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MLB Most Undervalued Player: Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve, 26 years old, has a very good chance at winning the American League MVP Award in 2016. So how in the world could a potential MVP Award winner be undervalued? In 2013, the 5’4 Houston Astros’ second baseman signed a four year/$12 million contract. The contract also has a $6 million fifth year club option and a $6.5 million sixth year club option. Since signing the contract in 2013, Altuve has earned the honors of being an American League All-Star in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

 

I think it’s hard to say a player is undervalued if they are still under team control or arbitration eligible, but Altuve’s long-term contract is way under his specific value. He is one of the best all-around players in all of baseball. He is currently batting .346, with 22 home runs, 95 runs, 90 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, .409 OBP, and a .557 slugging percentage. Out of all players in baseball, I can’t think of any other players who put up similar all-around numbers outside of Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. Altuve also won a Gold Glove award last year, which shows his value is much more than just his bat.

 

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2016 MLB Playoff and Yearly Award Predictions

With only about a month left in the season, it’s time to take a look at playoff and yearly award predictions. These are obviously subject to change, but below are my predictions. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @dynasty_digest.

Playoff Prediction

AL East: Boston Red Sox

AL Central: Cleveland Indians

AL West: Texas Rangers

Wild Card: Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers

 

 

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Could Jose Altuve Win The American League MVP Award?

Houston Astros’ second baseman, Jose Altuve, has had quite an impressive 2016 season so far. He has been so impressive that he could be a legitimate contender for the American League Most Valuable Player Award. He has some very tough competition that includes Mike Trout, Ian Desmond, Robinson CanoXander Bogaerts, David Ortiz and many more.

 

Altuve’s chances at the MVP award could drastically change considering there are still 84 games left in the season, but he is currently one of the favorites. His biggest competition will more than likely be Mike Trout, but Jose Altuve could have a huge advantage on Trout if the Astros continue to win. If Altuve leads the Astros to a playoff appearance, then he could be at a distinct advantage over Trout since the Angels will more than likely finish in the bottom half of the American League West.

 

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The AL Has Been Dominating The NL During Interleague For Over A Decade Now

After 7 years of Interleague, the AL trailed the season series 4 - 3, and the overall games mark 853 - 833 (.506).  Since 2004 it has been 10- years straight of AL beatdowns, winning each campaign for Won - Loss record - 1437 - 1206 (.544).

After the 1st 7 years of Interleague, the AL trailed the season series 4 – 3, and the overall games mark 853 – 833 (.506). Since 2004 it has been 10 years straight of AL beatdowns, winning each campaign for Won – Loss record, with a clip of  1437 – 1206 (.544).  Despite a promising start of 26 – 17 this season for the Senior Circuit, the AL has reeled off a 63 – 45 run, to hold an overall mark of 80 – 71 (.530) – which is slightly above the Lifetime mark of .524 baseball

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer): 

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The American League holds a decisive ALL – Time Record on the National League in Interleague play – and perhaps that is why a lot of traditional fans hate the concept even more.

Heading into play in 2014, the AL has won the last decade straight of seasonal play (10 years), and now possess an overall yearly record of 13 – 4 over the Senior Circuit.

It wasn’t always this dominant for the Junior Circuit. 4 of the 1st 7 campaigns were taken by the NL, however ever since the start of 2004, the American League has routinely speedbagged their opposition league.

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A.L Wild Cards: The Playoff Picture Update

Sunday September 30th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: The added wild card spot wasn’t a particularly popular move when it was first announced. Now, however, it’s provided some late season drama for teams that probably wouldn’t be in the race without the additional spot. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.

However, everyone can’t jump in on the fun in the American League. Only two teams will get a shot at winning a one game sudden death playoff and moving on to the ALDS.

A.L. Wild Card Standings (as of Sunday morning)

Baltimore: 91-67 –

New York: 91-67 –

Oakland: 90-68 –

L.A. Angels: 87-70 2.5 GB

Tampa Bay: 87-71 3 GB

So, as you can see, the A’s and the Orioles or Yankees would play in a one game do or die if the season ended today. However, nothing is final yet. There are two more teams that stand legitimate chances at taking one of those two spots— the Rays and Angels. Or, the two teams that are expected to make the playoffs.

