Results tagged ‘ National League ’

Who I’d Like to See in the 2016 Home Run Derby

The 2016 MLB Home Run Derby is exactly one month away, and I’m already excited. Although the official All-Star game is the must-see event in the mind of many baseball fans of what has become a three-day spectacle, for me, the Home Run Derby is the most thrilling of all the events.

With the rules of the derby being changed last year back to just eight players, and with hitters going up against a clock instead of ten outs, many baseball fans had a negative reaction to the change, but I truly liked it. I feel that it made things more fun to watch overall, and should do so again this time around. This year, the derby is taking place at Petco Park in San Diego. Not known as a hitters’ park, it should be interesting to see how the derby goes, but the players I chose each have no trouble hitting a ball out of any ballpark.

I picked my players based on four specific chriteria per league: I chose the current league leader, a rookie, an under-the-radar power hitter, and a personal selection. By choosing guys with a lot of power, but also by selecting a wide range of players, I think the players I went with for the American League and National League would make for a fantastic 2016 Home Run Derby.

American League

Mark Trumbo: After having a somewhat subpar season by his standards in 2015, Trumbo has exploded back onto the scene this season, becoming the first player to reach the 20-homer mark in early June. Having the most home runs in the American League, in addition to his tremendous power and ability to hit numerous blasts, Trumbo was the easiest pick of the American League half of things.

Nomar Mazara: This time last year, the majority of baseball fans had never even heard of Nomar Mazara. However, more and more fans are hearing of him now. Mazara holds unbelievable power, and should have the platform to show it off at the home run derby this year. Being a rookie, it would certainly bring interest into the derby, as fans look to see how the young star-in-the-making fares.

Khris Davis: Baltimore’s Chris Davis has been known for his power for quite some time now, but the Athletics’ own Khris Davis (with a ‘K’) isn’t far behind in that department. Originally a member of the Brewers, Davis has been on a tear ever since switching teams, and has shown off his power on numerous occasions this season. I feel that he needs to be one of the players in the derby this year.

Nelson Cruz: There are a lot of different ways this pick could have gone, and I spent a great amount of time debating it in my mind, but I wound up landing on Cruz. Known simply as the ‘Boomstick’, Cruz carries a ton of power in his bat, and would be some major competition for the National League side to compete with. Playing his home games at Safeco Field, Cruz is used to hitting at pitcher-friendly parks, and would do well at Petco.

National League

Nolan Arenado: There’s no doubt that Arenado has power to burn, tying for the most homers in all of baseball last season with 42, and well on his way to reaching that mark yet again. By playing in Colorado, Arenado doesn’t get the attention that he would if he were to be playing in a larger market, but he’s leading the National League in homers yet again and it would be a disservice to the event if Arenado didn’t participate.

Corey Seager: When Corey Seager came up at the final portion of last season and put on a hitting show, you could immediately tell that all of the hype was warranted, which hasn’t always been the case historically. This season, he’s done nothing but improve upon that hype, in this still his rookie year. Having a three-homer game earlier this season, the power is definitely there for Seager, and I think he’d do well in the derby.

Wil Myers: Injuries have plagued Myers over the course of his career, but without putting a jinx on him, it looks like Myers in on the verge of a major breakout season. Although he was once a consensus top-five prospect, I don’t feel he’s getting the attention he deserves. The derby would allow for that, in addition to his participation giving the hometown fans someone to root for, like Todd Frazier in Cincinnati last year.

Yoenis Cespedes: A home run derby without Cespedes just wouldn’t be the same after seeing what he’s capable of in previous derby spectacles. For that reason, I chose him as my fourth pick to take part in the derby. While Cespedes has struggled at time this season following a red hot start, he has the ability to put on an absolute show for both number of homers and distance in which he hits them, making him worthy of selection.

So, those are my picks for who I’d like to see in the 2016 Home Run Derby down at Petco Park on July 11th. Odds are that not all of them will be selected, but I truly hoped the majority of them are in the derby. It would make the Home Run Derby very exciting to watch, in my opinion.

Latest MLB Leaders (April 3rd – May 31st)

With the first two months of the 2016 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been exciting as well as disappointing, depending on how you look at it and who you’re rooting for.

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

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

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – HITTING

Most Games Played – Matt Duffy and Edwin Encarnacion (54).

Most At-Bats – Mookie Betts (230)

Most Hits – Daniel Murphy (77)

Highest Average – Daniel Murphy (.397)

Highest OBP – Ben Zobrist (.445)

Highest SLG – David Ortiz (.716)

Most Runs – Mookie Betts (49)

Most Doubles – David Ortiz (23)

Most Triples – Thirteen players tied for most (4).

Most Home Runs – Nolan Arenado and Todd Frazier (16).

Most RBI’s – David Ortiz (47)

Most Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (49)

Most Strikeouts – Trevor Story (76)

Most Stolen Bases – Jonathan Villar (19)

Most Caught Stealing – Norichika Aoki and Mallex Smith (7).

