Five Smiling Breakthrough Players of the 2015-2016 Season

Outfielder Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. Bryce Harper/AP

Outfielder Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. Bryce Harper/AP

Pitcher Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics. tokenlefty.com

Pitcher Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics. James Krueger/tokenlefty.com

Second Baseman Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins. Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Second Baseman Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins. Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Pitcher Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros. Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

Pitcher Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros. Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

Pitcher Chris Archer of the Tampa Bays Rays. Cork Gaines/raysindex.com

Pitcher Chris Archer of the Tampa Bays Rays. Cork Gaines/raysindex.com

Twenty-Two Random Player Projections for the 2015 Season

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox. Kayla Chadwick/offthemonster.blogspot.com

1. Xander Bogaerts will hit 17 HR with 68 RBI and 12 SB

2. José Abreu will hit 36 HR with 119 RBI and 4 SB

3. Carlos Gonzalez will hit 27 HR with 87 RBI and 18 SB

4. Allen Craig will hit 16 HR with 54 RBI and 2 SB

5. Joey Votto will hit 19 HR with 78 RBI and 3 SB

6. Ben Zobrist will hit 12 HR with 59 RBI and 9 SB

7. Manny Machado will hit 21 HR with 64 RBI and 11 SB

8. Yasmany Tomas will hit 29 HR with 85 RBI and 8 SB

9. Evan Longoria will hit 30 HR with 89 RBI and 6 SB

10. Robinson Cano will win the AL MVP (31 HR/97 RBI/14 SB)

11. Anthony Rendon will win the NL MVP (28 HR/86 RBI/18 SB)

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Pitcher Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

1. Sonny Gray will go 17-9 with a 2.43 ERA

2. Jon Lester will go 18-10 with a 3.27 ERA

3. Chris Archer will go 14-11 with a 3.46 ERA

4. Wade Miley will go 12-10 with a 3.54 ERA

5. David Price will go 16-8 with a 2.79 ERA

6. Zack Greinke will go 15-9 with a 2.64 ERA

7. Yordano Ventura will go 8-10 with a 4.37 ERA

8. Matt Cain will go 15-12 with a 3.42 ERA

9. Craig Kimbrel will save 34/37 games with a 1.56 ERA

10. Chris Sale (19-8/2.27 ERA) will win the AL Cy Young

11. Jordan Zimmerman (20-7/2.21 ERA) will win the NL Cy Young

mlbblogger.wordpress.com

Happy 2015!

The Manoman

Chicks Dig the Long Ball…and the Stolen Base

The power-speed player serves as a powerful weapon to a baseball team. He possesses both the ability to hit one out of the ballpark, potentially turning the tide of a game, as well as the skills needed to swipe a base in a crucial situation. To analyze power-speed capabilities, I developed PS and PS+. PS is a simple sabermetric statistic that combines a player’s home run total with his stolen base total, such as 47 PS for a player with 26 home runs and 21 stolen bases. PS+ then denotes the player’s inclination toward power or speed with either a P+ or an S+ — the letter is contingent on if a player has more home runs or stolen bases — following the absolute value of the difference between a player’s home run and stolen base totals. Below are the top six players in PS and PS+ this season as of August 8, as well as those who just missed the cut.

Outfielder Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers. Credit: USATSI

Carlos Gomez (40 PS/6 S+) — Gomez has continued his breakout surge from last season this year, hitting 17 home runs and stealing 23 bases through 106 games. He has been a young, dynamic outfielder that the Brewers will have under club control through 2016.

Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins. Credit: Juan C. Rodriguez/Sun Sentinel

Giancarlo Stanton (37 PS/17 P+) — Coming off two injury-affected seasons in which he played 123 and 116 games, respectively, Stanton has stayed healthy for all of 2014 and is on pace to match his career-high of 37 home runs. He also has recorded 10 stolen bases for Miami, which is simply icing on the cake from the Miami superstar.

Outfielder Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Credit: Getty Images

Mike Trout (37 PS/13 P+) — 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases in his rookie year. 27 home runs, 33 stolen bases in his sophomore campaign. One AL ROY and two near-misses to the AL MVP in his first two Major League seasons. Simply put, Mike Trout is a monster, and he’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Third Baseman Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds. Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

Todd Frazier (37 PS/3 P+) — After hitting 19 homers in each of the past two seasons and stealing a total of nine bags over that time span, Frazier has broken out this season for Cincinnati, hitting 20 home runs and swiping 17 bases in only 114 games.

