Posts Tagged ‘Ryne Sandberg’

2013-Braves-atlanta-braves-35376349-650-440

A funny thing happened in the NL East last year: outside of the Marlins heading up the rear, nothing of that was supposed to happen actually came to pass. This is no knock against the Braves, who dominated the division from its outset and held on for their first division title since 2005, but coming into the season, the division was all but gifted to its incumbent champions, the Washington Nationals.

2013 Finish

1. Atlanta Braves (96-66)

2. Washington Nationals (86-76)

3. New York Mets (78-88)

4. Philadelphia Phillies (73-89)

5. Miami Marlins (62-100)

However, things never quite jived for one reason or another for the Nats, and they languished off in the distance (that was often of the double digit variety) in second place for most of the year. Behind them, the Mets and Phillies traded jabs, with New York playing a stronger than expected effort behind the rise of Matt Harvey and the return to form of Chase Utley and rise of Domonic Brown helping to push the Phils.

However over the season’s final month, something clicked in DC, the Nationals came back to life and finished with the second best September record in the National League, which still kept them 10 games in the rear of Atlanta, but put both the division and the league on notice: they are still a force to be reckoned with. Will that carry over into the new season, or will the Braves hold their previously sizable ground atop the East? Or will the rebuilding Phillies or Mets pull the surprise of the season and ascend up the hill themselves? Let’s see how the East looks to shake out.

All-Division Lineup

1. Bryce HarperNationals, Left Field

2. Chase UtleyPhillies, Second Base

3. David WrightMets, Third Base

4. Giancarlo StantonMarlins, Right Field

5. Freddie FreemanBraves, First Base

6. Ian DesmondNationals, Shortstop

7. Carlos RuizPhillies, Catcher

8. Denard SpanNationals, Centerfield

Fernandez took the NL by storm in his rookie year, finishing second in ERA (2.18) while surrendering the fewest hits per game as well (5.3).

Fernandez took the NL by storm in his rookie year, finishing second in ERA (2.18) while surrendering the fewest hits per game as well (5.3).

Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee—Phillies

Starting Pitcher: Stephen Strasberg—Nationals

Starting Pitcher: Gio Gonzalez—Nationals

Starting Pitcher: Jose Fernandez—Marlins

Right Handed Reliever: Tyler Clippard—Nationals

Lefty Handed Reliever: Luis Avilan—Braves

Closer: Craig Kimbrel—Braves

The Mets stand to benefit nicely from surrounding David  Wright with some protection. Namely Granderson, who had back-to-back 40 home runs years in 2011-12.

The Mets stand to benefit nicely from surrounding David Wright with some protection. Namely Granderson, who had back-to-back 40 home runs years in 2011-12.

Lineup

1. Nationals

2. Braves

3. Phillies

4. Mets

5. Marlins

Top to bottom, there’s no holes in the Nationals lineup, and all that it takes is even a portion of them showing up in shifts throughout the year to make them a respectable club. But when working in concert, there may not be a better NL lineup card than theirs 1-8. The Braves and Phillies did a lot last year in finding players such as Jason Heyward and Domonic Brown to step up in spots where they did not have a better option, and in roles where neither had succeeded before.

Heart of the Lineup

1. Nationals

2. Braves

3. Mets

4. Phillies

5. Marlins

Whichever combination of Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche or Jayson Werth they decide to go with, it is a formidable 3-4-5 combination. Atlanta will build around Freeman, whom can operate just as easily out of the third or fourth spot. Curtis Granderson will get more pitches for Wright in New York, while a full season of Stanton in Miami could produce some of the most awe inspiring numbers in the game.

Table Setters

1. Nationals

2. Braves

3. Mets

4. Phillies

5. Marlins

There are dynamically different top of the lineup orientations in the division. Span and Desmond are instant offense to start the game in DC, while Eric Young led the National League in stolen bases last year for the Mets with 46. In Philly, the hope is that Ben Revere can stay healthy and produce the .305 average he did in 88 games over a full season.

Depth

1. Nationals

2. Marlins

3. Phillies

4. Mets

5. Braves

With Scott Hairston, Nate McLouth, Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon to use at will, the Nationals once again have the best bench in baseball, with multiple starter quality players in the wings. The Phillies very well could be drawing on their bench for everyday contributions from John Mayberry, Kevin Frandsen and Darin Ruf if their past health issues (likely) arise again.

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Rotation

1. Nationals

2. Phillies

3. Braves

4. Mets

5. Marlins

The DC core of Strasburg, Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann gets even more impressive with the addition of Doug Fister, and is on the short list of baseball’s best collections. The Braves have a young and deep rotation without an absolute #1, but offer an arm with a chance to win every day. The Mets have an underrated group of arms that allowed them to compete more often than they should have a year ago.

