2016 Predictions and Useless Guesses

It is that time of year again – when I make a fool out of myself by guessing who will end up as the 2016 MVPs, Cy Young Winners, Manager and Rookie of the Year winners, and name some sleepers. Last season, I boldly guessed that Mike Redmond would win the NL Manager of the Year award…but he was fired on May 19 after starting 16-22. So much for that. I did have some decent predictions, like Nolan Arenado breaking out and…well, that’s about it. It wasn’t a great year for inferences for me.

However, 2016 is going to be very different! Without further ado…

Bautista may not be worth $150 million, but he can still carry the Jays
Bautista may not be worth $150 million, but he can still carry the Jays

AL East

1. Toronto Blue Jays

2. Baltimore Orioles

3. Tampa Bay Rays

4. New York Yankees

5. Boston Red Sox

Who will be better? Kluber or Carrasco?
Who will be better? Kluber or Carrasco?

AL Central

1. Cleveland Indians

2. Kansas City Royals

3. Chicago White Sox

4. Detroit Tigers

5. Minnesota Twins

He's great. Now.
He’s great. Now.

               AL West

1. Houston Astros

2. Texas Rangers

3. Los Angeles Angels

4. Seattle Mariners

5. Oakland Athletics

AL Wild Cards

Kansas City Royals

Baltimore Orioles

NL East

1. Washington Nationals

2. New York Mets

3. Miami Marlins

4. Atlanta Braves

5. Philadelphia Phillies

 NL Central

1. Chicago Cubs

2. Pittsburgh Pirates

3. St. Louis Cardinals

4. Milwaukee Brewers

5. Cincinnati Reds

                                                                          NL West

It's an even year...bet on the Giants!
It’s an even year…bet on the Giants!

1. San Francisco Giants

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Colorado Rockies

5. San Diego Padres

NL Wild Cards

Pittsburgh Pirates

                                                                 New York Mets

World Series Prediction

Washington Nationals over Toronto Blue Jays in six games

Courtesy: Bleacher Report
Courtesy: Bleacher Report

AL Manager of the Year: John Gibbons, Toronto Blue Jays

This HAS to be the year for Toronto. Why? Because both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are free agents after the 2016 season, and early negotiations didn’t appear to go well, with rumors of “Joey Bats” wanting $30 million per year in his age 35 to age 40 seasons. Ask Nelson Cruz about being an aging slugger in the open market- how’d that go for him when he *settled* for a one-year deal for $8 million following the 2013 season? Still, Gibbons has a lot of talent to work with right now. With reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson, a full season (maybe – pending health) from Troy Tulowitzki, and the two mashing free-agents-to-be, the Jays will have the power and offense to outscore anyone, which is just what they’ll have to do with their patchwork pitching staff. Gibbons will work some magic there, however, and lead Toronto back to the ALCS and an eventual World Series appearance.

Courtesy: azcentral.com
Courtesy: azcentral.com

NL Manager of the Year: Chip Hale, Arizona Diamondbacks

Dave Stewart and Company have done some really wacky things since taking control of the Arizona front office; however, they have a really interesting team, quietly building around superstar Paul Goldschmidt with pieces and parts that could be All-Star caliber producers. After signing Zack Greinke and acquiring Shelby Miller, having Goldschmidt with A.J. Pollock and David Peralta provide punch in the lineup, along with a returning Patrick Corbin in the rotation, could lead to a sneaky breakout by the Snakes in a wide-open NL West. Hale, who has had success managing throughout the minors and led the Diamondbacks to a 16-game improvement from 2014 to 2015 in his first season. Arizona may miss the playoffs, but they’ll certainly be a thorn in the side of the league in 2016 thanks to talent and Hale’s management of the club.

Machado - getting even better.
Machado – getting even better.

AL MVP: Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

Machado doesn’t turn 24 until July, but it seems like he has been around for a while already. Most of that time, he has been compared to the great Alex Rodriguez, and he proved that comparison was legitimate last season. Machado improved his strikeout and walk rates dramatically last season, while his hard contact rate also jumped – which was behind his 35 home runs – a whopping 21 more than his previous career-high (2013) – while he also stole 20 bases! More of the same should be expected, as Machado continues to fill out his body and fill up box scores. He’ll lead Baltimore to the postseason in 2016, with a bat that is as valuable as his glove, making him one of the most dominant players in the game.

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

Harper won the NL MVP in 2015 after posting a 9.5 WAR in his age-22 season. He put it all together, blasting 42 home runs and leading MLB with a 1.109 OPS and 197 wRC+. He’s going to be better in 2016. The only thing that would prevent that from happening would be an intensity that makes injury-risk a possibility for Harper on every play…or getting walked like Barry Bonds. The sky is still the limit for this young man, and he continue his ascension to greatness in 2016.


AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox

After leading the AL in strikeouts and FIP on his way to setting career-bests in strikeout and walk rates, Sale could improve his overall numbers in 2016. The four-time All-Star will finally get the award that he has earned by posting a 2.95 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 10.3 K:9 over the last four seasons for Chicago. He’ll continue to look like he could be blown away due to his frame, while dominating the opposition on his way to his finest season yet. Perhaps he will even win this one for Drake LaRoche.

