2016 Silver Slugger Awards

The 2016 Silver Slugger award winners were announced Thursday night on MLB Network. While the Gold Glove Awards given out on Tuesday focused on the defensive side of baseball, the Silver Slugger awards are given annually to the best offensive player at each position in both theimages1 American League and the National League.

Marking the 37th annual Silver Slugger awards, which began in 1980, the awards are voted on by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (managers can not vote for their own players), with voters considering several offensive categories in selecting the winners. Those categories include batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, in addition to coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value.

Barry Bonds’ 12 career Silver Slugger awards stand as the most all-time by a single player at any position, and no one from this season’s winners are even close. Here are the list of 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 – Charlie Blackmon (1st career), Christian Yelich (1st career) and Yoenis Cespedes (1st career)

AL Winners – Mark Trumbo (1st career), Mookie Betts (1st career) and Mike Trout (5th career)

For Mike Trout, it was business as usual on Thursday, as he won his fifth career Silver Slugger award — having done so in all of his full seasons in the big leagues. For the other five winners, they were all first-timers, as Charlie Blackmon, Christian Yelich, Yoenis Cespedes, Mark Trumbo and Mookie Betts each took home their first career hardware for their hitting.

FIRST BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Miguel Cabrera holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a first baseman, with seven.

NL Winner – Anthony Rizzo (1st career)

AL Winner – Miguel Cabrera (7th career)

Miguel Cabrera further increased his lead in regards to number of Silver Sluggers as a first baseman, winning his seventh in his Hall of Fame career. On the other side, World Champion Anthony Rizzo won his first Silver Slugger award for his career, but he very well could win several more before all is said and done.

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 – Daniel Murphy (1st career)

AL Winner – Jose Altuve (3rd career)

After the seasons that both Daniel Murphy and Jose Altuve had, it was no shock to see them win the Silver Slugger award. Murphy picks up his first, while Altuve takes home the honor for the third time in his career. Whether they can each keep up their amazing 2016 season into 2017 is yet to be seen, but more Silver Sluggers could be on the horizon for them.

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 – Nolan Arenado (2nd career)

AL Winner – Josh Donaldson (2nd career)

Nolan Arenado is going to go down as one of the best all-around third basemen in history when all is said and done, further adding to his career resume with his second career Silver Slugger. Josh Donaldson also picks up his second award, doing so by having a year much like his MVP-winning season in 2015.

SHORTSTOP

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

NL Winner – Corey Seager (1st career)

AL Winner – Xander Bogaerts (2nd career)

The future appears to be bright at the shortstop position, as Corey Seager and Xander Bogaerts look to be the top players at those positions for quite some time to come. Although anything can happen in the future, them each winning many more Silver Slugger awards seems very likely.

CATCHER

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

NL Winner – Wilson Ramos (1st career)

AL Winner – Salvador Perez (1st career)

Both Wilson Ramos and Salvador Perez picked up their first career Silver Slugger awards, but each have had plenty of great seasons to this point in their careers. However, they took things to another level in 2016, making them each extremely deserving of the award win.

PITCHER

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

Winner – Jake Arrieta (1st career)

Pitchers are generally known as the worst hitting players on any given team’s roster, but there are a few of them who can actually swing the bat fairly well. One of those such players is Jake Arrieta, who can really put on a show at times throughout any given season, in addition to being one of the best pitchers in the game.

DESIGNATED HITTER

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

Winner – David Ortiz (7th career)

In his last season before retirement, David Ortiz had one of his best overall seasons of his career. At age forty, Ortiz posted numbers that would be considered amazing for someone even half his age. With him no longer going to be the designated hitter for the Red Sox, it’s fitting to see him go out with one final Silver Slugger win.

2016 Gold Glove Awards

The 2016 Major League Baseball Gold Glove award winners were announced Tuesday night on ESPN. Given out each year to the players who are judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding Gold Gloveposition in both the National League and the American League, the award is voted on by the managers and coaches in each league (managers can not vote for their own players).

Marking the 60th annual Gold Glove Awards, which began back in 1957, there have been some terrific players to receive the honor. However, no other player has won more Gold Gloves in their career or in a row than Greg Maddux, who took home 18 total and 13 consecutively.

While Maddux’s records seem fairly safe for now, there were some winners for 2016 who could win quite a few Gold Gloves as the years go on. Here’s a recap of the winners, with my thoughts on each:

CATCHER

AL Nominees – James McCann, Carlos Perez and Salvador Perez

AL Winner – Salvador Perez (4th career)

NL Nominees – Jonathan Lucroy, Yadier Molina and Buster Posey

NL Winner – Buster Posey (1st career)

Salvador Perez picked up his fourth Gold Glove award, and rightfully so. His defense behind the plate has proved to be extremely valuable over the past several seasons, and he could easily win several more before his career is over. In the National League, despite Yadier Molina having won eight straight Gold Gloves, this year the award went to Buster Posey, who picked up his first ever Gold Glove.

PITCHER

AL Nominees R.A. Dickey, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander

AL Winner – Dallas Keuchel (3rd career)

NL Nominees – Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright

NL Winner – Zack Greinke (3rd career)

Pitchers aren’t generally known for being good fielders, but there are a number of them who can pick it. Dallas Keuchel and Zack Greinke each won their third career Gold Glove awards on Tuesday night, with each having proven their defensive worth in 2016. While they aren’t near Greg Maddux’s record number of Gold Gloves, they each are very deserving of the honor.

LEFT FIELDER

AL Nominees – Brett Gardner, Alex Gordon and Colby Rasmus

AL Winner – Brett Gardner (1st career)

NL Nominees – Adam Duvall, Starling Marte and Christian Yelich

NL Winner – Starling Marte (2nd career)

It came as a surprise to many that Brett Gardner was able to win his first career Gold Glove award, but his defense in left field for the Yankees was terrific this season and certainly worthy of the award. In the NL, Starling Marte truly broke out as one of the best left fielder in the game, taking home his second career Gold Glove award for the Pirates.

CENTER FIELDER

AL Nominees – Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier and Kevin Pillar

AL Winner – Kevin Kiermaier (2nd career)

NL Nominees – Billy Hamilton, Odubel Herrera and Ender Inciarte

NL Winner – Ender Inciarte (1st career)

Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier and Kevin Pillar were all absolutely amazing this season for their respective teams, making great plays night after night. But in the end, Kiermaier ended up winning the Gold Glove. Picking up the award for the opposite league was Ender Inciarte, who went from a somewhat unknown to a breakout player defensively in 2016.

RIGHT FIELDER

AL Nominees – Mookie Betts, Adam Eaton and George Springer

AL Winner – Mookie Betts (1st career)

NL Nominees – Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Heyward and Nick Markakis

NL Winner – Jason Heyward (4th career)

Despite his teammate, Jackie Bradley Jr., not winning the Gold Glove for center field, Mookie Betts was able to win his first career G.G. award for his play in right field. Also getting the award was Jason Heyward, who had a down year offensively, despite his huge offseason contract, but continued to dazzle with his glove, catching nearly every ball hit his way this season.

FIRST BASE

AL Nominees – Chris Davis, Eric Hosmer and Mitch Moreland

AL Winner – Mitch Moreland (1st career)

NL Nominees – Paul Goldschmidt, Wil Myers and Anthony Rizzo

NL Winner – Anthony Rizzo (1st career)

Both Mitch Moreland and Anthony Rizzo picked up their first career Gold Glove awards on Tuesday night, and both were very deserving. Although known more for their offense more that their defense, they each can pick it at first, and make key plays for their teams throughout any given season. While both are unique players, they each share the honor of winning a Gold Glove.

SECOND BASE

AL Nominees Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia

AL Winner – Ian Kinsler (1st career)

NL Nominees – DJ LeMahieu, Joe Panik and Jean Segura

NL Winner – Joe Panik (1st career)

Although nothing beats watching Robinson Cano make a smooth play each night at second base for the Mariners, seeing Ian Kinsler make the great plays he does each season is a close second. Picking up the first Gold Glove of his career, Kinsler will look to maintain his defense into 2017. Joe Panik also wins his first Gold Glove award of his career, also making him a big player to watch moving forward.

SHORTSTOP

AL Nominees – Jose Iglesias, Francisco Lindor and Andrelton Simmons

AL Winner – Francisco Lindor (1st career)

NL Nominees – Brandon Crawford, Freddy Galvis and Addison Russell

NL Winner – Brandon Crawford (2nd career)

Francisco Lindor truly emerged onto the scene in 2016, becoming a household name and subsequently winning the first Gold Glove award of his career, and the first for an Indians shortstop since Omar Vizquel in 2001. Over in the National League, Brandon Crawford wins his second straight Gold Glove and has cemented himself as one of the best in baseball.

