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Brian McCann To Rebound in 2013

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Friday, February. 15/2013

Brian McCann has established himself as one of the best offensive Catchers in the game, but will he be able to hold such a title? An injury to his right shoulder seemed to derail his 2012 campaign, but after having surgery in October he is poised to get back to his old ways.

Brian McCann has established himself as one of the best offensive Catchers in the game, but will he be able to hold such a title? An injury to his right shoulder seemed to derail his 2012 campaign, but after having surgery in October he is poised to get back to his old ways.

By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer):

Brian McCann, Catcher for the Atlanta Braves, has had a great amount of success playing baseball in Georgia his whole life — but could he finally be leaving the Peach State following the 2013 MLB season? McCann was born in Athens Georgia, went to Duluth High School in Duluth Georgia, and currently resides in Lawrenceville Georgia while playing baseball in nearby Atlanta. McCann hasn’t strayed far from his roots to this point in his life. He was drafted out of high school in the 2nd round of the 2002 MLB Draft by his hometown Braves, but his current contract with the team is up after the 2013 season. The Braves just invested a lot of money in the Upton brothers, and may not be so eager to throw a bunch of money at an offensive-minded Catcher whose production at the plate was the worst of his career in 2012. Add in the fact that they have a highly regarded Catching prospect named Christian Bethancourt – who may be ready to contribute to the big club by the start of 2014, or soon thereafter.

There is also Evan Gattis who, while most likely not a threat to steal McCann’s job behind the dish, could be a part of replacing him if need be. So while McCann is coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and a career worst season at the plate, he needs to show the Braves, or any other potential suitor for that matter, that he is still a major asset to any lineup and will be for years to come.

McCann’s accolades are quite impressive for a soon to be 29 Year old. McCann reached the Majors in 2005 at just 21 Years of Age, and never looked back. He is a 6 time All-Star (2006-2011), and 5 time Silver Slugger (2006, 2008-2011). He is a career .279/.351/.475 hitter who has averaged 22 HRs and 83 RBI per year since his 1st full season in 2006. Prior to last season he had never hit less than .269 and never had an OPS of less than .772. Last season McCann hit .230/.300/.399 giving him an OPS of only .698. He added 20 HRs and 67 RBI, but overall his numbers were not what you would expect from Brian McCann.

2012 Brian McCann Highlights – Mature Lyrics may be present  so Parental Guidance is advised:

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Contact Hitters and Pitching Are Keys to Winning In the MLB Playoffs: Bravo Giants! Attn: Yankees!

Saturday, Nov.10/2012

 

The Giants GM Brian Sabean saw that his offense had significant holes from previous years and before 2012, dealt for Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan. Both are decent contact hitters, with decent power and speed. It also took for the emergence of Marco Scutaro and the renaissance play from Pablo Sandoval to show that teams that can make regular contact (and are armed with great pitching,) ultimately win in the playoffs.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

I can’t believe I am going to utter these next few words, “I am starting to shift on the idea of eliminating the DH in the AL and also I am beginning to find the National League Brand of Baseball a lot better these days.”  I am not just saying this because the National League has registered 5 World Series Wins out of the last seven years (STL x 2, SF x 2 and PHI vs BOS AND NYY since 2006.)  I just find that the American League Baseball is becoming boring.  If you have read my articles in the past, I hate teams that strikeout non-stop and when you put two of these teams together for a Series like the AL routinely does, the games are filled with heavy pitch counts, four-hour games and not much contact.  This years ALCS represented an all-time low for fan excitement.  Put aside that I am a Yankees fan for a minute, it was absolutely brutal baseball.  In fact, last years ALCS was no picnic either.  If the games continue on like this, they might as well scrap the DH, start having the umpires call more strikes on the hitters and have all AL Teams convert to a National League style of game.

The National League has seen the Cardinals give us thrilling moments and comebacks to epic proportions over the last 2 years. I honestly think that Mark McGwire is not receiving enough credit for molding that team into a bunch of contact hitters.  You watch the 2013 offense of the LA Dodgers, they will all have a different approach.  We will save the DH debate for another day,  but lets just say that 2012 was the worst year for DH’s in some time if not ever.  There are only about 3-4 decent DH’s left in the game and if David Ortiz is not in the lineup for the Red Sox, there are no more marquee guys that just hit and not field!  The National League Teams plan on more contact for runs created out of necessity and it is always reflective  by the competitive games we see them play in the playoffs.

