Results tagged ‘ Adam Jones ’

Home Run Derby Participants Seeing A Hitting Slump

It’s been the topic of discussion for numerous years.

According to the statistics and the players themselves, a good percentage of the sluggers who take part in the annual home run derby tend to see a major plunge in their numbers to begin the second half, with the majority of those poor stats holding at that subpar level for the remainder of the season.JoshHamiltonHomeRunDerby08b_thumb

It’s happened in the past to power hitters David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Josh Hamilton, Chris Davis and many, many other sluggers who have taken part in the derby only to see their pre All-Star break numbers vastly overshadow the statistics they posted in the second half of the year. And once again, it’s happening this season.

How much of this apparent trend is actually a pattern and how much is due to a player’s career law of average just showing up (for example, a 30 home run player who hits 20 home runs before the All-star break only to fall into a “slump” and hit 10 after the break is still holding to their average) is vastly debated.

Some people claim that there is a major impact to a player’s swing after they do nothing but aim for the fences when crushing balls in the home run derby. For that very reason, Ortiz and Hamilton have declined any derby invitations they’ve received since their initial derby appearances, with the most recent example being Jose Abreu, who didn’t want to show off his power up at Target Field this year for fear that it would mess up his swing.

But that’s just one side of the coin.

On the other side, people seem to believe that the second half numbers a player produces after a derby are just a player returning to the previously mentioned law of averages — after all, every player goes through a slump at some point every season. However, now that two weeks have passed since the derby, with multiple players who were in the 2014 home run derby currently struggling, I’d have to go with the theory that a player’s swing is affected by the derby, at least in the short term.

Justin Morneau was a participant in this year’s derby, but he’s yet to play in any games since that point, so there are no numbers to go by, though he was batting .312 with 13 home runs and 60 runs driven in before the derby. Fellow derby and Rockies teammate, Troy Tulowitzki, is also currently injured, however he took part in two games before hitting the disabled list, recording no hits in 5 at-bats, after batting .345 with 21 homers and 52 RBI’s over the first half.

While there are no true numbers to look at for either Morneau or Tulowitzki, and thus no way to know how each player would be performing, a couple of injuries after the derby isn’t exactly a positive thing.

Of the players who aren’t on the disabled list at the moment, Brian Dozier has seen the biggest fall in numbers of them all. After getting off to a career season to get the year started, with 18 homers and 45 RBI’s, the lone hometown player to take part in the derby is now batting a mere .125 with two RBI’s on a single home run since the second half began. Also joining him with a .100’s batting average since the derby is Todd Frazier (batting .154), who has hit just one home run after slugging 19 throughout the first half.

Adam Jones and Giancarlo Stanton 53c4b41cbd0b5_preview-300are also sharing in the same fate, with both batting in the .200’s since the All-Star break.

Jones posted a .301 batting average with 16 home runs and 54 RBI’s to begin the year, and despite having fallen a bit in batting average since, he’s launched 3 homers and amassed 10 RBI’s since the break — not jaw dropping, but also not terrible.

Stanton on the other hand is doing much worse, having slugged just two home runs since the derby — a derby he lost, even though he was the heavy favorite to win — despite hitting 21 before the All-Star break.

But as has held true throughout derby history, not all players are seeing a slump.

Although he hasn’t found his power swing since the derby, Yasiel Puig is still hitting for average, having batted .333 in the past couple of weeks. However, with no home runs and just two runs batted in, after blasting 12 before the break and driving in 52 runs, he’s still not the Puig everyone has come to know.

Jose Bautista has fared fairly well since the derby, batting .333 with 3 home runs and 7 RBI’s, after batting .292 with 17 homers and 54 RBI’s in the first half, which holds fairly steady with his average pace over his career. Hitting .324 since the derby, Josh Donaldson is also holding his own, having hit a couple of homers in the second half after batting .238 with 20 homers over the first portion of the season.

The player who seems to have experienced the least amount of problems with his swing is the winner of the derby, Yoenis Cespedes, who actually looks to have improved. After batting just .254 to begin the year, Cespedes is batting .324 over the course of nearly 40 at-bats since the derby (admittedly, a small sample size). In addition, Cespedes has slugged 3 homers and driven in 10 runs in this second half, however, seeing an increase in stats after winning the home run derby in 2013, it would seem that Yoenis Cespedes is the exception to the overall derby rule.

Bautista & Tulowitzki Select Their Derby Teammates

The players who are planning to blast long balls in the 2014 home run derby were fully announced on Thursday, and, for the most part, I’m not extremely shocked with any of them. My original picks only included three of the selected players I wanted to see in the derby, but the new format for the home run derby (ten players instead of eight) threw me off when it came to making my selections.

My initial list included eight players, being Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes (Jose Bautista hadn’t yet been announced as the captain) for the American League, with Giancarlo Stanton, Evan Gattis, Carlos Gomez and Yasiel Puig (Troy Tulowitzki hadn’t yet been announced as the captain) for the National League.

