Results tagged ‘ NL ’

R.A. Dickey and David Price On Pace for Rare Feat

Normally when you’re talking about a couple of former Cy Young award winners having a rare season, it’s a good thing, but in this case, it’s just the opposite. Both R.A. Dickey and David Price, who won the Cy Young last year, are off to poor starts this season, putting them with in line to join elite company.

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Just five times since 1967, when the Cy Young award began to be given out to a pitcher in each league, have two first-time winners in the same season gone on to have poor seasons the next year–the award originated in 1956, but was given out to just one pitcher each season until 1967.

The select group of players who won their first Cy Young awards only to go on to have poor next seasons include: Jim Lonborg and Mike McCormick, in 1967; Hall of Famers, Steve Carlton and Gaylord Perry, in 1972; John Denny and LaMarr Hoyt, in 1983; Willie Hernandez and Rick Sutcliffe, in 1984; as well as Bob Welsh and Doug Drabek, in 1990.

While it’s looking like Price and Dickey may join them, it’s still far too early to count them out just yet. They’ve proven to be too good of pitchers. But it’s something worth looking at, nonetheless.

R.A. Dickey became the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young award, last year, when he went 20-6, with a 2.73 ERA, however, so far this season he’s experiencing far less success, going 2-5, with a 5.06 ERA, through his first eight games pitched. The one thing that’s most noticeable for Dickey this season is that his knuckleball doesn’t have the late, drastic movement it had last year. Unless he finds a way to get back on track, I don’t see Dickey having a very good season, as the knuckleball doesn’t leave much room for error.

David Price became the first Rays pitcher to win the Cy Young award, in 2012, going 20-5, with a 2.56 ERA, but he’s been struggling this year, having gone 1-3, with a 4.78 ERA, over his first eight games of the season. Price had a decent start his last time out, but his command just doesn’t seem to be there this season, for one reason or another. I could see Price having a better overall season than Dickey, however, if he doesn’t figure things out, Price is likely to still have a disappointing 2013.

Whether or not R.A. Dickey and David Price can turn things around is something that only time will tell. If the first month of the season is any indication, it’s not looking all that promising, but these kind of things are unpredictable; part of what makes baseball such a great sport.

2013 All-Star Game Ballot: The Players I Voted For

It seems a bit too early to be thinking about the 2013 All-Star game, which doesn’t take place until July 16th, but the ballots have already been released, allowing fans all across the 2013_All-Star_Game_Logocountry to cast their votes for who they want to see participate. Therefore, I figured I’d take the time to type up a blog post discussing who I voted for, and why I voted for them.

Keep in mind, with it being so early, I voted for players I felt would be the best at their position around the All-Star break; given their current stats and past history–there might be a little bit of favoritism thrown in their as well. The All-Star ballot is mostly a popularity vote, anyway. (If you’d like to cast your own vote, up to 25 times, CLICK HERE. But no hurry; you have until July 4th to do so.)

So, with all of that said, here’s my 2013 All-Star Game ballot:

FIRST BASE–Prince Fielder (AL) Joey Votto (NL)

For my American League vote, it came down to Prince Fielder and Mike Napoli. Normally, I would’ve voted for Fielder without a second thought, but Napoli has really been performing well this year, so I had to at least consider him. But in the end, I decided on Fielder, for his overall track record and defensive skills at first.

My vote also came down to two players in the National League: Joey Votto and Ryan Howard. Both are having good seasons so far, and both have great gloves at first base, but I voted for Votto, just because I feel he’s the better player at the current moment, and will probably be so in July.

SECOND BASE–Robinson Cano (AL) Brandon Phillips (NL)

I glanced at Dustin Pedroia’s stats for a few minutes, but for me, the AL portion of this vote is a no brainer. There’s no other second basemen in all of baseball with a better combination of power, range and overall defensive abilities than Robinson Cano. Thus, I voted for Cano, who should see himself taking part in his fourth straight All-Star game.

It would’ve been easy to pick Chase Utley for NL second basemen, with him having a great comeback season, but I couldn’t overlook Brandon Phillips. Though he doesn’t supply the same amount of power as Utley, Phillips still has some pop, but I picked him for his glove alone. Other than Cano, Phillips is the smoothest-looking second basemen in baseball.

SHORT STOP–Jed Lowrie (AL) Troy Tulowitzki (NL)

As much as I wanted to, and almost did anyway (why not?), I couldn’t vote for Derek Jeter to play short stop in this year’s All-Star game, for the AL. With the further setback to his ankle, there’s doubt that Jeter will even be back by then, thus he wouldn’t be able to participate. So I ended up settling on Jed Lowrie. He’s having a fairly good season thus far.

The National Leauge portion of the short stop position was far more difficult to decide. When you have guys like Starlin Castro, Troy Tulowitzki and Andrelton Simmons to choose from, it makes things difficult. But in the end, I went with Troy Tulowitzki, who, if he can keep up his hot start, should be a front-runner for comeback player of the year.

