August 2012

Stephen Strasburg – Why the Nationals Shouldn’t Shut Him Down


Well, it’s official. Washington Nationals manager, Davey Johnson, has told right-handed pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg that he has two or three more starts. Adam Kilgore, of the Washington Post, quoted Johnson:

He’s probably got two or three. I said something to him on the
plane last night – ‘You got a few more to go.’ So he doesn’t think going out there thinking that, ‘This may be my last one.’ And no, I’m not going to drag it out and give him seven days between starts, either.

This is great news for everyone who wants to see Stephen Strasburg hit free agency and terrible news for the fans of the Washington Nationals.

Arm injury or not, this is Scott Boras protecting his client. This is the anti-good-for-baseball move that Scott Boras continues to bring along with his money-hungry vendetta as the sport’s devil agent.

Stephen Strasburg will hit free agency in 2017. Protecting his surgically repaired elbow for that moment is the only reason that Strasburg is getting shut down, and it is the only true concern that Boras has for Strasburg.

Stephen Strasburg was a relief pitcher in his first year, 2007, at San Diego State. He went on to pitch 98.1 innings in his sophomore and 109 innings  in his junior season. He went on to pitch 123.1 innings in 2010, his first professional season, before tearing his ulnar collateral ligament on August 27 of that year.

With 150.1 innings in 2012 to date, Stephen Strasburg would compile between 10 and 18 innings over two to three more starts. If he finishes between 160 and 170 innings, who is to say that Strasburg won’t be shut down at 200 innings in 2013?

If the Nationals are going to have to limit his introduction to pitching every fifth day over the course of a 162-game season, will Boras try to make the Nationals be careful with his precious gem next season, too?

Lets face it, if Stephen Strasburg is healthy when he reaches free agency, he will be 28 years old and will be the biggest free agent signing to hit the open market. A bidding war would occur and, while the Washington Nationals seem to have a lot of cash, you have to wonder how crazy the New Yorks, Boston’s, and Los Angeles’ of the world will go to sign the star.

So, the question is…why are the Washington Nationals protecting the arm of a pitcher who could bring them a world championship as early as this season, who probably will just be leaving town at the first chance he gets due to his agent?

Certainly, you want to protect the commodity that you possess while you actually possess him, but why should they worry about his long-term health and care if he isn’t locked up for the next ten years?

Scott Boras is protecting his client, his bank account, and the value of free agency. Stephen Strasburg’s fire and determination should be questioned if he agrees with being shut down. He is the ace of a first place team. His first place team has the talent to win right now and will only get better with further skill advancement of himself, outfielder Bryce Harper, and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in the coming years.

The Nationals need to worry about achieving at the highest level possible. If they don’t go for it right now, who is to say that Strasburg’s shoulder doesn’t pop next year?

Mark Mulder threw 164 innings in his first season with the Oakland A’s over 29 starts, including his two starts in the minor leagues. He went on to throw 849 innings over the next four years before he became too expensive and was traded to St. Louis and his shoulder ended up looking like a butcher shop.


Mark Prior was babied in 2002, tossing 167.2 innings in his first professional season. Remember all of those perfect mechanics and how dominant he was supposed to be?Even protecting the asset by limiting innings didn’t protect Mulder or Prior in the long run.

Nothing says that shutting down a pitcher will save his elbow or shoulder. Pitching is a violent act, and when a pitcher throws 98 miles-per-hour over 100 pitches and 28 to 34 starts in a season, it is only natural that there is some sort of tearing and fraying that goes on in his joints.  Stephen Strasburg has amazing stuff and could be one of the greatest pitchers of this generation; however, Stephen Strasburg is just like every other pitcher…an injury-risk with the potential to flame out.

The Nationals have everything to gain by keeping him in the rotation and nothing to lose; however, by taking him out of the rotation, they are, essentially, tossing in the towel on a potential World Series appearance.

Indians Stuff, 8/28

Lots of stuff on Bleacher Report if you would like to check it out! Make me famous, people!!!!

5 ways the Indians can salvage the 2012 season:

How does the Dodgers and Red Sox blockbuster trade hurt the Indians?

Who deserves the most blame for the Indians’ 2012 season?

Manny Acta calls out ownership

How can the Indians stop the bleeding?

The disaster-filled decision-making 2012 Indians season

Statistical Oddities

Melky Cabrera was once a slap-hitting fatty for the New York Yankees. We all know now that he changed his body and skills with synthetic testosterone, but his statistics in the 2012 season were nothing short of impressive, enhanced or not. Cabrera’s .346/.390/.516 with 25 doubles, 10 triples, 11 home runs, 60 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 459 at-bats were enough to have him leading the NL for the batting crown prior to his dopey doping suspension, but now we’ll all wonder, once again, just how much of his improvement and abilities can be traced back to the fake hormones.

Outside of Melky Cabrera, there are other strange statistics that baseball fans may be overlooking this season. While everyone watches Mike Trout pile up crazy stats for a rookie, or any player for that matter, there are others, who may not be your typical highly-respected and hyped player, who are putting up tremendous numbers this season.

You Don’t Belong Here: OPS-Version: A.J. Pierzynski, Catcher, Chicago White Sox

The most-hated player in baseball has returned with a vengence in 2012, hitting a robust .294/.340/.539 with 14 doubles, four triples, 23 home runs and 70 RBI. Pierzynski is ranked 20th in MLB in OPS. His current .879 OPS would eclipse his career high, .824, which he set as a 26-year-old in 2003 for the Minnesota Twins. Add in the fact that Pierzynski hit 17 home runs COMBINED in 2010 and 2011 over 938 at-bats, and there is no reason that anyone should have expected the aging catcher to be anywhere near this productive in 2012.

Honorable Mention: Dexter Fowler (17th in MLB), Edwin Encarnacion (5th in MLB), Yadier Molina (16th in MLB)

You Don’t Belong Here: Home run-Version: Jason Kubel, Outfielder, Arizona Diamondbacks

Jason Kubel signed a two-year, $16 million deal with a 2014 club option this past offseason, leaving Minnesota for the desert. The change of scenery has worked out nicely for Kubel, who has posted a .270/.341/.531 line, with 25 doubles, three triples, 26 home runs, and 79 RBI in 418 at-bats for the Diamondbacks. Kubel was always a solid hitter, even hitting 28 home runs and driving in 103 runs in 2009 for the Twins, however his current .872 OPS for Arizona is 78 points higher than his career OPS (.794). You can add in the fact that he moved to a hitter’s park for the bump there, and his .872 OPS is still lower than his .907 OPS in 2009, as well, but Kubel is definitely a surprise at No. 14 in MLB in home runs right now. If he had stayed healthy for Minnesota in 2010 and 2011, it’s possible that his production wouldn’t be quite so surprising for some.

Honorable Mention: Billy Butler (15th in MLB), Ryan Ludwick (15th in MLB), Josh Reddick (15th in MLB)

You Don’t Belong Here: NL Rookie of the Year-Version: Todd Frazier, INF/OF, Cincinnati Reds

What do you get when you take a former MVP who has knee surgery, plug in a rookie for him, and proceed to go 27-12? You don’t get Bryce Harper, that’s for darn sure. Todd Frazier should be the NL Rookie of the year, as he is hitting .296/.355/.555, with 21 doubles, five triples, 18 home runs, 60 RBI and three steals in 328 at-bats. He wasn’t supposed to win the award and he still may not, as Harper was awarded a spot on the NL All-Star team in July and has the hype machine on his side. It isn’t very close based on statistics alone, though.

Honorable Mention: Michael Fiers, Wade Miley, Wilin Rosario, Zack Cozart

You Don’t Belong Here: Pitching-Version: R.A. Dickey, RHP, New York Mets

Take nearly every category and you’ll see Dickey there: Wins (tied for 1st in MLB), ERA (9th in MLB), Innings Pitched (3rd in MLB), Strikeouts (3rd in MLB), Batting Average Allowed (8th in MLB), and WHIP (6th in MLB). Dickey has redefined the journeyman label for pitchers since arriving in New York. Did anyone see this out of the guy who had a 5.72 ERA over 77 appearances (33 starts) before joining the Mets in 2010 as a 35-year-old? Dickey his knuckleball continue to baffle opposing hitters, as he continues to make it hard for ESPN to not force him down our throats as the best pitcher in the National League.

Honorable Mention: A.J. Burnett, Lance Lynn, Chris Sale, Matt Harrison, Scott Diamond

You Don’t Belong Here: Strikeout-Version: Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Cincinnati Reds

When you look at the strikeout leaders in MLB, you should see starting pitchers all over the place, especially in the top 100. The number of innings pitched for starting pitchers makes it impossible for relief pitchers to hang with starters in that category, as they tend to face between three and six opposing batters per game, rather than the 18 to 30 that starters may face, depending on their success in a given game. Well, say hello to the “Cuban Missile”, Aroldis Chapman, who is 59th in MLB with 112 strikeouts, one less than Jered Weaver and tied with Ryan Dempster. His 16.9 K/9 is higher than Eric Gagne‘s 15.0 K/9, which Gagne posted in his 2003 Cy Young season, the last relief pitcher to win the Cy Young award. Chapman is nothing short of dominant, having allowed a total of nine earned runs over his 62 innings pitched.

Honorable Mention: NONE

Numbers are fun and the constant flow of them in baseball is one of the most intriguing parts of the game. Players surprise with production every year. Who has surprised you in 2012?

The Red Sox and Dodgers Blockbuster Deal

Courtesy: USA Today

According the various outlets, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers will announce the completion of a gigantic nine-player deal on Saturday with cash and millions upon millions of dollars of future salaries heading west, as the Dodgers look to solidify their roster for the playoffs with new ownership letting the world know that they will do whatever it takes, and spend whatever they have to, to bring a championship to Los Angeles.

According to the reports, this is the deal:

Dodgers receive: (with remaining contracts after the 2012 season)

Adrian Gonzalez: six-years, $127 million

Carl Crawford: five-years, $102.5 million

Josh Beckett: two-years, $31.5 million

Nick Punto: one-year, $1.5 million

$12 million in cash for salary assistance

Red Sox receive:

Rubby De La Rosa

Allen Webster

Jerry Sands

Ivan DeJesus

James Loney

So, who is the winner here? I have to say that both teams are winners, and this is why:

Boston just rid themselves of financially crippling contracts. Adrian Gonzalez was a bargain when compared to the Joey Votto and Albert Pujols contracts in the last 12 months; however, the ability to get rid of Carl Crawford’s terrible contract makes dealing Gonzalez a success. Crawford has made over $34 million since arriving in Boston in 2011, playing in 161-games and hitting .260/.292/.419, hardly the player that he was in Tampa. Josh Beckett had an excellent season in 2011, posting a 2.89 ERA over 30 starts, while compiling a 13-7 record. Since September 21, 2011, however, Beckett is 5-13 with a 5.50 ERA over 23 starts, and he was a part of the chicken and beer collapse of the Red Sox clubhouse. His conditioning, attitude and performance are all questionable parts of his existence, so to rid this contract is huge for Boston. The ability to change the clubhouse by eliminating attitude problems and opening up the future financial abilities of the franchise for new free agent talents, like Josh Hamilton. The thing to remember here, though, is that the Red Sox are getting some excellent talent here. Webster and De La Rosa are excellent pitching prospects, and Jerry Sands has proven himself in the minors while struggling in his auditions in the bigs. Loney will be a free agent after the 2012 season, so he is just a body for the time being.

Los Angeles gets the contracts, but they also get the talent. Adrian Gonzalez in the middle of the order with Matt Kemp is absolutely scary. Carl Crawford, while he won’t play in 2012 and he has been injured for most of the last two seasons, has still posted 39 doubles, nine triples, 14 home runs, 75 RBI and 23 steals in 161 games for the Red Sox, which is one season worth of at bats. Josh Beckett had a 3.46 ERA in his 106 games with the Marlins, and now he returns to the National League, in a weaker division, where pitching parks like Dodger Stadium, PETCO and AT&T Park will be his everyday environments. While the Dodgers take on a couple of bad contracts, they also have talent and abilities which may have just needed a change of scenery.

This trade could be the biggest blockbuster in the history of baseball. The names and money that is being dealt by Boston to Los Angeles is absolutely unfathomable. If this deal was done in your fantasy baseball league right now, it would be vetoed. This is a win for both teams because of the salary dump and the talent involved for both teams.

Roger Clemens: Don’t Call It a Comeback!

Before and After miss-hearing him

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported on Monday that Roger Clemens signed with the Independent Atlantic League’s, Sugar Land Skeeters. He will make his debut for the club on Saturday.

Clemens turned 50 years old on August 4 and his last game in the majors was in the 2007 ALDS, when he pitched for the New York Yankees against the Cleveland Indians. Why would Clemens make a comeback now? Easy…

Clemens would be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013. Barry Bonds is also eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013. Both of these players had their legacies tarnished by perjury charges which stemmed from the use of performance-enhancing drugs. There is a cloud over the 2013 Hall of Fame class like none other that has ever had a ballot cast, including Mark McGwire’s first year of eligibility.

There are rumors that the Houston Astros could sign Clemens for a bump at the gate for their pathetic run towards awfulness in September, clinging to Clemens’ aging posterior as the Astros sink further and further into the depths of the NL Central for the last time. If Clemens pitches again in the majors, it will reset his Hall of Fame eligibility.

Why is that important for Clemens? Because, right now, there is no way in HADES that the Baseball Writers Association would elect Clemens into Cooperstown. By adding another five years to his eligibility, it allows the media to cool off on Clemens and his corrupt past, while focusing on Barry Bonds and his eligibility and asterik-filled career on the 2013 ballot.

Clemens could be doing this as a test to his abilities, but, more likely, Clemens is doing this to save face for his tarnished career. His stats and longevity make him worthy of the Hall of Fame, but as writers continue to make their own points by keeping Steroid-Era players from entry into Cooperstown, this potential stall tactic by Clemens could actually work in his favor.

What is the Deal With Pitching?

Six no-hitters, including three perfect games. Of 23 perfect games in the history of baseball, three have taken place during the 2012 season, that is 13 percent of all perfect games, folks.

What can you blame the change on? Is it steroid testing? You still had to hit the ball with all of those muscles. Is it expansion? There hasn’t been a team added to Major League Baseball since 1998, when the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays made 30 teams.

From 1900-1919, baseball went through what was called “The Dead-ball Era”. Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, and Walter Johnson dominated during this time period where home runs were scarce, and balls to play with were even more scarce. Are we starting a second “Dead-ball Era” right now?

Pitchers seem to be throwing harder than ever. Aroldis Chapman’s 105.1 mph at PETCO Park in September of 2010 is the fastest fastball ever recorded. Of the fastest fastballs ever observed, listed at here, 7 of 48 (15 percent) have occurred since the start of the 2010 season and 29 of 48 (60 percent) have occurred since the start of the 2005 season.

Pitchers are throwing harder. While we’ll never see another pitcher toss 300-innings in a season, as Nolan Ryan did twice and Walter Johnson did for nine consecutive years (1910-1918), will pitchers fail to reach 200-innings to maximize speed in coming seasons, possibly increasing rotations from five to seven to make it happen?

Gone are the days where relief pitchers are the only hurlers who can throw the ball 100 miles per hour. Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg hit 100 miles per hour consistently as starting pitchers, with Verlander hitting 100 miles per hour on his 130-pitch of the game on August 6, 2012. In fact, of the top 30 average fastballs since 2002, 13 of those pitchers are starting pitchers (43 percent).

With more torque on the body like Tim Lincecum, crazy training and warm-ups like Trevor Bauer, or totally babying prospects like the Orioles have done to Dylan Bundy in 2012, the human body and sports science continue to do impressive things.

With Phillip Humber, Matt Cain, and Felix Hernandez now throwing perfect games in 2012, it makes you wonder what was going on from May 8, 1968 until May 15, 1981. That would make 4,752 days between Catfish Hunter’s and Len Barker’s perfect games. What about April 30, 1922 until October 8, 1956. That was over 12,570 days between Charlie Robertson’s and Don Larsen’s perfect games.

Pitchers are dominating in 2012 and while players lose the supplemental bulk and giant heads that came with performance-enhancing drugs, it could only get more lop-sided, especially with talent young arms continuing to develop within systems around baseball.

2013 MLB Top 50 Prospects

Jurickson Profar, Rangers;

I have updated this list as of 12/20/12 here.

Below you’ll find the top 50 prospects for 2013. Some players may make a big impact (Machado, Profar, Olt) and lose rookie and prospect eligiblity, but, as of right now (8/15/12), this is how I would rank them. Let me know what you think in the comments!

1. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles, 11/15/92, Double-A, 8-3, 2.01 ERA, 20 GS, 89.2 IP, 106:22 K:BB, .186 BAA

  • It will be interesting what Bundy can do when the O’s take their chains off and let him loose. He just recently reached the sixth inning in a start for the first time. He is well on his way to becoming an ace, and he could reach the Majors by the middle of next year.

2. Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers, 2/20/93, Double-A, .285/.363/.470, 25 2B, 7 3B, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 15 SB, 70:54 K:BB in 438 AB

  • Profar is the perfect blend of rare power, speed, and on-base skills, and it is all packed into a 19-year-old excelling in the upper levels of the minors. There are rumors that he could be called up to help the Rangers down the stretch, but it would be a shame to have him come off of the bench considering he is probably one of their top five players when he arrives in Arlington. It will be interesting to see where the Rangers work him in with Andrus and Kinsler around.

3. Wil Myers, OF, Kansas City Royals, 12/10/90, Triple-A, .316/.392/.625, 25 2B, 5 3B, 34 HR, 97 RBI, 6 SB, 127:53 K:BB in 443 AB

  • While Jeff Francoeur regressed to his pre-2011 abilities, the Royals just sit back and watch their future slugger continue to mash in Triple-A. With Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer in the middle of their long-term lineup, Myers powerful right-handed bat is a perfect fit. He should be a full-time player next spring if he isn’t in September.

4.  Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS, Boston Red Sox, 10/1/92, Double-A, .308/.380/.521, 29 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 4 SB, 87:43 K:BB in 403 AB

  • I have him higher than most, but give me a 19-year-old who can post these numbers any day of the week. Bogaerts is still playing shortstop, but he will end up at third base or be forced elsewhere due to the presense of Will Middlebrooks. Powerful, young, projectable frame. Bogaerts will be a total offensive monster.

5. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks, 7/13/91, Triple-A, 9-5, 2.38 ERA, 21 GS, 117.1 IP, 112:35 K:BB, .236 BAA

  • Skaggs may have overtaken Trevor Bauer as the club’s future ace. He has command of his pitches and has posted incredible numbers the last two seasons.

6. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners, 8/13/92, Double-A, 7-7, 4.25 ERA, 21 GS, 103.2 IP, 99:43 K:BB, .259 BAA

  • The Mariners pushed Walker by having his skip the dreaded California League, allowing him to thrive without being destroyed by the thin air and small parks of High-A. Having just turned 20, Walker has posted some solid numbers. He has top of the rotation stuff and will be a nice addition to the Mariners rotation in the coming years. He isn’t Felix Hernandez and won’t come close to him, but how many pitchers can?

7. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Seattle Mariners, 11/28/89, Triple-A, 9-5, 2.42 ERA, 20 GS, 108 IP, 120:56 K:BB, .195 BAA

  • Hultzen may just be what he is right now and nothing more, but that is still good. He will throw strikes and toss a lot of innings while having some great success. The college arm will be ready by next season and he could get a look in September, but he will settle in nicely among a group of solid young arms that the M’s are developing.

8. Manny Machado, 3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles, 7/6/92, Majors, .266/.352/.438, 26 2B, 5 3B, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 13 SB, 70:48 K:BB in 402 AB

  • Can we just call him “The Macho Man” now? Machado has been on fire since arriving in Baltimore last week, having won co-AL Player of the Week in his first week in the bigs. Not a bad introduction. he was on fire in Double-A when the Orioles called him up. He will probably be a third baseman long-term and his bat will only improve. He is a monster, just like Bogaerts, with speed and a glove that could still handle short.

9. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals, 6/19/92, Double-A, .321/.382/.574, 31 2B, 7 3B, 21 HR, 82 RBI, 9 SB, 53:39 K:BB in 427 AB

  • Taveras can do it all. He could take over right field for the Cardinals right now, but Allen Craig and the on-again/off-again season of Lance Berkman have blocked him. His power makes him a threat to the NL Central for years to come.

10. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins, 7/31/92, High-A, 12-1, 1.89 ERA, 22 GS, 119 IP, 142:31 K:BB, .192 BAA

  • If you missed the Futures Game, you didn’t see how big Fernandez is already. The guy has a monstrous frame that makes him look like he could step right into a Major League rotation. His results are impressive to this point and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Marlins rush him next year.

11. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates, 9/8/90, Double-A, 8-5, 2.89 ERA, 22 GS, 109 IP, 112:34 K:BB, .229 BAA

  • Cole still has more stuff than impressive results at this poing in his career, but the stuff could be so dominant, that you have to hold out hope that he figures things out. For a guy who can throw a 90 mph change and curve while topping out in triple-digits with his fastball, you would expect more dominance in his strikeout totals. If he figures it out, he could be #2 behind Bundy on this list.

12. Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers, 3/4/92, Double-A, .349/.386/.488, 29 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR, 54 RBI, 7 SB, 96:28 K:BB in 459 AB

  • The Tigers have moved Castellanos to the outfield due to Miguel Cabrera occupying third base. Castellanos is an interesting talent. He strikes out a lot and doesn’t really walk much, while his power numbers are lagging. However, he is just 20 and his 29 doubles show that there is power in there somewhere. If Castellanos beefs up a little, that will help the power numbers, and then he can help the Tigers.

13. Mike Olt, 1B/3B, Texas Rangers, 8/27/88, Majors, .288/.398/.579, 17 2B, 1 3B, 28 HR, 82 RBI, 4 SB, 101:61 K:BB in 354 AB

  • Olt has arrived in the Majors to showcase his power at the corners. He was rumored in potential deals for the Rangers, but they may be better off keeping him and putting him at first base. He is ready to mash, like the Rangers needed more offense…

14. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs, 12/1/92, High-A, .311/.363/.553, 11 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 37 RBI, 21 SB, 56:11 K:BB in 235 AB

  • Baez could be a force at short for the Cubs. Just drafted in 2011 out of high school, the Cubs have already moved the youngster to High-A ball, having started the 2012 season late due to concerns about the weather. Regardless, he will continue moving quickly, especially if he keeps hitting like he has.

15. Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets, 5/30/90, Triple-A, 10-6, 3.20 ERA, 21 GS, 126.2 IP, 128:50 K:BB, .219 BAA

  • Wheeler was acquired from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran last year. He was a talented arm at the time and has established himself as the Mets top prospect since being acquired. Wheeler could still refine his command before he is a finished product, but he has the ceiling to be a top of the rotation starter.

16. Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals, 10/10/90, Triple-A, 8-9, 5.22 ERA, 23 GS, 112 IP, 125:46 K:BB, .274 BAA

  • Miller has fallen out of favor with the Cardinals organization due to conditioning and other issues which continue to go unannounced. He has struggled in 2012 in the Pacific Coast League, which is notoriously a hitter’s league. He still has a bright future, but he could be someone who gets dealt if he continues to upset the Cards, who practically gave away Colby Rasmus due to his “issues.”

17. Matt Barnes, RHP, Boston Red Sox, 6/17/90, High-A, 7-4, 2.65 ERA, 22 GS, 108.2 IP, 127:26 K:BB, .216 BAA

  • If Barnes continues pitching this well, he could be with the Red Sox next season while Josh Beckett and John Lackey are in AA meetings, playing golf, eating fried chicken, and trying to get Bobby Valentine fired. Barnes was good college arm, picked in 2011 out of UConn, and he should continue to move up the ranks as the Saux top prospect.

18. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians, 11/14/93, Low-A, .260/.353/.366, 20 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 25 SB, 66:52 K:BB in 415 AB

  • For a team with such a terrible offense, Indians fans sure do love this slick fielding slap-hitter. Lindor is young and has gap power, but he isn’t as valuable to the Tribe as current shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera because he can’t produce runs like Cabrera can. However, Cabrera is only signed through 2014 and Lindor should be ready by about the same time that Cabrera is leaving town. Lindor is a switch-hitter and has very good on-base skills. If he gets bigger, he won’t turn 19 until Novemer, Lindor could become a more valuable offensive weapon. As it stands, he is a solid leadoff or No. 2-hitter.

19. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies, 4/16/91, Double-A, .274/.332/.414, 33 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 0 SB, 51:36 K:BB in 442 AB

  • After a solid season full of production in the California League in 2011, Arenado has disappointed a bit due to the drop in his power numbers. The 33 doubles are pretty encouraging for future output, but the 21-year-old was thought to be capable of more home runs. He still has solid plate discipline and a clear path to the Colorado third base job, but we’ll have to see how aggressive the Rockies are with him when spring training rolls around.

20. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros, 9/18/91, Double-A, .279/.389/.488, 25 2B, 4 3B, 17 HR, 72 RBI, 4 SB, 111:75 K:BB in 402 AB

  • The future at first base for the Astros, Singleton is developing into a solid power hitter with a nice approach at the plate. He will be a cornerstone to the Houston rebuild. With the club rebuilding, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him manning first in April of 2013.

21. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves, 1/27/91, Majors, 7-7, 5.05 ERA, 23 GS, 114 IP, 80:38 K:BB, .290 BAA

  • There were rumors that Teheran’s breaking ball wasn’t up to par. There are also rumors that his attitude was shaky due to being sent to the minors. Whatever is going on with him, it is cause for concern. His numbers in Triple-A are pretty awful, and his brief opportunities in Atlanta haven’t gone well, either. Teheran is still a top-flight prospect, but due to this bump in the road, he may not have what it takes to be an ace. He still has some work to do.

22. Travis D’Arnaud, C, Toronto Blue Jays, 2/10/89, Triple-A, .333/.380/.595, 21 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 1 SB, 59:19 K:BB in 279 AB

  • D’Arnaud has missed time due to a torn PCL that he suffered in late June. His strikeout rate was pretty alarming, but the power numbers and on-base totals were pretty impressive, still. D’Arnaud could be an offensive force for the Jays, who have a nice lineup developing in Toronto and in their minor league system. J.P. Arencibia is ahead of him, and, for some reason, the Jays just re-signed Jeff Mathis for two-years, $3 million (throwing away money?), so his future may be on hold.

23. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Kansas City Royals, 3/27/90, Triple-A, 12-4, 3.22 ERA, 21 GS, 120.1 IP, 118:41 K:BB, .252 BAA

  • Odorizzi was a piece in the Zack Greinke deal from the Brewers. When he was drafted, he was compared to Greg Maddux due to his diverse arsenal and great command over his pitches. To this point, Odorizzi has looked great. He could make an appearance for KC this September or battle for a rotation spot in the spring.

24. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks, 8/10/92, Low-A, 10-5, 3.86 ERA, 23 GS, 114.1 IP, 120:72 K:BB, .173 BAA

  • More hype than production to this point, but Bradley could be the best arm in the Diamondbacks top-heavy (Bauer and Skaggs) system. He has issues with his command, as his .173 average allowed is truly dominant, and the 72 walks have been the culprit of his inflated 3.86 ERA. If he gets his nasty stuff under control, he’s going to be in the top 10 by the end of 2013.

25. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates, 11/18/91, High-A, 6-8, 3.83 ERA, 22 GS, 120 IP, 95:36 K:BB, .227 BAA

  • Just like Bradley, Taillon has been hyped with very little as far as results. He has looked pretty good for a 20-year-old in High-A, but if he is an ace like others say he is, you have to expect more. He is coming along nicely, but he could be more of a mid-rotation arm than an ace.

26. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins, 12/5/91, High-A, .323/.395/.528, 26 2B, 4 3B, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 18 SB, 72:41 K:BB in 341 AB

27. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins, 5/11/93, Low-A, .259/.380/.521, 24 2B, 4 3B, 24 HR, 90 RBI, 7 SB, 129:74 K:BB in 397 AB

28. Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati Reds, 9/9/90, Double-A, .315/.412/.431, 20 2B, 13 3B, 2 HR, 41 RBI, 139 SB, 95:73 K:BB in 448 AB

29. Matt Davidson, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks, 3/26/91, Double-A, .267/.375/.483, 25 2B, 2 3B, 21 HR, 62 RBI, 3 SB, 109:60 K:BB in 424 AB

30. Mason Williams, OF, New York Yankees, 8/21/91, High-A, .298/.346/.474, 22 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR, 35 RBI, 20 SB, 47:24 K:BB in 359 AB

31. Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals, 9/21/91, Double-A, 4-5, 2.89 ERA, 18 GS, 87.1 IP, 74:25 K:BB, .238 BAA

32. Tyler Austin, OF, New York Yankees, 9/6/91, High-A, .318/.400/.567, 27 2B, 6 3B, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 19 SB, 83:45 K:BB in 349 AB

33. Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals, 8/3/92, Rookie League, .294/.388/.542, 7 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 6 SB, 52:21 K:BB in 153 AB

34. Miles Head, 3B, Oakland A’s, 5/2/91, Double-A, .335/.396/.601, 30 2B, 8 3B, 21 HR, 77 RBI, 3 SB, 107:36 K:BB in 409 AB

35. Trevor Story, 2B/SS, Colorado Rockies, 11/15/92, Low-A, .264/.356/.484, 35 2B, 5 3B, 15 HR, 51 RBI, 11 SB, 102:52 K:BB in 409 AB

36. Michael Choice, OF, Oakland A’s, 11/10/89, Double-A, .287/.356/.423, 15 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 58 RBI, 5 SB, 88:33 K:BB in 359 AB

37. Manny Banuelos, LHP, New York Yankees, 3/13/91, Triple-A, 0-2, 4.50 ERA, 6 GS, 24 IP, 22:10 K:BB, .299 BAA

38. Joey Gallo, 1B, Texas Rangers, 11/19/93, Rookie League, .293/.435/.733, 10 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 43 RBI, 6 SB, 52:37 K:BB in 150 AB

39. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, 12/7/90, High-A, .382/.475/.912, 0 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB, 7:6 K:BB in 34 AB

40. Jackie Bradley, OF, Boston Red Sox, 4/19/90, Double-A, .319/.429/.491, 40 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR, 59 RBI, 24 SB, 81:80 K:BB in 436 AB

41. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals, 6/6/90, Double-A, .304/.415/.594, 5 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, 14:12 K:BB in 69 AB

42. Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets, 3/27/89, Majors, 7-5, 3.68 ERA, 20 GS, 110 IP, 112:48 K:BB, .233 BAA

43. Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF, Minnesota Twins, 9/28/91, Low-A, .305/.361/.492, 27 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 58 RBI, 9 SB, 52:30 K:BB in 321 AB

44. Christian Colon, SS, Kansas City Royals, 5/14/89, Triple-A, .301/.376/.413, 13 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 13 SB, 28:37 K:BB in 312 AB

45. Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners, 3/25/91, Double-A, .366/.471/.723, 10 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 35 RBI, 1 SB, 26:19 K:BB in 112 AB

46. Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees, 12/2/92, High-A, .294/.353/.493, 28 2B, 0 3B, 16 HR, 72 RBI, 15 SB, 96:31 K:BB in 381 AB

47. Daniel Corcino, RHP, Cincinnati Reds, 8/26/90, Double-A, 7-6, 3.25 ERA, 23 GS, 127.1 IP, 113:56 K:BB, .221 BAA

48. Barret Loux, RHP, Texas Rangers, 4/6/89, Double-A, 13-1, 3.51 ERA, 21 GS, 110.1 IP, 84:35 K:BB, .250 BAA

49. James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners, 11/6/88, Double-A, 7-4, 3.09 ERA, 18 GS, 90.1 IP, 93:46 K:BB, .242 BAA

50. Wilmer Flores, 3B, New York Mets, 8/6/91, Double-A, .290/.336/.450, 23 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 66 RBI, 3 SB, 51:31 K:BB in 420 AB

Greatest Rookie Ever?

Mike Trout just turned 21 years old on August 7. He has given baseball fans plenty of gifts this season with an incredible rookie season, which has led to some speculation that he could win the American League MVP, along with the Rookie of the Year award. His season still has some time to play out, but his .345/.409/.597 line with 21 doubles, five triples, 21 home runs, 60 RBI, and a league leading 36 steals has already left the youngster with a 7.0 WAR. He already ranks among the greatest rookies ever and he could be on his way to becoming the best player in baseball very soon, if he isn’t already.

Looking at his incredible season led me to wonder who had the best rookie year ever. Here are my top ten rookie seasons since the Rookie of the Year was established in 1947:

1) Jackie Robinson, 1947, 5th in MVP Voting

.297/.383/.427, 151 G, 175 H, 31 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 29 SB, 3.0 WAR

Jackie Robinson gets the No.1 spot for more than just his results. Not only did he break the color barrier in MLB, but he posted these numbers with teammates that wouldn’t speak to him and opposing players and fans who slandered him on and off of the field.

2) Fred Lynn, 1975, AL MVP

.331/.401/.566, 145 G, 175 H, 47 2B, 7 3B, 21 HR, 105 RBI, 10 SB, 7.1 WAR

Lynn led the Red Sox to the World Series in his rookie year and was the first rookie to win an MVP, as well. Lynn’s rookie season would have to rate as his second best season in his career, though he never won another MVP while making nine All-Star teams.

3) Ichiro Suzuki, 2001, AL MVP

.350/.381/.457, 157 G, 242 H, 34 2B, 8 3B, 8 HR, 69 RBI, 56 SB, 7.5 WAR

Ichiro was not your typical, young rookie, having arrived in the United States at the age of 27 from Japan. His speed and powerful arm in right field changed the Mariners for years. He would easily have 3,000 hits and would be closing in or beyond 4,000 hits for his career if he had played his whole career in the States, but 2,548 isn’t bad for now! The second Rookie of the Year to win the MVP, Ichiro led the Mariners to 116 wins in 2001 before they lost to the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

4) Frank Robinson, 1956, 7th in MVP Voting

.290/.379/.558, 152 G, 166 H, 27 2B, 6 3B, 38 HR, 83 RBI, 8 SB, 6.2 WAR

The future Hall of Famer came into the league with a bang. He immediately became a force to be wreckoned with in Cincinnati.

5) Albert Pujols, 2001, 4th in MVP Voting

.329/.403/.610, 161 G, 194 H, 47 2B, 4 3B, 37 HR, 130 RBI, 1 SB, 6.3 WAR

Pujols jumped from Low-A Peoria in 2000 to the majors in 2001. He hasn’t had to look back. Pujols has established himself as one of the greatest sluggers in the history of baseball. He struggled at the start of the 2012 season for his new club, the Los Angeles Angels, but he has his stats back to their typically mind-blowing status. He is a three-time MVP, and I may be selling his first season short at No.5.

6) Ryan Braun, 2007, 24th in MVP Voting

.324/.370/.634, 113 G, 146 H, 26 2B, 6 3B, 34 HR, 97 RBI, 15 SB, 1.8 WAR

If Braun wasn’t such an attrocious fielder in his rookie year, his WAR would have been much higher. He had an .895 fielding percentage at third base, which was just a touch lower than the league average of .954. Braun, juicing or not, has established himself as a superstar, and he will be in Milwaukee longer than the Miller Brewing Company with his current contract.

7) Nomar Garciaparra, 1997, 8th in MVP Voting

.306/.342/.534, 153 G, 209 H, 44 2B, 11 3B, 30 HR, 98 RBI, 22 SB, 6.5 WAR

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOMAH!!! The man could fill up a box score in his rookie year, and he was a beloved figure in Boston due to his name being awesome to say with a Boston accent, and his ability. He came into the league around the same time as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Miguel Tejada, and Barry Larkin’s 1995 MVP season made the shortstop position a sexy offensive position. Together with Cal Ripken and the others, Nomar helped change the shortstop position, and his rookie year was statistically magical.

8) Mike Piazza, 1993, 9th in MVP Voting

.318/.370/.561, 149 G, 174 H, 24 2B, 2 3B, 35 HR, 112 RBI, 3 SB, 6.8 WAR

Piazza was selected by the Dodgers as a favor to Tommy LaSorda, his godfather. Sometimes, lightening strikes. Piazza was one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time. His rookie season was outstanding and the 62nd round pick only made 11 All-Star games. Nice find. Great season.

9) Mark McGwire, 1987, 6th in MVP Voting

.289/.370/.618, 151 G, 161 H, 28 2B, 4 3B, 49 HR, 118 RBI, 1 SB, 4.8 WAR

Before the reporters snooped into his locker and before McGwire and Sammy Sosa made baseball cool again after the 1994 player’s strike, “Big Mac” was a skinny, 23-year-old who hit 49 bombs in his rookie year. It is scary to think of the numbers he would have finished with if he wasn’t hurt so often during his career, playing in 1874 games over 16 years (117 games played per year).

10) Fernando Valenzuela, 1981, 5th in MVP Voting and NL Cy Young Winner

13-7, 2.48 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11 CG, 8 SHO, 192.1 IP, 180:61 K:BB, 4.6 WAR

Fernando-mania! The hefty-lefty took the baseball world by storm in 1981, winning the NL Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young. Eight SHUTOUT! 11 COMPLETE GAMES! Was Dusty Baker the manager of the Dodgers then!? The good ol’ days, where innings and pitch counts were just as overlooked as amphetamene use. Good stuff.

Honorable Mention:

Dustin Pedroia, 2007; Jason Bay, 2004; Scott Rolen, 1997; Derek Jeter, 1996; Raul Mondesi, 1994; Jeff Bagwell, 1991; David Justice, 1990; Vince Coleman, 1985; Dwight Gooden, 1984; Mark Fidrych, 1976; Carlton Fisk, 1972; Johnny Bench, 1968; Tony Oliva, 1964; Willie McCovey, 1959; Orlando Cepeda, 1958; Willie Mays, 1951;

Where do you think Trout ranks among the greatest rookie seasons ever? Share your thoughts on the poll!

Barry Bonds is a Hall of Famer

The media is here to report news, creating narratives and stories to describe what we can’t see. They should not judge, on our behalf, who is worthy to be enshrined into Cooperstown. The statistics alone, the accomplishments alone, the feats alone, and the abilities alone, are the items that we should be using to judge the success of an individual baseball player. Heart and emotions of writers have little to do with an individual’s accomplishments. Barry Bonds was one of the greatest all-around baseball players of all time. The Baseball Writers Association of America will vote between November and January as to whether Bonds should be inducted into the Hall.

Before all of the steroids and before all of the holier-than-thou statements from the media, Barry Bonds was an amazing baseball player. After being drafted out of Arizona State with the 6th pick in the 1985 MLB Draft, Bonds needed just 402 at-bats in the minors, where he posted a .943 OPS with 20 home runs and 31 stolen bases, before being summoned to Pittsburgh at the tender age of 21 in 1986.

As a rookie, Bonds only hit .223/.330/.416, but he had 26 doubles, 16 home runs, and 36 stolen bases in 413 at-bats. He showed the power and speed talent that would make him a force for the Pirates for several years. From 1990 to 1992, Pittsburgh went 289-197 (.595) and the Pirates haven’t had a winning season since he left for San Francisco in 1993 via free agency, save for this season (which they still need to win 19 games to, officially, have a winning record). Talk about an impact on a franchise, right?

Bonds finished his Pittsburgh career with three straight losses in the NLCS, so while the Pirates had some success, he never made it to the top. He posted a .275/.380/.503 slash over seven seasons with the Pirates, mashing 220 doubles, 36 triples, 176 home runs, and stealing 251 bases. He was well on his way to becoming a Hall of Fame player at the age of 27.

If you project his statistics averaged over 512 at-bats per season from his seven seasons in Pittsburgh through the year 2000, so that his magical 73 home run season never would have happened and his career would have been over at the age of 35, Bonds would have finished with 2,108 hits, 1,440 runs scored, 471 doubles, 77 triples, 377 home runs, 1,191 RBI, and 537 stolen bases.

However, that isn’t taking into account the fact that Bonds struggled in his rookie season with a .223 batting average and that he was a completely different player from 1990 through 1992. So, if you give him five seasons, 1993-1997, as his prime seasons, where he would have posted the same numbers that he did in 1992 for Pittsburgh, then have him on a career decline from 1998 to 2000, those numbers would still go up to: 2,145 hits, 1505 runs scored, 490 doubles, 95 triples, 420 home runs, 1,305 RBI, and 545 stolen bases.

However, it did not happen that way. Bonds did not retire at the age of 35. In fact, he did not retire until he was 42 years old, and he did not retire because he did not want to play, more so because he was blackballed into retirement. We all know the BALCO story at this point, and we know that Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001 and broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record by finishing with 762 bombs in his career. However, 762 is not a number that we all know…755 is. That’s how many Aaron hit in his career. Hell, some of us still remember 714, the total home runs that Babe Ruth hit in his career, but we can’t remember how many Bonds finished with.

Barry Bonds was a cheater because, while steroids weren’t “illegal” in baseball, steroids were and still are illegal in the real world…without a prescription. “The clear” and “the cream” were not tested for in baseball, but how many players in the 1960’s and 1970’s were on speed or other amphetamines? How many spit balls did Gaylord Perry throw to help him win 314 games and join the Hall of Fame in 1991? How many games did Mickey Mantle play with a hangover before joining the Hall of Fame in 1974? How many times did Ty Cobb cleat someone sliding into a base, or say something full of hate to a player or fan? Babe Ruth had a daughter with his mistress after splitting with his wife in 1925 but never divorcing…

When did character overcome statistics in baseball? Barry Bonds still had to hit 762 baseballs into the stands, which was hard when he was walked 2,558 times in his career. While he may have cheated and he may have treated the media like scum of the earth, he was one of the greatest baseball players who has ever stepped foot onto a diamond. He is a Hall of Famer, just like he says.

The 2012 Nasty Boys

The Reds surprised many on Tuesday afternoon, acquiring then Royals closer Jonathan Broxton for two solid minor league arms, RHP J.C. Sulbaran and LHP Donnie Joseph. The reason for the surprise – Cincinnati already had the top bullpen in the majors. With Broxton added to the mix, a lot of people around Cincinnati are reminiscing about the 1990 season.

1990 was the last time the Reds went to the World Series. They swept the Oakland A’s and the team dominated throughout the season, never relinquishing first place the entire season, going wire-to-wire, and winning the NL West by five games over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The bullpen was led by three men, nicknamed “The Nasty Boys”. Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble, and Randy Myers. All three were 27 years old or younger, and all three of the were dominant out of the bullpen.

Norm Charlton was acquired by the Reds in 1986 from the Montreal Expos. He made it to the majors in 1988, when he started 10 games for Cincinnati. He was moved to the bullpen in 1989, pitching in 69 games and compiling a 2.93 ERA over 95.1 innings. He pitched in relief for most of the 1990 season before moving to the rotation in July. A lot of people forget that about Charlton, though. He went 6-5 with a 2.60 ERA in 16 starts for the World Champion Reds in 1990, while going 6-4 with a 3.02 ERA in 40 appearances as a reliever.

Rob Dibble was the fierce fire-baller for the Reds in 1990. He put up an eye-popping 136:34 K:BB in 98 innings, posting a 1.74 ERA and 11 saves over 68 appearances. Dibble had dominated opponents in 1988 and 1989, as well, going 11-6 with a 1.99 ERA in 158.1 innings, compiling a 200:60 K:BB. Bill Mazeroski had this to say about him in the 1993 Edition of his book on baseball:

“He’s (Rob Dibble) the hardest thrower in the league, bar none. Some people say his fastball doesn’t have much movement. Hell, how much movement do you need when you throw 100?”

Randy Myers officially held the closer title for the Cincinnati Reds in 1990. He went 4-6 with a 2.08 ERA, compiling 31 saves and a 98:38 K:BB in 86.2 innings over 66 appearances. Myers came to Cincinnati from the New York Mets when the Reds dealt John Franco to New York prior to the 1990 season. Myers would start games in 1991 (12 starts, the only games he started in his 728 career games pitched) before being traded to the San Diego Padres prior to the 1992 season.

It was interesting to look back at “The Nasty Boys” and see how many appearances they had with more than one inning pitched. You just don’t see that today, outside of Mariano Rivera, as the two-inning save seems to be a dead art form.

Also, looking back at “The Nasty Boys”, you can see how much the current bullpen resembles them. Charlton and Myers were left-handers, as are Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall. Jonathan Broxton, the recently acquired arm, would relate well to the blazing-armed Dibble.

The 2012 version of “The Nasty Boys” still have some work to do to match the success of the 1990 Cincinnati Reds, but the current “Best Team in Baseball” can rely on these guys quite a bit.

Sean Marshall has gone 4-1 in 38 games since the start of May, posting a 1.65 ERA and a 36:5 K:BB over 32.2 innings. He lost the closer role, but he is doing fine work as a set-up man.

Aroldis Chapman should garner some Cy Young votes, and it is concerning to me that he hasn’t received any hype on that front to this date. Chapman had a brief hiccup in June, but he still is 4-4 with a 1.39 ERA for the season, appearing in 48 games and compiling a 96:14 K:BB in 51.2 innings with 23 saves. At his current rate, he would finish with a 150:22 K:BB in 79.2 innings with 36 saves. Sickening. Opposing batters are hitting just .128 against him.

Jonathan Broxton only had a 2.27 ERA in 35 games, compiling 23 saves for the Kansas City Royals prior to being acquired by Cincinnati. Broxton used to strikeout a lot more hitters (26:14 K:BB this year), but with an average fastball of 94.9 mph this year, he could be one of the best seventh or eighth inning pitchers in the history of baseball.

While Walt Jocketty confused fans by dealing for another bullpen arm instead of a leadoff hitter, the Reds were coming off of their first loss in 11 games after losing to San Diego on Monday night. Why fix what doesn’t appear to be broken? With all of this winning occurring without their superstar, first baseman Joey Votto, it is scary to think of what the team is capable of upon his return.

The whole Reds team looks to be nasty this year, and the bullpen is a fun reminder to 10-year-old me as to what a championship ballclub should look like.

You have to watch this link, too. (embedding didn’t work)


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