So Long “Mr. Cub”

Courtesy: MLB

Courtesy: MLB

Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks passed away on Friday at the age of 83, leaving behind a legacy full of enthusiasm and greatness on and off the diamond. Tom Ricketts, the Cubs chairman released a statement, saying:

“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time. He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known. Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie’s life in the days ahead.”

President Obama even chimed in on the passing, saying:

“Michelle and I send our condolences to the family of Ernie Banks, and to every Chicagoan and baseball fan who loved him. Ernie came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day. He became the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs, and the first number the team retired. Along the way, he became known as much for his 512 home runs and back-to-back National League MVPs as for his cheer, his optimism, and his love of the game. As a Hall-of-Famer, Ernie was an incredible ambassador for baseball, and for the city of Chicago. He was beloved by baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle, who, when she was a girl, used to sit with her dad and watch him play on TV. And in 2013, it was my honor to present Ernie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team’s behind him, and Mr. Class – “Mr. Cub” – is ready to play two.”

Banks loved to say “let’s play two today”, while becoming a great ambassador to the city of Chicago and game of baseball. He played his entire career with the Cubs, while becoming the record holder for most games played without a postseason appearance. He once said “I’d like to get to the last game of the World Series at Wrigley Field and hit three homers. That was what I always wanted to do.”

Banks

He may get there in spirit, as his No.14 will fly above the left foul pole at Wrigley Field while the new generation of potentially great Cubs’ players are molded into contenders over the next several seasons.

Banks was the first African-American player to play for the Cubs when he arrived late in 1953. He finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting in 1954 to St. Louis’ Wally Moon (though he did beat out Hank Aaron, who finished 4th that year). The next season, he made the first of his 14 All-Star appearances while hitting a then-record 44 home runs while playing shortstop. Banks would end his career with 512 home runs and two MVP awards (1958 and 1959), while playing over 1,100 games at both shortstop and first base.

Banks was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility, receiving 83.8 percent of the vote (the BBWAA was dumb then, too).

He was great on the field but people will remember him for more than his playing ability. The man who he was, the positivity, and the kindness is what people will mourn while they celebrate his life. I never met Ernie Banks, but you can get a lot out of who a person was by the words that people speak about them.

So long, Mr. Cub. The game will miss your enthusiasm. When people say “I wish more players were like (insert name)”, it was typically your name. That is a great way to be remembered as a ballplayer and a person.

Nationals: Pitching to the Max

 

The Washington Nationals have signed right-hander Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract, shocking the world of baseball by locking-up the market’s top free agent arm, while creating a new philosophy in negotiating tactics that could influence free agent signings in the future. By extending the $210 million over 14 years by deferring $15 million per year, they also free up a bit of payroll for additional signings in years to come.

Perhaps that deferred money will allow them to lock-up Bryce Harper, who will be a free agent after the 2018 season; however, in the moment, this deal does much more for the Nationals than make them creative, financial gurus.

Max Scherzer will now lead the Washington rotation, a rotation that already featured Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Tanner Roark. Obviously, depth in a starting rotation is always nice to have, especially with two pitchers on club’s roster already having Tommy John surgery on their resume (Strasburg and Zimmerman), and Gonzalez having dealt with some shoulder issues last season. What is truly incredible about the Scherzer signing is that Roark appears to be the man who would be bumped from the rotation, even after the 15 wins and 2.85 ERA over 31 starts in his age-27, 2014 season.

The Nationals have the flexibility to deal an arm, with Jordan Zimmermann already rumored to be the one who could be moved.

The Red Sox certainly have the prospects to make a deal for Zimmermann or any other player in baseball, so this isn’t all that surprising. Mookie Betts would make an excellent long-term second baseman – if the Nationals are content with moving Anthony Rendon to third base long-term, and the club doesn’t, or any club this side of the Dodgers, doesn’t appear capable of locking up a Scherzer/Zimmermann/Strasburg trio to the nearly $90 million annually that it would require. Zimmermann, who is due $16.5 million prior to reaching free agency after the 2015 season, arguably, is worth the same type of deal that Scherzer received and possibly more.

"Nationals

After all, when comparing these two players, there are a lot of similarities and a lot of envy from other clubs:

Player A: 45-22, 2.96 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 608.2 IP, 496:112 K:BB

Player B: 55-15, 3.24 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 622.1 IP, 723:179 K:BB

Zimmermann is Player A and Scherzer is Player B. Those strikeouts are certainly a big difference, but Zimmermann is just as dominant in overall numbers – outside of the swing-and-miss stuff.

Still, the Nationals sit here today with the most feared starting rotation in baseball. Just a week ago, ESPN’s Buster Olney had Washington atop his top 10 starting rotations in baseball, and that was BEFORE the club added Scherzer.

Bryce  HarperAs long as Washington is able to produce some runs in 2015, they appear to be capable of winning 100 games. The rotation, as is, features five pitchers capable of 15 or more wins and ERAs under 3.20, so if Jayson Werth, Harper, Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, and company can do their part, this is a very, very dangerous team.

The rich continue to get richer, which appears to be a theme in Major League Baseball, and while the Tigers lose Scherzer from the rotation that they had in 2014, they still have one season with David Price at the top before they need to panic. The Nationals don’t look like they’ll be in that position for several years.

Where the Reds Stand

RedsI like to say that I love baseball and that I don’t have a favorite team, but the fact of the matter is that I was born and raised in Cincinnati and I can’t help but hope for the best for my hometown Reds. It’s hard to say that I’m disappointed in a team that won more than 90 games in three of the last five seasons, but a season without a championship isn’t an absolute success, and the Reds haven’t won the World Series since 1990. They, along with 28 other teams, get to look up at the San Francisco Giants until next Fall, but are the Reds in a position to contend in 2015?

The club finished with 76 wins in 2014, finishing 14 games out of the NL Central and in 4th place in the division. While the Cardinals reloaded by acquiring OF Jason Heyward from Atlanta, the Pirates continue to get better with experience and tremendous, young talent, and the Cubs finally opened their wallets and brought in LHP Jon Lester to anchor an incredibly gifted, young roster, the Reds were making changes in their own way. The Reds haven’t been as desolate as they were last offseason, when they basically added Skip Schumaker to the mix after losing Shin-Soo Choo to the Rangers. There was some wheeling and dealing being done by GM Walt Jocketty, but the direction of those deals was a bit odd.

Reds' LF Marlon Byrd

Reds’ LF Marlon Byrd

The addition of OF Marlon Byrd, who has 49 home runs and an .800 OPS over the last two seasons, is an improvement over what OF Ryan Ludwick had done over the same time period (11 home runs and a .666 OPS); however, he’s 37 years old and his strikeout rate jumped to a career-high 29 percent while he posted an inflated .341 BABIP. The Byrd acquisition came after the club dealt Alfredo Simon to Detroit for RHP Jonathan Crawford and INF Eugenio Suarez, and RHP Mat Latos to the Marlins for C Chad Wallach and RHP Anthony DeSclafani. Both Simon and Latos were due to become free agents after the 2015 season, so the deals made sense for the Reds if they were heading into a rebuilding mode, but the deal for Byrd didn’t make much sense for a rebuilding team, as they traded a solid, young arm in Ben Lively to the Phillies to acquire Byrd.

Personally, the deal with the Tigers appears to be a steal. Simon never pitched the way that he had in a starting role prior to the 2014 season, and his FIP (4.33) says much more about his performance than his 3.44 ERA and 15 wins show. The fact that the Reds received the Tigers 1st round pick from the 2013 MLB Draft, Crawford, was pretty impressive, but Suarez, who rose quickly through the Tigers system and looks like a solid middle infielder to build around, in addition to Crawford was a coup.