Most Intentional Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (13)

Most Hit By Pitch – Brandon Guyer (14)

Most Sacrifice Flies – Chris Carter and Bryce Harper (5).

Most Total Bases – David Ortiz (126)

Most Extra Base Hits – David Ortiz (38)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Albert Pujols (10)

Most Ground Outs – Adam Eaton (90)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Mike Trout (1,038)

Most Plate Appearances – Mookie Betts (246)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins – Jake Arrieta, Chris Sale and Stephen Strasburg (9).

Most Losses – Five players tied for most (7).

Best ERA – Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta (1.56).

Most Games Started – Forty-six players tied for most (11).

Most Games Pitched – Zach Duke (28)

Most Saves – Jeurys Familia and Jeanmar Gomez (17).

Most Innings Pitched – Clayton Kershaw (86.2)

Most Hits Allowed – Wily Peralta (85)

Most Runs Allowed – Anibal Sanchez (47)

Most Earned Runs Allowed – Dallas Keuchel (43)

Most Home Runs Allowed – Max Scherzer (15)

Most Strikeouts – Clayton Kershaw (105)

Most Walks – Tom Koehler (35)

Most Complete Games – Four players tied for most (3).

Most Shutouts – Clayton Kershaw (3)

Best Opponent Avg. – Jake Arrieta (.161)

Most Games Finished – Jeurys Familia (25)

Most Double Plays Achieved – Martin Perez (17)

Most Wild Pitches – Sonny Gray (9)

Most Balks – Matt Andriese and Joakim Soria (3).

Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Noah Syndergaard (15)

Most Pickoffs – Nick Tropeano (4)

Most Batters Faced – Johnny Cueto (318)

Most Pitches Thrown – Justin Verlander (1,191)

Latest MLB Leaders (April 3rd – April 30th)

With the first month of the 2016 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been exciting as well as disappointing, depending on how you look at it and who you’re rooting for.

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

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

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – HITTING

Most Games Played – David Peralta (26)

Most At-Bats – Jean Segura (111)

Most Hits – Jean Segura (37)

Highest Average – Aledmys Diaz (.423)

Highest OBP – Dexter Fowler (.474)

Highest SLG – Aledmys Diaz (.732)

Most Runs – Josh Donaldson (24)

Most Doubles – Four players tied for most (11).

Most Triples – Jackie Bradley Jr. (4)

Most Home Runs – Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story (10).

Most RBI’s – Robinson Cano, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rizzo (24).

Most Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (25)

Most Strikeouts – Justin Upton (38)

Most Stolen Bases – Jose Altuve (9)

Most Caught Stealing – Cesar Hernandez, Mallex Smith and George Springer (4).

Most Intentional Base On Balls – Brandon Crawford and Joe Mauer (5).

Most Hit By Pitch – Brandon Guyer (6).

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

Most Total Bases – Manny Machado and Trevor Story (64).

Most Extra Base Hits – Four players tied for most (17).

Most Grounded Into Double Plays – David Freese and Dustin Pedroia (6).

Most Ground Outs – Yunel Escobar (46)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Hunter Pence (497)

Most Plate Appearances – Jean Segura (116)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins – Four players tied for most (5).

Most Losses – Brett Cecil (5)

Best ERA – Jordan Zimmermann (0.55)

Most Games Started – Chris Archer and Zack Greinke (6).

Most Games Pitched – Zach Duke and Neftali Feliz (14).

Most Saves – Kenley Jansen (9)

Most Innings Pitched – Chris Sale (38)

Most Hits Allowed – Zack Greinke (47)

Most Runs Allowed – Jorge De La Rosa (24)

Most Earned Runs Allowed – Jorge De La Rosa and Zack Greinke (23).

Most Home Runs Allowed – Seven players tied for most (7).

Most Strikeouts – David Price (46)

Most Walks – Yordano Ventura (20)

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

Most Shutouts – Six players tied for most (1).

Best Opponent Avg. – Danny Salazar (.139)

Most Games Finished – Jeanmar Gomez (12)

Most Double Plays Achieved – Martin Perez (11)

Most Wild Pitches – Trevor May (5)

Most Balks – Twelve players tied for most (1).

Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Noah Syndergaard (9)

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

Most Batters Faced – Zack Greinke (166)

Most Pitches Thrown – Chris Archer (586)

My Initial 2016 MLB All-Star Game Ballot

We aren’t even a month into the baseball season, and the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star game ballot has already been released. I feel it’s a little too early to be casting votes for the Midsummer Classic, as some superstar players have gotten off to rough starts and will likely get back to their former glory by the time the All-Star game arrives on July 12th out in San Diego, while some previously unknown players who have busted out of the gate will likely be merely trickling along by that time.San Diego

But even so, I decided to go ahead and post a blog on the subject, regardless of the earliness of it all.

