Category Archives: The Rest: Everything Baseball

From Cuba to Japan, Opening Day to the World Series and the WBC

Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin Really Need to Have Strong Starts

Fresh off two consecutive postseason appearances, the Toronto Blue Jays are primed to compete for a spot in October once again in 2017. They’ll be doing it with some fresh faces, though.

Edwin Encarnacion and his powerful bat were a huge part of those two playoffs runs, but he plays for the Cleveland Indians now. The Blue Jays re-signed Jose Bautista, but have also brought in Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce to make up for the void Edwing has left in the lineup.

His absence will put some pressure on other parts of the offense, like Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin, who Roster Resource projects to hit fifth and sixth in the order, respectively.

While the starting rotation was surprisingly great last year, the offense collectively struggled over the first two months, posting a 90 wRC+ in April and 97 wRC+ in May before finishing with a mark of 102 for the entire season. The offense has to get off on the right foot this year to prevent another slow start (12-14 record on May 1 last year, 29-26 on June 1).

Tulowitzki and Martin will need to be a big part of that.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – March 23, 2017

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AP

Dallas Green died today. He may not have been cute and cuddly, but he woke up two dormant fan bases and gave them something to cheer about in the 1980’s.

Paying respects on this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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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

Continue reading @ Sons of ’84

Which MLB Teams Have Been in the Playoffs the Most This Century?

The 2017 MLB regular season is on the brink of getting underway, which means it’s another chance for team’s to re-write their history by making a deep run into October. Spring Training and Opening Day are the best times to be optimistic about that possibility — no matter how unrealistic it may seem for certain clubs.

But who could really use a fruitful playoff appearance the most?

A lot had been made throughout 2016 about the Chicago Cubs and the 108-year championship drought they finally ended against the Cleveland Indians last November. No professional sports team can come close to that kind of postseason misery, and we’re not going to try and compare anything to it.

We already know that teams like the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals rule their respective leagues when it comes to all-time World Series titles, and even just playoff appearances in general. But since we’re well into this century, it’s a perfect time to take a quick look back at recent postseason history.

Below is a table ranked by a team’s number of postseason appearances. It also shows the year of their most recent postseason appearance, along with their number of trips to the World Series and whether or not they’ve brought home any titles.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – March 21, 2017

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MLB and their on line production can learn from how Disney and Indiana Jones handled home video .

Hi Ho Hi Ho It is Off To Work We Go in this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Miami Marlins Minor League System

Braxton Garrett and Tyler Kolek stand 1-2 at the top of the Marlins’ prospect rankings as potential starting arms in a few years. Unfortunately for the team, the search for a new ace would have been facilitated by the fact that they had both Josh Naylor and Chris Paddack within the system last year. However, the two pitchers were traded away in separate deals with the Padres. The organization is now left with one of the thinnest farm systems in all of baseball.

The upper half of these rankings is luckily filled with arms that may be able to contribute. Garrett and Kolek are the clear favorites, but both are a minimum three seasons away from breaking into the Major League rotation. Players like Dillon Peters, Jarlin Garcia, and Drew Steckenrider will all pitch at the top level this season, but they lack the talent to be long term solutions. Further down in the charts are limited pitching prospects, many of whom have already begun the transition to relief.

Miami’s strength comes in the position players they are currently able to field. However, a number of those players may see their way out of the organization in the next couple of years and the Marlins lack the replacements within their system. Brian Anderson and Isael Soto lead the positional rankings, but there remains a glaring hole in each of their games. Fans looking forward to this season will certainly see Tomas Telis and Yefri Perez work at the Major League level this season. Telis sees a limited ceiling behind J.T. Realmuto, but Giancarlo Stanton’s seasonal injury will likely result in Perez seeing greater opportunity in comparison to previous years.

Miami Marlins Top 25 Prospects in 2017

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

Continue reading @ Sons of ’84

Nick Castellanos’ Improved Speed Could Lead to a Breakout Season

It appeared as though the Detroit Tigers were going to strip their squad down as much as possible this past winter. And after shipping Cameron Maybin to the Los Angeles Angels at nearly the first chance they could, he seemed to just be the first domino to fall.

Until he wasn’t. More or less, he was the only domino to fall.

