Results tagged ‘ Mark McGwire ’

Heading into the Final Month of the 2014 MLB Season

It’s hard to believe, but the 2014 Major League Baseball regular season is almost over. Today marks exactly one month until the final games of the season, on September 28th, and teams are making their final push towards the postseason, with every player doing their best to finish out the season strong. With all of this going on, I thought I’d post an entry on the five main storylines I plan to watch throughout the final stretch.

200 Hits for Jose Altuve

7848827Leading all of baseball in batting average (.332) and with 14 more hits on the season than the player with the second most hits, Jose Altuve is well on his way to recording his first 200 hit season of his career. With 181 hits this year, Altuve should easily make it to what has become a somewhat rare achievement.

The last time any player recorded 200 or more hits in a season was back in 2009, when Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, Ryan Braun and Robinson Cano all did it. For Altuve, he’s set to become only the second Astros player to ever record 200 hits in a season, with Craig Biggio, doing so in 1998, being the other.

Though Altuve is too far back to break Ichiro Suzuki’s all-time hit record for a season of 262 hits, it should be interesting to see how many hits he can amass in this final month.

Race for Stolen Base Lead

After Billy Hamilton set the all-time single season stolen base record for the minor leagues back in 2012, stealing 155 bases that year, many people began to proclaim Hamilton as the next Rickey Henderson. Those are some lofty expectations that Hamilton hasn’t quite been able to live up to, with Hamilton sitting on 50 stolen bases (the youngest Reds player to ever reach 50 stolen bases in a season) for the season and Rickey Henderson having stolen 100 bags in his first full year.

Hamilton currently sits eight stolen bases back of the leader, Dee Gordon, so he definitely has some work to do if he wants to finish out the year on top. But despite not running away in the stolen bases category like many people initially believed he would, Hamilton has done a phenomenal job of making adjustments this year. After a horrid start to the season, Hamilton has really turned things around, and if he can continue to get on base, he has the potential to rack up a ton of stolen bases in a short period of time.

How Jose Abreu Finishes the Year

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City RoyalsProving to have been one of the most valuable offseason pickups, Jose Abreu is posting one of the best rookie seasons we’ve seen in years.

Currently sitting on 33 home runs (he has a good shot at winning the home run crown, tied with Chris Carter and Giancarlo Stanton, and one back of only Nelson Cruz), 96 RBI’s and a .312 batting average, Abreu has done nothing but produce all season long, leading many to believe that he has the American League Rookie of the Year award completely locked up.

At one point in time, there was a good chance that Abreu would break the all-time home run record for a rookie, set by Mark McGwire back in 1987, when he blasted 49 home runs. But Abreu will inevitably come up just short of that mark, due in part to a brief stint on the disabled list earlier in the year.

Even so, Abeu will likely wind up with around 40 home runs for the season, and will be a major asset for the White Sox for years to come.

American League West Division

It can’t much tighter than it currently is in the American League West, as the Angels lead the Athletics by a mere game in the standings. With just a few more weeks of games, this is undoubtedly the division to watch most closely throughout the rest of the season. However, the wild card spots are looking to be just as intriguing, in both leagues.

On the American League side of things, whichever team doesn’t win the AL west between the Angels and A’s will end up taking the first wild card spot, but the Mariners, Tigers and even the Yankees are going to be fighting hard for that second wild card spot. In the National League, the Cardinals hold a slight lead for the first wild card, but the second one is anyone’s for the taking between the Giants, Braves, Pirates and Marlins, if they can keep pace through the month of September. It should be interesting to see which teams get the job done.

Derek Jeter’s Final Month of His Career

Derek JeterAfter having a disastrous 2013 season, in which he was injured and posted measly stats, Derek Jeter announced at the beginning of the year that 2014 would be his last. Therefore, all eyes are on Jeter to see how he performs in the final month of his farewell season. So far, Jeter isn’t doing terrible, but he’s not doing all that great either, batting just .267 with 3 home runs and 36 RBI’s.

But although Jeter isn’t producing all that much, he will still go down as one of baseball’s all-time greats, with over 3,400 career hits.

The one thing on everyone’s mind, however, is whether or not the Yankees can make the playoffs to give Jeter the chance at a sixth career World Series title.

Sitting 2.5 games back of the second wild card, there’s still a shot that the Yankees make it in, but it’s going to take a good amount of terrific play for them to reach the postseason.

