Posts Tagged ‘Kansas City Royals’

TRUE.BLUE: The Resurrection of Royal Hope

Posted: May 13, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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– by Matt Oates, Kansas City, MO.

“In all of my life, if I could do one thing differently I’d pick a different baseball team to love. A team that wouldn’t do me like this!! Don’t worry though; I won’t let my kids be Royals fans. No freaking way!!  Maybe Cardinals fans but not Royals fans. I won’t let the Royals stink get all over them. It’s too late for their old man but not them…”

 

I spoke those words just about a year ago on the phone to my good friend and author of this site, Matt Whitener. The Royals had just lost another heartbreaking game and the season was already going down the drain and I had reached my genuine breaking point. I couldn’t take the losing anymore and not just the losing but the embarrassing ways we found to lose.

In the last decade or so, I’ve watched us trade away some of the most important players in MLB over the last decade (Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, etc) and get squat in return. I then watched us call up “Can’t Miss” prospects too early & flame out in The Show. I saw our pitching messiah, Zack Greinke, quit baseball because the losing sent him into a deep depression & social anxiety. I saw the Royals sign Mike Sweeney to a long-term deal and then suffer career debilitating injuries. I saw the Royals start a player no one on the Major League club had even heard of in a spot start in Yankees stadium & get pounded. I saw our manager, in an act to loosen up the team (or of pure lunacy) jump in the shower with all of his clothes on. He’d quit (not fired or forced to resign) as manager a few days later. I saw a cut-off man hit the secondary cut-off man in the back with the relay throw right between the numbers. I watched a routine pop-fly go to the outfield & then watched both of the outfielders running off the field as what should have been the 3rd out dropped to the outfield grass. They both thought the other was going to catch it.

Life after Cy Zack as been much better than anybody could have guessed, much earlier.

In my time as a Royal fan, it’s suffice to say…I’ve seen a lot but for some reason, that day got to me.

After going to college and seeing other fan bases that got to actually enjoy the season, I had become envious. Furthermore, I was embarrassed.

So coming into this season, we traded our top player in Zack Greinke for what looked like the Brewers Pu-Pu platter. We signed a group of veterans off the scrap heap looking for a chance to re-find the magic that made them household names at one time. We went into the season with Luke Hochevar aka “Mr. Not Tim Lincecum” as our opening day starter & Kyle Davies, which according to some sabermetricians, is the worst starting pitcher in the history of Major League baseball as our #2. In essence, we were all told going into this season “Hey, this is a throw away year. We are going to suck and suck bad! In 2012, we will start integrating members of the top-rated minor league program in baseball history but you’ll have to suffer through this year”

*Deep Sigh* Here we go again…

Only this time, something was different. The Royals lost on opening day but then immediately went on a tear to start the season. They either won or tied their first few series on the season. I, of course, am ecstatic. Bruce Chen picked up where he left off last season & is still piling up quality starts. Billy Butler is still ripping the cover off the ball & now accepting the role as the face of the franchise. Mike Aviles, after struggling out the gate, seems to have found his swing again. He still needs to improve defensively though. His arm is not strong enough for 3rd base but he can’t pivot the double play from 2nd base either. Alcides Escobar, a product of the Greinke trade, is a sparkling defender at shortstop despite struggling at the plate. He should get Gold Glove considerations in his career. Wilson Betemit is still an extra base hit machine. Melky Cabrera & Jeff Francoeur have given the team some veteran leadership & also found their mojo at the plate. The young kids in the bullpen: Tim Collins, Aaron Crow & Co. have stabilized the bullpen & effectively cut 2 innings off each game they pitch. As of the morning of May 13th, the Royals have a 20-17 record. More importantly, the Royals & their fans aren’t a joke. No one laughs at me this season when I speak about them. The stadium is buzzing again. The city is talking about them and so are national sports outlets. Do I honestly expect the Royals to keep this up throughout the season? Probably not. Baseball is a long season & we have some serious holes in our starting rotation that still need to be addressed. But that doesn’t mean I won’t bask in this. That won’t stop me from taking this opportunity to brag about the Royals to our friends to the East on I-70.

Best of all, Royals fans…its going to get better.

The Royals have already started calling up parts of their stacked minor league program and inserting them into crucial roles on the team. Eric Hosmer, a recent call-up, is adjusting well to Major League ball after hitting .439 in AAA-Omaha. Aaron Crow worked 15+ innings before allowing a run. Tim Collins is proving to be more than a situational lefty & showing he’s effective on hitters from both sides of the plate. Down on the farm, Danny Duffy, Mike Montgomery, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Clint Robinson are tearing it up in AAA-Omaha and behind them are Wil Myers, Jeff Odorizzi, Chris Dwyer and more tearing it up in the lower levels! It’s an excellent time to be a Royals fan.

Homser is the first in what should be a long line of catalysts from the Royals farm system to arrive in KC.

So, as you can tell by now, I made peace with the Royals. Matter of fact, I made peace with them last year shortly after the firing of Trey Hillman & hiring of Ned Yost. Yost is a product of the Atlanta Braves system, as I am also, as my family is originally fromAtlanta. He brings a steady hand to the bench & good leadership & old baseball strategy.

But I have never made peace with my unborn children. I’m sorry y’all. I was going to deny you what might be some of our greatest memories together, rooting for the Royals. I’m confident we’ll have some good times in the future rooting for the boys in blue once you get here.

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The AL Central has been under lock and key for the last few seasons, with all rights coming through Minnesota. The back-to-back division champions have had the steadiest core of any (successful) team in the division, and because of that they have been the class of the middle of the AL. To contrast every bit of consistency in the Twin Cities, there has been frustration in Chicago and Detroit. After each reached the World Series (with Chicago winning in 2005) in the middle of last decade, they have battled inconsistencies from their benches and superstars, and haven’t been able to mount much of an attack at dethroning the champs.

2010 Final Standings

1. Minnesota Twins (94-68)
2. Chicago White Sox (88-74)
3. Detroit Tigers (81-81)
4. Cleveland Indians (69-93)
5. Kansas City Royals (67-95)

The tides are shifting here. The Tigers and White Sox both made aggressive changes to their existing rosters, but if anything characterizes the Central and its potential, is what is missing and what could be. Each team in the division has an impact player whose participation is in question. The Twins’ Justin Morneau is returning from a concussion, which is always risky. The White Sox Jake Peavy could be the best pitcher in the division, but is still on the mend from multiple arm surgeries that have kept him from making his full impact since joining the Sox two years ago. The Indians are in a similar situation with the continual return of Grady Sizemore, and the Royals are waiting for their entire future to show up via the minor leagues. However, Tigers’ issue could be the most severe. They are dealing with yet another off field alcohol-related legal issue from MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera, whose presence, or lack thereof, could change everything. There’s a lot to be revealed in the Central, and how these clubs look now could be completely different by the end of the summer.

Cabrera's bat almost landed him an MVP a year ago, but his legal issues may keep him from making a repeat performance.

ALL DIVISION TEAM

Catcher: Joe Mauer-Minnesota Twins

First Base: Miguel Cabrera-Detroit Tigers

Second Base: Gordon Beckham-Chicago White Sox

Third Base: Brandon Inge-Detroit Tigers

Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez-Chicago White Sox

Left Field: Delmon Young-Minnesota Twins

Center Field: Alex Rios-Chicago White Sox

Right Field: Shin-Soo Choo-Cleveland Indians

Designated Hitter: Adam Dunn-Chicago White Sox

Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander-Detroit Tigers

Starting Pitcher: Francisco Liriano-Minnesota Twins

Starting Pitcher: Carl Pavano-Minnesota Twins

Starting Pitcher: Fausto Carmona-Cleveland Indians

Verlander routinely surpasses both 18 wins...and 100 mph on the gun.

Bullpen Righty: Matt Capps-Minnesota Twins

Bullpen Lefty: Rafael Perez-Cleveland Indians

Closer: Joakim Soria-Kansas City Royals

BEST PLAYERS

1. Miguel Cabrera-Tigers
2. Joe Mauer-Twins
3. Justin Verlander-Tigers
4. Paul Konerko-White Sox
5. Adam Dunn-White Sox
6. Joakim Soria-Royals
7. Victor Martinez-Tigers
8. Justin Morneau-Twins
9. Alexei Ramirez-White Sox
10. Shin-Soo Choo-Indians

Shin-Soo Choo is a great talent (.300/20/90) on a team where it doesn't get to make a big difference.

There is a ton of top shelf talent here at the top of this division, although it is gathered mostly on three rosters. Cabrera and Mauer are among the top five players in all of baseball, with 2009 MVP Mauer being by and far the best catcher in the game. Cabrera had the best statistical season of any player in the AL a year ago. Verlander has had three seasons of at least 18 wins in the last four years. Dunn could quickly become the biggest power threat in the AL. Soria is one of the top closers in the game, picking up 43 saves in 67 Royals wins a year ago.

LINEUP

1. White Sox
2. Tigers
3. Twins
4. Indians
5. Royals

The White Sox jump over the Twins here with the addition of Adam Dunn to be a top-notch power threat in the middle of an already powerful lineup, and will be a high on-base threat for Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Quentin to have on base in front of them. The Twins struggled late last season, with Morneau out of the mix, despite a strong close from Mauer, but are still one the best orders in baseball. The Tigers boosted their order tremendously by adding in Victor Martinez to protect Cabrera, and a healthy Magglio Ordonez is entering yet another contract year, so he’ll be going for it all this summer.

Adding Dunn (38 or more homers for the last 7 years) gives the White Sox an intimidating lineup.

ROTATION

1. Twins
2. White Sox
3. Tigers
4. Indians

5. Royals

The Twins were in a tailspin concerning pitching depth until Carl Pavano resigned. His return gives them a slight matchup advantage over the White Sox, but if Peavy comes back anywhere close to full strength, his addition to the Mark Buerhle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Edwin Jackson group of healthy Sox starters gives them a clear advantage here. Consistent full seasons from Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer in Detroit give them a strong three-man top of the rotation with Verlander as well.

1-2 PUNCH

1. Twins (Liriano & Pavano)
2. White Sox (Buerhle & Peavy)
3. Tigers (Verlander & Scherzer)
4. Indians (Carmona & Masterson)
5. Royals (Hochevar & Francis)

As mentioned, before the White Sox duo takes over number one here if Peavy’s health is not a concern any longer. However on the right day, Liriano can be as unhittable as any pitcher in baseball. Carmona and Masterson have potential as well, but will need support from their questionable lineup to make a real difference.

BULLPEN

1. White Sox
2. Twins
3. Tigers
4. Indians
5. Royals

Soria has saved 92% of his chances in the last three years, 2nd in baseball.

This is an odd mix of groups here, as no one bullpen is particularly great. The division’s best closer, Soria, isn’t even enough for the Royals staff to be better than the worst unit in the division, as they annually have trouble getting a lead to him. The Sox have long-time setup man Matt Thornton taking over as closer, but rookie Chris Sale could make a case for the role as well. Joe Nathan returns from an elbow injury that kept him out the entire season a year ago, but if he’s healthy, no closer in baseball was more prolific than him from 2004 to 2009 (246 saves).

BENCH

1. White Sox
2. Twins
3. Royals
4. Tigers
5. Indians

The Sox have plenty of experience and versatility on their bench in Omar Vizquel, Mark Teahan and Dayan Viciedo. The Twins feature Jim Thome and his 589 home runs as an insurance policy/DH in the wings. The Royals don’t match up well in many areas, but a bench with Mitch Maier and Wilson Betemit gives some support if any of their starters run cold.

3-4-5 HITTERS

1. White Sox (Konerko/Dunn/Rios)
2. Tigers (Ordonez/Cabrera/Martinez)
3. Twins (Mauer/Morneau/Young)
4. Indians (Choo/Hafner/Santana)
5. Royals (Butler/Ka’aihue/Francouer)

This is an era where four of the five teams have a source of great strength. However, with the addition of Dunn, the Sox have 78 2010 home runs in their lineup, with Rios in the fifth spot after turning in a rebound season of .284 average, 21 home runs and 88 RBI of his own. The Tigers have a TON of hits coming from Cabrera alone, but V-Mart and Ordonez surrounding him for a full season makes this order a nightly terror. This is all before mentioning the two former MVPs the Twins have in Mauer (who has three batting titles and Morneau, and former number one pick Delmon Young. In Cleveland, a full season of Carlos Santana could make him the only clear challenge to Mauer as an offensive threat at catcher.

TABLESETTERS

1. White Sox (Pierre & Beckham)
2. Twins (Span & Nishioka)
3. Tigers (Jackson & Rhymes/Guillen)
4. Indians (Sizemore/Brantley & A. Cabrera)
5. Royals (Aviles/M. Cabrera)

Beckham started off slow last season, but hit over .300 in the second half, and if he does close to that for a full season behind Pierre (who’s 68 steals led the AL last year) the Sox will have plenty of runners in scoring position all year for their heavy hitters to bring in. Denard Span is a major terror in Minnesota, that could put up the type of season Pierre did a year ago himself. The same goes for Austin Jackson if he cuts down on his strikeouts (170) from his rookie year.

