Results tagged ‘ Albert Pujols ’

Home Run Milestones that Should Occur In 2014

Below you’ll find a list of the home run milestones that *should* occur in 2014. I say should because there’s no guarantee that any given player on the list will reach the milestone; they could get injured, have a bad season, or whatever. I’ve made the same type of list the past two seasons, and they have been well-received, so I figured I’d post another one for this season.

In order to make the list a player has to meet the following criteria:

  1. You can’t be a pitcher. Although there are some pitchers that can hit home runs, you won’t find any on my list. Reason being is that they’re not everyday players.
  2. You have to have hit at least one home run in the major leagues. There are several dozen players going into 2014 that haven’t hit an MLB home run, but adding them to the below list just didn’t make sense.
  3. You have to be closing in on an even milestone, like 100, 200, 300, etc. I didn’t include anyone that’s a few homers away from number 50, 75, 125, etc. It just didn’t seem necessary.

The list is organized by player name, team, milestone they’re going for, and how many home runs they are from that particular milestone:

2014 Home Run Milestones

Ryan Doumit, Braves — Home Run Number 100 (1 home run away)

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox — Home Run Number 100 (1 home run away)

Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays — Home Run Number 100 (2 home runs away)

Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks — Home Run Number 100 (5 home runs away)

Brian Roberts, Yankees — Home Run Number 100 (8 home runs away)

Geovany Soto, Rangers — Home Run Number 100 (9 home runs away)

Pablo Sandoval, Giants — Home Run Number 100 (10 home runs away)

Yadier Molina, Cardinals — Home Run Number 100 (11 home runs away)

Matt Wieters, Orioles — Home Run Number 100 (13 home runs away)

Pedro Alvarez, Pirates — Home Run Number 100 (14 home runs away)

James Loney, Rays — Home Run Number 100 (14 home runs away)

David Murphy, Indians — Home Run Number 100 (14 home runs away)

Jimmy Rollins, Phillies — Home Run Number 200 (1 home run away)

Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays — Home Run Number 200 (5 home runs away)

Josh Hamilton, Angels — Home Run Number 200 (18 home runs away)

Josh Willingham, Twins — Home Run Number 200 (19 home runs away)

Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals — Home Run Number 200 (21 home runs away)

Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers — Home Run Number 200 (22 home runs away)

Brian McCann, Yankees — Home Run Number 200 (24 home runs away)

Prince Fielder, Rangers — Home Run Number 300 (15 home runs away)

Adrian Beltre, Rangers — Home Run Number 400 (24 home runs away)

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers — Home Run Number 400 (35 home runs away)

Albert Pujols, Angels –Home Run Number 500 (8 home runs away)

Ten Players Who Need to Have A Good 2014 Season

Spring Training is well underway, and many players are beginning to find their grooves that they hope will carry over into the coming regular season. With just over three weeks until Opening Day, on March 31st, there’s not too much time remaining for players who struggled last season to get things back on track for this year. With that said, some players certainly need to have a good year more than others.

While every player, obviously, wants to have a good, healthy season, there are numerous players who pretty much have to produce a good 2014 for one reason or another — whether it’s personal reasons, statistical reasons, or for team success as a whole. Although there are more players than those in my list below, here are the top ten players (in no particular order) that I feel need to have a really good 2014 season:

1.) Albert Pujols

After recording twelve straight seasons of 30 or more home runs (all but one of which included 100+ RBI’s) Albert Pujols faced the first bit of adversity of his career in 2013. Dealing with a nagging foot injury, Pujols only managed to post 17 home runs and 64 RBI’s, along with a .258 batting average — absolutely terrible by his standards – in 99 games played. With the down year coming as a shock to many people, especially after the acquisition of him led many to predict playoff pushes for the Angels, there will be many eyes on Pujols from his very first at-bat of the season to see if he can bounce back. I personally feel that if Pujols is healthy, the numbers will be there, and he will be a top candidate for American League comeback player of the year, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

2.) Ryan Braun

mlb_u_ryan-braun_mb_400x600In January of 2013, a list was made public by the biogenesis clinic in Miami, Florida, connecting numerous players to performance enhancing drugs, including Ryan Braun. After being connected to PED’s back in 2011, the list raised many red flags, but Braun denied any drug use, yet again. But finally, after a 65-game suspension by Major League Baseball, Braun came clean and admitted to having used PED’s, upsetting many people around the league. Therefore, unlike anyone else on my list, Braun (who had a good season, batting .298 with 9 homers and 38 RBI’s in 61 games) needs to have a good 2014 more for his personal image rather than his talent level image. Everyone knows he’s a great player, but it will take some time for fans to get over Braun’s consistent denial of PED use — and a great season would certainly help with that.

3.) Ryan Howard

Battling injuries over the course of the past two seasons, Ryan Howard needs to have a bounce back year for him to once again be considered the major power threat that he once was. Playing in only 80 games in 2013, Howard batted a mere .266 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI’s. Considering the fact that Howard hit 33 home runs just two years prior, making it the sixth 30+ home run season of his career, the Phillies’ former star first baseman really needs to show signs of his former self this season. If Howard can perform anywhere near his previous level by staying healthy and putting many a ball into the outfield seats, not only could he very well win the 2014 National League comeback player of the year award, but the Phillies could have a real shot at having a memorable year.

