Tag Archives: Detroit Tigers

2015 MLB Preview: AL Central

Even though the Detroit Tigers won the AL Central for the fourth straight year in 2014, the Kansas City Royals had the more memorable season, reaching the postseason and the World Series for the first time since 1985 before losing to the San Francisco Giants in seven games. Despite the relative success of these two squads last year, however, I don’t think either one will be returning to the postseason in 2015. The Minnesota Twins will be better as their highly-touted prospects begin to arrive in the Show, and the Cleveland Indians have a formidable lineup to send out alongside AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. But I think the Chicago White Sox will be the team to end Detroit’s domination of the Central and to take the divisional crown for the first time since 2008.

Divisional Breakdown

  1. Chicago White Sox
  2. Cleveland Indians
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Minnesota Twins

Team Breakdown

  1. Chicago White Sox

The White Sox had a fairly discouraging 2014, with the team falling out of the AL Wild Card race after a terrible August. However, there were several bright spots, the most exciting of which being AL Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu. This year, the White Sox will depend on the 28 year old Cuban to be the key cog in a revamped lineup. The White Sox had one of the splashiest offseasons of any team in the league, adding OBP master Melky Cabrera and the powerful Adam Laroche into the fold. These two will be welcome additions into a lineup that doesn’t boast many household names. In addition to the improved lineup, the White Sox boast an imposing trio of starting pitchers: Chris Sale (my Cy Young pick), new acquisition Jeff Samardzija, and the underrated Jose Quintana. Although Sale is currently injured, and although the rest of the rotation is somewhat underwhelming, these three should serve Chicago well come October. Strides were also made to improve a bullpen that was among the worst in the league last season. New closer David Robertson and lefty Zach Duke should help the White Sox lock down a few more games over the course of 2015.


Best Case- Sale, Samardzija, and Quintana are dominant, Abreu is an MVP candidate, and the White Sox win the AL Central.

Worst Case- Sale’s foot doesn’t heal properly, Robertson and Duke cannot fix Chicago’s bullpen troubles, and the White Sox are stuck at home in October.

I feel obligated to use this image whenever Chris Sale comes up in a post.

  1. Cleveland Indians

The Indians had a fairly good 2014 season, finishing 3 games back in the AL Wild Card race. Breakout seasons from Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley, who finished third in the AL MVP race, should have Indians fans very excited for 2015. Overall, this is a pretty solid baseball team. In addition to Brantley, the lineup boasts the underrated catcher Yan Gomes, the powerful Carlos Santana, and the newly acquired Brandon Moss, who should improve production out of right field. And if Jason Kipnis can return to his 2013 All-Star form, the Indians’ lineup might be among the best in baseball. The rotation is also promising, headlined by Kluber and filled with young fireballers. Getting production out of Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer will be particularly important if the Indians hope to compete this year. The bullpen is fairly solid, with no key departures from a squad that finished 7th in the league in reliever ERA. While I don’t know if I agree with Sports Illustrated’s prediction that the Indians will win the World Series, Cleveland will certainly be a formidable opponent in 2015.


Best Case- The rotation is overwhelming, Brantley, Gomes, and Kipnis produce at a high level, and the Indians take home the AL Central title.

Worst Case- The young guns in the rotation show little development, the breakout seasons of last year appear to be a fluke, and Cleveland misses the playoffs for the second straight year.

Tests have confirmed that Kluber is not a robot, but he does exude a machine-like efficiency from the mound.

  1. Detroit Tigers

The Tigers missed yet another opportunity to bring home their first World Series title since 1984 when they lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS. Now, they try to do so in an AL Central that has improved, and with a team that is quite different than last year’s. Any lineup with Miguel Cabrera will produce a fair amount of runs. Adding Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, and J.D Martinez into the equation in 2014 resulted in the Tigers scoring the second-most of any team last season. Jose Iglesias will return, intent on matching the offensive production and defensive wizardry of his rookie season, newcomer Anthony Gose will try to be a serviceable replacement to Austin Jackson in center, and Yoenis Cespedes will attempt to inflate the value of his next contract with a big season. While the lineup appears to be as strong as ever, Detroit’s rotation and bullpen are filled with question marks. Gone are Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and Drew Smyly. In their place stand David Price, Alfredo Simon, and Shane Greene. I don’t know that the replacements will be able to match the production of their predecessors, a statement made even more concerning by the fact that no one knows if Justin Verlander will ever be the same pitcher that he was in 2011 again. I believe the Tigers’ rotation will be solid, but I’m not sure that they’ll match the dominance of the 2013 squad. Meanwhile, the team did little to improve what was an absolute mess of a bullpen in 2014. Joe Nathan is back, coming off one of the worst years of his career, and disappointing midseason acquisition Joakim Soria returns as well. It is up to those two, as well as the resigned Joba Chamberlain, to provide some stability to what has been consistently the worst aspect of Detroit’s team.


