Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XVII: All-Star Selections)

Written by :
Published on : July 8, 2016


With the All-Star Game approaching, the big talk this week was who got snubbed (which is probably unfair to Ned Yost and Terry Collins, since every team, no matter how awful they are, has to be represented) and also who should actually be starting. So let’s take a look at that. First up, the American League.


AL Starting Pitcher: ????

Should Start: Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians

 Will it be Salazar?


I think it should go to Salazar, especially since Jose Quintana didn’t even make the team. And neither did Masahiro Tanaka, who I honestly haven’t heard one person talk about all year, despite some fantastic stats. Anyway, Salazar is the AL leader in ERA. His FIP is better than Chris Sale’s and Steven Wright’s. And I’d guess those two are his only real competition for the start. Sale does have 14 wins and leads in ESPN’s Cy Young predictor. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he was given the nod. But with all the injuries to the Rangers’ rotation, Cleveland is probably the best team in the American League right now. And the main reason they’re so good is because of their staff. They had a 1.83 ERA during their franchise-best 14-game winning streak and Salazar has been the best of all of them. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re up 7.5 games on Sale and the White Sox.


AL Starting Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

Should Start: Perez


Good job, fans. It’s not a strong pool, but Perez leads AL catchers in WAR and wOBA.


AL Starting First Baseman: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

Should Start: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

 It should be Miggy.


You would think that with all these AL Central players I’ve mentioned so far, the division would be a little more competitive. And it probably would be if the Tigers weren’t 1-11 against the Indians. But I digress. If we go ahead and say that Edwin Encarnacion is a DH (which he is), then Cabrera edges out Chris Davis of the Orioles (who didn’t make the team) with slightly better hitting.


AL Starting Second Baseman: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

Should Start: Altuve


After a horrible start, the Astros actually look like they’re gonna make a run at the postseason, after all. And Altuve is a legit MVP candidate. Too bad he can’t also pitch for them.


AL Starting Third Baseman: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

Should Start: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

 There’s no doubt Manny should be in the game, but maybe not at third base.


This race is about as close as it gets (as is the AL East, itself) and Machado and Donaldson are also both MVP candidates. As good as Machado has been so far, Donaldson has been even better. But don’t worry, I have a way to fix this.


AL Starting Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

Should Start: Machado


Machado has actually played eight more games at short than at third this season. So that technically makes him the best shortstop in the league. And don’t cry, Red Sox fans. There’s plenty more room on the roster for your offense. And also, you’re a third place team with 6 All-Stars.


AL Starting Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels. Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

Should Start: Trout. Bradley. Ian Desmond, Texas Rangers


Trout is still the best player in the league. Bradley and Desmond are right up there. But that starting lineup isn’t bad for a Boston team that has fed-up fans calling for their manager to be fired. It’s not like adding David Price (who didn’t make the All-Star team) and Craig Kimbrel (who somehow did) were going to fix the rest of the team’s pitching woes, even if they weren’t both underperforming.


AL DH Selection: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

Should DH: Ortiz

Papi should continue to praise whichever gods are giving him such power at such an age.


We don’t have to talk about the Red Sox pitching for the time being. Ortiz just passed Ted Williams on the all-time home run list. And since Williams died the year before Ortiz got to Boston, we can assume that all of his frozen powers were transferred over to Big Papi in 2003. Just kidding, he totally did ‘roids.


Okay, here are the Top 5 AL snubs this year, according to WAR.


1. Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox. (3.1)
2. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees. (3.0)
3. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays. (2.9)
4. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners. (2.9)
5. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers. (2.8)


Let’s move on to the National League.


NL Starting Pitcher: ????

Should Start: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

 They say with great hair comes great pitching.


With Clayton Kershaw on the DL (and from this point forward, nobody can complain about pitching injuries unless they’re the 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers), Collins needs to go with his ace. I can see the argument for starting San Diego native, Stephen Strasburg, but unless the Mets are freaked out about potentially losing Matt Harvey for the season, the clear #2 choice (and the best available pitcher) is still Thor.


NL Starting Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

Should Start: Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals


This one is close, but Ramos edges Posey out with slightly better hitting. I suppose that since the Giants now have the best record in baseball (RIP Cubs SuperTeam), they should have somebody in the starting lineup. But since they also denied Madison Bumgarner a slot in the Home Run Derby, they also deserve nothing.


