Current Top 10’s – First Basemen

This is the fourth in a series of thirteen installments highlighting the Top 10 players at each position, as well as, taking the number one player from each position to create a Top 10, Top 10 list. The exception in the list is Designated Hitters simply because there aren’t enough qualifying DH’s.

Here’s a list of what’s to come and when:
Dec. 1 – Second Basemen
Dec. 8 – Third Basemen
Dec. 15 – Shortstops
Dec. 22 – Left Fielders
Dec. 29 – Center Fielders
Jan. 5 – Right Fielders
Jan. 12 – Ultimate Top 10
Jan. 19 – Managers
Jan. 26 – General Managers
(check previous posts for what’s already been revealed)

Below are two lists, one shows players ranked per a combination of their 2014 stats and where they ranked in those stats per their respective position. The second list is based on stats but then given adjustments based on defense, track record, injuries and projections.

2014 Stat Top 10
10. Justin Morneau
9. Adam LaRoche
8. Edwin Encarnacion
7. Adrian Gonzalez
6. Albert Pujols
5. Anthony Rizzo
4. Paul Goldschmidt
3. Freddie Freeman
2. Miguel Cabrera
1. Jose Abreu

Adjusted Top 10
10. Prince Fielder
9. Albert Pujols
8. Justin Morneau
7. Adrian Gonzalez
6. Edwin Encarnacion
5. Anthony Rizzo
4. Freddie Freeman
3. Jose Abreu
2. Paul Goldschmidt
1. Miguel Cabrera

In consideration (in no particular order): LaRoche, Matt Adams, Lucas Duda, Mike Napoli, Eric Hosmer, Chris Davis, Carlos Santana, Ryan Zimmerman (anticipated move to 1B).

Hall Of Fame – 2015 Mock Ballot

The 2015 MLB Hall of Fame ballot was released today. Among the new group of eligible players are Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Carlos Delgado and Gary Sheffield. While I don’t yet have an official ballot, why not take this time to stir up discussion with a mock ballot.

Here’s who I’d be sending to Cooperstown in 2015:
Randy Johnson
Pedro Martinez
John Smoltz
Craig Biggio
Mike Piazza
Jeff Bagwell
Lee Smith
Edgar Martinez
Fred McGriff
Tim Raines

Let’s start with the three pitchers. Randy Johnson is a no doubter, no explanation needed. He was flat dominant. Pedro Martinez, although he played longer, can be likened to a Sandy Koufax type of career arch with a string of incredible years from 1997 to 2005. Pedro shouldn’t have a problem getting in. John Smoltz had a nice career, some as a starter, some as a closer. The difference between Smoltz and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley is not huge, but the edge goes to Smoltz, so he gets in, too.

Then we come to the carryovers. Biggio missed by the slimmest of margins in 2014 and with this year’s top-heavy talent, might he miss again? He will eventually get there, maybe the same year his former teammate Jeff Bagwell gets the call, as well. It would be fitting to have the Killer B’s go in together.

Without hard evidence on Piazza, how can you keep the game’s best offensive catcher ever out of Cooperstown?

Edgar Martinez and Lee Smith present similar arguments – at the time they retired, they were the best (Martinez) and Top 5 (Smith) at their positions all-time. The designated hitter exists. A guy can’t be faulted for something that baseball created and Martinez was – and still might be – the best designated hitter ever. While Smith retired as the all-time saves leader, it’s his other numbers on top of that that earn him a spot alongside baseball’s immortals.

The Crime Dog, Fred McGriff, to me, is a Hall of Famer. The numbers are there. What is curious with this ballot, however, is that Carlos Delgado sports very similar stats, but barely misses the cut this year thanks in part because I have changed my mind on Tim Raines and now have him on the ballot to complete the 10 spots.

Lastly, I have to this point, not included known PED-users on my ballot. Sheffield, having been named in the Mitchell Report, fits that bill and therefore will not appear.

The ballot will continue to be stuffed full of deserving candidates the next few years, at least, and with the newly implemented 10-year ballot life vs. the previous 15-year window a candidate had to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, players like Sheffield, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire, will continue finding themselves on the outside looking in.

Prediction for 2015: Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz, Biggio get elected.

