Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guest Post: MLB Prospects: The Next 5 Young Stars Who Could Debut and Impact their Teams in 2012

MLB Prospects: The Next 5 Young Stars Who Could Debut and Impact their Teams in 2012

This is a guest post submitted by Chris Ludwig. Chris played a wide variety of sports growing up and now passionately follows everything sports, especially Detroit sports. He works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class wood bats for amateur and professional ball players around the world. Chris enjoys writing on different sports topics and is very grateful to be able to contribute here.

The 2012 season has already seen young prospects making solid impacts—Mike Trout has given the Los Angeles Angels a huge lift with his hot start, and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has helped solidify the outfield as the Nats continue to set the pace in the NL East Division.

Both Harper and Trout made their debuts in late April after spending the early part of the season in the minors. Here are five other prospects who could step up and make an impact for their teams in 2012.

Wil Myers: Kansas City Royals
The question surrounding outfield prospect Wil Myers isn’t about how good he will be, but about when he’ll be showing off his talents at the major league level.

Myers has been ripping minor league pitching all season long to the tune of a .319 average, 28 HR and 76 RBI through mid-July. Myers will likely be starring in the Kansas City Royals’ outfield within a matter of weeks.

Danny Hultzen: Seattle Mariners
When Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Danny Hultzen made his professional debut this season, he toyed with hitters at the Double-A level, posting an 8-3 record, a 1.19 ERA and giving up just 38 hits in 75.1 innings.

Hultzen has cooled a bit since being promoted to Triple-A Tacoma, posting a 3.52 ERA in his first five starts, but he is clearly on the fast track and could very well be seen at Safeco Field by the end of the season.

Josh Vitters: Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs promoted highly-touted first base prospect Anthony Rizzo back in June, and he has flourished, hitting .330 in his first 17 games. Could third base prospect Josh Vitters be far behind?

Vitters was the third overall pick by the Cubs in the 2007 MLB Draft, and he has steadily progressed at the minor league level, now hitting .297 with 13 HR and 52 RBI at Triple-A Iowa through mid-July. Vitters is the long-term solution at the hot corner for the Cubs, and his debut could come sooner rather than later.

Starling Marte: Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates are attempting to end their dubious MLB record of 19 consecutive losing seasons this year, and the future looks even brighter with the youngsters currently stockpiled in their farm system.

One of those youngsters, 23-year-old prospect Starling Marte, could be joining star slugger Andrew McCutchen in the outfield by the end of the season. Marte is hitting .285 with 11 HR, 58 RBI and 19 stolen bases for Triple-A Indianapolis. With a combination of speed and power, Marte would give the Pirates a formidable tandem along with McCutchen.

Jedd Gyorko: San Diego Padres
Third-base prospect Jedd Gyorko has done just about everything right thus far in 2012 at the minor league level. Now, it’s just a matter of when the San Diego Padres will decide on his big league future.
Since his promotion to Triple-A Tucson earlier this year, Gyorko has hit .351 with 15 HR and 54 RBI in 55 games. Gyorko’s play could speed the departure of incumbent third baseman Chase Headley, who has been mentioned in various trade rumors over the past several weeks.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What's the matter with Texas?

Rangers Team OPS (rank)

2008: #1 (out of 30 teams)
2009: #10

2010 (#8)
April: 25
May: 7
June: 2
July: 19
August: 12
September: 10

2011 (#2)
April: 3
May: 14
June: 7
July: 2
August: 10
September: 1

2012 (#2)
April: 1
May: 2
June: 7
July: 29

It's probably not time for Texas to panic, because they still have a 5 game lead in the AL West and have managed to go 5-8 in July despite being last in OPS and runs scored.  It's probably just an aberration, a blip over a mere 13 games. 

This problem does not extend into late June, as they finished June on a 5 game winning streak (averaging a robust 7.6 runs per game in the process).  Part of the problem may be that they've played 9 of these 13 games on the road, and while they're the 6th best hitting (in OPS) team on the road, it is lower than at home. 

On Monday, they start a 10 game homestand, but it will be against strong competition (Red Sox, White Sox, Angels).  I expect them to come out of this hitting funk soon, but it is something to watch out for and would give hope to the rest of the AL if it continues.

Update: They broke out of their offensive funk tonight with 9 runs on 15 hits and 5 HR.  Before they get too excited, it was off a struggling Ervin Santana (now 4-10 with a 6.00 ERA), who gave up 6 ER in only 1.2 IP.  They were able to do this with minor production from the middle of their lineup, with the 3-4-5-6 hitters going 4-19 with 1 HR (Beltre). 

They do have an extremely deep lineup, but they probably won't really take off again offensively until Josh Hamilton starts hitting again (.208 since the beginning of June with 7 HR).  That's a pretty long slump for someone who was running away with the MVP race after the first few months, and it is hard to dismiss the issues he's had with his back.  It will be interesting to see how they handle Dan Haren tomorrow, who is coming off the DL. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

David Ortiz

1.10+ BB/K, .150+ BB/PA, 15 AB/HR or lower (since 2003)
2012 David Ortiz? (1.15, 1.47, 13.8)
2011 Jose Bautista
2009 Albert Pujols
2008 Albert Pujols
2004 Barry Bonds
2003 Barry Bonds

Monday, July 9, 2012

Guest Post: Top 10 Highest Paid MLB Players in 2012

A lot of the discussion in baseball is relevant to what's happening in the leagues right now. For example, much of the current chatter has to do with the Cincinnati Reds and their narrow lead in the NL Central. Other talks have to do with Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs rookie first baseman who made his major league debut on June 26th.

