February 2012

My Glove Reborn! and Spring Training’s 1st game

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how my glove that I use for ballhawking had snagged its last ball as it was, and was just about completely fallen apart.  I needed a fix, so I sent it off to Jim Dowdell of Mittfix.com to get it redone.

Well, I’ve got it back, and it’s literally like having a brand new glove.

Below are some before and after pictures.

A profile of the glove:

You may notice the stitching has all been completely redone, and the shape of the glove is different.  It looks a little more rigid.

Here’s the backside of the glove:

Before the glove was really flat.  Now there is a nice curved shape to it.

Check out the drastic difference in the pocket.

It used to be really floppy and flimsy.  Now it has a nice pocket that stays that keeps it shape.

Another major difference in the glove is the heel region – the part where I put my hand in the glove.  Before there was a huge opening there.  It was from having 30 feet of string wrapped around my hand at all times in my glove.  That may sound difficult, but I got really used to it.

Now there glove fits like a glove – really snug.

That leads to one issue when it comes to ballhawking though… how am I going to do the glove trick?  I literally feel like I can’t fit anything else into my glove besides my hand.

What do you think I could do?  I was thinking about getting two hooks and just carrying the 30 feet of string in my pocket, and then clipping the hooks together when needed to in order to excute the glove trick, but I’m afraid that when tossing the glove out onto the field for more challenging glove trick balls that the clips could dislodge and I could end up losing my glove.   What kind of clips should I use?  Keychain hooks?  Those seem too big.

Anyhow, despite not being able to have much string in my glove, this was the most important improvement:

A sturdy webbing that will allow the ball to stay in place once I get the rubber band over the ball when performing the glove trick.  Before, the lacing was loose, so the balls kept falling out, making me feel like an idiot.

Here’s one more look at the heel work from Jim:

Again, its basically brand new.

I’ll no longer be worried about my glove falling apart while playing catch before the gates open.

In other news, Spring Training games began today!

There was just one game – the Phillies taking on the Florida State Seminoles.  Just one MLB team, but still, a baseball game was played.  Finally.

And here’s the pictures to prove it from the broadcast:

A pitcher named Austin Hyatt was the first pitcher to throw a pitch in a 2012 game:

Domonic Brown stole a base:

Hunter Pence ripped a double:

And Hector Luna ripped the first home run of 2012 into the left field stands at Bright House Field:

And who doesn’t love reading box scores?  Here’s the first one of the season.

It’s nice to have this to look forward to every day from now until the end of October isn’t it?

There’s only 36 days until opening day, and 3 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). And, just 4 more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.

2012 NL East Predictions and Preview

I’ve been posting 2012 MLB Previews for each division throughout the past two weeks.  In case you missed it, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview, and AL West preview by clicking on the links provided.

It’s time to move onto the National League.  First up, is the NL East.

I’ve also included 2012 Predicted statistics from the 2012 Major League Baseball Yearbook and Fantasy Guide.

1ST Place:  Philadelphia Phillies (My prediction: 95-67)

This Philadelphia Phillies were the top team in 2011, winning 102 games, before losing in the first round of the playoffs.  Over the past five years, the Phillies have only improved during the regular season, winning 89 games in 2007, then 92, 93, 97, and 102.  However, I am predicting that they regress a little bit in 2012, thanks to a strengthened National League Eastern Division.

The Phillies have one of the best rotations in the game, despite losing Roy Oswalt.

Anchored by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels – the Phillies shouldn’t experience and losing streaks longer than three games.

The Phillies also added Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason to close games out.  Papelbon is one of the top relievers in the game, despite his 2011 finale against the Orioles, where he blew the game and the season for the Red Sox.

The Phillies have a decent offense.  Ryan Howard is coming off of an injury, and had a bit of an offseason in 2011, hitting just .253 with 33 home runs.

Chase Utley has been in decline the past three years, each year worst than the last.  To be fair, he has been riddled with injuries over the past two seasons.  He hit just .259 with 11 homers last season.

I’m not thrilled with Placido Polonco as the Phillies third baseman.  Third base is a power position, and Polonco is a contact hitter.  He hit .277 with 5 HR and 50 RBI last year, along with a .335 on base percentage.

However, the Phillies brought in Ty Wigginton to be a super utility type player, and he could unseat Polonco as the regular starter at third.

Phillies fans have to be upbeat about their outfield.  They have John Mayberry in left field, or possibly Laynce Nix… Shane Victorino in centerfield and Hunter Pence in right field.

For me, I’m most intrigued with Jim Thome signing with the Phillies.  Thome hasn’t played the field much in recent years, but I’m hoping that he gets some time at first base, and isn’t just a pinch-hit only type guy like Matt Stairs was the final few years of his career.

Here’s their 2012 statistical projections.
C Carlos Ruiz .289-6-43
1B Ryan Howard .259-29-98
1B Jim Thome .266-14-43
2B Chase Utley .279-20-74
3B Placido Polanco .284-6-52
3B Ty Wigginton .258-10-34
SS Jimmy Rollins .279-19-74
LF John Mayberry .261-24-77
CF Shane Victorino .272-18-67
RF Hunter Pence .302-23-91

SP Roy Halladay 19-8, 2.42 ERA, 234 IP, 212 K
SP Cliff Lee 19-8, 2.89 ERA, 221 IP, 210 K
SP Cole Hamels 14-10, 3.11 ERA, 191 K
SP Vance Worley 12-8, 3.90 ERA, 135 K
SP Joe Blanton 5-4, 4.66 ERA, 100 IP, 81 K
RP Jonathan Papelbon 3.34 ERA, 30 saves, 65 IP, 80 K
RP Antonio Bastadro 3.43 ERA, 3 saves, 60 IP, 74 K

2nd place:  Atlanta Braves (My prediction 87-75)
The Atlanta Braves are going to battle it out with the Marlins and Nationals all season long for a wild card spot.  For me, the Braves starting rotation gives them a slight edge.

Tim Hudson is 36 years old, but figures to be the ace of the staff, after posting a 16-10 record with a 3.22 ERA in 2011.

The Braves also welcome back Jair Jurrjens in 2011, despite trying to trade him and Martin Prado for most of the offseason.  Jurrjens had a 2.96 ERA last season.

Tommy Hanson began spring training a bit banged up after being in an accident, but his concussion like symptoms should be cleared up by opening day.  Hanson struggled at times in 2011, posting a 3.60 ERA.

Brandon Beachy led the Braves last year with 169 strikeouts, and continues the trend of top to bottom rotational depth on the Braves.

For their fifth starter, the Braves will choose either Julio Teheran or Mike Minor.   With a rotation like they have lined up, its hard not to choose them as second in the division, no matter how much I don’t like them.

Offensively, the Braves have some stars with Brian McCann behind the plate (24 HR in ’11)

and Dan Uggla (36 HR) at second.  Uggla couldn’t hit his weight for much of the season before going on an impressive 33 game hitting streak to salvage his season.

The Braves also have some questions marks.  Will Chipper Jones be able to play regularly at a high level?  He’s 40 years old now, and hasn’t been able to stay in the lineup regularly for two years now.

Will Jason Heyward’s reconstructed swing hasten him back to the days of 2010 when he was a star rookie?  Or will he struggle again like he did in 2011? (.227/14/14)

Will Matt Diaz defy all odds and actually hit a home run?

