Evan Longoria went 3-5, driving in the first run of the game. Then with the Rays and Blue Jays tied, 2 outs and nobody on in the bottom of the 10th, Longoria doubled and later scored the winning run.
Scott Kazmir struck out 10 and walked none while beating the A’s. Cleveland swept all four teams against Oakland
Brian McCann hit a go ahead homer in the second and collected an RBI in the winning rally as the Braves beat the defending champion Giants, 6-3.
Patrick Corbin threw yet another solid game as the Diamondbacks won against the Phillies. He threw into the 7th with only 4 hits and 1 run to improve to 5-0 and a 1.75 ERA.
They all owned baseball on May 09, 2013
My explanation for “Who Owns Baseball” can be found here.
At the end of the year, we will tally up who owned baseball the most individual days and see how it compares to the final MVP and Cy Young vote.
To view the Yearly Leaders for Who Owned Baseball Standings – Click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON.
Thursday, November 22nd, 2013
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst)
Since the Blue Jays and Marlins blockbuster trade, there has been a lot of discussion about Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. Jose Reyes is going to have an amazing presence at the top of the lineup, getting on base, steal bases and playing beautiful shortstop on the left side of the infield with Brett Lawrie for the Blue Jays ground ball pitchers. Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle immediately make the Blue Jays rotation a top rotation in all of baseball by being inserted in. Effectively, they got two top of the line starters to create an elite rotation that makes them serious contenders.
Monday October 1st, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: Unlike the American League wild card situation, the National League race is much simpler. And by that I mean that there’s one spot left to be decided, and just two teams competing for it. A couple of weeks ago this wasn’t the case. The Brewers, Phillies, Pirates, and even the Diamondbacks were all congested and all had a legitimate chance. Now, all of those teams are entirely out of contention. Boring? Yes. But it was fun while it lasted, imagining all of the possible scenarios to tiebreaker games to potential rainouts.
However, the Cardinals and Dodgers are the only two left.
Atlanta: 93-66 -
St.Louis: 86-73 -
Los Angeles: 84-75 2 GB Read the rest of this entry
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
Tuesday July 31st, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Monday night and Tuesday morning turning out to be a busy one for MLB General Managers! Here are the flurry of deals before the MLB Non-Waiver Trading Deadline:
Brandon League to the Dodgers
With the Giants talking to the Mariners about League, I think the Dodgers traded for him just so the Giants wouldn’t get him. They really don’t have a reason to get him other than that. Their bullpen has been solid this year with Kenley Jansen holding it down at the back and Josh Lindblom highlighting the other relievers. League would’ve been key for the Giants. They lost Guillermo Mota at the beginning of the year for 100 games due to his second failed drug test, Sergio Romo has been a bit shaky lately, and Santiago Casilla hasn’t been the best closer. Not to mention Brian Wilson went down with an elbow injury after only a few appearances. Although League hasn’t been the best this year (0-5 with a 3.63 ERA) he will definitely help strengthen the already strong Dodger bullpen. After acquiring Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Dempster, the Dodgers are definitely ahead of the Giants in my mind. For League, the Mariners get OF Leon Landry and RHP Logan Bawcom. Landry this year in Single-A Rancho Cucamonga has hit .328 with eight homers and 51 RBI, and Bawcom has gone 3-3 with a 2.60 ERA in 27 games with Double-A Chattanooga. League was removed from the closer’s role in Seattle in favor of Tom Wilhelmsen earlier this season, so losing him won’t drastically affect the Mariners. League is apparently owed $1.85 million for the rest of this year.
Eric Thames to the Mariners
Right after trading League, the Mariners went ahead and traded Steve Delabar to the Blue Jays for outfielder Eric Thames. Thames adds some more youth to the Mariners and looks like the fourth outfielder right now. This year, in 42 games, Thames is hitting .243 with three homers and 11 RBI. The Blue Jays add to their bullpen after getting Brandon Lyon and J.A. Happ (who can either start or come out of the bullpen) from the Astros. Delabar held a 4.17 ERA in 36.2 innings for Seattle this year. Neither team seems to be going anywhere, so it looks like each is building for the future, as each player is signed through 2017.
Travis Snider to the Pirates
Snider went to the Pirates for reliever Brad Lincoln right before Eric Thames was traded. The Blue Jays seem to be bolstering their bullpen by getting rid of young outfielders. Snider started the season in Toronto last year before being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, and stayed there until recently being called back. The Blue Jays must have finally given up on him after he hit .225 last year and .235 this year in nine games. Snider will join the mix of Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley, and Starling Marte in the outfield for Pittsburgh. The Blue Jays get reliever Brad Lincoln in return, who has gone 4-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 59.1 innings this year. He’s only 27 so he should be with Toronto for a while.
After losing out on Ryan Dempster, the Braves went out and got Paul Maholm, who has been doing well for the Cubs going 7-4 with a 3.74 ERA. The Braves also received Reed Johnson. Johnson has hit .307 for the Cubs this year and will join Jason Heyward, Michael Bourn, and Martin Prado in the outfield. He should serve as a fourth outfielder and possibly come in late in games as a pinch hitter. The Cubs will get Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Vizcaino went 1-1 with a 4.17 ERA with the Braves last year. Chapman, this year for Triple-A Gwinett, has gone 3-6 with a 3.52 ERA in 53.2 innings.
Geovany Soto to the Rangers
Soto will go to the Rangers after they designated catcher Yorvit Torrealba for assignment. Soto will primarily catch while Mike Napoli will see some time at first base. Soto struggled this year for the Cubs, hitting just .195 with six homers and 14 RBI. He makes $4.3 millon this year. Hopefully for the Rangers, Soto will put up better numbers than Torrealba, who hit .236 with three homers and 12 RBI. The Cubs will obtain pitcher Jacob Brigham, who went 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in124 innings for Double-A Frisco. Soto just wasn’t cutting it for the Cubs; maybe he’ll have a fresh start with the Rangers.
***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, Baseball Writer & Facebook Administrator. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***
Please e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook . 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.Follow @mlbreports
Monday July 23rd, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: As the trade deadline looms, teams are scrambling to make a final buy or sell in order to push toward the playoffs. Some teams are trying to get value out of their soon-to-be free agents while other teams are rebuilding. Here are some of the big deals that have gone down in the past few days:
The Astros are obviously in their rebuilding phase. Last year, they gave up Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, and the year before they gave up Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Earlier this year, Carlos Lee went to the Marlins for top prospect Matt Dominguez and others. More recently Brett Myers went to the White Sox for minor league pitchers and J.A. Happ went to the Blue Jays along with relievers Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter for Ben Francisco, Francisco Cordero, and other prospects in a ten-player trade. With these deals this year, the Astros have removed virtually all big names from the team. Not to say that J.A. Happ was a big name player, but he was a well-regarded pitcher that the Phillies gave up in the Roy Oswalt trade. Also given up by the Astros is former closer Brandon Lyon. He gave up the closer role to Brett Myers this year, but he does have the capability to serve in the back-end of a bullpen. Read the rest of this entry
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Seemingly gone are the days where most of the MLB players stick with one team for their whole careers. As of right now there are not too many superstars that have spent their entire careers with one organization. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are 1st ballot Hall of Famers. Chipper Jones should make the BBHOF. Todd Helton is close to retiring but I am not sure the voters will see him worthy. There are some promising chances that Ryan Braun and David Wright might play their entire careers with their current clubs, however with Braun’s PED fiasco last year I just don’t see him entering Cooperstown. Wright must re-sign with the ownership hemorrhaging, this will prove hard for the Wilpons funds thanks to Bernie Madoff. When it comes to starting pitching, the list is shrunken that much further. Justin Verlander is the active win leader with a player only having played for one team. He has 114 wins with the Tigers, anybody above him on the active ALL-Time Wins list has pitched for multiple teams already. The next active leader for one team pitched for is Ervin Santana with 91 wins for the Angels franchise. Felix Hernandez has 90 wins for the Mariners. Tim Lincecum, Cole Hamels and Matt Cain have played their entire careers for the same team so far and have CY Young titles amongst them, but have a long way to go in establishing Hall of Fame Careers.
That brings me to my next stat. There are 9 players in history who have hit 500 HRs or more for one team. All of them are in the Hall of Fame except for Barry Bonds (who becomes eligible next year.) I am not sure the writers will cast a vote for him because of his steroid use. When I got the idea for this article, it came to be because I was amazed that Paul Konerko has hit over 400 HRs with the Chicago White Sox. Again at age 36, Konerko has a look at 500 HRs with the Chicago team. Right now he can end the season with about 410-420 HRs. Provided he can play 3-4 years more and have productive seasons, he may reach the milestone. Chipper Jones is the only other active MLB Player to have 400 HRs with one team. Larry is slowing down though and will most likely retire after this year. Read the rest of this entry
The Streak stands at 23 MLB Parks in 18 calendar days!!
