Monthly Archives: September 2012

ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: Yadier for NL MVP, Wild Card Rosters, USA in WBC 2013, Triple Crown for Miggy and Scioscia to Boston?

Sunday September 30th, 2012



Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets! We love to hear from you- so keep the questions coming every week!

Jonathan Hacohen: I am going to channel some Jose Canseco right now. No- I don’t think that I can travel to the future. Or that everyone is out to get me. But I want to send a message to the “haters”. You know who you are. The so-called baseball traditionalists that cry every time our great sport makes any kind of adjustment. Every time there is realignment, relocation, expanded rosters, playoffs…the haters scream to the heavens. They say: leave the game alone! While I love the game the way it is, without a doubt, I still feel the need for improvements. But I take them on case by case basis.  The designated hitter? I say abolish the whole thing and go back to pitchers hitting in both leagues. I love the NL style of play, with real in-game decisions and strategies. But maybe that’s just me. While I may want to go back in time when it comes to the DH, I definitely look to the future on many subjects. For interleague play (assuming DH stays), I would play NL rules in AL parks and vice versa. Let’s mix it up! I say let’s increase rosters- up to 28-30 players per team. Poor attendance teams? Relocate. Expand by 2 teams to bring an even 16/16 split between leagues. From there, completely realign into 4 divisions of 4 teams each. And so the possibility of changes in baseball is endless.

Keeping that in mind, I come to a very hotly contested topic in baseball circles these days:  the Wild Card. Originally set up as one Wild Card team per league, this year we have expanded to two Wild Card spots per league. Coming up on October 5th, we will see the first ever sudden death one game Wild Card playoffs. Haters simply despise these upcoming games. Is it too much change? Is it unfair to the integrity of the game and the playoffs? We could debate that one for weeks…nay… months…nay… years.  But I will tell you this. If you take a look at the MLB standings as they are today, let’s reason the value of the Wild Card spots. In the NL for the last two weeks or so (more), it was a foregone conclusion that the Reds, Giants and Nats were taking the division crowns. Where would that have left the Braves? Cardinals? Dodgers? Brewers? Heck…even the Phillies and Pirates. Having the Wild Cards in place allowed fans for all those cities to remain interested and excited about baseball for weeks while their teams competing for Wild Card positions. No Wild Cards would equal many teams that would have been out of it long ago. Is that good for the game? To have fans in so many cities turned off from the game in August when they know the playoffs aren’t an option? I’m not so sure about that.

In the AL, the Orioles and A’s all still have a chance at division leads. The Angels and Rays still are very much in the playoff hunt. But no Wild Cards….would mean so many of those teams would not have had much of a shot. Unless we see total collapses, most are expecting the A’s and Orioles to face off in the Wild Card game. Considering how both have played, would you want to miss that one? Can you imagine if October came and the Braves, A’s and Orioles were not competing for a playoff position? Me neither. When I think about what we would lose by having so many of these teams going home if the Wild Card spots didn’t exist I shudder. I am not saying we should blow up the game. But before criticizing change just because its different, think about the pros and cons of the move. In this case, I say thumbs up to the extra Wild Card games. If you don’t believe me, check out the games on October 5th. They will be some of the best baseball that you will ever watch. That I guarantee.

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry

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A.L Wild Cards: The Playoff Picture Update

Sunday September 30th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: The added wild card spot wasn’t a particularly popular move when it was first announced. Now, however, it’s provided some late season drama for teams that probably wouldn’t be in the race without the additional spot. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.

However, everyone can’t jump in on the fun in the American League. Only two teams will get a shot at winning a one game sudden death playoff and moving on to the ALDS.

A.L. Wild Card Standings (as of Sunday morning)

Baltimore: 91-67 -

New York: 91-67 -

Oakland: 90-68 -

L.A. Angels: 87-70 2.5 GB

Tampa Bay: 87-71 3 GB

So, as you can see, the A’s and the Orioles or Yankees would play in a one game do or die if the season ended today. However, nothing is final yet. There are two more teams that stand legitimate chances at taking one of those two spots— the Rays and Angels. Or, the two teams that are expected to make the playoffs.

Let’s breakdown the chances of each team punching their ticket to the postseason: Read the rest of this entry

Jason ‘J-Hey Kid’ Heyward and ‘Fast’ Freddie Freeman were keys to A Braves Playoff Berth

Friday, September.28/2012

Even with Chipper Jones retiring at the end of this year, the Braves look to have a bright future with the likes of Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward taking over the club’s offensive lead.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

In Atlanta, making the playoffs became so common for the Braves that the fans would just shrug off the feat and stay away from coming to the ballpark until the NLCS if they happened to make it.  14 straight division titles from 1991-2005, (Now as a Expos than Nationals fan) I would like to point out that they were not anywhere near the Expos in the 1994 Strike Year), spoiled the fans each season to take it for granted.  5 World Series appearances (including a 1-4 record),  9 NLCS Appearances (including a 5-4 record) and the team had a 9-5 NLDS record.  After a playoff loss in 2005, the team was smart enough to rebuild for 5 years before making another playoff appearance in 2010 as the National League Wild Card team.  That was Jason Heyward‘s rookie campaign, in which he finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year Voting with a .277 Batting Avg, 18 HRs and 72 RBI. The team lost out to the eventual World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS.

