Tag Archive | "Justin Verlander"

Run For The Rawlings

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Run For The Rawlings

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

This weekend marks the annual Run for the Roses. The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby is this weekend with the quest for the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 still out there. Major League Baseball currently has a Triple Crown winner of its own in the Tigers Miguel Cabrera. With the season now a month complete how are the ponies lining up at the one month pole?

Miguel Cabrera

The Atlanta Braves and Justin Upton got out to a fast start. Upton was named National League Player of the Month and appears to be enjoying the new scenery. He hit double digit home runs in the month, but the one negative was not very many guys were on base for the long balls. If his brother and Jason Heyward can start to get on base in front of him, look out National League. At one point the Braves were 13-0 when scoring a run and 0-3 when not. To this day, no team has ever won a ball game without scoring a run.

A surprise start came out of the Boston Gate. After the down year of 2012, Boston raced out to a fast start and the best record in the American League. They are healthier and currently Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are a combined 10-0.

It was a good month for pitchers named Matt as Matt Harvey and Matt Moore raced out to several wins. They are a combined 9-0 with an ERA under 2.

Also strong early runs have to go to the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates. One horse that has been doing it for years Mariano Rivera had 11 saves along with Jason Grilli of the Buccos.

Currently stuck in the middle of the pack is World Series favorites the Washington Nationals, and CY Young aces Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw. The two work horses are a combined 6-4 which is not quite elite numbers.

Could the Los Angeles Angels start to become the San Diego Chargers of baseball? The Chargers for the last few years on paper are always a team that is built up as a contender and every year they fall from grace and are home for the post season. The Angels with all of that offensive talent are under .500 and off to another slow start. Could a second straight year with an unimpressive April keep them out of the post season?

What could be viewed as an under the radar team in the middle of the pack is the Kansas City Royals. You will not find any Royal stats at the top of the lists, but collectively they currently are division leaders in the Central.

Still stuck in the gates for the 2013 race are a few surprises. The revamped team in Toronto has not quite showed up for their post position. Interestingly, two teams have team batting averages under .200 in the seventh inning on: the Blue Jays and Washington Nationals.

Los Angeles stars Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp currently have 3 home runs combined and the batting averages are missing as well.

As the season turns into a new month, May will likely bring more moving and positioning for the summer run. And on the track for the run for the roses, have a little Goldencents. Enjoy the Mint Juleps and oversized floppy hats.

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Read At Your Own Risk

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Read At Your Own Risk

Posted on 08 April 2013 by Jennifer Gosline

If you are superstitious you need to read this post, but be careful. You must, I repeat, you must blink three times quickly before reading any further.

Phew. Okay, good job.

Foul-line

Oh, the silly superstitions about baseball that only a true fan understands. Ballplayers are notorious for their strange regimens and even fans have them. Managers have been known to not change their underwear when their team is on a winning streak, and I am going to assume that is not because they can not afford it. People go through great lengths because of a superstition, even going as far as construction. There was an article posted recently by Sportressofblogitude.com about a locker being removed in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse because it was cursed. After a long history of misfortune to its users, no one would take a chance on the voodoo seeping from this particular locker. It had to be taken down, and now a computer sits in its place. Fortunately, there are no reports of the computer claiming any victims yet.

There are also smaller rituals players do on the field daily. Notice how some players adjust their batting gloves after each at-bat. Their gloves could not have possibly moved that much. Some tap their bat on each foot before entering the batter’s box, or players will not touch the foul line when entering or exiting the field. Some switch bats if their bat is bringing unwelcome negativity, or they change their uniforms from long pants to tall socks to help get rid of any supernatural powers the long pants might possess.

Some routines stay out of the viewing pleasure of the general public. It says on Aroldis Chapman’s 2013 Topps Calling Card that he watches Soap Operas as part of a superstition, five to seven per day in fact. That is a lot of Soap Operas. It also states that he does not replace his undergarments, but it is unclear whether he washes them or just will not get a new pair.

