Tag:Jay Bruce
Posted on: June 20, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Votto, Fielder to battle for NL starter at 1B



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Although St. Louis' Albert Pujols still leads the voting at first base for the All-Star Game, the race for first base will likely come down to two other National League Central first basemen, Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

Even if Pujols hangs onto his lead over Votto and Fielder, he went on the disabled list on Monday with a forearm fracture and is unlikely to be available for the July 12 All-Star Game at Phoenix's Chase Field. However, All-Star rules stipulate if a voted starter in unavailable, the honor goes to the second-place finisher at the position.

In the next-to-last National League balloting update before the July 3 announcement of roster, Pujols is second in total votes for NL players behind Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. Braun leads the voting with 3,034,057 votes while Pujols has 2,806,864 votes.

Joey Votto is second in balloting among first basemen, narrowly edging the Brewers' Prince Fielder 2,270,211 to 2,066,327. Both Votto and Fielder certainly have convincing arguments. Votto, the reigning NL MVP, leads the NL in on-base percentage (.449) and is third in batting average (.327), while Fielder is second in the league in OPS (1.031), is tied for the league lead with 20 home runs and leads the league with 61 home runs.

The second base spot has a similar split between a Red and a Brewer, with Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips leading Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks 2,286,378 to 2,094,502 with Weeks closing in.

Philadelphia's Placido Polanco leads Atlanta's Chipper Jones by more than a million votes at third base, while Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki has a respectable lead over the Mets' Jose Reyes at shortstop. The Braves' Brian McCann leads the Cardinals' Yadier Molina by nearly half-a-million votes. The outfield's top three are Braun and the Cardinals' duo of Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday. The Dodgers' Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, along with the Reds' Jay Bruce, are the next three in line.

Complete balloting is up at MLB.com.

The American League update will be released tomorrow.

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Posted on: June 18, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: June 18, 2011 7:57 pm
 

Reds, Phillips haven't discussed extension

Brandon Phillips

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Reds are expected to pick up Brandon Phillips' $12 million option for next season, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes.

The team hasn't spoken to Phillips about an extension, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said, but didn't rule it out.

"He's got an option," Jocketty told Fay. "That's what options are for. We might try to get something done later."

Earlier this week, Phillips told Amy K. Nelson of ESPN that it would be "hard to keep me here," when asked about his future in Cincinnati. He added, "I'm not trying to break the bank. I'm just trying to be fair. I don't want Jayson Werth money or CC Sabathia money."

That's a little different than what Phillips has repeatedly told the Cincinnati media for the last couple of years. When speaking to Cincinnati people, he's always said he wants to stay in Cincinnati and follow in the footsteps of his boyhood idol, former Reds great Barry Larkin.

He reiterated his desire to finish his career as a Red when speaking to Fay on Saturday.

"I told the Reds and the whole world this is where I want to be," Phillips said. "If it doesn't happen, I'm going to be very, very disappointed. I feel like I've made this a second home. I bought a house here. This is where I want to be, man. The fans just took me in. I feel like I need to stay here and give back.

"Hopefully, it happens. If it doesn't happen this year, I feel in my head and my heart, it's not going to happen."

Phillips has not only made himself a fan favorite through his use of Twitter, but has also donated enough money to help rebuild a local youth baseball field through the Reds Community Fund. He's backed his talk up with actions off the field, to be sure.

Atlanta signed second baseman Dan Uggla to a five-year, $62 million deal this past offseason. Uggla has more power than Phillips, but Phillips is a better all-around player. Philips won his second Gold Glove last season and has been even better defensively this year. His batting average and on-base percentage are about the same as they were a year ago -- and better than his career averages -- but his slugging percentage has taken a dip, as he's hitting .280/.338/.387 this season with five home runs. He hit 30 homers in 2007 and his home run numbers have dropped each season since. 

Phillips will be 30 later this month, so any extension will take that into consideration.