How will Tyler Pastornicky do?  He could be the team’s opening day shortstop.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Brian McCann .263-22-70
1B Freddie Freeman .296-22-83
2B Dan Uggla .253-36-90
3B Chipper Jones .268-18-67
SS Tyler Pastornicky .256-4-29
LF Martin Prado .271-15-67
CF Michael Bourne .290-2-51
RF Jason Heyward .255-19-66

SP Tim Hudson 17-10, 3.05 ERA, 224 IP, 155 K
SP Jair Jurrjens 15-10, 3.57 ERA, 209 IP, 137 K
SP Tommy Hanson 15-8, 3.82 ERA, 177 IP, 171 K
SP Brandon Beachy 11-8, 3.78 ERA, 179 IP, 187 K
SP Julio Teheran 9-6, 4.01 ERA, 126 IP, 70 K
RP Craig Kimbrel 1.81 ERA, 35 saves, 70 IP, 118 K
RP Jonny Venters 2.35 ERA, 3 saves, 84 IP, 88 K

3rd place: Miami Marlins (My prediction 85-77)

The Marlins went on a spending spree this winter as they move into a new stadium this year.  Despite losing out on the Albert Pujols sweepstakes, they did manage to sign impact free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell.  It’s full steam ahead for the Marlins in 2012.

The Marlins offense looks to be quite good.  They’ve got John Buck, who has power, but struggles to hit for average behind the plate.  He only hit .227 last year.

Gaby Sanchez is a solid first baseman offensively – he hit 19 homers last year.  He’s no Albert Pujols, but he’s respectable.  At least he throws a mean clothesline.  Ask Nyjer Morgan.

Omar Infante and Emilio Bonifacio could share time at second base in 2012.  Bonifacio could also spend time in the outfield, displacing Chris Coghlan.

Hanley Ramirez will garner some attention as he moves from shortstop to third base.  Ramirez appeared to be upset with the move at first, which was necessitated when the Marlins traded for Reyes.  However, he seems to be warming up to the idea of playing third, and hopefully his bat warms too, because he was bad last year.  The former All Star only hit .243 with 10 homers.

Jose Reyes was the batting champ last year, and probably the third best free agent behind Pujols and Prince Fielder in 2012.  He brings speed and excitement to the Marlins.

The outfield looks solid at the corners with Mike Stanton on track to have another monster year.  He launched 34 home runs in 2011, and figures to hit even more as he continues to age and progress as a player.  He’s only 22 years old after all.

Logan Morrison, known more for his antics off the field with his zany twitter alter-ego LoMo, hopes to make a name for himself on it as well this year.  He did well in 2011, hitting 23 home runs, but saw his average dip to .247.

In center field, Emilio Bonifacion will play, or possibly Chris Coghlan.  Coghlan was injured much of 2011, hitting only .230.  Some would say it’s karma after this incident involving fellow ballhawker the Happy Youngster.  Coghlan went on to win the rookie of the year, while the Happy Youngster got a bad rep and faded away from the ballhawking scene.  Maybe the Youngster makes a comeback in ’12?

As far as their rotation is concerned, the Marlins look like they’ll be decent, but not great.

Josh Johnson is returning from an injury, but has the talent to be a front line starter.  He had a 1.64 ERA in 9 starts before being injured last season.

Mark Buehrle is a proven veteran that is a solid #2 starter.

Behind those two, the Marlins have Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez.  Nothing spectacular, but acceptable as starters.

Interestingly, the Marlins traded for Carlos Zambrano.  After a rocky career in Chicago, things have been quiet so far on the Zambrano front.

At the back of the bullpen, they’ve got Heath Bell to close things out.  Bell had 43 saves for a poor Padres team in 2011, so he could do even better in 2012.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C John Buck .241-17-66
1B Gaby Sanchez .262-18-76
2B Omar Infante .290-10-59
3B Hanley Ramirez .291-22-91
SS Jose Reyes .318-10-52
LF Logan Morrison .250-24-80
CF Emilio Bonifacio .292-4-31
RF Mike Stanton .265-38-97

SP Josh Johnson 14-6, 2.54 ERA, 226 IP, 216 K
SP Mark Buehrle 13-10, 3.89 ERA, 204 IP, 103 K
SP Ricky Nolasco 13-12, 4.60 ERA, 205 IP, 168 K
SP Anibal Sanchez 9-10, 3.64 ERA, 180 IP, 169 K
SP Carlos Zambrano 11-10, 4.52 ERA, 163 IP, 120 K
RP Heath Bell 2.64 ERA, 41 saves, 65 IP, 65 K
RP Juan Oviedo 4.00 ERA, 4 saves, 63 IP, 59 K

4th place: Washington Nationals (My prediction: 84-78)
The Nationals are an improved team over last year, they added Edwin Jackson and are getting Stephen Strasburg back from an injury that cost him most of 2011.

The Nationals were unlucky and lost out on the Prince Fielder sweepstakes to Detroit and are stuck with Adam LaRoche as their first baseman.  LaRoche should not get Nationals fans excited.  Based on his track record, he will be abysmal until the All Star break and then recover to finish with a slightly above average line.  I’ve seen it in Pittsburgh.  Us Pirates fans were expecting 40 HR and 100 RBI with the short right field fence, but it never came close to happening with LaRoche.  If LaRoche really bombs in his rebound year from injury, the Nats could put Mike Morse at first base and open up a spot in the outfield for Bryce Harper.

Wilson Ramos, acquired from the Nationals for ex-Pirates reliever Matt Capps survived a harrowing ordeal during the offseason when he was kidnapped at gunpoint and held captive.  Thankfully, he was rescued without injury and looks to follow up a 15 HR, .445 slugging season with another decent offensive showing.

The Nationals have a power source at second base in Danny Espinosa.  He slugged 21 homers last year despite hitting just .236.

Ryan Zimmerman just signed a $100 million dollar contract to keep him in a Nationals uniform til 2020.  That’s a serious commitment to what many in the Nationals brass consider the face of the franchise.  Zimmerman was injured for part of 2011, and hit only 12 homers – but if healthy, he’s capable of putting up 25-30 HR on the board while playing excellent defense.  He’ll want to prove to everyone that he’s worth the $100 million.  Although one baseball writer tweeted, “$100 million is an awful lot for a one time all-star.”

In the outfield, the Nationals are set with Michael Morse, Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth.  Werth was terrible in 2011.  He may have hit 20 homers, but Nationals fans expected more power, and certainly better than a .232 batting average and .389 slugging percentage.  Werth was one of the best players in the league before signing with the Nationals.  His statistics took a nosedive once he joined the team.  He is one of several reasons why the Nationals could be the surprise team in 2012.  Can he return to the Werth that roamed the outfield for the Phillies?

Michael Morse is probably my favorite Nationals player.  If you get the chance to go to a Nationals game, simply stand in left center field and get ready to be bombarded with home run balls.  The guy is a monster.  He reminds me a lot of Mike Stanton in terms of body structure and pure power.  After hitting .303/31/95 in 2011, he could be a candidate to hit 40 homers.

A major question in the Nationals outfield leading into 2012 is if Bryce Harper will be the starting right fielder in 2012.  Manager Davey Johnson said the 19 year old has a chance.  If he makes the team, expect the same level of hype to follow Harper around that Stephen Strasburg had back in 2010.