First Busy Weekend of the Hot Stove

Coming in this morning, it was clear how much got done this weekend. Here’s a breakdown of all the happenings in case you missed any of it:

- Giancarlo Stanton is extremely rich. He and the Miami Marlins have agreed to a reported 13-year, $325M contract extension. That’s a ton of years and a ton of money, but he is still only 25 years old. It will be interesting to see how quickly Miami starts acting like Miami and trades him.

- Russell Martin is extremely rich, but much less so (if that can even be a thing…). Martin and the Blue Jays connected on a 5-year, $82M deal. The Canadian has returned home.

- In trade news, Jason Heyward and Shelby Miller will have new teams next season – and beyond for at least Miller – after the Cardinals and Braves hooked up on the swap that also included Jordan Walden (heading to St. Louis) and RHP prospect Tyrell Jenkins (heading to Atlanta).

- Some rumblings from around the league include San Diego looking at Pablo Sandoval, the Cubs now focusing on Jon Lester (after missing on Martin) and the Tigers keeping the door open to bringing back Max Scherzer.

Current Top 10’s – Catchers

This is the third in a series of thirteen installments highlighting the Top 10 players at each position, as well as, taking the number one player from each position to create a Top 10, Top 10 list. The exception in the list is Designated Hitters simply because there aren’t enough qualifying DH’s.

Here’s a list of what’s to come and when:
Nov. 24 – First Basemen
Dec. 1 – Second Basemen
Dec. 8 – Third Basemen
Dec. 15 – Shortstops
Dec. 22 – Left Fielders
Dec. 29 – Center Fielders
Jan. 5 – Right Fielders
Jan. 12 – Ultimate Top 10
Jan. 19 – Managers
Jan. 26 – General Managers
(check previous posts for what’s already been revealed)

Below are two lists, one shows players ranked per a combination of their 2014 stats and where they ranked in those stats per their respective position. The second list is based on stats but then given adjustments based on defense, track record, injuries and projections.

2014 Stat Top 10
T-10. Miguel Montero & Brian McCann
9. Dioner Navarro
8. Kurt Suzuki
7. Evan Gattis
6. Salvador Perez
5. Russell Martin
4. Yan Gomes
3. Devin Mesoraco
2. Buster Posey
1. Jonathan Lucroy

Adjusted Top 10
10. Yan Gomes
9. Brian McCann
8. Evan Gattis
7. Russell Martin
6. Devin Mesoraco
5. Matt Wieters
4. Salvador Perez
3. Jonathan Lucroy
2. Buster Posey
1. Yadier Molina

In consideration (in no particular order): Suzuki, Montero, Navarro, Wilin Rosario, Wilson Ramos.

Current Top 10’s – Relief Pitchers

This is the second in a series of thirteen installments highlighting the Top 10 players at each position, as well as, taking the number one player from each position to create a Top 10, Top 10 list. The exception in the list is Designated Hitters simply because there aren’t enough qualifying DH’s.

Here’s a list of what’s to come and when:
Nov. 17 – Catchers
Nov. 24 – First Basemen
Dec. 1 – Second Basemen
Dec. 8 – Third Basemen
Dec. 15 – Shortstops
Dec. 22 – Left Fielders
Dec. 29 – Center Fielders
Jan. 5 – Right Fielders
Jan. 12 – Ultimate Top 10
Jan. 19 – Managers
Jan. 26 – General Managers
(check previous posts for what’s already been revealed)

Below are two lists, one shows players ranked per a combination of their 2014 stats and where they ranked in those stats per their respective position. The second list is based on stats but then given adjustments based on defense, track record, injuries and projections.

2014 Stat Top 10
T-10. Kelvin Herrera & Joe Smith
9. Andrew Miller
8. Craig Kimbrel
7. JP Howell
6. Pat Neshek
5. Aroldis Chapman
4. Sean Doolittle
3. Ken Giles
2. Dellin Betances
1. Wade Davis

Adjusted Top 10
10. Sean Doolittle
9. Dellin Betances
8. Kenley Jansen
7. Wade Davis
6. Huston Street
5. Darren O’Day
4. Joe Smith
3. Greg Holland
2. Craig Kimbrel
1. Aroldis Chapman

In consideration (in no particular order): Herrera, Howell, Giles, Neshek, Miller, Drew Storen, Jake McGee, Joakim Soria, Mark Melancon, Brad Boxberger, Chad Qualls, Fernando Abad, Fernando Rodney.