Justin Verlander always eats Taco Bell the day before he starts. I am not sure if that is a superstition or if he is just that fond of Taco Bell, but in my opinion it is not delicious enough to eat every 5th start. Sorry, Taco Bell. But hey, Verlander is one of the best pitchers in baseball right now, with a 2.64 ERA in 2012, so maybe there is something to those tacos after all.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that female baseball fans everywhere are hoping that Josh Reddick’s beard is for superstitious reasons. He can pull it off though.

Josh-Reddick

The fans get in on superstitions too. Making sure they have the same shirt on if their team is on a winning streak, not drafting a player in fantasy baseball because they will jinx them, or holding their breath during the last out.

So, who is responsible for Yu Darvish destroying a perfect game on the 27th batter he faced last Tuesday? Darvish pitched flawlessly against the Astros, until Marwin Gonzalez, hit a ground ball single straight up the middle that actually went between Darvish’s legs. Gonzalez can ultimately be blamed for doing his job, but I am sure a fan must be kicking themselves right now for standing when they should have stayed seated, or left their hat on when it should have been off. Or was it CSN’s Ray Ratto that jinxed Darvish on Twitter for possibly the worse offense of all? He dared to utter the words “perfect game” before it was completed.

Ray-Ratto

We will never know, but I am sure that Ranger fans are not happy with Ratto and his uh, powerful words.

And is the rosin bag exploding on Pirate AJ Burnett Opening Day a sign of a curse, or will it bring him luck? That day he pitched 5.2 innings and allowed 3 runs, taking a loss to the Cubs. Hmm. Rosin bag juju? On the other hand, he had a significant number of strikeouts. He forced 10 batters to have the walk of shame back to their dugout that day. So perhaps the bag just, in fact, broke with no curse attached? Only time will tell. Last year, he went 16-10 with a 3.51 ERA, and fanned 180. Not bad, but there is no telling whether the ruptured rosin bag will haunt him the rest of this season.

Other sports have superstitions too, but it seems more prevalent on the diamond or else the players and fans are just more obvious about it. It is fascinatingly addicting. If people find themselves inadvertently “helping” their team they simply can not stop once they notice what is going on. It is the fear of the infamous jinx. No one wants to be at fault for not obeying the forces beyond their control. Because it might just work.

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Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

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Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

Posted on 30 March 2013 by Trish Vignola

Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

sstrasburg

Well, I guess that’s too late to figure out now. I kept him. He’s now the “ace” of my fantasy baseball team. I know what you might be thinking. Keeping Strasburg? Isn’t that a no-brainer? He’s already been named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter. However, you are talking to the same woman who had Joey Votto on her team last year. The same Joey Votto who missed like a third of the season due to injury.

In fantasy baseball, I’m kind of the kiss of death.

Last Friday, Strasburg yielded 3 runs in 6 innings of pitching to the Tigers. All right that’s pretty average. Actually, that’s pretty good by mid-season standards. He only walked one person and he struck out five, which is even better. Then Strasburg took a comebacker off his thumb. Yes, it was his non-throwing thumb but shades of Joey Votto flooded my nightmares for the next half of week.

Yes, my nightmares are of the fantasy baseball variety.

There are positives though. He’s not Johan Santana and he’s not signed by the Mets. Seriously though, Rotoworld ranks him 5th. Only Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, David Price and Cole Hamels are ranked higher. ESPN ranked him lower but still in the top 20. The key to Strasburg’s success though is pretty obvious. It comes down to two words…

Innings… Count…

Is there one or not? The Nationals ended Strasburg’s season in early September last year at 159 1/3 innings pitched. Their concerns about Strasburg’s health in his first season following Tommy John surgery seemed to trump the importance of their first trip to the playoffs. It seems ludicrous. However, think about the situation with Johan Santana. After throwing the Mets first no-hitter, coming off of a season ending surgery, he’s now headed again towards… you guessed it… season ending surgery.

Based on how the Nationals treated Jordan Zimmerman’s rehabilitation, there will be a watchful eye but no official innings count. I am essentially banking on Strasburg giving me 190 innings, give or take, in order to get me out of the fantasy cellar. (No, that’s not something from “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I’m that bad in fantasy baseball.)

