Results tagged ‘ Matt Kemp ’
The kings of swing
Tonight at 8:00 PM, eight of Major League Baseball’s greatest sluggers will participate in the annual Home Run Derby. I’d like to share a few of my thoughts and predictions about the event.
The first thing I wonder, is why in the world is Matt Kemp participating in this? Don’t get me wrong, the guy is one of the most talented players in all of baseball, but he’s also injured. Kemp is currently on his second stint on the disabled list with a hamstring issue, and it just seems way too risky for have him in the derby. I’m sure he’ll put on a display of power for all of the fans, but at what cost? Imagine if he manages to re-aggravates his hamstring while he’s swinging for the fences. If I was an owner of the Dodgers, there’s no way I’d let him be out there.
Along similar lines, I’ve always wondered about the ill-effects of participating in the derby. Many players won’t and haven’t participated in the derby, because they believe it has a negative impact on your swing and takes up too much of your energy. I would argue that both have to be true, at least to some extent. As it is, I think the derby is great for the fans, and I’d hate to see it go away. I do wonder why they don’t reduce the amount of outs per round, though. It’d make more sense to only have five outs for each round, with the exception of 10 for the final round. I think doing so would be in the best interest for the players.
Without further ado, I’d like to make my final predictions for the 2012 Home Run Derby.
8th place-Andrew McCutchen
7th place-Carlos Beltran
6th place-Carlos Gonzalez
5th place-Mark Trumbo
4th place-Robinson Cano
3rd place-Matt Kemp
2nd place-Prince Fielder
1st place-Jose Bautista
It’s no secret that a lot of baseball’s best players are currently injured. So many are hurting, that you can assemble an All-Star team with players who are currently on the disabled list. Don’t believe me? Well here you go.
Catcher: Carlos Santana- Santana is currently on the DL after sustaining a concussion. Even though he hasn’t performed at the offensive level that he’s expected to, he’s been a solid for the Indians this year.
First base: Lance Berkman- With the departure of Albert Pujols, the Cardinals were hoping that Berkman would come close to repeating what he did in 2011. Instead, it’s been an injury-filled season for Berkman, whose injury has allowed prospect Matt Carpenter to get a chance to get significant playing time with the Cardinals. Unfortunately, Carpenter soon also found himself on the disabled list, too.
Second base: Mark Ellis- Fine, I’ll admit that calling Ellis an All Star is a bit of a stretch, but he’s the best of what’s available. Ellis has been a steady performing at second base throughout his career, and the Dodgers were counting on him to be their everyday second baseman, but a leg injury will likely cost him at least another five weeks. In the meantime, the Dodgers will have Elian Herrera and Jerry Hairston sharing duties at second.
Shortstop: Stephen Drew- Coming off a breakout year, the Diamondbacks were optimistic that Drew would be more than able to help get the Diamondbacks back to the playoffs in 2012. Instead, he’s spent the entire season recovering from ankle surgery. It’s possible that he could return sometime within the next month, barring any setbacks.
Third base: Pablo Sandoval- The San Francisco Giants have been missing one of their key offensive pieces, and are eager to have Sandoval back at full strength. Sandoval has been out of action after fracturing a bone in his left hand. If all goes well, he might be able to start his rehab assignment as early as next week Monday.
Outfield: Matt Kemp, Austin Jackson and Jon Jay- Kemp made it one day off the DL before re-aggravating his hamstring. He will likely be missing at least another two weeks, but reports indicate that it could be longer. Jackson was critical to the early success for the Tigers, but an abdominal strain has put him out of action since May 16th. Jackson was taking swings off a batting tee today, but still isn’t quite ready for full baseball activities. Jay has been hurting with a sprained right shoulder, and it doesn’t look like a return anytime soon seems realistic. Jay is just one of the many Cardinals who have spent time on the DL, and it is definitely taking a toll on the reigning champions.
Starting pitchers: Doug Fister, Roy Halladay and Jered Weaver- Fister has reaggravated his left-side strain and will be spending his second stint on the DL. Halladay injured his shoulder, and is likely to miss up to eight weeks. There’s unfortunately no miracle in store for the Angels either, as Weaver has been placed on the DL due to a variety of back problems.
