Saturday, May 30, 2009

Michael Young Interview

This week, I interviewed 5-time All-Star Michael Young. I would like to thank Michael for doing the interview and his wife, Cristina Barbosa-Young, for working with me to set up the interview.

Me: Which one means more: the batting title, the multiple 200-hit seasons, the All-Star game MVP, or the Gold Glove? Why?

Michael: That’s a good question. I think the one that means the most to me is the multiple 200-hit seasons because I think that the really good players mostly are the ones that do it year in and year out. I think that only one middle-infielder had done that before and one right-handed hitter had ever done that before besides me, so that means a lot. But the Gold Glove isn’t too far behind.

Me: What was the key to your success in 2003 when you hit .306 (starting your string of 200-hit seasons) after hitting .262 the season before?

Michael: I think 2003 was the year where I kind of figured myself out a little more. I don’t think there’ll ever be a day where I have the major leagues completely figured out, but that was the year where I knew myself a little bit more. I knew what my strengths were. I knew what my weaknesses were. I got into a routine that allowed me to have success for a whole season. And I was surrounded by a bunch of great players. That was the first year where I actually felt completely comfortable and confident in what I was able to do at the plate.

Me: What was your reasoning for not signing with the Orioles when they drafted you in 1994?

Michael: For one, I wanted to go to college. When I was in high school, it was a huge priority for me to make sure I could go to college and finish my education. And from a baseball standpoint, I wasn’t ready physically. There’s no way I would have been productive in the minor leagues coming straight out of high school. I just wasn’t ready.

Me: Why?

Michael: Well, I was young. I was only 17 years old. Physically I was still really really skinny. I grew a lot in college. And going from a metal bat to a wood bat at that point in my life wouldn’t have worked. Emotionally I was still a little immature. I was just a boy. I think that when you play professional sports, it takes a certain maturity to be able to handle yourself and I just wasn’t ready to do that.

Me: Did you work on something specific over the 2007-2008 offseason to make you a better base-stealer in 2008, when you went 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts?

Michael: No, I still think of that as a big weakness in my game actually. It’s something that I’m still trying to make better. I know that I have the speed to steal bases but I think stealing bases has been a weakness in my game. I think I’m a good base runner but when it comes to base stealing, I’m still trying to get better at that every day. You know, pick the spots where I know I can make it. The last thing I want to do is get thrown out a lot because I know I have good hitters behind me. But I also want to make sure I’m aggressive and I give our team a chance to score runs so it’s still something I’m trying to get better at.

Me: What’s the major difference between base running and base stealing?

Michael: There are so many things involved in base running – you know, going from first to third on base hits and going from first to home on balls in the gap, knowing when to be aggressive and when to stay put, knowing what the situation is in the game. Whereas base stealing is going from bag to bag. There are a lot of things involved in base running that people don’t understand. It’s a big, big part of the game.

Me: What was the key for your power numbers jumping up so much in 2004 (22 home runs) and 2005 (24 home runs)?

Michael: I think I’ve always been capable of hitting for power but I don’t consider myself a power hitter. I think power hitters are the guys who go out and hit 30 home runs consistently every year. I’m a line drive hitter and my job is to hit balls as hard as I possibly can all the time. I might run through stretches of my career where those balls just get up a little more. I think those two years and this year too, my swing is such that the balls are getting up in the air a little more often than they did in the past. I don’t really know the explanation. It’s not something I try to work on specifically. Like I said, my only goal when I go to hit is to hit the ball as hard as I possibly can, and if it stays up a little longer, then great.

Me: What were some of the things that factored into your decision to sign a long-term deal with the Rangers?

Michael: Well, this is the only team in the major leagues that I’ve ever known. I’ve only been a Ranger since I’ve been in the major leagues. And I wanted to stay here. My family’s comfortable here, my son was born here, we live here year-round, this is the place where we were going to be and I felt like our team was headed in the right direction where we can have the chance to have a lot of long-term success. That was the primary reason. We made a couple of trades after that that were kind of shocking at first but they’ve turned out to be great for the team. I’m glad I’m here. I don’t ever want to leave.

Me: Which trades are you talking about?

Michael: Well, Mark Teixeira was my long-time teammate and friend and I was really surprised to see him traded. But through time, I think we’ve all seen that Tex is in a place where he’s happy and our team got some really great young players for him, so I think it’s a situation that really worked out well for everybody. Like I said, right after I signed my contract, to see a guy who I considered to be one of my favorite teammates and a friend of mind get traded, it was a little shocking.

Me: What was your initial reaction when you heard about the A-Rod/Soriano trade?