THIRD BASE

AL Nominees – Adrian Beltre, Manny Machado and Kyle Seager

AL Winner – Adrian Beltre (5th career)

NL Nominees – Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon and Justin Turner

NL Winner – Nolan Arenado (4th career)

The future Hall of Famer, Adrian Beltre, was able to win his fifth career Gold Glove award for his great performance all season long at the hot-corner in Texas. But the player who may turn out to be one of the top few third basemen defensively of all-time when all is said and done is Nolan Arenado. With the great plays Arenado makes each day, it’s no surprise to see him win the award for the fourth time in his career.

Impact Players Still Teamless As Spring 2016 Begins

Although games aren’t scheduled to be played until March 1st, for every baseball fan Spring Training officially begins when pitchers and catchers first report. Five clubs saw their pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday, with the remaining teams’ hurlers and backstops trickling in over the next few days, leaving every team with their respective pitchers and catchers in camp by Sunday. Print

Therefore, baseball is finally back.

But for a number of free agent players who have yet to find homes so far this offseason, Spring Training is going to have to wait — at least for now. Before they can report to a camp, every free agent needs to come to terms with a team that they’ll wind up calling home for the 2016 season.

Given, there’s still over a month until the regular season, and most if not all of the free agents will sign before too long. But time is slowly running out. With that in mind, I thought I’d go over the free agent players still on the market, position by position, who are more than capable of still helping out a big league club, but have yet to sign for one reason or another.

Beginning with the starting pitching role, the best remaining free agent starter who remains up for grabs is Yovani Gallardo. While Gallardo has been linked to talks with the Orioles, he is still technically in play for all thirty clubs. Although he isn’t going to be the ace of any team’s staff, Gallardo is still a really good pitcher who you can count on for numerous innings (180+ for each of the past seven seasons) and will give his team a chance to win each and every night.

Appropriately following the starting pitcher in this post is the relief pitcher, with there being several quality reliever options remaining. The one that stands out the most to me, however, is Casey Janssen. He didn’t have the best season in 2015, but a three year stretch from 2011-2013 saw him as one of the best relievers in the game. With him holding a career ERA of Morneau3.63, Janssen doesn’t immediately jump off the page, but he can be an asset to a number of teams.

Justin Morneau leads the pack of available free agent first basemen. After a 17-homer season back in 2014, Morneau only played in 49 games last season due to injuries which ultimately held his numbers down. But I look for Morneau to have a bounce back season in 2016, if he can be healthy. Although his days of dominating the first base position are likely over, the days of him being a solid player definitely aren’t.

At second base, the only free agent left is Dan Uggla, making him the only option to discuss. I’m not sure what the future holds for Uggla, who was once one of the best second baseman in baseball. Uggla blasted 30+ homers for five straight seasons early in his career and has been an impactful player, but he hasn’t had a very productive season since 2013. However, with all of that said, Uggla could surprise some people if given a chance.

David Freese manning the hot corner is something any team would want to see, but for some reason he has yet to be signed. Freese is a reliable third baseman who you can count on year in and year out to hit double digit homers and drive in runs in the majority of key situations. After all, Freese was the reason the Cardinals survived game six of the 2011 World Series and ultimately went on to win. He falls under the low risk, high reward type of player, and would be a nice pickup for any team.

The shortstop position is currently one of the weaker spots as far as free agents is concerned, but Ian Desmond is the big player of the group. Following a somewhat mixed departure from the Nationals, where Trea Turner looks ready to take over the shortstop role, Desmond has been linked to a number of teams this offseason but has yet to land anywhere. Even so, Desmond is still a valuable player, coming just one homer shy in 2015 of a fourth straight 20+ home run year.Fowler

As far as the outfield, there are a number of above average free agents still there for the taking. Looking merely at the position as a whole — not individually at right, left and center — the the top three free agent outfielders in my mind are Austin Jackson, Dexter Fowler and Marlon Byrd. They’re each mid-to-upper .200’s career hitters, and each had solid 2015 campaigns. For that reason, while they still remain without a team to call home, chances are they won’t be that way for long and will have some amount of impact this coming season.

Despite every position previously mentioned having players available to sign, if your favorite team is in need of a catcher, they’ll have to look for other options besides free agency. There are no remaining catchers on the market, making it the only position without a single player left. However, there are more than plenty of other positions to snag above average players from that can impact any roster.

As history has shown, the majority of free agents always wind up signing with a team, even if it takes until the very last second to do so. But now that Spring Training is upon us, they no longer have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for the right offer and the right time to arrive. With spring being the time teams find themselves and form chemistry each year, the time for free agents to begin their final pushes towards signing is now.