In 2011, it was Freddie Freeman‘s turn to finish 2nd in ‘Rookie of The Year’ Voting, batting .282 wih 21 HRs and 76 RBI.  Freddie Freeman was arguably the best Atlanta Brave last year and he did all he could to help the team make the playoffs-only to see the club lose the Wild Card Spot to the St.Louis Cardinals on the last day of the season.  It was one of the biggest collapses in playoff clinching history (stay tuned for a big article on playoff collapses next week from your truly.)  In the post-mortem analysis of the club, the startling ‘sophomore’ drop-off from Jason Heyward was one of the biggest reasons why.  Heyward battled injuries, plus a lack of plate discipline, to hit only .227 with 11 HRs and 44 RBI.  He wasn’t alone in struggling with the Braves during the 2011, however patrolling a highly productive position like Right-Field surely didn’t help in the late season charge. Read the rest of this entry

Canada and Spain Qualify for the 2013 World Baseball Classic

Friday September 28th, 2012

Sam Evans: With most baseball fans focused on the thrilling MLB playoff races, the 2013 World Baseball Classic hasn’t got as much attention as expected. However, in the first two qualifying tournaments, two teams surprised the baseball universe to advance to the next round. Canada and Spain weren’t exactly favorites in their respective qualifiers, but both won enough games to be playing in March of 2013.

Read the rest of this entry

Kyle Lohse: NL Cy Young Candidate?

Thursday September 27th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  Kyle Lohse could be the most underrated pitcher in the National League, if not all of baseball. Granted, he does not have stand-out stuff and is not an eccentric character. He plays for the Cardinals, so he could be overshadowed by true “aces” Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. He blends in with the rest of the league. Over his 12-year career, Lohse has been mediocre, posting a cumulative 4.44 ERA. He started his career on the Minnesota Twins and bounced around between Cincinnati and Philadelphia over a three-year span. He finally settled in St. Louis in 2008 and found his stride (minus 2010).

In St. Louis excluding 2010, Lohse never had an ERA higher than 4.74, and beside this year, his lowest ERA was 3.39—last year. He has been reliable for the Cardinals, and has carried a good percentage of the workload. 2010 was a rough patch for Lohse—he only threw 92 innings and posted a 6.55 ERA. Last year was his best—leading up to this year—when he posted a 3.39 ERA over 188.1 innings of work. This year has been the best of his career by far. Up to now, Lohse has pitched over 200 innings—for just the third time in his career. His ERA sits at 2.77—the best of his career, and he has gone 16-3—his best record. He still will have a start or two left this season, so it will be interesting to see how he will build on these strong numbers. While everyone is talking Kris Medlen these days, plus Cain, Gio and Dickey, Lohse seems to have been lost in the shuffle. Read the rest of this entry

Ichiro Suzuki Is Proving To Be Just The Right Elixir For the Yankees Lineup

Wednesday, September.26/2012

Ichiro Suzuki has thrived in this AL EAST Pennant Race. Has he done enough to warrant a 1 or 2 year deal to re-sign with New York Yankees? We might get our answer after the 2012 MLB Playoffs.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

Ichiro Suzuki has been tearing it up over the last 10 games for the New York Yankees.  The ‘freshly’ named AL ‘Player of the Week’ is hitting .432 with 19 hits in that time-including a 14-20 stretch and 6 Multi-hit games.  So does his renaissance remind of you anyone?  ah, yeah… The 2001-2009 version of the Japanese Superstar.  The Yankees were smart enough to think that Ichiro still had some good baseball in him.  For the last 250 games as a Mariner, Suzuki was struggling just to hit .260.  A Career lifetime hitter at Safeco Field of .325, was only hitting .214 there this year.  The Yankees brass must have been banking on his road average of .294 for this year to see what kind of player addition he would make in their lineup.

Ichiro has been hitting out of the 1 or 2 slot for the majority of this run,  a move I said to do as soon as the Yankees picked the guy up.  Between he and Jeter, you have two professional hitters who have a combined 7236 professional hits when you add Jeter’s 3296 hits, plus Ichiro’s 2567 hits in the MLB and his 1273 hits with the NPBL.  Folks, Ichiro has 3940 hits in his professional career.  It is my opinion they should not mess with this lineup for the rest of the year. Jeter is challenging for a batting crown, so he may be a little better out of the #1 slot as he sees a lot more pitches–and tends to walk more.  Plus as a left-handed batter hitting second, with pinpoint bat control, Ichiro is better to hit the ball to advance Jeter into scoring position or beat out infield hits with a hole open on the right side of the base when Jeter is at 1st. 

Suzuki is also an excellent bunter and his speed is still way above average.   While I don’t think Jeter will ever pass Pete Rose‘s 4256 MLB hits, I believe that if Ichiro plays the rest of this season, plus another 2 seasons, he may have a chance to club another 317 hits to pass Rose on the ALL-Time professional hits list. Read the rest of this entry

Meet Haley Smilow’s Assistant: Ethan Smilow’s Premiere Wrigley Field Interviews

Wednesday September 26th, 2012

 

Marc Smilow (Dad):  So today my 11-year-old daughter Haley comes to me and says: “dad… my assistant has an idea that we would like you to send Jonathan over at MLB Reports.”  Now my first reaction is what is Haley talking about? Her assistant!?  Then they proceed to show me the interview that they have been working on together.  So I would like to introduce you Haley’s assistant, Ethan Smilow.  Ethan is Haley’s seven year old brother and like his sister, is Yankees fan but loves the game of baseball. Haley is the MLB Junior Correspondent for MLB reports. Well now, baseball has certainly turned into a family affair in the Smilow household.

