Results tagged ‘ Mike Trout ’

Albert Pujols Unlocking Youthful Self

In game one of a doubleheader against the Red Sox on Monday afternoon, Albert Pujols blasted a homer to left for his 547th career home run. But as stunning as that is, it would turn out to be the second game on the day that would have people talking.Pujols

Facing Red Sox knuckleballer, Steven Wright, Pujols smacked a hanging knuckler into the left field seats in his first at-bat, tying him with Mike Schmidt on the all-time home run list. Later in the game, Pujols hit yet another dinger, giving him two for the game, three on the day, and moving him into 15th place on the all-time chart.

Pujols hasn’t been playing this way for quite some time. Since signing a 10-year, 240 million dollar contract with the Angels in 2012, the Angels have been expecting this kind of production from Pujols — the kind he recorded in his days in St. Louis. But Pujols has been just a shell of his former self; until recently, that is.

Since May 28th, Pujols has been on a tear, hitting 21 of his 29 homers on the season. Becoming the first Angels player since 1995 to homer in both games of a doubleheader, it would appear that Pujols is back in full force. But it’s not just Pujols who is putting on a show. Mike Trout also smacked a homer of his own on Monday, giving him 28 on the year in what has become a back and forth home run battle between him and Pujols.

Currently, Pujols is on pace to smack 51 home runs — that would be a career high — with Mike Trout on pace for 49. If that happens, they would become just the sixth pair of teammates to finish with 45+ home runs. If they can both reach 50, they would match a mark set by only one other pair of teammates in baseball history: Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in 1961.

But while on pace numbers are never a number to be set in stone, Trout and Pujols are well on their way to becoming the first teammates to finish in the top two spots for home runs on the season since Manny Ramirez (43 homers) and David Ortiz (41) did so back in 2004. That would still be an amazing feat.

With the Angels playing great baseball, thanks in large part to the hot bat of Albert Pujols, many people are foreseeing them making an even deeper run into the playoffs than the one they were swept out of in 2014. However, with Pujols just seven homers away from passing Manny Ramirez on the home run list, and just 15 away from jumping over Reggie Jackson, a lot of eyes will also be focused solely on Pujols.

Having stated that he plans to fully play out his contract, which runs through 2021, Pujols has a chance at making things really interesting down the road. 600 home runs is a lock for sure, but 700 isn’t out of the question. Assuming Pujols is sitting around 565-570 homers at the end of the season, with six full seasons left to go on his contract, that comes out to right around 22 home runs per season. Very doable, if you ask me.

It all just depends on how long Albert Pujols can keep the fountain of youth flowing.

2015 Award Frontrunners at the All-Star Break

Sunday marked the last day of MLB games until after the All-Star break, and although the baseball world is looking forward to seeing baseball’s best sluggers put on a show in the home run derby, I wanted to quickly focus my attention on the players who have posted amazing performances throughout the first half of the season.

For this post, I’m covering the players who I feel stand the best chance right now (given, it’s still early) of winning the three major awards of Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Cy Young. All three awards have multiple players who can be argued as being deserving, but I have my own opinion as to who deserves each award the most at this point in the season.

Most Valuable Player Award

American League: Mike TroutLos Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Kansas City Royals

After a couple of seasons of getting beaten out for the award by Miguel Cabrera, Trout is finally breaking out into an every season Most Valuable Player. Already having blasted 26 home runs, and well on his way to another 100+ run year, Trout could be picking up another MVP at the season’s end.

National League: Paul Goldschmidt

I nearly went with Bryce Harper for this category, and when all is said and done, he very well may win it. But there is no ignoring what Paul Goldschmidt is doing for the Diamondback’s. With a .340 batting average, 21 homers and 70 RBI’s, Goldschmidt is having an MVP caliber season.

Rookie of the Year Award

American League: Lance McCullers Jr.McCullers

Picking Lance McCullers Jr. was by no means an easy choice, as there are a few other pitchers and position players that have stats that stand out, but I decided that he was currently the leader. With a 2.52 ERA over 11 games started, McCullers is really impressing a lot of people around the baseball world.

National League: Joc Pederson

It is somewhat difficult to pick between Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant for who deserves the award, but I ended up going with Pederson. Despite batting in the lower .200’s, Pederson’s 20 home runs so far is extremely impressive for a rookie. In my mind, that’s enough to earn him the award.

Cy Young Award

American League: Sonny GrayGreinke

Although there is a good amount of competition at the break for the American League Cy Young award, Sonny Gray leads the charge. With a 2.04 ERA over 18 games started, and an opponent batting average below .200, Gray is in a good spot if he can keep pitching the way he has.

National League: Zack Greinke

Once again, there’s a Dodgers pitcher out in front of the candidates for Cy Young award, but this time it’s not Clayton Kershaw. Instead, Kershaw’s teammate, Zack Greinke, is the one dominating the league. With an incredible ERA of 1.39 after 123.1 innings pitched, Greinke would have to fall apart to not win the award.

