Archive for October, 2014

MLB award season continues on here in the CHEAP SEATS, as it is time to turn to the youth of the game and give a nod to the best first time around the block in each league this year. All in all, it was not the most impressive or impact year for rookies as a whole, at least not to the standards that we have gotten accustomed to in recent years. But that does not mean there were not a few exceptions to the rule and here are my selections for the best of the both baseball world’s rookie classes this season.

 

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2014 Willie Mays American League Rookie of the Year Award—Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox

The “Easy Button” award pick for the year was to come to the conclusion that Jose Abreu was the top rookie in the American League this season. Really, it may be the most far and away easy calls in the award’s history, which is a fairly significant nod because it was not a bad year for AL first timers by any stretch. Masahiro Tanaka was phenomenal for half of the year, while Jordano Ventura showed some exhilarating promise as well. George Springer set the world on fire for a while, and his teammate Colin McHugh made his presence felt all summer.

More often than not, Rookie of the Year nods are the best comparable numbers available. But Abreu’s season transcended his service time; he has instantly become one of the best hitters in all of baseball. His prodigious debut included 36 home runs, 107 RBI and a .317 batting average, totals that were good enough for top five finishes in the AL in each category. He led the White Sox in over eight statistical categories and twice was named not only Rookie of the Month, but also Player of the Month as well.

Coming into the year, his power potential was mythical of sorts, known from his appearances in the World Baseball Classic and varied stories of his feats pulled off in the various leagues in Cuba he dominated as well. The White Sox wasted no time in making a major commitment to the tone of $68 million over six years to the slugger, a deal that now looks like a deal.

He made an instant impact by setting an MLB-record with 10 first month home runs, including two multi-homer games. In the course of setting this mark, he also broke the rookie record for RBI in a month with 31. In his months of winning the Rookie/Player of the month, he hit for a .269/10/31 slash in April, and then a .374/6/19 in July across 109 plate appearances.

He later added on a 21-game hitting streak to his second half total, and garnered an All-Star Game nod during his debut year as well. It was the type of debut that sets quite a standard for an encore, but the White Sox new cornerstone has the tools to remain a fixture among the league’s elite.

Runner Up 1: Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees

Runner Up 2: Yordano Ventura, Royals

 

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2014 Willie Mays National League Rookie of the Year—Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

 

Jacob deGroom did not show up to the season with the hype of a top prospect build or the expectation of carrying the weight from the onset of his rookie year. But by May the young righty found himself making his Major League debut—against the ultimate crosstown rivals in the Yankees no less—and affirmed the fact that he was going to be more than just a spot fill in. He spun seven innings of one run ball that day and launched his path towards becoming the preeminent rookie hurler in the Majors this year.

He was stunningly consistent for his age, with out of his 22 outings, 17 counted as quality starts. deGrom finished with a record of 9-6 and an ERA of 2.69, while notching 121 strikeouts in 140.1 innings pitched. He reached double digits in K’s in three separate outings, including notching 13 versus the Marlins in September, in which he struck out the first eight batters he faced, tying the MLB record to begin a game. Overall, he only surrendered more than three earned runs twice over the course of the year, and either lost or took a no-decision in four games where he went at least six innings and surrendered two or fewer runs.

His strong debut assured the Mets that they could potentially feature one of the strongest young trios of arms in the Majors over the next few years, with Zack Wheeler and the returning Matt Harvey. And while he doesn’t boast the overwhelming power potential that either of his rotation mates does, he understands the game and how to attack hitters in a cerebral fashion. The understanding of the game is there, the results are clear and one the more impressive Rookie of the Year sleepers in recent memory will definitely continue to turn more heads in his direction as his career continues on.

Runner Up 1: Billy Hamilton, Reds

Runner Up 2: Kolten Wong, Cardinals

 

Past Winners:

2013: Jose Fernandez, Marlins; Wil Myers, Rays

2012: Bryce Harper, Nationals; Mike Trout, Angels

2011: Craig Kimbrel, Braves; Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

 

 

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As a part of my annual duties as a member of the Baseball Blogger Alliance of America, I submit my picks for Major League Baseball’s annual award parade via a series of entries here in the Cheap Seats. Without further delay, it is time to begin this year’s round up as I see fit.

 

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2014 Connie Mack American League Manager of the Year—Buck Showalter

Keeping the boat steady without one of your most pivotal players is a tough, yet expected job for any Major League Manager. In an extreme case, even two of them. However, being able to do that while continuing to both lose talent, but rise up the standings is the divider mark between a good and great manager. It is safe to say to say that Buck Showalter is firmly established in the fraternity of extraordinary managers in the game today.

In a year where the Baltimore Orioles lost no less than catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Manny Machado and first baseman Chris Davis, all either current or just a year removed All-Stars, Showalter produced his finest finish in the Orange and Black thus far. He managed to guide the Orioles to their first division championship in 18 years—and by a 12 game margin. It was the largest margin of victory for an American League East crown since 2001.

