Results tagged ‘ Pitcher ’

How the Major Offseason Pickups Did On Opening Day

Opening Day is the most exciting day of the year as far as baseball fans are concerned. With it comes lofty expectations, of both individual players and teams, as well as predictions for how every team will fare. But the best part of Opening Day is that, being the first game of the year, it gives every team — no matter how good or bad they may turn out to be — the opportunity to have a great deal of optimism for the coming season.

While the hopes and dreams of certain teams and fans alike will dwindle as a given season goes on, game one of the long season provides fans their first look at the key pickups their team made during the offseason, with the hopes that the moves they made will lead them to a World Series title. Whether it be by a trade or a free agent signing, each and every team always does something in the offseason to attempt to improve their team for the following year.

With that in mind, I thought I’d go over how the major (non-pitching) offseason additions performed in their first game with their new team, and give my thoughts on each player. While not every name is listed, pretty much all of the major players are:Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu: 2-4, with an RBI single

Yet another predicted future phenom to make his way over from Cuba, Jose Abreu impressed many people throughout Spring Training, and he continued to do so on Opening Day. Going 2-4, with one of his two hits scoring a run, Abreu didn’t show off the power in his first big league game, however, the natural pop he has in his bat was evident. With the White Sox being somewhat of a question mark for the coming season, Abreu, if nothing else, will go a long way in bringing attention to the team.

Marlon Byrd: 2-6, with a solo homer

Part of a long list of player who’ve tested positive for performance enhancing drugs over the years, with his suspension coming in 2012 , Marlon Byrd is coming off a breakout season spent between the Mets and Pirates last year, and is looking to prove that he can continue to be that type of player moving forward. Hitting a career high 24 home runs last season, Byrd is well on his way to reaching the lofty total yet again, going 2-6 with a home run in his first game in a Phillies uniform since 2005.

Jhonny Peralta: 0-4

Moving from the Tigers to the Cardinals this past offseason, Jhonny Peralta can be an impact player on any club. Despite a performance enhancing drug suspension last season, Peralta was signed by the Cards to man the shortstop position for the coming season, and while he went hitless in his first game of the year (he looked solid defensively), many are looking for Peralta to have a great season. With an already fantastic team from top to bottom, Peralta could find himself apart of a very special season.

Nelson Cruz: 1-2, with a solo homer

Yet another player who served a suspension last season due to performance enhancing drug use, Nelson Cruz is a major power threat, nonetheless, and was a great pickup by the Orioles. He proved that threat first hand on Opening Day, blasting a solo home run in one of his two official at-bats of the game. With a lineup of several power sources already — Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Manny Machado, once he returns — Cruz combines together to make for a very formidable Orioles lineup.

Michael Morse: 1-3, with a strikeout

Though he isn’t the best power hitter in baseball, Michael Morse has the potential to go on hot streaks in which he can rack up a good amount of home runs in no time. Bouncing around between teams over the past few seasons, Morse wound up with the Giants this past offseason, and is sure to be a key part of their lineup moving forward. Going 1-3 on Opening Day, Morse is part of a very good Giants team, and if he can perform to his potential throughout the year, they could do very well.

Grady Sizemore: 2-4, with a solo homer

One of the best stories of the year, Grady Sizemore joined the Red Sox in January, after not having played in a major league game since 2011 due to a multitude of injuries. He was subsequently put up against promising prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. during Spring Training, having to prove himself worthy of the Opening Day center field spot. Sizemore wound up having a fantastic Spring, winning the job, and had a great 4ufdt_St_58return game in Baltimore, going 2-4, including a towering home run to right field.

Prince Fielder: 1-5

Part of a trade between the Tigers and Rangers, which sent Prince Fielder to the Rangers in return for Ian Kinsler, the Rangers definitely have a much better lineup than they did last season. While Fielder went just 1-5 on Opening Day, on a mere single, he possesses one of the biggest power bats in all of baseball. He should get things going and come close to, if not exceeding, his previous averages of over 30 homers and 100 RBI’s a season. For the Rangers to beat out the Athletics in the division, they need Fielder to get hot.

Shin-Soo Choo: 0-4

Known for getting on base better than pretty much anyone all of last season, putting together a .423 on base percentage, the Rangers signed Shin-Soo Choo to a major deal this offseason, looking for him to continue to be the same type of player. But he didn’t start his year off all that well, going 0-4 in game one, though he did reach first on a walk. Despite his poor debut with the Rangers, Choo should be fine. He’s not going to hit you a ton of home runs, but if he can get on base, the rest of the lineup will take care of the runs.

Ian Kinsler: 0-4

The piece that the Tigers got in return for sending Prince Fielder to the Rangers, Ian Kinsler can contribute both offensively and defensively. Though the Tigers lost a major run producer in Fielder, and they will undoubtedly miss his presence throughout the long season (with Miguel Cabrera having to carry the Tigers more than ever), Kinsler, although he went hitless in his first game in a Tigers uniform, should make an impact for the Tigers, who are predicted by many to run away with the division.

Mark Trumbo: 3-5, with two RBI’s

Coming over to the Diamondbacks from the Angels this offseason, Mark Trumbo can launch a baseball like very few others can. With that power threat comes a major impact player, as Trumbo played a big role in the Angles lineup and will undoubtedly be a big piece of the D-backs’ lineup. Going 3-5, with a pair of RBI’s, in his first game of the season, Trumbo certainly didn’t disappoint in what could turn out to be a big year for him if he can get everything going from here on out.

Curtis Granderson: 0-5, with three strikeouts

Moving across town this past offseason, Curtis Granderson surprised many when he exchanged his Yankees pinstripes for those of the Mets. But although Granderson is supposed to be one of the top power threats in the Mets lineup — hitting over fourty home runs in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons – he disappointed in his Opening Day start. Striking out three times in a hitless five at-bats, Granderson certainly didn’t show much of anything, but he should still get up around the thirty homer range when all is said and done.Untitled

Robinson Cano: 2-4

The top free agent of the offseason, many felt that Robinson Cano would remain a New York Yankee for the entire length of his career. But instead, Cano signed a mega deal with the Mariners keeping him in Seattle for the next ten seasons. In his first game with his new club, Cano went 2-4, including a double late in the game. Though many people are predicting a fall in Cano’s power numbers, with him playing home games at Safeco Field, Cano proved that his consistency will likely remain.

