another 100+ run year, Trout could be picking up another MVP at the season’s end.
National League: Paul Goldschmidt
I nearly went with Bryce Harper for this category, and when all is said and done, he very well may win it. But there is no ignoring what Paul Goldschmidt is doing for the Diamondback’s. With a .340 batting average, 21 homers and 70 RBI’s, Goldschmidt is having an MVP caliber season.
Rookie of the Year Award
Picking Lance McCullers Jr. was by no means an easy choice, as there are a few other pitchers and position players that have stats that stand out, but I decided that he was currently the leader. With a 2.52 ERA over 11 games started, McCullers is really impressing a lot of people around the baseball world.
National League: Joc Pederson
It is somewhat difficult to pick between Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant for who deserves the award, but I ended up going with Pederson. Despite batting in the lower .200’s, Pederson’s 20 home runs so far is extremely impressive for a rookie. In my mind, that’s enough to earn him the award.
Cy Young Award
Although there is a good amount of competition at the break for the American League Cy Young award, Sonny Gray leads the charge. With a 2.04 ERA over 18 games started, and an opponent batting average below .200, Gray is in a good spot if he can keep pitching the way he has.
National League: Zack Greinke
Once again, there’s a Dodgers pitcher out in front of the candidates for Cy Young award, but this time it’s not Clayton Kershaw. Instead, Kershaw’s teammate, Zack Greinke, is the one dominating the league. With an incredible ERA of 1.39 after 123.1 innings pitched, Greinke would have to fall apart to not win the award.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with my picks for who deserves each award at this point in the season, one thing is for sure: there is still a lot of season left where any player can have anything happen. With 15 of the 30 teams at .500 or better, in terms of wins-losses go, regardless of the award races, the games following the mid-summer classic are sure to make for an exciting second half.
With the first three 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 (79)
Most At-Bats – Dee Gordon (322)
Most Hits – Dee Gordon (113)
Highest Average – Paul Goldschmidt (.354)
Highest OBP – Paul Goldschmidt (.469)
Highest SLG – Bryce Harper (.713)
Most Runs – Brian Dozier (60)
Most Doubles – Jason Kipnis (25)
Most Triples – Four players tied for most (6).
Most Home Runs – Giancarlo Stanton (27)
Most RBI’s – Nolan Arenado (68)
Most Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (61)
Most Strikeouts – Chris Carter (105)
Most Stolen Bases – Billy Hamilton (40)
Most Caught Stealing – Dee Gordon (11)
Most Intentional Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (18)
Most Hit By Pitch – Anthony Rizzo (15)
Most Sacrifice Flies – Stephen Vogt (7)
Most Total Bases – Todd Frazier (186)
Most Extra Base Hits – Todd Frazier (48)
Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Casey McGehee and Andrelton Simmons (15).
Most Ground Outs – Andrelton Simmons (128)
Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Mike Trout (1,423)
Most Plate Appearances – Jason Kipnis (349)
MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING
Most Wins – Gerrit Cole (11)
Most Losses – Matt Garza, Aaron Harang and Kyle Kendrick (10).
Best ERA – Zack Greinke (1.58)
Most Games Started – Chris Archer and Dallas Keuchel (17).
Most Games Pitched – Luis Avilan and Javier Lopez (39).
Most Saves – Glen Perkins (25)
Most Innings Pitched – Dallas Keuchel (124.1)
Most Hits Allowed – Jeff Samardzija (123)
Most Runs Allowed – Kyle Kendrick (66)
Most Earned Runs Allowed – Kyle Kendrick (65)
Most Home Runs Allowed – Kyle Kendrick (23)
Most Strikeouts – Chris Sale (141)
Most Walks – Tyson Ross (48)
Most Complete Games – Mark Buehrle, Dallas Keuchel and David Price (3).
Most Shutouts – Five players tied for most (5).
Best Opponent Avg. – Max Scherzer (.180)
Most Games Finished – Zach Britton (32)
Most Double Plays Achieved – Kyle Gibson and Mike Pelfrey (17).