NL Starting First Baseman: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

Should Start: Rizzo

 Rizzo deserves this one.


Maybe with the Cubs sucking so bad the past two weeks, their entire infield shouldn’t be starting the All-Star Game. These guys need rest, not more games. But Rizzo is actually deserving of this, edging out Wil Myers and Paul Goldschmidt by a hair. And since I always seem to make fun of the Red Sox pitching on here, let me just cop to the fact that the Cubs arms are no longer setting the world on fire. Yeah, yeah. They had to regress at some point. But “The Body Issue” of ESPN the Magazine isn’t the only place the Cubs’ pitching has been showing their asses lately.


NL Starting Second Baseman: Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs

Should Start: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals

Zobrist was great in like, May. But Murphy has been great the entire first half. Plus, I consider the recently-injured Matt Carpenter a third baseman.


NL Starting Third Baseman: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

Should Start: Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks

 Bryant may be getting the start but it’s Lamb who deserves it.


Lost in this whole Bryant vs. Nolan Arenado debate is that fact that nobody in the National League has had a better season than Jake Lamb and/or Matt Carpenter thus far. You know, other than the Carpenter injury. And for all of the complaining I hear from Team Arenado, they need to realize that he’s 4th among NL 3rd basemen in WAR and also 4th in wOBA. And Jake Lamb didn’t even make the team. But I guess since Bryant has already equaled his home run total from all of last season, I’ll figure out a way to get him on the starting lineup.


NL Starting Shortstop: Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs

Should Start: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers


If the Dodgers are going to survive without Kershaw this season, it’s going to be because of Seager. He’s got the longest hitting streak in the National League so far. He’s 1st in WAR and second in wOBA among NL shortstops. And I’d actually say, at this point at least, that Seager, Brandon Crawford, Danny Espinosa, Zack Cozart, Aledmys Diaz, Jonathan Villar and Trevor Story would actually be more deserving of a start than Russell. Ouch, Mike.


NL Starting Outfielders: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets. Dexter Fowler, Chicago Cubs

Should Start: Bryant. Cespedes. Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins

 Ozuna should be out there for the NL.


Listen, Bryant plays a lot of outfield. And he’d actually lead in WAR and be second in wOBA among all NL outfielders. He could replace Fowler, who I don’t want to play if he’s not healthy. And it might not even screw up the All-Theo Epstein Game (9 of the 17 starters are Theo acquisitions) too badly. Also, Marcell Ozuna is a sleeper choice for the NL MVP this year. Especially if mounting injuries can move the Marlins past the Mets in the standings. You know by now I’m rooting for that.


Okay. Finally, here are the Top 5 NL Snubs, according to WAR.


1. Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks. (3.5)
2. Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants. (3.3)
3. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates. (2.8)
4. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals. (2.5)
5. Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds. (2.4)
5. Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals. (2.4)


Okay. See you next week, where I will give a recap of the first half of the season. If you need more baseball, you can check me out on Comedians Talking Sports with Joe Kilgallon, available on iTunes. Until then, Ichiro needs 10 hits and the Cubs’ magic number is 70.



Now Batting: The Designated Hitter

Written by :
Published on : June 25, 2015

Over the past few years, Major League Baseball has made numerous changes in an effort to improve on America’s Pastime. From lowering the height of the mound to give hitters a better chance against dominant pitchers, to recently moving the Houston Astros, formerly of the National League Central, to the American League West creating an equal amount of teams in each division and league. Also, before this season, pace-of-play rules were implemented to ultimately speed up the game. All of these changes, of course with the hopes of getting your average sports fan back into baseball.

In 1973, the American League decided to do away with pitchers batting thus creating the Designated Hitter, or DH position, which allows for a player to bat in the lineup without taking the field defensively. The National League however, has held its stance and have maintained their rule of keeping the pitcher in the batting order. Over the years, this variance between leagues has been debated over and over, although the movement to bring the DH position into both leagues is picking up steam.

Personally, I feel like bringing the DH into the National League is long overdue. For one, having an American League and National League, thankfully now even with fifteen teams each, playing with different rules makes no sense, but it also presents both leagues with some major advantages and disadvantages. Here are my top 3 reasons to bring the DH to the National League.