David Freese: 0-4, with two strikeouts

With the loss of David Freese to the Angels in exchange for Peter Bourjos, the Cardinals are a slightly weaker team than they were last year. However, Matt Carpenter, previously their second baseman, took over Freese’s spot at the hot corner, and is expected to do a great job. On the Angles end of the trade, they picked up what should be a decent upgrade at third. Freese didn’t do much in his Angels debut, going hitless in four at-bats, but he looked good defensively, and his bat will surely come around to give the Angels a great overall lineup.

Justin Morneau: 1-4, with a strikeout

Having been moved from the Twins to the Pirates in the second half of last season, Justin Morneau found himself joining the Colorado Rockies this offseason, giving them some much needed pop in their lineup. While Morneau can be an impact player, the Rockies simply don’t have a good enough team to put together all that great of a season. Therefore, even though Morneau went a mere 1-4 in his Rockies debut, he should continue to be consistent, with the Rockies’ poor performance as a whole staying consistent as well.

Q and A With Mark Appel

Mark Appel was drafted out of high school by the Tigers in the 15th round of the 2009 draft. However, due to his commitment to Stanford University, Appel didn’t sign, and instead went to pitch at college.

At Standford, Appel began as a relief pitcher, only receiving three starts his freshman year, where he posted a 5.92 ERA over 38 innings. Once he was made a full time starter again the next season, Appel excelled, lowering his ERA down to 3.02 for the year. In his junior year of college, after he went 10-2 with a 2.56 ERA, Appel was once again drafted, this time by the Pirates as the eighth overall pick. Many felt that Appel would begin his professional baseball career, but he decided to return to college to finish out his baseball career (and degree) at Stanford.

BBM-BeesvQCBandits-Appel-118Despite some flak from people around the baseball world for returning to college, Appel showed just how good of a pitcher he is, improving to have his best season at Stanford; setting the all-time collective strikeout record, in which he went 10-4 with a 2.12 ERA. After such a successful final year, Appel was drafted yet again, for the third time, by the Astros as the first overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Beginning his professional baseball career with Low-A Tri-City, Appel made it up to Single-A Quad Cities in 2013, going a combined 3-1 with a 3.79 ERA. Due to the 106 innings Appel had already pitched in 2013 at Stanford, he was shut down after just 38 professional innings pitched, bringing his innings up to roughly 144 for the season.

Appel has an average, to slightly above average, fastball, ranging from the lower to mid nineties, but he can crank it up to upper nineties when needed. He also possesses a good slider and a work in progress changeup that many think will come along.

Heading into his first major league Spring Training, it’s been reported that Appel could, potentially, make the big leagues out of camp “if he is one of the best five pitchers out of Spring Training”. However, as many people feel, it will likely be later in 2014, or early 2015, when Houston — his hometown – gets its first glimpse of Appel. But no matter when that is, with all of the other top prospects in the Astros’ farm system, the future would appear to be bright for them as an organization moving forward, with Appel soon to be leading the way.

Mark Appel — top pitching prospect in the Astros’ organization — took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?

I first became interested in baseball when I was very young. For as long as I can remember, I have been playing some version of the sport. Growing up, my parents, as well as certain coaches throughout the years, really influenced me and encouraged me to pursue my dream of playing baseball as a way to educate myself in college and professionally.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

Nolan Ryan was one of the all-time great pitchers and the player I looked up to the most as far as what I wanted to be on the field. He was a fierce competitor who gave his all every single time he got the ball. He competed no matter the score, circumstance, or previous result. Win or lose, you knew he was going to go out and compete again the next time he got the ball.

3.) You were drafted by the Astros in the 1st round of the 2013 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?

The draft process is very interesting. As someone who has gone through it three different times in three unique situations, I feel like I have seen it all. Someone expected to get drafted goes through “interviews”, both on and off the field. In my situation, I spoke with general managers and scouting directors, as well as the local area scouts. Answering their questions off the field is important for their evaluation process so they can have a good understanding of the type of person you are. But the factor that matters most is the results on the field — how good you are at playing baseball.

The Astros and I had a number of conversations leading up to the draft and on the day of the draft, as well as a few other teams. When the time came for the pick to be made, I felt peace in knowing that I would be exactly where God wanted me to be, whether it was Houston or another team. Bud Selig announced my name and my friends and family who came to visit California (I was preparing for graduation the following week) all celebrated! It was a surreal feeling, knowing that I would be able to have a chance to play in my hometown and the team I grew up rooting for was now the same organization I was a part of. God’s grace is too great.

4.) Before being the number one overall pick in 2013, you were drafted by the Tigers in 2009, and the Pirates, eighth overall, in 2012. What made you decide to attend college instead of going pro out of high school? Why did you decide to return for your senior year at Stanford in 2012 after the Pirates drafted you so high?  

Like I said, I have been drafted three times and each were unique situations.

appelIn high school the Tigers drafted me in the 15th round, even though I told all the area scouts I spoke with that I was planning on attending Stanford. Dreaming about being a pro baseball player, it was fun to entertain the thought of signing as a senior in high school, but I knew that Stanford was where I needed to be for my future, both in baseball and in life. Unsure if I was ready to play minor league baseball, I knew college would allow me to grow up, become a man, and still play baseball at a very high level.

In 2012 the Pirates drafted me with the 8th pick in the draft. The decision to return to school for my senior season was the toughest I have ever had to make. There are a number of factors that go into a decision of that magnitude: baseball development and career, education, regrets (I will explain this one later), desires, and money. Also, as a follower of Jesus, relationships with my coaches, teammates and fans, combined with being a part of what God is doing in this world, is very important to me.

For the baseball development, I did not see an advantage to either signing or returning to school. Development really comes down to how badly you want to get better as a player. I knew that I would be able to improve both at Stanford and in the Pirates’ organization. As far as education went, it was a no-brainer to return to school. Playing my senior year allowed me to finish my degree in Management Science and Engineering. As far as regrets go, when I made my decision, I did not want to have any regrets. I didn’t want to spend my idle time thinking about what it would have been like if I chose the other option. Going back to Stanford meant I would have a chance to play in Omaha (which we didn’t achieve), finish my degree before starting a professional career, and continue to be involved in campus ministries that I had been involved with the past three years.

Those are some things that I would have wondered about a lot if I had signed. When it came down to it, money out of the question, I wanted to go back to school, not for the lack of things signing professionally had to offer (which wasn’t much), but for the mlb_a_appel_cr_400opportunities I had during my senior year at Stanford.

But, as everyone knows, money was involved. And it was a lot of money. There are two somewhat conflicting things going on with my situation. On one hand, I was offered a lot of money, and I mean a lot. And on the other hand, I wasn’t offered what I believed my value for my talents was in the draft market under the current rules. So do I stick to principle and go back to school, or do I chase the money and sign? It was a tough question to comprehend.

