Results tagged ‘ Opening Day ’
Spring Training is well underway, and many players are beginning to find their grooves that they hope will carry over into the coming regular season. With just over three weeks until Opening Day, on March 31st, there’s not too much time remaining for players who struggled last season to get things back on track for this year. With that said, some players certainly need to have a good year more than others.
While every player, obviously, wants to have a good, healthy season, there are numerous players who pretty much have to produce a good 2014 for one reason or another — whether it’s personal reasons, statistical reasons, or for team success as a whole. Although there are more players than those in my list below, here are the top ten players (in no particular order) that I feel need to have a really good 2014 season:
1.) Albert Pujols
After recording twelve straight seasons of 30 or more home runs (all but one of which included 100+ RBI’s) Albert Pujols faced the first bit of adversity of his career in 2013. Dealing with a nagging foot injury, Pujols only managed to post 17 home runs and 64 RBI’s, along with a .258 batting average — absolutely terrible by his standards – in 99 games played. With the down year coming as a shock to many people, especially after the acquisition of him led many to predict playoff pushes for the Angels, there will be many eyes on Pujols from his very first at-bat of the season to see if he can bounce back. I personally feel that if Pujols is healthy, the numbers will be there, and he will be a top candidate for American League comeback player of the year, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
2.) Ryan Braun
In January of 2013, a list was made public by the biogenesis clinic in Miami, Florida, connecting numerous players to performance enhancing drugs, including Ryan Braun. After being connected to PED’s back in 2011, the list raised many red flags, but Braun denied any drug use, yet again. But finally, after a 65-game suspension by Major League Baseball, Braun came clean and admitted to having used PED’s, upsetting many people around the league. Therefore, unlike anyone else on my list, Braun (who had a good season, batting .298 with 9 homers and 38 RBI’s in 61 games) needs to have a good 2014 more for his personal image rather than his talent level image. Everyone knows he’s a great player, but it will take some time for fans to get over Braun’s consistent denial of PED use — and a great season would certainly help with that.
3.) Ryan Howard
Battling injuries over the course of the past two seasons, Ryan Howard needs to have a bounce back year for him to once again be considered the major power threat that he once was. Playing in only 80 games in 2013, Howard batted a mere .266 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI’s. Considering the fact that Howard hit 33 home runs just two years prior, making it the sixth 30+ home run season of his career, the Phillies’ former star first baseman really needs to show signs of his former self this season. If Howard can perform anywhere near his previous level by staying healthy and putting many a ball into the outfield seats, not only could he very well win the 2014 National League comeback player of the year award, but the Phillies could have a real shot at having a memorable year.
4.) Derek Jeter
Announcing that 2014 would be his final season playing Major League Baseball last month, Derek Jeter needs to have a good final season to top off an already incredible career. In 2013, Jeter struggled with injury after injury, managing to play in only 17 games, and posting a .190 batting average, to go along with a single homer and 7 runs batted in. After accumulating over 3,300 hits in the big leagues over the course of his career, Jeter doesn’t need to have a good final season to be remembered as one of the best players of all-time — he’s already on that list for many people — but rather to finish out his career in Jeter fashion, going out on top of his game. I truly hope he can have a great 2014 season, and I feel he will do just that.
When David Price won the 2012 American League Cy Young award, recording 20 wins and posting a 2.56 ERA, many (myself included) felt he had a good chance at doing the same again last season. But instead, Price was faced with a midseason injury that caused his numbers to take a tumble. Posting a win-loss record of 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA — not too terrible, but somewhat disappointing for him — Price needs to bounce back in 2014 for both his sake and the sake of the Rays. Price truly can be the key for the Rays, who always seem to be on the brink of playoff baseball every season. With an improved American League East division for the coming year, Price’s season could be the difference maker for if the Rays are able to make the postseason or not.
6.) B.J. Upton
Arguably the biggest disappointment of the 2013 season, batting .184 with just 9 home runs and 26 RBI’s after a 2012 season of 28 homers and 78 runs driven in, B.J. Upton has to have a good season this year for him not to be considered a trade bust by the Braves. The Braves managed to win their division last season by a rather large margin without much production from Upton, and if they can get Upton back to his former self, the Braves could have an even better year. It will be interesting to see how B.J. Upton does in the coming year with so much negative criticism surrounding him from the 2013 season. If he can have another good season, the down year he experience will be a forgotten aspect of the past.