2014 Silver Slugger Awards

The 2014 Silver Slugger award winners were announced Thursday night on MLB Network. While the Gold Glove awards given out on Tuesday focused on the defensive side of baseball, the Silver Slugger awards are given annually to the best offensive player at each position in both theimages1 American League and the National League.

Marking the 34th annual Silver Slugger awards, which began in 1980, the awards are voted on by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (managers can not vote for their own players), with voters considering 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.

Barry Bonds’ 12 career Silver Slugger awards stand as the most all-time by a single player at any position, and no one from this season’s winners are even close. Here are the list of 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 – Andrew McCutchen (3rd career), Giancarlo Stanton (1st career) and Justin Upton (2nd career)

AL Winners – Mike Trout (3rd career), Jose Bautista (3rd career) and Michael Brantley (1st career)

All six winners of the Silver Slugger award for the outfield position between the American League and National League were very deserving. Michael Brantley picks up his first award after the great season he put together, as does Giancarlo Stanton, who surprisingly has never won one before. Justin Upton and Jose Bautista take home their second and third career Silver Slugger awards, respectively, for their good offensive numbers posted this year, and could win several more between them in the years to come. Both Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout each picked up their third career and third consecutive Silver Slugger, with Trout having won one each of his full seasons in the majors.

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 – Adrian Gonzalez (2nd career)

AL Winner – Jose Abreu (1st career)

Shockingly, this is just Adrian Gonzalez’s second career Silver Slugger award, despite having some great seasons over the course of his time in the majors. However, Jose Abreu winning the award in his rookie season came as no shock. He was absolutely terrific for the White Sox this year, and should also add the Rookie of the Year award to his list of accomplishments.

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 – Neil Walker (1st career)

AL Winner – Jose Altuve (1st career)

Both winners of the Silver Slugger award for second base received the honor for the first time in their careers. Neil Walker had a breakout offensive year, as did Jose Altuve, who led all of baseball in hits and set a new franchise record for hits in a season for the Astros. Anytime you do something like that, a Silver Slugger award is almost a sure thing.

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 – Anthony Rendon (1st career)

AL Winner – Adrian Beltre (4th career)

Anthony Rendon showed signs this season of just how good of a player he can become, and was rewarded with a Silver Slugger for his efforts. One of the best players on the Nationals all year long, Rendon will be a big part of their team for seasons to come. The Rangers’ Adrian Beltre takes home his fourth career award, putting together a solid offensive year of his own at third base.

SHORTSTOP

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

NL Winner – Ian Desmond (3rd career)

AL Winner – Alexei Ramirez (2nd career)

For the most part, shortstops aren’t known for terrific offensive productivity. However, there always seem to be a few each season that put together great numbers. This season, those two players were Ian Desmond and Alexei Ramirez. Picking up his third straight Silver Slugger award, Desmond has quietly become one of the best hitting shortstops in baseball. As has Alexei Ramirez, who picks up his second career award.

CATCHER

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

NL Winner – Buster Posey (2nd career)

AL Winner – Yan Gomes (1st career)

Buster Posey won the third World Series Championship of his short career this season when the Giants beat the Royals in the Fall Classic, being a big reason the Giants made it there. One of the best hitting catchers in baseball, Posey adds a second Silver Slugger to his extensive list of career awards. Yan Gomes picks up his first Silver Slugger, slowly showing all of baseball that he has the potential to become a star catcher.

PITCHER

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

Winner – Madison Bumgarner (1st career)

Pitchers are terrible hitters; everyone knows that, right? Well, surprisingly, some of them aren’t. In fact, a few pitchers around Major League Baseball can hit fairly well. But no other pitcher was as good at the plate in 2014 as Madison Bumgarner, who hit two grand slams during the season, and therefore picks up the first Silver Slugger award of his career.

DESIGNATED HITTER

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

Winner – Victor Martinez (2nd career)

Breaking out to have one of the best offensive years of anyone in all of baseball this past season, Victor Martinez surprised many with his great production as the Tigers’ designated hitter. For his efforts, Martinez was awarded his second career Silver Slugger award, truly having a marvelous offensive season that put him back on everyone’s radar.

2014 SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS FAST FACTS

  • There were eight first time Silver Slugger award winners.
  • There were three Silver Slugger award winners that also won last year.
  • Five different teams had two players receive Silver Slugger awards.
  • Adrian Gonzalez was the only Silver Slugger winner that won a 2014 Gold Glove.