4.) Derek Jeter

Announcing that 2014 would be his final season playing Major League Baseball last month, Derek Jeter needs to have a good final season to top off an already incredible career. In 2013, Jeter struggled with injury after injury, managing to play in only 17 games, and posting a .190 batting average, to go along with a single homer and 7 runs batted in. After accumulating over 3,300 hits in the big leagues over the course of his career, Jeter doesn’t need to have a good final season to be remembered as one of the best players of all-time — he’s already on that list for many people — but rather to finish out his career in Jeter fashion, going out on top of his game. I truly hope he can have a great 2014 season, and I feel he will do just that.

1vysec_AuSt_695.) David Price

When David Price won the 2012 American League Cy Young award, recording 20 wins and posting a 2.56 ERA, many (myself included) felt he had a good chance at doing the same again last season. But instead, Price was faced with a midseason injury that caused his numbers to take a tumble. Posting a win-loss record of 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA — not too terrible, but somewhat disappointing for him — Price needs to bounce back in 2014 for both his sake and the sake of the Rays. Price truly can be the key for the Rays, who always seem to be on the brink of playoff baseball every season. With an improved American League East division for the coming year, Price’s season could be the difference maker for if the Rays are able to make the postseason or not.

6.) B.J. Upton

Arguably the biggest disappointment of the 2013 season, batting .184 with just 9 home runs and 26 RBI’s after a 2012 season of 28 homers and 78 runs driven in, B.J. Upton has to have a good season this year for him not to be considered a trade bust by the Braves. The Braves managed to win their division last season by a rather large margin without much production from Upton, and if they can get Upton back to his former self, the Braves could have an even better year. It will be interesting to see how B.J. Upton does in the coming year with so much negative criticism surrounding him from the 2013 season. If he can have another good season, the down year he experience will be a forgotten aspect of the past.

7.) Stephen Strasburg

There are some players that are tagged with a major amount of hype from their first appearance in the big leagues, and Stephen Strasburg is one of them. While he hasn’t disappointed for the most part, going 8-9 with a 3.00 ERA last season, Strasburg also hasn’t managed to blow everyone away and completely dominate like many believe he can. It’s been reported that Strasburg has added a new pitch to his arsenal and is throwing better than ever, and that could mean good things for both him and the Nationals. If Strasburg can find a way to tally even ten more wins than he did this past year, the Nat’s could find themselves in the running for the National League East division title, assuming everything else goes right for the rest of the team.

8.) Mike Moustakas628x471

Having the potential to be an All-Star third baseman season after season, Mike Moustakas has yet to post an exceptional season at the major league level. Batting only .233, with 12 homers and 42 RBI’s last season, Moustakas needs to have a good season this year for him to be seen as the above average player he can be moving forward. The Royals still have several holes in their lineup, but Moustakas performing well each year would go a long way in helping them move back into contention. He’s still fairly young, at just 25 years old, and therefore has time left to live out his former hype, but Moustakas could use a strong statistical season to prove to many that he’s one of the top third baseman in the game of baseball today.

9.) Matt Kemp

Although he’s still not fully healthy, Matt Kemp is already on the radar of many people who think he will have a good 2014 season. The only question mark being his health, playing in only 73 games last year. If healthy, as with many players on this list, the numbers will be there, as Kemp is one of the premier talents in the game today, possessing 40 home run, 40 stolen base ability (coming one home run shy of doing just that in 2011, when he placed second in MVP voting). Although there is great depth in the Dodgers’ current outfield, which includes players such as Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig, if Kemp can show signs that he’s healthy, he will certainly get plenty of playing time in the coming season. He’s too good of a player to count out.

10.) Tim Lincecum

Once a Cy Young caliber pitcher, having won back-to-back awards in 2008 and 2009, Tim Lincecum has really fallen off as of late. Each of the past two seasons, Lincecum has posted an ERA over 4.00, and in addition had losing records. While the win-loss record isn’t the most important thing when evaluating a pitcher’s season, an ERA anywhere above 3.50 usually means they had a disappointing year. But with the talent that Lincecum has shown in the past, I’m not giving up on a turnaround just yet. He just really needs to have a good 2014 season — perhaps more than most of the players on this list — for him to become ‘The Freak’ pitcher he once was considered. I truly hope he can, because when Lincecum is on, he’s one of the most fun pitchers to watch in all of baseball.

JUST MISSES

There are a few players who need to have a good 2014 season who just barely missed my above list because their stats were slightly too good. One of those being Josh Hamilton, who was a major disappointment after signing with the Angles, but when you check the stats, he actually had a decent year, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 79 runs. Another example of that being Yoenis Cespedes, who had a down year average wise, hitting just .240, but posted 26 homers and 80 RBI’s. Not too bad of a season for most players.