Second Baseman Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins. Credit: Getty Images

Brian Dozier (37 PS/1 P+) — After posting a 32 PS/4 P+ stat line in 2013, Dozier has taken his game to the next level this season, becoming more evenly balanced in terms of his home run/stolen base splits (19 HR/18 SB) and being named to his first All-Star game.

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies. Credit: theschoolphilly.com

Jimmy Rollins (37 PS/7 S+) — J-Roll has defied time in his age 35 season, hitting 15 balls out of the park and stealing 22 bases. Since he has totaled at least 1,100 plate appearances between his 2013 and 2014 seasons, his $15 million option with the Phillies for 2015 is guaranteed, but the Phillies may have very well picked it up anyway given Rollins’s strong offensive output this season.

Honorable Mentions

  •  Andrew McCutchen (PIT-OF) — 34 PS/0 PS+
  •  Charlie Blackmon (COL-OF) — 34 PS/8 S+
  •  Brett Gardner (NYY-OF) — 33 PS/3 S+
  •  Ian Desmond (WAS-SS) — 30 PS/6 P+
  •  Paul Goldschmidt (ARI-1B) — 28 PS/9 P+

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

The ideal power-speed player has a high PS and a PS+ close to, or at, zero, meaning that he would have elevated totals of both home runs and stolen bases. A high PS+ amount and a low PS rating indicates a more one-dimensional player, which would not benefit a ball club very much unless he hits for a high average or is very prolific in that one skill on a part-time basis, such as a pinch-runner or a pinch-hitter who relies solely on his power. PS/PS+ shines a new light on some of baseball’s greatest stars as well as those who are under appreciated by the modern fan.

The founder of sabermetrics, Bill James. Credit: Dave Kaup/The Boston Globe

NOTE: Bill James developed a sabermetric statistic known as PSN, which stipulates:

 PSN = \frac{2*HR*SB}{HR + SB} 

Upon completion of this article, I found that Mr. James created the statistic, and I felt it was only apt that I gave credit where it was due, for he developed the statistic far before I did. Here is Bill James’s website, and here is a Wikipedia article detailing his version of the “Power-Speed Number.”

“Yeah, she heard about my PS/PS+ ratings. We totally hooked up.” Credit: USA Weekend

Long live baseball.

The Manoman

The Magic of the Boogie-Down Bronx

Perhaps it’s the bright lights of the Big Apple, or maybe it’s the enchanted water of the Hudson River. For all we know, it could be the past Yankee legends giving the team a helping hand, like in Angels in the Outfield, or the chanting from the “Bleacher Creatures” out in the right-center field stands, providing inspiration for the Yanks. Whatever the case may be, the Yankees, who lost 4/5 of their Opening Day starting pitchers to the DL and were under .500 as recently as July 2, are still alive in the playoff hunt, trailing Toronto by half a game for the second Wild Card spot as of August 7. How have they actually done it? Let’s find out.

Masahiro Tanaka kept the Yankees afloat in the first half of the season. Credit: AP Photo/John Minchillo

1. Tanaka Time — For $155 million over seven years, the Yankees landed what they projected to be a “strong number two starter.” Little did they know that Tanaka, former ace of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, would serve as the team’s savior prior to the All-Star break, as he went on to post a 12-4 record with a 2.51 ERA before landing on the DL with a potentially season-ending injury to his UCL. Rather than undergo Tommy John surgery, which definitely would have ended his season, he opted to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection and has been feeling better, according to recent reports. If healthy, Tanaka would certainly help the Yankees in September when they make their postseason push.

David Robertson has good reason to be fired up given how dominant the Yankee pen has been this year. Credit: Howard Simmons/New York Daily News

2. A Pinstriped Pen of Steel — Shawn Kelley has a .203 BAA and Adam Warren has allowed only one more hit (53) than strikeout (52) in his 56.1 innings pitched. Follow those two up with the 6’8″ 260 pound behemoth known as Dellin Betances, whose strikeout total matches his average fastball velocity of 100, and a closer who has converted 30/32 save opportunities in David Robertson, and there’s no question that the Yankee bullpen has been stronger than ever, even after its loss of the greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera.

