Author Archives: Shaneo42

Detroit Tigers Spring Standouts 2017

Castellanos, Nick springAs you may have read already, we’ve looked at 2017 spring standouts from around the league, as well as how the Top 100 Prospects were faring. Now, with the Tigers being a week away from opening up the season in Chicago, I thought we’d give the team a look and see who has stood out so far.

As you know, the Tigers had the most players of any MLB club on World Baseball Classic rosters this season, so the normal standouts such as Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and so on were on rosters, so their counting stats may not look great. The positive to this situation though is that more players got looks during games than normal, so you’ll see some names that you may not be familiar with here.

Standings don’t matter at all during spring training, but as a reference, Detroit is currently 12-17 in the Grapefruit League. Also stats matter very little, however there are certain indicators that I look at such as average, OPS, homers, hits, and strike outs for hitters, and for pitchers I look at WHIP, average against, strike outs, that can show a path of what is working vs. what isn’t. Again, you can’t read too much in these numbers though.

Stats through (3/26/17)

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Finally…The USA Wins A World Baseball Classic, But Does Anyone Care?

Team USA WBC 2017.jpgIt’s taken four World Baseball Classics, but the US has finally won and did so in convincing fashion last night, with an 8-0 victory over runner-up from the 2013 Classic, Puerto Rico.  Marcus Stroman was dominant, Ian Kinsler was clutch in starting the scoring for the US with a two-run homer, and the defense and relief pitching held up nicely!

That said, outside of my baseball friends, no one is talking about the Classic what-so-ever.  Yes, the WBC is growing with over 1 million fans attending games this season (previous best was 800k in 2009), but are we really seeing favorability towards the tournament in this country?  When you boil it down, it still seems like the major issue here in the US is two-fold.  First, the lack of star player participation I think is the biggest issue which leads to second, overall performance.  Maybe with the US winning, that changes things.  The one thing I don’t want to hear from people is that the players just don’t care with it being an exhibition.  Check the video out of the US not caring about winning…

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How The MLB’s Top Prospects Are Faring This Spring

torres, Gleyber yankeesSpring is always a fun time as we see a lot of prospects getting time on the field with current Major Leaguers and probably more so this year with players missing on teams for the World Baseball Classic.  Some of these prospects may just be up for an at bat or two to get a look at the bigs, others may be getting some unexpected extra time due to surprising performance, while a few prospects will be fighting for a spot on the roster when heading north for the start of the season.  Here’s a peak at how the prospects from my Top 100 Prospects For 2017 are doing so far this spring (as of  3/21)…

  1. Andrew Benintendi, OF/BOS – 15 game, 43 AB, 13 H, 6 doubles, 2 HR,  8 RBI, 5 K, .302 avg, .961 OPS
  2. Dansby Swanson, SS/ATL – 8 games, hitting .333, with a double, HR, 4 RBI and 8 K’s, .940 OPS
  3. Alex Reyes, RHP/STL/9 – Injured, has not pitched
  4. Yoan Moncada, 2B/CWS – 17 games, 41 AB, 13 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 14 K, .317 avg, 1.074 OPS
  5. Gleyber Torres, SS/NYY – 19 games, 29 AB, 13 H, 6 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, .448 avg, 1.400 OPS
  6. J.P. Crawford, SS/PHI – 12 games, 29 AB, 6 H, 2B, .207 avg, .523 OPS
  7. Amed Rosario, SS/NYM/74 – 14 games, 30 AB, 8 H, 2B, 3 RBI, 7 K, .267 avg, .567 OPS
  8. Victor Robles, OF/WAS – 3 games, 4 AB, BB
  9. Austin Meadows, OF/PIT – 16 G, 32 AB, 10 H, 3 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 12K, .313 avg, .936 OPS
  10. Lucas Giolito, RHP/CWS – 4 starts, 9.2 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 2 HR, 4 BB, 6 K, .297 avga, 1.55 WHIP

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Spring Training Standouts 2017

