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Top 5 Second Basemen

Top 5 Second Basemen

The following article will consist of the five best all-around second basemen in the Major Leagues in my opinion…

  1. Dustin Pedroia- What can I say about Dustin Pedroia? How about I start with this: he’s really, really good.  Even in his young career, Pedroia has clearly established himself as one of the faces of the MLB.  The pressure of playing in a big market city like Boston hasn’t slowed him one bit.  Pedroia consistently plays 140+ games each year, which doesn’t sound like much but it is something that a lot of guys don’t do.  Through six seasons he has a lifetime average of .303.  He is also often associated with the phrase “Laser Show,” which is nothing short of accurate.  A great majority of Pedroia’s hits are literally laser line drives that give infielders almost no chance of making a play.  On top of that, he is a solid base stealer and has never made more than seven errors in a season.
  2. Chase Utley- Over the past several years, Chase Utley has been the cornerstone of the Phillies franchise.  Through thick and thin, he has been there the whole time with just a few other players.  While he is not as good of a fielder as Pedroia, his batting statistics are closer to a Pedroia level.  Utley has given himself a .288 lifetime average over a nine year career, which includes almost twenty home runs per season.  Unfortunately, Utley’s consistency has slightly declined over the last two or three seasons due to injury, but I still believe he is one of the elite second basemen in the game today.
  3. Ian Kinsler- In the number three slot, I have chosen Ian Kinsler, who narrowly beat out Brandon Phillips and Howard Kendrick.  Kinsler has been a very strong player since he came into the league in 2006, at the age of twenty-four.  Kinsler consistently hits in the high .200’s every year, but gets on base in more than one third of his plate appearances.  He also averages around twenty home runs per season, and what doesn’t clear the fence often ends up as a double or even a triple.  He is also a very strong base-stealer, and can hold his own on the infield.
  4. Howie Kendrick- I believe that Howie Kendrick is one of the most underrated players in the whole MLB.  His contributions to the Angels are often overshadowed by the accomplishments of others such as Jered Weaver or Kendrys Morales.  Unfortunately, I think his stats will still be overlooked in the future because of new Angels such as Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.  In his seven year career, Kendrick has hit almost .300, with about 125 hits per season.  Home runs are few and far between, but he does drive in a decent amount of runners for a contact hitter.  The only real problem I have with Kendrick is his amount of strikeouts per year, but that can be easily fixed.  Look for Kendrick to maintain his role as a solid, everyday player under a cloud of superstars.
  5. Brandon Phillips- Through his first eight full seasons in the pros, Phillips has been nothing short of solid.  Known for his flashy defensive plays, he has only had one season in which he committed more than ten errors in the field.  That being said, Phillips can also swing the stick a little bit, as well.  He is sporting a .273 lifetime average, with 1249 hits in just 1188 games in his career.  Only once in eight full seasons has he played in less than 140 games.  Phillips has been a key contributor to the Red’s success over the past couple of seasons, consistently beating down on my beloved Cubs.

Christian Biondi

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Future betting tips on the top MLB teams

Future betting means gambling on sporting events several months in advance of them taking place, and is a very popular way of betting on major sporting events like the new season – as the early odds for the teams are released well in advance by the sports betting sites. Already the odds, and thus the favourites for both the American and National Leagues and the World Series have been made available – establishing teams like the Los Angeles Angels and the Washington Nationals amongst the favourites at this stage.

However a lot can change once the action gets underway, which is why the single most important tip for those considering MLB futures betting to consider, is that it is better to wait until further into the season before placing a bet. This is because, if one of the top teams performs as expected, their odds will not really change much, but if they don’t, you will avoid losing money betting on a pre-season favourite that doesn’t live up to expectations. After all, there are many factors – including injuries to key players –that can cause this to happen. This is why another major tip to remember is that you need to research form and injury records for key players before making a futures bet on the MLB.

It is not as if there aren’t other ways of mixing betting and a love of the MLB, while you are waiting – as a game like the baseball slot Hot Shot offers great entertainment and betting. Hot Shot, which is available at online casino sites like LuckyNugget  is a nine pay line, five reel, non-progressive slot, which has reels designed to look like baseball caps, pitchers, catchers mitts, and baseball snacks like fries and popcorn. It also has a backdrop of a baseball field and the sound effects – including crowd noise (murmurs which rise to a roar when you get a winning reel with the gold cup scatter symbol) – and a baseball bat hitting a ball, when you get a winning reel without the scatter, really add to the appeal of the game.

