Category: NL West

Exciting Monday Night In MLB

Carlos Gomez robs Joey Votto of a home run in this game ending catch that preserved a 4-3 victory for the Milwaukee Brewers over the Cincinnati Reds.

 

Monday night was an exciting night for major league baseball fans. These are short recaps of some of the best games last night. It was a night of a 14 inning, 16 inning game and 10 inning game. Bartolo Colon won his 12th game of the season.  Raul Ibanez hit his 22nd home run, which is fourth in the AL and extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Buster Posey had a 5-8 game in San Francisco, while Andrelton Simmons was 0-7 in Miami.

 

A look at some of the more interesting games last night:

 

Rangers 8 Orioles 5 – Scott Feldman of the Orioles was rocked in his second start, since being traded by Cubs to the Orioles. He allowed 7 runs, 9 hits and his ERA ballooned to 7.15.  Manny Machado was 3-5 at the plate and raised his batting average to .315, which gave him 122 hits for the season and only 3 hits behind MLB leading Miguel Cabrera with 125.

Tigers 4  Indians 2 (10 innings)  – Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder were a combined 1-11 last night in the 10 inning game. However, the Tigers defeated the Indians by a 4-2 score. Max Scherzer allowed 2 runs in 7 innings, while the bullpen held Indians scoreless over the last three innings. Only 23,640 fans attended the game in Cleveland, only filing the stands to 56 percent full.

Athletics 2 Pirates 1 – Bartolo Colon is now 12-3 after the Athletics 2-1 win over the Pirates, who have lost 3 in a row. It was a strange game in that the Pirates outhit the Athletics 9-3 but lost the game 2-1. Jeff Locke who has a major league second best ERA at 2.15 took the loss, but held the Pirates to 2 runs and 3 hits in 7 innings.

Royals 5 Yankees 1 –  Phil Hughes lost the fifth of his last 7 starts in the 5-1 Royals win over the Yankees. He has only won twice since May 10. It is easy to see why the Yankees struggled to score runs last night, after looking at their lineup in last night’s game. These are the batting averages at the end of the game for some of those players:

Travis Hafner .220

Vernon Wells .237

Travis Ishikawa .105

Alex Gonzalez .194

Austin Romine .132

Eduardo Nunez .216

Those six players were a combined 2-16 with Wells having both of the hits. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter should be returning to the team later this month. They may not hit well at first, upon returning to the team, but can’t hit any worse than the six players mentioned above.

Braves 7 Marlins 1 (14 innings) – The Braves and Marlins both struggled offensively in this game, with both teams scoring one run in the first 13 innings. Andrelton Simmons 0-7, Jason Heyward 1-5, Brian McCann 0-5 and Dan Uggla 1-6 were a combined 2-23 in the game. The Braves may have won the game, but they still have to be concerned about this offense. Kevin Slowey, the starter for the Marlins didn’t allow a run in 5 innings, but the bullpen allowed all 7 runs in the game. 15,745 fans showed up for the game in Miami, which filled the stadium to only 42.1 percent of capacity.

Cubs 8 White Sox 2 – Matt Garza 5-1, 3.22 ERA allowed only one earned run in 7 innings in 8-2 win by the Cubs over the White Sox.. Any scouts at the game saw Garza at his best, so should increase his appeal to contenders needing another starter. Hector Santiago came within two outs of a quality start but took the loss. The Cubs outhit the White 13-5. The only bright spot for the White Sox was rookie Josh Phegley hitting his 2nd major league home run and is slugging .900 after his third major league game.

 pitched and hit the Dodgers to an easy 6-1 win over the Diamondbacks. Greinke pitched 7 scoreless innings and was 3-3 at the plate and is now hitting .370 for the season. The Dodgers hammered out 17 hits, while the Diamondbacks could only muster 4 hits in the contest. Yasiel Puig was 2-5, but the hitting stars for the Dodgers were Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier and Greinke who all had 3 hits. Ramirez is hitting .419 but didn’t play his first game this season till June 4, so it is questionable if he will qualify for the batting title this season. Dodgers have now won 13 of their last 16 games. The win moved the Dodgers to within 3.5 games of the first place Diamondbacks in the NL West. They also need only two more wins to reach .500.

