I’ve been making preseason predictions for each of the past five years for how I feel each team will fare at the end of the season, and it never fails that I come up a long way from reality when all is said and done. This year is certainly no different.
In the American League East, I wasn’t too far off, but I still picked the Orioles to finish fourth, who are now currently in first place in the division. Likewise, in the American League Central, the Tigers have underperformed in my mind, but not as much as the Royals, who I picked to finish first, but are in third. The AL West has seen things going close to how I saw them, but I thought the Angels would be much better than they have been. Even so, I once again have been way off.
Things have gone a little better for me in the National League, however.
I haven’t done terribly in the East, where my pick of the Mets to be leading the division has been the only pick to go a little off track. For the Central, things have gone even better, with the top three teams lining up exactly where I saw them. In the West, I bought into the hype of the Diamondbacks, who sit in last place, despite me selecting them to come in first. But the Giants look destined to finish in first, so I would seem to be right with that one at least.
At the end of the day, there’s still a good amount of season left. Anything can and will happen as teams look to make their powerful pushes towards the postseason. Your guess is as good as mine as to where they’ll line up.
Nothing is guaranteed in baseball. From one season to the next, you never know which teams will go from last to first or first to last, or which players will have a bounce back year or a season far disastrous from the one they posted just a year prior.
Shelby Miller is a prime example of that.
Last season with the Braves, Miller made himself known as a true star pitcher in baseball, giving Atlanta 205.1 strong innings, totaling up to a 3.02 ERA on the season. For his efforts, Miller received a ton of recognition — so much so that he was the key piece of a huge trade this past offseason.
Sending their top prospect (and first overall draft pick in 2015) Dansby Swanson, along with two other pieces, to the Braves, the Diamondbacks received back Shelby Miller to join Zack Greinke in what looked to be a strong pitching staff; one predicted to be more than capable of competing for the National League West title.
However, things have gone far from perfect in Arizona.
With Greinke being injured at times this season, Paul Goldschmidt not getting off to a hot start, and with 2015 breakout star, A.J. Pollock, being lost for the year in Spring Training, not a lot has gone right to help the D-backs perform the way they had been expected to.
But while it’s not completely Miller’s fault (it’s never fair to point the finger at any one player as the sole reason for a team’s losing season), he certainly has played a big part in their demise.
Going 2-9 with a 7.14 ERA over 14 starts this season, Miller was sent down to Triple-A on Thursday, with the hopes of getting him back on track in the minors. But even if he gets it going again down in Reno, things are too far gone for the Diamondbacks to regain momentum and make something special out of this season.
Sitting in last place in their division, 19 games back of the first-place Giants, the Diamondbacks haven’t had much to be excited about this season. While Miller was supposed to give the D-backs a great shot at a memorable year, he hasn’t been anywhere close to the pitcher he was last season with the Braves. But you truly never can tell how any given trade will pan out.
Even so, with the trade deadline slowly approaching in two weeks, it will be interesting to see which teams will take a gamble and make a trade for a star player. It may pay off, giving them what they need to make it to the postseason. Or it could turn out to make little to no difference, as the Shelby Miller trade has for Arizona.
Sunday marked the last day of MLB games until Friday, and although the baseball world is currently focused on San Diego and the All-Star game that is set to take place tonight, 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
American League: Mark Trumbo
Sitting as the league leader in home runs at the All-Star break, there is no true competition for Mark Trumbo when it comes to American League MVP. Trumbo has been absolutely tremendous for the Orioles all season long, batting .288 while driving in 68 runs with 28 homers, and is a huge part in them sitting in first place. Unless things fall apart for Trumbo, he should easily walk away with the award at season’s end.
National League: Kris Bryant
There are far more options to choose from when picking for the National League MVP award, but I’m going with Kris Bryant at the moment. Like the Orioles, the Cubs are in first place large in part due to Bryant’s stellar numbers for yet another season. With 25 home runs, including a three-homer performance earlier in the year, Bryant is truly showing how much of an impact he is in the National League.