THIRD BASE–Miguel Cabrera (AL) David Wright (NL)

Choosing between guys like Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado and Evan Longoria, the AL third basemen position took me the longest of them all to decide on, but I went with Miguel Cabrera. Having won the Triple Crown in 2012, and currently sitting just back of the leaders in average and RBI’s, Cabrera stands just above the rest.

I nearly went with Ryan Zimmerman for the NL third basemen, but I changed my vote to David Wright. Wright is one of the best defensive third basemen in all of baseball, and his ability to hit for average as well as power is unmatchable. Wright should easily make the cut to take part in his seventh career All-Star game.

CATCHER–J.P. Arencibia (AL) Buster Posey (NL)

Joe Mauer is having a better season so far than J.P. Arencibia, in terms of batting average, but I decided to vote for Arencibia, nonetheless. Arencibia has never participated in an All-Star game, in his three full season career, but I hope this year things turn out differently. He certainly has the talent, but it’s going to take continued success to make it.

This could’ve been somewhat of a difficult decision, having to choose between Brian McCann and Buster Posey, but given that McCann is yet to play in a game this season, I went with the obvious choice of Posey. On pace to have the best season of his career, Posey is sure to be behind the plate for his second straight All-Star game.

DESIGNATED HITTER–David Ortiz

Designated hitters, Travis Hafner, David Ortiz and Mark Trumbo are all having fantastic seasons so far, but going off of who is performing the best at the current moment, there’s no argument that it’s Ortiz. Considering the fact that he’s on a 23-game hit streak, dating back to last season, I’d say there’s no other DH who deserves a vote more than Ortiz.

OUTFIELD

It’s never easy to narrow down 47 players to just three, 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 vote. So while I voted for the players who I felt were All-Star caliber players, 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 AL and NL:

Mike Trout, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Morse (AL)

There’s no doubt that both Mike Trout and Yoenis Cespedes are worthy of the All-Star game, however, Michael Morse is somewhat debatable. Even so, I voted for Morse to participate. I feel that although he doesn’t hit for a high average, nor does he make gold glove caliber plays, Morse is deserving of his first career All-Star game.

Bryce Harper, Justin Upton, Ryan Braun (NL)

Voting for Bryce Harper, Justin Upton and Ryan Braun meant leaving out players such as Matt Kemp, but I feel these three are most deserving of the All-Star game. All are off to great starts so far this season, each leading their team in home runs and RBI’s, and therefore, I felt each was worthy of my vote.

So there you have it: My 2013 All-Star game ballot. I might end up regretting a few of the players I voted for, as their stats might fall short of where I’m predicting them to be in July, however, it is what it is. I’d be happy with whoever participates.

Latest MLB Leaders (March 31st-April 30th)

With the first full month of the 2013 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.

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 lead that particular category. I did the same thing last year, and it was so well-received that I wanted to do it again this season. I’m planning on posting an entry like this on the first day of each month. (That would make 5 more of these if you’re keeping score at home.)

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

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL)- HITTING

Most Games Played-Five tied for most. (28)

Most At-Bats-Jay Bruce, Manny Machado and Martin Prado. (115)

Most Hits-Four tied for most. (37)

Highest Average-Carlos Santana (.389)

Highest OBP-Shin-Soo Choo (.477)

Highest SLG-Justin Upton (.734)

Most Runs-Austin Jackson (25)

Most Doubles-Mike Napoli (13)

Most Triples-Four tied for most. (3)

Most Home Runs-Justin Upton (12)

Most RBI’s-Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis. (28)

Most Base On Balls-Joey Votto (26)

Most Strikeouts-Chris Carter (46)

Most Stolen Bases-Jacoby Ellsbury (11)

Most Caught Stealing-Gerardo Parra and Eric Young. (4)

Most Intentional Base On Balls-Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun. (6)

Most Hit By Pitch-Shin-Soo Choo (10)

Most Sacrifice Flies-Miguel Montero (4)

Most Total Bases-Justin Upton (69)

Most Extra Base Hits-Mike Napoli (18)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays-Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Kendrys Morales. (7)

Most Ground Outs-Ben Revere (55)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced-Joey Votto (542)

Most Plate Appearances-Joey Votto (132)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL)- PITCHING

Most Wins-Clay Buchholz, Yu Darvish and Matt Moore. (5)

Most Losses-Philip Humber (6)

Best ERA-Jake Westbrook (0.98)

Most Games Started-48 tied for most.

Most Games Pitched-Brad Ziegler (17)

Most Saves-Four tied for most. (10)

Most Innings Pitched-Adam Wainwright (44.1)

Most Hits Allowed-Joe Blanton (47)

Most Runs Allowed-Edwin Jackson (28)

Most Earned Runs Allowed-Matt Cain and Philip Humber. (25)

Most Home Runs Allowed-Brett Myers and Marco Estrada. (10)

Most Strikeouts-Yu Darvish (58)

Most Walks-James McDonald (20)

Most Complete Games-Jordan Zimmermann (2)

Most Shutouts-Eight tied for most. (1)

Best Opponent Avg.-Matt Moore (.121)

Most Games Finished-Sergio Romo (13)

Most Double Plays Achieved-Lucas Harrell (10)

Most Wild Pitches-Jeff Samardzija (6)

Most Balks-Alfredo Aceves and Shawn Camp. (2)

Most Stolen Bases Allowed-Edinson Volquez (9)

Most Pickoffs-Julio Teheran, Clayton Kershaw and John Lannan. (2)

Most Batters Faced-C.C. Sabathia (177)

Most Pitches Thrown-Justin Verlander (649)

Stanton Heating Up: Still Bound For A Subpar Season?

