Tag:Jose Bautista
Posted on: July 11, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Killer lineup paces AL East All-Stars

Bautista
By Evan Brunell

2011 All-Star Game
SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West

This just in: The talent assembled in the AL East is really, really good.

Just take a gander at the lineup for the AL East All-Stars on your lower right. Where exactly is there a hole? It's so deep that Curtis Granderson leads off despite boasting the second-most homers in all of baseball, tied with teammate Mark Teixeira with 25 apiece behind only Jose Bautista. It's so deep that Yunel Escobar, who leads off for the Blue Jays, is slapped into the nine spot as a second leadoff man. No matter how good any of the other division all-stars are -- the NL East, NL Central and NL West, along with the AL counterparts in the Central and West -- there simply is no stopping the offensive barrage this lineup has.

Let's take a look at who makes up the lineup, plus whose strolling to the mound and getting a win virtually any time this team plays.

WietersC Matt Wieters, Orioles: Russell Martin got off to a strong start, but tailed off. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek have recovered from a lousy April, but April counts, plus the two split playing time. J.P. Arencibia is hitting .216/.280/.424. The Rays catchers... who are they, again? That leaves Wieters, who is hitting .267/.323/.410. Not great, but miles better than the average catcher is producing (.236/.305/.378 in the AL). He also receives strong marks for fielding and has caught 24 of a potential 54 would-be basestealers, a percentage that no other catcher is close to duplicating.

Gonzalez1B Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
: Freed from Petco Park, Gonzalez is annihilating pitchers in his first season with the Red Sox, rapping out a .352/.412/.589 line, slamming 17 home runs and contributing in virtually every facet of the game except stealing bases. And that's not necessary at all for Gonzalez to be one of the best players in the league.

Pedroia2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: Entering play Sunday, Pedroia and Cano were virtually the same hitter on offense, with a .373 mark in wOBA, essentially a better version of OPS, scaled to OBP. So why did Pedey get the nod? Because hitting's not the only part of the game -- fielding is. And there, Pedroia is flashing leather that could win the Gold Glove while Cano has slipped to being below average after showing progress in recent years.

ineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Curtis Granderson NYY CF
2 Dustin Pedroia BOS 2B
3 Jose Bautista TOR RF
4 Adrian Gonzalez BOS 1B
5 Alex Rodriguez NYY 3B
6 David Ortiz BOS DH
7 Ben Zobrist TB LF
8 Matt Wieters BAL C
9 Yunel Escobar TOR SS
Rodriguez3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: A-Rod may be 35 -- 36 later this month -- but that doesn't matter when throwing up a .295/.366/.485 mark in 344 plate appearances, showing that the possible eventual home-run king has plenty left in the tank. While Rodriguez just underwent the knife for knee surgery and will miss the next 4-6 weeks, he's still outproduced every third baseman in the division, which is no small feat with Kevin Youkilis in Boston and Evan Longoria down in Tampa. For those counting, A-Rod's 13 home runs bring him to a career 626.

EscobarSS Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays
:
In the midst of what can only be characterized nicely as a bad year in 2010, Escobar was traded to the Blue Jays among questions about his maturity and commitment to the game. I think Toronto's happy with his commitment, as the Cuban has a cool .292/.368/.441 line. Yes, the AL East is rather thin on productive shortstops (sorry, Derek Jeter), but Escobar would deserve this spot in almost any other division.

ZobristLF Ben Zobrist, Rays
:
One could argue that Zobrist has been the most valuable Ray this year. While he's been primarily playing second base, he's also been one of the best hitters with a .272/.359/.480 line, stealing 10 bases and being a fantastic fielder. Zobrist has moved around the diamond so much, playing every position over his career other than catcher. He only played one game in left last year of a career 24, but you make the All-Star team not just on hitting, not just on fielding, not just on stealing, but how valuable you are. And the ability for Zobrist to move around the diamond and play any position is ginormous.

GrandersonCF Curtis Granderson, Yankees
:
As mentioned above, Granderson trails only Jose Bautista in home runs, having knocked 25. He's leading off because... well, just look at that lineup. But it also helps that he's corrected his struggles against left-handers, boasts a .362 OBP and has swiped 15 bags on the year. When New York first acquired Granderson prior to the 2009 season, many felt he had at least one 40-homer season in store thanks to the short right-field porch in (new) Yankee Stadium. That didn't happen last year, but barring injury or a major dropoff, Granderson will reach that mark this season for the first time in his career.