In the end, American League captain, Bautista, selected Brian Dozier, Adam Jones, Josh Donaldson, and defending derby champion, Yoenis Cespedes. On the National League side of things, their captain, Tulowitzki, added Yasiel Puig, Todd Frazier, Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Morneau to the mix.

All in all, a very solid group of players; though I would’ve liked to have seen rookie phenom, Jose Abreu, compete (he expressed that he wasn’t interested in participating).

As stated, the home run derby is set to see a major change in rules for the first time since match play was first introduced back in 2000. Therefore, I wanted to give a brief overview for those of you who may not have heard about the changes. The new rules are as follows:

Round 1: Five players from the American League and five players from National League compete to see who can hit the most home runs, receiving seven outs instead of the previous ten (they receive the same number of outs in every following round). The top slugging player from each individual league receives a bye, jumping automatically ahead to the third round, and subsequently giving them added rest that they’ve never been rewarded with before. The second and third place hitters in the round from each league will then move onto round two, with the bottom two pairs of players being eliminated (four total).

Round 2: With the top home run hitter from the American League and the top player from the National League in the first round skipping round two, this round sees two American League hitters and two National League hitters (the second and third place finishers from round one) squaring off. The two winners will subsequently move on to round three to take on the round one winners.

Round 3: The sole winner from the American League and National League in round two of the derby is set to take on their respective league’s winner from the first round. The player from the AL who hits the most home runs in this round will move on to the final round where they will compete against the round winner from the NL.

Round 4: For the first time ever, there is going to be a round four added to the mix. This round will see the winners from round three (one from the AL and one from the NL) going head-to-head for the title of 2014 MLB Home Run Derby champion. With the number of great power hitters that are always in the mix at this point in every derby, it’s sure to be an entertaining round.

Overall, I like the changes to the derby format. Allowing the winners from the first round to skip the following round finally gives them an advantage and motivation to try and put on a show. In the past, a lot of players have hit their stride in a round (Josh Hamilton slugged a record 28 home runs in the first round back in 2008 only to tire out and lose the derby) that ended up costing them the derby due to fatigue. A break to give them a chance to regain their energy should make things more entertaining for the players and the fans.

With the field for the home run derby set with its full slate of ten players, and with the new format for this year’s derby fully explained, I wanted to take a second to give my thoughts on how I feel the derby will go.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Round one is going to be a very interesting round. Basically being unpredictable, just about any of the players on the American League side of things has the ability to get hot and win the round. With that said, however, I feel that it’s most likely going to be Jose Bautista. Though he doesn’t have the most power of the group, he has a good combination of an ability to hit for power and total homers to do well. Coming in second and third I see it being Yoenis Cespedes and Adam Jones, meaning Josh Donaldson and Brian Dozier would be eliminated.

With Jose Bautista having won round one in my mind, this round would have Yoenis Cespedes going up against Adam Jones. Though Adam Jones can hit with the best of them, I’m sticking with last year’s winner, Yoenis Cespedes. Next to Giancarlo Stanton in the National League, Cespedes has arguably the best power in the derby, and should be able to make it to round three, with Jones getting knocked out.

The final round for the American League portion of the derby would then see Yoenis Cespedes hitting off against round one winner Jose Bautista. Though somewhat difficult to predict, between these two, I’d have to move Cespedes to the championship round, just beating out Bautista.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Likely to be the more impressive round one show between the two leagues is the National League. With Giancarlo Stanton in the mix, I truly don’t see anyone as having a chance at beating him out in this round. That leaves Troy Tulowitzki, Yasiel Puig, Todd Frazier and Justin Morneau, and I feel that of those, Tulowitzki and Frazier stand the best shot at advancing, even with the always entertaining Yasiel Puig in the running. That would leave Puig and Morneau as the players to be out hit in the first round.

With there a good chance that Giancarlo Stanton will have destroyed the completion in the initial round, the second round would include NL captain, Troy Tulowitzki, taking on Todd Frazier. Though Frazier has hit his share of tape measure home runs over the course of his career, I don’t think he will have enough to overtake Tulo. And thus, it’s likely that Tulowitzki will move on to face Stanton in the next round.

After skipping the second round, Giancarlo Stanton would be taking on the previous round’s winner, Troy Tulowitzki. While anything can happen in a home run derby, and certainly has in the past numerous years, I don’t think Stanton will stumble in his quest for the championship round.

Final Round

If the final, championship round of this year’s home run derby is in fact Yoenis Cespedes and Giancarlo Stanton squaring off, it’s sure to be one of the best final rounds ever. Both Cespedes and Stanton have unbelievable power, and both have the strength and ability to put on long, amazing displays of power. Honestly, the final round could easily go either way, but to stick with my gut, your 2014 Major League Baseball home run derby champion will be Giancarlo Stanton, as many are already predicting.

2013 Silver Slugger Awards

The 2013 Silver Slugger award winners were announced last night on MLB Network. The Silver Slugger awards are given annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball.

The voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, in addition to coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value. (Managers can not vote for their own players.)

This marks the 33rd annual Silver Slugger Awards which began in 1980.

Here are a list of the winners with my thoughts on each:

OUTFIELD

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Bonds holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as an outfielder, with twelve.