Despite general manager Al Avila’s strong words and tons of trade rumors, they couldn’t even find someone willing to pay the price for J.D. Martinez, which shouldn’t have been shocking.

Now that Maybin is gone, it leaves a void in the second spot of manager Brad Ausmus’ order. That’s always an important spot, but it’s even more important when it’s followed by hitters like Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.

J.D. Martinez was reportedly the early favorite to take that spot, but he’d rather hit lower in the lineup. One person who does want to hit second, though, is Nick Castellanos. He’s not a prototypical no. 2 hitter, but he’s the perfect fit for this club.

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Team USA Takes Down Team Dominican Republic

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The elimination game between the United States and the Dominican Republic was filled with thrilling highlights and historic moments. It ended with Team USA defeating the Dominican club by a 6-3 score in the final game of the second round of the World Baseball Classic on Saturday night at Petco Park in San Diego. With the victory Team USA advances to the Championship round for the first time since 2009. They’ll play Team Japan in the semifinals on Tuesday evening.

Team USA had to overcome an early 2-0 deficit, as the Dominican plated twice in the first frame. The Americans tied the score in the third inning thanks to a scoring grounder from Ian Kinsler, and an RBI double from Christian Yelich. The Americans took the lead in the next inning thanks to a monster two-run home run into the second deck Western Metal Supply Co from Marlin’s slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The Americans added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on a two-run double from Andrew McCutchen that broke open what was a one-run game.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – March 20, 2017

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Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images North America

MLB blackout rules are insane.

But MLB blacking out all of Canada? That is insane.

The great white north is honored in this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – March 18, 2017

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AP

The latest installment of the Teams That Should Have Won is the 1993 San Francisco Giants.

The Giants have had a lot of near misses and a lot of recent titles. But a win in 1993 would have been something really special.

Memories of the Stick in this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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San Diego Padres’ Farm System

The San Diego Padres’ farm system has improved in talent over the past year via trades and international signings. The Padres have spent a lot of money internationally to restock their farm system and the dividends will soon be seen in the Major Leagues. San Diego has also managed to flip some of the veterans they got in the offseason a few years ago for quality prospects, such as Anderson Espinoza, and this has really improved the overall quality of the system. Some of these investments are going to make an impact very soon and the Padres’ will hope to be competitive once again within the next couple of years.

San Diego Padres Top Prospects in 2017

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – March 17, 2017

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Changes are coming to the podcast and I ask you all for suggestions.

But as I look at what I have accomplished with the daily podcast, I wonder something: What have I been talking about?

It is time to reflect on this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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The Houston Astros Will Win the World Series

Sports Illustrated said it in 2014 and it might just turn out to be true. The Houston Astros have had 2017 circled on their calendars for a while now and they’ve set themselves up well. Houston enters 2017 with a really good young core of position players supplemented with some strategically placed free agents and trade acquisitions and a pitching staff that certainly has some question marks but has the potential to be excellent.

The Astros seem to following the blueprint of the reigning world champion Chicago Cubs, who built their roster around young hitters like Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, and supplemented things with pitchers from outside the organization like Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and Aroldis Chapman.

It is, obviously, a good strategy if you can do it right, as well as a relatively new one. For the better part of the last decade, teams like the St. Louis Cardinals have tried to build homegrown pitching staffs and cobble together a lineup from high priced free agents. Only truly deep organizations can do what the Cubs have and what the Astros are attempting.

But Houston is off to a great start. Their lineup is beyond deep and led by some genuine superstars. Their rotation, meanwhile is the wild card. It could be great, it could really hold them back, and either way, I’d be shocked if it didn’t include a very big addition before the team plays on August 1st.

Projected Lineup:

Se the projected lineup and read the rest of this post, with a projected rotation too, over at Off the Bench here.

2017 National League East Preview

The National League East is a mix of the haves and the have-nots, though not to the extreme that was 2016, when 3 of the teams were in the depths of their rebuilds, while two appeared to be blossoming into title contenders. 2017 figures to be a repeat for many of the teams as the biggest offseason deal inched one title contenders closer to the World Series (on paper).