After failing to hit a home run in his first 17 games of the season, Giancarlo Stanton has started to heat up lately, as he’s blasted (and I do mean blasted) three home runs in his past two games. But while this is certainly great for both Stanton and the Marlins, you have to question whether hi-res-165543857_display_imageit will actually play out over the remainder of the season.

If Stanton continues to tear it up at the plate, it’s likely he’ll find himself getting walked more and more, as there’s really no one in the Marlins’ lineup that can hurt a team as much as Stanton.

If Stanton can’t swing the bat, he can’t hit home runs.

Taking a look at Stanton’s stats so far this season, the additional walks are already taking place. Having only been walked 46 times last year, in which he hit 37 homers, Stanton is on pace to reach base via walk 78 times; that’s going off him playing 123 games like last year.

Assuming Stanton stays healthy for most of the season, resulting in more games played, it’s not all that hard to imagine him getting walked over 100 times. If he still continues to rake, perhaps even more than that.

So where does that leave Giancarlo Stanton?

The absolute best thing that can happen to Stanton is for him to get traded. A big blockbuster trade would be beneficial to both Stanton, helping him to somewhat salvage what’s sure to be a non-Stanton season, as well as the Marlins, gaining them some key pieces that will help them win more games down the road.

Stanton alone, while he’s an incredibly talented player, isn’t going to win the Marlins games. Maybe a few, here and there, but not enough to affect the outcome of a season. They need more than just one guy.

Therefore, sitting just four home runs shy of the 100th for his career, while Giancarlo Stanton will undoubtedly reach the milestone sometime within the next week or two, I see it being the last milestone he’ll achieve in a Marlins uniform.

Clayton Kershaw 1,000 K’s; A.J. Burnett 2,000 K’s

In the second inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Padres, Dodgers’ Ace, Clayton Kershaw, struck out Yonder Alonso to notch the 1,000th strikeout of his MLB career.

Clayton Kershaw becomes just the thirteenth Dodger to ever reach 1,000 K’s in their career, and the second fastest Dodger to reach the mark–beating out numerous Dodger greats, including four Hall of Famers, in Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, Don Drysdale and Dazzy Vance–at just 15.2 more innings pitched than Hideo Nomo.

Kershaw would go on to lose the game, allowing three runs, on three solo shots, increasing his season statistics to 2-2, with a 1.88 ERA. The 2012 National League Cy Young winner currently sits just five strikeouts back of the 2013 strikeout leader, A.J. Burnett, with thirty strikeouts so far this season.

Speaking of A.J. Burnett, he was stellar in his Wednesday night start against the Cardinals, carrying a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, before Carlos Beltran broke it up with a double. Beltran’s hit would turn out to be the only hit Burnett would allow, as he struck out eight, over seven innings pitched. The second of those strikeouts being the 2,000th of his career, making him one of just four active MLB pitchers with 2,000 or more career strikeouts.

Burnett moves to 1-2 on the year, with a 2.63 ERA, but more impressively, 35 strikeouts in just 24 innings pitched.

Bryce Harper & Mike Trout: New Season, Different Start

When Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were called up to the Major Leagues last season, both, coincidently, on the same day (April 28th), Trout started off his season tearing it up out of the gate, while Harper struggled a bit before finding his groove to finish out the season sharper-trouttrong.

Both would go on to win the 2012 Rookie of the Year, however, this season around, it’s Harper who is making some noise to start the year, while Trout is off to somewhat of a rough start. Things are certainly not playing out like I had expected.

Bryce Harper blasted two home runs on Opening Day, and now sits at five home runs for the season. Harper also currently holds a .372 batting average, including 10 RBI’s, through eleven games played. Mike Trout, on the other hand, has a mere batting average of .245, with no home runs and only one RBI, through the same number of games played. While there’s still plenty of time left in the season, in which either Harper or Trout could continue on their current paths or have things turn around, it’s something worth noting, nonetheless.

Which leads me to my main question, of if Harper will keep up his hot start and if Trout will continue to struggle. For both, I say no.

Harper is going to have an incredible year, but he’s by no means going to hit for a near .400 average all season long, as well as keeping on his current pace to blast 80 home runs and 160 RBI’s. I see Harper slowing things down in the coming weeks, to lower his stats back down to a realistic level. Even so, I’m predicting him to finish the season with even better stats than last year, with a .315 batting average, to go along with 32 home runs and 98 RBI’s. (But as with most predictions, this is all merely speculative.)