NL Winners: Michael Cuddyer (1st career), Jay Bruce (2nd career) and Andrew McCutchen (2nd career)

AL Winners: Torii Hunter (2nd career), Mike Trout (2nd career) and Adam Jones (1st career)

The National League saw Michael Cuddyer, Jay Bruce and Andrew McCutchen receiving Silver Slugger awards. All three are deserving, as they had great offensive years. This is just Michael Cuddyer’s first Silver Slugger, despite being in the Majors for thirteen season. Adam Jones also receives his first career Silver Slugger, after batting .285 with 33 homers and 108 RBI’s. In addition, Mike Trout and Torii Hunter pick up the award for the American League after great years.

FIRST BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Todd Helton is tied with Albert Pujols for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a first baseman, with four.

NL Winner- Paul Goldschmidt (1st career)

AL Winner- Chris Davis (1st career)

Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Davis picked up their first career Silver Slugger awards for first base. They both led their respective league in home runs and RBI’s in 2013, so it’s not really a shock that they received the honor. Both have the potential to win more in their careers.

SECOND BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Ryne Sandberg holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a second baseman, with seven.

NL Winner- Matt Carpenter (1st career)

AL Winner- Robinson Cano (5th career)

After a great breakout season, Matt Carpenter won his first career Silver Slugger award on Wednesday. Batting .318 with 13 home runs and 78 RBI’s, Carpenter was a major impact player for the Cardinals this season — a big reason why they made it to the World Series. Robinson Cano picks up his fifth career Silver Slugger, with this being his fourth one in a row.

THIRD BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Wade Boggs holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a third baseman, with eight.

NL Winner- Pedro Alvarez (1st career)

AL Winner- Miguel Cabrera (5th career)

Pedro Alvarez had a career season, leading to his first Silver Slugger award. Though his batting average was a mere .233, Alvarez hit 36 home runs and drove in 100 runs. Alvarez was a big part of the 2013 Pirates team and should remain so for years to come. Miguel Cabrera received the award for the American League, and it’s no surprise at all. Cabrera hit .348 with 44 homers and 137 RBI’s, nearly winning the Triple Crown for a second straight season. Truly remarkable.

SHORT STOP

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Larkin holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a short stop, with nine.

NL Winner- Ian Desmond (2nd career)

AL Winner- J.J. Hardy (1st career)

Ian Desmond won his second consecutive Silver Slugger award last night, as he had another great year. On the AL side, this is J.J. Hardy’s first career Silver Slugger — Derek Jeter won last year but was injured most of 2013 — and he was very deserving. Hardy didn’t have a very high batting average at just .266, however, his 25 home runs and 76 RBI’s put him over the top for the award.

CATCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Piazza holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a catcher, with ten.

NL Winner- Yadier Molina (1st career)

AL Winner- Joe Mauer (5th career)

Surprisingly, this is Yadier Molina’s first career Silver Slugger award, despite multiple good seasons in the past. Molina batted .318 with 12 homers and 80 RBI’s and is a true leader for the Cardinals. As with Molina, Joe Mauer is also a leader for his respective Twins, however, this makes his fifth Silver Slugger of his career; just his first since 2010.

PITCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Hampton holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a pitcher, with five.

Winner- Zack Greinke (1st career)

You don’t often think of a pitcher with offensive skills, but Zack Greinke showed off his, and was the best hitting pitcher this past season. Batting .328 over the course of 58 at-bats, Greinke truly deserves this award and has the ability to win another one in the future.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: David Ortiz holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a Designated Hitter, with six.

Winner- David Ortiz (6th career)

David Ortiz is the record holder for most career Silver Sluggers as a DH, and he picked up yet another one for this season. Ortiz hit 30 home runs with 103 RBI’s to go along with a .309 batting average. Ortiz was a big reason the Red Sox made it to the World Series, and ultimately led them to winning the Championship.

2013 SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS FAST FACTS

  • There were nine first time Silver Slugger award winners.
  • There were six Silver Slugger award winners that also won last year.
  • The Orioles had the most Silver Slugger winners, with three.
  • There were four Silver Slugger winners that also won a Gold Glove award this year.

2013 Gold Glove Awards

The 2013 Major League Baseball Gold Glove award winners were announced last night on ESPN2. There were multiple first-time winners, but everyone that won was extremely deserving — though I might not agree with them all.

The Gold Glove Award is an award given out each year to the players that are judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League and the American League, as voted by the managers and coaches in each league. (Managers can not vote for their own players.)

This marks the 56th annual Gold Glove Awards, which began back in 1957.

Here’s a recap of the winners, with my thoughts on each:

CATCHER

AL Nominees- Joe Mauer, Salvador Perez and Matt Wieters

AL Winner- Salvador Perez (1st career)

NL Nominees- A.J. Ellis, Russell Martin and Yadier Molina

NL Winner- Yadier Molina (6th career)

Salvador Perez was the most deserving of this award, among the nominees. While they’re all great players, Perez had the overall better year; becoming the first Royals’ catcher to receive the award since 1989. On the National League side, Yadier Molina winning was an obvious choice. He picks up his sixth career Gold Glove.