Still, despite the right-now nature of most baseball stories, there is one that always comes up and never really goes away: Salaries. The annual figures that a player brings home are always the center of much contention. Some fans feel that an overpaid player can bring down his team if his salary takes up too much of the team's overall payroll. Another subset of fans simply believes that players are overpaid in general. Being one of the few major sports not to have a salary cap, baseball might be the most polarizing sport of all for salary discussions. With discussions about player pay in mind, these are the ten highest-paid players in the 2012 MLB season.

1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees - $30,000,000: The first player to make the list is New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is set to make $30 million in 2012. Considering all of his accomplishments during his career, it's no surprise that A-Rod is bringing home such large paychecks. However, it's amazing just how much more he makes than his peers: His 2012 contract will pay him 20 percent more than the next-highest paid player.

2. Vernon Wells, Los Angeles Angels - $24,187,500: When most people think of salaries for the Angels, they probably think immediately of Albert Pujols. Surprisingly, not only is Pujols not on this list, but he's also not even the highest-paid player on his own team. That honor belongs to outfielder Vernon Wells. To be fair, though, Wells' contract was originally inked when he was with the Blue Jays; he went to the Angels in a trade.

3. Johan Santana, New York Mets - $23,145,011: The Mets ace comes in third overall on this list. His $23 million payday in 2012 makes him the highest-paid pitcher in all of baseball. In his first season back since missing all of 2011 with a torn anterior capsule, Mets fans are hopeful that Santana returns to form.

4. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees - $23,125,000: After successful seasons with the Rangers, Braves and Angels, Mark Teixeira got a huge payday. He inked an eight-year contract in December of 2008, courtesy of the New York Yankees. This year marks the fourth year of that contract.

5. Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers - $23,000,000: Fielder is in the first year of a nine-year contract. During the course of the contract, he'll make $214 million. Fielder is having a strong season so far, but only time will tell if the contract was a good move by the Tigers.

6. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins - $23,000,000: After a rough 2011 campaign, Joe Mauer has looked to rebound in 2012. Regardless of what his performance looks like, he's going to get paid, and he's going to get paid for a long time - his current contract still has five years left on it after this season.

7. CC Sabathia, New York Yankees - $23,000,000: The third Yankee to crack the top-ten list is CC Sabathia. Sabathia has been with the Yankees for four seasons now, and has proven to be worth the money they're giving him. His contract reflects that, as he is currently the second-highest paid pitcher in baseball.

8. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox - $23,857,142: With more than 1,000 career hits and four All-Star appearances, it seems as though Boston traded for the right guy back in 2010. He is the highest-paid member of the Red Sox club.

9. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies - $21,500,000: He played for the Phillies in 2009 before being traded away to the Mariners and then Rangers. Apparently, he made Philadelphia recognize what they were missing during this time. They scooped Lee up in free agency, making him the third pitcher to place in the top ten for salaries during the 2012 season.

10. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers - $21,000,000: Last but not least on the list is Miguel Cabrera. His 2012 batting average is .304, which is slightly below his career mark. He has the second-most hits in the American League, and is getting compensated nicely for it.

Salaries are a topic of much discussion in baseball. Whether the sport needs to replace the luxury tax system with a salary cap has been met with great arguments from both sides. Any of the guys on this list, though, would likely rule in favor of the luxury tax system.

About the Author: Don Phan is an avid baseball fan and collects baseball memorabilia on the side. His top baseball moment is sitting in the PNC Suites at Wrigley Field in 2012 with free food and drinks all game long.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Watch out: The Tigers are hitting home runs again

The Tigers are likely going to enter the All Star Break on a 5 game winning streak and are starting to look like the team that everyone expected when the season started.  One of the reasons they've struggled is their surprising lack of power (19th in home runs), despite having Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the middle of the lineup. 

Cabrera has done his part (18 HR, 71 RBI), but the other power hitters had all been disappointing.  Prince Fielder had a good batting average (around .300 most of the year and even better with running in scoring position), and a decent number of RBI, but only 12 HR entering July.  Delmon Young had been even worse (6 HR hitting 5th in the lineup all year, in addition to his inability to take a walk). 

In July, the Tigers have hit 12 HR, which will put them near the top of the league.  Delmon Young has homered in 4 straight games and Prince Fielder has hit 3 HR as well.  They've hit 7 of their combined 25 HR in the last 8 games.  If Prince Fielder plays his old self in the second half (and Cabrera naturally continues another remarkable season), the Tigers should have one of the more prolific offenses in baseball in the 2nd half.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates

April: 58 (30th in ML)
May: 89 (30th)
June: 146 (1st)

Home Runs
April: 13 (28th in ML)
May: 25 (19th)
June: 39 (3rd)

April: 2.78 (3rd in ML)
May: 3.58 (8th)
June: 3.97 (17th)

Despite having a disappointing month, they are clearly one of the better pitching teams in baseball.  They never seemed like a real contender because of their inability to score runs (dead last in both April and May). 

Naturally (and shockingly), they scored more runs than any other team in June.  They probably won't lead the league in scoring again, but if they stabilize around #10 in both hitting and pitching (which seems realistic), they have a shot in the NL Central.  It is an amazing story for a francise that hasn't won more than 79 games in any season since 1992.
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