BautistaRF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
(pictured): File under "Duh." Joey Bats has been the best player in baseball by far this year. That's what happens when you have an unconscionable (in the post-steroids era, that is) 31 home runs by the All-Star break with a sterling .468 OBP. If his .702 slugging percentage holds up, he will be the first player to crack that mark since Barry Bonds with .812 in 2004. And if you don't count Bonds because of his "alleged" steroids use -- nor Sammy Sosa, the last person is Larry Walker way back in 1999 with a .710 mark. But the dude had Coors Field helping him. So let's move on and bypass Mark McGwire too. You land on Jeff Bagwell's .720 way back in 1994. That's nearly two decades ago. Two other players also broke the .700 mark in '94 -- Frank Thomas with .720 and Albert Belle with .714. Before that, you have to trot all the way back to 1957 and Ted Williams' .731 mark. And that's why he bats third in this lineup.

OrtizDH David Ortiz, Red Sox
:
Surprisingly -- at least, surprisingly to those who jumped in a time machine from any time prior to this April -- this was an easy choice. Big Papi has raked all year and will represent the AL in the All-Star Game on Tuesday as the starting DH. Showing power not seen since 2007, the lefty has blasted 19 home runs in 343 plate appearances and has trimmed his strikeout rate to 13.4 percent. That's a career low for Ortiz, who is hitting .304/.391/.579 overall.

ShieldsSP James Shields, Rays
: Let's take a look at where James Shields ranks among all pitchers entering play Sunday. Seventh in innings pitched with 134. Ninth in ERA with a 2.47 mark and sixth in xFIP (ERA minus all the things pitchers aren't entirely responsible for, such as qualify of the defense behind him) with a 2.87 line. Ninth in K/BB ratio with a even 4.00 mark on the strength of 132 strikeouts against just 34 walks (one intentional). He's also tied with Roy Halladay in complete games with six. But we've got to put that in past tense, as Shields registered yet another complete game on Sunday, allowing just one unearned run to drop his ERA to 2.33. There's no question he belongs here.

RobertsonRP David Robertson, Yankees
:
Roberson has really come on this year and brings the heat with an average fastball velocity of 93 mph, pairing it with a curveball that befuddles batters. All that's handed him 56 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings. We'll forgive his 23 walks given he's causing batters to windmill enough to power all of New York City, if not the state. Potentially Mariano Rivera's successor down the line, he has a 1.27 ERA on the year, with a more sane -- but still excellent -- 2.57 xFIP.

RiveraCL Mariano Rivera, Yankees
:
If this feature had been running since Rivera first became closer way back in 1997, he's probably working on a 15-year streak. Oh well, he'll settle for being the inaugural AL East closer. Rivera has had some triceps issues lately, but that hasn't prevented him from being his usual automatic self, racking up 22 saves with a 1.85 ERA -- his fourth straight season with an ERA under 2.00 and eighth of nine seasons.

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

Posted on: July 10, 2011 12:37 am
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:11 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Ramirez with bookend RBI



By Matt Snyder


Alexei Ramirez, White Sox. The Cuban Missile got the White Sox started and then finished the game off Saturday. In the first inning, Ramirez homered to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. When he came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, the White Sox were tied 3-3. A loss would have been their 10th straight against the Twins. But instead, Ramirez singled home A.J. Pierzynski to win it.

Torii Hunter, Angels. The veteran right fielder pretty much took care of the Mariners himself in the Angels' 9-3 win Saturday. Hunter clubbed two home runs and drove home five. It helped the Angels stay just one game behind the surging Rangers in the AL West.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies. The Rockies have been one of the bigger first-half disappointments in baseball, as many expected them to compete for both the NL Wild Card and the NL West title. Instead they're sitting a handful of games below .500. One of the reasons has been the underperformance of ace Jimenez. He came into his Saturday start with a 3-8 record, 4.39 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Maybe his outing against the Nats Saturday will get things going. Jimenez went eight strong, allowing only five hits, one walk, one run and striking out eight. The Rockies have now won two straight after a five-game losing streak.

Special mention: It's not rare to see Jose Bautista hit home runs (anymore), but two Saturday gave him 31 before the All-Star break. What is this, 2001?



