Friday November 23th, 2012
Note from Alex Mednick: I am going to be putting together a small project that accumulates all the best players of all time, and puts them together on teams according to their birthplace. For example, in this first edition I will be breaking down players from the United States of America into teams from the 1) Northeast, 2) Southeast, 3) Midwest, and 4) Southwest…(sorry, there really is not enough quality coming out of the northwest to compete with these teams…maybe I will put a Northwestern United States team in a later edition with less competitive teams). Later on I will bring you teams assembled from the all-time greats out Central and South American (Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, Panama Canal Zone, etc.) and the All-Caribbean Team (Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Curacao, etc). Also look forward to teams from Japan, Canada and the EU. Should be fun to sort of assemble an “Olympics” of Baseball. I love watching the World Baseball Classic and seeing players fight for their nations pride…but by grouping the teams by region, it might make the teams more competitive. Of course, this is all for the sake of speculation; Babe Ruth was a great player, but I don’t think he will be taking any at-bat’s soon. (Also, please note that I do not lend consideration to relief pitchers in this analysis). Read the rest of this entry
Wedesday August 15th, 2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Music has one hit wonders, some have even made an entire career out of just one stretch of time where they were deemed relevant. Baseball is like everything else, they have had their fair share of players that fit this mold. In the next two weeks, we will take a look at hitters and pitchers that were really on fire for a stretch before they petered out just as fast. I harken back to the movie ‘Tin Cup” for this next saying, “Greatness Courts Failure.” The difference between the two in baseball is so miniscule. Unfortunately for every player that makes it to the show, hundreds never get their chance at all. I am sure if you ask each one of these players if they were happy at their time in the Major Leagues, they would tell you that they thought they did not perform to their full capability.
The players would think highly of the time they had their biggest successes and would wish they could have had more of the limelight for a prolonged stretch. The fans of baseball are left to form their own opinions on these individuals. Just like what happens in the world, there will be some fans who remember these guys fondly and others will turn the page on them, not thinking much at all. The split is usually right down the middle. The next five hitters are players that I remember making a big splash before bowing out just as quick as they came into prominence. I contemplated adding Sam Fuld to this list, however he has a chance to play in the Major Leagues for years to come, so it is too early to list him amongst these men. So at the very least, I will give him the video tribute down below before the page break. Fuld is a great inspiration and I look forward to writing about him in future articles. Also, other players I considered for this piece were Bob Hamelin and Rick Ankiel. I gave Ankiel a pass in both pitching and hitting because he was so unique to have done both. You can read a recent article I wrote about the man here . In the end, I did not think Bob Hamelin had a standout performance even as a rookie. He was lucky to have such a weak class of rookies to compete against in the year he won it.
Wednesday July.11, 2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- There is only so much one can read in an article, otherwise I would make these lists up from the turn of the 20th century. If you gave me enough time as a reader, I promise to backdate this topic with another article featuring the best teams dating back further in years. Eventually, all of the years may be dissected and we can have a healthy debate on some of my selections. I really started watching baseball in the early 1980′s. As I became older and discovered ways to research the history of the game, my knowledge and curious mind grew for more information. I have studied and read baseball stat books and breezed through the odd Bill James novel. If I ever take a break from writing or baseball park chasing, I may find some time down the road to watch the 9 part PBS documentary that Ken Burns did on baseball’s history.