In terms of the rotation, its much improved after the signing of Edwin Jackson to an 11 million dollar one year contract.  Personally, I don’t think much of Jackson after he spurned the Pirates 3 year $30 million offer to accept less money with the Nationals.  He’s an excellent #2 pitcher though.

The ace of the Nationals is Stephen Strasburg and he may be babied again in 2012 as the Nats seem terrified of him getting injured again.  If Strasburg weren’t on strict pitch counts, his strike out numbers could be ridiculous.  However, he still has amazing stuff and should baffle hitters all season long.  He’s a special player.  I’ll never forget attending his major league debut against the Pirates in Washington DC in June of 2010.

The Nationals’ third starter is Gio Gonzalez, the ex-ace of the Oakland Athletics.  He posted a 16-12 record with a 3.12 ERA in the American League last year.  Reason states that his ERA should drop a little since he doesn’t have to face the DH in the National League anymore.

The Nationals rest of the rotation is average.  At the back end they’ve got Drew Storen to close out games, or possibly new addition Brad Lidge.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Wilson Ramos .269-16-55
1B Adam LaRoche .243-14-56
2B Danny Espinosa .258-23-72
3B Ryan Zimmerman .296-24-81
SS Ian Desmond .261-8-51
LF Michael Morse .300-30-90
CF Roger Bernadina .238-7-30
RF Jayson Werth .245-20-64

SP Stephen Strasburg 13-6, 2.40 ERA, 139 IP, 151 K
SP Gio Gonzalez 16-11, 3.25 ERA, 211 IP, 208 K
SP Jordan Zimmerman 10-19, 4.33 ERA, 141 IP, 102 K
SP Edwin Jackson 13-9, 3.95 ERA, 203 IP, 156 K
SP John Lannan 12-11, 4.01 ERA, 191 IP, 117 K
SP Chien Ming Wang 9-7, 3.83 ERA, 125 IP, 47
RP Drew Storen 3.01 ERA, 38 saves, 81 IP, 81 K
RP Tyler Clippard 2.34 ERA, 0 saves, 85 IP, 100 K

5th place:  New York Mets (My prediction 62-100)
The Mets are going to be bad in 2012.  They are slashing payroll left and right, and might deal David Wright at the trade deadline this year.

Am I wrong Mets fans?  I think they’ll lose 100 games.  The division is tough, and they are worse than last year.

David Wright is the long bright spot, but there’s really no one to protect him in the order.

Ike Davis has some pop, but will be be consistent throughout the season?

Then there’s Jason Bay, one of the biggest free agent busts since Barry Zito.  After signing a $66 million contract, Bay has done next to nothing.  Maybe moving the fences in at Citi Field will help him some.

Andres Torres, a 4th or 5th outfielder on just about every other team, will be the starting center fielder.

Ruben Tejada is no Jose Reyes at shortstop.  He has no power, but can hit for an acceptable average near .300.

The rotation pales in comparison to the other four teams in the division.  Johan Santana will finally be back after missing an eternity due to injury.  If he’s half the pitcher he used to be, he’ll still be the best pitcher on the Mets.

It’s going to be a long year.  At least watching RA Dickeys facial expressions and knuckleball should be fun.

2012 Statistical Projections:

C Josh Thole .273-4-46
1B Ike Davis .260-20-73
2B Daniel Murphy .318-8-66
3B David Wright .269-20-87
SS Ruben Tejada .288-0-60
LF Jason Bay .252-16-76
CF Andres Torres .237-6-27
RF Lucas Duda .301-13-61

SP Johan Santana 12-7, 2.84 ERA, 162 IP, 142 K
SP Mike Pelfrey 11-11, 4.39 ERA, 193 IP, 106 K
SP Jonathon Niese 10-11, 4.43 ERA, 167 IP, 146 K
SP Dillon Gee 12-10, 4.79 ERA, 179 IP, 134 K
SP RA Dickey 9-12, 3.13 ERA, 201 IP, 125 K
RP Frank Francisco 3.33 ERA, 28 saves, 51 IP, 55 K
RP Jon Rauch 4.05 ERA, 5 saves, 53 IP, 39 K

So, to review,  I have:
1) Phillies
2) Braves
3) Marlins
4) Nationals
5) Mets

I think the Braves, Marlins, and Nationals could be pretty much interchangeable though, as they are all similar in talent level.

What are your thoughts?

Leave a comment!

There’s only 37 days until opening day, and 4 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). Also, the first listed Spring Training game on the MLB schedule is tomorrow when the Phillies take on the Seminoles. Also, just five more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.

Indians ticket design

I’m working on a longer posting that I’ll put up in a bit, but these two topics aren’t related, thus separate threads.

I got a bunch of Indians box office tickets in the mail today. As a full season ticket holder, I was given the opportunity to buy tickets before the general public, so I purchased a bunch for opening day and the Red Sox and Yankees series.

Check out the design:

I like it. I wish the PNC Park box office would take a cue from the Indians and feature their ballpark in the background. Instead, there’s usually some generic background.

Also, I keep checking the mail everyday waiting for my season tickets to arrive. I’m getting antsy. I have three clubs that have yet to send me my season tickets! I believe the Phillies already sent them to their season ticket holders.

Alright, back to today’s main entry…

Los Angeles Dodgers Shirt Giveaway

I’ve been posting everyday (38 consecutive so far) leading up to opening day, and giving stuff away to thank my readers.

To date,
I’ve given away a Matt Wieters shirt to Joey Orr,
a Brandon Phillips shirt to Matt Jackson,
a Dustin Pedroia shirt to Stephen D,
and a Phillies shirt to Connor.

This week’s shirt is a Los Angeles Dodgers Majestic Classic Print shirt:

Here’s a close up view of the front:

And it still has tags.

The winner may choose a medium or large size.

I post blog entries every day.  All you have to do is leave a comment or retweet my blog link on twitter.

So, again,  to enter:
1)  Leave a comment.
You can enter up to seven times per week simply by leaving a comment.  Non-pertinent, spam, or inappropriate comments will not be accepted.  If you comment multiple times on the same blog entry, it still counts as one entry.  For example, if you commented on three different blog posts from this week, you’d have three entries.  If you’d comment three times on the same blog posting, it would could as one.

2)  Retweet (RT) my posts on Twitter
You can find me on twitter under 333greystreet.  Simply retweet my daily posts of my blog link and I’ll count that as an entry.  My blog is connected to my twitter so that I automatically tweet once I post a new entry.  Each day, I’ll search who’s retweeted me and enter those users into a hat along with the commenters.  By the way, you do not need to retweet my every tweet, only the tweets that announce a new blog post and url.  For example, if I tweeted, ‘Rerun of the Pirates Opening Day 2011 on tonight,’ if you retweeted it, it wouldn’t count as an entry.

At the end of the week on Sunday, I’ll have Olivia, Amy or myself choose a name from a hat and announce the winner.

I haven’t yet done a preview of the NL West, but I think the Dodgers will probably battle it out for third place.  They were in turmoil last year, as owner Frank McCourt’s divorce drove them to the brink of bankruptcy.  Last time I heard, the Dodgers were going to be put up for sale.  New owners could help put the franchise back on track.

The Dodgers were frustrating for me last year when they came to PNC Park.  They refused to toss a single ball into the stands, likely as a result of their financial problems.  I reckoned that players might have been prohibited by coaches.  Nonetheless, I still have one really decent game against the Dodgers, snagging 11 balls.

The Dodgers are led by Matt Kemp, who didn’t let Hollywood or his superstar girlfriend Rihanna slow him down in 2011.

He was many fans’ choice for MVP, and finished second to Ryan Braun as he hit .324 while leading the league with 39 homers and 126 RBI.  Oh yeah, he also stole 40 bases.  Had the Dodgers even been somewhat in contention, I believe he would’ve been the MVP.

It can be argued that the Dodgers have the best position player and pitcher in the National League.  Clayton Kershaw led the league in wins with a record of 21-5, in ERA with 2.28, and strikeouts with 248.  He won the Cy Young for his amazing season.

The 2011 Dodgers won 82 games.  They need some more offensive punch besides Kemp to win in 2012.  Their starting 2B, 3B, SS, and LF combined for 6 home runs last year.

How do you think the Dodgers will do in 2012?  Leave a comment and throw your hat into the ring for the shirt.

There’s only 38 days until opening day, and 5 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies).  Also, the first listed Spring Training game on the MLB schedule is Wednesday 2/29 when the Phillies take on the Seminoles.  Baseball is here my friends.

The Phillies shirt winner is…

It’s time to give away another baseball shirt!

In previous giveaways…

Last week, Stephen D won this Dustin Pedroia shirt.

In week two, I gave away this Brandon Phillips shirt which was won by Matt Jackson.

The first winner of this Matt Wieters shirt was Joey Orr.

Here’s your winner:

I would’ve like to give away more shirts, but the best I did was 558 views in a day.  My ultimate goal is to average 1000 a day, I guess I’ll just have to keep blogging daily to attract more readers.

There’s only 39 days until opening day, and 6 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies).

Check back tomorrow for a new giveaway!

2012 Topps Baseball Card Scans

I’ve been posting a blog a day leading up to opening day, and one of the more popular entries was back on February 2nd when I reviewed the 2012 Topps set.  I’ve decided to follow that post up by showing my readers every single card in the 2012 Topps series one baseball card set.  I’ve scanned all of the cards.  Yes, it took a long time – I did several cards a day, not all at once – I would’ve gone crazy if I had to scan 330 cards in one sitting.

What is the coolest overall card?  I’m picking Kyle Blanks – that picture is pretty glorious.
The creepiest card?  How about Chris Carpenter – it looks as if Albert Pujols is a split second away from planting a kiss on him.
Best action shot?  I’ll go with Jayson Werth’s card.  That slide on his card was about the only thing that went right for him in 2011.
Ugliest card?  Jered Weaver.  That expression makes me cringe.