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Kershaw disappointed in 2015, seeing his ERA balloon to 2.13 on his way to a 3rd place finish for the NL Cy Young. That is, of course, sarcasm, as Kershaw led the league in complete games, shutouts, innings, strikeouts, and FIP. He will lead a depleted Dodgers rotation, taking on the innings that they won’t get from the other rotation members, as he continue being the Sandy Koufax of our generation. Enjoy it while it lasts!

AL Rookie of the Year: Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins

For purposes likely tied to free agency control, the Twins didn’t give Berrios a look at all in 2015, even though he could have been the club’s best starting pitcher the moment that he joined the rotation. He has tremendous command of his stuff, and he continues to improve as he rises up through the system, which is an excellent sign for the pitching-starved Twins. The knock on Berrios is his height, but after watching Johnny Cueto, Yordano Ventura, Marcus Stroman, and Tim Lincecum (not as much recently) over the last several years, no one will be looking down on this young man when he can pitch the way that he can.

The Dodgers are loaded with talent and Seager is a monster
The Dodgers are loaded with talent and Seager is a monster

NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

Seager was the No.1 prospect on my prospect list this winter, after the 21-year-old followed up a roasting of the minors with 98 at-bat barrage on Major League pitching, posting a .337/.425/.561 triple-slash in his cup of coffee. He looks like the Dodgers’ Opening Day shortstop (pending injury news) and he could thrive in a lineup with so many other talented players around him. He could easily become one of the top two players offensively for this club immediately, especially with the questions surrounding Yasiel Puig after his down 2015 season. While he may not fit at shortstop for his entire career, Seager is capable of a 20/20 season at short in his first full season.

10 BOLD Predictions

  1. Jeff Samardzija rebounds in AT&T Park and the spacious parks out west to become a top 20 starting pitcher. He strikes out over 200 and logs 200 innings, becoming a tremendous compliment to Madison Bumgarner in the San Francisco rotation.
  2. Buxton could be special...as early as this season!
    Buxton could be special…as early as this season!

    Byron Buxton steals 40 bases and shows glimpses of power, topping out at 15 home runs, while showcasing elite-level defense. The Twins finish in last place in the AL Central, but Buxton and Miguel Sano are All-Stars.

  3. Joey Votto walks 130 times. There is no reason to pitch to him with the rest of the Reds lineup as incapable of producing as an army of ants.
  4. Starlin Castro becomes an All-Star at second base for the New York Yankees, leading the American League in hits. The change of scenery was necessary and helped him find his groove.
  5. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco become as dominant together as Kershaw and Greinke were in Los Angeles in 2015…with slightly higher ERAs. They win 35 or more games, log 450 or more innings, and strike out 470 or more batters combined.
  6. A Rule 5 pick worth high fiving about! Blash can BASH! Courtesy: mighty1090.com
    A Rule 5 pick worth high fiving about! Blash can BASH!
    Courtesy: mighty1090.com

    Jabari Blash is the best Rule 5 pick since Johan Santana, as he becomes the Padres best position player in 2016. The Mariners weep as Nori Aoki starts 155 games in left with less than Blash-y production.

  7. Mike Trout finishes outside of the top 3 in AL MVP voting because his WAR declines due to Jared Weaver giving up 85 home runs in 115 innings, not allowing Trout to flash his glove, range, and UZR skills.
  8. Billy Hamilton loses the center field job to Phillip Ervin in June. Ervin starts hitting how he did at Samford and soars through Double-A and Triple-A. Hamilton is recalled in September to be a pinch-runner, stealing 25 bases in one month and winning fantasy leagues for those who stashed him.
  9. Pablo Sandoval goes on a hunger strike until he is given the third base job over Travis Shaw. He is never seen again. The Red Sox eat his contract and release him, which is funny because he ate his own contract and couldn’t let go of food. Irony.
  10. Lorenzo Cain is a top 5 WAR position player due to his great defense and his continued breakout. Cain finishes with 20 HR/30 SB and 100 runs scored.

