Tag:Austin Jackson
Posted on: February 25, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 5:07 pm
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Imagining an MLB Combine

Michael Bourn

While our Eye on Football brethren are in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine not getting to watch guys run and jump, it got me to thinking how much fun an MLB Combine might be.

Among the drills the NFL draft hopefuls do that would be applicable to baseball are the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical leap and the Wonderlic Test. So who would be the best baseball players to participate? That's where the fun begins.

40-yard dash: Maybe for baseball, it'd be more fun to line the guys up and have them go 90 feet.

Favorite: Michael Bourn, Astros. A Sports Illustrated poll of players during spring training had Crawford picked as the fastest player in the majors, but the less-heralded Bourn finished second. Bourn has won two straight Gold Gloves in center, and much of it is because he can seemingly cover the entire outfield. In a division blessed with fast center fielders (Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs), Bourn covers more ground than anyone. Oh, and he's led the National League in stolen bases each of the last two seasons.

Others: Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Luis Durango, Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, Andrew McCutchen, Chone Figgins, Ichiro Suzuki, Emilio Bonifacio, Carlos Gomez, Carl Crawford

Adam DunnBench press: At the combine, players bench press 225 pounds as many times as possible, testing not only strength, but endurance. For baseball, maybe the best test would be a home-run derby-like format, but adding the distances of balls hit.

Favorite: Adam Dunn, White Sox. According to HitTrackerOnline.com, Jose Bautista had more "no-doubt" home runs than Dunn (19 to 16), but Dunn's homers averaged nearly 10 feet more, with an average "true distance" of 411.1 feet. Mark Reynolds' 32 homers averaged 415.6 feet, so he's certainly in the discussion. Dunn's been consistently hitting long home runs, so he gets the nod.

Others: Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Mark Reynolds, Wily Mo Pena, Mike Stanton, Travis Hafner, Russell Branyan, Jose Bautista

Dexter FowlerVertical leap: While it's not something that you associate with baseball, it's a good test of athleticism, but is also practical at the wall as players just to rob home runs.

Favorite: Dexter Fowler, Rockies. At 6-foot-5, Fowler was recruited as a basketball player in high school, but he showed his leaping ability in an unusual place in the 2009 NLDS. In the eighth inning of Game 4, Fowler was on first when Todd Helton hit a grounder to Chase Utley. Fowler was running toward Utley and hurdled him. Utley then threw errantly to Jimmy Rollins and Fowler was safe. (You can see the play here.)

Others: Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Shane Victorino, Mike Cameron, Hunter Pence

Craig BreslowWonderlic test: A 12-minute, 50-question test used for testing applicants for learning and problem-solving. Harvard's Pat McInally is the only confirmed 50 score at the combine, while another Harvard alum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, scored either a 48 or 49 in nine minutes. So, it makes sense to look to the Ivy League for our baseball picks.

Favorite: Craig Breslow, Athletics. Breslow graduated from Yale with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. Seriously. The Sporting News called him the smartest player in sports, while the Wall Street Journal suggested he may be the smartest man in the world. Not only that, batters hit just .194/.272/.348 against him last season, with lefties hitting .181/.245/.340 against him.

Others: Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Young, Fernando Perez, Mark DeRosa

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: November 29, 2010 12:50 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2010 4:09 pm
 

Rookie all-stars announced


Topps announced its annual rookie all-star team Monday, and it's a pretty nice-looking lineup. It was a good year for rookies.

1B: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
2B: Neil Walker, Pirates
3B: Danny Valencia, Twins
SS: Starlin Castro, Cubs
OF: Austin Jackson, Tigers
OF: Michael Stanton, Marlins
OF: Jason Heyward, Braves
C: Buster Posey, Giants
RHP: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
LHP: Jaime Garcia, Cardinals
RP: Neftali Feliz, Rangers

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 15, 2010 2:22 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:36 am
 

Feliz, Posey win Rookie honors

Buster Posey Rangers closer Neftali Feliz and Giants catcher Buster Posey are your Rookies of the Year. No surprise, really.

The only question about today's results was which deserving National League rookie would win. Buster Posey ended up winning, taking the award over Atlanta's Jason Heyward.

While I would have voted for Heyward, I have zero problem with Posey winning. Both were incredible. What strikes me as interesting is the voting results, as Posey won comfortably, getting 20 of the 32 first-place votes and finishing with a total of 129 points. Heyward got nine first-place votes and 107 total points. I honestly thought it would be closer.