Voting itself 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 5 times per day, and 35 times total, for the players of your choice. (Voting is open until June 30th.)

Due to the All-Star game still being over two months away, I divided things up a bit this year. I’m going to go ahead and cast 15 votes for the players I feel are All-Star worthy as of now (the players discussed below), with a plan to go back and cast my other 20 available votes in the final week leading up to the actual game. Odds are, at least a few of them will be different, but as for right now, here are the players at each position that I feel are deserving of playing in the 2016 MLB All-Star game:

FIRST BASE:  Joe Mauer (AL),  Adrian Gonzalez (NL)

With guys such as Eric Hosmer, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis to choose from in the American League portion of things, this wasn’t necessarily an easy decision, but I ended up going with Joe Mauer. Leading the pack in batting average, Mauer has really gotten off to a nice start of what looks to be a bounce back season.

For the National League, I chose Adrian Gonzalez. He is second in the National League first basemen group in average, and is off to an equally good start as Joe Mauer. Amazingly, Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo are all batting down around .200, making this a somewhat easy choice.

SECOND BASE: Ian Kinsler (AL),  Neil Walker (NL)

Picking between Jose Altuve and Ian Kinsler was rather difficult, as both have stats very similar to the other. In the end, however, I chose Kinsler for the all-around game he brings to the table. While Altuve has had a hot bat to begin the season, it’s Kinsler who I feel can continue to hold his streak the longest.

There are multiple options for National League secondbaseman, with Daniel Murphy and Jean Segura’s high averages jumping out as All-Star worthy. But I wound up picking Neil Walker, who has a combination of a good average, along with a high early homer total that make him All-Star game worthy.

SHORTSTOP:  Carlos Correa (AL),  Zack Cozart (NL)

After winning the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year award, I currently have Carlos Correa being the AL starting shortstop at the All-Star game as well. Correa plays a great defense and has just as much pop in his bat as anyone around baseball. Therefore, I picked him on my ballot.

The National League shortstop spot goes to Zack Cozart in my mind. While Trevor Story leads the pack in homers and RBI’s, the majority of those came during his extremely hot (and historic) first several games. Recently, Story has cooled off a ton, and the shortstop spot is Cozart’s to lose, in my opinion.

THIRD BASE: Manny Machado (AL),  Nolan Arenado (NL)

There are a ton of worthy candidates in the American League for All-Star game third baseman, but, unfortunately, I could only choose one on my ballot. Josh Donaldson, Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos and even Adrian Beltre all have cases. But I went with Manny Machado, who has been incredible to start the season.

Going against Maikel Franco and Kris Bryant was extremely hard to do, especially with them getting off to good starts, but I didn’t go with either of them. Instead, I went with Nolan Arenado. Although his stats aren’t much better than any of the other options, Arenado is one of the best both offensively and defensively at the position.

CATCHER:  Salvador Perez (AL), Wellington Castillo  (NL)

Though his average is a good distance away from the magic .300 mark, Salvador Perez is deserving of the All-Star catcher slot. He is having a great season in Kansas City, once again, and easily earns my vote. Always consistently good, Perez is one of the best catchers in the game, and should be honored as such.

Yadier Molina is always the heavy favorite for National League starting catcher, and he is once again on top in batting average. But I didn’t go with Molina. Instead, I went with breakout catcher, Wellington Castillo. Castillo is having a great year to this point, and he has a very good case for being named the starter in July.

DESIGNATED HITTER: David Ortiz

David Ortiz could be hitting .100 by the time the All-Star game rolls around and he still would be worthy of the vote. Being his final season, and with all he’s done over his career, he deserves it no matter what. But the stats are there, regardless. Ortiz more than deserves to play in his final All-Star game.

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:

Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout and Steven Souza Jr. (AL)

Picking Mark Trumbo and Steven Souza Jr. was a bit tough, but they’re having too good of seasons for me to ignore. Although they likely won’t be the top vote-getters when all is said and done, they earn my vote for now. Mike Trout, on the other hand, was a no-brainer. Despite a slow start, Trout is heating things up, and is still a superstar.

Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes and Ryan Braun (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 Yoenis Cespedes and Ryan Braun, who are each having uniquely great seasons, and are each very exciting players to watch.

National League Predictions for 2016

For the fifth season in a row, I’m making predictions (you should too) as to how I feel each Major League Baseball team will fare throughout the coming season. Although I haven’t come close yet to predicting the exact finishing order of each division (I picked the Mets to finish fourth in 2015 and they made it to the World Series), it’s a new year, and with it comes a new chance to luck out and get everything right.

