Postseason Matchups

This 2011 postseason should be a good on. After the excitement of the NL and AL wildcard chases and the Rays taking over the Red Sox spot and the Cardinals taking over the Braves. But now its time for the MLB Postseason. We have the Yankees playing the Tigers and the Rays playing the Rangers in the AL. Then the Brewers playing the D-Backs, and the Phillies playing the Cardinals in the NLDS.

Let’s start with the Yankees and Tigers series. The Tigers this year came out on top over the Yankees in the season series, winning 4 out of 7 games. Game one we have the two aces going at it, in C.C. Sabathia for the Yankees and Justin Verlander for the Tigers. The outcome will depend on how long the series goes. I see Justin Verlander coming out on top of Sabathia in game one, putting the Tigers ahead 1-0. Then if the Tigers can pull off one more win and force a Game 5, Verlander will come out on top again, winning the series. If the Yankees can avoid a Game 5, the Yankees will move on. The only way I see the Tigers moving on in this series is if they can get to a Game 5.

Staying with the AL, we move on to the Rangers and Rays series. The Rangers and Rays have played each other 9 times this year, Rangers winning 5 and the Rays with 4. But the Rangers have really handled the Rays, averaging a run and a half more then the Rays and holding the Rays to a .182 batting average in the head to head compitition. Game one staters are C.J. Wilson for the Rangers and the Rays are undecided. They will either have Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, or left handed rookie Matt Moore on the bump for game 1. This series will be close, but I don’t think the Rays staff is good enough to beat the Rangers offense and the Rangers staff is too strong. Rangers win in 5.

Over to the NL, where we have the Phillies against the wildcard Cardinals. The Phillies have had a hard time beating the Cardinals this year with a losing record against them. Game one will have Kyle Lohse for the Cardinals and ace Roy Halladay for the Phillies. The Phillies have had a hard time winning against the Cardinals this year yes, but the Phillies won’t have a hard time beating them in the postseason. I think the Phillies will take the series in 4 games, and in my opinion, this being the only series that doesn’t go 5 games.

The other match-up in the NL is the Brewers vs. the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks have taken the season series with 4 wins in 7 games, although both teams scored 28 runs total. Game one will have the aces for each staff going at it, Ian Kennedy for the Diamondbacks and Yovani Gallardo going for the Brewers. The Diamondbacks are good against the Brewers this year, but the Brewers have home field advantage this series, hosting games 1, 2, and 5. This is a plus for the Brewers where they are 57-24 at home. This is also a blow to the D-Backs where they are hot at home, and finished the season winning 21 of 25 at Chase Field. I have the Brewers winning in 5 games, all 3 wins at home.

This postseason should be a good one all around. Keeping everyone on their toes and excited to see what comes next. My picks for this years World Series are the Brewers from the NL, up against the Rangers fo the AL. What do you think?

Rays Trying to Complete Comeback

After Sunday’s 8 to 5 Rays win over the Red Sox, the Rays are only 2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card Race. The Rays are 11 and 4 in their last 15 games and have come within 2 games of playoffs, after being down by 9 games as of September 2nd. The Rays have won 8 of their last 9 games against the Red Sox. and have the series lead at 12 wins 6 losses. If the rays are able to pull off a Wild Card playoff spot, they will make history as they will be the first team to overcome as high as a 9 game lead as late as September 2nd.

The rest of the season looks like it is more lenient toward the Red Sox. The Red Sox will finish this season by playing the Orioles four- games in three nights followed by a 3 game set with the Yankees, then three more with the Orioles. the Rays on the other hand play four- games in three nights against the Yankees, followed by a three game home series with the Blue Jays and a 3 game series with the Yankees. This Wild Card race is causiong a lot of confusion in Boston fans as they will become Yankee fans, being that the Rays play the Yankees 7 more times.

If the Red Sox happen to collapse and blow this lead, it will be a huge turn of events in my opinion. I like to see a team like the Rays come from behind and pull of a playoff spot, when down by so much. But I don’t see it happening. The Red Sox are some what in a slump right now and are still keeping up with the Rays. When the Red Sox get back to the baseball that we all know they can play, they won’t be caught. Plus the fact that there aren’t many games left in this season, I don’t see the Rays finishing this off. What are your thoughts?

Waiver Talks

Over the past week or so, there have been many waiver talks and many players being claimed off waivers to move to other teams. But what exactly is a waiver trade? Well, teams are allowed to trade freely up untill the July 31st deadline. After that, teams are still allowed to trade, but it makes it a little more difficult. They must place a player on waivers, and he is then sent throught the list of teams in the reverse order of the standings (Starting with the worst record team moving toward the best record). When the player is on waivers, a team may claim him, in which they can either work out a deal, or the original team may pull the waivers out (which happens most of the time). This move is legal through the end of the season, but if the player you claim wants to be eligible to make the post season roster, the move must be done by August 31st. Now that we all know what a waiver is, let’s see what moves have been made recently.