In 2012, the Giants made 4 key acquisitions before and during the season to change their offensive demeanor.  If you ask me flat-out as a  baseball observer, there is no way the Giants win the World Series without Marco Scutaro or Angel Pagan at the top of the lineup.  I also am conceding credit to Melky Cabrera’s hitting contributions as a contact hitter before being busted.  Before Melky Cabrera was shown the door for PED’s, he was the same hitter as Scutaro in the 2nd half and postseason, in just hitting every single pitch that was thrown at him.  To be honest here,  Angel Pagan does strike out a fair bit as a lead off hitter, however he also has speed that makes him dangerous whenever the ball is contacted.  It is all about a mixture of power, speed and contact hitters.  To illustrate this fact, Hunter Pence (also picked up near the Trade Deadline) did not hit well in the regular season or playoffs for average, yet he was able to drive in a pile of runs because guys ahead of him were always on base.  All he needed to do was to make contact for his RBI. Read the rest of this entry

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

Saturday June 23rd, 2012



Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@me.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!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:

JH:  Before we get to your questions, a quick thought for this weekend. There are many reports flying fast and furious that a Kevin Youkilis trade is likely to go down very soon. The 33-year old Youkilis has sat out 5 of the Red Sox last 9 games (counting today), and the last 3 games in a row. He had 4 hits and 2 walks in his last 3 games played, not shabby numbers at all. If the Greek God of Walk’s time has come to an end in Beantown, he is going out in a sad way. After his team experienced one of the worst (if not THE worst) September collapses in MLB history last year, the Red Sox are currently tied with the Blue Jays for last place in the AL East (only 5.5 games back). It would have been nice for Youk to leave as a hero, rather than as a goat. Too many critics have pointed to his declining numbers as a primary reason behind the Red Sox recent failures. Yes, Kevin Youkilis is not in his prime and is entering a declining stage of his career. But if he is guilty of one thing, it is an association with a ballclub that is somewhat in disarray and definitely in transition.  New manager, new GM, a cast of players on the disabled list- the Red Sox are barely the club that they were at this time last year. Sure, Kevin Youkilis needs to get healthy and re-establish himself. But this is a man who still had a .975 OPS as recently as 2010. Kevin Youkilis is far from done as a MLB player. But his time in Boston appears to be over.

So where is Youk heading? At the time being, the names most being thrown out are the White Sox, Pirates, Braves and Dodgers. If I’m the Red Sox, I move him to the National League and preferably the West Coast. I want to see Youk as little as possible and have the media cover him as little as possible. Hiding him in the NL West, where he has to play most of his night games late- would be a bonus for the Red Sox. If I had to present the teams most in need of Youk and with the best bargaining chips, I would present to you the Rays and Blue Jays. They have the pitching prospects and lineup spots that crave a bat like Youk’s. But would the Red Sox trade in their division? Not on your life. There is no way that the Red Sox brass needs a rejuvenated Youk coming into Fenway in September and working towards eliminating his former team from the playoffs. So if I’m a betting man, I would say the Dodgers and maybe the Giants are most sniffing around Kevin Youkilis.

The Red Sox I will go on record as saying are making a big mistake. They are selling low on one of the game’s best and most consistent players. A grinder. A warrior. He can play gold glove D at two positions (first and third). He can hit for average and power. And of course, he walks.  He walks a ton in fact. One of their best assets and the Red Sox are selling him at his lowest. I have been arguing for days that the Red Sox are not this dumb. They can’t be. Youk is not going anywhere. He is the heart and soul of the team. But then Youk sits. And he sits and sits. The team actually came out and said that Middlebrooks would play while he is hot and that Youk “would be sitting for a while”. Everything to me smells like a trade is brewing. At this point, it better be. YoukGate is going to become too much of a distraction for the team to bear. Already, whispers are starting that Big Papi is not happy and had enough of the circus. With how many stories are flying around this team, the Red Sox have only themselves to blame for this Youkilis situation. If Kevin Youkilis is traded, the Red Sox lose a leader and a star player with likely not enough value coming back. If Youkilis stays, the distractions continue. The Red Sox owe Kevin Youkilis to do the right thing. Firmly play him or trade him. But don’t complain when you don’t like the results. That is my two cents on YoukGate.

Now that we have that behind us, on to your questions! Read the rest of this entry

A Great DH Can Mean Winning the AL Pennant

Wednesday December 28, 2011



Doug Booth-  Guest Baseball Writer:  

Watching the 2011 season, something really resonated with me while watching the American League:  ‘Where have all the great designated hitters in MLB gone?’  It seemed only a few years ago that every team had a bopper capable of hitting .300 with 30 HR’S and 100 RBI’s.  Upon further investigation, I found out some interesting facts.  First, let us look at the top-3 DH’s this past 2011 season.  Michael Young of the Rangers hit .338, 11 HR’S and 106 RBI, which was the best performance by any DH, in helping to win the Rangers a 2nd straight ALCS Pennant.  A close second would go to Victor Martinez, who spent 112 games at DH and hit .330 with 12 HR’S and 103 RBI.  The 3rd best DH was David Ortiz, who hit .309 with 29 HR’s and 96 RBI.  The rest of the DH’s were average to below average.  