1-2 Punch

1. Phillies

2. Nationals

3. Braves

4. Marlins

5. Mets

IF, and only if, Cole Hamels is healthy, him and Lee are probably the second best 1-2 combo in the NL, outside of Los Angeles. This is saying quite a bit, considering any combo of Zimmermann, Strasburg and Gonzalez is right on their heels. The Mets and Braves are facing seasons with their aces Harvey and Kris Medlen, respectively, mending from Tommy John surgery.

Bullpen

1. Braves

2. Nationals

3. Phillies

4. Marlins

5. Mets

Craig Kimbrel, Luis Avilian, Drew Carpenter and Jonny Venters are a dominant group that goes against the grain of the starting staff usually setting the tone for a pitching staff’s success. In Atlanta, the pen is the reason for this. Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano give the Nats three arms with ninth inning experience to use at will.

Defense

1. Braves

2. Mets

3. Marlins

4. Nationals

5. Phillies

Atlanta’s Simmons is perhaps the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie Smith range-wise, and brings an arm that is said to be able to pump it up to 98 mph as well. Heyward, Freeman and both Uptons are plus defenders as well that make it easy to work off the mound in Atlanta. Conversely, the Phillies age shows up most startlingly when they are asked to take the field.

In his first full year leading the Phillies, Sandberg will have to find a balance between the win-now age of the club and the realities of their limitations.

In his first full year leading the Phillies, Sandberg will have to find a balance between the win-now age of the club and the realities of their limitations.

Manager

1. Fredi Gonzalez—Braves

2. Terry Collins—Mets

3. Matt Williams—Nationals

4. Ryne Sandberg—Phillies

5. Mike Redmond—Marlins

Gonzalez deserves a lot of credit for keeping Atlanta moving ahead with such a massive lead last season, but it was Terry Collins who did the best job of all skippers in the division. He squeezed every bit of talent he could out of the Mets roster and could absolutely be the reason for any premature success they have as they restructure this season.

Finances

1. Phillies

2. Nationals

3. Braves

4. Mets

5. Marlins

The Phillies have the funds and Ruben Amaro has the gumption to use them, although he often doesn’t do so in the most measured manner. The Nationals and Braves also have the type of finances that can be used to add a piece on the run as needed, such as Atlanta did in acquiring Ervin Santana in the wake of the Medlen injury.

Impact Additions

1. Doug Fister (Nationals via trade)

2. A.J. Burnett (Phillies via free agency)

3. Curtis Granderson (Mets via free agency)

4. Ervin Santana (Braves via free agency)

5. Marlon Byrd (Phillies via free agency)

Granderson was a strong addition for the Mets who have struggled to produce regular offense for years now. Burnett and Santana were necessary acquisitions for their respective clubs, who found themselves under equipped with two solid fits to boost their suddenly slim rotations.

Leap Forward

1. Bryce Harper—Nationals

2. Wilson Ramos—Nationals

3. Alex Wood—Braves

4. Zack Wheeler—Mets

5. Adeiny Hechavarria—Marlins

It may seem strange to see Harper on this list considering he is a two-time All-Star already, but he is likely on the verge of a major jump ahead to the 30/30 club range of contributiors. Wood will be asked to carry much more responsibility in the Braves staff, which he is equipped to handle. Hechavarria showed a better offensive prowess than expected, driving in 42 runs for the Marlins, and is young enough to work on his low average.

Rookies/Propects To Watch

1. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez—Phillies

2. Travis d’Arnaud—Mets

3. Noah Syndergaard–Mets

4. Jake Marisnick—Marlins

5. Christian Bethancourt—Braves

The Phillies gambled big ($12 million deal) on Gonzalez being ready to be an instant contributor at the Major League level, and he’s quickly become an essential part of any potential success they have. D’Arnaud has been at the center of two trades for former Cy Young candidates, and now has the opportunity to show why as the everyday Mets backstop out of the gate.

PREDICTIONS

1. Washington Nationals

2. Atlanta Braves

3. New York Mets

4. Philadelphia Phillies

5. Miami Marlins

Maybe it is an exercise in not learning from the past, but the Nationals are just too exceptional of a group to bet against still. They have as deep of a starting pitching group as possible and as strong of an everyday lineup as a non-DH roster can hold. Add in the growth of its young stars and a deep bench capable of contributing on an everyday basis, and it should be their division to take. The only potholes that stand are if, as always, health works on their side and rookie manager Matt Williams can adapt well to his new role.

Yet, this is not to slight the Braves in any way. Despite another year of Tommy John surgeries haunting their staff, they still have as good of a team as they did a year ago. They will have to lick the wounds of both rebounding from those injuries and comeback strong from dropping a very winnable Division Series. But the talent is there still and a chance to grow together is exact what they will need if they want to defend their title.