ESPN is projecting that if Strasburg can give me (yes, me personally) about 196 innings, his line would look something like 16 wins, 244 strikeouts, a 2.94 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. That would pretty much keep him in the elite of fantasy statistics amongst starting pitchers. That also gets me out of the proverbial cellar. If he “Joey Votto”’s me, I’m going to start testing for mold because I will be living in the cellar for the rest of the season.

If Strasburg stays healthy, he could be the best keeper you or I could have ever traded for. A healthy Strasburg has tremendous upside. He’s only 24 and has an entire career ahead of him. Regardless of the little knock to his finger, Strasburg is projected to have no issue in completing the season. If that is the case, he might help me out of the cellar to at least the middle of the pack of my head-to-head league.

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Fantasy Forecast

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Fantasy Forecast

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

In Florida and Arizona all spring training camps are now kicked into gear. Along with that, Fantasy Baseball leagues are forming and drafts are being prepped for.

fantasybaseballdraft2009

This year, my fantasy career becomes a teenager. I have been competing in various fantasy leagues since the year 2000, and with that I have managed several championship teams, have also had a few down teams, and a whole bunch in the middle with heartbreak and triumph.

For me, fantasy football and baseball leagues have always been about fun. The chance to have bragging rights over friends, maybe win a few bucks, and watching the games from a different perspective is a great learning tool. I can still remember having those drafts in friend’s basements and jokingly hearing from the peanut gallery that every player would be a bust. Or, making a draft day trade that was crazy ridiculous, yet still managing to win a championship that same year. Gathering around big boards with magazines fanned out and a dozen pizzas ordered, hoping that you will create that winning club for the upcoming season are like mini Christmas’ for some.

With that in mind, here is a little forecasting to hopefully set the 2013 season off on the right track. For me, the top pick overall this season has to be a guy that has yet to play on an Opening Day. The Angel’s Mike Trout is the guy this season. His rookie season was one of the best seasons in history and not just by a rookie. He is a five tool player. Trout edges out the Detroit Tigers’ Triple Crown man, Miguel Cabrera. Rounding out my overall top 5 would be Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, and Andrew McCutchen.

Next on the clock, the top pitcher would be Justin Verlander of the Tigers as well. He just turned 30 but he is a true ace. He wins games, eats up innings, and dominates the strike outs. Two other aces to headline a staff would be the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw or the Rays’ David Price. Stephen Strasburg, while he is a star attraction, is not quite a top three pitcher just yet. Personally, I still have questions about his arm. Coming out of college I suspected that he may be prone to a major surgery and that is what happened a few seasons ago. After last year’s well publicized inning limit he should have a solid season and hopefully will pitch a full year. The top catcher would definitely be the Giants’ Buster Posey and top closer to rack up saves would be the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel.

Many times, seasons are won and lost on those draft day risks and reaches. The sleepers or rookies you hope will pan out because you want to jump at them first before the guy on his ninth slice of pizza does. These picks may have you booed into the next beverage run, but they could also lead to a victory dance at the end of the season too.

ChrisSale

On the mound, sleepers may include the White Sox Chris Sale who last year was a starter, then closer, then starter again and turned in a heck of a season. This year he will likely be the ace and have another good season while many still may have doubts. Also, Madison Bumgarner continues to develop and improve out by the bay. He is overshadowed by others out there but his talents and skills are right up there. Mike Minor in Atlanta could also put together a nice season as well.

Offensive sleepers include the Houston Astros Jose Altuve. When it comes to the Astros, there are not very many good things but Altuve is one. From another club that could struggle all year is the Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario. Finally, it may be my turn for the drink run, but Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs will be a guy to get dibs on. I am confident in that. Let the big names go early, sit back, wait, and grab Rizzo mid draft.

The top rookie on draft day will likely be the closer of the Tigers, Bruce Rondon. He is a young flame thrower and will surely get plenty of chances with that offense in support. Also, likely making a debut this year will be the New York Mets top prospect pitcher Zack Wheeler.