Relief pitchers: Drew Storen, Andrew Bailey and Mariano Rivera- This hasn’t been a good year for closers in baseball, and three of the best have spent a good majority of the year missing in action. Drew Storen hasn’t pitched yet this year, and neither has Andrew Bailey. Storen has been struggling with pain in his elbow, and Bailey had surgery on his thumb. But the biggest injury was that to Mariano Rivera, who will miss the remainder of the 2012 season after tearing his ACL while shagging fly balls during batting practice.
Strike 1. There’s a lot of people in Detroit wondering what is going on with Max Scherzer. It seems that he’s struggling with an issue that sent him to Toledo a few years ago. The good news is that it appears to be an issue with his mechanics and not his health. The reason I feel confident saying that is because there’s no apparent decline in his velocity, but it’s more of an issue of him commanding his pitches consistently. I’m not pushing the panic button yet, but Scherzer definitely needs to show some improvements soon.
Strike 2. Bryce Harper has not been a disappointment since he was called up to the Nationals. I’m still very intrigued on how he’s going to be able to handle being in the Major Leagues. I don’t think there’s many people that are going to question his athletic ability, but he hasn’t exactly shown a great deal of maturity in his professional career. If his teammates can keep him grounded, Harper could be a very good player for years to come.
Strike 3. Jered Weaver threw a no hitter against the Twins last night, making it the second no hitter thrown so far this year. It really makes you wonder if this is going to be another season where good pitching dominates baseball. Of course pitchers haven’t been keeping all hitters in check, as Matt Kemp already has 12 home runs in just 27 games. I still think he’ll come short of 50 for the year, but at this rate, I might be wrong.
If baseball fans should be paying attention to anything so far this year, it’s that without a doubt, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball right now. Will they be able to keep it up and make the playoffs, or will they end up watching the postseason from home?
It’s hard to imagine a team that features Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney and Clayton Kershaw not making the playoffs, but that’s exactly what happened in 2011. Don’t worry Dodger Nation, I think 2012 is going to be a good year for you.
The biggest key to the Dodgers making the playoffs is the productivity of Matt Kemp. There is no question in my mind that Kemp deserved to with the National League MVP last year, and the fact he didn’t should only make him work that much harder to win it this year. Do I think he has a shot of hitting 50 home runs and stealing 50 bases? I think it’s possible, but highly unlikely. What I do think he could have a legitimate chance of doing, is winning the NL Triple Crown (leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs). Of course this will heavily depend on whether or not opposing teams are going to be willing to pitch to him down the stretch.
Ethier has turned himself into a formidable outfielder, but there’s also been questions of his health and ability to hit left-handed pitching throughout his career. If Ethier can stay healthy, and find consistency against lefties, then the Dodgers have what is arguably one of the top two 3-4 hitting combinations in all of baseball.
And how could I possibly write about the Dodgers without talking about Clayton Kershaw? Kershaw put together a remarkable 2011 season, and in return won the NL Cy Young award. The scariest part (and I mean that in the best way possible), is that he just turned 24. It’s not common that you find a starting pitcher with dominant stuff at that young of an age, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep it up throughout his career. Oh yeah, did I mention that he’s left handed? I can only imagine how much Dodger Nation loves the fact that he’s not eligible for free agency until the 2015 season.
There’s also several intriguing stories about the Dodgers, such as what kind of a shortstop will Dee Gordon be? Will he get on base enough to utilize his speed, or will he eventually be turned into a pinch runner? Chad Billingsley has also looked incredible in his first two starts for the Dodgers, and if he can put together a strong season, the Dodgers will almost certainly find themselves playing late in October.