1 Ryan Braun

2 Trevor Cahill

3 Jaime Garcia

4 Jeremy Guthrie

5 Desmond Jennings

6 Nick Hagadone RC

7 Mickey Mantle

8 Mike Adams

9 Jesus Montero RC

10 Jon Lester

11 Hong-Chih Kuo

12 Wilson Ramos

13 Vernon Wells

14 Jesus Guzman

15 Melky Cabrera

16 Desmond Jennings

17 Alex Rios

18 Colby Lewis

19 Yonder Alonso

20 Craig Kimbrel

21 Chris Iannetta

22 Alfredo Simon

23 Cory Luebke

24 Ike Davis

25 Neil Walker

26 Kyle Lohse

27 John Buck

28 Placido Polanco

29 Active Leaders*

30 Derek Jeter

31 Brent Morel

32 Detroit Tigers PH

33 League Leaders*

34 Derek Holland

35 Eric Hosmer

36 Michael Taylor RC

37 Mike Napoli

38 Felipe Paulino

39 James Loney

40 Tom Milone RC

41 Devin Mesoraco

42 Drew Pomeranz

43 Brett Wallace

44 Edwin Jackson

45 Jhoulys Chacin

46 Peter Bourjos

47 Luke Hochevar

48 Wade Davis

49 Jon Niese

50 Adrian Gonzalez

51 Alcides Escobar

52 League Leaders*

53 St. Louis Cardinals WS

54 Jhonny Peralta

55 Michael Young

56 Geovany Soto

57 Yuniesky Betancourt

58 Tim Hudson

59 Texas Rangers PH

60 Hanley Ramirez

61 Daniel Bard

62 Ben Revere

63 Nate Schierholtz

64 Michael Martinez

65 Delmon Young

66 Nyjer Morgan

67 Aaron Crow

68 Jason Hammel

69 Dee Gordon

70 Brett Pill RC

71 Jeff Karstens

72 Rex Brothers

73 Brandon McCarthy

74 Kevin Correia

75 Jordan Zimmermann

76 Ian Kennedy

77 League Leaders*

78 Erick Aybar

79 Austin Romine RC

80 David Price

81 Liam Hendriks RC

82 Rick Porcello

83 Bobby Parnell

84 Brian Matusz

85 Jason Heyward

86 Brett Cecil

87 Craig Kimbrel

88 Javy Guerra

89 Dontrelle Willis

90 Adron Chambers RC

91 Active Leaders*

92 Active Leaders*

93 Skip Schumaker

94 Logan Forsythe

95 Chris Parmelee RC

96 Grady Sizemore

97 Jim Thome RB

98 Domonic Brown

99 Michael McKenry

100 Jose Bautista

101 David Hernandez

102 Chase d’Arnaud

103 Madison Bumgarner

104 Brett Anderson

105 Paul Konerko

106 Mark Trumbo

107 Luke Scott

108 Albert Pujols WS

109 Mariano Rivera RB

110 Mark Teixeira

111 Kevin Slowey

112 Juan Nicasio

113 Craig Kimbrel RB

114 Matt Garza

115 Tommy Hanson

116 A.J. Pierzynski

117 Carlos Ruiz

118 Miguel Olivo

119 Active Leaders*

120 Hunter Pence

121 Josh Bell

122 Ted Lilly

123 Scott Downs

124 Active Leaders*

125 Adam Jones

126 Eduardo Nunez

127 Eli Whiteside

128 Lucas Duda

129 Matt Moore RC

130 Asdrubal Cabrera

131 Ian Desmond

132 Will Venable

133 Ivan Nova

134 Stephen Lombardozzi RC

135 Johnny Cueto

136 Casey McGehee

137 Jarrod Saltalamacchia

138 Pedro Alvarez

139 Scott Sizemore

140 Troy Tulowitzki

141 Brandon Belt

142 Travis Wood

143 George Kottaras

144 Marlon Byrd

145 Billy Butler

146 Carlos Gomez

147 Orlando Hudson

148 Chris Getz

149 Chris Sale

150 Roy Halladay

151 Chris Davis

152 Chad Billingsley

153 Mark Melancon

154 Ty Wigginton

155 Matt Cain

156 League Leaders*

157 Anibal Sanchez

158 Josh Reddick

159 Active Leaders*

160 Kevin Youkilis

161 Dee Gordon

162 Max Scherzer

163 Justin Turner

164 Carl Pavano

165 Michael Morse

166 Brennan Boesch

167 Starlin Castro RB

168 Blake Beavan

169 Brett Myers

170 Jacoby Ellsbury

171 Koji Uehara

172 Reed Johnson

173 Ryan Roberts

174 Yadier Molina

175 Jared Hughes

176 Nolan Reimold

177 Josh Thole

178 Edward Mujica

179 Denard Span

180 Mariano Rivera

181 League Leaders*

182 Michael Brantley

183 Addison Reed RC

184 Wilin Rosario

185 Pablo Sandoval

186 John Lannan

187 Jose Altuve

188 Bobby Abreu

189 Alberto Callaspo

190 Cole Hamels

191 Angel Pagan

192 Active Leaders*

193 Kelly Shoppach

194 Danny Duffy

195 Ben Zobrist

196 Matt Joyce

197 Brendan Ryan

198 Matt Dominguez RC

199 Adam Dunn

200 Miguel Cabrera

201 Doug Fister

202 Andrew Carignan RC

203 Jeff Niemann

204 Tom Gorzelanny

205 Justin Masterson

206 David Robertson

207 J.P. Arencibia

208 Mark Reynolds

209 A.J. Burnett

210 Zack Greinke

211 Kelvin Herrera RC

212 Active Leaders*

213 Alex Avila

214 Mike Pelfrey

215 Freddie Freeman

216 Jason Kipnis

217 Texas Rangers PH

218 Kyle Hudson RC

219 Jordan Pacheco RC

220 Jay Bruce

221 Luke Gregerson

222 Chris Coghlan

223 Joe Saunders

224 League Leaders*

225 Michael Pineda

226 Ryan Hanigan

227 Mike Minor

228 Brent Lillibridge

229 Yunel Escobar

230 Justin Morneau

231 Dexter Fowler

232 Active Leaders*

233 St. Louis Cardinals PH

234 Mark Teixeira RB

235 Joe Benson RC

236 Jose Tabata

237 Russell Martin

238 Emilio Bonifacio

239 League Leaders*

240 David Wright

241 James McDonald

242 Eric Young

243 Justin De Fratus

244 Sergio Santos

245 Adam Lind

246 Bud Norris

247 Clay Buchholz

248 Stephen Drew

249 Trevor Plouffe

250 Jered Weaver

251 Jason Bay

252 Dellin Betances

253 Tim Federowicz RC

254 Philip Humber

255 Scott Rolen

256 Mat Latos

257 Seth Smith

258 Jon Jay

259 Michael Stutes

260 Brian Wilson

261 Kyle Blanks

262 Shaun Marcum

263 Steve Delabar RC

264 Chris Carpenter PH

265 Aroldis Chapman

266 Carlos Corporan

267 Joel Pineiro

268 Miguel Cairo

269 Jason Vargas

270 Starlin Castro

271 John Jaso

272 Nyjer Morgan PH

273 David Freese

274 Alex Liddi RC

275 Brad Peacock RC

276 Scott Baker

277 Jeremy Moore RC

278 Randy Wells

279 R.A. Dickey

280 Ryan Howard

281 Mark Trumbo

282 Ryan Raburn

283 Brandon Allen

284 Tony Gwynn

285 Drew Storen

286 Franklin Gutierrez

287 Antonio Bastardo

288 Miguel Montero

289 Casey Kotchman

290 Curtis Granderson

291 David Freese WS

292 Ben Revere

293 Eric Thames

294 John Axford

295 Jayson Werth

296 Brayan Pena

297 League Leaders*

298 Jeff Keppinger

299 Mitch Moreland

300 Josh Hamilton

301 Alexi Ogando

302 League Leaders*

303 Danny Valencia

304 Brandon Morrow

305 Chipper Jones

306 Ubaldo Jimenez

307 Vance Worley

308 Mike Leake

309 Kurt Suzuki

310 Adrian Beltre

311 John Danks

312 Nick Hundley

313 Phil Hughes

314 Matt LaPorta

315 Dustin Ackley

316 Nick Blackburn

317 Tyler Chatwood

318 Erik Bedard

319 League Leaders*

320 Matt Holliday

321 Jason Bourgeois

322 Ricky Nolasco

323 Jason Isringhausen

324 Active Leaders*

325 Chris Schwinden RC

326 Kevin Gregg

327 Mark Kotsay

328 John Lackey

329 Allen Craig WS

330 Matt Kemp

There’s only 40 days until opening day, 7 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies), and 1 more day to win a Phillies shirt.

Also, 36 consecutive days of postings!

Ryan Braun suspension revoked; Frank Coonelly arrested

The baseball world has been abuzz recently due to Ryan Braun’s suspension being repealed by an independent arbitrator.  In case you missed it, Braun tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and was facing a 50 game suspension.  His sample had ridiculously high levels of synthetic testosterone, a banned substance.  Braun and his lawyers argued successfully and won the first ever PED suspension appeal in MLB history.

The are two possible reasons for Braun’s positive test:
1)  Braun is a cheater and actually did take illegal substances
2)  Someone tried to frame Braun by tainting his sample and framing him.

Braun said he’d bet his life that it was #2.

The arbitrator agreed.  Because the collector took the sample on a Saturday and didn’t mail it to the lab until a Monday, it was argued that during the 48 hour that a third party tampered with his sample.  MLB disagreed because the seal on the sample wasn’t broken, making it thereby impossible that it was tampered with.

At any rate, Braun will be back in the NL Central in 2012 for the entire season, terrorizing pitchers.  Or will he?

Braun will face increased pressure to follow up his MVP season with a similar performance.  He has doubters all over the game right now.  If his performance trails off, everyone will assume that he cheated and got off – a la OJ Simpson.  Unfortunately for Braun, he no longer has Prince Fielder batting behind him, which helps him because pitchers may be more likely to pitch around him.  Also, Braun is going to be mercilessly tortured on the road.  Can you even imagine that insults that will be hurled at him in the left field bleachers.  Here’s some advice – if the Brewers are in town and you have children, don’t sit in left field.

Last season, Braun’s WAR – wins above replacement was a 7.7, so his suspension would’ve cost the Brewers about 3 wins – that’s a big margin for an NL Central that is going to be tightly contested between the Brewers, Cardinals, and Reds.

On another front, the Pirates organization was embarrassed when news that president Frank Coonelly was arrested on December 22nd for driving under the influence of alcohol.  His blood alcohol content was .16 – twice the legal limit.

The owner of the Pirates, Robert Nutting expressed extreme disappointment – but Coonelly isn’t likely to be disciplined.

To Mr. Coonelly’s credit, he did own up to his mistake and took all of the blame.  My problem with it is that he could’ve seriously injured someone else due to his lack in judgment.  It also doesn’t set a very good precedence for the president to be DUI, while young players would be disciplined for a similar infraction.

I’m hoping that Mr Coonelly learns his lesson and gives up drinking altogether.    I do not think he should be fired.

The main problem I have with his situation is that the Pirates kept it hush-hush for two months.

What are your thoughts on Frank Coonelly?  Should he be disciplined?

What do you think about Ryan Braun winning his appeal?  Do you think he was guilty and got off on a technicality or that he was actually clean?  I’d be interested in hearing.

There’s only 41 days until opening day, 8 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies), and 3 more days to win a Phillies shirt.

