Results tagged ‘ Baseball ’

My Final Baseball Game of 2015

Sunday will mark the 16th and final game I will attend of the 2015 MiLB season.

It’s certainly been a fun year, and it seemed to fly by. But with neither the Mudcats or the Bulls (my two local teams) set to make the playoffs this season, Sunday’s game between the Durham Bulls and Charlotte Knights will be the last one for me this year.

The previous fifteen games I’ve gone to so far this year were all exciting, and saw me heading to ballparks in Hickory, Greensboro, Durham, Zebulon and Myrtle Beach. Throughout the year, and my travels, I managed to get around 100 autographs again this year, and I’ll be detailing them all in full within the next week or two.

With the Bulls schedule for next year already released, I’ve already been looking ahead to the 2016 season, trying to project which players will be coming to town. From the way I’m viewing things, next year could be even more eventful than 2015, but that’s a long time down the road, and anything can happen.

Kris Bryant Even Better than We Thought?

Ever since he blasted 43 homers in the minor leagues back in 2014, nearly everyone around the baseball world has heard of Kris Bryant. Viewed by many as the player that would send the Cubs back to the playoffs — so far, so good — there was no doubt that Bryant was going to be a great player.Bryant

But him becoming a great player as quickly as he has become one is somewhat shocking for many people. At only 23 years old, the former first round draft pick from 2013 has already been through some ups and downs in the majors, but Bryant has been swinging a hot bat as of late. Over his last 15 games, Bryant is batting .339 with 6 homers and 14 RBI’s — including a walk off homer on Monday afternoon (already the second of his career).

Collectively so far this season, Bryant is hitting .262 with 20 home runs, 75 RBI’s and 12 stolen bases, leading all rookies in RBI’s by a wide margin. With stats like that, it’s no wonder that the majority of fans around baseball are projecting him to walk away with the National League Rookie of the Year award. But many see even greater things for Bryant and the Cubs in 2015.

It’s far too long into the season for anyone to write off the Cubs’ record as a fluke or a hot streak. The Cubs are good — it’s as simple as that. While young stars Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo are helping lead the charge, it’s Bryant who is truly powering the postseason push. Currently holding the second Wild Card spot, the Cubs look to be in good position heading into the final month of the season.

No matter if the Cubs make the postseason or not, Kris Bryant is having an unbelievable season. The amazing thing is, he will get better and better in the years to come. That should be enough to make Cubs fans see visions of playoff runs for the next several seasons, with Bryant leading the way.

Excitement Building With First Place Races

From one year to the next, you never truly know what to expect in any given division race around baseball. Sometimes one team will completely blow away the rest of the teams in their division and run away with the first place spot, while other cases see multiple teams within a few games of each other down to the last game of the season. This year is more of the latter.

Of the six divisions, four of them have the second place team within three games of the first place squad (the Royals and Cardinals lead their divisions by a good margin). Furthermore, some of the teams closing in on first — or in some cases leading the division — haven’t been doing so well in quite a long time. Astros

The biggest example of that being the Astros and Mets. Each are leading their given divisions at the current moment, and each are making their push towards the playoffs years earlier than many people thought they would.

With the Angels a mere one game back of the Astros and the Nationals a game and a half removed from the Mets, the remaining games of the season should be exciting as we find out which teams can hold on to their hot seasons.

Although not in first place (at least not yet), the Blue Jays are another team that is making things very interesting in the race for first place. The Yankees, somewhat surprisingly, lead the American League East at the moment, but the surging Jays are right on their tail, at just one and a half games back. With the lineup they have, Toronto has the ability to overthrow the Yankees as the season progresses.

The Dodgers are also in the mix as far as exciting division races are concerned, despite still holding a two and a half game lead over the Giants for first. Even so, the Dodgers have been in somewhat of a slump lately (as have the Giants) and things could quickly switch around in the NL West.

No matter what happens over the coming several weeks as teams push towards October, the fact that so many teams that weren’t expected to make the playoffs in 2015 are currently on their way to doing just that is exciting. If the season ended today, the Yankees, Royals, Astros, Blue Jays, Angels, Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates and Cubs would all be headed to the postseason.

With the Astros not having made the playoffs since 2005, the Mets since 2006, Cubs since 2008 and the Blue Jays since way back in 1993, this could turn out to be the season a lot of droughts could be broken for a lot of teams. That’s worth looking forward to.

