By: Noah Wright
CreditPhotos by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images, left, and Masterpress, via Getty Images
Over the off-season, The LA Angels acquired one of the most hyped players ever to come over seas, Shohei Ohtani. The Japanese born player has been one of the most unique players to play baseball over the past few decades. In his tenure (2013-2017) in The Japan League, Ohtani didn’t just pitch, but he also played outfield, and DH’ed for The Nippon Ham Fighters. If Ohtani can break out, both as a pitching, and offensive force like he was in Japan, this could bring in a new view for a player’s position flexibility.
First, let’s look at some modern 2-way players. The last two-way player that The MLB has seen was Brooks Kieschnick, a lefty who came up as an outfielder, but eventually made a move to the mound, while also playing some corner outfield. While he did not succeed to great proportions, Kieschnick still finished his career with .247/.315/.444 line (including a season where he batted .300 in 70 at bats), and 10 homers in 336 career plate appearances, and pitched, average (4.59 ERA, 1 HR/9 rate, but a 4.13 FIP). Since his last game in 2004, there has not been a full 2-way player like Kieschnick. In 2017, former San Diego Padres (now a Brewer) player, Christian Bethancourt tried to make the switch from utility catcher to 2-way player, but it did not work as well as it did for Kieschnick.
Currently, The Tampa Bay Rays have a first base/LHP pitcher in their farm system, Brendan McKay. The 22 year old McKay was drafted by The Rays in the first round (4th overall pick) of The 2017 MLB Draft. McKay is currently rated as the #25 best prospect in baseball. McKay has a plus fastball, and control, while also having 30 home run, high 200’s contact potential as well. The Reds also had drafted a player, Hunter Greene, who had two way potential, but gave up hitting to focus more on his pitching.
Now let’s look how a decent year from Ohtani could change the way coaches, and players will look at positional versatility. If Ohtani can show he can handle both hitting, and pitching, this could pave the path for more 2-way players. Teams may look more at 2-way college, and high school prospects, like McKay, to draft. While these highschool and college players may add pitching as a tool to raise their draft potential. With more 2-way players, we could also view it as less rare, and as much of a novelty.
2-way Japanese superstar, Shohei Ohtani, has proven he can handle both the bat and pitching in Japan, but a breakout in The MLB could lead to a wave of more 2-way players. This could also lead to a new way we look at 2-way players, and how college and high school players who enter the draft may widen their flexibility.
By: Noah Wright
Photo: Ben Margot, Associated Press
A’s #1 prospect (as rated by MLB.com), A.J. Puk was shut down last week with biceps soreness in his throwing (left) elbow, but will likely need Tommy John surgery to repair UCL damage in his left elbow. He will be out an estimated 12-15 months.
Puk, 22, was originally drafted by The Tigers in the 35th round of The 2013 draft, but did not sign. He was then drafted by The A’s in the 1st round (6th overall) in The 2016 MLB draft. The hard throwing lefty has rated as a top 100 prospect the last 2 years.
This is a blow to The A’s future plans, as he was predicted to make his debut this year, and be a large piece of The A’s rotation for a handful of years to come, but now will need at least a whole year to recover from this surgery.
By: Noah Wright
Jonny Venters was once a young lefty set-up man for The Atlanta Braves. He has set-up 2 of the best closers in the game in the past decade, Billy Wagner, and Craig Kimbrel, but that was 2010 through 2012. Jonny Venters, now after a 6 years, and 3 Tommy John surgeries later, Venters is making one last shot at making it back to the majors.
Venters was drafted in the 30th round of The 2003 MLB draft by The Atlanta Braves as a starter. The lefty would pitch in 2004, and 2005, before undergoing his first of “3 and a half” Tommy John surgeries (as said by Venters himself) in his career. Venters would miss the 2006 season, but make a return in 2007. Though he would thrive in 2007 and 2008, Venters was never a top prospect starter, with 2007 and 2008 being the only two years as a minor leaguer, recorded an ERA under 3.90. However, Venters received his major league call-up on April 17th, 2010.
Venters made his debut on April 17th, 2010 at age 25, against The Colorado Rockies. Venters would pitch 3 innings of 3 hit, one walk, two strikeout, no run ball. Later in the year, The Braves moved the hard throwing lefty into the set-up role, to set-up veteran closer, Billy Wagner. Venters would also pitch well in the postseason, by striking out 8 across 5 and a third innings, while giving up no runs against The San Francisco Giants during the 2010 NLDS. On the year, Venters would pitch to a miniscule 1.95 ERA, while giving up 1 homerun across 83 innings (.1 HR/9), and striking out batters at a 10.1 K/9 rate. Venters would also finish 8th in Rookie Of The Year voting.
Jonny Venters entered 2011 as The Braves set-up man again, delivering the 9th to rookie closer, Craig Kimbrel. Venters was so good, he earned a spot on The NL All-Star roster, along with Kimbrel, Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann. Venters would put up another very strong line, with a 1.84 ERA, while only giving up 2 homeruns in 88 innings, and a strong K/9 rate (9.8 K/9).
In 2012, his last season so far, Venters entered the season with high expectations, but underperformed. In the first half of the season, Venters put up a 4.67 ERA, while giving up more homeruns than any other full season (4), but still put up the strong K rate (10.3 K/9) in 32.1 innings. During July, Venters experienced left elbow soreness, and was placed on The DL, then reactivated at the end of July. He performed much better however in the second half of the season, lowering his ERA to 1.71 in 26.1 innings. Though he underperformed by his standards, Venters still turned in a solid 3.22 ERA, a career high, 10.6 K/9. Jonny Venters would throw his last pitch in The 2012 NL Wild Card game.
In 2013, Venters started the season on the DL with a similar injury to July 2012. He had tried to avoid surgery, but ended up having his 2nd Tommy John Surgery, and was shut down for the year. After 2013, Venters entered the 2014 season, but would suffer setbacks, and need another Tommy John surgery. After the 2014 season, Jonny Venters, now 29, was released in November 2014.