Rookie of the Year Award
American League: Nomar Mazara
All season long, Nomar Mazara has wowed fans with his immense power displays that he has been able to put on with each of his eleven home runs. He may not have overwhelming stats, but Mazara has done enough to earn him the American League Rookie of the Year award, in my mind. But even so, there’s a young Tigers’ rookie pitcher by the name of Michael Fulmer who is pressing to overtake Mazara. If Mazara doesn’t keep things going, he may lose out in the end.
National League: Corey Seager
This was one of the most difficult awards to decide upon. From Trevor Story to Kenta Maeda, there are several great options to choose from. But I wound up going with Corey Seager, who was the favorite to win the award even before the season began. With so many top notch NL rookies, this award could truly come down to the wire, but with Seager having blasted 17 homers with 42 RBI’s, all while hitting .297, I’ll go with him for now.
Cy Young Award
American League: Steven Wright
The most recent knuckleball pitcher to win the Cy Young award came back in 2012 when R.A. Dickey took home the honor. However, it appears that things may play out that way again this year. Steven Wright has been extremely consistent throughout this season with the Red Sox, breaking out as their true ace of the staff, despite David Price being on the team. Although his strikeout totals aren’t that high, Wright’s AL-best 2.68 ERA really stands out.
National League: Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw is currently on the disabled list, but as long as it doesn’t impact the rest of the season, Kershaw looks to be in line for yet another Cy Young award. His closest competition at the moment, Madison Bumgarner, has been just as good as Kershaw, having notched three more starts than Kershaw and holding a 1.94 ERA to Kershaw’s 1.79. When it comes down to it, though, I still see Kershaw pulling out the award win.
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 19 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.
On Tuesday, we found out the players who will be participating in the MLB All-Star game. Now, we officially know the sluggers who will be blasting long balls on Monday night at Petco Park.
Mark Trumbo, Robinson Cano, Adam Duvall and Todd Frazier of the American League will be squaring off against Corey Seager, Giancarlo Stanton, Wil Myers and Carlos Gonzalez of the National League.
The bracket-style format of the derby will now see Seager going up against Trumbo, Stanton taking on Cano, Myers facing Duvall and Gonzalez trying his luck versus Frazier. With the players now set, I figured I’d give my take on how I feel the derby will go.
Although Seager is well on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year award for the National League, I don’t see him taking out Trumbo. Leading the league in homers, Trumbo simply has too much pop. Likewise, I can’t see Cano posting better numbers than Stanton. While Stanton has struggled at times this year, he seems to be locked in as of late and will likely carry that into the derby. The third matchup of Myers vs. Duvall is a very intriguing one, as well as a difficult one to predict. Even so, I’m going with Myers to move on, as he’ll have the backing of the home crowd. Finally, I feel that Frazier will be able to barely hold off Gonzalez to find himself moving on to the next round.
Eliminated: Corey Seager, Robinson Cano, Adam Duvall and Carlos Gonzalez
Moving on: Mark Trumbo, Giancarlo Stanton, Wil Myers and Todd Frazier
If things go as I see them playing out, this round will see Trumbo going up against Stanton and Frazier taking on Myers. At this point, anything can truly happen, but I feel like Trumbo will find a way to beat out Stanton and move on to the final round. Furthermore, I see Myers surprising the baseball world and knocking off Frazier, with Myers having more power than a lot of people realize. Even so, any of these four players pose an very equal matchup against one another.
Eliminated: Giancarlo Stanton and Todd Frazier
Moving on: Mark Trumbo and Wil Myers
A final round of the 2016 Home Run Derby with Mark Trumbo squaring off against Wil Myers isn’t exactly what many people are likely predicting around baseball, but it’s what I’m going with. Admittedly, these type of predictions rarely pan out, but it’s how I see things going. As such, with Trumbo and Myers going one on one in the last round, I inevitably see Trumbo beating out Myers. Trumbo simply has too much power to be denied the title this year.
Winner: Mark Trumbo
But that’s just how I see things panning out. Who do you think will win the 2016 Home Run Derby? Cast your vote below.
The American League and National League rosters for the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star game, set to be held out at Petco Park, in San Diego, California, on July 12th (you can watch it on FOX at 8:00 Eastern) were released on Tuesday evening.
As always, the baseball world is hard at work discussing the rosters, debating over which players were snubbed from the teams, which players didn’t necessarily (in their eyes) deserve to make the cut, and (most importantly) which team they think will win when all is said and done. But that comes with each and every year and is part of what makes things so fun.
Here are the official All-Star rosters:
C: Salvador Perez (4th)
1B: Eric Hosmer (1st)
2B: Jose Altuve (4th)
SS: Xander Bogaerts (1st)
3B: Manny Machado (3rd)
OF: Mike Trout (5th), Jackie Bradley Jr. (1st), Mookie Betts (1st)
DH: David Ortiz (10th)
LHP: Chris Sale (5th)
RHP: Craig Kimbrel (5th)
LHP: Zach Britton (2nd)
LHP: Andrew Miller (1st)
RHP: Wade Davis (2nd)
RHP: Marco Estrada (1st)
LHP: Cole Hamels (4th)
RHP: Danny Salazar (1st)
RHP: Steven Wright (1st)
RHP: Dellin Betances (3rd)
RHP: Brad Brach (1st)
RHP: Alex Colome (1st)
RHP: Kelvin Herrera (2nd)
RHP: Will Harris (1st)
C: Stephen Vogt (2nd), Matt Wieters (4th)
1B: Miguel Cabrera (11th)
2B: Robinson Cano (7th)
SS: Francisco Lindor (1st), Eduardo Nunez (1st)
3B: Josh Donaldson (3rd)
OF: Carlos Beltran (9th), Ian Desmond (2nd), Mark Trumbo (2nd)
DH: Edwin Encarnacion (3rd)
C: Buster Posey (4th)
1B: Anthony Rizzo (3rd)
2B: Ben Zobrist (3rd)
SS: Addison Russell (1st)
3B: Kris Bryant (2nd)
OF: Bryce Harper (4th), Yoenis Cespedes (2nd), Dexter Fowler (1st)
LHP: Clayton Kershaw (6th)
RHP: Jake Arrieta (1st)
RHP: Noah Syndergaard (1st)
RHP: Stephen Strasburg (2nd)
LHP: Madison Bumgarner (4th)
RHP: Jose Fernandez (2nd)
RHP: Johnny Cueto (2nd)
LHP: Jon Lester (4th)
RHP: Julio Teheran (2nd)
RHP: Jeurys Familia (1st)
RHP: Kenley Jansen (1st)
RHP: Mark Melancon (3rd)
RHP: A.J. Ramos (1st)
RHP: Fernando Rodney (3rd)
C: Jonathan Lucroy (2nd), Wilson Ramos (1st)
1B: Paul Goldschmidt (4th), Wil Myers (1st)
2B: Daniel Murphy (2nd)
SS: Corey Seager (1st)
3B: Nolan Arenado (2nd), Matt Carpenter (3rd)
OF: Carlos Gonzalez (3rd), Odubel Herrera (1st), Marcell Ozuna (1st) Adam Duvall (1st)
The final rosters for the 2016 All-Star game aren’t complete just yet, however. There is still one final spot up for grabs in the American League and National League. Which players fill those roles comes down to the fans. From now until Friday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, you have the opportunity to vote for either Brandon Belt, Ryan Braun, Jake Lamb, Starling Marte or Trevor Story in the NL, and Ian Kinsler, Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia, Michael Saunders or George Springer the AL.
For what it’s worth, I plan to cast my vote for Jake Lamb and George Springer, who are each having somewhat under-the-radar, but superb years. You can pick whoever you want to by going HERE and casting your ballot. It should be interesting to see how the game goes a week from tonight.
When the Nationals lost their star shortstop, Ian Desmond, this past offseason to the Rangers, the plan in the minds of many was for them to place their star prospect, Trea Turner, right into that role from Opening Day this year to see him perform. However, Turner was instead sent to Triple-A, with Danny Espinosa getting the nod in place of Turner.
That would turn out to pay off big for the Nationals.
Although Espinosa is hitting just .241 on the year, he has already recorded 18 homers — just three shy of his career-high of 21, back in 2011 — with over two months still remaining in the season. But what Espinosa has been doing as of late has been even more impressive.
Over the course of his last four games, Espinosa has notched 5 homers and 15 RBI’s, all while playing good defense, and proving himself more than capable of maintaining the shortstop role for the foreseeable future.
But while that’s good news for Espinosa as well as the Nationals, who have won 7 of their last 10 and are 17 games over .500 with a comfortable lead over the second-place Mets, it’s not so good news for Trea Turner.
Despite hitting .299 with 5 homers and 32 RBI’s, including 22 stolen bases to boot, this season in the minors, Turner has only played in two games at the big league level in 2016, going 3-3 in his time up. But with Espinosa playing so well, Turner’s path is blocked.
To solve this, the idea presented by many around the baseball world has been to move Turner into the outfield, where the Nationals could use some help in center. In recent games, the Nationals have been attempting just that, playing Turner in center field at Triple-A; looking to give him a path to Ben Revere’s spot, where despite going 4-5 in a game recently, Revere is hitting just .215 on the year.
Turner would obviously be an improvement.
In the end, although Trea Turner was projected to be the next big thing at shortstop, you simply can’t replace Espinosa who is tearing the cover off the ball this season. But on the flip side, it’s also not fair to Turner to leave him down in Triple-A, where he is doing his fair share of raking.
The Nationals certainly have a predicament on their hands.
But I’ve never heard a team complain about having too much talent.
With the first three months of the 2016 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 – Edwin Encarnacion, Kevin Pillar and Corey Seager (80).
Most At-Bats – Mookie Betts (345)
Most Hits – Jose Altuve (111)
Highest Average – Jose Altuve (.357)
Highest OBP – Jose Altuve (.432)
Highest SLG – David Ortiz (.672)
Most Runs – Mookie Betts (67)
Most Doubles – David Ortiz (31)
Most Triples – Adam Eaton (7)
Most Home Runs – Todd Frazier and Mark Trumbo (23).
Most RBI’s – Edwin Encarnacion (70)
Most Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (64)
Most Strikeouts – Chris Davis (107)
Most Stolen Bases – Jonathan Villar (26)
Most Caught Stealing – Jonathan Villar (9)
Most Intentional Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (14)
Most Hit By Pitch – Derek Dietrich and Brandon Guyer (15).
Most Sacrifice Flies – Chris Carter (7)
Most Total Bases – Manny Machado (184)
Most Extra Base Hits – David Ortiz (50)
Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Dustin Pedroia (14)
Most Ground Outs – Adam Eaton (132)
Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Paul Goldschmidt (1,535)
Most Plate Appearances – Mookie Betts and George Springer (370).
MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING
Most Wins – Chris Sale (13)
Most Losses – Chris Archer (11)
Best ERA – Clayton Kershaw (1.79)
Most Games Started – Eleven players tied for most (17).
Most Games Pitched – Hector Neris (42)
Most Saves – Jeurys Familia (27)
Most Innings Pitched – Clayton Kershaw (121)
Most Hits Allowed – Dallas Keuchel and Mike Pelfrey (118).
Most Runs Allowed – Dallas Keuchel (64)
Most Earned Runs Allowed – Dallas Keuchel (61)
Most Home Runs Allowed – Chris Young (22)
Most Strikeouts – Max Scherzer (148)
Most Walks – Francisco Liriano (54)
Most Complete Games – Five players tied for most (3).
Most Shutouts – Clayton Kershaw (3)
Best Opponent Avg. – Marco Estrada (.168)
Most Games Finished – Jeurys Familia (37)
Most Double Plays Achieved – Martin Perez (19)
Most Wild Pitches – Sonny Gray (11)
Most Balks – Matt Andriese (4)
Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Noah Syndergaard (28)
Most Pickoffs – Four players tied for most (4).
Most Batters Faced – Dallas Keuchel (468)
Most Pitches Thrown – Madison Bumgarner (1,814)
Other than the last two months of the year, in which numerous baseball awards are given out, July is usually always the month that sees the most number of blog posts from me. With the All-Star festivities taking place, the topics to blog about are endless.
With that said, however, I do have a rough idea of the things I plan to write about over the upcoming month.
On the first day of the new month, I’ll be continuing the series of posts on the first of each month of updating the latest leaders around Major League Baseball. It’s always interesting to see which players are leading any given category after another entire month of baseball games.
Following that, I’ll write something about the All-Star game rosters when those are officially revealed, in addition to the players who are chosen to participate in the home run derby. I already gave my take on both for who I feel would be the most worth players to fill those roles, so it should be fun to learn how many of those actually come true.
When the All-Star festivities finally arrive in mid-July, I’ll be writing something on both the Home Run Derby as well as the All-Star Game itself. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll discuss in those posts, but I do plan on writing something. Also, sometime around the same dates, I will probably post an entry with the players I feel are the frontrunners for the major year-end awards halfway through the season.
With so much to write about, July looks to be another busy month.
In each of the past two games, Asdrubal Cabrera has hit a home run, going 2-3 with a homer and a walk on Wednesday afternoon, in addition to producing some amazing defensive plays in the field. Although he isn’t seen as the star player he used to be by the majority of baseball fans, Cabrera is still an extremely valuable part of the Mets.
Back in 2011, Cabrera had the best season of his career, hitting 25 home runs, with 92 RBI’s and recording a .273 average, all while playing a terrific defensive shortstop. In the years since, Cabrera hasn’t had numbers anywhere near those, but he’s been consistently good, nonetheless.
The Mets have been the beneficiaries of Cabrera’s contributions this season. After spending time with the Nationals and Rays over the past couple of seasons, Cabrera is manning the shortstop role for the Mets and is proving to be a great pickup for them.
In 70 games, Cabrera is hitting .270 with 8 homers and 24 RBI’s, but his glove work has been the most impressive. Although Cabrera won’t go down in baseball history as an all-time great shortstop, he is somewhat overlooked, in my opinion, as one of the truly best defensive infielders in the game today.
Cabrera makes nearly every play, even when the plays call for him to range a long way in one direction or another. He is one of those players who goes about his job smoothly day in and day out, making him blend in to a degree. But if you take the time to watch Cabrera on a daily basis, you can easily see the little things make him stand out in a big way.
While the Mets have some work to do in order to chase down the Nationals who have so far been the team that was expected from them last year, they still have a good enough team to make a run at the playoffs as the season progresses. Although not the most talented player on the team, Asdrubal Cabrera is helping keep the Mets in contention.
From 2006 through 2012, when James Shields was with the Rays, he was never really an overly dominant pitcher, posting a 3.89 ERA over 217 career starts with Tampa Bay. A very good pitcher, yes; but not a prototypical ace of the staff.
However, when he moved to the American League Central with the Royals in 2013, Shields took things up a notch, recording an ERA in the low three’s each of his two seasons with the Royals. Since then, though, things have gone somewhat downhill for Shields.
After not being exactly what was expected out of him for the Padres last season — he helped, but wasn’t as successful as he had been the previous couple of years — Shields was sent to the White Sox earlier this month. The change has been disastrous to this point.
In Shields’s first start with the White Sox against the Nationals, he gave up a whopping seven earned runs over just two innings pitched. Not exactly the way you want to get off with a new team.
His next start was a tad better, but still disappointing, as Shields gave up six earned runs over five innings pitched. You wouldn’t think that would continue . . . but it did.
Shields’s latest start on Saturday afternoon saw him putting up his worst outing to this point with the Sox. Lasting just 1.2 innings, Shields gave up eight earned runs, and has yet to look comfortable with Chicago, or over his last four starts (including his final one with the Padres) for that matter. In that time, Shields has given up a total of 31 runs in 11.1 innings, giving him an ERA above 23.00 in that time. The James Shields of old would appear to be nowhere in sight.
Although Shields has been good in the past, he obviously isn’t performing the way that has come to be expected over the past few weeks. While the White Sox don’t look to be heading towards any postseason glory, you know the Sox and Shields alike want to see him succeed. Only time will tell if that will happen, but Shields is far too good of a pitcher to be performing this way. Odds are he’ll turn things around soon.