7.) Stephen Strasburg
There are some players that are tagged with a major amount of hype from their first appearance in the big leagues, and Stephen Strasburg is one of them. While he hasn’t disappointed for the most part, going 8-9 with a 3.00 ERA last season, Strasburg also hasn’t managed to blow everyone away and completely dominate like many believe he can. It’s been reported that Strasburg has added a new pitch to his arsenal and is throwing better than ever, and that could mean good things for both him and the Nationals. If Strasburg can find a way to tally even ten more wins than he did this past year, the Nat’s could find themselves in the running for the National League East division title, assuming everything else goes right for the rest of the team.
Having the potential to be an All-Star third baseman season after season, Mike Moustakas has yet to post an exceptional season at the major league level. Batting only .233, with 12 homers and 42 RBI’s last season, Moustakas needs to have a good season this year for him to be seen as the above average player he can be moving forward. The Royals still have several holes in their lineup, but Moustakas performing well each year would go a long way in helping them move back into contention. He’s still fairly young, at just 25 years old, and therefore has time left to live out his former hype, but Moustakas could use a strong statistical season to prove to many that he’s one of the top third baseman in the game of baseball today.
9.) Matt Kemp
Although he’s still not fully healthy, Matt Kemp is already on the radar of many people who think he will have a good 2014 season. The only question mark being his health, playing in only 73 games last year. If healthy, as with many players on this list, the numbers will be there, as Kemp is one of the premier talents in the game today, possessing 40 home run, 40 stolen base ability (coming one home run shy of doing just that in 2011, when he placed second in MVP voting). Although there is great depth in the Dodgers’ current outfield, which includes players such as Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig, if Kemp can show signs that he’s healthy, he will certainly get plenty of playing time in the coming season. He’s too good of a player to count out.
10.) Tim Lincecum
Once a Cy Young caliber pitcher, having won back-to-back awards in 2008 and 2009, Tim Lincecum has really fallen off as of late. Each of the past two seasons, Lincecum has posted an ERA over 4.00, and in addition had losing records. While the win-loss record isn’t the most important thing when evaluating a pitcher’s season, an ERA anywhere above 3.50 usually means they had a disappointing year. But with the talent that Lincecum has shown in the past, I’m not giving up on a turnaround just yet. He just really needs to have a good 2014 season — perhaps more than most of the players on this list — for him to become ‘The Freak’ pitcher he once was considered. I truly hope he can, because when Lincecum is on, he’s one of the most fun pitchers to watch in all of baseball.
There are a few players who need to have a good 2014 season who just barely missed my above list because their stats were slightly too good. One of those being Josh Hamilton, who was a major disappointment after signing with the Angles, but when you check the stats, he actually had a decent year, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 79 runs. Another example of that being Yoenis Cespedes, who had a down year average wise, hitting just .240, but posted 26 homers and 80 RBI’s. Not too bad of a season for most players.
Joining those two on the list of just misses are Giancarlo Stanton, who was injured in 2013 but still managed to hit 24 home runs and amass 62 RBI’s, along with Dan Uggla, whose .179 batting included 22 homers and 55 RBI’s, which really isn’t all that terrible. While all the players listed under the just missed category had down seasons by their standards, they managed to have somewhat decent years as far as the major league average goes. Even so, they could each use a good 2014 season to prove what they’re capable of.
Which player needs to have a good 2014 season the most? Leave a comment below.
Due to the Dodgers’ and Diamondbacks’ opening-series that’s set to take place on March 22nd and 23rd in Australia, Spring Training action is beginning a bit earlier than usual this year. The Diamondbacks have their pitchers and catchers reporting today, with the Dodgers’ pitchers and catchers reporting on Saturday. Therefore, for the first time since the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series over three months ago, baseball is finally back.
But while the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are getting started this week, the remainder of the teams won’t begin reporting until next week, anywhere from the 11th to the 17th: The Indians report date is set for Tuesday; the Cardinals and Mariners will begin on Wednesday; the Braves, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Nationals, Angels and Padres report Thursday; the Tigers, Yankees, Rays, Cubs, Reds, Royals and Athletics arrive on Friday; the Red Sox, Astros, Mets, White Sox, Rockies, Brewers and Giants on Saturday; the Marlins, Twins and Rangers report on Sunday; and the Blue Jays begin on Monday. (The rest of the players for all the teams will report anywhere from 3 to 7 days after their respective pitchers and catchers.)