Harper, Bryce spring.jpgI can’t say I put a lot of faith in spring training numbers; however there can be indicators for breakouts (Nick Castellanos a year ago), and hell it’s baseball, their fun to take a peak at.  The stats that I tend to focus on for hitting is batting average, hits, home runs, RBI, and strike outs.  For pitchers, I look at strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP for pitchers.  Both WHIP and ERA are questionable to look at, however it can at least be looked at directionally, unless you’re Mike Pelfrey, who had a 1.17 ERA last spring.  Here are the leaders and Tigers notables for games through 3.20.17…

Hitters

Batting Average (Minimum 35 At Bats)
Adam Frazier/PIT – .450
Jose Osuna/PIT – .417
Guillermo Heredia/SEA, Marco Hernandez/BOS – .415
Jose Martinez/STL – .400
Tiger Notables: Andrew Romine .347, Justin Upton .292

Hits
Mitch Haniger/SEA – 19
Adam Frazier/PIT – 18
C.J. Cron/LAA, Corey Dickerson/TB, Brandon Drury/ARZ, Guillermo Heredia/SEA, Marco Hernandez/BOS, Andrew Romine/DET, Bradley Zimmer/CLE – 17

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The History Of Spring Training

Al Lang Field, St. Petersburgh.jpg

Ever wonder how spring training started, or why?  Well, here’s a little history lesson after watching a recent repeat of Ken Burn’s Baseball on the MLB Network.

The Early Years

Stories are a bit conflicting with some claiming the first spring training taking place in Hot Springs Arkansas in 1886, by the Chicago White Stockings (today’s Chicago Cubs) and team President, Albert Spalding and Hall of Famer Cap Anson.  Others claim that it was started back in 1870 by both Chicago and Cincinnati Red Stockings down in New Orleans.  A third story starts with the Washington Capitals in 1888, holding a four-day camp in Jacksonville.  Regardless of which story you hear and believe, we know that teams started training down south in the late 1800’s to prior to the start of their seasons.

Now back in the early years of spring training, most players could not survive on just a baseball salary, so they’d go home after the season and find a job somewhere.  Those jobs would take a toll and players would be out of shape and out of practice by the start of the season.  When it came to playing spring games, it meant mostly against colleges, semi-pro, and at times another Major League team.

In the early 1903, Connie Mack had his Philadelphia Athletics train in Jacksonville, however after a disappointing season; Mack blamed the outcome on the tropical weather and teams focus and didn’t return for 11 years.  One of my favorite stories around the A’ in Florida, was about a very eccentric star pitcher named Rube Waddell who wrestled an alligator while down in Florida.

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The 60 Players I look Forward To Watching Spring Training

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Yes, we’re finally here with spring training games starting!!  Spring training can be such a fun experience from guys running poles during games, trying out new pitchers, or a new stance, to youngsters trying to grab attention, to guys duking it out for a few roster spots on their club.

With that, every spring I like to put a list of out of players that I look forward to watching during spring games.  There’s no rhyme or reason to be honest, as it could be a prospect getting a few innings on a big league roster, a guy coming back from injury, a key acquisition, or that teams top player.  Regardless, I love watching and listening to spring training games and am always surfing the web or tv to check these players out.

Here’s my list:

Atlanta Braves
Dansby Swanson: #1 draft pick in 2015, major steal in the trade for Shelby Miller, makes his debut a year after being drafted and hits .302 in 38 Major League games.

Ozzie Albies: I don’t think the 20-year old will have a ton of time in Major League camp, but from everything I know, I can look forward to a youngster with very good lead off potential and an outstanding glove

Arizona Diamondbacks
Taijuan Walker: Walker was part of the trade that sent Segura to Seattle, has show flashes of big potential in the past, but has had a hard time putting it together.  At 24, Taijuan has had 2 full seasons of Major League starts, along with 2 other partial seasons.  This could be the year he takes a big step forward…if he can keep the ball in the yard (1.8 HR per 9 in 2016)

Archie Bradley: Bradley had been a high profile prospect for some time before his debut in 2015 and looked to be ready to back it up as he was 2-0 in his first three career starts with a 1.48 ERA and 12 K’s.  Then Bradley got smoked in the face by a 115 MPH Carlos Gonzalez line drive on April 28th, 2015 and seems like he hasn’t been the same since.  I’m hoping that we see the guy this spring that was on all the top prospect reports and what we saw early in the 2015 campaign

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Detroit Tigers Centerfield Options Heading In To Spring Training

tigers-center-field-options

With all other positions pretty stable, there really are only a handful of battles for the Detroit Tigers heading in to spring training.  The 5th rotation spot will be interesting, there will be bullpen spots up for grabs, but I believe the main focus will be Centerfield after the trade of Cameron Maybin to clear some salary from the books.

