Advertisements

Blog Archives

2011 MLB Playoffs: Recap Tuesday October 4th

Wednesday October 5, 2011

MLB reports:  While three teams on Tuesday could have moved on to the next series, only one team did. Here is a recap of the scores and highlights from Tuesday’s games: 

 

Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees: ALDS Game Four

With A.J. Burnett on the mound, Yankee fans were on the edge of their seat in anticipation for the game against the Tigers. They knew they needed a win, and a big one.

Well, they got exactly that.

Derek Jeter started the scoring in the third inning with a double that scored Russell Martin and Jorge Posada.

They would hold the 2-0 lead until the bottom of the fourth, when Victor Martinez launched a solo homerun to make it a 2-1 game.

That would, however, be the only run that the Tigers would score as the Yankees scored another run in the 5th, when Curtis Granderson doubled Brett Gardner. Later in the inning, Alex Rodriguez would score Derek Jeter to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.

And they never looked back.

In the top of the eighth, Al Alburquerque, facing Jesus Montero, balked which allowed Alex Rodriguez from second. Montero would later single to score Mark Teixeira. Daniel Schlereth would then come in for the Tigers, but it didn’t get any better, as he threw a wild pitch that scored Montero and then gave up a 2-RBI single to Robinson Cano. After a 6-run inning the score was 10-1.

Evidently, that would be the way the game ended as Boone Logan struck out the side in the ninth, as the Yankees forced a game 5. Burnett went 5.2IP allowing one earned run on four hits, three walks and one strikeout. From then on in, the collective bullpen pitching, including Rafael Soriano, Phil Hughes and Boone Logan pitched 3 1/3 of no-hit baseball, allowing no walks yet striking out six.  Game five goes tomorrow night in New York, Fister vs. Nova for all the marbles.

 

Texas Rangers at Tampay Bay Rays:  ALDS Game Four

The Rays had been in this position not too long ago – one loss away from not being able to move on to the next step. Recognizing this, they sent Hellickson to the mound against Rangers’ Harrison.

That said, after already winning two games in a row, the Rangers were not going to go down easy as Ian Kinsler hit a home run in the first at-bat of the game.

In the 2nd, the Rangers added to their lead with another home run, one from Adrian Beltre, and already Texas was up 2-0.

In the bottom of the inning, the Rays cut the Rangers lead in half thanks in part to Matt Joyce’s RBI double.

Adrian Beltre, did not give up easy and in the forth, launched another solo home run. His 2nd of the game.

But again, the Rays fought back and again, Sean Rodriguez scored, this time off the bat of  Casey Kotchman.

Adrian Beltre though would not allow the Rays to catch up as, in the top of the seventh, he launched his THIRD home run of the game.

In the bottom of the 9th, with the score 4-2, Sean Rodriguez once again told his team he wanted to cross the plate once again. So sure enough, Casey Kotchman singled him in with one out in the ninth, making the score 4-3.

But the third Beltre homerun proved to be the difference, as Alexi Ogando got Matt Joyce to pop out and Desmond Jennings to ground out.

Harrison got the win, going five complete innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits while walking two and striking out nine.

With the win, the Texas Rangers move on to the next series, facing off against the winner of the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers.

 

Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals:  NLDS Game Three

Everyone loves great baseball and that is certainly what was received when Phillies’ Cole Hamels faced off against Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia.

There was no score until the seventh inning as both pitchers were cruising along. Much like what occurred in all other aforementioned games, a home run proved to be the difference as after Shane Victorino singled and Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked, Ben Francisco was placed in to pinch hit and he did not disappoint – launching a three run home run to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead.

The Cards fought back in the bottom of the inning as David Freese hit an  RBI single that scored Allen Craig.

They would carry this momentum into the ninth inning as Albert Pujols led off the inning with a double off Ryan Madson. Pujols would later score off of a Yadier Molina single but that would be all they would get as Ryan Theriot grounded out to end the game, enabling the Phillies to win by a score of 3-2.

Cole Hamels got the win, going six complete innings without a run, allowing five hits and three walks, but striking out eight.  Game four goes tonight in St. Louis, Oswalt vs. Jackson.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers: NLDS Game Three

In a must-win game for the Arizona Diamondbacks, they sent Josh Collemeter to the mound against Brewers’ Shaun Marcum and Collemeter did not disappoint.