Michael: I wasn’t too shocked at the time because Alex had already been rumored to be traded to the Red Sox. So when he was traded to the Yankees, I wasn’t shocked at all. At that point, it was just a matter of thinking about what position I was going to play. The team at the time said that they were going to give Soriano a shot to play shortstop and me as well, and they were going to do a thing in spring training where we both played both spots. They were going to use all of spring training that year to figure out what was going to work best. Well, I knew that heading into that season, if I was going to be playing shortstop, I wanted all the work I could possibly get in spring training in order to get ready for the season. I didn’t want to just be there half the time because I knew that would affect my play once the season started. So, my biggest thing was to let the team know that I’d do it and they could go ahead and leave Sori at second base. That way I could put all my work in in spring training and make sure I’m ready to play once the season starts.

Me: Is there any specific thing you worked on in the off-season to get ready to play third base, and if so, what was it?

Michael: No, not really. I did my offseason program like I usually do and when I got to spring training, I just went to work. My biggest thing was making sure I trusted my eyes and trusted my instincts and kind of went at my own pace. You know, spring training was a little different. It was a completely different position, a different angle, but toward the last week of spring training or so, I really started to settle in and get more comfortable. I feel very comfortable over there right now. I still think I can get a lot better at it, but I feel real comfortable right now.

Me: What has been the most surprising thing about moving to third?

Michael: To be honest with you, I haven’t really been surprised by anything. Everything at third base has pretty much gone exactly as I thought it would. There haven’t been many things that are shocking to me at all. Everything that I thought would happen has happened and there haven’t been too many surprises.

Me: They call third base the hot corner – how much harder is the ball actually hit to third than short?

Michael: You get smashes hit to you at both spots but at third obviously you have less time to react to it. I think the biggest thing that I was able to realize is that those hard hit smashes, you can’t really prepare for. They just happen. The ball’s hit and all of the sudden you’re diving and the ball’s in your glove. I really wanted to make sure I focused on those plays that are similar to shortstop, those routine ground balls. I wanted to gobble all those up, make all those plays. And the really tough plays on those hard hit smashes are going to take care of themselves. That’s pretty much the way it’s happened so far.

Me: Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?

Michael: Wow, that’s a good question. Ian Kinsler. Mark DeRosa. And Mark Teixeira.

Me: What’s been the best game so far of your professional career and why?

Michael: Wow, that’s a good one. I think in my second year in the league, in 2002, I went 5-for-5 with two home runs in Houston. That was probably the best game of my career.

Me: Speaking of good games, what did it feel like hitting a walk-off homer earlier this year?

Michael: It felt good. That was the first time I ever had a walk-off home run. I had some walk-off hits but I’d never had a walk-off home run. When you have your teammates waiting for you at home plate, it’s a really exciting feeling. At the time, the Royals had just beaten us two in a row, so we really needed to get that win the last game of the series so it felt really, really good.

Me: How much more exciting is it to get a walk-off homer than a walk-off hit?

Michael: Oh, it’s way more exciting because you’re on your way to home plate and you’ve got your teammates waiting for you at home plate ready to jump on you, punch you, hug you, and give you high-fives. It’s a pretty cool feeling.

Me: Out of all the minor league stadiums you’ve played in (both Rangers and Blue Jays), what were your favorite and least favorite and why?

Michael: My favorites were Oklahoma and Knoxville, Tennessee. Those were my two favorites stadiums. They’re brand new parks and the people there are really cool. My least favorites are just the ones that are really old. My first year I went to St. Catherines in Canada and my second year I was in Hagerstown, Maryland. Looking back, they were just old ballparks but the cool thing about it was I didn’t know any better. Those were the first two parks I played in. I just thought they were great because I was playing pro baseball so I was just excited to be playing at the time. But looking back, those were probably the two toughest parks, just because they were the oldest.

Me: What ballpark is your favorite to play in throughout the majors and why (not including the Rangers)?

Michael: My favorite ballpark is Fenway Park in Boston for a lot of reasons. The fans are just really intense and enthusiastic and they have a lot of energy and passion for the game. Obviously there’s a ton of history in that ballpark. That park’s been there for almost a hundred years. It’s old and it’s beat up and it’s run down, but the people still make it really exciting to play there. And the Red Sox are always a really good team so there are really competitive games every time I play there. I think it’s a fun place to play just because of the history.

Me: I went there a few years ago and it was really cool.

Michael: Yeah, I’m sure it’s a great place to watch a game too.

Me: What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at?

Michael: Growing up, I played all the sports that most kids play. I played baseball, my first love. I played basketball, I played football, I played soccer. I would say that basketball was my second favorite sport. When I got to high school, I was playing a ton of baseball at the time and I was hoping to play baseball and basketball. Basketball didn’t work out as well as I thought it would. I played baseball pretty much year-round by the time I got into high school. I still love all sports. I love watching football and basketball on TV and obviously I’m a baseball junky.

Me: What was your favorite team growing up and why?