Chuck Booth: I am the World Record Holder for-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 24 days (2009)!
In 2012, I am going for 30 MLB Parks in 23 days from: April 6th to 28th.
Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter
Follow my streak all the through to the bitter end. Schedule is this link:
http://mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker/ or at my official website for all updates!
MLB Park # 16 Day # 12
CHC 2 @ MIA 3
New Marlins Ball Park
‘Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twiter)- It was a great day for a new baseball park. During this trip, anytime that I have had a single game only for a day, I have felt a little bit more relaxed while watching the action. I flew into FLL (Fort Lauderdale Airport) really early and caught up on some writing. I was fully rewarded with my National Car Rental to the tune of a Chrysler 200 that was black in color. I made my way to my Best Western Hotel near the airport. Check in time was not till 3 PM, but I was able to coerce the staff to let me take a room early. I really appreciate the professional way the Best Western staff always helps me in the travels. Read the rest of this entry
Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter
Follow my streak all the through to the bitter end. Schedule is this link:
Saturday April 21, 2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Bob Devries loves baseball, this much is evidently clear when you get to know his story around the game. I am going to meet Bob in person for the doubleheader attempt of Chicago and Milwaukee. I can think of no other one person than I would rather hang out for the day in Chicago than Bob. His spirits were brought back up back in his life by visiting all of the 30 MLB parks. While my case was entirely different from Bob’s, our common theme is that baseball brought us both back from the depths of despair. I had the chance to talk to Bob about life, baseball and how we share the unique distinction of being the only two people on the planet to have attended a game in every park as a fan for two consecutive years in a row.
DB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Wrigley Field Expert Interview Bob Please tell us about yourself and then give us some information on your life as a Cub fan?”
BD: “I am just your average, soon to be 49-year-old sports fan. I got married last summer to someone who I have known since we were in the 6th grade and reconnected on Facebook. Charlie (Charlene) and I make our home in McHenry, IL. I work for a distribution company as a logistics manager. I have a stepson, Brent, who is of all things, is a St. Louis Cardinal fan. Brent got to live out a baseball fans’ dream this past season. He was at Busch Stadium for game 6 and 7 of the World Series.
My life as a Cub fan started in 1971 when my dad took me to Wrigley Field for my birthday. I often wonder if we would have gone to old Comiskey Park for a Sox game that day would I be a Sox fan today, thankfully we went to Wrigley.
Being a Cub fan, like all Cub fans, has been met with frustration and disappointment but thru it all we have remained fiercely loyal to the Cubs and always will. Why you ask? I don’t know and I ask myself that question every season when the Cubs are eliminated from the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday April 18, 2012
Chuck Booth- (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Today’s expert is Kurt Smith. Kurt will be the interview subject of the following parks: Citizens Bank Ball Park Tropicana Field and today’s featured expert Article of Turner Field. Kurt is highly respected in the ball park chaser community for his BallparkEGuides. After you are done reading this article I implore you trust in Kurt to deliver up tips and suggestive idea’s on how to make your stadium visits affordable and pleasurable. I had a chance to ask some questions of the man recently.
CB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Experts Interview Kurt. Please tell us about yourself and then give us a bit of background information on your life as a Braves Fan?”
KS: “I’ve been to Turner Field for a few games and a tour, in researching for the Turner Field E-Guide that is available at my website. I wouldn’t call myself a Braves fan necessarily, but there are a lot of things I like about the team. They have a history of great players like Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and Dale Murphy, and I loved watching Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine pitch in their prime. Turner Field is a fine ballpark too; they did a nice job tearing it up after the Olympics and on a nice day it’s as good a place as any to see a game. Braves games are very affordable too; the team gives a lot of value even though they are putting a pretty good product on the field. So in a pinch, I could certainly pull for the Braves.
Sunday December 11th, 2011
Sam Evans: During the pinnacle of their careers, Fred McGriff and Larry Walker, each averaged over thirty home runs a year. Now, in their first couple years of eligibility, both players have shown promising signs that they are on their way to becoming Hall-of-Famers. However, I’m not quite sure if they both deserve it.
Larry Walker: Larry Walker was an amazing power-hitting outfielder from 1989 to 2005. He actually was a very solid defensive right fielder, considered one of the best in baseball history. Walker played for the Expos, Rockies, and Cardinals during his seventeen years in the majors.
Walker helped popularize the game back in his home country of Canada. He was the first Canadian ever to win the MVP in 1997. He hit .366 with 49 HR, 130 RBI, and 33 stolen bases. When he retired in 2005, he had been nominated to five All-Star games, he won seven Gold Gloves, and Walker finished with 67.3 WAR, which is 67th all-time among position players.
Unfortunately, Walker also played during the height of the Steroid Era. We are learning more and more about these dangerous drugs as time passes, and we still can’t be positive who is using PED’s (See Ryan Braun announcement from today). It would not come as a big surprise to me if Walker was using PED’s in the 90′s. However, as great as it is to see a player that had a successful career without PED’s, (e.g. Ken Griffey Jr.), we have to remember that performance enhancing drugs were not banned back then. I am sure that the public suspicion that Walker was a steroid user though are hurting his Hall of Fame chances.
Another knock against Walker is that he never won a World Series. It is hard for voters to vote for a proclaimed winner, if they never won a championship. In 2011, Walker’s first year of eligibility, he received 20.3 of the BBWAA votes. The requirement is seventy-five percent, but overall, this was a strong first year showing for Walker.
If you look at Walker’s career as a whole, I’m pretty certain he will be considered a Hall-of-Famer. I really think Cooperstown though needs to redefine what being a hall of famer is all about. Is it about the impact players made on the game? Or what their numbers look like? The Hall-of-Fame has a lot more problems with its standards then I think most people realize.
Fred McGriff: McGriff is another top power hitter. McGriff holds the MLB record for homers in the most different stadiums with forty-two.
McGriff hit 493 homers in his career, good enough for 25th all-time. “Crime Dog” also finished with a .284 BA, and an average of 86 walks per 162 games. McGriff was nominated to five All-Star games and led the league in home runs twice. On the other hand, McGriff was not known as a great defensive first basemen. Also, he never really stayed with one team for an extended amount of time.
When looking at McGriff’s long career, the homers obviously stand out. He hit just as many homers as current HOF’er Lou Gehrig. Another highlight of McGriff’s nineteen year career was winning the World Series with the Braves in 1995.
McGriff will surely be named a Hall-of-Famer before his fifteen years are up. He played during an era where power was easy to find, and McGriff relied on his power to provide him with a lengthy career. However, 483 homers, and being tabbed “Baseball Superstar” in Tom Emanski’s infamous commercials is apparently enough for an election to Cooperstown.
McGriff is really a “push” candidate for the Hall-of-Fame. I’m not completely sure he will a fair chance to make it because of the era he played in. In 2010, McGriff received 21.5% of the BBWAA votes, and then in 2011, he took a step back only getting 17.9% of the votes.
For both of these players, writers are more reluctant to vote for them because of who the group they played with. As was evidenced with the Ryan Braun news, Americans have a very negative reaction to PED’s. We just want to enjoy baseball nostalgically, with”real” athletes that don’t need to cheat to succeed. The truth is, cheating is a huge part of the game. From corked bats to spitballs, this kind of thing has been going on for over a hundred years. The effects that PED’s have in the human body are devastating, and turning yourself into a superhuman should not be allowed in baseball. However, the era in which Larry Walker and Fred McGriff played in should not be the reason to keep them out of Cooperstown. Both players should be judged on their numbers and performances, if that is possible.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam 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 on Facebook . 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.Follow @mlbreports
Thursday November 17, 2011
Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): Of the five categories in standard 5X5 roto leagues, it is SB’s that fantasy owners most commonly have the incorrect approach. In this article I will highlight players to target and avoid in the stolen base department, as well as discuss basic fantasy strategy.
There are certainly several one trick ponies, such as Brett Gardner, Michael Bourn, and Coco Crisp, who provide elite production in this department. However, there are a couple of things you must consider. These types of players, who will hopefully hit for average and contribute to runs, will hurt your team’s HR and RBI performance. Therefore, be sure that you have excess value dispersed throughout the rest of your lineup to compensate. Secondly, you are heavily relying one on player for your production in this category, and as a result an injury can leave your team devastated. Thus, it is essential, particularly in the early rounds, that you find players who do everything, including steal bases. Even 5-10 steals that a player contributes above the position average will give you a significant edge.