PITCHER

AL Nominees- Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey and Doug Fister

AL Winner- R.A. Dickey (1st career)

NL Nominees- Patrick Corbin, Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright

NL Winner- Adam Wainwright (2nd career)

After winning his first career Cy Young award last season, R.A. Dickey picks up his first career Gold Glove. Though he had his share of rough games, he had an overall decent season. But I would’ve liked to have seen Mark Buehrle win. Of the nominees, it was a rather difficult choice for NL, but Adam Wainwright ended up getting the accolade.

LEFT FIELDER

AL Nominees- Yoenis Cespedes, Andy Dirks and Alex Gordon

AL Winner- Alex Gordon (3rd career)

NL Nominees- Carlos Gonzalez, Starling Marte and Eric Young Jr.

NL Winner- Carlos Gonzalez (3rd career)

Alex Gordon picks up his third straight Gold Glove, beating out Andy Dirks and Yoenis Cespedes in the AL. Carlos Gonzalez, like Gordon, received his third career Gold Glove award. Both were deserving, in my mind, and both have the potential to win several more before all is said and done.

CENTER FIELDER

AL Nominees- Lorenzo Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adam Jones

AL Winner- Adam Jones (3rd career)

NL Nominees- Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutchen and Denard Span

NL Winner- Carlos Gomez (1st career)

After winning a Gold Glove in 2012 — many feel Mike Trout got snubbed — Adam Jones picks up his third career award, as he had another really great year. Carlos Gomez picks up his first career Gold Glove award, for the National League, having a deserving season for the Brewers.

RIGHT FIELDER

AL Nominees- Nick Markakis, Josh Reddick and Shane Victorino

AL Winner- Shane Victorino (4th career)

NL Nominees- Jay Bruce, Jason Heyward and Gerardo Parra

NL Winner- Gerardo Parra (2nd career)

Both Shane Victorino and Gerardo Parra aren’t really acknowledged all that often for their gloves, however, both are really good right fielders for their respective teams. This is Victorino’s fourth Gold Glove, and Parra’s second. Both have the potential to win more down the road.

FIRST BASE

AL NomineesChris Davis, Eric Hosmer and James Loney

AL Winner- Eric Hosmer (1st career)

NL Nominees- Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo

NL Winner- Paul Goldschmidt (1st career)

Both the National League Gold Glove winner, Paul Goldschmidt, and American League Gold Glove winner, Eric Hosmer, had great seasons, earning them their first career Gold Gloves. Goldschmidt is a top candidate for National League Most Valuable Player — leading the NL in RBI’s and home runs — with Hosmer becoming the first Royals first baseman to win the award.

SECOND BASE

AL Nominees- Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and Ben Zobrist

AL Winner- Dustin Pedroia (3rd career)

NL Nominees- Darwin Barney, Mark Ellis and Brandon Phillips

NL Winner- Brandon Phillips (4th career)

For me, it came down to Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano, as both had great seasons and always seem to flash their gloves at some point during nearly every game. Pedroia ended up receiving the Gold Glove, which I’m completely fine with. Brandon Phillips winning his fourth career Gold Glove award is another one I’m fine with. Amazingly talented players on both the AL and NL sides.

SHORT STOP

AL Nominees- Yunel Escobar, Alcides Escobar and J.J. Hardy

AL Winner- J.J. Hardy (2nd career)  

NL Nominees- Ian Desmond, Andrelton Simmons and Troy Tulowitzki  

NL Winner- Andrelton Simmons (1st career)

I was a bit surprised with J.J. Hardy winning, however, I don’t really have a problem with it. He was deserving of the award. Andrelton Simmons was also deserving of the award, as he made some amazing plays this past season and is worthy of his first Gold Glove. Simmons is a player to keep an eye on to win several more in his future.

THIRD BASE

AL Nominees- Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria and Manny Machado

AL Winner- Manny Machado (1st career)

NL Nominees- Nolan Arenado, Juan Uribe and David Wright 

NL Winner- Nolan Arenado (1st career)

When you’re having to pick between Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria and Manny Machado for the third base Gold Glove award you run into a problem: They’re all very deserving. But I have to agree with Manny Machado winning, as he had an incredible year, slightly greater than Longoria or Beltre. Nolan Arenado picks up his first career Gold Glove, for the NL, but it’s likely to be just one of many in his career.

2013 GOLD GLOVE AWARDS FAST FACTS

  • There were eight first-time Gold Glove winners.
  • The Royals and Orioles had the most Gold Glove winners, with three apiece.
  • This was the first year that sabermetrics were used as a voting component.
  • Nolan Arenado is just the tenth rookie to ever win a Gold Glove.

June 29th Orioles Vs. Yankees Game

After leaving our hotel at around 3:30 on Saturday afternoon, my dad and I arrived to Camden Yards at 4:05: DSCN5760 It should’ve taken a mere 15 minutes, but nothing seemed to be going right, as we circled the ballpark for 20 minutes trying to find somewhere to park. But despite the delay, when we made our way to gate A, on Eutaw Street, there were only two people in line: DSCN5761 Though, as you probably noticed, there were also a few people sitting off to the side. (But they don’t count.)