Last year the Reds showed they are willing to pick up a questionable high-priced option when they picked up Bronson Arroyo's $11.5 million option before spinning that into a three-year, $35 million extension.

Phillips will probably be looking for something similar, although he's possibly worth more.

Uggla's contract will be one comparison, but the Reds could point to Rickie Weeks, who signed a four-year, $38.5 million extension heading into this season. Weeks has outperformed Phillips at the plate this season (although, Phillips is much, much better defensively). Phillips has also been much more durable than Weeks, who has played more than 130 games just once in his career, while Phillips has played at least 140 games in every season since coming to the Reds in 2006.

Phillips has the second-highest salary in the game for a second baseman, trailing only Chase Utley.

The Reds' payroll is at $80 million this season -- but they have Francisco Cordero's $12.125 million coming off the books after this season. The team also has raises coming to Arroyo, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Jay Bruce. Votto's signed through 2013, his last season before he's eligible for free agency. He gets a $4 million raise for 2012 and $7.5 million raise to $19 million in 2013. Bruce also has an increased salary for each of the next five seasons.

Reds owner Bob Castellini has said he could afford to keep the core of his team only if the team's attendance picked up after their National League Central run of a season ago. So far this season, the Reds are averaging 24,230 fans a game at Great American Ball Park, which is actually down from last season's average of 25,438. The average should increase as school lets out for the summer, but if there's a big enough increase in attendance for Castellini to keep his word is still to be seen.

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Posted on: June 4, 2011 9:52 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Best first-round picks of the last decade



By C. Trent Rosecrans

With the MLB Draft beginning Monday night at 7 p.m. ET, the Eye on Baseball crew is going to look at the best -- and worst -- first-round draft picks by each team in the last 10 years. 

With the way the baseball draft goes, there are plenty of busts in the first round every year, but there are a lot of great players in the game that were drafted in the first round and the supplemental first round. Tomorrow we'll look at the misses, but for today, here are the hits.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Most first overall picks make the majors and many (Alex Rodrgiuez, Ken Griffey, Chipper Jones) find their way to superstardom. Justin Upton may not be a superstar yet, but the first overall pick of the 2005 draft already has one All-Star appearance under his belt and will probably have more to come.

Atlanta Braves: With the 14th pick in the 2007 draft, the Braves took a local kid, outfielder Jason Heyward. Nice pick.

MLB Draft

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters is close to taking this spot, but for now it's still Nick Markakis, who was taken with the seventh overall pick of the 2003 draft out of Young Harris College in Georgia.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox had five picks in the first round and the supplemental first round in 2005, and as good as Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie are, the pick here is right-hander Clay Buchholz, taken 42nd overall out of Angelina College.

Chicago Cubs: While his name is now a cautionary tale, it's easy to forget just how good Mark Prior was before arm trouble. Drafted with the second pick of the 2001 draft, he won six games in 2002 and 18 in 2003, his best season. Overall, Prior was 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA.

Gordon BeckhamChicago White Sox: Even with his struggles last year and this season, Gordon Beckham has been a productive player for the White Sox after he was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft.

Cincinnati Reds: Taken out of high school with the 12th overall pick in 2005, Jay Bruce is the reigning National League Player of the Month and only seems to be getting better at 24. He already has 85 homers in his career, including a National League-best 17 this season.

Cleveland Indians: How bad have the Indians' first-round picks been the last decade? The 18 players taken by Cleveland in the first round and the supplemental first round over the last 10 years have collected just 506 games in the majors, 334 for Cleveland. Lonnie Chisenhall (29th overall in 2008) may eventually be their best in this list, but for right now it's the Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie, who at least has 40 big-league wins.

Colorado Rockies: While the Indians' choice was tough, the Rockies' wasn't -- Troy Tulowitzki was taken with the seventh overall pick in 2005.

Detroit Tigers: With the second pick in 2004, the Tigers took Justin Verlander.