Joining those two on the list of just misses are Giancarlo Stanton, who was injured in 2013 but still managed to hit 24 home runs and amass 62 RBI’s, along with Dan Uggla, whose .179 batting included 22 homers and 55 RBI’s, which really isn’t all that terrible. While all the players listed under the just missed category had down seasons by their standards, they managed to have somewhat decent years as far as the major league average goes. Even so, they could each use a good 2014 season to prove what they’re capable of.

Which player needs to have a good 2014 season the most? Leave a comment below.

Best Players Going Into 2014 — By Age

Coming off an exciting 2013 Major League Baseball season and heading into what’s sure to be another fun year of baseball, things are beginning to heat up again. Spring Training camps have seen all their respective pitchers and catchers report, with the remaining players reporting over the course of this week.

With the arrival of baseball comes the annual rankings of teams and subsequent predictions of how they will perform. While my predictions for each team, and numerous players from around the league, won’t be posted until sometime next month, I wanted to take the time to post a “top players” list, of sorts.

But instead of making my own version of a top 10 list as many are doing, I decided, as I did last year, to make a list of the top player for each year of age throughout Major League Baseball. Meaning, of the 20 year olds in Major League Baseball, I’ll list the player I feel is the best of them all; with the same holding true for the players age 21, 22, 23, 24, and so on.

The range of ages this season runs from 20 years old, with Jose Fernandez, among others, all the way up to age 43, with Jason Giambi — excluding age 42, which has no players this season. Just so you know, before I reveal my list, I’m going by the age each player will be to start the season. Therefore, a few players will be listed a year older than they currently are, due to them having a birthday between now and March 22nd.

Also, with there being SO many names, I’m not going to be listing my reasoning behind each pick. I’m just giving a general list of the player (either a hitter or a pitcher) I feel is the best for their age category:

20 years old: Jose Fernandez

21 years old: Manny Machado

22 years old: Mike Trout

23 years old: Yasiel Puig

24 years old: Giancarlo Stanton

25 years old: Craig Kimbrel

26 years old: Clayton Kershaw

27 years old: Andrew McCutchen

28 years old: Evan Longoria

29 years old: Max Scherzer

30 years old: Miguel Cabrera

31 years old: Robinson Cano

32 years old: Brandon Phillips

33 years old: C.C. Sabathia

34 years old: Albert Pujols

35 years old: Cliff Lee

36 years old: Carlos Beltran

37 years old: A.J. Burnett

38 years old: David Ortiz

39 years old: Derek Jeter

40 years old: Ichiro Suzuki

41 years old: LaTroy Hawkins

42 years old: No Players

43 years old: Jason Giambi

So, there you have it. The best players by age, in my opinion, from 20 through 43, going into the 2014 season. Do you agree with my picks? If not, who would you pick to replace the name(s) you disagree with? Let me know in the comments section below.

Robinson Cano Agrees to Mega-Deal With Mariners

Ten years, 240 million dollars.

That’s what it took to get Robinson Cano to the Pacific Northwest.

After a long period of guessing as to whether Cano going to Seattle was purely speculation, the baseball world found out on Friday that it was in fact a reality. The five time All-Star will certainly make an immediate impact for the Mariners, but how big of an overall impact is yet to be seen.robinson-cano

Even with the signing of Cano, who batted .317 with 25 home runs and 107 RBI’s in 2013, the Mariners are still a ways from becoming a competitive team in the talented American League West division, in the minds of many.

With the Rangers and Athletics turning their already good teams into even better teams this offseason (the Rangers trading for Prince Fielder and the A’s signing Jim Johnson, among others) it’s going to be interesting to see how the Mariners fare this coming season.

But locking up a player of Cano’s caliber for the next ten years is definitely a step in the right direction.

Cano has been a consistent player over the course of his career, hitting at least 25 home runs over the past five seasons, and racking up a minimum of 85 RBI’s over that same span. He’s also been able to stay healthy, playing in at least 159 games for the past seven seasons. Both combined make for a good signing, in my mind. The Mariners needed a player like Cano.

As far as the deal goes, I don’t really feel ten years is appropriate. Cano is 31 years old, meaning by the time all is said and done with his contract he’ll be 41. Who knows what type of player he’ll be by then? But if ten years and 240 million – the third largest contract in MLB history, and the largest ever for a second baseman – is what it took to get this deal done, then I guess the Mariners had to do what they had to do. We’ll see if it pays off.

But Cano isn’t the only 2013 Yankee who found a new home on Friday.

Curtis Granderson agreed to a four-year deal with the New York Mets worth a reported 60 million dollars.

curtis-granderson-ap2I feel this is a great signing by the Mets, who have really struggled in recent history offensively. Granderson will provide some power to their lineup, in addition to being a great outfielder with great range. Though he was injured most of 2013, Granderson put together a couple of 40+ home run seasons the previous two years. It’s certainly possible that Granderson could do that for the Mets this coming season, but I see him as more of a 30 homer guy in that ballpark.