Mets 4 Giants 3 (16 innings) – The Mets scored the winning run on a Brandon Crawford error in the 16 inning win for the Mets over the Giants, who have lost 8 of their last 10 games. Gregor Blanco, Brandon Belt, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence  were a combined 3-27 in the game. Matt Harvey and Tim Lincecum each allowed 3 runs and 6 hits in 7 innings before leaving the game. The  Giants used Sergio Romo in the ninth inning, but the Mets saved their closer Bobby Parnell in the 16th inning as he notched his 16th save of the season.The game last 5 hours and 26 minutes.

Looking at the Standings

The Tampa Bay Rays have the longest winning streak in MLB at 5 games….Any team that is 10 or more games behind the division leader is probably out of the race for the season. Twins, White Sox, Mariners and Astros are the teams in that category in the AL. The NL has Mets, Marlins and Brewers as the only teams 10 or more games behind as of today….Hottest team in last 10 games are the Rays with a 9-1 record, while the Padres are the coolest, with a 0-10 record in their last 10 games….Dodgers at 43-45 are the only second place team in MLB with a losing record….Pirates are 2-5 in June and have lost their last two series to the Phillies and Cubs and they need to win the next two games against the A’s to avoid losing their third straight series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Baseball Season At The Halfway Mark

With most major league teams at or near the halfway mark this is a good time to assess the 2013 season so far. Red Sox have already played 84 games, so are already 3 games past the halfway mark, while Twins have played only 78 games.

Looking At Standings

AL East – The Yankees played their 81st game yesterday and slid down into fourth place behind the Rays who moved to third place. Yankees ended their first half by losing five in a row and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Red Sox won their 50th game yesterday, but hold only a 2.5 game lead over the Orioles. Chris Davis hit his 31st home run of the major league leading 115 hit by the Orioles. Blue Jays won ten in a row earlier in June, but then reverted to their losing ways losing 5 of their last 7 in games against the Rays and Red Sox.

AL Central – Indians at 7-3 are only AL Central team with a winning record in their last 10, while first place Tigers are 4-6 in that span and seem to be sliding. Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are a combined 20-5 in 2013, while the rest of the starters are 17-17. Prince Fielder only has 13 home runs, which is 18 less than the AL leading Chris Davis with 31. Tigers are one percentage point ahead of the Indians, with the Royals 4.5 games behind the Indians. The Twins are still in striking distance at 6.5 games out of first place. The White Sox are just killing time now till the end of the season and should be sellers before the trading deadline arrives in late July. White Sox have to win 15 in a row, just to get back to playing .500 baseball, so almost no chance of them recovering from a terrible start.

AL West – Rangers are holding a half game lead over the Athletics. Angels have moved to within 9 games of the first place Rangers, but still are 8.5 behind the second place Athletics. Mariners and Astros are doomed to finishing fourth and fifth this season, since the Angels are pulling away from them, since they are currently in a 6 game winning streak. This is a three team race, if the Angels stay hot for a while.

 

NL East – Braves have the largest lead in majors at 6.5 games over the Nationals, but the Braves have to have concerns about the offense being hot and cold this season. The 11 shutouts pitched against them is a major concern. Nationals are hoping the return of Bryce Harper can get the Nationals going again. Phillies still have a remote chance of getting back in the race and perhaps winning a wild card bid, with them trailing the Braves by 9.5 games. The Mets and Marlins should be sellers when the trading starts, since they don’t seem to be factors in the NL East race.

NL Central – It was thought that the Cardinals and Reds would be battling for the NL Central title. But both teams find themselves behind the surprising Pirates, who have won 51 games and could be in the race to the end. Cardinals are 2 games behind the Pirates, while the Reds are surprisingly 5.5 games behind the Pirates. The season is more or less over for the Cubs and Brewers who are so far behind, they almost certainly will be sellers this month.

NL West – Only 4 games separate the first place Diamondbacks and the last place Dodgers, so this division is up for grabs right now at least. The Rockies despite the loss of Troy Tulowitzki are only 2 games out of first place. Padres are only 2.5 games out while the Giants who are 2-8 in their last 10 games are 3 games behind the Diamondbacks. This race is too close to even call, since all five teams have a chance of winning the NL West title. Dodgers seem to be playing better, since Hanley Ramirez returned from the DL.

Surprises This Season – The biggest surprise of the season has been the hitting of rookie Yasiel Puig who posted 44 hits in June, despite not joining the Dodgers till the third game of the month. It would be great for baseball, if he makes the All Star team, but it may cause some hurt feelings, by players who might miss out on the All Star game because of Puig….Chris Davis has hit an amazing 31 home runs and has driven in 80 runs, while hitting .332. Davis only hit 33 home runs and drove in 85 runs in 2012, so he is close to matching those numbers and probably will by the All Star break….There was no doubt that Manny Machado was a good player, but he has taken his game to a new level in 2013. Machado leads the majors with 38 doubles, 2nd in hits in MLB with 115….Jean Segura of the Brewers has shown why the Brewers insisted that Segura be included in the Zack Greinke trade. Segura is 3rd in MLB in hits with 105 and 5th in batting average in MLB with a .327 batting average….Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks has rebounded from his 6-8 record in 2012 to posting a 9-0 record in 2013. Matt Harvey is 7-1 and his 152 strikeouts lead all NL pitchers. His 2.00 ERA also tops the NL and is 2nd best in MLB. His 0.85 WHIP leads the majors.

Cole Hamels has been a surprise in a negative way with his 2-11 record in 2013. If he had won only 3 of those games the Phillies would be in the thick of the NL East race….It was a surprise that R.A. Dickey the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner allowed 6 or more runs five times in the 2013 season. His record was 4-7 on May 30, but he has won four of his last five decisions for a 8-8 record currently. His 18 home runs allowed in 2013 is second worst among all MLB pitchers. Dickey was 12-1 on this date last year.

 

Around the Bases….Michael Cuddyer who is currently on a 27 game hit streak has moved to within one point of NL leading Yadier Molina with Molina hitting .345 to the .344 of Cuddyer….Adam Dunn continues to be an enigma with him being 4th in home runs in AL with 21, but hitting an anemic .198. This makes it difficult for Jim Leyland  to name him to the AL All Star team, since the purpose of the game is to win home field advantage for the AL and Dunn is as likely to strike out as to hit a home run in the midsummer classic. He is not really earning his $15 million salary this season, since he is a one dimensional player….Yankees are playing now like they were expected to play till their stars started returning. Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira have played a combined 23 games so far this season. Vernon Wells was productive earlier in the season, but has regressed badly lately. He hit .300 in April, .221 in May and .133 in June. He also walked only once in June while striking out 17 times. Travis Hafner also started well hitting .318 in April then tumbled to .179 in May and .174 in June. Lyle Overbay has not hit well for average all season hitting .241 in April, .253 in May and .219 in June, but was a run producer earlier in the season. He drove in 12 runs in April, 17 in May and then down to 5 in June.

Only the White Sox, Astros and Mariners have scored fewer runs than the Yankees in 2013.  They are next to last in batting in the AL with a .239 average and only two points ahead of the last place Astros and Seattle tied at .237….Marlins with 47 home runs in 2013 are 68 home runs behind the Orioles with 115….Pirates have the lowest ERA in MLB with a 3.11 mark. Astros have the worst ERA at 4.69….Pirates have thrown the most shutouts with 12, while the Astros and Cubs have a major league worst total of one….Cardinals lead in complete games with 6, while 9 teams have yet to throw a complete game….Tigers are missing Anibal Sanchez, since his replacement Jose Alvarez lost today to the Blue Jays by a 8-3 score and his ERA jumped from 3.78 to 5.03 today. Prince Fielder hit his 14th home run today in the loss. However, Omar Infante hit a home run 73 feet further than the Fielder home run. The loss dropped the Tigers a half game behind the first place Indians in the AL Central. Blue Jays moved to within 1.5 games of the 4th place Yankees in the AL East. We can expect some wheeling and dealing from Yankees if they fall into last place.

Miguel Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki Contending For Triple Crown

Miguel Cabrera

Troy Tulowitzki

The 2013 baseball season is about 40 percent finished, but Miguel Cabrera and Troy Tulowitzki are contending for the Triple Crown. Cabrera is leading the AL with a .363 batting average. Jhonny Cabrera his Detroit Tigers teammate and Chris Davis of the Orioles are 25 points behind Cabrera at .338.

Chris Davis leads in home runs in the AL with 20, but Cabrera is only three behind with 17. I look for Cabrera to pass Davis eventually, if Davis hits a cold streak.  Cabrera leads in RBI by a large margin, with him having 67 and Davis trailing by 15 RBI with 52.

Troy Tulowitzki isn’t leading in any of the Triple Crown categories, but is in striking distance in all three. He trails batting leader Yadier Molina by 3 points, with Molina hitting .354 and Tulowitzki at .351. Tulowitzki is 3rd in home runs with 16 and only trails Dominic Brown with 19 and Colorado Rockies teammate Carlos Gonzalez with 17. Paul Goldschmidt leads the NL in RBI with 58, with Tulowitzki second with 51.

Puig Finishes First Week In Majors

Yasael Puig excited the Dodger faithful, when he made his major league debut last Monday and continued to hit well as the week went on. Puig finished his first week hitting .364, with 4 HR’s and 10 RBI. Puig leads the Dodgers in all four percentage statistics, with a .364 batting average, a .483 OBP, slugging percentage of .964 and a 1.447 OPS. He has already hit as many homers (4) as Andre Ethier in only 28 at bats, while Ethier has four in 201 at bats.  The Dodgers were 4-3 during Puig’s first week with the team. The Dodgers still need someone besides Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig to lead the team offensively. The attendance for Puig’s debut was 37,055 and increased each game through Saturday, when 52,716 showed up for the 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. For some reason the attendance dropped to 39,028 yesterday, which was a drop of over 13,000 fans. Nobody expects Puig to keep hitting like he did the first week, but even when he levels out he should be a much better hitter, than an average major league hitter.

Buchholz Leads AL in Wins and ERA

Clay Buchholz leads the AL in wins with 9 and in ERA at 1.71. Buchholz has allowed more than two runs, in a game only once in twelve starts. ESPN projects Buchholz to post a 23-0 record in 2013. The stat that jumps out at me is that he has allowed only two home runs in 84 innings. ESPN projects Buchholz to allow five home runs in 213 innings, which is very few home runs, over that many innings in a season.

Blue Jays Moves Possible

With the Blue Jays firmly ensconced in last place in the AL East there could be some moves made, before the trading deadline in July. The Blue Jays were anticipating the 2013 season with high hopes, after the acquisition of Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey. However all three have been a disaster for the most part with the three starters combining for only seven wins in 32 starts. Dickey has been hammered with him allowing six runs in two starts and giving up seven runs in two other starts.

Jose Reyes was hitting .395 when he went on the DL, but only played in 10 games. Melky Cabrera is not hitting with power with only three home runs and 23 RBI in 27 at bats. Meanwhile Mark DeRosa who has batted only 81 times has one more home run than Cabrera with four and only two less RBI with 21 than Cabrera.

Matt Adams Slugging .552 As Bench Player

The Cardinals may feel fortunate to have so much depth, that Matt Adams is a bench player despite his hefty .552 slugging percentage, not to mention his .313 batting average. However the 24-year-old Adams can’t be too happy to be in this situation much longer, but the Cardinals have no plans to trade him. Adams has nothing to prove in the minors having a .318 lifetime batting average and a .563 slugging percentage, while hitting 83 home runs and driving in 293 runs. His presence does give the Cardinals flexibility, if another player is injured during the season.

Around the Bases…..

Carlos Zambrano doesn’t like pitching in relief, but has pitched well in the minors with a 2-0 and 0.55 ERA, while pitching for Clearwater in A+ ball and Reading in AA ball. He has allowed one run and struck out 12 in 16 innings….It was no surprise that the New York Mets released Rick Ankiel and demoted Ike Davis to the minors. Ankiel fared no better with the Mets, than he had with the Houston Astros earlier this season. The Mets were very patient with Davis hoping he would regain the magic of the last half of the 2012 season. He had five home runs at the end of May in 2012, but wound up hitting 32 home runs for the season. Davis only played 55 games in AA and 10 games in AAA, before being called up by the Mets, so maybe he was too rushed to fully develop as a major league caliber player.

Derek Lowe has apparently played his last major league game as a major leaguer at the age of 40. He posted a 176-157 record in the majors, before being released by the Texas Rangers last month….Jose Iglesias who has been filling in for Will Middlebrooks at third base for the Boston Red Sox may be in the same situation as Matt Adams of the Cardinals, when Middlebrooks returns. Iglesias hits for average, but can hit with the power that Middlebrooks can provide. Iglesias should see little playing time, upon the return of Middlebrooks. Iglesias is currently in the middle of a 13 game hitting streak. He has hit consistently over .400, while hitting .450 in April, .423 in May and .464 and is currently hitting .446. He is hitting an astounding .536 against lefthanders, hitting .486 on the road and is hitting much better than the .118 he hit for Red Sox in 2012. Iglesias has no power with two home runs in 148 major league at bats and has not shown much speed with two stolen bases in 57 games.

Yasiel Puig Gives Hope Where There Was No Hope

Yasiel Puig has hit three home runs and driven in nine in his first four games with Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

It was looking like there was no hope for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then Yasiel Puig joined the team earlier this week and has made an instant impact on the Dodgers. The team has won three of their last four games, since Puig joined the team on Monday.

The Dodgers have won three of their last four games, but have yet to win more than two games in a row. Puig could change all that if his hitting becomes contagious. He hit a grand slam last night to insure a Dodgers victory, in a 5-0 win over the Braves.

Puig is 7-16 after four games and is hitting .438, has an OBP of .438, slugging 1.063 and has posted an OPS of 1.500. It would not be surprising to see Puig named NL Player of the Week, after his first week in the majors. Driving in nine runs from the leadoff spot is virtually unheard of. There is no reason for Puig to start each game with no runners on base, with his kind of run production.

The 6′ 3″ Puig weighs 215 pounds and won’t be 23 till December 7 according to ESPN.com, but MLB.com list him as weighing 245 pounds. The Dodgers only have four outfielders in the outfield now in Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Puig. Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp are both on the disabled list presently. I look for the Dodgers to go back to five outfielders, upon the return of Kemp and Crawford, which means Van Slyke, Hairston and Puig would be vying for the fourth and fifth outfield spots. It seems like the logical move would be to reassign or release Hairston since Van Slyke is second on Dodgers in home runs with six. Van Slyke has hit his six home runs in only 58 AB’s.

Puig has played in only 63 minor league games and only 40 games past Rookie and A+ baseball. His career minor league stats are astounding with a .328 lifetime average, .405 OBP, .611 SLG and 1.016 OPS.