According to the Orioles’ website, the gates at both ends of Eutaw Street were set to open up two hours before the start of the game. Since it was a 7:15 game, I expected them to open up at (obviously) 5:15. But to my surprise, and delight, the gates were opened at 5:00 sharp.

The only downside to Camden Yards is that unless you’re a season ticket holder, once the gates are opened, you’re only allowed into the outfield seats, until 30 minutes later. Therefore, once inside, I headed to the flag court, in right field, where I received my first glimpse of the field:

DSCN5763(To say Camden Yards is beautiful would be an understatement.)

But despite the great view, I didn’t stay there long, because I remembered that my ticket was in fact a *season ticket* (big thanks to Avi Miller for hooking me up). And thus, after showing my ticket to the security guard, who was blocking the way, I quickly made my way around to the front row, just beyond the Yankees’ dugout:

DSCN5764As I’ve stated multiple times over the past few weeks, I was there to attempt to get autographs from the Yankees, but when I arrived, the Orioles were taking batting practice, and there were no Yankee players on the field; though Robinson Cano was in the dugout. But it didn’t take long before they began to emerge from the clubhouse in bunches, to begin their pre-game routines:

DSCN5772

In case you’re not familiar, these routines include stretching, throwing, running, and my personal favorite, standing around staring at everyone calling out to them for an autograph. It looked to be a rough day for autograph collectors. (Though, I imagine most days are with the Yankees.)

Now, remember what I said earlier about the fans without season tickets having to stay in the outfield until 30 minutes after the gates opened? Well, 5:30 quickly arrived (with still no autographs), and with it came the unleashing of several hundred Yankees fans; many of which were looking to try to snag an autograph, just like the couple dozen of us who had been there since 5:02.

Things quickly went from quiet, and somewhat relaxing, to noisy and chaotic. Check out the view behind me a couple minutes after everyone was allowed in:

DSCN5790There were even more people to my left, and far more people still entering into the infield seats from the outfield. It quickly became insanely packed.

With things kind of slow, autograph-wise, the highlight of the day, other than seeing Ken Rosenthal….:

DSCN5795….and Mariano Rivera, for what will more than likely be the last time….:

DSCN5786

….came right after Jayson Nix finished his warm-up throws, just a few feet in front of me. A couple of kids and their grandma (I think) were standing to my immediate left–one of them was eight, and the other was nine. The nine year-old was celebrating his birthday, and after Nix finished warming up, he ran over and gave the ball to the kid, and told him happy birthday. The kid was extremely appreciative, and the gesture by Nix made the kid’s grandma cry. (Nix is the newest member to my “favorite players” list.)

Nix’s kind act even brought a few tears to the security guard, who was assigned to third base for the game. He had been standing there since I arrived, and seemed to be a nice guy. He (Devin, I think) told us all the story of how Derek Jeter “saved his life”, in a series last year against the Yankees. To make a long story short: the security guard was looking into the stands when a line drive, during BP, came zipping down the line. Just before it plunked him in the head, Jeter jumped in front and made the catch. Pretty cool stuff; especially since Jeter is my favorite player.

Now, back to Saturday’s game.

After it became apparent that no one was going to sign autographs, the ushers kicked us all out of the sections down around the dugout. Of course, as my luck would have it, Robinson Cano ended up signing autos for a few people, but I didn’t get him; mainly because of the rude Yankee fans who found it necessary to cause a scene, which included pushing and shoving people around, causing them to crash into each other. (I think I accidently wrote on someone’s head with a sharpie.) But, you know–whatever. It wasn’t my fault.

I made my way to meet up with my dad, just before game time, and we headed to our ticketed seats:

DSCN5806Best seats I’ve ever had at a Yankees game, hands down.

The Yankees didn’t do much of anything to begin the game, however, the Orioles came out swinging. Scoring four runs in the bottom of the first, off of a few singles, and a Chris Davis 3-run home run….:

DSCN5805

….the Orioles quickly put a beating on Yankee starting pitcher, David Phelps.

But they were no where near being done.

Scoring five runs in the bottom of the third, and then two more in the sixth, off of yet another Chris Davis homer (his 30th of the season), the Orioles quickly put things out of the reach for the Yankees, who, although they scored three runs in the game, didn’t have enough offense to compete on this given night.

In the end, David Phelps got the loss, Zach Britton and the Orioles got the win, and my dad and I got a great time out at Camden Yards. It truly is a glorious ballpark, with a lot of great, enthusiastic fans. I’m sure I’ll be back one day.

Fastest & Slowest Starts to the 2013 MLB Season

We’re just over a week into the 2013 MLB regular season, and I wanted to post a blog, just like last year, on the fastest and slowest starts to the season for both entire teams and individual players. While it’s a small sample size, the list gives you an idea of what’s been taking place so far this season. Some of the players and teams are performing nearly as well as expected, but others are putting on performances that I never would’ve predicted them to begin the season with.