Best Case- Miggy and Victor Martinez are MVP candidates, Verlander and Price look like their old selves, and the Tigers win their fifth consecutive AL Central crown.

Worst Case- The aging lineup is injury-riddled, the new pitching acquisitions can’t match the production of last year’s squad, and the Tigers miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

Verlander and Price need to pitch like their old selves if the Tigers are to win this division.

  1. Kansas City Royals

The Royals shocked the world in 2014, sweeping their way to the World Series from the wild card game before finally falling to the San Francisco Bumgarners– sorry, the San Francisco Giants in seven games. Unfortunately, after losing three key members of that magical run- James Shields, Nori Aoki, and Billy Butler- and not matching some of the louder moves of their divisional rivals, I don’t think they’ll be returning to the postseason. The lineup is still quite solid and defensively elite, with Gold Glovers Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, and Alex Gordon all back at their respective posts. Newcomers Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales will attempt to produce at DH and RF, but both had fairly mediocre 2014s, which can be tough to come back from on the wrong side of 30. The rotation is solid, but will certainly miss its former ace Shields. Flamethrower Yordano Ventura and his fellow young gun Danny Duffy headline a staff that could be one of the better rotations in baseball, provided that Edinson Volquez can replicate his success of 2014. Chris Young is a nice end-of-the-rotation addition as well, and the signing of Kris Medlen (who will return later in the season from Tommy John surgery) could play a key role down the stretch. The core of the much-discussed Kansas City bullpen stayed relatively unchanged, with closer Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera all returning. If they can perform as they did last year, the Royals will win a lot of close games.


Best Case- Perez, Hosmer, and Gordon show they’re among the best at their positions, the rotation holds together despite the loss of Shields, and the Royals snag another wild card spot.

Worst Case- Morales and Rios aren’t suitable replacements, the rotation looks weak without Shields, and the Royals drop out of the wild card race by mid-September.

Ventura, seen here at his Rockettes audition, will bring 100+ MPH heat at the top of KC’s rotation.

  1. Minnesota Twins

The 2014 Twins were pretty bad, finishing in last place in the Central and not even getting a glimpse of the future after disappointing injuries to their two top prospects, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. While I don’t expect the Twins to be in contention this year, Minnesota could be a dangerous team come 2016. The lineup is filled with potential. Buxton and Sano are still stuck in the minors for the time being, but Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia have shown promise in the outfield, and Brian Dozier is one of the better second basemen in the league. Torii Hunter is back in Minnesota, returning to the team with which he spent the first nine full years of his career. While Buxton may very well steal his job when he finally arrives in the Bigs, Hunter will provide valuable veteran leadership (and may serve to put more Minnesotan butts in the seats). The rotation had the highest ERA of any AL team last year, but the addition of Ervin Santana should make things a little better. Phil Hughes had a terrific 2014 season and was rewarded with a 3-year, $42 million extension. Hughes and Santana alone aren’t enough to fix Minnesota’s pitching problems, though, and the back end of the Twins’ rotation will probably struggle. The bullpen is decent, with All-Star Glen Perkins closing games, but it is not very deep. The Twins may yet decide to pursue free agent closer Rafael Soriano to shore up their staff.


Best Case- Buxton and Sano come up and impress, Arcia and Hicks emerge as key long-term pieces, and the Twins enter 2016 as a playoff favorite.

Worst Case- Buxton and Sano are again bitten by the injury bug, the rotation is a mess, and the window for contention moves even farther away than it already is.

On the bright side for 2015, Joe Mauer’s hair is still presumably dandruff-free.


Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, MLB Preview

2014 MLB Preview: AL Central

Hello, baseball fans, and welcome to the second divisional edition of College Sports Town’s 2014 MLB preview. Today, I’m going to take a look at the AL Central. This division is fairly top-heavy, but most of its teams are up-and-coming young squads with real potential. The difference is whether or not that potential will be realized this year. The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox both have stores of promising young players to match with veteran stars, although the White Sox are closer to utilizing their prospects than the Twins. The Indians and Royals will continue to battle for position in the AL wild-card hunt this year, just as they did last season. And the Tigers will finally bring home a World Series title for the first time since 1984.

