Monthly Archives: December 2016

Michael Brantley News & Updates from November & December 2016

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photo courtesy of @Indians on twitter

Happy New Year’s Eve, Brantley fans! since the conclusion of the World Series, there really hasn’t been a whole lot of notable information on the update front other than the plan for Michael’s upcoming hitting progression being unveiled during the Winter Meetings. the rumor mill, however, was abuzz with unfounded gossip around the Christmas holiday. so before the clock strikes midnight and we start the new year, i present you with this last bit of news about Michael in 2016 from both November and December.

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The Greatest Detroit Tiger By Position: Third Base

tigers-third-basemen

Moving on in our exploration of the greatest Detroit Tiger at each position, we cover third base today.  To date, I’ve covered off on the Tigers best catcher, first baseman, and second baseman, with first base being the toughest choice so far.

My only stipulation for being eligible for consideration is playing the position of discussion for a majority of games as a Tigers for at least five years.  That leaves us with seven players that qualify and they are Aurelio Rodriguez, Don Wert, Brandon Inge, Tom Brookens, Pinky Higgins, George Kell, and Marv Owen.  Not making the cut any further is Don Wert, Aurelio Rodriguez, and Marv Owen. This definitely is the weakest position so far, but let’s take a look…

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New York Mets, Cleveland Indians Traveling Similar Paths in Search of a World Series Title

Like most professional sports, Major League Baseball is a copycat league.

When the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals displayed how crucial a dominant bullpen can be en route to winning championships, other teams tried to duplicate their strategy in hopes of finding similar success.

Now, after seeing what it took for the Chicago Cubs to end their excruciating 108-year title drought, even their most bitter rivals are taking notes for the future.

Although they haven’t yet won a World Series, the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets have rebuilt their respective rosters in such a way that many opponents are likely jealous of. There aren’t many organizations around baseball with the type of top-flight and mostly homegrown starting pitching these two have.

That’s not where the similarities end, either.

In fact, Cleveland recently signing Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year deal on the eve of Christmas further strengthens the similarities between these two teams, and it’s much more than just reaching the Fall Classic one year apart.

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Top 25 – Houston Astros – MiLB

The first notable piece of the system is the success of its younger prospects. The Astros are not an organization whose top prospects are 23-25 years old and knocking on the door of the MLB. Instead, this system has found talented players and cultured them to success much earlier in their development cycle. Many of the athletes in the system look like players that can make an MLB impact by the age of 22, with many having a chance to contribute even earlier than that.

The system boasts many pitching prospects that I see as should be future big league starters, with a select five pitchers that be frontline starters when it’s all said and done: Francis Martes, David Paulino, Forrest Whitley, Franklin Perez, and Hector Perez. Far from top-heavy, they also have several other arms that profile as potential MLB rotation, though perhaps not frontline starters.

From a position player development point of view, the Astro’s system looks about the same as it always has. Houston’s system of position players looks to develop in the same way it always has. In the most challenging defensive positions, the Astros have developed and drafted quick and agile players with a good sense of the strike zone. Though they have some power scattered throughout them, the outfield, second base, and shortstop prospects are all hit-tool oriented, contact first prospects with top tier speed potential. In the corner infield, it is quite the opposite. Many 1B/3B prospects in the system (with the exception of Colin Moran) find their struggles primarily with the glove rather than with the bat. It is evident that the Astro’s have a clear, fully formed plan for their scouting, drafting, and development process that has come to fruition to provide in providing some of the best talent in baseball. This isn’t something commonplace across all clubs at the professional level. The majority of other organizations’ processes appear more sporadic and case-by-case, valuing athleticism or signability rather than targeting specific make-ups. The Houston’s specific, targeted process is what will likely keep the Astros them as one of the league’s best premiere organizations when it comes to developing top prospects.

That none of this is any different going into 2017, as their farm system is plenty deep and features enough youth to see a very productive future for many years to come.

Houston Astros Top 25 Prospects 2017

Projected Top 5 Home Run Hitters In Major League Baseball For 2017

MLB Reports

Having nothing to do with the ALL - Star Game, and a ton to prove after inviting himselfto the HR derby in San Diego, we placed a $125 bet on Stanton to win the event at +325 odds. He destroyed the field, This was the difference in us turning a small little profit for the year. ). Having nothing to do with the ALL – Star Game, and a ton to prove after inviting himself to the HR derby in San Diego, we placed a $125 bet on Stanton to win the event at +325 odds – and he won the whole thing.  Now only if he could remain from the DL for 1 campaign.  It was another injury plagued season for the veteran, but I still claim he will lead the league in HRs one of these years and possibly challenge 50 HRs in the process.  He is our #1 pick to win the overall MLB HR crown in 2017..

With apologies to the pending Free Agents who cracked 40+ HRs in Mark Trumbo (47) and Chris Carter (41), I just don’t see them duplicating their 2016 campaigns. 