The deal with the Marlins was a little less impressive, in my opinion. Wallach looks like a catching-version of Kevin Youkilis, posting solid K:BB rates in the minors, but DeSclafani was solid throughout his minor league career (3.23 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 354.1 IP), but wasn’t able to miss as many bats upon his promotion to the Marlins, when he had a 6.27 ERA (3.77 FIP) and allowed 10.9 H/9 IP. DeSclafani looks like a decent back-end starter, but you’d think Jocketty could have received more for Latos than that, given the insane money that will be thrown at pitchers on the free agent market.

Courtesy: Dayton Daily News

Courtesy: Dayton Daily News

Still, after the deals, the Reds are out in baseball purgatory. While they acquired a couple of arms in their trades, they still only have three starters worth trusting in the rotation: Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake. Tony Cingrani is an option, but outside of the questions about his secondary stuff, you have to wonder if his shoulder will continue being an issue after it cost him some time in 2014. Outside of those four, the Reds have more question marks in the rotation, as David Holmberg, Dylan Axelrod, Daniel Corcino, and Cuban import Raisel Iglesias bring unknown skills and suspect resumes to a potentially lengthy Spring Training competition for the No.5 spot in the group.

In addition to the questions in the rotation, the Reds have to address their depth. Suarez is a very nice option to fill-in at second base and shortstop, likely a much better option than Ramon Santiago was when he was asked to take over for Brandon Phillips‘ lengthy DL stint in 2014. Brayan Pena was impressive when pushed into an unfamiliar role, filling in at first base when Joey Votto was out for so long with his knee injury, but he wasn’t productive enough to offset the loss of the team’s franchise player.

Reds OF and speedster, Billy Hamilton

Reds OF and speedster, Billy Hamilton

Speaking of the franchise player…who is it? Can Cincinnati count of Joey Votto? Is Jay Bruce ever going to find consistency? Is Johnny Cueto going to re-sign, and, can the Reds afford to sign him OR afford to let him leave? Is Devin Mesoraco the future of the franchise? Can Billy Hamilton hit enough to become a difference-maker to the franchise?

The Reds still have a lot of talent, but they have a lot of questions to answer, as well. Jocketty did a nice job in acquiring more arms and additional depth in his flurry of deals, but if 2015 is the last year that the team will have Cueto and a couple of other solid arms to pitch the club to a division title, did he do enough to win now? Are they trying to win now?

The offseason isn’t quite over and there are still some starting pitchers who could be solid additions to the roster (RHP Chris Young, RHP Kyle Kendrick, LHP Paul Maholm, RHP Roberto Hernandez, LHP Franklin Morales), but they certainly aren’t going to be in on RHPs Max Scherzer or James Shields.

If things break right, the Reds should be competitive enough to make a run in the NL Central, but there will be a lot of luck involved in those breaks. While Cincinnati was spoiled in the 1970’s, it just hasn’t been the same for those of us who were born after 1980. One title in a lifetime doesn’t seem like a lot, but at least it hasn’t been since 1908.

Is Billy Beane Still a Genius?

Rays 2B/OF Ben Zobrist

Rays 2B/OF Ben Zobrist

On Saturday, the Oakland A’s acquired UTIL Ben Zobrist and SS Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays for C/DH John Jaso and two minor leaguers, CF Boog Powell and SS Daniel Robertson. This, of course, comes on the heels of the deal with Toronto, which sent the A’s star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, to the Jays for a strong package of minor leaguers (SS Franklin Barreto, LHP Sean Nolin, and RHP Kendall Graveman) and oft-injured 2B/3B Brett Lawrie, and the A’s deal with the White Sox, which sent Jeff Samardzija to Chicago (along with Michael Ynoa, the former bonus baby) for INF Marcus Semien, C Josh Phegley, RHP Chris Bassitt, and minor league INF Rangel Ravelo. The trades have changed the outlook on the future, especially after the club appeared to be heading in a new direction when they traded their gifted shortstop prospect Addison Russell to the Cubs to acquire Samardzija, while dealing Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester for a huge push at the deadline in 2014. However, after Saturday’s deal, the roster looks like it has had more face-lifts than Joan Rivers, but it still has the Billy Beane touch, as Susan Slusser, of the San Francisco Chronicle, tweeted:

With the additions of Zobrist and Escobar, the A’s have found a new shortstop for 2015, which was important considering the lack of range that Semien would have had at the position, while gaining the most versatile player in baseball this side of Craig Biggio in Zobrist. Still, there are some questions that could remain for A’s fans.

Why did they give up Russell for Samardzija, only to turn around and deal him months later?

If they felt comfortable with Robertson as the shortstop of the future enough to deal Russell, why did they deal Robertson as a centerpiece in a deal for Zobrist and Esobar?

If they ever felt that Robertson was the shortstop of the future, why did they get Barreto as a centerpiece of the deal with the Jays, while trading away their best offensive piece from a team that was starved for offense down the stretch in 2014?

A's GM Billy Beane

A’s GM Billy Beane

Many of these questions are logical, but no one really knows what Billy Beane is thinking. The end result, however, shows that Beane was able to acquire several pieces that are quite useful right now, while stockpiling his system with high-impact, controllable talent. Sure, Billy Butler isn’t going to replace the production that Josh Donaldson provided (he certainly won’t be coming close to earning an MVP vote without a drastic career bounceback), but the potential that they received in Lawrie, plus the addition of so many other useful parts allows the club to get back to the foundation of on-base skills and productivity through strong plate appearances that made the Moneyball movement such a dynamic influence on the organization and the world of baseball.

The versatility in the order and the presence of veterans like Zobrist, Crisp, Reddick, and Butler in the Oakland lineup may help the A’s get to the next level. They still have solid depth in the rotation with Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Hahn (acquired from San Diego for Derek Norris this winter), the returning-from-surgery A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker, and their choice of youngsters Nolin, Bassitt, Graveman, and Drew Pomeranz, and the A’s will just need things to click right, which seems to always happen with Beane on board.

Certainly what Beane has done over the last eight months doesn’t seem perfect, but he looks to have another group of players who will be capable of reaching 87 or more wins again, something the A’s have done 11 times in the 17 seasons that he has been the GM in Oakland.

Hall of Fame Vote

Bonds1I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote with the BBWAA, but I DO have one with the IBWAA. The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America gives a voice to the common writer, who tends to be the common fan – one who doesn’t utilize a national platform to showcase their personal agenda, while using a large publication to demonstrate their lack of knowledge. For those who are willing to be open-minded regarding their education of the greatest game ever played, the ever-changing numbers-crunching and constant flow of information has changed how many around the game think; however, there are still a few, like the link above, which detail how wrong so many actually voting for the Hall of Fame actually are.

Beyond the credentialed irrationality of many within the BBWAA, we are left with the limitations, which are being challenged now that a dramatic number of worthy candidates are on a ballot that can only allow up to 10 players into Cooperstown each year.  To overcome the shortcomings, we have the IBWAA, which is filled with bloggers, and national writers who don’t yet qualify for the BBWAA vote, and perhaps never will. Within the IBWAA, we can vote for up to 15 players each year, and I used each vote on a loaded ballot, while leaving off some very good players, as well. Below, you’ll find my ballot, but some valuable information from the IBWAA:

The IBWAA ballot compares identically to the BBWAA ballot, with the following exceptions:

1. Craig Biggio’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2014.

2. Mike Piazza’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2013.

3. Barry Larkin’s name does appear on the ballot because he has not reached the 75% threshold in an IBWAA election.

Per a group decision in 2013, the IBWAA allows members to vote for 15 players, instead of the previous 10, beginning with this election.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
15 Yrs 2150 9431 7797 1517 2314 488 32 449 1529 202 1401 1558 .297 .408 .540 .948 149 4213
162 Game Avg. 162 711 587 114 174 37 2 34 115 15 106 117 .297 .408 .540 .948 149 317
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.