Ethan Smilow plays catcher, second base and right field for the West Little League Novas in New York City.  Ethan is also the reason we started our quest for 30 stadiums.  In the summer of 2010, the family was watching the Yankees vs. Royals on television and Ethan said, “I want to go to Kauffman Stadium and see the fountain one day.”  I turned to my wife and said yeah right, like we were ever going to Kansas City!!  One year later, we all were sitting at a game in Kauffman Stadium.  Over the last two summers we have been to 16 ballparks and learned that the rules of baseball don’t change at each location. But every ballpark has its own unique style, sites, food and history.  On a recebt family visit to Wrigley Field, Ethan found it interesting and unique that most of the ushers at the ballpark were the same age as his grandparents.  He couldn’t imagine his grandparents working at Wrigley.  So he decided to ask several of the usher some questions about Wrigley and this is what he found out: Read the rest of this entry

San Francisco Giants: The Pros and Cons Of Bringing Melky Cabrera Back For The Playoffs

Wednesday September 26th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: Melky Cabrera went from a legitimate MVP candidate to a lost cause within the matter of a few hours. The Giants were shocked to hear the news, the baseball world was shocked. Then other than shocked, they wanted revenge. Cabrera won the National League the MLB All-Star game MVP. He had the Giants in first place for a while. Simply put, Melky Cabrera made a huge impact on the overall landscape of the MLB.

Thus our question of the day: Should the Giants bring Melky Cabrera back for the playoffs?

PROS

He Would Solve The Empty Hole In Left Field

Cabrera’s void was going to be hard to fill anyway. But the fact that he was so productive out of left field made his loss even more difficult for San Francisco. Mainly because the alternatives were slim at that point, and the same can still be said.

The addition of Xavier Nady has helped the Giants. However, he was on the shelf for a little bit more than a week, so his contributions have been marginal thus far. In 29 at-bats, he owns a triple slash of .310/.394/.414. He has also driven in six runs during his short stint. Simply put, his contributions have certainly been beneficial compared to what Gregor Blanco and Justin Christian provided. But Nady on his own can’t nearly match what Cabrera brought to the table. That’s a rather obvious theory too.

Plus, Nady’s defense is questionable. He isn’t the quickest of outfielders, which permits him from catching anything outside of his small circle. In some stadiums he could get by playing sub-par defense, but that’s not the case at AT&T Park.

Melky Would Add Depth To The Giants Lineup

It’s not like the Giants desperately need a jolt, but a jolt definitely wound’t be frowned upon. San Francisco has scored the third most runs in the National League since September 1st. Their Buster Posey led offense also owns the best batting average since September first as well.

If you were to add Cabrera into an already strong offense, then the Giants would be even tougher to beat with their solid pitching staff.

Manager Bruce Bochy had a lineup of Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Cabrera for exactly one day. By mischance, that day just happened to be the day before Cabrera was suspended by the league. Yet, players have stepped up since the suspension. Since August 1st, the Giants have four of the top seven batting averages in the N.L. Buster Posey leads that group with a .361 average, Marco Scutaro is third (.355), Angel Pagan is sixth (.328), and Brandon Belt ranks seventh (.326). It just goes to show how something like a suspension or injury can fire up an entire team.

However, in spite of their success without Cabrera, I’m sure the Giants wouldn’t mind having his bat back in the mix.

CONS

Unsettled Issues In The Clubhouse

When Cabrera was ruled out for the remainder of the season, it’s almost like he just disappeared. He didn’t speak to his fellow teammates or apologize in person. It just wasn’t a very classy move on his behalf. In his defense, it has to be hard to speak about a suspension in front of the entire clubhouse, but it’s a step that needs to be taken to clear the air. Some of his teammates recently spoke about his shyness. That could’ve been a factor as well.

But despite all of the factors, he shouldn’t have left the team the way he did. Clearly none of the Giants were pleased, feeling as if he let them down. And this could lead to some internal issues which is the last thing that needs to occur in the playoffs.

Plus, a boatload of attention would be put on the Giants, but not in a good way. Questions from the media wouldn’t be about the team, they would be about Cabrera. It could be just too much to handle when the team is focusing on reaching the World Series.

Rustiness

While Cabrera was among the upper echelon of players before being suspended, there’s no guarantee that he will return to that elite class if the Giants elect to bring him back.

The minor league season ended a few weeks ago, meaning that there isn’t necessarily a place from him to go and work off that rustiness. Yes, there are instructional leagues, but how is that going to prepare Cabrera to face some of the best pitching staffs in baseball?

The NLCS will only go seven games at best, which means that Cabrera has little time to perform and prove that he was worth bringing back.

While Melky Cabrera certainly was a hot commodity in July, the cons outweigh the pros. The Giants have continued to win without his presence, and they should continue with the same players that put them in the situation where they currently are. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While Cabrera could potentially help the Giants in October, overall there is too much of a risk that he will hurt the team. Given how well the Giants have played since Cabrera’s suspension, that is a chance that the team is just simply unlikely to take.