DEFENSE

1. Twins
2. White Sox
3. Indians
4. Tigers
5. Royals

Span covers tons of ground in center field, and Mauer is a Gold Glove presence behind the plate, that leads a quick infield mix that plays perfectly with their group of ground ball-inducing pitchers. Pitcher Mark Buerhle brought home a Gold Glove last year, and Ramirez could earn one this year.

SPEED

1. Twins
2. White Sox
3. Royals
4. Tigers
5. Indians

In Span, Alexis Casilla, Danny Valencia and even Mauer, the Twins are great at manufacturing runs on the bases. Pierre, Rios and Ramirez give the Sox strong running group as well. Alcides Escobar will add a top-notch speed threat in Kansas City, and as his contact improves, so will his stolen base totals.

Pierre led the majors with 68 steals in 2010, his third season surpassing 60 thefts.

MANAGER

1. Ron Gardenhire (Twins)
2. Jim Leyland (Tigers)
3. Ozzie Guillen (White Sox)
4. Ned Yost (Royals)
5. Manny Acta (Indians)

Gardenhire has led the Twins to six division titles in nine years on the job. The 2010 AL Manager of the Year is respected amongst his peers as a great strategist, and he’ll have the Twins ready to defend their throne against the revamped troops in the division. Jim Leyland has a spot in Cooperstown awaiting him one day, and despite his sometimes questionable tactics, Ozzie Guillen pushes his clubs hard and has results to show for it (2005 World Series as proof).

ROOKIES/*PROSPECTS

1. Chris Sale (Pitcher, White Sox)
2. Tsyuoshi Nishioka (Second base, Twins)
3. *Mike Moustakas (Third Base, Royals)
4. Danny Valencia (Third Base, Twins)
5. *Eric Homser (First Base, Royals)

Sale made it to the Majors just a few months after being drafted last year, and is already in the mix for the closer role for a contender in Chicago. Make no mistake; he is the long-term answer in the ninth inning. Nishioka hit .346 last year in the Japanese Pacific league and is the most experienced “rookie” in baseball. Moustakas & Homser are both top 10 overall prospects, and the jewels of the Royals incredible stash of talent in the minors, but only Moustakas could potentially make an impact this season for KC.

FINANCES

1. White Sox
2. Tigers
3. Indians
4. Twins
5. Royals

The White Sox have the most money to improve their standing if need be during a close pennant race, but with big contract commitments in place already, they could be potentially stuck with what they have. The Tigers are committed to aggressive spending right now to compete, and they could have the advantage in willingness to spend, if not actually funds.

IMPACT ADDITIONS

1. Adam Dunn (White Sox from Washington)
2. Victor Martinez (Tigers from Red Sox)
3. Joaquin Benoit (Tigers from Rays)
4. Alcides Escobar (Brewers from Rays)
5. Lorenzo Cain (Brewers from Rays)

While the new sluggers in the division get the headlines, the two young talents joining the Royals are also two of the big stories of the year, if only for the fact they were the bounty obtained for the dealing of Zach Greinke from the Royals. They are the first glances of the youth movement the Royals are on the verge of beginning, and have to pan out to justify the talent they were obtained for. Escobar has the ability to be among the best defensive shortstops in the game very soon.

PREDICTION

1. WHITE SOX
2. TWINS
3. TIGERS
4. INDIANS
5. ROYALS

A year ago the White Sox came up six games short after failing to finish a deal to acquire Dunn at the trade deadline. Instead they held on to Edwin Jackson who they acquired to help make the deal for Dunn, and instead signed him later on. Although they missed out on the playoffs last year perhaps because of this failure to act, their patience paid off and now they have both. Also, they returned two of their primary veterans in Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and moved out Bobby Jenks. All of these moves will improve chemistry, which is just as important as the talent increase. The bullpen has to prove its worth and Peavy must regain his health, but Chicago has what it takes to win the Central either way.