Stage Set for Exciting Second Half of 2014 Season

After a four-day break in baseball action due to the All-Star game and its surrounding festivities up at Target Field, baseball returns tonight. With a full, fifteen game slate set to get the second half of the season going, there are a ton of story lines that are sure to make this portion of the season one of the most captivating in years.

With that in mind, I wanted to go over just a few of the topics worth keeping an eye on in the two and a half months before the postseason rolls around, with my prediction/thoughts on what will take place.

- Which players will be traded before the trade deadline on July 31st?

As of right now — though the likes of Chase Utley, Huston Street and Adrian Beltre have been tossed around — the two players in the spotlight the most when it comes to trade discussion are David Price and Matt Kemp. Both Price and Kemp have been apart of trade talks for awhile, but neither has gone anywhere as of yet. But many people are expecting that to change fairly soon. Price hasn’t been having the type of season that he had a couple of years ago, but he’s still one of the top pitchers in the game today, who will likely bring the Rays a good amount in return, should they decide to deal him.

Kemp is in slightly a different situation that Price, as Price has noted that he doesn’t necessarily want to leave, but Kemp is open to a trade, seeing that he’s currently not being used as an everyday player. Though Kemp has been struggling for a good bit of time due to injuries, when he’s healthy, he’s one of the top superstars in all of baseball. With the outfield situation the Dodgers currently hold — five outfielders for three spots — Kemp will likely be heading somewhere soon.

- Will Jose Abreu break Mark McGwire’s rookie home run mark?Untitled

When Jose Abreu came to the White Sox from Cuba, no one knew fully what to expect from him. But after his first month in the big leagues, everyone knew he was going to be a star for years to come. The first year All-Star set a new rookie home run record for a player’s first month in the majors, and is on the verge of breaking an even bigger record — the most home runs in a season by a rookie.

Mark McGwire set the bar high back in 1987 when he slugged 49 home runs for the Athletics, but Abreu is currently on pace to hit 50 in this his rookie campaign. Even if he doesn’t quite reach that amazing milestone, Abreu is nearly a lock to do what McGwire achieved — win the American League Rookie of the Year award.

- Of the players with poor first halves, which will have a breakout second half?

No player carries the hype that the Nationals’ Bryce Harper does. Coming up back in 2012 and winning the National League Rookie of the Year award, Harper hasn’t yet been able to have the monster season that people had predicted him to put together. Thanks to an injury this season, Harper has played in a mere 34 games to this point, but with him finally healthy, Harper is looking to turn things around and have a breakout second half to the season. With the Nationals tied with the Braves for first place in the division, they could really use a surge from Harper, who has clearly made known that he loves the spotlight. This is his chance to shine.

The Red Sox have failed to meet expectations this season after winning the World Series last year, sitting tied for last place in the American League east with the Rays. Part of the reason for the subpar year to this point has been the subpar performances by many of the players who made big impacts last year, including Xander Bogaerts.

Bogaerts came up for the very last portion of the 2013 season, but he flipped a switch in the postseason, getting important hits in big spots and helping to lead the Red Sox to the championship title. With such a great showing, many people made the prediction that he would make the run for Rookie of the Year this season. Though that’s not going to happen, look for Bogaerts to begin to find George+Springer+Kansas+City+Royals+v+Houston+tKo8zZGt9m9lhis groove in the remainder of the Sox’ games. He’s extremely talented and will surely be able to get things going.

George Springer is having a great season for the Astros, leading the team in RBI’s and tied for the lead in home runs. The only knock to what would be a promising Rookie of the Year campaign is his low .200’s batting average. That’s the one thing that Springer needs to turn around to become the all around star player that people feel he can become.

His power has been evident this year, as has the ability to come through in big spots; and his defense has been impressive as well. With so much talent, having hit .303 with 37 homers last season in the minors, Springer is one of those players that can make the necessary adjustments to get better and better. With the second half of the season beginning, Springer is arguably the players who needs the most watching, as he could have an extremely impressive final few months.

- How many teams can make a solid push at the playoffs?

Probably the most anticipation surrounds the division races, where there are numerous teams that still stand a theoretical shot at one of the ten playoff spots (six division winners, and four wild cards). The Orioles, Tigers, and Athletics currently stand atop their given American League division, with the Nationals and Braves (tied), Brewers and Dodgers holding the first place slot for their National League division. But there are multiple teams that could be in their place once the end of the season rolls around.

