Archive for » May, 2012 «

Begin Launch Sequence…3…2…1…Lift Off

Be sure to take notes on the swing techniques of these big leaguers to help you prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse.

The month of May is coming to a close and the summer air is warming up. That only means one thing… time to let the baseballs fly. We have already seen that Josh Hamilton, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, and Adam Dunn (yes, this Adam Dunn) don’t care what temperature the air is. They go big fly year round. But what about the rest of the guys who couldn’t make peace with the home run gods in April. Well, some of them are coming around:

  • Albert Pujols – Every Angels fan at once… 1… 2… 3… *Siiiiiigh*. Well that was a giant sigh of relief. Albert Pujols 2012 != Adam Dunn 2011 (your programming nerd is showing). Pujols had his longest home run drought of his career at 110 at-bats earlier this season. But since he lifted one over the left field fence on May 6th, Pujols’ swing is coming around. In fact, Pujols has the fourth most RBI’s in the majors during the month of May with 24 (second in the AL only behind Josh Hamilton). Even more impressive is that he has hit 7 of his 8 total in the past 15 days. Pujols and all of Angels nation (and Pujols’ HR Derby teams) are thankful that the month of April is behind them. The contract is still outrageous due to it’s length. But in the short term, it appears that the contract is going to work out.
  • Alfonso Soriano – The typical male attitude… you want to drive a nail in one swing, get the biggest hammer. Well, Soriano took that logic to home plate. You want to hit the ball far, bring the biggest bat. So Dave Sveum convinced Soriano’s big ego to switch to a lighter bat. And Soriano went from 0 homers in April to 7 home runs in the past 15 days (same as Pujols). It’s amazing what a smaller hammer can do. Now if that hammer was only worth $18M.
  • Giancarlo Stanton – 122MPH… The top speed of a turbo diesel Mini Cooper D and the speed of a baseball of off a Giancarlo home run. Giancarlo is a beast, a beast who was still in hibernation in April with only 1 homer. But guess who leads Group A in the Home Run Derby at the end of May with 13 dingers, Giancarlo. He also had the 3rd most RBI of the month with 30. His bat seems to be turbo charged and it only took the month of April to spool up. Now, there is only one player who can hit a ball harder than 122MPH and it’s Giancarlo himself.
  • Adam Jones – Age 27… There is an urban legend in Fantasy Baseball that the age 27 is a significant year in a player’s career. That magical age is the year that a player puts up his breakout numbers and usually can be bought at a cheap price in fantasy drafts. Well, Adam Jones is trying to make it a fact. Jones didn’t have a quiet month of April as Pujols, Soriano, and Giancarlo. But, he has caught fire recently (up until he took a pitch off his wrist). He just ended a 20 game hit streak and he leads Group D in the Home Run Derby with 16 total homers. Ten of those 16 coming in May. Enjoy the ride Fightin’ Showalter fans because it may be a bumpy re-entry back to Earth in the later months of the season.
  • Andrew McCutchen – 0 to 8 in 4,492,800 seconds… the amount of time it took McCutch to hit his 8th homer of the year. He starter with 0 in the month of April and Home Run Derby fans were a bit depressed on their Group E choice. But the Bucco’s main source of offense has turned it on in the month of May and is now on pace for 26 homers this season. A very respectable number for a Group E player.
  • Carlos Quentin – Injury Prone, synonym: Carlos Quentin. That’s what I envision the baseball thesaurus saying. Having only played over 100 games 3 times in his career, Quentin has just returned from a 50 game DL stint and has finally taken his place in the heart of the Padres batting order. And nothing says “I’m a part of the team” like going 7 for 12 with 3 homers in 3 games. Yes, Carlos is batting 0.583 with a 2.226 OPS. Those numbers won’t last, but if he is somehow still available in any of your fantasy leagues, go get heeem.
  • Dayan Viciedo – Who? Meet Carlos Quentin’s replacement on the Southside of Chicago. And the switch can’t be going much better. He had 3 homers in April but mashed 8 more in the month of May. He is currently sitting at a 0.291 total BA with 24 RBI in May. He is the hot topic in fantasy baseball and is THE most added player in ESPN fantasy baseball (however, Carlos Quentin will catch him by tomorrow). Just as awesome as his month of May stats is his nickname… Tank.

We now have two months of baseball complete and injuries are starting to compound for some teams. Make sure to check your Home Run Derby team for injuries (or your inbox for injury reminders). Month of May winners will be announced within the week.

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#LUUUUUUUUUC

While you and your band mates take a break from arguing who missed their strum, another great Sunday of baseball needs some summarizing (the past few weeks have been busy as summer plans have kicked in at full strength).

  • Brewer Mash-up: The injury plagued Milwaukee Brewers have been beatable at home in 2012 (10-11), which is something they weren’t in 2011 (57-24). Losing Alex Gonzalez and Mat Gamel for the entire season and Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez are slumping, the Brewers offense has been anything but exciting to watch. Until they unleashed their pent up offense on the Twins today. With 16 runs on 17 hits, they didn’t even need Greinke on the mound (who has never earned a loss when he starts at Miller Park… never). What makes the 16 runs amazing is that the Brewers’ skipper put his hot hitting catcher in the cleanup spot behind Braun today. And Lucroy kept his bat’s fire going by hitting in 7RBI with 2 homers (1 a grand-slam). I’m hoping the twitter trend picks up after today. Make sure you have 9-U’s in your tweets… #LUUUUUUUUUC!
  • One Man Arm-y: It’s been awhile since we have discussed Strasburg, so let’s jump right in to today’s game. Strasburg is on track to be an elite pitcher. He’s already showed us that. Currently, he is sitting at a 2.25ERA/1.02WHIP with 64K’s in 53IP, no one can really touch him. What made today’s performance even more memorable for Stras was that he took a hanging curve yard. Yes, Strasburg doesn’t give up homeruns but he will hit them. This wasn’t a Yovani Gallardo performance but still impressive. Stras did leave this game with arm tightness so it will be interesting to see what the Nats do when he reaches his 160IP cap in 2012. If the Nats are in the playoff chase, there is no way you bench a pitcher of this caliber. Time will only tell.
  • Fish vs Fish: South Park taught us to never go Bass to Trout. What happens when Bass pitches to Trout, well Mike Trout took an Anthony Bass’ pitch and deposited it into the left field bleachers (Not to be outdone by a fellow fish name, Mike Carp went yard as well today). Mike Trout is quietly putting up a strong RoY campaign. And by quiet, we mean he isn’t drawing the publicity that Harper is taking on. Trout is a better player at this point and I stick to my earlier posts. You want Trout on your team over Harper right now.
  • The next “K Kid”: This week we said goodbye to “The K Kid” but almost got to knight a new one. Kerry Wood announced his retirement on Friday and came into the game to strike out the only batter he faced with 3 pitchers, which is a very fitting way for him to leave the game. For those who don’t remember, Kerry Wood became 1 of 5… FIVE… pitchers to ever record more than 20 strikeouts in a single game. The list includes Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood, Randy Johnson (extra innings), and Tom Cheney (21 in extra innings). Kerry Wood did it in 1998 against the Astros and gave up only 1 hit. Even more impressive, he did it when he was only 20-years old. He is only the 2nd pitcher to every record as many strikeouts in a game as his age (Bob Feller is the only other pitcher who got 17k’s at the age of 17 in 1936). Well we bid Kerry Wood a fond farewell, Max Scherzer gave Sunday hit best Kerry Wood impersonation only 2 days after Verlander came 2-outs shy of his 3-rd career no-hitter. Scherzer is either lights out or serving up gopher balls in his outings. There is almost no middle ground. Well, Sunday was a lights out performance. He threw 7-innings and struckout 15 Pirates. Its too bad he used 115 pitches to get through his 7-innings. He had a legitimate shot at being #6 on an amazing list that’s more elite than the “Perfect Game”.
  • Giants’ Studs shouldn’t cover home: We all remember what happened last season to a Giants’ star athlete that tried to block the plate as an opponent charged home. Fool Posey once, shame on you. Fool Posey twice, shame on him. Well, Posey learned his lesson but now Lincecum has received the wrong end of an opponent bulldozing home. On a wild pitch in the 4th inning, Lincecum did his duty to cover home. He covered home by basically sitting on it, which earned Lincecum an early exit. There is no word on the extent of the collision, but it didn’t look good. The only thing Giants’ fans and fantasy owners can hope is that Lincecum has his usual 5 days off to recover. Stay tuned for more news.
  • Searching for the Savoy Special: Josh Hamilton hit 9-homers in one week earlier in the month of May, which included a 4-home run night on May 8th (only the 16th player to complete this feat). What many may not know is that these home runs were all with the same bat… his “Wonderboy” you could say. Well on Mother’s Day, Hamilton switched to a pink bat for Breast Care Awareness. The pink bat didn’t have the force and Hamilton went back to his beloved Louisville Slugger. However, the bat didn’t make it through the game and fractured. It received a proper burial and is now enshrined at the Baseball Hall of Fame. But now Hamilton is homerless in his last 8 games over the past week. Hamilton needs to find his “Savoy Special”, and soon.