It’s a division that is hallmarked by excellent pitching, though Jose Fernandez‘ flamboyance will be sorely missed. The Mets and Nationals each have a stable of Aces at the major league level, while the Phillies and Marlins have young guys that show serious promise, and the Braves have the most impressive group of pitching prospects that anyone in the game appears to have ever seen. It’s an interesting division that constitutes a cross-section of all that baseball has to offer right now.

The Prediction: 

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. New York Mets
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. Miami Marlins
  5. Philadelphia Phillies

It’s the Nationals’ division to lose, really….

Read the rest of this post and see our in depth breakdown of the division at Off the Bench here.

2017 American League West Season Preview

The AL West is one of baseball’s most interesting divisions. It features baseball’s best player, its most talented shortstop and top two second basemen, its batting champ, its least enjoyable team to watch, its second most annoying closer, and King Felix.

For the last two seasons, the West has been won by the Texas Rangers, who ran away with things again in 2016 with an AL best 95 wins. Texas is deep, with a strong lineup, a good, young core, and a solid starting staff, but the rest of the division is doing their best to catch up. Well, except for the A’s.

Seattle finished second in 2016 and made 14 trades this offseason, more than any team ever has in one winter. Houston finished third but made a couple big moves and is right in its window for contention. The Angels still have Mike Trout and no pitching. The A’s have….Khris Davis?

This is going to be a fun division to watch all summer because its likely to be very competitive. Three teams have are going in to 2017 with well founded confidence and I think they’ll be jockeying for first right up until the end.

Prediction:

  1. Houston Astros
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Seattle Mariners
  4. Los Angeles Angels
  5. Oakland A’s

I’m going bold here….

Read the rest of this post, and see our in depth breakdown of the division, at Off the Bench here.

Eric Hosmer Must Stop This Trend to Truly Unlock His Power

The 2017 season is a critical for not only the Kansas City Royals, but also for first baseman Eric Hosmer. It’s his final year prior to hitting free agency, and he’s already built an impressive resume with his seventh big league season on the horizon.

After all, not many players can say that they’ve won three Gold Gloves (in consecutive years), appeared in an All-Star game (and took home MVP honors) and played in two World Series. Oh, and one of those trips to the Fall Classic ended with a bunch of champagne in his eyes.

While Hosmer claims to have never mentioned wanting a 10-year contract, it sounds an awful lot like something his agent, Scott Boras, would be asking for. He’s notoriously been one to set an exorbitant price for his clients, and someone eventually buckles more times than you’d think.

But will an organization buckle for someone like Hosmer? He’s put together a great resume thus far, but the journey into free agency this past winter for two reigning home run champions in Mark Trumbo and Chris Carter showed us that teams aren’t quite valuing players the same anymore.

And honestly, if one concerning trend continues into this season, it’d be surprising if Hosmer gets offered anything close to a 10-year deal.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast -March 16, 2017

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Doug Benc/Getty Images North America

What managers are currently worthy of making it to the Hall of Fame? Which managers will get over the hump if they win the 2017 World Series?

It is a resume padding episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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San Francisco Giants: Matt Cain’s Future Uncertain

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With everyday that passes, we’re getting closer to the end of Spring Training. That doesn’t just mean that it’s time for the season to start. It also means some big-time decisions need to be made by the San Francisco Giants front office. One of the big decisions is if long tenure pitcher Matt Cain will be breaking camp as a starting pitcher, a reliever or if he even makes the Opening Day Roster at all.

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The Yankees vs The Universe: Who Ya Got?

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The Yankees sure are stocked with contenders for mythical “Best-Ever” status. You know the usual suspects: Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, etc. – but they’re basically flush everywhere. In fact, if one were to compose the “All-Time Yankees Lineup,” it might be competitive with a composite “All-Time Major League Lineup” made up of players from every other franchise.