With or without the 40 bombs, Granderson will still be able serve as protection for David Wright in the lineup, who I could see having a career year in 2014. The Mets will be without Matt Harvey, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October, but they should still have a decent season, possibly finishing in third place, yet again, behind the Braves and Nationals.

As stated, while I still don’t think the Mets will have enough to beat out the Braves or the Nationals in their division, this move no doubt makes them an all around better team. A team that could surprise some people down the road, once they get all their pitching back together.

The good news of the day, if you’re a Yankees fan, is that Hiroki Kuroda agreed to a one-year, 16 million dollar contract to remain in New York for 2014.

Although this is little excitement after the loss of Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, the Yankees need pitching, and were smart to let both of them, and the money that would’ve come along with them, go.

The Yankees just signed a good replacement for Granderson, in Jacoby Ellsbury, and while I think they overspent on Ellsbury, as I stated with the Mariners’ signing of Cano, I guess the Yankees “had to do what they had to do” to lock him up. As far as losing Cano goes, they can use that money for what they really need — pitching. (And now, a second baseman).

With it uncertain whether or not Japenese phenom, Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season, will be available, the best starting pitcher still on the market, in my mind, is Ubaldo Jimenez.

Though Jimenez has had his share of ups and down over the course of his career, he had a decent season last year, going 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA, finishing out the season strong. Jimenez is ready for a breakout season, and would be a good fit for the Yankees, now that my original pick for Jimenez, the Twins, have signed former Yankee, Phil Hughes.

If you were a fan of the 2013 Yankees, this has been a bad week for you, as many of them have departed.

But as a baseball fan, this has been one of the most exciting weeks in Major League Baseball offseason history.

Miguel Cabrera On Pace for Triple Crown….Again

Homering three times in Sunday night’s game versus the Texas Rangers–increasing his season stats to 11 homers and 47 RBI’s, to go along with a .387 batting average–there’s no denying that Miguel Cabrera is currently the best hitter in all of baseball. Having won the Triple Crown last season–the first player to do so since Carl Yastrezemski, in 1967–Cabrera is currently on a good pace to do so again, as he’s already ahead of his miguel_cabrera-167stats from last year; some by a fairly good margin.

Through 43 games played, Cabrera is batting 83 points higher, with three more home runs and thirteen more RBI’s than he had through the same number of games last season, in which he won the Triple Crown. If Cabrera can continue his hot pace, he stands a good chance of becoming just the third player in the history of Major League Baseball to win two Triple Crown awards in their career–Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby being the other players. (No player has ever accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons.)

As is to be expected with a player as good as Cabrera, many are beginning to form comparisons of his stats to other players’, such as HOFer Hank Aaron, as well as star players, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. ESPN even went as far as to say that Miguel Cabrera is the Babe Ruth of our generation, in a tweet after Cabrera’s three home run performance Sunday night. While I strongly disagree with that statement, I do agree that Cabrera is one of the best hitters the game has ever seen.

Therefore, although there’s still a lot of the season left, in which anything can happen, Miguel Cabrera is a player you need to be keeping an eye on. Regardless of if he wins his second straight Triple Crown award, you’re watching a player that will inevitably go down as one of the games all-time greats, once all is said and done. That alone is reason enough to take the time to appreciate just how good Miguel Cabrera is while he’s still around.

Top 10 Story Lines I’m Planning to Watch In 2013

We’re just over 48 hours away from the start of the 2013 MLB regular season, and I couldn’t be more excited. Baseball fans everywhere are making final predictions as to how they feel things will play out, as players are making their final preparations for the long 162 game season. As my last blog post until the season begins, I wanted to do a brief overview of the top story lines I’m planning to keep an eye on in 2013. They may differ slightly from yours, but I feel I covered nearly all of the major topics:

1. How the Astros will fare in the American League:

Having lost 107 games in the National League in 2012, I’m watching the Astros, not for how good they’ll do, but for how bad they’ll do. Sorry to any Astros fans reading this post, but there’s no denying that the odds are against the Astros going into the 2013 season. Playing in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, with the newly revamped Angels, they’re likely to have just as bad of a season as last year, if not slightly worse. I’d say it would be considered a good year for the Astros if they finish with less than 100 losses.

2. If Bryce Harper and Mike Trout can keep up their 2012 R.O.Y. seasons:103057-768-0

Posting some incredible stats, leading to one of the best rookie seasons in MLB history, I’m going to keep a closer eye on Mike Trout than I am Bryce Harper, but I’m planning to watch Harper nonetheless. Both won the Rookie of the Year award in 2012, for their respective leagues, and it should be interesting to see if their amazing rookie years will transfer into the 2013 season. I’m predicting Trout will once again have a 30/30 season, with Harper possibly recording the first 30 home run season of his career.

3. Who will hit the most home runs in 2013:

The 2012 home run leaders consisted of Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Josh Hamilton, as the 1-2-3 guys, and if it wasn’t for an injured Granderson, I could see all three being near the top of the rankings again in 2013. However, with Granderson out with an injury for the first portion of the year–while I see Cabrera once again leading all players in homers, with Hamilton coming in a close second–it will likely be a new face who will round out the top three. Maybe it’ll be a guy like Adam Dunn, who’s a free-swinger? Or maybe a guy no one saw coming, who will have a breakout season? It will certainly be fun to keep track of.

