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The 2012 Spring Training All-Star Team

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The 2012 Spring Training All-Star Team

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Daniel Aubain

There’s nothing more useless than putting too much emphasis on the statistics players are putting up in Spring Training. Just ask Jake Fox. He hit 10 Spring Training home runs in 2011 and accumulated just 15 HITS in the regular season and found his way onto many a fantasy baseball squad for his catcher eligibility. How’d that work out for those managers?

Some Spring Training statistics are worth paying attention to, like a hitters walk rate (positively) or strikeout rate (negatively). Stolen bases are also a nice statistic to keep an eye on, especially for players fighting for a roster spot. A pitcher’s K%, K/9 and K/BB ratios are nice to keep an eye on. They’ll let you know if they are in the zone or struggling with their command. So just keep Spring Training numbers in perspective when scrolling through the box scores or stat web sites.

That all being said, let’s celebrate the 2012 Spring Training All-Star Team, by position:

Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy leads all catchers with 20 hits and sports a gaudy .513 batting average. Of those 20 hits, seven have gone for extra bases (five doubles and two home runs). He’s also only struck out two times in 39 at bats but hasn’t walked. I also like to see that he stole a base in three attempts. He’s virtually gone undrafted in ESPN leagues (ADP 260+) and only owned in 7.4% of their leagues. Now might be a good time to reassess your catching depth chart.

Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer leads the majors with 25 hits and 23 RBI  in just 22 games played this Spring and looks primed for a monster sophomore season. He’s also stolen three bases, so the 11 he swiped in 2011 don’t seem like a fluke.

Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler has 20 hits, a .408 batting average and has scored 14 runs in 15 Spring Training games. His four doubles and four home runs prove he’s ready for the season to get underway.

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie is proving to be the real deal. He’s gone 17-for-30 (.567 BA) in just 12 games this Spring with seven doubles and two triples. Oh, and he’s stolen five bases, too. If you own him in your fantasy baseball league, the season can’t start soon enough.

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon is showing us all his speed is the real deal. He’s stolen 10 bases in 12 attempts in 17 games to go along with 20 hits for a .417 batting average. His two triples and six walks are also great signs of things to come.

Detroit Tigers left fielder Delmon Young has 10 extra base hits (five doubles and five home runs) and 19 RBI in 18 games this Spring and will be a steady fixture in the middle of the Tigers lineup for 2012. Somehow he’s only owned in 91.4% of ESPN leagues. Check your waivers.

Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain has 14 extra base hits and a 1.345 OPS in 54 Spring at bats. He’ll be a fixture at the top of what seems to be an explosive offense for 2012, so pay attention. With an ADP of 224.7 in ESPN leagues and a mind-numbingly low ownership percentage of 28.7%, now is the time to check to see if he’s sitting out there on your league’s waiver wire and POUNCE!

Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier is showing he’s healthy by clubbing 13 extra base hits (eight doubles, three triples, two home runs) in 15 games for a 1.412 OPS. He’s also scored 11 runs while driving in 12. It will be interesting to see where contract extension talks go if he gets off to a hot start now that the Dodgers’ ownership situation is heading towards a resolution.

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Kendrys Morales seems to be back in form his 22-month layoff from injury. As of today (Thursday, March 29th, 2012), he’s gone 10-for-16 (.625 BA) with two home runs with 16 total bases. He’s up to 87.7% owned in ESPN leagues, so your window of opportunity to grab him off waivers has probably closed. Those owners who drafted him with an ADP of 201.1 should see an extremely high return on investment.

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke has pitched 19.1 innings this Spring and struck out 28 batters while walking only two. That’s right, TWO. That’s a 14:1 K:BB ratio with a 13.03 K/9. He had a 0.93ERA with a 0.83 WHIP and batters hit just .197 against him. These are the kinds of statistics that matter in Spring Training and should translate into a very dominant season for Greinke in 2012.

This team doesn’t have a closer because no one is truly closing out games yet as relievers are simply trying to get their work in to be prepared to go once the games start to count on April 4th.

Which players would you like nominate to this year’s Spring Training All-Star Team and why? Are you basing your decisions in support of your favorite team and players or from a fantasy baseball perspective (or both)? Use the comments section below to nominate your players and be sure to engage me in a conversation on Twitter @DJAubain.

NOTE: All Spring Training statistics quoted are from MLB.com and are through games played as of March 28, 2012, unless otherwise noted.