Mike Quade, Cubs manager. Quade pulled Ryan Dempster after five innings and 87 pitches. That's not exactly egregious, though it does feel early for a guy who wasn't getting knocked around in a major way. Yet it worked. The Cubs won as the bullpen threw four scoreless innings. But Dempster and Quade got into a pretty decent argument when Quade told his pitcher he was taking him out of the game. Again, if this was a stand-alone issue, it's basically a non-issue. But Quade's Cubs are 17 games under .500, he constantly makes questionable decisions -- take bunting with Marlon Byrd when light-hitting Tony Campana was on deck earlier this week -- and now he's arguing with a player. And Quade's big selling point was supposedly that he's a player's manager. Instead, he appears to be in over his head.

Brewers' bullpen. The Brewers found a way to get to extra innings against the Reds Saturday, but allowing five runs in the 10th inning is pretty tough to overcome, and now the Brewers are back tied with the Cardinals atop the NL Comedy Central. This one was noteworthy because it was the 20th loss this season for the Brewers, tops in all of MLB.

People complaining about Derek Jeter. Sorry, 3,000 hits is a huge milestone. Of all the players who have ever played baseball, only 28 have gotten there. It's a big deal. And it was pretty awesome that he hit a now-rare home run in getting there. If you feel the need to be negative instead of just enjoying the moment, maybe you shouldn't be a baseball fan. The whole reason we watch the game is to enjoy it, so let's enjoy the achievement.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 9:00 pm
 

Picking a better Derby field

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Prince Fielder and David Ortiz have picked their teams for next week's Home Run Derby, and while all the picks are good, I'd pick a different squad.

If I were in Fielder's or Ortiz's shoes, here's who I'd pick:

National League
Wily Mo Pena, Diamondbacks: Five of Wily Mo's eight hits have reached the seats. He's struck out 17 times and hasn't walked, but that's real baseball. This is the Home Run Derby -- few can hit them as far as Pena -- especially when they're all straight and all in the strike zone. You know who agrees with me? The American League captain. Ortiz was asked about adding Pena and told WEEI.com, "That's not good. We would lose right away."

Check out this homer at Comerica Park -- which is hardly a bandbox.


Mike Stanton, Marlins: Like Pena, Stanton is a big, big man. Twelve of Stanton's 14 home runs have traveled more than 400 feet. I don't care if he's not seeing the ball clearly, this is a batting practice show and few can put on a show like Stanton.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: This is the one that Fielder and I agree on, and not just because Upton has the homefield advantage (which is a real advantage in this case). Upton has 13 home runs this season and according to HitTrackerOnline.com, only Fielder has hit a ball further than Upton's 478-foot bomb off of Chris Carpenter on April 12.


American League
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: The guy has 81 homers since 2010 began, you'd be a fool not to pick him. It's no surprise he was the first guy Ortiz called. He'd be my first call, too.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers: His 28-homer first-round performance at the 2008 Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium is probably the most memorable Derby of all time. Hamilton said would have listened had Ortiz called him. He'd be my second call after Bautista.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: And here's my wild card. Suzuki has just one homer this season and has averaged less than 10 a year in his career, but anyone who has watched Suzuki in batting practice knows in that setting he can put the ball into the seats at will. In the Derby, you not only want the big boppers, but also the guys who can put together a streak of homers. Suzuki can do just about anything he wants with a bat, plus it'd be fun to watch the tiny Suzuki with all the other hulking players I've picked.

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

Posted on: July 3, 2011 5:41 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 7:04 pm
 

Home Run Derby field rounding out

By C. Trent Rosecrans

David OrtizDavid Ortiz has a posse.

In the new setup for the Home Run Derby, each team has a captain that picks his team for the competition. Sunday the American League captain said he'd started rounding up his crew.

Ortiz has already gotten commitments from teammate Adrian Gonzalez and the majors' leading home-run hitter, Jose Bautista. Ortiz told reporters he'd wanted the Yankees' Mark Teixeira, but Teixeira was left off the All-Star roster. Teixeira, though, told reporters after Sunday's game that he wasn't interested in participating in the Home Run Derby (MLB.com's Bryan Hoch on Twitter). Ortiz said he's still waiting to hear from Teixeira whether or not he'd still participate. The next two names on his list are the Yankees' Robinson Cano and the Rangers' Josh Hamilton.