Michael: My favorite baseball team was the New York Mets. I was growing up in LA and I think I was the only Mets fan out there. Everyone was a huge Dodgers fan in LA. By the time I really started to love baseball, I was around 8, 9, 10 years old. By the time I was 8 years old, I already knew how to fish around the sports page, look at every box score. And right when I was around 8 years old is when Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden were just getting to the Mets and they generated just tons of excitement. The Mets were really starting to become a fun team to watch so I kind of just gravitated towards them. And that was the team I loved actually until I signed. I was still a huge Mets fan.

Me: What was it about the Dodgers that made you not want for them to be your favorite team?

Michael: I still like the Dodgers too. I love the Dodgers. I used to go to Dodger games all the time. Loved to go to Dodgers games. The Mets were just my favorite. The Dodgers were in second but the Mets were my favorite.

Me: What is the toughest thing about major league life and why?

Michael: The toughest thing about major league life is the travel because I have a family. I have a wife and a little boy and I miss them when I’m gone. We have a six month season so for three months, I’m in a hotel somewhere else. That’s a lot of time away from my family. That’s by far the most difficult part about playing in the major leagues.

Me: Do they go with you sometimes and if so, how often?

Michael: Yeah, they do, they travel. Every now and then, we’ll pick a couple of cities. It depends on how my son’s school schedule works out. We set some time aside where they can come on a trip and we can have some fun and relax. Usually it’s at a place where they have a swimming pool at the hotel and the weather’s going to be nice. We try to plan it around those kinds of things.

Me: What was the worst injury you’ve ever had and why?

Michael: The worst injury I’ve ever had was probably last year when I broke two fingers during the season. It’s one thing to break one but I broke two. That was difficult. I’ve been really fortunate. I’ve been really, really lucky to not have any serious injuries. I haven’t spent one day on the disabled list so I’m really lucky to have stayed away from that. I’ve been really lucky never to have had any serious injuries so, as far as my career goes, that’s probably the one thing I’ve been the most happy with.

Me: I would consider breaking two fingers pretty serious.

Michael: Yeah but it didn’t cost me any time on the disabled list. It wasn’t bad enough that I had to really miss any time. It hurt to play but I knew it wasn’t going to be a situation where I had to miss any games. I didn’t miss many games at all. I still played I think 155 games last year and I was really happy with that, considering that I did have two broken fingers for four months out of the year.

Me: Thanks again for doing the interview.

Michael: Alright. You’re welcome.

I would like to thank Michael and Mrs. Young once again for being so nice about this whole interview and making it happen. I really appreciate the time they gave me.

Come back next week for my May Awards.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

All-Star Teams for May

This week I determined my All-Star teams through May for both the AL and the NL. The AL stats are as of May 22nd and the NL stats are as of May 23rd.

AL All-Star Team:


1B: Miguel Cabrera, DET (.381 AVG, 8 HR, 32 RBI): Cabrera is tied for the 4th most RBI’s among all AL first basemen on the ballot. And he has the highest batting average of AL first basemen on the ballot with at least 100 at-bats. The only stat that isn’t in the top five is home runs, where he is tied for 7th. Also, he is one of only three 1st basemen with at least one stolen base this year. Justin Morneau is really his only competition.

2B: Aaron Hill, TOR (.351 AVG, 11 HR, 35 RBI): Aaron Hill has been by far the most dominant second baseman this year in batting average, hitting .351, with the second highest one on the ballot being .327, 24 points lower than Hill’s. And he hasn’t stopped at average; he has shown good power, too, tied for the AL 2nd base lead in home runs with Ian Kinsler with 11, and leading all AL second basemen in RBI’s with 35.

SS: Jason Bartlett, TB (.376 AVG, 6 HR, 23 RBI): Bartlett leads all AL shortstops on the ballot in batting average by 65 points. And he leads them in home runs. And in RBI’s. And in stolen bases with 12. That’s pretty good, and a pretty good sign that he deserves to start at short. When you lead in the all three triple crown categories at your position, you deserve to start.

3B: Evan Longoria, TB (.329 AVG, 11 HR, 46 RBI): Longoria leads all of baseball in RBI’s, and isn’t too shabby at either batting average or home runs, as he is doing well in both those categories. When you lead the major leagues in RBI’s you should be an All-Star starter unless you’re hitting under .200, but when you have an average over .300 and lead the majors in RBI’s, you’re an automatic starter, in my opinion.

C: Victor Martinez, CLE (.400 AVG, 7 HR, 30 RBI): Victor is having a great comeback year, hitting .400, with 7 HR’s (tied for second most among AL catchers) and 30 RBI’s (most among AL catchers). It’s hard to argue with those numbers. When you hit .400 and have the power, it makes you an All-Star starter. Easily.

OF: Jason Bay, BOS (.295 AVG, 13 HR, 44 RBI): Jason is 2nd among all major league hitters in RBI’s, behind only Evan Longoria of the Rays. He is also 2nd among all hitters in the American League in home runs, behind only Carlos Pena in that category. And his batting average isn’t letting him down, as he is hitting .301 so far this year and that stat pretty much solidifies his spot in the starting line-up for the All-Star game.