Divisional Breakdown

1. Detroit Tigers

2. Kansas City Royals

3. Cleveland Indians

4. Chicago White Sox

5. Minnesota Twins

Team Breakdown

1. Detroit Tigers

2013 was a great season for the Tigers. Max Scherzer brought home a Cy Young award, Miguel Cabrera won his second straight MVP (third in a row for a Tiger), and Detroit made it to the ALCS. This season will be better, however, because the Tigers will be able to finally claim the World Series title they have been in close pursuit of for the last three years. The lineup will look slightly different, but still will be among the best in baseball. Gone is the pudgy but powerful Prince Fielder, but into the lineup enters the still-potent Ian Kinsler. While the lineup protection Fielder afforded Miggy will be missed, Cabrera is moving back to a vacated first base, which should focus him more on the offensive side of the game (first base is both easier to play than third and Miggy’s natural position). Joining Cabrera and Kinsler are veterans like consistent outfielder Torii Hunter and the streaky Austin Jackson, as well as Nick Castellanos, a promising rookie third baseman. Sadly, Jose Iglesias will be out most of the year, so look for the Tigers to make a move for a shortstop soon. While there isn’t as much pop in the lineup as in years past, just having Miguel Cabrera at this point in his career pretty much guarantees you a top ten offense. Besides, the Tigers have one of the best rotations in baseball. Despite a confounding trade of the talented Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals, the Tigers have the reigning AL Cy Young winner in Scherzer, the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander, and the reigning AL ERA champion Anibal Sanchez (seriously, Miami, quit trading with Detroit). Even though Verlander’s stats took a bit of a hit last year, he seemed to return to form in the postseason. This trio is arguably unparalleled in the MLB, and Rick Porcello isn’t bad, either. Last year the big question mark was the bullpen, but the Tigers are banking on the newly acquired Joe Nathan to close out games. I think that gamble will prove to be a good one.


Best Case- Cabrera wins his third straight MVP, one of the members of the  the pitching trio wins the Cy Young, and the Tigers win the World Series.

Worst Case- Cabrera can’t play through injuries, Verlander continues to decline, Scherzer is dealt, and the Tigers barely manage a wild-card spot.

Verlander will soon have everything a guy could want: a ring, awards, and Kate Upton!

Verlander will soon have everything a guy could want: a ring, awards, and Kate Upton!

2. Kansas City Royals

The crushed dreams of Kansas City denizens are slowly being patched together. After a long period of losing, 2013 saw the Royals involved in a wild-card race. They missed out on a spot then, but 2014 will be the year the drought ends. Years of high draft picks paid off, both in terms of developed prospects and stars traded for with prospects. The Royals’ lineup is formidable. Norichika Aoki will be an improvement leading off, and Omar Infante has some pop and a fine glove. Adding those to a lineup which includes young gun Eric Hosmer, All-Stars Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez, and slugger Billy Butler should be a dangerous combination. They might not hit a lot of home runs, but they should be putting a good amount of runs on the board.Their rotation is headlined by James Shields, who is likely in his last year with the Royals. Following Shields, who finished 11th in the AL Cy Young voting in 2013, are the decent Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie, along with the underrated Bruce Chen. If the Royals can extend their youth movement into the pitching staff effectively with prospects Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy, it will improve their playoff prospects. In the bullpen, All-Star closer Greg Holland is among the best in the game, and, when healthy, Luke Hochevar is a nice set up man.


Best case- Shields is a Cy Young candidate, Perez and Hosmer are All-Stars, and the Royals break their playoff drought with a wild-card berth.

Worst case- Hosmer and Mike Moustakas fail to develop further along with Ventura and Duffy, the Royals can’t break into the playoffs, and Shields departs soon after the season ends.

Unlike Lorde, being a Royal runs in Salvador Perez's blood.

Unlike Lorde, being a Royal runs in Salvador Perez’s blood.

3. Cleveland Indians

Following an off-season in which the Indians made a big splash by signing Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and new manager Terry Francona, the Indians snagged a wild-card spot. Content with the composition of the squad, the Indians had a quiet off-season. This team might fall behind a bit due to its lack of moves in an extremely competitive AL wild-card race, but the Indians are still a dangerous ball club. The core of the lineup is made up of All-Star Jason Kipnis, the powerful Carlos Santana, and the solid Michael Brantley. The performances of Nick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera are more difficult to predict, due to the inconsistent natures of their 2013 seasons, but the Indians will prosper if the two produce. New outfielder David Murphy is fairly underrated and should be a nice addition to the lineup. The lineup is solid, but the rotation is where this team is really promising. If the young pitching staff can produce at the level they are expected, the Indians will make the playoffs for the second straight year. All-Star Justin Masterson is the ace, as well as the oldest of the bunch at 29. The most promising prospects are former Diamondback Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar, a 24 year old who throws absolute gas. Also promising are Carlos Carrasco, Zach McAllister, and Corey Kluber. The Indians only need a few of these guys to produce in order to have a good shot at the postseason. The bullpen is fairly uncertain as well, with John Axford taking over the closing job. Axford, polished sophomore Cody Allen, and Bryan Shaw will have to step up in the Indians’ revamped bullpen.

Overall, this team is difficult to forecast. They have many pieces in place; they just need a few lucky breaks for their gambles in the pitching staff to come through.


Best Case- Salazar and Bauer are electrifying, Kipnis and Masterson are All-Stars, and the Indians snag a wild-card spot for the second consecutive year.

Worst case- The inexperienced rotation falters, Swisher and Cabrera derail the lineup, and the Indians lose their gambles and their chance at a postseason spot.

Kipnis hopes to be celebrating like this in 2014.

Kipnis hopes to be celebrating good times in 2014.

4. Chicago White Sox

The White Sox had a disappointing 2013, finishing last place in the AL Central under manager Robin Ventura. In response, they made a nice splash in the off-season. As a result, this White Sox squad should be improved, although not quite good enough to contend for a wild-card spot. The lineup could potentially be very effective. The young trio of Cuban Jose Abreu and former Diamondbacks Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson, as well as summer acquisition Avisail Garcia,  have the potential to be in the core of the White Sox lineup for the next decade, but likely won’t contribute too much this year. The ChiSox retained the terribly-disappointing Adam Dunn, as well as franchise icon Paul Konerko for another year, who will be joined in the infield by the unpredictable Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham. If their play, along with outfielder Dayan Viciedo, returns to past levels, the White Sox will be much improved. The rotation is fairly top-heavy, but it is headlined by one of the most exciting young pitchers in the league: 24 year old Chris Sale. Already a two-time All-Star, Sale is followed in the rotation by the decent duo of Jose Quintana and John Danks, then Felipe Paulino, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012, and Erik Johnson, who had a nice showing in September call-ups. The rotation will likely miss Hector Santiago, traded to Arizona in the deal for Eaton, as much as the bullpen will miss Addison Reed, also traded to Arizona for Davidson. The bullpen was completely revamped over the off-season, which probably a good thing considering the ChiSox were 23rd in bullpen ERA last year. Scott Downs, Roland Belisario, and Matt Lindstrom were all signed in the off-season, but it remains to be seen if Nate Jones can serve as an adequate closer. Overall, the White Sox are closer to contention, but their pitching staff outside of Sale needs improvement.


Best Case- Sale wins the Cy Young, Jose Abreu hits 35+ HR, and the White Sox are in contention until after the All-Star break.

Worst Case- The rotation after Sale is worse than imagined, Abreu is a bust, and the White Sox crash and burn for the second straight year.

The White Sox hope that Jose Abreu lives up to his contract.

The White Sox hope that big acquistion Jose Abreu lives up to his contract.

5. Minnesota Twins

The Twins had a difficult 2013, but there is hope for the future. The Twins spent an unusually large amount in free agency to shore up their pitching staff, which was the second-worst team in the majors in team ERA last season. While the rotation should be improved, the lineup does not look too impressive. Outside of Joe Mauer (who has been converted to full-time first baseman) and Brian Dozier, the lineup is filled with replacement level players. This year’s lineup will likely be even worse than last year’s, despite the addition of C Kurt Suzuki, because of the midseason trade of former MVP Justin Morneau. Even more upsetting than the current state of the lineup is the stalling of the arrival of one of Minnesota’s saviors. The best slugger in the minors last season, Miguel Sano, was expected to be called up midseason, but Sano will miss the entire year with Tommy John surgery. Twins fans can hope one of the best prospects in all of baseball, Byron Buxton, will arrive in the upcoming season, but it seems unlikely that he’ll make the show this year. Hopefully for Minnesotans, the rotation will be better. Still, it is made up of cast-offs. Ricky Nolasco is likely the ace of the staff, which is already a risky proposition, and he is followed in the rotation by shaky starters Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, and Phil Hughes. For Minnesota to be any good this season, each one of these pitchers will have to have a career year, which seems unlikely. Outside of Mauer, the star of the team might be closer Glen Perkins, who saved 36 of the Twins’ 66 wins. Those two will probably be the only bright spots for the Twins this year, outside of the All-Star Game at Target Field, but don’t worry, Twins fans. 2015 will bring a healthy Sano and a more developed Buxton, and the prospect of facing those two will keep Chris Sale and Max Scherzer up at night.


Best case- Mauer wins a batting title, Perkins saves 40 games, the patchwork rotation holds together, and the Twins contend until August.

Worst case- Mauer gets injured again, the rotation completely falters, and the Twins finish 2014 in the cellar of the Central.

This logo will serve as a sole light in the darkness that is the Twins' 2014 campaign.

This logo will serve as a sole light in the darkness that is the Twins’ 2014 campaign.

