|If you play fantasy baseball, you know the old adage of ‘don’t pay for saves.’ This season it rings more true then anything. 15 players have lost their closer position (by injury or demotion) since January – 9 since the beginning of the season.Joey Votto and Giancarlo Stanton both hit walk-off grand slams Sunday, the first time 2 players have done that since April 10, 1998|
|1 (4)||LA Dodgers||24-11||Matt Kemp hasn’t homered in a season-high 11 straight games (he had 12 HR in the first 23 games of the season), and now has some injury concerns, going on the DL for the 1st time in his career|
|2 (3)||Texas||23-13||CF Josh Hamilton tied the franchise record with his 12th HR in the team’s first 30 games when he hit 4 dingers Wednesday – the first 4 HR game in MLB since 2003. His 18 HR in the first 34 games ties an MLB record|
|3 (1)||Baltimore||22-14||Orioles became the 1st team in AL history to hit back-to-back-to-back HRs to start a game on Thursday.|
|4 (8)||Atlanta||22-14||Offense is getting it done (4th in runs, 5th in BA), but the pitching is lacking (21st in ERA, 24th in BA against)|
|5 (5)||St. Louis||20-15||RF Carlos Beltran hits 2 HR and drives in 6 runs twice in 7 days – he only had done it 3 times previously in his 14 year career|
|6 (7)||Washington||22-13||C Wilson Ramos is out for the season with a torn ACL – how will it affect the National’s starting pitching that has been doing so well? C Sandy Leon also got hurt Monday|
|7 (6)||Toronto||19-16||Jose Bautista’s 10 HR at Target Field (Minnesota) are the most by an opposing player, and only 4 Twins have hit more there|
|8 (2)||Tampa Bay||21-13||Of the 8 HR SP David Price has given up to left-handed batters, 3 have been hit by the Yankee’s Robinson Cano|
|9 (10)||NY Yankees||19-16||Andy Petitte returned to the mound Sunday, giving up 4ER on 7 Hits, walking 3 and striking out 2 in 6.1 IP to an anemic Mariner’s offense|
|10 (11)||Oakland||19-17||SP Jarrod Parker has yet to give up more then 2 ER in his now 5 career starts since being called up this season (2.10 ERA), but has only managed 1 win|
|11 (9)||Cleveland||19-16||Who would’ve thunk it? It’s the middle of May and the Indians are in 1st place in the AL Central|
|12 (12)||NY Mets||20-15||Mets got their 1st sweep at Philadelphia since June of 2006|
|13 (15)||Miami||18-17||Giancarlo Stanton hit the 3rd walk-off grand slam in Marlin’s franchise history Sunday (Dan Uggla 2008, Bobby Bonilla 1997)|
|14 (14)||Cincinnati||18-16||1B Joey Votto became the 1st player in MLB history to finish off a 3 HR game with a walk-off grand slam|
|15 (16)||San Francisco||18-17||After giving up 16 earned runs in his first 3 starts, Tim Lincecum has only given up 8 in his last 4|
|16 (18)||Chicago Sox||16-19||Jake Peavy has rebounded tremendously from offseason surgery: 4-1, 1.89 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and over a 6:1 K:BB ratio|
|17 (17)||Detroit||17-17||Prince Fielder snapped an 0-22 streak Monday, going 3-5|
|18 (25)||Pittsburgh||17-18||Pirates rank last in the majors in runs scored with 100 scored through 35 games|
|19 (13)||Arizona||15-21||Diamondbacks have lost 4 straight series, getting outscored 39-57|
|20 (21)||Milwaukee||15-20||RP John Axford’s streak of 49 consecutive converted saves (4th all-time in MLB history) was snapped Friday. He hadn’t blown a save since April 18, 2011|
|21 (19)||Seattle||16-21||The Mariners (25th in MLB in batting average) don’t have a single player batting over .300|
|22 (22)||Philadelphia||17-19||Phillies have lost all 4 games that Cliff Lee has started so far this season, and Roy Halladay’s last 5 starts, getting outscored 27-50 in those games (13 of their runs scored came in 1 game)|
|23 (24)||Boston||16-19||Boston’s starting pitchers’ ERA? 6.01, 2nd worst in the majors|