Also, 35 consecutive days of postings!  (Just made it today – putting this one up at 11:50pm)

2012 AL West Predictions & Preview

I’ve posted predictions for the AL East and AL Central recently, and I’ll wrap things up by offering my predictions for 2012 for the AL West.  The AL West is an interesting division because it now contains two of the elite teams in all of baseball, the Rangers and the Angels.  It will be interesting to watch these two teams battle it out all year long.

I’ll be using the 2012 Major League Baseball Yearbook & Fantasy Guide as a reference to give you each player’s 2012 statistical projections.  If you see a roster error, please leave a comment so that I may fix it.

1st Place:  Los Angeles Angels (My prediction 97-65)
The Angels are going for it in 2012, and made it known to the rest of baseball by signing Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson.

Besides having the best hitter in the game in Pujols, they also have Jered Weaver headlining their rotation.  Weaver went 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA last year.

He is joined in the rotation by Wilson, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and a fifth starter – likely Jerome Williams.  It’s a very strong rotation – one of the top rotations in baseball.

The Angels also have some excellent young players in Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout.

If aging veterans Bobby Abreu, Vernon Wells, and Torii Hunter still have something left to contribute, this team could push the 100 win mark.

2012 Statistical projections:
C Chris Iannetta .235-12-48
1B Albert Pujols .307-40-109
2B Howie Kendrick .280-17-71
3B Alberto Callaspo .285-6-47
3B Mark Trumbo .252-20-63
SS Erick Aybar .288-9-57
LF Peter Bourjos .268-9-34
CF Vernon Wells .234-25-70
RF Torii Hunter .271-25-90
DH Bobby Abreu .252-11-66
DH Kendrys Morales .297-17-56

SP Jered Weaver 17-9, 2.81 ERA, 224 IP, 217 K
SP Dan Haren 16-11, 3.48 ERA, 233 IP, 199 K
SP CJ Wilson 16-8, 3.02 ERA, 220 IP, 200 K
SP Ervin Santana 15-12, 3.49 ERA, 214 IP, 163 K
SP Jerome Williams 10-9, 4.31 ERA, 142 IP, 102 K
RP Jordan Walden 3.05 ERA, 35 saves, 65 IP, 73 K
RP Scott Downs 2.19 ERA, 2 saves, 62 IP, 43 K

2nd Place: Texas Rangers (My prediction: 95-67)
The Rangers have come close to winning the World Series the last two seasons.  I believe that they are good enough again to make it back to the playoffs, although I think the Angels will squeak past them to win the division.  The Rangers are very solid offensively.

Mike Napoli is probably the best offensive catcher in the major leagues having belted 30 home runs last year.  Additionally, he can play first base and DH to keep his bat in the line up.

Ian Kinsler hit 32 home runs last year and ranks #2 of all second basemen in the MLB Yearbook magazine.

Adrian Beltre smashed 32 homers and knocked in 105 runs last year.  This is his age 33 season, so he probably has another decent year or two before age starts to slow him down.

Then there is Josh Hamilton.  Hamilton, a recovering drug and alcohol addict, went through a much-publicized relapse this offseason when he had a few drinks at a bar.  He played through pain last year and smacked 25 HR despite missing time with injuries.

The Rangers also have Nelson Cruz, another power threat who hit 29 home runs.  Cruz isn’t the greatest defender and his misplay of David Freese’s triple in the World Series ended up costing the Rangers than championship.

As for the Rangers rotation, they are solid.  They can move Neftali Perez to a starter spot with Joe Nathan on board, and they also brought in Yu Darvish, Japan’s best pitcher.  It’ll be interesting to watch how Darvish does.  Most people predict he’ll fare better than Daisuke Matsuzaka did with Boston several years ago.    This is the majors though, so don’t expect him to put up ridiculous numbers like in Japan.  (Career 76-28, 1.72 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 1024 IP, 1083 K)

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Mike Napoli .306-29-73
1B Mitch Moreland .258-17-60
2B Ian Kinsler .261-28-72
3B Adrian Beltre .285-27-88
SS Elvis Andrus .275-4-57
LF David Murphy .284-10-43
CF Josh Hamilton .309-30-107
RF Nelson Cruz .276-37-105
DH Michael Young .327-13-98

SP Colby Lewis 13-11, 4.18 ERA, 202 IP, 179 K
SP Alexi Ogando 14-9, 3.34 ERA, 189 IP, 148 K
SP Neftali Feleiz 13-8, 3.27 ERA, 182 IP, 147 K
SP Derek Holland 15-7, 4.10 ERA, 200 IP, 168 K
SP Matt Harrison 13-12, 3.97 ERA, 190 IP, 141 K
SP Yu Darvish 14-9, 3.83 ERA, 183 IP, 167 K
RP Joe Nathan 3.09 ERA, 29 saves, 55 IP, 62 K
RP Koji Uehara 2.70 ERA, 4 saves, 57 IP, 77 K

3rd Place: Seattle Mariners (My prediction 73-89)
After the Angels and Rangers, the Mariners and Athletics will be left to battle things out for the third spot in the division.  I’m going to give the edge to the Mariners, because I don’t think their offense can be as bad as it was in 2011 again.  They only averaged 3.43 runs per game last year, worst in major league baseball.  It led to a 67-95 record.

Chone Figgins underperformed last year, hitting on .188 with 1 homer.  The Mariners paid him $9.5 million last year.

Ichiro Suzuki also underperformed, only hitting .272 with 5 HR.  It was the first year in his major league career that he didn’t hit over .300 and collect at least 200 hits in a season.  Maybe he pressed too much, trying to ignite an offense that was powerless.  At any rate, manager Eric Wedge has pledged to bat Ichiro Suzuki third this season while moving Chone Figgins to the leadoff spot.

The Mariners also finally acquired a big bat, albeit a prospect bat in Jesus Montero. No Mariners player hit over 20 home runs last year.  Montero has that kind of power.  He hit 21 homers in AAA in 2010, and 22 split between AAA and the Yankees last year.  Prior to 2011, he was ranked as the #3 prospect in the MLB.

I think that the Mariners will see a small improvement in 2012, because they can’t be that bad for two years in a row?  Can they?

As a side note, I also I can’t wait to go here:

And stay here.  I love Washington state.  It’s on my list of places to live after I finally get sick of Pennsylvania.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Miguel Olivo .236-11-59
1B Justin Smoak .258-22-80
2B Dustin Ackley .271-9-55
3B Chone Figgins .255-2-28
SS Brendan Ryan .243-3-51
LF Trayvon Robinson .241-8-48
CF Franklin Gutierrez .241-4-33
RF Ichiro Suzuki .287-6-46
DH Mike Carp .276-15-56
DH Jesus Montero .292-14-51

SP Felix Hernandez 14-12, 2.97 ERA, 234 IP, 218 K
SP Jason Vargas 9-12, 4.22 ERA, 181 IP, 114 K
SP Blake Beavan 9-12, 4.48 ERA, 175 IP, 91 K
SP Charlie Furbush 8-13, 4.07 ERA, 166 IP, 115 K
RP Brandon League 3.21 ERA, 32 Saves, 67 IP, 52 K
RP George Sherrill 3.99 ERA, 1 save, 48 IP, 44 K

4th Place:  Oakland Athletics (My prediction: 68-94)

The Oakland Athletics looked to be in full blown rebuilding mode for 2012, trading away their ace pitcher Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals and their closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox.  However, they surprised everyone in baseball when they swooped in and signed Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to a six year contract.  Cespedes figures to have every change to earn a spot as a starter on the opening day roster.  I just want to see him take some batting practice.  He looks like he could be a beast in BP.