There you have it. The Tigers will win the AL Central once more on their way to a World Series championship, and the Royals will break their own postseason drought. Thanks for reading this edition of College Sports Town’s divisional preview. Next time, I’ll be forecasting the AL West. Will the Mariners’ wild off-season lead to a postseason appearance?Check back tomorrow to find out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, MLB Preview

2014 MLB Preview: Playoff Picture

Hello once again, baseball fans. It’s time for my predictions for which teams will make the playoffs, and which team will bring home the vaunted World Series title for 2014. As always, the season will take many twists and turns, but these are the teams I expect to see playing for the title in October.

Divisional and Wild Card Winners AL East- Boston Red Sox

AL Central- Detroit Tigers

AL West- Oakland Athletics

AL Wild Card #1- Tampa Bay Rays

AL Wild Card #2- Kansas City Royals

NL East- Atlanta Braves

NL Central- St. Louis Cardinals

NL West- Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card #1- Washington Nationals

NL Wild Card #2- Cincinnati Reds

Wild Card Matches

AL- Tampa Bay Rays defeat Kansas City Royals

NL- Washington Nationals defeat Cincinnati Reds

Divisional Round

AL- Detroit Tigers beat Tampa Bay Rays in 4 games, Boston Red Sox beat Oakland Athletics in 5 games

NL-  St. Louis Cardinals beat Washington Nationals in 4 games, Los Angeles Dodgers beat Atlanta Braves in 5 games League Championship Matchups

AL- Detroit Tigers beat Boston Red Sox in 6 games

NL- St. Louis Cardinals beat Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games

World Series

Detroit Tigers beat St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games


Cabrera and Verlander will finally lead the Tigers to postseason success.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, MLB Preview

Some Kind of Magical

David Ortiz's lazer beam grand slam last night saved the Red Sox.

David Ortiz’s lazer beam grand slam last night helped the Red Sox tie the ALCS at 1-1.

The 2013 Red Sox are going to win the World Series. I’m not sure if they’re the best team in baseball. They certainly don’t have the best players. I’d take a healthy Dodgers or Tigers team over the Red Sox any day of the week, at least on paper. After all, this is a Red Sox team whose best hitter is a 37 year old DH who everyone and their mother thought was over the hill six years ago and whose go-to starting pitcher at the moment had a 4.58 ERA at the All Star break. Yet, they’ve got something magical about them.

It has to be the beards. The Sox look like a bunch of Johnny Damon-style idiots, and they’ve rekindled the magic of the 2004 Damon led-BoSox. They clearly have got something working in the clubhouse; they’ve become the antithesis of the bickering, unhappy, loser Red Sox that called Fenway Park home a year ago. During the regular season the Red Sox were the best team in baseball by nearly any definition. They had the best run differential in the MLB and tied for the most wins with the St. Louis Cardinals, all while playing in the loaded AL East.

In the ALDS, the Sox dominance continued as they zipped by the Tampa Bay Rays in four games. But last night the team that had seemed so magical to me all summer, casually rolling through the AL East to the shock of baseball experts everywhere, suddenly seemed to be on the ropes. Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers bullpen had combined to throw a near no-hitter in an oppressive 1-0 victory in Game 1 of the ALCS and Max Scherzer continued the domination of the Red Sox lineup in game two. The Tigers held a 5-1 lead in the eighth inning and the Tigers appeared ready to grab a commanding 2-0 lead in the ALCS for the second straight year.

What followed felt like fate. Or, at the very least, a testament to the resilience of this Red Sox team. And I’ll be damned if it didn’t seem as though it was once again 2004 for a moment.

Will Middlebrooks whacked a double down the left field line. Then Jacoby Ellsbury walked and Dustin Pedroia singled into right. Suddenly, the bases were loaded for one David Ortiz. The first pitch the best clutch hitter in Red Sox history saw wasn’t exactly a bad one. It was located on the outside half of the plate away from Ortiz’s favorite spot. No matter, Ortiz pulverized the pitch, sending it (and Torii Hunter) straight into the bullpen and Fenway into pandemonium.

The game might as well have been over. Koji Uehara, the Red Sox’ suddenly unhittable 38 year old Japanese closer (who had a ludicrous .57 WHIP this season) blanketed the Tigers in the top of the ninth. Then, the Red Sox finished the Tigers in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a Johnny Gomes garbage single (he got to second on a throwing error and then to third on a wild pitch) followed by a Jarrod Saltalamacchia walk off single.

In 2004, I remember Tim McCarver (this will be the only time I ever cite Tim McCarver as the source of an insightful comment) said that the Red Sox were “tenacious and (did) not panic.” Indeed, it feels this Red Sox team has much of the same DNA as that fantastic team. It was on display last night at Fenway. And it is why they will win the World Series. I feel it. They’re just so…magical.