Whether or not you agree or disagree with my picks for who deserves each award at this point in the season, one thing is for sure: there is still a lot of season left where any player can have anything happen. With 15 of the 30 teams at .500 or better, in terms of wins-losses go, regardless of the award races, the games following the mid-summer classic are sure to make for an exciting second half.

Who I’d Like to See In the 2015 Home Run Derby

Although we don’t yet know who the captain for the American League and National League home run derby team is going to be, I wanted to go ahead and give my take for which players I’d like to see in the home run derby up in Cincinnati on July 13th. Assuming the rules change from 2014 that saw an additional player being added to each league’s derby team stays the same, I selected the five players from each league that I wanted to see in the derby.

While there are some players that I left off, for one reason or another, I feel the players I selected would make for a great 2015 home run derby, as they all have to ability to hit a good amount of home runs as well as doing so for big power. With the 2015 home run derby just over three weeks away, here are the players I’d most enjoy seeing take part:

American League

Nelson Cruz: Of all the players from the American League to choose from, this was the easiest of them all. Nelson Cruz led all of baseball in home runs back in 2014, and is well on his way to finishing near the top again. Although Cruz can hit tape measure shots, I think he would do well in the derby due to his ability to hit numerous home runs as well. He would put on a show.

Josh Donaldson: Donaldson isn’t that widely known as a slugger, but he has been a breakout player over the past few seasons, and is having a great year with the Blue Jays this season. Donaldson can really launch the ball a long way, and I think that he would stand a shot at winning if he can find a groove and stick with it. Having him in the derby would definitely be fun.

Mark Teixeira: This isn’t the most obvious of picks, as Teixeira has been up and down over the past few years, but he is having a good season this year, and he should be in the home run derby. Somewhat surprisingly sitting in the top five of the American League in homers, Teixeira would be a general sleeper pick for the derby, but if he could get things going, he would last awhile, I believe.

Mike Trout: There truly isn’t anything in baseball that Mike Trout isn’t good at, and that includes hitting home runs. Trout is currently one of the most well known and liked players in baseball, and having him take part in the derby would get more people to watch. And I feel that they would be treated to a show, as Trout would likely hit several long homers on his pursuit of the title.

Edwin Encarnacion: Josh Donaldson’s teammate, Edwin Encarnacion, can hit a ball just as far, if not farther, than nearly every other player in the big leagues. It’s that ability to launch balls a great distance that I think would make him great for the derby. He would be able to put on a show, hitting balls deep into the stands, and would stand a good chance at making it deep into the derby.

National League

Paul Goldschmidt: Goldschmidt is well on his way to having a great season yet again, and that includes posting a large number in the home run category. Goldschmidt has the ability to hit numerous home runs in addition to hitting them a great distance, and that makes him perfect for the home run derby. He would represent the National League extremely well in the competition.

Todd Frazier: Frazier would be on my list of derby participant regardless of the fact that his team is hosting the All-Star festivities, as he has great stats that warrant the selection. However, it is an added bonus that Frazier is a Red, and that would inevitably make him a fan favorite among the crowd. Frazier might not win, but he will give the fans an extra something to cheer for.

Giancarlo Stanton: Stanton was the favorite to win the 2014 derby by nearly everyone, but he disappointed to say the least. But although he didn’t win, Stanton hit balls further than nearly all of his competition and was still able to put on a show. With him having another great year, I think Stanton would do better in the derby and deserves another shot at winning the whole thing.

Joc Pederson: The fact that Pederson is merely a rookie and is launching home runs as if he’s been in the majors for a decade is remarkable. And that’s why he deserves to be in the derby. Pederson would likely hit balls farther than anyone with the exception of Stanton, and he would be able to put on a great show. Therefore, having Pederson in the derby is something I’d really like to see happen.

Bryce Harper: Harper surprised some people in the 2013 derby with how well he did, and with him having such a good season this time around, I think he should be in the derby once again. Harper isn’t liked by some around the baseball world, but his talent can’t be denied. If Harper can find a pace he’s comfortable with, I think he stands a really good shot at the derby crown.

So, those are my picks for who I’d like to see in the 2015 home run derby up at Great American Ballpark on July 13th. Odds are that not all of them will be selected, but I truly hoped the majority of them are in the derby. Do you agree or disagree with my picks? Who would you like to see participate? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

My Ballot for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game

The ballot for the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star game has been out for awhile now, but I’ve been holding off with casting my votes for who I’d like to see in the game up in Cincinnati on July 14th. With it seeming like the ballot is coming out earlier and earlier each year, I wanted to give players enough time to put up quality numbers before I made any decisions. But I finally feel there are enough stats to make a logical decision.AllStar

Voting is simple. Although there are no longer paper ballots that you can pick up and fill out at your local ballpark, you can head over to MLB.com and fill out an online ballot with the player you feel most deserves the honor for each position. You can vote up to 35 times for the players of your choice. (Voting is open until July 2nd.)