Arizona got on the board early against Marcum thank in part to a RBI double from Miguel Montero and an RBI single from Paul Goldschmidt.

Both of these scoring plays were fielder by centerfielder Corey Hart, so Hart felt he needed redemption. When he got up to bat in the third, he did exactly that, hitting a homerun to left field, and cutting Arizona’s lead to 2-1.

The damage, however, had already been done. In the bottom of the inning, Arizona added to their lead when Aaron Hill scored on Montero’s second RBI of the game. On the play, Nyjer Morgan got Justin Upton out on a close play at the plate.

With the score 3-1, Arizona knew they needed a few more runs to ensure a game four. Evidently, Paul Goldschmidt was thinking the same thing as in the fifth inning, he hit a GRAND SLAM (GOLDSCHMIDTTTTT!). Kameron Loe would then come in to pitch and replace Marcum, but Arizona was much too dominant, scoring another run in the inning from a Ryan Roberts RBI single, giving the Diamondbacks an 8-1 lead.

This evidently would be how the game would end as Milwaukee managed only three hits in the game. This can be attributed to Collemeter’s fantastic game as he went seven complete innings, allowing only two hits, one earned run on two walks and six strikeouts.

Marcum’s outing was not as great, as the ex-Blue Jay went 4.2 innings, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three.  Game four is the late game tonight in Arizona, Wolf vs. Saunders.

 

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.

Advertisements

2011 MLB Playoffs: Recap Sunday October 2nd

Monday October 3, 2011

Sam Evans (Intern – MLB reports):  The first Sunday of postseason baseball didn’t have any letdowns for viewers.  Starting at about noon, I watched and listened to roughly ten hours of baseball.  Usually after I spend one of my Sunday’s watching baseball, I wish I could have those hours back because I really didn’t have the free time to watch all those games.  The postseason is way different.  No matter what I have to do, I always try to make sure watching the games is my top priority.  After Jason Motte recorded the final out of the day, I felt like that was the best way I could’ve spent my day.  Albeit from my couch, there’s nothing like cheering on your favorite teams and players during October.  Enough rambling, let’s get to the games.

Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees: ALDS Game Two

In the top of the first inning, Miguel Cabrera hit a 2-0 changeup from Freddy Garcia 337 feet into the right field bleachers.  Only at Yankee Stadium is that a home run, the short porch in right field gives hitters an almost unfair advantage.  Max Scherzer was terrific, not allowing a hit until Robinson Cano singled in the bottom of the sixth.  Scherzer finished the game after throwing six shutout innings striking out five.  Freddy Garcia didn’t pitch that bad he was just made a couple of mistakes and had some bad luck.  After six innings, the Tigers appeared to be in control.  Then, the rain started coming down.   I can’t believe that the Yankees spent 1.3 billion on a new stadium but they couldn’t even construct a retractable roof.  Anyways, Joaquin Benoit twirled two innings, just giving up a Curtis Granderson homer.  Jose Valverde didn’t make it look easy in the ninth, allowing a Nick Swisher dinger, then a Jorge Posada triple!   Nonetheless, “Papa Grande” got Robinson Cano to ground out with runners on first and second to end the game.  On the offensive side of this game the Tigers star was Miguel Cabrera.  Cabrera went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI.  Cabrera showed how versatile of a hitter he is hitting an opposite field homer, poking an RBI single up the middle, and pulling a single to left field.  Now the series will head to Detroit tied up 1-1.  Game time is Monday at 8:30 PM ET.

Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers: NLDS Game Two

Ryan Braun got things started with a two run homer off Dan Hudson in the first.  However, in the top of the 2nd Paul Goldschmidt took Zack Greinke deep.  I have no idea why Kirk Gibson didn’t start Goldschmidt in the first game, as he obviously deserves to be in there.  In spite of both teams starting talented pitchers, this was not a pitcher’s duel.  Milwaukee took a 4-1 lead in the third thanks to Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder driving in the runs.  By the sixth, Arizona had tied it up at 4-4 largely in part to Chris Young and Justin Upton going deep.  However, in the bottom of the sixth everything fell apart for the D-Backs.  The Brew Crew had runners on first and third when catcher Jonathan Lucroy shocked the Diamondbacks by laying down a suicide squeeze to score Jerry Hairston.  After that, things just fell apart from Arizona’s pitcher Brad Ziegler; he gave up three straight singles to Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, and Ryan Braun.  By the time Ziegler was pulled, the Brewers had a 9-4 lead.  The Brewers relievers combined to throw four shutout innings, and the Brewers won by the final score of 9-4.  When asked after the game, Willie Bloomquist A.K.A Willie Ballgame had this to say, “We’re going to come out fighting on Tuesday. It’s a tough position to be in, but you know what? We’re comfortable with the uncomfortable.” The series is now 2-0 Brewers and the two teams will meet in Phoenix on Tuesday at 9:30 PM ET.

St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies: NLDS Game Two

To lead off the game Rafael Furcal tripled but then the Cards ran into Cliff Lee, who retired the 2-3-4 hitters without allowing a run.  The Phillies delivered a big blow in the bottom of the first, with Ryan Howard coming through with a bases loaded single.  Chris Carpenter, pitching on three days’ rest, had a rough day, only lasted three innings while giving up four runs.   In the fourth inning, the Cardinals scored three times, and would’ve scored four if it weren’t for it weren’t for Raul Ibanez gunning down Jon Jay at the plate.   Jay tied things up in the sixth with a single to score Ryan Theriot from second.  The Cardinals bullpen threw four consecutive 1-2-3 innings baffling Phillies hitters.  I was impressed by Tony LaRussa’s methodical use of his bullpen.  Some games LaRussa looks like an idiot, some games he looks like a genius.  I guess that’s just the way he works.  In the top of the 7th Charlie Manuel decided to leave Lee in despite him being over 100 pitches.  The decision backfired when Shane Victorino misplayed an Allen Craig line drive.  Craig was in at third with a standup triple and he didn’t have to wait long before Albert Pujols drove him in.  Jason Motte needed only six pitches (all of which were over 90 MPH) to earn the save.  The Cardinals finished with thirteen hits to the Phillies six.  The series will switch to St.Louis all tied up.  The next game is on Tuesday at 5:00 PM ET.

***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 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.

2011 MLB Playoffs: ALDS Day One Recap

Saturday October 1, 2011

Sam Evans (Intern – MLB reports):  Going into the day, the opening day of playoffs had some pretty high expectations to live up to.  While the games weren’t as electrifying as the last day of the season, it was pretty fun to finally watch some high pressure postseason baseball.  Here is a recap of what happened today:

 

Tampa Bay Rays vs.  Texas Rangers:  ALDS Game One

The Rays came into this game with energy and by most accounts, the number three rated prospect in all of baseball taking the mound.  Perhaps the most emotional part of the game was the first pitch thrown out by Cooper Stone.  Cooper’s dad Shannon was killed after falling while trying to catch a foul ball.  The game started in pleasant 80 degree weather in Arlington with a stadium filled with fans wearing Rangers colors.  After the Rays had scored six runs in the first three innings, it became obvious that the Rangers would need to rely on their offense.  This is something they’ve done all year, but Matt Moore proved to be too much for the Texas sluggers.  He was so dominant that in the sixth inning Josh Hamilton, of all people, tried to bunt for a hit (his effort was unsuccessful).  Moore pitched seven scoreless innings while allowing only two hits.  Talk about impressive.  Matt Moore is only twenty-two years, and this was only his second start in the majors (fourth appearance).  If the Rays thought they could hide Moore in the minors for a few months next year, now it seems next to impossible.  To have such a big time performance in front of the whole country will be something that will stay with him forever.  (Another thing that will stay with him forever is his extremely bushy eyebrows, but that’s a different story for another time.)  The Rays other hero was Kelly Shoppach, the thirty-one year old backup catcher.  Shoppach went 3 for 5 with 5 RBI and 2 homers.  That’s pretty impressive considering he batted .176 with 11 HR on the season.  When asked after the game about Matt Moore, Shoppach had this to say, “His nameplate said Matt Moore and I said, ‘Who is Matt Moore?’ … Nobody will forget his name now.”  This game wasn’t a thriller but it showed how many different players on a given day have to contribute in order for the Rays to have success.