Some moves that have gone through were Delmon Young’s trade from the Minnesota Twins to the Detroit Tigers. Young was dealt to the Tigers for two minor league prospects. Delmon Young just had to switch dugouts as the Tigers were playing the Twins that day. Young, in his first at bat with his new team, hit a solo home run to left field. Then there is A’s third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. Although the A’s and Rockies are both out of playoff contention, that didn’t stop them from making a deal. Kouzmanoff was dealt to the Rockies for cash considerations. Kouzmanoff has struggled to stay healthy this year and his production hasn’t been great, but the Rockies must see something we don’t.

Some big name players deals are still up in the air as of today. One of those names is Twins first baseman and DH Jim Thome. Thome was placed on waivers by the Twins and was recently claimed by the Cleveland Indians. Thome has a no-trade clause in his contract and hasn’t stated whether or not he would want to be traded to a contender. The Indians were the team that brought Thome into the league and he played there for 12 years. He would be a good fit there, knowing that Indians DH Travis Hafner has gone down with an injury. Another player who is being claimed but a deal is not done is Thome’s teammate Jason Kubel. Kubel has been claimed by the Chicago White Sox. Although the Sox are over 6 games out, Kubel makes a good add knowing that out fielder Carlos Quentin is down on the DL with shoulder problems. Padres Heath Bell was also claimed on waivers, by the San Fransisco Giants. The Padres have 48 hours to decide if they want to trade Bell, pull him off waivers, or just let him go. Mets thrid baseman David Wright was claimed by the Rockies, but it’s said that it is highly unlikely that the Mets will trade Wright.

Then the name that was tossed around but didn’t happen. Cubs power hitting first baseman Carlos Pena was claimed on waivers by the New York Yankees. When trying to make a deal, Cubs GM pulled Pena off the waivers, wanting Pena to finish out the year with the Cubs.

Who Is the Next Philly?

The Philadelphia Phillies have been considered the dominant team of the 2011 MLB season. But they’ve also been dominant in the recent years, and can’t be the dominant team for years to come. So who will take over the reign as the dominant team of the MLB when the Phillies are no more? Many team names come to mind such as the Yankees and Red Sox, but if you look into the NL West, you will find my pick to be the next dominant team in the MLB. The Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have proved this year that they are more then what teams have thought they were. The Diamondbacks are tops in the NL West standings ahead of the defending champions and are rolling through August. They have many young stars on their teams such as Justin Upton, Chris Young, Paul Goldschmidt and many more that will only mature of the next few years and produce more and more. The Diamondbacks, who are not yet at their best, rank in the top 10 in the NL in 4 different catagories, (ERA, HR, Runs, and Opponents Batting Average).

Their pitching is doing well with a 4.02 ERA and their staff is tied for 7th in the MLB with 10 shutouts. Although they only have 4 complete games from their starters this year, their bullpen is backing them up and has converted 44 of their 56 save opportunities, which places them third in the NL in saves. Arizona’s staff is fourth in the national league in team wins with 70 and are only getting better. Their pitching is only getting better and with the necessary work in the needed spots, they will have a good rotation and bullpen. Their ace Ian Kennedy will shine and lead this staff through September and into the playoffs, not to mention years to come.

Their hitting is also very young and getting better as time goes. Their ranked 7th in the NL in runs and thrid in the NL in home runs and are just outside the top 10 in many offensive catagories. I see them coming into the 2012 season and cracking the top 10 in many if not all offensive catagories and becoming an elite team in the MLB.

If they keep their young players, add some vets here and there along the way and keep their farm systems good and healthy, I can see the Arizona Diamondbacks moving forward and taking over the MLB as the most dominant team in the MLB.

 

Brewers Having an Amazing August; Pulling Away In NL Central

The Milwaukee Brewers have a 77 and 53 record and are at the tops of the NL Central. They have the largest lead of any division in the Majors with 9 games over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Brewers have had an amazing August, at 17 and 4 just in this month alone. They have a chance to wrap up the month with a 24 and 4 record, which would put them high in the ranks for the MLB record for best record during the month of August. If they were to finish 24 and 4, it would put them tied for third for best record in August behind the 1903 Cubs (26-3 and .897) and the 1936 New York Giants (24-3 and .889).

The Brewers have had a near record month of August and have proven themselves tops in the NL. They haven’t beat many teams that are considered the threats in the NL (Cardinals, Astros, Dodgers, Pirates, and Mets), but the streak they’re on is a huge confidence boost and will keep them moving along through September and into October.

