MLB monthly progress report

MLB monthly progress report

The month of May is reaching its final acts. We have seen some squads turn things around after slow starts. But we have also seen teams still struggling to catch fire. In this monthly progress report, we will take a look at some of the teams on hot streaks, cold streaks and those heating up after adjustments made from April.

Yes, there is plenty of baseball to go and anything can happen in a full season. But these past few weeks will be instrumental in what to do for over 100 games yet to come. While some teams look to take over their divisions, others are finding ways to stay in the race. Of course, some teams have steeper mountains to climb than others.

monthly progress report: American league

The hot

The race for the AL West has become a tight one, with the Houston Astros winning eight of their last 10 outings and the Seattle Mariners winning seven of their last 10. The Astros hold the lead in the division by only 2.5 games. The standout component to Houston’s success is their starting rotation. The Astros boast the only pitching staff in the big leagues to yield a team ERA less than 3.00.

MLB monthly progress report

Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros. (Photo from foxsports.com)

The Mariners, however, are not making it easy for Houston to just run away with the West. Seattle has made its strides primarily through the batter’s box. Though their numbers do not scream, “best in the AL,” the Mariners have found a high note, along with new ways to keep hitting it.

The cold

In the AL Central, the Kansas City Royals have won just three of their last 10 games. KC’s pitching staff holds the highest ERA in all of baseball. Not to mention the Royals’ bats have hit only 42 home runs so far this year, the fewest by any AL squad.

The Chicago White Sox are not fairing well either. They are right behind Kansas City with the second worst ERA. On top of that, Chicago’s batting order has driven in the fewest RBIs in the AL. The White Sox and Royals have two of the three worst regular season records in the AL.

The heating up

The Red Sox and Yankees are currently neck-and-neck for the AL East, but the Tampa Bay Rays are starting to turn it up. Only three games below .500, Tampa Bay has won six of its last 10 games. Currently, the Rays boast the second highest team batting average in the AL, along with a rapidly improving defense. But improvements in pitching will be needed if the Rays want to continue catching fire.

monthly progress report: national league

The hot

In the next part of this monthly progress report, the Atlanta Braves are making their presence felt around the league. Along with leading the NL East, Atlanta leads the NL in batting average and RBIs this season. Though the pitching rotation stands strong, a few adjustments could help the young Braves squad pull away from the pack.

MLB monthly progress report

Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by John Bazemore/Associated Press)

In the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers remain scorching in recent weeks. Leading the NL Central somewhat comfortably, The Brewers have made their way to the top with their pitching. Milwaukee’s pitching staff boasts the lowest ERA in the NL.

The cold

The Miami Marlins have not found many high notes this season. Offensive production has proved scarce for the Fish. The Marlins rank last in the NL in home runs and RBIs. Their pitching staff is not any brighter, yielding the worst ERA in the NL. On top of that, the attendance at Marlins Park is just as dismal, barely breaking 10,000 attendants per game on average.

To be fair, the Marlins are bulling through a massive rebuilding process, along with new ownership. Things cannot get better before it gets worse first. But some are questioning if there is a method to the rebuilding madness, or if it is just madness like the Jeffrey Loria days.

The heating up

The Washington Nationals are looking to take back the NL East. Though they still have a way to go, they have help. Washington’s pitching staff holds a 3.42 ERA as a unit, among the best in the NL. Plus, its batting lineup has tallied over 60 home runs this season. But with division rivals as imposing as Atlanta and Philadelphia have been, the Nationals will need to pick up the pace.

The Colorado Rockies have taken the lead in the NL West, with the Arizona Diamondbacks hitting a slump. The Rockies’ defense has become one of the best units in baseball this season. But if they are to remain at the top, Colorado needs to improve in both batting average and pitching. If they can do that, the Rockies can increase the gap between themselves and the rest of the division.

in closing

At the end of the day, everyone will have their ups and downs. Hopefully in the next monthly progress report, we can showcase new teams turning things around. The lessons each team learns from May can spell out solutions to pending problems. With June around the corner, the race for the playoffs continues.

 

Featured image from wikipedia.org

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MLB april review

MLB monthly review: April

As the first month of baseball reaches its final act, we have seen fireworks, frustrations and everything in between. For some teams, the momentum created in April becomes a foundation for 2018. For others, the first few weeks have taught valuable lessons and revealed areas of improvements. But for the remaining few franchises, it has been a month they would like to forget.

Each franchise has its own situations to deal with. Whether it is rebuilding the club or fighting to remain at the top, the league has seen a multitude of scenarios unfold and their impacts on the diamond. However, those struggling the hardest cannot give up the fight now, despite how stuck in the mud they are.

Let’s take a look at some of the good, the bad and the not there yet of the MLB.

April Review: American League

The good

The Boston Red Sox have the best record in baseball as of right now. It seems that manager, Alex Cora, has led the squad for years, when in reality this is his first year as skipper. Boston stands among the best in the league in hitting, pitching and fielding.

Over in the AL West, the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels are neck-and-neck for the top. Houston stands superior at the mound, but LA is not too far behind in the batter’s box.

April Review

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Brandon Workman (Photo by Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

The bad

It is safe to say that the Kansas City Royals have seen better days. Falling far behind in the AL Central, the Royals have a lot of work to do to get back to their 2015 days, especially in their pitching. KC holds a 5.23 ERA as a unit, which ranks 27th in the league.

The Chicago White Sox are not fairing much better. The team has the honor of the highest ERA in baseball. Like the Royals, their batting prowess is not too bad, but both teams will have to turn things around quickly to keep up with the rest of the division.

The not there yet

The Toronto Blue Jays are off to a solid start that not everyone saw coming. Despite a 14-9 start and solid batting, Toronto still needs to improve its pitching department. The numbers are not too bad, but adjustments will need to made to keep up with the surging Red Sox.

Similarly, the Seattle Mariners of the AL West have pitching issues to deal with. As a unit, Seattle has recorded a 4.95 ERA. The Mariners can not solely rely on their offense to keep them in the race, especially with the competition in their division.

April Review: National League

The good

The Arizona Diamondbacks remain on top of the National League. The Diamondbacks boast the stingiest pitching staff and the second-most efficient fielding in the NL. If Arizona can clean up its batting chops, wins should remain plentiful this season.

Trailing behind them is the New York Mets. New York is solid in numerous departments and lead the NL East. But Mickey Callaway and company must make adjustments moving forward if they wish to remain at the top and play in October.

MLB april review

(Photo from wikipedia.org)

The bad

The Miami Marlins are receiving stormy weather this season, and a lot of it. Miami has the second-highest ERA in the NL, along with the second-lowest batting average. To be fair, the Marlins are in an astronomical rebuilding process. But already, morale is as scarce as victory for the fish.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds have the worst record in the MLB. That is mostly due to the fact the Reds have the highest ERA in the NL. The fact that Cincinnati is the only squad in its division with a losing record only makes the pain worse.

The not there yet

The Milwaukee Brewers have won their last eight games and find themselves on top of the NL Central. However, their fielding remains shaky as they hold the second-lowest fielding percentage in the NL, in addition to the most errors recorded. Their pitching staff will need the seven players behind them to execute to allow as few people on base as possible.

As the season continues…

With April winding down, many baseball fans are eager to see how their teams adjust for the weeks to come. Some hope their teams stay hot throughout the season, while others wish for a change in fortune. With five months of regular season baseball left to be played, there is still time. But teams will need to make adjustments as soon as possible to find success in future games.

 

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fantasy update: MLB

Prospects watch: Fantasy baseball

As fantasy baseball takes on a new season, everyone participating is looking for the next ace or slugger to put them ahead of their leagues. Whether for money from the pool or bragging rights, people will have to bull through 162 games with utmost awareness.

One injury could dent teams even worse if one is not paying attention. When assembling the team, one question must come to mind among others: “If the players I want are taken off the board, who do I get?”

Everyone wants a big fish in their ponds. Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Clayton Kershaw and Bryce Harper are usually among the ones taken first. But every so often, an unknown name will step up, create waves and becomes the big thing on the MLB Fantasy talk.

At times, these names are young guns looking for a breakthrough season. When they establish themselves as secret weapons, new prospects can help teams reach new height alongside respected veterans of the game.

Let’s take a look at the 2018 prospects to consider for fantasy.

Fantasy Prospects: outfield

fantasy baseball prospects

Photo from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In the outfield, these names can take over for injured players or improve the team right out of the gates.

The first name to keep an eye out for is Lewis Brinson of the Miami Marlins. Although he already made his MLB debut last season, the 23-year-old has so much more to show than his 21 games played as a Milwaukee Brewer.

His six seasons in the minors, fall and winter leagues have yielded solid numbers at the plate and on defense. In this spring session, he has raised his batting average to .409, on top of showing continuous growth on defense. With the Marlins’ outfield in need of filled ranks, no doubt that the Florida native will make his case to be a starter.

Another outfielder to consider is Eloy Jimenez of the Chicago White Sox. The 21-year-old has made himself a top prospect for 2018. In his four seasons in the minors, he has recorded 43 home runs, 206 RBIs and a .302 batting average. His talents on defense are solid on their own merits, showcasing his discipline and lack of errors.

Though he hasn’t made a lot of noise in this spring training, the young right fielder will look at every opportunity he gets to show what he can bring to the 40-man roster. Fantasy participants might want to keep his name written down, if they’re looking for a solid batting presence.

Although names like Ronald Acuna and Shohei Ohtani seem like bigger and better names, Brinson and Jimenez should in no way be overlooked in the outfield conversation.

Fantasy Prospects: infield

In addition to the outfield, there are a couple of names to take notes on for drafting infielders. By bat and glove, they look to appear on the national radar as the next superstars in Major League Baseball, in addition to fantasy draft boards.

fantasy baseball prospects

Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post, Getty Images

Starting off is Rockies first baseman, Ryan McMahon. Though he already has some regular season experience from last year, the 23-year-old is turning into a rising force at the plate. In his five seasons in the minor leagues, he has tallied 79 home runs, 392 RBIs and a .298 batting average.

His batting continues to improve in spring training, along with his fielding prowess. McMahon, along with Nolan Arenado could be shutting down both sides of the infield in the near future.

Another prospect looking to strike it big in 2018 is Luis Urías of the San Diego Padres. Urías has shown seemingly endless potential due to his huge skill set, not just in his batting improvements, but also in his fielding knowledge. His experience at numerous positions in the infield can open up options for San Diego, as well as problems for batters.

Throughout his tenure in the minors, he has played shortstop, second base and third base. On top of this level of versatility, he has racked up a .310 overall batting average in the minors and a .444 overall average in spring training.

Though he has to make his MLB debut, fantasy league enthusiasts and experts alike should not take Luis Urías lightly.

As March 29 Draws Closer

In addition to the regular season, fantasy baseball participants should stay tuned in as spring games come and go. With injuries, and retirement announcements, they will have to adapt quickly to remain in fantasy contention. Come the regular season, the fantasy marathon will truly begin.

 

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Spring training games

Spring games opening weekend

This past weekend, all 30 MLB teams took the field in the states of Arizona and Florida. For some, it was about new or lesser known names looking to make first impressions in new uniforms. For others, it was about repeating the success of the previous season. Both Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues showcased the first of things yet to come.

For the fans, it was a sight for sore eyes, seeing their favorite teams hit the diamond. America’s pastime is almost in full swing. But for the franchises, careful analysis must take the lead in order to maintain success. Which players are hungrier for a starting spot? Is the team chemistry where it needs to be? How much attention does each position still need?

More questions will need answering in the future for each team. For now, let’s take a look back at the first few days of exhibition.

Spring Games: GrapeFruit League

This past Friday, the rebuilding Miami Marlins squared off against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida. For now Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna, it would be the first of many games against his former team. At first, the Cardinals assumed control of the game, and it would appear that they’d remain with it.

Spring training games

Photo from MLBshop.com

But then, along came a Marlin named Scott Van Slyke. Previously, Van Slyke spent his entire tenure in the big leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In his Marlins debut, the 31-year-old outfielder sought to strike big. In the bottom of the sixth inning, he put the Marlins on the board with a solo home run. In the bottom of the seventh, he smashed a grand slam giving the Marlins a 6-4 lead.

Miami ended up winning the game 6-4, though much work still lies ahead. The Marlins received their first defeat of the exhibition games on Sunday, courtesy of the New York Mets.

Meanwhile, the Houston Astros are hitting the ground running with a repeat World Series in mind. Houston snagged wins against the Nationals, Braves and Cardinals for a 3-0 start.

Both Houston and Miami squared off in Jupiter, Florida on Monday. There, the Marlins routed the Astros 11-0. Seven of those runs came in the sixth inning, therefore delivering Houston its first loss.

Spring Games: Cactus League

Spring training games

Photo from MLBshop.com

Over in the Grand Canyon State, the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers started their spring seasons strongly.

Oakland looked to remain undefeated against the Kansas City Royals, but the game ended in a 4-4 tie, without any team able to break the tie in the 10th inning.

Coming against the Chicago White Sox on Monday, the A’s couldn’t quite keep the streak going. Although they narrowed the margin in the ninth inning, they couldn’t force a bottom of the ninth. They received their lost by a score of 7-6.

On the other hand, Milwaukee was near inches away from Wild Card contention in 2017.

In these 2018 sessions, the Brewers went 2-1 in their first three games before facing the Arizona Diamondbacks. Utility player, Hernán Pérez, put the Brewers ahead by driving in three runs, two in the second inning and one in the sixth. Milwaukee improved their record to 3-1 following their 5-1 victory.

While facing the Cleveland Indians on Monday, the Brewers were eyeing their fourth victory of the spring games. The two teams traded leads throughout the game. In the end, the Brewers got that fourth win by a score of 7-6. Milwaukee will host the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, while Oakland will hit the road to take on the Cleveland Indians.

The rest of Spring

Although the spring games do not affect a team’s regular season record, their progression from now can set the tone for April. Will adjustments be made to improve production? Sure. How should the batting order look to gain the most runs? Which pitchers will find themselves in the starting rotation?

More of these questions are sure to pop up. Taking matters one game at a time will be the best approach in answering them. Of course, when the regular season starts, it will become a much different ball game (no pun intended). With it comes a bigger question: Who responds the best under pressure?

With a new season on the horizon and the Spring exhibitions in full swing, answers will soon arrive.

 

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spring training 2018

Spring training 2018 preview

In just three days, a new season of baseball will be upon us. Though Opening Day comes in April, the spring training sessions will become a test run for all 30 franchises in time for the 2018 MLB regular season. These next few practices and exhibition games will showcase how each organization’s adjustments gell and execute.

Some teams will look to build upon success from 2017. Other teams will look to bounce back from past misfortunes. Sure, some teams have a steeper mountain to climb than others, but that is what’s great about baseball. Any team with the right chemistry and momentum can create big waves around the league. On top of that, that hot streak can translate to an October appearance, and maybe even a World Series ring.

Starting Friday, Feb. 23, the states of Arizona and Florida will host the latest and greatest names to hit the diamond.

Cactus League

In Glendale, one team is looking for another shot at the World Series. The other seeks a comeback after a dismal 2017 outing.

spring training 2018

Photo from MLBShop.com

The Los Angeles Dodgers held baseball’s best regular season record last season at 104-58. The Dodgers seemingly breezed through the National League playoffs, giving up just one game in the NLCS.