Welcome to the Yankees, Chase Headley! Credit: Getty Images

3. Hi, My Name is… — Brian Cashman deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the acquisitions of Brandon McCarthy, Chris Capuano, Chase Headley, and Martin Prado from teams in the NL West this season, though he probably did not envision them having the type of immediate impact they’ve had the past couple of weeks. McCarthy is 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA since donning the pinstripes, relying on his effective cutter to induce outs. Capuano has not yet won a game in a Yankee uniform, but in his three starts in New York, he has posted a 2.84 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 19 innings. Pretty good stuff for a guy who was acquired from the Rockies solely for cash considerations. On the offensive side of the ball, Chase Headley made an immediate impact on the team when he sent Yankee fans home with a win on July 21 over the Rangers with a 14th-inning walk-off single at midnight. In his 15 games as a Yankee, he has posted a .263/.323/.744 slash line and has solidified the third-base position with superb defense plays, such as this one here. Martin Prado was picked up from the Diamondbacks for catching prospect Peter O’Brien, and his versatility in the field has allowed the Yankees to play him in right and at third to cover for Headley on his off-days. An eight-year veteran, Prado has brought leadership and a strong knowledge of the game to the Bronx Bombers.

Can the Yankees bring title #28 back to the Bronx? Credit: Bill Hornstein

If the Yankees can continue to produce the way they have the past couple of weeks, a playoff spot could be the cards for the unconventional Bomber squad. Though the odds would be stacked against them making it far into the playoffs, especially given the dominant rotations of the A’s and Tigers (who they just took three of four from in their most recent series), as they say in New York, “Hey, you never know.”

The Manoman

Rocking Rookies — 2014 Edition

Cuban-born stars José Fernandez and Yasiel Puig set the National League ablaze last season, coming in first and second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, respectively. Their electricity on the field revitalized their teams’ fan bases and, in Puig’s case, he catapulted his team from last place in the NL West standings to first. In the Junior Circuit this year, two foreign-born players were neck-and-neck in the AL ROY race, before one of them went down with a rather unfortunate elbow injury. However, in this blog post, we will honor his efforts, as well as those of the rest of the Rookie Class of 2014.

Leading Off: Billy Hamilton (CIN-OF)

Billy Hamilton in his natural habitat, the basepaths. Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Shin-Soo Choo’s replacement in center, Billy Hamilton has given the Reds all they could have ever asked for in his first full season. The speed demon leads NL Rookies in hits, RBI’s, runs scored, and stolen bases, and he has been a spark plug at the top of Cincinnati’s lineup.

Batting Second: Gregory Polanco (PIT-OF)

Gregory Polanco has finally arrived. Credit: Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

Marte. McCutchen. Polanco. Three young, dynamic outfielders that Pirates fans will have the pleasure of watching roam the PNC Park grass for the years to come. Polanco, a legitimate five-tool threat, has the potential to supersede the talents of his outfield partners and become the best player on the Buccos. “El Coffee” already has set the team record for the longest hit streak to begin a career (nine games) and will likely set many more over the course of his time in the Steel City.

Batting Third: George Springer (HOU-OF)

Enjoy that ice bath Mr. Springer, it certainly won’t be your last. Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Called up on April 16 from Triple-A Oklahoma City to bolster a sagging Houston offense that ranked last in Batting Average, OPS, and Runs Per Game prior to his promotion, the 24-year-old Springer has been a dynamo in right for the Astros this season. Following a 2013 minor-league campaign in which he hit 37 homers and 108 RBI’s and also stole 45 bases between Double-A and Triple-A, Springer has carried that power-speed combination to the majors this year, hitting 20 homers and stealing five bases in 78 games thus far. Were it not for the cleanup hitter in this year’s “Rocking Rookies” starting lineup, he would certainly be under serious consideration for the AL ROY.

Hitting Cleanup: José Abreu

José Abreu crushing one of his 30 home runs for the White Sox this year. Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY

For $68 million over six years, the Chicago White Sox made arguably the best free-agent pickup of the offseason in signing José Dariel Abreu, a feared power slugger who set first-half rookie records in both home runs (29) and total bases (203) this season. He is currently on pace to match Mark McGwire’s rookie single-season home run record (49) and been a source of hope for White Sox fans in an otherwise lost season.

Today’s Pitching Matchup is Between Masahiro Tanaka and Marcus Stroman

Tanaka had been lights-out since joining the Yankees this season. Credit: AP

vs.

Stroman started out slow, but has since found his groove. Credit: Getty Images / Tom Szczerbowski

In today’s classic matchup of AL East young studs, Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees takes on Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays. Prior to suffering a partially torn UCL injury, Tanaka posted a 12-4 record with a 2.51 ERA, single-handedly carrying the Yankees through the first half and placing himself in serious consideration for the AL ROY. The Blue Jays’ 2012 first-round draft pick, Stroman initially was called up on May 4 as a reliever, but after several poor outings, he was sent back down to AAA Las Vegas ten days later. On May 31, he returned to the big leagues as a starter and recorded his second career victory, pitching six innings of one-run ball against the Kansas City Royals. During his stay in the rotation, he has lowered his ERA to a mere 3.21, throwing quality starts in eight out of his ten outings. Despite standing at a less than imposing 5’9″, Marcus Stroman has demonstrated that “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart,” or “HDMH,” which is the clothing brand name that Stroman himself trademarked. (His merchandise can be purchased here).

Honorable Mentions

1. Brock Holt (BOS-UT) — Aside from pitcher and catcher, Brock Holt has played each position on a baseball field for at least three games this season. To top that impressive feat, as of July 23, he was leading the Majors in hits since May 20 with 83, and he currently holds a .316 BA.

2. Nick Castellanos (DET-3B) — Castellanos’s biggest impact on the Tigers’ season thus far may actually have come before Opening Day even arrived, for Detroit dealt first baseman Prince Fielder to Texas for second baseman Ian Kinsler knowing this back-to-back AL MVP Miguel Cabrera would be able to slide over to first base with Castellanos waiting in the wings at third. Although his counting stats have been average (.268/.314/.405), he has been holding down the fort well at third for the Tigers and could follow a similar development pattern to Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado.

3. Yordano Ventura (KC-SP) — Lights-out to begin the season, Ventura’s production has tapered off in recent months, but he has still proven to be very worthy of a spot in the Royals’ rotation. To go along with his height of 5’11”, Ventura features an overpowering fastball that hums in the high-90s, aptly drawing comparisons to his fellow countryman Pedro Martinez.

4. Kolten Wong (STL-2B) — After being nailed at first by a Koji Uehara pick-off move to end Game 4 of the 2013 World Series, Wong had nowhere to go but up this year for the Cards. The Hawaii native has provided speed (14 SB) and power (6 HR) to St. Louis in his inaugural campaign, and several 20-20 seasons certainly appear to be in his future.

5. Dellin Betances (NYY-RP) — Though the Yankees brought in three noteworthy names in their Free Agent shopping spree last offseason, one of the biggest reasons they are still in the race has been the emergence of AL All-Star Dellin Betances. With a 1.43 ERA and 93 strikeouts, Betances has established himself as one of the premier setup men in all of baseball this season.

6. Xander Bogaerts (BOS-3B/SS) — In the offseason, he was touted by many analysts as the Red Sox’s top prospect and a potential AL ROY candidate. However, after posting a .304 BA as recently as June 3 and living up to the massive hype bestowed upon him, he has seemingly fallen off a statistical cliff the past two months, for his average has fallen more than 65 points (.237), and he has only four extra-base hits since that point. Though he still possesses a number of tools that made him an elite prospect for Boston, the team needs him to improve his offensive production to help prevent it from sputtering to a last-place finish in the AL East after winning the World Series just one year prior.

7. Jacob deGrom (NYM-SP) — His fiery mane of hair and overbearing physical appearance resembles that of Angels’ starter Jered Weaver, and in recent months, deGrom’s outings have resembled those of the Los Angeles of Anaheim ace as well. He holds a 1.37 ERA over his last seven starts and has put together a compelling NL ROY case for the Mets this season, recording 83 strikeouts and a 2.79 ERA in 87 innings.

8. Kevin Kiermaier (TB-OF) — A “heart and hustle” type player, Kiermaier has solidified the right field spot for the Rays, coupling his dynamic defense with an above average hit tool (.311 BA). Should he continue his strong rookie year performance, he could resemble a David Murphy type player for Tampa in the years to come.

9. Tommy La Stella (ATL-2B) — Following the abrupt demise of Dan Uggla’s ability to play baseball, La Stella has been a “stella” replacement for him at second base this year for the Braves. His style of play is reminiscent to that of Darwin Barney when he first broke the big leagues with the Cubs, as La Stella has hit for a solid average (.289) and posted sound defensive numbers (.989 FLD %) in his 60 games with Atlanta.