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Keeping Score at Home

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Keeping Score at Home

Posted on 29 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Image courtesy of Myexceltemplates.net

If you are not keeping score at home, then maybe you should be.  A true fan might conceive of a myriad of reasons for doing so, and it would be difficult to fault any or all of those reasons.

  1. If you have a child or children, there is no better time and place to teach him/her/them how to keep score.  You do not want to be the numbskull at the stadium who spends the first 3 innings fumbling around with scorecards, pencils, erasers, an iPad, an Android device, and a highly annoyed ex-MMA fighter sitting next to you.  Nope.  You do not want to try and teach your kid(s) how to keep score during an actual baseball game in a real stadium.  Tickets are expensive, and there is about a 10:1 chance that you end up with some kind of condiment stain on the scorecard.  Forget that.
  2. Spring training games do not count for anything, so there is no harm in discarding error-filled scorecards that are partially covered in doodles, whozits, and whatsits galore.  Also, thingamabobs.
  3. You need the practice.  Do not be the fan who shows up with scorecard in hand only to spend time doing a Google search on the latest news from Full Spectrum Baseball.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that search effort, but you can at least wait until you get home to read the site.  Keeping score takes a certain amount of focus which we find often lacking in the real world these days.  Given the plethora of multimedia stimulants, ADHD afflictions, and the need for more cowbell, many adults have seemingly lost the ability to stay on task.  Stay the course, people.  Stay focused on the scorecard and the game.
  4. No feeling compares to reaching the end of a game with a mistake free scorecard, except for maybe winning $10,000 on a scratch off ticket on your way home from the game.  If you can perfect the art of keeping score, then maybe you can pull off the daily double of a perfect scorecard AND a winning ticket.
  5. Perhaps the best reason for keeping score at home during games is that doing so provides your brain with an excellent diversion from the commercials that seek to extract points from your IQ and money from your wallet.  Do you really need to see another Charlie Sheen commercial?  Please do not answer that.

Finally, I would argue that the best reason for keeping score at home stems from a desire to stay connected to our baseball past and the heritage that accompanies that past.  Most baseball fans were born well before the proliferation of cable television and the advent of online streaming of real-time events.  Before a significant number of Americans had access to cable television, the only way to gain greater access to baseball games was to prop up a massive satellite dish in your yard and hope that the kids did not figure out how to break the security code for the “adult” channels.

To be truthful, most fans followed baseball through radio broadcasts.  For me, this was an intensely personal way to learn about the game, because I spent endless summer afternoons and evenings listening to Jack Buck while lounging on the sun porch at my grandparent’s house.  Even when a game would be available on tv, we would often opt to listen to the radio, because there was just something different about listening to a detailed description of events that you could picture in your mind.  Such times were a staple of my childhood as much as they were a tiny glimpse at the purist form of Americana.

If you could keep score while listening to the radio broadcast of a game, then you really were accomplishing something.  Looking back, I realize now that scorecards were responsible for magnificent improvements in my handwriting skills during each summer.  Maybe I cared little for keeping letters and numbers inside the lines on Big Chief notebook paper at school, but there was absolutely no way I would dare mar my scorecard with a single, superfluous mark.  Actually, malformed numbers were the enemy of the aesthetically ideal scorecard, so I spent commercial breaks and pitching changes tidying up that precious scorecard.

In retrospect, the time spent listening to games and keeping score at home set the ideal stage for a lasting bonding experience.  I absolutely cannot think of both my grandparents without making a connection to baseball sooner or later.  To this day, I still keep score at home whenever possible.  Doing so honors the memory of those wonderfully innocent summers lounging on that sun porch 30+ years ago, and I would not trade those memories for anything in the world.

 

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A mobile milestone weekend

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A mobile milestone weekend

Posted on 06 March 2012 by Press Release

APPLE APP STORE HITS 25 BILLION DOWNLOADS; MLB.COM AT BAT 12 SETS LAUNCH RECORDS

 

Hall of Fame inductee MLB.com At Bat currently top grossing for both iPhone and iPad

NEW YORK, MARCH 6, 2012 – On the same weekend Apple’s App Store recorded its 25 billionth download, the return of MLB.com At Bat set new standards with the fifth edition of the app drawing 2.9 million accesses and delivering 450,000 live audio and video streams, increases of 132% and 83% respectively over the first weekend of Spring Training games in 2011. Since its 2008 debut, MLB.com At Bat has been the top grossing sports application and one of only two iOS apps inducted into the Halls of Fame for iPhone, iPad and Macworld.

MLB.com At Bat, as a single app for iPhone and iPad, today remains number one among the highest grossing rankings for both devices, a simultaneous distinction it also achieved during its 2011 launch when it became the first non-gaming app to hold both spots.

