June 18, 2013

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MLB Power Rankings

By: Joe Williams

There is another month of baseball to play before the MLB All-Star break so we should know who is good and who isn’t at this point, but I’ll bet there isn’t anyone out there who would have guessed that the best teams during the month of June would be Kansas City, Toronto, San Diego and Oakland. Meanwhile, teams like the Yankees, Rangers and Dodgers are struggling. Where will that leave those teams in today’s power rankings?

The Cardinals can celebrate being at the top of our latest MLB Power Rankings.

1. St. Louis Cardinals (44-25): As a Cubs fan, you never want to see the Cardinals at the top of the list but there’s no denying they have the best record in baseball and are +102 in run differential.

2. Atlanta Braves (41-28): The Braves hold the biggest lead of any division leaders at 6.5 games over Washington.

3. Cincinnati Reds (42-28): If the Reds were in any other division, they’d be in first place.

4. Oakland A’s (42-29): The A’s have made a huge jump from the 15 spot a month ago. That’s what an 18-7 record will do for you.

5. Boston Red Sox (42-29): Boston leads the majors in runs scored with 363.

6. Texas Rangers (38-31): Just like the end of last season, the Rangers have been caught by Oakland.

7. Detroit Tigers (38-29): Right now just Chris Davis is standing between Miguel Cabrera and a repeat triple crown.

8. Baltimore Orioles (40-30): Baltimore has quietly taken the lead in the wild card race and pulled within just 1.5 games of Boston.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks (37-32): I don’t think anyone expected the Diamondbacks to be leading the NL West at this point.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates (41-28): Forget about finishing over .500…the Pirates are on pace to finish close to .600.

11. New York Yankees (38-31): Could this be the beginning of the end for the Yankees. They’ve lost ground in the AL East and wild card races.

12. Colorado Rockies (37-33): Gonzalez and Tulowitzki have lead the Rockies into the race. The pitching will need to improve to stay in it to the end.

13. San Diego Padres (36-34): Seven straight wins will and the Padres are back in the hunt after a 2-10 to the season.

14. Tampa Bay Rays (36-33): Wil Myers has been called up. Now let’s see what he can do.

15. Kansas City Royals (34-34): The Royals have been the best team in baseball, going 12-4 in June.

16. Washington Nationals (34-35): It’s turning into a disappointing season in the capital. The Nats better get back on track soon or it will be too late.

17. Cleveland Indians (34-35): Here’s a team that has really cooled off and is just 5-10 in June.

18. San Francisco Giants (35-34): The Giants will have to do better than 14-22 on the road if they want to defend their title.

19. Toronto Blue Jays (33-36): The Jays have six wins in a row and are climbing out of a big hole.

20. Philadelphia Phillies (34-37): The Phillies are second in the majors in quality starts but don’t have much to show for it.

21. Minnesota Twins (30-36): The Twins are near the bottom in just about every pitching category. Not good.

22. LA Dodgers (29-39): Talk about a wasted season…nobody is farther away from next-to-last in their division than the Dodgers.

23. LA Angels (31-39): Here is another team that was supposed to contend and has let their fans down.

24. Milwaukee Brewers (28-40): It’s going to be a dead heat with the Cubs for last place in the NL Central.

25. Chicago Cubs (28-40): It’s going to be a dead heat with the Brewers for last place in the NL Central.

26. Seattle Mariners (31-40): King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma are lights out pitchers right now. They aren’t getting much help though.

27. Chicago White Sox (29-38): It looks like it will be a tight race for worst team in Chicago.

28. New York Mets (25-40): The Mets are making a strong run towards the worst record in baseball with a 3-10 start in June.

29. Houston Astros (26-45): An 8-8 record so far this month is a big improvement for the AL West newcomers.

30. Miami Marlins (22-47): The Marlins are playing better, posting an 8-6 record so far this month.

May 21, 2013

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MLB Power Rankings

By: Joe Williams

Now that we’ve made it a quarter of the way through the MLB season we know a few things we thought at the start of the season are right (Texas is good, Houston is not) and a few are wrong (Boston is good, the Dodgers are not). So it’s time for the first power ranking post of the season.

After losing six in a row, the Orioles have fallen close to the middle of the pack.

1. Texas Rangers (29-16): It sure looks like they picked the right time to lets Josh Hamilton leave town.

2. Atlanta Braves (26-18): One Upton brother has been their best player, while the other has been their worst.

3. Boston Red Sox (27-18): Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are a combined 12-1 so far.

4. St. Louis Cardinals (28-16): The Cards lead the majors in ERA.

5. Cincinnati Reds (27-18): The Reds are 16-6 at home, the best record in the majors.

6. Cleveland Indians (26-17): Five straight wins and 8-2 in the last 10 makes the Tribe the hottest team in baseball.

7. New York Yankees (28-16): Who would have thought they would be in first place without all of their injured stars?

8. Detroit Tigers (23-19): The Tigers have scored 20 more runs than their opponents this month but are just 8-9 to show for it.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates (26-18): Forget about finishing over .500…the Pirates are on pace to finish close to .600.

10. Arizona Diamondbacks (26-19): I don’t think anyone expected the Diamondbacks to be leading the NL West at this point.

11. Colorado Rockies (24-21): The Rockies are leading the majors in runs scored with 222.

12. Tampa Bay Rays (23-21): Reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price has be awful, but Matt Moore (8-0) is filling the void nicely.

13. San Francisco Giants (25-20): The defending champs are known for their pitching but their batting average ranks second in baseball.

14. Baltimore Orioles (23-21): Six straight losses have the Orioles five games behind the Yankees.

15. Oakland A’s (24-22): The A’s are 24th in batting average, but 9th in getting on base. Why? They lead the majors in walks with 187.

16. Washington Nationals (23-22): Anybody know what’s going on with Strasburg? He’s been offered to me in my fantasy league and I just can’t decide.

17. Kansas City Royals (20-21): After a hot April (14-10) the Royals have cooled off.

18. San Diego Padres (21-23): San Diego has recovered from a 2-10 start. Can they keep it up?

19. Philadelphia Phillies (21-24): Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay are 7-13 combined. Ouch.

20. Seattle Mariners (20-25): King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma are lights out pitchers right now. They aren’t getting much help though.

21. Chicago Cubs (18-25): Matt Garza is finally back….and the Cubs need him to be great.

22. Chicago White Sox (20-23): Paul Konerko, Jeff Keppinger and Adam Dunn are hitting .220, .199 and .172. They’ll keep losing if that doesn’t improve.

23. Minnesota Twins (18-23): After losing eight of the last ten, the Twins are in the AL Central cellar.

24. LA Angels (17-27): Here is the first of three teams battling it out for most disappointing team of the season.

25. New York Mets (17-25): Where would this team be without Matt Harvey?

26. Milwaukee Brewers (17-26): With the Astros moved to the American League, the Brewers are in danger of being the worst team in the NL Central.

27. Toronto Blue Jays (18-26): Toronto tried to fight fire with fire by signing big name free agents but so far they are getting burned.

28. LA Dodgers (18-25): The Dodgers by far the most disappointing team in the National League and maybe in all of baseball.

29. Miami Marlins (13-32): The Marlins have scored just 122 runs and are last in the majors. They are also last in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage.

30. Houston Astros (13-32): The Astros have allowed a whopping 266 runs this season and are last in the majors. They are also last in ERA, quality starts and WHIP.

March 14, 2013

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5 MLB Teams Destined to Have a Bounce-Back Season

By: Matt Bowen

With the 2013 MLB season set to begin in April there are five teams destined to have a bounce-back season.

For the teams mentioned in this article, the 2012 season was a major league letdown. Regardless, what’s done is done and there’s no reason to dwell on it.

With optimism flooding the mentality of every MLB team and their fan bases this time of year, there’s no time like the presence to turn the corner.

After all, only the San Francisco Giants went home happy in 2012.

Dustin Pedroia is one reason Red Sox fans should believe their team can turn it around in 2013.

For some teams, becoming a respected and prominent team this year is the ultimate goal. For these teams, it’s now time to forget about 2012 and put solid numbers in the “Win” column.

The Boston Red Sox Won’t End Up in the Cellar Again

Things have drastically changed in Boston, but fans need not worry about becoming cursed again. The team will be just fine in Bean Town. Despite finishing 69-93 last season, things are looking good.

They successfully shed about $250 million in salary with a massive nine-player deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers last August. Although a ton of talent left town, they still have the familiar faces of David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Here’s where fans will fall in love with the latest edition of the Red Sox—they’re going to be gritty, which is a perfect fit in Boston.  With a nice mixture of veteran leadership and youthful exuberance, the chemistry in the clubhouse should be lively and fun.

One player to keep your eye on is a young outfielder by the name of Jackie Bradley. He’s quickly winning over his teammates and hitting around .500 this spring. Expect him to be a staple in the Red Sox lineup before season’s end.

