Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:16 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:57 pm
By Evan Brunell
As C. Trent Rosecrans explained when selecting the most-deserving players to win the NL Gold Glove, it's one of baseball's most difficult awards to give out.
An award that should specifically celebrate the aspect of defense in baseball is instead largely given to those who are considered good defenders, but who reign supreme in popularity and offense. With managers and players voting on the award, you sometimes see some strange occurrences -- such as Rafael Palmeiro winning a Gold Glove in 1999, when he played just 28 games at first base while functioning as a DH.
Here, though, defense rules and offense drools. Let's take a look at some of the best defenders the game has to offer...
Catcher: Matt Wieters, Orioles -- Wieters doesn't have fantastic range, but he has plenty. Combine that with great hands that have led to a .995 fielding percentage and just one passed ball all season, and it's easy to see why the Oriole receives the nod for the award. Also, runners fear Wieters' arm -- he's only allowed 56 stolen bases all season, while the next-lowest total among catchers who qualify for the batting title is J.P. Arencibia's 77, achieved in 10 less starts. Oh, and Wieters has nabbed 32 runners for a caught-stealing rate of 36 percent, a high percentage for a catcher.
Others considered: Alex Avila, Russell Martin, Jeff Mathis
First base: Mark Teixeira, Yankees -- What Texiera has over his competition is the ability to do everything a regular first baseman is asked to do -- except very well. He brings the complete package to the table, showing an uncanny ability to scoop balls out of the dirt and possessing enough speed and quickness to make plays out of his zone. No matter what defensive aspect you bring up, Teixeira is among the elite, both in the eyes of scouts and in defensive statistics.
Others considered: Adrian Gonzalez, Casey Kotchman, Mark Trumbo
Second base: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox -- Pedroia's fielding has been a major boon to his overall value this season. His numbers at the keystone position are what has vaulted him into the fringes of the MVP race and he dominates the game in all facets fielding. Range, plays out of the zone, total balls handled, errors ... no matter what you throw at Pedroia, he's going to go all out to get to the ball and make the play, which happens more often than not.
Others considered: Howie Kendrick, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist
Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers -- Beltre somehow only has two Gold Gloves despite a career of success. That success continues in 2011 in Texas, as Beltre has tremendous range compared with soft hands. Evan Longoria is a fantastic defender as well, but in the AL there simply is no comparison to Beltre. With 11 errors, Beltre is on pace to post his lowest error total since 2004, when he had 10.
Others considered: Alberto Callaspo, Evan Longoria, Brent Morel
Shortstop: Brendan Ryan, Mariners -- There's some pretty good competition at shortstop for best defender, but Ryan takes home the honors, showing the junior circuit how it's done in his first season in the AL. Ryan has an impeccable reputation on defense and did nothing to sully that reputation in Seattle. Elvis Andrus and Alcides Escobar, also in his first year in the AL, gave Ryan a run for his money and is also deserving of this award. Only one can win it, though.
Others considered: Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar, Alexi Ramirez
Left field: Brett Gardner, Yankees -- Was there any doubt? Gardner absolutely blows away the competition in left field. His prowess is so remarkable, words can't describe it. Luckily, there's a graphic drawn of his amazing range compared to the average left fielder, which you can view right here. There really isn't another left fielder that comes close, not even perennial Gold Glover Carl Crawford, who has seen his defensive numbers suffer due to the Green Monster. As advanced as metrics are these days, the Green Monster still fouls up the data, but Gardner is too far ahead of the pack that even adjusting for the Monster would still leave Gardner the clear victor.
Others considered: Alex Gordon, Vernon Wells
Center field: Austin Jackson, Tigers -- Like shortstop, center field is littered with strong defenders. That isn't a surprise, given the emphasis placed on both positions being strong defensively. Jackson has made himself at home in Comerica Park's spacious outfield, running down 114 balls outside of his zone. That's an astronomical number, and Jackson blends it with a strong overall game, even if his arm could be stronger.