Florida Marlins: The team's best pick of the last decade came in the fourth round of the 2002 draft when it took high school pitcher Josh Johnson, but as far as first-round picks, their best is right-hander Chris Volstad, taken with the 16th pick of the 2005 draft.

Chris BurkeHouston Astros: The Astros didn't have first-round picks in 2003, 2004 and 2007 and haven't had much production from any of them. There's really just two choices, Chris Burke (10th overall, 2001) and Jason Castro (10th overall, 2008). Castro has potential, but is out this season and has played in just 67 big league games, so the pick is Burke, who played in parts of six seasons with three teams, but his 18th-inning walk-off homer (left) to clinch the 2005 NLDS against the Braves is one of the franchise's signature moments.

Kansas City Royals: This choice could be much more difficult in five years, but for now it's pretty easy -- Zack Greinke. The Royals selected him sixth overall in the 2002 draft and he won the American League Cy Young Award in 2009.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Jered Weaver was the 12th pick of the 2004 draft.

Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers took lefty Clayton Kershaw with the seventh pick of the 2006 draft out of a Texas high school.

Milwaukee Brewers: This could change in a couple of years, but for now, Prince Fielder (seventh overall, 2002) leads Ryan Braun (fifth overall, 2005). Fielder is a free agent this offseason, while Braun is under contract through 2020.

Minnesota Twins: There were those who questioned the pick of hometown boy Joe Mauer with the first pick in the 2001 draft instead of Prior. Not anymore.

New York Mets: Fred Wilpon may not think he's a franchise player, but David Wright is the team's best first-round pick in the last decade, taken with the 38th overall pick in 2001.

New York Yankees: The Yankees have plenty of first-round picks on their roster, although few were their picks. Two key pitchers, starter Phil Hughes (23rd overall in 2004) and reliever Joba Chamberlain (41st overall in 2006), were Yankee picks. The pick here is Chamberlain, who has allowed fewer runs in a similar number of innings and is currently pitching.

Oakland Athletics: A chapter of the book Moneyball focuses on the 2002 MLB Draft and Billy Beane's distaste of drafting high school players. In the book, the team is excited the Brewers take a player they won't touch (Fielder), and the team also doesn't want Zack Greinke, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels or Matt Cain -- all high school player. But they get the man they want the most, Nick Swisher at No. 16. It's a good pick, as is Joe Blanton at 24 -- but it's hardly Greinke, Fielder, Hamels or Cain. The team also picked Jeremy Brown, a catcher out of Alabama, and Mark Teahen in the supplemental round. 

Philadelphia Phillies: Another pick from the Moneyball draft, the pick after the A's took Swisher, the Phillies snatched up Hamels, the left-hander from a California high school with the 17th pick.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The 2005 draft featured six players listed as center fielders taken in the first round -- and all six have made the big leagues. The second one taken was the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen with the 11th overall pick. The others were Cameron Maybin (10), Bruce (12), Trevor Crowe (14), Ellsbury (23) and Colby Rasmus (28).

San Diego Padres: The Padres may have had one of the biggest busts of the last decade in Matt Bush, the first overall pick in 2004 draft, but he's not been their only bad pick. The best of the lot was Khalil Greene, taken No. 13 in 2002, who had a promising start of his career, but his troubles with social anxiety disorder drove him from the game. Still, he's the Padres' career leader in homers by a shortstop with 84.

San Francisco Giants: Nine teams passed on the right-hander out of Washington, some scared off by his funky motion and small stature. Tim Lincecum proved them wrong.

Evan LongoriaSeattle Mariners: Adam Jones (37th pick in 2003) played in just 73 games for the Mariners, but was named an All-Star and won a Gold Glove with the Orioles in 2009.

St. Louis Cardinals: With a compensation pick for the Red Sox signing Edgar Renteria, the Cardinals used the 28th pick of the 2005 draft to take Rasmus out of an Alabama High School.