I cast my maximum 35 votes a few days ago. Although the All-Star game is still just under two months away, I figured I’d go ahead and go over the players I picked for the Midsummer Classic. A lot of things can change, with my picks subsequently changing as well, but these are the players I went ahead and voted for to make the All-Star game:

FIRST BASE: Miguel Cabrera (AL), Adrian Gonzalez (NL)

It came down to Miguel Cabrera, Eric Hosmer and Mark Teixeira for me in the American League portion of the first base spot. While Teixeira leads in homers and RBI’s, his batting average was too low for me to select him. In addition, Eric Hosmer has fewer homers and RBI’s than Cabrera in more at-bats, and thus, I picked Miguel Cabrera.

In the National League, it was another tough decision. While Paul Goldschmidt is producing another year worth of MVP caliber numbers, and although Anthony Rizzo is getting better and better, I voted for Adrian Gonzalez. Getting off to a hot start to begin the year, Gonzalez holds the second highest batting average in baseball and deserves to make it.

SECOND BASE: Jose Altuve (AL), Dee Gordon (NL)

Jose Altuve leading all of American League second baseman in stolen bases, sitting second in average and third in homers was enough to get him selected by me to make the All-Star game. Although Devon Travis of the Blue Jays has been a highlight reel each night, Altuve is one of the most exciting second basemen in baseball.

The National League race for All-Star second baseman was an easy decision on my part. Dee Gordon is deserving of the spot, no question about it. Gordon doesn’t have any home runs, but that’s not his game. He leads all NL second basemen in stolen bases, and holds a batting average above .400. That’s deserving of All-Star recognition.

SHORTSTOP: Marcus Semien (AL), Brandon Crawford (NL)

I’ll be honest — I had to double check Marcus Semien’s stats when I was casting my vote for American League shortstop. I knew he was having a good year, but I didn’t realize how good. Leading the American League shortstops in homers and stolen bases, Semien is the unlikely frontrunner for the honor.

It was no easy task to choose a shortstop that had the best stats for the All-Star game. There are a ton of them with good numbers in one category or another. But while names such as Zack Cozart, Jhonny Peralta, etc., stood out, I went with Brandon Crawford, who has good numbers as well as the amazing defense to match.

THIRD BASE: Josh Donaldson (AL), Todd Frazier (NL)

You could make cases for Manny Machado, Mike Moustakas, Josh Donaldson and even Evan Longoria for the American League third base spot in the All-Star game. But I went with Donaldson, who is having a fantastic year. Sitting second in homers but first in RBI’s among AL third basemen, Donaldson should be in Cincy in July.

The first and only Red on my list — likely to be a favorite with the Reds hosting the All-Star game — is Todd Frazier, who I selected for NL third base in the midsummer classic. His batting average isn’t the best, but he is at the top in homers and is deserving in my mind of the honor.

CATCHER: Stephen Vogt (AL), Buster Posey (NL)

This is somewhat of a shocking pick, but a very deserving one. Stephen Vogt wasn’t all that well known as recently as a year ago, but his bat is making him more of a common name. Vogt leads AL catchers in average, home runs and RBI’s, and should lead them in voting when all is said and done.

I could’ve easily picked Miguel Montero or Yasmani Grandal to make the start behind the plate for the National League, but I went with the always consistent Buster Posey instead. Posey leads AL catchers in homers, and should be adding another All-Star game to his already impressive resume.

DESIGNATED HITTER: Nelson Cruz

Although the designated hitter role in the All-Star game goes to David Ortiz the majority of the time, there is simply no other choice for DH this year than Nelson Cruz. It’s not even close. Cruz leads all designated hitters in homers, runs batted in and average, and will be in the All-Star game up in Cincinnati.

OUTFIELD

It’s never easy to narrow down several dozen players to three All-Star picks 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, Josh Reddick and Adam Jones (AL)

Mike Trout was a nobrainer, as he once again is in the process of posting another fantastic season, but the other two spots were somewhat difficult with all of the great players. In the end, after examining all of the stats, I made the tough choice of Josh Reddick and Adam Jones. I hope to see them in the All-Star game starting lineups.

Bryce Harper, Justin Upton and Giancarlo Stanton (NL)

As with Mike Trout in the AL, picking Bryce Harper for National League outfield was the easiest choice of the three. But after a lot of debate between the candidates to fill the other places, I wound up choosing Justin Upton and Giancarlo Stanton. Upton is having a good year, and despite a subpar average, Stanton is dominating yet again.

Trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame

A little over eight years ago, back in June of 2006, I took a trip with my family to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, as part of a two week journey around the Northeast. I wasn’t extremely into baseball back then, but I enjoyed it just enough that I would’ve gotten a decent experience out of the visit. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Due to major flooding in the surrounding area, the Hall of Fame was closed, and we had to settle for a visit to a nearby baseball wax museum — an interesting place, but one that obviously paled in comparison to the main attraction in town.