There are financial benefits to both options, as well as financial risks (well, maybe there were only risks for returning to school). If money was the most important thing to me, I would have signed 100 percent. I knew by returning to school, I would give up 3.8 million dollars. I also knew there were a few things that could go wrong: injury and underperformance were the two main risks. I also knew there were benefits: education, relationships, the opportunity to get better, and a potential financial gain. The thing most people don’t realize is that I had zero regrets. No matter the outcome of my senior season and the draft that followed, I would have been extremely happy with the decision.

As confirmation that I was exactly where God wanted me to be, within the first two weeks of being back at school four members from the Stanford baseball team had accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior through the team bible study! It was so cool to be a part of the work of the Holy Spirit!

5.) In your senior year of high school, you were a part time relief pitcher and didn’t become a full time starter again until your sophomore year of college. Having been both a starting and relief pitcher, which did you find more challenging?

Both relieving and starting have their challenges. I have much more experience as a starter, and at higher levels of competition, I have only started. Personally, I think the difference is the mentality and routine. A reliever needs to mentally prepare himself to pitch 1-2 innings every single night, in general. A starter must prepare mentally to pitch five or more innings once every five days. The two are difficult to compare. With that being said, I would say that starting has been more challenging for me, probably due to the difference in talent level between high school and college, but also because there is so much to learn as a starter. I feel like I learn something new every single day.

6.) Talk a little bit about life on the road: What’s the most difficult aspect of it? What do you do to pass the time?

Life on the road can be very difficult. There are many things that, as a Christian, I need to prepare for. Wherever you go, you will have decisions to make from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed that will affect both how you play and how your teammates see you — as a man of integrity or a hypocrite. From how I spend my time in the hotel room to where I go and what I do after the games, there will be temptations of various kinds; whether it is alcohol, drugs, etc. For me, reading is something that I enjoy doing, starting with the Bible, but also books for entertainment purposes. Reading engages the mind to learn and grow, especially when playing baseball every day can get repetitive and mundane at times.

Spending time with teammates is a great way to spend your free time. These are the guys that you hope to win a championship with, and in my opinion, the better the team knows and respects each other off the field the more we will play together as a unit. I also believe that building relationships is the first step to discipleship, what Jesus has called us to do as believers. Coming along side people and meeting them where they are, encouraging them and building them up, investing in their lives speaks a lot louder than just telling them about an alternative lifestyle through knowing Jesus that would be better for them. Actions always speak louder than words.

7.) The Astros haven’t been doing well lately, finishing with over 100 losses the past two seasons, but they have great talent down in their farm system. With players such as yourself, Carlos Correa and George Springer, among others, how do you see the teamMark Appel faring over the next few years?

Being a part of the Astros’ organization is an incredible blessing. Not only are they my hometown team, but I believe they are a team that will be good quickly and good for a long time. Buying in to the system now and getting to know all the players right now will build a foundation for the future of the organization at the big league level.

I believe that the Astros will be the most improved team this year, and will continue to improve year after year. As we develop and add new players to the major league team, the chances we win more and more games only increases.

8.) What do you feel went well in 2013? What are your goals for 2014?

My 2013 pro season was great. I’m not necessarily pleased with the end of year statistics as a whole, but I do believe I continued to improve and to learn about professional baseball and what to expect for my 2014 season.

This season my goals are simply to work as hard as I can every single day and allow God to take care of the rest. I am not going to worry about which level I start out at or when I make it to Houston this year (if at all). The great thing about being a disciple of Jesus is knowing that wherever I am in life, I have purpose and there is work to be done for the kingdom of God. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to work with all that I have in order to reach the big leagues, but while I’m working, I’m not going to worry, and I’ll have some fun!

9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?

Favorite TV show: Currently, ‘Parks and Recreation’. I can really identify with Ron Swanson. Favorite food: Steak.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

My advice to kids hoping to play pro ball is to work hard in school, first and foremost. Secondly, have fun while you are playing. Don’t let the fun of the game be overshadowed by the worry and fear of not achieving the goals that you have for yourself. Baseball is a fun game, and I have seen too many players in college and pro ball not enjoy it because they want to be the best so badly that their desire for perfection has removed the joy they once had while playing the game. Don’t lose that childlike spirit.

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Big thanks to Mark Appel for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on Twitter: @MAppel26

Top Ten Contracts I’d Give to Young Stars

With Clayton Kershaw recently receiving a 7-year, 215 million dollar deal from the Dodgers, I thought I’d go over the top young players Kershaw’s age (26 at the start of the season) or younger without extended contracts, with at least 100 games played or 100 innings pitched, that I feel would be worth a large deal (not necessarily of Kershaw’s magnitude).

Keep in mind, the players on my list might never get contracts of this amount, or they could be offered larger ones — depending on what their respective team can afford. I’m not trying to project what the future holds for each player money wise, I’m just giving my take on what I feel they’re worth, and over what period of time. Also, the players are in order of total dollar amount, not necessarily their talent level, as some positions are simply worth more money than others.

With all that said, here is my top ten list:

1.) Mike Trout — 22 years old: Contract of 10 years, 310 million dollars

There’s no doubt in my mind that Mike Trout is eventually going to receive a massive contract. After winning the 2012 American League Rookie of the Year award and going on to have an even better 2013 season, Trout is worth every dollar. At just 22 years old, Trout is the only player on my list that I’d give a 10 year contract to, with my contract coming out to 31 million a year, which would make him the highest paid player in MLB history. But he’s just going to get better and better.

2.) Giancarlo Stanton — 24 years old: Contract of 6 years, 130 million dollars

If Giancarlo Stanton had been completely healthy over the last couple of seasons, he’d probably be receiving more money in my contract. But citing the health issues, especially last season, I decided to give him just under 22 million a year. When healthy, he is a 30-40 home run player, and is just as deserving of a huge contract as Mike Trout.

3.) Freddie Freeman — 24 years old: Contract of 6 years, 100 million dollars

Many had Freddie Freeman in the running for the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player award, but while he didn’t win (Andrew McCutchen ended up taking home the honor) that doesn’t take anything away from the season Freeman had. At just 23 years old, Freeman recorded his first 100 RBI season last year, and should continue to be that type of player moving forward. Therefore, I’d lock him up until age 30, providing him with just under 17 million a season.

