If there ever were criteria for an award that matched up with Marcus Semien it would be the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s (MLBPAA) “Heart and Hustle Award.” The award is given to one player on each team that,
“Demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. One player from each Major League team is chosen by the committees based on their passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.”
Thankfully the members of the MLBPAA noticed this close comparison and named Semien the winner of the award for the Oakland Athletics. Of course there is a bigger, overall award that is voted on by former MLB players. It is the only award of its kind as only former players may vote for the winner.
The MLB winner will be announced on Nov. 15, 2016 at the 17th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York. The award is only about a decade old and the past overall winners include David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols(2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013), Josh Harrison (2014) and Anthony Rizzo (2015).
It would be great to see Semien as the overall winner. As I highlighted above the award is mainly based on “passion, desire and work ethic.” I do not believe there is a better candidate out there than Marcus Semien.
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Today marks the beginning of the “Battle of the Bay” regular season contests between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. They are always intense games, more so for the fans than the players.
Both teams have passionate fan bases (although one team’s fans are much more knowledgeable than the others) and the cross-bay rivalry always gets heated. It’s been a battle since the original “Battle of the Bay” World Series in 1989. The Athletics swept the Giants in four games.
Many a Giants fan will blame the enormous earthquake that rocked the Bay Area just before the beginning of Game 3 as the reason their team lost. Many have told me that it was unfair because the A’s were able to use their top two starters twice; Dave Stewart and Mike Moore, due to the 11-day break the series took so the Bay Area could begin to recover from the death and destruction the earthquake brought with it.
The reality here is that the Giants also were able to use their two best starting pitchers Scott Garrelts and Rick Reuschel so really the argument doesn’t hold water. They start Garrelts in Game 3 and Don Robinson in Game 4, that was their choice. It only says that at that time the A’s had a better pair of top two starters or just a better team as described by Tim Keown of ESPN.com,
“Games 3 and 4 were repeats of Games 1 and 2. The Giants had to face Dave Stewart and Mike Moore all over again, which meant it wasn’t really a seven-game series, but more like a pair of two-game series, and the Giants weren’t built to compete with the A’s under those — or maybe any — parameters. The A’s were the better team regardless of schedule, but the Giants of ’89 will go to their graves believing they’d have made a better showing if they’d been able to get deeper into the Oakland rotation.”
Still, the A’s would have likely swept the Giants anyway as Keown indicates. The 1990 AL Cy Young Award winner and the last pitcher to ever win at least 25 games in a season, Bob Welch (he won 27 games in 1990), would have pitched game three and likely taken home the win.
Things have changed in the Bay Area since then, but the rivalry has not changed. One game out of four is already in the books with the Athletics winning by the score of 8-3 but there is plenty more Bay Area baseball to play!
For a full preview of this week’s Battle of the Bay on BBST CLICK HERE!
Friday night Kendall Graveman put up his best start of the year, holding the Angels to just three hits while striking out four through seven innings. He worked efficiently, getting ahead in the count and threw just 91 pitches.
It was by far his longest outing and best of the year. The 25-year-old right-hander is no stranger to inconsistency. In 2015, for example he was optioned back to Triple-A in early May and returned on May 23 to pitch in nine straight starts without allowing more than three runs. Then he suffered an injury and the A’s, who were in last place, shut him down for the rest of the season by August.
This time it was the bullpen’s turn to have a tough game. Graveman left the game with the score 2-1. Closer Ryan Madson, who has yet to blow a save for Oakland, allowed a sac fly to Johnny Giavotella with runners on first and third with two outs.
Bottom of the ninth and surprisingly the A’s rallied back. Jed Lowrie grounded out and Yonder Alonso flied out. With two outs Marcus Semien drew a walk from the Angels’ pitcher Fernando Salas and Jake Smolinski singled to right, moving Semien to third base.
The Oakland A’s already completely depleted starting rotation may have lost another member Monday night. Sean Manaea left the game early. with forearm soreness.
The seriousness of the injury is thus far unknown, however, the A’s medical staff has said that they believe the injury to Manaea’s forearm to be a strained pronator muscle and not necessarily ligament damage. However, the full diagnosis will not be known until the team gets the results of his MRI on Tuesday.
When most people hear the words “forearm soreness” their mind automatically jumps to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and Tommy John surgery.
In the fifth inning of Monday’s 14-5 rout of the Texas Rangers, after having just given up a home run to Shin-Soo Choo, that’s where Manea’s mind went.
“My first thought was [that] it’s pretty scary, just because you hear about forearm stuff all the time and TJ,” Manaea said. “That word, I try not to think about it. But from what they told me, it’s nothing too serious.”
This wasn’t the first time Manaea had felt the pain in his forearm. It had bothered him a bit at Triple-A Nashville earlier in the season but this was more intense.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said that he and the rest of the coaching staff could tell that something was off with Manaea, as they were having trouble distinguishing between Manaea’s fastball and changeup. He throws a hard changeup so they continued to watch but after the home run to Choo, it was apparent to them that it was time for a visit to the mound.