The Twins health issues in addition to their loses in their bullpen (three critical losses) in addition to their uncertainties across their entire infield knock them down a notch, and the Tigers are still too shallow in the pitching department to mount a major threat on first place all summer. Both clubs however could play a role in the Wild Card picture. The Indians are just hoping for good health from their big money guys, but seem to be a team with no direction right now. The Royals have a direction, but it’s not going to take off for another year when they bring up their riches of talent in the minors (nine of the top 100 prospects in baseball).

Follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan for more on this and all other areas of the game.

Major League executives have been very busy the last few weeks, and more than a few teams have radically reshaped their structure as a result, for better or for worse. A few stories have played out as they were predicted too, but a few other big pictures took some very surprising turns. Lets cut the setup short and get straight into it here with the Top 5 December stories so far.

1. CLIFF LEE TO PHILADELPHIA: This deal speaks for itself in terms of shock, surprise and impact. Cliff Lee was all but sold off to either Texas and to the Yankees, as one week he was rumored to be weighing offers from both clubs of around $23 million per year over seven years. However, Lee threw a change at the  entire market and returned to Philadelphia, who he pushed into the 2009 World Series,  for “only” $14 million per year. This move gives Philly the most dominant pitching staff in the game with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, and potentially the most dominant rotation since the Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz/Neagle Atlanta rotation of the mid 90’s. However, the domino effect of Lee’s signing on made arguably just as big of an impact as his actual rejoining of the Phillies….

 

Lee's return to Philly set the fates of three teams in motion at once, the of which being his own perhaps.

 

2. CLIFF LEE NOT GOING TO THE BRONX: The Yanks were shallow in pitching all year, and crippled them in the end. So they made it no secret that landing Lee was by far their top priority headed into the winter, and usually when the Yanks take aim, it’s just a matter of time before  they hit their target and drapes him in pinstripes. However, Lee’s denial of the lure and riches of Yankee membership shattered the plans, and maybe immediate future, of the “Evil Empire”. When the Red Sox landed both Carl Crawford AND Adrian Gonzalez, it became even more imperative that they land Lee. However, now the Yanks are clearly at least a notch or two behind the Sox, and since they bet the house on landing Cliff, they have next to nothing left available to counter the Sox new guns. For once, the Yanks crapped out in the free agent rat race.

3. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF MASSACHUSETTS: Lets be clear, within the last two weeks, the Boston Red Sox became the best team in baseball. They aggressive eliminated every weakness (hitting, depth and speed) with two blockbuster moves. By signing and trading for, respectively, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, they not only solved their weakness by landing two of the premier players on the market, but they also boosted one of their strengths: defense. Both are Gold Glove winners in addition to terrors at the plate. Their presence gives the Sox the most versatile lineup in either league. Add in the presence of Bobby Jenks as an 8th inning bridge (and potential closer in the wings) to Jonathan Papelbon, and you’ve got a club that is a solid bet to add another World Series trophy to their resume.

 

The additions of Crawford's speed and Gonzalez's power make Boston the leaders out the gate in 2011.

 

4. GREINKE TO BEER TOWN: The Royals moved their franchise cornerstone to the Brewers in a not some surprising move, but to a surprising location. Zack Grienke had stated a desire to get out of Kansas City for a while now, as he didn’t want to sit through the rest of their rebuilding process, and the 2009 AL Cy Young winner got his wish and was shipped out-of-town. However, his desired destination was a surprise, as he lands in Milwaukee, a club who has struggled with consistency in recent years and is on the verge of having to move one of their best players already in Prince Fielder. However, Grienke’s presence alone could fix some woes in Milwaukee, as he will switch to the lighter hitting NL and be paired with another All-Star caliber arm in Yovani Gallardo. The Royals received a package of prospects in return for their ace, including promising shortstop Alcides Escobar. Now that KC has finally moved their biggest value, they have to hope they got enough in return to ensure that their impending youth movement got the rest of what it needs to pay off.

 

The Royals traded their prize possession in Greinke and now have to hope it fueled the drive for the push they need.

 

5. STEADY SOUTHSIDE: The White Sox’s aggressiveness in both adding to their core and retaining their key pieces, and were wildly successful in both areas. Adding Adam Dunn to the heart of the lineup grabbed the biggest headlines, but retaining both Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski were huge moves too for this club and keeps their depth in intact. These moves may finally be what it takes for them to overtake the Twins in the AL Central, especially if they can get a full strength Jake Peavy at some point next summer. Between the retooled Tigers and the always tough Twins, the top of the AL Central may be the completed harder than any other division in the game.

