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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.

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Game 162 and Beyond – Can MLB Top That?

September 29, 2011

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): In order to write all of this, I needed to step away from my TV and computer, take a deep breath, and sleep for a while.  The excitement of last night was almost too much for my fragile heart to bear, so the time away to clear my head was necessary.

I find myself repeating, “What just happened??” in my head.  What happened last night was unfathomable.  Not only were there two teams in each league tied for the Wild Card, but both teams that had been leading, suffered epic failures along the way.  Go back to September 1, and the Boston Red Sox held a 9 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Atlanta Braves held an 8.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams chances of reaching the postseason were over 99%.  Nobody could have actually predicted seriously at that time, that both the Cards and Rays would win the Wild Card on the final day of the regular season.  Especially not the way that the AL Wild Card was eventually decided.

The Rays started David Price against the Yankees.  Sounded promising enough, until Price gave up 6 runs in 4 innings.  The game was pretty much over with the score at 7-0 in the Rays’ half of the 8th inning.  3 runs plated in the bottom of the 8th, then Evan Longoria took over the game.  A 3-run home run put them within one run, and Tropicana Field exploded.  Then with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, Rays manager Joe Maddon made one of the gutsiest calls I have ever seen: pinch hit with Dan Johnson.  Johnson was 9 for 90 this season.  He hadn’t gotten a hit since April.  He had 36 hits since 2008.  With one swing of the bat, the pandemonium levels in Florida had never been so high.  Then, as if he hadn’t done enough already, Longoria blasted another home run, this one of the walk-off variety that would vault the Rays to the postseason.

What hasn’t been said about Boston and their collapse? It has been covered by so many people from so many angles.  You could blame the whole organization from top to bottom, and you wouldn’t be wrong.  What happened was an epic collapse, capped off by a 2 out rally by the Baltimore Orioles of all teams in the bottom of the 9th inning of game 162.  The Orioles had nothing to play for but pride, and the love of the game.  Robert Andino’s walk-off single to win the ball game will be remembered by Boston fans for years to come.

Hunter Pence hit a bloop-ish 120 ft infield single to win it for the Phillies over the Braves.  In the 13th inning.  After Craig Kimbrel, the super rookie, blew a lead in the 9th inning.  The game saw the Phillies march out nine pitchers and the Braves used 8, including Scott Linebrink, who eventually gave up the winning run in the 13th.

Chris Carpenter twirled a gem for the Cardinals, a 2 hit shutout with 11 strikeouts and 1 walk against the Astros.  This performance sealed at the very least a one-game playoff game against the Braves had they won.

Wow what a night.

Now onto LDS matchups:

Rays vs. Rangers

The Rays come in with unlimited momentum, and a pitching staff that is so deep, that manager Joe Maddon is having a difficult time naming the starter for game 1.  While Matt Moore seems to be the obvious choice to me, Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis could be viable options as well.**  James Shields would have to go on short rest, and Price pitched last night, so one of the other three will be chosen to go against C.J. Wilson and a Rangers offense that is ready to take on all comers.  Shields will go game 2 and Price go the 3rd.  Beyond that is a toss-up.  For the Rangers, Wilson will go Game 1, Derek Holland game 2, and still undetermined the rest of the way.

Adrian Beltre had a phenomenal September, earning AL Player of the month, and Mike Napoli has been dominant all year, bashing home runs all over the field.  Michael Young worked his way into the MVP race after a tumultuous offseason that saw him switch positions yet again.  Josh Hamilton is as dangerous as ever, and Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler are still hitting home runs at a high rate.  Kinsler actually became only the third 2nd baseman to join the 30-30 club, with 32 HR and 30 SB.  The Rays may not have the prodigious bombers that the Rangers have, but they have athletic, smart ballplayers that never say die.  They ultimately seem like a team of destiny, and I will not discount the fact that they may have the best manager in all of baseball at the helm.

** Note: Matt Moore has been named the starter for game 1.

Rays in 4

Yankees vs. Tigers

So the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, and the Tigers have the 10th, about $100,000 between them.  Should be easy, right? Yankees should take this series in 3 games.  Wrong.  Detroit has one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball in 2011 in Justin Verlander, who should win the Cy Young vote unanimously.  He should also garner serious MVP interest.  Against him will be CC Sabathia, who has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball the last 7 or 8 years.  Doug Fister was brought in to shore up a shaky Tigers rotation, and with Max Scherzer, the Tigers look like they have a pretty decent chance.  Behind Sabathia will be rookie Ivan Nova, who I am not sold on, and after him is Freddy Garcia, who is having a fine year, but is nowhere near the pitcher he used to be.

Robinson Cano has been his usual stellar self playing 2nd base for the Yankees, but there were a lot of subpar seasons by other Yankees.  Derek Jeter was better than last year, A-Rod was almost nonexistent for a lot of the season, and aside from Curtis Granderson, the lineup struggled to find consistency.  The Posada soap opera continues, but giving Jesus Montero more at bats needs to happen.  The kid can swing it.  The Tigers have another MVP candidate in Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez has been stellar, and they have a young kid behind the plate named Alex Avila who could be in line for a Silver Slugger award.  The Tigers are younger, and hungrier to win, but the Yankees have more overall talent.  Even if their roster is aging, and this one should go down to the final out.

Tigers in 5

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers

The two best managers in the NL this year; Kirk Gibson of the DBacks and Ron Roenicke of the Brewers square off in this ultimately tight series.  Arizona did it this year with a cast of relative nobodies and no real superstar other than Justin Upton.  The Brewers have Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Zack Greinke, John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez.  They have star power up and down the lineup and rotation, and they have a great fan base.

Ian Kennedy may be a Cy Young candidate, but the Brewers have more depth in their rotation.  Yovani Gallardo will oppose him in game 1, followed by Shaun Marcum and Greinke, who will be opposed by Josh Collmenter and Daniel Hudson.  The Brewers also have the dominant back-end of the bullpen in K-Rod and John Axford, who was 46 for 48 in save opportunities.

Brewers in 5

Cardinals vs. Phillies

Prince Fielder just missed his 11th straight season of .300/ 30 HR/ 100RBI.  He hit .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBI.  The cards are not just a one trick pony, however, as Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina have been stellar all season long.  If they can get solid contributions from their secondary players they could make the series interesting.  The Phillies, like the Brewers, have tremendous star power in Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.  Not to mention one of the best deals of the year in Hunter Pence.  They have a veteran presence filled with guys who have been to the postseason five years in a row, and have the ability to hit any team’s pitching.

If you ask anyone who knows anything about baseball what team has the best pitching, the unanimous decision would go to the Phillies. The 4 Aces look to lock up Philly’s second World Series in the last 4 seasons.  Led by Roy Halladay, or Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels, every team in the postseason should be scared.  It is not very often that a team could have 3 pitchers in the top 5 for the Cy Young Award, but it could happen this year.  Roy Oswalt will pitch game 4 if necessary.   Tony La Russa has decided to open the series with veteran Kyle Lohse, which seems asinine.  Edwin Jackson will go Game 2 and Chris Carpenter game 3.  Jaime Garcia, who could be their most talented pitcher, will throw game 4 if necessary.

Phillies in 4

All 4 series should play pretty close, and the series I am most excited to watch is Arizona vs. Milwaukee.  If Game 162 was any indication of what is to come of the postseason this year, then everyone needs to grab their popcorn and beverages, get bunkered down, and get ready for a long, gruelling, exciting month of baseball. 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  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 Rob 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 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.

Top 10 Closers: MLB Saves Leaders

Thursday August 25, 2011

 

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB reports):  Closers are a topic a lot of people ask about, but I never really got around to writing about.  Mainly because, in my opinion, it is a position that is completely overrated.  While it certainly helps to have a guy that can go in and slam the door and collect saves for over a decade a la Mariano Rivera, it isn’t necessary to have a “closer” to be a contending team.  One need only to look at the top 20 leaders in saves in baseball to notice that the Texas Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz sits 19th with 25 saves, and Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Madson is 20th with 23 saves.  It also doesn’t guarantee success, as Heath Bell, Drew Storen, Leo Nunez, Joel Hanrahan are all in the top 10 in saves, while their teams are not in playoff contention.

 

Top 10 Saves Leaders in MLB as of today:

Pitcher Team Saves K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP WAR
Craig Kimbrel Atlanta Braves 40 14.56 3.53 1.70 1.20 3.1
John Axford Milwaukee Brewers 37 10.86 3.32 2.26 2.36 1.7
Jose Valverde Detroit Tigers 37 8.31 4.79 2.72 4.08 0.2
Brian Wilson San Francisco Giants 35 8.72 5.20 3.19 3.40 0.7
Heath Bell San Diego Padres 35 6.79 3.23 2.55 3.07 0.7
Drew Storen Washington Nationals 34 8.03 2.19 2.77 3.48 0.6
Mariano Rivera New York Yankees 33 8.45 0.92 2.20 2.23 1.8
Leo Nunez Florida Marlins 33 8.31 2.88 4.63 4.02 0.1
Joel Hanrahan Pittsburgh Pirates 32 7.85 2.04 1.73 2.17 1.8
JJ Putz Arizona Diamondbacks 32 8.28 2.17 2.76 3.10 1.0

I look at this list and a few things come to mind:

1)      Craig Kimbrel is absolutely filthy.

2)      Mariano Rivera is still one of the very best.

3)      Closers are more overrated than I originally expected.

4)      A lot of saves does not equal success.

5)      Craig Kimbrel.  Wow.

Craig Kimbrel is having the best year ever for a rookie closer.  It isn’t even September and he has 40 saves.  Not only that, but he is striking out more than 14 batters per 9 innings.  His FIP is a ridiculous 1.20, and his WAR is at 3.1, which is 1.3 higher than any other closer in the Major Leagues.  His ground ball rate is 43.7% and has only given up 1 home run in 63 2/3 innings.  If the Braves end up winning the Wild Card and have a lead late in games, the shutdown duo of Johnny Venters and Kimbrel should be able to save the game for the Braves in most instances.

John Axford has had a strange way to becoming one of the premier closers in all of baseball.  It took him many years to get there, but under the tutelage of Trevor Hoffman, the career saves leader, whom Axford took his job from, he has flourished.  In 2010, Axford had 24 saves after taking over for Hoffman mid-season, and this year’s 37 so far are tied for 2nd in the big leagues.  Axford gets over 50% ground balls, and keeps the ball in the yard, two main factors for his success.

Jose Valverde is one of the closers whom I find to be overrated.  Part of his success can be attributed to a lucky .250 BABIP.   He also walks close to 5 batters per 9 innings, which is extremely high, especially when he does not strike out a very high number of batters.  Valverde may appear to be very good with 37 saves, but his 0.2 WAR suggests that he is basically a replacement level pitcher.  Surely he is not worth the $7M he is being paid.

Brian Wilson is loved by many in the game.  He is funny, has a strange personality, (which seems to be perfectly suited for the bullpen) and he has an outrageous beard.  Since 2008, he has accumulated 162 saves, so he is very valuable at the back-end of the Giants’ bullpen.  He keeps the ball on the ground, with a career 50% ground ball rate, but he walks a ton of batters (5.20/9IP).  He gets a lot of save opportunities because the starting rotation is very good, and his team doesn’t score many runs, so there are a lot of close games. 

Heath Bell has put up some ridiculous numbers over the last few years, but these numbers come with half of his games played in the cavernous PETCO Park.  While his last two seasons had his K rate over 10, he sits at 6.79 for this season.  His ground ball rate is also down 5% to 43.  Although his ERA is a good 2.55, his xFIP is 3.89, and like Wilson, gets saves because of an anaemic offense that results in his team often being in close games.

Drew Storen is another of the Washington Nationals’ young phenoms.  He moved up the ranks, throwing only 53 2/3 innings in the minor leagues before making his debut in 2010.  He has been a tad lucky as his BABIP is .241, but he gets a lot of ground balls, so the hits will even out.  He also gives up a higher than average home run per fly ball rate at 11.1%.  Storen doesn’t walk many, and as he matures, should probably strike out a higher number.  When Washington starts winning more games, he will have even more opportunities for saves.

Mariano Rivera is up to his usual tricks. Even at 41 years old, he is carving up hitters with his signature cut fastball.  Rivera has a ridiculous 9:1 K:BB ratio, as well as getting ground balls 47% of the time.  His WAR sits at 1.8, tied for second best for closers.  The only question is when will this guy ever slow down?

Leo Nunez of the Florida Marlins may be the most overrated closer in baseball.  Nunez doesn’t get a lot of ground balls, nor does he strike out a ton, as he gives up a ton of fly balls (49%) and home runs (8 in 56 IP).  Nunez’s ERA of 4.63 actually looks worse than his 4.02 FIP, so he has been a little unlucky, but still not very good.

Joel Hanrahan has found a home at the back-end up the Pirates’ bullpen, and is thriving there.  While his K rate has dropped to 7.85/9 IP from almost 13 last year, he has walked less batters.  Hanrahan has been able to induce ground balls on over half of his plate appearances, and only given up 1 home run in 57 1/3 innings.  His stellar numbers have allowed him to tie Rivera for 2nd in closer’s WAR this year.

JJ Putz’s resurgence as a closer this year comes as no surprise to many.  Last year as a setup man for Bobby Jenks with the Chicago White Sox, Putz’s K rate was just below 11/9IP, while he walked only 2.5 per 9 innings.  He hasn’t put up the same strikeout numbers this year, but he is walking less batters.  Putz’s WAR of 1.0 puts him towards the top of the list of closers.

 

Out of the top 30 relievers in WAR, only 9 are full-time closers.  Francisco Rodriguez is among those pitchers, but since he does not close games since traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, he was not counted.  Although this doesn’t mean that just ANYONE can close games and earn saves, it does show that many pitchers who have not been given the opportunity probably could get the job done.  

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  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 Rob 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.

E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday June 15th

Thank you for reading the E-mailbag.  Please send all your questions to mlbreports@gmail.com and please include your first name and City/Country.

We will be compiling a list of your questions from our e-mailbag and posting the responses on Wednesdays.

 

 

Wednesday June 15, 2011

Q:  Do you think that the Dodgers should rid of Rafael Furcal?  Dee Gordon is looking really good.  From Christopher, Los Angeles.

MLB reports:    Rafael Furcal is injured once again, playing in only 17 games thus far in 2011.  After playing in only 97 games last year, the end might be near for the 33-year old Dominican.  Signed through this year, the Dodgers hold a team option on his contract for 2012, that is almost certain to be declined.  Considering his high salary and low value, chances are that Furcal will play out the string in Los Angeles.  Dee Gordon has played well in limited action so far for the Dodgers.  But remember, he is still only 23.  At worst, Furcal is either going to be on-and-off the DL all year or be an expensive insurance policy for Dee Gordon.  Not to worry, the Gordon ERA has begun in Los Angeles.

Q:    Most common players last name in Major League Baseball?  From London Baesball, UK.

MLB reports:  Great question from the UK.  One would think that it is Smith or Anderson, a very common last name here in North America.  But showing the global-wide spread effect of the game, the answer is Ramirez.  With 11 noted players with the last name Ramirez, including Hanley, Aramis and Alexei, the most common last name in MLB is:  Ramirez.

Q:  With all the talk of realignment in baseball, what are the chances of us seeing the Astros in the American League?  From Bill, Texas.

MLB reports:  Thank you for the e-mail Bill.  Realignment has been the talk of baseball in recent days based on the ESPN article that came out last week.  We actually covered the topic of realignment last month, which you view in our archives by clicking here.  The Astros have been a popular team included in the realignment discussion, based on the natural rivalry with the Texas Rangers.  I had the Astros moving to the AL West in my proposed realignment, with the Rockies and Diamondbacks.  I can see a definite fit for the Astros in the AL.  As a rebuilding team, moving to a new league could lead to fan excitement and increased attendance.  Given their strong hitters park, I could see the Astros having some wild games in the AL.  A definite fit, this story is starting to gain even more momentum. 

 

Q:  Will the Twins rebound this season?  I am very frustrated!  From Kelly, Ohio.

MLB reports:  I do not blame you Kelly as little has gone right for the Minnesota Twins this year.  While I see a good nucleus for future years, it does not appear that the playoffs are in the cards for your team in 2011.  The team is sitting at 26-39 and has just lost Justin Morneau for approximately two weeks.  Joe Mauer has been injured for much of the year, Nathan has not returned back to form and much of the team has either been slumping or injured for most of the year.  Little has gone right and sometimes you just need to chalk things up to bad luck.  I expect the team to regroup, refocus and come out strong next year.  There is still a lot of baseball to be played but I would not expect higher than 3rd place this year for your Twins.  Sorry.

 

Q:  I enjoyed your profile on Mesoraco.   Great prospect for the Reds.  What happened to Chapman.  Did he just lose it all of a sudden?  Is this Dontrelle Willis all over again?  From Barry, New York.

MLB reports:  Hello Barry.  Glad you enjoyed reading on Mesoraco and there is much to look forward to in Cincinnati.  A great ballclub with many prospects on the horizon.  I definitely see the Reds contending and perhaps creating a mini-dynasty in the near future.  As far as Aroldis Chapman goes, there appears to be a mystery as to what has happened to the once future closer for the Reds.  The 23-year old has been simply horrible, both in the majors and minors.  Some have blamed mechanics, while others have said that he is battling injuries.  Maturity may be an issue as well.  The decline of Dontrelle Willis was a gradual one, while Chapman has lost “it” literally overnight.  The Reds will have to be careful to pinpoint his issues and help straighten him out.  The greatest danger is a loss of confidence, which can be very difficult for a young player to overcome.  Injuries can be healed.  But if mechanics are the issue, the best bet is to keep him in the minors and to get Chapman straightened out, no matter how long it takes.  I would treat him with kiddie gloves at this point and hope that he gets back to form by 2012.

 

Thanks for the e-mails and keep them coming!  mlbreports@gmail.com

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E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday June 8th

Thank you for reading the E-mailbag.  Please send all your questions to mlbreports@gmail.com and please include your first name and City/Country.

 

We will be compiling a list of your questions from our e-mailbag and posting the responses on Wednesdays.


 

Wednesday June 8, 2011

 

Q:  Do you think that  Kansas city will trade Wilson Betemit to a contender while he his playing well and with Mike “Moose” starting to hit great in Triple-A?  If so to whom will he get traded to possibly?  From Pam

MLB reports:  Thank you for the question Pam.  I see that you have beeen following the Reports closely, as you know that I enjoy discussing Royals prospects, especially the up-and-coming bats.  With Hosmer on board, it is only a matter of time before Mike “Moose” Moustakas is next.  In 54 games played in Omaha, the Moose has 10 home runs,  43 RBIs, 36 runs scored, .282 AVG and .835 OPS.  His 18/43 BB/K ratio does not get me terribly excited, as it does not appear that Moose will ever have the batting eye of Eric Hosmer.  That being said, Moustakas should hit for decent average with a ton of power.  At 22 years of age and on his second tour of duty in AAA, it is only a matter of time before he gets called up.  Wilson Betemit, on the other hand, has played fairly well this year, with a .297 AVG and .776 OPS.  The power is down with only 2 home runs but he has 13 doubles already.  I see the Royals keeping him around for insurance and versatility.  With the Royals very much in contention, they do not have an incentive to trade Betemit unless they got young pitching back (which few teams would give up at this stage).  Betemit also has a very affordable contract ($1 million/2011) and will not likely be moved. 

 

Q:    What do you think of the rumored group of Garvey and Hershiser to purchase the Dodgers?   From Larry, Laughlin.

MLB reports:  This story has surfaced and has started to gather steam.  If not for Steve Garvey, I could see the Orel Hershiser name attached to the bid providing a great deal of credibility.  Hershiser is seen as a clean-cut individual with great heroics in years past for the Dodgers.  Garvey on the other hand, while a strong player in his day, does not have the best reputation.  Based on the news that I am hearing, I think having Garvey on board will likely kill the chances of this group winning any future bids to control the Dodgers.  Frank McCourt is still lurking in the background, but his time is almost done.  With all the turmoil surrounding the Dodgers in recent years, MLB and Selig will take their time to find the best possible ownership situation for one of its prized franchises.  Stay tuned as this story is far from over.

 

Q:  So has Matt Purke pitcher for TCU been drafted yet? If so, where to?  From Nolan, Texas

MLB reports:  What a fall from grace.  Purke, drafted by the Rangers 14th overall in 2010, was drafted in the 3rd round, with the 96th pick by the Washington Nationals this year.  After battling a sore shoulder and having signability issues based on the Rangers failure to sign him, many teams got scared off from this prospect.  I expected Purke to go in the 1st round this year, likely to the Jays or back to the Rangers.  But the Nationals, who continue to stock up top prospects, landed a 1st round talent in the 3rd round.  A very successful selection as Purke will become a solid #3 solid for the Nationals down the road, as early as 2013. 

 

Q:  Hosmer have a legit chance at AL ROY this year?  From Jerry, Lawrence KS

MLB reports:  You think?  At age 21 (a year younger than Mike Moustakas), Eric Hosmer has simply dominated major league pitching since getting the call to join the Royals.  In 29 games, Hosmer has 5 home runs, 20 RBIs, 14 runs, .304 AVG and .834 OPS.  His batting eye has not been on par with his numbers from the minors, as he sits at a 7/22 BB/K.  But with his strong average and power to-date, Hosmer will cut down the strikeouts and increase the walks as the months and years go by.  We are watching the Royals first baseman for the next decade or so.  He has the potential to match the bat of Will Clark and Mark Grace and the sky is the limit for this future all-star.  I compare him most to Logan Morrison of the Florida Marlins, as they are very similar players.  Great company to be in.  Michael Pineda has been outstanding for the Mariners but as the summer is upon us, his arm may get tired and innings become limited.  On the flip-side, I can see Hosmer getting hot as the season progresses and could make a strong push for the Rookie of the Year award in the American League.  Definitely keep an eye on this kid.

 

Q:  What’s your thoughts on the White Sox drafting Keenyn Walker at 47?  From James, London, ON

MLB reports:  I was very surprised to see Walker drafted this early.  After being drafted by the Cubs in the 16th round in 2009 and the Phillies in the 38th round in 2010, I did not expect Walker to go as high as he did.  The kid is a speedster, stealing 65 bases in 63 games played this year.  Compared by some to Devon White, he sees himself as the next Torii Hunter.  Despite his strong bat and 6’3″ frame, I have concerns if his bat will translate to the major league level.  The speed and defense are definitely there, but it’s the power and batting eye that he will need to prove to advance in the minors.  A good project player with a high ceiling, but much too early for the White Sox at this slot.

 

Q:  Looks like Francisco brought his “A game” again. Why is he still closing?  From Jennifer, Toronto

MLB reports:  For some reason, there is a code in baseball that you stick with your “established” closer(s) and keep trotting them out there until they absolutely cannot be trusted.  Looking at the Frank Francisco’s numbers, I believe that time has come.  He has given up far too many hits and runs on the season and with a 6.06 ERA and 1.78 WHIP, in my opinion he should have been pitching in middle relief long ago.  With Jon Rauch also struggling to maintain consistency, many so-called experts have looked to Octavio Dotel to take the closing job in Toronto.  While Dotel has been steady, he has not shown the necessary consistency in my estimation.  If it were up to me, I would call upon Casey Janssen or Jason Frasor to become the new Jays stopper.  Both have brilliant on the season and earned the right ot pitch in the 9th inning.  Frasor has the experience but I would give the role with Janssen and see if he can run with it.  The Jays are fortunate to have so many closing options and can try out different pitchers until they find the right fit.  But why Francisco continues to get the call is beyond me.  He is most suited to pitching the 7th or 8th inning and has proven in Toronto, like he did before in Texas, that he is not a dependable closer. 

 

Q:  What are your thoughts on the season that Jonny Venters is having so far?  Also what about how terrible Uggla has been?  From Kyle

MLB reports:  Craig Kimbrel has pitched well this season, with 17 saves (2nd in the NL), 2.79 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.  But while Kimbrel has been good, Venters has been great.  All Jonny Venters has done is given up 2 ER in 35.2 innings pitched, to a the tune of a 0.50 ERA and 0.76 WHIP.  Kimbrel is younger at 23 compared to Venters at 26 and was seen as a stronger prospect going into the season.  Also Venters is a lefty and baseball for some reason favors right-handed closers.  But the numbers don’t lie and should Kimbrel falter at all, Venters will be given the first crack at the job.  The Braves are in a really good situation with these two youngsters pitching at the back end of their bullpen.  If their worst problem is who should pitch the 9th, the Braves will not mind that at all.  As far as the slumping Uggla goes, there are several factors for his poor season.  At 31-years of age, he starting to hit his decline.  He always had high strikeout numbers but his walks have taken a huge dive this season.  For whatever reason, he has not been comfortable playing in Atlanta and has had troubles adjusting to his new team.  Add to that the pressure of living up to his new 5-year, $62 million contract and you have a case of player that is out of place and playing under pressure.  Uggla though is a solid veteran and I expect him to heat up as the summer is upon us.  The only direction for him is to go up and as long as he goes back to basics and does all the little things that has made him successful in the past, he should rebound nicely.  Uggla is still Uggla, give him time.

 

 

 

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