"I've talked to Cano, and he told me he would do it," Ortiz told reporters, including Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. "I haven't talked to Hamilton. I haven't talked to him, but that guy got me tired hitting bombs [at Yankee Stadium in 2008], and if he wanted to do it, I might say, 'OK, hit for me.'"

Hamilton had previously said he doesn't want to participate in the derby, but on Sunday he told the Associated Press he'd consider it if Ortiz asked. 

Prince Fielder said he wants the Dodgers' Matt Kemp on his side. Fielder told MLB.com that he hadn't talked to Kemp, but has communicated with him through former Brewer and current Dodger outfielder Tony Gwynn.

Fielder's teammate, Ryan Braun, said he wouldn't participate, while Rickie Weeks is on Fielder's short list. Weeks said he hasn't been asked, but would participate if Fielder picks him.

Cardinals outfielders Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday expressed interest in participating, as well.

"It would be hard to turn down an invitation," Berkman told MLB.com. "That would be tough to say no."

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:11 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 12:45 pm
 

All-Star starters announced

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Here's your leading vote-getters at each All-Star position, with the Yankees and Brewers leading the way:

American League

DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox

C: Alex Avila, Tigers

1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees

SS: Derek Jeter, Yankees

3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays*

OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees

OF: Josh Hamilton, Rangers

National League

C: Brian McCann, Braves

1B: Prince Fielder, Brewers

2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers

SS: Jose Reyes, Mets

3B: Placido Polanco, Phillies

OF: Ryan Braun, Brewers**

OF: Lance Berkman, Cardinals

OF: Matt Kemp, Dodgers

* Overall leading vote-getter

** National League leading vote-getter

 My initial thought is the fans got it pretty much right -- with, of course, the notable exception of Derek Jeter. He's the only one who has no business on the team, but 16 of 17 isn't too shabby.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 12:17 am
 

Picking All-Stars on performance, not popularity

Adrian Gonzalez

By Evan Brunell


The final week of All-Star voting is around the corner, and it can only be done online. That's the perfect opportunity for me to unveil my own All-Star ballot, and I'll be part of a record.

Fans so far have cast 250 million votes (which is misleading because each e-mail address can vote up to a whopping 25 times), which broke the record from 2009, with 223.4 million votes, as MLB.com reports.

Rosters will be unveiled on Sunday, July 3, but until then there are still plenty of races to be decided. I'm not really a fan of voting when the chance to do so opens in late April, because... come on. That's why this will be my first ballot, so let's take a ride through who I select and why. To vote yourself, simply click here.

All statistics prior to Thursday's games.

AMERICAN LEAGUE BALLOT

C: Alex Avila, Tigers -- Russell Martin is surely a lucky dude as he gets to play in New York, hit .233/.342/.407 (with much of his value tied up in a scorching April) and yet Alex Avila quietly puts up a .300/.373/.532 line in Detroit -- outhitting every other catcher in the game. Well, that stops now. Simply put: Anyone who votes for Martin clearly doesn't get what the All-Star Game is about: putting the best players on the field, not the players who play in a big media market.

1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Do you really need an explanation? OK, let's give it a go. Gonzalez's .359 batting average is 24 points better than Jose Reyes', whose .335 mark leads the senior circuit. Gonzo also leads baseball with 69 RBI, 109 hits and 25 doubles. Oh, and those 15 home runs aren't bad at all. Overall, that's a scintillating .359/.410/.609 mark. Dude loves being out of Petco.

2B: Howie Kendrick, Angels -- Quick, who is the best offensive second baseman in the league? If you said Robinson Cano, you're right -- but it's not by much. Cano is currently raking at a .299/.344/.520 mark, but Kendrick is right there with a .305/.362/.498, barely a step behind. Kendrick is also the better defender at second base and in my version of the All-Star Game, defense counts too.

SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians -- Apologies to Alexei Ramirez who actually grades out better once you factor in defense, but I can live with Cabrera's D (which isn't bad by any means) in order to get his bat in the lineup. The offensive difference is simply too great as Cabrera is delivering on the promise he showed in 2009 with a .298/.351/.498 mark with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases. He actually has a similar offensive game to Jhonny Peralta, but the stolen bases were the clincher.