The Orioles currently hold a four game lead in the American League East, however, the Blue Jays and Yankees are going to do their part to make the O’s feel pressure in the coming months. While the Blue Jays held the top spot for a long time before falling down a bit, and although the Yankees are struggling to stay in the race, anything can happen, and that’s reason enough to watch the race in the east.

Detroit has a rather big lead over the second place Royals, but after losing the spot to the Royals earlier in the year, they need to keep an eye on Kansas City. It has been “the Royals’ year” for the past several years, with people predicting season after season that they would finally reach their full potential. And therefore, while they won’t likely find themselves beating out the Tigers, they very well could capture one of the wild cards.

One of the most impressive teams for the past few years has been the Athletics. Consisting of players who wouldn’t appear to have much of a troutshot against the rest of the division on paper, the A’s are once again surprising many. Not far behind them are the Angels, who, led by Mike Trout, have finally been able to see all of their key players make full contributions. Less than two games back of first, the Angels are on the verge of a special season.

The National League East division has the Nationals and the Braves at the top, with both standing a good shot at being there at the end of the season. The only question that remains is which one of the two will finish in second. The Nationals are a better team as a whole, and if Bryce Harper can post superstar caliber numbers, they could run away with things. However, if the Nat’s fail to capitalize, the Braves could once again win the division.

But while the National League East has the closest teams, the NL Central is arguably the most competitive, as three of the four teams chasing the first place Brewers are less than four games back. Those three teams being the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates, any of the three stand a good shot at finishing in first. It will come down to who plays better baseball and finishes out the year on a strong note.

It’s basically a two-team race between the Giants and Dodgers for the first place spot in the National League West. Though it’s not as competitive of a division as most of the others in baseball, it’s going to be exciting to see who goes on a hot streak to take the first place spot. As of right now, the favorites are the Dodgers, who were predicted at the beginning of the year to make the playoffs fairly easily, but the Giants aren’t too far removed from their 2012 World Series title, and could potentially make things interesting.

But the only thing that’s for sure in baseball is that you never know what to expect. Teams that you never thought had a shot can go on a historic streak and shock everyone. And thus, with less than three months to go, the baseball world is in for an action packed finish to the season.

2014 Hall of Fame Ballot: If I Had A Vote

The 2014 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is loaded with stars. (There are 36 players in all, with 19 of them being first ballot players.) Whether the player has been on the ballot for numerous years or is a newcomer, there are far too many players for me to give my take on them all. Therefore, I’m only going to be discussing the players I’d vote for if I had a vote, and provide my reasoning for each.

The first player on my ballot would have to be Greg Maddux. 2499811_crop_650x440 Maddux, who will go down in history as one of the best pitchers the game of baseball has ever seen, racked up a total of 355 wins over the course of his 23-year career. As if that wasn’t enough to make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Maddux also put together a stat line of 3,371 strikeouts, to go along with an ERA of 3.16, and 4 straight Cy Young winning seasons. In addition, Maddux holds the record for most Gold Glove awards with 18, and should be one of the highest vote getters in Hall of Fame voting history.

The second vote on my ballot goes to Frank Thomas. 50825152_crop_650x440 Thomas put together an incredible career, and would be an automatic pick for the Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for the steroid era in which he played. But despite that, I feel Thomas will get in as a first ballot player, and rightfully so, seeing that he was never directly connected to PED’s. Blasting 521 home runs in his 19-year career, totaling 1,704 RBI’s, “The Big Hurt” has some of the best stats seen on the ballot in years (with the exception of Barry Bonds). With a .301 batting average to go along with his amazing numbers, and two career MVP’s, Thomas should receive the second most votes from the 2014 ballot, after Greg Maddux.

The next player I have is Tom Glavine. mlb_a_glavine_576 Glavine, as with Greg Maddux, is one of only 24 pitchers to have put together 300 or more career wins (305), done in his 22 seasons in the major leagues. Anytime a pitcher accomplishes this great feat, it’s almost a no brainer that they’re a Hall of Fame player, as a 300 game winner is nearly unheard of nowadays. Glavine also has two Cy Young awards and 2,607 strikeouts to go along with his other impressive numbers, and that, in my mind, should earn him a spot in Cooperstown.