The Yankees struggled with Posada and a rotation of Andruw Jones/Jesus Montero, although they hit about 30 HR’s combined.  The Blue Jays never had a set DH, but received decent production from Encarnacion and Lind.  The Baltimore Orioles had Vlad Guerrero, who had his worst year ever, as did the Angels’ Bobby Abreu and the Rays’ Johnny Damon.  The Seattle Mariners had washed up Jack Cust and the likes of Willy Mo Pena by the end of the year.  Oakland has steady Hideki Matsui, but not even a decent second half had him anywhere near his career average totals.  Kansas City has been placing Billy Butler back onto the field, so his DH role was limited this season.  Adam Dunn soon became a four letter word in Chicago’s South side.  Aging and injury prone players Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner saw the most amount of work for the Cleveland Indians at DH, so yet again these players were far from being in their most productive years.  

So what is the underlying theme here?  If you have a great DH, you may just make the playoffs and win it all.  Young, Martinez, Ortiz had their teams in contention all year for the playoffs.  The Tampa Bay Rays were the 4th team in the playoff chase and managed to overcome the position thanks to superior pitching.  One could definitely say that Michael Young vs. Bobby Abreu is worth a definite amount of wins at that position, considering what they each produced in the AL West.  

I am going to go through the last 20 years of ALCS Pennant Winners as part of my study.  80% of the time (the team with a great DH) was in the World Series:

1992 TORONTO-Dave Winfield .290 26 HR’S 108 RBI
1993 TORONTO-Paul Molitor .332 22 HR’S 111 RBI
1994 WORLD SERIES CANCELLED
1995 CLEVELAND-Eddie Murray .323 21 HR’S 82 RBI
1996 NEW YORK-Cecil Fielder 39 HR’S 117 RBI (Acquired at deadline by NYY)
1997 CLEVELAND-David Justice .329 33 HR’S 101 RBI
1998 NEW YORK-Darryl Strawberry 24 HR’S 57 RBI (295 AB IN 101 GAMES)
1999 NEW YORK-Chili Davis/Darryl Strawberry (not the greatest year-but in middle of NYY dynasty of 6 ALCS IN 7 YRS)
2000 NEW YORK-David Justice .286 41 HR’S 118 RBI
2001 NEW YORK-David Justice (not the greatest year but it was a solid NYY team.  Edgar Martinez led SEA to a 116-46 record and were prohibitive favorites but lost to the Yankees-Martinez year was .306 23 HR’s AND 106 RBI
2002 ANAHEIM-Brad Fullmer (hit .289 with 60 XBH in 130 games and a slugging % of .531)
2003 NEW YORK-Jason Giambi 41 HR’S 107 RBI
2004 BOSTON-David Ortiz .301 41 HR’S 139 RBI
2005 CHICAGO-Carl Everett 23 HR’S 87 RBI in 135 games
2006 Detroit Tigers-Dmitri Young (They did not have a definite DH after Young’s injury so this year so was the worst out of the 20 years.)
2007 BOSTON-David Ortiz-.305 35 HR’S 117 RBI
2008 TAMPA BAY-Cliff Floyd/Wille Aybar 22 HR’S 72 RBI combined (Again great pitching carried TB.)
2009 NEW YORK-Hideki Matsui .274 28 HR 90 RBI IN 456 AB
2010 TEXAS-Vlad Guerrero .300 29 HR’S 115 RBI
2011 TEXAS-Michael Young .338 11 HR’S 106 RBI

In 2006, half of the league possessed great DH’s:  Ortiz .287 54 HR 137 RBI, Hafner .308 42 HR’S 117 RBI, Giambi 37 HR’S 113 RBI, Thome .288 42 HR’S 109 RBI, and Thomas hit 39 HR’S 114 RBI.  This group is far more productive than the 2011 bunch.  Given this Information, why wouldn’t more teams elect for permanent DH slots just to gain an edge over their competition?  The Seattle Mariners had an incredible run from 1994-2004 with Edgar Martinez as a permanent DH.  The Boston Red Sox have won 2 World Series titles and are perennial playoff contenders with David Ortiz as their DH.  The Yankees have not been the same since Hideki Matsui has left the club as their DH.  This leads me to the Toronto Blue Jays pitching an offer to Prince Fielder and making Adam Lind a permanent DH.

With a signing of Fielder, the Jays could move Adam Lind to just a DH.  Could you dare envision a lineup of: Escobar SS, Rasmus CF, Bautista RF, Fielder 1B, Lawrie 3B, Lind DH, Arencibia C, Johnson 2B, and your pick of Thames or Snyder?  This would free up your club to make a trade as well.  If you are the Jays, and offered Yu Darvish the posting bid of over $50 million and another $60-75 million in salary, why wouldn’t you offer Fielder a 7 year deal in the $140-150 Million range?  With Fielder signed, I think his presence would potentially alter the attendance by 8,000-10,000 fans per game to justify his salary (not to mention merchandise and television ratings).  With a 3-4-5 lineup of Bautista, Fielder and Lawrie, I could see 120 HR’S and 350 RBI combined each year.  The best aspect of these guys is that they are patient.  If you add Adam Lind as the #6 hitter with 30 HR 100 RBI capability, then it will become lookout time for the rest of the league.

The Angels signing of Albert Pujols should not cause concern about his production.  Even into his early 40’s, Pujols should be able to hit well given his dedication to personal fitness.  The question is: why wait to move him to DH right now with the amount of 1st baseman they already possess with Trumbo and maybe a return from Morales? It is my belief that aging players should be shipped off to the National League when they can’t post impressive offensive numbers. A good example of this are recent NL pinch hitters Jason Giambi and Matt Stairs making a living off pinch such roles after failing as DH’s late into their careers.  If the AL teams persist in signing aging players past their prime for the DH role, then I believe they will struggle.  Vlad Guerrero and Johnny Damon would be perfect for an NL team at this stage of their respective careers considering this rationale.

So whatever players are ultimately signed by each team from this point forward or already have signed, whichever AL teams have the best Designated Hitters in the league for the 2012 season will likely have the best shot at winning the AL Pennant.

 

*** Thank you to our Guest Baseball Writer- Doug Booth for joining us today on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Doug Booth, you can follow Doug on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and click here for Doug’s website, fastestthirtyballgames.com*** 

 

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Ask the Reports: Sunday November 27th

Sunday November 27, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen:  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 and post on our Facebook Wall!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:

Q:  I know this is off topic but with the Houston Astros moving to the AL West and constant interleague play, what exactly is the point of an American League and a National League, besides of course the DH?


MLB reports:  The existence of the designated hitter is the key to separate the American League and National League.  Without the DH, there is no difference between the leagues.  Otherwise, having separate leagues would simply be a way to divide up the divisions and teams.  With daily interleague games coming, the mystique of having separate leagues is starting to fall by the wayside.  An idea that was thrown around was to have the DH in play in National League parks and no DH in American League parks during interleague play.  That would create strong interest in the different styles of play in the different parks and peak strong interest in interleague play.  But unfortunately, it appears that idea has been scrapped for now.  Long term, baseball needs to decide if it will have a designated hitter or not.  There are arguments on both sides.  Traditionalists like myself would like to scrap the DH all together and introduce National League style baseball throughout baseball.  With the in-game moves and decisions that must be included with the pitcher hitting, I prefer the NL game.  But others see pitchers hitting as hurting the game with “automatic outs” and risking the health and safety of pitchers by having them hit in the NL.  This argument will continue likely for decades until a resolution is agreed upon one way or the other.  Until then, we will continue to have two different leagues in place.  One has a designated hitter and one does not.  With the increase in interleague play, the line separating the leagues has become even blurrier.  Great question!

Q:  What’s the scouting report on Luis Valbuena?  Andrew
MLB reports:  The newest member of the Toronto Blue Jays will be turning 26 this week (November 30th birthday)- so be sure to wish him a Happy Birthday!  Born in Venezuela, Valbuena is a utility infielder at this point in his career, playing second, short and third.  Coming up originally with the Mariners originally in 2008, Valbuena was traded in December 2008 as part of the Franklin Gutierrez swap.  Since then, Valbuena has played parts of three seasons with the Indians.  In 229 career games, Valbuena has 13 home runs, 57 rbis, 84 runs, .226 avg, .286 obp and .344 slg.  Considering that he was designated for assignment, the Jays picked him up for cash considerations makes sense.  He has shown little at the major league level thus far, but is young and known for a strong glove.  Valbuena has shown steady improvement in the last three years in the minors, with a breakout season in AAA Columbus in 2011.  Valbuena popped a strong 17 home runs in 113 games, with 75 rbis, 64 runs, hitting .302 with a .307 OBP and .476 SLG.  If those numbers can be replicated to any degree at the major league level, the Jays may have a hidden gem uncovered.  At worst, we could be seeing another Ramon Santiago type player or the Venezuelan John McDonald.  The Jays need a backup infielder on the roster and Valbuena could be the answer.  Or possibly their next starting second baseman for the next five seasons.  Doubtful…but it could happen!
Q:  Would Yonder Alonso look good on our team?  Would Xavier Nady be a good fit with the Indians or does the Tribe want something more? Martin
MLB reports:  Wow, that is a mountain of questions!!!   Firstly, Yonder Alonso would look great on the Indians.  In fact, he would look great in 29 other lineups.  The kid is a future superstar, no doubt in my mind.  It is just a question of finding him a permanent home.  The Reds have tried him in left field, but do not see him as a long-term solution there.  The team will either have to move him, or open up first by trading franchise star Joey Votto.  At this point, it looks like Alonso will be the one to go.  I am a big Matt LaPorta supporter, but long-term he does not appear to be the solution for the Indians.  He can always move to the outfield or DH, but a change of scenery is likely the best option for him.  LaPorta never lived up to the expectations of being traded for C.C. Sabathia and both the team and player need to move on.  The Indians have prospects to move, although not as many after all their 2011 swaps including the Ubaldo Jimenez trade.  I can’t see the team wanting to trade more parts, as they cannot deplete their farm.  Given what other teams can offer for Alonso, mainly the Rays, I don’t see an Alonso move in the future of the Indians.  It would be a nice acquisition, but not likely to happen.  Nady on the other hand would be a nice low risk pickup.  If healthy, he could bring the leadership and experience the team needs.  Championship teams need strong extra parts and Xavier Nady would be a strong fit in that regard.  As long as comes cheap and doesn’t expect to start, I would say that is a done deal.  The team may look for one or two more strong bats for its lineups, but that would not stop a potential Nady signing.
Q:  Can’t help but think of Scott Kazmir (compared to Gio Gonzalez being looked at but several teams in a trade).  Brandon
MLB reports: Poor Gio Gonzalez.  Why the harsh words? In all seriousness, I see where you are going with the comparison.  High walk, high strikeout pitcher.  After a 3.23 ERA in 2010, Gio lowered it more to 3.12 in 2011.  He has enjoyed near identical 1.31 WHIPs the last two seasons.  He does not give up a ton of hits, but the walks are very high.  He led the league with 91 walks after allowing 92 the year before.  The home/road splits tell a big part of the story.  This season, Gio went 10-5 at home, with a 2.70 ERA and 1.227 WHIP.  On the road, Gio went 6-7 with a 3.62 ERA and 1.424 WHIP.  Pitching in the Oakland ballpark clearly has a strong effect on his numbers.  Similar splits are found in his 2010 numbers as well.  Thus the conclusion is likely that taking Gio Gonzalez out of Oakland and putting him in a hitter’s ballpark (say Wrigley, Fenway or the Rogers Centre) and his numbers will likely balloon.  Pitching in Oakland likely masks much of his warts.  He just turned 26 in September so he still has time to develop.  The next two seasons will tell the tale.  He could become a superstar or the next Scott Kazmir.  Until those walk totals start to drop, you could be on to something.  The kid has a ton of talent, don’t get me wrong.  But he is far from a sure thing.  Until then, your comparison could be close.  Thank you for the comment!
Q:  (Final question:)  Will Kurt Suzuki ever become a superstar?  Bill
MLB reports: Thanks for the question Bill.  I chose this question because I have pondered that question for many seasons.  Suzuki, a 2nd round pick of the A’s in 2004 is now 28-years of age.  They say catchers take longer to develop than other hitters.  Suzuki has been steady behind in the plate, seen as strong defensively and a good game-caller.  The question has been the offense.  The perception has been that Suzuki has pop in his bat and able to take walks in the “moneyball” mold.  Looking at the numbers, that has not transpired in reality.  Suzuki had a career high 15 home runs in 2009 and walked a career high 44 times in 2008.  Suzuki has essentially regressed to a hitter that walks 30+ times, hits a dozen or so home runs in a year, has a .300 or so OBP with a SLG under .400.  He will play in the majority of his team’s games though.  Welcome to Jason Kendall territory.  That is where Suzuki is headed.  My heart says that he will still become a Jason Varitek type hitter as a catcher.  But my brain sees Kendall.  There are a lot worse things in life than becoming the next Jason Kendall.  But for a catcher that had high expectations, more was expected of Suzuki.  I can’t see him ever becoming a superstar at this point.  But I can see a 15-year major league career in his future, built mostly on his catching abilities.

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Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)


Ask the Reports: Sunday November 13th

Sunday November 13, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen:  Ask the Reports is back! After some thought and re-branding: we have decided to drop the E-mailbag moniker and to keep this section as “Ask the Reports”, which will appear every weekend.  E-mails is but one form you can reach MLB reports. You can follow us on Twitter  and tweet and direct message your questions and comments.  You can “Like” us on Facebook and write on our wall.  You can also leave all questions and comments at the end of each article and page on the website. With social media exploding as it has, we are truly connected in so many ways.  

So keep reading MLB reports. Everyday. Twice a day or more if your schedule allows it. Subscribe to the site to have all current articles sent to your e-mailbox. But most of all:  participate. Send tweets. Write on our Facebook wall. Comment on articles and leave feedback. MLB reports is for you: the readers. The love of baseball is best nurtured if enjoyed as a community. So don’t be shy. Get in touch with us as often as you can. Let your voice be heard on our Facebook wall. There is nothing better than an old-fashioned baseball debate.  We call it MLB4Life on Twitter because we all love baseball for life. Baseball is more than a passion.  It is a lifestyle. Thank you for enjoying MLB reports and we look forward to hearing from you.  Plus you never know when your questions will be answered in “Ask the Reports”: so keep checking and asking your questions every week!