Let’s breakdown the chances of each team punching their ticket to the postseason: Read the rest of this entry

Stephen Drew: Another Great Move by Billy Beane

Thursday August 23rd, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  Before the trading deadline, it was thought that the Oakland A’s were going to make a move. With the extra wild card in play this year, the team seemed to be a contender. Their weakest position though was at shortstop. There were a few options out there, some reasonable and some not, among those were Hanley Ramirez and Stephen Drew. Ramirez was very unlikely to be acquired by the A’s due to the nature of his contract, but he would’ve provided the most boost for the team. The story goes that the A’s almost had Ramirez all but acquired, with the Dodgers eating at least of his contract. But the A’s hesitated, and the Dodgers swooped in and agreed to take on all of the remaining dollars on his deal. With Ramirez ending up on the Dodgers, Stephen Drew seemed to be the most viable option left. Drew missed a large portion of the 2011 season with a broken ankle sustained on a slide into home, and made his 2012 debut around the time of the All-Star Break. In his short time with the Diamondbacks this season, Drew hit just .193 and was pretty disappointing. With the teams hierarchy going public with their displeasure, the writing was on the wall for Drew. It looked like Arizona would be able to get at least the same amount of production from a replacement, so a trade seemed imminent. For some reason the trade never got done, but the A’s kept at it.

Oakland was the perfect candidate to acquire Stephen Drew. So it was no surprise that Billy Beane finally got his man this week. Without a producing shortstop, the A’s had a very little chance at the playoffs. Sure, Drew only hit .193 this year, but he carries a career .266 average over his seven-year career. Plus he walks a ton. A stereotypical A’s hitter characteristic. In 2008, Drew hit .291 with 21 homers and 67 RBIs. If the A’s could get anything close to this production, they would be in very good shape. Drew will most likely keep hitting in the two-hole of the lineup, behind Coco Crisp. Once Drew gets settled and regains form, the A’s should get some good production from the top of their lineup, setting the table for the monster bats of Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, and Chris Carter. Even if Drew were to continue hitting .193, he would still be an improvement from the overall batting average of A’s shortstops at .190. As long as he can walk and hit with some power. Drew will most likely be taking time away from Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales. Given their combined numbers, that is a very good thing. The A’s also just sent the struggling Jemile Weeks down to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Drew.

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Giants and Dodgers: Who Will Take the N.L. West Crown?

Thursday August 2nd, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Now that each team is for the most part set going into the final stretch, the NL West is up for grabs. The Dodgers were the most prominent buyer this year and the Giants didn’t stand idly by. Los Angeles acquired Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Brandon League, and the Giants got Hunter Pence. Before any deals were made, I would say the Giants had a better overall team. But after getting some of the best talent that was made available at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Dodgers might have grabbed a slight edge. Both teams may still make more moves before the year is done, but at this point the N.L. West race will be coming down to the wire.

The Giants

With arguably the best pitching staff in the whole National League, the Giants have a great advantage in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. This year with Tim Lincecum in a bit of a funk, Matt Cain leads the strong staff including Ryan Vogelsong, Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Barry Zito. Heading into this season, Barry Zito was the weak link, going 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA in 2010, and 3-4 with a 5.87 ERA in 2011. Zito was left off the playoff roster in the Giants’ World Series-winning season in 2010. This year has been a good one for Zito—he’s 8-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 20 starts. The weak link in the pitching staff this year has been Tim Lincecum. He is 5-11 with a 5.62 ERA, but has shown some signs of coming out of his season-long slump. If he can replicate some of last season or his performance in the 2010 playoffs, the Giants will have no problem making the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry

2012 Trade Deadline Update #8 7/31: Final Deals: Victorino, Pence, and More

Tuesday July 31st, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  What a busy day! Here are the last of the major deals that led up to the 4:00 p.m. eastern time deadline:

Hunter Pence to the Giants

The Giants and Dodgers are in a tie for first in the NL West as of today. Leading up to the deadline, the Dodgers have acquired Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Brandon League. With the Dodgers making such big moves to add to their offensive lineup, the Giants needed to get a big bat. Hunter Pence is the solution the Giants were looking for, hitting .271with 17 homers and 59 RBI. For Pence and cash considerations, the Giants sent outfielder Nate Schierholtz, minor league catcher Tommy Joseph, and minor league pitcher Seth Rosin. This year, Schierholtz hit .257 in 196 plate appearances. Joseph hit .260 in 335 plate appearances in Double-A, and Rosin held a 4.31 ERA in 56.1 innings in Single-A. I love this move for the Giants. Already with Pablo Sandoval (on the DL now but expected back soon), Melky Cabrera, and Buster Posey in the lineup, the Giants look good. Now with Hunter Pence, they will put up some serious competition to the Dodgers for the NL West crown. The Phillies also get some good talent. Nate Schierholtz never really made it with the Giants, so hopefully he will get a fresh start in Philadephia. Tommy Joseph also was a highly regarded prospect in the Giants organization, and he looks like he will be the catcher of the future. Read the rest of this entry

A Story of MLB Free Agency: Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols

Thursday July 26th, 2012

 John Burns: Two of baseball biggest sluggers Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder both signed $200 million plus contracts this offseason when they hit free agency. Pujols was the first of the two sluggers to sign. On December 10th, 2011, Pujols signed a ten-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, worth around $254 million. It was speculated around the winter meeting that Pujols could join the Miami Marlins who emerged as early favorites for Pujols. Albert could have easily been a Marlin right now if it wasn’t for Miami not granting Pujols a no-trade clause. As for Prince Fielder he waited until late January to sign. Fielder ended up signing a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. Both Fielder and Pujols shocked the baseball world by signing with teams that you would have never expected to see either of them play for. But that is part of the beauty of this game. You never know what will happen. Read the rest of this entry

Adam Dunn: 2012 American League Comeback Player of the Year?

Tuesday June 19, 2012

John Burns:  What a comeback season it has been for Adam Dunn so far, as he leads all of baseball with 23 homers… and it’s not even July yet.

Dunn experienced a miserable 2011 campaign in his first season in Chicago, as he hit a career low .159 and was not showing his usual power numbers. After signing a 4-year, $56 Million deal with the White Sox in 2010, the expectations were huge for the slugger. 2011 was a season to forget for Dunn. After he underwent an appendectomy in April, Dunn’s productivity declined rapidly. Dunn broke the White Sox record for most strikeouts in a season by a hitter with 177 strikeouts in only 415 at-bats. Dunn’s 2011 campaign was by far the worst of his career. Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB Home Run Leaders

Friday February 24th, 2012

 

Rob Bland:  The last two seasons have seen Jose Bautista lead the MLB in home runs.  His seemingly out of nowhere run to being one of the top 3 hitters in baseball looks to continue in 2012.  Can he continue to hit home runs at a ridiculous pace, or will he fall off? Will someone such as Curtis Granderson or Matt Kemp become MLB’s newest home run champ?  I will take a look at some of the top choices to take over this title, as well as a few dark horses. Read the rest of this entry

Having Long Term Managers Produces Results

Monday February 20, 2012

Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth:  Let’s face it, we live in a right here, right now world.  With this motto, baseball manager have great expectations for instant results.  This rule even applies to managers who have a great track record.  The template from yesteryear was simple, hire a manager that had been coaching in your organization for years.  This way, it would be an easy transition into the Manager role.  When the managers were hired, they were given years to shape the team.  It wasn’t unheard of for managers to be with a Major League Team for 20-30 years, when you factored in coaching and Manager positions of elevation.  Today we take a look at four skippers who personify this philosophy: Tommy Lasorda, Tony La Russa, Cito Gaston and Sparky Anderson. Read the rest of this entry

Ricky Romero: Future CY Young Award Winner?