|24 (27)||Kansas City||14-20||Royals average a lowly less then 5 IP per start, but have managed to win or split their last 6 series since a 12-game losing streak. The bullpen has only allowed 2 ER in the last 23.2 IP|
|25 (26)||LA Angels||15-21||3 of Jered Weaver’s 7 career games allowing 7+ runs have come at Texas|
|26 (20)||Colorado||12-21||Christian Friedrich is the 1st pitcher in Rockies history to record 10+ strikeouts in one of his 1st two appearances|
|27 (23)||Houston||15-20||What a surprise 2B Jose Altuve has been – .321 BA, .366 OBP, and stellar in the field|
|28 (28)||Chicago Cubs||15-20||Cubs got their first 1-0 win against the Braves since 1993 on Wednesday|
|29 (29)||San Diego||12-24||The Padres have less HR as a team (15) then the Ranger’s Josh Hamilton (18)|
|30 (30)||Minnesota||10-25||28th in runs scored + 30th in ERA = worst record in MLB|
|Last Wednesday was the 1st time in MLB history that there were 3 walk-off HRs and a no-hitter. Jason Giambi and Chipper Jones became the first 40+ year olds to hit walk-off home runs on the same day – it hadn’t happened in the same SEASON since 1986. Also, in case you didn’t hear – Albert Pujols finally hit a home run Sunday. He became the 276th major league player to do so this season – congrats Albert!!! Finally living up to that contract!!|
|1 (8)||Baltimore||19-10||Oriole’s bullpen ERA ranks in AL last 4 seasons: 11th, 13th, 13th, 13th. This season? 1st|
|2 (5)||Tampa Bay||18-10||Just when the Rays get rolling, 3B Evan Longoria is out 6-8 weeks with a hamstring injury|
|3 (1)||Texas||19-10||1B Brandon Snyder had 6 RBI vs Baltimore Monday – he had 5 RBI in 27 career games coming in|
|4 (2)||LA Dodgers||19-10||Dodgers have outscored their opponents 26-8 this season in the 1st inning|
|5 (4)||St. Louis||18-11||C Yadier Molina has as many steals as Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Drew Stubbs, and Coco Crisp|
|6 (9)||Toronto||16-12||The Blue Jays are hanging in the tough AL East race, but have 18 of their next 22 games against teams with a winning record, including 8 against Tampa Bay & Texas (37-20 combined)|
|7 (3)||Washington||18-10||LF Bryce Harper became the 4th player under 20yrs old to hit 3rd in the last 35 seasons (BJ Upton, Andruw Jones, Ken Griffey Jr)|
|8 (7)||Atlanta||18-12||C Brian McCann is only the 4th player to ever hit a grand slam off of Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay|
|9 (11)||Cleveland||17-11||2B Jason Kipnis had his 1st career 4 RBI game on Thursday (3-run HR, RBI triple)|
|10 (6)||NY Yankees||14-14||After tearing his ACL in batting practice at KC, CL Mariano Rivera’s streak of 15 seasons with 20+ saves will come to an end|
|11 (17)||Oakland||15-14||2B Brandon Inge hit his 1st HR as an Athletic Sunday, after hitting 140 of them with Detroit|
|12 (10)||NY Mets||16-13||Streaky Mets – New York already has 5 streaks of 3+ games (winning or losing)|
|13 (16)||Arizona||14-16||SS Cody Ransom is batting .351 with 4 HR and 12 RBI since being called up April 21st|
|14 (14)||Cincinnati||15-13||SP Matt Latos’s 11 K’s against Pittsburgh Sunday set a new career high|
|15 (25)||Miami||15-14||Undefeated week is a good way to jump up the rankings. SP Carlos Zambrano gets his first shutout since 2009|
|16 (12)||San Francisco||14-15||Getting swept at home by a Marlins team that was 1-9 on the road coming in was not the way to start the week|
|17 (21)||Detroit||14-14||6 of Austin Jackson’s 18 career HR are leadoff HR|
|18 (18)||Chicago Sox||13-17||1B Adam Dunn may be hitting more HRs, but he’s still striking out – in a major league-record 31 straight games|
|19 (13)||Seattle||14-17||In games Felix Hernandez has started, the Mariners have won 4 (27 runs scored) and lost 3 (3 runs scored)|
|20 (15)||Colorado||11-16||LF Carlos Gonzalez vs. left-handed pitching since April 24: .385BA, 1.774 OPS, 4HR|
|21 (19)||Milwaukee||12-17||SP Yovani Gallardo has given up 21 ER in 32.2 IP so far this season|