Result:  Rays win 9-0 to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers:  ALDS Game One

This game started off with Delmon Young going deep off C.C. Sabathia to right field.  The ball carried just inches over Nick Swisher’s glove and gave the Tigers an early lead.  However, the Yankees battled back to score in the bottom of the first.  After that, the rain started.   This is becoming a trend for postseason baseball and it’s not good for the game at all.  In my opinion, Bud Selig should shorten the season or start spring training earlier in order to avoid this in the future.  Nobody enjoys watching how weather affects the game.  We just want to see the best players square off against each other.  Anyways, the rain kept coming until at fifteen minutes past 11PM in New York, the umpires decided to suspend the game.  Since this is the postseason, that means that the current score, outs, strikes, etc. will be delayed until Saturday at 8:37PM ET.  The only real bummer is that Sabathia and Justin Verlander won’t be able to finish their matchup.  Sabathia wants to pitch tomorrow but I think that’s doubtful and a bad idea no matter how thin the Yankees rotation is.  According to Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch, Ivan Nova is likely to get the start tomorrow.  So if that is true the “starters” will be Nova for New York, and Doug Fister for Detroit.  Fister is 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA since being traded to Detroit, so he will provide a challenge for the Yankees offense.  It should be a fun game to watch, providing the rain holds up.

***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 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.

Adam Dunn: The Future of the White Sox Slugger

Wednesday August 31, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:  Not every player can fit onto a particular MLB team.  That is a baseball reality.  In fact, there are very few, if any players that could produce the same statistics playing for any team.  A player’s production is based on many factors, including home park, lineup, adaptability to particular cities and so on.  When a team trades for a player or signs a free agent, the hope is that the new player will be able to meet or exceed previous production levels on a new team.  Sometimes, the hope is that new environment will revitalize a stagnant player and breath new life into them.  In the case of Adam Dunn, the Chicago White Sox signed him to a free agent contract last year.  A large deal, 4 years for $56 million dollars.  A fair deal in my estimation at the time.  The White Sox by signing Dunn were hoping to land an established slugger to fit in the middle of their lineup.   What they ended up with was quite different.

Take a look at Adam Dunn’s current production in comparison to his career numbers:

  BA HR RBI     OBP
Regular Season .163 11 40       .290  
Career .244 365 920     .374  

To say that Adam Dunn has been anything but a disaster since his arrival in Chicago would be an understatement.  Prior to 2011, Dunn’s worst season produced an .819 OPS.  That was in 2003, his 2nd full season in the majors that was cut short by injuries.  Turn the clock and Adam Dunn sits with a .578 OPS this season with no likelihood of redemption.  While some pointed to Dunn playing in a new league for the first time and starting off slow, a turnaround was expected at some point this season.  Dunn has actually regressed to the point that he is benched by manager Ozzie Guillen at a frequent rate.  A sad state of affairs for one of the game’s previously most consistent sluggers.

For a two-year stretch, from 2003-2008, Adam Dunn was a 40 home runs and 100 walks guy.  In his last two seasons, Dunn played in a less than friendly hitters park in Washington and still hit 38 home runs per season.  Moving to the White Sox, expectations were that playing in a hitter’s park with a deep lineup would produce possible MVP type numbers for the burly slugger.  So what happened?  Why the sharp regression?

Part of the issue has been the move to the American League.  The adjustment has not worked for some hitters and we have seen NL hitters in the past that cannot play in the AL for whatever reason.  Glenn Davis is one famous example that comes to mind, who moved from Houston to Baltimore and literally fell apart overnight.  Dunn also is a full-time DH for the first time in his career.  Some hitters never take as well to moving off the field and into a DH role, citing inactivity and removal from the full game experience as distractions from their hitting.  Given though Dunn’s perceived weak fielding, at both first base and the outfield, a move to DH should have been a welcome change for him.  Yet the move was another factor in his year-long slump.

The main culprit in my estimation is the fit, or lack of in Chicago.  Perhaps it is the city, or the ballpark, teammates, media or his relationship with the manager.  Whatever the reason, I ultimately believe that Adam Dunn and the White Sox simply do not mesh more than anything else.  While  a return to the field and/or the National League may help, first and foremost Dunn needs to get out of Chicago and start fresh. 