After his tenure with The Braves, Venters latched on with The Tampa Bay Rays in May 2015, on a two year, minor league deal. However, in 2016, after Venters looked to be back on track, even pitching 4 innings in The Ray’s low-A ball team,Venters would receive another large blow to his career. In July, Venters suffered a UCL tear, to what seemed to be a final blow to his career.
Venters would continue to fight to keep his career alive though. The Rays would resign Jonny Venters to a minor league deal after the 2017. During the 2017 season, Venters pitched more than 20 innings in organized baseball for the first time since 2012. He spent the season across 4 minor league levels for The Rays. He performed well, pitching to a 2.28 ERA, while showing the homerun prevention he had early in his career (0 homeruns given up across 23.2 innings).
Now on another minor league deal with The Rays, Venters looks to take one more step to making a comeback that at one point seemed impossible. Though he was optioned to The Rays’ Triple-A team recently after spring training, as it stands right now, the now 33-year-old Venters will have a very good opportunity this year to make his long awaited, and hard fought comeback.
By: Noah Wright
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Last night, The Orioles signed the last of the top starting free agents, right hander Alex Cobb. The deal is 4 year deal, worth $57 million. He could earn $20 million in deferred cash as well.
Cobb, 30 years old, has been a steady pitcher in The Rays’ starting pitching staff from 2012 to 2014. Between 2012-2014, Cobb recorded a 3.19 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, while limiting homeruns (.7 home runs/9), and walks (2.7 walks/9) in 446 innings. In 2015, Cobb had to undergo Tommy John surgery and missed the entirety of the 2015 season, and most of the 2016 season. He had came back at the end of the 2016 season, but did not record great results. In his limited 22 innings, Cobb recorded a 8.59 ERA, while not showing his normal home run prevention (2 homeruns/9), and walk control (2.9 walks/9).
In 2017, Cobb bounced back from injury and under performance. Last year, Cobb posted a solid, but not near where he was between ‘12-’14, ERA of 3.66. Though he posted a career high in homeruns/9 in at least 100 innings pitched (1.1 homeruns/9) he posted a career low walks/9 (2.2). Some other red flags that Cobb had last year was a 4.16 FIP, though I expect his ERA, FIP, and HR/9 to go down now that this will be his second full season after coming off of TJ surgery.
Cobb will join an Oriole rotation consisting of Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, other free agent signee Andrew Cashner, and the resigned Chris Tillman.
By: Dawson Wright
USA Today Sports / Reuters
In probably the 2nd biggest move of the whole off-season (Stanton is first), the Angels were able to sign Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. And with what I feel has gone under the radar, Ohtani has been having a horrible spring. Check that, horrible may be an understatement.
During spring training, Ohtani is hitting 2 for 20, which accumulates to a .100BA. I mean, it is still spring training, and Ohtani was brought here mostly to pitch anyways.
In the two games Ohtani has started, he has had a total of a 27 ERA, and a 4.12 WHIP. Obviously, we cannot go just off of his ERA and WHIP. In the two games he has pitched, he has had a total of 2.2 innings pitched. So his ERA and WHIP will be greatly skewed, especially with how bad those outings were.
After his first start, Ohtani spent a few games with minor league competition as a pitcher, mostly for him to try and figure out what was going on with his mechanics, or whether it was just in his head.
As a hitter, a 2 for 20 stretch (which includes minors games), either means that he is in a slump, or he just isn’t very good. For Ohtani’s case, let’s hope it it just a slump. But it has been very aware to the public that Ohtani has been having trouble reaching the inside pitch at the plate.
A few factors that may contribute to his struggle to connect with inside pitches may include:
Ohtani being in a slump
Pitchers in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (Ohtani’s league in Japan) would rarely pitch him inside to avoid his risk for injury
However, just like Ohtani’s skipper Mike Scioscia, I believe Ohtani will adjust no problem once the regular season gets up and running at full speed. With all that Shohei has to deal with right now, is it really that much of a surprise that he is struggling in spring training? The pressure that is on Ohtani to perform is unbelievably. Being ranked the #1 prospect going into this season without even playing a major or minor league game in that country must be terrifying. Although it is spring training, the competition in spring training is better than it is in Japan (that includes minor league games).
I never really saw Ohtani as much of a hitter though. He does have some power potential, but hitting .286 in Japan isn’t that much to marvel over. His pitching is what he is really here for, and I have full faith in him that he will become the Angels best pitcher by July at the latest. And hit some dingers on the side.
The Dodgers third baseman will be sidelined for several weeks with a broken left wrist.
By: Enrique Medina
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dodgers star third baseman Justin Turner suffered a broken wrist Monday night after being hit by a pitch from Oakland A’s pitcher Kendall Graveman in the first inning of yesterday's ballgame. Turner, forced to leave the game was seen in obvious pain as he approached one of the team trainers. It was later revealed that x-rays did not come out negative and now Turner will be sidelined for several weeks, just a few days before the start of the season. There is no set timetable for his return. Good news for the Dodgers organization though is that the injured left wrist will not require any sort of surgery.
Turner, 33, had arguably his most productive season last season hitting .322/.415/.530 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI’s, making his first all star team along the way. With last years NLCS co-MVP gone, the Dodgers lose the player with the 2nd best on base percentage in the National League from last season, only behind Joey Votto from the Cincinnati Reds. More importantly for the Dodgers, they lose their 3rd hitter in the lineup and a great defensive third baseman who always leaves a huge impact.
With the news coming out, the Dodgers will need to look for alternatives to step up and fill in the position, replacing Turner. The team may look out for Logan Forsythe to move to 3rd and potentially switch Chase Utley and Kiké Hernandez in and out for left handed and right handed starters at 2nd base. The team also has the option to bring Chris Taylor back into the infield and have an outfielder like Joc Pederson or Andrew Toles out to replace his spot in center. There is no question that the amount of depth on the roster will come in handy in dealing with Turner’s injury. The injury itself will bring key decisions for manager Dave Roberts throughout the first few weeks of the season and overall be a huge test for the team.