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

Jake Dal Porto is a Baseball Writer with MLB reports and a student from the Bay Area. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter:

 

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook. To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Miguel Cabrera: Baseball Royalty is Ready to Take the AL Triple Crown and a Spot in Cooperstown

Tuesday September 25, 2012

Alex Mednick:  1967 was the year that boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing world championship because he refused to join the U.S. Army.  There were 475,000 US Troops in Vietnam.  The Beatles had just come out with Sargeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Woodstock music festival was still 2 years away.  Never had a man stepped foot on the moon, a gallon of gas cost $0.33 and Federal Minimum Wage was $1.40 per hour.  It was also the last time that any professional ballplayer was awarded the triple crown: Carl Yastrzemski.

Carl Yastrzemski was the last major league baseball player to ever win the triple crown, 45 years ago in 1967.

Here we are, in present day 2012, and 29-year-old phenom Miguel Cabrera is vying to be the first man to hit for the triple crown since 1967…after almost a half century.  Back in 1998 when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire reignited national interest in our pastime, they were pursuing Roger Maris’ single season record for most home runs.  Without deducting any valor from the record which I believe still belongs to Mr. Maris, the triple crown does not only take home run power into consideration; rather the triple crown validates a hitter based upon the three most important (Sabremetrician’s may disagree) measures of a hitters overall productivity. Read the rest of this entry

Cleveland Indians Face Tough Road Ahead

Tuesday September 25th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: The Cleveland Indians seemingly play mind jokes with their fans. They start the year hot, and slowly unravel as the season progresses. 2012 has yet to show any different signs, and it’s about time that the management looks to start from scratch. While Chris Perez, Shin Soo Choo, and Asdrubal Cabrera are all solid pieces, they have yet to find success together. In their defense, sometimes certain groups don’t always pan out no matter what how high the talent level may be.

Let’s just say that the Indians face a tough road ahead. Read the rest of this entry

ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: September 23rd, 2012

Sunday September 23rd, 2012



Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets! We love to hear from you- so keep the questions coming every week!

Jonathan Hacohen: I am in a GREAT mood this weekend! Can you blame me? The MLB season is nearing the playoffs and the WBC qualifiers are well under way! While I love watching MLB action, my heart still favors the World Baseball Classic. If you have ever watched a game involving a team…say like Cuba, Venezuela or the Dominican Republic, you would understand why. In my book, nothing beats international baseball action. The passion of the fans and players simply cannot be beat. To have ones country advance in the tournament is one of the highest levels of joy that a baseball fan can experience.

Going into this week, I was keeping a special eye on Israel and Canada. As I am Jewish (check the last name), I will always root for anything and everything involving Israel. I almost fell out of my seat with excitement when I first heard that Israel was invited to the WBC qualifiers. Now watching this team in action, they certainly have a great chance to qualify for March. I have enjoyed speaking with Cody Decker, Padres prospect and a member of Team Israel over the past few days. To say that Cody is excited to be playing for Israel is an understatement. He spoke very highly of the atmosphere, the level of talent on the team and the feeling of playing with “Israel” across his chest. As Israel plays Spain today for the right to advance to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, I wish my fellow countrymen the best of luck. Behind ya 110%!

Canada has also advanced to the finals of its group, awaiting the winner of the Germany and Great Britain today. Canada will meet the winner on Monday afternoon. Due to its poor play in the 2009 edition of the WBC, Canada was forced to qualify for the upcoming tournament. After 2 strong games on its resume, Canada looks good to advance (will likely play Germany in the finals). As my family and I live in Canada, we have the bias of wanting to see a good showing from the northern squad. Hopefully my wish comes true, and both Canada and Israel end up qualifying. The fact of the matter is that the countries are in different positions. This is Israel’s first try at WBC action, and the team came in with little pressure and everything to gain. Israel will be thrilled to qualify, while Canada must qualify. Canada is known internationally as a strong baseball market and anything less than a victory on Monday for it would be a huge disappointment. To qualify, both Israel and Canada will need defeat strong opponents. Hopefully it will all work out at the end.

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry

Should The Reds Convert Aroldis Chapman Into A Starter?

Sunday September 23rd, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: When people discuss dominant pitchers, usually Aroldis Chapman enters that discussion rather quickly. And for good reason. His zipping fastball and wicked slider to back it have paved a path of success for Chapman in 2012. The southpaw owns a 1.60 ERA and has picked up 35 saves in 40 chances. It’s safe to say that he’s been all of what the Reds thought he was going to be to-date…and more.

However, rumors have been floating around for quite some time now that he could make the transition into a starter in the future. This would be foolish on the Reds’ behalf. Read the rest of this entry

Post Chipper Jones Era: Is David the Wright Solution?

Saturday September 22nd, 2012

    

John Burns:  As you all know, the almighty Chipper Jones will be retiring from baseball after this season. He is it calling it quits after 19 seasons in the Majors. The 40 year-old Chipper Jones has been one of the best players in baseball for a longtime. With his outstanding career numbers, it is no question that one day he will be inducted into Cooperstown. A lock to be a first-ballot inductee. Jones has been part of Atlanta’s organization for 22 years after being drafted number first overall to the Braves in the 1990 MLB Draft.  That is a lot of years at the hot corner, as well as some time spent in the outfield.

How will Atlanta recover without Chipper playing third every day? Are there any possible replacements? Besides his play on the field, can his leadership be replaced? This might shock a lot of you… but could David Wright be the one to replace Chipper in Atlanta? Read the rest of this entry

Ross Detwiler: Nationals Pitcher is Underrated to Say the Least

Saturday September 22nd, 2012 

Ryan Ritchey (Baseball Writer): The Washington Nationals have one of the best pitching staffs in the majors. The reason for this is the depth they have on the staff. It is not a shock that with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Edwin Jackson, and Ross Detwiler that the Nationals have one of the best rotations in baseball. You hear a lot about the first four guys on this list, but not much about Detwiler. I am really wondering why this is the case! Read the rest of this entry

The Dodgers Are Going To Force the MLB Into Changes

Friday, September.21/2012

When Magic Johnson and his ownership group spent 2 Billion Dollars on acquiring the Franchise, that should have been a red-flag that they were going to outspend every club when it came to payroll. Get ready for it baseball world!

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

Baseball is about to receive a serious wake-up call from the Dodgers.  Perhaps the Yankees would have already done what the Magic Johnson ownership team is planning, had “The Boss” had full faculties and the team had not cashed in on the 2009 World Series.  With no salary cap and a soft luxury tax on the heavy spenders, the MLB is really setting themselves up for a disaster when a team finally pulls the trigger on obliterating the payroll system.  The Dodgers new ownership has spent 2 Billion on the California Franchise.  They are in perfect position with Billions in revenue about to be promised for the TV rights of their franchise.  So do you really think they are done spending on the team?  I would be surprised if the Dodgers payroll isn’t in the $230-$250 Million Dollar Range for 2013.

I wrote an article about this very topic right after the trade that brought over the Boston Red Sox big 3 salaried players.  You can check out that blog here.  As it stands right now, the 2013 Payroll projects to be in the 200-210 Million Dollar Range already.  You add the constant health doubts now plaguing Clayton Kershaw, plus a need for some more starting pitching and you could be sure these guys will make a play for a couple of starting pitchers.  Zack Greinke has to be on the club’s radar.  While Greinke might not be the top of the pitchers ‘Mount Rushmore’, he is really close to it.  He may get a 5-6 YR contract worth 90-105 Million Dollars.  He has pitched really well for the Los Angeles Angels, so clearly he likes the city. Read the rest of this entry

The Case for Bryce Harper as the 2012 National League ROY

Friday September 21st, 2012

Sam Evans: Bryce Harper is two years removed from high school and he is a young leader on a team leading the competitive N.L. East. Baseball has never seen a high school prospect draw as much attention that Harper got yet somehow, he has managed to live up to the hype at every level he’s faced. As with any rookie, Harper has had struggles. What has impressed me the most about him is how he responded to those slumps. Harper has a 181 wRC+ in the month of September and he is showing no signs of slowing up. For these reasons and others, I believe Bryce Harper deserves to be the National Rookie of the Year. Read the rest of this entry

A.J. Pierzynski: Going for the Gold in 2013

Thursday,  September 20th 2012

Alex Mednick:  A.J. Pierzynski has undoubtedly done himself a great justice by having a career year in 2012.  Given that he plays the sport’s most physically demanding position and is encroaching on his, “golden years” in this game, the veteran catcher will meet free agency in 2013 with a lot going for him.  All he has done this year, in his 435 at bats so far, is hit .280 with 26 home runs, 15 doubles and 73 RBIs.  Those number are not something to take lightly, and it goes without saying that AJ and his agent are going to have a lot of leverage while negotiating with various front offices this off-season.

A.J. Pierzynski is a “heart and soul” player that drives the White Sox. He works well behind the plate with one of baseball’s top rotations, and has proven consistent offensively while having a career year in 2012.

The White Sox have had the career .284 hitter as their back stop for 8 years now, including the 2005 season (AJ’s first season in Chicago), when the then 28-year-old played an integral role in the franchise winning a world championship.  Since Pierzynski began his tenure in the south side, he has played no fewer than 128 games behind the plate and has been a beacon of consistency.  Part of this durability can be attributed to A.J.’s conditioning regiment that he participates in 365 days a year, including after every single game.  Pierzynski has been very open with the fact that as he has gotten older, he has put more mind into the importance of staying in great shape, especially being that he is required to remain in a squatting position for over 1000 innings a year. Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB Playoffs: Predicting All of the Division and Wild Card Champions

Thursday September 20th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: As the season wraps up, the divisional races become tighter. Some races are close while others are blowouts. Here are the teams that I believe will be playing in October (and their predicted final records).

AL East: New York Yankees 93-69

The Yankees are too good to not win the division. Although Mark Teixeira is injured and Mariano Rivera is not coming back for the rest of the year, the Yankees have enough pieces to make it to the ALDS without having to go through the Wild Card game. The Yankees have the pitching that the Baltimore Orioles lack in C.C. Sabathia. The powerful Yankee offense will be enough to help the team avoid the Wild Card game. Read the rest of this entry

The Coors Field Effect: Part 3 of A 3 Article Series

Wednesday, September.19/2012

Even with playing teams in the NL West with Parks like Petco, Dodger Stadium and AT &T Park, a Rockies player gets 81 games of AB versus 27 against the other 3 California parks or a 75-25 % split. The Rockies continue to lead the MLB for Home Averages year in and year out-even with the Humidor Room taking effect.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

Both myself (and Lead Baseball Columnist and Founder) Jonathan Hacohen think alike on some points as writers will often do when working for the same website.  Jonathan wrote a brilliant piece on the ballooned numbers that a player in Colorado receives as a byproduct of playing at Coors Field.  My head started spinning and swirling and I knew it to be true from my memory bank.  My Part 2 column, dissected the Coors Field Effect on some previous players, plus what has transpired in the last decade since the Humidor Room has been implemented.  You must read the 1st 2 parts of this series to fully understand what I am going to tell you here.