FASTEST STARTS TO THE SEASON

Teams:

1) Braves (6-1)

2) Diamondbacks (5-2)

3) Rockies (5-2)

4) Red Sox (5-2)

5) Athletics (5-2)

6) Rangers (5-2)

7) Reds (5-2)

8) Mets (5-2)

The Braves currently lead all of baseball with a win percentage of .857. Justin Upton has been making a major impact, hitting six home runs in the first seven games, and I fully expected the Braves to have a season long performance like the one they’re currently starting out with. The Diamondbacks, Rockies, Red Sox and Mets are all surprising me, so far, as I expected them to all have poor seasons, and while it’s still very early, at the moment, they’re making things interesting. As far as the Athletics, Rangers and Reds go, it’s not a shock that they’re doing so well. Though I thought the Rangers would have a bit of a struggle this season, without Josh Hamilton, they seem to be doing just fine. It should be interesting to see if they can keep it up.

Players:

1) Adam Jones (.500)

2) Jed Lowrie (.500)

3) Carlos Santana (.500)

4) Michael Cuddyer (.478)

5) Carl Crawford (.450)

6) Jean Segura (.450)

*Minimum of 20 AB’s

Adam Jones is the only player on the list of fastest start players that I’m not surprised with. Having recorded a 32 homer, 82 RBI season, in 2012, Jones is in the prime of his career, and is set to have another fantastic season. For Jed Lowrie, Carlos Santana, Michael Cuddyer, Carl Crawford and Jean Segura, they better enjoy the hot start while it lasts, because I don’t see any of them having an all that spectacular year. But as with anything in baseball, there’s always the chance for me to be proven wrong.

SLOWEST STARTS TO THE SEASON

Teams:

1) Astros (1-6)

2) Marlins (1-6)

3) Padres (1-5)

4) Pirates (2-5)

5) Brewers (2-5)

6) Phillies (2-5)

7) Cubs (2-5)

After beating the Rangers, 8-2, on Opening Night, the Astros have done nothing but go down hill, ever since. With 155 games left to play, and just 94 losses away from 100, it’s likely the Astros’ season will end with yet another year of 100+ losses. The Marlins, Padres and Pirates are all teams that have the potential to win now, but it’s likely to be a year or two before they start to become big time contenders in their divisions. The Brewers and Phillies are the only teams that surprise me, somewhat, on this list, but they just haven’t performed well so far this year. And as for the Cubs, they’re just being themselves; destined to make it 105 seasons without a World Series title.

Players:

1) Jeff Keppinger (.048)

2) Ryan Hanigan (.050)

3) Aaron Hicks (.067)

4) Pedro Alvarez (.080)

5) Neil Walker (.083)

*Minimum of 20 AB’s

No one on this list surprises me, other than Neil Walker. Walker is arguably the best player on the list, but he hasn’t been able to find his groove so far this season. I look for him to get things going, however, and record another season like he has the past few years–10-15 homers and 65-80 RBI’s, with a high 200’s batting average. For Jeff Keppinger, Ryan Hanigan, Aaron Hicks and Pedro Alvarez, it will be interesting to see if they get their acts together, or if this is a sign of things to come for them this season, as things can certainly only go up.

Keep in mind, while those are the players and teams with the fastest and slowest starts to the season, there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played, and anything can happen. Only time will tell if the current trends will last; that’s why they play 162 games.

TTM Autograph Requests Update # 2

Around a month ago, I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during Spring Training. At the end of the post, I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a couple autographs. Having received two more TTM autograph requests since my last update, I’ve now gotten back half of the requests I sent out, so I figured I’d post another update:

CASEY KELLY–PADRES ORGANIZATION

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Casey Kelly is currently ranked as the number 69 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. He would probably be higher had it of not been for an elbow injury he endured for most of last season. An injury that limited Kelly to just 14 games pitched; 6 of which came in the majors. In the 6 games pitched at the big league level, Kelly went 2-3, with a 6.21 ERA, but showed signs of his readiness to be a major league pitcher. If Kelly doesn’t begin the season with the Padres, it would be a real shame. He has the ability to be an impact player for an improving Padres team.

JASON MOTTE–ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

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Although the ink from the autograph smudged off a bit in the mail, I’m very happy to add Jason Motte’s autograph to my collection. Topping out at 100, and regularly hitting the upper 90’s, Motte’s overpowering fastball is what makes him one of the best closers in the game. Last season, Motte saved a total of 42 games for the Cardinals, recording 86 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched, on a 2.75 ERA. This season should see Motte posting more of the same type of stats as last year.

I still have autograph requests out for Mariano Rivera, Adam Jones, Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pierzynski and Justin Masterson, so hopefully they’ll come back soon, so I can write about them; though there’s no guarantee they’ll come back at all.

TTM Autograph Requests Update

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during Spring Training. At the end of the post, I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a few autographs, and now that I’ve successfully gotten back some of the requests I sent, I figured I’d go ahead and type this entry up.