Once all of the pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training on February 17th, there will be a mere 33 days until the 2014 Major League Baseball season gets underway in Australia. I, for one, can’t wait.
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 Clayton Kershaw.
While that might seem like a long shot — and it very well may be — Kershaw, surprisingly, has been known to sign through the mail over the past few years; the only downside being that it takes over a year for him to return it to you.
Though his recent record breaking contract, and second Cy Young award, may lead to him getting even more fan mail, causing a subsequent stop of him signing for fans that write to him, Kershaw is good enough for me to take a chance on. Even if I don’t get anything back, at least I tried.
Other MLB players I’m sending to include Taijuan Walker (who made his MLB debut in 2013), David Robertson, Kolten Wong, Cody Asche, Mike Napoli and Jake Marisnick. All of these players have been known to be decent TTM signers, with Walker and Robertson being nearly automatic over the past couple years. Asche told me that he tries to sign everything that gets sent his way, so I’m fairly confident I’ll get that one back at least.
I’m also sending to several Minor League players who were invited to Major League Spring Training this year — some for the first time ever. Those players include Archie Bradley, Kyle Zimmer, Mark Appel, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora. All five of these players will be in the majors at some point over the next few years, with Bradley likely making his big league debut this season. Bradley, Zimmer and Appel have all told me that they sign TTM, so I feel like I’ll get those back. Almora has been hit and miss recently, and I doubt Bryant will, but I’m sending to both of them anyway, because you never know.
Last year I sent off eleven autograph requests to Spring Training and received back six of them, from Jason Motte, Danny Hultzen, Stephen Romero, Sonny Gray, Tyler Skaggs and Casey Kelly. That’s pretty good as far as TTM’s go. If I get back five or six of the dozen I’m sending off this year — which is what I expect to receive – I’ll be happy.
I’m planning to post a blog entry every time I receive back a couple autographs from the players I’m sending TTM requests to during Spring Training, just as I did last year. 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 couple months.
Sunday night marked the beginning of another season of Major League Baseball, as the Houston Astros took on the Texas Rangers, recording their first win as a member of the American League. I didn’t see the Astros winning the game, but that’s baseball for you. Each year brings surprises on any given day of the long 162 game season.
Another thing that comes with each new year is another season of MLB’s Beat the Streak, where anyone, with a little skill and a lot of luck, has the chance to win 5.6 million dollars, by “breaking” Joe DiMaggio’s all-time hit record of 56 consecutive games. Though it sounds fairly straight forward and simple, there’s a reason no one has won it in the 13 seasons it’s been around–it’s hard. Really hard.
This is my third year playing the MLB fantasy game, and I’m yet to reach a streak anywhere near the 57 needed to win the prize. Though, I feel like I stand a better chance this year with the strategy I’ve developed–if you can develop a strategy for such a game–and really think I can give it a fairly good run. Only time will tell if I’m right, or if another year of high expectations will lead to another year of disappointment.
If you think you can break the streak, I encourage you to give it a try. All you have to do is CLICK HERE and login to your MLB.com account; it’s free to sign up if you don’t already have one. From there, all you have to do is pick a player each day that you feel is most likely to get a hit. If they get a hit, your streak continues, but if they fail to record a knock, your streak falls all the way back to zero; no matter how high your streak was.
See why it’s so hard?
One of the ways to give yourself the most chances to put together a 57 game hit streak, is to double-down each day. Meaning, you can pick two players, instead of one, and if they both get a hit, your streak goes up by two, growing your streak twice as fast. But be warned, if both players don’t get a hit, your streak drops back to zero. Giving it the high-risk, high-reward factor.
Whether you actually go all the way to a streak of 57, to win the big cash prize, or fare the same as guys like me, it’s still fun to just play the game. So give it a shot, and if you begin to climb up the leaderboards, be sure to leave a comment.
Yesterday was Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Sure, the Mariners and Athletics played a couple of regular season games in Japan during the Opening Series, but yesterday was considered by many to be the start of the 2012 season.
Of the seven games played, every inning of every single game was exciting. None more than the Blue Jays and Indians game, which lasted longer that any game ever has in Opening Day history–going 16 innings. Breaking the old record of 15.
Being such a big day, I thought I’d go through each game and give a SHORT recap, followed by my impressions of the game.