I posted my predictions for the 2016 American League Season on Monday, and today I’m going to give my predictions for the National League (along with my reasoning), starting with the National League East:

EAST

1. Mets

2. Nationals

3. Marlins

4. Braves

5. Phillies

The Mets proved to the baseball world last season that they are a team that is finally ready to win. In the past, there had been a lot of talk surrounding the Mets that each season would finally be their year, but things inevitably fell through for them in the end. In 2015, however, they finally emerged, with Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom leading the charge and setting the tone each and every night. I expect them to have even better seasons individually this year, and with it will come more success as a whole. But although their pitching rivals that of any other squad in baseball, it’s their combination of good pitching and good offense that will seal the division title for them. Resigning Yoenis Cespedes was their biggest retention of the offseason, as he, along with veterans Curtis Granderson and David Wright, will assuredly be more than enough to push them past their rival Natinoals.

If the Nationals had signed Yoenis Cespedes as was reportedly attempted this offseason, I would have them in much better shape. Even so, I still feel a second place finish and possible Wild Card spot isn’t out of the question. Although their offense is likely going to be better this season, with a fully healthy Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman looking to slug along side of 2015 National League MVP Bryce Harper, I don’t see it as being good enough to hold off a good Mets’ pitching staff for first place. After all, the Nats seemingly had everything in place in 2015, as the signings of big time pitcher Max Scherzer made them immediate favorites. But a lot went wrong for Washington last season, making it hard to predict for sure how they will fare this time around. To me, Stephen Strasburg needs to finally have his superstar breakout season in order for the Nationals to have any shot at overthrowing the division favorite Mets.

A healthy Marlins team has proven in the past that they can compete with any team in baseball. However, I don’t feel confident that they have all the pieces it takes to place any higher than third in a division that has the Mets and Nationals fighting for the first place slot. What makes it so difficult is the fact that beyond Jose Fernandez, who looks ready to return back from missing most of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery, the Marlins don’t have any other pitchers who can absolutely dominate an opposing teams lineup. Furthermore, beyond Giancarlo Stanton, who really needs to have a fully healthy season in order to contribute monster numbers to his club, Miami isn’t all that loaded in the offensive side of things. Justin Bour had a nice breakout year for them in 2015, and Dee Gordon has emerged as one of the game’s best hitting second basemen, but I don’t see this Miami club as being capable of any sort of special year.

With sights set on 2017, when they will officially move from Turner Field to a brand new ballpark across town, the Braves are likely headed for another disappointing year. Getting rid of Shelby Miller (even though it brought back number one overall pick Dansby Swanson) was a huge mistake in my opinion, as it drastically weakens what was already a poor rotation. Beyond Julio Teheran at the top, and Matt Wisler, who is poised for a breakout year, the Braves don’t really have all that much to throw at opposing teams. Additionally, their lineup has a few key pieces to it, such as Freddie Freeman, Michael Bourn and Nick Markakis, but those guys likely won’t be able to carry the team on their own. In my mind, for a Braves team that hasn’t been the same offensively since losing Justin Upton to the Padres (he’s now with the Tigers), the best thing they can do is hope for better things when they relocate in 2017.

When you look at the talent the Phillies have coming fast in their minor league system, it would appear that this will be the final year of what has turned into a drastic rebuilding process for the Phillies. After winning division title after division title, Philadelphia has been a shell of its former power house club in recent years. Ryan Howard is entering the last year of his contract with the Phillies, but I’m not expect a tremendous amount from him, as he hasn’t been able to perform on the superstar level he once did. Beyond Howard, the only other player in the Phillies lineup who I could see having an above average year is Maikel Franco, who was great last season. Their rotation isn’t much better, as they have a few nice pieces, but nothing overly dominant. Even so, their farm system is loaded with impact players knocking on the door to Philadelphia. Therefore, as I’m viewing it, this could be the last disappointing year for quite awhile.

CENTRAL

1. Cubs

2. Cardinals

3. Pirates

4. Reds

5. Brewers

The National League Central division appears to have all the makings of a classic division rivalry between the top three finishers, but I have the Cubs really breaking through in 2016. They were able to make it into the playoffs last season, but were eliminated before they could make any major run towards breaking their World Series drought. But the offseason addition of John Lackey to go along with Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in a relatively strong rotation put them as frontrunners. Their lineup was good last season, but I think they’ll break through even further in the coming year. Adding Jason Heyward to their outfield will inevitably improve their club, and rookies from a year ago, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell should build upon their 2015 years to form what looks to be a division title club. If all goes as planned, this could be the year the Cubs make it deep into the postseason, and maybe even the World Series.

While I have the Cubs finishing in first place, the Cardinals are certainly not going to go down without a fight, and will give Chicago a true run for their money. With Yadier Molina returning from a season in which he missed most of due to injury, he should help both their offense and pitching staffs improve. Beyond him, Jhonny Peralta and Matt Holiday are looking to post solid numbers once again, with Stephen Piscotty, Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter figuring to have large contributions as well. Moreover, the Cardinals pitching staff should be tremendous, if Adam Wainwright can pitch the way he’s capable of, along with Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn. Also having a lock down closer in Trevor Rosenthal to come in for the ninth inning, if St. Louis can see their starters having good outings night after night, they could rack up a lot of wins when all is said and done this season.