The Athletics also raised eyebrows when they signed Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract.  Ramirez, if he performs well, will likely make the team after serving a 50 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.  Personally, I don’t think Ramirez has anything left and will be a bust.  Luckily for the A’s, they will only lose about $330,000 on the deal if he fails miserably.

If Manny wasn’t enough, the A’s also have another potentially washed up pitcher in Bartolo Colon, also trying to make the squad.  Colon was out of baseball before having a medical breakthrough surgery on his elbow with stem cells to rejuvenate his career.

It might be just me, but I think it will be a tough year for the A’s, although they will have lots of media attention with Ramirez and Cespedes.

2012 Statistical Predictions:
C  Kurt Suzuki .244-14-53
1B Daric Barton .250-4-39
2B Jemile Weeks .305-3-50
3B Scott Sizemore .249-10-51
SS Cliff Pennington .290-9-64
LF Michael Taylor .253-9-58
CF Collin Cowgill .254-10-45
RF Josh Reddick .264-14-76
OF Yoenis Cespedes .273-18-74 (rotochamp prediction)
DH Brandon Allen .240-12-39
DH Manny Ramirez .273-12-42 (rotochamp prediction)

SP Brandon McCarthy 12-10, 3.36 ERA, 212 IP, 158 K
SP Guillermo Moscoso 11-13, 3.56 ERA, 167 IP, 98 K
SP Dallas Braden 9-10, 3.79 ERA, 145 IP, 92 K
SP Jarrod Parker 8-9, 4.08 ERA, 141 IP, 115 K
SP Tyson Ross 7-9, 3.99 ERA, 122 IP, 89 K
SP Bartolo Colon 6-9, 4.20 ERA, 143 IP, 116 K
RP Brian Fuentes 3.25 ERA, 28 saves, 53 IP, 42 K
RP Grant Balfour 2.72 ERA, 1 save, 60 IP, 57 K

So, to review, I’ve got:
1) Angels
2) Rangers
3) Mariners
4) A’s

I think it’ll be a two tiered race though, with the Angels/Rangers battling for first, while the Mariners and A’s duke it out for third.

How do you think they’ll finish?

There’s only 42 days until opening day, 9 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies), and 4 more days to win a Phillies shirt.

Ballhawking: Stadium Leaders

This post deals with the realm of ballhawking.  Using the database on mygameballs.com, I decided to make a list of  ‘stadium owners,’ or the person that has snagged the most amount of baseballs at each ballpark.  There’s obviously probably some regulars that don’t document their baseballs – for example, I’m sure that someone has to have snagged more than 32 balls at Target Field –  they just haven’t become mygameballs.com official yet.

Here’s the list:

Stadium Owners (mygameballs ID)
Angel Stadium of Anaheim – Rob McCoy 992 (bbshagger)
AT&T Park – Scott Mystery 40 (mysteryCA)
Busch Stadium – Wayne Peck 48 (waynepeck)
Chase Field – Zack Hample 73 (zackhample)
Citi Field – Zack Hample 363
Citizens Bank Park – Zack Hample 250
Comerica Park – Zack Hample 37
Coors Field – Rockpile Ranter 126 (ranter)
Dodger Stadium – Jose Mannywood 348 (mannywood)
Fenway Park – Zack Hample 43
Great American Ballpark – Rocco Sinisi 356 (roccosinisi)
Kauffman Stadium – Garrett Meyer 326 (garrett37)
Miller Park – Shawn Bosman 997 (shawn77)
Minute Maid Park – Donny Haltom 162 (dhaltom)
Nationals Park – Aaron King 386 (aaronk)
New Yankee Stadium – alexk  178
Oakland Coliseum – Rick Gold 721 (jqfc)
Oriole Park at Camden Yards – Zack Hample 495
PETCO Park – Leigh Barratt 569 (padreleigh)
PNC Park – Erik Jabs 1,155 (erikj)
Progressive Field – Erik Jabs 255
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington – Dirk Elliot 237 (ballguy)
Rogers Centre – Zack Hample 82
Safeco Field – Max Van Hollenbeke 140 (mvanholl)
Target Field – Zack Hample 32
Tropicana Field – Mike Calabro 106 (mike357)
Turner Field – Zack Hample 143
US Cellular Field – Rick Crowe 251 (onabounce)
Wrigley Field – Zack Hample 38

Current Stadium Owners Top 3:
1)  Erik Jabs 1,155 PNC Park
2)  Shawn Bosman 997 Miller Park
3)  Rob McCoy 992 Angel Stadium

Rather cool to see that I have the most balls snagged at any one current park.  Of course this doesn’t include old stadiums such as Shea or Yankee stadium.

Who owns your stadium? Is there someone that’s legendary that you know that doesn’t put their stats on mygameballs? You should tell them to get on that.

There’s only 43 days until opening day, and 10 days the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies), and 5 more days to win a Phillies shirt.

2012 AL Central Predictions & Preview

I posted a blog post several days ago about the AL East and my projections.  I chose the Yankees to win the division, with the Rays finishing second and earning one of two wild card spots.  Today, I’ll offer my predictions about the AL Central.

I’ll be using the 2012 Major League Baseball Yearbook & Fantasy Guide as a reference to give you each player’s 2012 statistical projections.  If you see a roster error, please leave a comment so that I may fix it.

1st Place:  Detroit Tigers (My prediction 95-67)
The Detroit Tigers made a big splash over the winter by landing Prince Fielder to be their every day first baseman.  The Tigers took a hit when they lost Victor Martinez for the season, but the signing of Fielder more than made up for that.  Reigning MVP and Cy Young Award Winner Justin Verlander will anchor a decent rotation from top to bottom.  If I’m any other team in the Central, I’m not too happy about having the Tigers in my division.  The Tigers were offer a few interesting story lines to follow.  First, everyone will watch Prince Fielder to see how well he transitions from the NL to the AL.

Second, Miguel Cabrera has slimmed down from about 300 pounds to 260?  Giving him a better chance to perform adequately at third base this year.  The last time he played third base regularly was in Florida in 2007, and he put up less than average defensive metrics.

And the third story line to follow is how Justin Verlander follows up on his MVP and Cy Young award season.
The Tigers will be a fun bunch to watch.

2012 Statistical projections:
C Alex Avila .287-18-76
1B Prince Fielder .292-43-129
2B Ryan Raburn .272-18-63
2B Brandon Inge .220-7-36
3B Miguel Cabrera .346-31-108
SS Jhonny Peralta .282-18-83
LF Andy Dirks .251-10-45
CF Austin Jackson .263-10-49
RF Brennan Boesch .268-12-43
DH Delmon Young .278-15-60

SP Justin Verlander 21-6, 2.87 ERA, 235 IP, 237 K
SP Doug Fister 10-13, 3.24 ERA, 203 IP, 129 K
SP Max Scherzer 13-10, 3.85 ERA, 189 IP, 183 K
SP Rick Porcello 13-10, 4.51 ERA, 186 IP, 107 K
SP Jacob Turner 8-7, 4.34 ERA, 133 IP, 98 K
RP Jose Valverde 2.44 ERA, 39 SV, 66 IP, 65 K
RP Joaquin Benoit 2.47 ERA, 1 SV, 66 IP, 73 K

2nd Place: Cleveland Indians (My prediction 83-79)
After the Detroit Tigers, choosing among the Indians, Royals, and Twins was rather difficult.  I see all of them as strong contenders for the second spot in the division, but I’m going with the Indians in hopes that their young players can continue to progress rapidly and Ubaldo Jimenez bounces back.