The Brewers have came out this month and showed everyone that they are legitimate contenders by pulling away from the rest of the division including the Cardinals. They are no doubt the hottest team right now in baseball, and are easily the best team in the National League right now, yes over the Phillies. I hope that the Brewers can carry this streak through September and hopefully can take this into the playoffs. If they’re able to take this into the playoffs, I don’t see any team beating them. They’re my pick to represent the NL in the World Series.

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MVP Candidates

What does it take for a player to win the MVP award? Well first of all, the player has to be consistant all year, in production and in health. It is rare for an MVP to miss more then 10 or 15 games a season. Also, MVPs must be able display high production in all assets of the game. Many MVPs aren’t base stealers but they make up for it with high home run numbers and RBI numbers and are also usually gold glove contenders. MVPs also have to lead a team and make a difference in the win loss column. Then their numbers have to be MVP caliber. They have to put up the stats of great players that seperate them from the rest. With that out of the way, who are the candidates for AL and NL MVP?

For the AL, there are many players that are putting up the numbers and have the potential to be an AL MVP. One of these candidates is Yankees outfielder, Curtis Granderson. Overall, the Grandy Man is hitting . 280 with a .374 on baseb percentage. Hes hit 34 home runs (2nd in the MLB) and has 92 RBIs with 23 stolen bases and a league leading 112 runs scored. Then theres Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. The center fielder is hitting .313 with an on base percentage of .370. He has added the power number this year adding 22 home runs which has brought him to be a five tool player. Hes added up to 78 RBIs and 88 runs and his steals are still high at 31 (5th most in the league). Then Ellsbury temmate, Adrian Gonzalez is thrown into the mix, and is my pick for AL MVP. Gonzalez leads the league with a high .345 batting average, 171 hits and is second in RBIs with 92. Hes tops among all first baseman with 81 runs and ranks second in the league with 37 doubles. These stats, plus his teams success is why he is my pick for the AL MVP.

Now to the NL. There are many candidates that aren’t really noticed that can steal this title. One of them is Arizona Diamondbacks young out fielder Justin Upton. He is easily one of the hottest players within the last month. The young gun is batting an even .300 and has dropped 25 home runs to go along with his 77 RBIs and a .372 on base pecentage. He ranks in the top 10 in five different catagories (HR, RBI, Runs, SLG, and OBP). He has brought his team back to the top of the NL west standings also. Another player thats in the mix is Los Angeles out fielder Matt Kemp. Although he is on a losing team, his numbers and production are MVP material. After a season where he didn’t put up the numbers that were expected of him, he broke out this year and produced. He’s hitting a solid .317 and is on base 39% of the time. He’s 3rd in the NL in home runs (28), RBIs (90), stolen bases (33) and slugging (.567) and is in the top 10 in the league in 4 other catagories (BA, Runs, BB, and OPS). My pick for this years NL MVP is Milwaukee Brewers out fielder Ryan Braun. Not only has Ryan Braun produced, he has carried his team to a 7.5 game lead over the rest of the field. He put up a .327 batting average with 23 home runs and 78 RBIs. He’s in the top 10 of the league in 5 catagories (RBI, Runs, OPS, SLG, and SB). Although Braun’s numbers in some catagories are lower then Kemp’s, i give Ryan Braun the edge due to team success.

So there are my picks for this years MVPs, what are yours?

Strasburg’s Comeback

Stephen Strasburg went in for arm surgery on September 3rd, 2010 and knew that it was a possiblity that he wouldnt pitch untill the 2012 season. But he has came back earlier than expected and after 11 months of rehabing his elbow and getting in better shape physically, is now in the minor leagues making his rehab starts.

In his first start with the Class A Hagerstown Suns, Strasburg was looking good. He threw the first one and two thirds innings of the game and threw 31 pitches, 25 of which were strikes. His fastball was looking good in the upper 90′s with his normal off speed pitches looking good. He allowed 3 hits and 1 run, a solo home run. He looked good to me, but the three hits were hit well. Not to mention he only pitched an inning and a third.

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Strasburg’s second start was with the Potomac Nationals, and he looked even better then his first start. He threw 3 complete innings and struck out 5 while allowing 2 hits and no runs. His fastball was topped out at 99 and was consistantly registering at 96 to 97. His breaking ball was looking sharper and his change up was devastating. A plus said to this start is his two hits were infield hits. After giving up 3 solid hits last rehad start, none of the contacted balls left the infield this start.

His third start was by far the worst of the three. He threw one and two thirds innings again, but need 49 pitches to do so. He also allowed five earned runs on four hits and two walk. He ended his night with a strikeout, after allowing 3 straight RBI singles. Plus side to this start was that his fastball was at its fastest since returning, clocked at 96 to 99. This is a good sign, especially after doctors said it would take 18 months to gain his velocity back after the surgery.