Tim Lincecum will pitch in front of upwards of 15 to 20 teams on Friday. He has been sidelined since last season due to arthroscopic hip surgery. He has been rehabbing for the last few months, and it looks as if he is finally ready to showcase his talents in front of scouts. There are reports that he is already throwing in the low 90’s, which is great news for the right-handed pitcher. As of right now, some of the reported teams who will be in attendance on Friday include the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Oakland A’s, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, Washington Nationals, and the Baltimore Orioles.
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The Oakland Athletics had a choice to make. They had options for who would be their fifth starter this week and it’s not the more obvious of choices. It’s 24-year-old Sean Manaea, the A’s number two overall prospect and top pitching prospect.
Manaea has barely spent time in the minors but vice president of baseball operations for the A’s Billy Beane has said that he wouldn’t bring him up unless he thought he was ready. The A’s are likely just testing the waters, seeing if Manaea transition his unbelievable number of strike outs effectively in the majors.
In his very short minor league career that began in 2014, he’s struck out 257 batters in 214 innings. Manaea is still young and can lose his command at times. He had 3.53 walks per nine innings throughout his minor league career, however since being promoted to Triple-A this year he’s really calmed down that part of his game.
So far, during his time at Triple-A Nashville this season he’s allowed three runs on 16 hits, four walks and struck out 21 batters in only 18 innings of work.
The A’s acquired the left-hander as part of the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to the Kansas City Royals.
The team had other options but they elected to send down interim starting pitcher Eric Surkamp. Jesse Hahn has half a season of big league experience and most were expecting him to be the one called up. Hahn, however, is currently battling a blister that has prohibited him from being able to start.
For more on Manaea ….
The Nationals asserted themselves on this leaderboard thanks to a quick start. They were my 2nd best bet last week at +1100. Now the odd at +650 is not worth any money at all.
Since Washington was able to play so well, this has created the perfect storm to put some more cash on the Mets. At +1300, New York is just begging for a wager.
The strength of schedule to which the Nats have played has definitely factored in. 2 series versus the Braves and Marlins and one against the Phillies already, Dusty Baker‘s club has had about a ‘cupcake itinerary’ as you possibly could find.
It gets better for the District’s squad, as they go home for another series with Philadelphia – that comes on the heels of a weekend Interleague series versus the Twins.
If Washington wins those 2 series, they should be about 15 or 16 wins after 22 games. They should cement themselves in the playoffs with an easy NL East opponents schedule all year. I just want to see them play some tougher clubs.
While Washington is leading the Division, they have yet to face the NL reigning pennant winners. The division win could come down to the 19 contests between the two clubs.
Terry Collins‘ team has 16 straight games versus squads with losing records. While the Giants are capable of contending all year, New York should be able to match them well for pitching. Read the rest of this entry
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Disclaimer: We based these rankings on best strength to win the World Series. Therefore some teams that have an easier division to play in, with the least path of resistance to the postseason overall may be ranked a lot higher than a club who is equally talented, yet may play in a juggernaut of a division.
The Cubs will top our list for a second straight week despite losing 2 out of 3 games to the Rockies at Wrigley Field this weekend. The biggest reason is the pitching.
The bats are too solid not to come around and gel as the season moves along. They are playing .750 baseball after a 4 – 2 week still.
Bryce Harper is the best player on the planet, and has homered in 6 straight contests at Citizens Bank Ball Park (4 overall in a row for the MLB this year.)
Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg. Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy are their top players – and all performing like it, the rest of the club is following through in their secondary roles. This team is scary.
I have the Royals as the top American League club. This squad is 8 – 1 in games that are not started by back end of the rotation man Chris Young.
The reigning 2 time pennant winners have company on the top of the Division to make it interesting, however this team has the better pedigree the last few years.
Some may say with a weekend series win – that the Dodgers should be put in front of the Giants, yet they are still only one game ahead of San Francisco.
With the Giants – there is no real weakness, while with the Los Angeles team, the Bullpen is not giving everyone confidence in the back half of games.
The Dodger Blue is still in the top 5, so I am high on them. Kenta Maeda could be the steal of the winter with how this guy is throwing so far. Reinforcements are starting to come back. Read the rest of this entry
M’s Get Blanked Tuesday: 22 Teams Left In 2016 MLB Shutout Survivor + MLB Runs Scoring Survivor Update
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Kyle Seager and Ketel Marte have provided little punch from the Left side of the infield. I expect Seager to turn himself around, but I was one to always question why the franchise didn’t go outside the squad to bring in a new veteran shortstop.
Both clubs were eliminated from MLB Shutout Survivor, and must get their lineups back in order, or they will also fall way back in MLB Runs Scoring Survivor too, having picked off all of the low run scoring totals.
The Padres were blanked for a 4th time in 8 games, and still only have 3 different variations on their season. This is tied with Tampa and Detroit for the fewest marks off the scoresheet, but they have played one more game than the Rays and 2 more contests than the Tigers, so they are ranked 30th in this competition.
Chicago continues to lead the movement to all 11 runs scored scenarios, with having plated a different amount of guys in every single game thus far. All they need to complete this competition are run totals of 0, 1, 3 and 8.
Oakland, Texas, Arizona and Colorado have 6 out of the 11 run totals, but they all need to knock off some of the higher totals – unlike the Cubs. Read the rest of this entry