Top 10 Catchers

As the MLB season nears, I decided I would post an article every couple of days breaking down my top players at each position.  My last article covered starting pitchers so this one will cover catchers.  However, this article will only feature five cathcers simply because there are not many elite catchers in the game today.  The catcher’s position is one where a superstar comes along once, maybe twice in a lifetime.  Players such as Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, or Carlton Fisk don’t come around everyday.  Here we go.

molina

  1. Yadier Molina- Molina has my vote for the best all-around catcher in Major League Baseball.  He is a career .279 hitter, but he is most known for his defense.  I tend to be very drawn to players like Molina, because there is literally nothing flashy about him.  He is just fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game.  He consistently calls a great game, he blocks pitches in the dirt better than anyone in the league, and can gun down virtually any would-be base stealer.  He is a classy player on and off the field, gets along with his teammates, and is a very coachable star.  Basically the only downsides to Molina are his very poor speed and occasional baserunning mistake, but his positives heavily outweigh his negatives.
  2. 2.    Buster Posey- Posey is arguably the best young player in the game today.  With less than three years of total big leagues experience, he has already won himself two World Series rings.  His 2011 campaign was brutally cut short by a broken leg due to a collision with a runner at home plate.  In his short career, Posey has a .316 batting average, and he doesn’t tend to strike out all that much.  Similar to Molina, Posey is a very solid fielder.  He calls a great game, takes care of the pitching staff, and has thrown out better than thirty percent of base stealers in each year of his career.  He also compiles a very small amount of errors every year.  Posey’s three-year career has already rewarded him with the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award, and the 2012 Most Valuable Player Award.  This may be a bold statement early in his career, but I think Buster Posey will have no problem getting into Cooperstown when he retires, barring any major setbacks.
  3. 3.    Joe Mauer- Over the past six or seven seasons, Mauer has been arguably the most consistent player in the Major Leagues.  Having played his entire career with the Minnesota Twins, he has posted a career .323 average, with his lowest being .287 during the 2011 season.  Mauer’s career year came in 2009, when he put up a .365 average with 28 bombs.  The main reason Mauer dropped to third on my list is because in recent years, Mauer has been switching between catcher, first base, and designated hitter.  Albeit small, I think taking days off from catching gives him just a slight advantage over everyone else, as he has a little bit more time to relax and give his body time to rest.  He puts together a great balance of aggressiveness and patience at the plate, and is nothing short of a solid defender.  Mauer, like Posey, should have a good shot at Cooperstown if he keeps up his game for the next few seasons.
  4. 4.    Brian McCann- Although McCann has dropped off over the last season or two, I still believe he is one of the best in the game.  He hit .270 or above every season except for 2012, in which he hit a career-low .230.  Since his first full season in 2006, McCann has been a steady complement to Chipper Jones in the middle of the Braves lineup.  With 2013 being his first season without Chipper, look for McCann to have a bounce-back year while producing a large portion of the Braves offense.  I find McCann to be a mediocre fielder, letting a decent number of passed balls through, and only throwing out about 23% of potential base stealers.  That being said, he has made six appearances in the all-star game, proving that he is nothing short of a solid player.  Look for McCann to have a good year, assuming the role of the Braves top hitter.
  5. 5.    Matt Wieters- Rounding out my top five is the young catcher for the Baltimore Orioles.  Wieters is steadily developing into one of the most reliable catchers in the game today.  While his offensive game is still developing, he has already proven himself as one of the best defensive catchers in the pros.  He has only let up eleven passed balls in his four years in the majors, and has gunned out an impressive 32% of would be base stealers.  Look for Wieters to steadily improve his game.  I see him hitting around .300 this season.

Christian Biondi 

Baseball is Back

Baseball is back. As Spring Training begins today, there is a special feeling in the air, as all the players report to their tropical destinations, on the freshly cut grass bathed in the sunlight, the sound of the ball slapping the baseball mitt gracing their ears, and the camaraderie of being with their teammates (their family until November). Now the fans can celebrate as well, after all this game is about us just as much as about them.

While for the players, baseball provides a means of employment and a lifestyle, for the fans everywhere it represents so much more. It is a way to spend a summer afternoon with the family at the ballpark, a reason to go to a bar with your best friends, a national sense of unity, a way to make friends, and a phenomenal conversation starter. Baseball creates heroes, immortalizing ordinary people into legends worthy of telling a bedtime story about. It picks us up when we are feeling down, creating distraction when life gets tough.