Others considered: Peter Bourjos, Franklin Gutierrez, Jacoby Ellsbury
Right field: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners -- Ichiro Suzuki simply does it all, with strong talent across the board. He knows where to go when the ball comes off the bat, rarely out of position. While Suzuki is 37, he still has enough speed to cover the ground required of him and continues to flash a strong arm, even if runners quit running on him 10 years ago.
Others considered: David DeJesus, Jeff Francouer, Torii Hunter, Nick Swisher
Pitcher: Mark Buerhle, White Sox
Buehrle has been considered the class of fielding pitchers since Greg Maddux retired and is working on two straight Gold Gloves. Buerhle's claim to fame on defense comes from this play on Opening Day 2010, which was the best fielding play of the entire season. As a left-hander he adds that much more value on defense with the ability to hold runners closer to first base, limiting steals.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:43 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Juan Pierre's third-inning single against the Indians' David Huff on Thursday gave him 2,000 for his career. He's the 268th player in Major League history to reach 2,000 career hits and the eight player to reach the milestone this season. Pierre's the second White Sox to reach the career mark this season, joining Paul Konerko who notched his 2,000th career hit on Aug. 23.
It was only fitting that Pierre reached 2,000 with a single -- it was the 1,667 single of his career.
Also reaching 2,000 hits this season were Carlos Lee, Orlando Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Michael Young, Scott Rolen, Adrian Beltre and Konerko. He figures to be the last to get to 2,000 this season -- but 10 players are in striking distance to reach the mark next season -- Placido Polanco (1,947), Jason Giambi (1,945), Derrek Lee (1,940), Carlos Beltran (1,895), Andruw Jones (1,880), Jimmy Rollins (1,846), Torii Hunter (1,803), Lance Berkman (1,795) and Raul Ibanez (1,774).
Pierre, 34, is the 23rd active player with 2,000 hits, led by Derek Jeter with 3,069.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: 2000 hits, Adrian Beltre, AL Central, Albert Pujols, Andruw Jones, C. Trent Rosecrans, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Lee, David Huff, Derek Jeter, Derrek Lee, Indians, Jason Giambi, Jimmy Rollins, Juan Pierre, Lance Berkman, Michael Young, Orlando Cabrera, Paul Konerko, Placido Polanco, Raul Ibanez, Scott Rolen, Torii Hunter, White Sox
Posted on: September 4, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 12:30 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Here's a breakdown of the AL West race, with all data through games of Sept. 3Texas Rangers
22 games remaining: 9 home, 13 away
Winning percentage of remaining opponents: .512
Baseball Prospectus expectancy of division title: 92 percent
Los Angeles Angels
Record: 75-64, 3.5 GB
23 games remaining: 10 home, 13 away
Winning percentage of remaining opponents: .481
Baseball Prospectus expectancy of division title: 8 percent
The two teams have one series remaining head-to-head -- three games in Anaheim on the last three days of the season, Sept. 26-28. Texas leads the season series 9-7.
The Angels headed into Texas on a six-game winning streak at the end of August, but then dropped two of three at Rangers Ballpark and split a series against the woeful Mariners. The Angles split their first two games against the Twins, who like the Mariners enter Sunday with a 58-80 record, before returning home with another shot against the Mariners. The Rangers, on the other hand, finish their series against the Red Sox on Sunday before heading to Tampa Bay to face the Rays for three.
While the Angles and Rangers are at the top of the division, the other two teams in the division could decide their playoff representative -- Los Angeles has three more games against the Mariners and six more against the A's, while the Rangers play the A's and Mariners six times each the remainder of the season.
Since taking two of three from the Angels, the Rangers are 3-2 against the Rays and Red Sox, with another series against the Rays starting on Monday at Tampa Bay. Texas hasn't exactly struggled to score runs this year -- ranking third in the majors in runs scored -- but the return of Adrian Beltre isn't going to hurt. After missing more than a month with a strained left hamstring, Beltre is 3 for 11 with 4 RBI in three games since his return. The Rangers don't expect outfielder Nelson Cruz back until at least the middle of this month, so Beltre's return is a welcome sight.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 5:38 pm
By Matt Snyder
The last month could get a bit boring from a pennant race perspective. Look at the standings. The Yankees trail the Red Sox by 1 1/2 games in the AL East, so it's a good race. Of course, the loser is going to be the AL Wild Card, so it's not really a great race. And in the West, the Rangers hold a 3 1/2 game lead. But until a first-place team in the other four divisions falters or a second- or third-place team really gets hot, this is all we have. Check out our September Storylines post from my esteemed colleague C. Trent Rosecrans for more on this very subject.