10 BOLD Sleepers

  1. Patrick Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks: This guy is two years removed from Tommy John surgery, and he is throwing harder than he ever did before. Keep in mind, he won 14 games, struck out 178, and had a 3.41 ERA over 208.1 innings in 2013, his last full season, before looking very good over 16 starts last season.
  2. Carlos Rodon, LHP, Chicago White Sox: Rodon will either look as dominant as Sale or look like he hasn’t been on a mound before in his life. The stuff is there to be elite, but it is so strong that he has to figure out how to harness it still. This is the year that he does.
  3. "Pirates'Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: Polanco had a slight bump in ISO last year, but that slight bump should be a significant bump in his 2016 season. At the age of 24, Polanco will change some of those 35 doubles into home runs in 2016, as that long, lanky body begins to fill out. Look for 15 to 20 bombs in 2016 with a slight drop in his 27 steals – since he’ll be busier rounding the bases in a trot.
  4. Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers: A six-time All-Star and one-time Cy Young winner isn’t typically a sleeper, but Verlander sort of returned to form in the second half of last season, posting a 2.80 ERA over 103 innings and 15 starts. While the 8.30 K:9 over those starts isn’t his elite level, it also was much higher than his down 2014. Over 20 starts, Verlander had a 3.38 ERA and 3.49 FIP, while he is still below the league average in HR/FB%. If you can get him late, Verlander is worth a look in fantasy. If you don’t play fantasy, his girlfriend is worth a look in your own fantasy.
  5. Ian Kennedy, RHP, Kansas City Royals: After finishing 9-15 with a 4.28 ERA while pitching half of his games in San Diego, it seemed rather shocking that the Royals would give up a draft pick and pay $70 million over five years for Kennedy; however, Dave Eiland has worked miracles before, and Kennedy looked a bit more like himself in the second half, when he posted a 10.5 K:9. He can’t do any worse than Cueto did after K.C. acquired him from the Reds in the middle of the 2015 season. Count on Eiland, Kennedy, and an impressive defense to get his numbers back to respectability.
  6. Eduardo Escobar, SS, Minnesota Twins: Danny Santana had the Twins shortstop job going into 2015 after a breakout 2014. Then, he lost the job and Escobar ran away with it, ripping 31 doubles and 12 home runs over 127 games and 446 at-bats. While he isn’t going to do a whole lot more than that (he doesn’t run), he could, in his age-27 season, see those numbers improve over a full season where he isn’t sharing the job.
  7. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles: I’ve been a Schoop fan for about four and a half years now. He has power and he has absolutely no plate discipline, as evidenced by his career 203:23 K:BB over 817 plate appearances. But we are in an offense-starved era, and the Orioles have other players with similar profiles who have developed into solid producers (see Jones, Adam). Schoop had 32 extra-base hits (including 15 homers) in just 86 games and 321 plate appearances. He’s capable of 25 home runs and 30 doubles…possibly even 15 walks…over 550 plate appearances. He turned 24 in October and is primed for further opportunities and a potential breakout.
  8. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies: Imagine a place with a high altitude where balls travel far. Now…imagine a shortstop who had 70 extra-base hits (20 HR) and 22 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A. That would be this 23-year-old, who, with Jose Reyes‘…ahem…issues, should be in line for plenty of playing time for the Rockies to start the season. He and Nolan Arenado could provide some pretty impressive numbers on the left side of the infield.
  9. Courtesy: federalbaseball.com
    Courtesy: federalbaseball.com

    Joe Ross, RHP, Washington Nationals: The younger brother of Padres pitcher Tyson Ross, Joe Ross is in a great situation in Washington. At 22, he seems unlikely to be bumped from the rotation when Lucas Giolito is ready – that is likely going to be Tanner Roark, who pitched out of the bullpen most of the 2015 season. Ross did a really nice job in his 76.2 innings last year, posting an 8.1 K:9 and walking just 2.5 per nine. It is quite possible that he outperforms Gio Gonzalez in the Nationals’ rotation in 2016.

  10. Colin Rea, RHP, San Diego Padres: Rea had eye-popping numbers in Double-A last year (1.08 ERA, .185 BAA in 75 innings), which promptly elevated once promoted to El Paso (a hitter’s paradise). He held his own in his taste of the majors last season, posting a 4.26 ERA and holding opponents to a .246 average. Now, he’ll have an improved defense behind him, Rea, 25, is ready to take his fastball that can touch 95 to a pitcher’s paradise. Let’s hope he can do better than Ian Kennedy did last year. He is capable of Kennedy’s production – minus the strikeouts.

Top 300: 2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

It’s that time of year! Teams are reporting for Spring Training, and baseball is alive and well, taking its rightful place from February through October, developing excitement for those with the creative, poetic minds necessary to appreciate it. With that being said, there are also many who like to lay down their cash and try to win their fantasy leagues. While fantasy baseball will never be as popular as the once-per-week lineup construction for fantasy football, it still has its place. For those who love it, here is this season’s Top 300:

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Top 100 Prospects for 2016 while you’re here!

1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

He's still number one Courtesy: Sports on Earth
He’s still number one
Courtesy: Sports on Earth

2. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

4. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays

5. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

6. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins

7. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

8. Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

9. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

10. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros

11. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

12. Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

13. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

14. A.J. Pollock, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

15. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers

16. Dee Gordon, 2B, Miami Marlins

17. Max Scherzer, RHP, Washington Nationals

18. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox

19. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs

20. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

21. Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox

22. Jake Arrieta, RHP, Chicago Cubs

23. Mookie Betts, OF, Boston Red Sox

24. Chris Davis, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles

25. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

26. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants

27. David Price, LHP, Boston Red Sox

28. Todd Frazier, 3B, Chicago White Sox

29. J.D. Martinez, OF, Detroit Tigers

30. Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

31. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies

32. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

33. Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets

34. Carlos Gomez, OF, Houston Astros

35. Matt Carpenter, 2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals

36. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros

37. Corey Kluber, RHP, Cleveland Indians

Cleveland ace Corey Kluber
Cleveland ace Corey Kluber

38. Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners

39. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

40. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, New York Mets

41. Buster Posey, C/1B, San Francisco Giants

42. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

43. Jacob deGrom, RHP, New York Mets

44. Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners

45. Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals

46. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies

47. Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins

48. Nelson Cruz, DH, Seattle Mariners

49. David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox

50. Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers

51. Dallas Keuchel, LHP, Houston Astros

52. Jason Heyward, OF, Chicago Cubs

53. Kenley Jansen, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

54. Justin Upton, OF, Detroit Tigers

55. Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Cleveland Indians

56. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Toronto Blue Jays

57. Wade Davis, RHP, Kansas City Royals

58. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, Chicago Cubs

59. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox

Bogaerts may be on his way to a top 20 finish - this spot is a steal if you get him here.
Bogaerts may be on his way to a top 20 finish – this spot is a steal if you get him here.

60. Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Boston Red Sox

61. Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles

62. Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

63. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins

64. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers

65. Zack Greinke, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

66. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals

67. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets

68. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit Tigers

69. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

70. Aroldis Chapman, LHP, New York Yankees

71. Sonny Gray, RHP, Oakland Athletics

72. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves

73. Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners

74. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

75. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

76. Cody Allen, RHP, Cleveland Indians

77. Jon Lester, LHP, Chicago Cubs

78. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals

79. Matt Kemp, OF, San Diego Padres

80. Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants

81. Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

82. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

83. Ken Giles, RHP, Houston Astros

84. Johnny Cueto, RHP, San Francisco Giants

85. Adam Eaton, OF, Chicago White Sox

86. Jose Reyes, SS, Colorado Rockies

87. Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians

88. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, New York Yankees

89. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers

90. David Peralta, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

91. Ben Revere, OF, Washington Nationals

92. Brandon Belt, 1B/OF, San Francisco Giants

93. Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas Rangers

94. Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians

95. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins

96. Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland Indians

97. Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

98. Kole Calhoun, OF, Los Angeles Angels

99. Corey Dickerson, OF/DH, Tampa Bay Rays

100. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles DodgersYasielPuigBatFlipSide

101. Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

102. Brian McCann, C, New York Yankees

103. Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

104 Adam Wainwright, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

105. Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals

106. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Colorado Rockies

107. Mark Melancon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

108. Zach Britton, LHP, Baltimore Orioles

109. Tyson Ross, RHP, San Diego Padres

110. Evan Gattis, DH, Houston Astros

111. Garrett Richards, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

112. David Robertson, RHP, Chicago White Sox

113. Drew Smyly, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

114. Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

115. Hanley Ramirez, 1B, Boston Red Sox

116. Jeurys Familia, RHP, New York Mets

117. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Texas Rangers

118. Randal Grichuk, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

119. Jeff Samardzija, RHP, San Francisco Giants

120. Cole Hamels, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies

121. Hector Rondon, RHP, Chicago Cubs

122. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds

Reds OF and speedster, Billy Hamilton
Reds OF and speedster, Billy Hamilton

123. Khris Davis, OF, Oakland Athletics

124. Neil Walker, 2B, New York Mets

125. Francisco Rodriguez, RHP, Detroit Tigers

126. Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers

127. Daniel Murphy, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals

128. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, Detroit Tigers

129. Ender Inciarte, OF, Atlanta Braves

130. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays

131. Byung Ho Park, 1B, Minnesota Twins

132. Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, Chicago Cubs

133. Kendrys Morales, DH, Kansas City Royals

134. Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds

135. Brett Gardner, OF, New York Yankees

136. Russell Martin, C, Toronto Blue Jays

137. Jose Quintana, LHP, Chicago White Sox

138. Francisco Liriano, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

139. Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals

140. Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals

141. Shawn Tolleson, RHP, Texas Rangers

142. Michael Wacha, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

143. Kevin Pillar, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

144. Michael Pineda, RHP, New York Yankees

145. Jonathan Papelbon, RHP, Washington Nationals

146. Dellin Betances, RHP, New York Yankees

147. Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit Tigers

148. Raisel Iglesias, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

149. Brett Lawrie, 2B/3B, Chicago White Sox

150. Billy Burns, OF, Oakland Athletics

151. Carter Capps, RHP, Miami Marlins

152. Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angels Dodgers

153. Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, New York Yankees

154. Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP, Seattle Mariners

155. Jake McGee, LHP, Colorado Rockies

156. Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Mets

157. Scott Kazmir, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

158. Ian Desmond, SS, FREE AGENT

159. Wei-Yin Chen, LHP, Miami Marlins

160. Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco Giants

161. Huston Street, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

162. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves

163. Steven Souza, Jr., OF, Tampa Bay Rays

164. Delino DeShields, Jr., OF, Texas Rangers

165. Lucas Duda, 1B, New York Mets

166. Jaime Garcia, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

167. John Lackey, RHP, Chicago Cubs

168. Mike Fiers, RHP, Houston Astros

169. Jung-Ho Kang, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

170. Brad Ziegler, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

171. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles

172. Matt Duffy, 3B, San Francisco Giants

173. Mark Teixeria, 1B, New York Yankees

174. Logan Forsythe, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays

175. Josh Harrison, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates

176. Steven Matz, LHP, New York Mets

177. Travis d’Arnaud, C, New York Mets

178. Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs

Russell is a star in the making, who won't be overshadowed by Bryant and Schwarber for too long.  Courtesy: My Cubs Today
Russell is a star in the making, who won’t be overshadowed by Bryant and Schwarber for too long.
Courtesy: My Cubs Today

179. Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals

180. Jhonny Peralta, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

181.Gio Gonzalez, LHP, Washington Nationals

182. Kenta Maeda, RHP, Los Angels Dodgers

183. Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds

184. Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Chicago Cubs

185. A.J. Ramos, RHP, Miami Marlins

186. Shelby Miller, RHP, Atlanta Braves

187. Alex Wood, LHP, Los Angels Dodgers

188. Carlos Santana, 1B, Cleveland Indians

189. Anibal Sanchez, RHP, Detroit Tigers

190. Mike Leake, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

191. Darren O’Day, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

192. Stephen Vogt, C/1B, Oakland Athletics

193. Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles

194. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds

195. Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles

196. Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers

197. Alex Rodriguez, DH, New York Yankees

198. Andrew Miller, LHP, New York Yankees

199. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City Royals

200. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox

201. Tony Watson, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

202. Erick Aybar, SS, Atlanta Braves

203. Victor Martinez, DH, Detroit Tigers

204. Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers

205. Wil Myers, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres

206. Billy Butler, DH, Oakland Athletics

207. Derek Norris, C/1B, San Diego Padres

208. Justin Bour, 1B/OF, Miami Marlins

209. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals

210. Starlin Castro, 2B/SS, New York Yankees

211. Brad Boxberger, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

212. Brad Miller, 2B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays

213. Denard Span, OF, San Francisco Giants

214. Alcides Escobar, SS, Kansas City Royals

215. Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics

216. Roberto Osuna, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

217. Lance McCullers, RHP, Houston Astros

218. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Pederson collapsed after the HR derby in Cincinnati. He'll get back on track in 2016. Courtesy: lockerdome.com
Pederson collapsed after the HR derby in Cincinnati. He’ll get back on track in 2016.
Courtesy: lockerdome.com

219. Ketel Marte, SS, Seattle Mariners

220. Sean Doolittle, LHP, Oakland Athletics

221. Patrick Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

222. Steve Cishek, RHP, Seattle Mariners

223. Joe Panik, 2B, San Francisco Giants

224. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

225. Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs

226. Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees

227. Collin McHugh, RHP, Houston Astros

228. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners

229. Joe Ross, RHP, Washington Nationals

230. Jesse Hahn, RHP, Oakland Athletics

231. Phil Hughes, RHP, Minnesota Twins

232. Carson Smith, RHP, Boston Red Sox

233. Brett Anderson, LHP, Los Angeles Dogers

234. Doug Fister, RHP, Houston Astros

235. Drew Storen, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

236. Danny Duffy, LHP, Kansas City Royals

237. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Los Angeles Angels

238. Pedro Alvarez, 1B/DH, FREE AGENT

239. Alex Gordon, OF, Kansas City Royals

240. Danny Valencia, 3B, Oakland Athletics

241. Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

242. Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas Rangers

243. R.A. Dickey, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

244. Aaron Altherr, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

245. Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

246. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Boston Red Sox

247. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

248. Tyler Lyons, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

249. Will Smith, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers

250. Stephen Piscotty, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

251. Joey Gallo, OF, Texas Rangers

252. Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

253. Adam Conley, LHP, Miami Marlins

254. Tommy Milone, LHP, Minnesota Twins

255. Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets

256. Kevin Jepsen, RHP, Minnesota Twins

257. J.T. Realmuto, C, Miami Marlins

258. James Shields, RHP, San Diego Padres

259. Glen Perkins, LHP, Minnesota Twins

260. Domingo Santana, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

261. Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals

262. Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

263. Santiago Casilla, RHP, San Francisco Giants

264. Dexter Fowler, OF, FREE AGENT

265. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

266. Rick Porcello, RHP, Boston Red Sox

267, Avisail Garcia, OF, Chicago White Sox

268. Cesar Hernandez, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies

269. Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

270. Wilson Ramos, C, Washington Nationals

271. Keone Kela, RHP, Texas Rangers

272. Clay Buchholz, RHP, Boston Red Sox

273. Joakim Soria, RHP, Kansas City Royals

274. Joe Mauer, 1B/DH, Minnesota Twins

275. Jason Hammel, RHP, Chicago Cubs

276. Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers

277. Jean Segura, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks

278. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

Twins OF Byron Buxton is ranked low right now, but won't be next season
Twins OF Byron Buxton is ranked low right now, but won’t be next season

279. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

280. Devon Travis, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays

281. Josh Tomlin, RHP, Cleveland Indians

282. Ryan Madson, RHP, Oakland Athletics

283. Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians

284. Mitch Moreland, 1B/DH, Texas Rangers

285. Marco Estrada, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

286. Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Oakland Athletics

287. Ian Kennedy, RHP, Kansas City Royals

288. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Atlanta Braves

289. Koji Uehara, RHP, Boston Red Sox

290. Robbie Ray, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

291. Erasmo Ramirez, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

292. Rich Hill, LHP, Oakland Athletics

293. Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

294. Marcus Semien, 3B, Oakland Athletics

295. Kevin Siegrist, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

296. Welington Castillo, C, Arizona Diamondbacks

297. Seung-Hwan Oh, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

298. J.J. Hoover, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

299. David Wright, 3B, New York Mets

300. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

My IBWAA Season Awards Ballot

It has been far, far too long since I last wrote on this blog. That’s just the way that it is when life gets in the way of entertainment. With the postseason and offseason on the way, I hope to provide my typical prospect list, while finding creative ways to update transactions and preview the 2016. However, we aren’t there yet.

The 2015 season has had a lot of interesting tales. From the Chicago Cubs and their Joe Maddon-led youth movement to the New York Mets shutting down opponents and gloating in the Nationals complete collapse, the season has been full of drama. Arrogant relievers trying to choke superstars (Jonathan Papelbon vs. Bryce Harper) and the redemption of a fallen star (Alex Rodriguez) were also quite entertaining. With the season wrapping up, I have the awesome opportunity to vote in the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) Season Awards ballot.

Here is how I voted:

Courtesy: Toronto Sun
Courtesy: Toronto Sun

American League Most Valuable Player:

  1. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays, 3B
  2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, OF
  3. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles, 3B
  4. Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays, OF
  5. Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros, LHP
  6. David Price, Toronto Blue Jays, LHP
  7. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles, 1B/OF/DH
  8. Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals, OF
  9. Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians, 2B
  10. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays, OF
Courtesy: Sports World News
Courtesy: Sports World News

National League Most Valuable Player:

  1. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals, OF
  2. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers, RHP
  3. Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs, RHP
  4. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, LHP
  5. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds, 1B
  6. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks, 1B
  7. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates, OF
  8. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants, C
  9. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs, 1B
  10. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals, 3B
Courtesy: NY Daily News
Courtesy: NY Daily News

American League Cy Young:

  1. Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros, LHP
  2. David Price, Toronto Blue Jays, LHP
  3. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox, LHP
  4. Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays, RHP
  5. Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics, RHP

National League Cy Young:

  1. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers, RHP
  2. Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs, RHP
  3. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, LHP
  4. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals, RHP
  5. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates, RHP
Courtesy: Getty Images
Courtesy: Getty Images

American League Rookie of the Year:

  1. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians, SS
  2. Carlos Correa, Houston Astros, SS
  3. Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins, DH

National League Rookie of the Year:

  1. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs, 3B
  2. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets, RHP
  3. Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs, 2B

American League Manager of the Year:

  1. John Gibbons, Toronto Blue Jays
  2. Jeff Banister, Texas Rangers
  3. Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins
Courtesy: Mets Plus
Courtesy: Mets Plus

National League Manager of the Year:

  1. Terry Collins, New York Mets
  2. Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs
  3. Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates

American League Reliever of the Year:

  1. Andrew Miller, New York Yankees, LHP
  2. Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles, LHP
  3. Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals, RHP
Courtesy: RumBunter.com
Courtesy: RumBunter.com

National League Reliever of the Year:

  1. Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates, RHP
  2. Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals, RHP
  3. Jeurys Familia, New York Mets, RHP


Let me know what you think in the comments or contact me via Facebook or Twitter!

2015 Mid-Season Awards

As we reach the All-Star break, the season has surpassed its halfway point, and we have a pretty good idea of how the league and teams stand. With so many teams contending, 26 of 30 teams are within eight games of a playoff spot, it should be an exciting finish to the 2015 season. However, individual talents continue to shine, with many surprising players atop statistical leaderboards. So, who are the halfway heroes of 2015?

Harper and Trout/Trout and Harper. They're young and fantastic. Courtesy: Washington Post
Harper and Trout/Trout and Harper. They’re young and fantastic.
Courtesy: Washington Post

American League MVP: Angels’ OF Mike Trout

He doesn’t have the .350 batting average or 1.034 OPS of Miguel Cabrera, but Trout is doing his thing once again in 2015, showcasing his ability to hit for power and produce for the Angels. Trout has combined with Albert Pujols to provide the Angels with 50 home runs and 106 RBI in the first half. While Trout isn’t running like he used to (just nine stolen bases), he continues to redefine what teams can expect out of their young talent. Trout, who doesn’t turn 24 until August 7, has already accumulated more WAR than long-time veterans like Victor Martinez, Ryan Zimmerman, Aramis Ramirez, and Alex Gordon. The sky continues to be the limit for this superstar.

National League MVP: Nationals’ OF Bryce Harper

Trout and Harper. Harper and Trout. They’ve always been linked as gifted, young talent, but this is the year that they’re both healthy and producing side-by-side. At 22, Harper has mutated into a powerful, muscular, athletic freak, who leads MLB with his .471 on-base percentage, .709 slugging percentage, 1.181 OPS, and 5.7 WAR. The Nationals will continue to be led by their young superstar, while hoping to get and keep Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg, and Ryan Zimmerman healthy and in their lineup. Even without them consistently around, Washington and Harper sit atop the NL East.

American League Cy Young: White Sox’ LHP Chris Sale

He doesn’t have the wins or ERA of Astros’ LHP Dallas Keuchel, but Sale has been the most dominant starter in the AL. Just a strong gust of wind from being blown halfway into Lake Michigan, the skinny southpaw has racked up an 11.78 K:9, 2.80 ERA (2.31 FIP), 0.94 WHIP, and .205 BAA. Chicago is in last place in the AL Central, but they are just five games out in the Wild Card and have enough pieces to figure things out, riding the left arm of their ace every fifth day.

Greinke or the lead singer of Hanson?  Courtesy: USA Today
Greinke or the lead singer of Hanson?
Courtesy: USA Today

National League Cy Young: Dodgers’ RHP Zack Greinke

With an ability to opt-out of his contract at the end of the season, Greinke chose an opportune time to become an unhittable wizard for the Dodgers. His 1.39 ERA is over a half-run better than the 2nd place A.J. Burnett (1.99 ERA), and he has 35.2 consecutive scoreless innings. His 0.84 WHIP, second to Washington RHP Max Scherzer (0.80), and .191 BAA, detail his dominance further. Can he catch Orel Hershiser‘s record for consecutive scoreless innings? We will see after the break!

American League Rookie of the Year: Astros’ RHP Lance McCullers

He’s going to have a difficult time winning the award with his teammate, SS Carlos Correa, lurking in the end-of-year selection process. However, to this point, McCullers has been the most impressive AL rookie. His 2.16 ERA (2.72 FIP), 9.41 K:9, 1.10 WHIP, and .203 BAA are what have made the 21-year-old right-hander such a dynamic addition to the first place Astros’ rotation. Along with Keuchel, McCullers will try to fend off opposing batters down the stretch, firing his electric fastball and knockout punch slider along the way.

Cubs superstar Kris Bryant
Cubs superstar Kris Bryant

National League Rookie of the Year: Cubs’ 3B Kris Bryant

Bryant earned an All-Star bid after hitting .272/.380/.473 with 12 home runs and 50 RBI, as he takes his spot as Savior for the Cubs franchise. Along with first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Bryant will form a dynamic duo of mashing talent in the heart of the Chicago order, and, while the 96 strikeouts may say otherwise, he has proven that he isn’t overmatched by MLB pitching. Look for more of the same, as this 23-year-old continues to make adjustments and show his skills for the Wild Card-leading Cubbies.

American League Manager of the Year: Astros’ A.J. Hinch

This wasn’t the year that Sports Illustrated said that Houston was going to compete, but Hinch has led this group of young, talented players to the top of the American League West after winning just 70 games last season. The players play the game, so Hinch may not deserve all of the credit, but he seems to be pulling the right strings to this point in his brief managerial career. Can they continue at this pace? With Correa, McCullers, Jose Altuve, and Keuchel, they have a core of talent that many other teams are envious of, and they’ll eventually get George Springer back to make them that much more electric.

National League Manager of the Year: Mets’ Terry Collins

When you’ve been outscored by your opponents (297-305), even though your starting staff has a 3.45 ERA (7th in MLB), and your team is still above .500, you know that you’ve done a solid job. Terry Collins was given absolutely NOTHING for his everyday lineup this season, and with David Wright missing all but eight games of the season, you’d think that they’d struggle to stay afloat. However, the Mets are just three games back of Washington in the NL East. New York has an incredibly gifted group of young pitchers, as Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz (who will miss a month with a muscle tear after dominating in his first two starts), and Jacob deGrom share their rotation with fountain of youth eating Bartolo Colon, to give the club a chance to win each night. Collins gets what he can with the cards that he has been dealt, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.


2015 Season Previews: Washington Nationals

Over the next several weeks, The Baseball Haven will be creating season previews for all 30 MLB teams. You’ll find their projected records (based on PECOTA records from Baseball Prospectus, as of 2/15/2015), each team’s top three players (based on Steamer WAR projections from FanGraphs), and some valuable notes on each team, including likely bounce-back candidates, potential breakout players or fantasy sleepers, as well as a look back at offseason transactions which led to each team’s projections. Stop back frequently to see where your favorite team ranks!

Washington Nationals

Courtesy: MLB.com
Courtesy: MLB.com

2015 Projected Record: 92-70 (1st in NL East, 2nd in MLB)

Manager: Matt Williams (96-66 in one season with Washington)

Top Three Players: 2B/3B Anthony Rendon (5.1), OF Bryce Harper (4.2), RHP Max Scherzer (4.0)

Bounce-back Player: 1B Ryan Zimmerman

Shoulder woes have slowed Zimmerman in the same way that they did Scott Rolen, but the Nationals have moved Zimmerman to first, where he won’t have to make as many throws. The end result should be a healthier, productive season; although, a thigh and fractured finger were the primary injuries that allow Zimmerman to play in only 61 games last season. This will the the 11th season in a Nationals uniform for Zimmerman, and this is his age-30 season. Don’t consider him washed up. He is locked in at .280/.350/.480 with about 25 home runs and 85 RBI in a dynamic lineup.

Harper isn't going to make anyone wait for an eruption this season. Courtesy: CSNWashington.com
Harper isn’t going to make anyone wait for an eruption this season.
Courtesy: CSNWashington.com

Fantasy Player to Watch: OF Bryce Harper

Duh, right? At 22, Harper is ready to continue his assault on opposing pitchers, but THIS is the year that he reaches 30 home runs and stays healthy. What is he capable of when he stays on the field and has Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos, and Ian Desmond on the field with him? This is a dangerous lineup and Harper has the potential to be the most productive player in that lineup. This is the year that he starts heading towards that ceiling, closing in on a .300/.400/.500 line, while increasing his power output as he becomes more physically mature.

Offseason Overview: When you have five very good starting pitchers and you’ve won 96 games, what do you really need to do to improve? Well, sign the best free agent pitcher on the market to a seven-year, $210 million deal, which is what they did when signed RHP Max Scherzer. The move pushed Tanner Roark (15-10 with a 2.85 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 31 starts) to the bullpen, while making LHP Ross Detwiler expendable, as he was shipped to Texas for a couple of prospects. The Nationals didn’t need to do much to improve their team, but they still made a huge splash and got better.

The Verdict: A healthy Zimmerman and Werth will help the Nationals to 100 wins, but it will be Harper, Rendon, Desmond, and the pitching that will get them to 95 wins. This is the best team in baseball, regardless of PECOTA projections. The pitching is elite and they have Roark ready in a swing role and A.J. Cole ready in Triple-A. With Lucas Giolito and Joe Ross likely to start the year in Double-A, they are far off from making an impact, either. Michael Taylor, a powerful, speedster, will be taking over center for the first several weeks with Denard Span on the shelf. The Nationals are very good, and this is the year that they put it all together.

Nationals: Pitching to the Max


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.

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.

Bryce  HarperAs 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.

Super Two Avoidance…Get to Know Gregory Polanco


Pirates' prospect Gregory Polanco
Pirates’ prospect Gregory Polanco

Gregory Polanco was a late signing by the Pittsburgh Pirates in April of 2009, signing as an 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, atypical from the normal rush on 16-year-old international free agents every July 2nd. Now 22, Polanco is already older than Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper, and just four months younger than Angels’ superstar Mike Trout, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t capable of becoming the next big thing in Major League Baseball.

Polanco is a 6’4″, 220 pound, left-handed hitting machine, who will soon displace the horrific combination of Jose Tabata and Travis Snider in the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield. It is fair to wonder if Polanco in right field from Day One of the 2014 season would have led the Pirates to a better record than their current 18-26 start…that and Francisco Liriano, Wandy Rodriguez, and Edinson Volquez showing some semblance of being major league pitchers in their 23 combined starts. Polanco likely would have been up by now had he not turned down the seven-year, $25 million deal that CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman said was offered earlier this month.

Like many others, Polanco sits in the minors waiting for his opportunity to be promoted, not due to lack of performance, but due to the business side of baseball. His numbers this season (going into Wednesday)  and his career:

2014 22 -5.3 Indianapolis IL AAA 44 193 174 31 65 14 5 5 39 10 18 35 .374 .435 .598 1.033 104
6 Seasons 454 1888 1669 270 479 87 24 39 277 137 180 298 .287 .359 .438 .797 731
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/21/2014.

The Astros’ seemed to say “to hell with it” when determining when it was time to promote George Springer earlier this month, allowing him to come to the majors and begin his service time, while, simultaneously risking another season of team control. While costs and control are issues, the Pirates, who had their first winning season since 1992 last year, could use a player of Polanco’s caliber to ignite an offense that currently ranks 26th in MLB in runs scored and 18th in OPS. After introducing a new generation of Pirates fans to “real” baseball, it is inexcusable and a slap in the face to run anyone other than Polanco out in right field the rest of the 2014 season.

Beyond the typical production, here are some additional sweet treats:

  • vs. LHP in 2014: .345/.429/.436, 19 for 55, 13:8 K:BB, three extra-base hits, 15 RBI
  • Before breaking out in 2012, Polanco managed a triple-slash of .235/.303/.332 over his first 674 plate appearances
  • Since 2012, Polanco has a triple-slash of .315/.384/.496 over 1,214 plate appearances
  • Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus: “Well above-average athlete; long legs; more room to add strength; easy plus run; big, graceful strides; excellent range in the field; arm is plus; glove could play above average; good bat-to-ball skills; makes a lot of contact; hit tool likely to play plus; power potential is easy plus; makes quick adjustments; plus makeup.” 
  • Jonathon Mayo of MLB.com: “Polanco has five-tool potential. He is an aggressive hitter, but doesn’t strike out a ton and has become more willing to take a walk. His swing does have a tendency to get long, a problem compounded by his lanky frame. Still, with his hands and bat speed, he has the potential to be a special hitter with above-average power. Polanco has plus speed and covers ground well in the outfield. He is a center fielder now, but he has a strong arm and could slide over to right field if necessary. That could be his spot in PNC Park before too long.”
  • John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com: “Five Tool/Seven Skill player with glowing scouting reports, dominated High-A but was merely good in Double-A, granted at age 21 that’s just fine. Spring reports continue to sparkle.” 

Polanco looks like he’ll be waiting in Indianapolis for his call until June, but he, and Pirate fans, certainly deserve an earlier promotion. Look for tremendous things from Polanco in the near future. He isn’t capable of monster power numbers, at least not yet, but he can do plenty of things to accumulate value due to his tremendous tool-set, much more than Tabata and Snider.