2014 Gold Glove Awards; BBWAA Award Finalists

The 2014 Major League Baseball Gold Glove award winners were announced Tuesday night on ESPN2. Given out each year to the players that gold-gloveare judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League and the American League, the award is voted on by the managers and coaches in each league (managers can not vote for their own players), with sabermetrics now making up around 25 percent of the vote.

Marking the 57th annual Gold Glove Awards, which began back in 1957, there have been some terrific players to receive the honor. However, no other player has won more Gold Gloves in their career or in a row than Greg Maddux, who took home 18 and 13, respectively.

While Maddux’s records seem fairly safe for now, there were some winners for 2014 who could win quite a few Gold Gloves as the years go on. Here’s a recap of the winners, with my thoughts on each:

CATCHER

AL Nominees – Alex Avila, Yan Gomes and Salvador Perez

AL Winner – Salvador Perez (2nd career)

NL Nominees – Jonathan Lucroy, Russell Martin and Yadier Molina

NL Winner – Yadier Molina (7th career)

Picking up his second straight career Gold Glove award, Salvador Perez was by far the best catcher in all of the American League in 2014. On the National League side of things, Yadier Molina takes home his seventh straight Gold Glove award. One of the best at controlling a pitching staff in all of baseball, it’s no surprise that Molina won yet again.

PITCHER

AL Nominees Mark Buehrle, Felix Hernandez and Dallas Keuchel

AL Winner – Dallas Keuchel (1st career)

NL Nominees – Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright

NL Winner – Zack Greinke (1st career)

Although Mark Buehrle has won his fair share of Gold Glove awards, this season the award went to Dallas Keuchel. Having a great season with the Astros, Keuchel isn’t that well known around baseball, but he’s one of the best defenders on the mound. Zack Greinke, surprisingly, picks up just his first career Gold Glove award for the National League, after years of great performances on the mound.

LEFT FIELDER

AL Nominees – Michael Brantley, Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon

AL Winner – Alex Gordon (4th career)

NL Nominees – Starling Marte, Justin Upton and Christian Yelich

NL Winner – Christian Yelich (1st career)

Alex Gordon ended up taking home his fourth straight Gold Glove award. Always very consistent as a defender in left field, Gordon isn’t at all a shocking winner of the award. Christian Yelich on the other hand did come as somewhat of a surprise. But even so, he’s still deserving, becoming the first Marlins outfielder to ever pick up a Gold Glove.

CENTER FIELDER

AL Nominees – Jackie Bradley Jr., Adam Eaton and Adam Jones

AL Winner – Adam Jones (4th career)

NL Nominees – Billy Hamilton, Juan Lagares and Denard Span

NL Winner – Juan Lagares (1st career)

Adam Jones has established himself as one of the best outfielders in baseball today, and he extended his argument by picking up his fourth career Gold Glove award — his third straight. On the NL half of the Center Field Gold Glove awards, Juan Lagares ended up receiving the award. While he’s not well known as of yet, he could easily pick up several more Gold Gloves in his career.

RIGHT FIELDER

AL Nominees – Kole Calhoun, Kevin Kiermaier and Nick Markakis

AL Winner – Nick Markakis (2nd career)

NL Nominees – Jason Heyward, Gerardo Parra and Giancarlo Stanton

NL Winner – Jason Heyward (2nd career)

Nick Markakis of the American League and Jason Heyward of the National League each picked up their second career Gold Glove awards on Tuesday night for their terrific defense in the outfield. Despite the fact that Heyward and Markakis are two very different types of players, they were undeniably the most deserving right fielders of the 2014 season.

FIRST BASE

AL Nominees – Miguel Cabrera, Eric Hosmer and Albert Pujols

AL Winner – Eric Hosmer (2nd career)

NL Nominees – Adrian Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche and Justin Morneau

NL Winner – Adrian Gonzalez (4th career)

All of the nominees for first base have their ups and downs defensively, but Eric Hosmer winning the Gold Glove this season is the best choice, in my opinion. His second straight Gold Glove, Hosmer showed signs of breaking out into a superstar in 2014. Also picking up his multiple Gold Glove award was Adrian Gonzalez, who hadn’t won one since 2011.

SECOND BASE

AL Nominees Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia

AL Winner – Dustin Pedroia (4th career)

NL Nominees – DJ LeMahieu, Brandon Phillips and Chase Utley

NL Winner – DJ LeMahieu (1st career)

Dustin Pedroia is widely known as one of the best second baseman in baseball, and he was recognized for it this season. Winning his fourth career Gold Glove award and second in a row, Pedroia could easily pick up another Gold Glove or two before the end of his career. As could DJ LeMahieu, who isn’t well known in the baseball world, but received the first of what could be several Gold Glove awards.