The fourth player on my ballot is Mike Piazza. 345595_crop_650x440 Piazza doesn’t have the most impressive numbers of the players on this year’s ballot, however, the stats that he put together over his career, although not good enough for a first ballot vote, are good enough for the Hall of Fame, in this his second year on the ballot. In my mind, despite barely surpassing the 2,000 hit mark and sitting 90th all time in terms of RBI’s, Piazza put together one of the best ever careers for a catcher. He is fourth on the list of catchers in baseball history for most RBI’s and leads all catchers in home runs. When you combine it all together, it makes Piazza a Hall of Fame player.

The final player I would vote for from this year’s ballot is Craig Biggio. biggio Biggio was the top vote getter of the players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 68.2 percent of the vote, which saw no players getting the necessary 75 percent to be elected. Biggio should get in this time around — many believe he should’ve been a first ballot Hall of Famer — as his 3,060 career hits put him on a list with just 27 other players who have compiled 3,000 or more hits. Biggio’s 291 career homers and 1,175 RBI’s are low for a Hall of Fame player, however, there is a very good case for making an exception for Biggio making it into the Hall.

Unfortunately, with all of the great players this year, I decided to leave off a few of the really good players from my ballot, including Jack Morris (who is in his last year of eligibility), Tim Raines, Don Mattingly, etc., even though I could’ve easily included them. I just didn’t think they were good enough to make the cut this year. In addition, I’ve excluded Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Rogers Clemens, among others traced to PED’s, not based solely on their PED use, but merely because I don’t feel they should get in this time around. Not yet. Maybe not even at all. I haven’t fully decided how I feel.

Though you may disagree with some of the players I feel are Hall of Fame worthy and with some of the players I left off my ballot, it’s just the way I feel and how I see things. Now, I want to hear from you. Of the players on the 2014 ballot, who do you want to see get elected along side of Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa in July? Cast your vote below for the number of players from the 2014 ballot that you would vote into the Hall of Fame, and feel free to leave your thoughts below.

When Is Intentionally Hitting A Player Justafiable?

Whether it’s Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks, Red Sox vs. Rays, or Reds vs. Pirates, more and more lately have pitchers been hitting opposing teams’ star players for retaliation against what they feel a player, or the team as a whole, did to “show them up”. While there are a few baseball fans who seem to enjoy this kind of baseball, I, along with many other baseball fans, am getting somewhat tired of it all. I have no problem with evening the score when necessary, but things have gone far beyond that recently.

To me, the only time it’s “acceptable” to intentionally hit a batter is after you feel an opposing pitcher did the same to a player on your team, for130611-galleryimg-dodgers-diamondbacks-brawl-yasiel-puig-hit whatever reason. Then, if you feel the need, after you plunk the batter, that should be the end of it. You evened the score. But all of this hitting a batter because he celebrated too much after a home run, or a great play, is absolutely ridiculous.

The best way to get back at that player is to get them out. That’s your job anyway. I’ve never understood getting upset for excessive celebrating anyway. Are you supposed to just hold it all in after you hit a home run, or make a diving play? I don’t think so.

But there’s really not much that can be done to stop it. Some have suggested increasing the penalties for suspensions resulting from intentionally hitting a batter, especially when it’s up around the head, but I don’t think that would do a lot of good.

Like with performance enhancing drugs, you’re going to have players who don’t care about the consequences, no matter how great, and just do what they want. And while worsening suspension time might defer a few, there’s no fair way to do it for a pitcher. If you suspend them for 5-10 games, it’s usually only one start. But if you suspend them for 5-10 starts, they miss nearly two months. It’s all very complicated. It’s hard to say exactly what should be done.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m tired of what baseball is turning in to. It’s time to go back to striking a guy out for his past antics, instead of throwing up around his head. It’s time to stop all of this before it gets so far out of control that you’ll never return things to the way they used to be. But unfortunately, it may already be at that point.

No Players Elected To the Baseball Hall of Fame

The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon that, for the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) failed to elect a single player, from the 2013 ballot, into the Baseball Hall of Fame. This causing a vast amount of controversy among the baseball world, as everyone seems to have a different opinion in regards to the voting results.