As draft days near, may the force and luck be with you. Best of luck constructing that winning club, but most importantly have fun! The best thing about baseball is that it is everyday for 162 games and the weather is mostly sunny.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts for draft strategies and Play Ball!

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Detroit Tigers Quintin Berry – A Dirtbag?

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Detroit Tigers Quintin Berry – A Dirtbag?

Posted on 15 February 2013 by Jennifer Gosline

There is no shortage of big names on the Detroit Tigers. Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander may grab the headlines on one of the most polarizing teams in the league, but what about the other guys?

DSCN0564-1

The other guys whose names do not litter the media; the players with the not so glamorous roles of base stealing, sac bunting, and quick footed pinch runners, like Quintin Berry. Manager Jim Leyland once referred to these players as “Dirtbags”, the little guys who do not have reporters anxiously waiting for an interview or to snap a photo of their victory smiles. The ones that stand in the shadows of their celebrity teammates, but play hard and make a difference for their team. Dirtbags are the underdogs. With the cameras, lights, and articles swirling around the hype of the All Star starts and MVP awards, the media overlooks players like Berry.

Berry has something that a lot of other players do not have or else they just keep it buried deep within them. He has an affection for baseball that is pure and raw, the feeling that every baseball fan and probably every player gets when it is the start of the season. I am not sure why some other players do not show this emotion. Perhaps, it is because they are nervous of it being seen as weak, or that it will overshadow their ability as a ballplayer. All I know is that Berry wears his heart on his sleeve and he does not hold back.

On May 23, 2012 Berry made his Major League debut with the Tigers at Cleveland where he went 1-5 with 1 Run. He came onto the field bright-eyed and with the unbridled enthusiasm of a little leaguer. His first hit in a Tiger’s uniform resulted in a double… on a bunt. It was an unconventional bunt double, but nonetheless, his speed was proven. His quick feet and boundless energy caught the attention of the team and the fans. It is guys like Berry that help make a team thrive. The outfielder’s spark was infectious with every move he made. Even watching from the dugout his facial expressions showed it all. He put the child-like excitement back into the game.

He may not have had the most appealing slash line at .258/.330/.354 but it was the entertaining factor and of course his hustle, that was simply invaluable. Baseball needs more than just those big hitters. They need a team to work together. The animated Tiger proved himself over the season to be a hard working replacement for the injured Austin Jackson. It was Berry’s dirtbag quality and timely plays that kept him on the roster even after the veteran starting center fielder returned.

Berry had 44 Runs and 29 RBIs after the Tigers called him up last season. But the magnitude of stolen bases might be what lands Berry a spot on the 25 man roster in 2013. Last season, he swiped 21 bags out of 21 attempts, leading the major leagues in stolen base percentage with 100%. The next Tiger with the most steals in 2012 was Austin Jackson, with 12. However, Jackson’s injury definitely decreased his numbers last season; he finished with 22 in 2011.

With little hitting power, this speedy outfielder has a Spring Training invite to battle for a coveted spot on the active roster. I agree that Berry has some work to do to prove he deserves that place. Passion can only go so far, but there is more to Berry than being a cheerleader and he is dying for every opportunity to prove it. He will be competing with outfielders Don Kelly and Brennan Boesch who, along with Berry, are left handed hitters. Boesch may be the stronger hitter, and Kelly may be more versatile, but no one has the speed and energy of Berry.

While no one can ignore a Triple Crown or a Home Run Derby winner, nor should they, Berry may just be that gritty player that gives the Tigers an edge. He gives hope for every underrated career minor leaguer who just wants a chance in the bigs. This season, Comerica Park might once again be filled with the echoing chants of “Berry, Berry”. However, the 28 year old would be happy to fly under the radar and be lost in the shadows of the star studded Detroit Tigers. He just wants to be a part of the team. Every club should have a player like Quintin Berry, a guy with an honorable title of: Dirtbag.

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