SHORTSTOP

AL Nominees – Alcides Escobar, J.J. Hardy and Alexei Ramirez

AL Winner – J.J. Hardy (3rd career)

NL Nominees – Zack Cozart, Adeiny Hechavaria and Andrelton Simmons

NL Winner – Andrelton Simmons (2nd career)

J.J. Hardy receives his third straight Gold Glove award for American League shortstop. Known for his slick defense he shows off seemingly every night, Hardy is quietly one of the best fielding shortstops in baseball today. But many would argue that the best defensive shortstop at the moment has to be Andrelton Simmons, who won his second career Gold Glove on Tuesday and could be winning them for years to come.

THIRD BASE

AL Nominees – Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre and Kyle Seager

AL Winner – Kyle Seager (1st career)

NL Nominees – Nolan Arenado, Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe

NL Winner – Nolan Arenado (2nd career)

Kyle Seager picked up his first career Gold Glove award while Nolan Arenado received his second in a row. Both are terrific fielding third baseman, and both are early on in their careers. It is very likely that Seager and Arenado could continue to get better and better, picking up multiple Gold Glove awards in the process.

2014 GOLD GLOVE AWARDS FAST FACTS

  • There were six first-time Gold Glove winners.
  • The Royals and Orioles had the most Gold Glove winners, with three each.
  • There were nine Gold Glove winners who also won a Gold Glove in 2013.

——————————————————————————————————————

Also announced last night were the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) award finalists for 2014 Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player. For the most part, I agree with the finalists, but there are a few I’m surprised about.

Here are the finalists, with who I have winning (click their names to find out why):

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

American League: Jose Abreu, Dellin Betances and Matt Shoemaker

National League: Jacob deGrom, Billy Hamilton and Kolten Wong

I have Jose Abreu and Jacob deGrom winning the Rookie of the Year award.

CY YOUNG FINALISTS

American League: Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber and Chris Sale

National League: Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright

I have Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw winning the Cy Young award.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER FINALISTS

American League: Michael Brantley, Victor Martinez and Mike Trout

National League: Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton

I have Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw winning the Most Valuable Player award.

The winner of each award will be announced next week on MLB Network.

Here’s the schedule:

AL & NL Rookie of the Year: November 10th

AL & NL Cy Young: November 12th

AL & NL Most Valuable Player: November 13th

As stated in a previous blog post, I plan on posting a recap of each winner, along with a look at how well I did with my predictions, in a blog entry after each award is officially announced. So be sure to check back for that at some point next week.

Ballot Released for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game

On Friday, the ballot for the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star game, set to take place up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at Target Field on July, 15th, was released, giving baseball fans all across the country the ability to pick which players they’d like to see in the starting lineups of Untitledthe midsummer classic.

With more and more attention being given to the All-Star game as years pass (a record 40.2 million ballots were cast in 2012), and with there being so many top quality candidates to choose from, the voting has become extremely intriguing.

To cast your vote, you can head down to your local ballpark and pick up a ballot, or, the easiest of ways, just head to MLB.com and fill out an online ballot with the player you feel most deserves the honor for each position. You have up to 25 votes (35 if you’re a registered member with MLB.com) that you can use.

Voting doesn’t end until July 3rd, but I’m not waiting (at least not completely).

I went ahead and cast half of my eligible 35 votes today for the players who I feel would deserve to make the All-Star team if it were being played tomorrow, with a plan for my remaining picks to be cast much closer to time. A lot of things can change, and therefore, my picks will subsequently change as well. However, for the sole purpose of this blog post, I figured I’d reveal the players I voted for, with the reasoning behind my picks:

FIRST BASE: Albert Pujols (AL), Paul Goldschmidt (NL)

With the great start he’s had so far this season, picking Albert Pujols was an easy choice. Though there are several other great candidates, including Miguel Cabrera, who just recently moved back over to first, and rookie phenom, Jose Abreu, who’s off to a fast start to his major league career, it was Pujols who had the overall package, posting a solid campaign for comeback player of the year.

For the National League side of the vote, it was a bit more difficult, with even more great candidates. From Brandon Belt’s fantastic, breakout start, to the always consistent Freddie Freeman, it was hard to settle with the decision I came to of picking Paul Goldschmidt. However, after the breakout season he had in 2013, and the fact that he isn’t letting up, he’s done enough to earn him my vote.