OF: Adam Jones, BAL (.372 AVG, 9 HR, 30 RBI): Even though Adam doesn’t lead AL outfielders in RBI’s or home runs, he does lead them in batting average and is tied for 5th in AL outfielders in home runs and is 5th in RBI’s.

OF: Nick Markakis, BAL (.315 AVG, 7 HR, 35 RBI): Nick is second among all the AL outfielders on the All-Star ballot in RBI’s, and he isn’t letting down in the two other major categories, as he is batting over .300 so far this season, and has a decent amount of home runs. In my opinion, he should be a pretty obvious choice for a starter as of right now.

SP: Zack Grienke, KC (7-1, 0.82 ERA, 73 K): Zack Grienke has dominated so far this year. He is second in the major leagues in wins (behind Roy Halladay), he leads the major leagues in ERA, and his 0.82 ERA is the highest it’s been all year by far, and he is second in the American League in strikeouts (tied for third overall). I don’t see how anybody could argue with him.


1B: Justin Morneau, MIN (.327 AVG, 12 HR, 33 RBI)
Russell Branyan, SEA (.308 AVG, 10 HR, 20 RBI)
2B: Ian Kinsler, TEX (.295 AVG, 11 HR, 32 RBI)
SS: Marco Scutaro, TOR (.280 AVG, 5 HR, 20 RBI)
3B: Brandon Inge, DET (.280 AVG, 11 HR, 29 RBI)
Michael Young, TEX (.335 AVG, 7 HR, 17 RBI)
C: Joe Mauer, MIN (.417 AVG, 8 HR, 24 RBI)
Rod Barajas, TOR (.309 AVG, 3 HR, 23 RBI)
OF: Michael Cuddyer, MIN (.291 AVG, 7 HR, 30 RBI)
Torii Hunter, LAA (.305 AVG, 9 HR, 31 RBI)
Carl Crawford, TB (.322 AVG, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 25 SB)
Matt Holliday, OAK (.270 AVG, 6 HR, 27 RBI)
P: Roy Halladay, TOR (8-1, 2.78 ERA, 57 K)
Mark Buehrle, CWS (6-1, 2.77 ERA, 33 K)
Kevin Millwood, TEX (4-4, 3.12 ERA, 35 K)
Edwin Jackson, DET (4-2, 2.55 ERA, 48 K)
Joe Saunders, LAA (6-2, 3.17 ERA, 29 K)
Jonathon Papelbon, BOS (0.95 ERA, 11 SV, 21 K)
Brian Fuentes, LAA (4.30 ERA, 11 SV, 19 K)
Frank Francisco, TEX (0.00 ERA, 9 SV, 13 K)
Bobby Jenks, CWS (2.57 ERA, 9 SV, 13 K)
Mariano Rivera, NYY (2.89 ERA, 9 SV, 23 K)
Francisco Rodney, DET (3.50 ERA, 8 SV, 13 K)

Players per Team:
Texas Rangers – 4
Detroit Tigers – 4
Toronto Blue Jays – 4
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 3
Minnesota Twins – 3
Tampa Bay Rays – 3
Baltimore Orioles – 2
Boston Red Sox – 2
Chicago White Sox – 2
Cleveland Indians – 1
Kansas City Royals – 1
New York Yankees – 1
Oakland Athletics – 1
Seattle Mariners – 1

NL All-Star Team:


1B: Albert Pujols, STL (.329 AVG, 14 HR, 38 RBI): Even though Pujols is only 4th in NL first basemen in batting average, and doesn’t lead them in either homers or RBI’s (Adrian Gonzalez has 16 home runs and Prince Fielder has 39 RBI’s), the people ahead of him in each of those three categories don’t have the consistency throughout all their stats like Pujols does.

2B: Chase Utley, PHI (.293 AVG, 11 HR, 31 RBI): Even though Utley is only tied for 4th in batting average among NL second basemen on the ballot, he leads them in home runs and is 2nd in RBI’s behind only Brandon Phillips of the Reds. In my opinion, when you have a solid batting average and the best power numbers at your position in your league, you deserve to start in the All-Star game.

SS: Hanley Ramirez, FLA (.325 AVG, 8 HR, 22 RBI): Even though Ramirez is leading in only one of the three major hitting categories among shortstops, nobody else is better than that. He is tied for second in batting average, 1st in home runs, and 3rd in RBI’s although only two RBI’s away from the NL shortstop leader, Miguel Tejada, in that category.

3B: Ryan Zimmerman, WAS (.348 AVG, 11 HR, 34 RBI): Amazingly, Ryan’s .348 batting average is only second among NL third basemen on the ballot with at least 100 at-bats for the season. He is also second in home runs and first in RBI’s. And it’s pretty hard not to make the All-Star team when you’ve had as long a hitting streak as Ryan Zimmerman has.

C: Bengie Molina, SF (.276 AVG, 8 HR, 30 RBI): Out of all the catchers on the NL All-Star ballot, Molina is tied for 1st in batting average with his brother, Yadier Molina, at .276. Not to mention the fact that he leads all NL catchers on the ballot in both home runs and RBI’s. That’s All-Star starter worthy.

OF: Raul Ibanez, PHI (.353 AVG, 16 HR, 41 RBI): Ibanez is tied for the major league lead in home runs with 16, and he leads all NL outfielders in RBI’s with 41. That doesn’t even say the fact that he is hitting over .350, more than 50 points higher than the century mark.

OF: Carlos Beltran, NYM (.367 AVG, 6 HR, 29 RBI): Carlos is leading all NL outfielders in batting average, and that’s dropped 48 points since the last time I did this. He’s also got pretty decent power numbers, with almost 30 RBI’s.

OF: Brad Hawpe, COL (.336 AVG, 6 HR, 34 RBI): Brad has dominated the National League pitching so far this year, as he is 4th among National League outfielders on the ballot with at least 100 at-bats in batting average at .336. He also is second in RBI’s in that category.

SP: Johan Santana, NYM (6-2, 1.50 ERA, 75 K): Johan Santana leads the National League pitchers in ERA with just a 1.50 ERA, and he leads them in wins alongside Bronson Arroyo of Cincinnati and Chad Billingsley of Los Angeles with 6 of them. That doesn’t even mention that he is 3rd in the NL in strikeouts with 75. When you’re in the top three in each of the three major pitching categories, you deserve to be the starting pitcher for your league.


1B: Adrian Gonzalez, SD (.280 AVG, 16 HR, 30 RBI)
Joey Votto, CIN (.366 AVG, 5 HR, 27 RBI)
2B: Orlando Hudson, LAD (.343 AVG, 3 HR, 27 RBI)
Brandon Phillips, CIN (.269 AVG, 7 HR, 34 RBI)
SS: Miguel Tejada, HOU (.325 AVG, 4 HR, 24 RBI)
3B: David Wright, NYM (.362 AVG, 3 HR, 29 RBI)
C: Pudge Rodriguez, HOU (.270 AVG, 5 HR, 19 RBI)
OF: Ryan Braun, MIL (.331 AVG, 8 HR, 31 RBI)
Carlos Lee, HOU (.327 AVG, 8 HR, 29 RBI)
Justin Upton, ARI (.304 AVG, 9 HR, 26 RBI)
Nate McLouth, PIT (.277 AVG, 7 HR, 29 RBI)
P: Jair Jurrjens, ATL (4-2, 1.96 ERA, 32 K)
Wandy Rodriguez, HOU (5-2, 1.83 ERA, 53 K)
Johnny Cueto, CIN (4-2, 2.35 ERA, 40 K)
Chad Billingsley, LAD (6-1, 2.51 ERA, 63 K)
Ted Lilly, CHC (5-3, 3.35 ERA, 43 K)
Heath Bell, SD (0.49 ERA, 12 SV, 23 K)
Francisco Rodriguez, NYM (0.87 ERA, 12 SV, 20 K)
Jonathon Broxton, LAD (1.29 ERA, 11 SV, 32 K)
Francisco Cordero, CIN (2.00 ERA, 11 SV, 20 K)
Ryan Franklin, STL (1.53 ERA, 11 SV, 15 K)
Chad Qualls, ARI (2.50 ERA, 10 SV, 22 K)

Players per Team:
Cincinnati Reds – 4
Houston Astros – 4
New York Mets – 4
Los Angeles Dodgers – 3
Arizona Diamondbacks – 2
Philadelphia Phillies – 2
San Diego Padres – 2
St. Louis Cardinals – 2
Atlanta Braves – 1
Chicago Cubs – 1
Colorado Rockies – 1
Florida Marlins – 1
Milwaukee Brewers – 1
Pittsburgh Pirates – 1
San Francisco Giants – 1
Washington Nationals – 1

Results of last week’s poll:
Which AL 1st place team do you think has had the best year so far?
Texas – 72%
Toronto – 28%
Detroit – 0%

Come back next week for my May Awards.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Standings and Placement Analysis

This week I will cover all the teams in the AL and where they are in the division and analyze why they are there.

AL East:
1. Toronto Blue Jays (25-14) – The reason the Blue Jays are doing so well right now is pretty much everything. They have the 2nd best ERA in the AL (3.97) behind the Kansas City Royals, and they have scored the most runs in the AL (223), by 17. Also, they’re tied for the 3rd least amount of errors in the AL (19) with Texas, behind only Detroit (18) and Minnesota (13). They have dominated in close games, too, as they are 8-3 in 1-run games, and against righties, as they are 17-8 against them. When you put all that together, that’s a first place team.

2. Boston Red Sox (22-15) – The reasons for the Red Sox not being in first are:
#1: David Ortiz, he is hitting .208 with no home runs, only 15 RBI’s, and is only hitting .136 when leading off an inning, and only .163 in the month of May.
#2: Their pitching is 9th in the AL with a 4.82 ERA, and they have walked the 3rd most amount of batters in the AL with 146 walks this year.
#3: Their fielding, as they are tied for the 3rd most errors in the American League with 24, behind only Oakland (26) and Seattle (31).
The reasons that the Red Sox aren’t farther down that 2nd:
#1: Jason Bay, he is hitting .305 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI’s. The 40 RBI’s is 2nd in the majors behind only Evan Longoria.
#2: Their offense, the Red Sox are tied for 2nd in the AL with the Rangers in runs scored with 206 of them.
#3: Their home record is 13-4, more than making up for their 9-11 road record.

3. New York Yankees (19-17) – They are 7-12 against the East, and have allowed 15 more runs than they have scored, and have the 3rd highest ERA in the American League at 5.41, so they really should not have a winning record, or be 3rd in their division.

4. Tampa Bay Rays (18-20) – Unlike the Yankees, the Rays should not have a losing record, as they have scored 14 more runs than they have allowed, are 12-10 against the East, and are 15-11 vs. Righties. It’s been the lefties that have killed them, though, as they are 3-9 against them.

5. Baltimore Orioles (16-21) – They have the 2nd highest ERA in the AL at 5.43, and haven’t done that well on offense or defense to make up for that.

AL Central:
1. Detroit Tigers (19-16) – The Tigers haven’t hit terrifically, just solid, as they are 7th in the AL in runs and home runs and 10th in the AL in batting average. But their pitching and defense have been terrific. Their pitchers have a 4.07 ERA, 3rd in the AL, and their defense has made only 18 errors, 2nd least in the AL, and has a .986 fielding percentage, tied for 3rd best in the AL. Also, the Tigers pitching has the 2nd lowest batting average against in the AL, and future phenom Rick Porcello has pitched well with a 3.86 ERA and a 4-3 record in his rookie season.

2. Kansas City Royals (19-18) – The Royals have had the best pitching by far so far this year in the entire major leagues, with a 3.63 ERA, the next lowest anywhere at 3.75 (Dodgers) and the next lowest in the AL at 3.97 (Blue Jays). That’s a pretty big difference. They have the 2nd most quality starts in the AL with 20 (in just 37 games) and have allowed the least amount of runs and earned runs in the AL. The only reason they aren’t in first is their hitting. They have scored the 4th fewest amount of runs in the AL, and have the 4th lowest batting average in the AL, due in large part to Alex Gordon being put on the DL after just 7 games. If it weren’t for Zach Grienke’s seven wins and 0.60 ERA, this team would probably have a losing record because of their hitting.

3. Minnesota Twins (18-19) – The Twins are only 4-10 on the road, and even though they’ve been great at home (14-9), that still doesn’t even make up for it enough to get them to even .500. The road record is the only reason they aren’t doing better this season.

4. Chicago White Sox (15-20) – The White Sox have scored the least amount of runs in baseball. It’s pretty much impossible to win when you’re doing that.

5. Cleveland Indians (14-24) – The Indians have the worst record in the AL, and are tied for the most runs allowed in the AL. They are actually 5-4 against lefties, but the 9-20 record against righties more than cancels that out. Also, they’re almost as bad at home (7-11) as they are on the road (7-13). Those are all signs of losing teams, and that’s why they are one.

AL West:
1. Texas Rangers (22-14) – The Rangers have been good just about everywhere so far this year. Here is their good list:
#1: They are 6th in the AL with a 4.66 ERA.
#2: They are tied for the 2nd most amount of runs scored in the AL with 206.
#3: They have the 3rd highest batting average in the AL.
#4: They have hit the most home runs (62) in all of baseball by 8. They have 43 more home runs than the Oakland Athletics.
#5: They are tied for the 3rd least amount of errors in the AL with 19.
#6: They are tied for the 3rd highest fielding percentage in the AL with the Tigers at .986.
#7: They have three of the top seven AL home run leaders (Ian Kinsler, Hank Blalock, and Chris Davis).
#8: Kevin Millwood has turned it on with a 2.93 ERA this year, which is 5th in the AL and better than Roy Halladay (2.95).
Here is their bad list:
#1: Brandon McCarthy has a 5.92 ERA.
#2: Frankie Francisco is on the DL.
That is why they are a first place team, the good outweighs the bad 8 to 2.

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (18-17) – Here is the Angels starting pitching so far this year:
John Lackey – On the DL, then got thrown out of his 1st game after two pitches.
Kelvim Escobar – On the DL.
Ervin Santana – On the DL.
Dustin Moseley – On the DL.
Shane Loux – 5.40 ERA.
Anthony Ortega – 0-2 with a 9.24 ERA.
When you add that to a 6-9 road record, being outscored, and a 5-8 record in the West, the Angels are lucky to have a winning record.

3. Seattle Mariners (17-20) – The Mariners started off the season great, but are 4-12 in their last 16 games.

4. Oakland Athletics (13-20) – The A’s have scored the 2nd fewest runs in the AL, and are just 8-10 at home, 5-10 on the road, 3-11 vs. lefties, and 2-7 in one-run games.

Results of last week’s poll:
Which of these five players do you think had the best Rangers career?
Jeff Burroughs – 66%
Aaron Sele – 25%
Steve Foucault – 8%
Mickey Rivers – 0%
Bump Wills – 0%

Come back next week for my All-Star teams through May.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

#36-40 Top 50 All-Time Rangers List

The Rangers are in first place by 1.5 games and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. I can’t wait for them to get back in town next week. I was at the game last Sunday at the ballpark, when the Rangers beat the White Sox 5-1, behind 5 solid innings from Matt Harrison plus a 2-for-3 performance by Elvis Andrus. My grandparents own a condo in Myrtle Beach and we go there every year in the summer. The Braves Low-A affiliate, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, play there, and we always see them play while we’re there. A couple years ago when we saw them play, they had a young shortstop that we were very impressed with, as he made about five jumping or diving plays in just that one game. That shortstop was Elvis Andrus. I also got an autograph from a young pitcher before that game. That pitcher was Matt Harrison. It was pretty cool watching those same two players play a big part in a big win for the Rangers on national television here in Arlington a couple of years later.

This week I will give numbers 36-40 on my Top 50 All-Time Rangers List. It’s been a while since I last posted on this. See my Jan 3rd and 10th entries for the first two parts.

40. Jeff Burroughs: .255 AVG, 108 HR, 412 RBI, MVP (‘74), All-Star (‘74), RBI Leader (‘74),

Jeff Burroughs is 16th in home runs in Rangers history, with 108 of them. He’s also 16th in RBI’s with 412. But even though he’s so high on those lists, his batting average is holding him back, as he only hit .255 as a Ranger. And that’s with a .301 batting average in 1974 when he hit 25 home runs and 118 RBI’s, making him the MVP, AL RBI Leader, and an All-Star in ’74. He played a big role on Billy Martin’s 1974 team, the first Rangers team to contend for a playoff spot (finishing 84-76, 5 games back). Really, if it wasn’t for that one year, he wouldn’t be anywhere on this list.

39. Steve Foucault: 35 saves, 26-25, 3.22 ERA, 231 K, 382.2 IP,

Steve is 10th in Rangers history in saves, with 35 of them. He also had 26 wins and a pretty good ERA (3.22) to go with that. He also had plenty of innings pitched for a relief pitcher, as he has 382.2 innings pitched in a Ranger uniform, and made 206 appearances for them, all of them in relief. All of these reasons earned Steve Foucault a spot on this list.

38. Aaron Sele: .649 Winning % (1st, min. 400 IP), 37-20, 4.50 ERA, 417.2 IP, 353 K, All-Star (‘98),

Aaron Sele leads all Rangers pitchers in winning percentage with a minimum of 400 innings pitched, with a .649 winning percentage and a 37-20 record. He has a solid ERA at 4.50 in 417.2 innings pitched. He also had 353 strikeouts in those 417.2 innings. A 19-11 record and a 4.23 ERA in 1998 earned him a spot on the American League All-Star team. He was only on the team for two years (’98 and ’99) but they were both good years, in terms of both individual performance and team performance (the Rangers won their division both years), and all that puts him on this list.

37. Mickey Rivers: .303 AVG, 22 HR, 168 RBI, 200-Hit (80),

Even though Mickey only played in 521 games as a Ranger, he still hit .303 and had a 200-hit season in 1980. He hit .333 that year. His main problem in 1980 was that his OBP was only 20 points higher than his batting average, as he only walked 20 times in 630 at-bats. He also had almost no power, as he didn’t have any year where he hit more than 7 home runs in a season as a Ranger.

36. Bump Wills: 161 SB (Rangers record), .265 AVG, 30 HR, 264 RBI,

Bump is the franchise leader in stolen bases with 161. The reason he isn’t higher up is because he only hit .265, and didn’t have much power numbers. His slugging percentage as a Ranger was only .357, which is terrible. Also, only 160 of his 2611 Rangers at-bats went for extra bases. The speed might get you on this list, but it won’t get you too high up on it.

Come back next week for #31-35 on my All-Time Rangers List.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

April Awards

This week I will give my April Awards. These are as if the season ended today, so the games on May 1st do count.