However, the loss of those standard bearers for the team was far from the only situation that he kept the wheels of the club moving forward with, in spite of other malfunctions. When original closer Tommy Hunter proved not to be up to chops, he handed the job to a formerly middling starter in Zack Britton, who went on to become one of the most effective ninth inning men in the game.

As always, he fearlessly blend his full pitching staff into one cohesive unit that was able to thrive despite not having a clear cut frontline starter amongst them. As a team, the Baltimore pitching staff’s 3.43 team ERA was third best in the AL, while as individual units the starting and relief staffs both finished with top five ERAs.

Buck’s all in approach carried over to the everyday lineup as well, where he was able to pull a prolific team offense out of his depleted troops. While it is easy to “stick with” Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz, he used Steve Pearce, Delmon Young, Alejandro De Aza and Nick Hundley in vital spots to make up for the everyday impact losses.

All things considered, Showalter won because knew his guys and put a blend of them together that was not quite the B team, but it is beyond fair to say their final result was far greater than it should have been. But it was Showalter who made all the difference in nearly B team turning out a grade A result.

Runner Up 1: Mike Scioscia, Angels

Runner Up 2: Terry Francona, Indians

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2014 Connie Mack National League Manager of the Year—Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants

Bruce Bochy is not new to the elite manager scene. After all, he’s won more World Series than any other active manager in baseball and is the longest tenured skipper in senior circuit, having guided the San Francisco Giants since 2006. Yet while many other managers have their names brought up more frequently as the best in the business at guiding the game, there have been few that have done as concisely good of a job as Bochy has. And his 2014 campaign may be his greatest feat to date.

Saddled with a banged up team, that was paired with one of the league’s powerhouse collections of talent as their direct competition within their division, the Bochy’s boys weathered a several storms to stay among the top teams in the National League and put themselves in position for yet another run to October glory.

Coming out the gates, the Giants took the NL West by its neck, jumping out to as large as a 10 game lead in the division at one point. But when injuries took Angel Pagan, Brandon Belt and Michael Morse from their everyday lineup, as well as Matt Cain from their starting rotation, that gap was not only narrowed by their rivals in LA, they were passed by.

However, that is when the ever-present guiding hand of Bochy really bared down and made his presence known. Pulling up rookie Joe Panic gave the team a spark it had missed since the loss of Pagan, while the combination of Yusmeiro Petit and Jake Peavy brought the annually tough Giant pitching staff back to life. Trusting rookie Hunter Strickland and handling the full-time closer reins to Santiago Casilla steadied the bullpen, and before long the Giants were finding themselves back in the thick of the postseason race.

These complimentary moves aided by the well timed surges from Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner in the second half made the Giants one of the best teams in baseball in August and September, propelling them into the postseason on a great trajectory to add a third title in five years for his personal trophy case. But it was Bochy who was able to guide his club through a number of identity shifts, peaks and valleys, with the steady hand that has become his standard.

Runner Up 1: Clint Hurdle, Pirates

Runner Up 2: Matt Williams, Nationals

 

Past Votes:

2013: Clint Hurdle (Pirates), John Farrell (Red Sox)

2012: Davey Johnson (Nationals), Buck Showalter (Orioles)

2011: Kirk Gibson (Diamondbacks), Joe Maddon (Rays)

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Here at Cheap.Seats.Please., its always about looking forward. And there’s little that gets the year moving along quicker than getting ready for your fantasy season. Baseball is the gauntlet of all of fantasy league competition, and once again, our friends at Fanduel.com have returned again with some tips on how to get ahead of the competition…as well as get the most out of your fantasy dollar, with a new chance each week.

 

One of the bigger storylines this winter for the New York Mets will revolve around Daniel Murphy’s status with the team. After putting together a solid fantasy baseball season in 2014, the Mets are in a sticky situation. They love his offense, but his defense is a downfall. Although Dilson Herrera has higher upside in the minor league system, the Mets could see Wilmer Flores as someone who makes Murphy expendable right away.

Flores received minimal playing time in 2014, especially at 2nd base. He finished the season hitting .251/.286/.378 with six home runs and 29 RBI in just 259 at-bats, and the 23-year old seems to still be scratching the surface of his potential. He has quite a bit of power, which is rare for a 2nd baseman. His defense was also an upgrade over Murphy, although the sample size was rather small.

Murphy is the more dependable, pure hitter out of the two, but the New York Mets know that they will have to take a slow downgrade at first if a trade is pulled off. They should be more than satisfied with Flores as the permanent second baseman for now, especially since he is a young, talented guy with upside. If he can give them an upgrade on defense and in power, he will fit in perfectly with New York’s rebuilding plans.

Some fans might not like the fact that New York is planning to trade away yet another All-Star. In fact, he was the Mets’ only All-Star in 2014. With that being said, it is time for the younger guys to show what they are capable of if New York wants to start competing again in the National League East. Flores, with Herrera as a long-term option down the road, should hold down the hole left behind.