As far as Trout goes, he’s bound to bounce back to being his normal superstar self, increasing his batting average and squaring up the baseball more often. Trout’s just in a bit of a slump that he’s sure to pull out of before too long. If I had to make a prediction for how he’ll finish the year statistically, I could see Trout slugging 26 homers and batting in 80 runs. Slightly down from the monster numbers he put up last season, but the poor start he’s off to is sure to have an effect on his long-term stats.

In the end, however, both Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are likely to have stellar seasons.

That’s almost a sure bet.

Who will have the better 2013 season: Harper and Trout? Will either win MVP? Leave a comment below.

Top 10 Story Lines I’m Planning to Watch In 2013

We’re just over 48 hours away from the start of the 2013 MLB regular season, and I couldn’t be more excited. Baseball fans everywhere are making final predictions as to how they feel things will play out, as players are making their final preparations for the long 162 game season. As my last blog post until the season begins, I wanted to do a brief overview of the top story lines I’m planning to keep an eye on in 2013. They may differ slightly from yours, but I feel I covered nearly all of the major topics:

1. How the Astros will fare in the American League:

Having lost 107 games in the National League in 2012, I’m watching the Astros, not for how good they’ll do, but for how bad they’ll do. Sorry to any Astros fans reading this post, but there’s no denying that the odds are against the Astros going into the 2013 season. Playing in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, with the newly revamped Angels, they’re likely to have just as bad of a season as last year, if not slightly worse. I’d say it would be considered a good year for the Astros if they finish with less than 100 losses.

2. If Bryce Harper and Mike Trout can keep up their 2012 R.O.Y. seasons:103057-768-0

Posting some incredible stats, leading to one of the best rookie seasons in MLB history, I’m going to keep a closer eye on Mike Trout than I am Bryce Harper, but I’m planning to watch Harper nonetheless. Both won the Rookie of the Year award in 2012, for their respective leagues, and it should be interesting to see if their amazing rookie years will transfer into the 2013 season. I’m predicting Trout will once again have a 30/30 season, with Harper possibly recording the first 30 home run season of his career.

3. Who will hit the most home runs in 2013:

The 2012 home run leaders consisted of Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Josh Hamilton, as the 1-2-3 guys, and if it wasn’t for an injured Granderson, I could see all three being near the top of the rankings again in 2013. However, with Granderson out with an injury for the first portion of the year–while I see Cabrera once again leading all players in homers, with Hamilton coming in a close second–it will likely be a new face who will round out the top three. Maybe it’ll be a guy like Adam Dunn, who’s a free-swinger? Or maybe a guy no one saw coming, who will have a breakout season? It will certainly be fun to keep track of.

4. If A-Rod comes back healthy, if at all:

While it’s 100 percent certain that Alex Rodriguez won’t return to the Yankees’ lineup until late July, there is the slight chance that he could miss the entire season. However, if A-Rod is able to work his way back this season, after having hip surgery in January, it should be very interesting to see if he can become a decent player once again. While Rodriguez will never be the great player he once was, if healthy, he has the ability to make an impact for the Yankees. Although I’m not the biggest fan of A-Rod, I still hope he comes back healthy. But I find it very unlikely that he will ever again play at a competitive level.

5. How the rookies, such as Wil Myers, will impact their teams in 2013:

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays-Photo DayI discussed this a couple months ago, in my blog post on the Top 100 prospects going into the 2013 season, but this time around I’m only focusing my attention on a handful of rookies who I feel will have the biggest impact for their team this season. Wil Myers is the number one guy on my radar, with Shelby Miller, Jurickson Profar and Billy Hamilton being the other three main rookies I plan on keeping track of. Myers was the minor league player of the year, in 2012, and I fully see him posting more of the same stats, as he begins the the year with AAA Durham. Of the four, Miller is the only player that is starting in the majors to begin the year, but they should all make it to the big leagues at some point this season, and are sure to each play a key role in their teams’ success.

6. How the Upton bro’s do for the Atlanta Braves:

You could argue that, with the addition of both Justin Upton and B.J. Upton to roam the outfield with Jason Heyward, the Braves have the best all-around outfield in all of baseball. All three players have great range, giving them the ability to make plays on balls that other outfielders couldn’t get to, but furthermore, they all have the talent to impact their team offensively as well. Both Upton’s, as well as Heyward, have the ability to blast 25+ home runs and 85+ RBI’s, as well as steal a good amount of bases. If they can perform to their potential this season, combined with the great lineup and pitching rotation they already had, the Braves could be an outstanding team.

7. What kind of a year players who ended 2012 injured will have in 2013:

The reason A-Rod had his own category, and wasn’t included in this one, is merely because his return is uncertain. All of the players in this category didn’t play at all after their injury in 2012, and will make a guaranteed comeback, within at least the first few weeks of the season. With that said, the most impactful players to end last season with an injury, that I’ll be watching in 2013, include Derek Jeter, Troy Tulowitzki and Mariano Rivera.