By: Noah Wright
Yesterday, The Astros extended All-star MVP secondbasemen, Jose Altuve. The deal extends Altuve through 5 seasons, and is guaranteed $151 million. The deal will begin after the 2020 season, and extend through the 2024 season.
Altuve, who has been one of the best players in The MLB the last 2 season, is getting paid $6 million in the 2018 season, and will be paid $6.5 million during the 2019 season on a team option (because of a 2013 extension). Despite his 5’5, 165 pound frame, Altuve has shown he can hit for power, with 15 home runs each season since 2015, and 24 home runs each season since 2016. He’s also a speede threat on the bases, with 30 or more stolen bases since his first full year in 2012. Altuve also shows he deserves this extension with his bat, by leading the league 3 times (‘14, 16, ‘17) in batting average, and hits since 2014.
Last season was Altuve’s best season. Not only did Altuve take home The AL MVP, but he also took home a silver slugger, by hitting .346/.410/.547 with 24 home runs, and 81 RBI’s.He also showed ok defensive work, with 3 DRS, but -1.9 UZR.
By: Enrique Medina
This years ball club looks to finally win their first World Championship since 1988 that they were oh so close to winning last year.
Harry How/Getty Images
Following a tough loss in game 7 of the 2017 fall classic, the Dodgers did not look to dwell upon the disappointing end to the season. Immediately, General Manager Farhan Zaidi, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, and the rest of the front office went right back to work. The offseason was a rather compelling one as the front office was able to bring in new assets despite some key faces leaving from the 2017 roster. Despite these key losses, the Dodgers have still put themselves in a position where they can compete for the World Series title in 2018. Let's take a look back at the losses and acquisitions from the 2017-2018 offseason as the regular season is just around the corner.
For the most part, the Dodgers come back with almost the same pieces from last years World Series team. For those who left, the Dodgers have found capable replacements. The Dodgers also have a few key returners coming back this season like outfielder Andrew Toles and starter Julio Urias, who can be back some time during the 2nd half of the season. The Dodgers also have prospects like starter Walker Buehler and outifielder Alex Verdugo who can produce big time down the stretch, it is just a matter of when they get the opportunity. The strategy of keeping depth on the roster over the past couple of seasons, and relying on smaller contracts has provided the Dodgers to have a lot of options they can turn to for the upcoming season. With another season of Dodgers Baseball almost here, the front office has put itself in the best position possible for 2018 and for seasons to come. The only thing to see now is if the front office has truly done enough to finally bring back a championship to Los Angeles.
Yesterday, The Phillies signed top free agent starter, Jake Arrieta to a 3 year, $75 million deal (as reported by NBC Sports Philadelphia). He will receive $30 million in 2018, $25 million in 2019, and $20 million in 2020. The deal also includes an opt out after the after the second season, but also has a void option for the Phillies (if he decides to opt-out) for the 2021, and 2022 season, with a base salary of $20 million (could earn up to $25 million total in performance incentives). Arrieta has also been linked to The Nationals, and Brewers, as other possible landing spots for him.
Arrieta was originally an Orioles top prospect, but struggled in his time in Baltimore. During the 2013 season, Arrieta was shipped to The Cubs, with Pedro Strop, for Scott Feldman, and Steve Clevenger. In 2014, Arrieta would have a very good breakout season, going 10-5, with a 2.53 ERA, .989 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, and an impressive .3 HR/9 in 156.2 innings. Arrieta would continue to improve in 2015, his best season. During his 2015 Cy Young season, Arrieta went 22-6, with a microscopic 1.77 ERA, to go along with similar K/9, and HR/9 numbers he had in the previous season, in 229 innings of work. Though he has declined the past 2 season, with his ERA rising from 3.10 to 3.53 in 2016 and 2017, along with his average fastball velocity sitting in the 94 range to the 92 range, Arrieta is still a very solid starting pitcher. To wrap it up, Arrieta’s time in a Cubs uniform was very successful, with a 2.73 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, .7 HR/9, and 8.9 K/9 rate, along with a World Series Ring, a Cy Young and a Silver Slugger in 803 innings in a Chicago uniform.
With the acquisition of Arrieta, and Santana earlier this off-season, The Phillies could be contenders within the next few years, if they continue to add to a young core, and this young core can prove themselves in the majors.
By: Noah Wright
In today’s game, bullpens are becoming more and more prominent, some even being better than the team’s rotation. Lets rank, and analyze all 15 in The AL, from 1 being the best, to 15th being the worst.
1.) New York Yankees
Closer: Aroldis Chapman
Set-up: Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle
Mid-relief: Chasen Shreve, Jonathan Holder
Multi-inning/spot starters: Adam Warren, Chad Green
Even though The Yankees’ bullpen had the 3rd lowest ERA last year, their bullpen had the highest WAR (9) in The AL, and highest K/9 rate (10.93). Plus, they have the most quality depth, with 3 players that would be closers for a handful of other teams. Their deep bullpen also lets their rotation pitch less innings, lessening the risk of an arm injury from being overworked.
2.) Cleveland Indians:
Closer: Cody Allen
Set-up: Andrew Miller
Mid-relief: Nick Goody, Dan Otero, Tyler Olson
Multi-inning/spot starters: Danny Salazar, Zach Mcallister
The Indians rival The Yankees bullpen for the top spot as the best AL bullpen. Last year, The Indians bullpen had the lowest ERA, and FIP of AL bullpens, with the second highest WAR (8.6). Plus, they have one of the best set-up men in Andrew Miller.