Let’s get to your questions:

Q: Hi.  I just read the article: To Keep or Get Rid of the DH: The Future of the Designated Hitter in MLB and I wanted your honest opinion. Please reply with it. Thanks!! A 7th Grade Red Sox Fan in Maine
A:  This is an older question which I answered directly to the reader but wanted to share with the readers.  As many of you know reading my work, I am not the biggest proponent of the Designated Hitter.  I don’t hate it per say- but I am a bigger of fan of the National League game. I have read in baseball circles that Major League Baseball is working toward switching up the DH in interleague games.  Meaning there will be a DH in National League parks and no DH in American League parks. An exciting move should it come to fruition, that fans should very much enjoy.  The best pro-DH argument that I have heard is that the pitchers for the most part have little ability to hit and it is time to take that part of the game.  While that is true on some levels, having pitchers hit forces NL managers to use more strategy in games.  There are some strong hitting NL pitchers out there and the bottom is if pitchers know they will have to hit, they will just have to improve themselves in that department.  Ultimately I do not think the DH is going anywhere in the AL.  The players’ union will not allow MLB to get rid of it, as it will cost many older players their jobs.  But by the same token, given the tradition of the NL- I do  not see the DH being used in that league either.  But if I had my way: get rid of the DH and play “real baseball” across the board.  That is my two cents, for what its worth.
Q:  I have a question Mr. MLB reports Writer:  Where did the game of baseball first develop? What country, year, how did it take off, etc. Someone asked me this yesterday and I had no idea.  Mark
A: Great question Mark.  Thank you for the question.  I have read many great accounts on the subject.  However I will rely on Wikipedia for this one:

“The first published rules of baseball were written in 1845 for a New York (Manhattan) “baseball” club called the Knickerbockers. The author, Shane Ryley Foster, is one person commonly known as “the father of baseball”. One important rule, the 13th, stipulated that the player need not be physically hit by the ball to be put out; this permitted the subsequent use of a farther-travelling hard ball. Evolution from the so-called “Knickerbocker Rules” to the current rules is fairly well documented.

On June 3, 1953, Congress officially credited Alexander Cartwright with inventing the modern game of baseball, and he is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, the role of Cartwright himself has been disputed. His authorship may have been exaggerated in a modern attempt to identify a single inventor of the game, although Cartwright may have a better claim to the title than any other single American.

Cartwright, a New York bookseller who later caught “gold fever”, umpired the first-ever recorded U.S. baseball game with codified rules in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 19, 1846. He also founded the older of the two teams that played that day, the New York Knickerbockers. Cartwright also introduced the game in most of the cities where he stopped on his trek west to California to find gold.

One point undisputed by historians is that the modern professional major leagues that began in the 1870s developed directly from amateur urban clubs of the 1840s and 1850s, not from the pastures of small towns such as Cooperstown.”

Q:  Albert Pujols to the Marlins.  Done deal?  Excited Marlins Fan
A:  Not even close my friend.  Not even close.  Pujols did meet with Marlins’ officials this week and was reported to have received a contract offer.  But no- there is no contract in place.  The expectation is that Pujols will be staying in St. Louis.  He has won 2 World Series titles with the Cardinals, including last year’s championship.  He has played in St. Louis for his entire career.  All else being equal, no other teams will offer Pujols more money than the Cardinals.  Even if the difference is give or take $20 million, the man will receive a $200 million dollar deal.  He lives in Missouri, he has roots in the community. Pujols is a Cardinal for life.
Q:  Do you follow any other sports? I love baseball, but football is great also. Cindy
A:  Sorry: baseball only here.  In my younger days I did keep up with the three other major sports.  But life always came back to baseball for me.  162 games, plus spring training and the playoffs.  It is a long season.  But for a baseball fan like myself, there never seems to be enough baseball.  I will go watch another sport if invited.  But you will never find me watching another sport on television.  To be able to write about baseball everyday- the focus has to be on one sport.  Baseball consumes me.  I would not have it any other way.
Q:  Growing up in Cleveland as an Indians fan, my grandfather was also a fan of the Dodgers. I remember going over to his house and watching a Dodger game on tv. As an adult, I am still a fan of the Dodgers, with the Tribe number one on my list. My question: out of all the groups out there trying to buy the Dodgers, who do you think would be able to bring back the history and enjoyment to L.A.??
Thanks in advance.  Larry
A:  The last question of course goes to our #1 fan.  Great question as always.  For the time being, the names that are getting the most press are those of Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey.  The Hershiser/Garvey group is making the loudest bid for the Dodgers, at approximately $1 billion.  But in the background, word is that former owner Peter O’Malley and former GM Fred Claire are also putting together their bids.  For excitement and name recognition, you have to give it to Hershiser/Garvey.  But at restoring the franchise back to former glory, I think it is time to bring back O’Malley.  For tradition and building winning ball clubs, there were few finer than O’Malley.  I still see that other bidders will come into the process, including Mark Cuban.  But Major League Baseball will look for stability and in the best interests of the Dodgers, in reviewing any agreements that Frank McCourt and a winning bidder reach.  This one is far from owner, but if I had to pick the “best” group for the Dodgers, mine would be on Peter O’Malley.

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Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)


Edgar Martinez Should Be Inducted Into Cooperstown: Future Mariners Hall of Famer

Friday August 26, 2011

 

Sam Evans (Intern Candidate- MLB reports):  When you think of the most consistent hitters during the 1990’s, most people think of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire.  One name that always gets overlooked is Edgar Martinez.  He had a .312 career batting average, reached base more than 40% of the time, has never has been linked to steroids, and he arguably saved baseball in Seattle for years to come.

Some of the arguments against Edgar being in the Hall of Fame are that he hardly played in the field, was not a superstar, never won a world series, and that his numbers just aren’t good enough.  As a Mariners fan, I definitely have bias but I’ll try to explain why I think Edgar should legitimately be in the Hall of Fame.  First of all, if his numbers aren’t good enough, why was Andre Dawson’s statistics enough for him to be voted into the hall of fame?  Let’s compare the two hitters:

Edgar (Career) .312/.418/.515. Wins Above Replacement (courtesy of fangraphs.com): 69.9

Andre Dawson: .279/.323/.482 Wins Above Replacement: 62.3 

What’s the difference between these two?  The Hawk is in the Hall of Fame, which Dawson deserved.  Other Hall-of-Famers with a lower WAR than Edgar are Harmon Killebrew, Dennis Eckersley, and Jackie Robinson.  There are over 230 former MLB players in the Hall of Fame.  I think it’s amazing that Edgar is not one of them.

After Edgar missed the 1994 season due to injury, he became the Mariners full-time designated hitter.  He would go on to be the Mariners starting DH for the next ten years.  When asked how that would affect his Hall of Fame chances, Edgar replied, “There are a lot of different opinions about it.  What I think is that the DH makes a daily contribution to the team, just like any position player who plays every day.”  In 1973, major league baseball instituted the Designated Hitter as a real position.  So why should this prevent a primary DH from ever reaching Cooperstown?

In his first season as a DH, Martinez won his second American League batting title, hitting .356 with an OBP of .479 and a slugging percentage of .628.  Hall of famers Hank Aaron and Willie Mays never had a season with an OBP over .425.  It is my estimation that Martinez wasn’t a superstar across the baseball scene because of where he played.  If he played in New York, chances are it wouldn’t be this hard for him to get into Cooperstown.  The low light of Edgar’s career is definitely though that he never won a World Series championship.  Superstars that win the big one tend to be favored in the eyes of Cooperstown voters.

During the 1995 season the city of Seattle fell in love with the Mariners.  After having just two winning seasons in their first sixteen years, Edgar and Ken Griffey Jr. led the Mariners to a 79-66 record.  In the 1995 ALDS series between the Mariners and the Yankees, Edgar reached base 2/3 of the time and had two game winning hits.  On October, 8, 1995, with the series tied 2-2, the Mariners battled back to score two runs and send the game into extra innings.  After the eighth inning, the crowd started chanting “Randy! Randy! Randy!”  Finally Lou Piniella gave in and Randy Johnson walked out to the mound to Welcome to the Jungle booming through the Kingdome’s outdated speakers.  However in the top of the eleventh tragedy struck.  A walk, bunt, and single put the Yankees in the lead, and with their stud pitcher  Jack McDowell coming in to pitch the M’s chances looked pretty slim.  With runners on first and third, Edgar ended up hitting a double down the left field line to win the series for the M’s.  The Mariners were eliminated in the ALCS at the end by the Indians, but the effect of Edgar’s hit had MLB fans everywhere truly excited about Mariners baseball for the first time ever.

The thing is that he wasn’t just successful in the playoffs; Martinez won Seattle one of the more beautiful MLB ballparks, Safeco Field.  Two months earlier, 50.1% of King county voters voted NO on a $410 million proposal for a new stadium, to keep the Mariners in Seattle.  The state legislature later approved a new stadium for the Mariners, mainly due to public pressure.  This led people to think what would have happened if it weren’t for Edgar’s clutch hit.