Mariano Rivera tore his ACL in May, while Derek Jeter fractured his ankle in October, with neither playing any more games for the remainder of the year. Rivera is expected to be ready to go Opening Day, though a slight setback for Jeter will force him onto the disable list to begin the year. In my opinion, the 2013 performances of both Jeter and Rivera will be the deciding factor for what kind of season the Yankees have. If Jeter can return quickly, and Rivera can post his usual stellar numbers, I see the Yankees being just fine.

Troy Tulowitzki injured his groin in May of last season, and although it appeared he would return towards the end of the year, he remained sidelined for the remainder of the season. A healthy Tulowitzki can impact the Rockies more than nearly any other player in all of baseball, though he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for the majority of his career. While I can’t see the Rockies finishing any better than last in their division, I’m planning to watch “Tulo” nonetheless, to see if he can finally have a successful, fully healthy season.

8. How the Blue Jays, Dodgers and Angels perform with their new additions:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Introduce Josh HamiltonThe Blue Jays, Dodgers and Angels made the biggest splashes of nearly every other team in all of baseball this past offseason; at least of the teams that stand a chance of competing. Many have the Blue Jays going the distance, and winning it all, with the key additions of Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera and 2012 Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, to name a few, though I don’t see it happening. I find myself siding more with the opinions of those who are betting on the Dodgers and Angels to have a great season.

The Angels’ major addition of the offseason was undoubtedly Josh Hamilton, who, with the help of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, has the ability to transform the Angels into an extremely competitive team. Hamilton might end up being the piece the Angels were missing last season, that will help them make the playoffs in 2013.

The number one addition of the offseason for the Dodgers was Zack Greinke, though they also acquired Hyun-Jin Ryu, the highly praised LHP from Korea. Adding them both, to go along with their already deep pitching rotation, could end up making the Dodgers a team to be reckoned with in 2013.

9. Whether or not the Nationals make it to the World Series:

Last season, Nationals’ manager, Davey Johnson, made the bold statement that he should be fired if the Nat’s didn’t make the playoffs in 2012. Luckily for Johnson, they did, for the first time since 1933. This season, however, it’s “World Series or bust” for the Nationals, and although I was a bit skeptical last year, I’m not putting it past them to make it all the way to the World Series this season, for what would be the first time in Nationals’ franchise history. With a fantastic lineup, as well as one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball, they should go far in the coming season, though they’ll have to make it past the favorited Braves, who many (myself included) have winning the division.

10. Which team(s) will have an unexpected breakout season:

Every season, it seems, there is a team or two that unexpectedly takes the baseball world by storm. On paper, they shouldn’t be winning, but yet they come together as a team and are able to do amazing things. The 2012 example would be the Oakland Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles, as the majority of baseball fans, going into the 2012 season, didn’t see the O’s and A’s exploding the way they did. Truly showing that baseball is extremely unpredictable. Any team has the chance to defy the odds, which is part of what makes baseball so great. Anything can happen.

Which story line from above are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment below.

Pitchers & Catchers Report; Autograph Requests

Today marks the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers to Spring Training, and therefore, after nearly four months since the Giants won the 2012 World Series, it’s officially time for baseball once again. For die-hard baseball fans, like myself, this long awaited day couldn’t have come sooner.

The Red Sox, Rockies, Cubs and Indians had their pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Sunday, however, the majority of pitchers and catchers are set to report to camp sometime over the course of the next 48 hours: The D-back’s, Braves, Reds, Tigers, Astros, Royals, Marlins, Mets, MLB-Spring-Training-2013-logoAthletics and Pirates reporting date is today, with the Orioles, White Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers, Twins, Yankees, Cardinals, Padres, Giants, Mariners, Rays, Rangers, Blue Jays and Nationals set to report tomorrow. (The Phillies’ pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday.)

Once all of the pitchers and catchers have reported, on Wednesday, there will be a mere 45 days until the first official game of the 2013 MLB regular season, which begins on March 31st, with the Houston Astros taking on the Texas Rangers.

But I’m not quite ready to jump ahead to the start of the regular season, just yet, as I still have a lot I want to talk about in the coming weeks. Therefore, for the time being, I’d like to take a minute to discuss something I love to do this time of year (besides watch Spring Training games on TV.) Every Spring Training, for the past two or three years, I’ve sent out a handful of through the mail (TTM) autograph requests to different players around the league. This year, I’m going to be sending out a dozen, or so, TTM’s, with the best player being Mariano Rivera.

Rivera is known to be one of the better TTM autograph signers (as far as big name players go), if you send to him during Spring Training, IMG_4640however, I’ve failed to get back an auto from Rivera in either of the past two years that I’ve sent to him. This year, I’m hoping to have better luck, as with this (more than likely) being Rivera’s final season, it’s basically my final shot.

While Rivera is the player that I’m most hoping to receive back, he’s not the only well known player that I’m hoping to obtain a signature from. In addition to Rivera, I’m sending out requests to guys like Jason Motte, Adam Jones, Justin Masterson, etc., who, according to what I’ve read, are decent signers through the mail.