For Part 1 of the Article Series:  Carlos Gonzalez on the Trade Block? Buyer Beware!  click here

For Part 2 of the Article Series:  The Humidor Effect at Coors Field-One Decade in click here

The numbers don’t lie in either of the first two parts to this series- with the Rockies having led the league in 19 out of the 20 Years for Home Batting Average overall in the MLB and every year in the NL since they have existed.  This includes heavy hitting AL clubs, with hitter friendly parks such as: Yankee Stadium (Old or New), Citizens Bank Ball Park or Fenway Park.  What people also fail to realize is that the Pitchers also account for about 140-150 AB at home per year.  So really there is no way a Colorado team should have a higher BA than a team from the AL if that is the case?  Wrong.  The Batting averages for positional players from 1993-2002 in Colorado ranged from an average of .325-.345 every year.  May I point out they also led the Major Leagues in overall batting average every year for this span in the Pre-Humidor days too!

A Todd Helton Walk-off Shot at Coors:

Read the rest of this entry

Why Kris Medlen Is The Braves X-Factor For Postseason Success

Wednesday September 19th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: Ever heard of a pitcher named Kris Medlen? By now, you should have at least come across the name. The Nationals were the most recent victims of Medlen’s dominance, as the unknown starter fanned 13 Nats hitters.

The Braves loss of ace Brandon Beachy was a void that supposedly couldn’t be filled. Medlen has seemingly done the impossible since being thrown into the starting rotation. But, with success comes higher expectations. And yes, going 7-0 with a 0.86 ERA is certainly a successful stint. Meaning, Medlen is the Braves X-factor for late season success, and barring a collapse, aka 2011, he is their X-Factor for a successful postseason run.

Why? Read the rest of this entry

Kyle Wilson Interview: Haley Smilow Talks Baseball with the Laredo Pitcher and Member of Team Great Britain in the WBC Qualifiers

Tuesday September 18th, 2012

MLB reports:  Great news folks, Haley is back! And of course, she has brought a friend. Our Junior MLB Correspondent is featured today with her interview of pitcher Kyle Wilson. The 29-year old Wilson is a baseball story of grinding every day and playing the game he loves. A 22nd round pick of the Dodgers in 2004, Kyle Wilson pitched 4 seasons in the Dodgers system. In 2008, he reached AA Jacksonville of the Southern League. The past few years, Kyle Wilson has played indy ball. In 2012, he spent time with both the Gary SouthShore RailCats and the Laredo Lemurs of the American Association.  

Timing for Haley worked out really well (as usual), given that Kyle Wilson is currently in Germany preparing to represent Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers! With the tournament set to begin tomorrow, we get to learn about one of its representatives- up close and personal. Featured today on MLB reports, Haley Smilow speaks one-on-one with pitcher Kyle Wilson:


HALEY:
I know your home games are played at U.S. Steel Yard, what are some of your other favorite ballparks?

KYLE: The best park I have played in was in Jacksonville, FL when I played for the Suns. The stadium was great and fans showed great support. The league I am currently in I would have to say that Kansas City and Winnipeg had the best facilities, fans, and accommodations. Read the rest of this entry

Your Saves Savior: The Closing Strategy for Your 2013 Fantasy Baseball Team

Tuesday September 18, 2012

Peter Stein:  

The following stat is the most telling about the roles of closers from a fantasy baseball perspective: 47 players have recorded 5 or more saves and a total of 61 have record 3 or more in 2012. The dispersion of saves throughout baseball reaffirm the old fantasy adage to never overpay for saves, demonstrating just how volatile the closing position is… and the difficulty of predicting saves.

A look at the top-five save leaders tells us even more:

Fernando Rodney (0.66 ERA, 0.78 WHIP 43 saves)

Jim Johnson (2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 43 saves)

Rafael Soriano (2.07 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 40 saves)

Chris Perez (3.48 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 36 saves)

Craig Kimbrel (1.14 ERA, .0.67 WHIP, 36 saves) Read the rest of this entry

Buck Showalter Is Spinning His Managerial Magic One More Time

Monday, September.17/2012

Showalter was never given a fair shake after the 1994 year. He had guided the Yankees to the best record in the AL during the 1994 Strike Shortened Season. After the 1995 ALDS loss to the Mariners, he was let go in favor of Joe Torre.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

Buck Showalter has a knack of coming in when a franchise is down and rebuilding the team within 2-3 years after.  He started with the struggling Yankees back in the early 90’s and almost brought them to the promise land a couple of times.  The Players Strike cost him a chance in the 1994 season and he was on the back-end of a hot 1995 Seattle Mariners club, (who were left for dead and caught lightning in a bottle with the emergence of Randy Johnson.)  Showalter was blamed for not being able to reach the stars on the club even though he was a master tactician with young players.  Don Mattingly quickly retired and a new wave of young players were meshing with the old stars .  The Yankees went onto hire Joe Torre, while Buck was left to view the club win 4 World Series in 5 years and make 6 out of 7 World Series Appearances overall.    Showalter’s managerial record was 313-268 with the Yankees.