Friday February 17th, 2012

 

Rob Bland:  When Ricky Romero was taken 6th overall in the 2005 MLB Draft, ahead of the likes of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, and outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Jay Bruce, I was shocked, and to be honest, a little bit angry.  Romero was a good pitcher at Cal State – Fullerton, but he was raw; an unfinished product that still needed a lot of work.  Tulowitzki was a tremendous defensive shortstop with plus power potential.  He was bound to be a good Major League shortstop, whereas Romero was still very much a question mark.  McCutchen is a superstar in the making in Pittsburgh, and Jay Bruce is really starting to come together, hitting 100 home runs in his first four seasons.  While these three position players often come up in conversation that they will be perennial All-Stars or future MVPs, Romero has not quite garnered that attention.  He was an All-Star in 2011, albeit after a number of players declined their invitation to participate. But will Romero ever gain notoriety as a potential Cy Young Award candidate? Read the rest of this entry

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)


Did Braun and Verlander Deserve Their MVP Awards?

Wednesday November 23, 2011

Sam Evans: Over the last two days, Major League Baseball announced their 2011 MVPs. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers took home the award in the American League while Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers won the National League award. Now that the voting is over, we can look at who really deserved the awards.

American League MVP: In August, Buster Olney sparked discussion on the AL MVP, when he said on Twitter that if he had a vote it would go to Verlander. At the time, I thought that the award was Jose Bautista‘s to lose. However, after watching Verlander dominate team after team, it became clear to me that this was the most valuable player in the American League. He meant more to his team than any other player in the league. Verlander finished with a with a 2.40 ERA in 251 innings. Verlander threw more innings than any other pitcher in the majors, and to have that strong of numbers in those innings makes it even more impressive.

Verlander also threw his second career no-hitter this year, and led the majors in strikeouts. Jacoby Ellsbury and  Jose Bautista are not shabby candidates either, but they didn’t have the effect Verlander did on his team. The Tigers expected to win every single time that Verlander was on the mound. Overall, even if the BBWAA made this decision based on Verlander’s twenty-four wins, it was the right choice. Verlander became the first pitcher to win the MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992.

National League MVP:  In somewhat of a surprising decision, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was awarded the NL MVP award, receiving 20 out of 32 first place votes, and a total of 388 points. Finishing a close second was Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who received 10 first place votes, and a total of 332 points.

First of all, these were obviously the top two candidates. They both had amazing years that should not go unnoticed despite who actually won the award. What I think it came down to was that Braun made the playoffs and Kemp didn’t. This is somewhat understandable because you can make the argument that if a certain player had such a big impact on their team then they should have made the playoffs. The real question is did Braun really make his team that much better, or did he just play on a much better team? Also, did the distractions surrounding the Dodgers and its ownership affect Kemp’s chances of winning the MVP? It definitely did not help his case.

To truly compare these players first you have to evaluate their defense. Kemp played a much harder position then Braun and he had to cover more ground. Kemp had a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating, a stat used to show how much ground a player covers) of -4.6. Braun had a UZR of -3.8. Neither of these is very impressive, so I guess we can just call this comparison a draw.

As for offense, in my own opinion, Kemp had a stronger year. Both players were very similar in normal statistics. Braun hit .332 with 33 HR and 111 RBI. Kemp hit .324 with 39 HR and 126 RBI. What impresses me is that Kemp scored more runs than Braun despite not having Prince Fielder batting behind him. Also, Kemp had a harder ballpark to hit in, and plays in a stronger pitching division. Kemp was really the only dangerous hitter in the Dodgers lineup, so pitchers could avoid him more than Braun.

According to Baseball-Reference WAR, Kemp was by far the more valuable player. Kemp led the NL with 10.0 WAR, which make Braun’s 7.7 seem miniscule. Kemp also led the National League in total bases, with 353, and Adjusted OPS + with 171.

These two players had almost identical years. If I had a vote, it would have gone to Kemp. But I don’t think Braun winning is anything to get worked up about.  A strong case could have been made for him, as shown by Braun being the winner of the 2012 NL MVP award.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***