I think of Chone Figgins and his move from the Angels to the Mariners.  Despite staying in the same division even, Figgins was never able to meet expectations in Seattle and regressed throughout his time with the Mariners.  Had he stayed in Anaheim, the chances are higher that Figgins would have continued playing his game and not transformed into a shell of his former self.  Carl Crawford in Boston and Jayson Werthin Washington are players that also signed big-ticket deals and also stayed in their respective divisions, yet faltered in the wake of big contract expectations.  But the difference with Crawford and Werth is that they have shown some glimpses of life this season, while Dunn has shown none.  I fully expect Crawford at least to be able to make the necessary adjustments and rebound by next season.  In Dunn’s case, I do not see that happening without a trade.

Nick Swisher is a situation that I will point to as an example.  From the moment Swisher was traded from the A’s to the White Sox, nothing went right.  After suffering through the worst season of his career in Chicago, Swisher was traded to the Yankees for pennies on the dollar and blossomed in New York.  The same will likely occur to Dunn.  A move to the Yankees is a possibility, for a high-profile team that can afford to take on or part of most of Dunn’s salary.  A trade for a bad contract is another one, with the Cubs for Zambrano or Giants for Zito as possibilities.  Better yet, a move to the Angels could also be the answer.  With Mike Trout ready to join an outfield of Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter, the Angels may not have room for failed trade acquisition Vernon Wells.  The White Sox could plug Wells into their outfield and Angels use Dunn to replace Bobby Abreu as DH.  A long shot, but certainly a possibility.

No one can be sure if this season is an outlier or an indication of the beginning of the end for Adam Dunn.  Based on his strong body of work until this year, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that a rebound will occur.  The White Sox might wait it out and give Dunn another shot next year.  But then GM Kenny Williams has never been the patient type.  After moving Swisher very quickly, I expect the White Sox to do the same with Dunn.  This would be a classic buy-low situation for another MLB club.  Expect many calls on Dunn in the offseason and a new team by 2012.  Despite Dunn indications of having retirement thoughts due to his poor season, I cannot see him going down in this manner.  Adam Dunn will be back.  The only question is where.

  

 

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.

Jeter vs. Swisher: Love and Baseball – Friday Faceoff

MLB reports:  This week’s edition of the Friday Faceoff was originally scheduled to be a battle between the Cincinnati Reds top catching prospects or two of the Oakland A’s mega hitting prospects.  We get many requests for stories and updates on prospects on MLB reports and try to accommodate whenever we can.  We love the MLB stories but stories of up and coming players always carries a soft spot for us.  But then an e-mail came through this morning from Jenny in Texas as follows:

” Derek Jeter should have never gotten engaged.. Since his engagement he has been in a slump…. Ha .. Happy Friday.”

Simple and to the point, a classic message.  It got me thinking about Derek Jeter and his love live vs. his baseball performance.  I had read before that Jeter was engaged to actress Minka Kelly sometime during the past few months and was dating her since 2008.  Then I thought about one of my personal favorites, Nick Swisher.  Swisher married actress Joanna Garcia this past off-season after getting engaged in mid-2010.  Two Yankee players, both in serious relationships and both mired in deep slumps.  I started thinking that Jenny was on to something.
 
In comparing the Jeter/Swisher relationships and baseball performances, let’s take a deeper look into each story:
 
Nick Swisher
Swisher has been linked in the past to dating a model, but otherwise his love life has been kept fairly private compared to Jeter.  From his Oakland and Chicago days, Swisher was known as the long-haired party guy who liked to have fun and bring excitement to the clubhouse.  Following Swisher on twitter and facebook, he kept very active in the social media corresponding with fans and was not afraid to hold back.  2009 and 2010 were solid campaigns for Swisher, as he immediately adjusted to the Bronx and brought his “A” game to New York.  At the tender of age of 30, nothing appeared to hold him back.  Then Swisher met actress Joanna Garcia, got engaged during the 2010 season and got married during the past offseason.  From there, I started to see a new Nick Swisher emerge.
 