I’m sure the new ownership group, which paid over two billion dollars for the team along with property near the stadium, is hoping that their investment will soon be paying dividends. All I know is that if I was a Dodger fan, I wouldn’t be making any vacation plans for October, because I might be busy watching my team make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
As I’ve done with all of my other fantasy baseball drafts, I’m going to give you a round by round breakdown of it. Hopefully this can help you prepare in case you haven’t had your draft yet. This was for an eight person, head to head league. It’s important to realize that the less people are playing, the average roster will be significantly better in comparison to a 12 team league. Also, I just wanted to mention if you ever have any fantasy baseball questions for me during the season, feel free to comment on one of my blogs, or send me a tweet @brjeffers13 and I’ll do my best to help you. If I think it’s a good enough question, I’ll even write a blog with more in depth analysis.
Round 1 (3rd overall): Jose Bautista-After Miguel Cabrera and Matt Kemp were off the board, I decided to take Bautista instead of Albert Pujols, who is ranked third in most pre-draft rankings. Some reasons for this include the fact that Bautista is eligible at multiple positions, giving me depth at both third base, as well as the outfield. His 2011 numbers pretty much exceeded those of Pujols, plus you’re going to get more stolen bases. I’m not sure that Bautista will duplicate the numbers he put up last year, but I highly doubt there will be a significant drop off.
Round 2 (14th overall): Adrian Gonzalez-It’s hard to not love Gonzalez, as he’s been a consistently dominant hitter for many years, and he’s playing in a very hitter-friendly ballpark in Boston. I’ll gladly take a guy who will hit around .300 with 30 home runs, and 100 RBIs in the second round, and you should, too.
Round 3 (19th overall): Dustin Pedroia-I consider Pedroia the second best offensive second baseman behind Robinson Cano, and at a position where there’s not exactly a whole lot of big talent around the league, I wanted to get a well above average second baseman while there was still one on the board. Some people would say you should draft a quality starting pitcher with this pick, but I don’t feel that was necessary with it being a league with only eight teams.
Round 4 (30th overall): Cole Hamels-Definitely an interesting pick on my part, but you can consider me a fan of Hamels. With Kershaw, Verlander, Lee and Halladay already off the board, I wanted to make sure I was able to get a proven starting pitcher. Even though not everyone agrees with it, I love taking solid players in a contract year, as they always have a little extra incentive to perform.
Round 5 (35th overall): Jered Weaver-There’s really no reason to suspect that Weaver won’t have another strong year in 2012, and with the improved offense behind him, he should be able to be a bit more comfortable on the mound. I thought this was one of the easiest picks I made in the draft, as I almost selected him a round earlier.
Round 6 (46th overall): Hunter Pence-Some people are still not sold on the fact that Pence is an All-Star outfielder, and I don’t get it. In the last three years, Pence is hitting .292 while averaging about 24 home runs a year. Don’t forget that he’s also likely to steal you a about 10 bases or so a year, and those add up through the course of a year.
Round 7 (51st overall): Mike Napoli-Another person that I love because of him being eligible at both catcher and first base. There’s a quick drop off amongst most catchers in Major League Baseball, so I love being able to get a guy that should be amongst the best in the league. I plan on using him primarily as a catcher, except on days that Adrian Gonzalez has off, then I can shift him to first base to fill the void.
Round 8 (62nd overall): Ben Zobrist-I have a feeling that I’m either going to love or hate this pick. I went with a guy who hits for a decent average, has speed, and plays multiple positions. Hopefully he can hit about .275 this year with 20 home runs, 15 stolen bases and keep his slugging percentage around the .435 it’s been in his career. If he does, then I got a ton of value from this pick.
Round 9 (67th overall): Stephen Strasburg-Simply put, if Strasburg is healthy, he should’ve been picked about five rounds earlier. I played the risk vs. reward card here, and I’m hoping it’ll pay dividends.
Round 10 (78th overall): Desmond Jennings-Although I have absolutely no clue what kind of average Jennings will have in 2012, I expect him to steal a ton of bases and hit around 15 home runs for Tampa Bay this year. I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t pay attention to stolen bases in fantasy baseball, so there’s always value in picking up a speedster or two, as it’ll likely be enough to win the stolen base category in most leagues.