In the years since, I’ve become one of the biggest baseball fans you’ll ever meet, constantly following the game and studying up on the stars of today and years past. Therefore, it had slowly become a must for me to make it back to Cooperstown at some point during my life. Although I imagined a return trip would take place a couple of decades or more from the time I last made the long trek up to New York from North Carolina, a plan for my dad, grandpa and I to take another trip to the Hall of Fame was quickly orchestrated over the past few months. And thus, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the three of us made our way to New York.

On Saturday, November 29th, we got up early and made the drive from our hotel in Binghamton, NY, over to Cooperstown, arriving at a little bit after 9:00 in the morning:

DSCN7426As you may have noticed, there was snow on both of the trees to each side of the doors, as well as icicles hanging at various lengths from the roof. The cause of the snow and ice is one element of the trip that wasn’t present in June of 2006: cold weather. Far from the warm summer temperatures of our last visit, it was fairly cold (as is to be expected in late November), with the day starting off at around 10 degrees. But, thankfully, the Hall of Fame doesn’t close for cold temperatures, and we were actually able to make it past the front door this time around.

Upon entering the Hall and purchasing our tickets, we walked up the stairs to the second floor, where we caught a brief introduction movie, before beginning the tour of the museum.

One of the first pieces of memorabilia that we saw, and one of the most interesting of the day, was an old baseball that was used to “prove” that Abner Doubleday was the inventor of baseball, back in 1839:

DSCN7427However, contrary to popular belief, Doubleday didn’t invent baseball. As the display discussed, Doubleday was given credit for the sport’s origin, but a version of baseball had been being played for numerous years prior to 1839. Although the exact inventor of baseball isn’t fully known, credit for the rules of today’s version of the game — 90 feet between bases; 9 innings; 9 players per team — was awarded to Alexander Cartwright, the “Father of Modern Baseball”.

But while the invention of baseball wasn’t Abner Doubleday’s, there was an interesting non-baseball item that was in fact his own:

DSCN7436As a lover of history, including the Civil War era, these shoulder epaulets belonging to Doubleday during the war were very cool to see. Though not directly related to baseball, I came to find that the off the wall items such as these — not just baseballs, bats, jerseys, etc. — were some of the most interesting things to see.

But the baseball memorabilia was amazing as well; especially that of baseball’s well known all-time greats, such as Honus Wagner. Playing from 1897 through 1917, mainly for the Pittsburgh Pirates, there was a locker filled with Wagner stuff, such as one of Wagner’s full uniforms (used while he was a manager):

DSCN7442Wagner’s 1909 T206 baseball card holds the record for the most valuable sports card in existence, having sold for a whopping 2.8 million dollars back in 2007. So seeing the rare items tied directly to Wagner was amazing.

But things kept getting better and better as the journey through the museum continued. Next up was an entire section dedicated to the most well known player in baseball history: Babe Ruth. Among the items on display were a baseball estimated to have been hit by Ruth over 500 feet (picture 1); Ruth’s glove from the 1926 World Series (picture 2); a display of various things, such as one of Ruth’s bats (picture 3); and an autographed Babe Ruth baseball (picture 4):

RuthFollowing the Ruth exhibit, there was an exhibit dedicated the Negro Leagues, titled “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience”. The most well known Negro League player has to be Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier back in 1947, going on to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. However, the exhibit focused on more than just Robinson. Also included in the exhibit, that helped tell the story of the Negro Leagues, were uniforms worn by Satchel Paige (left) and James “Cool Papa” Bell (right):

Negro LeaguesPaige is likely the most widely known Negro League pitcher, having pitched three shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox in 1965 at the age of 59, becoming the oldest player ever to play in the majors. Bell, while not as much of a household name as Paige, was just as amazing in his own way. Possessing blazing speed, it was said that Bell could “turn off the light and be under the covers before the room got dark” and that Bell once “hit a ball up the middle of the field and was struck by the ball as he slid into second base”. Though merely stories people liked to tell, it goes to show just how much Bell’s speed stood out to people.

Next in line on the path through the museum was “Diamond Dreams”, which showcased the many roles that women have played throughout the history of baseball, including playing the game themselves. The 1992 movie ‘A League of Their Own’, staring Tom Hanks, Geena David and Madonna, among others, covered this very topic of women playing the baseball. And therefore, the exhibit included costumes from the movie itself:

DSCN7475

After spending some time reading about the history of women in baseball, the three of us then made our way through a collection of items from 1930-1970, including things used by all-time greats, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle, before finding ourselves in a portion of the museum dedicated to Latin American baseball players, entitled ‘Viva Baseball’:

DSCN7483Although everything in the exhibit was interesting and fun to learn about, there were some items that interested me more than others. Two of the key items for me were David Ortiz’s 2004 World Series jersey (left), from the year the Red Sox broke their 86-year Championship drought, as well as a jersey worn by Albert Pujols (right) during his 2001 Rookie of the Year winning season:

LatinBoth players are likely on their way to the Hall of Fame for their careers once they retire.