SECOND BASE: Robinson Cano (AL), Neil Walker (NL)

Though his power numbers have yet to show up so far this season, as many predicted with his move to the Mariners, I voted for Robinson Cano to start at second for the All-Star game. He’s still been fairly consistent at the plate this season, and his defensive skills are always fun to watch. While both Jason Kipnis and Dustin Pedroia were considered, Cano, in my mind, is the best choice at the moment.

I never thought I’d cast a vote for Neil Walker over the walking web gem that is Brandon Phillips, but that’s exactly what I did. Walker is off to a fantastic start to the year, and while Phillips hasn’t slowed down with his glove handiwork, he’s been a bit slow at the plate thus far. If he can pick it up offensively, he’ll likely earn the fan’s vote, but for now, I’m sticking with the Pirates’ Walker.

SHORTSTOP: Derek Jeter (AL), Troy Tulowitzki (NL)

Statistically, Alexei Ramirez probably deserves the starting shortstop role more than Derek Jeter, having one of the fastest starts of anyone in baseball, and the best kickoff to his career. However, with this being his final season (and Jeter being my favorite player), I had to vote for Jeter. The model of consistency, Jeter in all likelihood will be making his final All-Star start come July.

Troy Tulowitzki has always had the potential to be one of the top players in all of baseball, however, health has played a big role in hindering that caliber player from showing up. But with Tulo fully healthy, he’s begun to show signs of his full potential, and has been doing fantastic so far for the Rockies. While Andrelton Simmons and Hanley Ramirez would be great picks, mine goes to Tulowitzki.

THIRD BASE: Evan Longoria (AL), David Wright (NL)

In voting for the American League third baseman, though Josh Donaldson has, arguably, gotten off to the best start of any third baseman in baseball, I went with Evan Longoria. While Donaldson could definitely earn the All-Star spot should he continue his great play, Longoria has always been able to be consistent for the Rays. He should be able to do enough to earn the honor yet again.

Pedro Alvarez and Nolan Arenado have both begun the 2014 season on a high note, however, with David Wright having a good year as well so far, and factoring in his track record, my ballot saw Wright as the pick for third base. Wright always seems to have the numbers to warrant an All-Star selection, and I feel he’ll likely make the cut this time around as well.

CATCHER: Matt Wieters (AL), Yadier Molina (NL)

With Brian McCann heading from the NL to the AL this offseason, many felt he would be an immense impact as he has been over the years. But while he certainly has been great, he hasn’t had the fastest start to the season among catchers. Matt Wieters has had a career season so far, really producing well for the Orioles, and if he can keep it up, he very well could overtake McCann in the voting.

When it comes to picking the National League catcher, it truly is a tough choice. There are several great ones to pick from, many of which have been All-Stars before, and the great seasons so far by those players makes it nearly impossible to say which one player stands above the rest. With that said, however, I went with Yadier Molina, who does nearly everything well on the field, and deserves another selection.

DESIGNATED HITTER: Nelson Cruz

Being just an American League category, there weren’t too many players to pick from, so it came down to David Ortiz and Nelson Cruz for me. While David Ortiz is usually the obvious choice, Cruz is having a career season so far, and he might receive the All-Star votes needed if he can keep up his hot start. However, don’t count out Ortiz, as he could heat up as July continues to approach.

OUTFIELD

It’s never easy to narrow down 90 players to just six (three for each league), especially when you could make a strong case for a dozen of the outfield choices for each league, but it’s a requirement when casting a ballot. So, while I voted for the players who I felt were All-Star caliber players at the moment, there are a few more I would’ve liked to vote for, but couldn’t. Keep that in mind when reading the outfielders I selected for the American League and National League:

Mike Trout, Carlos Beltran, Jose Bautista (AL)

All three of these players are off to tremendous starts to the season, with all three standing a good shot at making the All-Star team this year. Mike Trout is, arguably, the best player in the game today, constantly making great plays and showing off his power at the plate, with Carlos Beltran and Jose Bautista possessing some of the best power baseball has to offer. Everything together, they all deserve consideration.

Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen (NL)

As with most categories, the National League has more players overall that have an argument each season to be an All-Star. For this season, I voted for Ryan Braun (unfortunately), Giancarlo Stanton and Andrew McCutchen, as while I’m against Braun for his PED use, he’s still a good player. But with that said, I felt a lot better about choosing Stanton and McCutchen than I did Braun.