Joe Torre was a great manager, however I am of the belief that if Buck Showalter was given one more chance with the PinStripers, that he would have succeeded.  So Showalter went to the Arizona DiamondBacks 2 years before the franchise was even playing  so he could hit the ground running,  From the get go, the D’Backs brass were willing to sign premier free-agents.  In the second year of the club’s existence, Showalter took the team to a playoff appearance with a 100-62 record- and was was named NL Manager of the Year.  He left the club after the 2000 season.  Bob Brenly swept into the fray and reaped the benefits of all the hard work put forth by Showalter, by winning a World Series with the D’Backs in 2001.  Showalter was left to watch from a distance yet again.  Actually it was his two former teams in the World Series of 2001 as the D’backs ousted the Yankees in 7 games.  Showalter left the Arizona franchise with a 250-236 record. Read the rest of this entry

The 2012 Cincinnati Reds Have All The Makings Of A World Series Champion

Monday September 17th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: The Reds look primed to win the World Series. This year. They have all the making of one of those rare seasons. Young guys have stepped up greatly, veterans are producing, and they sit on an 11 game lead in the N.L Central.

Can they win the World Series?

They have a good chance. With that being said, they aren’t merely the clear-cut favorites. That honor goes to the Nationals in the National League or the Rangers in the American League. But outside of those two clubs, it’s anyone’s best guess as to who will win the pennant in each league. Meaning the Reds would likely be one of the multiple favorites come October. Read the rest of this entry

Mike Piazza: Still a Hall of Famer Given the Era He Once Played In?

Monday September 17th, 2012

Patrick Languzzi (Cooperstown Correspondent, Twitter @PatrickLanguzzi): 

Mike Piazza made his last major league appearance on September 30, 2007, which means Piazza will be eligible for his first National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this December (the required five years before a player is deemed eligible).

Nicknamed the “Pizza Man” because he always delivered, Piazza’s record is as impressive as the rumors are pervasive.

Piazza was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a favor to his father by Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda. He was drafted as the 1,390th pick in the 62nd round of the 1988 Major League Baseball (MLB) Amateur Draft. He made his major league debut on September 1, 1992.

In 1993, his first full year in the majors, Piazza won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, hitting an impressive .318 with 35 home runs and 112 RBIs, as well as being selected to MLB’s All-Star game. Read the rest of this entry

ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: Chapman, Hamilton, WBC, Billy Corgan and Neiko Johnson

Sunday September 16th, 2012



Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets! We love to hear from you- so keep the questions coming every week!

Jonathan Hacohen: I hate being sick. In writing terms, I have been placed on the 5-10 day DL with a chest infection. It actually feels worse than it sounds. I have the cough of George Burns and probably his energy level as well. But the show must go on! ATR appears every weekend and dammit, I’m not letting a little thing like illness get in my way. Write through pain, that’s my philosophy. 

Before I get to your questions, I just want to take a quick look at the MLB standings as of this morning:

  • The Yankees are hanging onto the AL East by the skin of their teeth, with a 1 game lead over the Orioles. But for all the talk of those two teams, don’t forget about the Rays. They are only 4 GB. The Rays have pulled it off before and if I am placing my wager, I give it to Tampa Bay. Just too much pitching in my estimation.
  • As we continue to scan through the standings, I notice that the AL races are far more interesting than the NL ones. I’m not sure if that says much, but perhaps the AL teams will continue to battle each other to a pulp, and become easy pickings for the NL (who enjoys home field advantage in the World Series).  Just a thought.
  • The White Sox hold a 1 game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central. Yes, I bleed Tigers Blue and Orange. But I will admit that my crystal ball sees this season as the year of the White Sox. Sorry Tigers supporters, its nothing personal. Just business. Adam Dunn is back and as long as Chicago can continue their season long magic for a couple of more weeks, they will be playoff-bound.
  • The most interesting division has become the AL West. The Rangers, the 2-time AL champions now hold a slim 2 game lead over the Athletics (after losing to the Mariners and the A’s beating up on the O’s in a key weekend matchup). Chuck Booth and I have called what the A’s are doing as “Moneyball 2″. Let’s consider that when Moneyball the Movie came out last fall, critics were quick to mock Billy Beane and the A’s as being outdated and the movie being a historical piece, with no relevance to the current team. Guess who’s having the last laugh people? That’s right. Billy Beane. The A’s might actually have the guts to pull this thing off and take the division. It would be an incredible shot in the arm for Oakland and a tragedy in Texas. Keep an eye on this race people: if we have learned nothing else this season, the A’s are not going away.
  • The AL Wild Card spots are currently held down by the A’s and Orioles, with the Angels (2.5 gb), Rays (3 GB) and Tigers (3.5 GB) all in shooting distance. If we assume that the Rays, White Sox and Rangers end up taking their respective divisions, we are left with the A’s, Yankees, Orioles, Tigers and Angels as the contenders for the Wild Card spots. I see from there the Yankees and A’s taking the wild cards, with Oakland advancing to the ALDS. It is not an exact science, but playoff predictions are sure fun to create.
  • In the NL, we start with the Nationals, who enjoy a 6.5 game lead on the Braves. Not out of reach, but the Nats are still likely to take the AL East. They have been one of the best stories in baseball this year. Let’s see how far they go sans their ace.
  • In the Central, the Reds have a stranglehold on their division, with a 11.5 game lead over the Cardinals. Dusty Baker and company have a magic number of 6. ‘Nuff said.
  • Over in the NL West, the Giants are pulling away with a 7.5 game lead over the Dodgers. Now Clayton Kershaw may need surgery and be out for the season. It looks like the Dodgers’ big ticket items will not pay off until 2013 at the earliest.
  • The NL wild card race is messier than an algebra exam. The Braves hold a fairly good lead on the 1st spot, almost assuring Chipper Jones of at least one game of playoff action in his final season. The final spot is held in a tie, between the Cardinals and Dodgers. While there are several teams still in contention for that final spot (Pirates 2 GB, Brewers 2.5 GB, Phillies 3 GB, Diamondbacks 4.5 GB and even the Padres 6 GB). Predicting this spot is like taking a shot in the dark. Many are going with the Phillies, given their strong pitching staff (the three aces). I am not counting out any teams at this point, but I will say keep an eye on the Dbacks. It would not surprise me if they somehow face the Braves in the one-game sudden-death playoff series.