The Pittsburgh Pirates Look to End 2013 the way the 2012 season began—Winning

It’s hard not to root for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  They haven’t made the postseason since the early 1990s and looked destined last season, but stumbled down the stretch. In fact, they haven’t had a winning season in 20 years.

Their superstar, Andrew McCutchen, is an all-world gentleman. He did something last season that hasn’t been done in Pittsburgh in decades—he signed a six-year contract to stay in the Steel City.

He believes and so should the fans. We know they know how to lose, but they’ve definitely tasted victory. Now, 2013 is the year to put it all together.

Although pitchers Garrit Cole and Jameson Taillon won’t start with the big club on Opening Day, they’ll be front-row and center by the time August rolls around.  When they arrive, the whole world will have all eyes on the Pirates.

The Kansas City Royals Will Make the Playoffs

It’s true; your eyes are not playing tricks on you. The Kansas City Royals will make the playoffs in 2013.

For years the Royals have had one of the best farm systems in all of baseball, but that potential hasn’t quite translated into wins.  This is the year that is does.

The organization traded one of their highly touted prospects named Wil Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason for quality starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis.

This is a positive first toward making the playoffs. After all, how far can a team go if their pitchers can’t take them deep into ball games?

While Myers’ MLB debut is highly awaited, the Royals have an entire roster of prospects just like him. Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez are just a few names in the Royals dugout that have insane amounts of talent.

Don’t be shocked when it all comes together this season.

Don’t Write Off the Seattle Mariners as Dead Meat in the AL West

Sure, the AL West is loaded with talent thanks to the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Oakland Athletics, but the Seattle Mariners are not a team to sleep on.

The team still has one of the best pitcher’s in the game in Felix Hernandez. They also players like Jason Bay and Michael Morse. These guys will be playing with a chip on their shoulder looking to prove they still have gas in the tank.

Combine these vets with youngsters like Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley and others and the Mariners have a nice squad on their hands.

Here’s where the 2013 Mariners will be most dangerous—they will be overlooked, circled on every opponent’s calendar as an easy victory. This is where others will be wrong. Following by the example set by the veterans, the entire roster will play like today could be their last. In a sense, they’re a team of castaways sent to the Northwest to be forgotten about.

Expect that “Us Against the World” mentality to fuel the Mariners throughout the season.

This Will Be the Year Chicago Cubs Fans Start to Believe Again

Chicago Cubs fans deserve credit—every year since 1908 the team has gone without a title. Yet, every year the fans come out to Wrigley Field in droves to support their Cubbies.

This is now year two of the Theo Epstein era. Reminder, Epstein is the General Manager whose formula brought the Boston Red Sox two World Series titles in the first decade of this century. Given, the Cubs aren’t the favorite to win it all this season, but they’ll be better than their 101 losses a season ago.

How will they be better?

Superstar Starlin Castro will mature and take every second seriously. He’s been known to be lax in the past.  They also have Anthony Rizzo, who will face a make-or-break season. Don’t expect him to be considered a bust this season.  Rizzo was once one of the top prospects in baseball and is still only 23 years old.

It is rookies Javier Baez and Jorge Soler that will be the sparkplugs in the Cubs offense this year. They may take a few months to get their feet wet, but they’ll quickly become fan favorites.

“Hey Chicago whaddya say…”

Things are looking up.

August 1, 2012

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MLB’s Current All-Star Team of Under-25 Players

By: Chris Ludwig

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.

Major League Baseball continues to churn out young stars each year that dazzle fans with their various skills. Here is the current All-Star team of players under the age of 25 years old.

With two of the top players under 25, the future looks bright for the Washington Nationals.

First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

Making his MLB debut in 2011, 24-year-old first baseman Paul Goldschmidt has shined in his first full season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, hitting .297 with 12 HR and 44 RBI through mid-July.

Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

At just 22 years of age, Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was the team’s lone representative at the 2012 All-Star Game. And for good reason as well—Altuve hit .303 with five HR, 27 RBI and 15 stolen bases in the first half.

Shortstop: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are in rebuild mode, and 22-year-old shortstop Starlin Castro will be an anchor in the infield for the foreseeable future.

Castro earned his second straight All-Star selection after hitting .291 with seven HR, 43 RBI and 16 stolen bases in the first half of the 2012 season.

Third Base: Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals

The future looks bright in Kansas City with a bevy of young stars for the Royals, including 23-year-old third baseman Mike Moustakas.