Otherwise, the Mets and Phillies find themselves in comparable places again, where they are looking to figure out how to make the most of what they have, despite being a clear cut behind the two pacesetters in the division. Meanwhile in Miami, they made a lot of moves to add experience to their roster, but not enough to do much more than a 5-8 game uptick in the standings.

In the end, the Nationals have what it takes to win a competitive battle with Atlanta, in a division that will likely produce only one postseason participant.

For more on the season to come and what’s coming of it, follow me in real-time on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

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. So far in this look at baseball’s immortals we have looked at Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Albert Pujols and other greats at the catcher and first base positions. Now we move into the middle infield. (All stats are current of June 1, 2010 & scoring rubric is below)

**Second Base**

Second base is one of the more athletic positions on the field, due to mobility needed to cover the space on the field. Traditionally, defense being the priority over offense. Also, this has led faster players play the position traditionally, as opposed to power hitters. However, some the best overall hitters in the game have played the position. Many great table setters (players who get on base frequently) and base runners are represented here. I wide variety of players are represented here, from one of the greatest bats in the history of the game, to some the best gloves ever and a civil rights legend who’s impact cannot be felt only in statistics alone.

Hornsby is one of the greatest hitters to ever play. His .358 career average is second all-time.

1. Rogers Hornsby: St. Louis Cardinals (1915-1937): 74.5 points

–          .358 Avg. 301 HR, 1584 RBI, .434 OBP, 2930 Hits, 1579 Runs, 135 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series, 2 MVPs, 0 ROY, 7 Batting Titles, 2 Triple Crowns, 2 HR Titles, 0 All-Star Games (Presumptive 14 awarded)

Easily among the greatest hitters in the history of the game. Hornsby is the only player to hit 40 home runs and hit .400 in the same season. His 1924 average of .424 is has not been equaled since, one of five season where he surpassed .400. Also a fast player, he led the National in triples three times and had 30 inside-the-park home runs.

2. Eddie Collins: Philadelphia A’s (1906-1930): 64 points

–          .333 Avg. 47 HR, 1300 RBI, .424 OBP, 3315 Hits, 1821 Runs, 744 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 4 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crowns, 0 HR Titles, 0 All-Star Games (Presumptive 15 awarded)

Over his 24 year career, he holds the record for most games at second base, with 2650. He was the first player to steal 80 bases in the post-1901 modern era of baseball. He stole six bases in one game, a Major League record, twice. An outstanding defender, he holds records for most assists (7,630) and chances (14,591) at second base.

3. Ron Carew: Minnesota Twins/California Angels (1967-1985): 62 points

–          .328 Avg. 92 HR, 1015 RBI, .393 OBP, 3053 Hits, 1424 Runs, 353 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 1 MVP, 1 ROY, 7 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crowns, 0 HR Titles, 18 All-Star Games

One of the great pure hitters in the game’s history, he won the 1972 American League batting title without hitting one home run, the only player to ever do this. Led the Majors in batting average from 1973 to 1975, one of two players to ever do so for such a stretch. He stole home 17 times in his career.

4. Nap Lajoie: Cleveland Indians (1896-1916): 59 points

–          .338 Avg. 83 HR, 1599 RBI, .424 OBP, 3242 Hits, 1504 Runs, 380 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 0 MVP, 0 ROY, 4 Batting Titles, 1 Triple Crown, 1 HR Title, 0 All-Star Games (Presumptive 13 awarded)

One of baseball’s first true stars at the turn of the century, he was virtually unchallenged as a hitter until Ty Cobb debuted. Finished with a .426 batting average in 1901. Elected to the 2nd class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

5. Roberto Alomar: Toronto Blue Jays/Cleveland Indians (1988-2004): 50 points

–          .300 Avg. 210 HR, 1134 RBI, .371 OBP, 2724 Hits, 1508 Runs, 474 SB

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

One of the greatest defenders in history, he has the most Gold Glove Awards ever awarded at the position. He made 12 consecutive All-Star games from 1990 to 2001.

In many regards, Alomar is the premier defensive second baseman to ever play.

6. Joe Morgan: Cincinnati Reds (1963-1984): 47 points

–          .271 Avg. 268 HR, 1133 RBI, .392 OBP, 2517 Hits, 1650 Runs, 689 SB

–          0 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series, 2 MVPs, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 0 HR Title, 10 All-Star Games

Best known for his tenure as a member of the “Big Red Machine” of the mid 70’s. He was the first second baseman to win back-to-back MVP awards. He is one of the most balanced players in the history of the game, with 268 home runs, 449 doubles and 96 triples. He also stole his 689 bases at an outstanding 80% clip for his career.