3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- Many have thought A-Rod's best days are behind him and while that's certainly true, he's still the best third baseman in the game, although that designation means a little less in what is a surprisingly weak class this year. All due respect to Rodriguez, who deserves the honor with 13 bombs and a .296/.375/.510 line. Kevin Youkilis actually appears to be the better hitter, but it's close and while I don't really trust Rodriguez's fielding metrics this year that show him as a top fielder, not many would argue he's worse than Youk in the field.

OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- .325/.470/.645. Next!

OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees -- Granderson is exploding into the 40-homer monster a few people (cough, me, cough) predicted after his trade to the Yankees. It took until his second season, but he's keeping pace with Bautista in the home run department, just two behind with 20. He's even hitting lefties this season, and once you add in his speed and fielding, it's all over.

OF: Alex Gordon, Royals -- There were several candidates for this position, most notably Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Gordon gets the call here with a 288/.356/.483 line, better Gardner and just under Ellsbury. While Gordon is a left fielder and Ellsbury is plying his trade in center, Ellsbury has bad fielding instincts which his speed hides quite a bit. Gordon, meanwhile, is a sound fielder, all the more impressive given he came up and began his career as a third baseman. Plus, someone from Kansas City's got to make it.

DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox -- Big Papi is turning back the clock with his best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage since 2007, the last year he was truly the Big Bad Papi. At .313/.391/.586 with 17 homers, he's enjoying quite the renaissance and has earned this nomination.

ReyesNATIONAL LEAGUE BALLOT

C: Brian McCann, Braves -- Alex Avila is outhitting every catcher in the game as mentioned above, but Brian McCann is trying his hardest to take away that distinction with a .305/.380/.523 line. McCann, who already has an All-Star MVP to his name by knocking a bases-clearing double in the 2010 Game to finally give the NL a victory, deserves the chance to start for the first time in what will be his sixth All-Star Game.

1B: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- The loss of Albert Pujols makes this an easier crop to sift through, and Fielder comes away with the prize. Really, it's between the Brewer and Joey Votto, with apologies to Gaby Sanchez. While Votto's the better fielder (pun unintended), Prince's 20 home runs are 11 more than Votto and he's miles ahead of the 2010 NL MVP in power production at this point.

2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- Weeks joins Fielder in creating an all-Brewer right side of the infield, and he's deserving. Following up his breakout 2010 campaign, Weeks has gotten right back at it with a .287/.356/.498 line. He's also picking up his speed, already swiping seven bases after just 11 last season.

SS: Jose Reyes, Mets -- This one just isn't close at all; Reyes' 4.2 Wins Above Replacement (which combines offense, defense and baserunning) is miles ahead of the next best mark at the position, held by both Troy Tulowitzki and Alexei Ramirez. Reyes is simply doing it all in a season that could net him a $150 million contract in the offseason, and is just one of three shortstops with at least 20 stolen bases. Naturally, he leads all of them with 26.

3B: Chase Headley, Padres -- I didn't quite realize how unimpressive the third-base crop was in the NL, but none separate themselves from the pack. I suppose that's what happens when Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright and Pablo Sandoval all knock themselves out of the running due to being injured. Ryan Roberts has one of the best seasons of any NL third baseman that qualifies for the batting title, but his entire value with the bat is packed into April. So Headley it is, who is hitting .295/.389/.402, a pleasantly surprising number for the former left fielder who is enjoying his best season so far. 

OF:  Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Kemp is already a member of the 20/20 club and has put to rest any ideas that he doesn't care enough with an impressive .328/.420/.620 line, with his slugging percentage leading all of the NL. He's added 20 home runs, 15 doubles and 58 RBI as a major, major reason the Dodgers can still kinda/sorta call themselves contenders after injuries have decimated their team.

OF: Matt Holliday, Cardinals -- I don't think Holliday misses Coors Field, do you? He definitely doesn't miss the Coliseum in Oakland or whatever the heck it's called these days. He's doing just fine in St. Louis with a .335/.439/.555 line. I have to admit, I didn't realize Holliday was hitting this well. Of all the big outfield boppers in the game, he flies under the radar the most.

OF: Shane Victorino, Phillies -- I feel as if no matter who I pick here, I'm leaving off quite a few deserving candidates. It's true -- where is Ryan Braun? Lance Berkman? Andrew McCutchen? Justin Upton? But I'm loving the year Victorino is having with a .296/.362/.511 line with 11 stolen bases in 58 games after missing time due to injury. (Kemp, for comparison, has played in 76 games.) Add in his excellent fielding and smart baserunning, and Victorino is bringing the whole package this year.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 12:17 am
 

Picking All-Stars on performance, not popularity

Adrian Gonzalez

By Evan Brunell


The final week of All-Star voting is around the corner, and it can only be done online. That's the perfect opportunity for me to unveil my own All-Star ballot, and I'll be part of a record.

Fans so far have cast 250 million votes (which is misleading because each e-mail address can vote up to a whopping 25 times), which broke the record from 2009, with 223.4 million votes, as MLB.com reports.

Rosters will be unveiled on Sunday, July 3, but until then there are still plenty of races to be decided. I'm not really a fan of voting when the chance to do so opens in late April, because... come on. That's why this will be my first ballot, so let's take a ride through who I select and why. To vote yourself, simply click here.

All statistics prior to Thursday's games.

AMERICAN LEAGUE BALLOT

C: Alex Avila, Tigers -- Russell Martin is surely a lucky dude as he gets to play in New York, hit .233/.342/.407 (with much of his value tied up in a scorching April) and yet Alex Avila quietly puts up a .300/.373/.532 line in Detroit -- outhitting every other catcher in the game. Well, that stops now. Simply put: Anyone who votes for Martin clearly doesn't get what the All-Star Game is about: putting the best players on the field, not the players who play in a big media market.

1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Do you really need an explanation? OK, let's give it a go. Gonzalez's .359 batting average is 24 points better than Jose Reyes', whose .335 mark leads the senior circuit. Gonzo also leads baseball with 69 RBI, 109 hits and 25 doubles. Oh, and those 15 home runs aren't bad at all. Overall, that's a scintillating .359/.410/.609 mark. Dude loves being out of Petco.

2B: Howie Kendrick, Angels -- Quick, who is the best offensive second baseman in the league? If you said Robinson Cano, you're right -- but it's not by much. Cano is currently raking at a .299/.344/.520 mark, but Kendrick is right there with a .305/.362/.498, barely a step behind. Kendrick is also the better defender at second base and in my version of the All-Star Game, defense counts too.

SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians -- Apologies to Alexei Ramirez who actually grades out better once you factor in defense, but I can live with Cabrera's D (which isn't bad by any means) in order to get his bat in the lineup. The offensive difference is simply too great as Cabrera is delivering on the promise he showed in 2009 with a .298/.351/.498 mark with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases. He actually has a similar offensive game to Jhonny Peralta, but the stolen bases were the clincher.

3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- Many have thought A-Rod's best days are behind him and while that's certainly true, he's still the best third baseman in the game, although that designation means a little less in what is a surprisingly weak class this year. All due respect to Rodriguez, who deserves the honor with 13 bombs and a .296/.375/.510 line. Kevin Youkilis actually appears to be the better hitter, but it's close and while I don't really trust Rodriguez's fielding metrics this year that show him as a top fielder, not many would argue he's worse than Youk in the field.

OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- .325/.470/.645. Next!

OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees -- Granderson is exploding into the 40-homer monster a few people (cough, me, cough) predicted after his trade to the Yankees. It took until his second season, but he's keeping pace with Bautista in the home run department, just two behind with 20. He's even hitting lefties this season, and once you add in his speed and fielding, it's all over.

OF: Alex Gordon, Royals -- There were several candidates for this position, most notably Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Gordon gets the call here with a 288/.356/.483 line, better Gardner and just under Ellsbury. While Gordon is a left fielder and Ellsbury is plying his trade in center, Ellsbury has bad fielding instincts which his speed hides quite a bit. Gordon, meanwhile, is a sound fielder, all the more impressive given he came up and began his career as a third baseman. Plus, someone from Kansas City's got to make it.

DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox -- Big Papi is turning back the clock with his best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage since 2007, the last year he was truly the Big Bad Papi. At .313/.391/.586 with 17 homers, he's enjoying quite the renaissance and has earned this nomination.