10. David Peralta (ARI-OF) — Peralta’s outstanding offense since his call-up on June 1 actually led to the narrow-exclusion of his Arizona rookie teammate, shortstop Chris Owings, from this list. Peralta has gotten on base at a .354 clip this season while also sporting a .832 OPS, and his emergence enabled the Diamondbacks to deal Gerardo Perra to the Brewers to strengthen their Minor League system.

The future is bright for teams loaded with young talent, such as the Astros. Credit: Sports Illustrated

The professional development of prospects into rookies has the unparalleled ability to give fans of their organizations hope for the future, even when the teams on the Major League level are struggling. Just look at the Cubs and Astros, two perennial contenders for last-place in their respective divisions. Despite their lack of success, the upper management for each team has provided its fan base with a promise that the future will be brighter, citing the developments of top prospects as examples. As a Cubs fan, how could you not be excited about the possibility of an Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant infield? From an Astros fan’s perspective, a potential rotation of Mark Appel, Mike Foltynewicz, and Lance McCullers, coupled with the heavy-hitting bats of Springer, Jon Singleton, Carlos Correa, and Domingo Santana sure does seem promising. Though an organization’s future potential shouldn’t serve as an excuse for the shortcomings of a big league club, it does certainly lessen the pains of a fan base when it seems that a team has a plan in place, such as the Cubs and Astros, as opposed to being seemingly content with dwelling in a middle-ground purgatory with an aging roster (see: Philadelphia Phillies). With that in mind, I’m calling Astros over the Cubs in 6 for the 2017 World Series.

…And Appel strikes out Bryant to end the ball game! Credit: http://parkhub.wordpress.com

Gotta love baseball.

The Manoman

Rocking Rookies — 2013 Edition

Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado all dominated in their rookie seasons last year, setting the bar high for the Rookie Class of 2013. Though none of this year’s rookies have been able to replicate the extreme success that any of those three experienced last season, there have been notable performances this season from the group that are certainly worth mentioning. Here are a few of the standout rookies from this season:

Leading Off: Yasiel Puig (LAD-OF)

Image

Puig-mania started off with a bang in 2013, as he batted .474 with five homeruns and 11 R.B.I.’s in his first fifteen games and capped off his first big league game with a cannon to first to double up the runner and end the game. He revitalized a Dodgers squad that as recently as three weeks ago was in last place in the NL West and has now made them a first place team.

Batting Second: José Iglesias (BOS-3B/SS)

Jose Iglesias Detroit Tigers

Although the 23-year old shortstop has posted a .323 batting average thus far (albeit with a .374 BABIP), Iglesias’s value lies primarily in his glove. He has provided a tremendous boost to the Tigers’ defense up-the-middle since he was acquired on July 30 and his impressive range has saved numerous baseballs that would have eluded the grasp of the now-suspended Johnny Peralta. Think Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel with a little less pop.

Batting Third: Nolan Arenado (COL-3B)

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks

Though Mr. Arenado currently “only” holds a .264 batting average and nine homeruns, he has driven in 42 Rockies this season and has helped to solidify a struggling third-base position for the team; it being one that previously was “anchored” by Chris Nelson and Reid Brignac. Once all of his tools start clicking, Rockies fans can look forward to a fearsome 3-4-5 consisting of Troy Tulowitzki, Arenado, and Wilin Rosario. In fact, I felt that upon his call-up to the bigs, Arenado would resemble the 22-year old rookie slugger of 2008 that drove his team to a World Series berth, some guy by the name of Evan Longoria. Well, the saying that history repeats itself is proving to hold true, as I’d like to introduce you to Evan Longoria 2.0.

Hitting Cleanup: Wil Myers (TB-OF)

Wil Myers Tampa Bay Rays

I’m going to post this here now, on the record (not that anything I post here is off the record, but just saying :)). Wil Myers will finish what Evan Longoria started in 2008.

Wil Myers will lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a World Series title.

Today’s Pitching Matchup is Between José Fernandez and Shelby Miller

Jose Fernandez Miami Marlins

vs.

Milwaukee Brewers vs St. Louis Cardinals

Allow me to give you some comparables to this matchup of NL ROY hopefuls.

Gooden vs. Verlander

Valenzuela vs. Wainwright

Joel Zumaya vs. Mark Prior

What you guys didn’t like that last one?😉 Both of these guys are studs, plain and simple, and should go on to have dominant careers similar to those experienced by the aforementioned players. Just threw that last comparable in there as a “worst-case scenario” and to serve as a testament to how vulnerable the arms of MLB pitchers can be. No worries though Marlins and Cards fans, everything is going to be alright. Just ask Dylan Bundy.

Honorable Mentions

1. Jedd Gyorko (SD-2B) – I was tempted to slot Gyorko into the three-hole of the lineup, as he puts up a compelling case with his 14 homeruns and 37 RBI’s. Gyorko is San Diego’s second baseman of the present and future, and you can look forward to more than a few All-Star Game berths from him when he hits his prime.

2. Oswaldo Arcia (MIN-OF) – Move over M&M boys, part one of Minnesota’s fearsome threesome has arrived, and he’s here to stay. He will most likely develop into a .270, 30 homer, 90 RBI type of bat, similar to the type of numbers that Torii Hunter produced over his career.

3. Chris Archer (TB-SP) – Acquired by the Rays way back when in the Matt Garza deal, Archer has put up a significant competition to Wil Myers in the AL ROY. With his 6-5 record and 2.95 E.R.A., Archer is dominating the AL and should be a key cog in the Rays postseason push.

4. Julio Teheran (ATL-SP) – Coming into this season, Braves fans weren’t quite sure what to expect from Teheran. The former #1 rated prospect in their system had failed to live up to the enormous hype placed upon him during his short stint in the majors, posting a 1-1 record and a 5.03 E.R.A. However, the team hopes that the real Julio Teheran has finally arrived to stay, as he has racked up a 10-6 record with a 2.96 E.R.A. thus far this season.

5. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD-SP) – Clayton Kershaw, Zack Grienke, Josh Beckett, and Ricky Nolasco. All four of those pitchers have had great seasons in years past (Kershaw’s has been legendary), but none have been as pivotal to the team’s success on the mound save Kershaw, as Ryu. With his 12-4 record and 2.95 E.R.A., Ryu has been a model of remarkable consistency and has kept the Dodgers afloat when various pitchers, including Grienke, Beckett, Chris Capuano, and Stephen Fife, went down with injuries.

6. Tony Cingrani (CIN-SP) – Wade Miley of 2012, meet Tony Cingrani of 2013. 6-3 record, 2.76 E.R.A., and 112 strikeouts in the books thus far for Cingrani, and those numbers should only improve as he heads down the final stretch.

7. Gerrit Cole (PIT-SP) – The 2011 #1 Overall Draft Pick broke onto the scene for the Buccos this year, posting a 6-6 record with a 3.86 E.R.A. His development has been instrumental to the Pirates success this season, as he has helped to solidify the back end of a Pirates rotation that has been living off of low BABIP’s and high strand rates.

8. Evan Gattis (ATL-C) – From high school janitor to major leaguer, Gattis has certainly paved a unique path to his big league career. With his 15 homeruns and 47 R.B.I.’s “El Oso Blanco” has been a major part of the Braves’ first-place standing in the NL East.

9. Zack Wheeler (NYM-SP) – Mets fans are currently salivating at the tremendous potential of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. While Wheeler hasn’t exactly posted the numbers of his 1-2 counterpart thus far, he does hold a 6-2 record with a 3.49 E.R.A., definitely not one to be ashamed of. Once Wheeler learns to control his 98 mph fastball, you can expect to see him right up there with Verlander and Harvey as one of the best in baseball.

10. Jim Henderson (MIL-CL) – Heading into this season, the Brewers had pegged “Ax-Man” John Axford as their closer after he saved 35 games for the club in 2012. However, there was a rapid role reversal after Axford began to falter in April, and Henderson took the closer job and hasn’t looked back since, converting 21 of his 24 save opportunities along with a 1.86 E.R.A.

Though many of these rookies look promising now, who knows what the future will hold for them. For every José Fernandez there is another Daniel Bard. For every Nolan Arenado there is another Ian Stewart. Baseball is a game of failure, and while there have been numerous success stories embedded within the history of our national pastime (see Evan Gattis, Ryan Vogelsong), the percentages are not in the players’ favor. However, let’s enjoy these rookies while they last now, and let’s hope Yasiel Puig keeps overthrowing that cutoff man.