A player to target next year, Eric Hosmer, quietly stole 11 bases in 2011. The young left-hander batted .313 with 11 HR and 44 RBI’s in the second half last season. While his still progressing power production puts him the second tier of first baseman, his double-digit stolen base potential makes him intriguing and perhaps underrated. Still, this guy finished the season with 19 home runs and 78 RBI’s in 128 games played. Since there are a slew of first baseman that finished with 30 home runs and 100 RBI, they will likely be targeted before Homer. Therefore, I like Hosmer as a guy who might just as well approach these power numbers but also steal 15 bases. For this same reason, I like Joey Votto over any other first baseman not named Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera. While, Adrian and Gonzalez and Prince Fielder might put up higher power numbers and similar batting averages, Joey Votto’s 10 stolen bases will make him significantly more valuable. Albert Pujols is also good for ten stolen bases as well. Only Miguel Cabrera out produces Votto enough in the other four categories to excuse his lack of stolen bases.
Now extend this approach to each position. Dustin Pedroia and his 25-30 stolen bases is more valuable than Robinson Cano and his 5-10 stolen bases, despite the fact Cano finished with 7 more home runs and 25 RBI’s. A player I like at this position if you can afford to take the hit in HR’s and RBI’s is Jemile Weeks, who finished with 22 stolen bases in just 97 games. He will get to play full-time in Oakland, and as long as he is hitting above .290, can be valuable to your roster as a good source of steals. On the decline is Brandon Phillips who has dropped from 25 to 16 to 14 stolen bases the last three seasons. This makes him no longer elite, especially when Ian Kinsler is doing 30/30. An interesting group of players, Kelly Johnson, Danny Espinosa, and Ben Zobrist each his 20 home runs and stole over 15 bases. However, they each struggled with average. Again, take not of your team’s strengths. If you own Votto and a couple of other average anchors, these types of players can be good sources of power and stolen bases at the second base position.
Instead of continuing on and telling you the elite base stealers position by position (you can easily look this up), I will give you my 2012 sleepers and busts.
Stolen Base Sleepers:
Don’t forget that Brett Lawrie’s one-quarter of a season not only put him on pace to hit 36 home runs and 100 RBI’s, but also projected him to finish with 28 stolen bases.
Peter Bourjos made noise at the end of the season and once stole 50 bases in the minor leagues. For the speedy outfielder, it was all about getting on base after a 2010 debut in which he batted .204 in 51 games. However, he greatly improved his contact ability, although still needs to improve walk rate, and batted .271 and stole 21 bases for the Angels. He also hit 12 home runs, and has the potential for a productive .280 15 HR 30 SB stat line in 2012.
After stealing 19 bases in 2011, I expect Shane Victorino to reach the 30 mark once again in 2012. It’s not that he didn’t run when he was on base, but his lower than usual BABIP and high than usual ISO (measures true power) simply meant he was not on first base as often as he normally is. With Rollins likely out of Philadelphia, I expect Victorino to ne at the top of the lineup and as aggressive as ever on the base paths.
Keep you eye Cameron Maybin, who stole 40 bases in 137 games for the Padres. As long as he has the chance to play semi-regularly, he is elite in the stolen base category. Furthermore, he appears to be approaching double-digit home run output as well, although he is only a career .255 hitter.
Monitor where Coco Crisp ends up in 2012. I loved him at Oakland in 2011 because he was one of the better hitters on the team (sadly) and at times batted third, but also batted lead off and in the second spot. In addition to leading the American League in steals, he had decent contributions in other categories (8 HR and 54 RBI) compared to some of the other stolen base leaders.
Dexter Fowler is a name to remember because he is simply one of the fastest players in baseball. However, he only stole 12 and 13 bases during the last two years, respectively. He was also caught an alarming 25 times. If he can learn to run on the base paths, he can be elite in this category. It is possible for major leaguers to learn the art of stealing bases. Look at Adam Jones, who was 12/16 on the base paths in 2011 after a 7/14 2010. I expect Jones, who is approaching a contract season, to come closer to 20 steals in 2012.
Speedsters to avoid? Juan Pierre. He really contributes in no other categories and is getting slower, getting caught 17 times in 44 chances in 2011. Furthermore, I do not expect any team to give him the 639 at bats that the White Sox foolishly provided him. Sadly, Ichiro Suzuki is clearly on the decline and appears to be a shell of his former elite self. The same is true with Bobby Abreu.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter (@MLBreports) and become a fan on Facebook . 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.
Tuesday November 15, 2011
Sam Evans:If you haven’t heard already, on Monday, Major League Baseball announced the rookie of the year winners. Craig Kimbrel won the NL ROY, and Jeremy Hellickson won the AL ROY. Let’s look at the winners and whether or not each deserved their respective awards.
Craig Kimbrel: National League Rookie of the Year:
Craig Kimbrel received a whopping 32 out of 32 first place votes, becoming the 17th player to receive all first place votes. In my opinion, the Atlanta Braves closer Kimbrel definitely deserved this award. He was not only extremely impressive to the eye, but the numbers backed it up. Kimbrel finished with 18 earned runs in 77 innings. He finished with 46 saves and struck out 14.84 K/9. Coming in second place was Kimbrel’s teammate Freddie Freeman with 70 votes, but no first place votes.
I would usually be hesitant to give a closer the award over a player who plays every day. However, Craig Kimbrel is just downright filthy. He might have the best curveball in baseball, and he is only 23 years old. It is impressive for a young flame throwing reliever to be consistent throughout the whole regular season. Not to mention, Braves Manager Fredi González, probably used Kimbrel more than he should have. This was evidenced when Kimbrel had a rough last month of the season with an ERA of 4.76. It should be noted that Kimbrel threw more innings in 2011 then he threw in any one year throughout the minors. Overall, I think that the voters made the right decision here. Kimbrel was the best reliever in all of baseball and was a very valuable asset to his team.
Jeremy Hellickson: American League Rookie of the Year
Hellickson received 17 out of 28 first place votes. This award was a surprise to a lot of people, including Hellickson,”"I guess I was a little surprised, there was a handful of guys I think all had the same amount of chance to win.” If you remember back to September, I wrote that I thought Mark Trumbo should win the AL ROY. Well, I admit that I changed my mind since then. I came to the conclusion that either Michael Pineda or Eric Hosmer were more deserving of the award. Trumbo came in second place with 63 votes (5 1st place votes), thirty-nine behind Hellickson.
I can’t say that I was surprised when I heard that Hellickson won the award. After all, he pitches in by far, the strongest division in the league, he almost threw 200 innings, and he had an ERA under 3.00. Unfortunately, when you take a closer look at his peripherals, Hellickson really didn’t have the year that his standard numbers suggest. He had a SIERA (Skill Interactive ERA) of 4.63 and a FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 4.44. Who knows what Hellickson’s numbers would have looked like without an outstanding defense behind him! He only struck out 5.57 batters per nine innings, and an 82 LOB %. What these numbers tell us is that Hellickson really had luck on his side and he likely wasn’t even the best rookie pitcher in his division.
I’m not so sure that Hellickson deserved this award. I’m not saying he didn’t have an amazing year helping lead the Rays to the playoffs. I just think that their were stronger candidates to win the ROY award in the AL.
Friday November 4, 2011
Jonathan Hacohen: While I get to interview many current MLB prospects and stars on the Reports, it is rare that I have the opportunity to talk baseball with a former great that I watched growing up. As a personal bonus to me, that chance recently came up when I was able to connect with Steve Karsay, former major league pitcher. Steve was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1st round (22nd overall in the 1990 draft). After being a part of the famed 1993 trade to Oakland for hall-of-famer Rickey Henderson, Steve played 11 major league seasons for 5 different squads. Steve played his final season in 1996.
I reflected with Steve Karsay on his career, from his time with the Blue Jays organization, through to his final season. Steve was very candid in his responses and certainly did not hold back. For all the readers that grew up idolizing Steve Karsay and wondering about his future baseball plans- today you will receive your answers.
Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with former Major League pitcher, Steve Karsay:
MLB reports: Welcome to MLB reports Steve. Let’s start today’s interview from the beginning. A 1st round pick in 1990 with Toronto. What was the feeling when you got the call? Did you expect to be drafted by the Jays? Thoughts/feelings at the time?
Steve Karsay: Wow! Going back a few years. That is correct- I was the 22nd pick overall in the 1990 draft by the Blue Jays. What a great time and what a great organization I was drafted by. The Blue Jays and their organization taught me so much to make me the player I was over my 16 year career. I will always be grateful to the Blue Jays organization and the coaches for the years I spent there. I did not know I was drafted until late in the afternoon for the fact that I was playing for my high school championship at Yankee stadium at the time. The feeling when I did receive the call was shock. I was not sure I was going to get drafted in the first round and had my sights set on going to LSU in the fall. But when it sunk in and realized the opportunity that I had and the feeling of shock turned to joy and excitement made the decision to sign and start my career in St. Catharines.
MLB reports: You will forever be linked to hall of famer Rickey Henderson, being traded for him in July 1993. What was your reaction when you learned of the trade? Have you ever spoken to Rickey about it?