The centerfield job is pretty much up for grabs as spring games commence later in the week with JaCoby Jones, Tyler Collins, Mikie Mahtook, Anthony Gose, David Lough, and Alex Presely all via for the position to name a few.  Mahtook in my opinion has a slight edge; however a lot can change over the next month.  Let’s take a look at some of the options…

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Sons of ’84 Top 100 MLB Prospects for 2017

Benintendi, Andrew arms up.jpg

Welcome once again to my favorite blog entry of the year, my Top 100 Major League Baseball Prospect list for 2017. My list consists of the top prospects in baseball right now and doesn’t necessarily focus on player’s impact this season as these players are in various stages of their Minor League and and possibly Major League career.

Team breakouts for players on the list include: 8 – ATL 7 – NYY, 6 – MIL 5 – CWS, LAD, Pit, TB  4 – CHC, Col, Hou, NYM, Oak, Phi, SD 3 – Bos, Cin, Cle, Min, Tor, Was 2 – Sea, Tex 1 – Bal, Det, LAA, MIA, SF

Position breakouts for players on the list look like: C – 5, 1B – 4, 2B – 5, 3B – 4, SS – 12,  OF – 25, LHP – 13, RHP – 32

For the list, you’ll find the player’s name, their position/team/and last year’s ranking for this list…

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Will Justin Verlander Be A Hall of Famer?

verlander-justin-surpriseEarlier in the week I updated what had become an annual blog entry for me around the greatness of Miguel Cabrera, who is undoubtedly already a Hall of Fame lock. It got me thinking around looking in to Justin Verlander’s career and if there is potential to be elected to the Hall of Fame one day. Now, if you would have asked me two years ago, I wouldn’t have written anything, but the way JV reinvented himself this past season, it revitalized hopes that he could be in the Hall someday. Please bare with me as this is a little long, but a case will be made…

Before diving in to statistics and whatnot, there has always been one key milestone for pitchers that essentially ensures that they are Hall of Fame locks, and that’s 300 wins. We must acknowledge that 300 wins is really no longer feasible with today’s 5-man rotations, pitch counts, and bullpen specialist. We must also acknowledge that today’s game has changed where a slightly higher ERA is acceptable compared to the day an age where voters were looking for career ERA’s in the mid-2’s. Hitters are stronger these days; ballparks tend to be smaller, etc.

Here’s the other thing that JV and other pitchers have going against them and it all plays in to what I just wrote, only 6 pitchers have been elected to the Hall in the last seven years (Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Bert Blyleven). Take it back further to 2005 and add just Bruce Sutter and Rich Gossage to that list, making it 8 in the past 12 years. What I think we are seeing is pitchers being scrutinized more highly than hitters.

With this laid out, let’s look at Justin Verlander so far…

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The Greatness of Miguel Cabrera; 2017 Edition

Cabrera, Miguel Bo Jackson Pose.jpgWhat is now the third installment of looking at Miguel Cabrera’s greatness (Pre-2015 season & Pre-2016 Season), it’s become fun to look at what Miggy had accomplished in the previous season and what to look forward to now in 2017.

The original reason for the first post was that I wasn’t sure if Miggy was being taken for granted in Detroit and definitely was not getting the exposure he should have been nationally.  I believe that’s changed a bit over the last couple of years now, however it is still worth pointing out that when is all said and done, we may be possibly looking at one of the ten greatest right-handed hitters of All-Time.

With that, Cabrera finished up his age 33 season, one of which we saw Miggy play in 158 games, which was great sign after his injury prone 2015 season.  Cabrera tallied a .316 batting average, collected 188 hits, score 92 runs, gathered 31 doubles, a triple, and 38 homers, while knocking in 108, and walking 75 times.   This was all good for an OPS of .956 and a WAR of 4.9.  Mix in an All-Star game, a Silver Slugger Award, and finishing 9th in MVP voting, and I’d call it another successful season.  This is the 9th time in 14 seasons, that Cabrera has hit at least .300, hit 30 homers, and knocked in 100 runs.