As soon as Swisher got married, I noticed that his twitter and facebook accounts were not very active.  When Swisher would make any posts, they would be of the generic variety, very plain vanilla so to speak.  Swisher appeared in two different television series before the season: Garcia’s “Better with You” and “How I Met Your Mother.”  I could smell trouble a mile away, as spending more time behind the camera and not focusing on baseball is never a good thing.  While Swisher is extremely popular on twitter (1.3 million followers makes him more popular than MLB on twitter), he has evolved from fun-loving single guy to serious, concerned and calculated married man.  The results show on the field.
 
29 games into the season, Swisher has a grand total of one home run, .214AVG and .614 OPS.  Brutal numbers for a man who averaged 29 home runs over the last two seasons and .869 OPS.  At 30 years of age, Swisher has not lost his skills…but rather his mojo.  There was talk that Swisher is continuing to look for acting opportunities and may get a part in a movie in the future.  Great for his acting resume, bad for his baseball career.   In my estimation, fair or unfair, he has to get his priorities in order and focus on what pays the bills: baseball.  Acting may be fun and works well with his wife’s career, but Swisher needs to get back down to basics to what brought him MLB success.  I do not profess to know Swisher personally and do not spend time with him in the batting cages, weight room or at home.  But something is going on with Swisher that has caused a dive in his numbers and it appears that his personal life may be playing a part.
 
We have seen over the years how divorce can affect a player’s performance, especially in athletes (see Jeff Gordon and Chipper Jones).  When someone has a distraction at home, it can create chaos in that person’s job.  Baseball is no different and distractions, good or bad, can affect play on the field.  In the case of Swisher and as we are about to see Derek Jeter, a change in relationships and lifestyle can possibly have a detrimental effect on playing performance.
Derek Jeter
When researching and writing this piece, I had an instant issue with categorizing Jeter as suffering on the field by scoring off the field, so to speak.  A long-time playboy, Jeter has been linked with many famous females including Mariah Carey and Jessica Biel.  The golden boy of endorsements as well, George Steinbrenner criticized Jeter at one point for worrying too much about his life off the field and should focus more on his baseball play.  While some critics blasted Steinbrenner, I agreed with the statement.  Although Jeter has had solid numbers in his career, I believe he could have done more if he had partied less and worked harder at baseball. My opinion, right or wrong, is how I have always felt.  Now watching the Derek Jeter of 2011, I believe lifestyle has finally caught up to him.
 
Jeter got involved with Minka Kelly according to reports in 2008 and became serious in 2009.  According to reports, the pair got engaged in recent months with a wedding date still unknown.  This is where the tricky part lies.  Jeter started his deterioration in 2010 and has been abysmal to-date in 2011.  This year, Jeter has no home runs, .250 AVG and .577 OPS.  He is on pace to set career lows in many categories.  This comes after a 2010 campaign where he hit .270 with a .710 OPS.  At 36 years of age, is lifestyle or age the culprit for the decline in Jeter?  I would argue likely both, but for the purpose of this article, I will focus on lifestyle.
 
Jeter has his own cologne line “Driven”.  He was rated this year by a marketing firm as the most marketable baseball player.  He has endorsements with Gillette, Nike and Gatorade, just to name a few.  While Swisher learns to become an actor, Jeter is going strong as a pitchman.  I don’t think Yankee fans appreciate the extra-curricular activities if it takes away from their playing performances.  Based on the start of 2011 and judging by the numbers, I am convinced that both players are guilty of a lack of focus and drive.  The fact that Jeter has gotten engaged and planning to get married to Kelly says that there is something different about her for him compared to other relationships.  Whatever that it is, I do not see it helping his performance on the field.  As soon as things got serious for Jeter off the field, his play on the field declined.

The Verdict:

My message to Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher is quite simple.  Go rent the movie “Major League 2” and recall what happened when Ricky Vaughn cut his hair, wore suits, dated an executive and was featured in his own television commercials.  Willy Mays Hayes starred in his own action movie in the offseason and came to camp with a new attitude and approach.  Both players failed miserably and had to go back to basics and lose “the attitude” so to speak to get back to playing at a high level.  Still not convinced?  Take the case of real life baseball players Kris Benson and Cole Hamels.  Each married a celebrity, a model/playmate and reality star respectively and each began to change.  Both became focused on marketing themselves and building their image than playing the game of baseball.  Look a the stats, the numbers do not lie.  I see the same slippery slope for both Jeter and Swisher.  My verdict is that both players are guilty of letting their love lives and off-field careers interfere with their baseball play.  My hope is that both will shape up before it is too late.  At Jeter’s advanced age and rise in the marketing game, he is likely not going to rebound much.  I do not see much hope in his case.  Maybe Swisher stands a chance, but if his acting career does take off, prepare for the new and declining Swisher to hang around.  It goes to show you:  love and baseball do not always mix.

 

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.

Patient Hitters: The Leaders in Walks

MLB reports: As many of you know from my past articles and tweets, the one quality I look for the most in hitters is patience:  the ability to take walks.  The art of the base on balls was exemplified somewhat in the “moneyball” Oakland approach and has been adopted by the Red Sox team in particular, among others.  People often ask me why I value hitters that take walks so highly.  Very simply, walks in my mind lead often to the overall development of every facet of a hitters game.  A hitter that has good judgement of the strike zone and take walks should get on base at a high rate.  A hitter that takes many walks is more likely to judge better pitches to hit, which should increase their number of hits and home runs correspondingly.  When I used to play fantasy baseball, I often looked for batters with high walk totals in filling out my rosters.  These hitters would win championships for me, as they do often for baseball teams in real life.

Patient hitters have a high value in baseball, this has become a fact of life.  Putting this theory to the test, let’s take a look at which batters sit among the leader board in walks as of today.  It will be interesting to see which of these players are considered top players, historically and coming into their own as of today.  Has the number of walks taken this year helped each player in other statistical categories?  Are each of these players better hitters for having many walks?  The results may surprise you.

1st:  Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (19)

Last year 100 walks went hand-in-hand with a league leading 54 home runs.  This year, Bautista leads the league with 19 walks and 8 home runs.  For a man who hit .260 last year, the high walk has remained while the average has jumped to a league leading .364.  Interesting to note, none of Batista’s walks have been intentional.  Bautista for me is the poster boy of how patience and power are inter-twined.  You almost cannot have one without the other.  For anyone that doubts the value of walks, go look up Bautista’s stats again…they will astound you.

T-2nd:  Bobby Abreu, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (18)

Bobby Abreu, along with Youkilis, Adam Dunn and Swisher, is a resident in the patience club.  With 1,360 career walks, Abreu always brings on-base capabilities for any team he plays for.  Long seen as having declining power, Abreu still hit a decent 20 home runs last year.  Combined with his 87 walks, Abreu managed a .352 OBP despite a .255 AVG.  This year, with a puny one home run and .244 AVG, Abreu is sitting at an unacceptable .329 SLG.  But with a .388 OBP, the 37-year-old Abreu still has some value.  In his prime, Abreu showed that 100+ walks and a .300+ AVG could lead to 40+ home runs in a season.  But Abreu, the elder of the list, only has walks to show for any value left in his tank and is likely dependant on those walks for still receiving any playing time at all.  The end is near, but the walks continue.

T-2nd:  Joey Votto, Cincinatti Reds (18)

As a rookie, I read that Dusty Baker told Joey Votto that he should becoming more free-swinging and less patient to develop as a hitter.  Fortunately for Votto and all Reds fans, the Canadian ignored the advice and continued to grow as a hitter….his way.  Last year Votto had 91 walks, which translated to 37 home runs and a league leading .400 OBP and .600 SLG.  Hitting .324 along the way, Votto was intentionally walked eight times.  Votto fits the bill perfectly- a hitter that picks his spots, waits for the right pitches to hit and avoids the bad ones to get on base.  This year, votto has 18 walks to only 11 strike outs.  The knock on some patient hitters is that they take too many called third strikes and often hit for low averages.  As part of the core of this top list, Votto is able to not only hit many home runs but keep his average steady to high in the process.  Many experts see Votto as having surpassed Albert Pujols as the king of the NL.  Based on his numbers-to-date, I have a hard time arguing.  Votto’s bread and butter has been his eye at the plate.  The 2010 MVP and runner-up 2008 ROY can thank his walks for much of his success in baseball.

4th:  Jonny Gomes, Cincinatti Reds (17)

The fourth member of our list is the only real head scratcher in the bunch.  While all the other listed hitters are known “walkers”, Gomes has basically come out of nowhere to join the group this year.  With a career high of 61 walks in 2006 being far and away his highest season total, few people envisioned Jonny Gomes learning true patience at the age of 30.  Perhaps spending time with Votto has helped his transition.  But then, his .211 AVG would seem to indicate that he might not be fully paying attention in emulating Votto.  At a season total of six home runs, Gomes is on pace to set a career high of 35 home runs.  But looking at the full numbers, Gomes is the outlier.  Hitting in the standard Nick Swisher mold, Gomes has compensated base hits for walks.  With his 18 walks has come 23 strikeouts…which shows that he is missing as many pitches as he is taking.  It is not a bad thing that Gomes is taking many walks, but unfortunately he is swinging for the fences and striking out at a Rob Deer frequency with too few base hits.  Gomes may continue the walks, but without a steadier number of base hits to match, he may not be as productive as one may think.

T-5th:  Daric Barton, Oakland Athletics (16)

Seemingly playing forever, the 25-year-old is entering his 5th season in the bigs.  With a .368 career OBP and 110 walks last year (leading the AL), Barton is patience personified.  The only knock on Barton has been his low batting average and power.  2011 has done nothing to calm those fears, as Barton is hitting .205 with zero home runs.  Along with Gomes, Barton is sacrificing base hits for walks, but not seeing the tangible results that should come along with them.  Well…at least Gomes is hitting home runs, I really can’t see what value Barton has other than walks.  With ten home runs, Barton is slowly becoming another Travis Buck.  As Barton continues to keep first base warm for Chris Carter, I am sad to see that his patience at the plate never translated to greater things for him offensively.  Judging on his 17/20 BB/K ratio, Barton clearly is either not patient enough or judging the right pitches to hit.  Based on this slow start, it appears the one-time A’s prospect has graduated into a full-fledged suspect.

T-5th:  Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (16)

One of my favorite hitters in the game, I always wondered what levels he could reach if he could take more walks.  Always known for a solid average and home run bat, the answer to my question started to be answered last year.  Cabrera set a career high with 89 walks last year and had correspondingly a career high 38 home runs.  This year, with a 17/12 BB/K ratio, Cabrera has already five home runs, to go with his .338 AVG, .458 OBP and .610 SLG.  These are really…really…really good numbers.  Finishing second last year in MVP, the re-born Cabrera has become everything I could have imagined as a hitter.  Together with Bautista in the AL and Joey Votto in NL, we are looking at three of the most complete hitters in the game.  Taking many walks, hitting many home runs, hitting for a high average and not striking out a ton.  Patience at the plate, waiting for the right pitches to hit and taking advantage of those pitches.  Hitting perfection.

T-5th:  Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox (16) 

No conversation on walks is complete without including the Greek God of Walks himself, Kevin Youkilis.  A .292 career hitter with a lifetime .394 OBP and .497 SLG, Youk fit the mold of the perfect hitter as I discussed above.  But something has happened to Youk in 2011.  Despite his high walks and decent number of home runs (4), his average sits at .222.  Considering that Youk has hit .300+ the last three seasons, I do not expect a huge regression at the age of 32.  As long as he stays healthy, Youk should be at .290, .390 and 25 home runs.  That’s just how steady Youk is.  But given his career low average this year, I actually suspect there may be an injury concern.  I do not see Youk turning into Jonny Gomes overnight.  Everything seems to even out in the long run and over the course of the season, the real Youk should emerge.  Walks will always be there, but the rest of the game should follow as well.  But even if he remains slumping, as Bobby Abreu and Daric Barton have shown, at least taking walks brings some contribution to the table.  But unlike those two, at least Youk can still swing a power stick.  Walks truly begin and end with Youk.

Thank you for reading today’s feature on walks and the hitters who take them.  While we all have theories on the subject, think of all the best all around hitters of all time and take a look at their walk totals.  While there may have been many home run kings with low averages or hit kings with poor power, take a look at the best all around hitters and see how many times they walked.  Then tell me what you think about the value of the combination of power and patience and if you now subscribe to this theory.  I certainly hope that you do.

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.

%d bloggers like this: