Results tagged ‘ 2012 ’

Mapes vs. Jeremy Returns: 2013 Home Run Derby Draft

HR Derby 2013We’re back! And what better way to break back on to the scene than with a joyous barrage of 500-foot home runs? In case you missed our first Home Run Derby Draft last year, check out the teams here. We see a couple familiar names in there, including A.L. captain Robinson Cano. But how will the results turn out in 2013?

Just like last season, this is all based on points. Whoever hits the most home runs accumulates the most points for his team, and determines the winner of this Mapes vs. Jeremy challenge. The draftees are Cano, Yoenis Cespedes, Prince Fielder, and Chris Davis on the A.L. side. The senior circuit rolls with captain David Wright, Michael Cuddyer, Bryce Harper, and Pedro Alvarez (who recently replaced Carlos Gonzalez).

The scoring system is simple. For each home run by a player on our team, we get points. In the first round, it’s one point per home run. In the second round it’s two points, and the third round is three. The bonus for drafting the winning slugger is five points, and could make or break this battle.

So check out our draft, and vote in the polls below. Who is going to win the 2013 Home Run Derby, and which of our teams will be crowned 3U3D champions?

*If anyone pulls out of the competition, their replacement will be added to that team’s roster.*
1st pick: Prince Fielder, Tigers (Team Mapes)
I want revenge for losing to you last year and taking the safest pick on the board, two-time Derby champ Prince Fielder.  Only him and Robinson Cano understand the preparation in between rounds to take home the title.  Prince will be launching them over the Pepsi Porch in right field all night.  He’s the clear favorite to become the 2nd three-time Home Run Derby champion, joining Ken Griffey, Jr.  I’ll be in attendance and I’m really hoping to be able to track down a Fielder home run in my glove.
2nd pick: Bryce Harper, Nationals (Team Jeremy)Harper HR Derby
There are many who think Harper doesn’t deserve a spot on the squad this year. Nonsense. Harper was pinging the top of the scoreboard (yes, the one behind the right-field bleachers) at Tropicana Field in HIGH SCHOOL. He’s young, aggressive, and has a powerful home run swing. He’s also aching to win this thing. I’d be shocked if Harper isn’t at least in the second round.
3rd pick: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates (Team Jeremy)
I got my wish. When I found out Carlos Gonzalez hurt his finger, I crossed mine and hoped that “El Toro” would replace him. It may be true that Alvarez isn’t the best all-around hitter, but this is a home run contest, and there are few who can hit a ball harder or further than the Pirates’ third baseman. I have a feeling he’ll rack up a big number, but if not, he will at least put on a good show.
4th pick: Chris Davis, Orioles (Team Mapes)
Harper is going to be boom or bust, but I would’ve taken him if I have picked 2nd/3rd.  That being said I’ll gladly take the current MLB home run king in Chris Davis, who I thought about taking at #1 overall.  Davis has always been a batting practice show since he was a rookie and the home run derby is pretty much glorified batting practice.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Davis hits the longest home run of the night.
Chris Davis HR Derby5th pick: Robinson Cano, Yankees (Team Jeremy)
Cano has been there, done that, with his suave attitude and sweet swing. He’ll be hitting in a mostly friendly atmosphere at Citi Field (because Mets fans don’t actually exist, amirite?), and might find himself repeating his 2011 win. Like everything he does, Cano will calmly sail into the second round and will be the overwhelming favorite to go to the finals. I’ve already seen one pundit (okay, so it was just a dude on Twitter) predict a Fielder vs. Cano final. And yes, I know he hit zero last year. Shut up. He’s due.
6th pick: Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics (Team Mapes)
Speaking of guys that put on shows in batting practice, Cespedes certainly fits that bill.  I’ve never seen a ball be hit into the 3rd deck of left field at Citi Field, but if someone can do it, it’s Cespedes (or Evan Gattis).  I am a little worried that he’ll just let it rip and wear himself down to where he won’t go deep into the competition.
7th pick: David Wright, Mets (Team Jeremy)
There is a reason we saved the three right-handed batters for last. Since 2003, Miguel Tejada (20o4) and Vlad Guerrero (2007 – at AT&T Park vs. Alex Rios…REALLY?? No lefties in the final with McCovey Cove sitting there, hungry? Sigh.) are the only righties to win the Derby. Wright has been golfing low and away pitches out all year, so he won’t have to be picky, and has a familiarity with this stadium. He’s the best bet of the right-handed hitters in my opinion, and we all know he comes up clutch.
8th pick: Michael Cuddyer, Rockies (Team Mapes)The Oakland Athletics' Yoenis Céspedes hits a two-run homer against the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo
Oh come on, you knew from the start Cuddyer was being picked last.  Domonic Brown or Paul Goldschmidt might have been better picks.  But, you have to respect David Wright for sticking to his guns and taking his friend and fellow Virginian in Cuddyer.  Now, we’ll see if Cuddy makes Captain America look smart.
There you have it! Vote in the polls below, and don’t forget to watch the 2013 Home Run Derby on Monday.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your 2013 MLB news!

Every Team’s New Years Resolution

new-years-resolutionsIt’s that time of year again. That time when you realize your resolution to lose 30 pounds failed – in fact, we gained 30, didn’t we? When your declaration that your vampire novel would finally be finished and sent to the publisher, never got off the shelf.

Or that your dream of visiting Tahiti ended up being a shady motel for a weekend in Oakland on business.

Now that we’ve set a bleak mood, here’s the point: It’s New Years resolution time. We will all be making them, whether it’s private or public. And likewise, our favorite MLB teams must have one resolution they are aiming to accomplish in 2013.

Since we survived the apocalypse for now, here are Three Up, Three Down’s resolutions for every MLB team:

AL West:

Texas Rangers - Make a new friend - The Rangers either shopped in the wrong place or got screwed over for every player on their Christmas wish list. It’s not too late to snag Justin Upton from the D’Backs, though it gets less likely with each passing day. Texas should be going after the powerful right fielder hard in January.

Los Angeles AngelsMake a little money - Hear me out. Everyone knows that Arte Moreno and his Angels are filthy rich, but do they really have enough left over to re-work the decimated starting rotation? Trading for Jason Vargas was a nice touch, but will Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson really replace Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana?

arte morenoOakland A’sMove to a better ‘hood - Lew Wolff is fooling nobody. Because everyone and their mother knows that o.Co Coliseum is not a viable venue for a professional baseball team. Wolff claims he wants at least another half-decade in Oakland, but I’m calling his bluff. Their resolution should be to get OUT, and fast.

Seattle MarinersBulk up - No, not on the Bartolo Colon diet. The M’s took a good first step toward that workout regimen by trading for Kendrys Morales. But just because that punch-less offense now benches the bar doesn’t mean opponents will quiver with fear. The M’s need to go out and get some more power to legitimize those playoff hopes.

Houston AstrosGraduate - It’s no secret that the ‘Stros are a big work in progress. Moving to what was last year’s best division in baseball isn’t going to help things. While the other four teams in the division are – at the very least – grown men, Houston is struggling to graduate from a student to a serious businessman. Can they take that step in 2013?

AL Central:

Detroit Tigers - Learn to close – Take this as you may. There are thousands of frat boys in America resolving to improve in the same fashion next year. But I meant it as a nod to the Tigers getting handled in a sweep in the World Series in 2012. Adding Torii Hunter and bringing back Anibal Sanchez were big steps, but 2013 will be a failure without redemption.

Kansas City RoyalsBecome a “cool kid” - Oh, don’t pretend like you weren’t aspiring to be one your whole academic life. The Royals got some nice clothes and a haircut over the winter vacation, and are looking to butt their way into the “in” crowd. In baseball speak, that means they are aiming to be the new playoff darlings after adding much-needed pitching.

torii hunter

Cleveland IndiansGet along with Dad – The relationship wasn’t that bad before, but the Indians sure would like to impress new skipper Terry Francona in 2013. Cleveland is loaded with untapped potential, and they are hoping to play well for a full season to show their manager and fans that they are serious about this job.

Chicago White SoxProve everyone wrong - Wait, didn’t they do that last year? Sure, but people like me are still unconvinced. Their numbers were unexpectedly good, but that just makes the boss curious. Can they repeat? Do they actually deserve the promotion? The Chisox sure would like to move on up, but they will have a tough road.

Minnesota Twins - Get back on their feet - Plenty of people have to resolve to do this every year. Whether it be an economic downturn,  family problem, or injury, some years are just destined to be awful. The Twins know they won’t contend in 2013, but they can start the grueling process of getting back to a stable place.

AL East:

New York YankeesForgiveness – They better learn how, because former public enemy number one, Kevin Youkilis, will be manning third base for the Yanks in 2013. What this really means, is that if Youk bounces back and has a good year, the Yanks will forget all about their problems, and likely return to the postseason.

Boston Red SoxGet cleaned up - This kind of resolution is usually reserved for a junkie of some kind, but it’ll fit nicely with the BoSox here. Boston got so far off track last season that they traded away millions of dollars in bad contracts for below-average prospects. Once they finish cutting out the rot, the Sox might contend again, even in this division.

Toronto Blue JaysBuild an empire - Such a wish is much more foreboding when applied to business in the real world, but opponents of the Jays should really be terrified of the changes this team has made. Their one and only goal with so many major acquisitions must be to not only make the playoffs, but to dominate everyone on the way.blue jays new players

Tampa Bay RaysTry something crazy – I want to go skydiving, or hike a volcano, or start a band. The Rays, however, should do a whole different kind of crazy. Start Wil Myers in the big leagues, and see if it takes off. The kid is ready, and the lineup needs a boost. Anything remotely good from Myers may mean a playoff berth for Tampa.

Baltimore OriolesUpdate the security system - In this day and age, you can’t be too careful with home security. I’m not talking a drawbridge and moat, but we’ve learned that the best teams are thriving because of good pitching staffs, to protect any other weaknesses they may have. Baltimore NEEDS a couple starting pitchers.

NL West:

Los Angeles DodgersGive to charity – I swear, this isn’t even a “rich ownership” joke. Okay, it kind of is. But with all the money this team has shelled out over the past ten or so months, why isn’t their most deserving commodity seeing any of it? They keep talking about an extension for Clayton Kershaw, but show the fans you mean business!

San Francisco GiantsShare with friends - Not the World Series title itself, although this Dodgers fan would appreciate them passing that honor along next season. I’m talking about the Giants sharing with their San Francisco cohort, the 49ers. As the new year starts, the 49ers will be in contention for a title of their own, and any advice would be great.

Arizona Diamondbacks  v San Diego PadresArizona DiamondbacksCut ties with a family member - Sometimes it’s just necessary. You hate to see anyone secede from the clan, but signing free agent outfielder Cody Ross makes it inevitable. Will it be Upton? Adam Eaton, Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra? One will need to go, and it’s only a matter of time before they get dumped.

Colorado RockiesGet health insurance - I know, I know. It’s not affordable in this country anymore. That’s one thing I won’t argue! But you have to think, given the regularity of major injuries to Colorado’s best players (Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, etc.) they would find any way to keep everyone off the DL.

San Diego PadresEarn a promotion - Any opponents who take the Padres lightly in 2013 are foolish. With Chase Headley, Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso backing an underrated pitching staff, San Diego could be the A’s of 2013. They will have to fight and scrap their way to get there, though.

NL Central:

Cincinnati RedsFollow through - This is a tough one for any given person to accomplish. We make all sorts of promises to ourselves that oftentimes go unfinished. The Reds have made a silent pact to be even better than they were last year, and finally achieve what they’ve been on the brink of for years now. They might be the team to beat in the NL next year.

St. Louis CardinalsRekindle the flame - In a non-romantic way, of course. One of the reasons the Cardinals were able to shock fans everywhere and make that insane title run in 2011 was the clutch gene. They weren’t missing it last year, but everything was just too inconsistent in St. Louis. If they rediscover their balance and passion, watch out everyone else.

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

Milwaukee BrewersBe a good parent - Confused? Good. The Brewers almost clawed their way all the way back into a Wild Card slot in 2012 after a dismal, bullpen-failure-laden start to the year. With a loaded lineup and above average pitching staff, this should not happen again. So their resolution is to help tutor young shortstop Jean Segura into a star.

Pittsburgh PiratesImprove their grades - The Pirates were so close to being eligible last year. Not for the playoffs, or any nonsense like that. But to finally getting over the hump. Pittsburgh needs a 2.0 to be eligible – in this case, they need 81 wins – to be taken seriously. Will they reach the .500 mark? A slight improvement in 2013 will do it!

Chicago CubsChange their image – There really is no changing an entire image built around loss and devastation, as Cubs fans have known all too well for over a century. But even a slight uptick in wins and a breakout season from one of their young stars (Brett Jackson, maybe?) will at least give people hope that they can change.

NL East:

Washington NationalsMake up - Adam LaRoche needs to be back in D.C. for 2013. All he wants is one extra year on a contract he has more than earned. Without a doubt, he was the most consistent hitter on the best team in the league in 2012, and should get paid as such. My New Years advice to the Nats is to make up with him. Sign the guy for three years.

Atlanta BravesLearn acceptance - I remember being taught in psychology that the standard grieving process goes Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Braves fans and any good fan anywhere are surely coming out of the Depression stage right now (I know I am) and trying to transition into Acceptance at the fact that Chipper Jones has retired.

chipper farewell

Philadelphia PhilliesBecome more patient - This is easier said than done for anyone, but it’s especially pertinent in Philadelphia. From an outsider’s perspective, I thought Philadelphia was caving into a sinkhole given the fans general reaction to last season’s debacle. Patience, Phillie fanatics. Your team is still very, very good. They are close, too.

New York MetsHave more fun - I presume life as a Mets fan hasn’t been very enjoyable for the past three seasons – well, at least after the All-Star break. But they re-signed poster boy David Wright and gained some really solid prospects in the R.A. Dickey trade. Everything is headed in the right direction, Mets fans. Just calm down and have a little fun with it.

Miami MarlinsMake amends with people - Strange, you say? Au contraire! The smaller fan base that follows the Marlins are no doubt let down by the shocking fire sale that took place this winter. No more executive-speak, front office. Give it to the fans, and your best remaining player Giancarlo Stanton, straight. What is the plan? Honesty will take you far.

Tweet @3u3d with what you think your team’s New Years resolution should be, or Facebook Three Up, Three Down with your suggestion! Don’t forget to subscribe and follow the blog and podcast here.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Is Bruce Bochy a Hall of Fame Manager?

The inevitable question arose as soon as the San Francisco Giants stormed Sergio Romo on the mound in Detroit after clinching their second World Series title in three years: Is Giants manager Bruce Bochy a Hall of Fame manager?

It’s a damn good question. Bochy is one of the quietest, most respected baseball men in the game right now and has proven himself over and over again to be a brilliant tactician from the dugout. He has an uncanny way of getting the most out of any roster and any player.

Take the Giants for example. In 2010, that might have been the weakest team (as far as star power goes) that has won the World Series in a very long time. But Bochy managed to squeeze every last ounce of talent out of guys like Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, and Jonathan Sanchez.

And in 2012, he moved two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum to the bullpen, started Barry Zito in Game 1, stuck with Hunter Pence amid postseason struggles, and gave a vote of confidence to struggling lefty Madison Bumgarner in an essential Game 2.

Every single move Bochy made in both World Series runs paid off in huge dividends – and after a while, you can’t truly believe they are all coincidences. Take it from a diehard Dodgers fan; Bruce Bochy is a Hall of Fame manager.

Let’s examine the case for Bochy based on comparison:

Manager A - .502 career win percentage in 18 years, 3 league pennants, 2 World Series titles

Manager B - .583 career win percentage in 17 years, 4 league pennants, 1 World Series title

Manager C - .526 career win percentage in 21 years, 4 league pennants, 2 World Series titles

As you can see, all three of the managers were at the job for about the same amount of time, and were within one of each other in pennants and World Series titles.

The difference is, Manager B and C are both retired and in the Hall of Fame. Manager A is Bochy, who has as many years as he wants left in San Francisco as a Major League Baseball manager. At age 57, it’s not out of the question to think Bochy will manage for at least another decade.

And the Giants are built to win – with that pitching staff, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval anchoring the lineup, and a very good scouting department, you’d have to think it’ll be a little while before the Giants go back into re-building mode.

With that being said, Bochy’s record also has to take into account a couple of things. First, despite having the lowest winning percentage of the three managers above, he spent most of his career with a San Diego Padres team that was good for a few  seasons late in the 1990′s and…no, seriously. That’s it.

Manager B, Earl Weaver, was in charge of a loaded Baltimore Orioles team for 17 years, and had the benefit of a very talented roster. Manager C, Tommy Lasorda, also had a loaded Los Angeles Dodgers team during his career. Arguably, Lasorda’s worst playoff team was the 1988 title-winning club, but still very good overall.

I’m not trying to take anything away from Weaver or Lasorda, but the fact that Bochy has matched or exceeded them in number of pennants and World Series titles already is exceptionally impressive.

These days in Major League Baseball, fans are often too quick to jump onto the Hall of Fame bandwagon for players and coaches who were good for a number of years, great for a few years or just simply a fan favorite. I don’t think that is the case with Bochy though.

When all is said and done, I think Bruce Bochy will be enshrined as a Hall of Fame manager. Do you agree? Vote below!

If you like baseball, prove it! Follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

2012 Power Rankings: Monday, August 13th

Last week in MLB, things started to even out a little bit. The Reds came back to Earth, the Angels took a small step backwards, and the Diamondbacks also recovered to normalcy.

All is right in the AL East, as the Yankees have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division. In the AL Central and NL West, two teams are vying for first place in each and the races are as tight as we left them last week.

And despite another week of games, seemingly everyone outside of Colorado and Houston are still in the playoff race. That being said, here are this week’s official Three Up, Three Down MLB Power Rankings:

30. Houston Astros (38-78, 2-4 record last week, ranking last week: 30)

I’ll give the ‘Stros this: the two wins they were able to muster since we last met here were pretty awesome. Back-to-back walk-off wins against the Brewers at home is exciting, no matter how bad the team is. That being said, it took over 100 games to get their first walk-off? Eh…

29. Colorado Rockies (41-71, 3-3, 29)

The Rockies had to play the Giants and Dodgers, the leaders of the NL West, on the road for three games apiece. Splitting six is actually a huge moral victory for a team that is playing with half its normal roster right now. Colorado would be a player again if they could get some arms. In related news, breathing is good for you.

28. Chicago Cubs (44-69, 1-5, 28)

So, remember those cool top prospects I told you were coming up last week for the Cubs? Well Brett Jackson got three hits in his debut, then pretty much struck out the rest of the week. Josh Vitters hasn’t done anything on the offensive end. And the Cubs went 1-5. Whoops.

27. Minnesota Twins (49-65, 1-5, 21) 

And they were doing so well. A 1-5 week will slide you the wrong way in the rankings, and despite the surprisingly efficient lineup, this pitching staff is in need of major work. Honestly, none of the young starters they’ve used in 2012 show a lot of promise.

26. Kansas City Royals (49-65, 4-2, 27)

I TOLD YOU THE ROYALS WERE GOOD! If only this was the first week of the season. As long as one of my main man crushes Billy Butler is leading the way, I will always have a soft spot for the Royals. That being said, despite moving up in the rankings, they are really, awfully terrible.

25. Cleveland Indians (53-62, 3-3, 25)

Remember when the Indians were in first place? Er…a good team? Er…even above .500? Those days are long gone. Considering the Tribe had an 0h-fer last week, this is a huge improvement. The best thing I can write about Cleveland is that they don’t have the distinction of the down arrow this week. It’s the small victories sometimes.

24. San Diego Padres (51-65, 5-1, 26) 

Stay classy, San Diego. The Padres are in sole possession of fourth place in the NL West now, thanks to a five-game winning streak! Good job, Padres. Good hustle. Good effort. I really have nothing exciting to say about this team. Can you tell? Moving on…

23. Toronto Blue Jays (54-60, 1-5, 20) 

Another long, Jose Bautista-less week for the lone Canadian survivor in MLB. At least they have good, young pitching. Oh, wait. Er…at least they have Brett Lawrie. No? Damn. At least they have Joe Cart–what do you mean that was 20 years ago? Hmm…oh! AT LEAST THEY HAVE CALL ME MAYBE!

22. Miami Marlins (52-63, 3-3, 23)

Getting Giancarlo Stanton back means only one thing for the Marlins: their losses are going to be way cooler. Stanton has already made a huge impact back in the lineup, but Miami might still be looking at a last-place finish. What a poor choice for HBO’s “The Franchise.”

21. Philadelphia Phillies (52-62, 3-3, 24)

Honestly, the Phillies continue to play better since trading away Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton, but that’s probably more because Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are back than anything else. The annoying thing is that with a full healthy season from those two, the Phillies are still a legit playoff team, even after the mini fire sale.

20. Milwaukee Brewers (52-61, 3-3, 22)

The fact that the Brew Crew lost on two straight walk off hits against the Astros is reason enough to give this team their first big, red down arrow. Alas, they are spared, but the bullpen is truly atrocious. Please make sure you aren’t talking to a Milwaukee fan before complaining about your team’s bullpen.

19. New York Mets (55-60, 2-4, 18)

I don’t know why I bought into the 2012 version of the Mets any more than I did the 2010 or 2011. All three teams had solid first halves only to be a massive disappointment in the second halves. Even their coolest moment, a no-hitter by Johan Santana, was lame because of a blown call.

18. Boston Red Sox (57-59, 2-4, 17)

Jon Lester is finally coming around and Adrian Gonzalez is absolutely tearing it up, but it’s probably too little too late for the Red Sox. Despite ESPN’s best efforts at convincing you otherwise, the roster in Beantown just isn’t good enough to overcome a six-game Wild Card deficit.

17. Seattle Mariners (53-63, 3-3, 19) 

You might see the record at ten games  below .500 and think the M’s season has failed. Considering the low expectations and that pretty much everyone left on the roster is a rookie, this has been a very successful season in Seattle. Building on it and maintaining it are the next steps.

16.  Arizona Diamondbacks (58-57,  3-3, 16)

How about a round of applause for NL Rookie of the Year front-runner Wade Miley and his young pal Patrick Corbin? If not for these two hot shots, the D’Backs aren’t even in the hunt right now. Ian Kennedy and Justin Upton have struggled, but somehow they are hanging tough still.

15. Los Angeles Angels (60-55, 2-4, 12) 

I excused the Angels last week for stumbling, because they played two first place teams on the road and three of their four losses were in extras. This past week, they played the A’s and Mariners. And went 2-4. These are the divisional games L.A. must win to be taken seriously.

14. Oakland A’s (61-53, 3-3, 13) 

Oakland is learning that living life in the fast line is harder than advertised. Despite continuing to play good baseball, some of their young stars are starting to crack. Plus, it doesn’t help that the Rangers went and took off. All that aside, they are still ahead of the Angels, which is a victory in itself.

13. Los Angeles Dodgers (62-53, 3-3, 10)

Don’t put Hanley in a corner, Ozzie Guillen! He will do mean things to your team. After Guillen either intentionally walked batters in front of Ramirez or neglected to walk him in situations that called for it, Ramirez picked the pitching of his former teammates apart. If he’s heating up, we’re talking about a two-horse race in this division.

12. Baltimore Orioles (62-53, 4-2, 14)

The Orioles are like the anti-Mets. A great first half story that is actually…still good in the second half? Weird. I don’t think most baseball fans are realizing how incredible the work is that Buck Showalter has done in Baltimore. Credit the offense and some of the pitching too, but Showalter has quietly turned this team into a formidable contender.

11. Tampa Bay Rays (62-52, 6-0, 15) 

The Rays get knocked down, they get up again, you neverrrrr gonna keep them down. Okay, sorry – still upset that Chumbawumba wasn’t one of the British artists to make an appearance at the Olympic Closing Ceremonies last night. Huge snub. Bigger snub than forgetting how good the Rays really are. Oh, right. Evan Longoria is back. Can you tell?

10. Detroit Tigers (61-54, 2-4, 9)

I’m still confused as to why the Tigers are two games behind the White Sox in the division. I figured they’d be making reservations for October by now. There’s one tiny problem for anyone who plays Detroit in the coming weeks: Miguel Cabrera is in absolute beast mode. Poor pitchers.

9. San Francisco Giants (63-52, 4-2, 11) 

The Giants put up 15 runs on the Cardinals in St. Louis last week. They split two on the road, then came home and dismantled the Rockies on Friday and Sunday. If Hunter Pence is settling in, this is probably the team to beat in the NL West. Ruh-roh!

8. St. Louis Cardinals (62-53, 2-4, 7) 

After jumping six spots to the top ten last week, the Cards had a bit of a rough go this week. Splitting with the Giants at home isn’t terrible, but dropping two of three over the weekend to the Phillies is bad. Especially considering how tight the NL Central is. There is not a lot of room for error this late.

7. Chicago White Sox (62-51, 3-3, 8)

If the Tigers continue to play below their abilities, the Sox will be beneficiaries. I know they made some minor moves at the deadline, like bringing in Francisco Liriano and Brett Myers, but those moves will pay off. Speaking of obscure players lighting it up in Chicago, what is Alex Rios doing hitting over .300? What did you put in my water?

6. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-50, 2-4, 6)

With about 40 games left, the Pirates need to win 17 more to reach .500 for the first time since I was in diapers. I believe they will do it, but they have their sights set higher. A 2-4 week means no distance added between them and the third-place Cardinals. A 2-4 week also means a bigger deficit behind the first-place Reds.

5. New York Yankees (67-47, 4-2, 4)

New York is 20 games over .500 and it ain’t no thang. Forget that Mark Teixeira missed time and both Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia are on the DL. The gaps just get filled and there is more than enough offensive firepower to outscore other teams. One thing for sure will be strange: Derek Lowe in a Yankees uniform.

4. Atlanta Braves (66-48, 4-2, 3) 

It must be immensely frustrating to be a Braves fan. Forget that they won a million straight division titles but only one World Series. Now they are playing unbelievably well and are still 4.5 games back in their own division. The pesky Nats aren’t going anywhere, so the Braves need to step it up even harder than usual. Yickitty!

3. Texas Rangers (67-46, 5-1, 5)

The world is not ending in Arlington after all. The Rangers are back, and with them come its star pupil, Josh Hamilton. The big lefty is back in the swing of things, and Texas took down some big opponents over the last week. This is going to be a scary team (again) in October.

2. Cincinnati Reds (69-46, 3-3, 1)

The good news: Cincinnati widened their lead on St. Louis and Pittsburgh by a full game, despite playing to a .500 clip last week. The bad news: Joey Votto needs another knee surgery. No big deal for now, considering how well they’ve played with him shelved, but when the playoffs roll around they need their star first baseman at full strength.

1. Washington Nationals (71-44, 5-1, 2)

Believe it. The Nationals are the best team in baseball. First to 70 wins and they earned every inch of it. Washington has two huge series coming up against the Giants in San Francisco this week and three at home against Atlanta to start next week. If they win four of those six, it might seal the division for them.

*Records current as play began on Monday, August 13th, 2012*

Do you agree with the rankings? Disagree? Want to punch us in the baseballs? Comment below to let us know how you really feel! And while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter @3u3d and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Mapes vs. Jeremy Round Three: The Home Run Derby Draft

Alright. This is it, people. My long-awaited redemption in the Mapes vs. Jeremy challenge. I may have lost the jersey draft war. I may have lost the bobble war. But today, we take the voting out of YOUR hands. Just as the All-Star Game should.

Anyway, we will draft four players each out of the eight home run hitters who elected to participate in the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby. For the uninformed, that means choosing from Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder and Mark Trumbo (A.L.), as well as Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran and Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen (N.L.).

This is how the point system works – we are relying solely on moon shots generated from these swaggering men’s powerful swings. In the 1st round, one point will be awarded per home run. In the 2nd round, two points…3rd round, three points. Plus, a saucy little five-point bonus for drafting the winner.

For the sake of Babe Ruth, let’s get this thing started:

1st Pick: Prince Fielder, Tigers (Team Jeremy)

It’s hard to go against my boy Matt Kemp, and even harder to not piss off Mapes and take his boyfriend, Stanton. But my theory with the Home Run Derby is that the big boys will go absolutely crazy in the 1st round. And there isn’t much more power packed into any body in baseball than that of the Tigers’ Prince Fielder. I’m going to enjoy watching him launch balls out of Kaufman Stadium all night, and happily mark down my points to go with it. Prince has already won a Derby, so he knows what it takes. Besides, is there any cooler home run swing in the game?

2nd Pick: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (Team Mapes)

What is up all of these “may haves” in the intro? You DID lose the jersey draft war. You DID lose the bobble battle. You WILL lose the Home Run Derby slugfest. You alluded to it in your choice of Fielder, so I will not disappoint the 3U3D fan base. You weren’t on the podcast this week, so you didn’t hear that I was picking my “boyfriend” Stanton to win. I’ve seen him hit batting practice and it’s a thing of beauty. He’s young and chomping at the bit to make a name for himself on the national stage. The outfield Kauffman waterfalls are no big deal to Stanton. He’s used to water being sprayed when he homers because he sets off the home run sculpture in Miami all the time. He has the best raw power of any participant, plus who else this season has broken a scoreboard on a grand slam? No one. I get all excited just watching this.  (Editor’s Note: Stanton may be unable to participate with a sore knee, if he doesn’t then Mapes will get his replacement.)

Well looks like I’m going to end up with Pirates Andrew McCutchen instead.  He did have two home runs today, so looks like he is ready to go.  He also could be the N.L. MVP right now.  Was kind of hoping this would end up being Bryce Harper though.
3rd Pick: Robinson Cano, Yankees (Team Mapes)

You took Fielder who won the Home Run Derby in 2009, so I’ll grab the other player that has a Derby championship trophy on his mantle. Cano’s swing is just absolutely beautiful and works in any ballpark. Plus, you have to love the story of his father, Jose, pitching to him. Worked once, don’t see why it can’t work again. Cano is a captain for a reason. He’s been on an absolute tear as of late with nine home runs since June 17th. Did I mention Cano crushed your 1st pick Prince Fielder 20-9 in two rounds last year? Take a look. Be careful, this video is long because he hit so many bombs last year.

4th Pick: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (Team Jeremy)

The raw power in this draft is unbelievable. I had a heck of a time trying to choose someone in this spot, considering all parties involved are mashers of epic proportions. In the end, I went with Joey Bats, also known as the Major League Baseball home run leader. Again. He’s on pace to approach 55 dingers and already had nearly 100 round trippers in 2010-2011 combined. Bautista said on MLB Network recently that he doesn’t try to hit home runs, he just tries to hit it hard somewhere. Well, when opposing pitchers make a mistake, that hard-hit ball usually lands in the upper deck. Imagine how many times that will happen in an event where the pitcher is purposely making a mistake on every single throw. Boomtown!

5th Pick: Mark Trumbo, Angels (Team Mapes)

Bautista doesn’t try to hit home runs? That’s not good in a competition where you’re trying to hit home runs. Which was probably why Joey Bats was eliminated in the 1st round last year with a paltry four homers. I’m going to the the master of the Trumbomb. Our friend Ricardo Marquez campaigned for him hard from the MLB Fan Cave and will be on the field shagging fly balls. I hope ESPN catches every reaction he makes when Trumbo puts one out. Trumbo has an effortless, uppercut swing that will play well in the Derby. I think I’ve picked the two strongest players in the competiton, they won’t wear down easily. Based on our picks, looks like we think Team Cano is going to win the overall title.

6th Pick: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (Team Jeremy)

It was a toss-up here for me between the two Carloses (Carli?). Both have sweet swings, but I’ll take the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols replacement. If the powers that be allow him to, Beltran could maybe take hacks from both sides of the plate, as he’s got a solid power stroke from either side. Don’t let the fact that he’s a little smaller than some of these other guys fool you. I’ve seen him put one out into Big Mac Land at Busch Stadium from the right side and into the upper deck from the left side. Did I mention Beltran started his career in Kansas City, so he’ll be playing in front of an assumedly friendly crowd? He could very well be the fan favorite coming into this, and I’m thrilled to have him on team Jeremy.

7th Pick: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (Team Mapes)

You fell right in to my trap. I didn’t want to root for Beltran, plus I thought you’d might be a sucker for your boy Matt Kemp. I’m a little worried that his power might dip a little bit from Coors Field to Kauffman Stadium, but I still think it’s a better risk than the player who has had five at-bats since May 13th. Kemp when healthy last season only had two home runs in the Derby, good enough for last place. Give me the Derby devil I don’t know over the Derby devil I do. Consider letting you have your favorite player a gift for beating you in our first two match-ups.