I’m also planning to send to a few minor league players, who received an invitation to big league Spring Training, including Danny Hultzen, Casey Kelly and Stefen Romero, who are all supposed to be great about signing.

As stated, my overall TTM autograph history is a short one; I’ve only been doing it for the past few years. In that short time, however, I’ve acquired a few decent players’ autographs. My best ever success, which coincidentally was my first success, came from Mark McGwire, back in March of 2011. Apparently, McGwire doesn’t sign TTM all that often, but for some reason he decided to do so for a few weeks during Spring Training. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to get that one back.

I’m planning to post a blog entry for every autograph I receive back from the players I’m sending TTM requests to during Spring Training. Hopefully, it won’t be all that terribly long before I start getting them back (maybe a few weeks?). So be sure to check back for that, over the course of the next few months….

Two-Year Anniversary of ‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the day I sat down to begin ‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’. Starting this blog was more of a spur of the moment thing than it was me looking to begin a long term blog. At the time, I never could’ve imagined that I would keep at it long enough to be typing up a two-year anniversary post; to his day, I’m still surprised that I kept with it. But I’ve come to love blogging, and interacting with fellow baseball fans, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

To mark the occasion, I’ve decided to take a look back at the past two years, using a timeline, of sorts, to tell the basic story of how my blog came to be where it is now (click the headers to be taken to each post):

‘Explanation of Me’–My first blog post

As the header would suggest, this was the first blog entry I ever published. It covered who I am, and the fact that I have no favorite team that I root for more than another team. While it does a decent job at getting the general point across, looking back, I’m fairly appalled at how horribly written it is. The post doesn’t flow, the grammar is terrible and my punctuation is subpar. Given, I’m by no means a professional writer now-I’m sure there are tons of issues with this post–compared to my writing style now, it’s almost as if it was a completely different person who wrote that first post. I suppose, in a way, it was.

‘MLB Logo and Its Designer’–My first interview post

I didn’t start out with interview intentions. I merely emailed Jerry Dior (the designer of the MLB logo) to ask him questions I had about the design process, and the story behind the logo. It wasn’t until a month later that I had the idea of putting the questions into an interview format for a post on my newly established blog. In the days after posting it, I noticed that people seemed to have a good reaction to the interview, so it was at that point that I decided to begin interviewing ballplayers; the interviews took off from there. I’ve now conducted several dozen interviews, and plan on continuing to do them in the future, as long as the players continue to be willing.

July 23, 2011–Signed Up for Twitter

This has nothing to do with my blog, yet it has everything to do with its success. Signing up for Twitter not only allowed for a way for me to get in contact with ballplayers for interviews, but it also served (and still serves) as a way of spreading the link to each new post, around to baseball fans everywhere. If it wasn’t for Twitter, it’s very possible that I would’ve discontinued my blog, as my reader base wouldn’t have been as fast to grow.

How Bernie Williams Became My Favorite Player Ever

This is more of a personal entry than it is an informative one. In this blog post, I detailed exactly how Bernie Williams came to be my favorite player to ever play the game of baseball. There’s a great story behind it, but I really don’t want to say much more than that. If you’re truly interested, feel free to click the header to be taken to the post I did on the subject.

Bernie Williams’ Reflects On 9/11/01–Ten-Year Anniversary

Yet another Bernie Williams post, but this one is more somber than the first. With the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 approaching, I decided to contact Bernie Williams on Twitter to ask if he’d be willing to share his own personal experience and memories from that horrid day. He agreed to it, and after a bit of back and forth conversation, of me detailing exactly what I wanted him to talk about, I received an email from Williams, containing a fairly long response. If you don’t read another blog entry from this anniversary post, I suggest you read this one.

The Blog Post That Put My Blog On The Map

Ozzie Guillen and the Miami Marlins played a large part in making my blog as successful as it is today. The article I wrote on the “new look Marlins” caused my blog to absolutely explode, in terms of views. In the months following when I first posted the entry, I received day after day of several hundred view days. In all, that one post racked me up over 11,000 views, all by itself. While things have backed off slightly since then, I still have a fairly large reader base, and it can all be traced back to that one post.

Ranking After the 2011 Year of Blogging

After a year’s worth of blogging, I was fairly anxious to see how I would stack up against all of the great blogs around the MLBlogs community. I was fairly stunned when the results came out, stating that my blog was the 35th most viewed blog of 2011. That alone gave me a reason to continue blogging.

The Blog Post That Got Me the Most Views For A Single Day

While my post on the Marlins netted me the most views for a single blog post, the entry I posted on the Cleveland Indians-Carolina Mudcats exhibition game, for some reason, led to the most views in the history of my blog on a single day. I’m still not all that sure as to why, but people came flocking to my blog on that particular day, netting me a total of 892 views. I haven’t had a day since that’s received more than 615 views; but I hope to change that this year.