|22 (22)||Philadelphia||14-16||C Carlos Ruiz drove in 7 runs against the Braves Wednesday – he entered the game with 10RBI on the season|
|23 (24)||Houston||13-16||Houston got their first series sweep since August 2011 – a span of 16 series|
|24 (20)||Boston||12-16||SP Clay Bucholz has given up 5+ earned runs in 6 straight starts to begin the season, tying the Live-Ball Era record set in 1936. He would have to score 95 straight scoreless innings to get down to his 2010 ERA of 2.33|
|25 (23)||Pittsburgh||12-16||P A.J. Burnett was the 1st starting pitcher to give up 12+ ER in less then 3IP since 1920|
|26 (27)||LA Angels||13-17||So much for SP Jerad Weaver’s no-hitter igniting the offense: Angels became 1st team in MLB history to follow 2 shutout victories with 2 shutout losses|
|27 (26)||Kansas City||9-19||RF Jeff Francouer has 29 more outfield assists then any other major league player since the start of the 2005 season|
|28 (30)||Chicago Cubs||12-17||After only 5 career starts in 134 appearances coming into the season, Jeff Samardzija has 4 wins in 6 starts this season, with a 3.03 ERA nd 1.19 WHIP|
|29 (28)||San Diego||10-20||The Padres already have 5 losing streaks of at least 3 games|
|30 (29)||Minnesota||7-21||The Twins had 9 hits Wednesday through Saturday – the fewest hits over a 4-game stretch in MLB since 1900|
|Will Matt Kemp hit 70HR? Will Yu Darvish go 22-0? Will Albert Pujols ever hit another HR? Can the Orioles keep pace in the AL East?
|Some teams definitely seperating themselves from the pack (Texas has a 5 1/2 game lead in the AL West already!)|
|1||Texas||13-4||Lead the majors in batting average, runs scored, slugging, and 2nd in home runs…just like we figured|
|2||Los Angeles||13-4||Can’t say it enough – Matt Kemp is ridiculous – .460BA, 9HR, 22RBI|
|3||Washington||12-4||SP Gio Gonzalez has 225 strikeouts on curveballs since 2010-most in the majors|
|4||NY Yankees||10-6||Offense is coming around – top 2 in batting avg, slugging, runs scored, home runs, on base percentage|
|5||St. Louis||11-6||A questionable pick-up, OF Carlos Beltran is performing – .279BA, 5HR. Only 9RBI – guys have to get on in front of him|
|6||Toronto||10-6||Big week ends with 4 game sweep of lowly Royals|
|7||Atlanta||10-7||1B Freddie Freeman’s week: .481BA, 3HR, 14RBI, 5 doubles, 7 runs scored|
|8||Chicago Sox||10-6||SP Philip Humber’s perfect game was the 21st in MLB history|
|9||Cleveland||8-6||Is DH Travis Hafner officially back? .357BA, 2HR, 3 doubles. And more walks (12) then strikeouts (8)|
|10||San Francisco||9-7||SP Matt Cain’s last 2 starts: 18IP, 3H, 15K, 1BB, 0R|
|11||Tampa Bay||9-7||Okay, what did the Rays do with the real Carlos Pena? Season batting average: 2010-.196, 2011-.255, 2012-.304|
|12||Detroit||10-6||After scoring 37 runs in their first 6 games (5-1), they’ve scored 30 in their last 10 (5-5)|
|13||Baltimore||9-7||CF Adam Jones is off to a great start – .303BA, 5HR, 4 doubles, 1 triple. Needs teammates to get on base|
|14||Colorado||8-7||RF Michael Cuddyer is enjoying the new digs – .345BA, 2HR, 11RBI, 8 doubles|
|15||Milwaukee||8-9||SP Zack Greinke is 13-0 in 18 starts at Miller Park – the longest home winning streak in the majors by a pitcher|
|16||NY Mets||8-8||3B David Wright’s broken finger is definitely affecting him – .208BA, 0HR, 7Ks over his last 7 games|
|17||Cincinnati||7-9||Aroldis Champman’s move to the bullpen has been the move of the season – 0.00ERA, 18K, 2BB, 2H in 10.1 IP|
|18||Arizona||9-8||Have lost their last 3 series, vs Colorado, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta, who are a combined 24-23|
|19||Miami||7-8||SS Jose Reyes is batting over 100 points lower this season (.230) vs last year (.337) when he won the NL batting title|
|20||Oakland||8-10||SP Bartolo Colon threw 38 consecutive strikes in his start against the Angels on April 18th|
|21||LA Angels||6-10||18th in runs scored and 22nd in home runs – don’t think anyone saw that coming|
|22||Seattle||7-10||SP Felix Hernandez (1-1) has only given up 9ER in his 4 starts, but the Mariners have only scored 12 runs for him|
|23||Houston||6-11||Rough schedule (@ Washington, vs. LA Dodgers, @ Milwaukee) had them go 2-6 over the last week plus|
|24||Minnesota||5-12||SP Francisco Liriano (0-3) has given up 20ER in 16.1IP (11.02 ERA), and has more walks (13) then strikeouts (12)|
|25||Philadelphia||7-10||SP Cole Hamels’ 13.9 K/9IP is the best in baseball|
|26||Pittsburgh||6-9||First team to neither score of give up more then 5 runs in their first 12 games since the 1972 Royals|
|27||San Diego||5-12||3B Chase Headley hit .350 with 2HR and 4RBI for the week|
|28||Boston||5-10||RP Mark Melancon has allowed 5HR on 71 pitches this year. Last season – 5HR on 1,121 pitches|
|29||Chicago Cubs||5-12||Cubs have only hit 5HR on the season, and are batting .235 as a team|
|30||Kansas City||3-13||9th straight season with a 6+ game losing streak before May|
Takes you back, doesn’t it?
Last night saw the ushering in of a new era of baseball in South Florida. The newly re-minted Miami Marlins opened the 2012 season playing host to the St. Louis Cardinals in their brand-spanking-new, $515 millon ballpark.
And it’s a doozy.
I’ve made my thoughts known on this ballpark and its inhabitants here before, so I won’t drone on and on in this post about the eye-piercing color schemes, the overgrown bath toy in center field or any of the other “qualities” that set this park apart from all the others. I also will not dwell on the My Little Pony fetus of a new logo the team has donned.
Instead, I would rather focus on the, somewhat humorous, notion of what other, more understated, teams across Major League Baseball would look like if the owners and marketing folks at the Marlins got a hold of them.
So, we threw it around the conference room and here are some of the ideas we came up with: Continue reading
Hello Jerks and Jerkettes. Today, we are ready to embrace the newest season of God’s sporting gift to man. That’s right, baseball is back. Apple pie, Chevrolet, and all the extras are with it, too. Hop on board the train as I offer division winners (and losers), major award winners, and playoff predictions all six months ahead of schedule and sure to be wrong.
American League East
Baseball’s juggernaut division and ESPN favorite will again feature three really good teams: the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. Don’t discount the Blue Jays, but they are not quite ready to compete. As for the Orioles? Enjoy the crab cake at Camden Yards.
1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay Rays (wildcard)
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles
American League Central
Conventional wisdom says its Detroit and then everyone else. As to not upset that balance, I’ll stick with conventional wisdom. Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander will spear the Tigers’ three-headed attack as they run away with this division.
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Chicago White Sox
American League West
This division receive most of the media attention during the off-season thanks to three big transactions. Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson (the best player and best pitcher on the market) joined the Angels while the Texas Rangers replaced Wilson with Japanese import Yu Darvish. The race for division champion should be intriguing all summer long.
1. Texas Rangers
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (wildcard)
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Oakland A’s
American League Awards
Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (Seattle). A return to dominance with a slightly improved offense behind him.