The Pirates are going to finish in a close third place in my mind. While they have an All-Star closer in Mark Melancon, much as the Carinals do in Rosenthal, Pittsburgh simply doesn’t have the top notch pitching staff I feel they need to find themselves forcing the Carinals and Cubs to sweat. Beyond Gerrit Cole, who is sure to have another star season, the Pirates top options of Jeff Lock and Francisco Liriano are too inconsistent for me to feel they will have that big of an impact. Their lineup is fairly solid, with Jung Ho Kang and Josh Harrison, as well as an outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte, but the rest of their lineup isn’t all that dominant. But athough they likely won’t be able to hold off the powerful Cubs and Cardinals, the Pirates have a ton of talent in the high minors who should be helping very soon. With that in mind, they could see a big jump in wins starting as soon as 2017, if not late this year.

I originally had the Reds coming in last in the National League Central division, but upon closer inspection of their roster, I moved them up to fourth. Even so, it is looking like it will turn out to be another rough season in Cincinnati. Although their lineup isn’t exactly terrible, possessing guys such as Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, it isn’t great, either. The Reds will go on solid runs at time, as virtually every club winds up doing, but I have a hard time picturing them sustaining anything. On the pitching side of their club, the loss of Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees will no doubt hurt their bullpen, where they don’t have too much depth. Surprisingly, however, their strongest suit may turn out to be their rotation. If given a chance, I think Robert Stephenson could be a big impact pitcher for them, along with Homer Bailey, Brandon Finnegan and Michael Lorenzen giving a little spark to the Reds coming poor year.

Both the lineup and pitching staff of the Brewers can be summed up in four words: good, but not great. Their entire team is made up of guys who have been good (or even really good) at one point or another, but have also been very inconsistent. Ryan Braun in hands down their best and most impactful player, and with the exception of Scooter Gennett, Chris Carter and Jonathan Lucroy, Braun is really the only above average player on the squad. Wily Peralta, Matt Garza and Jimmy Nelson have each had great outings as part of the Brewers’ rotation, but they all also hold a lot of uncertainty heading into this season as to how they will actually fare. While there may be a few bright spots throughout the year in which certain players go on a hot streak that subsequently help propel Milwaukee forward, I don’t see anyway they make any major postseason push. There doesn’t appear to be much to be excited about for 2016.

WEST

1. Giants

2. Diamondbacks

3. Dodgers

4. Padres

5. Rockies

My predictions for the National League West nearly saw me placing the Diamondbacks in this slot, with the Giants finishing in second place. But I can’t ignore the fact that San Francisco’s lineup is better overall than that in Phoenix. Lead by the offense of Buster Posey, the Giants also have several more very impact bats such as that of Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Matt Duffy and Brandon Crawford. But what really gives the Giants the slightest of edges over the D-backs is their pitching staff, which is truly solid. The pickups of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija should help them to perform well, as they already had star hurler Madinson Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Chris Heston. Though you never can fully predict where a team will fall at the end of any given season, I feel fairly confident that the Giants will be able to hold off the Diamondbacks and come out on top if they can perform the way that they are capable of.

I’m fully on board the Diamondbacks’ bandwagon, but it’s not just because a lot of people around the baseball world are believing in them heading into 2016. Picking up both Zack Greinke, who had a historic season last year, as well as Shelby Miller, will go along way in helping the D-back’s rotation that already included star Patrick Corbin, among others. Their bullpen is good as well, with guys such as Brad Ziegler and newcomer Tyler Clippard set to shut things down in the late innings. Offensively, the D-backs aren’t going to score tons of runs every night, but they still possess quite a bit of pop. Guys like Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, David Peralta and Yasmani Tomas should be able to lead this club to a lot of victories if everything holds up on the pitching side. All things considered, it should wind up being a far more successful year in the desert than what they saw just a year ago.

While the Dodgers still have the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Keshaw, who you can more than count on to post Cy Young caliber numbers once again, the remainder of their rotation is somewhat questionable. Losing Zack Greinke to the Diamondbacks this past off season will likely turn out to be a big blow to an already subpar Dodgers pitching staff, as Greinke was absolutely amazing in 2015. Los Angeles’s lineup is fairly decent, with sluggers Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Adrian Gonzalez still ready to impact ballgames, as well as Rookie of the Year favorite Corey Seager also set to make his talents more widely known. However, I’m just not fully convinced that the Dodgers will be good enough to fare any better than the middle of the pack in the West. They have too many holes in their overall team for me to think that they have any shot of reaching the postseason in the coming year.