4. If A-Rod comes back healthy, if at all:

While it’s 100 percent certain that Alex Rodriguez won’t return to the Yankees’ lineup until late July, there is the slight chance that he could miss the entire season. However, if A-Rod is able to work his way back this season, after having hip surgery in January, it should be very interesting to see if he can become a decent player once again. While Rodriguez will never be the great player he once was, if healthy, he has the ability to make an impact for the Yankees. Although I’m not the biggest fan of A-Rod, I still hope he comes back healthy. But I find it very unlikely that he will ever again play at a competitive level.

5. How the rookies, such as Wil Myers, will impact their teams in 2013:

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays-Photo DayI discussed this a couple months ago, in my blog post on the Top 100 prospects going into the 2013 season, but this time around I’m only focusing my attention on a handful of rookies who I feel will have the biggest impact for their team this season. Wil Myers is the number one guy on my radar, with Shelby Miller, Jurickson Profar and Billy Hamilton being the other three main rookies I plan on keeping track of. Myers was the minor league player of the year, in 2012, and I fully see him posting more of the same stats, as he begins the the year with AAA Durham. Of the four, Miller is the only player that is starting in the majors to begin the year, but they should all make it to the big leagues at some point this season, and are sure to each play a key role in their teams’ success.

6. How the Upton bro’s do for the Atlanta Braves:

You could argue that, with the addition of both Justin Upton and B.J. Upton to roam the outfield with Jason Heyward, the Braves have the best all-around outfield in all of baseball. All three players have great range, giving them the ability to make plays on balls that other outfielders couldn’t get to, but furthermore, they all have the talent to impact their team offensively as well. Both Upton’s, as well as Heyward, have the ability to blast 25+ home runs and 85+ RBI’s, as well as steal a good amount of bases. If they can perform to their potential this season, combined with the great lineup and pitching rotation they already had, the Braves could be an outstanding team.

7. What kind of a year players who ended 2012 injured will have in 2013:

The reason A-Rod had his own category, and wasn’t included in this one, is merely because his return is uncertain. All of the players in this category didn’t play at all after their injury in 2012, and will make a guaranteed comeback, within at least the first few weeks of the season. With that said, the most impactful players to end last season with an injury, that I’ll be watching in 2013, include Derek Jeter, Troy Tulowitzki and Mariano Rivera.

Mariano Rivera tore his ACL in May, while Derek Jeter fractured his ankle in October, with neither playing any more games for the remainder of the year. Rivera is expected to be ready to go Opening Day, though a slight setback for Jeter will force him onto the disable list to begin the year. In my opinion, the 2013 performances of both Jeter and Rivera will be the deciding factor for what kind of season the Yankees have. If Jeter can return quickly, and Rivera can post his usual stellar numbers, I see the Yankees being just fine.

Troy Tulowitzki injured his groin in May of last season, and although it appeared he would return towards the end of the year, he remained sidelined for the remainder of the season. A healthy Tulowitzki can impact the Rockies more than nearly any other player in all of baseball, though he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for the majority of his career. While I can’t see the Rockies finishing any better than last in their division, I’m planning to watch “Tulo” nonetheless, to see if he can finally have a successful, fully healthy season.

8. How the Blue Jays, Dodgers and Angels perform with their new additions:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Introduce Josh HamiltonThe Blue Jays, Dodgers and Angels made the biggest splashes of nearly every other team in all of baseball this past offseason; at least of the teams that stand a chance of competing. Many have the Blue Jays going the distance, and winning it all, with the key additions of Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera and 2012 Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, to name a few, though I don’t see it happening. I find myself siding more with the opinions of those who are betting on the Dodgers and Angels to have a great season.

The Angels’ major addition of the offseason was undoubtedly Josh Hamilton, who, with the help of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, has the ability to transform the Angels into an extremely competitive team. Hamilton might end up being the piece the Angels were missing last season, that will help them make the playoffs in 2013.

The number one addition of the offseason for the Dodgers was Zack Greinke, though they also acquired Hyun-Jin Ryu, the highly praised LHP from Korea. Adding them both, to go along with their already deep pitching rotation, could end up making the Dodgers a team to be reckoned with in 2013.

9. Whether or not the Nationals make it to the World Series:

Last season, Nationals’ manager, Davey Johnson, made the bold statement that he should be fired if the Nat’s didn’t make the playoffs in 2012. Luckily for Johnson, they did, for the first time since 1933. This season, however, it’s “World Series or bust” for the Nationals, and although I was a bit skeptical last year, I’m not putting it past them to make it all the way to the World Series this season, for what would be the first time in Nationals’ franchise history. With a fantastic lineup, as well as one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball, they should go far in the coming season, though they’ll have to make it past the favorited Braves, who many (myself included) have winning the division.