More baseball news and stories coming soon…

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Harper – Making Other Ball Players Look Bad Since 2012

I’ve seen enough… There have been a lot of haters since Harper started wearing his war paint in college games. But after watching this kid play for a week, he’s got my vote and he should have yours as the one of the rising stars of baseball.

And if you have a little leaguer at home, sit him down in front of some of these Bryce Harper clips. Harper has been showcasing the passion and the skills that makes him a perfect role model for all young athletes.

Here are the top 5 reasons Harper has already won the hearts of Washington and players:

  • The Basics – In tee-ball, everyone was taught the basics. Keep your eye on the ball when hitting and use two hands when catching the ball on defense. We all know that Harper can hit (although he’s still looking for his first major league home run). He’s proved that since he became big news a few years ago. But here’s a professional (albeit 8 games) showing kids to always use two hands…

    Yep, he caught that fly ball with his bare hand.
  • Speed – This kid runs everything out. Every time his bat touches the ball, he is already sprinting to first and rounding for second. He has unbelievable speed for an ex-catcher. He’s proving that if you just run everything out, your opponents take notice and they begin to rush plays. Take this error from a grounder to the pitcher. He rushes knowing Harper is sprinting out of the box and he throws the ball right past the first-baseman. Or how he’s already at second base on a routine fly ball to the shortstop. Or making a pitcher look ridiculous on a flip to first on a grounder to 1B:

    Summary: Run Everything Out
  • Long Toss – Make Accurate Hard Throws. Harper is an ex-catcher which gives him a cannon for an arm and he isn’t afraid to show it off. He knows when to hit his cut-off men and went to gunsling it to the base. Wherever the throw is headed, it is always on a straight line. You will almost never see him lob it in to second base or the shortstop. He throws it hard 100% of the time. And when he does unleash the gunpowder, he does this (McDonald was out):
    .
  • Game Knowledge – He’s already drawing walks and averages seeing 4 pitches per AB which is crazy. He’s already getting shifted on at the plate. He’s already getting beaned like he’s a veteran slugger. But he has that sixth sense of knowing what is always happening around him.

    He legitimately stole home. He knew if he broke at first move to firstbase, he could catch the Phillies sleeping. The firstbasemen being a lefty would have a difficult throw to home across his body. And this was all after being hit by Hamels (and was the only run given up by Hamels)
  • Passion – All of the above combined into a single player is amazing. I’m not sure there has been a player like Harper since ‘The Kid’, Griffey Jr. And look at how his career ended… a superstar. Harper takes baseball so seriously that on his off-days you may just find yourself playing a softball game with him in the park. His passion is making a lot of major leaguers look bad (maybe that’s why he’s getting intentionally hit). Not many players hustle to first anymore on the routine infield flies, yet Harper is at second before the ball is caught. He even turns short bloopers into doubles:

Harper is just fun to watch. It gives any baseball fan goosebumps to watch him play. It makes you wonder “Why isn’t hustling to first?” These guys get to play a kids game for a living, and Harper plays it right. He plays it like a little leaguer. He’s out their playing ball with the fundamentals and having fun. He’s only 19, so how long will the passion and energy last for Harper. I don’t know but I hope the Nationals get more nationally televised games so everyone gets to enjoy the spark that he has brought to Washington while it lasts.

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Winner, Winner… Platinum Sombrero?

A pop quiz: “How many K’s in a single game does it take to where the golden sombrero?”

Answer: Four.

What’s worse, how about a Platinum Sombrero which is five. A Titanium Sombrero is six. Need a refresher course on Baseball Slang… head over to this post in the archives.

Now that we are caught up on our strikeout slang, Chris Davis gets the privilege of wearing a Platinum Sombrero but on the front of it is a giant “W”. That “W” is for a win. Yes, a WIN.

Chris Davis is a long time hyped prospect coming through the Rangers organization. He was traded for a RP (Koji Uehhara) last July at the trade deadline. Davis is a free-swinging power hitter. In 2010, he fanned 150 times in about 400AB’s. In 2011 and 2012, he fanned in 33% of his At-Bats. But he also had 17HR in 2009 and 21HR in 2010 in limited At-Bats. Davis has always been known for his big bat (and the holes in it), but not for his pitching. The Bo-Sox and Fighting Showalters (Orioles) played almost 2 full games on Sunday. And it wasn’t a double header. They played 17-innings. And both teams went through 8 different pitchers. So, in the bottom of the 16th, Chris Davis took the mound. Pitched a scoreless inning and then Adam Jones unleashed a 3-run HR vs the Red Sox last pitcher… Outfielder Darnell McDonald (yes, the Red Sox had a position player on the mound). Davis then came back out in the 17th. Took a liner of his body. Struck out A-Gon. And then got Darnell McDonald to line into a game ending double play.

So Davis’ final stats line… 0 for 8, 5 K’s at the plate and 2.0IP, 2 K’s on the Mound, and the Win! Platinum Sombrero with a “W”. Wear it as proud as you want Chris Davis, you definitely earned it. (Sorry Chris Davis fantasy owners and HR Derby owners, you don’t get credit for that “W”… only the 5 K’s)

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Crossing Checkpoint One

How about a one month update on the Home Run Derby… ask and you shall receive.

Remember that the season is a marathon, not a race. So even though the Orioles and Nationals are 18-9 and your team is in last place in the Derby or Fantasy, don’t you worry. There is plenty of baseball left.

That is unless you are racing against Billy Hamilton. That dude is straight up fast. He currently is sporting 31 stolen bases with 38 hits in Single-A for the Cincinnati Reds. The SS prospect is no sloth on the base paths. Last season he had 103 stolen bases. That’s Henderson-esque. Here’s some amazing quotes/stats from the baseball experts:

Billy Hamilton has reached on eight infield singles. He has been thrown out by infielders 14 times. When Billy Hamilton hits the ball on the ground to an infielder, and the infielder fields the ball cleanly, Billy Hamilton is hitting .364.

AND

Billy Hamilton scored the walk-off run on April 20 on a sacrifice fly. To the second baseman.

Look out Dee Gordon, there may be a new fastest man in town in the next year or two (I really want to see a 100SB season… soon).

Now back to the Derby:
Just a reminder that the 2012 Home Run Derby has six checkpoints this year. The team hitting the most homers in the month will take home the monthly title. You can check out the monthly standings here.

The first monthly crown goes to a familiar team, the Kettle Poppers. He lead after the first two days in 2011 and was in 3rd place after the month of May. His team seems to be a sprinter because he finished in 40th last season. No thanks to Adam Dunn who has almost as many HR in the past month than he did all season last year (8 to 11). Hopefully Kettle Poppers fine tuned his machine in the offseason and will hold up for the long run to finish in the Top-10 of 2012.

Another familiar team name atop the leader board, Swing and a Mrs. is in second place. She was the leader at the end of July in 2010 but has failed to crack the final Top-10 the past two seasons. The top 2 teams after April have two things in common: Miguel Cabrera and Matt Kemp. Both are leading their respective groups in home runs in the early season of 2012. This could be the year we have a female manager (there are 12 this season) at the top of our leader board in October. Keep an eye on this team.