There are those who are glad that no players got in, there are those who are upset that no players got in, and then there are guys like me, who fall somewhere in between. I’m not all that upset that not a single player received the required 75% of the vote needed to get into the Hall of Fame, but, at the same time, I would’ve liked to have seen at least a couple of guys make it into the HOF, from the 2013 ballot.

But it is what it is; there’s always next year.

Bonds-Rocket-hofWhat it comes down to for me is the fact that this didn’t have to happen. Had the ‘Steroid Era’ never of occurred, the likes of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds would’ve been first ballot Hall of Famers, no question about it. Instead, they might not ever get in, as they only received 37.6% and 36.2% of the vote, respectively, this time around. For them to eventually get a plaque in the Hall of Fame, they will have to amass double the number of votes they did in this year’s vote, and I just don’t see that happening.

While they each have an additional 14 years of eligibility, I feel the voters have already made up their minds, for the most part. While a few members of the BBWAA might’ve merely held off in voting for Bonds and Clemens, in this their first year, just to prove a point, and might end up voting for them eventually, either you think Bonds and Clemens should get into the Hall of Fame or you think they shouldn’t. End of story.

But where does that leave the rest of the players from that era? Guys like Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling, who were never proven to have taken anything, but fall under the cloud of suspicion due to the era in which they played. Well, I see it like this:

They pretty much fall into the same category as those connected to PED use. Either the voters are going to vote for them, or they aren’t. There’s not much grey area here, as far as I can see, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the voters aren’t going on suspicion alone and just decided not to vote in Biggio, Piazza and Schilling this time around for one reason or another. For the sake of the Hall of Fame, I surely hope so. Leaving out Biggio, Piazza and Schilling would be a real shame.

The other main player I’d like to talk about, that many people feel should be a HOF’er, but didn’t make the cut yet again this year, is Jack Morris. Morris was a great player, but, in my mind, he’s not Hall of Fame worthy.

jack_morris-thumb-250x375-4861The thing that gets me the most when people try to make a case for Morris, is their tendency to use the intimidation factor as the reason they feel he deserves to get in; that you didn’t want to face Morris in any given situation. But it’s not the Hall of Intimidation, it’s the Hall of Fame. The place where the games’ all-time greats get enshrined to forever be seen by generations of baseball fans to come. To me, a career 3.90 ERA just doesn’t cut it. Thus, I agree with Morris not getting in–this being his 14th time on the ballot.

While the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot saw no players receiving the necessary number of votes needed to get elected, there are multiple players set to be added to the ballot in 2014 who are shoo-ins to get in on the first go around.

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are three of the favorites to do just that, with some making the same case for guys like Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent. We’ll just have to wait to see, but no matter what happens, there are sure to be at least a few players who get into the Hall of Fame in 2014.

In addition to the near certainty that several players will be voted in in 2014, next year’s vote should tell the tale once and for all of whether or not Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens stand even a slight chance of ever getting into the Hall of Fame.

If their percentages jump a large amount–due to BBWAA members voting for them that didn’t in 2013–they might have a shot of getting in, several years down the road. If they fail to receive greater than a few more percentage points, however, I’d say it’s a lost cause for two of the best players to every play the game of Major League Baseball.

AUTOGRAPH SUCCESS!!!!

I just received my first success EVER, when it comes to getting autographs through the mail. I sent out a card to Mariano Rivera and Mark McGwire, a little while ago, and just received the Mark McGwire back.
Mark McGwire Auto. Card.JPG
Here’s a closer look at the autograph itself:
Closeup.JPG
I hope to receive the Mariano Rivera back sometime this week, so stay tuned….

Also, the tickets for the June 21st Reds Vs. Yankees game came in the mail today. Can’t wait to go. (The game is EXACTLY 3 months from today!) Happy Spring.

UPDATE

I never did recieve the an autograph back from Mo. Or even the card, for that matter.

The Waiting Begins…….

Remember 5 days ago when I blogged that I was going to send out a few items this week, in hopes to have them sent back signed? Well, just in case you have a bad memory, or didn’t read it at all, CLICK HERE. (Or just scroll down.)

Anyway, I sent out two cards so far. A Mark McGwire and a Mariano Rivera. I know that Mark McGwire did steroids, and that Mariano Rivera is extremely popular. But according to sportscollectors.net, they are both signing a good deal of autographs through the mail. So I decided to give them both a shot.

I’ll post pictures of the autographs when/if, I get them back, in a later entry…….

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