The New Guys

Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells are currently leading the Yankees to a 10-8 record and 2nd place in the AL East. Please take the time to reread that last sentence, and when you do, keep in mind that this is 2013, not 2008. Youkilis, a former Red Sox; Hafner, an oft-injured swing-for-the-fences hitter; and Vernon Wells, a seven-year, $126 million bust, are leading the Yankee offense (with a little help from a guy named Robinson Cano). Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson are all injured, therefore, someone had to step up to the plate, literally. Take a look at these numbers:

Through 16 games:

Kevin Youkilis: .295 BA/2 HR/9 RBI

Travis Hafner: .319 BA/5 HR/10 RBI

Vernon Wells: .317 BA/5 HR/8 RBI

However, the real question is whether these reborn sluggers can keep up the pace. Both Hafner and Wells have nose-dived off a cliff in terms of production the past couple of years, and Youkilis has seemingly been on the decline since the trade to the White Sox at the Trade Deadline last year. Regardless, watching these elder statesmen attempt to recapture their former glory should be an entertaining endeavor, and one that could potentially result in a championship for the New York Yankees.

Travis Hafner has as many stolen bases as Brett Gardner. Just saying.

The Manoman

Heart of the Panda

20121026-232516.jpg

“Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting….”

Just a quick update here, but I just wanted to talk about how remarkable Pablo Sandoval’s three homer game was in Game One of the World Series and how no one seems to be talking about it.

In a feat that has been matched only by baseball greats Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols, Sandoval blasted three shots off the tenacious Tiger pitching staff and slugged his way into the record books. His first inning shot off King Verlander was a surprise, on an 0-2 count nonetheless, and then he did it again. And again.

The Panda hit three shots into the stands on a crisp San Francisco night and yet no one seems to be talking about this performance. Could it be that its luster was diminished because Pujols hit three in a game just last year? Maybe it was because the game drew the lowest ratings of any World Series game in history? Whatever the case, Pablo deserves just a little bit more recognition than he received, but don’t worry, he’ll get it when he takes the World Series MVP trophy off of Mr. Selig’s hands next week.

It’s going to be Panda-monium.
The Manoman

Giant Predictions for this World Series

The 2012 season has been a year of surprises. Both the Orioles and the Athletics, teams that were predicted to dwell in the cellars of their respective divisions, made the playoffs. Mike Trout became Superman Reincarnated and is likely to win at least the AL Rookie of the Year, if not the AL MVP. Fernando Rodney discovered what it was like to pitch again, while aces Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay seemingly lost all understanding of the concepts of winning baseball games. However there is still one thing we know, Jason Bay still sucks. But now it has come time for the ultimate conclusion to our eventful 2012 season, as we have reached the Fall Classic.

*cue the dramatic music*

In a matchup that offers little surprise to baseball analysts who had created postseason predictions before the season’s beginning, the San Francisco Giants are set to take on the Detroit Tigers in this year’s World Series. With the first game happening tonight, predictions are rampant among baseball analysts and casual observers of the game. That being said, here are my five startling predictions for the 2012 World Series.

1. Justin Verlander will not be the winning starting pitcher tonight.

-That would be Mr. Overpaid Barry Zito, who will regain his form and allow a total of 2 runs over 7 innings. Verlander will allow 3 but will still be on the hook for the loss.

2. Brandon Crawford will become the Giants’ Derek Jeter, leading the team in hits during the series.  

-Move over Marco Scutaro, there’s a new OBP monster in town. Crawford will erupt this series, and I’m predicting about 10 hits from him in total over a course of 22 at-bats.

3. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder will combine to total 4 RBI’s and a .240 BA.

-Miggy and Prince aren’t invincible, and this will be one of those unforeseen situations where in major moments they won’t be able to put the bat on the ball. It will drive the guys at ESPN insane!

4. José Valverde will reclaim the closer role and save one of the Tiger victories.

-Sorry Phil, but I prefer Pepsi. José will save a game, but before he does he will allow one walk and one hit to make things a little more interesting.

5. Giants in 6.
-Trust me, it’s a tough prediction to swallow, but as we’ve seen with this season, anything is possible.

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The Manoman

Top 5 Baseball Quotes

Let’s begin shall we?

5. “Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”

~Ted Williams

4. “I was such a dangerous hitter I even got intentional walks in batting practice.”

~Casey Stengel

3. “Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.”

~Bob Feller

 2.  “One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.

~Nolan Ryan

1. “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”

~Yogi Berra

This is why I love baseball.

The Manoman

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