The next section we came upon covered baseball up through the year 2000. Some of the top things around the exhibit were a Tom Seaver display (Seaver holds the record for highest Hall of Fame induction voting percentage, with 98.8 %) that included the red cleats from his 300th career win (picture 1); George Brett’s pine tar bat from 1983 (picture 2); Robin Yount’s batting helmet from his 3,000th hit (picture 3); and Derek Jeter’s 1998 World Series cleats (picture 4):

Today's GameAlthough I enjoyed every portion of the museum, seeing this type of stuff from players that I’ve seen countless hours of video on truly made it all the more impressive.

That’s one of the reasons I most enjoyed the last room of the second floor that had items from the last decade or so of the game. One of the great things about these items was that I could remembered seeing a lot of the unique events they were tied to take place on TV, either live or in a recap of the game. The room was organized into thirty different lockers (one for each team) positioned around the walls, with several items for each team in each locker.

Remember back in 2012 when Orioles’ slugger Chris Davis came on to finish out the marathon 16 inning game on the mound against the Red Sox after beginning the game as the designated hitter? Well, the cap Davis was wearing was there:

DSCN7516Do you recall the unbelievable home-run-robbing catch made by DeWayne Wise in 2009 to preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game? They had the glove he used to snag the ball:

DSCN7520In fact, pretty much anything of significance that has happened within the past number of years was included in this exhibit. The cleats Miguel Cabrera was wearing the night he secured baseball’s first Triple Crown since 1967 (picture 1); the cleats Mike Trout wore when he recorded his first career cycle (picture 2); Jim Thome’s 600th career home run (picture 3); and the cap Mariano Rivera wore during his final All-Star outing of his career in 2013 (picture 4):

todays-game

It was all there.

Also in the room — in a display case in the very center — was an arrangement of items specifically from the 2014 Major League Baseball season. Although a bat from Jose Abreu’s rookie year was awesome to see, as were the cleats Albert Pujols was wearing when he blasted his 500th career home run, the thing that stood out to me the most was the jersey worn by Mo’ne David during the Little League World Series:

DSCN7549

Having watched Davis pitch on T.V. throughout the series, as well as seeing her on the cover of Sports Illustrated and basically anywhere you looked, it was awesome to see the jersey used by the first girl to earn a win in Little League World Series history.

After taking in all the things from this season, and doing my best to photograph it all, we all made our way up to the third floor of the museum. There, in a Hank Aaron exhibit, we saw another unique item not directly related to baseball, like the Abner Doubleday epaulets talked about earlier — bricks from Aaron’s childhood home in Alabama:

DSCN7557But while that was awesome to see, the Hall of Fame also had the full uniform Aaron was wearing the night he passed Babe Ruth for most home runs on the all-time home run list:

DSCN7561

That was pretty remarkable to see after watching him hit that historic blast over and over on T.V.

However, as we all know, Aaron’s career mark of 755 home runs didn’t stand. Barry Bonds went on to pass Aaron, with his 756th home run coming on August 7, 2007. The helmet Bonds was wearing when he hit the homer was on display, as was the ball itself:

DSCN7573You may have noticed that the ball has an asterisk cut out of the cover. The story behind that lies with Marc Ecko — the person who bought the ball online for $752,467. After purchasing the baseball, Ecko held an online contest to determine its fate. Voters had three choices: put an asterisk on the ball; leave it alone; or shoot it to the moon. Around half of the ten million votes said an asterisk should be added before the balls donation. And thus became the ball you see above.

Also in this room, focusing on records and such, were some pretty incredible things. Among them was Derek Jeter’s batting gloves from his 3,000th hit game (picture 1); a cap from each of Nolan Ryan’s record seven career no-hitters (picture 2); first base from Armando Galarraga’s infamous near-perfect game (picture 3); a ball from the 2007 game in which the Rangers defeated the Orioles 30-3 (picture 4); the jersey from Roy Halladay’s postseason no-hitter in 2010 (picture 5); and, my personal favorite item, possibly of the entire museum, the glove Willie Mays used to make “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series (picture 6):

Baseball

In all, I took more pictures in this one section of the museum than any other section. It was truly amazing stuff.

Towards the end of items on the third floor was a display with memorabilia solely from the 2014 World Series between the Giants and the Royals. Watching every single inning on T.V. as it happened, is was awesome to see some items from the series in person. But the one thing that stood out the most was rookie pitcher Yordano Ventura’s cap that he wore for his game six start:

DSCN7598

In addition to being a standout item because of the great outing Ventura had, it’s the inscription on the cap that makes it stand out the most. After the tragic death of 22-year-old Cardinals’ prospect, Oscar Taveras, Ventura took to the mound with “RIP O.T # 18” written on his hat as a tribute to his native Dominican Republic friend. It was touching on T.V., and even more so in person.

Once we had viewed all there was to see on the third floor, my grandpa, dad and I headed down the street to grab a bite of lunch at a nearby restaurant before returning to continue walking around the Hall of Fame. Believe it or not, after over three hours spent at the Hall (and after 35 pictures and 2,000 words in this blog post), there was still more to see and do.

After returning to the Hall of Fame, we headed over to an art exhibit, which normally isn’t my thing but really intrigued me this time around. Following that, we headed through a room dedicated to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees — Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux — before arriving to the Hall of Fame’s main point of interest: The Hall of Fame Gallery:

DSCN7618With the current number of Hall of Famers standing at 306 total people — 211 players, 35 negro leaguers, 28 executives, 22 managers and 10 umpires — there were a lot of plaques to cover, but we made our way around to every single one.

As with every part of the museum, there were a few portions (in this case, people) that stood out the most.

The first of such was the inaugural class of five plaques (located at the far end of the picture above), being of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, all of which were inducted in 1936 — three years before the Hall of Fame’s opening in 1939:

DSCN7636Standing out as a member of the Hall of Fame that isn’t necessarily as known as the everyday players such as Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Cy Young, etc., was Wesley Branch Rickey (left), accompanied by Jackie Robinson (right):

Robinson

Rickey was the person who brought Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers in 1945, making him the first African American player to break baseball’s color barrier when he made his debut two years later.

Another lesser known member is Effa Manley — the only woman in the baseball Hall of Fame:

DSCN7633

Manley was greatly involved in the Negro Leagues as the only woman owner among an industry of male owners. Her induction came in 2006 as a “reflection of her commitment to baseball and civil rights”.

One last person who is more known for what he did than who he was is Bill Veeck:

DSCN7657

Mostly known for his stunt of bringing the shortest player in MLB history to the plate in 1951 — 3 foot 7 inch tall Eddie Gaedel — Veeck made a major impact on the game, stating, “I try not to break the rules but merely to test their elasticity”.

Upon completion of viewing all of the plaques, we made a brief stop by the gift shop, where I picked up a T-shirt and a magnet to commemorate my second trip and first successful visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Following that, after half a dozen hours or so spent at the Hall of Fame, my dad, grandpa and I swung by historic Doubleday Field, which was covered in snow . . . :

DSCN7686. . . before making our way out of town and back to our hotel.

I didn’t fully know what to expect from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sometimes you can get your hopes up so high that the actual experience fails to meet those lofty expectations. But I can honestly say that the Hall of Fame completely blew away all my expectations. It was so well set up and so greatly stocked with some incredible pieces of baseball history that there was no way I could document it all — both with my camera or in this blog post.

So, if you haven’t, go see the Hall of Fame for yourself. It’s truly something that every single baseball fan should do at least once in their lifetime. You’ll never forget it.

Trout and Kershaw Win MVP Award

The Most Valuable Player award was first given out in 1911 to Ty Cobb of the American League and Frank Schulte of the National League. Originally known as the Chalmers award, named after Hugh Chalmers, the award didn’t catch on as well as had been hoped, and therefore was discontinued after the 1914 season.

In 1922 the League Awards were established to honor the baseball player in the American League (National League began being recognized in 1924) who provided the greatest all-around service to their club. The winner — who received a medal and cash for winning — was voted on by a committee of eight baseball writers, with a player not being able to win more than once. Like the Chalmers awards, these awards didn’t last long, stopping in 1929.

Finally in 1931 the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Most Valuable Player award was established, which is the award still given out today.

Sixty-five players who have won the Most Valuable Player award have gone on to the Hall of Fame up until this point — several of those winners are still active players, however. The current record for most MVP awards is held by Barry Bonds, with seven, but thirty total players have won multiple Most Valuable Player awards in their career.

Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.

Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Most Valuable Player award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player fourteen points, a second place vote gets nine points, a third place vote receives eight points, a fourth place vote is worth seven points, and so on, all the way until tenth place for one point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.

The 2014 Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Thursday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:

AMERICAN LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Original Pick: Mike Trout

Finalists: Mike Trout, Michael Brantley and Victor Martinez

Winner: Mike Trout

Thoughts On Mike Trout Winning

After finishing runner up in the American League Most Valuable Player award voting to Miguel Cabrera the past two seasons, it was finally Mike Trout’s turn to receive the honor. With Cabrera having a down year, by his standards, Trout finally picked up his first career MVP award on Thursday night, joining Mickey Mantle as the second player ever to win their first MVP after having placed second in the previous two MVP votes.

Mike+Trout+85th+MLB+Star+Game+bFwsOZWoltLlTrout also joins the likes of Stan Musial, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the list of players to win an MVP at age 23 or younger, with Trout being the youngest ever unanimous winner.

Picking up all 30 first-place votes, Trout received a total of 420 points, beating out Victor Martinez, who finished in second with 229 points, and Michael Brantley, with his 185 points.

Despite batting just .287 on the year — a full 48 points lower than Victor Martinez — and finishing third in strikeouts (184) in all of baseball, Trout did more than enough to take home the MVP. Blasting a career high 36 home runs and 111 RBI’s, while scoring over 100 runs for the third straight season, Trout had the “most valuable” season of any other player in the American League.

Although Mike Trout needs to work on putting the ball into play a bit more, which will subsequently bring his average up to around .300, there’s little argument that he’s the best player in baseball at the moment. And at just 23 years old, the remarkable thing is, he’s going to get better and better.

NATIONAL LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Original Pick: Clayton Kershaw

Finalists: Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton and Andrew McCutchen

Winner: Clayton Kershaw

Thoughts On Clayton Kershaw Winning

Clayton Kershaw was hands down the best pitcher in baseball this past season. The only question up for debate was whether or not Kershaw was the most valuable player in the National League. While some people simply don’t believe that a pitcher should win the MVP award, with them playing every fifth day instead of everyday, enough of them wound up voting for Kershaw, earning him the honor.

Clayton KershawThe ninth player to ever win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season, and the first National League pitcher to win the MVP in 46 years, Kershaw definitely had a historical season. Although he missed the first full month of the season, Kershaw still ended up with the most wins (21) in all of baseball, in addition to posting the best overall ERA (1.77) and the highest strikeout per nine innings rate (10.8).

Kershaw’s dominance gained him 18 of the 30 first place votes, totaling 355 points. Giancarlo Stanton, who many felt had a great shot at winning the MVP after blasting 37 home runs this season, finished runner up with 298 points and 8 first-place points, with Andrew McCutchen getting the remaining 4 first-place nods, good for 271 points altogether.

Having pitched just a total of 198.1 innings in 2014, Kershaw breaks the old record for fewest innings tallied by a pitcher to win the MVP award, previously held by the last pitcher to win the MVP award, Justin Verlander, who threw 251 innings in 2011.

Although it’s difficult to predict from season to season which player will win a given award, there’s the chance that Kershaw could eventually become the fourth pitcher to ever win more than one Most Valuable Player award in their career. Given, that’s somewhat unlikely. But if anyone can do it, Clayton Kershaw surely can.

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.

2014 Players’ Choice Awards

The 2014 Major League Baseball Players’ Choice Award winners were announced last night on MLB Network. Unlike the BBWAA awards, these awards, as the name would suggest, are voted on by players from around baseball each September, when they receive a ballot to make their picks for each category. Six categories in all, American League players vote for American League players with National League players voting for National League players, with the exception of the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award and the Player of the Year award, in which players from both leagues vote for a single player.

The winning player for each category is awarded a grant from the MLB Players Trust, ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 dollars, depending on the award that they win. The money goes to the winner’s choice of charity, with some players deciding to split up the money between multiple causes. This marks the 22nd annual Players Choice Awards, which began in 1992. Here’s a recap of the winners, with my thoughts on each:

OUTSTANDING ROOKIE AWARD ($20,000)

AL Nominees – Jose Abreu, Matt Shoemaker and Danny Santana

AL Winner – Jose Abreu

NL Nominees – Billy Hamilton, Jacob deGrom and David Peralta

NL Winner – Jacob deGrom

Although I feel that Dellin Betances should’ve been one of the American League nominees for Outstanding Rookie after the great season he had, I can’t argue at all with the winner. Jose Abreu had an unbelievable inaugural season, hitting 36 homers with the White Sox, and will likely be a big part of their future in the many years to come. On the National League side of the award, it came down to Billy Hamilton and Jacob deGrom for me. But although it was a close call, Hamilton hitting around .250 earns deGrom the award.

OUTSTANDING PITCHER AWARD ($20,000)

AL Nominees – Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber and Chris Sale

AL Winner – Felix Hernandez

NL Nominees – Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright

NL Winner – Clayton Kershaw

All three American League nominees had incredible seasons worthy of recognition, but Felix Hernandez had the best statistical season of them all. Posting a career high 15 wins and a career low 2.14 ERA, Hernandez was the obvious choice. As was Clayton Kershaw. Taking home the Outstanding Pitcher award for the National League, Kershaw had a historic season with a miniscule 1.77 ERA, and there was no way that he wasn’t going to win this award.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD ($20,000)

AL Nominees – J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez and Chris Young

AL Winner – Chris Young

NL Nominees – Tim Hudson, Casey McGehee and Edinson Volquez

NL Winner – Casey McGehee

Obviously the one award that a player least wants to receive, meaning that they bounced back from years of injuries or poor performance. (But the important aspect, I suppose, is that the player did in fact bounce back.) Winning the Comeback Player of the Year award for the American League was Chris Young (the pitcher, not the outfielder) along with Casey McGehee for the National League. Both players had tremendous 2014 campaigns, coming off recent struggles on both their parts.

OUTSTANDING PLAYER AWARD ($20,000)

AL Nominees – Mike Trout, Jose Altuve and Victor Martinez

AL Winner – Mike Trout

NL Nominees – Josh Harrison, Clayton Kershaw and Giancarlo Stanton

NL Winner – Giancarlo Stanton

Seemingly getting better and better each year, with plans to get even better in 2015, Mike Trout was the players’ choice for Outstanding American League player of the year. Scoring over 100 runs for the third straight season, and breaking the 30 homer mark for the first time in his young career, Trout could be taking this award home for many years. For the National League, Giancarlo Stanton received the honor. Despite an injury which cut his season short, players agreed that Stanton, with his incredible display of power, is the rightful winner.

MARVIN MILLER MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD ($50,000)

Nominees – Clayton Kershaw, Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rizzo

Winner – Clayton Kershaw

The Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award is given each year to the player most recognized for outstanding on-field performance and off-field contributions to his community. Past winners include Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones and Mariano Rivera, among many others. This year, the award went to Clayton Kershaw, whose ‘Kershaw’s Challenge’ looks “to encourage people to use whatever God-given passion or talent they have to make a difference and give back to people in need”. Combine Kershaw’s community contributions with his 2014 stats, and he definitely is the top choice for the prestigious award.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD ($50,000)

Nominees – Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout

Winner – Clayton Kershaw

Taking home his third award of the night, and bringing the total amount of money donated by the MLB Players Trust to $120,000, Clayton Kershaw takes dominance of award winning to a new level. Going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA over the course of the season, Kershaw likely is just getting started. With the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) awards being given out next week, it’s almost certain that Kershaw will take home the National League Cy Young award — with many putting him in line to win the NL MVP as well.

Recap of My Votes for the 2014 MLB Major Awards

Before I begin my recap of my votes for the major MLB awards, I want to take a second to acknowledge both the Royals and the Giants on advancing to the 2014 World Series. Both teams were outstanding in their given league championship series, with the Royals sweeping and the Giants losing just once. And thus, it should make for a very entertaining World Series, which begins in Kansas City on Tuesday. But while I’m going to Awardmake some World Series predictions in my next blog post, this post is meant to focus solely on the major MLB awards.

Over the past week, or so, I’ve been typing up individual posts on who I feel most deserves the awards of American League and National League Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player.

Some of the choices were easy, while others took a great deal of debate. But in the end I went with my gut of who I feel deserves each award the most.

In case you missed a few (or all) of my Major League Baseball award posts, I wanted to do a brief recap. Here are my picks that I made for each category:

American League Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu

National League Rookie of the Year: Jacob deGrom

American League Cy Young: Felix Hernandez

National League Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw

American League MVP: Mike Trout

National League MVP: Clayton Kershaw

Feel free to click the links associated with each award to be taken to my post on it, giving the full reasoning behind my picks. I’m planning to post a blog entry covering the winners of each award when they’re announced towards the middle of next month, comparing my original picks to the winners and giving my overall thoughts, so be sure to check back for that.

My Vote for 2014 A.L. Most Valuable Player

Choosing the Most Valuable Player from each league is the most difficult decision of all the major baseball awards handed out at the conclusion of each season. With Rookie of the Year and Cy Young you can look solely at which player had the best overall stats, but Most Valuable Player sometimes involves a bit more than just stats. While it’s important that an MVP winner had a great statistical year, the best offensive player doesn’t automatically become the most valuable.

With that said, it was an even more difficult vote for me this season than it has been in seasons past. There are several players, including Corey Kluber, Felix Hernandez, Victor Martinez, Nelson Cruz and Mike Trout, who were all extremely valuable members of their given team in the American League. However, in the end, only one player can win the Most Valuable Player award.Trout

Corey Kluber and Felix Hernandez, while they were both terrific and extremely valuable parts of their team, can quickly be eliminated off the list for Most Valuable Player. Despite the fact that I have them finishing in the top two spots in Cy Young voting with their 2.44 and 2.14 ERA’s, respectively, they simply didn’t post historical stats that overtake the offensive numbers of an everyday position player in the American League. Therefore, while their teams would’ve definitely ended their seasons with much different records without them, neither one has the numbers for MVP.

On the other side of the coin, Victor Martinez posted some of the best numbers in all of the American League, and deserves to at least be in the MVP discussion. After breaking out and blasting 32 home runs and driving in 103 runs, Martinez certainly helped carry a Tigers team that held a lot of issues with their pitching staff, on this a year that Miguel Cabrera posted subpar numbers by his standard. Batting .335 on the season, second to only Jose Altuve in all of baseball, Martinez was one of the most well rounded players this season. Even so, he likely won’t end the year with MVP honors.

Nelson Cruz is one of the top options for American League MVP in my opinion, despite the fact that many people don’t see him as a top choice at all. Coming over to the Orioles in the offseason, and posting career highs in a number of categories, Cruz helped carry the Orioles to the postseason even at times when things weren’t looking too promising. Leading all of baseball in homers, with 40, and driving in over 100 runs for the first time in his career, Cruz had a fantastic season. But it wasn’t good enough to come out on top.

For me, the door has finally opened for Mike Trout to walk away with the 2014 American League Most Valuable Player award. Although his batting average was down from 2013, and his strikeouts were way up, Trout put together an MVP-caliber season to say the least. Along with scoring over 100 runs for the third straight season, Trout also blasted 36 home runs and recorded over 100 RBI’s (111) for the first time in his career. Everything together, after finishing runner up to Miguel Cabrera each of the past two years, the numbers Trout posted in 2014, combined with the down year by Cabrera, make things very likely that Trout will finally receive the Most Valuable Player award for his efforts.

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