The Padres were the story of the 2014 offseason, as their general manager, A.J. Preller, made some amazing moves that brought a ton of talent to San Diego and made a lot of people believe in the Padres for 2015. But things simply didn’t go as planned. This season, expectations aren’t nearly as high, with a fourth place finish predicted from me. They lost dominant closer, Craig Kimbrel, to the Red Sox this offseason, and that will inevitably hurt in the long run. In their actual rotation, they still have a solid three of James Shields, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, but they won’t be enough to maintain a season long winning streak. Other than Matt Kemp and an injury-plagued Wil Myers, the Padres don’t really have a lot of thump in their lineup that will be able to offset their lack of pitching, either. For that reason, the ultimate highlight of the year in San Diego will likely be them hosting the All-Star game in July.

Finishing under .500 every season since 2011, the Rockies aren’t looking to fare much better in the coming year. Although they play 81 games in a ballpark where offense is given a definitive edge, as the ball really flies in the mile high city of Denver, the Rockies truly don’t have a lot of big power bats to tap into the thin air. Beyond Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado, who should both put up monster numbers yet again, Denver merely has some solid players in the form of guys like DJ LeMahieu, Ben Paulsen and Charlie Blackmon. Although they are each good players, I don’t see it doing a whole lot of good, especially without a dominant pitching staff. Other than recently high-ranked prospects Jon Gray and Eddie Butler, who have been hit and miss to this point in their careers, the Rockies don’t have any true power hurlers who they can count on to post big outings each night. Thus, I don’t see Denver going much of anywhere in 2016.

Donaldson and Harper 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.

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.

There is no specific criteria for the voters to use when choosing the Most Valuable Player, but some suggested attributes include value of a player to his team (strength of offense and defense), number of games played, and a player’s overall character, disposition, loyalty and effort.

The 2015 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: Josh Donaldson

Finalists: Lorenzo Cain, Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout

Winner: Josh Donaldson

Thoughts On Josh Donaldson Winning

Anytime a players posts a .297 average with 41 home runs and 123 RBI’s, they have to be considered as a very strong candidate for Most Valuable Player. That’s exactly what Josh Donaldson was able to do this season, and he was the Donaldsonfavorite heading into the award announcement on Thursday night.

Josh Donaldson wound up winning by a fairly large margin, amassing a total of 385 points off of 23 out of 30 first place votes, with Mike Trout getting the other 7 first place votes and 304 total points, and Lorenzo Cain placing third with 225 points of his own.

This marks the third time that Trout has finished second in the American League MVP voting, joining him with Mickey Mantle for second most runner up finishes in baseball history. But with the year Donaldson had, you simply had to pick him to take home the honor.

Helping the Blue Jays make the playoffs for the first time since 1993, Donaldson came up time and time again throughout the year for Toronto, and proved his value in some very big spots. He becomes just the second player in Blue Jays team history to win the Most Valuable Player award.

If Donaldson can keep it up and post another incredible season in 2016, it very well may not be his last time in the running for the award.

NATIONAL LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Original Pick: Bryce Harper

Finalists: Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper and Joey Votto

Winner: Bryce Harper

Thoughts On Bryce Harper Winning

There were three finalists for the National League Most Valuable Player award, but there was truly only one choice. The year Bryce Harper had made him more than deserving of the award in the minds of many people. Inevitably, the Baseball Writers Association of America agreed.Harper

Bryce Harper received all 30 first place votes for a collective 420 points. Paul Goldschmidt received 234 points, and Joey Votto got 175 point from the voters, earning him a third place finish.

At 23 years of age (Harper just turned 23 in October), Harper becomes the youngest player to ever win the MVP by a unanimous vote, and just the seventh all-time. In addition, Harper’s MVP is the first in Washington franchise history.

Batting .330 with 42 home runs, combined with a .460 OBP due to 124 walks, made Harper the easy pick for the award. While the Nationals didn’t make it to the postseason — a factor that has played a large part in the voting in recent years — it didn’t truly matter. His stats were more than worthy of him being the first player since Albert Pujols in 2008 to win MVP from a team that didn’t reach the playoffs.

Finally able to have a fully healthy season after battling injuries over the early part of his career, Harper ultimately was able to break out as a superstar, and all signs point to him being able to keep it up as he matures into his prime.

Both Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper had terrific seasons in which they came up time and time again all season long for their given teams, making them very valuable. Moving forward, they will undoubtedly be in the MVP conversation in future seasons. It should be interesting to see which players emerge to challenge them in 2016.

Keuchel and Arrieta Win Cy Young Award

The Cy Young award — named after the Hall of Fame pitcher who died in 1955 — was first handed out in 1956 to Don Newcombe, with the goal of recognizing the “most valuable pitcher” from each season. The first eleven years of the award saw one pitcher per year receiving the honor, but in 1967 the Cy Young began being handed out to a pitcher from each league who was voted on as the best from the season.

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 Cy Young award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player seven points, a second place vote gets four points, a third place vote receives three points, a fourth place vote is worth two points, with a fifth place vote earning a single point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.