First MLB Game Recap Entry

Living in North Carolina, I don’t get the chance to attend an MLB game all that often. As a matter of fact, this particular post recapped the first MLB game I attended since starting this blog. Therefore, it was the first MLB recap I’d ever done. The plan right now is to attend at least one MLB game this year, up in Milwaukee, so I’ll no doubt be blogging about that one as well.

Trip To the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby

The all expense paid trip I received to the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby, courtesy of State Farm, is by far the best thing to ever come out of this blog. While I’ve been fortunate enough to experience several blogging related benefits since then–which range from getting free stuff, to meeting ballplayers in person that I’ve interviewed–I feel confident in saying that nothing will ever top this.

Triple-A National Championship Game

As the MiLB equivalent of a World Series game 7, the 2012 Triple-A National Championship game is the most significant minor league baseball game I’ve ever attended, thus it’s the most significant MiLB blog posts I’ve done. Therefore, I wanted to include it in this two-year anniversary post. Getting to see Reno Aces win the National Championship, along with meeting 2011 American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery, made this great game even better.

Ranking After the 2012 Year of Blogging

After coming in 35th at the end of the 2011 blogging year, I had no idea what to expect going into the 2012 results. While I received over five times the number of views this past year as I did in 2011, I was still eager to see where I would rank. When the rankings were posted, I was ecstatic to find my blog at the number 17 spot. I truly appreciate all of those who read my blog.

Blogging Goals for 2013

This post wasn’t posted all that long ago, but I wanted to include it nonetheless. Basically, this post covers my goals for the 2013 blogging year. I won’t waste time going over what each of my five goals are, for those of you who remember. For those of you who’ve forgotten, and are curious, you can always click the header.

‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’ Fast Facts

  • Total number of words written to this point: 113,428 words
  • Total number of posts: 211 posts
  • Average number of words per post: 538 words
  • Number of different country views: 113 different countries

As stated in previous posts, I hope to make 2013 the best blogging year yet; and that means posting content that you, the reader, enjoy reading about. So, if you have anything you’d like to see me do, or stop doing, please leave a comment below.

Any Players Bound for Breaking An All-Time Record?

With Spring Training a month away–putting the 2013 regular season at just under 3 months away–I thought I’d take the time to type up a blog post covering six all-time MLB career records (3 hitting, 3 pitching) and whether or not I believe there are any active players that have a shot at eventually breaking the records, sometime down the line, many seasons from now.

Keep in mind, this is all purely speculative. I have no way of knowing how long a particular player will play, whether or not they’ll remain healthy throughout their entire career, or whether they can keep on producing the kind of stats they’ve shown, and I feel, they’re capable of. Each of those three elements are extremely crucial when it comes to a player being able to break any of the following records:

All-Time Record for career Hits: 4,256 (Pete Rose)

Closest: Derek Jeter, with 3,304 career hits, is currently the closest active player to Pete Rose’s mark of 4,256.

Best Chance: Derek Jeter, sitting 952 hits back of Pete Rose, stands the best chance of breaking Rose’s record, in my mind, of any other player currently in the majors. What it’s going to come down to for Jeter is how healthy he can stay, and subsequently, how many more years he can play. If he can play as long as Rose did–up until age 45–I see Jeter passing Rose fairly easily, as that gives him another seven seasons to rack up hits, and even if he starts to slump downward, and begins to collect only 140 hits a season, he would still end his career with a total of 4,284 hits. Though, with Jeter being a team player, and not focusing on personal stats, I’m not sure I can picture him playing long enough to get the job done.

Worth Watching: While it’s still far too early to be making any long shot predictions, Starlin Castro is one of the main players worth keeping an eye on in the many years to come. Castro will be a mere 23 years old when the 2013 season commences and has already collected 529 career hits. If he can play into his early 40′s, and keep pace with the electric start to his career, he could be nearing Rose’s (possibly Jeter’s by then?) record for career hits a couple decades down the road.

All-Time Record for career Homeruns: 762 (Barry Bonds)

Closest: Alex Rodriguez, with 647 career home runs, is currently the closest active player to Barry Bonds’ mark of 762.

Best Chance: Alex Rodriguez, sitting 115 homers back of Barry Bonds, is the closest of any current player to Barry Bonds’ record for homers, however, I don’t feel he has a very good chance at passing Bonds. With his injury tendency, and age, I don’t see A-rod getting too far past 700, if he gets there at all. Albert Pujols on the other hand, with 475 career home runs, stands a slightly better chance, in my opinion, than A-rod. Though, I feel he could end up sharing in the same fate as Rodriguez; coming up just short of 762. At age 33, even if Pujols played until age 40, and could keep up his career constant of 30 home runs a season, he would end his career with only 685 home runs. Still 77 back of Bonds.

Worth Watching: It’s still early into his career, but Giancarlo Stanton (age 23) is a player worth watching in the coming years, as he continues to add to his current total of 93 career home runs. I found it interesting when I discovered that Albert Pujols (71), Hank Aaron (63), Barry Bonds (41) nor Babe Ruth (9) had as many home runs as Stanton, going into their age 23 season. That’s impressive. While I’m by no means comparing Stanton to Babe Ruth (just yet) I’m simply saying that if Stanton can go on a run of blasting 40+ homers a season, for the next few seasons, I could see him coming up extremely close to the record that Bonds currently holds, if he doesn’t in fact break it.