Current Top 10’s – Starting Pitchers

This is the first in a series of thirteen installments highlighting the Top 10 players at each position, as well as, taking the number one player from each position to create a Top 10, Top 10 list. The exception in the list is Designated Hitters simply because there aren’t enough qualifying DH’s.

Here’s a list of what’s to come and when:
Nov. 10 – Relievers
Nov. 17 – Catchers
Nov. 24 – First Basemen
Dec. 1 – Second Basemen
Dec. 8 – Third Basemen
Dec. 15 – Shortstops
Dec. 22 – Left Fielders
Dec. 29 – Center Fielders
Jan. 5 – Right Fielders
Jan. 12 – Ultimate Top 10
Jan. 19 – Managers
Jan. 26 – General Managers

Below are two lists, one shows players ranked per a combination of their 2014 stats and where they ranked in those stats per their respective position. The second list is based on stats but then given adjustments based on defense, track record, injuries and projections.

2014 Stat Top 10
10. Madison Bumgarner
9. Jon Lester
8. Garrett Richards
7. Adam Wainwright
6. David Price
5. Corey Kluber
4. Chris Sale
3. Johnny Cueto
2. Felix Hernandez
1. Clayton Kershaw

Adjusted Top 10
10. Jose Fernandez
9. Jon Lester
8. Yu Darvish
7. Madison Bumgarner
6. David Price
5. Adam Wainwright
4. Johnny Cueto
3. Chris Sale
2. Felix Hernandez
1. Clayton Kershaw

In consideration (in no particular order): Kluber, Richards, Max Scherzer, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Tyson Ross, Henderson Alvarez, Jordan Zimmerman, James Shields, Julio Teheran, Steven Strasburg, Sonny Gray, Andrew Cashner, Hisashi Iwakuma, Matt Harvey, Masahiro Tanaka.

Odds & Ends

While the 2014 World Series may not have been the best seven game series of all-time, it was still entertaining. Perhaps no moment more so than the second to last batter of the game which resulted in a should he or shouldn’t he have been sent home to tie or end the game decision. If Crawford make a great throw, Gordon is out, if the throw is errant, maybe we’re talking about the World Series in a whole different light. Also, if I’m a betting man, my money is on the Giants as 2016 champs.

Staying with the Giants, congratulations to Dan Uggla on his World Series ring this year while posting a .000/.083/.000 line in 4 games for SF. Hey, who’s to say the Giants make the playoffs without that one base on balls.

Last note about a San Francisco player: did it strike anyone else as inappropriate for Jake Peavy to be discussing his future plans with the Cubs during the World Series he was currently in with the Giants? They won, so I guess that lightens it a little, but it’s not like he set the world ablaze in either of his World Series starts. That couldn’t have sat well with the Giants brass.

Ned Yost went from being just a few innings away from being fired as manager of the Royals when Oakland took the lead in the Wild Card game to job security. We’ll see how long that lasts if the Royals tank next year, but the core group of players is remaining.

Joe Madden is reportedly close to signing with the Cubs. Great move for that team, however, what exactly was wrong with current manager Rick Renteria? One of the bright new managers in the game, he’ll surely land a gig elsewhere this year or next.

Tal’s Hill might go away in Houston and that’s sad.

Ozzie Guillen seems like he’s at the begging stage to get another job and that’s also sad. But only because he is a good baseball guy and shouldn’t have to ask for a coaching position.

Coming on Monday, the Top 10 Starting Pitchers right now. It will be the first of a series of Top 10’s, with a new one unveiled every Monday leading up to Spring Training.

If you haven’t already, check out the first “Playing With Balls” baseball podcast on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwSpySAekNs

Hunter Strickland Needs To Lock It Up

There is a concerning trend developing with Hunter Strickland: the stare down post-home run ball.

Last night was not the first time it has happened. The Giants rookie reliever glared at Bryce Harper around the bases in Game 1 of the NLDS, doing the same two batters later when Asdrubal Cabrera also took him out. Harper took the heat after his Game 4 homer for hollering on the base paths and from the dugout, however, it was Strickland who again attempted to burn a hole in Harper after he hit that home run. Although the cameras didn’t have such a definitive shot after Matt Adams launched one in the ALCS, it is assumed that Strickland reserved a similar reaction towards Adams.

Fast-forward to Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night. Having seen his hard-thrower already serve up four home runs this postseason to left-handed hitters, Bruce Bochy elected to bring in Strickland with two consecutive righties coming to the plate.