Latest MLB Leaders (April 5th – July 31st)

With the first four months of the 2015 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been exciting as well as disappointing, depending on how you look at it and who you’re rooting for.

But instead of talking about the events that have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that leads that particular category. I’ve done lists like these for the past several years, and they have been well received, so I decided to do it again.

The following lists are categorized into hitting and pitching, but not AL or NL:

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – HITTING

Most Games Played – Four players tied for most (103).

Most At-Bats – Ian Kinsler (410)

Most Hits – Jason Kipnis (132)

Highest Average – Miguel Cabrera (.350)

Highest OBP – Paul Goldschmidt (.465)

Highest SLG – Bryce Harper (.679)

Most Runs – Mike Trout (76)

Most Doubles – Jason Kipnis (31)

Most Triples – Kevin Kiermaier (10)

Most Home Runs – Mike Trout (32)

Most RBI’s – Nolan Arenado (78)

Most Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (83)

Most Strikeouts – Chris Davis (128)

Most Stolen Bases – Billy Hamilton (49)

Most Caught Stealing – Dee Gordon (13)

Most Intentional Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (23)

Most Hit By Pitch – Anthony Rizzo (21)

Most Sacrifice Flies – Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera and Stephen Vogt (7).

Most Total Bases – Mike Trout (235)

Most Extra Base Hits – Todd Frazier (58)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Trevor Plouffe (20)

Most Ground Outs – Andrelton Simmons (163)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Joey Votto (1,885)

Most Plate Appearances – Jason Kipnis (464)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins – Gerrit Cole (14)

Most Losses – Kyle Kendrick and Kyle Lohse (12).

Best ERA – Zack Greinke (1.41)

Most Games Started – Five players tied for most (22).

Most Games Pitched – Kevin Siegrist (53)

Most Saves – Mark Melancon (33)

Most Innings Pitched – Corey Kluber (157)

Most Hits Allowed – Phil Hughes (158)

Most Runs Allowed – Kyle Kendrick and Kyle Lohse (83).

Most Earned Runs Allowed – Kyle Lohse (83)

Most Home Runs Allowed – Kyle Kendrick (26)

Most Strikeouts – Clayton Kershaw (185)

Most Walks – Tyson Ross (61)

Most Complete Games – Mark Buehrle (4)

Most Shutouts – Seven players tied for most (7).

Best Opponent Avg. – Zack Greinke (.186)

Most Games Finished – Mark Melancon (41)

Most Double Plays Achieved – Kyle Gibson, Chris Heston and Mike Pelfrey (22).

Most Wild Pitches – Nathan Karns (12)

Most Balks – Johnny Cueto (4)

Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Jon Lester (30)

Most Pickoffs – Brett Anderson (6)

Most Batters Faced – Corey Kluber (628)

Most Pitches Thrown – Corey Kluber (2,328)

Latest MLB Leaders (April 5th – April 30th)

With the first month of the 2015 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been exciting as well as disappointing, depending on how you look at it and who you’re rooting for.

But instead of talking about the events that have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that leads that particular category. I’ve done lists like these for the past several years, and they have been well received, so I decided to do it again.

The following lists are categorized into hitting and pitching, but not AL or NL:

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – HITTING

Most Games Played – Twenty players tied for most (23).

Most At-Bats – Jose Altuve and Wil Myers (98).

Most Hits – Dee Gordon (38)

Highest Average – Dee Gordon (.409)

Highest OBP – Matt Holliday (.500)

Highest SLG – Adrian Gonzalez (.790)

Most Runs – Matt Carpenter and Wil Myers (21).

Most Doubles – Matt Carpenter (13)

Most Triples – Paulo Orlando (5)

Most Home Runs – Nelson Cruz and Hanley Ramirez (10).

Most RBI’s – Nelson Cruz and Hanley Ramirez (22).

Most Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (22)

Most Strikeouts – Jorge Soler (33)

Most Stolen Bases – Billy Hamilton (13)

Most Caught Stealing – Dee Gordon (6)

Most Intentional Base On Balls – Victor Martinez (6)

Most Hit By Pitch – Anthony Rizzo (7)

Most Sacrifice Flies – Five players tied for most (3).

Most Total Bases – Adrian Gonzalez (64)

Most Extra Base Hits – Matt Carpenter and Adrian Gonzalez (17).

Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Casey McGehee (8)

Most Ground Outs – Jean Segura (41)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Bryce Harper (440)

Most Plate Appearances – Jose Altuve (106)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins – Seven players tied for most (4).

Most Losses – David Buchanan (5)

Best ERA – Nick Martinez (0.35)

Most Games Started – Fifty players tied for most (5).

Most Games Pitched – Eleven players tied for most (11).

Most Saves – Jeurys Familia, Joakim Soria and Huston Street (9).

Most Innings Pitched – Johnny Cueto and Dallas Keuchel (37).

Most Hits Allowed – Kyle Kendrick (39)

Most Runs Allowed – Kyle Kendrick (26)

Most Earned Runs Allowed – Kyle Kendrick (26)

Most Home Runs Allowed – Brandon McCarthy (9)

Most Strikeouts – Clayton Kershaw (43)

Most Walks – Tyson Ross (18)

Most Complete Games – Five players tied for most (1).

Most Shutouts – Josh Collmenter and Felix Hernandez (1).

Best Opponent Avg. – Dallas Keuchel (.130)

Most Games Finished – Joakim Soria (12)

Most Double Plays Achieved – Shane Greene and Alex Wood (7).

Most Wild Pitches – Matt Garza, Nathan Karns and Corey Kluber (4).

Most Balks – Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels and Edward Mujica (2).

Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Jon Lester (8)

Most Pickoffs – Four players tied for most (2).

Most Batters Faced – Corey Kluber and Jeff Samardzija (141).

Most Pitches Thrown – Dallas Keuchel (523)

Alex Rodriguez One Away from Home Run 660

Once again, Alex Rodriguez is nearing history. And once again, it would seem that no one cares.

After hitting home run number 659 of his career on Sunday night, Alex Rodriguez sits just one shy of Willie Mays on the all-time home run list. But more importantly, A-Rod is just one blast away from collecting a six million dollar contract bonus.Rodriguez

However, it’s the money that has more people talking than the actual record that Rodriguez is approaching. For any other player, fans would be buzzing with excitement for a current player to surpass an all-time great on the home run list. But with A-Rod, he doesn’t exactly have too many people on his side.

After serving a 162-game suspension in 2014 for PED use, the few fans that Rodriguez still had finally reached their breaking point with him and wrote him off altogether. But even so, Rodriguez is still surprising some people with the great start he’s gotten off to — myself included.

I knew A-Rod would likely hit his stride at some point, but I figured it wouldn’t add up to a whole lot. It’s been nearly five years since A-Rod hit his 600th homer, and it was nearly certain that he would be a bit sluggish with his swing. But Rodriguez has gone out there and done his best to prove everyone wrong, and he has done just that, blasting five homers to this point in the season.

It’s yet to be seen how many home runs Alex Rodriguez will finish out the season with, or, for that matter, how many he will end up with when his career has drawn to a close. But what is for certain is no matter how much fans dislike him, no matter how much they wish to see him fail, there will always be a small part of everyone that keeps them coming back to see how A-Rod performs on any given night.

For some reason, people just can’t get enough.

Friday to Kick off My 2015 MiLB Baseball Season

While my first official baseball game of 2015 took place just a few days ago, with the Miami Marlins taking on their Single-A affiliate in Greensboro, North Carolina, tomorrow is set to kick off my 2015 minor league baseball regular season.

With the Wilmington Blue Rocks in Myrtle Beach to take on the hometown Pelicans, it’s sure to be a good game, as both teams have a decent roster. However, the Pelicans’ overall roster is stronger and full of more prospects — nine of their top 30 prospects — so that’s the team I’m going to be trying hardest for autographs from.

Every year for the past several years, I’ve headed out to a baseball game a dozen or so times a year to get autographs from some of the best up and coming talent in the game. On Friday, I’m looking forward to seeing the likes of Billy McKinney, Duane Underwood and Jen-Ho Tseng, among many others. It should be a fun time and lead to a fun game against Wilmington, which possesses Bubba Starling and Dominique Taylor — two of the Royals top prospects.

No matter what happens on Friday, this is just the beginning of what is set to be an exciting 2015 season of baseball game outings. I’m not sure of any specific games I plan on going to past this Friday, but I’m really looking forward to the next five months of baseball ahead . . . .

2015 Spring Training TTM Autograph Update #2

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I had received back from Spring Training, having received back an auto from Mark Appel and Sam Tuivailala. At the end of the post, I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post once I had received back a few more autographs, and now that I’ve successfully gotten back some more of the requests I sent, I figured I’d go ahead and type this entry up:

DUSTIN ACKLEY — SEATTLE MARINERS

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Dustin Ackley has been up and down over the course of his big league career, but he really broke out last season. Hitting a career high 14 home runs and 65 RBI’s, Ackley had a great season for the Mariners in 2014, and is looking to continue that into this year. If he can perform the way he is capable of, combined with the rest of the Mariners living up to their potential, Seattle could have a very formidable team this coming season.

JOE KELLY — ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

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It’s truly a mystery how Joe Kelly will pitch this season for the Red Sox. Coming over from the Cardinals in 2014, Kelly had a fall back season of a 4.20 ERA over 17 starts after a good 2013 of a 2.69 ERA over 15 games started. But despite the downfall in stats, I look for Kelly to have a good 2015. Though he won’t likely win Cy Young award — as he jokingly predicted awhile back — Kelly will still have a noteworthy year.

TONY LA RUSSA — HALL OF FAME MANAGER

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This one is rather self explanatory. Receiving induction into the Hall of Fame in 2014, Tony La Russa is truly one of the best managers of all time — and a personal favorite of mine. A three time World Series championship manager, racking up 2,728 wins over his 33 years, La Russa was absolutely amazing at what he did. Though he didn’t put together all that great of stats as a player, batting just .199 for his career, his managerial stats will likely stand the test of time.

I still have autograph requests out for Rob Kaminsky, Jacob Gatewood, Scooter Gennett and Doug Fister. When/if I get any of those back, assuming it’s before Opening Day on April 6th, I’ll be sure to post another update. Though, there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.

Cubs Show Signs of the Future In Tuesday’s Game

For the first time in awhile, the Cubs could be relevant in 2015.

A big reason for that is their young, future superstars who showed signs of their potential in the Cubs’ Spring Training game against the Indians on Tuesday afternoon.

Hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs off of the Indians’ Trevor Bauer — a player who really needs to figure out once and for all if he’s ever going to be the star pitcher he was once hyped as –, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant each gave the Cubs reason to look forward to this year.

But there is a really good chance that Bryant (the number 2 prospect in all of baseball) may not begin the season in Chicago. For several reasons — none of which really involve talent level — the Cubs have made known that their likely plan is to send Bryant to Triple-A for the first portion of the season. To me, although I can comprehend the reasoning, that could turn out to be a mistake.

I understand that leaving Bryant in the minors for a few weeks allows them another full year of control over him, and that leaving him in the minors through June would save the Cubs some money. But that’s major production that the Cubs could truly use this year, in my opinion, if they want a true shot at the postseason.

The Cubs owe it to their fans, after so long without a World Series, to put out the best team possible on every given day of the regular season each and every year. In order for that to happen, the Cubs need to have Kris Bryant playing third base on Opening Day.

2015 Spring Training TTM Autograph Update

A couple 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 nine total TTM requests I sent off so far, I’ve received two of them back, with them being from:

MARK APPEL — ASTROS’ ORGANIZATION

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The number one overall draft pick by the Astros in 2013, Mark Appel was regarded as one of the best college pitchers in the country coming off a strong senior season at Stanford. However, he hasn’t yet lived up to those numbers. Posting a 6.91 ERA over the course of 18 games started in 2014, Astros fans will surely be watching to see whether or not Appel can get things going this year. Ranked as the number 30 prospect in all of baseball, there are still plenty of people that believe he can . . . and will.

SAM TUIVAILALA — ST. LOUIS CARDNALS

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It’s very possible that you’ve never heard of Sam Tuivailala. But that’s not because he isn’t a valuable asset of the Cardinals’ organization. Able to reach 100 miles per hour on his fastball, Tuivaila is an under the radar player in every sense of the word. With 170 strikeouts over the course of 108.1 career relief innings pitched in the minors, Tuivailala has already been able to show his talents on the major league level, making his big league debut last season. Expect him only to get better in the years to come.

I still have autograph requests out for Rob Kaminsky, Jacob Gatewood, Dustin Ackley, Joe Kelly, Scooter Gennett, Tony La Russa and Doug Fister. When/if I get any of those back, assuming it’s before Opening Day on April 6th, I’ll be sure to post another update. Though, there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.

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