Steve Karsay: First being traded at the time for Rickey was a great honor. I was only 21 at the time in 93′ when the trade happened so learning I was traded I had a mix of feelings. I was disappointed because I wanted to reach the big leagues with the team that drafted me. But realizing that I may get my opportunity to pitch in the big leagues faster, I understood that these are the things that happen when the big club is trying to position itself to win a World Series. After the trade I ended up making my Major League debut two weeks later against the Brewers at the Oakland Coliseum. So that is what made the trade worth it. As far as talking with Rickey, we had a brief conversation when he returned to Oakland the very next year.
MLB reports: After being in the Toronto organization your whole life, what was it like joining the A’s and playing for them for three seasons?
Steve Karsay: Being with Toronto for three years and going to Oakland was an adjustment, but for me was an easy transition. I enjoyed the A’S organization very much. Working with Dave Duncan and having Tony La Russa as my first manager was great. They were both mentors and I credit them for helping me transition to pitching in the big leagues.
MLB reports: Injuries took a big toll on your career- especially your surgeries in 1995 and 1996. After undergoing Tommy John, did you think your career was finished? Give us an idea as to what the surgeries/rehabs were like and your road to continue playing baseball.
Steve Karsay: To be quite honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew I had had to have Tommy John and back in 1995, it was not nearly as perfected as it is today. So I knew there was a chance that I may never play at the big league level again. The surgeries were lengthy and the rehab tedious, but I always had the drive to get healthy and pitch in the big leagues again. I was never one to give up. It was a long three years but in the end to resume my career and compete at the highest level was an accomplishment in itself.
MLB reports: Your career actually took off when you joined the Indians. Your four years in Cleveland represent some of your finest major league numbers. What was the secret of your success with the tribe?
Steve Karsay: I guess if there was any secret to my years in Cleveland, it was that I was finally healthy. I had gone through some tough years with injuries and rehab and when I finally got traded in 97′ to Cleveland, I felt like I turned the corner and it was just all coming together. In Cleveland they decided to put me in the bullpen and really got into a nice niche of what I was really capable of doing. But ultimately I would have to say that the four years in Cleveland I was as healthy as I have ever been throughout my career.
MLB reports: Aside from the occasional start, you became a full-time reliever in 1998. What was the process like to transition from starting to the pen? After coming up as a starter, how did you feel about becoming a reliever?
Steve Karsay: As a starter you have routines and you know what days you’re going to pitch and who you are going to pitch against. As a reliever you just have to be prepared every day. The transition was fairly easy for me because I had some great mentors when I did it in Cleveland. Mike Jackson, Paul Shuey, Paul Assenmacher, and a few others, so I got to learn from some guys who tough me well. I wasn’t excited at first to become a reliever but it definitely grew on me and felt after having success in the bullpen that is where I was supposed to be. It also gave me a new found respect of how hard the bullpen is.
MLB reports: You finished your career with 41 saves. Looking back, do you wish that you had more 9th inning opportunities- was the “closer” role something that you had in the back of your mind?
Steve Karsay: I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to be a closer for a bit in Cleveland and fill in New York when Mariano Rivera was injured. I always had the “closer” role in my mind but was never what drove me to play. I figured opportunities would present themselves if I pitched well enough. My saying was ”How well you are pitching will determine where you pitch in the game coming out of the pen”. When I signed as a free agent, I had the opportunity to go to a couple other clubs to compete for that job but chose to go to NY to set-up. At that point, winning was more important to me than closing. That was a tough choice I had to make.
MLB reports: Your career ended in 2006, after pitching 9 games with the A’s. Why the decision to hang up the glove at that point? Any regrets?
Steve Karsay: I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to retire in 06′. At that particular point, I was still having problems with my shoulder (after having surgery on my rotator cuff in 03′). I was pitching with pain and I felt personally like I couldn’t compete at that level with an injured shoulder. It was not fun any more coming to the ballpark, and I had always told myself that if I felt that I couldn’t compete at the highest level, I wanted to walk away from the game as a player on a respectable note. After retiring I had one last shoulder surgery to repair my rotator cuff for a final time. I came to realize that I was pitching with my rotator cuff torn the whole time in 2006. So looking back, I felt the choice I made was 100% correct.
MLB reports: You pitched for 5 major league teams (A’s, Indians, Braves, Yankees and Rangers). Favorite team(s) that you played for and why?
Steve Karsay: All of the teams hold a special place in my heart. I had great memories with all of them. I had the opportunity to meet and play with some of the best players in the history of the game over my career. I will always be grateful for the Blue Jays for drafting me and giving me the chance to start my career in professional baseball. Then the A’s for giving me my first shot in the Major leagues. The Indians is where I had my most productive years and had the chance to experience playoff baseball for the first time. Atlanta and playing for the great Bobby Cox. He is a player’s manager and a great man. Also having the opportunity to have great teammates in every spot that I played. Too long of a list to compile, but to name a few of the greats I played with: Mark McGwire, Dennis Eckersley, Ron Darling, Rickey Henderson, Jim Thome, Sandy Alomar Jr., Robbie Alomar, Omar Vizquel, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, Mike Mussina. I know I am probably missing many other great ones I played with. Overall, the experiences were priceless. It was the most exciting time in my life with the exception of the birth of my son Kingston.
MLB reports: Do you still keep in touch with many of your ex-teammates- any ones in particular?
Steve Karsay: I don’t keep in touch per say with them, but whenever I get the opportunity to see them when they come into town I always like to stop by the ballpark and say hello.
MLB reports: Growing up so close to Shea Stadium, it must have been a dream come true to play in New York. Were you a Mets fan growing up- did you consider playing for them at one point?
Steve Karsay: Growing up in NY and so close to Shea was great. I was a baseball fan growing up. I liked players more than I did teams. I watched both the Yankees and the Mets. I went to more Mets games as a kid because it was just a short train ride away. I never had the opportunity to play for the Mets over my career, but playing for the Yankees and the tradition of the Yankees was definitely a highlight of my playing days.
MLB reports: Since you left the game, what has been life been like for Steve Karsay? What are you up to these days Steve?
Steve Karsay: Life has been wonderful since retiring in 2006. After being able to have a 16 year career in baseball I wanted to step away from the game for a short time to pursue a few things that I was not able to do while I was playing- like travel and explore different countries. I also became involved in my friend’s company in Aerospace Manufacturing which has been exciting and to say the least interesting. And last but not least, the birth of my son which has been more work than all of the above. With that being said, baseball is my life and I am pursing opportunities to get back in the game in some capacity. The time off was great, but I want to be able to pass along the knowledge of baseball that I learned while I was playing and help young kids fulfill their dreams of hopefully getting to the big leagues.
MLB reports: If you could give one piece of advice to a young baseball player trying to make it to the show, what would it be?
Steve Karsay: My advice would be to work hard, be consistent, and do not take anything for granted because you never know when it will come to an end.
MLB reports: Will we be seeing you in the future in the major leagues in another capacity, perhaps a broadcaster or coach/manager?
Steve Karsay: I hope so. I am pursuing some things as we speak and would love to get back in the game in any capacity, either as a broadcaster, front office or on the field coach. Baseball is my passion and it what I love.
MLB reports: Final question Steve: everyone at the end of the day wants to leave a mark on the game. What do you most want to be remembered for as a professional baseball player?
Steve Karsay: Looking back I would want to be known for every time I stepped between the white lines I gave everything I had and I did not take anything for granted. I wanted to be the best player I could be when I stepped out on the mound. The fire for competition was always burning when I played. If I can be remembered for that, I would be very proud.
MLB reports: Thank you very much for taking your time out of your busy schedule so we can have you with us. Much appreciated!
Thank you again to Steve Karsay for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports. We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Steve. As well, please follow Steve on Twitter (@Steve_Karsay)
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook . 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.
Thursday November 3, 2011
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: In the world of baseball journalism, it is very important for one to separate the roles of writer/commentator/analyst from fandom. For those of us that write about the great game of baseball, it is the majority of the time for the pure love of the sport. We love every aspect of baseball and while the job requires long hours and a great deal of hard work, it is all worth it because the work centers around a dear passion for all of us. Each piece we prepare though rarely contains a personal vested interest. We write about a subject. We discuss the different aspects of the topic and will usually include our own viewpoints. But when the subject matter contains an emotional attachment, it can make the experience that much more rewarding.