So, just for fun: The NY Yankees vs the rest of the Universe for “all-time” bragging rights. The rules: 1) To be considered for the Yankees lineup, a player must have spent the bulk of his career with the team, or barring that, have his career most closely associated with the team (the team logo on his HOF plaque might be instructive in this regard); 2) There will be no double-dipping: Since Ruth mans right field for the Yankees, he can’t be drafted by the Universe. READ MORE ON PLATE COVERAGE.COM

Atlanta Braves Top 25 Prospects

Dansby Swanson made his way to the Major Leagues last season and was the leading name for farm system loaded with overall talent. Atlanta fans have a reason to be excited about the future with the likes of Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, Max Fried, and Sean Newcomb all offering potential that may change the outlook of the franchise for years to come. The system is loaded with high upside younger prospects such as Derian Cruz and Christian Pache and developing assets that could have major league impact such as Lucas Sims, Austin Riley, Patrick Weigel, and Luis Gohara. Then there are the prospects with massive upsides with known weaknesses such as Travis Demeritte, Kolby Allard, Joey Wentz and Touki Toussaint. Through and through this is likely the deepest farm in baseball and has the upside to contend with the best.

 

Atlanta Braves Top 25 Prospects In 2017

The AL West Race Is Full of Questions in the Starting Rotation

What’s the key to an MLB team beating out their competition en route to securing a division title? There are a lot of variables that go into a potential postseason run, but it’s almost always centered around pitching — both effectiveness and relative health.

Something that gets overlooked from last year was the incredible continuity the Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays had in their respective starting rotations — they were both top five in fWAR thanks to finishing first and second in total innings pitched. They accomplished that because each squad boasted five hurlers with at least 29 starts.

Virtually no teams can depend on that kind of consistency throughout the regular season.

Every division race has questions about pitching, but it seems like the American League West is just oozing with uncertainty in each of the team’s starting rotations — whether they’re a contender or not.

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The Impossible Dream 1967 Red Sox- A Review

The Boston Red Sox have a fan base and teams that create memories unlike most sports teams. Often, the two inform and feed off the other. Herb Crehan’s The Impossible Dream 1967 Red Sox: Birth of Red Sox Nation (2016, Summer Game Books) celebrates the 50thanniversary of one of those greatest collaborations, which was so memorable it spawned a team name for the history books and launched an identity for those on the sidelines that persists to this day.

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Spotlight on the 2017 Washington Nationals

Off The Bench’s season previews this year are being run a bit differently. We’ll  runa divisional preview for each of baseball’s 6 divisions, and a spotlight on the most interesting team in each division. The spotlight does not necessarily have to be the “most interesting team,” so perhaps a more accurate description is that it is the team that we feel like writing about whenever we sit down to write. It’s our blog, thank you very much.

With that, I will be previewing the Washington Nationals’ 2017 season, not because they are the most interesting team in the NL East (for my money, that’s the Phillies), nor because they’re the easiest for me to write about (this Braves fan could write 4,000 words on Bartolo Colon and the new stadium that could get us ready for 2018). No, I’m writing about the Nationals because they might just be the best team that we never talk about. Sure, Max covered their Presidential tryouts, but the last piece dedicated to the Nats was when we wrote about Trea Turner in November. It just feels like they’re due for a Sean Morash analysis.

So where do the Nats stand? They’re the odds-on favorite to win the NL East, just as they have in 3 of the last 5 years. Unfortunately, they’ve lost in the Division Series each of the three times they’ve made the playoffs since moving to DC. They feel like the Atlanta Braves in the early 2000’s: clearly very good, but definitely not the best team in baseball.

Why though? Well, their superstars Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper haven’t simultaneously carried their halves of the roster. That may sound like tall order, but let’s not forget that these are two of the very most talented players that baseball has seen in the last 20 years. First, let’s look at Harper’s Position Player group.

To continue reading our Washington Nationals 2017 Season preview, please click on over to Off The Bench Baseball.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – March 13, 2017

Wally Fong AP file

Picture by Wally Fong, AP

On the campus of UC Berkeley, I talked about Tommy John and how his career and impact on the game as a pioneer had more effect on the game than many Hall of Famers.

I did NOT risk my body on this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – March 11, 2017

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THE TEAMS THAT SHOULD HAVE WON series continues.

It is tough to feel for the Yankees and their misery needs to be graded on a curve. But I have no doubt that Yankee fans would have given anything to add 2001 to their World Series collection.