Tampa Bay Rays: Were Luke Hochevar and Greg Reynolds better than Evan Longoria? The Royals and Rockies took those two right-handers with the first two picks of the 2006 draft, leaving Longoria (left) for the Rays.

Texas Rangers: Funny story here -- in 2001 I was working at the Athens Banner-Herald in Georgia and was covering the NCAA Regional in Athens when a Teixeira-led Georgia Tech squad was bounced from the tournament. After his last game, a kid from the student radio station asked Teixeira if he thought his poor showing in the regional would hurt his draft status. The Georgia Tech coach, Danny Hall, took the microphone before Teixeira could answer and said, "No." So did the Rangers, who took him fifth overall.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays took lefty Ricky Romero out of Cal State Fullerton with the sixth pick in the 2005 draft.

Washington Nationals: Another pick that could change with the emergence of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, but that's still several years away because of the fourth pick of the 2005 draft,  Ryan Zimmerman.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 2:14 pm
 

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez


By Matt Snyder


May mostly belonged to the pitcher. Sure, there were some pretty stellar performances by hitters (including our selection, Jay Bruce), but the month belonged to dominant pitching as a whole.

May's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Bruce Verlander
Miller Bruce Verlander
Brunell Joyce Kershaw
Rosecrans Bruce Putz
Snyder Bruce Sanchez
Fantasy Bruce Sanchez
Just look at some of the names we had to choose from when it came to strong pitching performances in May.

The following pitchers threw at least 20 innings and had an ERA below 2.00: Josh Beckett, Erik Bedard, Jeremy Hellickson, Josh Collmenter, Tim Lincecum, Anibal Sanchez, Jair Jurrjens, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw and Ryan Vogelsong. There were eight more at 2.25 or below for the month (again, with at least 20 IP). And this is only starting pitchers, as there have been several dominant relievers, too. Basically, this was a tough choice, and our variety of selections backs that up. In cases like this, there aren't really any wrong answers -- just lots of right answers.

On the offensive end, Jose Bautista continued to silence doubters. In April, he was showing 2010 was no fluke and in May he was showing April sure wasn't either. He hit .360 with 11 home runs, 23 RBI and a 1.267 OPS. We also saw Curtis Granderson and David Ortiz club 10 homers in the month while Matt Joyce hit .414. Adrian Gonzalez drove home 31 runs to go with his nine homers in the month, while Jose Reyes also starred (.364 average, nine doubles, six triples, 11 steals). Still, they all fell slightly short in our eyes to the emergence of Jay Bruce as a star.

The 24-year-old Reds right fielder has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his young career, but staying consistent has been a problem. In May, it wasn't. He led the majors with 12 home runs and 33 RBI, while also hitting .342 with a 1.140 OPS. He also led in total bases and tied for the lead in extra-base hits. Only Gonzalez, Reyes and Hunter Pence collected more total hits and only Granderson scored more runs in the month.

Click here to see last month's selections.

Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
When I saw Bruce last week in Philly, he told me he's looking for consistency. If he ever has six consistent months like this one, he'd hit 72 homers with 198 RBI. Bruce also believes he's become a better hitter. So do I. Remember, he just turned 24. When Adrian Gonzalez turned 24, he was in his first season as a big-league regular. Same with Joey Votto. This could well be the start of something big.
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
We're watching a hitter mature right before our eyes. To actually put together a better month than Boston's Adrian Gonzalez is a spectacular month, but Bruce has shifted me away from Gonzo with his incredible production. Added bonus: He's scorching lefties, too.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Matt Joyce Matt Joyce, Rays
Let's get one thing straight -- Joyce is no Jose Bautista, but he still had a fine month, ripping opposing pitchers for a .414 average and tacking on 14 extra-base hits. His emergence has hid the decline of Sam Fuld and been a major reason why the Rays are hanging around the top of the AL East. No other batter cracked the .400 mark in May.
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
Not only did Bruce hit .342/.402/.739 this month, he also had 12 homers and 33 RBI. But it's not just the raw numbers. He came through when his team needed him the most (even if Cincy didn't always finish it off) with five hits during the month that tied games or gave the Reds the lead in the sixth inning or later -- the most in baseball in that category.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
He's been good before in his career, but never this consistent or deadly. We knew the 2007 Minor League Player of the Year had the potential, and at age 24 he's showing its at the big-league level. With the Bruce power surge, the Reds now have two MVP-caliber players. 
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
After a sluggish April, Bruce went on to lead all hitters in overall production in both Rotisserie and Head-to-Head Fantasy formats for the month of May. Not only did he bang a dozen homers, but Bruce was one of only two players to drive in more than 30 runs for the month.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Justin Verlander Justin Verlander, Tigers
May was a great month for pitchers, and the only way to decide was to think back to who had the most memorable games. Let's see, who threw his second career no-hitter? And who threw 7 2/3 shutout innings against an on-fire Red Sox team? Answer: Justin Verlander. I know, he also allowed six runs to the Rays, which kept his May ERA (2.62) from looking as flashy as Josh Beckett's 1.00. Two blown saves cost Beckett a 4-1 month. But he didn't throw a no-hitter.
Justin Verlander Justin Verlander, Tigers
I like horses. No, not Secretariat. Dominant workhorses. And while Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens had a great month, Verlander threw a no-hitter AND stuck around through 132 pitches the other night in knocking down Boston, one of the toughest lineups in the game. Six starts, 33 Ks and one hellacious WHIP.
Brunell Rosecrans
Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw doesn't have the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher in May, but he does check in at 1.77. What he holds over others is strikeouts, plus luck. Kershaw's 46 punchouts in May were big and he hasn't gotten away with as much as others have, evidenced by Kershaw's 2.57 xFIP in May.
J.J. Putz J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks entered May 6 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West and end it a half-game up on the defending World Series champs. One of the biggest reasons for the team's turnaround is the bullpen, led by closer J.J. Putz who had 11 saves and didn't allow an earned run all month.
Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Anibal Sanchez Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
Toss up between Jurrjens and Sanchez, but there's no wrong answer this month. I'm going with Sanchez because he stepped up with Josh Johnson down, going 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in six starts, averaging more than seven innings per start.
Anibal Sanchez Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
Sanchez's five-start stretch to end May was about as good as you'll ever see. He allowed no earned runs in three of those starts, pitching seven innings or more in all five. His 4-0 record, 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and strikeout per inning for the month were enough to make him the highest-scoring pitcher in Fantasy, even over Justin Verlander and his no-hitter.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

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Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 3:49 pm
 

NL All-Star balloting update: Cards lead way



By Matt Snyder


Major League Baseball has issued a press release with the first All-Star balloting update of the season, and the NL starting lineup would include three Cardinals if the voting ended right now. The leaders by position (including three outfielders, of course): Albert Pujols, Brandon Phillips, Placido Polanco, Troy Tulowitzki, Buster Posey, Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. (Full ballot update at MLB.com)

A few things immediately jump out:

- Jose Reyes is the most qualified candidate at shortstop, despite Tulowitzki's hot start. Reyes leads the NL in hits, doubles, triples and stolen bases and is hitting .335 with an .876 OPS. He doesn't even have half the votes Tulo does. Oh, and Jimmy Rollins (.265 with a .698 OPS) is second. At least Reyes is in third, but it's odd to see a player in New York so under-represented in the voting.

- The starter at first base has gotta be Joey Votto over Pujols. It's not even close this season. Votto is second, trailing by about 182,000 votes. Prince Fielder (third) and Ryan Howard (fourth) should also be ahead of Pujols. Remember, it's for the 2011 season.

- Speaking of which, Chase Utley is third in voting at second base.

- Dodgers outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have very strong cases in the outfield, and they check in at spots four and five in the voting, respectively. Still, who are you going to bump between Braun, Holliday and Berkman? Maybe we can petition to move Braun to third base in order to maximize the offense?

- The biggest snub appears to be Jay Bruce. The young Reds' slugger was been an absolute man-child in May and leads the NL in home runs, RBI and total bases. He's 12th place in votes for outfielders. Looks like Reds fans need to get over to MLB.com and support their team. Phillips leads at second because there aren't many good candidates, but Votto and Bruce should be starting and aren't yet in that position.

- Obviously, Posey can't start because of his season-ending injury and NL manager Bruce Bochy will name a replacement if Posey wins the voting. So the catcher voting -- at least as long as he's at the top -- is irrelevant.

Voting continues on MLB.com through June 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET. There will be an update on AL voting Wednesday.

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Posted on: May 27, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 5:44 pm
 

On Deck: Bruce streaking, Reds slumping



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Jay BruceSTREAKING AND SLUMPING: Jay Bruce may be the hottest player in the majors, but his team may be the coldest. Since Dusty Baker gave him a day off to help him get it back together on May 18, Bruce is hitting .486/.526/1.057 with six home runs and 14 RBI. His team lost the game without him and has gone 1-7 with him in eight games since. The Reds have fallen from first place in the National League Central to third, four games behind the Cardinals and a game-and-a-half behind Milwaukee. Reds at Braves, 7:35 p.m. ET (Watch live)

Tim LinecumShaun MarcumMATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Eli Whiteside may be catching Tim Lincecum, but it shouldn't hurt Lincecum. It won't help the team's offense, though. San Francisco has an OPS of .671, better than only four teams in the National League. The good news for San Francisco -- that's still better than two other teams in the offensively challenged National League West. You know what team can hit a little bit? Milwaukee. The Brewers are kind of the opposite of the Giants -- the team OPS is .737, good for fourth in the National League as a whole, and also fourth in the National League Central. On the bump for the Brewers is their best import of the season so far, Shaun Marcum. He's 6-1 with a 2.37 ERA as a Brewer. Giants at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

SEARCH FOR FIRST: The Diamondbacks can't take first tonight, but they do have a chance of finding themselves atop the National League West after this weekend. While the division-leading Giants are in Milwaukee, the Diamondbacks face the National League's worst team, the Astros. Arizona starter Daniel Hudson has won five of his last six starts and is 5-5 with a 3.82 ERA overall. Astros starter Brett Myers has allowed five or more runs in three of his last four starts and is 1-4 with a 5.00 ERA overall. Diamondbacks at Astros, 8:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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Posted on: May 25, 2011 6:03 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 8:50 pm
 

Jay Bruce comes through in clutch for Reds

By Evan Brunell

BruceThe Reds broke out for three runs in the ninth inning in Tuesday's game against the Phillies to snap a tie and win the game 6-3.

That victory was thanks to Jay Bruce, who has been the team's hottest hitter over the last six games (.522 batting average, four home runs) but hadn't been effective with runners in scoring position (RISP). That changed when he came up to bat in the ninth, hitless on the night with three strikeouts. With two out and the bases loaded, Bruce knocked a bases-clearing double against Ryan Madson to up his season RISP mark with two outs to 2 for 19.

It's all about learning how to drive batters in for Bruce, just 24.

"The big thing that I'm going to learn from [that hit] is staying focused," he told MLB.com. "Just because you don't do it the first time [back in the fifth, he struck out with one out and runners at second and third], you may get [another] chance and you have to be prepared and ready the second time. You can't let things linger."

Bruce's RISP numbers over his career are surprisingly poor -- .238/.333/.410 going into play Wednesday. Comparing that to his overall career line of .259/.329/.481 clearly indicates that he hasn't been as good with runners in scoring position, which suggests that, while only a slight regression to the mean would bring his numbers in line, there may be something more at play with Bruce's struggles knocking runners home.

"I am learning a lot about driving in runs and really getting them when they're there," Bruce said. "I'm not good yet, but I'm getting better at that aspect of it. I have a long way to go but ... tonight it worked out, and I plan on doing it a lot more."

Despite clearing the 20-homer barrier in his first three seasons and being headed that way (and beyond) this year, Bruce's career high in RBI is 70, set last season. While RBI is largely a function of your own production and where you bat in the lineup, it's easy to see why the team would want Bruce to work on driving in more runs. It may be useless from a statistical perspective, but it's important on the field where the runners actually need driving in -- and mentally, struggles can really weigh on one's mind. As Bruce's quotes indicate, he feels that his RBI production has been below par, and confidence is crucial in baseball.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 24, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 12:57 am
 

On Deck: Beckett looks to slow down Indians

OD

By Matt Snyder


Are we in for a low-scoring night? From established aces like Justin Verlander and Dan Haren to up-and-comers like Jhoulys Chacin and Zach Britton, there are plenty of solid arms in action Tuesday night. In fact, there are 21 starting pitchers on the schedule with ERAs below 3.50 and 10 below 2.75 -- and this excludes Josh Collmenter (0.69) and Jorge De La Rosa (3.34), as the Rockies and Diamondbacks are already underway. Granted, some of the guys included are small samples like Johnny Cueto and Vance Worley, but it's still quite a night for good pitching.

Beckett vs. Red-Hot Tribe: It's pretty safe to say the Indians have been on a hot streak for the entire season, or at least at home. The Indians are the best team in baseball at 30-15 but are a ridiculous 19-4 at home. Asdrubal Cabrera stands out as the star of the team at this point, but he hasn't been carrying them or anything. This is a true team in every sense. Trying to slow the Indians down is Josh Beckett, in what should be a good battle. Beckett brings in an AL-best 1.73 ERA. He lost his first start of the season at Cleveland but has been on a different level since then, sporting a 1.38 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings. In four of those eight starts, he has allowed zero runs. In two more, he's allowed just one. Unstoppable force vs. immovable object? We'll see. Fausto Carmona (3-4, 4.76) toes the slab for the Tribe. Boston at Cleveland, 7:05 p.m. ET.

Opposite Directions: As Stats, Inc. pointed out Tuesday afternoon (via Twitter), the Twins are looking to avoid their longest home losing streak since they weren't even the Twins. A loss against the Mariners Tuesday evening would mark the 10th straight in Target Field and would match a franchise high ... with the 1957 Washington Senators. As always, the Twins entered the season with high expectations, but they're clearly the worst team in baseball at 15-31. Meanwhile, the Mariners are riding high. They were the consensus last-place prediction in the AL West heading into the season. But after six consecutive victories, they trail the Rangers by just 1 1/2 games in a division that seems completely up for grabs. For Tuesday night, it will be Doug Fister (2.93 ERA and 1.29 WHIP) for the Mariners vs. Nick Blackburn (3.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) of the Twins. As Monday night proved, however, the starting pitchers may not be what determines the outcome. Seattle at Minnesota, 8:10 p.m. ET.

Reeling Reds: After sweeping the Cardinals and Cubs at home by the middle of last week, the Reds were sitting pretty. They had won 11 of 13 overall and appeared to be opening up a decent lead in the NL Central. Then they lost two to the Pirates at home and were swept at Cleveland. After a 10-3 drubbing on Monday night at the hands of the Phillies, the Reds had lost six in a row and are now 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals. Johnny Cueto (1.45 ERA in three starts) takes the hill and will attempt to stop the bleeding for Cincy. His counterpart will be Philly's rotation replacement Vance Worley, who has been stellar this season in somewhat limited action (1.13 ERA in 16 innings). Someone on the Reds you may not have noticed as they've been losing is Jay Bruce. The 24-year-old outfielder is white hot. He's gone 11-18 (.611) with four home runs, six RBI, five runs and a 1.983 OPS in his last five games. Cincinnati at Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m. ET.

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