Edgar was known for his great batting eye, which resulted from a series of drills before every game he utilized to improve it.  He also gave back to the community by founding the Martinez foundation, which helps give minorities’ access to proper education.  When Edgar retired in 2004, Paul Molitor said, “He was one of the most feared right-handed hitters for a long time in this league.  The amount of respect he has from peers speaks to the value of the offensive player he was.”

In 2010, Edgar’s first year eligible for the hall, he received 36.2% of the BBWAA votes.  Martinez  missed the 75% cutoff.  This year he received 32.9 % of the vote.  Who knows if Edgar will ever be in the Hall of Fame, this year definitely wasn’t encouraging.  But in Bert Blyleven’s (elected in 2011, after 14 years of eligibility) second year on the ballot, he received only 14.1% of votes.  So there is reason for optimism.  Whether Edgar ever makes it to Cooperstown or not, he will always be a hero to Mariners fans and one of the best pure hitters in major league history.

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by one of our intern candidates, 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.***

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To Keep or Get Rid of the DH: The Future of the Designated Hitter in MLB

Monday May 16, 2011

MLB reports:  Growing up in an American League city (Toronto), my entire baseball life has existed with the designated hitter in baseball.  Aside from the occasional national league games on television, I always accepted and loved the DH.  Dave Parker was one of my favorite players and he epitomized everything good about the DH.  A great hitter with a sweet home run stroke, I would have likely not been able to watch Dave Parker for most of the tail end of his career if not for the designated hitter.  Parker, slowed by age, weight gain and lack of mobility saw his time in the outfield end fortunately by 1989 when he left the Reds and the National League forever and joined Oakland.  I always thought of the DH as giving the American League the advantage of an additional strong bat in the lineup, with the National League being less exciting being based on pitching, defense and weak pitchers hitting.  But as I grew in age, my opinion of the DH began to shift and I started to appreciate traditional baseball in its purest form.

If you give me today the choice of an American League or National League game, 9 out of 10 times I will choose the NL game.  When you account for the game having a pitcher bat, the dynamics of the game itself changes drastically.  The National League has more in-game moves by its manager, including pinch-hitting and double switches.  The best example I give of a typical NL game scenario is going into the 7th inning of a game, with a 1-run differential, 1-2 base runners on and the pitcher coming up to bat.  These types of scenarios and successful choices make or break NL managers.  By leaving a pitcher in to bat, the manager risks a likely out and the loss of an opportunity at scoring a crucial run.  But by pinch-hitting for the pitcher, the manager is forced to sometimes take out a pitcher who is pitching well and leaving the bullpen to possibly blow the game.  The game within the game is truly found in the National League.  But if the NL is so great and pitchers should be hitting, why is the DH still around?  For many reasons I will show and which likely means the DH is not going anywhere for a long time still.

Many modern baseball experts advocate the DH as saving wear and tear on pitchers, who as inexperienced hitters run the risk of injuries by batting and running the bases.  A classic example is Chien-Ming Wang, who injured his foot in Houston during  running the bases and later proceeded to hurt his shoulder and never recover.  It was argued that if Wang was  not forced to bat in the NL during inter-league play, he would have never been injured.  Further,  aside from a few exceptions such as Carlos Zambrano and Micah Owings, pitchers usually cannot hit their weight.  In many cases, pitchers are literally automatic outs.  To create excitement for fans and better offensive baseball, the DH was born in the AL in 1973 and has lasted ever since.  The DH also allows older hitters to keep playing even when their defensive games have abandoned them (see Guerrero, Matsui and Ortiz today).  Finally, the DH allows positional players the occasional rest by not having to play in the field but still keeps their bats in the lineup for their respective teams.

The bottom line on the DH comes down to tradition vs. convenience in my estimation.  I know in my brain that having a DH works best for the players, from the health and productivity of both pitchers and hitters.  For example, none of us would want to watch Adam Dunn in the outfield anymore and having the DH in Chicago allows his superior bat to continue cranking home runs while not hurting his team defensively.  But in my heart, I yearn for a Dodgers/Giants rivalry, where during a 2-1 game lineup changes run rampant in the later innings.  That is the way baseball was truly meant to be played.  I am not a full basebal purist, as I do advocate for an expanded playoffs and complete re-alignment in baseball.  But when it comes to the designated hitter, my hope is that one day it is abolished completely and we can go back to “real” baseball.

If we lived in a baseball world with no DH, pitchers would just have to take more BP and if truth be known, many of them would love hitting and value the chance at getting their swings in.  If you ask me truthfully though, I can’t see the American League getting rid of the DH and to go further, I actually can see the National League adopting the DH one day as well.  As we grow and move forward in time, most traditions tend to fall by the side for improvements.  In this case, this will be one of the instances where I hope that is not the case.  Some traditions need to remain intact.  I certainly hope the game of baseball as it is played in the National League continues until the end of time.

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