Three voters didn't vote for either, one voter went with Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, while two voted for Gaby Sanchez.

The American League spread was about the same, as the National League. Feliz received 20 first-place votes and finished with 122 points. Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson finished second, with eight first-place votes and 98 total points. Twins third baseman Danny Valencia was third.

Pedro Feliz The difference, as discussed last week, was the caliber of candidates in both leagues. Feliz had a good year, but he's a closer, and that's a different role. Just for the record, let's look at the stats from the American League Rookie of the Year:

69 1/3 IP, 43 H, 21 R, 21 ER, 18 BB, 71 K, 2.73 ERA, .880 WHIP

Not bad numbers. Now let's look at a rookie in the National League who didn't garner a single vote.

68 IP, 56 H, 25 R, 22 ER, 17 BB, 92 K, 2.91 ERA, 1.074 WHIP

How about that? How did that guy not even get considered for the National League Rookie of the Year?

That's because he got hurt -- and he was a starter.

Stephen Strasburg made just 12 starts, but still pitched nearly as many innings as Feliz, who was the Rangers' closer. He didn't have 40 saves.

That said, Feliz definitely deserved the award.

The voting:
National League (points)
Buster Posey 129
Jason Heyward 107
Jaime Garcia 24
Gaby Sanchez 18
Neil Walker 3
Starlin Castro 3
Ike Davis 2
Jose Tabata 1
Jonny Venters 1

American League
Neftali Feliz 122
Austin Jackson 98
Danny Valencia 12
Wade Davis 11
John Jaso 3
Brandon Boesch 3
Brian Matusz 3

The National League Cy Young Award will be announced tomorrow.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 2:56 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2010 5:22 pm
 

MLB Facts and Rumors votes on Rookie of the Year

Feliz With the major baseball awards being announced next week, MLB Facts and Rumors will reveal their choices this week for the awards. Today, Evan, David and Trent name their Rookie of the Year selections. At the end of the article, the overall MLB Facts and Rumors winner will be announced using a points system, with the No. 1 selection receiving three points, down to No. 3 receiving 1.

Both the AL and NL rookie of the year race is generally down to two favorites. The AL has Neftali Feliz, the Rangers' closer doing battle against center fielder Austin Jackson of the Tigers. In the National League, it was a banner year for rookies but the two top candidates are catcher Buster Posey of the World Champion Giants and right fielder Jason Heyward of the Braves.

AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

David Andriesen

1. CL Neftali Feliz, TEX
2. CF Austin Jackson, DET
3. SP Brian Matusz, BAL

Feliz saved 40 games, more than any rookie in history. Of course, rookie closers aren’t exactly commonplace, but that’s impressive. Jackson tailed off a bit late in the season but definitely stands above the other position players.

Evan Brunell
1. CF Austin Jackson, DET
2. CL Neftali Feliz, TEX
3. SP Brian Matusz, BAL

A 22-year-old saving 40 games for a division winner is no small feat. However, as impressive as his season was, I can't give his 269 total batters faced the nod over Jackson's 675 plate appearances of a .745 OPS and top-notch defense.

C. Trent Rosecrans
1. RP Neftali Feliz, TEX
2. SP Brian Matusz, BAL
3. OF Austin Jackson, DET

I wouldn't go far to say "obvious." I think Feliz has the most "obvious" talent, but the save stat -- especially in today's game -- is so overrated I hate for it to be a deciding factor. In fact, I think it's not so much "obviously" Feliz, as Feliz by default. Listen, I'll take Feliz long-term over any of the other AL rookies, but I'm not sure he was as dominant all season as we remember throughout the postseason. That said, I'm still going for Feliz, but by a nose over Matusz, who made 32 starts for the Orioles.

Heyward NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

David Andriesen
1. C Buster Posey, SFG
2. RF Jason Heyward, ATL
3. SP Jaime Garcia, STL

What an amazing field of candidates here – half a dozen guys have ROY numbers in a normal year. Posey and Heyward are 1 and 1A for me; I
know I’m not supposed to count postseason, but maybe it tainted my choice. Apologies to Gaby Sanchez, Tyler Colvin and Jonny Venters.