Lastly, our manager from last season that started in Last for the month of April finished in THIRD last month! Formerly Pick Me Out A Winner Bobby, If you build it, They will go deep (both names are great movie references) managed to hit 28 homers last month. I’m pretty sure that’s 24 more than his team had last April. This is great example to never give up kids. If J.Fo can stick with it and prove he knows homers, everyone can pick a batch of players and have a chance at leading our Derby. Don’t quit after one lousy season in the derby… keep playing (there that will be my only pitch/begging to keep participating in this contest).

Also, a friendly reminder to keep an eye on that disabled list at the bottom of the standings page. If any of your players are on that list for 20 days, you can trade him in for a new bat (as long as you haven’t used your 1-trade of the season). I’ll send out reminders for trade eligible players, but don’t hesitate to contact me first.

Keep checking back often as more posts are added weekly.

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What does $240 Million Look Like?

So what does $240 Million look like? It looks something like this:

Except in an Angels uniform, in a non-World Series dugout…

The point is that Albert Pujols finally got a night off from the Angels’ lineup. It took 108 At-Bats, 21 Hits, a 0.194 BA, and ZERO home runs. Maybe Pujols is in a slump. The worst slump of his life. I know Cardinal fans don’t miss him. Or maybe Pujols is proving a point. That if he is going to get paid less than last season, he will preform less than last season. About 1/4 less ($16 Mill to $12 Mill). So expect 1/4 less hits, 1/4 less home runs, 1/4 less RBI… A line that looks something like: 0.224 BA, 77 Runs, 27 HR, and 74 RBI.

Or Pujols only needs a night off (Coach told him to not touch a single bat) before he starts mashing on the West Coast… time will only tell.

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No Homers, No Problem

On a night that the Brewers got burnt on Hot Soup

Albert Pujols not hitting a home run was not the biggest news in an Angels score recap.

In fact, almost no offense would have been required from the Angels thanks to their Ace on the mound… Jered Weaver, who threw a no hitter vs the Minnesota Twinkees Twins. Weaver’s no-hitter is the second of the 2012 season only behind Humber’s perfect game. Had Weaver not walked a man in the eight, the only other blemish on his scorecard was a dropped third strike that Parmelee safely reached first base on.

Weaver becomes the 10th Angel pitcher to throw a no-hitter. Nolan Ryan owns 4 and Ervin Santana owns one from July 27, 2011. It was a little redemption for the White Sox too who got no-hit by the Twins’ Liriano 365 days prior to Weaver’s.

Weaver has been one of the most consistent pitchers since 2010. He has sported almost a 1.00 WHIP the past two seasons and currently sits at a microscopic 0.78 WHIP for 2012. His ERA in 2010 was 3.01 and 2.41 in 2011. Now it sits at 1.61 in 2012 so he seems to be following the right trend. I do believe this could be his season to take home the prestigious Cy-Young award. He may have to pry it from Verlander’s hands but I think he could be the best player to do it.

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The Brewers Get Soup in San Diego

Two nights after Ryan Braun lays down his final statements with 3-homers, a triple (4th homer missed by feet), and 6 RBI (the first 3-homer night EVER at Petco park)…

The Brewers get to see the Soup Nazi on the mound Wednesday night. Yes, the VERY Soup Nazi which yours truly is absolutely obsessed with (just run a search on Suppan in the site’s search bar above). I have nightmares from this guy pitching and still believe the Cardinals paid him to infiltrate the Brewers clubhouse.

Soup, who has been a journey man over the past few seasons, has been part of the Cardinals, Giants, Royals, and Padres since leaving the Brewers in 2010. It had to be one of the worst contracts Doug Melvin ever was a part of. Suppan was 29-36 with a 5.08 ERA over 4 seasons which the Brewers paid him $42 Million plus $2 Million to buy out the 2011 team option when he got cut in 2010. Yep, a small market club ate $14.5 Million in 2010 just to get rid of a hang nail named Soup. He was driving fans nuts. So much so, that one fan decided to sell Soup on Ebay and the winner received Bill Hall for free.

Well, I hope that Soup’s former teammates don’t take it easy on what is easily one of the worst contracts in Brewers history. Don’t get me wrong, Suppan seems like a great guy but as a fan who he let down, he can’t be surprised by the hostility the state of Wisconsin may have against him.

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