Of the ten total TTM’s I sent off, I’ve received three of them back, with them being from:

STEFEN ROMERO–MARINERS ORGANIZATION

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Stefen Romero’s 2012 season was truly remarkable. Batting .352 with 23 home runs and 101 RBI’s, including 34 doubles, between A+ and AA, Romero showed his ability to produce stats far above what’s generally expected from a 12th round draft pick. If he can keep on producing the same type of numbers in the coming season, it shouldn’t be too long before he’s helping out the big league club, up in Seattle.

DANNY HULTZEN–MARINERS ORGANIZATION

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Danny Hultzen is currently ranked as the number 18 overall prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. Though a promotion from AA to AAA, mid-season, resulted in a bit of a struggle for Hultzen, overall, he had a decent 2012 season, posting a 9-7 record, with a 3.05 ERA. If Hultzen can find his groove again this season it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise if he receives a call up from the Mariners towards the end of the year.

SONNY GRAY–ATHLETICS ORGANIZATION

DSCN5522Though he had a rocky 2012 season–going 6-9 with a 4.26 ERA–many are still thinking that Sonny Gray will eventually pan out to become the front line starter he’s projected to become. I have to agree, and certainly hope so. Gray ended the 2012 season with AAA, and as with Hultzen, if he can get his pitching consistency back under control, Gray could earn a job pitching for the Oakland A’s at some point this season.

I still have autograph requests out for Mariano Rivera, Adam Jones, Casey Kelly, Tyler Skaggs, Jason Motte, A.J. Pierzynski and Justin Masterson, so hopefully they’ll come back soon, so I can write about them; though there’s no guarantee they’ll come back at all.

Pitchers & Catchers Report; Autograph Requests

Today marks the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers to Spring Training, and therefore, after nearly four months since the Giants won the 2012 World Series, it’s officially time for baseball once again. For die-hard baseball fans, like myself, this long awaited day couldn’t have come sooner.

The Red Sox, Rockies, Cubs and Indians had their pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Sunday, however, the majority of pitchers and catchers are set to report to camp sometime over the course of the next 48 hours: The D-back’s, Braves, Reds, Tigers, Astros, Royals, Marlins, Mets, MLB-Spring-Training-2013-logoAthletics and Pirates reporting date is today, with the Orioles, White Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers, Twins, Yankees, Cardinals, Padres, Giants, Mariners, Rays, Rangers, Blue Jays and Nationals set to report tomorrow. (The Phillies’ pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday.)

Once all of the pitchers and catchers have reported, on Wednesday, there will be a mere 45 days until the first official game of the 2013 MLB regular season, which begins on March 31st, with the Houston Astros taking on the Texas Rangers.

But I’m not quite ready to jump ahead to the start of the regular season, just yet, as I still have a lot I want to talk about in the coming weeks. Therefore, for the time being, I’d like to take a minute to discuss something I love to do this time of year (besides watch Spring Training games on TV.) Every Spring Training, for the past two or three years, I’ve sent out a handful of through the mail (TTM) autograph requests to different players around the league. This year, I’m going to be sending out a dozen, or so, TTM’s, with the best player being Mariano Rivera.

Rivera is known to be one of the better TTM autograph signers (as far as big name players go), if you send to him during Spring Training, IMG_4640however, I’ve failed to get back an auto from Rivera in either of the past two years that I’ve sent to him. This year, I’m hoping to have better luck, as with this (more than likely) being Rivera’s final season, it’s basically my final shot.

While Rivera is the player that I’m most hoping to receive back, he’s not the only well known player that I’m hoping to obtain a signature from. In addition to Rivera, I’m sending out requests to guys like Jason Motte, Adam Jones, Justin Masterson, etc., who, according to what I’ve read, are decent signers through the mail.

I’m also planning to send to a few minor league players, who received an invitation to big league Spring Training, including Danny Hultzen, Casey Kelly and Stefen Romero, who are all supposed to be great about signing.

As stated, my overall TTM autograph history is a short one; I’ve only been doing it for the past few years. In that short time, however, I’ve acquired a few decent players’ autographs. My best ever success, which coincidentally was my first success, came from Mark McGwire, back in March of 2011. Apparently, McGwire doesn’t sign TTM all that often, but for some reason he decided to do so for a few weeks during Spring Training. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to get that one back.

I’m planning to post a blog entry for every autograph I receive back from the players I’m sending TTM requests to during Spring Training. Hopefully, it won’t be all that terribly long before I start getting them back (maybe a few weeks?). So be sure to check back for that, over the course of the next few months….

Who I’d Like To See In the 2012 Home Run Derby

It was announced a few days ago that last year’s Home Run Derby champion, Robinson Cano, would be participating in this year’s derby as well. Cano was named the captain for the American League, with the same title being given to Matt Kemp, who is set to be the National League captain. Both Kemp and Cano have to choose three players from their respective leagues to participate in the derby; and of course, those players in which they ask, have to say yes.

With the 2012 Home Run Derby right at a month away, I thought I’d post this little entry detailing who I’d like to see Kemp and Cano choose.

Cano’s Picks: American League

According to reports, Josh Hamilton has stated that he will not be participating in this years derby, which I think is a real shame. Hamilton put on a show back in 2008, and would be fun to watch again, but in the end, all Cano can do is ask. It’s Hamilton’s decision to make.