As the Lead Baseball Columnist for MLB reports, I have had the privilege and honor of interviewing many of the game’s up and coming prospects and stars. When I found out though my latest interviewee, I have to admit that I had some goosebumps. Steve Karsay is a name that is well-known in baseball circles. A veteran of eleven major league seasons, Steve played for five major league teams between 1993-2006. Growing up in Toronto, I knew Steve early on in his career as a 1st round pick (22nd overall) in the 1990 draft. At 6’3″ and 210 lbs, Steve coming up was labelled a “can’t miss” prospect. I will admit that I followed his career from his debut with the A’s and later retiring with the same Oakland squad. In between, Steve suffered through a variety of injuries and surgeries, including Tommy John in 1996. The reason that I rooted for Steve Karsay was his resiliancy. The man overcame great adversities and was able to transform himself into a successful major league pitcher. I respect players with ability and heart- and you will be hard pressed to find anyone that can match those qualities as found in Steve Karsay.
Any discussion on Steve Karsay has to begin with the start of his career. Despite being drafted by the Jays, Steve actually made his major league debut with the Oakland Athletics. As part of the Jays 2nd World Series run in 1993, Toronto traded Steve Karsay with Jose Herrera for hall-of-fame outfielder, Rickey Henderson. Getting traded for a player with Henderson’s pedigree before even throwing a major league pitch has to be a nice complement. If nothing else, it will always be a story that Steve will be able to share with his grandchildren. With great expectations on him, Steve was not able to deliver on the promise of stardom as an A’s starter. Injuries never allowed him to get on track and Karsay moved from the A’s to the Indians as a reliever. In his first full healthy season as a reliever in 1999, Karsay flourished in Cleveland. He finished that year with a 10-2 record, 2.97 ERA and 1.284 WHIP. The following year, Karsay saved a career high 20 games for the Indians. Karsay continued to flourish, excelling for the Braves in the 2001 postseason and for the Yankees in the 2002 season.
Shoulder surgery in 2003 set Steve back another season. He came back to play part seasons from 2004-2006, when he finally called it a career. Karsay left the game with solid major league numbers and a resume to be proud of. When I think of Steve Karsay, I will always think “what could have been”. What if injuries and surgeries had not been a part of his career. Could we have seen a 300 game winner in Oakland? Or perhaps a 300 save closer as his role evolved? We will never know what paths Steve Karsay’s career could have taken, had his body allowed him to fulfill his potential. But considering the battles and adversities he faced, Steve Karsay can look back on his career with pride. Countless pitchers with fewer injuries over the years never made it to the show to even throw a major league pitch. Rather than enjoy the occasional cup of coffee, Steve Karsay was able to battle through and enjoy a lengthy and productive career. Watching him in his prime, he was as solid of a major league reliever as I have seen in my time.
Coming up on MLB reports, we will hear from Steve Karsay directly. I recently interviewed Steve and covered many topics with him, including his career, the Rickey trade and his baseball future. It was a pleasure to speak with Steve and hear what he had to say. If you enjoy baseball discussions, stay tuned for my exclusive interview with Steve Karsay.
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook . 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.
Follow @mlbreportsFriday October 21, 2011
MLB reports – Rob Bland: Expanding the playoffs has been a hot topic for many years now. While the move will not be as drastic as when the MLB added the first wild card team in each league, it has drawn the ire from a lot of critics. In 1994, MLB was to use the postseason system currently in place; however the season was cut short due to a player strike. It was then that the MLB went to three divisions in each league (East, Central, and West) as well as a wild card team (the best non-divisional winner record in the league). The American league Divisional winners would have been the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox in the Central and Texas Rangers in the West (with a record of 52-61). Conversely, the Cleveland Indians would have been the wild card winners at 66-47. In the National League, the East would have been won by the Montreal Expos, who had the MLB’s best record of 74-40. The Central and West would have been won by the Cincinnati Reds and LA Dodgers, respectively, while the wild card winner would have been the Atlanta Braves.
However, due to the strike, which also shortened the following season, 1995 was the first year this system actually came into play. This season saw a shortened 144 game schedule. The NL East winners, Atlanta Braves had to go through the slugging Colorado Rockies; the first NL wild card team. They then faced the Reds, and the eventual World Series Champions Cleveland Indians. The Indians took a very peculiar path to the World Series. After leading the MLB with a 100-44 record, the Indians faced the Boston Red Sox, winners of the AL East, who had the 2nd best record in the American League. The Yankees were the wild card winners, who were defeated by the Seattle Mariners in the AL Division Series.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the commissioner, Bud Selig, with the MLB and its players’ union expires in December of this year, and an extension of five years is expected to be reached any day. One of the main hold-ups to a deal is the addition of another wild card team. The 2nd best non-divisonal winner would get into the playoffs. This may not seem like much, where every other major sports league in North America has at least 3 “wild card” teams, but in baseball, tradition is always at the top of people’s minds. Adding a team to each league’s postseason picture could lengthen the MLB season, which is something that is a major concern to most people involved in the process.
One option that was bandied around was to have the two wild card teams face off in a best 2 out of 3 series. The advantage of this short series is that both teams that didn’t win their division would have to play extra games while the winners get a short break to recuperate their injured players. Also, the extra games give opportunities to more teams to earn extra postseason revenue, which benefits the league. However, the extra 2-4 days off that the other teams would have to endure could also cause a team to lose its momentum gained at the end of the season.
However, it is believed that the MLB will go to a one game sudden death playoff between the two wild card teams. In my opinion, the biggest advantage to this is that it gives the winner of the game a monumental disadvantage going into the second round. The wild card teams would be forced to pitch their ace in the playoff, and therefore would not be able to pitch until at least game 3 of the next round. This means the team’s best starter would only get one start in a best of 5 series. Not only would the team with the best record in the league have home-field advantage, but they would see their opponent’s best pitcher in only one game.
In the current state of the MLB postseason, ten wild card teams have made it to the World Series, out of a possible 34 teams going back to 1995, including 2011. Roughly 29% of wild card teams make it into the World Series. If you figure that 1 out of 4 teams in each league make it to the World Series, or 25%, then you have a better chance of making it as a wild card than as a divisional winner. Four World Series have been won by wild card teams. 25% of World Series have been won by a team that should have a distinct disadvantage, but obviously do not. It is due to this that MLB must make it a bigger hindrance for not winning your division. Playing an extra game, extra travel and burning your ace are ways to weaken a wild card team’s chance of making it to the World Series.
With the union and MLB reps meeting every day trying to hammer out the extension for the CBA, you should see the added teams in the playoffs in 2012 or 2013. It is widely expected that the deal will be reached in the middle of the World Series to take advantage or the added publicity it would gain. I am fairly certain that the new playoff format will come into effect for the 2012 season, and there will be a lot of teams looking to push the envelope and make an appearance.
World Series: Game 2 Recap
Game 2 was a bit of a surprise, as Jaime Garcia, whom many picked to implode in this guy, had a great start. Through 7 solid innings, he gave up only 3 hits and 1 walk to 7 strike outs. Colby Lewis was equally as impressive until the 7th inning, where he was able to strike Matt Holliday out to lead off the inning. David Freese then singled and Yadier Molina flew out. Nick Punto then hit a ground ball towards first base that went off of Michael Young’s glove and into right field, moving Freese to third. With runners on the corners and one out in the 7th, Alexi Ogando came in to face the hitter in the pitcher’s spot. That hitter: Allen Craig. The same hero of game 1 that hit a single to right field that scored the go ahead and eventual winning run. Craig promptly lined a ball to right field to score David Freese, breaking the dead lock.
What would a playoff game be without drama? Jason Motte came in the 9th to close out the 1-0 game. So far in the postseason, he had given up 1 hit in 29 plate appearances. Ian Kinsler led off the inning with a bloop single off the end of the bat. Elvis Andrus came up to the plate and looked to get a sac bunt on the ground, but Kinsler decided to take matters in his own hands, and stole second base by the smallest of margins. Andrus then lifted a 2-2 pitch to center field for a single. While Kinsler was held at 3rd, Cardinals CF Jon Jay threw the ball wide of the cutoff man, which allowed Andrus to slide safely into 2nd base.
Manager Tony La Russa then yanked Motte for lefty Arthur Rhodes to face Josh Hamilton. On the first pitch, he hit a fly ball to right that scored Kinsler and advanced Andrus to third. Even more like La Russa, he brought in Lance Lynn to face Michael Young, who hit a 3-2 curveball deep enough to center to scored Andrus, and the Rangers lead the game 2-1.
Rangers closer Neftali Feliz took the mound in the bottom of the 9th and walked Yadier Molina on 5 pitches 97 mph or faster, hitting 100 on the radar gun with the first pitch. Nick Punto came to the plate, bunted two balls foul up around his eyes, then swung feebly to strike out. Feliz then struck out Skip Schumaker and induced a fly ball off the bat of Rafael Furcal to seal the victory.
With the series tied at one game apiece, an off day tomorrow and game 3 slated for Saturday night in Texas, this series is only going to get better. Keep checking MLB reports for your daily fix of updates on the World Series.
Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Rob 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.
September 29, 2011
Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): In order to write all of this, I needed to step away from my TV and computer, take a deep breath, and sleep for a while. The excitement of last night was almost too much for my fragile heart to bear, so the time away to clear my head was necessary.