27 is not enough on this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Former College Hitting Coach Breaks Down Jason Heyward’s Swing

Jason Heyward is 6’5” 240 Lbs; he’s a plus runner with plus bat speed, a plus arm, a plus defender, and apparently off-the-charts makeup. He’s been a top prospect since he was drafted. He looked like a future super star after his 2012 season that saw him hit 27 HR and 30 doubles. He signed a mega deal with the Cubs after a somewhat resurgent season with the St. Louis Cardinals only to fall to all-time lows in virtually every offensive statistic known to man. He struck nearly twice as many times as he walked, barely broke the .300 OBP mark, and hit a lowly .230 that was devoid of power and production. Thankfully for the Cubs, he is a stalwart defender and still has some worth. Will he ever live up to the contract he signed last off-season? Not likely. But the real question is how to get the ultra-talented 27 year old back on track for the prime years of his career? It’s easier said than done, but where there is a will there is a way. For me it is a 4 step process.

1. Tear it all down.

His swing simply does not work. It’s rigid, it’s long, and the small changes he has tried to make have done nothing to get at the root of his swing problems.

2. Find his athleticism

For such an incredible athlete, his swing lacks any athleticism. This has been evident since he was a high schooler. One of the first rules of coaching hitters should be: DO NOT take away a hitters athleticism. Use it as a way to promote rhythm and timing in their swings. Let him be an athlete again. The rigidity in his swing does not allow him to create timing. The swing unveiled this spring fails him by starting his swing in the front with little connection between upper and lower body. This leaves him continuously out of funk, unable to stay behind the baseball. All of these factors not lining up contributes to his inability to recognize pitches. This is evident in his takes and the excessive amount of bad early count contact (which mask his strikeout totals).

Ton continue reading the roughly 800 more words on Jason Heyward’s new swing, please visit Off The Bench Baseball Blog.

The Easiest Question in Baseball History Might Have a New Answer

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Lou Gehrig.

The answer, that is.  It’s always Lou Gehrig.

Actually… we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ll come back to answer in a minute or two. Let’s first discuss the question.

So there’s a game baseball fans like to play (and by “fans” we also include anybody, anywhere, who has ever written any words, at any time, about the sport). The game, or exercise if you prefer, is to rank the best player who ever lived at every position. Think of it as the all-time, “All-Time Starting Lineup.” Entire books have been devoted the topic, TV shows, countless articles, blog posts… it’s a favorite pastime of devotees of the national past time. READ MORE AT PLATE COVERAGE

Is Nelson Cruz Showing Any Signs of Slowing Down?

Like a fine wine, Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz has gotten better with age.

He had consistently been a force in the middle of the Texas Rangers’ lineup since becoming an everyday player in 2009, but he’s gone to another level in recent years.

The slugger never collected fewer than 22 homers or 76 RBI in a single season with Texas, but also never hit more than 33 dingers or drove in 90 runs while playing over 128 games just once.

Things have taken off since leaving the Lone Star state, though. Between his age-33 and age-35 campaigns, he’s enjoyed three straight 40-plus homer and 90-plus RBI performances.

In fact, his 127 homers during this time is the most in the majors and his 306 RBI are seventh most.

While entering 2017 as a 36-year-old will raise some eyebrows with what we know about aging power hitters, he’s still expected to be a major run producer in the middle of Seattle’s lineup.

Besides age, have there been any signs of decline that we can see?

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The 10 Best Cy Young Performances Since the 2000 Season

While there’s a certain amount of joy in watching two baseball teams slug it out for nine innings, not much can beat a good old fashioned pitcher’s duel.

The game hums along at a nice pace (the commissioner definitely likes that) and every play — whether it’s someone collecting a base hit, stealing a bag, executing a hit-and-run, making a play in the field or something else — gets magnified along the way.

Hitters are forced to face a lot of failure on any given night, and the chances of coming up empty always skyrockets when one of the league’s top hurlers toes the slab. Especially when they’re in the midst of a Cy Young season.

Every award-winning performance is a special one for pitchers, but they’re not all created equally. Since the dawn of the new millennium, we’ve been blessed with some truly dominant pitching performances, but which ones have been the most dominant?

Using FanGraphs’ version of WAR (referred to as fWAR here), we ranked the 10 best Cy Young seasons since 2000 (there was a tie at no. 10, so we handed it to whomever compiled their respective fWAR in the fewest number of innings).

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