As previously announced, MLB.TV Premium subscribers can use their account credentials to get At Bat 12 for free. Fans also can subscribe to MLB.com At Bat 12 for the one-time seasonal fee of $14.99, covering Spring Training through the World Series, or iPhone and iPad users have the option of a $2.99 per month fee with the introduction of a monthly recurring billing option.

MLB.com At Bat 12 will deliver additional updates prior to Opening Day, highlighted by new features, offers and functionalities.

For more information, visit MLB.com.

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2012 Top 100 Prospects

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2012 Top 100 Prospects

Posted on 01 February 2012 by Jared Thatcher

Under the warm sun of Arizona, it’s already starting to feel like spring. Although the mornings and evenings have slight chill to them allowing you to see your breath, the days are sunny and bright with a hint of baseball in the air. One of the reasons I live inArizona(and there are many) is that I have full access to all Spring Training games and Arizona Fall League games. This allows me to not only watch the Major Leaguers, but also the up and coming super stars. So with that in mind and after much debate/research, I am proud to unveil my top 100 prospects for the 2012 season. I do want to disclose that none of the international free agents will be on this list. MLB.com did not have them on their list and neither will I. Many of those players will be contributing to Major League teams next year and should be considered prospects, but I want you to be able to compare my list next to that of MLB.com’s in addition to others. So here it is…the 2012 Top 100 prospects in baseball!

The list takes into account: what level the player is at currently, ceiling potential, floor potential, and risk factor in reaching their ceiling. A ceiling is what the player would do if everything worked out perfectly and all his tools developed to their full potential. I tried to keep the ceiling potential key as simple as possible so there are no + or – signs to worry about.

Key:

A = All-Star ceiling

B = Above-average everyday player ceiling

C = Average everyday player ceiling

D = Reliever/Bench/Role player ceiling

  1. Matt Moore – SP – Rays – A

Moore showed everyone what he was capable of last season by breezing through Double-A and Triple-A just in time to win the first game of the 2011 ALDS against the Texas Rangers.Moore should be a shoe-in for a spot in the rotation this season and with his stuff, he might be the ace on most other teams.

  1. Mike Trout – OF – Angels – B

Trout got in to 40 games last year at the MLB level and made the most of it. Although he only batted .220, he stole 4 bases and his 5 HRs while playing all three outfield positions. The outfield is crowded inAnaheimbut with his skills, he should find a spot and be productive.

  1. Bryce Harper – OF – Nationals – A

The Holy Grail of prospects hit a few speed bumps last year as he moved through Single-A and up to Double-A but the fact is, the kid can rake. He hit 17 HRs in 109 games and really broke out his power in the AFL. Expect to see Harper inWashingtonas soon as June but definitely by September.

  1. Nolan Arenado – 3B –Rockies– A

I was able to observe Arenado during the AFL this year and he is absolutely the real deal. Arenado has great plate discipline and the ability to develop some real power. His footwork at third is good and his arm is plus. This is the kind of third baseman everyone looks for.

  1. Jesus Montero – C/DH – Mariners – A

Montero proved that he can hit Major League pitching after his call up last season to the tune of a .328 BA with four homeruns and 12 RBIs in 18 games. He should be an excellent DH inSeattlealthough the Mariners still think he can contribute behind the plate and will have him catching a few days a week.

  1. Trevor Bauer – SP – Diamondbacks – A

This is probably the highest you will see Bauer ranked anywhere, but let’s be honest, he was the ace for the Bruins and he will be an ace in AZ. He struggled a bit last season at Double-A but after all the innings he threw in college, I’m sure his arm was dead. He has a unique delivery and training regimen that should make him durable and effective in AZ this year.

  1. Jurickson Profar – SS – Rangers – A

Defensively Profar will be one of the best once he reaches the majors. Even more impressive is that he led Low-A in extra-base hits. He was once a highly touted pitching prospect but he wanted to hit amd the Rangers gave him that chance. The extra-base hits should turn into HRs. This guy could be a perennial all-star with his tools.

  1. Danny Hultzen – SP – Mariners –  A

Hultzen turned in a top-notch performance this year in the Rising Stars Game commanding three above average pitches. He wasn’t throwing his hardest but it didn’t matter. His command is above average and his arsenal is MLB ready. He probably wont skip the minors but expect him to be inSeattlesoon to replace Pineda.