MVP: Josh Hamilton (Texas). It’s a contract year.
Rookie of the Year: Yu Darvish (Texas).
American League Playoffs
Wildcard play-in: Angels over Rays
Divisional Round: Rangers over Yankees; Tigers over Angels
League Championship Series: Rangers over Tigers (again)
National League East
A crazy thing happened this off-season. The now Miami Marlins spent money on free agents (Jose Reyes and Mark Buerhle notably). The Phillies and Braves appear strong as usual. Plus, the Nationals young core is ever-improving. The Mets, you say? Uh… Long season.
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves (wildcard)
3. Miami Marlins
4. Washington Nationals
5. New York Mets
National League Central
Although this division is home to the defending champions, it looks much weaker from last season. The Brewers and Cardinals are worse (though still good teams), and no one else has really stepped it up. Can Dusty Baker manage the Reds back into the playoffs? I think so.
1. Cincinnati Reds
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Houston Astros
National League West
Tougher than the NL Central, the wild West usually produces a surprise contender each season. Maybe that occurs again, but regardless, this division is between the Giants and the Diamondbacks.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. San Francisco Giants (wildcard)
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
5. San Diego Padres
National League Awards
Cy Young: Cole Hamels (Philadelphia). He’ll prove how good he is before signing with the Dodgers in the off-season.
MVP: Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado). The best shortstop in the game has to win this award sometime. Better now than never.
Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper (Washington). Yes, he’s not on the Opening Day roster, but he could easily be called up mid-season. There’s no one else really strong enough to win it right now.
National League Playoffs
Wild Card Play-in: Braves over Giants
Divisional Round: Diamondbacks over Braves; Phillies over Reds
League Championship Series: Diamondbacks over Phillies
Rangers over Diamondbacks (in 5 games).
Enjoy the next few days, America. Play ball!
March Madness. We love it. We live it. We breathe it. We drive our families and friends crazy with talk of brackets and upsets. For three weeks in March, it’s the ONLY thing that matters, until it’s over. At that point, the annual, “Oh no, what now?” feeling kicks in.
What’s next is baseball. Spring training is already in full swing. Opening day of the regular baseball season is just two weeks away and it’s time to start planning your fantasy league and dreaming of that breakout offensive season that no one else picked.
This year, there might be a LOT of increased offensive production if what I’m hearing about a new baseball bat is true. Baden Sports–you may be more familiar with their basketballs–has recently introduced a new baseball bat called the Axe. This is the first major change to the shape of a bat in over a century.
I spoke with the company and one of the first things they told me was that Ted Williams says in his book, “The Science of Hitting,” that swinging a baseball bat is like swinging an axe. Apparently, an axe handle guides your hand into a proper position that fits flush at the bottom and increases leverage through the swing–something that a traditional baseball bat doesn’t do.
Baden says: “The Axe bat promotes an ergonomically correct grip, a better fit, a less restricted swing and greater bat speed through the hitting zone.”
Who’s using it and what are the results?
Since this is such a new bat, big league players are just being introduced to it. It’s been approved for use in MLB games in 2012, so the company is currently working with players at spring training. They can’t “name names,” but they will say that players from every club are taking at least practice swings and becoming familiar with the bat.
Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies hit a monster home run–his first of the season—on March 12 against the Pirates with the Axe bat. He’d been practicing with it, and his first time to the plate with the Axe someone from the dugout yelled, “Let loose with that bat, Jimmy!” He did, and hit it DEEP over the left field wall.
That was the first “official” home run, but I’ve done some digging and found a reliable report that among others, Oakland As first baseman Brandon Allen enjoyed his first outing with the Axe. On opening day of spring training, Allen hit a grand slam, a two-run double and drove in the go-ahead run in the 9th … all with the Axe. 7 RBIs. Not bad.
So maybe there’s something to this new Axe baseball bat. Time will tell, but since my basketball team didn’t even make March Madness this year, my tears are close to drying and I’m getting a jump start on putting a miserable basketball season behind me.
Baseball will fill my sports cravings over the next 6 months, and I’m paying close attention to what’s happening with the Axe bat.