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Detroit Tigers Land Two Prospects On ESPN Top 100 List

detroit_tigers_logo2Keith Law, a senior baseball writer for ESPN, former writer for Baseball Prospectus, and former front office member of the Toronto Blue Jays, along with one of the most respected prospect scouts around, has released his Top 100 prospects list for 2017.  This list is full of names the common fan has not heard of and isn’t related necessarily to impact a player may make in the Majors this season, but their total impact once they reach the Major’s.

The Tigers who rank 24th (out of 30) as far as farm systems go, have landed two players on the list.  The first is…

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The Greatest Detroit Tiger By Position: Right Field

tigers-rfMoving on to the last position in the outfield, we’ve already anointed Bobby Veach the Greatest Tiger left fielder, and Ty Cobb the greatest Tiger center fielder.  The question now is, will Sam Crawford make an early 1900’s sweep of outfield greats, or will Al Kaline or possibly Harry Heilmann, or another Tiger take home that crown?  To be eligible for the list, a player must play at least 5-years for the Tigers with a majority of games coming at that position.  Unlike the infielder however, I do look at stats across all outfield spots.

If you’d like to catch up, you can see who I believe is the greatest Tiger catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, and shortstop of all-time as well.

Qualifying for today’s list is: Al Kaline, Harry Heilmann, Sam Crawford, Pete Fox, and Magglio Ordonez.  With this group, I am leaving Pete Fox off the list with a total Tigers WAR of 10.6.

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The Greatest Detroit Tiger By Position: Center Field

tiger-cf

As we continue on exploring the greatest Tigers by position of all-time, we move on to what I am guessing is a slam dunk before any research is done.  Before getting to the list however, looking back I’ve covered the all-time best Tigers catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, and left fielderleft fielder.  You can click on any of the previous links to check out that position.

Moving on to center field, we changed the criteria up a bit for outfielders where I still am looking for at least five years with the Tigers and playing a majority of time at that positon.  The one change I did make however to gaging the outfield spots, is opening it up to majority of games played at that position, but looking at all outfield numbers, since it’s much more common to see a players shift positions.

For the Center Field spot, we have four qualifiers: Ty Cobb, Mickey Stanley, Ron LeFlore, and Chet Lemon. Austin Jackson just misses out being traded mid-way through his 5th season in Detroit, but could be back via free agency this season.  Since this is a shoe in, we’ll take a look at all of the players…

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The Greatest Detroit Tiger By Position: Left Field

tigers leftfielders.jpg

Pushing forward, we move out to the outfield where I believe there will be some challenging calls at each position.  To recap however, we had an easy decision at shortstop, an ugly decision at third, and some very intriguing calls at second, first, and catcher.

If you’re reading one of these entries for the first time, the only stipulation that I look at is that the player be in a Tiger uniform for a minimum of 5 years and play a majority of his games at that position during that timeframe.  I will make a slight change however and evaluate all of a players outfield stats, as they are a little more likely to move to another position to cover an injury, etc.  Qualifying for consideration in left is Willie Horton, Bobby Veach, Matty McIntyre, Charlie Maxwell, Larry Herndon, Bobby Higginson, Steve Kemp, and Dick Wakefield.  To keep this readable, I am going to cut Dick Wakefield, Steve Kemp, Larry Herndon, and Matty McIntyre.

Moving on…

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The Greatest Detroit Tiger By Position: Shortstop

Tigers shortstops.jpg

After the ugliness of what is the history of Tigers playing third base, we move to what I am guessing is an easier decision with the Shortstop position.  If you missed the greatest Tigers catcher, first baseman, second baseman, or third base, you can catch up at any point by clicking on the hyperlinks.

Again, the only qualifier in my process for determining the best positional Detroit Tiger is that they played at least five years as a Tiger with a majority of their games at that position.  Qualifying for shortstop is Alan Trammell, Donie Bush, Billy Rogell, Harvey Kuenn, and (ahem) Deivi Cruz.  We boot Deivi to start with his 6.0 WAR as a Tiger.