ReyesNATIONAL LEAGUE BALLOT

C: Brian McCann, Braves -- Alex Avila is outhitting every catcher in the game as mentioned above, but Brian McCann is trying his hardest to take away that distinction with a .305/.380/.523 line. McCann, who already has an All-Star MVP to his name by knocking a bases-clearing double in the 2010 Game to finally give the NL a victory, deserves the chance to start for the first time in what will be his sixth All-Star Game.

1B: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- The loss of Albert Pujols makes this an easier crop to sift through, and Fielder comes away with the prize. Really, it's between the Brewer and Joey Votto, with apologies to Gaby Sanchez. While Votto's the better fielder (pun unintended), Prince's 20 home runs are 11 more than Votto and he's miles ahead of the 2010 NL MVP in power production at this point.

2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- Weeks joins Fielder in creating an all-Brewer right side of the infield, and he's deserving. Following up his breakout 2010 campaign, Weeks has gotten right back at it with a .287/.356/.498 line. He's also picking up his speed, already swiping seven bases after just 11 last season.

SS: Jose Reyes, Mets -- This one just isn't close at all; Reyes' 4.2 Wins Above Replacement (which combines offense, defense and baserunning) is miles ahead of the next best mark at the position, held by both Troy Tulowitzki and Alexei Ramirez. Reyes is simply doing it all in a season that could net him a $150 million contract in the offseason, and is just one of three shortstops with at least 20 stolen bases. Naturally, he leads all of them with 26.

3B: Chase Headley, Padres -- I didn't quite realize how unimpressive the third-base crop was in the NL, but none separate themselves from the pack. I suppose that's what happens when Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright and Pablo Sandoval all knock themselves out of the running due to being injured. Ryan Roberts has one of the best seasons of any NL third baseman that qualifies for the batting title, but his entire value with the bat is packed into April. So Headley it is, who is hitting .295/.389/.402, a pleasantly surprising number for the former left fielder who is enjoying his best season so far. 

OF:  Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Kemp is already a member of the 20/20 club and has put to rest any ideas that he doesn't care enough with an impressive .328/.420/.620 line, with his slugging percentage leading all of the NL. He's added 20 home runs, 15 doubles and 58 RBI as a major, major reason the Dodgers can still kinda/sorta call themselves contenders after injuries have decimated their team.

OF: Matt Holliday, Cardinals -- I don't think Holliday misses Coors Field, do you? He definitely doesn't miss the Coliseum in Oakland or whatever the heck it's called these days. He's doing just fine in St. Louis with a .335/.439/.555 line. I have to admit, I didn't realize Holliday was hitting this well. Of all the big outfield boppers in the game, he flies under the radar the most.

OF: Shane Victorino, Phillies -- I feel as if no matter who I pick here, I'm leaving off quite a few deserving candidates. It's true -- where is Ryan Braun? Lance Berkman? Andrew McCutchen? Justin Upton? But I'm loving the year Victorino is having with a .296/.362/.511 line with 11 stolen bases in 58 games after missing time due to injury. (Kemp, for comparison, has played in 76 games.) Add in his excellent fielding and smart baserunning, and Victorino is bringing the whole package this year.

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Posted on: June 23, 2011 11:53 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:33 pm
 

Josh Hamilton's struggles due to blue eyes?

Hamilton

By Evan Brunell


Josh Hamilton thinks he knows why he struggles in day games.

It's his blue eyes.

"I ask guys all the time" as to whether they struggle in day games, Hamilton told ESPN 103.3 FM" "Guys with blue eyes, brown eyes, whatever ... and guys with blue eyes have a tough time."

Hamilton is hitting .297/.360/.513 in his follow-up campaign to his MVP season, which is an impressive mark but quite a bit off his line from 2010. Yet, if you look at just his night numbers, he's tossing up silly numbers with a .376/.415/.661 line in 118 PA. His day numbers are a different story, as he's flailing to the tune of a .112/.246/.184 mark in 57 PA. Hamilton had a wide split in 2010 too, but it wasn't as severe: .286/.345/.474 in the day and .384/.433/.688 at night.

"It's just hard for me to see [at the plate] in the daytime," Hamilton said. "It's just what it is. Try to go up [to the plate] squinting and see a white ball while the sun is shining right off the plate, you know, and beaming right up in your face."

The solution could be in a pair of sunglasses that he used in the field last season, but could not find. Until now.

"Hopefully that'll help my eyes relax enough to take them off and bat and put them on again," Hamilton said.

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