Filed under Baseball

2013 MLB Season Review: Awards

Hello, baseball fans. It’s been a while since my last post, and the baseball regular season is nearly over. It’s time to look over my award selections for the past season.

Justin Verlander- AL Cy Young

Justin Verlander had been one of the best pitchers in the majors over the past several seasons but it appeared he lost a step this year. Verlander lost some speed on his fastball and, apparently, his intimidation factor as well. He is by no means a bad pitcher now, but a 3.66 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP is a big step down from his domination in 2011 and 2012. It turns out my prediction was not too far off, however, as Max Scherzer emerged as the ace of a very good Tigers rotation (composed of Verlander obviously, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister). With a 2.95 ERA, an AL best .96 WHIP, and a 19-3 record, Scherzer seems likely to emerge from a pack of very good AL pitchers including Chris Sale, Yu Darvish, and Felix Hernandez. So it appears I may have gotten the team, but not the pitcher.

That's called a baseball, Justin

That’s called a baseball, Justin…

Verdict= C-

Mike Trout- AL MVP

Is there anything else to say about Mike Trout? The guy is 22 and he has already accomplished unprecedented feats. He just became the first guy in AL history to have 25 home runs, 30 steals, and 100 walks in a season, and he leads the league in WAR-again. Perhaps the most mind-boggling thing about Trout’s season is that he is not a lock for the AL MVP.  Thanks to Miguel Cabrera being the second coming of Jesus and Chris Davis being the second coming of Barry Bonds- the cream of this crop is pretty unclear (PEDS are fun, aren’t they?). Thanks to Cabrera’s recent abdominal injury, however, I think Trout will get the award that some argue he deserved last year this year.

Score another one for the Meville Kid!

Score another one for the Melville Kid!

Verdict- A

Andrew McCutchen- NL MVP

McCutchen has been a very good player for a while now, finishing as good as 3rd in the NL MVP race last year. This year, however, Cutch has a good shot at winning the award. Despite having arguably worse stats than last year (11 less HR and 14 less RBI as of September 20, but a better WAR), McCutchen has less competition than last year. In addition, he has been the core piece of the surprise, feel-good team of the year. Yadier Molina might have posed a challenge had he remained healthy, and Paul Goldschmidt would have if the D-Backs won the West. Fortunately for McCutchen, he seems to have no real competition for this award.

Cutch will win the award due to concentration like this at the plate.

Cutch will win the award due to concentration like this at the plate.

Verdict- A+

Clayton Kershaw- NL Cy Young

At a certain point, it’s stupid to think that anyone other than this guy will win this award. Kershaw has again been otherworldly. Despite slowing down in his last couple starts, allowing several runs in both (unheard of for him), Kershaw still has a .93 WHIP, 214 K’s, and a 1.94 ERA. Right now, ESPN’s (frankly stupid) Cy Young Predictor says Kershaw will finish 2nd behind Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel. While Kimbrel is by far the best closer in the NL today, anyone who makes the argument he should win over the young southpaw–who may turn out to be one of the best of all time–is kidding themselves and should be exiled to the Turner Field Chicken Waffle House immediately. Kershaw should win his 2nd Cy Young this fall.

A wonderfully derpy photo of the likely Cy Young winner

A wonderfully derpy photo of the likely Cy Young winner!

Verdict- A

I didn’t make any Rookie of the Year or Manager of the Year predictions at the beginning of the season. If I had to guess who will win now, I’d say Wil Myers and Terry Francona (if the Indians get into the playoffs) in the AL, and Jose Fernandez and Clint Hurdle in the NL.

Thanks for reading! I should be back soon with a review of my postseason picks.

1 Comment

Filed under Baseball

Breaking Down the Jake Peavy Trade

The Boston Red Sox made the biggest move of the deadline on Wednesday, acquiring Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox in a three team deal. Let’s look at how this deal impacts each of the three teams involved.

Jake Peavy

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox were able to bring back a solid haul for Peavy. The prize of this deal for them is 22 year old outfielder Avisail Garcia, a player who has been called the best power hitter in the Detroit farm system. Francelis Montas, acquired from the Red Sox, is intriguing as well. Montas can touch 100 on the radar gun, but has struggled this year in single A ball. JB Wendelken, also from the Red Sox, has been terrific closing for single A Greenville this year, and could end up as a solid middle reliever in the bigs. Shortstop Cleuluis Rondon looks similar to Jose Iglesias: a shortstop with Gold Glove potential but a weak bat. He will need to improve at the plate to have a shot at the majors, although he has shown some signs of improvement, hitting .270 through 37 games with Lowell. This seems to be a very good haul for the White Sox, as they grab a sure thing in Garcia and a few interesting players from the Red Sox. But I can’t shake the feeling that the White Sox should have held out for more. Boston has an outstanding amount of depth in terms of pitching prospects, and White Sox fans should be disappointed that they didn’t get more. Drake Britton, Anthony Ranaudo, Rubby de la Rosa, Allen Webster, Henry Owens, Trey Ball, and Matt Barnes are all high quality prospects. The Red Sox could afford to part with one of them, and it amazes me that the White Sox didn’t get these players. With so few players on the market this year, they should have been able to get a large bounty for Peavy. Even so, this trade should still give their farm system a boost. Grade: A-