Strasburg will make another rehab start on Monday, most likely for Hagerstown.

Strasburg has looked good in 2 out of 3 starts. How do you think he will do in start number 4? How do you think he will do when he returns to the majors? I think he will repeat his preformance from game 2 and pitch well and his return to the majors will look the same as when he left.

Rookies of the Year

With the season slowly coming to an end in a month and a half, all the award talks are starting to come up. This year, there have been a lot of stand out rookies in both leagues. But who will take home the Jackie Robinson Award from each league?

In the AL, you have many rookies that have made a case to win this award. One rookie that jumps out is Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova. Nova’s 12 and 4 record is the best among AL rookies and his 75% winning percentage is fourth among AL pitchers with at least 12 decisions. Then there’s Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo. After losing Kendry Morales to injury sometime last year, the Angels needed someone to fill that hole at first. So they called up Mark Trumbo, and boy has he produced. He leads all AL rookies in home runs (22), RBIs (64), and doubles (21) and has helped the defense cut down on errors this year. Michael Pineda is a standout this year, and is my pick for AL Rookie of the Year. The Seattle Mariner starter has been over looked this season, probably because he plays on the Mariners. Pineda leads all rookies (AL and NL) in starts (23), innings pitched (141.0), strikeouts (143) and batting average against (.209). He also walks less then three guys per 9 innings pitched, the only rookie pitcher that can say this.

Then you have the NL. Danny Espinosa of the Washington Nationals is a big contender for this award. Espinosa is leading all NL rookies in homers (17), RBIs (55), runs (55), and stolen bases (12). Espinosa is the only rookie this year to play in every single team game this season. Then you have Phillies starting pitcher Vance Worley. Although it is hard to find time on a team with four aces, Vance was able to get a starting job when Roy Oswalt went down with an injury. Since taking over the job, Worley is 8 and 1 with a 2.85 ERA and has only given up 6 home runs in 88.1 innings. My pick for this years NL rookie of the year is Braves rookie closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel has a 1.81 ERA and leads all MLB in saves with 36. He is also first in innings pitched (59.2) among closers and leads all relievers in strikeouts with 94. He hasn’t given up a run since June 11th and has more strikeouts then 3 rookie starting pitchers.

Those are my choices for AL and NL rookie of the year awards, what are yours?

Jim Thome Reaches a New Milestone

Twins first baseman and designated hitter Jim Thome reached a milestone that only 7 other players in history have reached, 600 home runs. Going into Monday nights matchup against Rick Porcello and the Detroit Tigers, Thome had 598 home runs under his belt. Jim Thome approached the plate in the top of the sixth inning with Rick Porcello on the mound, and sent a ball 412 feet to left field for career home run number 599. Then, just an inning later in the top of the seventh, Thome came to the plate again, this time against relief pitcher Daniel Schlereth. Thome got ahead in the count 2-1 then let loose on a breaking ball, sending it to the left field bullpens for number 600.He fist pumped his way around the bases, meeting his teammates at home, along with his father, wife, and son. His 65th home run off the Detroit Tigers is the most of any team in his career. Jim Thome joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey Jr. to hit 600 career homers. Yet being the oldest to hit it, he is the second fastest (at-bats wise) to do so. He’s also tied for the all-time lead in career walk-off home runs, and with him still healthy and playing well, he has a good chance to break that one also. Thome is a no doubt first time Hall of Famer and an amazing, classy ball player that has deserved everything that he has earned. Congrats to Jim Thome on his amazing feat.

Uggla’s Streak Frozen at 33

Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla was on a Atlanta record, 33 game hit streak entering Sundays game against the Chicago Cubs. Dan Uggla went on to have a 0 for 3 day at the plate which stopped the streak 4 games short of a Braves record set by Tommy Holmes of the Boston Braves in 1945. Uggla almost had a broken bat base hit in the first inning, which he had done in the last 3 games of the streak. He went on to pop out in the third inning against Matt Garza. During the bottom of the fifth inning, Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney made a highlight diving catch to rob Dan Uggla of a hit which would have continued the streak if it had dropped. Then in the seventh inning, he had grounded out to shortstop to end the streak at 33. Uggla was batting .173 when the streak began in early July. During the streak, he batted a high .377, going 49 for 130 with 15 homers and 32 RBIs. By the end of the streak, Uggla had raised his average 58 points bringing it to .231. Among the all-time hit streaks, Dan Uggla’s streak is tied 19th of all time. The streak was good for Uggla, who struggled during the first half of the season, and says he “Hopes to start the new streak tomorrow”. What do you think of Uggla’s streak?

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