It’s also been rumored that Cano plans to ask Yankees’ teamate Curtis Granderson to participate in the derby. Although Granderson has the ability to lauch a ball over 400 feet, I don’t think he has the ability to put on the type of “show” you associate with a home run derby. But if chosen, he may just prove me wrong.

Now, moving on to who I’d pick if I were Robinson Cano.

There are a lot of great players to choose from, but out of the power sluggers in the American League, I’d have to go with the following:

Adam Jones- Jones has his good games, and his bad games, just like every other player in baseball, but lately it seems the good games are becoming more numerous. Jones is a guy I’d really love to see take part in this year’s derby. He’s seemed to be really locked in at the plate lately, coming up big in some pressure situations. I feel the lack of pressure presented with a home run derby would give Jones the ability to have some fun, and if he could get into a rhythm, might even have a shot at winning the entire thing.

Mark Trumbo- If there’s anyone in the American League who could really lauch some jaw dropping home runs, it’s Mark Trumbo. This guy has MASSIVE power, and I feel his ability to lauch a ball far over the center field wall of any ballpark would give him an advantage in the derby. Unlike most players in baseball who are pure pull hitters–or exactly the opposite; those who like to go the other way–Trumbo loves going out to dead center field. The advantage for Trumbo would come after the first round when the participants are beginning to tire. If Trumbo switches his approach to pulling the ball, even slightly, in the later rounds, it would really help him out, in my mind.

Jose Bautista- If you’ll remember last year, Bautsita was really a disappointment in the home run derby. Coming off of a league leading 54 home run season the year before, Bautista couldn’t get things going, which unfortunately resulted in a mere 4 home runs. After such a horrible performance by Bautista, I nearly made the decision not to include him, but decided to give him another chance. This would be his second time participating, and I feel the fact that he’s been through it before would enable him to really put on a show.  

I know what you’re thinking. Where’s Pujols, Fielder, etc.?! Well, after some debate, I made the decision not to include them for the fact that I feel that a little change would be good for the derby. People know that Pujols and Fielder can absolutely crush a baseball (Pujols not as much, as of late),however, I for one would like to see some new faces put on a show. Give them their chance to shine, and amaze the fans with jaw dropping blasts.

Kemp’s Picks: National League

Like Robinson Cano, Matt Kemp participated in last year’s Home Run Derby, however didn’t fare nearly as well. Hitting a mere three home runs, Kemp didn’t even make it past the first round. I look for him to do much better in this year’s derby, as he doesn’t seem quite as concerned about pulling the ball this season. Letting the ball travel, before depositing it the other way will go a long way in helping him in the derby, in my opinion.

Kemp started out this season as the hottest hitter in Major League Baseball, however injuries have haulted his rampage. I’m not prepared to venture a guess as to how many homers Kemp will blast in this year’s derby, but I can pretty much guarantee you it’ll be more than three.

Now, moving on to who I’d pick if I were Matt Kemp.

Just like the American League, there are a lot of great players to choose from, but out of the power sluggers in the National League, I’d go with the following:

Giancarlo Stanton- This is a no-brainer for me. There is no one in the National League who can make you say WOW more than Giancarlo Stanton. The ball seems to jump off his bat, and the fact that he can hit balls 50-75 feet over the left field wall would enable him to make it into the second, and possibly third, and final, round of the derby, when the ball doesn’t go as far, due to tiring. Another advantage I feel Stanton has against the other potential participants, is the fact that he hits line drive home runs, instead of the towering homers hit by other players that seem to just clear the wall.

Bryce Harper- The fact that Bryce Harper is a rookie makes the decision to pick him for the derby even more favorable. There aren’t many rookies in baseball who can crush a ball as hard as Harper can–very few non-rookies, for that matter. Harper has been in the spotlight since he first made an appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, at age 16. Now 19, Harper has the ability to pull in viewers to the live broadcast of the derby on ESPN. His last name is enough to do that, but the fact that he would stand a good shot at giving the other (older) participants a run for their money is reason enough to watch for many who would normally have their TV’s turned to an alternate channel.

Ryan Braun- This would be a good pick by Matt Kemp on more than one level. Braun certainly has earned the right to be picked for the derby, as he hit an impressive 34 home runs last season, and shows no sign of slowing down; having hit nearly half that many thus far in 2012. While Braun has the ability to put on a show, and hold his own in the derby, I feel it would be a good pick by Kemp for another reason. Many Dodger fans still hold a grudge against Ryan Braun, who was presented with the 2011 N.L. M.V.P award, even though Kemp had arguably better stats. Picking Braun for the derby, and lasting longer than him, would give Dodger fans a little bit of belated satisfaction.

While Robinson Cano and Matt Kemp may not pick any of my above suggestions, I honestly hope they pick at least a few of them. I feel my picks would make for an exciting 2012 Home Run Derby.

Feel free to leave a comment below as to whether or not you agree with my picks. I’d love to hear who you’d love to see Cano and Kemp pick.

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