Do you agree or disagree with my picks? Leave a comment below.

Pay Increase, Stat Decrease for Some In 2014

Money talks. That was proven time and time again this offseason.

As usually happens, nine times out of ten, the team that offers a player the most amount of money will acquire the prized player; no matter if that team won the World Series the previous year or finished dead last. Offer a player more than any other team and you’ll likely have him on your squad for the next year, and even beyond in some cases.

There’s no better example of that from this offseason than the Mariners landing Robinson Cano on a 10-year, 240 million dollar contract, increasing his pay from the 15 million he earned with the Yankees in 2013 all the way up to 24 million for t131212_cano_signs_lghe next 10 seasons. While the Mariners undoubtedly overpaid for Cano, no other team offered him as much, and therefore he will play 81 games (assuming he doesn’t get injured) up in Seattle in 2014.

But that could mean a noticeable statistic drop for Cano this season.

Safeco Field is known for not being a home run friendly park. Cano goes from Yankee Stadium, with a short right field porch great for lefties like himself, where he blasted 25 or more home runs each of the past five seasons (given, not all of those were at Yankee Stadium), to Safeco field, where many are predicting that his numbers will fall. While I’m not saying that Cano is going to be a flop in Seattle — he’s far too good for that — I do believe that 2014 could be a slightly down year by his standards.

Curtis Granderson is another example of a player whose stats could tumble in 2014.

Although he was injured a lot this past season, Granderson launched over 40 home runs the previous two years, and while he usually doesn’t post a high batting average, he can be a big part of any team. But I’m not sure he can amass the same type of numbers at Citi Field, where he will spend the next 4 years in which he’ll take in 60 million dollars, as he did at Yankee Stadium. Like Cano, Granderson is losing the home run hitting paradise for a lefty at Yankee Stadium and is entering a pitcher’s ballpark. Moving across town, Granderson could have a good, but not amazing (like previous seasons), 2014.

Jhonny Peralta could also wind up being a disappointment.

Peralta’s drop in production won’t likely come from a ballpark change, but rather the fact that players coming of a performance enhancing drug suspension, such as the one Peralta served in 2013, don’t historically do all that well; such as Melky Cabrera in 2013. Getting an increased pay of over 9 million dollars for next year, there is a lot of controversy surrounding Peralta this coming season, as many people feel he didn’t deserve that kind of contract after he was found to have used PED’s. Nonetheless, Peralta will spend 2014 with the Cardinals, where it will be interesting to see if he performs as hoped.

But the whole increased pay leading to decreased stats doesn’t hold true for every player.

Some players could actually benefit greatly from a change in venue — Jacoby Ellsbury more than possibly anyone else.

Ellsbury will be part of the Yankees for the next 7 seasons, after signing a 153 million dollar contract this offseason. That comes out to an increase in pay from 9 million in 2013 to 21 million this season, and I believe, although the Yankees overpaid for him, Ellsbury will go a long way in helping the team in 2014 and beyond. I don’t think Ellsbury will have a season such as the one he put together in 2011, with 32 homers and 105 RBI’s, however, I do think he’ll improve from the 9 home runs and 53 RBI’s last season, with the aid of the short porch in right field. If he can merely stay healthy — that being a problem for him over his career — Ellsbury could really amass some great stats and have a big impact on the Yankees’ season.

jacoby-ellsbury-brian-mccannBrian McCann, being a lefty like Ellsbury, could also have a breakout season.

After somewhat of a down year in 2013 — though, he still hit 20 home runs, for the sixth straight season — McCann should be able to put together a great season; and that’s exactly what the Yankees need him to do. Having received a five million dollar pay raise from last season, McCann’s stats should go up a bit in 2014, and therefore he could easily turn out to be one of the top five most valuable Yankees this season. Though you never know how a player will perform, I’d say it’s a safe bet to say that McCann’s presence will be felt all throughout 2014.

Last on my list is Shin-Soo Choo, but he’s definitely not least.

Choo put together a fantastic 2013 season, and he was awarded for his efforts during the offseason, getting a 7-year, 130 million dollar contract, nearly doubling his salary from what he received last season. Choo isn’t a guy that’s going to hit you 30 or more home runs, knock in 100 runs, or steal 40 bases, but he is a natural at getting on base. Walking 112 times last season, Choo posted a .423 on base percentage in 2013, and that makes him extremely valuable to any club. Choo should once again post the same type of numbers, if not better, in 2014.

Which of these players will have to better year? Leave a comment below.