10. Which team(s) will have an unexpected breakout season:

Every season, it seems, there is a team or two that unexpectedly takes the baseball world by storm. On paper, they shouldn’t be winning, but yet they come together as a team and are able to do amazing things. The 2012 example would be the Oakland Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles, as the majority of baseball fans, going into the 2012 season, didn’t see the O’s and A’s exploding the way they did. Truly showing that baseball is extremely unpredictable. Any team has the chance to defy the odds, which is part of what makes baseball so great. Anything can happen.

Which story line from above are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment below.

Best Players Going Into 2013–By Age

The first players reported to Spring Training nearly two weeks ago, however, the first official games are taking place today. The Tigers are set to take on the Braves at 1:05 EST, with the Reds-Indians, Royals-Rangers and Padres-Mariners games all beginning at 3:05 EST. The remaining teams are all playing their first game on Saturday.

With the first official baseball games of the season starting up, I wanted to take the time to post a “top players” list, of sorts, but instead of making my own version of a top 10 list, or whatever, I decided to make a list of the top player for each year of age throughout Major League Baseball. Meaning, of the 20 year olds in MLB, I’ll list the player I feel is the overall best of them all. With the same holding true for the players age 21, 22, 23, 24, and so on.

The range of ages runs from 20 years old, with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, etc., all the way up to age 43, with Mariano Rivera. Just so you know, I’m going by the age each player will be to start the season. Therefore, a few players will be listed a year older than they currently are, due to them having a birthday between now and April 1st.

With there being SO many names, I’m not going to be listing my reasoning behind each pick; just a general list with players’ names. The player I feel is the best for their age category can be either a position player, or a pitcher:

20 years old: Bryce Harper

21 years old: Mike Trout

22 years old: Shelby Miller

23 years old: Giancarlo Stanton

24 years old: Stephen Strasburg

25 years old: Clayton Kershaw

26 years old: Felix Hernandez

27 years old: Evan Longoria

28 years old: Prince Fielder

29 years old: Miguel Cabrera

30 years old: Justin Verlander

31 years old: Josh Hamilton

32 years old: C.C. Sabathia

33 years old: Albert Pujols

34 years old: Cliff Lee

35 years old: Roy Halladay

36 years old: Michael Young

37 years old: David Ortiz

38 years old: Derek Jeter

39 years old: Ichiro Suzuki

40 years old: Andy Pettitte

41 years old: Henry Blanco

42 years old: Jason Giambi

43 years old: Mariano Rivera

So, there you have it. The best players by age, in my opinion, from 20 through 43, going into the 2013 season. Do you agree with my picks? If not, who would you pick to replace the name(s) you disagree with? Let me know in the comments section below.

Any Players Bound for Breaking An All-Time Record?

With Spring Training a month away–putting the 2013 regular season at just under 3 months away–I thought I’d take the time to type up a blog post covering six all-time MLB career records (3 hitting, 3 pitching) and whether or not I believe there are any active players that have a shot at eventually breaking the records, sometime down the line, many seasons from now.

Keep in mind, this is all purely speculative. I have no way of knowing how long a particular player will play, whether or not they’ll remain healthy throughout their entire career, or whether they can keep on producing the kind of stats they’ve shown, and I feel, they’re capable of. Each of those three elements are extremely crucial when it comes to a player being able to break any of the following records:

All-Time Record for career Hits: 4,256 (Pete Rose)

Closest: Derek Jeter, with 3,304 career hits, is currently the closest active player to Pete Rose’s mark of 4,256.

Best Chance: Derek Jeter, sitting 952 hits back of Pete Rose, stands the best chance of breaking Rose’s record, in my mind, of any other player currently in the majors. What it’s going to come down to for Jeter is how healthy he can stay, and subsequently, how many more years he can play. If he can play as long as Rose did–up until age 45–I see Jeter passing Rose fairly easily, as that gives him another seven seasons to rack up hits, and even if he starts to slump downward, and begins to collect only 140 hits a season, he would still end his career with a total of 4,284 hits. Though, with Jeter being a team player, and not focusing on personal stats, I’m not sure I can picture him playing long enough to get the job done.

Worth Watching: While it’s still far too early to be making any long shot predictions, Starlin Castro is one of the main players worth keeping an eye on in the many years to come. Castro will be a mere 23 years old when the 2013 season commences and has already collected 529 career hits. If he can play into his early 40′s, and keep pace with the electric start to his career, he could be nearing Rose’s (possibly Jeter’s by then?) record for career hits a couple decades down the road.

All-Time Record for career Homeruns: 762 (Barry Bonds)

Closest: Alex Rodriguez, with 647 career home runs, is currently the closest active player to Barry Bonds’ mark of 762.

Best Chance: Alex Rodriguez, sitting 115 homers back of Barry Bonds, is the closest of any current player to Barry Bonds’ record for homers, however, I don’t feel he has a very good chance at passing Bonds. With his injury tendency, and age, I don’t see A-rod getting too far past 700, if he gets there at all. Albert Pujols on the other hand, with 475 career home runs, stands a slightly better chance, in my opinion, than A-rod. Though, I feel he could end up sharing in the same fate as Rodriguez; coming up just short of 762. At age 33, even if Pujols played until age 40, and could keep up his career constant of 30 home runs a season, he would end his career with only 685 home runs. Still 77 back of Bonds.