Evan Brunell
1. RF Jason Heyward, ATL
2. C Buster Posey, SF
3. SP Jamie Garcia, STL

If award voting didn't occur until after the postseason, Josh Beckett would have won the 2007 Cy Young Award over CC Sabathia. A similar situation arises today as Buster Posey is certainly the best rookie, postseason included. But the voting is for regular season only, so Jason Heyward rightfully takes the title. To me, the additional time played at a high level is too hard to ignore. Trent nails the Heyward-Posey debate below.

C. Trent Rosecrans
1. RF Jason Heyward, ATL
2. C Buster Posey, SF
3. SP Jaime Garcia, STL

As difficult as it was picking an AL Rookie of the Year, it's even more difficult to pick the National League's winner -- but for the complete opposite reason. This may be remembered as one of the greatest years for rookies in one league in a long, long time. I can't even imagine making the case for which player I would take long-term, Posey or Heyward. Hell, I'll take the second pick and be happy. But the deciding factor for me is something that was out of Posey's hands -- Heyward played 142 games as a rookie and went through the ups and downs. The book was out on him early, and he still played well. Posey finished with as many homers, but Heyward still had a better OPS+, which is impressive considering the number of at-bats. Now, if postseason stats were included, I may change my story, but they're not. Crazy that in the AL, or most other years, Garcia could be considered a shoo-in, but now he's an also-ran.

MLB Facts and Rumors AL Rookie of the Year
Neftali Feliz gets the nod with 8 points to Jackson's 5. Matusz finishes with 4.

MLB Facts and Rumors NL Rookie of the Year
Jason Heyward fends off Posey with 8 points to Posey's seven. Garcia finishes way behind with three.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 22, 2010 6:50 pm
 

Players choice finalists announced

Carlos Gonzalez In September, major-league players voted for the Players Choice Awards, coordinated by the union. Friday, the MLBPA released the three finalists for each of the awards, which will be announced over the course of next week.

Player of the year (both leagues): Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies, pictured), Josh Hamilton (Rangers), Joey Votto (Reds).

Man of the year (for off-field efforts): Torii Hunter (Angels), Brandon Inge (Tigers), Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies).

NL outstanding player: Gonzalez, Albert Pujols (Cardinals), Votto.

NL outstanding pitcher: Roy Halladay (Phillies), Ubaldo Jimenez (Rockies), Adam Wainwright (Cardinals).

NL outstanding rookie: Jaime Garcia (Cardinals), Jason Heyward (Braves), Buster Posey (Giants).

NL comeback player: R.A. Dickey (Mets), Tim Hudson (Braves), Aubrey Huff (Giants).

AL outstanding player: Jose Bautista (Blue Jays), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Hamilton.

AL outstanding pitcher: Felix Hernandez (Mariners), David Price (Rays), CC Sabathia (Yankees).

AL outstanding rookie: Wade Davis (Rays), Neftali Feliz (Rangers), Austin Jackson (Tigers).

AL comeback player: Freddy Garcia (White Sox), Vladimir Guerrero (Rangers), Francisco Liriano (Twins).

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 17, 2010 9:36 pm
 

R.I.P. Tigers: Injuries play spoiler


As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions in October. Today: our penultimate entry, the Detroit Tigers.

It was a tale of two seasons in the Motor City in 2010: a first half that was better than expected, and a second half that was worse.

Attrition had a lot to do with it, as injuries thinned the ranks and left Triple Crown candidate Miguel Cabrera exposed in the lineup. But the Tigers had a lot of young talent step up, and ended up feeling about as good as you can feel when you lead the division midway through the season and end up in third place with a .500 record.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Injuries. Bad ones, to important players, at critical times.

Brandon Inge broke his hand, Joel Zumaya his elbow and, most damaging, Magglio Ordonez broke his ankle on a slide into home plate on July 24 and never returned. Plus you had Carlos Guillen straining something twice a month and playing just 68 games. The injuries had a domino effect on the team, as roles changed and opponents started being able to pitch around Cabrera.

The offense and bullpen numbers were middle-of-the-pack, but the starting pitching was subpar, 11th in the AL in ERA.