The Indians have a lot of questions as players such as Shin Soo Choo, Travis Hafner, and Grady Sizemore try to bounce back from injuries and poor seasons.  What will become of Roberto Hernandez aka Fausto Carmona and his fate with the team after being arrested for using false identification?

I’m an Indians fan, so I hope things turn out well for them this year.  I think they’ll definitely be competitive and I can’t wait to attend more games at the Prog.  Hopefully there’s a lot to celebrate this year in Cleveland.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Carlos Santana .245-24-73
1B Casey Kotchman .300-10-43
1B Matt Laporta .269-16-72
2B Jason Kipnis .256-21-63
3B Lonnie Chisenhall .272-14-46
3B Jack Hanrahan .246-7-35
SS Asdrubal Cabrera .272-19-75
LF Michael Brantley .262-7-61
CF Grady Sizemore .262-17-63
RF Shin Soo Choo .282-18-75
DH Travis Hafner .274-15-62

SP Justin Masterson 10-12, 3.85 ERA, 215 IP, 164 K
SP Ubaldo Jimenez 14-11, 3.95 ERA, 201 IP, 192 K
SP Derek Lowe 12-15, 4.75 ERA, 186 IP, 131 K
SP Josh Tomlin 7-9, 5.31 ERA, 141 IP, 73 K
SP “Fausto Carmona” 10-14, 4.20 ERA, 210 IP, 123 K
SP Kevin Slowey 6-12, 5.37 ERA, 134 IP, 93K
RP Chris Perez 3.02 ERA, 27 SV, 60 IP, 49 K
RP Vinnie Pestano 2.81 ERA, 3 SV, 64 IP, 87 K

3rd Place: Kansas City Royals (My prediction: 82-80)
The Royals haven’t had a winning season since 2003, when they placed 3rd in the Central.  They are stocked with young talent that could possibly lead to them being much more competitive in 2012.  There have been several baseball columnists that have chosen the Royals as the break out or surprise team of 2012.  They will be playing in front of more people this year, as the All Star game has spiked season ticket sales.  Eric Hosmer, taken 3rd overall in the 2008 draft right after Pedro Alvarez looks to be on the path to stardom.

My main concern is their pitching staff.  Luke Hochevar looks to be their ace, but he hasn’t really proven himself as a front line pitcher yet, even though he was the Royals #1 draft pick in 2006.

I’m hoping the Royals can put together a winning season in the year they host the All Star game.  And, as a side note, I’m likely going to Kauffman stadium this summer for one game.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Salvador Perez .262-11-63
1B Eric Hosmer .298-22-89
2B Johnny Giavotella .265-6-46
3B Mike Moustakas .283-14-86
SS Alcides Escobar .251-4-44
LF Alex Gordon .292-24-84
CF Lorenzo Cain .266-3-42
RF Jeff Francouer .282-18-78
DH Billy Butler .297-19-94

SP Luke Hochevar 12-12, 4.62 ERA, 206 IP 140 K
SP Bruce Chen 11-10, 4.39 ERA, 170 IP, 121 K
SP Jonathan Sanchez 11-10, 4.68 ERA, 167 IP, 174 K
SP Felipe Paulino 7-12, 4.42 ERA, 155 IP, 128 K
SP Danny Duffy 9-10, 4.92 ERA, 155 IP, 145 K
RP Joakim Soria 3.92 ERA, 33 SV, 60 IP, 64 K
RP Jonathan Broxton 3.63 ERA, 5 SV, 69 IP, 87 K

4th Place:  Minnesota Twins (My prediction: 75-87)
The Twins had a disastrous 2011 campaign in which they posted a record of 63-99.  Joe Mauer, who had just signed a 8 year $184 million mega contract prior to the 2010 season, suffered through injuries along with former AL MVP Justin Morneau.
Morneau only had 4 HR last year in a partial season.  Just another reason the Twins had to hang their heads in ’11

These are not the results that ownership expected in the first couple seasons of their beautiful new home, Target Field.

2012 Statistical Predictions:
C Joe Mauer .310-11-81
1B Justin Morneau .300-17-78
2B Alexi Casilla .259-2-26
3B Danny Valencia .258-13-69
SS Jamey Carroll .288-0-19
LF Ben Revere .266-0-51
CF Denard Span .265-3-34
RF Josh Willingham .252-27-88
DH Ryan Doumit .286-14-59

SP Carl Pavano 12-12, 4.20 ERA, 217 IP, 112 K
SP Scott Baker 9-7 3.87 ERA, 144 IP, 126 K
SP Francisco Liriano 13-10, 3.79 ERA, 188 IP, 179 K
SP Brian Duensing 13-14, 4.78 ERA, 194 IP, 140 K
SP Nick Blackburn 8-11, 4.78 ERA, 151 IP, 71 K
RP Matt Capps 3.70 ERA, 29 saves, 66 IP, 43 K
RP Glen Perkins 2.85 ERA, 4 saves, 66 IP, 68 K

5th Place:  Chicago White Sox (My prediction: 72-90)
The White Sox have some talent, but most of their players have really been a disappointment.  There’s Jake Peavy, former Cy Young award winner of 2007, who hasn’t done much since.

Then, there’s Adam Dunn, nicknamed the Big Donkey.  He was nothing more than a big goat in 2011, despised by the White Sox faithful for hitting .159 with 11 home runs.  That’s right .159!  The White Sox might as well forfeit their use of the DH and hit pitchers than this guy.  What makes things worse is that Dunn signed a 4 year, $56 million contract prior to 2011.  So White Sox fans, you could have three more years of this.

The league has figured out Alexei Ramirez, who set all of his career highs in home runs, RBIs and batting average during his rookie season in 2008.

Sorry, but it might be a long summer at US Cellular Field.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C AJ Pierzynski .283-9-48
1B Paul Konerko .278-31-101
2B Gordon Beckham .234-10-46
3B Brent Morel .277-15-54
SS Alexei Ramirez .271-15-68
LF Alejandro De Aza .286-8-52
CF Alex Rios .244-15-56
RF Dayan Viciedo .276-16-49
DH Adam Dunn .212-21-65

SP John Danks 11-11, 4.07 ERA, 186 IP, 146 K
SP Gavin Floyd 11-12, 4.21 ERA, 188 IP, 151 K
SP Jake Peavy 7-7, 4.61 ERA, 109 IP, 97 K
SP Philip Humber 8-15, 4.15 ERA, 174 IP, 135 K
SP Chris Sale 11-8, 3.78 ERA, 155 IP, 160 K
RP Addison Reed 2.65 ERA, 24 saves, 54 IP, 77 K
RP Matt Thornton 3.09 ERA, 7 saves, 58 IP

In closing, I think the AL Central will be:
1) Tigers
2) Indians
3) Royals
4) Twins
5) White Sox

What are your picks?

There’s only 44 days until opening day, and 11 days the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies), and 6 more days to win a Phillies shirt.