Round 11 (83rd overall): James Shields-“Big Game” James seems to be consistent every year, and still manages to stay off the radar each year. Hopefully Shields can prove that 2011 wasn’t a fluke, when he won 16 games with a 2.82 ERA, while striking out 225 hitters along the way.
Round 12 (84th overall): J.J. Putz-Besides the fact I met and interviewed Putz a month ago (you can watch the interview HERE), Putz proved he is without a doubt one of the most dominant closers in baseball. Playing for the Diamondbacks should give him plenty of save opportunities, and I don’t see him blowing too many of them.
Round 13 (99th overall): Jimmy Rollins-This is one of the picks I think I might regret a bit, but I’m okay with in the grand scheme of things. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s not exactly a ton of quality shortstops in MLB, so I thought I’d take a guy with speed and plenty of offensive upside. I knew the shortstop I wanted to take would likely be available in the later rounds, so I didn’t need to waste a pick in taking him here. If I wasn’t able to get him, I’d at least have a shortstop that wouldn’t hurt my team.
Round 14 (110th overall): Lance Berkman-First and foremost, I do not think Berkman is likely to repeat the numbers he put up in 2011, but I do expect him to hit at least .270 with 20 home runs. For a guy who I can put in my lineup as either an outfielder or first baseman, I’ll take it.
Round 15 (115th overall): Andrew Bailey-Let’s face it, the guy is going to be a closer for the Boston Red Sox. That means he’s going to get plenty of save opportunities, and at this point in the draft, there wasn’t too many other options that I could say the same thing about.
Round 16 (126th overall): Carlos Beltran-I love how Beltran fits in with the St. Louis offense, and expect him to have a solid year at the plate. If he can stay healthy, there’s no reason why he won’t hit .285 with 20 home runs, and have a slugging percentage around .500. Again, this was a risk vs. reward selection, and I think there is enough value in Beltran to make it completely justifiable.
Round 17 (131st overall): Josh Beckett-Now that there’s no more beer in the clubhouse, there should be no distractions for Boston’s starting rotation. With that being said, I expect Beckett to quiet critics and have a solid 2012 season. It’s not common that your 17th round pick will win you 15 games and have an ERA around 3.00, but that’s exactly what Beckett should do this year.
Round 18 (142nd overall): Max Scherzer-In 2011, Scherzer was 15th in the American League in strikeouts, and had an elevated ERA due to a few bad outings. I expect Scherzer to find his true form in 2012, and with Detroit’s revamped offense behind him, he should be able to win at least 15 games.
Round 19 (147th overall): Delmon Young-After coming to Detroit late in 2011, Young was an absolute hitting machine. With Brennan Boesch (hitting second), Miguel Cabrera (third), and Prince Fielder (fourth) hitting in front of Young, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to get an opportunity to have a career high in RBIs this year.
Round 20 (158th overall): Jhonny Peralta-I wish I had an answer as to why Peralta is ranked so low in most fantasy leagues, but he’s a proven hitter in a stacked lineup. I was hoping he would be available in the later rounds, and sure enough, he was. This is an absolute steal as far as I’m concerned.
Round 21 (163rd overall): Yadier Molina-Simply put, he was the best catcher available at this point in the draft. I’m a huge fan of having two people who can play each position (if possible, and without passing up a significantly better player at another position at the same time), so I wanted to make sure I had at least two catchers on my roster. I don’t expect Molina to hit over .300 like he did last year, but he’s a good enough hitter that he could be a starting catcher in most fantasy leagues.
Round 22 (174th overall): Rick Porcello-I may have performed a big fantasy baseball no-no here, but I took someone because of my home-team bias. Don’t get me wrong, I like Porcello quite a bit, I just don’t think he was the best available starting pitcher on the board. I could see Porcello winning 14 games with an ERA slightly above 4.00, and that’s fine with me.
Round 23 (179th overall): Ervin Santana-I think everyone gave up on the draft, because I’m not sure how Santana was still available at this point. If he pitches anything like he did last year in 2012, I’d expect him to easily rack up 16 wins for the Angels.