So we'll check out the two currently close races in this Thursday installment of On Deck. As always, make sure to follow all the action on CBSSports.com's live scoreboard.
Jesus rises: Yes, we know the Yankees and Red Sox are playing. Prepare to see a four-hour game full of macho posturing. Not that there's anything wrong with it, as it makes for good entertainment. But the big storyline in Thursday night's game is the major-league debut of heralded Yankees catching prospect Jesus Montero. He's slotted seventh in the lineup as the designated hitter. Montero has been a top-five prospect in all of baseball each of the past two springs. This year in Triple-A, Montero hit .288/.348/.467 with 18 homers in 463 plate appearances. It was a very slight regression from the 2010 season, but Montero's still only 21. Of course, it's unlikely he's seen many pitchers with the stuff of Red Sox starter Jon Lester (14-6, 3.09), who gets the ball Thursday night. A.J. Burnett (9-11, 5.31) is tasked with holding down the Red Sox offense. Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET.
Beltre's back: Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre has been activated from the disabled list and the offense could sure use the boost. It recently lost slugger Nelson Cruz to -- shocker -- a hamstring injury and was locked down by James Shields Wednesday night. The Angels lost, though, so the Rangers maintained their modest 3 1/2 game lead. Beltre is hitting .276/.318/.505 with 20 home runs and 76 RBI in 100 games, so he'll provide some punch. Beltre and the Rangers will face Jeff Niemann (9-5, 3.46) of the Rays, while C.J. Wilson (13-6, 3.29) gets the nod for the home team. Rays at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET.
Ervin's Angels: The Angels dropped a heartbreaker Wednesday night. They took a 1-0 lead into the eighth and appeared ready to move to within 2 1/2 games of the Rangers, but then Mike Carp of the Mariners came through with a two-out, two-run double to help the M's win 2-1. Ervin Santana will look to get the Halos -- and kind of himself -- back on track. For a stretch, Santana was one of the best pitchers in baseball, but he's allowed 23 hits and 11 earned runs in his last three starts. He was 5-0 with a 0.84 ERA in his previous five starts. The Mariners counter with Charlie Furbush (3-6, 4.87). Angels at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 13, 2011 1:42 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 4:01 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
There will be no hiding of the truth when Tyler Clippard tells the tale of his victory in the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix. The Washington Nationals right-hander threw just three pitches in the game and gave up a hit to the only batter he faced, but that was enough to pick up the W in the National League's 5-1 victory on Tuesday.
"No, I'm going to say I grooved an 0-2 heater to [Adrian] Beltre and Hunter Pence threw him out at the plate to vulture a win in my first All-Star Game," Clippard said. "I don't think that story gets any better."
It was certainly enough for Pence, who was playing left field for the first time since 2005 when he was a member of the South Atlantic League Lexington Legends. Pence had a single in the game as well, but it's the throw he'll remember.
"Taking runs away and playing baseball, that's what it's all about, being a complete player," Pence said. "These days in the National League, that's what we're known for, being able to play small ball."
The National League trailed 1-0 when Clippard came in to relieve Cliff Lee and face Beltre with Bautista on second and Josh Hamilton on first and two outs.
"I had a weird intuition that he was going to hit a line drive and I was like, OK, if he's going to hit a line drive, I'm going to make a good throw. I was kind of anticipating it a little bit. McCann was right in position, made a good catch and tag -- that's not easy to do. It happened the way I envisioned it."
Beltre hit a one-hop liner to left and Pence fielded the ball a split second before Bautista touched third base and made a perfect play to McCann, who had time to set up and tag the sliding Bautista to end the inning.
See the play here.
In the bottom of the inning, Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer to give the National League a 3-1 lead and ultimately make Clippard the second National in a row to earn the All-Star win. Last season Matt Capps picked up the victory, like Clippard recording just one out.
"It's one of those weird things that has taken place. Coming into the game right there, that crossed my mind," Clippard said. "I was trying to get out of there without any damage. We scored at the right time and it happens."
So who is getting the win for the National League in Kansas City?
"[Drew] Storen," Clippard said. "Storen's getting it next year."
For complete All-Star Game coverage, keep up with Eye on Baseball in Phoenix
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 9:10 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The American League West may be able to put together the best rotation in baseball, but putting together a lineup from players just from the division is a little tougher. Of the four teams in the division, only the Rangers are better than league average in runs (455), on-base percentage (.332), OPS (.788) and home runs (111). That makes it no surprise that our lineup for the American League West All-Star team has a heavy Ranger lean, as five of the nine position players are from Texas, including the heart of the order from No. 3 to No. 7 in the lineup.
C Kurt Suzuki, Athletics: There are some serious slim pickings in this category, with the only real choice coming between the A's Suzuki and Seattle's Miguel Olivo. Neither was considered a snub when the All-Star team was announced, and for good reason. Suzuki is hitting .224/.291/.342, while Olivo is hitting .223/.265/.392. Olivo does have 12 home runs and 40 RBI, but I just could justify putting someone with a .265 on-base percentage on any time of All-Star team. Suzuki also brings top-flight defense, so he gets the nod.
1B Mitch Moreland, Rangers: This is an intriguing group of young first basemen. The preseason pick would have been Daric Barton, but he's now in the minor leagues. The Angels' Mark Trumbo (.259/.303/.474) and Mariners' Justin Smoak (.232/.330/.423)are starting to put up some good numbers, but the pick here is Moreland (.279/.341/.458), whose average numbers are better, even if his counting stats aren't up to the other two. The difference is small enough to go with the Moreland.
2B Howard Kendrick, Angels: Finally, a real-live All-Star. The 27-year-old Kendrick is making his first All-Star appearance, hitting .305/.361/.466 with eight home runs and 29 RBI. A very good defensive second baseman, he also adds value by being able to play all over the diamond. He's started games at second base, left field and first base this season and has also started one game in his career at third base.
3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers: You can argue he's not worth the five-year, $80 million contract given to him by the Rangers, but it's tough to argue that he's not the best third baseman in the division. Hitting .272/.314/.492 with 18 home runs and 69 RBI, plus exceptional defense, the choice here is clear.
SS Elvis Andrus, Rangers: You're not going to confuse Andrus with Cal Ripken Jr. or Alex Rodriguez anytime soon, but the smooth-fielding shortstop is getting on base at a .332 clip and also has 26 stolen bases. Erick Aybar is equal with Andrus in batting average (.283) and better slugging (.431), but lower on-base percentage (.316). I'll take Andrus' glove, as well, so he gets the call.
LF Josh Hamilton, Rangers: Hamilton missed 36 games after suffering a broken bone in his shoulder in April, but he's still accumulated 11 home runs to go along with 49 RBI and a line of .305/.359/.549. While Hamilton's played all over the outfield, he's started the most games in left, and that's probably the best spot for him. And he's certainly the best choice in the division.
CF Peter Bourjos, Angels: Although he's currently hobbled by tightness in his right hamstring, Bourjos is the class of AL West center fielders, hitting .272/.323/.397. He also covers a ton of ground, which helps in this division that features some spacious ballparks.
RF Nelson Cruz, Rangers: Like Hamilton, the Rangers right fielder has missed a good chunk of games with a trip to the disabled list in May, but he's still hit 20 home runs and knocked in 55. His .293 on-base percentage is lower than you'd like to see, but his slugging (.520) makes up for it. He beats out Torii Hunter who has a slightly better on-base percentage, much better defense, but pales in comparison in slugging.
DH Michael Young, Rangers: The Rangers sure are glad they didn't heed Young's trade request this offseason. Filling in at various spots in the field for injured Rangers, he's also taken to the designated hitter spot without a hiccup. Young is hitting .326/.360/.486 with eight home runs and 59 RBI. He's also played 25 games at first base, 11 at second base and four at third, while the bulk of his playing time has come as a DH.
SP Jered Weaver, Angels: Starting pitching is probably the deepest category in this division -- and looking at the starting pitching across the AL West may help explain the tough time finding offensive standouts (or it could be vice-versa, though I'll stick with the pitching in this division). Weaver gets the nod with a record of 11-4 and a 1.86 ERA. He's struck out 120 in 140 1/3 innings and walked just 31. Weaver lost his arbitration case with the Angels this year, he'll have a pretty good case this offseason, going into his last arbitration year. Apologies to Dan Haren (10-5, 2.61), Felix Hernandez (8-7, 3.19), C.J. Wilson (9-3, 3.20), Michael Pineda (8-6, 3.03) and Gio Gonzalez (8-6, 2.47).
MR Scott Downs, Angels: The 35-year-old Downs has been around so long that he's a former Expo, but he's maybe having his best season yet. Signed by the Angels this offseason, he's produced for his new team, going 5-2 with a 1.52 ERA, striking out 20 in 29 2/3 innings. He gets the nod over A's side-armer Brad Ziegler (2-1, 1.78).
CL Jordan Walden, Angels: The All-Star picked up his 20th save of the season on Sunday, closing out the Angels' victory over the Mariners by striking out the only batter he faced. His ERA is down to 2.84 and has 40 strikeouts in 37 innings, while walking 17. Brandon League is also an All-Star and his 23 saves lead the American League. His lower strikeouts and higher ERA are the reason Walden gets the nod, even though the Angel has two more blown saves than League.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 8, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 11:27 pm
By Matt Snyder
With the news Friday that elected AL All-Star starters Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter would not play in the All-Star Game, two spots opened up on the AL roster. They will be filled by Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis and Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta. As the line moves forward one spot at each position, Adrian Beltre is now starting at third and Asdrubal Cabrera will start at short.
Youkilis, 32, will be making his third appearance in the Midsummer Classic. He came into Friday night hitting .276 with 12 homers, 58 RBI and a .394 OBP.
Peralta, a nine-year veteran, will be playing in his first All-Star Game. He entered Friday hitting .310 with 14 homers and an .892 OPS.
Beltre will be playing in his second All-Star Game, but it will be his first start. He also played in the game last season but struck out in his only at-bat.
Finally, Cabrera should have been the starter anyway, if we were basing the vote on the 2011 season rather than career achievement or popularity. He's a wizard with the glove and is hitting .291 with 14 homers, 50 RBI, 55 runs and 12 steals.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 1:24 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The biggest notable name that's not on the list is Yankees' starter CC Sabathia, who is scheduled to start next Sunday, so he wouldn't be eligible to pitch in the game anyway. He also said he was happy not to go, instead using his time off to take a mini-vacation.
Mariano Rivera, Yankees (players' pick)
Justin Verlander, Tigers (players' pick)
Brandon League, Mariners (player's pick)
James Shields, Rays (players' pick)
OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox (players' pick)
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (players' pick)
1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (players' pick)
2B Howie Kendrick, Angels (players' pick)
C Russell Martin, Yankees (players' pick)
OF Matt Joyce, Rays (players' pick)
3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers (players' pick)
IF Michael Young, Rangers (players' pick)For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Aaron Crow, Adrian Beltre, All-Star Game, Angels, Asdrubal Cabrera, Athletics, Brandon League, C.J. Wilson, Carlos Quentin, CC Sabathia, Chris Perez, David Price, Felix Hernandez, Gio Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Indians, Jacoby Ellsbury, James SHields, Jered Weaver, Jose Valverde, Josh Beckett, Justin Verlander, Mariano Rivera, Mariners, Matt Joyce, Matt Wieters, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Young, Miguel Cabrea, Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, Red Sox, Royals, Russell Martin, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees