2015 Fantasy Baseball – Top 200
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
- Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins
- Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
- Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers
- Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
- Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
- Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays
- Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals
- Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
- Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies
- Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
- Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners
- Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
- Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers
- Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles
- Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
- Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves
- Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants
- Hanley Ramirez, SS/OF, Boston Red Sox
- Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros
- Ian Desmond, SS, Washington Nationals
- Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians
- Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox
- Justin Upton, OF, San Diego Padres
- Max Scherzer, RHP, Washington Nationals
- Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants
- Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, New York Yankees
- Corey Dickerson, OF, Colorado Rockies
- David Price, LHP, Detroit Tigers
- Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Buster Posey, C/1B, San Francisco Giants
- Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals
- Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Corey Kluber, RHP, Cleveland Indians
- Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies
- Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
- Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
- Adam Wainwright, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
- Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit Tigers
- Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
- Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas Rangers
- Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
- Zack Greinke, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Detroit Tigers
- George Springer, OF, Houston Astros
- Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers
- Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, Washington Nationals
- Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins
- Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels
- Jon Lester, LHP, Chicago Cubs
- Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
- Alex Cobb, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
- Jason Heyward, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
- Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners
- Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
- Jose Reyes, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
- Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
- David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox
- Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Atlanta Braves
- Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Cincinnati Reds
- Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Chicago White Sox
- Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
- Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves
- Greg Holland, RHP, Kansas City Royals
- Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds
- Marcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins
- Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
- Chris Carter, 1B, Houston Astros
- Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
- Nelson Cruz, DH, Seattle Mariners
- Matt Kemp, OF, San Diego Padres
- David Wright, 3B, New York Mets
- Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Cleveland Indians
- Sonny Gray, RHP, Oakland Athletics
- James Shields, RHP, San Diego Padres
- Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
- Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox
- Ryan Zimmerman, 3B/OF, Washington Nationals
Carlos Santana, C/1B/3B, Cleveland Indians
- Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets
- Alex Wood, LHP, Atlanta Braves
- Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs
- Dee Gordon, 2B, Miami Marlins
- Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals
- Gio Gonzalez, LHP, Washington Nationals
- Tyson Ross, RHP, San Diego Padres
- Daniel Murphy, 2B, New York Mets
- Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, New York Yankees
- Cliff Lee, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
- Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Boston Red Sox
- Wil Myers, OF, San Diego Padres
- Mookie Betts, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox
- Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds
- Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets
- Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston Red Sox
- Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals
- Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Steven Souza, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
- Mat Latos, RHP, Miami Marlins
- Mark Meloncon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
- Doug Fister, RHP, Washington Nationals
- Lucas Duda, 1B, New York Mets
- Alex Gordon, OF, Kansas City Royals
- Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox
- Jimmy Rollins, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Jacob deGrom, RHP, New York Mets
- Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
- Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs
- Yasmany Tomas, 3B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP, Seattle Mariners
- Matt Carpenter, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
- Hyun-jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles
- Homer Bailey, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
- Kole Calhoun, OF, Los Angeles Angels
- David Robertson, RHP, Chicago White Sox
- Yan Gomes, C, Cleveland Indians
- Cody Allen, RHP, Cleveland Indians
- Koji Uehara, RHP, Boston Red Sox
- Jake Arrieta, RHP, Chicago Cubs
- Josh Harrison, 3B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Dellin Betances, RHP, New York Yankees
- Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
- Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland Indians
- Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers
- Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
- Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals
- Huston Street, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
- Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
- Drew Storen, RHP, Washington Nationals
- Lance Lynn, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
- Leonys Martin, OF, Texas Rangers
- Jonathan Papelbon, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
- Glen Perkins, LHP, Minnesota Twins
- Neil Walker, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Khris Davis, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
- Drew Hutchison, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
- Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Steve Cishek, RHP, Miami Marlins
- Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers
- Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
- Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
- Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies
- Mark Trumbo, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
- Brett Gardner, OF, New York Yankees
- Drew Smyly, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
- J.D. Martinez, OF, Detroit Tigers
- Zach Britton, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
- Garrett Richards, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
- Mike Napoli, 1B, Boston Red Sox
- Anibal Sanchez, RHP, Detroit Tigers
- Francisco Liriano, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Jered Weaver, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS, Boston Red Sox
- Melky Cabrera, OF, Chicago White Sox
- Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals
- Alex Rios, OF, Kansas City Royals
- Erick Aybar, SS, Los Angeles Angels
- Phil Hughes, RHP, Minnesota Twins
- Chase Headley, 3B, New York Yankees
- Fernando Rodney, RHP, Seattle Mariners
- Andrew Cashner, RHP, San Diego Padres
- Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Texas Rangers
- Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS, Oakland Athletics
- Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs
- Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers
- Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers
- Denard Span, OF, Washington Nationals
- Joaquin Benoit, RHP, San Diego Padres
- Scooter Gennett, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
- Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals
- Ian Kennedy, RHP, San Diego Padres
- Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins
- Kenley Jansen, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles
- Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles
- Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
- Javier Baez, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs
- Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants
- Brett Lawrie, 2B/3B, Oakland Athletics
- Jose Quintana, LHP, Chicago White Sox
- Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals
Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers
- Michael Pineda, RHP, New York Yankees
- Evan Gattis, C/OF, Houston Astros
- Brian McCann, C, New York Yankees
- Wily Peralta, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
- Danny Santana, SS/OF, Minnesota Twins
- Scott Kazmir, LHP, Oakland Athletics
- Alcides Escobar, SS, Kansas City Royals
- Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins
Whether it’s the handwritten apology that is being broken apart by forensic units and handwriting specialists, or the lengthy feature released by ESPN: The Magazine, the reintroduction of Alex Rodriguez to the world hasn’t changed the world’s perspective on the aging slugger. After spending the 2014 season suspended from the only job that he had had since the age of 18, the year that he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners and had 59 over-matched plate appearances, we have come to find out that Rodriguez spent the year toiling in the various activities that someone with $500 million from playing a game can afford to do to “find oneself”.
Are we expected to hate Alex Rodriguez due to his lies and cheating? Are we expected to feel sorry for him because his father ran out on him and he never went to college? Are we expected to forgive his indiscretions and transgressions due to his willingness to come back to a game that is trying to push him as far away from it as possible? Are we expected to think that he is coming back for the “love of the game” or for the $61 million that he is guaranteed over the next three seasons?
It would be an understatement to say that Alex Rodriguez is a polarizing figure. Despite that fact that Barry Bonds utilized the same methods in the use of illegal materials and the same willingness to dodge the truth, it is Alex Rodriguez who has become the most hated man in baseball. Despite the fact that Bonds is the one who holds the record for career home runs, it is Rodriguez who isn’t supposed to break the record going forward. As the ESPN: The Magazine article discussed, it is Rodriguez who is the villain, despite Ryan Braun‘s presence in Major League Baseball, even with Braun’s willingness to drag everyone and their brother under the bus after being outed as a cheater, twice. The Hall of Fame cases for Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and Mike Piazza are tainted, whether wrongfully or not, by the cloud of steroids that has followed them and an entire era of players; however, it is Jason Giambi, an admitted user, who gets to retire with honor this week and slide right into an organizational position with the Cleveland Indians, who is praised for his career, which he has admitted to altering.
So, what is it that causes this polarization on these players? If being super-competitive led declining players to seek elongation of a career, yet we mock Willie Mays for his time as a New York Met, what is it that our society really wants out of our professional sports icons?
Our culture has changed significantly during my 34 years as a member of this planet, but one thing that has been going on for quite some time is the fact that people are willing to take some wild steps to get to where they want to be in life. Today, we like to think that baseball is in need of a change due to the length of the games and the “entertain me now” philosophy that goes along with the Social Media age. Why not add a clock to ensure that a pitcher throws the ball while two-thirds of the stadium is busy tagging their friend in a picture and posting #nofilter on the beautiful sunset peeking through the right field corner of the stadium? It seems ridiculous to change the ideas of what is acceptable and appropriate in our lives and our entertainment, demanding more right now than we ever did in the past. More news, more excitement, more reasons why you should enjoy what you have in front of you than actually taking the time to enjoy it. The sensationalism of “things” and “experiences” has led to something as minute as an individual’s actions being more important than the game.
That ideology is why Alex Rodriguez and others have become the poster children for the fall of the game. Rodriguez wasn’t alone, but we always want to blame someone. Before ARod it was Bonds, before Bonds it was Canseco, and before Canseco it was Pete Rose. We don’t need to change baseball and we don’t need to change Alex Rodriguez. We need to remember that he was playing a game, that he made a mistake (albeit for several years) to try to maintain his lifestyle. In the same way that others make mistakes and create debt by using credit cards for things that they can’t afford, they are forced to dig themselves out.