4.) Jose Fernandez — 21 years old: Contract of 5 years, 100 million dollars

If Jose Fernandez can perform all next season the way he did in 2013, he will be worth even more than this. Fernandez blew away the opposition last season, going 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA, and winning the National League Rookie of the Year award — even placing third in Cy Young award voting. At just 21 years old, Fernandez is going to be very good for a very long time, but I played it safe, for now, giving him 20 million a season (yes, I know that’s a ton for a player of his age) for the next five years. After that, sky’s the limit.

5.) Manny Machado — 21 years old: Contract of 6 years, 85 million dollars

Manny Machado could end up being worthy of the second largest contract of the players on my list, as he is capable of turning into a complete, superstar player a few years down the road, but for now he sits at number five. That’s no knock to him, however. He’s just 21 years old, and has already shown flashes of being one of the top two or three players in all of baseball. But if I had to offer him a contract tomorrow, I’d give him roughly 14 million a year until he turns 27.

6.) Stephen Strasburg — 25 years old: Contract of 5 years, 80 million dollars

Though he’s had a few good seasons (after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010) Stephen Strasburg hasn’t yet broken out as that super dominant pitcher many feel he can be, going 8-9 with a 3.00 ERA in 2013. Therefore, I have him at number six on my list, with a contract of 16 million a year until he turns 30. But a few good seasons could easily move him way up.

7.) Craig Kimbrel — 25 years old: Contract of 5 years, 75 million dollars

There is, arguably, no one better at closing out games at the moment (now that Mariano Rivera has retired) than Craig Kimbrel. Posting 40 or more saves each of the past three years, Kimbrel has overpowering stuff, and should continue to dominate as the Braves’ closer for years to come. I don’t normally like relief pitchers getting big contracts, but Kimbrel is the exception, with me giving him a contract worth 15 million a year.

8.) Bryce Harper — 21 years old: Contract of 5 years, 70 million dollars

This was difficult for me, putting Bryce Harper all the way down at number eight. He’s been hyped since the age of sixteen, and it hasn’t slowed since Harper reached the majors in 2012. But he’s just a bit “out of control” for me to place him any higher; at least for now. If he can get everything together, he has the potential to be a true five-tool player, and earn a mega-contract. From what I’ve seen so far, however, I’d give him five years to figure things out, giving him 14 million a season.

9.) Addison Reed — 25 years old: Contract of 5 years, 65 million dollars

Addison Reed — recently traded to the Diamondbacks from the White Sox — is one of the most dominant and reliable closers in all of baseball. Though he is somewhat of a question mark in terms of earned runs allowed per outing, Reed has very dominant stuff, and recorded 40 saves last season. He should remain a feared ninth inning man for years to come, earning him 13 million until he turns 30, in my book.

10.) Matt Harvey — 25 years old: Contract T.B.D.

The fact that Matt Harvey missed the last few games of 2013 and will miss the entire 2014 season, due to Tommy John surgery, and yet still makes my top ten speaks volumes for the type of player he is. Getting the start for the 2013 All-Star game, Harvey had a magnificent year, going 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA, and really put his name on the map. Once healthy, he should get a hefty contract. (It’s hard to say for sure how much he’s worth, which is why I left that to be determined down the road.)

Do you agree or disagree with my top ten? Leave a comment below.

Maddux, Glavine & Thomas Elected to Hall of Fame

For the first time since 1971, there will be six living Hall of Fame inductees enshrined in Cooperstown on July 27th, in this the 75th anniversary of the museum. It was announced on Wednesday that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas would be joining Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, who were elected in December, as part of the 2014 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class.

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Maddux, Glavine and Thomas – the first player elected to have played the majority of their games as a designated hitter – all received above 80 percent of the vote, and each were elected on their first time on the ballot. This marks the first time since 1999 that three first-ballot nominees (Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount) were elected, and just the second time in history.

Maddux saw the most votes, earning 97.2 percent of the 571 voters’ approval, making him the eighth highest vote getter in Hall of Fame voting history, behind Tony Gwynn (97.61), Hank Aaron (97.83), George Brett (98.19), Ty Cobb (98.23), Cal Ripken Jr.(98.53), Nolan Ryan (98.79) and Tom Seaver (98.84).

All three players were extremely deserving, no doubt about it, but many people feel that a couple of players who were just as “deserving” didn’t get enough recognition.

None more so than Craig Biggio, who received 74.8 percent of the vote, falling a mere two votes shy of the 75 percent necessary for induction. Biggio becomes the third player to miss getting in by two or fewer votes, joining Pie Traynor and Nellie Fox, who both eventually made it into the Hall of Fame.

Mike Piazza is another player that didn’t earn enough of the vote to be elected, but could’ve easily been elected in. Piazza’s percentage, as with Biggio, was likely hurt by the great amount of talent on this year’s ballot, but it’s still surprising to me that he didn’t come a bit closer.

Nonetheless, both Biggio and Piazza will likely be voted in next year.

Players who may not ever be elected, however, include Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who all saw drops in percentages from last year, and are all linked in one way or another to performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). Clemens was the top vote getter of them all, but received just 35.4 percent of the vote, down from 37.6 percent in 2013 — no where near the percentage needed. Rafael Palmeiro, who is also associated to PED’s, didn’t even receive the necessary 5 percent to remain on the ballot for next year, getting just 4.4 percent.

Palmeiro is one of 16 players from this year who will not be on the ballot for next year. Those players include the likes of Eric Gagne and Kenny Rogers, among others, who were good players but not good enough for the Hall of Fame. Jack Morris will also not be returning next year, as although he received 61.5 percent of the vote, this was his 15th and final year of eligibility.

Looking forward to the 2015 Hall of Fame ballot, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield and Nomar Garciaparra will all be making their first appearance, and that could make it tough for really good players such as Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent, who received 20.3 percent and 15.2 percent of the vote this year, respectively, to make much progress. Only time will tell how the voters decide.

But one thing is for sure: Next year’s Hall of Fame class has the potential to be even more exciting than this one. And that’s truly saying a lot after the memorable class of 2014.

Q and A With Chris Beck

Chris Beck was drafted by the White Sox in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft. Originally projected as a first round draft pick, a drop in velocity duringBeck his junior year of college led to a drop to late in the second round. But Beck has been able to prove his ability as a pitcher, posting good stats over his first two seasons of professional baseball.

After a good 2012, Beck had an even better 2013 season, going 13-10 with a 3.07 ERA in 26 starts. Beginning the year strong in High-A, Beck was selected to participate in the Carolina League/California League All-Star game, and was quickly promoted to Double-A afterwards, where he ended the year.