The first was Salvador Perez who got to two-strikes then found a gift that he got good extension on and drove it to left-center for a two-run double to put the Royals up by three runs.

Then, after taking a first pitch fastball for a strike, eight-hole hitter, Omar Infante (who hit only 6 HR during the season), sent a 98-mph fastball into the bullpen beyond the leftfield fence, a shot that all but put the game out of reach considering Kansas City’s bullpen. That is when things got fun.

Infante, a veteran and a pro, did nothing out of the ordinary, especially for a home run on that stage, for that guy, in that spot. Again, however, Strickland found it in his duties to make it known that he didn’t like serving up another big postseason homer and started having words with Perez at home plate all while making his way slowly toward the third base line where Infante was finishing his trot.

The bottom line is Strickland needs to get himself in check as his actions do not show well on himself and will quickly garner him a spot alongside A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rodriguez among the games “most hated.”

Not one of the hitters have shown him up in any way after their home runs. It is fine that he is an intense player – it shows he cares – but you can’t go around screaming at every hitter that takes you out. Hell, his own teammate, Jake Peavy, is one of the most intense in the game but he keeps it mostly to and about himself and not directed at anyone, save for an occasion bad umpire call which apparently can happen from time to time.

With his location, it is possible Strickland just becomes used to giving up the long-ball as the number of hitters that hit one will start adding up quickly. More importantly, though, he needs to look at himself and realize that he is the one putting these pitches on a tee. Learn how to spot your fastball (and mix in a second pitch) and home runs will happen a lot less frequently – just ask Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

Making Sense of All the Day’s Deals

July 31, 2014 will go down as an historic day in MLB history. The sheer number of deals combined with what many would consider significant, if not blockbusters, made the hours leading up to the 4pm ET trade deadline entertaining and exciting for baseball fans around the nation.

What follows are the team-by-team gains and losses from today’s deals plus a list of every one of them and some names that were floated but not moved.

The final tally for the day’s events are:
A’s gain – Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, Sam Fuld
A’s lose – Yoenis Cespedes, Tommy Milone, Comp Round B pick

Astros gain – Colin Moran, Jake Marisnick, Frances Martes, Comp Round A pick
Astros lose – Jarred Cosart, Enrique Hernandez, Austin Wates

Braves gain – James Russell, Emilio Bonifacio
Braves lose – Victor Caratini

Brewers gain – Gerardo Parra
Brewers lose – Mitch Haniger, Anthony Banda

Cardinals gain – John Lackey, Corey Littrell
Cardinals lose – Allen Craig, Joe Kelly

Cubs gain – Victor Caratini
Cubs lose – James Russell, Emilio Bonifacio

Diamondbacks gain – Mitch Haniger, Anthony Banda, Peter O’Brien, PTBNL or cash
Diamondbacks lose – Martin Prado, Gerardo Parra

Indians gain – Zach Walters
Indians lose – Asdrubal Cabrera

Mariners gain – Austin Jackson, Chris Denorfia
Mariners lose – Nick Franklin, Abraham Almonte, Stephen Kohlscheen

Marlins gain – Jarred Cosart, Enrique Hernandez, Austin Wates
Marlins lose – Colin Moran, Jake Marisnick, Frances Martes, Comp Round A pick

Nationals gain – Asdrubal Cabrera
Nationals lose – Zach Walters

Orioles gain – Andrew Miller
Orioles lose – Eduardo Rodriguez

Padres gain – Abraham Almonte, Stephen Kohlscheen
Padres lose – Chris Denorfia

Rays gain – Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin, Willy Adames
Rays lose – David Price

Red Sox gain – Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, Joe Kelly, Kelly Johnson, Eduardo Rodriguez, Comp Round B pick
Red Sox lose – Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jonny Gomes, Andrew Miller, Stephen Drew, Corey Littrell

Tigers gain – David Price
Tigers lose – Austin Jackson, Drew Smyly, Willy Adames

Twins gain – Tommy Milone
Twins lose – Sam Fuld

Yankees gain – Stephen Drew, Martin Prado
Yankees lose – Kelly Johnson, Peter O’Brien, PTBNL or cash

All of today’s deadline deals:

Athletics receive:
Jon Lester
Jonny Gomes
Red Sox receive:
Yoenis Cespedes
Comp Round B pick

Twins receive:
Tommy Milone
Athletics receive:
Sam Fuld

Red Sox receive:
Allen Craig
Joe Kelly
Cardinals receive:
John Lackey
Corey Littrell