Bagwell was a monster, who had one of the greatest seasons in the history of baseball in 1994 before the strike ended it. His career was shortened by shoulder woes, but he was one of the most feared athletes in the game, a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, and a four-time All-Star, who had 2.89 career MVP shares.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
22 Yrs 2986 12606 9847 2227 2935 601 77 762 1996 514 2558 1539 .298 .444 .607 1.051 182 5976
162 Game Avg. 162 684 534 121 159 33 4 41 108 28 139 83 .298 .444 .607 1.051 182 324
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Say what you want to about his character flaws – the Hall of Fame honors greatness, and Bonds was nothing short of great. An asterisk and labels can’t change the fact that he had to hit the ball, and he certainly did that – while stealing bases and being an incredible athlete in his earlier, slimmer seasons.
Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 SO/W
24 Yrs 354 184 3.12 709 707 118 46 4916.2 4185 1885 1707 363 1580 4672 143 3.09 1.173 7.7 2.96
162 Game Avg. 17 9 3.12 34 34 6 2 236 201 91 82 17 76 224 143 3.09 1.173 7.7 2.96
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Clemens was a competitor, a hard-working workhorse, whose offseason workouts led to his long-term success, just as much as some of the “products” that he put into his body. Despite his stupidity off-the-field, he was an amazing pitcher on it – one of the greatest.
Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 SO/W
22 Yrs 303 166 3.29 618 603 100 37 4135.1 3346 1703 1513 411 1497 4875 135 3.19 1.171 7.3 3.26
162 Game Avg. 17 9 3.29 34 34 6 2 230 186 95 84 23 83 271 135 3.19 1.171 7.3 3.26
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
“The Big Unit” holds the MLB record for career K:9 and his size and stuff were equally intimidating – ask John Kruk. The longevity of his stuff was equally impressive as his results.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
17 Yrs 2298 9537 8498 1320 2461 560 47 377 1518 94 801 1522 .290 .356 .500 .855 123 4246
162 Game Avg. 162 672 599 93 173 39 3 27 107 7 56 107 .290 .356 .500 .855 123 299
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Kent’s numbers may be inflated from batting behind Bonds for so many years, but his overall numbers at second base make Ryne Sandberg’s look pedestrian. Different era, certainly, but Kent’s production is absolutely Hall-worthy.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
19 Yrs 2180 9057 7937 1329 2340 441 76 198 960 379 939 817 .295 .371 .444 .815 116 3527
162 Game Avg. 162 673 590 99 174 33 6 15 71 28 70 61 .295 .371 .444 .815 116 262
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
He’s already in Cooperstown, but he still gets my vote here. Call me a homer, but Larkin helped to redefine the position when he became the very first shortstop in baseball history to post a 30 home run/30 stolen base season in 1996, the season AFTER his MVP award.
Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 SO/W
18 Yrs 219 100 2.93 476 409 46 17 2827.1 2221 1006 919 239 760 3154 154 2.91 1.054 7.1 4.15
162 Game Avg. 17 8 2.93 37 31 4 1 217 171 77 71 18 58 242 154 2.91 1.054 7.1 4.15
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Pedro was as dominant as any pitcher ever during his prime. He won three Cy Young Awards (two were unanimous) over a four year period, while having a 4.26 career Cy Young shares. From 1997 through 2003, he averaged 17 wins per season, with a 2.20 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and had a 5.59 K:BB. Perhaps it wasn’t long enough for some, but Martinez was as good as any right-handed pitcher ever when he was in his prime.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
19 Yrs 2460 10174 8757 1349 2490 441 24 493 1550 72 1305 1882 .284 .377 .509 .886 134 4458
162 Game Avg. 162 670 577 89 164 29 2 32 102 5 86 124 .284 .377 .509 .886 134 294
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
“The Crime Dog” hasn’t had nearly enough love from BBWAA voters since he became eligible in 2010, falling to 11.7 percent of the vote last season. He didn’t reach the 500 home run plateau, but he also wasn’t one of “those guys” when it comes to the PED police. Sure, he never won an MVP, but he did earn five All-Star appearances and was the epitome of consistency by averaging a .289/.382/.515 line with 31 home runs and 97 RBI per season from 1988 through 2001 – 14 seasons!
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
16 Yrs 1874 7660 6187 1167 1626 252 6 583 1414 12 1317 1596 .263 .394 .588 .982 163 3639
162 Game Avg. 162 662 535 101 141 22 1 50 122 1 114 138 .263 .394 .588 .982 163 315
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
McGwire sort of ruined things for everyone when he was bashing with Jose Canseco in Oakland and blowing up quicker than a marshmallow in a microwave in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The “Andro” in the locker started the media’s movement to ridicule cheaters in baseball, but it wasn’t until after Bud Selig and the owners were loving the revenue and the return of baseball’s popularity. Not only did McGwire put up incredible numbers, he and Sosa’s rush towards Maris’s record helped save the game. Numbers alone (which is what players are measured on)…McGwire is in.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
23 Yrs 2502 10359 8872 1571 2605 430 113 170 980 808 1330 966 .294 .385 .425 .810 123 3771
162 Game Avg. 162 671 574 102 169 28 7 11 63 52 86 63 .294 .385 .425 .810 123 244
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Rickey Henderson was flashy and outrageous, but Raines was just as special and dynamic. Raines may be remembered for slight production for a number of years. He was at his best from 1981 through 1987, earning All-Star nods each of those seasons; however, Raines would hang around for an additional 14 seasons, producing above replacement level numbers through 1993 before his career was mostly him just lingering. Despite the shortcomings, he should be measured for his extended greatness in the 1980’s, and his ranking 5th all-time in stolen bases also helps.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
22 Yrs 2576 10947 9217 1636 2689 467 27 509 1676 253 1475 1171 .292 .393 .514 .907 140 4737
162 Game Avg. 162 688 580 103 169 29 2 32 105 16 93 74 .292 .393 .514 .907 140 298
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Another man with character flaws, Sheffield’s personality rubbed a lo t of people the wrong way; however, his production on-the-field was elite. He remains one of the top right-handed power hitters in the history of the game, and the bat-speed has made him legendary, leading to many comparisons to upcoming prospects, like the Cubs’ Javier Baez. Sheffield’s arrogance can only be matched by the impressive numbers that should lead to his admittance to Cooperstown.
Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 SO/W
21 Yrs 213 155 3.33 723 481 53 16 154 3473.0 3074 1391 1284 288 1010 3084 125 3.24 1.176 8.0 3.05
162 Game Avg. 12 9 3.33 41 27 3 1 9 196 174 79 73 16 57 174 125 3.24 1.176 8.0 3.05
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Smoltz had an interesting career – one that will lead many wondering if he did enough to get into the Hall of Fame. Sure, he didn’t win 300 games, but he spent four seasons in the bullpen and one season out of baseball due to Tommy John surgery. His dominance as a starter AND a reliever is what makes his case so special.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
18 Yrs 2354 9896 8813 1475 2408 379 45 609 1667 234 929 2306 .273 .344 .534 .878 128 4704
162 Game Avg. 162 681 607 102 166 26 3 42 115 16 64 159 .273 .344 .534 .878 128 324
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
A freak, whether natural or enhanced, Sosa was a monster. Like McGwire, his lore is disturbed by question marks and labels; however, for me, the numbers tell the story. He was one of the best players in baseball for an extended period of time, which allows him to rank among the game’s greatests.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
20 Yrs 2293 9376 8288 1231 2365 412 55 185 1003 236 850 874 .285 .352 .415 .767 110 3442
162 Game Avg. 162 662 586 87 167 29 4 13 71 17 60 62 .285 .352 .415 .767 110 243
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
I wrote an entire article on this several years ago and I feel that it is still relevant. Find it HERE.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
17 Yrs 1988 8030 6907 1355 2160 471 62 383 1311 230 913 1231 .313 .400 .565 .965 141 3904
162 Game Avg. 162 654 563 110 176 38 5 31 107 19 74 100 .313 .400 .565 .965 141 318
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Walker’s overall number look very similar to Jeff Bagwell, and he is just as worthy of enshrinement. Injuries quickly halted Walker’s production, but his ability to produce across the board, while featuring an incredible arm in right field, made him one of the best all-around players of his era.

Top 30 MLB Free Agents for 2015

Free agency has officially started, with two of the top names on the market, Michael Cuddyer and Victor Martinez, already reaching new agreements (Cuddyer, two-years, $21 million with the Mets) or re-signing with their club (Martinez, four-years, $68 million). There’s still plenty of time remaining for teams to make improvements or trades, and these are the names that you’ll want to know, while hoping that your team makes the highest bid.

  1. Hanley Ramirez, SS

    RHP Max Scherzer

    RHP Max Scherzer

  2. Yoan Moncada, SS – Cuba
  3. Max Scherzer, RHP
  4. Yasmany Tomas, OF – Cuba
  5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
  6. Jon Lester, LHP
  7. James Shields, RHP
  8. Nelson Cruz, OF/DH
  9. Russell Martin, C
  10. Melky Cabrera, OF
  11. Ervin Santana, RHP
  12. Francisco Liriano, LHP
  13. Kenta Maeda, RHP – Japan
  14. Brandon McCarthy, RHP
  15. Andrew Miller, LHP
  16. David Robertson, RHP
  17. Nick Markakis, OF
  18. Chase Headley, 3B
  19. Jason Hammel, RHP
  20. Hyeon-jong Yang, LHP – Korea
  21. Sergio Romo, RHP
  22. Alex Rios, OF

    OF Alex Rios

    OF Alex Rios

  23. Nori Aoki, OF
  24. Michael Morse, 1B/OF
  25. Colby Rasmus, OF
  26. Jed Lowrie, SS
  27. Hector Olivera, 2B – Cuba
  28. Billy Butler, 1B/DH
  29. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  30. Jung-ho Kang, SS – Korea


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Super Two Avoidance…Get to Know Oscar Taveras

evanvogel:

RIP – This is so sad for many, many reasons. As a fan of baseball, it is certainly horrific, but my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family, the family of his girlfriend, and the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

Originally posted on The Baseball Haven:

If you don’t know who Oscar Taveras is at this point, you should ask your internet service provider to explain how you’ve had Wi-Fi go through the boulder that you’ve been living under. Taveras has been a top prospect for three seasons ranking 23rd in 2012, 2nd in 2013, and 3rd in 2014 prior to each season (Baseball Prospectus), gaining all kinds of impressive comps along the way, including Vladimir Guerrero. The left-handed hitting outfielder was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in November of 2008 at the tender age of 16. Much like Gregory Polanco, who I wrote about on Wednesday, he appears stuck in the minors due to the financial constraints of the Super Two process, although…the Cardinals do have better talent blocking Taveras than what the Pirates have blocking Polanco, as Matt Adams and Allen Craig seem much more capable than Jose Tabata and

View original 1,090 more words

2015 MLB Top 100 Prospects

Cubs super-prospect 3B/OF Kris Bryant

Cubs super-prospect 3B/OF Kris Bryant

1. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 21 -0.8 A–A+-Rk CHC 36 146 128 22 43 14 2 9 32 1 11 35 .336 .390 .688 1.078 88
2014 22 -3.5 AA-AAA CHC 138 594 492 118 160 34 1 43 110 15 86 162 .325 .438 .661 1.098 325
2 Seasons 174 740 620 140 203 48 3 52 142 16 97 197 .327 .428 .666 1.095 413
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Bryant is a mashing star in the making for the Cubs. He is an athletic player, and while there are questions about whether he can handle third defensively, there aren’t any questions about his ability to hit. He’ll be a monster producer for Theo and Co. for years to come. He doesn’t have anything left to prove in the minors, but he’ll likely spend some time in Triple-A to maintain his service time in Chicago. 

2. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 18 -1.9 Rk MIN 48 189 165 33 41 10 4 5 20 11 19 41 .248 .344 .448 .792 74
2013 19 -3.0 A-A+ MIN 125 574 488 109 163 19 18 12 77 55 76 105 .334 .424 .520 .944 254
2014 20 -2.7 A+-AA MIN 31 137 124 19 29 4 2 4 16 6 10 36 .234 .307 .395 .702 49
3 Seasons 204 900 777 161 233 33 24 21 113 72 105 182 .300 .389 .485 .874 377
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.

Say what you’d like to about Buxton’s inability to stay on the field – it still doesn’t tell me that he’s lost any tools. However, if he has another lost season, it may be time to re-evaluate that view. Power, speed, and elite centerfield defense make him valuable in fantasy and real-life baseball. He has more tools than Lowe’s.

3. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 17 -2.8 Rk HOU 50 204 190 28 49 14 2 3 12 6 12 44 .258 .305 .400 .705 76
2013 18 -3.3 A HOU 117 519 450 73 144 33 3 9 86 10 58 83 .320 .405 .467 .872 210
2014 19 -3.8 A+ HOU 62 293 249 50 81 16 6 6 57 20 36 45 .325 .416 .510 .926 127
3 Seasons 229 1016 889 151 274 63 11 18 155 36 106 172 .308 .389 .465 .853 413
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Correa, like Buxton, missed most of 2014 due to injury. He was having a monster season, and it doesn’t really matter that it was happening at Lancaster in the California League because he is capable of that type of production. It will be interesting to see if his injury leads to any loss of speed, but the large, powerful shortstop deserves the benefit of the doubt, much like Buxton, because of his gifts. 

4. Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 18 -2.4 Rk-A-A- OAK 55 244 217 46 80 10 9 7 45 16 23 48 .369 .432 .594 1.027 129
2013 19 -4.0 A+-AAA OAK 110 517 442 86 119 29 10 17 60 21 61 125 .269 .369 .495 .865 219
2014 20 -4.3 AA-A+ CHC,OAK 68 280 258 39 76 14 1 13 45 6 19 49 .295 .350 .508 .858 131
3 Seasons 233 1041 917 171 275 53 20 37 150 43 103 222 .300 .379 .522 .901 479
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
With Starlin Castro, Arismendy Alcantara, and Javier Baez already in the system, it was pretty shocking to see the Cubs acquire another elite middle infielder when they finally traded Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija to the Oakland Athletics. You can never have too much elite talent, and talent is talent, so it can play anywhere. Russell could be the long-term shortstop due to his ability to handle the position defensively, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in Chicago around the same time that Bryant makes his debut for the Cubs. 
Rangers 3B Joey Gallo

Rangers 3B Joey Gallo

5. Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 18 -1.9 Rk-A- TEX 59 260 206 53 56 12 1 22 52 6 48 78 .272 .412 .660 1.072 136
2013 19 -2.5 A-Rk TEX 111 467 411 86 103 23 5 40 88 15 50 172 .251 .338 .623 .961 256
2014 20 -3.6 AA-A+ TEX 126 537 439 97 119 19 3 42 106 7 87 179 .271 .394 .615 1.009 270
3 Seasons 296 1264 1056 236 278 54 9 104 246 28 185 429 .263 .377 .627 1.004 662
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Elite power makes Gallo a future star and the strikeouts make him a future star who strikes out a lot. There isn’t much to be concerned about here. In the hapless offensive era that MLB is currently enduring, power is power and teams are craving it. While a strikeout, as Moneyball showed, is a wasted at-bat, the potential production that Gallo offers is titillating. He’ll continue to rise through the ranks, and, like Bryant, questions about his long-term position don’t matter much due to the bat. He’ll have a spot somewhere. 

6. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2011 17 -4.1 A- CLE 5 20 19 4 6 0 0 0 2 1 1 5 .316 .350 .316 .666 6
2012 18 -3.6 A CLE 122 567 490 83 126 24 3 6 42 27 61 78 .257 .352 .355 .707 174
2013 19 -4.1 A+-AA CLE 104 464 403 65 122 22 7 2 34 25 49 46 .303 .380 .407 .787 164
2014 20 -5.4 AA-AAA CLE 126 567 507 75 140 16 4 11 62 28 49 97 .276 .338 .389 .727 197
4 Seasons 357 1618 1419 227 394 62 14 19 140 81 160 226 .278 .355 .381 .736 541
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Lindor doesn’t have the size and power that Correa offers, but his glove is what will make him most valuable to the Indians. That isn’t to say that he is clueless at the dish, though, as Lindor has solid gap power, a very advanced approach at the plate, and usable speed on the bases. He’s a perfect top-of-the-order option, and if he isn’t in Cleveland by June 15th, Chris Antonetti and Terry Francona are doing it wrong. 

7. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 18 -2.9 Rk LAD 46 202 175 34 54 9 2 8 33 8 21 33 .309 .383 .520 .903 91
2013 19 -2.7 A-A+ LAD 101 426 372 55 100 20 4 16 72 10 46 89 .269 .351 .473 .824 176
2014 20 -3.3 A+-AA LAD 118 526 475 89 166 50 5 20 97 6 40 115 .349 .402 .602 1.004 286
3 Seasons 265 1154 1022 178 320 79 11 44 202 24 107 237 .313 .380 .541 .921 553
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014
Kyle’s younger brother has all the makings of a studly offensive shortstop. He may grow out of the position, if he hasn’t already, but his impressive numbers would certainly make the Dodgers lineup that much more feared. It will be interesting to see how far the Dodgers go in negotiations with Hanley Ramirez with Seager waiting in the wings. 

8. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 17 -2.3 Rk-FRk MIN 61 241 212 34 65 16 1 7 29 4 24 60 .307 .379 .491 .870 104
2011 18 -2.5 Rk MIN 66 293 267 58 78 18 7 20 59 5 23 77 .292 .352 .637 .988 170
2012 19 -2.6 A MIN 129 553 457 75 118 28 4 28 100 8 80 144 .258 .373 .521 .893 238
2013 20 -3.6 AA-A+ MIN 123 519 439 86 123 30 5 35 103 11 65 142 .280 .382 .610 .992 268
4 Seasons 379 1606 1375 253 384 92 17 90 291 28 192 423 .279 .373 .567 .940 780
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Another Twins’ prospect with a lost season, Sano missed all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery. Sano will be 22 in 2015, and while he’ll need to work on timing and get the rust off, he should arrive sometime during the upcoming season. He is a powerful, right-handed bat, and with the Twins looking to head in a new direction after firing Ron Gardenhire, a quick promotion of their future would be pretty intriguing to their fans – but he needs to prove that he’s ready first. 

9. Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2014 22 CHC NL 24 97 89 11 26 8 1 5 20 1 6 24 .292 .330 .573 .903 51
1 Yr 24 97 89 11 26 8 1 5 20 1 6 24 .292 .330 .573 .903 51
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2012 20 -0.7 A-Rk CHC 34 149 134 28 40 7 0 5 25 12 12 19 .299 .369 .463 .832 62
2013 21 -1.8 A+ CHC 55 236 210 38 59 13 1 8 35 5 21 38 .281 .343 .467 .810 98
2014 22 -3.0 AAA-AA-Rk CHC 62 236 200 42 68 23 2 15 57 0 33 48 .340 .432 .700 1.132 140
5 Seasons 151 621 544 108 167 43 3 28 117 17 66 105 .307 .383 .551 .935 300
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Soler is an absolute monster. He has insane power and showcased it during his brief time in Chicago last season. He, like Buxton, just needs to stay on the field to reach his full potential. He should open the 2015 season as the Cubs starting right fielder, likely a favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year award. 

10. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 17 -3.4 Rk WSN 0 0 4.50 1 0 0 2.0 2 1 1 0 1 1.000 9.0 0.0 4.5
2013 18 -2.9 Rk-A- WSN 2 1 1.96 11 0 0 36.2 28 9 8 14 39 1.145 6.9 3.4 9.6 2.79
2013 18 -2.6 Rk WSN 1 1 2.78 8 0 0 22.2 19 8 7 10 25 1.279 7.5 4.0 9.9 2.50
2013 18 -3.3 A- WSN 1 0 0.64 3 0 0 14.0 9 1 1 4 14 0.929 5.8 2.6 9.0 3.50
2014 19 -2.8 A WSN 10 2 2.20 20 0 0 98.0 70 28 24 28 110 1.000 6.4 2.6 10.1 3.93
3 Seasons 12 3 2.17 32 0 0 136.2 100 38 33 42 150 1.039 6.6 2.8 9.9 3.57
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
The training wheels were still on Giolito in 2014, but it’s likely a good thing that the Nationals are being so cautious because this kid is likely better than Stephen Strasburg ever was. Sure, he hasn’t reached the majors and he, like Strasburg, has already had elbow surgery, but he’s a huge kid with huge stuff, and he’s capable of dominating nightly. My guess is he starts the season in Double-A and will be up with Washington by July 1st. He’s breaking free of the chains and will show just how impressive he is.

11. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2011 18 -3.5 Rk ARI 0 0 0.00 2 0 0 2.0 1 0 0 0 4 0.500 4.5 0.0 18.0
2012 19 -2.8 A ARI 12 6 3.84 27 0 0 136.0 87 64 58 84 152 1.257 5.8 5.6 10.1 1.81
2013 20 -4.1 AA-A+ ARI 14 5 1.84 26 2 0 152.0 115 40 31 69 162 1.211 6.8 4.1 9.6 2.35
2014 21 -3.9 AA-AAA-Rk ARI 3 7 4.45 18 1 0 83.0 76 43 41 49 75 1.506 8.2 5.3 8.1 1.53
4 Seasons 29 18 3.14 73 3 0 373.0 279 147 130 202 393 1.290 6.7 4.9 9.5 1.95
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Injuries and inconsistencies plagued Bradley in 2014. His walks were up significantly and they continue to be what holds him back from being an elite arm; however, I’ve said that before about people, namely Matt Harvey. He has the stuff…he just needs to harness it to reach his potential. 
Dodgers LHP phenom Julio Urias

Dodgers LHP phenom Julio Urias

12. Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 16 -5.8 A LAD 2 0 2.48 18 0 0 54.1 44 15 15 16 67 1.104 7.3 2.7 11.1 4.19
2014 17 -6.2 A+ LAD 2 2 2.36 25 0 0 87.2 60 25 23 37 109 1.106 6.2 3.8 11.2 2.95
2 Seasons 4 2 2.41 43 0 0 142.0 104 40 38 53 176 1.106 6.6 3.4 11.2 3.32
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Urias should be a senior in high school in 2015…only he isn’t, as he will be in Double-A working on becoming a future elite arm for the Dodgers. His numbers are impressive, but then you see that he’s just 17 and has struck out 11.2 per nine over his first 142 innings and it becomes that much more eye-opening. He is mature beyond his years, mentally and with his stuff, and he’s a player to monitor due to his age, stuff, and insane ceiling. 