Baseball brings family together, creating bonds and memories. From the first time a dad and son play catch out in the yard, to your first baseball game with your dad or kids, bringing the trusty baseball mitt even though you’re in the nosebleed seats, praying for a foul ball to be hit up your way. It even allows for traditions to be born and adds items to the bucket list.

Baseball-Field

For instance, my dad, brother and I are trying to see a game in every Major League Baseball team’s stadium, which leads to baseball trips every summer. These trips show us different parts of the country, different people, but the same undying love for our National Pastime. Fenway Park in Boston, with its historic “Green Monster” wall out in left field, and “Yawkey Way” street outside the stadium, may differ from AT&T Park in San Francisco, with McCovey Cove and the kayakers paddling in the ocean behind the stadium in right field, but what unites these two places on different sides of the country is the people who fill the seats.

These people and this sport embody the same things that symbolize our great nation. The dream of making it big one day, the spirit of competition, and the moments you cherish while spending time with family and the ones you love. The majority of the American population may not think baseball is their favorite sport to watch, however it will always be this nations pastime, and I couldn’t be happier to welcome it back. Play Ball!

Will Kaufmann

Mizzou Arena

“They’re one of the best teams in the country, if not the best.” This statement came out of Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith’s mouth in a press conference after his team had just taken down the fifth ranked Florida Gators. As the Tigers prepared for their game on Super Tuesday, they knew they had a tough battle ahead of them. Many believed that Florida was going to be too big of an obstacle, especially for a Missouri team that has lost to teams like LSU and Arkansas. Yet the players and coaches knew that something was going to go their way on the chilly Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena.

Picture from Yahoo.com
Picture from Yahoo.com

For many, it was simply impossible for Missouri to beat Florida, and those people had reason to believe that it couldn’t happen. After an obliterating and embarrassing 83-52 loss in Gainesville earlier this season, it was only logical that Missouri wasn’t going to make this a game. However, there was one thing the Tigers had going for them; they were playing at Mizzou Arena. Any team that steps foot on the floor at Mizzou Arena, no matter how good they are, better be ready for a dog fight, and Florida was not.

Mizzou-Arena-2-470x260
So what is so special about the Tigers’ home floor? Well, over the last 86 games at the arena, the Tigers are an impressive 82-4. They also currently hold a 16 game winning streak at home, which has overlapped from last season. Current head coach Frank Haith has been a very successful coach at Mizzou posing a 30-1 career record in the building. But what is it that makes this place so special? “Deep down inside, it took everyone to win this game,” said junior point guard Phil Pressey about the win against Florida. The thing is, he meant everybody. Yes, the players and the coaching staff, but the fans were the ones keeping the game alive. The fans who helped Mizzou keep momentum when attempting to cut two different 13 point deficits, one in each half. The fans are the most special part of the Tigers success at home.

So what is there to conclude from this article? Well I can tell you one thing. There is magic at Mizzou arena. Yes, the Tigers have had a poor record on the road, and have played very inconsistently. However, when they come home, there will always be a challenge. So I say to any team that ever tries to step on the court at Mizzou Arena, watch out.


Trevor Weinrich

Chiefs Future

While I am not an expert on free agency and the draft, I am entitled to my opinion. So here it is. The Kansas City Chiefs could not have picked a better year to get the first pick of the draft. I mean heck, there are tons of elite quarterbacks this year. Just our luck. The only year that would have been better would have been the 2007 draft. Heck we would probably be in the Super Bowl with JaMarcus Russell marching down the field. With all jokes aside Chiefs fans are starting to feel like the Royals. Last year there were organization changers like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III and this year there are… defensive tackles and offensive tackles. Although football is a game won in the trenches, teams must have a quarterback to manage the game.

Picture from Toledoblade.com
Picture from Toledoblade.com

With the recent releases of Kevin Boss and Steve Breaston, the Chiefs will be looking to fill these holes in the draft or free agency. Since the draft is too hard to predict from this far out, I will look at free agents. For starters, the Chiefs need to wrap up Dwayne Bowe or sign a top receiver such as Mike Wallace, Wes Welker, or Danny Amendola. In my opinion, the Chiefs should do everything they can to sign Amendola. After watching him every week since I live in St. Louis now I can say he is more than a game changer. Although Amendola has battled nagging injuries the past season, when healthy Sam Bradford targeted him on which seemed like every passing down. My last thought on the wide receiver position is the Chiefs should look to steal the humble Titus Young. While Young may not be Calvin Johnson, he does have playmaking abilities. If Andy Reid could discipline Young and keep him focused he could be a successful slot receiver to open the field for Bowe on the outside.

Now here is my Madden experience talking. The Chiefs should trade down to around the eighth pick and draft Sharrif Floyd. Mel Kiper and I actually agree that Floyd would be able to be the sheriff on the defensive line that they have been looking for in Dontari Poe and Glenn Dorsey. By trading down the Chiefs would be able to acquire additional picks that could be used to trade for an additional second round pick. With that pick they could take Matt Barkley or Geno Smith if either are available.

What the Chiefs actually do in the draft all depends on if the Chiefs use their franchise tag on Brandon Albert. If they do they will most likely lose Dwayne Bowe to free agency that would kill the already lackluster passing game. If the Chiefs decide to put the tag on Bowe they will lose Brandon Albert. I think the Chiefs can’t afford to lose Bowe because they will not be able to sign an elite receiver to replace him. The Chiefs would be able to then draft offensive tackle Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M. Lastly, the reason I have yet to address the need at the quarterback position is because I don’t see major changes. I would not be surprised to see Cassel taking snaps under center next year. The other option that looks to be coming to front of conversation is signing trading for Nick Foles who Reid picked last year with the Eagles. Reid clearly raves about this kid because of his size and potential. The Eagles have made it known that it will take a big package trade to pry him away. This is why I think the Chiefs need to do there homework and attempt to find a Tom Brady or at least a poor mans Tom Brady late in the draft and let him learn by seeing all the mistakes Matt Cassel will make next year. Last option for the Chiefs at quarterback will not happen but I would like to see the Chiefs take a look at Ryan Mallett who is backing up Tom Brady.

Spencer Montgomery

KyrieIrvingAll-StarMVP

All-Star Weekend

All-Star Weekend is my Super Bowl Sunday. Except in the case of All-Star Weekend, it’s spread out over three different events (because who really counts the Celebrity All-Star Game?).  I’ve preset my DVR and set a side several hours of my Sunday to re-watch all the festivities before the main event on Sunday night, the NBA All-Star Game.  I make it a habit to pick my winners beforehand (which tend to be wrong, I did pick Chase Budinger to win the Dunk Contest last year), so without further ado here are my picks for All-Star Weekend:

BBVA Rising Stars Challenge:

This event has developed more flair over the years. For starters Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkely now draft the teams rather than it being simply a Sophomore – Rookie Challenge, with the sophomores usually taking home the victory. With the teams now more evenly matched, it gives for a much more entertaining game.  Here are the teams:

TEAM SHAQ: Damian Lillard (Portland), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland), Andre Drummond (Detroit), Klay Thompson (Golden State), Harrison Barnes(Golden State), Chandler Parsons (Houston), Dion Waiters (Cleveland),Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte), Tyler Zeller (Cleveland), Kemba Walker (Charlotte)

KyrieIrvingAll-StarMVP

TEAM CHUCK: Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Kenneth Faried (Denver), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), Bradley Beal (Washington), Ricky Rubio(Minnesota), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland), Nikola Vucevic (Orlando),Brandon Knight (Detroit), Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento), Alexey Shved(Minnesota)

The clear cut favorite here is Shaq’s squad for one big reason. Kyrie Irving. I’ve been saying for months that Irving is the next elite player in the NBA. He has the potential to not only be elite, but to be a 1st tier elite player (Durant, Kobe, LeBron, Chris Paul). While Chuck’s roster certainly lends very well to a strong inside game with Anthony Davis and Nikola Vucevic, Andre Drummond will help anchor Team Shaq in the paint and allow Irving to score and create on the perimeter for the other shooters on his team (Barnes, Thompson, Parsons). Team Shaq should shoot Team Chuck out of the Toyota Center. Prediction: Team Shaq over Team Chuck  – 143-131

All-Star Saturday Night

This is far and away the best part of the weekend, mainly because of the dunk contest. The other events hold merit and can be very entertaining, but everyone tunes in so they can be dazzled by the highflying showmanship in the final event of the evening, the Sprite Dunk Contest.