With a smoother path to the World Series than that of the Houston Astros, many saw the Dodgers as the favorite to win. But Houston proved to be the hungrier team and beat Los Angeles in a thrilling seven-game series for the hardware.

Now, the blue and white are working to get that ring and end a 30-year drought.

On the other hand, the Chicago White Sox are coming off of a 67-95 season, fourth in the AL Central. The White Sox finished 10th in the American League in batting average and 13th in ERA. On top of that, the White Sox have mustered five straight losing seasons.

Over in Scottsdale, two Wild Card teams will begin to build upon their solid foundations from 2017.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies earned the two National League Wild Card slots last season. The Diamondbacks hosted and beat the Rockies 11-8, but got swept by the Dodgers in the NL Division Series. Their game will commence on Friday at 3:10 p.m. Eastern time.

Grapefruit League

spring training 2018

Photo from MLBShop.com

Down to West Palm Beach, Florida, comes another anticipated matchup to kick off the spring exhibitions.

The Houston Astros are looking to defend their World Series title and bring in another ring in 2018. With a roster stacked with All-Stars, Houston will have a big target on its back come April. The Astros will begin their exhibition rounds against the Washington Nationals.

The Washington Nationals are coming off of a 97-65 season, on top of running away with the NL East Division once again.  However, the Chicago Cubs did not appear intimidated and eliminated Washington in the NLDS. The Nationals will begin their runs with a new skipper, former Chicago Cubs bench coach, Dave Martinez.

In Tampa, the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers will hope to start on a high note.

The Yankees ended 2017 with a 91-71 regular season record.  The Pinstripes gave the Astros a run for their money in the ALCS, forcing seven games. But Houston prevailed and took home the AL pennant. Now with Giancarlo Stanton in their ranks, the Bronx Bombers have established a “pitcher’s nightmare” batting order.

The Tigers, on the other hand, have arguably the steepest mountain to climb in the American League. With a dismal 64-98 season in 2017, Detroit has its work cut out for them. The Tigers pitching lineup finished last in the AL in ERA at 5.36. Holding the first pick of the upcoming MLB Draft, a pitcher should grace the stage wearing that Tigers cap.

Thank God It’s Friday

America’s pastime is almost here and ready for business. Whether with a new skipper or new players, all 30 teams will look to work in the new faces for April.  On Friday, Feb 23, baseball fans all over the world will get to hear their favorite two words once again: Play ball!

 

Featured image by Pioneer Press: John Autey

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2018 Chicago White Sox preview

2018 MLB preview: Chicago White Sox

2017: 67-95 (fourth place in AL Central)

Last postseason appearance: 2008

Last World Series title: 2005 

2017 Recap

2017 was the official start of the rebuilding process for the Chicago White Sox. In the previous offseason, Chicago traded away Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, while receiving top prospects to help with the future of the team. While it may take some time, the White Sox will be competing for a title before we know it.

Chicago, a team that has made the playoffs nine times during its franchise history, was far from a contender in 2017. They finished 22nd in slugging, 23rd in runs, 24th in WHIP, 25th in OBP and pitching ERA and 30th in walks per nine innings. They also were a disaster in the field, committing the third most errors in baseball.

2018 Chicago White Sox preview

Avisail Garcia had a career year in 2017 (Photo from ESPN.com)

There were a few bright spots on the south side. Avisail Garcia, the 26-year-old from Venezuela, had his best MLB season by a long shot. Garcia was named to the American League All-Star team and finished the year with a batting average of .330, which ranked third in the MLB.

His insane .392 BABIP, which can be impacted from a little bit of luck, was the best in baseball among qualified hitters. Garcia also slugged 18 home runs, hit .424 against lefties and had a .380 OBP. He also performed when Chicago needed him most, hitting .374 with men on base.

Chicago’s other offensive star was Jose Abreu. Abreu has hit at least .290, 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in each of his first four seasons in the MLB and continues to be one of the most consistent offensive players in the game. The Cuban slugger finished fourth in total bases, fifth in extra-base hits, seventh in doubles and tied for eighth in hits. Abreu also hit .357 with men in scoring position.

The stat that really defined this team was walks. We mentioned they were 25th in OBP, but Chicago really could not walk. Todd Frazier, now a Met, led the White Sox in walks with 48. Frazier’s last game as a member of the team was on July 16.

The pitching was pretty much a total disaster, but because of the highly touted prospects, White Sox fans should stay optimistic and trust the process.

2018: Around the Diamond

On Dec. 1, 2017, the White Sox signed free agent Welington Castillo to start behind the plate. Castillo will bring a nice veteran presence, as well as some pop in the lineup. Since 2015, Castillo has hit 53 home runs and is coming off a career best .282 batting average from 2017.

2018 Chicago White Sox preview

Will Moncada take a big leap forward in 2018? (Photo from FanRag Sports)

Abreu, who in January, avoided arbitration and signed a one-year deal worth $13 million, will remain at first base. Yoan Moncada, who along with Michael Kopech was sent over from Boston in the Sale trade, will start at second. Moncada struck out in 32 percent of his plate appearances. That’s terrible, especially if you aren’t hitting over 30 home runs a season. He had a .325 BABIP, so when he hits the ball, he is good, but the 22-year old has a lot of growing to do. Still, his potential is through the roof.

Shortstop Tim Anderson swung a nice bat in 2017, hitting 17 home runs while stealing 15 bags, but he also led the MLB with 28 errors. He will need to clean it up in the field to keep the White Sox afloat.

Yolmer Sanchez, who finished sixth in triples and hit .303 with men in scoring position, will most likely play third. Chicago will also have Matt Davidson at DH.

Other than Avisail Garcia in right field, the remaining two positions are really up for grabs. Charlie Tilson has a good shot to bat leadoff and start in centerfield, while Leury Garcia, who played in just 87 games last season due to injury, should start in left field after positing decent numbers when healthy. Nicky Delmonico and Adam Engel will also be competing for spots in the lineup.

On the Bump

James Shields, who is owed a whopping $21 million in 2018, will unfortunately remain in the rotation. If you looked up “washed up” in the dictionary, you would probably find a picture of Shields’ face. He had a 5.85 ERA in 2016 and followed that up with a 5.23 ERA last season.

The White Sox also have two young studs, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito, who will continue to get reps as starters and hopefully blossom into big-time pitchers in the MLB. Lopez started eight games in 2017 and posted a 4.72 ERA. Giolito looked great in his seven starts, finishing with a 2.38 ERA. He also never allowed a run in the 16.2 innings he pitched when he faced the lineup the first time through. Giolito could take off and have a great 2018.

Carlos Rodon had shoulder surgery in September and won’t be ready for Opening Day, but he will eventually give Chicago quality innings. They also welcomed back Miguel Gonzalez, who was bad in 2017. The 24-year-old Carson Fulmer will also get a chance to prove he can make something happen over a full-year span. Chicago also brought in Joakim Soria to close out games.

The Future

Chicago has seven players on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect list, which is tied for the second most in baseball. While the MLB team doesn’t look up to par, just wait on it. Headlining this list is outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Michael Kopech. Jimenez is considered the best power hitting prospect in the game and has drawn comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton.

2018 Chicago White Sox preview

Is Jimenez the next Stanton? (Photo from NBC Sports)

Not only does he mash the ball, Jimenez also hits for a great average. In 89 games between A+ and AA, Jimenez hit 19 home runs and batted .312 with a .568 SLG. He has serious potential to be a top power hitter in this league and should see time with the major league club in 2018.

Kopech should also be getting some time at the major league level this season. In just 134 and a third innings between Double and Triple A, Kopech struck out 172 batters and had an ERA of 2.88.

While Chicago’s 2018 staff looks a bit suspect, keep in mind they have Kopech, Alec Hansen, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning, three right-handed starters who rank in the top 100.

Luis Robert checks in at No. 28 on the top 100 list. Robert, only 20 years of age, hit .310 with three home runs in 28 Rookie-Ball games. Coming in at No. 99 on the prospects list is Blake Rutherford. Rutherford, also 20 years old, did not have a great 2017, but according to MLB.com, has been “compared to a more athletic version of David Justice.” Only time will tell if these top dogs will pan out.

2018 Prediction: 65-97 

Chicago should see some of their top prospects at the major league level, which is fantastic. But this team is at least two or three years away from competing.

 

Featured image by ChicagoNow.com

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Spring Training Spotlight

Top power hitting infielders

As we begin to edge ever closer to spring training, players and fans alike await its return. But what type of return will it be? We saw a record number of home runs hit last season, and that trend seems like it will continue. Given all those homers, who are the best of the best in the infield?

1B Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu has been an absolute force for the Chicago White Sox. After signing to play the 2014 season, Abreu hit 36 home runs in his rookie season. In his four seasons with the White Sox, Abreu has slugged 124 home runs, as well as 144 doubles. That is where Abreu made the difference in these rankings.

Even though Abreu finished seventh for the most home runs among first baseman last season, he finished first in doubles hit with 43. The ability to hit for power consistently, and not be so reliant on the home run, gives Abreu the edge. He has also slugged .524 in his career, proving him to be one of the more consistent power threats in the game. Abreu possesses legitimate power, and he has shown it off time and time again while in Chicago. Don’t be surprised if you see him challenge for a home run title in the near future.

Best Power hitting infielders

Rougned Odor has immense power (Photo by MLB Trade Rumors).

2B Rougned Odor

While Rougned Odor did have a rough season last year, he is still one of the best power hitting second basemen in the game. He launched 30 homers for the Texas Rangers last year, all while his batting average hovered around the mendoza line. Even though he did post a negative WAR last season (-0.2), his power is definitely his strongest tool.

In his four seasons with the Rangers, Odor has hit 88 home runs. For a second baseman to produce that kind of power is exceptional. He has also slugged a respectable .444 for his career, difficult to do at a normally power depleted position. Odor is one of the most powerful second basemen in the game. His ability to drive the ball out of the yard is one of the best among second baseman.  If he can learn to hit consistently, his 30 homers per season could climb even higher.

3B Joey Gallo

As one of the most powerful prospects baseball has seen, Joey Gallo had high expectations. He definitely lived up to them in 2017. As the primary third baseman for the Texas Rangers, Gallo blasted 41 home runs last season. While he also hit around .200 (.209 batting average) like his Rangers teammate, Gallo was much more productive in the power department.

His immense home runs from last season would have put Gallo in the conversation for this spot. But when you consider he only had 94 hits last season and 41 of them were home runs, it easily wins him this spot. And even though he hit only .209, he slugged an amazing .537 on the season. Joey Gallo may have the most raw power in all of baseball. Granted players like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton hit more home runs than Gallo did, Gallo did it while having an extremely low batting average. If he can be more consistent with making contact, Gallo could challenge Judge and Stanton for the home run title very soon.

Best power hitting infielders

Carlos Correa has one of the most powerful swings in baseball (Courtesy of Sporting News).

SS Carlos Correa

Before bringing Houston it’s first ever World Series title, Carlos Correa put on an absolute show in the regular season. Correa finished 2017 with 24 home runs last season, tying Trevor Story for fourth most among short stops. But what makes it even more impressive is how long it took him to reach 24 home runs. He only played 109 games last season after hurting his thumb during the season. With that much production in so many fewer games, it’s easy to pick Correa for this spot.

Correa also posted an insane .550 slugging percentage. For that much power to come from a defensive first position like short stop is truly impressive. And while Correa is a true five tool player, his power may be the best tool in his arsenal. He also hit 25 doubles in his limited at-bats last season, adding another dimension to his power. Correa has a chance to not only lead short stops in home runs year in and year out, but could challenge for the league lead as well.

Feature image by Getty Images.

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Top MLB prospects 2018

Four prospects to watch for in 2018

With spring training just a few short weeks ahead, it is time to start thinking about this year in prospects.

For this article, we will be looking at four prospects that could make a big league impact in 2018. Not only that, but they could be players to keep an eye out for rookie of the year.

Nick Senzel: Cincinnati Reds

Top MLB prospects 2018

Senzel is the brightest name in the Reds’ farm. (Photo from Cincinnati Enquirer)

Senzel, the second overall pick of the 2016 draft, will likely be making his major league debut in 2018. He is a plus defender at third base and has excellent speed that can turn him into a base-stealing threat.

Senzel also possess an excellent batter’s eye and should be able to draw walks at the big league level. There is no doubt that he is the best prospect in the Reds ranks, so he will be an excellent addition to an already solid Reds offense in 2018.

The Reds, and the rest of the MLB, considered Senzel to be one of the most big-league ready bats in the 2016 draft. This is a big reason why the Reds took him so high, along with the fact he may be the best bat in that class. Expect him to make a large improvement to a Reds offense that could possibly go toe to toe with anyone in the league.

Ronald Acuna: Atlanta Braves

Acuna is one of the younger prospects that could be making a difference in 2018. He is just 20 years old, but may have one of the brightest futures. He has the chance to be one of the next great five-tool players. Although he has power potential, he has yet to show it too much in the minors. He has lots of time to get stronger and develop that potential power down the road.

What Acuna has been able to show in the minors is ability to hit well to all fields. He has hit for a high average and is a great base-stealing threat.

Acuna was named the Arizona Fall League MVP in 2017. In 23 games, he was able to hit for .325/.414/.639 along with seven home runs. The potential is great for the young Braves phenom, and he could force himself to be in contention for Rookie of the Year in 2018.

Alex Reyes: St. Louis Cardinals

Top MLB prospects 2018

Alex Reyes still has some time before he reaches the starting rotation. (Photo from ESPN)

Reyes is one of the top prospects in the Cardinals system and already had major league time in 2016. In 12 games, he was able to post a 1.57 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 46 innings. He would have played in 2017 as well, but he missed the whole year after getting Tommy John surgery.

The 23-year-old out of New Jersey has a stellar fastball that has already been able to blow away major league hitters. His fastball coupled with an 88-90 mph changeup has high strikeout potential. He will be an excellent major league starter given the opportunity.

In the case of 2018, Reyes may not get many extended looks at the starting role. Since Reyes is still very young and is coming off a big surgery, the Cardinals are going to be very careful with him in 2018. They have already stated that he may not get work until late April, and at that point will get a bullpen role.

The Cardinals are in need of a closer at the moment. If they do not trade for one or sign someone like Greg Holland, there are rumors that Reyes could get looks in the closer role. Either way, Reyes is going to be a big name in the big leagues.

Michael Kopech: Chicago White Sox

Kopech is the kind of starter that tops out at 100 mph that can still reach the high 90s late in games. He is ranked as the second best prospect in an absolutely stacked White Sox system.

Kopech has been compared to Noah Syndergaard due to his wide arsenal. That is largely why he was a centerpiece in the Chris Sale trade with the Boston Red Sox.

He still has some work to be done before he is the fine tuned starter that he could be one day. Kopech can strike guys out like no other, but still has some control issues that can be worked on over time. It is nothing that you don’t see with high-velocity young pitchers. Chicago still has time before they are where they want to be on the big league level, but Kopech will get some solid time in 2018 where he can prove his star potential.

 

Featured image by Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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Manny Ramirez Hall of Fame

Manny Ramirez by the numbers

The year is 2004, a year Boston Red Sox fans will never forget.

In July, at the MLB All-Star Game, Boston Red Sox star Manny Ramirez hit a two-run home run off of Roger Clemens in the top of the first inning. By the end of the regular season, Ramirez was first in the AL in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. He finished third in RBIs, fourth in doubles and total bases, sixth in on-base percentage, eighth in walks and tenth in runs. Manny wound up finishing third in AL MVP voting.

Manny Ramirez Hall of Fame

2004 World Series MVP (Photo from MassLive.com)

A year after the infamous Aaron Boone walk-off home run sent Boston home for good, the Red Sox were back in the postseason. Eager to end the Curse of the Bambino, Boston came out with a bang in the ALDS. They swept the Anaheim Angels, and Ramirez hit .385 with seven RBIs in the three games. This win set up a rematch with the New York Yankees in the ALCS. We all know how that one went.

In the most unforgettable ALCS in baseball history, Ramirez hit .300 and had an OBP of .400. Boston was just four games away from breaking the 86-year-old curse and had to go up against the St. Louis Cardinals, who won 105 games in the regular season. Manny and the Red Sox were not fazed by St. Louis’ success and swept the Red Birds in four games. In the 2004 World Series, Ramirez hit .412 with four RBIs and an OBP of .500. He was named World Series MVP.

Ramirez finished his MLB career with 2,574 hits, 555 home runs, and a batting average of .312. He was a 12-time All-Star, two-time World Series Champion, nine-time Silver Slugger and even won the AL Batting Title in 2002. He is one of five retired players to be a member of the .300/500HR/5002B club, an elite list of players that includes Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

PLAYERS WHO HIT AT LEAST: .310, 550 HOME RUNS, 2,500 HITS, .410 OBP
BABE RUTH
MANNY RAMIREZ

Controversy

His career WAR of 69.2 ranks 106th all-time, ahead of Ivan Rodriguez, Tony Gwynn, Al Simmons, Tim Raines, Carlton Fisk, Eddie Murray and Ernie Banks to name a few. Arguably the best right-handed hitter the game has ever seen, Ramirez, because of multiple failed steroid tests, will most likely not be voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

If you can’t talk about the history of stars in baseball without mentioning Manny Ramirez, then he belongs in the Hall of Fame. With guys like Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell, three stars who already have been elected into the Hall of Fame despite possible steroid use, how could Ramirez not be a member? It would make sense if nobody from the steroid era was voted in, but they have already crossed the line. Ramirez put up numbers that we have only seen from Babe Ruth, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame if Piazza, Rodriguez and Bagwell are in.

Here is an excerpt from Jeff Pearlman’s book about Roger Clemens, The Rocket that Fell to Earth:

“There was nothing more obvious than Mike on steroids,” says another major league veteran who played against Piazza for years. “Everyone talked about it, everyone knew it. Guys on my team, guys on the Mets. A lot of us came up playing against Mike, so we knew what he looked like back in the day. Frankly, he sucked on the field. Just sucked. After his body changed, he was entirely different. ‘Power from nowhere,’ we called it.”  When asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, to grade the odds that Piazza had used performance enhancers, the player doesn’t pause.  “A 12,” he says. “Maybe a 13.”

In an interview with 60 Minutes, Jose “The Godfather of Steroids” Canseco, talks about his own experience with anabolic steroids and human growth hormones, as well as other players in the MLB:

“Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez,” says Canseco. “I injected them. Absolutely.”

Whether or not the BBWAA figures out how to properly vote or not, numbers never lie.

Manny being Manny

Manny Ramirez was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but moved to New York City at 13 years old. He went on to attend George Washington High School and was a star on their baseball team. In the 1991 MLB Draft, Ramirez was selected 13th overall by the Cleveland Indians. He went on to play for the Indians, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox.

Some of his best seasons came as a member of the Indians. In 1999, he became one of five players (first since 1938), to hit at least 44 home runs, 160 RBIs, .330 batting average and a .440 OBP. Joining Ramirez on this list is Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hack Wilson and Jimmie Foxx.

Manny Ramirez Hall of Fame

In 2008, Ramirez hit .396 in 53 games with the Dodgers (Photo from Zimbio.com)

In 2000, Ramirez became one of 10 players to have a season of at least a .350 batting average, 38 home runs, OPS of 1.150 and 85 walks. The nine others who accomplished this were Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, Hack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Todd Helton.

In 2008, at 36 years-old, Ramirez was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-team deal. The Red Sox acquired Jason Bay and Josh Wilson, and the Pittsburgh Pirates received Andy LaRoche, Bryan Morris, Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss. In his 53 games as a Dodger in the 2008 season, Ramirez hit .396 with 17 home runs. His totals from that year were .332, 37 HR, 183 hits and a .430 OBP.

Ramirez joined Babe Ruth as the only players to bat at least .330 with 35 home runs, an OBP of .430, and 180 hits at age 36 or older. During the 2008 postseason, the Dodgers made it all the way to the NLCS before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. Ramirez, in the eight playoff games, hit .520, with four home runs and 10 RBIs. His .667 OBP in the 2008 postseason ranks fifth all-time, while his 1.080 SLG is 10th all-time.

For his career, Ramirez ranks fifth in postseason games played, and is arguably one of the best October players we have ever seen. He ranks first in home runs with 29, first in walks, second in RBIs and total bases, third in runs and hits and fifth in doubles.

Here are three more tables that show just how great this man was at hitting a baseball.

PLAYERS WHO HIT AT LEAST: .410 OBP, .580 SLG, 500 DOUBLES
BARRY BONDS
BABE RUTH
MANNY RAMIREZ
TED WILLIAMS
LOU GEHRIG

 

SEASONS WITH AT LEAST: .290 BATTING AVERAGE, 30 HR, .950 OPS

PLAYER NUMBER OF SEASONS
BARRY BONDS 13
BABE RUTH 13
MANNY RAMIREZ 12
JIMMIE FOXX 10
ALBERT PUJOLS 10
LOU GEHRIG 10
HANK AARON 9
WILLIE MAYS 9

 

SEASONS WITH AT LEAST: .320 BATTING AVERAGE, 30 HR, .425 OBP

PLAYER NUMBER OF SEASONS
BABE RUTH 11
JIMMIE FOXX 9
LOU GEHRIG 8
TED WILLIAMS 7
MANNY RAMIREZ 6
ALBERT PUJOLS 6
BARRY BONDS 5
STAN MUSIAL 5

Featured image by The Boston Globe

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MLB best hitters

Top destinations for Manny Machado

The dust from the Giancarlo Stanton hot stove has settled, but the rumor mill is not slowing down. It seemed like Stanton would be the biggest name on the trade block, but Manny Machado is a name of similar star power with only one year remaining on his contract.

Baltimore would be wise to move Machado as their AL East rivals are pulling away from the competition. With the acquisition of Stanton, the Yankees are all in for October this year. It has become evident that the Orioles do not have what it takes to compete with them or the Red Sox at this point. With only one year of control over Adam Jones and Zach Britton as well, it is time to see what haul of prospects they can bring in for the future.

Any contending team could use Machado’s services in 2018. General Manager Dan Duquette has stated there will be no open window for teams to discuss a contract with Machado, so odds are he will hit the free agent market next winter. With that being said, here are the most likely destinations to land his services.

5. New York Yankees

Manny Machado top destinations

Even after the Stanton acquisition, the Yankees are still hungry for more (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

The Yankees have emerged as suitors for Machado in 2018. However, the Orioles do not believe it is in their best interest to trade their cornerstone player to their division rival. Even if they are to trade him elsewhere, they believe there is a possibility he could still be flipped to New York.

Baltimore is in the market for some young arms, and New York has that in their farm system. That has to be attractive for them as New York is always the team to go after the big name players. Landing Machado would immediately make them World Series favorites for 2018.

The largest hurdle they will have to jump is the Orioles’ reluctance to hand him over within the division. The Yankees would have to give up a serious haul to get them on board.

4. Chicago White Sox

The White Sox are not a conventional team to find on this list. There is no real chance for them to even win their division in AL Central. Reports have emerged, however, that they have the most intriguing offer for the Orioles. Even if that is the case, it still does not make sense.

The guys from the south side have been wheeling and dealing to the point where people fear they will be one of the most dangerous teams in baseball come 2021. They have six prospects in the MLB Top 100, and that doesn’t include former No. 1 prospect, Yoan Moncada.

Since Machado is only under contract for one year, there is no guarantee he will stick with the team long term. It is hard to believe that he won’t test the free agent market, so it does not make sense for the White Sox to give up more than one of these Top 100 prospects. The only way this will work is if they are confident that he will sign with them after 2018.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona lines up well with Baltimore in the sense that they have the arms Baltimore wants. One name that has popped up onto the market is Zack Greinke. He is owed a salary of $34 million each of the next four years and is already 34 years old, so it is not exactly what Baltimore may want. However, he is still proving to be a viable option in the rotation.

The Diamondbacks are not far off from competing either. While they may have been swept in the divisional series by the Dodgers, they still have what it takes to do well in October. Again, this may come down to whether or not the Diamondbacks feel they can keep Machado past 2018.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

Manny Machado top destinations

It will take a lot for the Cardinals to part with their top pitching prospect,
Alex Reyes (Photo from ESPN)

The Cardinals are back into the mix in the rumor mill. Although they did not land the 2017 NL MVP, they did land his outfield counterpart, Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna provides a good punch to the lineup, but General Manager John Mozeliak has expressed that he is not done adding pieces to his lineup.

The Cardinals are thought to be the perfect fit for the young superstar. They have the most attractive pitching prospects for the Orioles and have a place for him at shortstop, which is where he would like to move. St. Louis had a surprise from their rookie shortstop last year, but he is able to play third base as well.

St. Louis knows that if they add Machado, then they will have enough to compete with the Cubs in 2018. However, the prospect cost may be too much for the Cardinals to go for. It will be difficult for the Orioles to get Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver or Jack Flaherty without any guarantee that he will stay past 2018. What happens in the next few weeks may determine how much the Cardinals, or other teams value one year of a superstar player.

1. Baltimore Orioles

Even with all of the rumors floating around, the Orioles are still the most likely place Machado will play. Between the Orioles not wanting to trade with the Yankees and the high asking price for Machado, it is doubtful that anything will be able to get done. If the Orioles realize that it will be hard for them to get a trade done with the current asking price and lower it, then it will be more likely for him to go St. Louis or Arizona.

If the Orioles can settle with two higher-end pitching prospects, then something will be done. Only time will tell if the Orioles bargain for the 25-year-old free agent to be.

 

Featured image from Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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