I also foresee a bunch of changes to the top 6 Home Run hitters in the American League…

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The Cleveland Indians Should Be The Favorite In The AL With Encarnacion Signing

MLB Reports

Cleveland was one innning away from winning the World Series in 2017, knocked out the Boston Red Sox (who are the odds favorite in the AL currently) and have now added slugger Edwin Encarnacion to their lineup for 2017.  Cleveland will also see AL MVP candidate Michael Brantley back to the roster for a full healthy year = after playing the majority of 2016 without his services.  A great Pitching Staff, all around defense, combined with a well adjusted lineup, and cupcake Division to play in - and the Tribe should be the favorite to win the AL Pennant next campaign and not the Red Sox. Cleveland was one inning away from winning the World Series in 2017, knocked out the Boston Red Sox (who are the odds favorite in the AL currently) and have now added slugger Edwin Encarnacion to their lineup for 2017. Cleveland will also see AL MVP candidate Michael Brantley back to the roster for a full healthy year = after playing the majority of 2016 without his services. A great Pitching Staff, all around defense, combined with a well adjusted lineup, and cupcake Division to play in – and the Tribe should be the favorite to win the AL Pennant next campaign and not the Red Sox.

With the news that Edwin Encarnacion signing a 3 Year Deal Worth $55 MIL< and a Team Option for a 4th season that is $25 MIL – or a $5 MIL Buyout, the Indians have put themselves back into the lead as the favorite…

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Todd Frazier, Chris Carter and the Most “Average” 40-Homer Seasons Since 2002

An MLB hitter posting a season with at least 40 home runs is never not impressive, but is there a time when it’s not as impressive as it should be?

The answer to that question is yes.

Upon seeing players at the top of home run leaderboards for any given year, there could be a tendency to automatically think they’re some of baseball’s best. With regard to 2016, only eight sluggers surpassed 40 homers, but there are four that stand out: Mark Trumbo, Khris Davis, Chris Carter and Todd Frazier.

Despite mashing taters with the best of them this past season, their overall numbers – we’re talking about fWAR, in particular – don’t follow suit. Davis’ 2.5 fWAR is the highest, which just barely squeaks into the top-75 in 2016.

Obviously, this metric brings defense into the equation, but it intrigued me enough to investigate how their homer-rich performances rank against others in recent memory.

Using FanGraphs’ new splits leaderboard, I went all the way back to 2002 to see how the 40-homer seasons from these four stacked up, and it didn’t paint a pretty picture for a couple of sluggers.

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The Clay Buchholz Head-Scratcher: Didn’t the Phillies Have Better Options?

The Philadelphia Phillies just traded for the right to pay Clay Buchholz $13.5 Million in 2017. The deal is a bit of a head stratcher as it was unclear why the Boston Red Sox decided to pick up that salary in the first place when they had the option not to. You see, Buchholz is no longer the pitcher he once was. He’s battled injuries pretty much his entire career, and hasn’t been the most effective guy out there even when healthy. I’m frankly very surprised that two organizations went through the processes associated with guaranteeing Buchholz $13.5 Million for what is sure to be a sub-200 IP 2017.

Anyway, the Phillies have Buchholz now and the Red Sox, for their troubles, picked up Josh Tobias, a 24-year old second baseman with two first names who just crushed high-A minor league ball.

In the process of breaking this down, I couldn’t help but feel like the Phillies must have had other options. What was their motivation to make this move? Sure I recently advocated that they be aggressive in adding pieces to their roster because they aren’t too far from contention, but this is not what I had in mind.

To continue reading about the Philadelphia Phillies puzzling trade for Clay Buchholz, please click on over to offthebenchbaseball.com.

The Greatest Detroit Tiger By Position: Second Base

tigers-second-basemen

As we continue exploring the greatest Detroit Tigers by position of all-time, we’ve already made a case for the Tigers best catcher and first baseman; we now focus in the middle of the diamond and second base.

Qualifying requires a minimum of 5-years in the old English D, with a majority of time played at this position.  As seen with Miguel Cabrera and others, we remove stats from other positions played and look solely at the position being evaluated.  With that, we have seven significant Tigers that qualify at second to consider.  They include: Ralph Young, Frank Bolling, Placido Polanco, Damion Easley, Dick McAuliffe, Charlie Gehringer, and Lou Whitaker.  I’ll remove Ralph Young (1915-1922) with his 1.4 WAR off the bat and Frank Bolling, Damion Easley, and Placido Polanco for their limited time in Detroit.

Alright, let’s look at the second sackers…

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Brian Dozier for Jose de Leon Makes Sense for both the Dodgers and Twins

A new rumor on the Twitter has the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers as possible trade partners in a deal that would send Brian Dozier to LA in exchange for Jose De Leon. The swap would see LA deal its #4 prospect, a huge upside starting pitcher with limited MLB time but dominating AAA numbers, and Minnesota part ways with a slugging second basemen who has been the defacto face of the franchise for nigh on three years.

I love it. This is a trade that makes sense for both teams.

First, let’s look at it from the Twins side since that’s a little simpler. Minnesota is not a very good team. They lost 103 games in 2016 and finished in last place in AL Central. However, as I wrote back in October, Minnesota has a really good young core of position players led by Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler that should provide good reason for hope in the Twin Cities.

However, the they lack pitching, particularly starting pitching. From my previous Twins post:

Jose Berrios is supposed to be a starter of the future, and still may very well be, but an ERA above 8.00 in 13 starts certainly doesn’t instill confidence… Phil Hughes is bad; that’s not changing…”

To continue reading about the potential Dodgers and Twins trade, check out offthebenchbaseball.com!

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