Here we go in chronological order of when the player was in Detroit…

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The Greatest Detroit Tiger By Position: Third Base

tigers-third-basemen

Moving on in our exploration of the greatest Detroit Tiger at each position, we cover third base today.  To date, I’ve covered off on the Tigers best catcher, first baseman, and second baseman, with first base being the toughest choice so far.

My only stipulation for being eligible for consideration is playing the position of discussion for a majority of games as a Tigers for at least five years.  That leaves us with seven players that qualify and they are Aurelio Rodriguez, Don Wert, Brandon Inge, Tom Brookens, Pinky Higgins, George Kell, and Marv Owen.  Not making the cut any further is Don Wert, Aurelio Rodriguez, and Marv Owen. This definitely is the weakest position so far, but let’s take a look…

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The Greatest Detroit Tiger By Position: Second Base

tigers-second-basemen

As we continue exploring the greatest Detroit Tigers by position of all-time, we’ve already made a case for the Tigers best catcher and first baseman; we now focus in the middle of the diamond and second base.

Qualifying requires a minimum of 5-years in the old English D, with a majority of time played at this position.  As seen with Miguel Cabrera and others, we remove stats from other positions played and look solely at the position being evaluated.  With that, we have seven significant Tigers that qualify at second to consider.  They include: Ralph Young, Frank Bolling, Placido Polanco, Damion Easley, Dick McAuliffe, Charlie Gehringer, and Lou Whitaker.  I’ll remove Ralph Young (1915-1922) with his 1.4 WAR off the bat and Frank Bolling, Damion Easley, and Placido Polanco for their limited time in Detroit.

Alright, let’s look at the second sackers…

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The Greatest Detroit Tiger By Position: First Base

tigers-first-basemenMoving on from naming our greatest catcher of all-time for the Detroit Tigers, we take on naming the greatest first baseman of all-time.  If choosing a catcher was difficult, this proves to be one of the biggest battles outside of the right field discussion.

With the only criteria of playing for the Tigers for five seasons, with a majority of games at that position, we have seven candidates.  They include: Norm Cash, Hank Greenberg, Miguel Cabrera, Rudy York, Lu Blue, Cecil Fielder, and Tony Clark.  The only two players that I am going to eliminate from this list right away will be Clark and Fielder, as Clark’s the .277 average and 156 homers aren’t going to cut it with this group, although the numbers are respectable.  Fielder, I was intending to write about until I looked at his numbers as a first baseman and realized a third of his homers came as a DH.

We’ll start in chronological order…

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The Greatest Detroit Tiger By Position: Catcher

tigers-catchersLast year I explored and readers voted on who should be in the Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame from past and present. This year, I’d like to take a look and give my thoughts on the best Tiger at each position. The main condition I have for consideration will be a minimum of 5-years in the old English D uniform at that position for a majority of the season. There are will be some easy battles for certain positions, while others will be incredibly difficult.

Today we’ll start out with Detroit Tigers catchers. There are only six Tigers who even qualify for the minimum seasons needed and are Bill Freehan, Lance Parrish, Oscar Stanage, Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Bassler, and crowd favorite, Alex Avila.

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Top Detroit Tigers Prospects For 2017 & How They Fared In 2016

manning-matt-pitchingBaseball America and numerous other baseball prospect sites are moving through the process of naming each team’s top prospects for next season and BA just released Detroit’s last week.  The list is based on potential and Baseball America is considered the go to when it comes to prospects.

Here’s the list and how that player fared in 2016…

  1. Matt Manning, RHP – Manning was the 9thoverall pick in the 2016 draft and I guarantee one of the first things you will read about him is about his athleticism and his father Rich who played in the NBA. What I like is the kid is 6’6” at 18-years old and could grow another inch.  What I am afraid of, is that from all reports, he may remain lanky and unable to add weight to his frame for durability purposes.  After being drafted, Manning went to rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League, where he made 10 starts, was 0-2, with a 3.99 ERA, a 1.159 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9 rate, and 14.1 K/9 rate.  Expect Manning to move up to West Michigan to start the 2017 season.

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