I find myself repeating, “What just happened??” in my head. What happened last night was unfathomable. Not only were there two teams in each league tied for the Wild Card, but both teams that had been leading, suffered epic failures along the way. Go back to September 1, and the Boston Red Sox held a 9 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Atlanta Braves held an 8.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams chances of reaching the postseason were over 99%. Nobody could have actually predicted seriously at that time, that both the Cards and Rays would win the Wild Card on the final day of the regular season. Especially not the way that the AL Wild Card was eventually decided.
The Rays started David Price against the Yankees. Sounded promising enough, until Price gave up 6 runs in 4 innings. The game was pretty much over with the score at 7-0 in the Rays’ half of the 8th inning. 3 runs plated in the bottom of the 8th, then Evan Longoria took over the game. A 3-run home run put them within one run, and Tropicana Field exploded. Then with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, Rays manager Joe Maddon made one of the gutsiest calls I have ever seen: pinch hit with Dan Johnson. Johnson was 9 for 90 this season. He hadn’t gotten a hit since April. He had 36 hits since 2008. With one swing of the bat, the pandemonium levels in Florida had never been so high. Then, as if he hadn’t done enough already, Longoria blasted another home run, this one of the walk-off variety that would vault the Rays to the postseason.
What hasn’t been said about Boston and their collapse? It has been covered by so many people from so many angles. You could blame the whole organization from top to bottom, and you wouldn’t be wrong. What happened was an epic collapse, capped off by a 2 out rally by the Baltimore Orioles of all teams in the bottom of the 9th inning of game 162. The Orioles had nothing to play for but pride, and the love of the game. Robert Andino’s walk-off single to win the ball game will be remembered by Boston fans for years to come.
Hunter Pence hit a bloop-ish 120 ft infield single to win it for the Phillies over the Braves. In the 13th inning. After Craig Kimbrel, the super rookie, blew a lead in the 9th inning. The game saw the Phillies march out nine pitchers and the Braves used 8, including Scott Linebrink, who eventually gave up the winning run in the 13th.
Chris Carpenter twirled a gem for the Cardinals, a 2 hit shutout with 11 strikeouts and 1 walk against the Astros. This performance sealed at the very least a one-game playoff game against the Braves had they won.
Wow what a night.
Now onto LDS matchups:
Rays vs. Rangers
The Rays come in with unlimited momentum, and a pitching staff that is so deep, that manager Joe Maddon is having a difficult time naming the starter for game 1. While Matt Moore seems to be the obvious choice to me, Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis could be viable options as well.** James Shields would have to go on short rest, and Price pitched last night, so one of the other three will be chosen to go against C.J. Wilson and a Rangers offense that is ready to take on all comers. Shields will go game 2 and Price go the 3rd. Beyond that is a toss-up. For the Rangers, Wilson will go Game 1, Derek Holland game 2, and still undetermined the rest of the way.
Adrian Beltre had a phenomenal September, earning AL Player of the month, and Mike Napoli has been dominant all year, bashing home runs all over the field. Michael Young worked his way into the MVP race after a tumultuous offseason that saw him switch positions yet again. Josh Hamilton is as dangerous as ever, and Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler are still hitting home runs at a high rate. Kinsler actually became only the third 2nd baseman to join the 30-30 club, with 32 HR and 30 SB. The Rays may not have the prodigious bombers that the Rangers have, but they have athletic, smart ballplayers that never say die. They ultimately seem like a team of destiny, and I will not discount the fact that they may have the best manager in all of baseball at the helm.
** Note: Matt Moore has been named the starter for game 1.
Rays in 4
Yankees vs. Tigers
So the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, and the Tigers have the 10th, about $100,000 between them. Should be easy, right? Yankees should take this series in 3 games. Wrong. Detroit has one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball in 2011 in Justin Verlander, who should win the Cy Young vote unanimously. He should also garner serious MVP interest. Against him will be CC Sabathia, who has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball the last 7 or 8 years. Doug Fister was brought in to shore up a shaky Tigers rotation, and with Max Scherzer, the Tigers look like they have a pretty decent chance. Behind Sabathia will be rookie Ivan Nova, who I am not sold on, and after him is Freddy Garcia, who is having a fine year, but is nowhere near the pitcher he used to be.
Robinson Cano has been his usual stellar self playing 2nd base for the Yankees, but there were a lot of subpar seasons by other Yankees. Derek Jeter was better than last year, A-Rod was almost nonexistent for a lot of the season, and aside from Curtis Granderson, the lineup struggled to find consistency. The Posada soap opera continues, but giving Jesus Montero more at bats needs to happen. The kid can swing it. The Tigers have another MVP candidate in Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez has been stellar, and they have a young kid behind the plate named Alex Avila who could be in line for a Silver Slugger award. The Tigers are younger, and hungrier to win, but the Yankees have more overall talent. Even if their roster is aging, and this one should go down to the final out.
Tigers in 5
Diamondbacks vs. Brewers
The two best managers in the NL this year; Kirk Gibson of the DBacks and Ron Roenicke of the Brewers square off in this ultimately tight series. Arizona did it this year with a cast of relative nobodies and no real superstar other than Justin Upton. The Brewers have Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Zack Greinke, John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez. They have star power up and down the lineup and rotation, and they have a great fan base.
Ian Kennedy may be a Cy Young candidate, but the Brewers have more depth in their rotation. Yovani Gallardo will oppose him in game 1, followed by Shaun Marcum and Greinke, who will be opposed by Josh Collmenter and Daniel Hudson. The Brewers also have the dominant back-end of the bullpen in K-Rod and John Axford, who was 46 for 48 in save opportunities.
Brewers in 5
Prince Fielder just missed his 11th straight season of .300/ 30 HR/ 100RBI. He hit .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBI. The cards are not just a one trick pony, however, as Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina have been stellar all season long. If they can get solid contributions from their secondary players they could make the series interesting. The Phillies, like the Brewers, have tremendous star power in Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Not to mention one of the best deals of the year in Hunter Pence. They have a veteran presence filled with guys who have been to the postseason five years in a row, and have the ability to hit any team’s pitching.
If you ask anyone who knows anything about baseball what team has the best pitching, the unanimous decision would go to the Phillies. The 4 Aces look to lock up Philly’s second World Series in the last 4 seasons. Led by Roy Halladay, or Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels, every team in the postseason should be scared. It is not very often that a team could have 3 pitchers in the top 5 for the Cy Young Award, but it could happen this year. Roy Oswalt will pitch game 4 if necessary. Tony La Russa has decided to open the series with veteran Kyle Lohse, which seems asinine. Edwin Jackson will go Game 2 and Chris Carpenter game 3. Jaime Garcia, who could be their most talented pitcher, will throw game 4 if necessary.
Phillies in 4
All 4 series should play pretty close, and the series I am most excited to watch is Arizona vs. Milwaukee. If Game 162 was any indication of what is to come of the postseason this year, then everyone needs to grab their popcorn and beverages, get bunkered down, and get ready for a long, gruelling, exciting month of baseball.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***
Sunday September 18, 2011
MLB reports: We are proud today to feature on MLB reports: Albert Cartwright, Philadelphia Phillies prospect. Albert was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2007 MLB draft. After four seasons playing in the Astros organization, Albert was traded in January of this year to the Phillies for reliever Sergio Escalona. 2011 tuned out to be a difficult season for Albert, as he was injured during spring training and unable to return to action. Fresh off his season-long rehabilitation, Albert is now heading to the instructional league and to resume baseball activity. Before his return, we had a chance to catch up with Albert and discuss many topics, including the trade, injury, growing up in the Bahamas and his career thus far in the world of professional baseball. Here is our interview with the second base prospect from the Philadelphia Phillies, Albert Cartwright:
MLB reports: Welcome to MLB reports Albert. It is a pleasure to have you on today. First question: growing up, who was your favorite baseball player, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?
Cartwright: Without a doubt Rafael Furcal. Growing up in the Bahamas, we never had the MLB network broadcasted and so watching baseball was limited to the few games that were shown on major networks. Of those games, I saw the Atlanta Braves the most. So I grew up watching Furcal and just loved the energy he brought to every game. He incorporated his speed into the game and I idolized his style as a young boy.
MLB reports: Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
Cartwright: Jimmy Rollins. The excitement and spark that he brings every night to the Phillies is definitely worth admiration. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to meet and play with the great shortstop in the near future.
MLB reports: Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?
Cartwright: Being able to play this great game of baseball every day as a career is an accomplishment on its own. I’m just blessed to be given the opportunity. But if I had to single out one proud accomplishment, I would have to say that I will never forget the night that I hit three triples in a single game.
MLB reports: What were your goals going into the 2011 season? You missed the 2011 season due to injuries. What happened to you after getting traded to the Phillies in the offseason and the extent of your injuries that led to your lost season in 2011?