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers acquired shortstop Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox, while giving up Garcia and reliever Brayan Villarreal. This trade didn’t strike me as particularly good for the Tigers. Despite a hot start, Iglesias really is a below average hitter. There isn’t even a guarantee he will start, as he was only acquired as insurance in case Jhonny Peralta is suspended. Obviously, if Peralta is suspended (and to be fair it looks likely that he will be), this trade looks much better. In order to get Iglesias, the team had to give up one of its best prospects in Garcia, and a solid reliever in Villarreal, who is just one year removed from pitching in 50 games for the Tigers and posting a 2.63 ERA. I think that is a better indicator of his talent that the 20.77 ERA he posted in 4.1 innings this year. He could have helped a struggling Detroit bullpen. Instead, he’ll help the Red Sox. Grade (if Peralta is suspended): B Grade (if he isn’t): C

That is not how you spell Johnny.

Boston Red Sox: The Sox acquired Jake Peavy, giving up three minor leaguers (see above) and Jose Iglesias. Peavy joins Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, and a newly resurgent John Lackey in the Red Sox starting roataion. This deal tells me that Clay Bucholz is nowhere close to a return, as adding Peavy if Bucholz was returning would give the Red Sox too many starters. Although Peavy has been far from his best this year, he gives the Red Sox a potent rotation that will allow them to compete for a World Series Crown. But to me, the most interesting part of the deal is what this means for the Red Sox future. Trading Iglesias opens the way for Xander Bogaerts, who may be less than a year away for the majors. Although many see Bogaerts playing third in the majors, the Sox seem to think that he can play short, and the emergence of third baseman Garin Cecchini may necessitate Bogaerts staying at short. But at the same time, it appears that the deal blocks the Red Sox from advancing their young pitching prospects. As I noted above, once Bucholz returns, the Red Sox will have six starters. Lester and Bucholz aren’t going anywhere, while Lackey and Dempster have contracts that expire after next season, as does Peavy. This leaves Doubront as the odd man out. He is not eligible for free agency for quite a while, so he will likely have to be traded next year. But even if he is traded, there is still not enough room for Allen Webster, who will be ready for the majors next year. Rubby de la Rosa may also be ready to start a game or two come September of next year, and Drake Britton also appears to be closing in on being ready for a role in the starting rotation. And Brandon Workman has looked solid thus far. Effectively, this trade means that the Sox will have to move at least one pitcher, potentially more. But having too many good pitchers is not a bad problem to have. At the end of the day, the Sox made themselves better this year and next year, while avoiding the loss of one of their better prospects, making them the true winners of this deal Grade: A

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball

2013 MLB 1/3 Season Review: Part 2

Hello, baseball fans! In a continuation of my 1/3 MLB season review, today I will be reviewing my playoffs picks.(http://collegesportstown.com/2013/03/19/mlb-2013-http://collegesportstown.com/2013/03/19/mlb-2013-preview-playoff-picture/-playoff-picture/). They range from spot-on to very off, as the 2013 season has contained massive surprises thus far.

Pretty Accurate Predictions

The Detroit Tigers win the AL Central, and the Cleveland Indians are improved

Although the success of the Tigers was not difficult to foresee, the AL Central in general is an area of pride for me so far this season. The Tigers seem poised to return to the playoffs and beyond once again this year due to the excellent performances of Justin Verlander (8 wins, 93 K, 3.71 ERA) and Miguel Cabrera (.361 BA, 69 RBI, 18 HR), which is unsurprising  but the Indians are a bit of a shock for some. The offseason splurging of the team has actually paid off in the form of 2nd place in the Central as I type. New acquisitions like Michael Bourn (.294 BA) and Mark Reynolds (13 HR) have contributed along with old mainstays such as Justin Masterson (8-5, 3.68 ERA)  to put forward a solid baseball team that has, despite recent struggles, lived up to my expectation so far.

Somewhat Accurate Predictions

The San Francisco Giants win the NL West

The Giants are playing like they have for the past few years, which is to say they’re playing  playoff baseball. At the moment, however, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a 1.5 game division lead due to breakout seasons by young guns Patrick Corbin and Paul Goldschmidt. However the Giants are a more experienced team with a more even talent breakdown, and I believe that Corbin and Goldschmidt don’t have enough other talent on their team to outplay the current world champs. Reigning NL MVP Buster Posey (.302 BA) will bring his team back to the playoffs for another season as NL West champs.