The 2015 Major League Baseball Cy Young award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Wednesday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:

AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG

Original Pick: David Price

Finalists: Sonny Gray, Dallas Keuchel and David Price

Winner: Dallas Keuchel

Thoughts On Dallas Keuchel Winning

Things couldn’t have been any closer statistically between Dallas Keuchel and David Price. Keuchel posted a 2.45 ERA on the season compared to Price’s 2.48 mark; Keuchel won 20 games, while Price netted 18; Price won in the strikeoutDallas Keuchel race, but only by a total of nine punchouts. To make a long story short, their seasons were nearly identical.

Because of the close race, I unsuccessfully picked Price to win, but Keuchel ultimately had a slight edge by pitching 232 innings that included three complete games and two shutouts.

In addition, Keuchel set the record for most games won at home in a single season without a single loss, with 15 (the previous record was 13). For those reasons, the end result wasn’t as close as many had predicted.

Dallas Keuchel won the Cy Young award fairly easily, receiving 22 of the 30 first place votes for a total of 186 points, with David Price coming in second with 143 points and 8 first place votes, and Sonny Gray coming in third with a total of 82 points.

The season Dallas Keuchel had was inarguably unbelievable, and it should be very interesting to see if he can keep it up moving forward. Keuchel becomes the first Astros pitcher to win the Cy Young award since 2004, when Roger Clemens won the honor.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG

Original Pick: Jake Arrieta

Finalists: Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw

Winner: Jake Arrieta

Thoughts On Jake Arrieta Winning

As close as the American League Cy Young race was, the National League side of things was even closer. With Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw all having terrific seasons in vastly different ways, it was difficult to pick between them for who was most deserving.Arrieta

Even so, it was Arrieta who wound up winning the National League Cy Young award. While Greinke’s 1.66 ERA was unfathomable, and Kershaw continued his dominance with 301 strikeouts, Arrieta did something in the second half of the season that I feel truly put him over the top in the Cy Young voting.

Following the All-Star game, Arrieta went on a stretch never before matched in the history of the game. Arrieta posted a mere 0.75 ERA over the entire second half of the season, bringing his ERA down to 1.77 on the year, and ultimately was a big factor in the Cubs making the postseason.

Jake Arrieta got 17 total first place votes for a collective 169 points, barely beating out Zack Greinke’s 147 points including 10 first place selections, and Clayton Kershaw who received three first place votes of his own but finished third with 101 points.

The fifth Cubs pitcher to ever win the award, and the first since Greg Maddux in 1992, Arrieta continues the Cubs’ offseason award winning streak. With Kris Bryant winning the Rookie of the Year and Joe Maddon picking up the Manager of the Year award, the Cubs become the first team with three major award winners since the Mariners in 2001.

With this year’s Cy Young award race being the closest it has been in years, it makes everyone around the baseball world begin to look ahead to the 2016 season. The best teams are usually the ones with great pitching, and it should be fun to see how Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta, and their respective teams, do in 2016 and beyond.

2015 Players’ Choice Awards

The 2015 Major League Baseball Players’ Choice Award winners were announced Monday night on MLB Network. Unlike the BBWAA awards, these awards (as the name would suggest) are voted on by players from around baseball MLB Choiceeach September, when they receive a ballot to make their picks for each category. Seven 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, Always Game 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 10,000 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 24th 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 – Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Miguel Sano

AL Winner – Carlos Correa

NL Nominees – Kris Bryant, Matt Duffy and Jung Ho Kang

NL Winner – Kris Bryant

The players absolutely got it right in my opinion. Both winners are likely to pick up the BBWAA Rookie of the Year awards when they are announced next week, as each had terrific campaigns. After a .279 average with 22 homers and 68 RBI’s, all while playing a great defensive shortstop all at the age of 21, Carlos Correa is sure to be a big part of the Astros for the next decade or two. Likewise, Kris Bryant had an unbelievable season, hitting 26 homers and notching 99 RBI’s, helping to send the Cubs back to the playoffs for the first in what would seem to likely be several years to come.

OUTSTANDING PITCHER AWARD ($20,000)

AL Nominees – Sonny Gray, Dallas Keuchel and David Price

AL Winner – Dallas Keuchel

NL Nominees – Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw

NL Winner – Zack Greinke

As with Rookie of the Year, you very well could be looking at the winners of the BBWAA Cy Young award with this category. Dallas Keuchel and Zack Greinke went about their success in different ways, but both had results that made them dominant each and every start. Keuchel had a breakout season, going 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA. All season long, he was lights out for the Astros and was a big part of them making it to the postseason. Greinke was also great each and every start, winding up with unfathomable stats of 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA. That’s certainly worthy of this award.

