Results tagged ‘ Torii Hunter ’

The Difficulty of Going Out on Top

Whenever a player who has had an amazing career announces plans to retire after any given season, you inevitably find yourself rooting for their team to go all the way and win the World Series so that the player can retire on top for their career with one final Championship. However, that unfortunately almost never happens.

Over the past several seasons, we’ve seen the retirements of some great players and fan-favorites, such as Torii Hunter (Twins finished 12 games back of the Royals), Derek Jeter (Yankees finished second to the Orioles), Mariano Rivera (Yankees finished in fourth place) and Chipper Jones (Braves made playoffs, but no World Series), just to name a few. But none of those players were on teams capable of going all the way to the World Series.

This season, I feel the Red Sox stand a decent chance of changing that fortune.Ortiz

Announcing his plans to retire after the 2016 season — plans that many are questioning with the superb numbers he is posting — David Ortiz is looking to record one final star season of what is arguably a Hall of Fame career, for a Red Sox team that he has impacted time and time again over the years. It would be fitting if they returned the favor and helped lead Boston to another World Title.

Despite finishing in dead-last in 2015, the Red Sox currently sit tied with the Orioles atop the American League East division standings. Although they’ve been a bit shaky at times, there have been other games that lead you to believe that the Sox could actually pull off the World Series sendoff for Ortiz.

But getting to the World Series is hard, with winning it being even harder. Some great players like Barry Bonds, Edgar Martinez, Craig Biggio, etc., never won a World Series title, even though they had great careers with some good teams. However, Ortiz already knows what it’s like to win it all, having won a World Title with the Red Sox in 2004, 2007 and 2013. He assuredly would love that feeling again in 2016.

Ortiz is certainly doing his part to make that happen. Over the course of 40 games this season, Ortiz is hitting .329 with 11 home runs (giving him 514 for his career) and 37 RBI’s — second to Robinson Cano for most in all of baseball. If he were to keep up that pace, he would wind up with around 35-40 homers and well over 100 RBI’s. Given, there are a lot of games still to be played, but what Ortiz is doing is simply remarkable.

But it’s not just Ortiz fueling the Red Sox and their march towards a fantastic season. Several players are breaking out into becoming stars, such as Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Travis Shaw and Jackie Bradley Jr. (as well as Brock Holt, before his injury), with Hanley Ramirez performing the way he was expected to when he was signed before last season.

Xander Bogaerts leads the team in batting average at .346, and is followed closely behind by Jackie Bradley Jr.’s .342 line, who is currently riding a 27-game hitting streak. In addition, Mookie Betts is second on the team in homers with 9, with Travis Shaw stepping up at third without Pablo Sandoval and making a big impact himself; as well as Hanley Ramirez who has shown some pop and is hitting above .300 on the season. With all of these pieces clicking, their lineup looks to be in good shape.

However, if there would be one thing that would keep the Red Sox from going all the way to a World Title, it would be their pitching. Good hitting can carry a team for awhile (the Red Sox are first in baseball in team batting average and RBI’s), despite a struggling rotation (Boston is 19th in team ERA), but eventually it won’t end up being enough, with those types of teams crumbling more times than not.

Steven Wright and Rick Porcello have been the Red Sox’s most reliable starters, being the only two pitchers of their rotation with an ERA below 4.00. David Price, who was acquired in the offseason to be the ace of the staff, has had aPrice few games where he dominated opposing hitters, but overall he’s been a big disappointment, with an ERA of 5.53 over 9 starts. Clay Buchholz has been even worse, holding a 5.92 ERA, and leaving the Red Sox looking for answers in that department.

Their bullpen, on the other hand, has been stellar, for the most part. When the game has gone to closer Craig Kimbrel in a save situation, he has looked like the Kimbrel of old, striking out 31 over 19 innings pitched and saving 12 out of 13 games he’s come in to close. Other guys, such as Junichi Tazawa, Matt Barnes, Tommy Layne and Heath Hembree have also done terrific jobs. But it’s their rotation that has left more to be desired.

Even so, the Red Sox appear to have things figured out enough that they can continue to win on a regular basis, despite their flaws. If their rotation begins to pitch the way it was envisioned to, the Red Sox could absolutely take off and run away with things, keeping in mind that it’s still very early, with over 100 games remaining.