Baseball lends itself more to the history than any other sport because of how it has been chronicled throughout their past. Writers, announcers, former players, parents etc.. have always carried on with the stories of America’s favorite pastime. I will never be sold that NFL is the greatest pastime in sports right now. NFL is the greatest gambling sport presently. It is my firm belief that the only reason why the NFL draws in more cash from its sport is because of the gambling factor. If you took that aspect out of it, I believe baseball is the #1 sport. Can you imagine how much attention we would pay to baseball if there were only a 16 game schedule? Enough with that rant, let’s get down to the list. Who were the best teams at any specific time period for the last 32 years? We will start with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1980-1983. Read the rest of this entry
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- As the world of Twitter and Facebook has invaded the internet these days, I am brainstorming about all sorts of stats I have had in my head for years. This stat came to my head because of Gary Sheffield. A few years back, I watched a game on my birthday at Safeco Field. It was the New York Yankees and Sheffield visiting. There are players that you are sure to watch live in person. Gary Sheffield was one of these hitters. Not only is he one of 25 player in history to hit 500 HRs, but he had one of the fiercest swings ever. The man would wiggle that bat back and forth like a toothpick before striding and swinging with daunting ferocity. It was an unorthodox style that must have made Little League coaches cringe, yet it was effective. Sheffield was a bit of a hot head though, this may have led to him being traded or not re-signed by several teams. Hitting 40 HRs for 6 different teams is definitely impressive and may never be duplicated. I knew he had played on several teams already so the seed of today’s article was planted back in 2005.
Fred McGriff was the exact opposite of Gary Sheffield when it came to temperament. This man was traded several times in his career because he could flat-out hit. Jose Canseco is the only other player besides McGriff and Sheffield to hit 40 HRs with 5 different teams. The reason many older players are not on this list is because free agency never arrived in the MLB until the early 70′s when Curt Flood challenged a trade and the Players Union saw it through. Now player movement has enabled more players switching teams each season than ever before. Rusty Staub was the 1st to make this list and Alfonso Soriano is the last player to make this list and the only current player left. I have a feeling we will see more players arrive on this list in the next 25 years.
Sunday December 11, 2011
Jonathan Hacohen: In our latest interview feature, we are proud to welcome to MLB reports: Xavier Scruggs, the slugging first base prospect of the St. Louis Cardinals. Xavier was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2005 and then by his current club, the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008. Xavier completed his fourth season in the Cardinals organization and is coming off his second straight 21 home run season. With a lifetime .340 OBP and .465 SLG, Xavier has swung a strong bat to-date. Now with Albert Pujols a member of the Angels, there is an opening at first base in St. Louis. In another year or two, Xavier could indeed be the man to fill it. I caught up with Xavier Scruggs this month to discuss his past season, future goals going into 2012 and everything in-between. Xavier spoke from the heart and shared a great deal of insight on the game and his own career. A pleasure to speak with, I definitely look forward to tracking Xavier’s progress in professional baseball and interviewing him again in the future.
Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Xavier Scruggs – First Base Prospect with the St. Louis Cardinals:
MLB reports: Welcome to the Reports Xavier. To start off, tell us who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?
Xavier Scruggs: Growing up my favorite player by far was Gary Sheffield. I loved watching him play because he put fear in the pitchers he was facing. No one could deny his bat speed and the ball came off his bat. The ball shot off like a rocket and sounded like a gun shot when he hit it. I told myself at a very young age that he was the player whom I most wanted to hit like. So when I was young I would try to emulate him every chance I got. From his stance, to the way he cocked his hands to hit. I don’t hit like him much now, but it’s a goal to hit the ball as hard as him and to be feared as much as him. Also being younger and not very strong growing up, I noticed he was in very good shape and was very muscular. So naturally I wanted my body to look like his. I don’t idolize anyone, but he is one player who’s game I truly admired!
MLB reports: Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
Xavier Scruggs: It’s not an easy choice, but I love watching Matt Kemp play the game. He has every tool and uses them to the best of his ability. You can tell he is humbled by the game and plays the game hard. He plays it the right way too and was able to play phenomenal even when his team was truly struggling. You can tell he’s having fun playing the game as well, because he’s always smiling and laughing with his teammates and other players.
MLB reports: Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?
Xavier Scruggs: Some of my proudest achievements includes throwing a perfect game when I was in little league. It was special to me because it was a championship game. Having my younger brother on the team and my father being the coach made it mean a lot more. A proud moment was winning the player of the year for my conference (MWC). Another proud achievement was making the Florida state league all-star team in 2010. My last proud achievement was tying the record for home runs at Palm Beach this past year. I shared that moment with my teammates embracing me and there is no better feeling.
MLB reports: Did you fully expect from the start of the draft back in 2008 to sign with the Cards? When was the final decision made in the process to sign with Cards? Any disappointment with being drafted in the 19th round? What factors led you not to sign with the Mariners back in 2005 when you were originally drafted?
Xavier Scruggs: Being drafted out of high school in 2005 by the Mariners was a blessing because it made me open my eyes to realize how much I really wanted to be a big leaguer one day. My parents and I really thought about it and felt it would be best for me to give myself three quality years in college to better myself and be best prepared to be drafted in 2008. I was fortunate enough to get drafted in the 19th round, which was a little disappointing, but I already knew going into the draft that nothing was promised. I use it as motivation and to remind myself that I have serious odds to beat, and the only way to beat them is through serious hard work. The Cardinals never seemed to be a team with a lot of interest but they were the last team I spoke to right before the draft, so I knew there was interest. The final decision was made a week or two after the draft.
MLB reports: What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?
Xavier Scruggs: I believe my greatest baseball skills include being able to drive the ball to all fields and with power. I feel like I have great knowledge of the strike zone and recognize pitches well. I feel like a have a strong-arm defensively and have a good feel for positioning myself. I also have leadership and love to motivate my teammates.
MLB reports: What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?
Xavier Scruggs: I wish to improve in all areas of my game and just have the strongest focus on doing all the little things and being consistent in everything I do, whether it be defensively or offensively. I have to improve in every aspect of my game in order for me to be the best because that’s what I want to be.
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?
Xavier Scruggs: I feel that with me continuing to learn more about myself as a hitter, gaining better plate discipline will help me to better myself in both of those categories. Everyone wants to have a great strikeout to walk ratio and to better that aspect of their game, so definitely I can see that changing for the better in my own game. I’m doing a lot each day to work on that aspect of my game as well.
MLB reports: Long term what position do you see yourself playing- do you see yourself staying at first? How do you see defense as part of your overall game?
Xavier Scruggs: Defense has always been a huge part of my game and I take a lot of pride in taking away hits and saving runs. Any way that I can help my team with my glove is important to me. I have played 1b, 3rd, and outfield so I can be a replacement for anybody. Not just necessarily a first baseman. I am comfortable in a lot of positions and am athletic enough to play a number of them.
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?
Xavier Scruggs: I can’t estimate any sort of time when I will reach the big leagues. But I do know when the time comes for them to call my name, I will be prepared and ready. I definitely hope for it to be soon though. It’s in God’s hands and I’m working hard to be prepared for that moment.
MLB reports: What has the experience been like to play winter ball this year? What have you learned this offseason?
Xavier Scruggs: The experience playing winter ball has been something special. It’s exciting to wake up each day and know that I’m in a different country. My Spanish is ok because I took four years of it in high school, so I can communicate fairly well. Baseball is different here in certain aspects, but there is nothing like having teammates there with you grinding it out each day. There aren’t many teams in the league so you start to learn the tendencies of players and visa-versa, which forces you to learn to make adjustments quicker. I’m learning more and more about myself as a ball player and I’m already improving on some of the key aspects of my game I set out to work on this offseason. I’ve learned that it is as important for me to be just as mentally prepared as I am physically, and to not miss a chance to gain a mental edge. Whether that be learning pitchers tendencies or being able to mentally think about making small adjustments in my own swing and game.
MLB reports: What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?
Xavier Scruggs: When I’m not playing baseball I love playing video games, listening to music, working out, reading, chillin at the beach, and watching tv.
MLB reports: Have you visited St. Louis the city yet?
Xavier Scruggs: I have never been to St. Louis but I hear it’s beautiful and would love to go.
MLB reports: If you could send out a message to the Cards fans, what would it be?
Xavier Scruggs: If I could say anything to Cardinals fans out there, it would just be to join me on my journey to being the person and baseball player I can be. I know how blessed I am to play this game, so I not only play it for myself but for the people who wish they could play it and don’t have the same opportunity that I do.
Thank you for your support and God bless.
Thank you again to Xavier Scruggs 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 Xavier. As well, please follow Xavier Scruggs on Twitter (@Xavier_Scruggs)
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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