In the same way, Alex Rodriguez needs to dig himself out. He doesn’t need to accept blame, he didn’t need to apologize, he just needed to change and be happy while playing the game cleanly. No one needs answers in this catastrophe of a public relations nightmare. There are far worse things going on behind the scenes of athletes’ lives than a man using his body as a pin cushion for steroids – just look at the NFL arrests since the Super Bowl. For all of the ridiculous spins that stories featuring Alex Rodriguez have taken over the last several days, here is one that you won’t see all over the internet: Alex Rodriguez was great, he was troubled, and he will overcome those troubles to be respected by the end of his career.
People have been cheating in all aspects of business. Sure, kids look up to him, but, as Charles Barkley once said:
Alex Rodriguez doesn’t need to answer questions for anyone except his two daughters, his family, and his closest friends. He isn’t threatening to end the world, attacking innocent lives, or testing ballistic missiles. He’s just a baseball player who screwed up. He deserves another chance to come out and do it right, and until he does it wrong again, we should all just sit back and watch, keeping our mouths shut the way that Alex Rodriguez should have the whole time.
Barry Zito signed a minor league deal to fight for a rotation spot with the Oakland Athletics on Monday, guaranteeing the soon-to-be 37-year-old left-hander a $1 million salary if he makes the A’s roster, and another $175,000 through performance incentives. It’s a far cry from the $20 million that Zito received from the San Francisco Giants in 2013, but he’s making more than he was when he took a year off in 2014.
Zito returns to Oakland a shell of his former self. When Zito was at his peak, the same year that Michael Lewis was following the club and penning Moneyball, he was just 24, making his first All-Star appearance, and winning his first (and only) Cy Young award – 2002. With Zito, Tim Hudson, and Mark Mulder going a combined 57-21 with a 3.05 ERA over 99 starts and 675 innings, the A’s were on their way to being contenders, especially if you’re the “pitching wins championships” supporter. However, 103 wins later, the A’s weren’t able to get out of the ALDS, and Zito would have to wait to win a title with the team across the bay in 2010 and 2012.
Zito would never again come close to his 2002 production winning 16 games in 2006 for the Giants, while making two additional All-Star teams (2003 and 2006) and watching his ERA balloon with his wallet in a very disastrous time in San Francisco. Zito, who was paid a whopping $119 million over seven seasons by the Giants was unable to maintain a consistent spot in the rotation by the end of his time with the club, while posting a 4.62 ERA and 1.44 WHIP over 208 appearances and compiling a 63-80 record.
Though Zito took a year off, it is fair to wonder what the A’s and Billy Beane saw in him, even if the result was a non-guaranteed, minor league contract. At 37, Zito will be seven years the senior to the late Cory Lidle, who was the oldest member of the 2002 Moneyball rotation-mates; however, should he even be considered as an option? The A’s have a large group of talented, young starters to choose from, including: Jesse Hahn, Drew Pomeranz, Kendall Graveman, Chris Bassitt, and Sean Nolin, and that is before considering A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker, both of whom are returning from Tommy John surgeries, and Jesse Chavez, who was dynamite in the rotation prior to the deal that landed Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in Oakland last season. With Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir anchoring the staff, the A’s have a gluttony of arms that they can run out there for quarters on the dollar of Zito’s deal, while certainly knowing that each of those arms has the ability to get opposing batters out – something that Zito wasn’t doing consistently the last time that we saw him in Major League Baseball, as he was banished to the bullpen for a majority of the final two months of 2013 (nine appearances, four starts).
Zito could be an interesting piece out of the bullpen, an arm with enough life left on it to be a useful swing man when the rotation is in need, or the long man out of the ‘pen. He could rebuild some value by pitching in the spacious home park that Oakland possesses, but if Zito is in the rotation, Billy Beane has failed.
The A’s are simply not the same type of organization that they were during the Moneyball era. Beane has built a roster full of versatile athletes who can play multiple positions, while featuring a unique blend of power-arms and changeup artists that keep the opposition off balance from day-to-day. The A’s aren’t fishing for players who can just get on base, as they have solid contact hitters (Billy Butler), speedsters with defensive chops (Coco Crisp), and injury-plagued potential stars (Brett Lawrie) who will blend together to assault the opposition, rather than waiting back for the perfect pitch to strike on.
Sure, it hasn’t always made sense in Oakland. It seems quite odd that the club would deal Samardzija to the Chicago White Sox for a lesser middle infield talent (Marcus Semien) than what they had given up months before (top five prospect Addison Russell), but what used to be a system of “finding” talent to fit within the organizational structure has now become “developing” talent to fit within an ever-changing organizational need.
As Barry Zito rejoins the Oakland Athletics, they are a completely different team from when he left. The A’s are built to contend, they have depth at the major league level, and they have Beane orchestrating moves that has even left right fielder Josh Reddick in awe. Zito is in a good place to attempt a comeback because he at least has a contract, but if he sees the field, the A’s are doing something wrong or in deep, deep trouble. Barring a miracle, Moneyball is over, and so is Zito’s career…unless Beane knows something that we don’t, once again.
Smart guys just use numbers to get into the game. So says Charles Barkley, ripping apart analytics (video below), and the people who got into the game by crunching numbers.
The same type of fight has been going on in baseball over the last several years, as well, with Chicago White Sox homer Hawk Harrelson using the same types of critiques of those number crunching “nerds” (one may say he had the “will to win” the argument) as Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal seemed to be grasping for.
For the many who continue to fight the good fight for the players instead of their numbers, it seems like a waste of time. Sabermetrics have taken on such an important role that every team in Major League Baseball has an Analytics Department, even the Philadelphia Phillies! With the help of those “nerds”, perhaps the Phightin’ Phils can manage to build a winner without Ruben Amaro, Jr. giving a five-year, nine-figure deal to a thirty-something player, but it’s more likely that he can’t help himself. While Bill James, Billy Beane, and Michael Lewis’s book, Moneyball, seemed to set the stage for the statistical movement, it was only the beginning, as sites like FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Brooks Baseball, and even Major League Baseball’s own Advanced Media analytics videos, continue to find creative ways to explain defensive shifts, the value of front office staff, and catcher framing, advancing those numbers to incomprehensible levels…at least for some.
While the argument that players win championships is valid in some sports, it isn’t quite the same in baseball. The Cleveland Cavaliers were an amazing team with young LeBron James teamed with a cast of misfits like Anderson Varejao, Larry Hughes, and Shannon Brown, but they are certainly a better team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love around him this season with receding-hairline LeBron James. One player can make a drastic improvement in basketball, just as adding an Andrew Luck to an Indianapolis Colts team was a difference-making move after watching Curt Painter and Dan Orlovsky play due to Peyton Manning’s neck surgery in 2011 in the NFL. However, in Major League Baseball, signing the top players doesn’t guarantee success, and drafting the top players certainly doesn’t lead to immediate help when considering the amount of minor league seasoning that even the most elite prospects must endure.
The shifts, the pitching changes, and the platoon splits are the difference between a Carlos Santana single to right center and the shortstop fielding the ball just to the right of second base. They are the difference between Shin-Soo Choo giving up on a ball that Billy Hamilton catches with cheetah-like ease. They are the difference between Cody Ross mashing a left-handed starter in his third at-bat, or having his bat chewed up by a two-seam fastball from Luke Gregerson in the seventh inning. While those moves seem so minute at the moment, they are the runner on base, they are the next-guy-up to rattle the confidence and location of the relief pitcher, and they are the atrocious BABIP that Carlos Santana still sports due to the brilliance of a “nerd” who analyzed how frequently the slugging catcher/first baseman/designated hitter (not third baseman) pulls the ball, that can be the difference in a game, a wild card birth, a division champion, and a title…due to a win.
While some numbers are confusing, they are not worthless. The scariest part of the statistic argument may not be the people who doubt it and mock it, but the people who want to eliminate it. When new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred mentioned eliminating shifts during one of his first interviews, it made all of the work, money, and time that franchises put into developing their “edge” at risk. With the game looking for ways to speed up the game and gain younger viewers, eliminating defensive advantages and outs to increase offense doesn’t appear to be a way to get people out of ballparks quicker, but maybe that is thinking too analytically…
The “old school” way of thinking will never go away, and there will always be doubters of those who “haven’t played the game” taking on a larger role within sports. However, those who get paid for their skills should probably stick to them, and Charles Barkley’s skill was surely never his brain. While his honesty is refreshing, his ability to comprehend the value of numbers absolutely stinks.
Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks passed away on Friday at the age of 83, leaving behind a legacy full of enthusiasm and greatness on and off the diamond. Tom Ricketts, the Cubs chairman released a statement, saying:
“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time. He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known. Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie’s life in the days ahead.”
President Obama even chimed in on the passing, saying:
“Michelle and I send our condolences to the family of Ernie Banks, and to every Chicagoan and baseball fan who loved him. Ernie came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day. He became the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs, and the first number the team retired. Along the way, he became known as much for his 512 home runs and back-to-back National League MVPs as for his cheer, his optimism, and his love of the game. As a Hall-of-Famer, Ernie was an incredible ambassador for baseball, and for the city of Chicago. He was beloved by baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle, who, when she was a girl, used to sit with her dad and watch him play on TV. And in 2013, it was my honor to present Ernie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team’s behind him, and Mr. Class – “Mr. Cub” – is ready to play two.”
Banks loved to say “let’s play two today”, while becoming a great ambassador to the city of Chicago and game of baseball. He played his entire career with the Cubs, while becoming the record holder for most games played without a postseason appearance. He once said “I’d like to get to the last game of the World Series at Wrigley Field and hit three homers. That was what I always wanted to do.”
He may get there in spirit, as his No.14 will fly above the left foul pole at Wrigley Field while the new generation of potentially great Cubs’ players are molded into contenders over the next several seasons.
Banks was the first African-American player to play for the Cubs when he arrived late in 1953. He finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting in 1954 to St. Louis’ Wally Moon (though he did beat out Hank Aaron, who finished 4th that year). The next season, he made the first of his 14 All-Star appearances while hitting a then-record 44 home runs while playing shortstop. Banks would end his career with 512 home runs and two MVP awards (1958 and 1959), while playing over 1,100 games at both shortstop and first base.
Banks was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility, receiving 83.8 percent of the vote (the BBWAA was dumb then, too).
He was great on the field but people will remember him for more than his playing ability. The man who he was, the positivity, and the kindness is what people will mourn while they celebrate his life. I never met Ernie Banks, but you can get a lot out of who a person was by the words that people speak about them.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 24, 2015
Did a card show w Ernie Banks. He drove the promoter crazy! Spent time/talked with every person. After an hour had signed maybe 15. #MrCub
So long, Mr. Cub. The game will miss your enthusiasm. When people say “I wish more players were like (insert name)”, it was typically your name. That is a great way to be remembered as a ballplayer and a person.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 19, 2015
The Washington Nationals have signed right-hander Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract, shocking the world of baseball by locking-up the market’s top free agent arm, while creating a new philosophy in negotiating tactics that could influence free agent signings in the future. By extending the $210 million over 14 years by deferring $15 million per year, they also free up a bit of payroll for additional signings in years to come.
Perhaps that deferred money will allow them to lock-up Bryce Harper, who will be a free agent after the 2018 season; however, in the moment, this deal does much more for the Nationals than make them creative, financial gurus.
Max Scherzer will now lead the Washington rotation, a rotation that already featured Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Tanner Roark. Obviously, depth in a starting rotation is always nice to have, especially with two pitchers on club’s roster already having Tommy John surgery on their resume (Strasburg and Zimmerman), and Gonzalez having dealt with some shoulder issues last season. What is truly incredible about the Scherzer signing is that Roark appears to be the man who would be bumped from the rotation, even after the 15 wins and 2.85 ERA over 31 starts in his age-27, 2014 season.
The Nationals have the flexibility to deal an arm, with Jordan Zimmermann already rumored to be the one who could be moved.
— Beacon Hill Sports (@BeaconHillSport) January 19, 2015
The Red Sox certainly have the prospects to make a deal for Zimmermann or any other player in baseball, so this isn’t all that surprising. Mookie Betts would make an excellent long-term second baseman – if the Nationals are content with moving Anthony Rendon to third base long-term, and the club doesn’t, or any club this side of the Dodgers, doesn’t appear capable of locking up a Scherzer/Zimmermann/Strasburg trio to the nearly $90 million annually that it would require. Zimmermann, who is due $16.5 million prior to reaching free agency after the 2015 season, arguably, is worth the same type of deal that Scherzer received and possibly more.
After all, when comparing these two players, there are a lot of similarities and a lot of envy from other clubs:
Player A: 45-22, 2.96 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 608.2 IP, 496:112 K:BB
Player B: 55-15, 3.24 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 622.1 IP, 723:179 K:BB
Zimmermann is Player A and Scherzer is Player B. Those strikeouts are certainly a big difference, but Zimmermann is just as dominant in overall numbers – outside of the swing-and-miss stuff.
Still, the Nationals sit here today with the most feared starting rotation in baseball. Just a week ago, ESPN’s Buster Olney had Washington atop his top 10 starting rotations in baseball, and that was BEFORE the club added Scherzer.
As long as Washington is able to produce some runs in 2015, they appear to be capable of winning 100 games. The rotation, as is, features five pitchers capable of 15 or more wins and ERAs under 3.20, so if Jayson Werth, Harper, Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, and company can do their part, this is a very, very dangerous team.