Main problem for Dodgers would be to find more playing time for Puig after Crawford and Kemp return. Don Mattingly may have to bench Ethier to find playing time for Puig. Skip Schumaker, the backup second baseman also plays some outfield, but may see very little playing time in the outfield, once everyone returns from the disabled list. Puig has 13 HR’s and 52 RBI’s in 262 plate appearances, which is about a half of season of at-bats.

We don’t know the future of Puig over the long run, but right now he is showing us that he can play major league baseball at a high level.

With Zack Greinke back in the rotation the Dodgers could see a reversal in fortune, with both Kershaw and Greinke pitching every fifth day. However, Kershaw has only posted one win since May 14.

Dodgers have three home games against Atlanta and three against Arizona left in this homestand. Then Puig will get a real test, when the Dodgers travel to Pittsburgh for three games, then  play the Yankees in Yankee Stadium two games and then finish off the road trip, with four games in San Diego. It will be interesting to see where Puig is at after the long nine game road trip.

Personally, I think Puig can handle the stress of being on the road and away from the Dodger fans, who have been very supportive of him in his first week in the majors.  Only time will tell how Puig will handle his first slump, but for right now Dodger fans are enjoying every minute of every game with Puig in the lineup.

37,055 Dodger fans showed on Monday night for Puig’s debut, but the crowd has increased each successive night, from 37,544 on Tuesday to 40,040 on Wednesday and the 44,196 that saw last night’s game.  The weekend crowds should be even larger and that is music to the ears of Magic Johnson, who has to be enjoying the Dodgers resurgence, but he won’t really be happy till the Dodgers start moving up in the standings.

Don Mattingly knows his future as Dodgers manager may depend on Puig and the others scoring more runs, since the Dodgers are 27th in MLB, in runs scored with 213.

There is no way the Dodgers would send Puig down and keep Hairston on the roster. Puig may not stay this hot long, but now he and the Dodgers both know he can hit at the major league level. Puig has played in only four games, yet he is 5th in home runs on the team with three. He has already passed everyday players in home runs, surpassing the totals of Matt Kemp, A.J. Ellis, Mark Ellis and Nick Punto.

Who Would Have Thought?……….Looking at 2013 Season at Quarter Mark

 

 

Who would have thought that Cole Hamels 1-6 and Roy Halladay 2-4 would have a combined 3-10 record, with the 2013 season a quarter of the way finished? Hamels has held opponents to a .231 batting average, but his command is off this season with 24 walks in 56 innings, after walking 52 in 215 innings in 2012.

Another setback for the Phillies is Roy Halladay having a 2-4 record and a 8.65 ERA, which is highest on the Phillies staff. Hamels and Holliday are earning $40.5 million combined this season, so it is not much return on that money with them registering three wins in 16 starts.

Surprisingly, the Phillies are only 3.5 games behind the NL East leading Braves, so they are still in the race. Ryan Howard is slumping again with 3 hits in his last 30 at bats. He is 1-20 and hitting .050 with runners in scoring position and two outs in 2013.  Even worse, Howard hit .284 in April but only .173 in May. Howard has a career worst 24.5 AB’s per HR in 2013, which is not close to his 13.7 AB’s per HR career number.

Who would have thought the Yankees would be leading the AL East?

There seemed to be no chance that the Yankees would actually be in first place in AL East, with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on the DL to start the 2013 season. Most experts were saying that the Yankees would need to stay close, till some of the stars returned to the lineup. There are currently eleven Yankees on the DL, who are being paid close to $95 million total this season.

Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner are earning a combined $2.85 million this season and have been a big part of the Yankees offense this season. Overbay is second on team in RBI’s with 24, while trailing only Robinson Cano with 27. Hafner has 18 RBI, which is 4th on the Yankees, behind Vernon Wells with 23. Wells is earning $24 million this season, but part of his salary is probably being paid by the Angels.

Hiroki Kuroda, C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte are a combined 14-8, while Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Vidal Nuno and David Phelps are a combined 5-6 pitching out of the fourth and fifth slots. The loss of Pettitte to the DL could be a serious problem if the back of the rotation can’t pick up some of the slack.

Who would have thought that the Milwaukee Brewers would be 11 games out of first place in NL Central on May 18?

The Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation has only one starter with a winning record, with Marco Estrada 3-2 in the 2013 season. The other five starters are a combined 8-15. The bullpen has seen John Axford and Mike Gonzalez combine for an 0-5 record. Opponents are pounding Brewers pitching at a .271 clip, with only the Twins at .290 and Astros at .297 being worse. Brewers have allowed 51 home runs this season with only Astros with 67 and Rays with 53 being worse.

Brewers are 27th in ERA at 4.60 and 28th in opponents batting average at .271.

The Brewers have the first and second best hitters in NL with Carlos Gomez at .352 and Jean Segura hitting .351. Gomez is 4th in slugging with a .593 mark. Only Paul Goldschmidt, Justin Upton and Bryce Harper have higher slugging percentages.

Who would have thought that Paul Goldschmidt would have 12 HR’s and 35 RBI after 42 games?

It is not a shock that Goldschmidt is hitting so well, but it is a surprise that he has these kind of numbers this early in the season. Goldschmidt had 20 homers and 82 RBI in the entire 2012 season, so is way ahead of those numbers. ESPN.com project him to hit 46 HR’s and drive in 135 runs in 2013. He is 10-16 in his last 4 games, while raising his batting average from .304 to .338 and is 7-9 in his last 2 games.

Who would have thought that Manny Machado would be hitting 77 points higher than he hit in 2012?

It is amazing that the 20 year-old Machado is projected by ESPN.com to have 237 hits at the end of the 2013 season. ESPN also projects him to have 71 doubles at the end of the season, which would be four more than the current season record set by Earl Webb in 1931 with 67. He may have more chance of passing Todd Helton whose 59 doubles in 2000 is the best for active players. Machado has been especially hot in his last 6 games with 15 hits in 30 AB’s and 6 doubles in that span. Machado is hitting .403 in May. He is hitting .362 against right handers. He is hitting an astounding .438 with runners in scoring position with two outs. Machado won’t turn 21 till July 6.

ESPN.com projects Yu Darvish to strikeout 332 batters and finish 2013 season with a 27-4 mark..

Who would have thought that Yu Darvish would be on a pace to post 332 strikeouts in 2013?

ESPN is projecting Yu Darvish to have 332 strikeouts at the end of the 2012 season. It has been 11 years since Randy Johnson posted 334 strikeouts in 2002 in NL, since a pitcher has registered more than 300 strikeouts. The last AL pitcher with over 300 strikeouts was when Pedro Martinez struck 313 in AL in 1999. It isn’t likely to happen but ESPN.com also projects Darvish to finish the season with a 27-4 record. Rangers have scored 60 runs in the 7 wins by Darvish, but scored only one run in his only loss. Darvish could be on the brink of being the best Japanese pitcher in major league history, if he can continue to dominate major league hitters.

Atlanta Braves Have Good Problem With Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson

Evan Gattis

The Atlanta Braves will soon have to make a decision on Evan Gattis.  He made the major league roster since Brian McCann started the major league season on the disabled list. The Braves front office and manager Fredi Gonzalez have some tough decisions with McCann probably returning in about a week, after he finishes his minor league rehab.

Gattis has not hit well for the Braves early in the season, but has hit five home runs, which is second on the Braves behind Justin Upton with nine. He is also only one RBI behind Justin Upton, who has 12 RBI with Gattis having 11. His .674 slugging percentage is second to Justin Upton, who is currently slugging .862. I can’t see the Braves sending down Gattis with these kind of offensive numbers. Gattis did make a mistake in a game against the Royals earlier in this week, when a Royals player was trapped between first and second. Instead of throwing immediately Gattis hesitated allowing the runner to return to first base safely. However that is excusable when considering his offensive output so far this season. ESPN projects Gattis to hit 54 home runs and drive in 130 runs. We know that he is not likely to post those kind of numbers, especially considering he and Gerald Laird will have to share backing up McCann about once every week, if the Braves decide to carry three catchers.