Miguel Cabrera And this should probably more properly fall under what went right, but Armando Galarraga’s “perfect game that wasn’t” on June 2 ended up as more of a gut punch than a highlight. It was a good symbol of the Tigers’ season: No matter what they did, the breaks seemed to be against them.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Cabrera was tremendous, putting up a .328/.420/.622 line with 38 homers and 126 RBIs. His RBI  total, on-base percentage and  OPS+ of 179 were tops in the AL. If it were possible to do it all yourself, he certainly gave it a try. Ordonez, too, was having a big season, batting .303 before his injury.

Young hitting was in abundance, with two outfielders in the rookie of the year conversation. Austin Jackson batted .293, scored 103 runs, hit 34 doubles and play exciting defense. Brennan Boesch looked a heck of a lot better in the first half (.342 average) than the second (.163), but showed he’s got potential.

On the pitching side, Justin Verlander was an 18-game winner and an All-Star, Max Scherzer went 12-11 with a 3.50 ERA after arriving last winter from Arizona, and 22-year-old Rick Porcello weathered some growing pains and a trip to the minors and won five of his last six decisions.
 
HELP ON THE WAY

The Tigers farm system is considered thin at the top, but some very good signs arrived from Triple-A Toledo. Will Rhymes (pictured, below right) put himself in the picture for the starting job at second base by batting .304 in 54 games, and outfielder Casper Wells was tremendous 9.323/.364/.538) in a 36-game audition.

EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

The Tigers have some good core pieces and a lot of payroll flexibility, and a big part of what went wrong this year can be attributed to injuries. For those reasons, the Tigers are in a good position for 2011.

Will Rhymes SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

The Tigers have anywhere from $50 million to $70-plus million coming off the books, depending on how you do the accounting, so they’re in good position to address their needs.

The question is, how do they spend that money? They declined Ordonez’s pricey option, but could re-sign him for less. That would be a good start, but they could really use another middle-of-the-order threat.

As for the top free-agent bats, they’ve got room in the outfield for Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth, but no place for Adrian Beltre now that they’ve made a multi-year offer to Inge (and Beltre is not likely to become a DH). Detroit could be an attractive option for Adam Dunn if he softens on his demand not to DH.

The Tigers are happy with the trio of Verlander, Scherzer and Porcello at the top of the rotation, and have said they want to convert Phil Coke to starting because they need a left-hander. But a veteran guy like Aaron Harang would fit nicely.

2011 PREDICTION

Look for the Tigers to be contenders next year, making for what should be an entertaining three-way battle with the Twins and White Sox in the Central.
Check out the other R.I.P. reports here.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: October 16, 2010 9:49 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:12 pm
 

Who could participate in an All-Star race?

Brett Gardner has a suggestion for the All-Star planning committee.

"I think they need to have a race at the All-Star Game, just line up 10 or 20 guys and see who wins," the Yankee told the New Jersey Star-Ledger prior to the Game 2 loss.

Gardner named teammate Greg Golson and Ranger outfielder Julio Borbon as part of the top candidates, but wouldn't say who No. 1 would be.

"There's only one way to find out," he said.

Well, the All-Star Game is over and there won't be another one for quite a while. But it's never too early to look ahead. Here's who could be part of the 2011 All-Star speed demon contest.

Brett Gardner : Gardner swiped 47 bags and came in second on Bill James' speed score with 8.1. The speed score averages stolen base percentage, frequency of attempts, percentage of triples and runs scored percentage.

Juan Pierre Carl Crawford : Crawford paced the bigs in speed score with 8.5, and tied Gardner with 47 steals.

Jacoby Ellsbury : Ellsbury stole 70 bases last season and could have repeated if not for being sidelined all season with injuries. He had a 8.1 speed score.

Austin Jackson : Jackson burst on the scene in 2010 with excellent defense and added 27 stolen bases.

Shane Victorino : The Flyin' Hawaiian has stolen 37, 36, 25 and 34 stolen baes the last four years, respectively. He's also near the top of leaderboards in all years in speed score.

Michael Bourn : Bourn paced baseball in speed score in 2009 with an 8.6 mark. He has led the NL the last two years in stolen bases.

Elvis Andrus : Andrus impressed with a speed score in 2009 of 8.0, tacking on 33 stolen bases. He finished with 32 in 2010, but did dip down to 5.8 in speed score.

Julio Borbon : We'll take Gardner's advice and place Borbon on the list. He stole 15 bases in 468 plate appearance with a speed score of 6.1. His speed score was 6.3 in 2009, and swiped 19 bags in 179 PA.