The End of the Astros: Bring Back the Houston Colt .45s

Saturday November 19, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The big news of the day in Houston is the approval of the sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane.  Drayton McLane is out as owner.  The final price tag for the team was $615 million.  The catch?  Starting in 2013, the Astros are being realigned to the AL West.  “Houston” has played in the National League since 1962, the year the team was awarded the franchise.  But after 50 years playing NL baseball, the Astros are off to play in the American League.  Houston fans are somewhat dismayed…all the way to upset.  There are season ticket holders that are choosing not to renew their ticket packages.  Attendance is down.  The team has gutted to the point that it is almost a AAA team.  Now, the team is being moved to the American League.  For fans of National League baseball, this move is hard to swallow.  A big advantage of the move is the rivalry that will come into place with the neighboring Texas Rangers.  But with the Mariners, Angels and Athletics in the same division, time zones will be a big problem for Astros fans watching road games.  With all the minuses in the equation, something else needs to be done.  The move to the AL, may create somewhat of a buzz, but perhaps not enough to repair the damages that will result from the move.  The solution?  Re-brand the Astros.  Bring back the Colts .45s.

For you baseball history buffs, the Houston Colt .45s was the original name for the Houston MLB franchise.  The name was conceived by a “pick the name contest”- and what a name it was!  With the idea of the “old west”, the idea of the old colt .45 gun was very cool and classic.   It really fit the Texas mold.  The team even played at Colt Stadium.  But three years later, the team had its own indoor stadium.  The famous (or infamous) Astrodome.  For thirty-five years, the Astrodome was known as the first indoor MLB stadium with the first non-grass surface (appropriately named AstroTurf).  With the space program popularity in Houston, the team very much built itself on the “Astro” concept.  The Houston Astros.  AstroTurf.  The Astrodome.  But now, Houston:  We have a problem.  The team changed locations into a retractable roof stadium in 2000.  Originally named Enron Field and now Minute Maid Park.  No more Astrodome.  The field in the new park, was grass.  No more AstroTurf.  In fact, only the Rays and Blue Jays still play on turf.  So with the Astrodome and AstroTurf gone, why stick with the “Astros” name? The space program connection was probably very hip and trendy in its day.  But as long as I can remember (80’s – Present), the Astros name is not a beloved or dear brand.  It is time to end the final link to the Astros days.

Everything old is new again.  Retro is in.  People love nostalgia, especially baseball fans.  I can’t recall one baseball conversation that I have ever had that included the Colt .45s without the party getting excited.  There was something about that name and logo.  Part of it was the short life span (only three seasons).  It is a very “cool” name.  Original.  You just don’t see a sports team with a name like that.  Then you take into account the logo and Colt .45s envy begins.  I have been to Cooperstown.  I have been to many major league stadiums.  Bring up the Colt .45s name and you generate excitement.  So here is my proposal.  Starting in 2013, to coincide with their move to the AL West, the Houston Astros would become known as the Houston Colt .45s.  The result?  The team would carry excitement and interest everywhere they go.  Merchandise sales would be through the roof.  For a team with a sub-par talent level playing in a league that is largely opposed by its fan base, renaming the team would give the edge that is needed.

I know what many of you are going to say.  I can hear it now.  You cannot promote guns.  Guns means violence and killing.  It will send a bad message.  Etc…Etc…Etc… I get it.  Yes.  Many of you that are sensitive to these issues may be initially “gun-shy” about the idea.  But let’s be realistic.  There is violence and bad influences all over society, from televisions shows, movies, commercials, music, magazines, video games and much of pop culture.  To me, it is not like it is a picture of a bullet or open wound.  Much of the younger generation wouldn’t necessarily know that a colt .45 was a gun.  From there, with a classic and simple logo- the “gun” part of the colt .45s shouldn’t conjure up violence and negative images.  It is simply a a piece of history.  Almost a work of art.  A piece of Houston history and culture.  Like the old wild west.  When the Colt .45s come to play, it will be like an old-time showdown.  The name is chique.  The logo is very hip.  It will be a winner.

For you baseball fans that are about ready to jump out of your seat and order your Colt .45s jersey, I have some bad news.  The name change is not coming any time soon.  It still remains a figment of my imagination and passion.  But with enough of a vision and push, it could happen.  I have seen stranger things develop.  I can see only good things happening if the Houston Colt .45s return.  Even if the publicity is not all positive, the name change will get many fans talking.  A buzz will be created.  For a team that is on the decline and with little upside to look forward to, a name change is probably the biggest quick-fix scheme you will find.  Let’s bury the Astros name with the Astrodome and AstroTurf.  After erasing two mistakes, let’s finish off the third and final portion and bring back respectability to Houston.  Let’s give the team an old/new identity.  The Colt 45 will become the weapon that Houston uses to climb back to baseball respectability and eventually excellence.

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

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Justin Verlander Wins the 2011 AL Cy Young Award: MVP to Follow

Wednesday November 16, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Congratulations to Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, who was the named the 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner on Tuesday.  Verlander was the unanimous choice after leading the lead in most key pitching categories. He absolutely had a season for the ages, with a 24-5 record, 251 IP, 34 starts, 250 strikeouts, 2.40 ERA and 0.92 WHIP.  This was truly the year of the Verlander and next Monday, the magic is expected to continue with Verlander being named the AL MVP.

We will get to the pitchers being named MVP next week.  For the time being at least, nobody could dispute that Justin Verlander was the top pitcher in the AL in 2011.  After 7 seasons, Verlander already has 107 wins.  At 28-years of age, he has a chance to make a strong run for the next years, health permitting.  Signed to a 5-year $79.5 million contract running through 2014, the Tigers have their ace locked up for the next few seasons as they try to maintain a balanced playoff-caliber team.  A 4-time All-Star who also a Rookie of the Year Award in his cabinet, the sky is the limit for Justin Verlander.  There were other strong pitchers this year in the American League.  C.C. Sabathia, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, just to name a few.  But based on the voting, the award was deservingly given to Verlander.  He was truly the best hurler in the American League and deserved to win this award.

This afternoon the American League will be naming its Manager of the Year.  This one is expected to go to Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays, although Jim Leyland of the Tigers and Ron Washington of the Rangers should receive consideration as well.  Everyone has awards fever as Major League Baseball continues to hand out its annual hardware into next week.  Stay tuned!  Free agency is also alive and well with most of the big free agents still yet to sign.  MLB reports has you covered and will report all the big signings as they happen.

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

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Kimbrel and Hellickson Named the 2011 AL and NL Rookie Of The Year

Tuesday November 15, 2011

Sam Evans:If you haven’t heard already, on Monday, Major League Baseball announced the rookie of the year winners. Craig Kimbrel won the NL ROY, and Jeremy Hellickson won the AL ROY. Let’s look at the winners and whether or not each deserved their respective awards.

Craig Kimbrel: National League Rookie of the Year:

Craig Kimbrel received a whopping 32 out of 32 first place votes, becoming the 17th player to receive all first place votes. In my opinion, the Atlanta Braves closer Kimbrel definitely deserved this award. He was not only extremely impressive to the eye, but the numbers backed it up. Kimbrel finished with 18 earned runs in 77 innings. He finished with 46 saves and struck out 14.84 K/9. Coming in second place was Kimbrel’s teammate Freddie Freeman with 70 votes, but no first place votes.

I would usually be hesitant to give a closer the award over a player who plays every day. However, Craig Kimbrel is just downright filthy. He might have the best curveball in baseball, and he is only 23 years old. It is impressive for a young flame throwing reliever to be consistent throughout the whole regular season. Not to mention, Braves Manager Fredi González, probably used Kimbrel more than he should have. This was evidenced when Kimbrel had a rough last month of the season with an ERA of 4.76.  It should be noted that Kimbrel threw more innings in 2011 then he threw in any one year throughout the minors. Overall, I think that the voters made the right decision here. Kimbrel was the best reliever in all of baseball and was a very valuable asset to his team.

Jeremy Hellickson: American League Rookie of the Year

Hellickson received 17 out of 28 first place votes. This award was a surprise to a lot of people, including Hellickson,””I guess I was a little surprised, there was a handful of guys I think all had the same amount of chance to win.” If you remember back to September, I wrote that I thought Mark Trumbo should win the AL ROY. Well, I admit that I changed my mind since then. I came to the conclusion that either Michael Pineda or Eric Hosmer were more deserving of the award. Trumbo came in second place with 63 votes (5 1st place votes), thirty-nine behind Hellickson.