The Tampa Bay Rays will win an AL Wild Card

The Rays are, like the Giants, playing excellent baseball so far. Unfortunately for them, they must play in the AL East, where 4 of the 5 teams (besides the one I predicted to win the division- of course) have records over .500. Being as much of the Rays’ schedule is against these teams, the impact of excellent contributions of players like Evan Longoria, James Loney, and Matt Moore is extinguished. Still, I think that the excellent play of the Red Sox and Tank- excuse me- Yankees cannot continue, and the Rays wil be energized by the midseason call up of  their top prospect, Wil Meyers. The Rays should be able to claim a wild card spot after all, but it will be a hard fought battle in the hardest division in baseball.

The Cincinnati Reds will win the NL Central

 The Reds are another case of an excellent team that has the misfortune of being in the same division as a team playing even better. The major-league best Cardinals are 3.5 games ahead of the Reds while the overachieving Pirates are only a .5 game behind them. Joey Votto (.323 BA, 11 HR, .952 OPS) has produced MVP-like numbers again so far this year, and he is being aided greatly by Brandon Phillips (.293 BA, 53 RBI) and Mat Latos (6-0, 2.87 ERA), but even with their production and a potent lineup, the Reds have not been able to surpass the Cardinals this year. Based on their play so far, the Reds should earn an NL Wild Card spot and the Cardinals an NL Central division crown.

Not so Accurate Predictions

The Toronto Blue Jays will win the AL East

Fine, I’ll admit it, this pick was partially the product of watching Jose Reyes, R.A Dickey, and Josh Johnson for years in competition with and against my beloved New York Mets. Unfortunately, they haven’t played up to expectation, with a 28-36 record as I type. Reyes sprained his ankle on April 13, 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner Dickey is 5-8 with a 5.11 ERA, and Johnson, who has been on and off the disabled list, is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA. Without the expensive additions to the team producing, the only reasons to watch the Jays so far have been to see Edwin Encarncion and Jose Bautista (33 combined HR) put on displays of their power and, of course, the man in these two clips (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-VqBI1D980&feature=player_embedded and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-F8oKUKbZw&feature=player_embedded). Despite the disastrous season so far, I believe that if the starting pitching staff can limit opposing runs to 4 or 5 a game, the lineup can power the Jays into respectability, if not the postseason.

The Washington Nationals will win the NL East, and the Atlanta Braves will win an NL Wild Card

While the Braves have been outstanding so far, they will likely be entering the playoffs as the champions of the NL East rather than wild card winners. Justin Upton (15 HR), Evan Gattis (14 HR), and Dan Uggla (13 HR) have provided plenty of offensive firepower, and the pitching staff led by Mike Minor (8-2, 2.44 ERA) has been excellent as well. While the Braves have received unexpectedly high levels of production from players like Gattis and Minor, the Nationals have received unexpectedly low levels of production from their young stars. Expected to win the World Series by many, the Nationals are only .500 right now. Bryce Harper (12 HR, .287 BA, .973 OPS) and Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 2.54 ERA) have dealt with injury troubles. Despite excellent play from Jordan Zimmermann (9-3, 2.00 ERA) and Ian Desmond (.282 BA, .790 OPS), the Nationals have struggled. While I expect the team to play better with a healthy Harper, they won’t be able to catch the Braves for the divisional crown. They might not be able to even snag a wild card spot.

The Los Angeles Angels will win the AL West, and the Los Angeles Dodgers will win an NL Wild Card

Perhaps the pollution in the Los Angeles air has gotten to the teams that inhabit the city. Both teams are stocked with talent from before this offseason and from it, but both are underperforming. The Angels are in third place in the AL West despite the presence of Josh Hamilton (.217 BA), Albert Pujols (.249 BA), and Mike Trout (.297 BA) in their lineup. The Dodgers, on the other hand, are in last place in the NL West despite spending like the Yankees (of old) last season and this past offseason on Josh Beckett (0-5, 5.19 ERA), oft-injured Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford,  Zack Greinke (3-1, 3.68 ERA), and Adrian Gonzalez (.312 BA, 8 HR). These additions have not been productive so far, and the teams have dug themselves into holes in their respective divisions. Ironically, I expect the Dodgers, powered by rookie sensation Yasiel Puig and NL Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw, to come closer to meeting my expectations than the Angels, who are stuck in a division with two much better teams, the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers.

That’s all for now! After 33.3% of the season, what’s the most surprising development in your opinion?  Post your thoughts in the comments section below.


Filed under Baseball