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry

Wil Myers and Billy Hamilton Are MLB Ready Prospects: The 2013 AL and NL ROY?

Sunday September 16th, 2012

Photo Courtesy of Giants fan: Crystal Ramos

Sam Evans:  The consensus around baseball is that Billy Hamilton and Wil Myers are two of the top twenty-five prospects in the game. With Myers hit tool and proximity to the majors and Hamilton’s crazy speed, both are pretty solid bets to reach their potential. These two are likely going to be All-Stars for their respective teams in the coming years. Instead of comparing them to other prospects, let’s look at what makes Myers and Hamilton so special.

First of all, Wil Myers. Myers was drafted as a catcher in the third round of the 2009 Amateur draft. He had the talent of a first-round pick but he seemed like he might be going to the University of South Carolina. The Royals offered Myers $2 million, which was an offer that he smartly took and started his journey into professional baseball.

The Wil Myers catching experiment lasted all of two years. When he played in Wilmington with Salvador Perez in 2010, Perez made it clear who had the brighter future behind the plate. It’s a bummer Myers never got comfortable behind the plate because there aren’t many catchers in the majors that offer the kind of offensive production that Myers likely will. Read the rest of this entry

Pedro Alvarez: Finally Meeting The Hype in Pittsburgh

Saturday September 15th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: Pedro Alvarez is starting to turn the corner. Taking the next step. But, early career struggles had insiders, fans, writers, and everything in-between, labeling him as a “bust”. Let’s not forget that he was the second overall pick in the 2008 draft. So pressure and expectations are sky-high for him, and that’s not anything out of the ordinary. That’s a common theme with almost all high MLB draft picks. Alvarez, however, didn’t meet or exceed those expectations when he first broke into the majors, which caused some concern throughout the club.

In an article on Baseball America, one writer called him “the biggest waste of hitting talent in draft history”. That’s a pretty bold statement especially from a respected baseball publication.  Sure, if it came from some snobby fan, then a statement like that would simply be shrugged off. That wasn’t the case, however. And believe it or not, that bold statement was pretty precise. Harsh? Yes. True? You bet. Yes Alvarez was young, but there were too many red flags to ignore at this stage of his young career. Read the rest of this entry

The Quiet But Effective Ryan Howard

Saturday September 15th, 2012

John Burns:  The 2012 season has been anything but normal for the Philadelphia Phillies and Ryan Howard. The 32 year-old was out till June after tearing his Achilles in the postseason last year against the St. Louis Cardinals. Howard has consistently been one of the top first baseman in the league for a while now. This season has been a little different for him so far: First of all, his team the Philadelphia Phillies, are 16.5 behind the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East, Second, Howard has only had a little over 200 at bats this season due to injury. The power is still there for Howard. In 58 games, played he has 41 RBIs and 10 homers. That might not be the numbers you expect from Howard, but you have to give the guy a break. He is coming back from arguably one of the worst injuries in sports. Read the rest of this entry

Ricky Romero Is Almost Half-Way to Anthony Young’s MLB Record of 27 Straight Losses

Friday, September.14/2012

Ricky Romero started the year out 8-1 and was poised to have his best win season of his career. He has lost 13 straight decisions since.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

Ricky Romero has had a brutal season.  Lets not lose the sight that he has lost 13 games in row here.  He also was 8-1 to start the year.  You must look at the numbers though.  He was sporting an ERA of nearly 5 when that took place, so he was simply being bailed out by the first half offense.  The Jays were killing the ball before the ALL-Star Break.  It only has been since the offense dried up with injuries that Romero started tail spinning.  Seeing a great young pitcher struggle with confidence is not foreign to the Jays.  Roy Halladay nearly through a no-hitter in his first start during his rookie year.  The phenom battled serious control issues and was sent back down all the way to A ball in order to fix his mechanics.  This ultimately saved Halladay’s career.  I am not saying that will have to happen with Romero.  He needs to grind through his last few starts.  Hopefully he can end the year off on a good note by erasing this losing streak.

 ‘On the Black.’ talks about the streak with  They own this video and not the MLB Reports.

Read the rest of this entry

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