Sears Shooting Stars: This one is easy, plus not many people care, so I’ll make it short. You never bet against Robert Horry in a shootout. I’ll take the West squad of Big Shot Bob, Sam “Looks Like an Alien” Cassell, Harden, Westbrook, Tina Thompson and Maya Moore over the East squad of Dominique Wilkins, Mugsy Bogues, Bosh, Brook Lopez, Swin Cash, and Tamika Catchings.

Taco Bell Skills Challenge: In years past this event has featured some great point guards and playmakers. Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, Steve Nash and Derrick Rose are some of the recent notable champions. This year’s contestants seemed to be a watered down version of the contestants of years past minus Parker. Aside from Jrue Holiday and Parker, I don’t consider the other contestants proven point guards at this point in their career. Not to say their future isn’t promising, but we haven’t seen much yet. Jeremy Lin, Jeff Teague, Damian Lillard, and Brandon Knight.  While experience may seem trivial in a competition like this, I don’t see anyone unseating Parker as reigning champ.

Prediction: Parker over (3) Holiday and (2) Lillard in the 2nd Round.  Lin will finish with the worst time, followed by Knight and Teague respectively.

Foot Locker 3 Point Contest: This event is always this most difficult to call, and this year does not get any easier. Last year’s contest featured Kevin Durant and Kevin Love in an intense shoot-out for the title. This years competitors all have a legitimate shot at the crown, but there are a few that stick out from the bunch. Here are the participants:

West

Ryan Anderson (New Orleans)
Matt Bonner (San Antonio)
Stephen Curry (Golden State

East

Paul George (Indiana)
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland)
Steve Novak (New York)

stephen-curry-snub

Prediction: This will be the most entertaining 3 point contest in recent history. Look for George and Bonner to make early exits.  Look for Irving and Curry to face-off in the finals with Curry bring home the trophy. Watch out for Ryan Anderson as a potential dark horse.

Sprite Slam Dunk Contest: This contest is the most hyped and most entertaining event of the weekend. Their have been so many historic performance in the past from Dominique and MJ’s showdown in 1988 to Vince Carter’s absolute clinic in 2000. While the participants may have lacked star status in recent history (minus Howard and Griffin) , they have certainly made up for it with some legendary performances (Nate Robinson’s Kryptonite performance, Jeremy Evans two ball slam). Here are the participants:

East

Gerald Green (Indiana)
Terrence Ross (Toronto)
James White (New York)

West

Eric Bledsoe (L.A. Clippers)
Jeremy Evans (Utah)
Kenneth Faried (Denver)

 

Prediction: Look for Jeremy Evans to make an early exit after winning the competition last year. I just don’t see him having the showmanship or creativity to win it again. Look for Gerald Green, Kenneth Faried and Eric Bledsoe to advance to the finals with Bledsoe teaming up with teammate Chris Paul to pull something out of Lob City’s bag of tricks.

2013 All-Star Game:

Out with the old and in with new seems to be the theme of the 2013 All-Star Game, at least on the East squad.  6 of their 8 reserve players are participating in their first All-Star game including Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and Brooke Lopez. Kevin Garnett has stated that this will be the last All-Star game that he will participate in, after 16 appearances. On the West side they feature only one newcomer to the squad in James Harden, who joins his former teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in their 4th and 3rd All-Star games respectively. There are several other familiar faces on the West side, including Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, both of whom could be playing in their last All-Star game.

Prediction: This year’s West squad is stacked up and down the roster. With so much young talent on the East squad, I’ll take the West and their offensive juggernaut over the inexperienced East. Final Score: West over East – 133-124 MVP goes to Kevin Durant.

Tommy Randolph 

Top 10 Pitchers Today

I have grown up my whole life being a pitcher, so the players that I am about to list are people that I have looked up to and tried to model my game after.  Each man is dominant in his own way, earning himself a spot on my list of the ten best pitchers in the MLB today.  The order is completely my own opinion, but I truly feel that each and every one of these pitchers deserves to be thought of as one of the best.  Anyway, here goes.

Picture from Sports Illustrated
Picture from Sports Illustrated
  1. Justin Verlander- Most people could see this one coming from a mile away.  I personally believe that Verlander is hands-down the best pitcher in the majors.  He has the perfect balance of velocity, control, off-speed, and stamina.  He can pump a high 90’s fastball in the 9th inning, and still be able to fool you with his deceptive change-up.  He is undoubtedly the leader of the Detroit Tigers, having led them to the World Series twice in the last six seasons.  Both attempts were unsuccessful, however.  Verlander is a workhorse who will get you a lot of strikeouts (200+ in the last four seasons) no matter who he is facing.  Oh, and did I mention he is dating Kate Upton?
  2. R.A. Dickey- There is no doubt that Dickey has become an elite pitcher in the MLB, but some might find my number two ranking a little generous.  Dickey has been in the league for over a decade, but never really broke out onto the scene until the 2012 season.  And boy did he break out.  Dickey compiled a 20-6 record in 33 total starts.  Some might be puzzled as to why it took him so long to break out.  Well, the knuckleball is not an easy pitch to master.  That being said, Dickey has now MASTERED it.  He is often compared to Tim Wakefield, another recent knuckleballer, but I personally think the comparison is almost useless.  Wakefield was a great pitcher in his own respect, but Dickey has taken it to a whole new level.  He throws the knuckleball harder than it has ever been thrown, and he knows exactly where it is going to end up, a combination deadly to almost any hitter.  Coming off a sensational year, he is starting fresh in Toronto with a decent supporting rotation, so it should be interesting to see what kind of year is in store for Dickey.
  3. Matt Cain- Over the past year or two, I believe Matt Cain has developed into a superstar pitcher, and the unquestioned ace of the San Francisco Giants.  With the decline of Tim Lincecum, Cain has stepped up and carried the Giants pitching staff.  He has a career record of 85-78 with a 3.27 ERA.  While these stats are not amazing, he is still developing even at the age of twenty-eight.  In two postseason trips, he has a record of 4-2, and did not even let up an earned run in the 2010 postseason, which led to a World Series title for the Giants.  To top it all off, Cain tossed an incredible perfect game on June 13th, 2012.
  4. Clayton Kershaw- Throughout his short career, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has done nothing but prove himself.  He is preparing to enter his sixth full season, and there is no doubt in my mind that it will be another successful one.  Over his first five years, Kershaw has put together an impressive record of 61-37.  With a career 2.79 ERA, this lanky southpaw has a variety of ways to make batters miss.  The young Kershaw was awarded the 2011 NL Cy Young award, thanks in no small part to his utterly devastating slider.  He, like Verlander, is one of the few pitchers in the league that almost seems to get better as the game goes on.  Mr. Kershaw is my prediction to win the Cy Young award again this year.
  5. David Price- David Price is another young pitcher who has already given himself a name throughout the major leagues.  Behind Justin Verlander, I think Price is arguably the best pitcher in the American League.  If you don’t know who he is, you’re missing out.  This 6 foot 6 Rays ace consistently throws fastballs between 97-99 MPH, an obvious problem for hitters.  In his four full years, Price has already completed a 19 and a 20 win season.  Very few people get on base against him, and even fewer are able to hit the long ball.  His only flaw, however, is sub-par postseason track record.  While he is still inexperienced in the playoffs, he has a 1-3 record while letting up almost four runs per game.  Price was the recipient of the 2012 AL Cy Young award, barely sneaking past defending champion Justin Verlander.  While I don’t see him winning the award again this season, I think he will definitely have another great year, compiling seventeen or eighteen wins.
  6. Jered Weaver- Since his 2006 entrance into the MLB, Jered Weaver has never had a losing season.  In fact, he has never had less than eleven wins.  He has almost twice as many wins as he has losses, (102-52) and he racks up strikeouts like it’s his job.  Well, I guess it is his job.  Anyway, Weaver stands at a towering 6 foot 7, so his heaters jump on hitters even faster than they normally would.  2012 was a career year for Weaver, when he earned twenty wins with a measly five losses.  Posting a sub 3.00 ERA, he earned the $14 million he was paid while finishing third in the Cy Young voting behind David Price and Justin Verlander.
  7. Stephen Strasburg- This pick might come as a surprise to some people, as Strasburg does not have that much experience in Major League Baseball.  The 2012 season marked the first season in which he made at least twenty-five starts.  He compiled fifteen of his twenty-one career wins during the 2012 campaign, while posting a 3.16 ERA.  With a history of arm problems, Strasburg was shut down in the beginning of September, after just 159 innings.  There was a lot of disagreement whether or not the Nationals should have cut his season short, and there is really no way to determine who would have been right.  All we can say for sure is that the Nationals would have been a much different team in the postseason if he were at the top of the rotation.  Look for Strasburg to be an NL Cy Young finalist this year, barring any injuries.
  8. Felix Hernandez- All hail King Felix!  I believe Hernandez is one of the most underrated hurlers in the Major Leagues.  Not because of his talent, but because he plays for the small-market Seattle Mariners.  He doesn’t get the exposure that a Verlander or a Weaver would get.  Over the past seven or eight years, he has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the league.  He constantly pitches 200+ innings, and records an utterly ridiculous amount of strikeouts.  With a 98-76 career record, his win percentage isn’t all that great.  That being said, he often has issues with run support, as the Mariners are one of the worst offensive teams in the leagues.  King Felix just signed a humongous deal, giving him the biggest pitcher’s contract in MLB history.  It will be interesting to see whether he can live up to his expectations, or cracks under pressure of a big contract.
  9. Roy Halladay- Halladay is the oldest pitcher on my list, and he is nothing short of a seasoned vet.  Over the last decade and a half, Halladay has put together nothing short of a magnificent career.  With a 199-100 record, there have been more than 2,000 strikeout victims.  He spent his first twelve years with the Toronto Blue Jays, before joining the Phillies in 2010.  His impact was immediate in Philadelphia.  Between Halladay, Hamels, and Cliff Lee, the Phillies had easily the best rotation in the pros.  Unfortunately, it appears as though Halladay is in the decline of his career, but his numbers are still very impressive.  Look for the Phils to battle the Nats for the top spot in the NL East this season.
  10.  CC Sabathia- Rounding out my top 10 is the hard-to-miss CC Sabathia.  The current Yankees ace has dominated no matter what team he’s been on.  Whether it was Cleveland, Milwaukee, or New York, the numbers are always the same.  Winning records and loads of strikeouts are this big man’s recipe for success.  Much like Jered Weaver, this 6 foot 7 giant puts fastballs on hitters much faster than most other pitchers.  His 2012 numbers declined just a tad from his previous Yankee years, so look for a bounce back year for Sabathia.

CC SABATHIA

Other pitchers that came to mind were Cole Hamels, James Shields, Cliff Lee, and the up and coming Gio Gonzalez.

Christian Biondi

Picture from bmore2boston.com

Hernandez Aims to Get Deal Done

As the football season has ended with a bang, many eyes now turn to the beginning of the 2013 MLB season.  With spring training barely underway, there are still several big-name players that are still in contract negotiations with various teams.  Some of the biggest names include Kyle Lohse, Grady Sizemore, and Chris Young.  One of the most recent deals was a four-year contract given to the speedy Michael Bourne by the Cleveland Indians.

Perhaps the biggest deal left is for someone who is not even a free agent.  The Seattle Mariners are currently in talks with their franchise cornerstone pitcher Felix Hernandez.  Hernandez’s current deal, signed in 2010, runs through the end of the 2015 campaign.  The proposed extension would run through 2020, paying the young hurler about $175 million.  If signed, this would make King Felix the highest paid pitcher in Major League history.  While it is a ridiculous amount of money, there is very little dispute that he is one of the most deserving young pitchers in baseball.  Hernandez earned his nickname of “King Felix” after he threw the first perfect game in Mariners history last summer against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Picture from bmore2boston.com
Picture from bmore2boston.com

There is, however, one little thing stalling the whole process.  Some of the people involved in the signing process have pointed at Hernandez’s small elbow issue as a reason to not sign a big deal.  The Mariners general manager, on the other hand, has been very open that his ace has been throwing perfectly for several weeks.  Since his entrance into the league, Hernandez has been very diligent about avoiding injuries and being out of shape, both of which plagued him in his rookie season.  As contracts have soared over the last decade or so, teams have been more reluctant to sign long-term contracts because of the always-lingering possibility of a career-ending injury.  In fact, some teams have clauses written into contracts that protect them against severe injuries that their star players have to deal with.  One such contract is one between the Yankees and their ace, CC Sabathia.

As his contract negotiations linger, Felix Hernandez has decided to skip the World Baseball Classic, which takes place throughout the month of March.  There is no doubt that he will be dearly missed by his native Venezuela.  That being said, King Felix still has two years left on his current contract, so there is technically no hurry for getting a deal done, though both sides have said they want to get it out of the way.  Look for a deal to be done either some time during the 2013 season, or quickly during the offseason.

Christian Biondi