I can’t say that I was surprised when I heard that Hellickson won the award. After all, he pitches in by far, the strongest division in the league, he almost threw 200 innings, and he had an ERA under 3.00. Unfortunately, when you take a closer look at his peripherals, Hellickson really didn’t have the year that his standard numbers suggest. He had a SIERA (Skill Interactive ERA) of 4.63 and a FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 4.44. Who knows what Hellickson’s numbers would have looked like without an outstanding defense behind him! He only struck out 5.57 batters per nine innings, and an 82 LOB %. What these numbers tell us is that Hellickson really had luck on his side and he likely wasn’t even the best rookie pitcher in his division.

I’m not so sure that Hellickson deserved this award. I’m not saying he didn’t have an amazing year helping lead the Rays to the playoffs. I just think that their were stronger candidates to win the ROY award in the AL.

The Astros Move To The AL West

Sunday  October 30, 2011

MLB reports – Sam Evans:  As an amazing 2011 MLB postseason has come to a close, it’s time to look ahead to next year. The Houston Astros have been,” looking forward to the next year,” since the last time they made the playoffs in 2006. It’s time for a change in Houston and Bud Selig and Jim Crane are currently working on a plan to make a big-time change for baseball’s future in Houston.

Times have been hard recently for Astros fans. Widely considered the worst team in baseball, the Astros home attendance has steadily decreased every year since 2006. They haven’t had a winning season since 2008 and their minor league system shows only small glimmers of hope on the way.

In the middle of June, rumors began  floating around that the Astros would move to the American League, as early as the 2013 season. This would provide each league with an even fifteen teams and six five team divisions. Also, you have to think that Major League Baseball wants to start a rivalry between the Astros and the Rangers. Well now in October, these rumors have become more serious and now it appears inevitable that the Astros will be realigned to the American League West.

Although we don’t know when exactly this move will take place,we have figured out that it will happen. It will be interesting to see if the Astros shop for a DH this or next offseason because if they do move by 2013, having nine Major League quality hitters in their lineup would be a big asset. It would make sense for them to bring back Carlos Lee if they were indeed moving to the AL, because he would be a much more productive DH than an outfielder.

I actually think that this would be a good move both for MLB and for the Astros. For MLB, they finally fix the glaring trivia answer which is, why there is an uneven number of teams in each league.  Balanced divisions, until increased to 32 Major League teams by way of expansion, will lead to an unbalanced schedule.  15 teams per league means that there will need to be an interleague game scheduled every week.  Some love the concept of interleague play, while other detest it.  But for whatever people think of it, interleague is here to stay in the world of Major League Baseball.  Having weekly interleague match-ups will actually help solve the unbalanced interleague issue.  In current play, some fans have complained that the same interleague match-ups are in place every year- with not all teams from each of the different leagues matching up.  Having weekly interleague games means that all AL and NL teams will face-off during the season at some point.  Greater exposure for each of the teams in each MLB city should lead to greater enthusiasm for the fans and a more balanced approach to scheduling interleague games.  It is not a perfect system- far from it.  But until Major League Baseball brings in 2 more teams and creates a 16/16 league split, having the 15/15 split will at least allow for balanced divisions and equal chances to make the playoffs.

For the Astros, I seriously believe they could start one of the best rivalries in baseball with the Rangers. This would be beneficial not only for the Astros as an organization, but their fans and attendance as well. Let’s make one thing clear though in the interim: the current “rivalry” between the Astros and Rangers is a joke. The ony time they face off is in interleague games, and neither team has any more incentives in those games as compared to any other games. However, I think if they actually played each other as division rivals frequently, and the fans became passionate about those games, then they could actually start a strong rivalry for years to come.

Astros fans have been against this move for two main reasons. The first is that they would lose their history with the National League (and specifically, NL Central teams). The main reason however, is that they would play West Coast teams more, which would mean that games against Seattle, Oakland, and Anaheim would start at a later time. I can fully understand and appreciate the Astros fans feelings on the subject. The only counterexample I can offer is what Rangers fans already go through with this same dilemma and they same to have done just fine.

At the end of the day, I think the Astros should move to the American League West. It makes sense for the current MLB system. Furthermore, this franchise looks in need of a fresh start and maybe a new division could help provide that.

Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Contenders for AL Rookie of the Year Award: Who Will Win?

Monday September 12, 2011

 

 

Sam Evans (Intern Candidate- MLB reports):  With the regular season coming to an end, it’s time to start looking at baseball’s awards. The American League Rookie of the Year will definitely not be an easy choice for BBWAA voters. Even though the top candidates are pretty clear, there is still about 20 games left for most teams. This last month is important for candidates to solidify their numbers and argument for the award. Here is my opinion on who should win the award.

Three of the five last winners of the AL ROY award have been pitchers. When choosing who I think deserves the award one of my key requirements is playing time. In my opinion, a mediocre pitcher who pitched the whole season is more impressive than a position player who was only in the majors for half of the season. Also, I don’t think the team of the players record is important enough to be a consideration for voters. This award should be chosen for a player’s impact in the majors, not how hyped up of a prospect he is. So I’ll try to look past the shock value and breakdown some of the candidates.

 

        Eric Hosmer: Kansas City Royals

Hosmer  made his Royals debut on May 6th and has been the Royals starting first basemen ever since. For the year, Hosmer has batted .286/.334/.462 with 17 HR and 69 RBI’s. He has been the consistent middle of the order bat that the Royals have lacked ever since Carlos Beltran got traded.

 

        Michael Pineda: Seattle Mariners

When Pineda was named the Mariners fifth starter right before the season started, most Mariners fans didn’t know what to expect. Michael was an American League All-star and has slid into the Mariners #2 starter spot. His numbers have tailed off a little as the season has gone on, but the Mariners still haven’t made the decision to shut him down. He has a 3.72 ERA in 167 innings with 171 strikeouts. That’s more than Jon Lester and Matt Cain. Also as his 3.42 FIP suggests he has actually been better than his ERA suggests. However, he has pitched in a pitcher’s park this year which have probably helped his numbers.

 

         Ivan Nova: New York Yankees

Nova just barely has eligibility, but he has had a surprisingly solid season as one of the Yankees backend starters. He is 15-4 with a 3.94 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 144 innings. Obviously, the number that stands out is the fifteen wins, which is impressive for any pitcher. Still, with the Yankees offense wins aren’t a great stat to judge performance.  Speaking for myself, I just don’t think his numbers are impressive enough to be the 2011 AL Rookie of the year.

 

        Jeremy Hellickson: Tampa Bay Rays

Going into the season, there were pretty high expectations set for Hellickson. ESPN fantasy baseball teams were drafting him at an average of 163rd. He definitely has lived up to those assumptions and maybe even exceeded them. He is 12-10 with a 2.96 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 170 IP. Not to mention, he has done this while pitching in the toughest in baseball. He has had a lot of luck this season, as his 4.30 FIP and 4.57 xFIP suggest (courtesy of fangraphs.com). Also, he has the highest LOB% among all pitchers that have thrown over 100 innings.

 

Mark Trumbo: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

After the Angels received the news that Kendry Morales would start the year on the disabled list, the Angels first base options looked bleak. Trumbo was the favorite to win the job but wasn’t a very heralded prospect. Baseball America had him as the Angels 9th best prospect. Trumbo not only won the job, but he ran with it. On the season, he is hitting .256 with 26 HR and 80 RBI’s. He leads all rookies in homers, RBI’s, and SLG%( for rookies with more than 300 plate appearances). Not to mention, he has provided an above-average glove at first base. His batting average is not great, and his OBP% is under .300(.295), so he hasn’t been perfect this year. In the end, he has made contributions to his team unlike any other candidate.

 

         Honorable Mentions: Dustin Ackley, Desmond Jennings,   Jordan Walden.

I think Ackley and Jennings didn’t play enough games to deserve the award, and Walden has been too inconsistent. However, if Jennings were to lead the Rays to an improbable playoff spot, I think he should win the award or receive strong consideration by the voters.

 

If I had a vote at the end of the day, I would vote for Trumbo- with Pineda, and Hellickson following. There is still plenty of time left, but in my mind Mark Trumbo deserves the 2011 American League Rookie of the year award.

 

 

 

***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.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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