It has long been thought that pitching is easier in the National League because generally pitchers struggle at the plate, with many of them batting under, or even just around the .100 mark, whereas in the American League, a pitcher rarely has to face a batter hitting below the .200 mark. Therefore, you often times will see lower ERA’s and more dominant pitchers in the National League. Currently, one might argue that because teams only play roughly around 10% of their games against the other league, it doesn’t necessarily have a huge factor in the final standings. However, with the National League having pitchers hit on a daily basis, it allows for their pitchers to actually partake in occasional batting practice throughout the year, whereas in the American League, pitchers don’t put nearly an equal amount of emphasis on hitting. During the World Series especially, this can become a huge advantage for teams in the National League. For the American League, the use of the DH creates a better opportunity to score runs by having a better bat in the lineup, however it does make it more difficult for the pitchers who do not have an “easy out” so to speak every time at the bottom of the order.  Granted, not all pitchers are completely inept at the plate, while it is always amusing reminiscing the times when Randy Johnson, potentially the most dominant left-handed pitcher in the history of the game, would be flailing at pitches like a blind-folded kid swinging aimlessly at a piñata, some pitchers have actually had some success at the plate. Former Chicago Cub, Carlos Zambrano, hit a total of 23 home runs during his career and today, San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, hit .258 last season with 4 home runs. To put that in perspective, only four everyday players on the Milwaukee Brewers have a higher batting average. Perhaps worth noting though, both of those pitchers spent the majority of their careers in the National League.


By not having the pitchers hit, it also may be helping to avoid further injuries to American League arms too. In recent years, we have seen some of the richest contracts in baseball given to starting pitchers, but have also seen many season and sometimes even career ending injuries to those expensive arms. Two of baseball’s top starting pitchers in recent years, Adam Wainwright of the St Louis Cardinals, and Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals, both have had injuries this year, but not while delivering upper 90-MPH fastballs, or from snapping off a nasty breaking ball. Instead, their injuries came at the plate, with Wainwright’s Achilles injury likely ending his 2015 season. Any time you step into the batter’s box, you run the risk of getting hurt. For one, human error. No matter how great a pitcher is, there is no guarantee that he is going to locate his pitch perfectly on the inside corner without occasionally getting a little too inside and plunking the hitter. Also, there’s foul balls off your ankle, your instep, your knee, etc. that also can cause a great deal of pain and if you’re a pitcher, your legs can be just as important as your arm considering your delivery all starts with your legs. Your drive leg and your plant leg both play vital roles in pitching. The DH also allows for the American League to give its players a little bit of a rest while still getting the most out of their bat. Sometimes players just need a little break from the everyday grind of shagging fly balls or getting beat up by sharply hit grounders and thus they get a day off from the field but can still deliver a clutch hit when the team needs it most. This is especially useful when a player is recovering from an injury or just tweaked something the night before, but you don’t want to remove him from the lineup completely. In the National League, you don’t have that luxury.


Lastly, as a fan of baseball, I just flat out want to see pitchers pitch and hitters hit; it’s that simple. As great as a pitching duel can be, fans want to see runs scored and having a two out rally killed when a pitcher comes up to bat gets old really quick.  We all enjoy seeing New York Mets’ pitcher Bartolo Colon swing his 265-pound frame so ferociously that his helmet tumbles off of his head, then watching him rumble his way around first base and into second base for a rare double. It can fill the stands with excitement, shock and awe, but moments like that however are the anomaly. Perhaps not as rare as say seeing Haley’s comet shoot across the sky like a rocket off the bat of Miguel Cabrera, but more often we see a situation where a team gets a couple of runners on, or even a two out double or triple, the crowd is on their feet, the pitcher is rattled on the mound, and the pitching coach comes out and orders up an intentional walk, or even two intentional walks, to bring up the opposing team’s pitcher to hit. Three pitches later, a couple weak, feeble attempted swings, and the rally is over.

“If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people see hit — Big Papi (David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox) or me?” Scherzer said to Jon Heyman of “Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules.”

Major League Baseball has had its glory days, and most recently its dark days in dealing with the aftermath of the Steroid Era in particular. But through it all, one thing has been constant, the fan’s desire to see runs. In fact, it’s generally the consensus in most sports. Viewers want runs, goals, points, touchdowns etc. As baseball continues to evolve, and improve upon itself by making changes for the better, its next step needs to be implementing the DH position in both leagues, and therefore having one set of rules for all thirty teams. My hope and my prediction is, you will see the Designated Hitter coming to a National League ballpark near you by the 2016 or 2017 season.

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