8th Pick: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (Team Jeremy)

And what a sweet trap it is! You realize you just let me take THE one and only Beast Mode with the very last pick in this draft? Yes, Kemp has only hit 12 homers this year, but remember he’s had about 15 at bats. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But Kemp has been out for a solid chunk of the first half, and all he wants to do is be good at baseball-related activities again. I don’t think he’ll win it, but he’ll definitely put up more than TWO bombs this year. The 2012 version of Matt Kemp is even better, when healthy, than last year’s 39-homer, version. This might be the greatest Mr. Irrelevant choice in drafting history if he goes deep into the contest.

I’ll tell you right now Jeremy.  CarGo will have more home runs than Matt Kemp.  Irrelevant sounds about right for that pick.

Who do you think will win the Home Run Derby battle?  Who wins the entire Home Run Derby?  Let us know!

-Jeremy Dorn (@JamblinMan) & Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

All-Star Rage: Jeremy’s Take

Look, there are a lot of things I hate about the MLB All-Star Game. The fact that it determines home field advantage in the World Series, even though fans vote. That each team has to have one representative, as if this is some high-fiving, everyone-gets-snacks-after-the-game Little League.

And many, many more. But usually my All-Star Rage doesn’t extend this deeply into my soul. Some things happened this year that are just inexcusable and you can blame the system, the fans, the PR Departments of certain teams, etc.

Whatever you want to do, that’s fine by me. But the fact remains: the National League will lose this year’s game.

Why? Because that’s what happens when you have David Wright on the bench.

That’s what happens when you have Johnny Cueto and Zack Greinke left off the roster.

That’s what happens when your reserve outfield is slightly more talented than your starting outfield.

And that’s what happens when one of your “stud” closers is on the team, holding the spot of a much more reliable, relaxed guy who would actually be able to hold a lead in a pressure situation.

I promise – I won’t even get into the A.L. I won’t talk about the snubs of Josh Reddick and Josh Willingham. Or the blasphemy that is Curtis Granderson and Jose Bautista starting over Mike Trout and Adam Jones. I won’t even point out that A.J. Pierzynski, the best overall catcher in the league from day ONE, isn’t even on the team.

And as much as I want to…I won’t mention the 2.2 million votes Giants fans cast for Freddy Sanchez, who hasn’t played an inning all season. Or that we were probably 12 hours of voting away from Brandon Crawford’s .230 average starting at shortstop for the National League.

Instead, I will focus on the guys who DID make it. Let’s talk snubs, shall we? And point out exactly why the National League is doomed for the 2012 All-Star Game:

1. Pablo Sandoval starting over David Wright

This is just straight ridiculous. I understand that Sandoval is popular in San Francisco. But Holy Toldeo. Wright has been the best third baseman on both sides of the ball in ALL of baseball in 2012. He should have won by a landslide. Instead, we get to watch a guy (very talented, no doubt) who is streaky, overweight and questionable on defense.

2. Dan Uggla starting over anyone

Uggla has power. Captain fantastic. How about the Astros’ (and All-Star reserve) Jose Altuve’s big numbers? Or Aaron Hill’s two cycles in one month? Both less popular names, for sure. But unless Uggla hits a big home run in the game, people should be kicking themselves for this choice.

3. Chipper Jones going to the Final Vote…

…against his own teammate, PLUS David Freese, PLUS Bryce Harper. I mean. My goodness, MLB. Is this your version of a cruel joke? The future first-ballot Hall of Famer needs to be on the N.L. roster, for multiple reasons. Yes, he’s in his final season and it’d be nice to see him there. But he’s hitting .294! When healthy, he’s still one of the best in the game. Now he has to split votes from a Braves fan base with Michael Bourn, and hope to beat out two of the most popular young players in baseball today in Freese and Harper. Ugh. Chipper better get the nod, people. Or kittens will be punted.

4. Buster Posey starting over Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I agree. Buster deserves to be in the All-Star Game. He’s been great for the Giants this year. But better than Molina for the Cardinals and Ruiz, one of the best hitters in baseball thus far, for the Phillies? Give me a break. Posey is a great player who can rake at the plate, plays solid defense and handles a pitching staff exceptionally well. And he’s STILL not as good as Molina in general, Chooch in 2012. That says a LOT about Molina and Ruiz.

5. Jonathan Papelbon on the team over Tyler Clippard

Mapes touched on this in his snub-o-meter as well. Papelbon has the star power, the intensity, the fastball, the confidence…wait, stop. Doesn’t he also have a penchant for blowing it in big situations? And isn’t Clippard having the better year anyway? Yes, and yes. The last guy on this entire All-Star pitching staff that I, as a fan of a National League team, want on the mound in the 9th inning with a 1-run lead? Papelbon.

Well, there you have it. A very mild version of the rage that has been swirling inside my head since the final rosters were announced. So, did I miss anything? Will the National League pull a miracle and win this game? Who else got snubbed? Comment below and let me know!

Also, don’t forget to follow Three Up, Three Down on Twitter @3u3d, and like us on Facebook!

- Jeremy (@Jamblinman)

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