Other moves of note: Dodgers retooling, Washington’s fortune to Jason Werth, Yanks retain icons, Rockies big outs, Padres rebuild and retool.

BEST AVAILABLE

1. Adrian Beltre-3B: Athletics, Rangers

2. Rafael Soriano-RHP: Angels, Nationals, Rays, Orioles, Yankees

3. Carl Pavano-RHP: Twins, Nationals, Pirates, Rangers

4. Vladimir Guerrero-DH/OF: Rangers

5. Manny Ramirez-DH/OF: Mars maybe???, Jupiter?, China

 

HOT NAMES CURRENTLY

– Adrian Beltre-3B: Maybe it’s just me (but I’m sure it isn’t), but doesn’t it seem like Adrian Beltre is shooting himself in the foot right now? It doesn’t seem like he had any plan in place except returning to Boston, and playing open market offers against them. Jokes on him for that. He should have just taken the Angels offer, rumored to be around 5 years and $70 million, & joined a solid club, now he’ll probably land in a much tougher spot with less money. Oakland is seeming like the only spot that’s really able to pay him now that he hasn’t rejected totally. Nobody else with 3B need has the money, but Texas could make a play is Michael Young is willing to move to DH and they don’t prefer to bring Vladimir Guerrero back.

 

Beltre's refusal to join the Angels may have played him into too hot of a corner.

 

– Brandon Webb-RHP: As he continues his relocation from Arizona after missing most of the last two years with multiple shoulder surgeries, the 2006 NL Cy Young winner has found his health again, but is still high risk due to his numerous setbacks. However currently the Rangers and Cubs are believed to be in pursuit of him for what will probably be a low base salary/high incentive deal. There’s another NL Central team in the bidding, which could be Pittsburgh who is in need of a few arms to round out their rotation. The Cardinals could be a dark horse, but they have $10 million dollars tied up in their #5 pitcher Kyle Lohse already.

– Adam LaRoche & Derrek Lee-1B: Both are mentioned in every remaining first base opening, which seems to be a cause and effect market at this point. Baltimore, Washington, Arizona, San Diego and Atlanta have openings, and either of the two could land in these spots. Lee will cost more per year, so he may be limited to Baltimore or Washington as realistic landing spots. The D’Backs won’t bring LaRoche back most likely, due to their desire to reduce strikeouts, so San Diego, who needs some more power in the post-Adrian Gonzalez days, could be a possibility.

– Andy Pettitte-LHP: This one’s pretty clear-cut: he’s either going back to the Yankees or going home for good. Since they missed out on Lee, the Yanks may make a big one year play to bring back Pettitte just for some security for their thin rotation, but it’s all on if he even wants to suit up. It seems that retirement is most likely here, as he has stated this desire several times over the last few years and reportedly isn’t even doing conditioning yet.

There have been generations of great players in Major League Baseball. Since the league’s official inception around 1869 there have been many different eras and changes to the game. It is difficult to place each great player against each other, but here is the CHEAP SEATS take on the greatest players, by position, the game has ever produced. Moving out of the middle infield, volume 5 focuses on an elite position, were there is more separation amongst the greats than any other. (All stats are current of June 1, 2010)

**Third Base**

The hot corner, where many of the most dangerous bats in the history of the game play. It is very similar to both shortstop and first base, where it has elements of the defense needed at shortstop and the hitting abilities from first base. It is the most instinctive position in all of baseball, due to amount of right handed hitters that hit drive straight at the third baseman. It takes a good athlete with a strong arm to be an effective third baseman. This athleticism translates into many great hitters that are very diverse in their impacts on the game. This ranges from multiple time batting champions, to some of the great power hitters in the history of the game, to a record setting defender. Here are how they stack up.

Despite having only spent half his career thus far at 3B after moving from SS, A-Rod would be in the top 3 at Shortstop as well.

1. Alex Rodriguez: New York Yankees/Seattle Mariners (1994-Present): 68.5 points

–          .300 Avg. 591 HR, 1749 RBI, .389 OBP, 2591 Hits, 1716 Runs, 299 SB

–          2 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 3 MVPs, 0 ROY, 1 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 5 HR Titles, 12 All-Star Games

The most accomplished offensive player currently in the game. The youngest player to ever reach 500 home runs. Has hit over 40 home runs eight times, featuring three seasons past 50 homers. First player in Major League history to have 35 home runs, 100 RBI & 100 runs for 10 consecutive years. Started as a equally dominant shortstop and holds many offensive records at shortstop.

2. Mike Schmidt: Philadelphia Phillies (1972-1989): 66.5 points

–          .267 Avg. 548 HR, 1595 RBI, .380 OBP, 2234 Hits, 1506 Runs, 174 SB

–          10 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 3 MVPs, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 8 HR Titles, 12 All-Star Games

Considered the greatest overall third baseman ever by many for his overall skills and holds 15 career records for the Phillies. Led the National League in home runs eight times and RBI four times. Set record for assists for a third baseman with 404 in 1974. Was one of the most powerful hitters of all-time, with many homers that were estimated as over 500 feet.

The best overall full-time third baseman ever, he led the National League in home runs more any other player.

3. George Brett: Kansas City Royals (1973-1993): 53 points

–          .305 Avg. 317 HR, 1595 RBI, .369 OBP, 3154 Hits, 1583 Runs, 201 SB

–          1 Gold Glove, 1 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 2 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 13 All-Star Games

Has the most hits every by a third baseman, 15th most of all-time. One of four players to ever have 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a .300 average during his career. His 665 doubles are the sixth most ever. His .390 batting average in 1980 is the highest full season total since 1941.

4. Wade Boggs: Boston Red Sox (1982-1999): 50.5 points

–          .328 Avg. 118 HR, 1014 RBI, .415 OBP, 3010 Hits, 1513 Runs, 24 SB

–          2 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 5 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 12 All-Star Games

One of the great pure hitters in history. Had 200 hits for seven consecutive seasons. From 1982 to 1989, had a sub-.349 batting average only once, finishing at .325 in 1984. He has the most batting titles ever by a third baseman. The only player in history who’s 3,000th hit was a home run.

5. Brooks Robinson: Baltimore Orioles (1955-1977): 50 points

–          .267 Avg. 268 HR, 1357 RBI, .322 OBP, 2848 Hits, 1232 Runs, 28 SB

–          16 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 15 All-Star Games

The greatest defensive third baseman ever, perhaps greatest infield defender ever as well. Known as “The Human Vacuum Cleaner”. Has the second most Gold Gloves of all-time. Led the American League in fielding percentage 11 times and he held four all-time fielding records at third base when he retired. His 23 seasons with one franchise are a Major League record.

An unparalleled defender at 3B, Robinson was known as "Hoover" for his seeming abilities to bring the ball to him.

6. Eddie Mathews: Milwaukee Braves (1952-1968): 44 points

–          .271 Avg. 512 HR, 1453 RBI, .376 OBP, 2315 Hits, 1509 Runs, 68 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 2 HR Title, 9 All-Star Games

A pioneering hitter at the position, he had the seventh most home runs ever at his retirement. Mathews twice led the National League in home runs, surpassing 40 each time. Also a four time league leader in RBI. Said to have one of the greatest swings in the history of the game, acknowledged even by the great Ty Cobb.

7. Paul Moliter: Milwaukee Brewers (1978-1998): 43 points

–          .306 Avg. 234 HR, 1307 RBI, .369 OBP, 3319 Hits, 1782 Runs, 504 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 7 All-Star Games

Currently has the ninth most hits ever. One of four players to have totals of 3,o00 hits, 500 stolen bases and a .300 batting average for his career. Only player to hit two home runs, two doubles and two triples during one World Series in 1993.

8. Chipper Jones: Atlanta Braves (1993-Present): 42.5 points

–          .306 Avg. 429 HR, 1466 RBI, .406 OBP, 2442 Hits, 1479 Runs, 145 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 1 Batting Title, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 6 All-Star Games

A mainstay of the dominant National League Braves teams of the 1990’s. Only switch hitter to have a .300 career average and 400 home runs. Has the third most home runs of any switch hitter ever and his 45 homers in 1999 are the most ever by a switch hitter. Holds the record for most consecutive games with an extra base hit.

A dual threat at the plate, Jones is one of the most dangerous overall switch-hitters ever.

9. Home Run Baker: Philadelphia A’s (1908-1922): 35.5 points

–          .307 Avg. 96 HR, 987 RBI, .363 OBP, 1838 Hits, 887 Runs, 235 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 3 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 4 HR Titles, 0 All-Star Games (Presumptive 8 awarded)

Pioneering power hitter, who hit more home runs before they were commonplace. Led the American League in home runs four times between 1911 and 1914. Help lead the Philadelphia A’s to three consecutive World Series titles.