But even if the Red Sox fall apart over the remainder of the season, or make the playoffs and simply can’t go the entire distance, David Ortiz is still on pace to have one of the best seasons of his career . . . at age 40.

If David Ortiz can’t go out on top with a World Title, he’ll certainly still leave with a bang.

Best Landing Spot for MLB’s Top Free Agent Players

The 2014 Major League Baseball season ended nearly a month ago, but the team changing deals that take place every offseason are already taking place. The biggest trade that has happened so far is undoubtedly Jason Heyward going to Free Agentsthe Cardinals in exchange for Shelby Miller, however, there is a good chance that there will be several more before 2015 begins.

As far as free agent signings go, Pablo Sandoval signing to play with the Red Sox was a big time deal, with Hanley Ramirez, Russell Martin and Victor Martinez inking large contracts as well.

But despite that, not too many of the 100+ free agent players have signed yet — just over a dozen 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 Jon Lester, James Shields, and Nelson Cruz, among others, but I’m only going to be discussing the top ranked player available at each position (in my mind), 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/team, not necessarily a team that’s interested in them, or subsequently will sign them.

2014 MLB TOP FREE AGENTS

Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski

Team I feel should sign him: Pirates

Losing their catcher from 2014, Russell Martin, to free agency, A.J. Pierzynski would be a decent pickup for the Pirates. Though they have a few options for the catcher position, including former first round draft pick Tony Sanchez, who has been waiting and waiting to take over the spot, Pierzyski could serve at least as the backup. His veteran presence, along with his overall offensive production, would give the Pirates a slightly better lineup in 2015.

Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz

Team I feel should sign him: Mariners

Although Nelson Cruz has played both outfield and designated hitter over the course of his career, he would best serve as a primary DH, in my mind, going to the Mariners. After falling just short of the playoffs in 2014, adding Cruz to protect Robinson Cano in the lineup would go a long way in making the Mariners contenders in 2015. Given, moves that seem to make sense don’t always work out, but taking a chance on Cruz is more than worth the risk.

First Base: Michael Morse

Team I feel should sign him: Rays

This move would be a better fit for the Rays rather than Michael Morse, however, it could end up benefiting Morse in the long run. Having played numerous positions, Morse could answer a lot of problems for the Rays, even if he serves as a platoon player and part time DH, as Morse’s bat could go a long way in helping the Rays next season. All they need is a little more offensive pop, as their starting pitching is already good. Morse could be a great addition to the Rays.

Second Base: Jed Lowrie

Team I feel should sign him: Marlins

Jed Lowrie didn’t have the best season in 2014, but he’s one of those players that is just good enough to have an impact. Though that impact can vary from game to game, Lowrie has been a good player over his career, and could fill the Marlins’ second base slot. After locking up Giancarlo Stanton to a record deal, and with the young players the Marlins are adding to the roster, Lowrie at second could help the Marlins finally make a push in 2015.

Third Base: Chase Headley

Team I feel should sign him: Giants

With Pablo Sandoval off the market, and the Giants’ backup option for third base, Yasmany Tomas, out of the running as well, Chase Headley is their best free agent option. While he can’t completely replace Sandoval, Headley would fill the spot well. Headley had decent offensive numbers this past season with the Yankees, and he plays a decent hot corner. Everything together, the Giants could solve their problem at third base relatively cheap.

Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera

Team I feel should sign him: Yankees

Now that Hanley Ramirez off the market, the best remaining free agent shortstop is Asdrubal Cabrera. Although he played second base for a good part of last season with the Nationals, he’s a natural shortstop and would do a good job of filling the Yankees’ empty spot at short, now that Derek Jeter has retired. Although it wouldn’t be a long term solution for the Yankees, Cabrera taking over the shortstop role would help for the time being.

Left Field: Melky Cabrera

Team I feel should sign him: Athletics

Melky Cabrera had a bounce back season in 2014, and could be a valuable pickup for the Athletics if they decide to snag him. While the Athletics aren’t the favorite to sign Cabrera, and aren’t really in the running at all, after the loss of their previous left fielder, Yoenis Cespedes, to the Red Sox for Jon Lester last year, getting Cabrera would make the A’s a better all around ball club, in my opinion. That is, if he can have a year close to the one he put together in 2014.

Center Field: Colby Rasmus

Team I feel should sign him: Braves

Despite being a solid outfielder, Colby Rasmus heading to the Braves is admittedly a long shot, but I feel he would fit in nicely. With Justin Upton in center field, Rasmus would have to move around in the outfield throughout the season, but he’s a good enough defender with a decent amount of pop in his bat. Rasmus isn’t a player that would completely transform the Braves, but after they missed the playoffs in 2014, he could help them over the hump.

Right Field: Torii Hunter

Team I feel should sign him: Orioles

The Tigers have made it clear that they don’t plan to bring back Torii Hunter to play right field in 2015, and therefore he’ll be on the move this offseason. Although Hunter has been around for years, he’s still a very consistent player, both offensively and in the outfield. With only a year or two left from Hunter, he’ll likely be looking to head to a playoff contender. Thus, I feel Hunter would be a good fit with Orioles (assuming they lose Nick Markakis).

Starting Pitcher: James Shields, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer

Team I feel should sign them: Red Sox (Shields), Cubs (Lester) and Rangers (Scherzer)

With the free agent market overflowing with great starting pitching, it was impossible to narrow the options down to a single top choice. In the end I got it down to three, with James Shields, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester coming out as the best statistical starters available.

For Shields, the Royals would fare well to resign him, but it will likely be another team. In my opinion, the Red Sox would benefit from a signing of Shields as a cheaper version of Jon Lester. As far as Lester is concerned, he is reportedly in talks with a number of teams, including the Cubs, who, with their great, young lineup, would really be an intriguing team with Lester’s addition. Max Scherzer is yet another front of the rotation starter on the market, and if the Rangers are looking to compete again in 2015, signing Scherzer long term would put them into position to do so.

Relief Pitcher: Andrew Miller

Team I feel should sign him: Tigers

Some would place David Robertson ahead of Andrew Miller in terms of value, however, I have to put Miller first. He has turned into one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the game today, and would make any teams’ bullpen immediately stronger. With the Tigers being a solid bullpen short of a World Series Championship caliber team, a reunion with Miller could help them make that type of playoff run in 2015.

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

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.

Red Sox Turn Slow Start Into Electric Finish

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After nearly getting no-hit, and striking out 17 times, in Game 1 of the American League Championship series on Saturday night, the Red Sox went into Sunday’s game looking to redeem themselves in a pivotal Game 2. Though the Red Sox have done some amazing things in the past — coming back from a 3 game deficit to the Yankees in 2004, to go onto win the World Series — you had to figure that this game was a must win for them the way they’ve been playing lately.

But it wasn’t looking too promising for the Sox early on.

The Tigers came out swinging, putting up a quick five runs. In addition, Max Scherzer was dominant to start the game, as he has been all season long, going 5.2 innings before allowing a hit; a single to Shane Victorino. Dustin Pedroia promptly drove him in, however, for the Sox’ first run of the series, taking their early deficit from five to four runs.

From there, the Red Sox strung together multiple hits in the eighth to load the bases for David Ortiz. As he has done time and time again throughout his career, Ortiz came through, blasting a game tying grand slam into the bullpen.

The Red Sox would go onto win the game in the ninth inning, on a walk-off RBI single from Jarrod Saltalamacchia — truly making this one of the best games in recent postseason history.

Although the Red Sox face a difficult road, going up against Justin Verlander in game three on Tuesday, if Sunday night’s game taught us anything it’s that the Red Sox have the ability to come through no matter how bad the odds seem to be against them.

It looks to be an exciting remainder of the ALCS.

Q and A Entries Update

As stated before, I’m doing a Q and A on a MLB player, or baseball analyst, ever Wednesday and Saturday, until the end of the baseball season. Below is an updated list of the players that have answered my questions, and the ones that haven’t answered, but said that they would:

ALREADY POSTED:

Brent Lillibridge

Daniel Hudson

Mike O’Hara and Ryan Wagner

Jeremy Guthrie

GUARANTEED FUTURE ENTRIES:

Brandon McCarthy

Shawn Kelley

Frank Catalanotto

Josh Lueke

David Aardsma

Bud Norris

John Baker

Bryan Harper

Chris Sampson

Casper Wells

Casey Kelly

HAVEN’T ANSWERED YET, BUT SAID THEY WOULD:

Shelley Duncan

Chris Rose

R.A. Dickey

Torii Hunter

Sam LeCure

Chuck Knoblauch

So be sure to check back every Wednesday and Saturday (at least) to read a new Q and A entry. (Order is not yet determined.)

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