 

For more articles, contests and Fantasy games across the year, head over to FanDuel.com and @FanduelFantasy and get in the game. For more on baseball season as a whole, follow me on Twitter at@CheapSeatFan.

 

 

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A decade ago, there was nothing much to Mizzou Homecoming weekend, for “us”. A game, maybe a few more people in town and that’s about it. It lacked buzz or anticipation. And it needed a kick up a few notches.

Well those days are long gone, and the end of October’s best fresh take on an old tradition has come back around. It’s Mizzou Black Homecoming weekend, and as always, not only is something great in store, but it’s still getting better. There have been a lot of great Black Homecoming events the past few years, but this year stands to be the best yet—somehow, yet again.

Homecoming is about getting back to where the memories happened, but making new ones in the process. The Tailgate is bigger, the parties are sharper, the venues are nicer and the experience keeps getting greater.

So, with no further delay, here is all the info you need to make sure that if you say “maybe next year” this time, you were doing so knowing what is going down without you. So don’t be THAT guy or girl….nobody likes them. So, as always, whether you’re one year removed or 10, it’s time to get back to where you once belonged with the next chapter in the blowout that is Black Alumni Homecoming Weekend.

 

****FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24****

Off The Highway Cool Out Happy Hour—Trops On The Southside (5:00)

3805 South Providence, 65203

It’s one of those fixes you can’t quite get anywhere else than when you touchdown back in CoMO, so why wait to scratch it? Meet up with everybody as they come in at Tropical Liquors off South Providence. Silver Bullet, Rum Runner, Cherry Bomb, all of em? Kick it off with the comeback that keeps kickin.

Night Scene, Part 1—NPHC Stepshow, Missouri Theatre (8:00 pm)

203 South 9th Street, 65201

Think Fall Fest, but all grown up. Go back in time while stepping forward in it at the all-new, updated and renovated Missouri Theatre in downtown Columbia as the NPHC frats and sororities take to the stage to claim top billing on the yard. Coming complete with special seating opportunities and a full-service bar, this Missouri Theatre has grown up along with us.

Night Scene, Part 2—Alumni Afterhours Party, Tonic Nightclub (10:00-1:00)

122 S. 9th Street, 65201

The last few Friday nights have gotten crazy quicker than expected, so we had to grow with the show. Come over to the heart of downtown Columbia to keep the Friday night moving as it should. With two full bars and plenty of seating arrangements, step upstairs and get into the night.

 

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****SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25th****

THE ALUMNI TAILGATE IV—8:00 and rolling, Corner of College & Stadium

Hospital Parking Lot, across from Hampton Inn & Suites

Once again, we called and A LOT of you answered, so we had to step it up again. Come to the parking lot on the corner of College & Stadium on the University side (across the street, up the hill and in the lot from where we were last year) for the staple event of the Black Alumni Homecoming experience, the All-Day, All-Out tailgate.

Starting off with the Coolers & Eggs Breakfast Brunch and rolling straight through game time and beyond. Burgers, brats, hot dogs, anything you bring out, it can all get run through the grill. Show up at the right time and never know what may bless your plate. All offerings are accepted as the more that shows up, the more there is to go around.

Also, if you want to set up your own area to grow out our area as much as possible, land spots are $25 per and if you meet us up there early, we can take over as much space as we need. Plus, there will be surprises in store for the setup as well.

The Game Is The Game: Missouri Tigers vs. Vanderbilt Commodores, Time TBA.

Faurot Field (If you can’t find it, you’re in no shape to be driving)

Your Top 25 Tigers will take to the field to face SEC opponent Vanderbilt at a to be determined time. Tickets are available through the Mizzou box office, Stubhub and other resale sites. The tailgate location is a short walk to the main entrance of Faurot.

The Night Scene Part II: Noir Mizzou, a new Alumni Experience

Location: RSVP to Discover

Done are the days of making something of the last night, and a new Alumni-sponsored experience awaits. Dress the part, take the part and discover the experience of Noir Mizzou. The event is 21+ and is a Black and White style themed event. Meaning: dress to the 9’s to join a room full of 10’s.

A limited number of 300 tickets will be made available for the event, and no walk up entries will be granted. The location of the event will be revealed on the afternoon of the event during the Tailgate. And a certain number of tickets will be made available via raffle at the Tailgate as well.

For tickets, head to the event website.

 

****Other Business****

DON’T GIVE UP ON HOTEL ROOMS! Many rooms will be vacated over the next few weeks, and can be acquired by joining Columbia-area hotel wait lists, Hotwire, Priceline, Orbitz, etc.

For more info as it develops, any late changes, additions or to get on-site info, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For other info, follow @DaRealMattOates, @B_Wash5, @FranchICE06, @Twend_Setter, @DChristianII, @IDOKICKS, @GatorBell and @NoirMizzou.