  1. Manny Machado – SS – Orioles – A

Machado is a minor league shortstop who will actually stick at shortstop. His footwork and glove will be average if not a little better but it’s his bat that will get him to the majors. His power is ridiculous for a shortstop and he walks more than he strikes out. Machado is an elite prospect and should soar through the minors this year.

  1. Shelby Miller – SP – Cardinals – A

When Shelby Miller joins the Cardinals rotation, they will have three aces. Miller has great command at his young age (21 years old). He dominated Double-A and should move up ti Triple-A this season if not joining the rotation right out of Spring Training.

  1. Tyler Skaggs – SP – Diamondbacks – A

It’s good to be left-handed. Skaggs is not only left-handed but also has great command and some sick movement on his pitches. He reached Double-A this season at the ripe-old age of 19. Skaggs is a strikeout machine and should be a mid-season call-up this year. His arm action worries me a bit but if he can stay healthy he should anchor a young and dominantArizonarotation for years to come.

  1. Jameson Taillon – SP – Pirates – A

BaseballAmericaranked him #11 before last season after he was selected second overall in the draft. Taillon posted an ERA just under 4.00 in A-ball, which was a bit disappointing but he is young. The Pirates have no reason to rush him and when his tools develop, he could be a force on the mound.

  1. Julio Teheran – SP – Braves – A

Teheran worries me a bit but his upside is too good to pass up. In his short time in the majors last year he got hit around and didn’t have great command. Teheran dominated minor league hitting and at 20 years old he has lots of time to figure it out. The Braves rotation is pretty full but Teheran should still make an early appearance this year.

  1. Anthony Rendon – 3B – Nationals – B

Rendon was the best hitting prospect in the 2011 draft and should move quickly through the system in 2012. Although he is blocked at 3rd (see Ryan Zimmerman), he might be a nice trade piece. A different situation might see a Zimmerman trade and Rendon is promoted with the rest of the Nationals young talent to create contender for years to come.

  1. Randall Delgado – SP – Braves – B

Another young Braves pitcher who is blocked inAtlanta! Delgado pitched 35 innings in the majors last season and at least kept his ERA to a low 2.83. The strikeouts were mo where near where they were in the minors but his control and groundball rate looked good. Delgado may be a long reliever if he doesn’t make the rotation in 2012.

  1. Travis d’Arnaud – C – Blue Jays – B

D’Arnaud  is an offensively minded catcher that should be a force in middle of the order for the Blue Jays as soon as this year. How he handles the pitching staff and catching everyday are yet to be seen but the kid can flat out hit.

  1. Devin Mesoraco – C – Reds – B

At 23 years old it’s time for Mesoraco to produce at the big league level. He got a late season call up last season and did not live up to the hype. I still have faith in his power and ability to hit for average. He should get a chance this year inCincinnati.

  1. Taijuan Walker – SP – Mariners – A

Another Mariners pitching prospect with huge upside? That’s right.Walkerhas wicked movement on his offerings and could be a strikeout king. He is only 18 but even if he doesn’t make the rotation he should still be a top reliever.

  1. Wil Myers – OF – Royals – B

2011 was sort of a lost year for Myers. He was moved from catcher to the outfield in an attempt to get his bat to the majors quicker. The move didn’t really work. His batting average dropped by 60 points and he lost the power from 2010. Expect him to start out the year at Double-A but he should regain his previous form and move quickly through the system.

  1. Arodys Vizcaino – SP/RP – Braves – B

The third Braves pitcher in the top 20. I know its crazy. Their system is deep and talented. Vizcaino will probably be a reliever for the foreseeable future and a darn good one at that. His velocity is very good and should rack up the strikeouts.

  1. Manny Banuelos – SP – Yankees – A

Banuelos has been dominant in the minor leagues and should definitely get a chance in the Yankees rotation this year. With his stuff and the Yankees offense, he could win a lot of games.

  1. Martin Perez – SP – Rangers – B

Although he struggled at Triple-A toward the end of last season, Perez still has great stuff. The Rangers rotation is a bit full but if there is an injury or a bullpen spot open, look for him to fill it. He strikes out almost eight batters per inning but still walks too many. With some better command he will an above-average starter or a stellar reliever.

  1. Anthony Rizzo – 1B – Cubs – B

Chicagois the perfect place for Rizzo to get a second chance. You can argue with his minor league numbers and the Cubs plan to play him every day at first base. While his defense is average or a little better, his bat should play well in Wrigley Field.

  1. Bubba Starling – OF – Royals – A

The tools and potential of Starling are off the charts. Can he live up to them? Only time will tell. He is the coveted 5-tool player but reminds me a bit of Billy Beane. If he can keep his head straight he could be a perennial all-star in a few years.