Cartwright: The goal for the big picture is always to make it to the top. Coming into each season though, my goal is to win a championship, regardless which league I’m playing in. I believe that with a winning mindset, your numbers will always be where you want them to be at the end of the year.
Getting traded to the Phillies in the offseason was shocking; it definitely was a wonderful surprise. After I calmed down from the excitement, I knew that I had a job to do and so I tried to prepare myself for the season even harder than ever before. A week into spring training, I tore my Achilles. As I pivoted into a turn during a conditioning exercise, I felt a pop and my ankle gave out. I went into surgery a day later and have been rehabbing ever since. I’ve never had any complications with my legs before, so the injury was definitely unexpected. But everything happens for a reason. So I just have to stay positive and keep on pushing.
MLB reports: When you first found out you were drafted, what were your reactions? Did those reactions change over time? What was the process like being drafted originally by the Mets in 2006 and not signing with either team? What made you decide to finally sign with the Astros in 2007?
Cartwright: Getting drafted by the Mets was exhilarating because I felt that my hard work was finally paying off and that someone was seeing something special in me. My reaction though was not hugely different a year later when I was picked up by the Astros, although I must admit it was slightly more rewarding since the Mets told me they were not going to sign me after the draft-and-follow. I didn’t think that I was going to be drafted that following year but thankfully the Astros took me.
Deciding to sign with Houston was fairly easy since they presented me with a fantastic offer and I saw it as a great opportunity for me.
MLB reports: What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?
Cartwright: Speed. Speed. Speed.
MLB reports: What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?
Cartwright: Definitely defense. There’s always room for improvement when it comes to playing defensively.
MLB reports: How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game? Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?
Cartwright: Strikeouts and walks play a major role in my game. If I strikeout too much, then I am pretty much rendered useless because I can’t use my speed. If I’m walking and getting on base, I can take advantage of my speed and the manager can have some fun shuffling around plays that would work best with me.
I feel that as time progresses and the more experience I get as a player, the number of walks I have should increase and strikeouts decrease. I should be able to see the ball better and in turn, make better decisions as a hitter.
MLB reports: Long term what position do you see yourself playing? How do you see defense as part of your overall game? With Chase Utley entrenched at second, any plans to change positions?
Cartwright: Hopefully I’ll stay at second but with Chase Utley there, as you mentioned, breaking out may be a little harder. That said, I’m open to anything that comes my way that can land me into the big leagues. I’m a converted infielder and so going back to the outfield isn’t anything major. Anything I can do to help the team win is fine by me.
Teams that are good defensively, who can catch and throw the ball, are usually the ones in first place because they can minimize the other team’s scoring opportunity. Defense is equally important to my game as being great at the plate.
MLB reports: If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?
Cartwright: I would say 2012. Once I show that I can handle the stick, bunting, completing hit-and-runs, moving runners, stealing bases and going from first to third, I think that can get me there. I Just have to play the game the right way. I am anxious to get back into the game.
MLB reports: Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far? What are some of the highs and lows you have experienced?
Cartwright: Pro ball has been everything I was expecting: long bus rides, always eating late, living out of a suitcase and always being on the move. But I love it. Getting back to the hotel room to find a freshly made bed is always nice too.
My first career walk-off hit was definitely one of the highs. I always dreamt of getting a walk-off hit. Low moments would include sustaining injuries including tearing my Achilles which led to missing the entire 2011 season. Also, breaking my wrist in 2009. Basically anytime that I wasn’t playing could be regarded as a low moment.
MLB reports: What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?
Cartwright: When I’m not playing baseball, I like to go to the beach, play video games, and hang around with friends. I guess you can say I’m a little boring in the offseason, but I welcome the relaxation after a season full of hard work.
In the locker room, you can really get to know your teammates and so far, everyone has been really cool. Since we spend so many hours of the day together, everyone kind of hangs out with everyone else. I can name though a few teammates who I still talk to on a regular basis, like Jay Austin, Marques Williams, Kody Hinze, Edwin Walker, and Chris Turner. We are all jokesters so most of the time we’re clowning around and making fun of each other. Other times we will get back to the hotel and play video games, usually MLB or Madden (although I have to admit that I can’t play Call of Duty to save my life).
MLB reports: Have your visited Philadelphia the city yet? How have you found the city thus far?
Cartwright: Unfortunately not. I would’ve definitely visited had I went to Reading at the start of the season. I am looking forward to exploring the city though next year.
MLB reports: Were you surprised to be traded from the Astros in the offseason? What was your reaction and feelings moving from the Astros to the Phillies? How has it been thus far being a member of the Phillies organization?
Cartwright: I was overwhelmed and excited yet very nervous because I knew that it meant new people and a new system to get familiar with. The trade came as a shock to me; I didn’t know what to expect. But it has been smooth sailing so far, minus the injury. We have a great facility and everyone I’ve met so far has been extremely welcoming.
MLB reports: If you could send one message to the Philadelphia Phillies fans, what would it be?
Cartwright: See you soon.
MLB reports: Born in Winter Haven, Bahamas, at what age did you come to North America and start playing baseball? What is the state of baseball in the Bahamas and can we expect to see many prospects come from there in the future?
Cartwright: I’m glad you asked. This has been a mistake on my profile from the day I started playing pro ball. I was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas and moved to Delray Beach, FL in my sophomore year of high school to play baseball at American Heritage. From there, I went to Polk Community College in Winter Haven, FL. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure you can find any town by the name of ‘Winter’ in The Bahamas.
Baseball in The Bahamas is on the rise. There are a lot of young talents and I think we will have some more guys in the near future playing minor and major league baseball. As a matter of fact, a close friend from my hometown just made his breakthrough in the majors, Antoan Richardson with the Braves. He sets a great example, both for me and for all the young players back home: if you keep pushing, you will make it to the top someday. I am very happy for him!
Thank you again to Albert Cartwright for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports. We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Albert. As well, please feel free to contact Albert directly by Twitter (@acartwright12). He is very active on social media and welcomes your feedback!
**The photographs in today’s feature were provided by our guest, Albert Cartwright**
Monday August 29, 2011
MLB reports: We are coming to the last month of the MLB season. Readers are often requesting updates as to the hone run leaders and to handicap who will be the leading sluggers by year’s end. Taking a look at the current top 10 home run hitters in baseball, we find many familiar faces and some surprises. Here is our updated look at the mashers and bombers of baseball:
T-1: Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees (38)
Oh yes. The Grandyman can. The baseball world has gone Granderson crazy. From what appeared to be a hitter on the decline when he joined New York, Curtis Granderson has reinvented himself into an MVP candidate in 2011. Watching Curtis in Detroit, most expected him to be a 20 something home run hitter at most. Imagine that he has already hit 38 home runs with a month to go. It goes to show that baseball can be a very unpredictable sport and that New York still has the power to create miracles. I do not expect to see him on this board for the next five years, but for 2011 at least, Granderson has shot up to the top of the baseball mountain.
T-1: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (38)
A regular on this list all season, Bautista has picked up from where he left off last season. While unable to maintain the Ruthian pace he was on in the first half of the season, Bautista has maintained his strong numbers throughout the year. With his 38 home runs, Bautista has already walked 107 times and has a 1.098 OPS. MVP voters will have much to consider at the ballots this year.
3rd: Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees (35)
There are some certainties in life. Death, taxes and Teixeira home runs. This man is as steady as they come and despite the lack of flash and glitter, he always seems to get the job done. No surprise to see him this high up on the list. Teixeira is simply money in the bank. You never have to worry about him.
T-4: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (31)
For all the talk of doom and gloom, Albert Pujols still made the top five list. A “down” season for Sir Albert is a .895 OPS and 31 home runs. Numbers that most players would die for, but not anywhere close to his high standards. As an impending free agent, I fully expect Pujols to remain in St. Louis. But with his statistics not at his norm, the Cardinals might be able to sign him at a slightly more realistic price tag. $22 million per season rather than $25 million perhaps.
T-4: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (31)
Matt Kemp, or Baby Manny as he was called as a young prospect (the second coming of Manny Ramirez) has blossomed this year. Together with his 31 home runs, Kemp has already driven in 100, has a .964 OPS and a .320 AVG. Getting much press as a NL MVP candidate, Kemp is finally beginning to fulfill on the potential he had shown in his career leading up to this season. People thought for some time he was good, but I don’t think many expected such a strong campaign. A young player on the rise, Kemp might only be scratching the surface on many productive seasons to come.
T-4: Mark Reynolds, Baltimore Orioles (31)
Our generation’s Rob Deer keeps plugging away with the long balls. Reynolds has a respectable 31 home runs thus far, but have come with a whopping 157 strikeouts. More disturbing though his .226 AVG. An all-or-nothing slugger throughout his career, Reynolds is not showing any signs of improvement. The signs are showing for him to bounce around baseball, eventually ending up as a platoon player or even to Japan.