Recap: This game started out a real pitchers dual, as it took all the way to the bottom of the seventh before a run was put on the board by either team. It was the Tigers scoring first, and going into the top of the ninth they were up 2-0. The Red Sox rallied back however, as they scored two runs off Jose Valverde to tie it up. This was the first blown save for Valverde since 2010. Valverde ended up getting the win as the Tigers won 3-2, with Austin Jackson being the hero with a walk-off single.
Impressions: Starting pitcher Justin Verlander looked good as usual, pitching 8 scoreless innings, giving up a mere two hits and striking out 7. This was the regular season debut of Prince Fielder in a Tigers uniform. Fielder went 1-3, with an RBI in this game, but I thought he looked really comfortable with his new team. Give him a game or two more, and I think he’ll really start putting up big numbers.
I thought the Red Sox looked a little off. The team as a whole didn’t do all that well in their first game of the season, as only four of their players recorded hits. Although starting pitcher Jon Lester gave up 6 hits, which subsequently ended with a run scoring, I thought he looked rather decent on the mound. He walked three, and only struck out four through 7 innings pitched, but I thought his command was there, at least more than it was last season. I look for a good year out of him.
Recap: Just as the Tigers-Red Sox game had been, this game also started out with both starting pitchers doing well. It took until the bottom of the sixth inning for either team to score. It had the Mets scoring a run, off an RBI single by David Wright. The one run proved to be enough in this game, as the final score was 1-0, Mets.
Impressions: Obviously the big story of the game was Mets’ starting pitcher Johan Santana. This was his first start since 2010, as surgery in 2011 caused him to miss the entire season. Santana looked really good out of the gate, as he gave up only two hits through 5 innings pitched, while striking out five and giving up no runs. Although his fastball might of lost a mile per hour or two, it’s still affective. I think Santana is due to have an extremely good year.
David Wright is the guy that I’m going to keep a close eye on for the 2012 season. He has the ability to be a real star, but hasn’t put up star numbers in recent years. Batting right-handed, the shortened distance to the outfield wall is sure to give him another homer or two for the season. Wright went 2-3 with an RBI in yesterday’s game. I look for him to keep putting up those kind of numbers through out the remainder of the season.
I thought the Braves looked sloppy in this game, both offensively and defensively. Their pitching wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good enough to get the job done. Only four Braves recorded hits in the game, as the Mets pitching proved too much.
Recap: Both starting pitchers started out well in this game. I expected Roy Halladay to dominate like he always does, but I never thought Erik Bedard would keep the tough Phillies lineup scoreless through six. I was really impressed with Bedard. He did end up surrendering what would turn out to be the game winning run in the seventh however, as the Pirates failed to bat anyone home, making the final score 1-0, Phillies.
Impressions: I didn’t watch much of this game, but the few innings that I did I was really impressed. It was no surprise that Roy Halladay had the game that he did, I mean, he’s Roy Halladay, but I was really surprised at the great game that Erik Bedard had. It was truly remarkable.
What it came down to in this game was offense. Only two Pirates recorded a hit, versus the Phillies eight hits. Although Bedard had a great game, his teammates couldn’t help him out with any runs. Subsequently the game had Phillies newcomer, Jonathan Papelbon coming in to record his first save of the season.
Recap: Run one of the game came in the fourth inning, as the Cubs struck first. It appeared at first that one run would be enough for the Cubs, as the Nationals went the first seven innings without a run scored. They finally scored in both the eighth and ninth innings. The Cubs couldn’t rally back however, as the National’s recorded the victory, 2-1.
Impressions: Nationals’ starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg looked decent, but nothing he did really stood out to me. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball, but in that time gave up five hits, while striking out five. Like I said, not bad, but nothing that makes me say WOW.
I thought Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster looked fantastic. He pitched 7.2 innings before being pulled, and in that time only allowed one run on two hits, while striking out ten. While Dempster was the more dominant of the two starting pitchers, the National’s had the better offensive lineup, as a late rally was enough for a one-run win.
Recap: Unlike the first few games of the day, this one didn’t take long before it’s first run was scored. A sacrifice fly by Jay Bruce, was enough to give the Reds a one run lead in the early going. The next run of the game came off an RBI double by Ryan Ludwick, that gave the Reds a 2-0 lead. The Reds would score two more times in the bottom of the eighth–a home run by Jay Bruce, and an RBI double by Chris Heisey. The Reds beat the Marlins, 4-0.