7. Charlie Gehringer: Detroit Lions (1924-1942): 46.5 points

–          .320 Avg. 184 HR, 1427 RBI, .404 OBP, 2839 Hits, 1774 Runs, 181 SB

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

Reached 200 hits seven times and won the 1937 batting title with a .371 average. Was one of the best defenders ever at the position and led American League second basemen in fielding percentage seven times.

8. Craig Biggio: Houston Astros (1988-2007): 44 points

–          .281 Avg. 291 HR, 1175 RBI, .363 OBP, 3063 Hits, 1844 Runs, 414 SB

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

The only player to accumulate 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases and 250 home runs in Major League history. A lifetime Astro, the 9th player to get 3,000 hits with one team. His 668 doubles are the most for a right handed batter ever and fifth best total ever.

9. Ryne Sandberg: Chicago Cubs (1981-1997): 42.5 points

–          .285 Avg. 282 HR, 1061 RBI, .344 OBP, 2386 Hits, 1318 Runs, 344 SB

–          9 Gold Gloves, 0 World Series, 1 MVP, 0 ROY, 0 Batting Titles, 0 Triple Crown, 1 HR Title, 10 All-Star Games

His .989 fielding percentage is the best of all-time at second base and he won 9 consecutive Gold Gloves. One of three players to have both a 40 home run and 50 stolen base season in their career.

10. Jackie Robinson: Brooklyn Dodgers (1947-1956): 35.5 points

–          .311 Avg. 137 HR, 734 RBI, .409 OBP, 1518 Hits, 947 Runs, 197 SB

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

Broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947, as the first black player in modern Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest base runners in the history of the game, stealing home 19 times. Played in World Series in his 10 year career and was the first Rookie of the Year Award winner and first black MVP in 1949.

While noted for his cultural contributions, Robinson dominated in the 40's and 50's with his aggressive style of play.

Close runners-up: Red Schoendienst, Frankie Frisch, Bill Mazeroski, Lou Whittaker

Batters Study Rubric

Batting Average– .350 & above (10 pts), .349 to .330 (9 pts), .329 to .320 (8pts), .319 to .310 (7 pts), .309 to .300 (6 pts), .299 to 290 (5 pts), .289 to .280 (4pts), .279 to 270 (3 pts), .269 & below (2 pts)

Home Runs– 600 & above (10 pts), 599 to 550 (9 pts), 549 to 500 (8 pts), 499 to 450 (7 pts), 449 to 400 (6 pts), 399 to 350 (5 pts), 349 to 300 (4 pts), 299 to 250 (3 pts), 249 & below (2 pts)

Runs Batted In– 1900 & above (10 pts), 1899 to 1800 (9 pts), 1799 to 1700 (8 pts), 1699 to 1600 (7 pts), 1599 to 1500 (6 pts), 1499 to 1350 (5 pts), 1349 to 1200 (4 pts), 1199 to 1050 (3 pts), 1040 & below (2 pts)

On Base Percentage– .470 & above (10 pts), .469 to .450 (9 pts), .449 to .430 (8 pts), .429 to .410 (7 pts), .409 to .390 (6 pts), .389 to .370 (5 pts), .369 to .340 (4 pts), .339 to .320 (3 pts), .319 & below (2 pts)

Hits– 4000 & above (10 pts), 3999 to 3600 (9 pts), 3599 to 3300 (8 pts), 3299 to 3000 (7 pts), 2999 to 2700 (6 pts), 2699 to 2400 (5 pts), 2399 to 2100 (4 pts), 2099 to 2070 (3 pts), 2069 & below (2 pts)

Runs– 2100 & above (10 pts), 2099 to 2000 (9 pts), 1999 to 1900 (8 pts), 1899 to 1800 (7 pts), 1799 to 1700 (6 pts), 1699 to 1600 (5 pts), 1599 to 1500 (4 pts), 1499 to 1400 (3 pts), 1399 & below (2 pts)

Stolen Bases– 1,000 & above (10 pts), 999 to 850 (9 pts), 849 to 700 (8 pts), 699 to 550 (7 pts), 549 to 450 (6 pts), 449 to 300 (5 pts), 299 to 150 (4 pts), 149 to 50 (3 pts), 49 & below (2 pts)

Accolades

Gold Glove Awards: .5 point

World Series Championships: .5 points

Most Valuable Player Awards: 2 points

Rookie of the Year Awards: 1 point

Batting Titles: 1 point

Triple Crowns: 3 points

Home Run Champion: 1 point

*All-Star Appearances: 1 point

*Presumptive All-Star points are given to a player whose careers either proceeded or largely was played before the All-Star Game began in 1933. Formulated as 60% x the total number of years played.