T-7: Mike Stanton, Florida Marlins (30)
One of the youngest and brightest stars in the game, Stanton has exploded in Florida in a big way. Heralded as the next Dave Winfield, Stanton has not disappointed in 2011. With 30 home runs to go along with a .889 OPS, Stanton is showing that the promise and hype is for real. Rumored to be requested by the White Sox as part of the Marlins hoping to land Ozzie Guillen as a manager, the Marlins are surely happy they held onto their young slugger. Together with Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez, expect Stanton to blossom into a top ten player in baseball very soon.
T-7: Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals (30)
Once considered a top hitter in the game, Berkman had many question marks surrounding him after a down season last year. While many analysts thought the Cardinals were taking a risk by signing him, the Cardinals brass were confident in Berkman’s ability to rebound. Back in the NL Central and surrounded by Pujols and Matt Holliday in the lineup, Berkman has not disappointed. With 30 home runs, 77/75 BB/K, .289 AVG and .975 SLG, Berkman is getting MVP consideration as well as a lock as the NL Comeback Player of the Year. While Berkman cannot continue like this forever, expect at least 1-2 more solid seasons out of the seasoned veteran.
T-7: Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves (30)
What a journey Uggla took this year. With a .232 AVG, one expect Uggla to be considered to be having an off-year. But with 30 home runs a 33-game hitting streak, Uggla has had his moments this year. Considered one of the best hitting second basemen in the game, power is a big part of Uggla’s repertoire. While the rest of the numbers are down, the long balls have remained constant. With his first year on a new team out of the way, expect a rebound from Uggla next season.
T-10: Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers (29)
Considered to be one of the biggest prizes in the offseason free agent derby, Prince Fielder is having a fantastic campaign for the Brewers. Together with his 29 home runs, Fielder scored 81 runs, driven in 102, has 87/84 BB/K and hit .295, with a .955 OPS. The questions on people’s minds is whether he will stay in Milwaukee and if the biggest free agent contract this year will go to Fielder or Pujols. With Scott Boras as his agent, my money is on Fielder moving to greener pastures and commanding the top contract as a free agent. Together with Ryan Braun, Fielder gives the Brewers a strong team going into the playoffs in what is likely his last season in Milwaukee. Although number ten on this list, Fielder has shown the consistency this season to be considered one of the top hitters in the NL this season.
Thursday August 25, 2011
Rob Bland (Intern- MLB reports): Closers are a topic a lot of people ask about, but I never really got around to writing about. Mainly because, in my opinion, it is a position that is completely overrated. While it certainly helps to have a guy that can go in and slam the door and collect saves for over a decade a la Mariano Rivera, it isn’t necessary to have a “closer” to be a contending team. One need only to look at the top 20 leaders in saves in baseball to notice that the Texas Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz sits 19th with 25 saves, and Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Madson is 20th with 23 saves. It also doesn’t guarantee success, as Heath Bell, Drew Storen, Leo Nunez, Joel Hanrahan are all in the top 10 in saves, while their teams are not in playoff contention.
Top 10 Saves Leaders in MLB as of today:
|Craig Kimbrel||Atlanta Braves||40||14.56||3.53||1.70||1.20||3.1|
|John Axford||Milwaukee Brewers||37||10.86||3.32||2.26||2.36||1.7|
|Jose Valverde||Detroit Tigers||37||8.31||4.79||2.72||4.08||0.2|
|Brian Wilson||San Francisco Giants||35||8.72||5.20||3.19||3.40||0.7|
|Heath Bell||San Diego Padres||35||6.79||3.23||2.55||3.07||0.7|
|Drew Storen||Washington Nationals||34||8.03||2.19||2.77||3.48||0.6|
|Mariano Rivera||New York Yankees||33||8.45||0.92||2.20||2.23||1.8|
|Leo Nunez||Florida Marlins||33||8.31||2.88||4.63||4.02||0.1|
|Joel Hanrahan||Pittsburgh Pirates||32||7.85||2.04||1.73||2.17||1.8|
|JJ Putz||Arizona Diamondbacks||32||8.28||2.17||2.76||3.10||1.0|
I look at this list and a few things come to mind:
1) Craig Kimbrel is absolutely filthy.
2) Mariano Rivera is still one of the very best.
3) Closers are more overrated than I originally expected.
4) A lot of saves does not equal success.
5) Craig Kimbrel. Wow.
Craig Kimbrel is having the best year ever for a rookie closer. It isn’t even September and he has 40 saves. Not only that, but he is striking out more than 14 batters per 9 innings. His FIP is a ridiculous 1.20, and his WAR is at 3.1, which is 1.3 higher than any other closer in the Major Leagues. His ground ball rate is 43.7% and has only given up 1 home run in 63 2/3 innings. If the Braves end up winning the Wild Card and have a lead late in games, the shutdown duo of Johnny Venters and Kimbrel should be able to save the game for the Braves in most instances.
John Axford has had a strange way to becoming one of the premier closers in all of baseball. It took him many years to get there, but under the tutelage of Trevor Hoffman, the career saves leader, whom Axford took his job from, he has flourished. In 2010, Axford had 24 saves after taking over for Hoffman mid-season, and this year’s 37 so far are tied for 2nd in the big leagues. Axford gets over 50% ground balls, and keeps the ball in the yard, two main factors for his success.
Jose Valverde is one of the closers whom I find to be overrated. Part of his success can be attributed to a lucky .250 BABIP. He also walks close to 5 batters per 9 innings, which is extremely high, especially when he does not strike out a very high number of batters. Valverde may appear to be very good with 37 saves, but his 0.2 WAR suggests that he is basically a replacement level pitcher. Surely he is not worth the $7M he is being paid.
Brian Wilson is loved by many in the game. He is funny, has a strange personality, (which seems to be perfectly suited for the bullpen) and he has an outrageous beard. Since 2008, he has accumulated 162 saves, so he is very valuable at the back-end of the Giants’ bullpen. He keeps the ball on the ground, with a career 50% ground ball rate, but he walks a ton of batters (5.20/9IP). He gets a lot of save opportunities because the starting rotation is very good, and his team doesn’t score many runs, so there are a lot of close games.
Heath Bell has put up some ridiculous numbers over the last few years, but these numbers come with half of his games played in the cavernous PETCO Park. While his last two seasons had his K rate over 10, he sits at 6.79 for this season. His ground ball rate is also down 5% to 43. Although his ERA is a good 2.55, his xFIP is 3.89, and like Wilson, gets saves because of an anaemic offense that results in his team often being in close games.
Drew Storen is another of the Washington Nationals’ young phenoms. He moved up the ranks, throwing only 53 2/3 innings in the minor leagues before making his debut in 2010. He has been a tad lucky as his BABIP is .241, but he gets a lot of ground balls, so the hits will even out. He also gives up a higher than average home run per fly ball rate at 11.1%. Storen doesn’t walk many, and as he matures, should probably strike out a higher number. When Washington starts winning more games, he will have even more opportunities for saves.
Mariano Rivera is up to his usual tricks. Even at 41 years old, he is carving up hitters with his signature cut fastball. Rivera has a ridiculous 9:1 K:BB ratio, as well as getting ground balls 47% of the time. His WAR sits at 1.8, tied for second best for closers. The only question is when will this guy ever slow down?
Leo Nunez of the Florida Marlins may be the most overrated closer in baseball. Nunez doesn’t get a lot of ground balls, nor does he strike out a ton, as he gives up a ton of fly balls (49%) and home runs (8 in 56 IP). Nunez’s ERA of 4.63 actually looks worse than his 4.02 FIP, so he has been a little unlucky, but still not very good.
Joel Hanrahan has found a home at the back-end up the Pirates’ bullpen, and is thriving there. While his K rate has dropped to 7.85/9 IP from almost 13 last year, he has walked less batters. Hanrahan has been able to induce ground balls on over half of his plate appearances, and only given up 1 home run in 57 1/3 innings. His stellar numbers have allowed him to tie Rivera for 2nd in closer’s WAR this year.
JJ Putz’s resurgence as a closer this year comes as no surprise to many. Last year as a setup man for Bobby Jenks with the Chicago White Sox, Putz’s K rate was just below 11/9IP, while he walked only 2.5 per 9 innings. He hasn’t put up the same strikeout numbers this year, but he is walking less batters. Putz’s WAR of 1.0 puts him towards the top of the list of closers.
Out of the top 30 relievers in WAR, only 9 are full-time closers. Francisco Rodriguez is among those pitchers, but since he does not close games since traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, he was not counted. Although this doesn’t mean that just ANYONE can close games and earn saves, it does show that many pitchers who have not been given the opportunity probably could get the job done.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***
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