13. Carlos Rodon, LHP, Chicago White Sox

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2014 21 -3.5 AAA-A+-Rk CHW 0 0 2.92 9 0 0 24.2 20 9 8 13 38 1.338 7.3 4.7 13.9 2.92
1 Season 0 0 2.92 9 0 0 24.2 20 9 8 13 38 1.338 7.3 4.7 13.9 2.92
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
I’m not buying his fall from grace in college. He could have been abused and he could have a poor attitude, but none of those things are going to change the fact that Rodon’s stuff is wicked. His slider is a 100 on a 70 point scale, so if he isn’t able to make it as a starter, he’ll be a dominant relief pitcher. People have questioned the future of other White Sox left-handers and their long-term roles in the past, and Chris Sale says that those people are dumb. 

14. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2014 22 LAD NL 18 38 28 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 9 11 .143 .351 .143 .494 4
1 Yr 18 38 28 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 9 11 .143 .351 .143 .494 4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 18 -2.1 Rk LAD 3 12 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 5 .000 .417 .000 .417 0
2011 19 -2.2 Rk-A LAD 84 370 316 58 102 20 2 11 65 26 43 63 .323 .407 .503 .910 159
2012 20 -2.6 A+ LAD 110 499 434 96 136 26 4 18 70 26 51 81 .313 .396 .516 .913 224
2013 21 -3.2 AA LAD 123 519 439 81 122 24 3 22 58 31 70 114 .278 .381 .497 .878 218
2014 22 -4.6 AAA LAD 121 553 445 106 135 17 4 33 78 30 100 149 .303 .435 .582 1.017 259
5 Seasons 441 1953 1641 342 495 87 13 84 271 113 268 412 .302 .405 .524 .929 860
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Do you think that this guy prays nightly for the Dodgers to trade him or another outfielder on their roster? If you didn’t think that he broke out as a star at some point in 2012 or 2013 in the minors, he showed up to Triple-A last year and showed more power (I know the league is notorious for it) and a better approach at the plate. He has power, speed, and he can play all three outfield positions. He would be a tremendous target for anyone trying to match-up with Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers in an offseason deal. He just needs a job to get things going. 

15. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 19 -3.8 A+-A-AA BAL 9 3 2.08 23 0 0 103.2 67 29 24 28 119 0.916 5.8 2.4 10.3 4.25
2014 21 -1.3 A+-A- BAL 1 3 3.27 9 0 0 41.1 38 15 15 16 37 1.306 8.3 3.5 8.1 2.31
2 Seasons 10 6 2.42 32 0 0 145.0 105 44 39 44 156 1.028 6.5 2.7 9.7 3.55
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Bundy lost all of the 2013 season to Tommy John surgery and he pitched well in his return last season, though he wasn’t nearly as dominant as he was in 2012. It’s all part of the process and he dealt with a lat muscle injury during the 2014 season, so he needs some time. He was handled much like Giolito was during his first full season (2012), but you can’t really save an arm that way – he needs to rebuild stamina and prove that he still has the stuff to be a future ace, which I’m banking on. 

16. Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 21 -1.4 A+-Rk COL 4 0 1.93 9 0 0 37.1 25 11 8 8 51 0.884 6.0 1.9 12.3 6.38
2013 21 0.0 Rk COL 0 0 4.05 4 0 0 13.1 15 8 6 2 15 1.275 10.1 1.4 10.1 7.50
2013 21 -2.2 A+ COL 4 0 0.75 5 0 0 24.0 10 3 2 6 36 0.667 3.8 2.2 13.5 6.00
2014 22 -2.4 AA COL 10 5 3.91 24 0 0 124.1 107 58 54 41 113 1.190 7.7 3.0 8.2 2.76
2 Seasons 14 5 3.45 33 0 0 161.2 132 69 62 49 164 1.120 7.3 2.7 9.1 3.35
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Gray has the task of becoming a star pitcher within the Rockies’ system, while maintaining a level of dominance once he reaches Coor’s Field. It won’t be easy, but he has the stuff to make it happen. His overall numbers weren’t eye-popping in 2014, but he stayed healthy and maintained the electricity on his fastball and slider, which are the keys to his ability to reach his ceiling. It will be interesting to see if the Rockies keep him away from Colorado Springs and return him to Double-A to start the 2015 season, as the PCL can be hellacious on the mental state of young pitchers. 

17. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2010 17 -3.4 Rk TOR 0 1 2.70 5 0 0 13.1 11 7 4 4 6 1.125 7.4 2.7 4.0 1.50
2011 18 -2.9 Rk-A–A TOR 5 2 1.83 13 0 0 59.0 46 14 12 18 68 1.085 7.0 2.7 10.4 3.78
2012 19 -2.8 A TOR 8 5 2.60 27 0 0 103.2 81 41 30 31 122 1.080 7.0 2.7 10.6 3.94
2013 20 -3.8 A+-AA NYM 9 4 3.06 23 0 0 117.2 107 48 40 28 133 1.147 8.2 2.1 10.2 4.75
2014 21 -5.8 AAA NYM 9 7 4.60 26 0 0 133.0 154 77 68 43 145 1.481 10.4 2.9 9.8 3.37
5 Seasons 31 19 3.25 94 0 0 426.2 399 187 154 124 474 1.226 8.4 2.6 10.0 3.82
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
“Thor” wasn’t alone in having injuries and being ineffective in the world of prospects in 2014, but it was still an underwhelming season. His strikeouts per nine fell and his walks rose a bit, but the most alarming item was how hittable he was. With his stuff, you’d expect more, but he was pitching in Triple-A at the age of 21, so he deserves a bit of a break. He’ll start back there in 2015 and show that he’s better than that, very quickly, and reach New York before the All-Star break. 

18. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 18 -2.5 Rk-A- PIT 0 3 1.88 12 0 0 38.1 23 17 8 17 44 1.043 5.4 4.0 10.3 2.59
2013 19 -2.7 A PIT 9 3 2.18 24 0 0 111.1 54 35 27 61 164 1.033 4.4 4.9 13.3 2.69
2014 20 -3.2 A+ PIT 12 5 1.74 23 0 0 124.1 74 29 24 57 157 1.054 5.4 4.1 11.4 2.75
3 Seasons 21 11 1.94 59 0 0 274.0 151 81 59 135 365 1.044 5.0 4.4 12.0 2.70
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Glasnow is his own worst enemy. He has only allowed FIVE hits per nine innings in his career, but it’s the 4.4 walks per nine that are worrisome. It stems from an electric fastball that he needs to control to become even better than the 1.94 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 274 career innings have shown. He could be better than Gerrit Cole when all is said and done. 
Reds RHP Robert Stephenson

Reds RHP Robert Stephenson

19. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 19 -2.7 A-Rk CIN 3 4 3.18 15 0 0 65.0 54 34 23 23 72 1.185 7.5 3.2 10.0 3.13
2013 20 -2.4 A-A+-AA CIN 7 7 2.99 22 0 0 114.1 92 49 38 35 136 1.111 7.2 2.8 10.7 3.89
2014 21 -3.4 AA CIN 7 10 4.74 27 0 0 136.2 114 81 72 74 140 1.376 7.5 4.9 9.2 1.89
3 Seasons 17 21 3.79 64 0 0 316.0 260 164 133 132 348 1.241 7.4 3.8 9.9 2.64
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Stephenson took a step back in 2014 by allowing more walks and home runs than at any point in his career. He spent the whole season in Double-A and he’s still young enough to rebound, but the questions about the “straightness” of his fastball could be the reason that he was greeted so unforgivingly by his opponents. The Reds need to see an improvement due to the possible departures of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Aroldis Chapman to free agency after the 2015 season – someone needs to be in their rotation! 