  1. Derek Norris – C – A’s – B

I saw Norris a couple times this year and now that he is in the A’s system, he should move quickly. He is blocked by Suzuki inOaklandbut the A’s have never shied away from moving players to let better ones come up. His bat could be one of the best for a catcher who will stay at catcher. He strikes out a ton and the batting average may never be there, but he has tons of power. I’m a believer.

The remainder of the top 25 prospects
  1. Xander Bogaerts – SS – Red Sox – B
  2. Jacob Turner – SP – Tigers – A
  3. Leonys Martin – OF – Rangers – A
  4. Jarrod Parker – SP – A’s – A
  5. Matt Harvey – SP – Mets – B
  6. Tyler Pastornicky – SS – Braves – B
  7. Hak-Ju Lee – SS – Rays – C
  8. Dylan Bundy – SP – Orioles – B
  9. NickFranklin– SS/2B – Mariners – C
  10. Yonder Alonso – 1B – Padres – B
  11. Yasmani Grandal – C – Padres – C
  12. Jed Bradley – SP – Brewers – C
  13. Gerrit Cole – SP – Pirates – B
  14. Robbie Erlin – SP – Padres – B
  15. Mike Montgomery – SP – Royals – C
  16. Brett Jackson – OF – Cubs – C
  17. Billy Hamilton – SS – Reds – B
  18. Anthony Gose – OF – Blue Jays – B
  19. Drew Pomeranz – SP –Rockies– C
  20. Jedd Gyorko – 3B – Padres – C
  21. Kolten Wong – 2B – Cardinals – C
  22. Tim Wheeler – OF –Rockies– B
  23. A.J. Cole – SP – A’s – C
  24. Austin Romine – C – Yankees – B
  25. Christian Yelich – OF – Marlins – B
  26. Dellin Betances – SP – Yankees – B
  27. Drew Hutchinson – SP – Blue Jays – C
  28. Francisco Lindor – SS – Indians – A
  29. Gary Brown – OF – Giants – B
  30. Jake Marisnick – OF – Blue Jays – B
  31. Jonathan Singleton – 1B – Astros – B
  32. Jose Iglesias – SS – Red Sox – C
  33. Joe Panik – SS – Giants – B
  34. Nathan Eovaldi – SP – Dodgers – C
  35. Miguel Sano – 3B – Twins – B
  36. Ryan Lavarnway – C – Red Sox – C
  37. Tyler Matzek – SP –Rockies– C
  1. Zack Wheeler – SP – Mets – C
  2. Zach Lee – SP – Dodgers – C
  3. Adrian Salcedo – SP – Twins – C
  4. Christian Bethancourt – C – Braves – C
  5. Christian Colon – SS – Royals – C
  6. Gary Sanchez – C – Yankees – C
  7. Jaff Decker – OF – Padres – C
  8. Jake Odorizzi – SP – Royals – C
  9. Casey Kelly – SP – Padres – C
  10. James Paxton – SP – Mariners – C
  11. Wilin Rosario – C –Rockies– C
  12. Aaron Hicks – OF – Twins – C
  13. Nestor Molina – SP – White Sox – C
  14. Steve Lombardozzi – 2B – Nationals – C
  15. Will Middlebrooks – 3B – Red Sox – C
  16. Starling Marte – OF – Pirates – B
  17. Brad Peacock – SP – A’s – C
  18. Edward Salcedo – 3B – Braves – C
  19. Jarred Cosart – SP – Astros – D
  20. Matt Dominguez – 3B – Marlins – C
  21. Michael Olt – 3B – Rangers – D
  22. Tom Milone – SP – A’s – C
  23. Jean Segura – SS – Angels – D
  24. Trevor May – SP – Phillies – C
  25. Grant Green – SS – A’s – D
  26. John Lamb – SP – Royals – D
  27. Sonny Gray – SP – A’s – B
  28. Archie Bradley – SP – Diamondbacks – B
  29. Michael Choice – OF – A’s – D
  30. Carlos Martinez – SP – Cardinals – C
  31. David Holmberg – SP – Diamondbacks – D
  32. Jackie Bradley – OF – Red Sox – C
  33. Taylor Guerrieri – SP – Rays – C
  34. Matt Adams – 1B – Cardinals – C
  35. ChadBettis – SP –Rockies– D
  36. ChadJames – SP – Marlins – C
  37. Mikie Mahtook – OF – Rays – C
  38. Sammy Solis – SP – Nationals – C

Follow Jared on Twitter @Jared_Thatcher

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