Beck is a player worth keeping a very close eye on. He should continue to post good stats, and could make it to the majors in the next year or two.

Chris Beck — top 10 prospect in the White Sox’ organization — took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball?

I’d say from the time I was able to walk. I always had my plastic ‘Fisher Price’ bat in my hands walking around the house.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

Chipper Jones, hands down, because he was a Georgia boy right up the road in Atlanta.

3.) You were drafted by the White Sox in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you first found out? Initial thoughts?

It was an amazing experience but stressful at the same time. I had upper first round buzz heading into my junior season, and I fell into the second round. So I had no idea when I was going to go, but [I'm] very lucky the White Sox took me when they did.

4.) Although you signed with the White Sox in 2012, you were originally drafted by the Indians in the 35th round of the 2009 draft. What made you decide to attend college instead of beginning your professional career?

Just my maturity situation. I had gone to a one-hallway high school in a small town, and [had] never really been away from home, ever. I knew I had some growing up to do before I could handle pro ball.

5.) You had a fairly successful first half to the year that earned you a spot in the 2013 Carolina League/California League All-Star game. What did it mean to you to be named to the team along with all the other great players in High-A baseball?

It was awesome just being able to be surrounded by that talent. You look now and most of the guys that played in the game moved to AA right after and continued their success. They could be in the big leagues at any point this next season, and that’ll be something cool to know I played beside them.

6.) After the All-Star game, you were promoted to Double-A. What kind of differences, if any, did you notice from the level of talent you began the first half of the year facing?

It’s just the margin of error is that much smaller. I’m very lucky that the Carolina league was loaded with great players and competition so I believe that helped with the transition. But back to AA, those guys are there for a reason and most are future or former big leaguers.

7.) Winning a World Series Championship is, obviously, every player’s dream, but while you haven’t yet had the opportunity to do so, you won the next best thing: The 2013 Southern League Championship, with the Birmingham Barons. What was that experience like, pitching in a Minor League playoff atmosphere? What did you take away from it?

I don’t think there’s one certain word that can describe that. It’s such a rush of emotions and adrenaline even when you’re not on the mound. You’re hanging on the rail during every pitch. And after playing for the love of the game, you play to win, and winning a championship is the ultimate prize.

8.) What do you feel went well in 2013? What are your goals for 2014?

2013 I gained loads of experience of it being my first full season. I learned a lot of how to treat your body (laying off Dunkin Donuts everyday) and when to push and when to let off in between starts. Staying healthy was my primary goal, and that happened. So into 2014 it’ll be a lot of the same — staying healthy and continuing to work on putting guys away. I walked a lot of guys in High-A this year and want to take what I did in AA into this coming Spring Training.

9.) Favorite TV show? Favorite food?

I really love ‘Duck Dynasty’ and, as mentioned before, donuts. Lol.

10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

Biggest advice I could offer: Have fun! It’s a game, and it’s meant to be fun. When that stops happening something isn’t being done right, no matter what level you’re on.

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Big thanks to Chris Beck for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on Twitter: @WatchurBeck

My Thoughts On the Remaining MLB Free Agents

The 2013 Major League Baseball season ended nearly a month ago, but the team changing deals that take place every offseason are just now beginning. The biggest trade that has taken place so far is undoubtedly Prince Fielder going to the Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler, however, the Cardinals getting rid of David Freese in a trade for Peter Bourjos is up there on the list as well.

UntitledAs far as free agent signings go — none of the previously named players were free agents — Brian McCann signing to play with the Yankees was a big time deal, with Jhonny Peralta’s agreement to play with the Cardinals (4 years, 53 million dollar) being the deal that has caused the most controversy, due to past his PED use. But I won’t get into that.

Not too many of the 184 free agent players have signed yet — just 27 are off the market, having signed with a team or retired — but there’s still plenty of time left for a lot of exciting deals to go down. (The trades that could be made are nearly impossible to predict, but every free agent has to find a home somewhere — either with their same team or a new one — so that’s what I’ll be talking about.)

Notable current free agents include Carlos Beltran, Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury, among others, but I’m only going to be discussing the top ranked (in my mind) player available at each position, and which team I feel they’d fit the best with.

Keep in mind, these are the teams I feel would be the best fit for each player, not necessarily a team that’s interested in them, or subsequently will sign them.

2013 MLB TOP FREE AGENTS

Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Team I feel should sign him: Rangers

The Rangers were in the conversation for Brian McCann to take over their catcher role, but after the Yankees locked him up, I think Saltalamacchia would be the next best thing — a good fit for both the Rangers and Saltalamacchia. Having played for the Rangers from 2007 to 2010, Saltalamacchia would be returning to familiar territory. Though he never had much success in Arlington — never playing in more than 84 games in a season — Saltalamacchia proved this past season with the Sox that he can post good numbers, batting .273 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI’s. I think the Rangers would be a great team for Saltalamacchia, but he’ll likely remain in Boston.

Designated Hitter: Kendrys Morales

Team I feel should sign him: Tigers

Kendrys Morales had a great season for the Mariners in 2013, batting .277 with 23 home runs and 80 RBI’s. Being a switch hitter — a very consistent one at that — I feel the Tigers would be a good fit for Morales. The Tigers have a right-handed-heavy lineup, and a good hitter who can hit from the left side — there are talks they could also be interested in Shin-Soo Choo — when needed would be an important addition. Also, Morales could go a long way in replacing Prince Fielder’s bat in the lineup, though admittedly it wouldn’t replace his 30+ home run power. Nonetheless, Morales is a player the Tigers need to target, in my opinion.

First Base: Mike Napoli

Team I feel should sign him: Red Sox

A lot of teams would be interested in Mike Napoli, but I feel the Red Sox should resign him, as he is a great fit where he is. Playing first base, there are really no other fantastic first basemen on the market, and they’re not about to put David Ortiz there full time. Napoli’s 23 home runs and 92 RBI’s this past season is something that’s hard to replace. He was a big reason the Red Sox were so successful this season, helping to lead them to a World Series title. Napoli shouldn’t be going anywhere.

Second Base: Robinson Cano

Team I feel should sign him: Anyone but the Yankees

Because Robinson Cano is such a good player — a great fit for multiple teams — it’s hard to pick just one team that he should sign with. The top ranked free agent of the offseason, I feel Cano doesn’t need to be in pinstripes next season for both his sake and the sake of the Yankees. Not signing Cano to a deal worth, more than likely, nearly 200 million dollars, would allow them to use that extra cash to sign some lower-priced free agents and develop an all-around better team. With or without Cano, there’s no guarantee the Yankees will make the playoffs, but I feel they’re better off in the long run without him.