20. Kohl Stewart, RHP, Minnesota Twins

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 18 -2.6 Rk MIN 0 0 1.35 7 0 0 20.0 13 7 3 4 24 0.850 5.8 1.8 10.8 6.00
2014 19 -3.0 A MIN 3 5 2.59 19 0 0 87.0 75 36 25 24 62 1.138 7.8 2.5 6.4 2.58
2 Seasons 3 5 2.36 26 0 0 107.0 88 43 28 28 86 1.084 7.4 2.4 7.2 3.07
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Stewart has incredible stuff, but, like many other Twins’ prospect, dealt with an injury in 2014. Stewart struggled with the dreaded “shoulder soreness” that cost him several starts, and the Twins will hope that he gets back on track in 2015 and can remain injury-free. An upper-90’s fastball was his calling card coming out of high school, and he’ll need to regain the strength in that shoulder to keep his stock this high (or higher). 

21. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2014 23 MIA NL 0 3 5.83 7 0 0 29.1 32 19 19 7 20 1.330 9.8 2.1 6.1 2.86
1 Yr 0 3 5.83 7 0 0 29.1 32 19 19 7 20 1.330 9.8 2.1 6.1 2.86
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 21 -0.3 A-Rk MIA 1 2 4.33 6 0 0 27.0 32 17 13 6 30 1.407 10.7 2.0 10.0 5.00
2013 22 -1.5 A+-AA MIA 9 3 1.60 19 1 0 95.1 76 22 17 26 89 1.070 7.2 2.5 8.4 3.42
2014 23 -2.9 AAA-AA MIA 9 6 3.28 24 1 1 137.1 120 61 50 36 143 1.136 7.9 2.4 9.4 3.97
3 Seasons 19 11 2.77 49 2 1 259.2 228 100 80 68 262 1.140 7.9 2.4 9.1 3.85
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
A quick-rising arm out of Oklahoma State, Heaney was able to get to the Marlins within 24 months of being drafted. He has a fastball that can touch the mid-90’s and a very good slider. He likely won’t ever replace Jose Fernandez as the Marlins’ ace, but he can become a very useful arm right behind him in the rotation. A developing changeup is likely his key to success. 

22. Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2013 18 -2.9 Rk-A- BAL 0 1 1.78 8 0 0 25.1 21 6 5 6 33 1.066 7.5 2.1 11.7 5.50
2014 19 -2.8 A BAL 7 5 3.18 17 0 0 87.2 66 39 31 33 106 1.129 6.8 3.4 10.9 3.21
2 Seasons 7 6 2.87 25 0 0 113.0 87 45 36 39 139 1.115 6.9 3.1 11.1 3.56
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Harvey and Giolito were able to battle a couple of times during their time in the SAL in 2014, and Harvey was capable of matching him. If that doesn’t tell you what Harvey is capable of, I don’t know what will. He could easily be where Dylan Bundy is on this list, quite capable of becoming a better long-term option, but he, like so many others, was shut down due to an injury, as Harvey dealt with an elbow strain. If he can rebound from the arm injury, he’ll head to High-A and stay on the fast track to the majors. 

23. Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2010 17 -1.5 FRk TEX 48 187 172 18 38 5 2 1 23 1 5 48 .221 .278 .291 .569 50
2011 18 -3.3 A- TEX 45 171 160 18 48 9 1 6 23 1 4 54 .300 .345 .481 .826 77
2012 19 -2.7 A TEX 74 300 272 40 71 21 5 5 34 7 16 84 .261 .320 .430 .750 117
2013 20 -1.5 A-Rk-A+ TEX 113 459 404 72 107 24 1 18 61 18 32 122 .265 .346 .463 .809 187
2014 21 -2.1 A+-AA TEX 121 536 486 75 127 26 5 17 87 6 29 123 .261 .323 .440 .763 214
5 Seasons 401 1653 1494 223 391 85 14 47 228 33 86 431 .262 .326 .432 .758 645
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Alfaro is a free-swinging, athletic catcher with very good power, and an even more powerful throwing arm. It wouldn’t be surprising for this young man to get comps to Ivan Rodriguez due to climbing the ranks in the Rangers system and being so capable on both sides of the dish, but he likely won’t be the hitter that “Pudge” was. That doesn’t make him any less worth some hype, though. He’ll likely spend some more time in Double-A before a quick promotion to Triple-A, but he won’t be up for good until 2016. 

24. Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2014 21 TOR AL 0 0 5.40 5 0 0 6.2 5 4 4 5 4 1.500 6.8 6.8 5.4 0.80
1 Yr 0 0 5.40 5 0 0 6.2 5 4 4 5 4 1.500 6.8 6.8 5.4 0.80
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 19 -1.6 Rk-A- TOR 2 4 8.44 13 0 0 42.2 58 44 40 18 43 1.781 12.2 3.8 9.1 2.39
2013 20 -1.9 A-A+ TOR 2 7 3.97 24 0 0 90.2 85 46 40 46 100 1.445 8.4 4.6 9.9 2.17
2014 21 -3.3 A+-AA-AAA TOR 12 2 2.53 26 0 0 124.2 96 37 35 43 163 1.115 6.9 3.1 11.8 3.79
3 Seasons 16 13 4.01 63 0 0 258.0 239 127 115 107 306 1.341 8.3 3.7 10.7 2.86
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
Norris finally reached his potential in 2014, and it led to the young left-hander pitching at four levels, including the majors. His strikeout rate was a career-best, and the walks were down, as were the hits. He really seemed to figure it out, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Norris get a long, long look in spring training. 

25. Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox

Year Age AgeDif Lev Aff W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 19 -2.6 A BOS 12 5 4.87 23 0 0 101.2 100 58 55 47 130 1.446 8.9 4.2 11.5 2.77
2013 20 -3.2 A+-AA BOS 11 6 2.67 26 0 0 135.0 84 47 40 68 169 1.126 5.6 4.5 11.3 2.49
2014 21 -4.1 AA-AAA BOS 17 5 2.94 26 3 2 159.0 121 53 52 59 170 1.132 6.8 3.3 9.6 2.88
3 Seasons 40 16 3.34 75 3 2 395.2 305 158 147 174 469 1.211 6.9 4.0 10.7 2.70
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/25/2014.
He doesn’t hit the upper-90’s, but Owens knows how to pitch. He can locate his pitches and keep hitters off-balance. While many would link him to Tom Glavine due to that, but it’s the awkward angle that seems to get the best of his opposition. As he continues to climb the ranks, you’ll need to watch to see if his stuff or his motion is what is the cause for the impressive totals to this point. 

26. Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox

27. David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies

28. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

29. Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins

Twins' RHP Jose Berrios

Twins’ RHP Jose Berrios

30. Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins

31. Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

32. Tyler Kolek, RHP, Miami Marlins

33. J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies

34. Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins

35. Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians

36. Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds

37. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

38, D.J. Peterson, 1B/3B, Seattle Mariners

39. Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

40. Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants

41. Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies

42. Raul Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals

43. Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves

44. Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros

45. A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals

46. Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox

47. Josh Bell, 1B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

48. Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

49. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, Chicago Cubs

50. Michael Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros

51. Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees

52. Kevin Plawecki, C, New York Mets

53. Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres

54. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals

Nationals OF Michael Taylor

Nationals OF Michael Taylor

55. Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals

56. Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

57. Domingo Santana, OF, Houston Astros

58. Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres

59. Rusney Castillo, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox

60. Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs

61. Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres

62. C.J. Edwards, RHP, Chicago Cubs

63. Sean Manaea, LHP, Kansas City Royals

64. Maikel Franco, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies

65. Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves

66. Jose Peraza, 2B/SS, Atlanta Braves

67. Stephen Piscotty, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

68. Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets

69. Dalton Pompey, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

70. Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas Rangers

71. Aaron Blair, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

72. Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees

Rockies OF Raimel Tapia

Rockies OF Raimel Tapia

73. Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies

74. Nick Williams, OF, Texas Rangers

75. Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

76. Hunter Dozier, 3B, Kansas City Royals

77. Kyle Freeland, LHP, Colorado Rockies

78. Steven Moya, 1B/OF, Detroit Tigers

79. Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox

80. Alexander Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

81. Jorge Polanco, 2B, Minnesota Twins

82. Trea Turner, SS, San Diego Padres

83. Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets

84. Rosell Herrera, SS, Colorado Rockies

85. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

86. Billy McKinney, OF, Chicago Cubs

87. Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami Marlins

88. Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Kansas City Royals

89. Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics

90. Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox

91. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

92. Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres

93. Alex Jackson, C/OF, Seattle Mariners

94. Marco Gonzales, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

Rangers OF Lewis Brinson

Rangers OF Lewis Brinson

95. Lewis Brinson, OF, Texas Rangers

96. Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

97. Grant Holmes, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

98. Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians

99. Rob Kaminsky, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals

100. Sean Newcomb, LHP, Los Angeles Angels

Will Trading Johnny Be Bad?

The Reds aren’t good, finishing with a losing record while facing a fall from contention in 2014, nursing a prolonged absence from their superstar, Joey Votto. So, with this season lost and little room on the payroll, what will the team do to improve? Likely…nothing. Ownership clearly didn’t have any intentions of improving the roster, at least not at the cost of…a cost. Last winter left a lot to be desired, as the loss of Shin-Soo Choo led to the promotion of Billy Hamilton, yet, there was little to nothing done to off-set the loss of offensive production between those two players, as the Reds can only take solace in the fact that Choo wasn’t nearly as productive in 2014 with the Texas Rangers as he was in 2013 with Cincinnati. The addition of Skip Schumaker wasn’t enough, and the loss of Choo on top of two trade deadline (2013 and 2014) with no movement whatsoever leaves the Reds in a situation that isn’t favorable for the club’s future.

Courtesy: twinsdaily.com

Courtesy: twinsdaily.com

Now, with Homer Bailey paid handsomely with his extension, the Reds are unlikely to see a large enough increase in payroll to allow the team to add an offensive weapon, and with Jay Bruce‘s horrific season and the questions surrounding Votto’s health hovering over the future of the franchise, it appears time to sell off the pieces that the club can move and hope for the best with some young talent.

Enter Johnny Cueto.

Heading into Friday night, Cueto has made 100 starts since the start of the 2011 season. They have been very good:

51-25, 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 661.1 IP, 553:178 K:BB

While Cueto doesn’t have the innings over the last four seasons that Mike Leake or Homer Bailey have, he has shown the consistency that neither have presented, and, while Mat Latos has top-of-the-rotation stuff, his injury history and ability to handle his emotions have played a role in his inability to become an elite pitcher in MLB. Cueto, however, continues to improve, and with another season with 200 innings (his second, 2012 being his other), the 28-year-old right-hander has done enough to emphasize his value to the rest of the league.

The Cincinnati Reds have a team option on Cueto for 2015, as they can pay him $10 million to keep him or $800,000 to buy him out. That option is an easy decision, but Cueto is the lone player on the Reds who has positive value in trades, as Votto and Bruce certainly aren’t worth dealing considering the loss of market value and the remaining money on their contracts.

Cueto is a bargain. While $10 million seems like a lot of money, consider that Tim Lincecum will earn $18 million in 2015, Ubaldo Jimenez will earn $12.25 million in 2015, and Edwin Jackson will earn $11 million in 2015. Even a single year of control would have tremendous value for the Cincinnati Reds in a potential trade, and with so many question marks for the club offensively (as they rank 28th in MLB in runs scored), dealing from their strength, starting pitching, is necessary, and getting the most value out of their strength would force a trade of the club’s ace, Cueto.

So, who would be interested?

Boston Red Sox: Piecing together a rotation, especially if they are unable to make a deal with Jon Lester in free agency. They also have plenty of outfield depth after signing Rusney Castillo and trading for Yoenis Cespedes. Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley would be excellent pieces to start a deal, and acquiring a young arm, like Henry Owens or Anthony Ranaudo, or infield prospect from their loaded farm system could be very lucrative and beneficial to the future of the organization.

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are loaded with offensive talent, but they don’t have much pitching depth in their system, especially in the upper minors and the majors. Cueto would be an excellent piece to anchor the rotation, but it is fair to question if the Reds would trade Cueto in-division, as well as whether the Cubs can trust all of their existing young pieces enough to be competitive by adding Cueto.

Reds RHP Homer  Bailey

Reds RHP Homer Bailey

Baltimore Orioles: The O’s may be looking to get Cueto for one final push before the makeup of their current, AL East winning club begins to fall apart. After the 2015 season, both Chris Davis and Matt Wieters will be free agents, and it is fair to wonder if either would be non-tendered after the 2014 season, joining Nick Markakis in the land of confusion, as their right fielder is owed $17.5 million or a $2 million buyout (which appears to make his days in Baltimore numbered). If the Reds want pitching depth, the Orioles have it, but they could have some interest in Jonathan Schoop as a starting piece, as well.

It would be unfortunate to see Cueto leave Cincinnati. He has been fantastic during his career when he is healthy, which has been the leading factor in his ability to fly under the national radar. Cueto would certainly be missed in the Reds’ rotation, but the club is in desperate need of offense, and after signing Bailey, they won’t be able to extend their ace. Did they extend the wrong pitcher? In my opinion…absolutely. I’d much rather pay Cueto $20 to $22 million per season than to pay Bailey the $10 million that he will earn in 2015, let alone the $18 to $25 million he earns annually between 2016 and 2020. Cueto has proven to be capable of greatness, and his time in Cincinnati needs to come to an end so that the team can return to greatness at some point in the near future.

My Ballot for the IBWAA 2014 MLB Awards

I was lucky enough to earn a chance to join the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America this year, joining a group of internet bloggers and several other overqualified folks who aren’t members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Those of us who love baseball enough to write about it, most of the time for free, have found the IBWAA to be a blessing, as we have an opportunity to vote for the Hall of Fame and yearly awards without having the all encompassing vendetta that so many of the national writers take with them to their ballots, whether its a poor relationship or experience with a team or player, or the constant hatred of those who have used performance-enhancing drugs.

This is my first ballot, so I figured that I would publish it. Take a look and let me know what you think. NOTE: There is some sort of formatting issue with the last cell on the American League, as that should be for the AL Reliever of the Year.

American League ballot:

AL MVP

AL Cy Young

AL ROY

AL Manager

1

Mike Trout

Corey Kluber

Jose Abreu

Buck Showalter

Greg Holland

2

Nelson Cruz

Felix Hernandez

Matt Shoemaker

Mike Scioscia

Fernando Rodney

3

Michael Brantley

Chris Sale

Yordano Ventura

Bob Melvin

Zach Britton

4

Josh Donaldson

Max Scherzer

5

Kyle Seager

David Price

6

Adam Jones

7

Robinson Cano

8

Alex Gordon

9

Corey Kluber

10

Jose Abreu

the National League ballot:

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