3.) Boston Red Sox:
Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Set-up: Carson Smith, Joe Kelly
Mid-relief: Tyler Thornburg, Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, Matt Barnes
Multi-inning/spot starters: Brandon Workman
On the DL: Eduardo Rodriguez
Red Sox finished with the 2nd lowest ERA, and third lowest HR/9 rate (1) of AL bullpens last year. The pen will be led by one of the best closers in The MLB with Craig Kimbrel, and will have solid set-up men backing him up, with Carson Smith coming off the DL, expecting to play the entire season.
4.) Houston Astros
Closer: Ken Giles
Set-up: Will Harris, Joe Smith
Mid-relief: Chris Devenski, Tony Sipp, Hector Rondon, Buddy Boshers
Multi-inning/spot starters: Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh
Though The Astros’ pen had a combined 4.27 ERA, The Astros have improved their bullpen. After adding Joe Smith, who has been a very consistent relief pitcher over his career, and Hector Rondon, who was a good stopper in the back of The Cubs bullpen but is looking to rebound after a rough 2017, The Astros look to be set in a good spot with their pen.
Also by adding Gerrit Cole to their rotation, they move 2 solid starters to their bullpen as well.
5.) Minnesota Twins:
Closer: Fernando Rodney
Set-up: Addison Reed, Taylor Rogers
Mid-relief: Zach Duke, Ryan Presley, Alan Busenitz, Trevor Hildenberg
Multi-inning/spot starter: Tyler Duffey
After trading all-star closer Brandon Kintzler at the deadline last year, and losing Matt Belisle in free agency, The Twins added some late inning arms with Rodney, Addison Reed, and Zach Duke. Their pen ERA was 4.40 ERA last year
6.) Seattle Mariners:
Closer: Edwin Diaz
Set-up: Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent, James Pazos
Mid-relief: Marc Rzepczynski, Tony Zych, David Phelps, Dan Altavilla
Multi-inning/spot starter: Andrew Moore
The Mariners enter the season with a very underrated bullpen. Behind closer Edwin Diaz, The Mariners added set-up man, Juan Nicasio, who had a career year last year. They also have solid mid-relief, and set-up depth behind their main set-up and closer. Their bullpen ERA last year was 4.08 last year.
7.) Baltimore Orioles:
Closer: Brad Brach
Set-up: Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day,
Middle relief: Richard Bleier, Donnie Hart,
Multi-inning/spot starter: Miguel Castro
On the DL: Zach Britton
Even though The Orioles will be without all-star closer, Zach Britton, for the first few months of the season, their bullpen is solid to say the least. Behind a consistent Brad Brach, The Orioles have submarine pitcher, Darren O’Day, and young, hard throwing righty, Mychal Givens. Last year, The Orioles had a 3.93 bullpen ERA, but limited walks (3.43 bullpen BB/9)
8.) LA Angels:
Closer: Blake Parker
Set-up: Cam Bedrosian, Jim Johnson
Mid-relief: Keynan Middleton, Eduardo Paredes, Jose Alvarez
Multi-inning/spot starter: N/A
Even though they lost a very good utility pitcher in Yusmeiro Petit, they’ve added late inning arm, Jim Johnson (who struggled, but has had recent success), to a very young and homegrown, but unproven, bullpen. Last year, they finished the season with a solid bullpen ERA of 3.92, and the lowest bullpen BB/9 of 2.66.
9.) Toronto Blue Jays:
Closer: Roberto Osuna
Set-up: Ryan Tepra, Seung-Hwan Oh
Mid-relief: Aaron Loup, Danny Barnes
Multi-inning/spot starter: N/A
Super-utility pitcher: Joe Biagini
The Blue Jays enter 2018 with a bullpen holding questions. Though they have a very good closer in Roberto Osuna, they do not have very many proven options behind him. Seung-Hwan Oh had a very good 2016 rookie year, but struggled in 2017 with The Cardinals, and lost the closer job to Trevor Rosenthal. Aaron Loup is coming off a solid season where he recorded a 3.75 ERA, and over a K per inning, but previously had 2 seasons where he recorded an era over 4.50. Super-utility pitcher, Joe Biagini, pitched out of the bullpen, and rotation, but struggled after a very good rookie season, where he saw multiple roles in 2016.
10.) Texas Rangers:
Closer: Alex Claudio
Set-up: Keone Kela
Mid-relief: Jose Leclerc, Jake Diekman, Tony Barnette
Multi-inning/spot starter: Austin Bibens Dirkx, Matt Bush
Undefined role: Tim Lincecum,
The Rangers pen is another pen with many questions entering 2018. After entering the season with Sam Dyson as their closer, he struggled heavily, and was traded to The Giants. After him, Matt Bush was moved to the role, but struggled as well, and will now be a starter/bullpen arm this year. Then, Alex Claudio secured the closer’s role, and recorded 11 saves last year, with a very healthy 2.50 ERA. Keone Kela came off a down, with injuries in 2016, and early in 2017, was optioned to triple-A after clubhouse issues. Though he performed well after being recalled. Diekman will also be a question mark. Diekman will come of a season where he had season ending surgery before the 2017 season. They also signed Tim Lincecum in February, whose role is not completely known yet. Lincecum, a former cy young starter, will start the year out of the bullpen, but could see some starts, along with some late inning work.
11.) Chicago White Sox:
Closer: Joakim Soria/Nate Jones
Set-up: Joakim Soria, Nate Jones
Mid-relief: Luis Avilan, Danny Farquhar, Rob Scahill
Multi-inning/spot starters: Chris Beck
The White Sox will enter the season, still in a rebuilding process. They still have solid late inning arms in Joakim Soria, both who might be traded at the deadline.
12.) Tampa Bay Rays:
Closer: Alex Colome
Set-up: Sergio Romo
Mid-relief: Jose Alvarado, Dan Jennings, Daniel Hudson
Multi-inning/spot starter: Austin Pruitt
Closer, Alex Colome, is the highlight of The Tampa Bay Rays pen. Other than Colome, their other relief pitchers are very unstable, especially Daniel Hudson.