Most Wild Pitches – Nathan Karns and C.J. Wilson (10).
Most Balks – Johnny Cueto (4)
Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Tyson Ross (24)
Most Pickoffs – Brett Anderson (5)
Most Batters Faced – Dallas Keuchel (480)
Most Pitches Thrown – Dallas Keuchel (1,803)
But with Max Scherzer coming off of a no-hitter in his last start, in which he was one plunked batter in the ninth away from a perfect game, many people began to wonder if Scherzer could become the second pitcher to accomplish the amazing feat.
Going up against a subpar Phillies roster, Scherzer appeared to have everything going in his favor, having allowed a mere one hit — a bloop single back on June 14th that kept him from a no-hitter then — over his last 18 innings pitched.
As predicted, Scherzer was dominant to start the game, carrying a perfect game through five full innings for the third straight start, helping to extend his hitless innings streak to an amazing 16 innings.
But it wasn’t meant to be, as Freddy Galvis of the Phillies rocketed a double down the line in the sixth innings to stop Scherzer’s bid at history. Even so, Scherzer didn’t let the hit shake him that much, as although he would allow four more hits in the game, as well as two runs — ending the National’s starters streak of 48 innings without an earned run — he still picked up his third straight start with a win, giving him 100 career victories altogether.
Not a bad night at all.
With his terrific string of starts as of late — six hits and two runs over his last 26 innings pitched — Max Scherzer now sits with a 9-5 record and a 1.79 ERA on the year. If he can keep pitching the way he has been lately, the Cy Young award is nearly a lock.
Throughout the history of this blog, July has been one of my busiest writing months.
With the All-Star break and all the surrounding activities to blog about, as well as the other various news stories, the coming month will likely once again be one filled with entries. As always, I wanted to give a brief overview of what to expect.
Like I have for the past few years, on July 1st I’m going to post a blog entry on the latest leaders in various categories around Major League Baseball. Then, following a blogging break of around 12 days due to a mission trip I’m going on to Montana, during which I won’t be blogging at all, I’ll be back at blogging full force.
Following my return, my first post will be either on my thoughts on who made the All-Star teams or which players were selected to participate in the home run derby. It all depends on when both are announced. I’ll then publish an entry on the players I feel are the frontrunners for each major award at the All-Star break.
So, all in all, it should be a busy, but fun, month of blogging.
When Derek Jeter homered for his 3,000th career hit, the moment was magical. When Alex Rodriguez did the same on Friday night, the moment was controversial. The fans cheered, they acknowledged the historic moment, but there was a lingering feeling that things just weren’t the same.
Although Rodriguez has played in 63 games since returning from a season long performance enhancing drug suspension in 2014, the air around A-Rod is still rather bad. The majority of baseball fans have vowed to never get over his PED use and don’t see the milestone as much to celebrate. While I agree to an extent, A-Rod’s 3,000th hit is still something to stop and think about for a moment.
After all, only 28 other players in the history of Major League Baseball have ever recorded 3,000 or more hits in their careers — 28 out of over 18,000 players. In addition, Mike Schmidt and Derek Jeter are the only other players to record their 3,000th hits on a home run. So the hit by A-Rod shouldn’t be completely overlooked.
But at the same time, the moment won’t ever be seen in the same light as it should have been if A-Rod had remained clean. Rodriguez is creeping up towards 700 home runs, and is one of only five players to record 3,000+ hits and 500+ homers, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro. He’s one of the all-time greats. Rodriguez should be getting celebrations around baseball, but instead he’s getting booed by many of the fans everywhere he goes.
And rightfully so. I don’t agree that a player who recorded 3,000 hits clean and one who used PED’s throughout their career should be looked at in the same light, even if it is a remarkably rare achievement. But, thankfully, it shouldn’t be too long before we get the chance to wholeheartedly celebrate a player reaching 3,000 career hits: Ichiro Suzuki, who is just 114 hits away.
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.