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

AL Nominees – Prince Fielder, Kendrys Morales and Alex Rodriguez

AL Winner – Prince Fielder

NL Nominees – Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Harvey and Joey Votto

NL Winner – Matt Harvey

After playing all 162 games in three straight years, Prince Fielder participated in only 42 games in 2014 due to a neck injury. Coming back to play all but four games in 2015, Fielder certainly put up stats worthy of this award. This season, Fielder launched 23 home runs and drove in 98 runs, all while hitting a solid .305. Matt Harvey was in much of the same boat as Fielder in 2014, having missed the entire year due to Tommy John surgery. But Harvey came back with a vengeance in 2015. Harvey went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA on the year, and helped the Mets make it all the way to the World Series.

ALWAYS GAME AWARD ($10,000)

Nominees — Jose Altuve, Josh Donaldson and Dee Gordon

Winner — Jose Altuve

This award was brand new for the 2015 season. It was established to honor “the player who — game in and game out — constantly exhibits grit, tenacity, perseverance and hustle; all for the benefit of his teammates and fans”. All of the players nominated for the award were worthy, but Jose Altuve took home the award. Altuve has been a huge part of the Astros over the past few years, and plays the game full on for every single out. He is definitely the player I would have chosen for this award, and I’m glad to see him win.

OUTSTANDING PLAYER AWARD ($20,000)

AL Nominees – Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout

AL Winner – Josh Donaldson

NL Nominees – Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Bryce Harper

NL Winner – Bryce Harper

There were dozens of outstanding players throughout Major League Baseball from the 2015 season. With that said, there were a handful that stood above the rest. For this category, it was Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper voted on as the outstanding players of the year. Many people — myself included — have Donaldson and Harper picking up the MVP for their respective league when the official award is announced next week. With Harper having hit 42 homers to go along with a superb .330 average, and Donaldson blasting 41 of his own, it is no wonder why they each took home this particular honor.

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

Nominees – Dee Gordon, Adam Jones and David Robertson

Winner – Adam Jones

In the minds of many people around the baseball world, this is the most important award given out each season. 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 season, the award was presented to Adam Jones, who certainly does more than his fair share of contributions both to his ball club and to his community each year.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD ($50,000)

Nominees – Josh Donaldson, Zack Greinke and Bryce Harper

Winner – Josh Donaldson

With all three players presenting equally impressive seasons in their own way, you could truly make a strong argument for any of the nominees to win the Player of the Year award. But, in the end, the season Josh Donaldson put together was magnificent. His 40+ home run year truly helped drive the offensive side of the Blue Jays, along with Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and the late season pickup of Troy Tulowitzki. Combined, Toronto was able to reach the postseason for the first time since 1993. A lot of that can be credited back to Donaldson, who came up big all season long.

Recap of My Votes for the 2015 MLB Major 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. I was planning to post the awardsAwards for each on back to back days, with a day in between, but I decided to publish them on six consecutive days instead.

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. Although there are a couple of picks that people will likely disagree with, this is just the way I would vote if my vote had any say.

Here are my picks that I made for each category:

American League Rookie of the Year: Carlos Correa

National League Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant

American League Cy Young: David Price

National League Cy Young: Jake Arrieta

American League MVP: Josh Donaldson

National League MVP: Bryce Harper

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 when the time arrives.

My Vote for 2015 N.L. Most Valuable Player Award

As I stated in my American League post, 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 usually 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.Harper

With that said, it was an even more difficult vote for me this season than it has been in seasons past. Jake Arrieta, Nolan Arenado and Bryce Harper were all extremely valuable members of their given team in the National League. However, in the end, only one player can win the Most Valuable Player award.

Nolan Arenado had one of the best all around seasons in baseball this year, but to me it wasn’t the most valuable. But that’s not to take away anything from the year he had. With a .287 average, 42 home runs and major league best 130 runs batted in, Arenado broke out as one of the best third basemen in all of baseball. If he can keep producing the same type of numbers, he’ll eventually take home an MVP. However, that’s not going to happen in 2015.

Coming down to Jake Arrieta and Bryce Harper for National League MVP, it’s truly a tough choice. Comparing a pitcher and hitter is never easy, but in this case it has to be done.

With that said, I ended up placing Arrieta as the runner up. While I don’t necessarily think a pitcher should never win the MVP, given they aren’t an everyday impact, I tend to give hitters a slight edge. But Arrieta truly came as close as you can to winning the NL MVP without holding the stats to take home the award. With a second half ERA of 0.75, Arrieta played an immense role in propelling the Cubs into the playoffs for the first time since 2008, but he doesn’t quite get my vote.

Bryce Harper is in fact the player I went with for the National League Most Valuable Player award for 2015. Although the Nationals unbelievably missed out on the postseason, Harper did all he could to get them there. With one of the top seasons in the history of baseball for a player age 22 or younger, Harper will continue to win MVP awards if he can continue to post numbers like he did this season. With 42 homers, a .330 average and a .460 on base percentage (due in large part to his 124 walks), Harper should pick up his first MVP of what will likely become many.

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