13.) Kansas City Royals:
Closer: Kelvin Herrera
Set-up: Kevin McCarthy, Brandon Maurer
Multi-inning/spot starters: Bryan Flynn, Wily Peralta, Jakob Junis
A bullpen that used to house Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, and Wade Davis, is now a bullpen with Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Maurer, and Kevin McCarthy. Hoping that Kelvin Herrera bounces back, The Royals enter the season with many unanswered questions in the pen.
14.) Oakland A’s:
Closer: Santiago Casilla, Blake Treinen
Set-up: Ryan Dull, Ryan Butcher
Mid-relief: Liam Hendriks, Daniel Coulombe
Multi-inning/spot starter: N/A
Super utility pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit
The A’s have one super unique player in their pen, Yusmeiro Petit. Easily the best pitcher in The A’s pen, Petit could play multiple roles, from spot starter, long relief, or to late inning arm.
15.) Detroit Tigers:
Closer: Shane Greene
Set-up: Alex Wilson
Mid-relief: Daniel Stumpf, Johnny Barbato, Blaine Hardy, Joe Jimenez (possibly)
Multi-inning/spot starter: Chad Bell
The Tigers have the least amount of quality depth behind closer Shane Greene, who had a breakout season in 2017. They quite possibility have the worst bullpen entering 2018 in the MLB.
3/6/2018 0 Comments
By: Noah Wright
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Everyone likes a Rocky Balboa like story, right? The story of an underdog, but has an amazing story of how they found success, right? Of course you do, it’s just part of culture, and David Peralta is no exception to the underdog story type. Peralta has had a very inspiring story on how he has become one of The Arizona Diamondbacks most consistent, and productive hitters. Peralta’s road to The MLB was not easy for him, even having to work at a McDonalds to make enough money to pay for gas. This is how David Peralta went from failed pitcher, to all-star caliber outfielder.
Peralta, who was born on August 18th, 1987 in Valencia, Venezuela, was originally signed by The St. Louis Cardinals in 2005, as a pitcher. As an 18 year old, Peralta started his career out in 2006, when he pitched in 3 games (2 being starts) for STL’s rookie league team. In 2006, David pitched to a 5.00 ERA over 9 innings, while dealing with shoulder injuries, and a surgery along the way. The following season, Peralta pitched poor again, pitching for a 5.81 ERA in 52.2 innings, again dealing with shoulder injuries, and a second surgery. After multiple more setbacks in his recovery, The Cardinals released the then 21 year old pitcher in early May, 2009, seemingly ending Peralta’s career before it had started.
After recovering from the surgeries, Peralta wouldn’t give up his dream. He turned to the indy leagues, and reinvent himself as an outfielder. In 2011, his indy league journey would begin. Before the 2011 season though, Peralta would have to work at a McDonalds to have enough gas money to travel from his home in Florida to Harlingen, Texas. Once arriving at his new team, The Rio Grande Valley Whitewings, a team in the independent North American League, Peralta would put up big numbers that season. As an outfielder, Peralta .392/.429/.661 batting line, while also hitting 17 home runs, and taking 7 bases in 373 plate appearances (85 games). In 2012, Peralta would produce another impressive season, hitting for a .331/.392/.462 line with 3 homeruns, but 25 stolen bases, this time for Wichita Wingnuts, a team in The American Association. His impressive performance would catch the eyes of Diamondbacks indy league scout, Chris Carminucci. Peralta would text Carminucci back and forth for a full month, before The D-Backs would sign the now 25 year old outfielder in July, 2013.
Peralta would start his new path to the majors in The Diamondbacks single-A affiliate in 2013. Here, Peralta hit for an impressive .346/.370/.534 while showing power (8 homers) in 219 plate appearances (51 games). Peralta would start the 2014 season in their double-A affiliate, and would hit for another good batting line, .297/.359/.480 in 223 PA (53 games). After showing an impressive bat, and glove in the minors, David Peralta’s contract would be purchased from Double-A, and promoted on June 1st, 2014.
Peralta would make his debut on the same day as his promotion, June 1st, at 26 years old, 5 years after he was released from The Cardinals as a failed pitcher. In his debut, Peralta would 2/4 with 2 strikeouts, and two singles off of The Cincinnati Reds. Peralta would continue to show the impressive bat he showed in the minors, batting .286/.320/.450, with 8 homers, and 6 stolen bases in 348 PA, and 88 games in his rookie season. He would also show he could more than handle himself as a fielder to, with a total of 3 DRS, 6 assists, and -.2 UZR as well.
2015 would prove to be Peralta’s breakout year. During his second season in the majors, Peralta would bat for a robust .312/.371/.522 line, while also hitting 17 homers, stealing 9 bases in 517 PA’s, and also leading the league in triples with 10. Though his glove fell from his rookie year, (-2 DRS, -2.4 UZR), Peralta still compiled a 3.7 WAR. His WAR was better than all-stars like Russell Martin, Justin Upton, and Shelby Miller. While his OPS (.893) was higher than players like Andrew McCutchen, Manny Machado, Jose Abreu, Buster Posey, and Prince Fielder that year.
2016 would be a rough year for Peralta. After getting off to a slow start, Peralta would be shut-down for the rest of the season due to injuries, after playing just 48 games. However, Peralta would bounce back in 2017, hitting for a high average again (.293) and having an OBP/Slugging % of .352/.444. His glove would also rebound, having 6 DRS, 1.5 UZR, and 6 assists in the corner outfield. Peralta would also make his MLB Postseason debut this season in the 2017 NL Wildcard game, and went 3-for-5 in the game against The Colorado Rockies.
David Peralta is no stranger to the underdog story type. He’s been down, and seemingly out, but had the confidence and will to fight his way to being a solid producer in the majors. Peralta looks to add to his resume, as he enters 2018 as an important piece to The Arizona Diamondbacks roster.
By: Noah Wright
Photo: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
The Cardinals have extended young middle infielder, Paul DeJong (24 Y/O) to a guaranteed 6 years, $26 million, and two club options. Though DeJong could earn up to $51.5 million over 8 years. His guaranteed $26 million breaks White Sox’ Tim Anderson’s record of $25 million over 5 years with less than one year of service.
Never a top 100 prospect (Drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 draft), DeJong broke out as one of last year’s best NL rookies. After 2016’s breakout rookie, Aledmys Diaz, struggled, The Cards decided to option him to Triple-A, giving DeJong his chance. In his first year, DeJong hit for an impressive .285/.325/.531 line to go with 25 home runs, and 65 RBI’s, and also had a very high BABIP of .349 last year. However, he struggled with plate discipline last year (124 strikeouts in 443 PA’s, resulting in a 28% K rate), while only walking 21 times. This shot up some concerns with his OBP. With the glove DeJong was a slightly below average 2B (-1 DRS, -.5 UZR in 158 innings played), he rated as an ok defender at shortstop (0 DRS, 1.8 UZR in 747.1 innings played), the position he mainly played in 2017, and will play in 2018.
DeJong’s impressive rookie season led to him finishing 2nd in NL Rookie Of The Year Voting (Behind Dodger rookie star, Cody Bellinger, and ahead Pirates’ slugger, Josh Bell). He earned second place by having the second highest batting average of NL rookies with at least 300 at-bats, and the 4th most homeruns of NL rookies as well.
By: Noah Wright
Photo Via Fox Sports
After finishing the season short of a wildcard spot, The Milwaukee Brewers off season was eventful to say the least. Brewers’ GM, Dave Stearns, made multiple moves over this off-season to put his team from a wild-card team, to a potential division contender. Let's look over their major acquisitions, losses, and how they can still improve.
How they can improve:
Entering 2018, The Brewers’ starting rotation has a few questions. Starter Jimmy Nelson had a very good year, recording a 3.49 ERA in 175.1 innings, and a 1.249 WHIP, along with increasing his strikeout rate, and lowering his walk rate, will miss part of the season after having shoulder surgery. Also, starter Chase Anderson had a great breakout year. Anderson recorded a 2.74 ERA, and a 1.090 WHIP, and posted just a .9 HR/9 rate in an injury shortened 141 innings, but struggled in season prior. With just 3 guaranteed starters (Zach Davies, Chase Anderson, and Jhoulys Chacin, 2 of which struggled in past seasons) in their rotation, The Brewers could use more pitching to solidify their rotation. The free agent market still holds quality arms like Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn. Even though Jake Arrieta has shown signs of a decline, he is still a very viable option. They could also explore the trade market. Now with a surplus of outfielders, they could shop Brett Phillips, Keon Broxton, or Domingo Santana to find some quality arms.
The Brewers jumped from solid wildcard team to division contender throughout the off season. By trading prospects, and putting money in free agents, The Brewers have really improved themselves, and have the money, and players to where they could add more pieces to help their chances.
By: Noah Wright
Photo Via: Japan Bullet
With Greg Johns reporting that Mariners outfielder, Ben Gammel will be out 4-6 weeks with an oblique injury (https://twitter.com/GregJohnsMLB/status/970695656812638208), Mitch Haniger dealing with hand tendenitis, and Guillemro Heredia still taking things slow after an October shoulder surgery, The Mariners’ outfield depth was running out, with Dee Gordon being the only outfielder 100% ready, The Mariners have signed Ichiro Suzuki to a one year deal.
Ichiro, now 44 years of age, started his career out with The Mariners, after coming overseas from Japan. In Seattle, Ichiro won both Rookie Of The Year, and MVP in his first major league season at 27 years old in 2001, after recording a record amount of hits in one season (242), and led the league in average (.350) and stolen bases (56). Ichiro would go on to participate in 10 all-star games for Seattle, win 3 silver sluggers in 01, 07, and 09, 10 gold glove awards (between 2001 and 2010), the aforementioned MVP and ROY in 2001, 2 batting titles (2001, 2004), and led the league in steals once in 2001, while racking up 2533, a Mariners record, hits. Ichiro would bat .322/.366/.418, with 99 homers, and 438 stolen bases in 8483 PA’s in Seattle. Ichiro would play for The Mariners between 2001 until 2012, when he was traded to The Yankees nearing the 2012 deadline.
In the 3 seasons he spent in NY, Ichiro recorded a .281/.314/.364 line to go along with 49 stolen bases, and 13 home runs, across 1180 PA in NY. On 8/21/13, Ichiro would break the 4000th hit marker, when his stats were combined with his Japan stats.
After the 2014 season, Ichiro would latch on with The Marlins. Here, he would play the ‘15, 16, and 17 seasons. On 6/15/16, Ichiro would break Pete Rose’s hits record, with his total combined with his Japan numbers. Ichiro would go on to break another milestone by getting his 3000th hit on 8/07/16. The Marlins would decline Ichiro’s option for another season after the 2017 season.
Ichiro is now heading back to where it all started. Where he won rookie of the year and MVP in the same year. Where he broke the single season hit record, and to where he broke The Mariners all time hit, and stolen base record. He’ll likely play a bench/platoon role with The Mariners, but only time will tell whether this is a homecoming last season for the Hall Of Fame- bound outfielder, or if he plans on playing past this season.
By: Dawson Wright
Photo via GettyImages
Following an underachieving 70 win season, the Mets are looking to bounce back in 2018. According to Fangraphs, the Mets are projected to finish 81-81 next season. This projected record, combined with their underachieving season last year, may be why they are being overlooked.
Injuries has plagued the Mets from reaching their full potential. Last season Cespedes went down for a while, and don’t even get started on the rotation. So this offseason, the Mets decided to make it a priority to try and stay healthy, which is why along with their signings they hired new team doctors.