All-Time Record for career RBI’s: 2,297 (Hank Aaron)

Closest: Alex Rodriguez, with 1,950 RBI’s, is currently the closest active player to Hank Aaron’s mark of 2,297.

Best Chance: Alex Rodriguez is currently the closest player to the record for RBI’s, however, just as with career home runs, his health is going to bring him up just short of the record. Also as with the home run category, the next closest in line behind A-rod is Albert Pujols, who currently has 1,434 career RBI’s. While Pujols has been able to drive in no fewer than 100 runs in every one of his 12 career seasons thus far–with the exception being 2011, when he only drove in 99 runs–I don’t see him having enough 100 RBI seasons left to break the record. As it stands now, Pujols is 863 RBI’s back of Aaron, meaning it would take just over eight more seasons of 100+ RBI’s to pass him.

Worth Watching: Miguel Cabrera, currently with 1,123 career RBI’s, is a player worth watching moving forward, if you weren’t already. At age 29, Cabrera could have another 11 seasons ahead of him, and if he can accumulate around 100 RBI’s a season, he could end up passing Aaron for RBI’s, around a decade from now. Although 100+ RBI’s a season, for 11 season, will be difficult (if not impossible) to do, as he gets older, if anyone can do it, I imagine the 2012 Triple Crown winner can.

All-Time Record for career Strikeouts: 5,714 (Nolan Ryan)

Closest: Andy Pettitte, with 2,320 strikeouts, is currently the closest active player to Nolan Ryan’s mark of 5,714.

Best Chance: I’m not even going to waste time talking about this record. No active player–or future player for that matter–stands a chance at breaking Nolan Ryan’s all-time record of 5,714 strikeouts. While Andy Pettitte is the closest active player, he’s still 3,394 strikeouts away from Ryan; truly showing just how hard it is to do what Nolan Ryan was able to accomplish.

Worth Watching: Though it’s likely that no player will ever surpass Ryan for career strikeouts, the player most worth watching, in my mind, is Felix Hernandez. Hernandez is only 26 years old, and has already amassed 1,487 career strikeouts. If he can continue to pitch up until age 40–14 more seasons of 200+ strikeouts–he stands a good chance of ending his career with over 4,000 strikeouts. Still nearly 2,000 shy of Ryan’s record, but impressive nonetheless, as only four players in the history of baseball have been able to accumulate 4,000 strikeouts or more.

All-Time Record for career ERA: 1.82 (Ed Walsh)

Closest: Mariano Rivera, with an ERA of 2.21, is currently the closest active player to Ed Walsh’s mark of 1.82.

Best Chance: The way pitching works nowadays, I don’t think it’s possible for a pitcher to end with a career ERA below 2.00; at least for a starting pitcher, that is. Evidence of that being that Mariano Rivera is the only active player in all of Major League Baseball with a career ERA below 3.00; and thus falls into the category of ‘best chance’ of breaking the record. But not even Rivera, with his 2.21 ERA, has a chance at a career ERA below 2.00. As even if he doesn’t allow a single earned run in this his (more than likely) final season, his career ERA would still stand above 2.00, at 2.11.

Worth Watching: There really aren’t any pitchers worth watching. I’d say Walsh’s record is fairly safe. As stated, no current player in the majors has a career ERA below 3.00, so as it stands, no active player has a shot at a career ERA below 2.00.

All-Time Record for career Wins: 511 (Cy Young)

Closest: Andy Pettitte, with 245 wins, is currently the closest active player to Cy Young’s mark of 511 wins.

Best Chance: Andy Pettite is the closest of any player to Cy Young’s mark of 511 career wins, but even so, he sits 266 wins back. Thus, let’s face it: There is never going to be another 500-game winning pitcher, as pitching isn’t gone about the same way as it was back then. As such, I find it more of a fair comparison to match today’s players up against a guy like Greg Maddux, who ended his career with 355 wins. Of those, C.C. Sabathia, age 32, stands the best shot, in my mind, of reaching the 300 win plateau. Currently with 191 career wins, if Sabathia can pitch another 8 seasons, and rack up 14+ wins a season, he should get there without a problem; as keeping with my logic, he would end his career with at least 303 wins.

Worth Watching: While there are never going to be any more 500-game winning pitchers, the current pitcher (besides Sabathia) worth keeping an eye on, for the possibility of reaching 300 career wins, is Justin Verlander. Verlander, age 29, doesn’t stand an extremely good chance, in my opinion, of reaching 300 wins, as although he’s still fairly young, he only has 124 career wins. Therefore, it would take 11 straight seasons of 16+ wins to reach the 300 win mark. Not very likely, but then again, it’s Justin Verlander. I wouldn’t put anything past him.

What do you think? Does any (active or future) player stand a chance at breaking any of the six all-time records listed above? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

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