Moustakas hit .268 with 15 HR and 47 RBI in the first half of 2012, and figures to be a power-hitting machine in the middle of the batting order in Kansas City for years to come.

Left Field: Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox are sitting atop the standings in the AL Central Division, and 23-year-old left fielder Dayan Viciedo has certainly done his part to get them there.

Viciedo hit .255 with 14 HR and 39 RBI in the first half, and continues to develop a power stroke that will have great impact in the White Sox batting order as they continue to push for a postseason berth.

Center Field: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

No one on this list has been more impressive than 20-year-old center fielder Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.

Since his call-up from Triple-A on April 28, Trout has taken the American League by storm, leading the league with a .351 batting average along with 14 HR, 45 RBI and a major league-leading 30 stolen bases. Trout’s five-tool skills have re-energized a sputtering offense in Anaheim.

Right Field: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

Taken with the first overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals, 19-year-old Bryce Harper made his much anticipated debut on April 28.

Harper earned an All-Star selection in his first season and is hitting .273 with eight HR and 26 RBI through mid-July.

Catcher: Salavador Perez, Kansas City Royals

After missing the first three months of the season with a knee injury, 22-year-old catcher Salvador Perez has come back with a vengeance, hitting .377 through his first 19 games with five HR and nine RBI.

The Royals locked up their young backstop last year with a five year, $7 million contract with additional team options for the following three seasons.

Starting Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

Bryce Harper’s teammate on the Washington Nationals, starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, celebrated his 24th birthday on July 20 and has been everything the Nats could have hoped for.

Through 19 starts, Strasburg posted a 10-4 record and 2.85 ERA, helping his Nats to the top of the standings in the NL East Division.

Relief Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel is only 24 years of age, and already he his piling up accolades and awards.

Kimbrel was the unanimous winner of the Rookie of the Year Award last year after leading the National League with 46 saves, and is once again tops in the NL with 28 saves through mid-July this year as well.

June 5, 2012

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10 MLB Teams That Will Miss The Playoffs

By: Joe Williams

It is hard to believe, but the MLB season is already one-third of the way over. Nobody has locked up a playoff spot yet, but several teams have dug themselves such a big hole that they probably can’t climb out of it. Therefore, its time to eliminate a third of the teams. Who are the 10 teams that aren’t going anywhere in 2012?

Will the Chicago Cubs miss the playoffs again this season?

Chicago Cubs

No surprise here. This is the only team in baseball in sixth place in its division. They just finished off a 12-game losing streak and are currently on a four-game skid. The fans have had to wait more than 100 years for a championship and you can be sure the wait will not end in 2012.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins won 94 games and the A.L. Central in 2010. The have won 84 games and held down last place in the division ever since. Much of the blame can be given to injuries to some of their best players but that doesn’t make the Twins feel any better.

Houston Astros

Houston was far and away the worst team in baseball in 2011. That isn’t the case this year. They have been awful (6-19) on the road but a good team at home (17-12). Houston looks to be on its way back to contending, but it won’t be this year.

San Diego Padres

This is currently the worst team in baseball. They too, have not been the same since the 2010 season when they blew the lead in the N.L. West and missed the playoffs by a game. There isn’t much to cheer about here.

Kansas City Royals

Is it time to bring back Bo Jackson? The Royals have just one winning season since 1994. They are said to have a lot of young talent that will turn it around but it is looking as though that wont happen until 2013 or 2014.

Oakland A’s

Their recent nine-game losing streak really hurt. They are now down to fourth in the A.L. West and eight games back of Texas. They are just six games out of a wild card spot, but there are just too many teams to leapfrog.

Colorado Rockies

Colorado is 9.5 games out in the N.L. West and 6.5 in the wild card chase. These guys have built a reputation of getting hot and making a late-season run, but can they do it again? They have the offense to get it done but the pitching staff is the worst in baseball.

Seattle Mariners

Somehow the Mariners are 10th scoring runs. But they are 27th in batting average, 28th in on base percentage and 26th in slugging. Sooner or later that is going to catch up to them and their scoring will go down, along with their post-season hopes.

Boston Red Sox

The Sox are currently in last in the A.L. East. They are under .500 at home. Their pitching staff is near the bottom of the league. They have had too many injuries. Too many off the field issues. The division is too tough.

Philadelphia Phillies

It’s the same story in Philly as it is in Boston. They are last in the N.L. East. They also have had too many injuries (Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, and Chase Utley are just a few of the players they have on the DL right now) and too many good teams in their division.