Brewers receive:
Gerardo Parra
Diamondbacks receive:
Mitch Haniger
Anthony Banda

Mariners receive:
Chris Denorfia
Padres receive:
Abraham Almonte
Stephen Kohlscheen

Orioles receive:
Andrew Miller
Red Sox receive:
Eduardo Rodriguez

Nationals receive:
Asdrubal Cabrera
Indians receive:
Zach Walters

Yankees receive:
Stephen Drew
Red Sox receive:
Kelly Johnson

Tigers receive:
David Price
Mariners receive:
Austin Jackson
Rays receive:
Drew Smyly
Nick Franklin
Willy Adames

Yankees receive:
Martin Prado
Diamondbacks receive:
Peter O’Brien
PTBNL or cash

Braves receive:
James Russell
Emilio Bonifacio
Cubs receive:
Victor Caratini

Marlins receive:
Jarred Cosart
Enrique Hernandez
Austin Wates
Astros receive:
Colin Moran
Jake Marisnick
Francis Martes
Comp Round A pick

Other big names rumored but not traded today:
Kurt Suzuki, Alex Rios, Cole Hamels, Mat Latos, Marlon Byrd, Chase Utley, Jason Hammel, Joaquin Benoit, Ian Kennedy, Cliff Lee, Shelby Miller, Bartolo Colon, Daniel Murphy, Koji Uehara, Ben Zobrist, Josh Willingham, AJ Burnett, Ryan Ludwick, Matt Kemp, Gordon Beckham, Brett Anderson, John Danks, Dayan Viciedo, Chris Carter, Addison Reed and Aaron Hill.

Pre-Spring Power Rankings

Given that there are still numerous free agents available that could move a club up a spot or two, these rankings are a bit premature. That said, many teams’ rosters are mostly set heading into the reporting week for pitchers and catchers.
Putting the ranks together was actually quite difficult as many teams in the different tiers are very evenly matched.
Here are thet first power rankings of the 2014 season!

1. St. Louis Cardinals – Stacked pitching, stacked offense
2. Boston Red Sox – Defending champs, platoons should make up for at least some of the Jacoby Ellsbury loss.
3. Washington Nationals – We’ll find out if last year was just a dissapointment (as many think it was) or if it is the norm.
4. Detroit Tigers – Pushed to the four spot because of Washington’s superior starters (barely).
5. Los Angeles Dodgers – Better be good if you’re paying a pitcher $30MM annually.
6. Oakland Athletics – Get the edge over Tampa and Texas because there’s no reason they got worse.
7. Tampa Bay Rays – Hanging onto Price means front office believes in this team.
8. Texas Rangers – Addition of Prince will pay big dividends.
9. Atlanta Braves – Good pitching with the all or nothing offense, save Freddie Freeman.
10. Pittsburgh Pirates – Even if pitching regresses, still should be good.
11. New York Yankees – Age and injuries combined with proven talent could swing them either way on this list.
12. Cincinnati Reds – No real push to get better this offseason.
13. Los Angeles Angels – Improved pitching and bounce back seasons could see them join the top 10.
14. Arizona Diamondbacks – Solid team, should play well in the West.
15. Kansas City Royals – Could be the year KC breaks into the playoffs.
16. San Francisco Giants – Need some help from previously dependable starters.
17. Baltimore Orioles – Great offense, average pitching
18. Toronto Blue Jays – In the mold of “are they good or aren’t they good.”
19. Cleveland Indians – Need to see them do it again.
20. Seattle Mariners – Cano isn’t the answer to all their other problems.
21. San Diego Padres – A popular sleeper pick to contend this year.
22. Chicago White Sox – Great offseason adding young and import talent.
23. Colorado Rockies – Also potential to be better than their current ranking.
24. Philadelphia Phillies – Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels aside, the Phils are in rough shape. Although, Cody Asche looks like Chase Utley Jr.
25. Milwaukee Brewers – Potentially very good pitching staff.
26. New York Mets – Waiting until 2015 when Matt Harvey returns and Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler are settled in.
27. Miami Marlins – On the rise.
28. Minnesota Twins – Testing the theory of “how many number 3 and 4’s can we put into a rotation?”
29. Chicago Cubs – Not sure what the plan is here.
30. Houston Astros – Good offseason, preparing for the future.