Third Base: Juan Uribe

Team I feel should sign him: Yankees

Tying into one of the reasons I feel the Yankees shouldn’t resign Cano, Juan Uribe is a player who would come at a relatively affordable price to the Yankees and would be a good fit at third base, where they are very weak. With no guarantees that A-Rod will ever return, signing Uribe would give them a better defensive player at third than what they currently have, and it would add a decent offensive player to their lineup. Uribe’s .278 batting average with 12 homers and 50 RBI’s last season wouldn’t be a team-changing move for the Yankees, but it would certainly improve their situation.

Shortstop: Stephen Drew

Team I feel should sign him: Astros

The only thing that is for sure with Stephen Drew is that he has a near 100 percent chance of not being with the Red Sox next season; other than that, not a lot is certain. Drew was an impact player for the Sox this past season, playing a good defense at shortstop and coming up big in big spots, especially in the postseason, but with Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks at third base, there just isn’t room for Drew. The Yankees could use him down the road at short, but assuming Derek Jeter is healthy, there won’t be a spot for Drew next season, other than Jeter’s backup. For Drew’s sake, I feel he’d be a good fit with the Astros, who could use an everyday shortstop — one of their many weak spots.

Left Field: Quintin Berry

Team I feel should sign him: Diamondback’s

There really aren’t a lot of great left field free agents available, but of them, Quintin Berry is the best. The Diamondback’s have a left fielder, in Adam Eaton, but I feel the acquisition of Berry would be worth it, as they could move some players around to make room for him. Berry hasn’t had a great deal of opportunity to show off any consistency at the big league level, but his speed — he’s never been caught stealing in 24 major league stolen base attempts — alone is enough for the D-back’s to take a shot on Berry, in my mind.

Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury & Shin-Soo Choo

Team I feel should sign them: Mariners (Ellsbury) and Reds (Choo)

I couldn’t pick just one player as the best available free agent at this position, as both Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo have a high value in their own unique ways. Ellsbury hasn’t been able to stay very healthy so far during his career, but an unhealthy Ellsbury is more valuable than a lot of other players in baseball — he’s that great of an impact when healthy. Though Seattle has a difficult time attracting players, due to their location and recent subpar performances, I feel they are going to become a great team in the next year or two. Ellsbury needs to join before things take off. As far as Choo goes, he is very efficient at getting on base, with a .421 OBP this past season. The Reds need to keep him, in my opinion, as their leadoff man, if they want to be as successful next season as they were in 2013.

Right Field: Carlos Beltran

Team I feel should sign him: Yankees

If the Yankees decide not to keep Cano, as I believe they should do, they will likely make a run at Carlos Beltran, who they are reportedly interested in. A left handed hitter, Beltran would thrive at Yankee stadium and would be a big impact for the Yankees in 2014 and beyond. At 36 years old, Beltran isn’t a player you would want to lock up for any extended period of time, however, any time with Beltran on your team is worth it. Batting .296 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI’s last season, Beltran could have a great season should the Yankees sign him.

Starting Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez

Team I feel should sign him: Twins

A lot of teams need pitching, including the Blue Jays, Rockies, etc., but the Twins are a team I feel could use a guy like Ubaldo Jimenez the most. The Twins are an interesting team, as they don’t have a lot going for them now, but their farm system is one of the best in baseball and they will be a really good team down the road, similar with the Mariners. Should Jimenez sign with them, I could see him developing into the great pitcher he’s capable of being. He’s shown signs of it in the past, and next year could be a break out year for him. Jimenez could really help out the Twins in a big way.

Relief Pitcher: Brian Wilson

Team I feel should sign him: Tigers

While Joe Nathan and Fernando Rodney would be good fits for the Tigers, I feel Brian Wilson would be the best. Wilson has had a lot of ups and downs in his career, but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball — something the Tigers could use. Having undergone two Tommy John surgeries, many teams shy away from Wilson. But after the performance he had towards the end of last season, I feel Wilson could be the piece the Tigers need to clinch them a World Series title after coming up short recently.

So, there are my thoughts on which players are the best remaining free agents at each postion, and which team should sign them. Odds are that things won’t go exactly, if at all, how I feel they should, but this is just the way I see it working out best.

Besides Robinson Cano, who do you feel is the best remaining free agent? Cast your vote:

As always, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

2013 Silver Slugger Awards

The 2013 Silver Slugger award winners were announced last night on MLB Network. The Silver Slugger awards are given annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball.

The voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, in addition to coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value. (Managers can not vote for their own players.)

This marks the 33rd annual Silver Slugger Awards which began in 1980.

Here are a list of the winners with my thoughts on each:

OUTFIELD

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Bonds holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as an outfielder, with twelve.

NL Winners: Michael Cuddyer (1st career), Jay Bruce (2nd career) and Andrew McCutchen (2nd career)

AL Winners: Torii Hunter (2nd career), Mike Trout (2nd career) and Adam Jones (1st career)

The National League saw Michael Cuddyer, Jay Bruce and Andrew McCutchen receiving Silver Slugger awards. All three are deserving, as they had great offensive years. This is just Michael Cuddyer’s first Silver Slugger, despite being in the Majors for thirteen season. Adam Jones also receives his first career Silver Slugger, after batting .285 with 33 homers and 108 RBI’s. In addition, Mike Trout and Torii Hunter pick up the award for the American League after great years.

FIRST BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Todd Helton is tied with Albert Pujols for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a first baseman, with four.

NL Winner- Paul Goldschmidt (1st career)

AL Winner- Chris Davis (1st career)

Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Davis picked up their first career Silver Slugger awards for first base. They both led their respective league in home runs and RBI’s in 2013, so it’s not really a shock that they received the honor. Both have the potential to win more in their careers.

SECOND BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Ryne Sandberg holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a second baseman, with seven.

NL Winner- Matt Carpenter (1st career)

AL Winner- Robinson Cano (5th career)

After a great breakout season, Matt Carpenter won his first career Silver Slugger award on Wednesday. Batting .318 with 13 home runs and 78 RBI’s, Carpenter was a major impact player for the Cardinals this season — a big reason why they made it to the World Series. Robinson Cano picks up his fifth career Silver Slugger, with this being his fourth one in a row.

THIRD BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Wade Boggs holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a third baseman, with eight.

NL Winner- Pedro Alvarez (1st career)

AL Winner- Miguel Cabrera (5th career)

Pedro Alvarez had a career season, leading to his first Silver Slugger award. Though his batting average was a mere .233, Alvarez hit 36 home runs and drove in 100 runs. Alvarez was a big part of the 2013 Pirates team and should remain so for years to come. Miguel Cabrera received the award for the American League, and it’s no surprise at all. Cabrera hit .348 with 44 homers and 137 RBI’s, nearly winning the Triple Crown for a second straight season. Truly remarkable.

SHORT STOP

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Larkin holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a short stop, with nine.

NL Winner- Ian Desmond (2nd career)

AL Winner- J.J. Hardy (1st career)

Ian Desmond won his second consecutive Silver Slugger award last night, as he had another great year. On the AL side, this is J.J. Hardy’s first career Silver Slugger — Derek Jeter won last year but was injured most of 2013 — and he was very deserving. Hardy didn’t have a very high batting average at just .266, however, his 25 home runs and 76 RBI’s put him over the top for the award.

CATCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Piazza holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a catcher, with ten.

NL Winner- Yadier Molina (1st career)

AL Winner- Joe Mauer (5th career)

Surprisingly, this is Yadier Molina’s first career Silver Slugger award, despite multiple good seasons in the past. Molina batted .318 with 12 homers and 80 RBI’s and is a true leader for the Cardinals. As with Molina, Joe Mauer is also a leader for his respective Twins, however, this makes his fifth Silver Slugger of his career; just his first since 2010.

PITCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Hampton holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a pitcher, with five.

Winner- Zack Greinke (1st career)

You don’t often think of a pitcher with offensive skills, but Zack Greinke showed off his, and was the best hitting pitcher this past season. Batting .328 over the course of 58 at-bats, Greinke truly deserves this award and has the ability to win another one in the future.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: David Ortiz holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a Designated Hitter, with six.

Winner- David Ortiz (6th career)

David Ortiz is the record holder for most career Silver Sluggers as a DH, and he picked up yet another one for this season. Ortiz hit 30 home runs with 103 RBI’s to go along with a .309 batting average. Ortiz was a big reason the Red Sox made it to the World Series, and ultimately led them to winning the Championship.

2013 SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS FAST FACTS

  • There were nine first time Silver Slugger award winners.
  • There were six Silver Slugger award winners that also won last year.
  • The Orioles had the most Silver Slugger winners, with three.
  • There were four Silver Slugger winners that also won a Gold Glove award this year.

2013 Gold Glove Awards

The 2013 Major League Baseball Gold Glove award winners were announced last night on ESPN2. There were multiple first-time winners, but everyone that won was extremely deserving — though I might not agree with them all.

The Gold Glove Award is an award given out each year to the players that are judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League and the American League, as voted by the managers and coaches in each league. (Managers can not vote for their own players.)

This marks the 56th annual Gold Glove Awards, which began back in 1957.

Here’s a recap of the winners, with my thoughts on each:

CATCHER

AL Nominees- Joe Mauer, Salvador Perez and Matt Wieters

AL Winner- Salvador Perez (1st career)

NL Nominees- A.J. Ellis, Russell Martin and Yadier Molina

NL Winner- Yadier Molina (6th career)

Salvador Perez was the most deserving of this award, among the nominees. While they’re all great players, Perez had the overall better year; becoming the first Royals’ catcher to receive the award since 1989. On the National League side, Yadier Molina winning was an obvious choice. He picks up his sixth career Gold Glove.

PITCHER

AL Nominees- Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey and Doug Fister

AL Winner- R.A. Dickey (1st career)

NL Nominees- Patrick Corbin, Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright

NL Winner- Adam Wainwright (2nd career)

After winning his first career Cy Young award last season, R.A. Dickey picks up his first career Gold Glove. Though he had his share of rough games, he had an overall decent season. But I would’ve liked to have seen Mark Buehrle win. Of the nominees, it was a rather difficult choice for NL, but Adam Wainwright ended up getting the accolade.

LEFT FIELDER

AL Nominees- Yoenis Cespedes, Andy Dirks and Alex Gordon

AL Winner- Alex Gordon (3rd career)

NL Nominees- Carlos Gonzalez, Starling Marte and Eric Young Jr.

NL Winner- Carlos Gonzalez (3rd career)

Alex Gordon picks up his third straight Gold Glove, beating out Andy Dirks and Yoenis Cespedes in the AL. Carlos Gonzalez, like Gordon, received his third career Gold Glove award. Both were deserving, in my mind, and both have the potential to win several more before all is said and done.

CENTER FIELDER

AL Nominees- Lorenzo Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury and Adam Jones

AL Winner- Adam Jones (3rd career)

NL Nominees- Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutchen and Denard Span

NL Winner- Carlos Gomez (1st career)

After winning a Gold Glove in 2012 — many feel Mike Trout got snubbed — Adam Jones picks up his third career award, as he had another really great year. Carlos Gomez picks up his first career Gold Glove award, for the National League, having a deserving season for the Brewers.

RIGHT FIELDER

AL Nominees- Nick Markakis, Josh Reddick and Shane Victorino

AL Winner- Shane Victorino (4th career)

NL Nominees- Jay Bruce, Jason Heyward and Gerardo Parra

NL Winner- Gerardo Parra (2nd career)

Both Shane Victorino and Gerardo Parra aren’t really acknowledged all that often for their gloves, however, both are really good right fielders for their respective teams. This is Victorino’s fourth Gold Glove, and Parra’s second. Both have the potential to win more down the road.

FIRST BASE

AL NomineesChris Davis, Eric Hosmer and James Loney

AL Winner- Eric Hosmer (1st career)

NL Nominees- Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo

NL Winner- Paul Goldschmidt (1st career)

Both the National League Gold Glove winner, Paul Goldschmidt, and American League Gold Glove winner, Eric Hosmer, had great seasons, earning them their first career Gold Gloves. Goldschmidt is a top candidate for National League Most Valuable Player — leading the NL in RBI’s and home runs — with Hosmer becoming the first Royals first baseman to win the award.

SECOND BASE

AL Nominees- Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and Ben Zobrist

AL Winner- Dustin Pedroia (3rd career)

NL Nominees- Darwin Barney, Mark Ellis and Brandon Phillips

NL Winner- Brandon Phillips (4th career)

For me, it came down to Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano, as both had great seasons and always seem to flash their gloves at some point during nearly every game. Pedroia ended up receiving the Gold Glove, which I’m completely fine with. Brandon Phillips winning his fourth career Gold Glove award is another one I’m fine with. Amazingly talented players on both the AL and NL sides.