Rangers Awards:

MVP: Ian Kinsler, TEX (.323 AVG, 8 HR, 22 RBI): Ian is the runner-up for my AL MVP, and the person above him isn’t a Ranger, so that makes him my Rangers MVP. He has a very good batting average, is tied for second in the AL in home runs, and is tied for 5th in the AL in RBI’s.
Runner-up: Michael Young, TEX (.315 AVG, 6 HR, 13 RBI)

Cy Young: Kevin Millwood, TEX (2-2, 2.13 ERA, 22 K): Kevin is 4th in the league in ERA, and 1st on the Rangers starting pitching rotation, so he is the obvious choice here.
Runner-up: Brandon McCarthy, TEX (2-0, 5.32 ERA, 15 K)

Rookie of the Year: Elvis Andrus, TEX (.254 AVG, 1 HR, 4 RBI): Once again, Elvis was runner-up in my AL Rookie of the Year, and the person above him wasn’t a Ranger. He doesn’t have great stats, but he’s about the only rookie on the team so far this year that has played a lot. He’s doing a good job adjusting to the major leagues and showing us the potential that made him the Rangers’ new shortstop.
Runner-up: Derek Holland, TEX (0-1, 2.84 ERA, 4 K)

Reliever of the Year: Frank Francisco, TEX (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 SV): He is my AL Reliever of the Year, so obviously he is my Rangers Reliever of the Year.
Runner-up: Jason Jennings, TEX (0-1, 4.26 ERA, 9 K)

AL Awards:

MVP: Evan Longoria, TB (.368 AVG, 7 HR, 28 RBI): Evan has a batting average over .365, 8th in the AL, has 7 home runs, tied for 5th in the AL, and 28 RBI’s, 1st in the AL and 2nd in the entire major leagues. That is pretty good, and, in my opinion, he was the best player in April.
Runner-up: Ian Kinsler, TEX (.323 AVG, 8 HR, 22 RBI)

Cy Young: Zach Grienke, KC (5-0, 0.50 ERA, 44 K): He is the obvious choice for Cy Young so far. He is tied for the major league lead in wins, hasn’t lost a game, has allowed two earned runs in 36 innings pitched, and already has two complete games and one shutout.
Runner-up: Felix Hernandez, SEA (4-0, 2.38 ERA, 36 K)

Rookie of the Year: Koji Uehara, BAL (2-2, 4.50 ERA, 19 K): Normally he would not be the rookie of the year, but this year the competition is so weak, he is the ROY.
Runner-up: Elvis Andrus, TEX (.254 AVG, 1 HR, 4 RBI)

Reliever of the Year: Frank Francisco, TEX (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 SV): Frankie is tied for the league lead in saves, hasn’t blown a save, and hasn’t allowed a run yet this season. Plus, Francisco is fun to say.
Runner-up: Jonathon Papelbon, BOS (0-0, 1.74 ERA, 6 SV)

Manager of the Year: Cito Gaston, TOR (16-9, 1st place): Almost every player on his team is playing well and that is a pretty good sign.
Runner-up: Don Wakamatsu, SEA (14-9, 1st place): In his first year with the team, Don has the Mariners in first place even though they do not have much talent on their team.

NL Awards:

MVP: Albert Pujols, STL (.356 AVG, 9 HR, 29 RBI): Albert has a very good batting average, leads the NL in home runs, and leads the NL in RBI’s by 5. He is way out in front of everybody else, and he is an easy choice to make here.
Runner-up: Jorge Cantu, FLA (.358 AVG, 7 HR, 24 RBI)

Cy Young: Chad Billingsley, LAD (4-0, 2.14 ERA, 34 K): Chad is tied for the NL lead in wins, but he’s the only 4-game winner in the NL not to have lost a game. He also has a very good ERA and a good amount of strikeouts.
Runner-up: Kyle Lohse, STL (3-0, 1.97 ERA, 19 K)

Rookie of the Year: Joe Thurston, STL (.279 AVG, 1 HR, 12 RBI): Once again, there is just a lack of competition, and so that’s what got him ROY in my opinion. Even though Joe only has 1 HR, he is still in the top 50 in the NL in RBI’s.
Runner-up: Dexter Fowler, COL (.288 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 9 SB)

Reliever of the Year: Jonathon Broxton, LAD (3-0, 0.75 ERA, 7 SV): When you have seven saves and three wins as a closer in one month, that pretty much makes you a lock.
Runner-up: Heath Bell, SD (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 8 SV)

Manager of the Year: Joe Torre, LAD (16-8, 1st place): The Dodgers have a 3 and a half game lead in the division, the second best record in baseball, and an 8-0 record at home.
Runner-up: Tony LaRussa, STL (17-8, 1st place)

Come back next week for numbers 36-40 on my Top 50 All-Time Rangers List.