B.J. Upton : Upton has matched or topped 42 stolen bases each of the last three seasons and set a career-high in 2010 with a 7.5 speed score.

Juan Pierre (pictured): Pierre is 32, but can still bring it. He set a career high by leading baseball with 68 stolen bases in 2010, but his speed score did tumble to 6.9 after a 7.5 mark in 2009.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: September 22, 2010 12:07 am
Edited on: September 22, 2010 10:23 am
 

Tigers could have young offense in 2011

Austin Jackson Theoretically, the Tigers could have seven of eight position players on the diamond (excluding pitcher) be rookies from the 2010 season.

That won't happen, but it does underline how much of a transitional season 2010 was for the Tigers and how much young talent the team has in the fold.

Now it's about figuring out which ones start.

"You don't want to downplay what these kids are doing, but you don't want to get carried away, either," manager Jim Leyland told MLive.com .

"If you remember right, four months ago, people were talking about Boesch as Babe Ruth," Leyland added. "All of a sudden, that's gone away and they're talking about Will Rhymes and Casper Wells. You've got to be careful with all that.

"You've got to make sound judgments as an organization."

The seven rookies are:
  • C Alex Avila, who is hitting .228/.323/.338 as a 23-year-old in 311 plate appearances, seems to have played his way into the Tigers' plans, and should be at the very least the backup. He could enter as a starter, but it's likely Detroit pairs Avila with a veteran catcher. (Could they steal someone off the Marlins' wishlist?)
  • 2B Wil Rhymes is quickly becoming a fan favorite and has a .291/.337/.388 mark and just dinged his first home run. He has 195 PA on the year, but at 27 is likely a future utilityman or may have this be his best major-league success. With Carlos Guillen lost to microfracture surgery but eventually on the way back, second could be a position filled with various platoons of Rhymes, Danny Worth, Scott Sizemore and Ryan Raburn.
  • SS Danny Worth succeeded Adam Everett at short, but has struggled to put together a good season while losing time to injury as well, eventually manning the bench behind Jhonny Perala The 24-year-old had a .255/.295/.358 mark but has a sterling defensive reputation. Given the Tigers' interest in a pick-em man at short, Worth has a shot -- but odds are good Peralta returns.
  • Scott Sizemore was supposed to be the starting second baseman to begin 2009. Well, a left ankle fracture took care of that, but Sizemore has rebounded from that to post a .226/.302/.347 mark in 143 PA with three homers with the 25-year-old flashing a .298/.378/.472 line in 342 PA at Triple-A. Sizemore will probably start somewhere in 2011 -- whether at third or second base. Raburn could push him at third, or the team could import a hitter, minimizing second base to a plethora of candidates.
  • Casper Wells, 25, has taken Detroit by storm with three dingers in 70 trips to the plate, checking in with a .354/.400/.596 line.  Given his Triple-A line of .233/.309/.483 was decidedly more tepid, plus the struggles of Brennan Boesch, Wells won't be entering 2011 as a starter. Odds are he battles with Boesch and Raburn in one outfield position while the Tigers bring in at least one outfielder (and don't be shocked if it's a pricey one) to shore up the offense.
  • Austin Jackson (pictured) is the probable Rookie of the Year award winner and isn't going anywhere after flashing Gold Glove-caliber (as in, actually worth it instead of the numerous head-scratching Gold Glove awards that get handed out) defense and a .300/.355/.412 mark in 622 PA.
  • Brennan Boesch started the season on fire, as Leyland noticed, but a brutal second-half cool streak has brought him down to .265/.331/.432 with 14 dingers in 483 PA. The Tigers shouldn't won't allow Wells and Boesch to take up two starting spots and should have them battle for time, but with a possible outfield job and DH position vacant, Detroit may not be able to bring in two sluggers. That could hand Boesch a starting job.
There are certainly plenty of youngsters on offense, but as seems clear, the Tigers should bring in outside help.

"I think there are some ingredients here that are pretty young that can handle the job at this level, for sure," Jim Leyland noted. "But if you think you can just take all young guys and go walk through a division, that's not going to happen. You're going to get your [butt] beat."

If the Tigers run out all seven rookies in that lineup around Miguel Cabrera, then the club would certainly get their
"[butt]" beat.

 -- Evan Brunell

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com