10. Ron Santo: Chicago Cubs (1960-1974): 32.5 points

–          .277 Avg. 342 HR, 1331 RBI, .362 OBP, 2254 Hits, 1138 Runs, 35 SB

–          5 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Titles, 9 All-Star Games

The second third baseman to hit 300 home runs after Mathews. Also an outstanding defender, he set both National League marks in most fielding measures for third basemen. He has come to be appreciated much more in recent years and his absence in the Baseball Hall of Fame is seen as an oversight by many critics.

Left on deck: Ken Boyer, Scott Rolen, Pie Traynor

See past posts for scoring rubric

I’m back! Here’s my view from the Cheap Seats yesterday (aka the couch):

The Chosen One has arrived....and the Wise Men fanned 14 times

1. StrasMas Season: The most awaited debut in Major League history was made yesterday when Stephen Strasberg took the mound and instantly made the lowly Washington Nationals the biggest attraction in the league. Anybody who makes an early June contest between the Nats and the Pittsburgh Pirates (who combined to finish with a 121-202 record in 2009 & the top 2 picks in the 2010 Draft), is something to see. A standing room only crowd and 200 media members were on hand to see Strasberg’s debut, one that had the subtly of thunderstorm. StrasbergMania was justified immediately and seven innings, four hits and an incredible 14 strikeouts later, the hype was more than justified. Actually, it’s probably been raised. Expectations for Strasberg are off the charts and 94 pitches later, he lifted the sky even higher. What’s even more remarkable is that during the historic debut, he made history as well, becoming the first pitcher EVER to strikeout at least 11 batters while issuing no walks. Forget the sky, maybe  space isn’t even the limit here.

2. The Raiding of the Big 12: In the last few weeks it seems that every team in the Big 12 has been courted like a swing state in the Civil War. The rumors have included the South heading west to the Pac 10, with select North Division schools being courted to the Big 10’s media grasp on the northern midwest. Now boards of directors and curators are meeting to assess their own futures, with other universities pleading with others to stay. Even the Big 12 Conference directors (who are as unpowered as a neutered dog) have somehow laid down a “final decision date” of this Friday to know where their schools are headed. The bottom line is that money will talk here, and very loudly. The Big 10 has a nearly guaranteed $20 million in media revenue waiting through their private network deal and Fox evidently is will to do a similar deal for an expanded Pac 10. The only thing holding the Big 12 together is loyalty and this is business, so I wouldn’t hold my breath on that winning out considering how “money” and “loyalty” are the “oil” and “water” of business.

3. As the Cavs Turn: In the never-ending saga of the Cleveland Cavaliers offseason, a new piece has entered the mix: Tom Izzo. Apparently Izzo has been offered a big contract to leave his program at Michigan State that pays out $6

Get used to this look in your potential padded room in Cleveland, Tommy.

 million annually over 5 years, which doubles his current take home at MSU. This sounds great, however (show of hands please): Who would take double their pay to ride into a potential train wreck? The situation in Cleveland is plain awful right now and it is all in the hands of a guy who intends to stretch it out as long as possible, LeBron James. Even when discussing his offer to Izzo, as well as the removal of GM Danny Ferry, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert had to justify that he was not making decision in accordance with LBJ’s demands. This is seems as likely to me as the sun not coming up. If you are attempting to keep the 25-year-old, 2-time MVP, greatest player in the history of your franchise, it would be ridiculous to make move he has to react to. If Izzo leaves his Top 10 program and coaches LeBron, he wins. If he leaves just coach Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison, he should be committed to the nearest Asylum. At least he could afford an extended stay.

**Hit and Run Section**

 The San Francisco 49ers got approval for a new stadium today…..Amare Stoudemire says he will opt out if Suns don’t re-up him……Derek Fisher step up big in a way for Lakers last night…..Issac Bruce will retire as a member of the St. Louis Rams today…….Top pick Bryce Harper will move to the outfield from catcher once signed, the great Boras will be pleased…….Darrelle Revis ends his holdout to join the Jets offseason training sessions……Top prospect Michael Stanton debuted for the Marlins last night with a 3 for 5 night hitting seventh……2009 AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke fell to 1-8 with yesterday’s loss and his ERA rose to 4.05.