Worth Watching: It’s still early into his career, but Giancarlo Stanton (age 23) is a player worth watching in the coming years, as he continues to add to his current total of 93 career home runs. I found it interesting when I discovered that Albert Pujols (71), Hank Aaron (63), Barry Bonds (41) nor Babe Ruth (9) had as many home runs as Stanton, going into their age 23 season. That’s impressive. While I’m by no means comparing Stanton to Babe Ruth (just yet) I’m simply saying that if Stanton can go on a run of blasting 40+ homers a season, for the next few seasons, I could see him coming up extremely close to the record that Bonds currently holds, if he doesn’t in fact break it.

All-Time Record for career RBI’s: 2,297 (Hank Aaron)

Closest: Alex Rodriguez, with 1,950 RBI’s, is currently the closest active player to Hank Aaron’s mark of 2,297.

Best Chance: Alex Rodriguez is currently the closest player to the record for RBI’s, however, just as with career home runs, his health is going to bring him up just short of the record. Also as with the home run category, the next closest in line behind A-rod is Albert Pujols, who currently has 1,434 career RBI’s. While Pujols has been able to drive in no fewer than 100 runs in every one of his 12 career seasons thus far–with the exception being 2011, when he only drove in 99 runs–I don’t see him having enough 100 RBI seasons left to break the record. As it stands now, Pujols is 863 RBI’s back of Aaron, meaning it would take just over eight more seasons of 100+ RBI’s to pass him.

Worth Watching: Miguel Cabrera, currently with 1,123 career RBI’s, is a player worth watching moving forward, if you weren’t already. At age 29, Cabrera could have another 11 seasons ahead of him, and if he can accumulate around 100 RBI’s a season, he could end up passing Aaron for RBI’s, around a decade from now. Although 100+ RBI’s a season, for 11 season, will be difficult (if not impossible) to do, as he gets older, if anyone can do it, I imagine the 2012 Triple Crown winner can.

All-Time Record for career Strikeouts: 5,714 (Nolan Ryan)

Closest: Andy Pettitte, with 2,320 strikeouts, is currently the closest active player to Nolan Ryan’s mark of 5,714.

Best Chance: I’m not even going to waste time talking about this record. No active player–or future player for that matter–stands a chance at breaking Nolan Ryan’s all-time record of 5,714 strikeouts. While Andy Pettitte is the closest active player, he’s still 3,394 strikeouts away from Ryan; truly showing just how hard it is to do what Nolan Ryan was able to accomplish.

Worth Watching: Though it’s likely that no player will ever surpass Ryan for career strikeouts, the player most worth watching, in my mind, is Felix Hernandez. Hernandez is only 26 years old, and has already amassed 1,487 career strikeouts. If he can continue to pitch up until age 40–14 more seasons of 200+ strikeouts–he stands a good chance of ending his career with over 4,000 strikeouts. Still nearly 2,000 shy of Ryan’s record, but impressive nonetheless, as only four players in the history of baseball have been able to accumulate 4,000 strikeouts or more.

All-Time Record for career ERA: 1.82 (Ed Walsh)

Closest: Mariano Rivera, with an ERA of 2.21, is currently the closest active player to Ed Walsh’s mark of 1.82.

Best Chance: The way pitching works nowadays, I don’t think it’s possible for a pitcher to end with a career ERA below 2.00; at least for a starting pitcher, that is. Evidence of that being that Mariano Rivera is the only active player in all of Major League Baseball with a career ERA below 3.00; and thus falls into the category of ‘best chance’ of breaking the record. But not even Rivera, with his 2.21 ERA, has a chance at a career ERA below 2.00. As even if he doesn’t allow a single earned run in this his (more than likely) final season, his career ERA would still stand above 2.00, at 2.11.

Worth Watching: There really aren’t any pitchers worth watching. I’d say Walsh’s record is fairly safe. As stated, no current player in the majors has a career ERA below 3.00, so as it stands, no active player has a shot at a career ERA below 2.00.

All-Time Record for career Wins: 511 (Cy Young)

Closest: Andy Pettitte, with 245 wins, is currently the closest active player to Cy Young’s mark of 511 wins.

Best Chance: Andy Pettite is the closest of any player to Cy Young’s mark of 511 career wins, but even so, he sits 266 wins back. Thus, let’s face it: There is never going to be another 500-game winning pitcher, as pitching isn’t gone about the same way as it was back then. As such, I find it more of a fair comparison to match today’s players up against a guy like Greg Maddux, who ended his career with 355 wins. Of those, C.C. Sabathia, age 32, stands the best shot, in my mind, of reaching the 300 win plateau. Currently with 191 career wins, if Sabathia can pitch another 8 seasons, and rack up 14+ wins a season, he should get there without a problem; as keeping with my logic, he would end his career with at least 303 wins.

Worth Watching: While there are never going to be any more 500-game winning pitchers, the current pitcher (besides Sabathia) worth keeping an eye on, for the possibility of reaching 300 career wins, is Justin Verlander. Verlander, age 29, doesn’t stand an extremely good chance, in my opinion, of reaching 300 wins, as although he’s still fairly young, he only has 124 career wins. Therefore, it would take 11 straight seasons of 16+ wins to reach the 300 win mark. Not very likely, but then again, it’s Justin Verlander. I wouldn’t put anything past him.

What do you think? Does any (active or future) player stand a chance at breaking any of the six all-time records listed above? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Most Recent MLB Related Things On My Mind

For once I’m not using an entry to get caught up on the things that I’ve failed to blog about. There really hasn’t been much for me to write about since the last time I blogged. The three things that I’m going to discuss in this entry are things that have happened very recently in baseball, and I just want to get my personal opinion out there.

Please leave a comment if you have anything further you’d like to say about the topics being discussed.

ALBERT PUJOLS’ HOME RUN DROUGHT

Albert Pujols homered 37 times in 579 at bats last season. That’s once every 15.6 at bats, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll round it up to 16. So far this year Pujols has had 45 at bats, and has hit a grand total of zero home runs. If you go by last year’s trend of 1 homer per 16 at bats, he should have 2-3 home runs already. So what’s going on?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Albert physically, nor do I feel it’s the mental emotion of being with a new team. In my personal opinion, I just think it’s a streak of bad luck. Every player goes through a rough patch from time to time. It’s just that Pujols has had so few in his career that when a long streak of bad luck like this hits him, it’s big news.

Now I’m not saying that Pujols will get his first home run this week or even this month, but I am saying that he won’t end the season still stuck at zero home runs. For a guy like him, once he gets that first one past him, the pressure will be gone, and he’ll become the old Pujols that the Angels were looking for when they shelled out big money for him.

One thing’s for sure. If Albert Pujols wants to keep of his steak of at least 30 home runs in every season of his career, he needs to figure things out, and start getting hot.

JAMIE MOYER WINS AT AGE 49

Jamie Moyer made his start last night against the Padres with the hopes of becoming the oldest pitcher in MLB history to win a regular season game. He would achieve his goal, as although he never even reached 80 miles per hour on the gun, he was still able to have a successful outing and record the win at age 49 and 150 days.

To record a win in a MLB game at age 49 is truly incredible. To give you an idea of how long Moyer has been playing, the starting pitcher for the Padres, Anthony Bass, was born a year after Moyer’s debut. Pretty insane if you think about it.

The oldest pitcher to ever play in a MLB game was Satchel Paige at age 59, though he didn’t record the win.

JOHNNY DAMON MAKES IT OFFICIAL

I talked about the Damon deal a little while ago, but now that he’s officially an Indian I thought I’d bring it up again.

Damon joins the Indians just 277 hits shy of 3,000 for his career. If he hopes to reach the milestone he’ll have to play at least one more season longer that his 1-year 1.25 million dollar contract from the Indians. It’s unclear as to whether or not he plans to do that, as he has to make it through this season first.

The plan for Damon is for him to continue working out at the Indians’ spring training facility in Arizona. He’s then expected to join the Triple-A affiliate of the Indians (the Columbous Clippers) for a short while, before joining the Indians up in Ohio in early May.

It should be interesting to see if Damon still has the ability to help his team win. According to Damon, that’s his main goal for the year, as he made the following statement after signing:

My track record shows that I play hard and I play to win. That’s why I’ve helped teams win championships, and I’ve helped some teams that aren’t so good be better…I play for the organization, not for myself.

I hope things work out between Johnny Damon and the Cleveland Indians. Damon can be a really exciting player to watch when he’s performing well.

Topps to Feature Rookie Card of A Squirrel?!

Yes, that’s right. The famous “rally squirrel” that first appeared in Game 4 of the NLDS last October, is pretty much getting a baseball card all to itself. Card number 93 of the 2012 Topps Series 1 set, is technically the card of Cardinals’ second basemen Skip Schumaker, but for the first time in the history of the Topps’ card company, the card doesn’t feature the face of the player on the card. As a matter of fact, Schumaker is barely visible–with only the lower part of his leg being shown:

If I was Skip Schumaker, I’d be very upset at the Topp’s card company. It’d be one thing if they made a card for the rally squirrel–they’ve done cards for mascots in the past–but to actually have it be the card of Schumaker? I mean come on. I would think the Topps’ company would be a little more professional than this. (Although to their credit, the card is being made a short-print.)

On a brighter side, the 2012 Topps Series 1 baseball set is also going to include the first cards of Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols in their new uniforms–given they are photoshoped. These cards (like the Schumaker card) are due to be short-prints, thus making them must have cards for collectors.

Want one of the Skip Schumaker short-print cards? Well, you have a two options:

Option 1: Go to your local card shop and buy pack after pack, until you hopefully get lucky and pull one of the cards.

Option 2: Buy the card off eBay. One of the first sold on eBay for $600!

I think I’ll go with option 1.

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