The rich continue to get richer, which appears to be a theme in Major League Baseball, and while the Tigers lose Scherzer from the rotation that they had in 2014, they still have one season with David Price at the top before they need to panic. The Nationals don’t look like they’ll be in that position for several years.
I like to say that I love baseball and that I don’t have a favorite team, but the fact of the matter is that I was born and raised in Cincinnati and I can’t help but hope for the best for my hometown Reds. It’s hard to say that I’m disappointed in a team that won more than 90 games in three of the last five seasons, but a season without a championship isn’t an absolute success, and the Reds haven’t won the World Series since 1990. They, along with 28 other teams, get to look up at the San Francisco Giants until next Fall, but are the Reds in a position to contend in 2015?
The club finished with 76 wins in 2014, finishing 14 games out of the NL Central and in 4th place in the division. While the Cardinals reloaded by acquiring OF Jason Heyward from Atlanta, the Pirates continue to get better with experience and tremendous, young talent, and the Cubs finally opened their wallets and brought in LHP Jon Lester to anchor an incredibly gifted, young roster, the Reds were making changes in their own way. The Reds haven’t been as desolate as they were last offseason, when they basically added Skip Schumaker to the mix after losing Shin-Soo Choo to the Rangers. There was some wheeling and dealing being done by GM Walt Jocketty, but the direction of those deals was a bit odd.
The addition of OF Marlon Byrd, who has 49 home runs and an .800 OPS over the last two seasons, is an improvement over what OF Ryan Ludwick had done over the same time period (11 home runs and a .666 OPS); however, he’s 37 years old and his strikeout rate jumped to a career-high 29 percent while he posted an inflated .341 BABIP. The Byrd acquisition came after the club dealt Alfredo Simon to Detroit for RHP Jonathan Crawford and INF Eugenio Suarez, and RHP Mat Latos to the Marlins for C Chad Wallach and RHP Anthony DeSclafani. Both Simon and Latos were due to become free agents after the 2015 season, so the deals made sense for the Reds if they were heading into a rebuilding mode, but the deal for Byrd didn’t make much sense for a rebuilding team, as they traded a solid, young arm in Ben Lively to the Phillies to acquire Byrd.
Personally, the deal with the Tigers appears to be a steal. Simon never pitched the way that he had in a starting role prior to the 2014 season, and his FIP (4.33) says much more about his performance than his 3.44 ERA and 15 wins show. The fact that the Reds received the Tigers 1st round pick from the 2013 MLB Draft, Crawford, was pretty impressive, but Suarez, who rose quickly through the Tigers system and looks like a solid middle infielder to build around, in addition to Crawford was a coup.
The deal with the Marlins was a little less impressive, in my opinion. Wallach looks like a catching-version of Kevin Youkilis, posting solid K:BB rates in the minors, but DeSclafani was solid throughout his minor league career (3.23 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 354.1 IP), but wasn’t able to miss as many bats upon his promotion to the Marlins, when he had a 6.27 ERA (3.77 FIP) and allowed 10.9 H/9 IP. DeSclafani looks like a decent back-end starter, but you’d think Jocketty could have received more for Latos than that, given the insane money that will be thrown at pitchers on the free agent market.
Still, after the deals, the Reds are out in baseball purgatory. While they acquired a couple of arms in their trades, they still only have three starters worth trusting in the rotation: Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake. Tony Cingrani is an option, but outside of the questions about his secondary stuff, you have to wonder if his shoulder will continue being an issue after it cost him some time in 2014. Outside of those four, the Reds have more question marks in the rotation, as David Holmberg, Dylan Axelrod, Daniel Corcino, and Cuban import Raisel Iglesias bring unknown skills and suspect resumes to a potentially lengthy Spring Training competition for the No.5 spot in the group.
In addition to the questions in the rotation, the Reds have to address their depth. Suarez is a very nice option to fill-in at second base and shortstop, likely a much better option than Ramon Santiago was when he was asked to take over for Brandon Phillips‘ lengthy DL stint in 2014. Brayan Pena was impressive when pushed into an unfamiliar role, filling in at first base when Joey Votto was out for so long with his knee injury, but he wasn’t productive enough to offset the loss of the team’s franchise player.
Speaking of the franchise player…who is it? Can Cincinnati count of Joey Votto? Is Jay Bruce ever going to find consistency? Is Johnny Cueto going to re-sign, and, can the Reds afford to sign him OR afford to let him leave? Is Devin Mesoraco the future of the franchise? Can Billy Hamilton hit enough to become a difference-maker to the franchise?
The Reds still have a lot of talent, but they have a lot of questions to answer, as well. Jocketty did a nice job in acquiring more arms and additional depth in his flurry of deals, but if 2015 is the last year that the team will have Cueto and a couple of other solid arms to pitch the club to a division title, did he do enough to win now? Are they trying to win now?
The offseason isn’t quite over and there are still some starting pitchers who could be solid additions to the roster (RHP Chris Young, RHP Kyle Kendrick, LHP Paul Maholm, RHP Roberto Hernandez, LHP Franklin Morales), but they certainly aren’t going to be in on RHPs Max Scherzer or James Shields.
If things break right, the Reds should be competitive enough to make a run in the NL Central, but there will be a lot of luck involved in those breaks. While Cincinnati was spoiled in the 1970’s, it just hasn’t been the same for those of us who were born after 1980. One title in a lifetime doesn’t seem like a lot, but at least it hasn’t been since 1908.
On Saturday, the Oakland A’s acquired UTIL Ben Zobrist and SS Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays for C/DH John Jaso and two minor leaguers, CF Boog Powell and SS Daniel Robertson. This, of course, comes on the heels of the deal with Toronto, which sent the A’s star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, to the Jays for a strong package of minor leaguers (SS Franklin Barreto, LHP Sean Nolin, and RHP Kendall Graveman) and oft-injured 2B/3B Brett Lawrie, and the A’s deal with the White Sox, which sent Jeff Samardzija to Chicago (along with Michael Ynoa, the former bonus baby) for INF Marcus Semien, C Josh Phegley, RHP Chris Bassitt, and minor league INF Rangel Ravelo. The trades have changed the outlook on the future, especially after the club appeared to be heading in a new direction when they traded their gifted shortstop prospect Addison Russell to the Cubs to acquire Samardzija, while dealing Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester for a huge push at the deadline in 2014. However, after Saturday’s deal, the roster looks like it has had more face-lifts than Joan Rivers, but it still has the Billy Beane touch, as Susan Slusser, of the San Francisco Chronicle, tweeted:
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) January 10, 2015
With the additions of Zobrist and Escobar, the A’s have found a new shortstop for 2015, which was important considering the lack of range that Semien would have had at the position, while gaining the most versatile player in baseball this side of Craig Biggio in Zobrist. Still, there are some questions that could remain for A’s fans.
Why did they give up Russell for Samardzija, only to turn around and deal him months later?
If they felt comfortable with Robertson as the shortstop of the future enough to deal Russell, why did they deal Robertson as a centerpiece in a deal for Zobrist and Esobar?
If they ever felt that Robertson was the shortstop of the future, why did they get Barreto as a centerpiece of the deal with the Jays, while trading away their best offensive piece from a team that was starved for offense down the stretch in 2014?
Many of these questions are logical, but no one really knows what Billy Beane is thinking. The end result, however, shows that Beane was able to acquire several pieces that are quite useful right now, while stockpiling his system with high-impact, controllable talent. Sure, Billy Butler isn’t going to replace the production that Josh Donaldson provided (he certainly won’t be coming close to earning an MVP vote without a drastic career bounceback), but the potential that they received in Lawrie, plus the addition of so many other useful parts allows the club to get back to the foundation of on-base skills and productivity through strong plate appearances that made the Moneyball movement such a dynamic influence on the organization and the world of baseball.
The versatility in the order and the presence of veterans like Zobrist, Crisp, Reddick, and Butler in the Oakland lineup may help the A’s get to the next level. They still have solid depth in the rotation with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Hahn (acquired from San Diego for Derek Norris this winter), the returning-from-surgery A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker, and their choice of youngsters Nolin, Bassitt, Graveman, and Drew Pomeranz, and the A’s will just need things to click right, which seems to always happen with Beane on board.
Certainly what Beane has done over the last eight months doesn’t seem perfect, but he looks to have another group of players who will be capable of reaching 87 or more wins again, something the A’s have done 11 times in the 17 seasons that he has been the GM in Oakland.
I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote with the BBWAA, but I DO have one with the IBWAA. The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America gives a voice to the common writer, who tends to be the common fan – one who doesn’t utilize a national platform to showcase their personal agenda, while using a large publication to demonstrate their lack of knowledge. For those who are willing to be open-minded regarding their education of the greatest game ever played, the ever-changing numbers-crunching and constant flow of information has changed how many around the game think; however, there are still a few, like the link above, which detail how wrong so many actually voting for the Hall of Fame actually are.
Beyond the credentialed irrationality of many within the BBWAA, we are left with the limitations, which are being challenged now that a dramatic number of worthy candidates are on a ballot that can only allow up to 10 players into Cooperstown each year. To overcome the shortcomings, we have the IBWAA, which is filled with bloggers, and national writers who don’t yet qualify for the BBWAA vote, and perhaps never will. Within the IBWAA, we can vote for up to 15 players each year, and I used each vote on a loaded ballot, while leaving off some very good players, as well. Below, you’ll find my ballot, but some valuable information from the IBWAA:
The IBWAA ballot compares identically to the BBWAA ballot, with the following exceptions:
1. Craig Biggio’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2014.
2. Mike Piazza’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2013.
3. Barry Larkin’s name does appear on the ballot because he has not reached the 75% threshold in an IBWAA election.
Per a group decision in 2013, the IBWAA allows members to vote for 15 players, instead of the previous 10, beginning with this election.
|162 Game Avg.||162||711||587||114||174||37||2||34||115||15||106||117||.297||.408||.540||.948||149||317|
Bagwell was a monster, who had one of the greatest seasons in the history of baseball in 1994 before the strike ended it. His career was shortened by shoulder woes, but he was one of the most feared athletes in the game, a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, and a four-time All-Star, who had 2.89 career MVP shares.
|162 Game Avg.||162||684||534||121||159||33||4||41||108||28||139||83||.298||.444||.607||1.051||182||324|
|162 Game Avg.||17||9||3.12||34||34||6||2||236||201||91||82||17||76||224||143||3.09||1.173||7.7||2.96|
|162 Game Avg.||17||9||3.29||34||34||6||2||230||186||95||84||23||83||271||135||3.19||1.171||7.3||3.26|
|162 Game Avg.||162||672||599||93||173||39||3||27||107||7||56||107||.290||.356||.500||.855||123||299|
|162 Game Avg.||162||673||590||99||174||33||6||15||71||28||70||61||.295||.371||.444||.815||116||262|
|162 Game Avg.||17||8||2.93||37||31||4||1||217||171||77||71||18||58||242||154||2.91||1.054||7.1||4.15|
|162 Game Avg.||162||670||577||89||164||29||2||32||102||5||86||124||.284||.377||.509||.886||134||294|
|162 Game Avg.||162||662||535||101||141||22||1||50||122||1||114||138||.263||.394||.588||.982||163||315|
|162 Game Avg.||162||671||574||102||169||28||7||11||63||52||86||63||.294||.385||.425||.810||123||244|
|162 Game Avg.||162||688||580||103||169||29||2||32||105||16||93||74||.292||.393||.514||.907||140||298|
|162 Game Avg.||12||9||3.33||41||27||3||1||9||196||174||79||73||16||57||174||125||3.24||1.176||8.0||3.05|
|162 Game Avg.||162||681||607||102||166||26||3||42||115||16||64||159||.273||.344||.534||.878||128||324|
|162 Game Avg.||162||662||586||87||167||29||4||13||71||17||60||62||.285||.352||.415||.767||110||243|
|162 Game Avg.||162||654||563||110||176||38||5||31||107||19||74||100||.313||.400||.565||.965||141||318|
Free agency has officially started, with two of the top names on the market, Michael Cuddyer and Victor Martinez, already reaching new agreements (Cuddyer, two-years, $21 million with the Mets) or re-signing with their club (Martinez, four-years, $68 million). There’s still plenty of time remaining for teams to make improvements or trades, and these are the names that you’ll want to know, while hoping that your team makes the highest bid.
- Hanley Ramirez, SS
- Yoan Moncada, SS – Cuba
- Max Scherzer, RHP
- Yasmany Tomas, OF – Cuba
- Pablo Sandoval, 3B
- Jon Lester, LHP
- James Shields, RHP
- Nelson Cruz, OF/DH
- Russell Martin, C
- Melky Cabrera, OF
- Ervin Santana, RHP
- Francisco Liriano, LHP
- Kenta Maeda, RHP – Japan
- Brandon McCarthy, RHP
- Andrew Miller, LHP
- David Robertson, RHP
- Nick Markakis, OF
- Chase Headley, 3B
- Jason Hammel, RHP
- Hyeon-jong Yang, LHP – Korea
- Sergio Romo, RHP
- Alex Rios, OF
- Nori Aoki, OF
- Michael Morse, 1B/OF
- Colby Rasmus, OF
- Jed Lowrie, SS
- Hector Olivera, 2B – Cuba
- Billy Butler, 1B/DH
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
- Jung-ho Kang, SS – Korea