Todd Frazier was one of the main acquisitions this offseason. For two years and $17 million, the Frazier contract looks really good, even considering the fact he is project to have a WAR around 2, and the fact that last year, he had a strikeout percentage of 21.7%.
Jay Bruce is by far the best edition to the Mets this entire offseason. For $39 Million for three years, this deal was a steal for the Mets. He hit 36 home runs last season with the Mets and the Indians. It is clear at this point with the Mets outfield, that they aren’t going to win any gold gloves. But going into next season with the new additions, I see the Mets lineup looking something like this:
The Mets aren’t going to win the NL East by any means, that is a lock for the Nationals. However, the Mets getting one of the two Wild Card spots is very plausible, but the rotation has to stay healthy as well.
The Mets rotation last season had only one starter that stayed healthy the entire season, and if that happens next season, forget about any chance at the Wild Card. But if Syndergaard, Harvey and Mets rotation can stay healthy and lead the ship, a postseason appearance seems imminent in Queens.
By: Dawson Wright
August 7th, 2007, Barry Bonds hits his 756th home run which now leaves him on top of the home run list. Followed by an awkward congratulations from Hank Aaron. Fans that should feel joy in the historic moment, don’t. You see Barry Bonds was a known steroid user and pretty much anyone that wasn’t a Giants fan hated him. They knew him breaking the home run record was inevitable, but nobody really cared. For a record as huge as the home run record to now be despised by a majority of baseball fans was disappointing. And then at the end of the season, Bonds is just gone. The Giants didn’t offer him a contract, and in fact nobody did. And it’s not like Bonds was horrible. In his last year he hit .276 and had 28 home runs. After Bonds broke the home run record, and even before that, nobody really wanted to see him anymore. They just wanted him to go away.
But let’s take the whole steroids thing out of the equation, and Barry Bonds arguably is the greatest baseball player of all time. Bonds had a career average of .298 and hit 762 home runs and he probably would have hit more if he didn’t have knee surgery in 2005. His career WAR was 164.4 which is 2nd of all time only behind Babe Ruth. So it’s clear that Bonds was a once in a lifetime player, but there is a new player that has entered the league that has drawn comparisons to Bonds.
Fast forward 10 years later as Yankees rookie Aaron Judge hits home runs number 49 and 50 on the year which breaks Mark McGwire’s rookie record. And guess what he was also on steroids.
Aaron Judge had an “interesting” 2017. The 1st half of the season, Judge hit .329 and hit 30 home runs and to top it off, he took the life out of baseballs at the home run derby.
Then, the second half hit. For the month of July Judge finished with 7 home runs and a .230 average. And then it got worse. In August Judge finished with three home runs and hit .185. But then in September and October, things started to pick up again and Judge got back to normal.
Okay so Judge does have a career total of 56 home runs when he hit 4 in 2016. This brings him 706 home runs from tying Barry Bonds record. And this does bring up an issue for Aaron’s chances for being the new home run record-holder. Aaron Judge is old. No not that old, but he’s still pretty old. Aaron is currently 25 years old and turns 26 on April 26th.
But let’s say Aaron Judge retires at the age of 40, which gives him 15 more years in the league, which seems reasonable. So if we take 762 which was Bond’s career total in home runs and subtract the career amount of home runs Judge has which is 56, you get 706. Then divide that number by 15 and you get 47.06666667. So Aaron Judge would have to hit approximately 47 home runs every year for the rest of his career except one year where he would have to hit 48. This would tie Bond’s record at 762.
Seems doable right? I mean Judge hit 52 home runs so he can only go up from here. I think Judge will have maybe one or two years where he will hit more than 52 home runs but probably not much more than that.
We still have to count for regression. This chart is the statistics from Barry Bonds career all the way from 1986 to 2007. You can see Barry’s numbers start to rise and then they take a spike when he reaches his prime, I mean takes more steroids, and then they start to decrease. That dip in 2005 is from when he had his knee surgery and had to leave early in the 2005 season. But you can see 2006 and 2007 are nowhere near close to his prime years. Yes, the knee surgery could have played a factor in Bond’s play, but age was likely the main contributor.
So Aaron will be going into his age 26 season which is about around where most players start to go into their prime. I wouldn’t be surprised if Aaron Judge hits upwards of 60 home runs next year. I know that number sounds insane for a second year player, but if Aaron doesn't have a massive slump in the middle of the year it’s totally possible, and Aaron isn’t the average 2nd year player. I drew up a chart of what I believe is a possible chart for Aaron Judge to complete:
This chart brings Aaron to a total of 661 home runs which would make him 101 home runs short of tying the record. Don’t get me wrong, these numbers are absolutely insane and if Aaron could put up these numbers, he would for sure be a first-ballot hall of famer. To get Aaron to reach the home run record, he would have to see a constant upgrade in production between 2024-2029 and play for about two more years.
There is one thing that will help Aaron a lot that also did help Bonds, his size. This is a picture of Barry Bonds before, well, you know. And this is a picture of Barry Bonds after. And this is a picture of Aaron Judge now, and this is a picture of Aaron Judge a few years from now.
Look Aaron Judge is a massive dude. Standing at 6 foot 7, 282 pounds, Judge is one of the biggest players in major league history and it’s clear he uses his size to his advantage.
Judge’s power does help him reach pitches like this and drive them hard, but one can’t ignore his strikeout percentage. This is a chart of the average major league strikeout percentage. Here is 1980, that one wasn’t so bad. Here is 1995, so it’s starting to rise, but it’s still not too bad. Here is 2017, where it’s starting to get pretty bad, it’s over 20%. Oh and this right here at the bottom is Aaron Judge. With over a 30% strikeout percentage. Which is horrible, just in case you couldn’t tell.
What I’m getting at here is the only way Judge can get anywhere close to the home run record, is by increasing his contact. The other day I was on fangraphs and I came across an article by Jeff Sullivan. He found that, at least in the last three years Aaron Judge has the highest wOBA on contact out of anyone, by a lot. 2nd is would you look at that Giancarlo Stanton, who is 53 points behind Judge, and people in my comment section still try to tell me the Yankees are overrated.