SHORT STOP

AL Nominees- Yunel Escobar, Alcides Escobar and J.J. Hardy

AL Winner- J.J. Hardy (2nd career)  

NL Nominees- Ian Desmond, Andrelton Simmons and Troy Tulowitzki  

NL Winner- Andrelton Simmons (1st career)

I was a bit surprised with J.J. Hardy winning, however, I don’t really have a problem with it. He was deserving of the award. Andrelton Simmons was also deserving of the award, as he made some amazing plays this past season and is worthy of his first Gold Glove. Simmons is a player to keep an eye on to win several more in his future.

THIRD BASE

AL Nominees- Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria and Manny Machado

AL Winner- Manny Machado (1st career)

NL Nominees- Nolan Arenado, Juan Uribe and David Wright 

NL Winner- Nolan Arenado (1st career)

When you’re having to pick between Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria and Manny Machado for the third base Gold Glove award you run into a problem: They’re all very deserving. But I have to agree with Manny Machado winning, as he had an incredible year, slightly greater than Longoria or Beltre. Nolan Arenado picks up his first career Gold Glove, for the NL, but it’s likely to be just one of many in his career.

2013 GOLD GLOVE AWARDS FAST FACTS

  • There were eight first-time Gold Glove winners.
  • The Royals and Orioles had the most Gold Glove winners, with three apiece.
  • This was the first year that sabermetrics were used as a voting component.
  • Nolan Arenado is just the tenth rookie to ever win a Gold Glove.

2012 Silver Slugger Awards

Thursday night was the 32nd annual Silver Slugger Awards, which began in 1980.

The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball.

These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, in addition to “coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value. (Managers can not vote for their own players.)

Below is a list of the NL and AL 2012 Silver Slugger Award winners. I’ve included my opinions as well as some facts that I found interesting:

OUTFIELD

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Bonds holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as an outfielder, with twelve.

NL Winners: Andrew McCutchen (1st S.S. award), Jay Bruce (1st S.S. award) and Ryan Braun (5th S.S. award).

AL Winners: Mike Trout (1st S.S. award), Josh Hamilton (3rd S.S. award) and Josh Willingham (1st S.S. award).

Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Mike Trout and Josh Willingham are all first time recipients of the Silver Slugger award. Putting up impressive stats throughout the 2012 season, they’re all worthy, thus I fully agree with the voters’ picks. I also agree with the selections of Ryan Braun and Josh Hamilton for the award, as both had career best years in many categories. This is Braun’s 5th straight Silver Slugger, and Hamilton’s 3rd career award.

FIRST BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Todd Helton is tied with Albert Pujols for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a first baseman, with four.

NL Winner- Adam LaRoche (1st S.S. award)

AL Winner- Prince Fielder (3rd S.S. award)

Adam LaRoche earned his first career Silver Slugger award by posting a .271 batting average with 33 home runs and 100 RBI’s this past season. While LaRoche was impressive, Prince Fielder was even more impressive, as he batted .313 with 30 homers and 108 RBI’s. The thing that really jumps out at me about Fielder is that he was able to compile 108 RBI’s while spending the year batting behind the Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera (who recorded 139 RBI’s of his own). That’s absolutely mind boggling, and so I fully agree with him winning his second straight Slugger.

SECOND BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Ryne Sandberg holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a second baseman, with seven.

NL Winner- Aaron Hill (2nd S.S. award)

AL Winner- Robinson Cano (4th S.S. award)

Aaron Hill took home his 2nd career Silver Slugger award, batting .302 with 26 home runs and 85 RBI’s this season. There were a few other National League candidates I felt were just as worthy of the award, but I can’t say I disagree with the selection of Hill. As far as Cano goes, he once again led all American League second basemen in the major categories, and as a result, won his third straight Slugger award.

THIRD BASE

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Wade Boggs holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a third baseman, with eight.

NL Winner- Chase Headley (1st S.S. award)

AL Winner- Miguel Cabrera (4th S.S. award)

Chase Headley was the shock of this years awards for me. It wasn’t that he didn’t deserve it–I mean, he put up great stats–but I didn’t expect him to beat out the other candidates. But hey, congratulations to him. As far as Miguel Cabrera goes, he was a no brainer to win. Cabrera led all American League batters in home runs, RBI’s and batting average, so it was no surprise when he received his 4th career Silver Slugger award.

SHORT STOP

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Larkin holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a short stop, with nine.

NL Winner- Ian Desmond (1st S.S. award)

AL Winner- Derek Jeter (5th S.S. award)

Ian Desmond posted some impressive numbers this season, earning him his 1st career Silver Slugger award. He came through in the clutch a lot for the Nationals, and proved to be one of the best hitting short stops of the 2012 season. The American League portion saw Derek Jeter taking home his 5th career Slugger, which was no shock. Jeter led all of baseball in hits (the 3rd oldest to ever do so), and most deserved the award.

CATCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Piazza holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a catcher, with ten.

NL Winner- Buster Posey (1st S.S. award)

AL Winner- A.J. Pierzynski (1st S.S. award)

If Chase Headley was the shock of this year’s awards, A.J. Pierzynski was the second greatest surprise. Many had Joe Mauer winning the award (myself included) but it was Pierzynski winning his first career Silver Slugger. While the AL winner was somewhat of a surprise, the National League winner Buster Posey was just the opposite. Posey put up MVP caliber numbers, and thus was able to win his first career Slugger award.

PITCHER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Hampton holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a pitcher, with five.

Winner- Stephen Strasburg (1st S.S. award)

Pitchers aren’t really known for their offense, but there are a few who can actually hit. None more so in 2012 than Stephen Strasburg who was able to record 13 hits in 47 at-bats, which comes out to a .277 batting average. In addition, Strasburg amassed 7 RBI’s, including his first career homer, making him the most deserving of the Slugger award among pitchers.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Most Silver Slugger Awards: David Ortiz holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a Designated Hitter, with five.

Winner- Billy Butler (1st S.S. award)

Posting a batting average of .313 with 29 home runs and 107 RBI’s, Billy Butler proved to be the most consistent Designated Hitter of the 2012 season, earning him his first career Silver Slugger award. Comparing Butler’s stats to the other DH’s throughout baseball, he was the most deserving of them all, so I agree with the voters.

2012 SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS FAST FACTS

  • There were 11 first time Silver Slugger winners.
  • Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun were the only winners who also won a Silver Slugger last year.
  • The Nationals had the most winners of any team, with three.
  • There were four Silver Slugger winners who also won Gold Glove awards this year.
  • Derek Jeter received a 1.5 million dollar bonus for winning the award.
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