Impressions: So far things aren’t looking much better than last season for the Marlins. They’re now 0-2, and only recorded three hits in their game against the Reds. While I’ve seen a lot of people saying that the Marlins are on track for another terrible season, I feel it’s MUCH too early to judge the team. Sure, their starting pitching has failed to dominate thus far, but it’s just two games into the season. They still have 160 left to go, and I guarantee they won’t go 0-162.
As far as the Reds go, I thought they looked really good. Their highest paid player Joey Votto went just 1-3, but he looked really good at first base, digging many balls out of the dirt. Another player that I was impressed by is Jay Bruce. I thought he showed well plate discipline, as well as good power.
The Reds are going to be an exciting team to watch this season. While I’m still sticking with my prediction that the Cardinals will win the division, the Reds are sure to make things interesting, especially towards the end of the year. They could really end up doing some big things.
Recap: The Indians went into the ninth inning with a three run lead, but their closer Chris Perez blew the save by giving up three runs. Going into the tenth tied 4-4, both the Blue Jays and Indians pitchers looked really good. After the game hit the 15th inning you had to wonder if this game would ever end. It did, as in the top of the 16th inning J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer to left field, giving the Blue Jays a 7-4 lead, which would turn out to be the final, as the Indians failed to score in the bottom half.
Impressions: Justin Masterson looked incredible in yesterday’s game. He struck out the side to start out the game, and ended up allowing a run on only two hits while striking out ten, in eight innings pitched. I thought the Indians team as a whole, regardless of the loss, was really good last night. They looked really dialed in at the plate, as they combined for a 4-run inning in the bottom of the second.
The Blue Jays starting pitcher, Ricky Romero, didn’t have his best stuff last night. Only lasting 5 innings before being pulled from the game, he allowed 4 runs while only striking out four batters. The rest of the team looked good, however. Especially Jose Bautista, who went 3-4 with a home run.
Just like the Cincinnati Reds, this team is going to be interesting to watch to see how they do this season. They’re part of the very tough AL East, but if they can get things going they can be real contenders in my opinion.
Recap: The Dodgers were the first team to score in the game, as two batters were forced home due to walks in a bases loaded situation. The Dodgers would score again in the next inning giving them a 3-0 lead. The Padres finally cracked the run column in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI double by Jesus Guzman. The Dodgers and Padres both scored two runs in the eighth, off a two-run homer by Matt Kemp, and a two-run homer by Cameron Maybin. The final score of the game had the Dodgers recording a 5-3 win.
Impressions: Although he had to leave to game after just three innings pitched due to a stomach flu, Clayton Kershaw looked really good, as usual. On the other hand, Padres starting pitcher Edinson Volquez didn’t look nearly as good. Lasting five innings, Volquez gave up three runs on three hits, while striking out seven. To me, Volquez is the key for the Padres. He needs to perform well in order for the Padres to succeed.
Matt Kemp and Cameron Maybin were the two stand out players of the game. Kemp picked up where he left off in 2011, going 2-5 with a home run. Maybin–who is really going to have a good year, in my opinion–went 2-4, with an absolute bomb.
If we learned anything from yesterday, it’s that it’s sure to be another exciting season of Major League Baseball.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I thought this day would never come. Baseball is finally back!!!!
I realize that there has been Spring Training games going on for the past month and a half, but as I stated in a previous entry, it’s not my thing.
As I was sitting on the couch today watching the first game of the season(Yankees Vs. Tigers), I couldn’t help but think of the number 42. Why? Well, I don’t know if you have noticed, but it involves Mariano Rivera more than just his number. Not only is he number 42, but he currently need 42 saves to pass Trevor Hoffman. He turns 42 this year. And the temperature at the start of today’s game was…..you guessed it; 42 degrees.
It is unreal how many times the number 42 is coming up. Coincidence? You tell me…….
OTHER 42′s- NOT YANKEE RELATED
Today the game time temperature in Cincinnati was 42 degrees.
The Brewers’ first two batters hit home runs to start off the season for the first time in 42 years.
I also just realized that I published this entry at 9:”42″. I SWEAR I didn’t do that on purpose. Something is going on with number 42.
-UPDATE # 2-
I just found out that Mariano has 42 career postseason saves.