Anyways, what is wOBA and why does it matter, well wOBA, also known as weighted on base average, is a statistic used to measure a player’s offensive contributions per plate appearance.
wOBA was created by Tom Tango, and it was based off of the idea that not all hits are equal, which is exactly what average calculates. See with average, it doesn't matter what the hit is. Going 2 for 2 which 2 infield singles would be seen as greater than going 1 for two with a grand slam and a flyout.
But back to Aaron Judge, see Aaron has the highest wOBA off of contact, not just standard wOBA. Last year, the highest wOBA was held by Mike Trout, who doesn't strike out as much as Aaron Judge. So obviously, when Aaron Judge makes contact with a pitch, it has a greater chance of going over the fence, rather than when he strikes out, because that’s how baseball works.
Barry Bonds had a career strikeout percentage of 12.2% and his highest rate of strikeouts was ironically his rookie year when he struck out over 20% of the time. But let’s say Aaron Judge brings his strikeout percentage down to Barry Bond’s 12%, how many more home runs would Aaron Judge hit? Well, a lot.
So Judge had a total of 542 at bats in 2017 and he hit 52 home runs. That means he hit a home run every 10.42307692 at bats. And he struck out 30.7% of the time which is about 166.394 at bats. So if Aaron struck 12% of the time, that’s 65.04 at bats, which leaves Aaron approximately 101 at bats left. 101 divided by 10.42307692 is 9.711538462. So we are going to round up and say Aaron Judge hit 10 more home runs which would bring him to a total of 62.
So if Judge does pass Bonds, it would be a moment celebrated by baseball fans everywhere. The commissioner would actually show up to see the record being broken, there would be no awkward speech by Hank Aaron, no asterisk next to his name, just celebration of a great player and his incredible feat.
By: Dawson Wright
On Monday Lincecum signed a deal with the Texas Rangers. Lincecum has signed a major league deal, and it looks like he will be apart of the bullpen.
Now this article won’t only be about whether he can make a comeback to the MLB, I mean he has a major league contract, so I guess technically that goal is complete. But we are going to be discussing whether Lincecum can become a starting pitcher again, and the possibility of him returning to his Cy Young Form!
So with all of that out of the way, let’s go ahead and get started.
Tim Lincecum used to be one of the most elite pitchers in baseball. He came up during the 2007 with the Giants and looked promising. During that 2007 season he went 7-5 with an even 4.00 ERA.
But the 2008 and 2009 seasons are where Lincecum started to show his signs of greatness.
During the 2008 season, Lincecum had a career best 18-5 record, with a 2.62 ERA, as that year Lincencum took home his first Cy Young award.
The following year Lincecum did even better. Posting a 2.48 ERA, Tim looked unstoppable as he took home his second Cy Young.
But in 2010 Lincecum hit a bit of a road block. Tim posted a 3.43 ERA which was almost an entire point higher point higher than last year. Even with Lincecum doing a bit worse, the Giants were doing a lot better. The Giants ended up winning the division on the last day of the season and began their World Series run.
Lincecum did pretty decent, and he threw a complete game shutout in Game 1 of the NLDS against Atlanta. And he ended up getting his first ring.
2011, Lincecum bounced back, posting a 2.74 ERA, but he still wasn’t the same Cy Young pitcher from 2008 and 2009.
But in 2012, Lincecum clearly wasn’t anywhere close to the promising star he once was. Lincecum posted a 5.18 ERA, which at the time was a career high. Lincecum was so bad that season, during the playoffs, Barry Zito beat him out for a spot in the rotation.
The following years continued to be a struggle. Sure, he threw two no-hitters against some really bad Padres teams, but his numbers were far worse than average for him.
Lincecum had hip surgery during the 2015 season, and was an unsigned free agent in 2016, until May 20th, where he signed a contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
Lincecum was...absolutely awful with the Angels, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. He posted a 9.16 ERA in only 9 games.
And after his short stint with the Angels, Lincecum disappeared. He went unsigned during the 2017 season, and didn’t play a single game. He was completely gone from the public eye, and that’s how he wanted it. Everyone just thought Tim Lincecum was gone.
This was until December 20th, when Rockies pitcher Adam Ottavino posted this picture of a short-haired, Lincecum at Driveline Baseball. With how boring the recent off-season was, it wasn’t a surprise to see this picture circle everywhere around the baseball community. I mean look at that...Tim looks absolutely ripped.
Photo via Adam Ottavino/Instagram
Last month, Lincecum held a showcase for stats to go see him. According to a few reports, Lincecum’s fastball topped out at 93 MPH which, still isn’t as good as a high 90s young Lincecum, but after hip surgery, 93 MPH is very good.
Then, four days ago, reports come out that Lincecum has signed a major league contract with the Texas Rangers. It has been reported that Lincecum will be likely to join the bullpen, but there are possibilities for him to be a starter.
Looking at the Rangers going in to next season, they aren’t the best team. I mean their rotation isn’t horrible, and Lincecum getting a starting spot is totally possible.
I don’t think he will get a starting spot at the beginning of the season though. With how far we have gotten in spring training with him not there yet, I don’t really see it.
But if one of the pitchers gets injured, or they suck, or whatever the case is. This can be Lincecum’s comeback. This can be his chance to become a full-time starter again, and a possible two or three in the rotation.
I mean I suppose there’s Bartolo Colon, but he should be the one starter because it’s Big Sexy.
But I know there’s going to be somebody who’s going to say how I’m talking about a guy who had over a 9 ERA with his last team and hasn’t pitched in over a year. And I know, but I’m also talking about the freak. The guy that shut down lineups like it’s nothing. The 2 time Cy Young award winner
He’s not the same guy he was with the Angels now. He’s hungrier than ever, and I seriously believe he can become a full time starter again.