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson who has been filling in for Freddie Freeman at first base will soon be in the same predicament as Gattis when Freeman returns. Johnson is leading the majors in batting with a .438 average, but with the return he will have to share third base with Juan Francisco who is hitting .318 and is projected to hit 32 home runs in 2013. He is not likely to reach those kind of numbers either, since he is sharing time at third base with Johnson.

We should know in the coming days, what the Braves decide to do with this problem of too many good hitters. One thing we know for sure is that Gattis won’t be the primary catcher for the Braves, as long as Brian McCann stays healthy.  Gattis is in a 3-20 slump but two of those hits were home runs.

It is amazing that the Braves are 13-2 with Freeman on the disabled list for the last two weeks. That shows how powerful the Braves are in this year. They recently hit five home runs in one game, which tells me that the team will be even better with the return of Freeman.

Around the Bases

The New York Yankees have learned that Derek Jeter is not likely to return to the field, till after the All Star game in July. It is surprising that the Yankees are only 2.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have still not returned and Alex Rodriguez is very unlikely to play this season. If MLB finds that Rodriguez tried to buy Biogenesis records, then Rodriguez may be given a 100 game suspension, for using steroids and then trying to cover it up by buying the Biogenesis report….One of the major surprises early in the 2013 season has been the dismal play of the Los Angeles Angels. They are already seven games behind the first place Oakland Athletics in the AL West. The 4-10 Angels have a better record than only the 4-11 Houston Astros and the 3-13 Miami Marlins. The poor play has not affected the Angels at the box office, as they are drawing 4,825 more fans per game than in 2012.

Atlanta Braves 7-0 and Oakland Athletics 6-0 are the only MLB teams, with no losses on the road. Colorado Rockies are the only MLB team, to not lose a home game with a 6-0 record….Justin Upton is projected by ESPN to hit 97 home runs and drive in 140 runs. He has hit nine homers and didn’t hit No.9 till August 3 in 2012….Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers is proving in the early part of the 2013 season, to be one of the best free agent signings, since he leads the AL in hitting with a .413 average….It looked like the Philadelphia Phillies would challenge for the NL East title, but they are 6-10 and 7.5 games behind the first place Braves. Chase Utley leads the Phillies in home runs with 3 and RBI with 13, but Ryan Howard has hit only one home run and drove in five runs in 54 at bats. They are fourth in quality starts with 10, but are 28th in ERA with a 4.84 mark. Cliff Lee has pitched well with a 2-0 record and a 1.52 ERA, but the other four starters have a combined record of 2-6.

Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson of the Detroit Tigers lead the majors in hits with 26 and 25 respectively….Dexter Fowler is surprisingly second in MLB in home runs with 7.  He has hit 7 home runs in 53 at bats, after hitting 13 in 2012 in 454 at bats. Fowler had eight home runs at the end of May in 2012, but hit only five more over the last four months of the season. He hit a HR every 34.9 AB’s in 2012, but is homering every 7.6 AB’s in 2013….Chris Davis is first player to drive in 20 runs, with John Buck, Prince Fielder and Brandon Phillips with 19 each….Joey Votto has walked 24 times in 16 games and ESPN projects him to have 243 walks at the end of the season. The closest to Votto in walks are four players tied with 11.

Chris Johnson .438, Torii Hunter .413, Adrian Gonzalez .407 and Carlos Gonzalez .400  are the only MLB players still hitting over .400….Joey Votto leads in OBP with a .526 mark….Justin Upton is leading in slugging with a .862 percentage and also leads in OPS with a 1.256 percentage and also leads in total bases with 50 in 15 games. That projects to 500 total bases if he plays in 150 games.