Results tagged ‘ Mike Trout ’

2014 MLB Bobblehead Battle: AL West

Is there any better ballpark promotion than the bobblehead?  The answer is no. This is part one of a six-part series, giving you the breakdown of what bobbling wonders will be at the stadium this spring and summer.  Each bobblehead will be rated 1-5 stars based on quality of subject, originality, number available, and overall awesomeness.  Teams will be ranked by total stars, so the more giveaways (especially quality ones) the better.  Let’s start it off with the AL West!

Seattle Mariners (Each giveaway is 20,000 fans)

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Saturday, May 31st, Robinson Cano: You knew the Mariners had to give a bobblehead to their new superstar player.  This is (surprisingly) the first bobblehead giveaway for Cano in MLB. ***

Thursday, June 12th, Macklemore: I’m not a huge Macklemore fan, but I love the Mariners creativity for the local musical star.  I’m not sure what it looks like yet, but at least they have Macklemore in a M’s jersey to go off of. **** 1/2

Saturday, July 12th, Hisashi Iwakuma: I’m a sucker for Iwakuma and would rate this higher for my collection.  In the overall scheme, nothing too spectacular.  **

Saturday, August 9th, Lou Pinella Mariners Hall of Fame: Lou Pinella is one of my favorite managers of all-time and I’m glad they’re comboing up a bobblehead with his induction day.  Should be a fun day in Seattle.  I truly hope it involves him kicking his cap. *** 1/2

Saturday, August 30th, Felix Hernandez: Another year, another Felix Hernandez bobblehead from the Mariners.  Wish they had made a Jesus Montero bobble belly instead. **1/2

Total: 15 1/2 stars

Texas Rangers (Each giveaway is for 15,000 fans)

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Saturday, April 19th, Yu Darvish Strikeout King: Standard fare, the teams best player in a standard pitching bobblehead.  Would’ve been fun if they had the “strikeout king” have a crown with a K on it.  **1/2

Sunday, May 18th, Prince Fielder: Another pretty standard bobblehead, but with the team’s best and newest hitter. **1/2

Saturday, July 12th, Eric Nadel: Now we’re having some fun!  Nadel has been with the Rangers since 1979 as their broadcaster and is the winner of the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award.  And now, his own bobblehead too.  Love it!  ****

Tuesday, August 12th, Pudge Rodriguez Gold Glove: I’ve got nothing against this one honoring one of the best players in Rangers history.  I also like that they’re honoring his defense.  There isn’t a picture of it yet, but it get a bonus 1/2 star if his glove is actually gold.  ***

Thursday, September 4th,  Shin Soo-Choo: Choo is also a new Rangers acquisition, but he’s not quite on Darvish or Fielder’s level.  It’s going to be tough for the Rangers to top the greatest Shin Soo-Choo bobblehead of all-time. **

Total: 14 stars

Houston Astros (10,000 fans each giveaway)

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Saturday, April 26th, Jason Castro All-Star: A nice honor to add on to Jason Castro’s all-star to give him his own bobblehead.  He’s not a major star though, yet.  **

Friday, August 1st, Lance Berkman: A great player in Astros history gets honored, because there aren’t many players on this current roster to give a bobblehead to. ** 1/2

Sunday, August 3rd, Roy Oswalt: See, Lance Berkman.  I do like that they made these the same weekend for fans. ** 1/2

Saturday, August 30th, Nolan and Reid Ryan: Not many executives get bobbleheads and I would go out on a limb to say that this is the first double executive bobblehead in MLB history.  I want to rate it higher, but only 10,000?  Then again, the Astros attendance isn’t the strongest.  ****

Total: 11 stars

Oakland Athletics (various amounts of fans)

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Saturday, April 19th, Josh Donaldson Diorama: First off, kudos to the Athletics for increasing their giveaways from 10,000 to 20,000 for Donaldson and 15,000 for the Catfish Hunter one.  Donaldson was the breakout star for the A’s in 2013 and the diorama is a nice little bonus.  ***

Saturday, May 31st-Catfish Hunter: Athletics have had a Hunter bobblehead before, but that was in 2002.  Here’s to hoping that they’ll add an Eric Sogard bobblehead giveaway if he wins the #FaceOfMLB contest.  A’s fans love that guy. ** 1/2

Total: 5 1/2 stars

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (amount of giveaway, not available)

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Tuesday, April 1st, Mike Trout: One of the games brightest stars gets his second bobblehead in two years.  This one doesn’t top last year’s edition, though.  Why is he not wearing a cap? *** 1/2

Friday, May 2nd, Josh Hamilton: If I’m an Angels fan and Hamilton’s 2014 starts off like his 2013, am I really going to want this bobblehead? **

Total: 5 1/2 stars

What’s your favorite bobblehead set in the AL West?  Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The Mapes Top 20 Right Now, Part Four

We’ve finally reached the pinnacle.  You’ve climbed the mountain and finally get to see who I think is the best player in baseball right now!  Or if this is the first one you’ve read, in that case check out 20-16, 15-11, and 10-6 that got us here.  If you’d like to see the entire MLB Network “Top 100 Right Now” list, click here.  Time for the top five, with a player who I think is underrated by MLB Network’s list.

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 11.12.03 PM#5, Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB Network’s #4)

I ended the last blog with a Dodger and starting this blog with a Dodger.  Matt Kemp has the potential to be the best player in the game.  We saw it in 2011 when he put together a near 40-40, Triple Crown season, while leading the NL in runs and RBI.  That wasn’t enough to get him an MVP award, which is why I have the next player ahead of him.  Hopefully, Kemp’s hamstring woes are behind him and he becomes the dominant, durable player he was before 2012. Ridiculous random list that this player is on!  Players since 1980 to lead their league in runs scored, runs batted in, and home runs in the same season: Mike Schmidt (1981), Ken Griffey Jr. (1997), Alex Rodriguez (2007), Albert Pujols (2010), and Matt Kemp (2011).

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 11.48.53 PM#4, Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (MLB Network’s #6)

What more does Ryan Braun need to do to get respect?  He wins the NL MVP in 2011.  Braun then loses his protector in the lineup in Prince Fielder to free agency, but has his first 40-homer season.  The Hebrew Hammer also adds in 30+ plus stolen bases for good measure.  Five-straight all-star appearances, five-straight Silver Sluggers, and he’s led the National League in OPS each of the past two seasons.  The defense might not be spectacular, but you can make the argument that the other tools make Braun the best hitter in baseball.  Ridiculous random list that this player is on!  Players in the history of Major League Baseball to have a 30 home run, 30 stolen base season, while leading the league in OPS: Hank Aaron (1963), Dale Murphy (1983), Barry Bonds (1990, 1992, and 1995), Larry Walker (1997), and Ryan Braun (2011-2012).  Braun is the ONLY player to achieve the feat in back-to-back seasons.

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 12.23.07 AM#3, Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers (MLB Network’s #2)

I have no qualms with Verlander being MLB Network’s runner-up, but I’m lowering him down to #3 only because I devalue pitching.  I almost even dropped him behind Braun.  Enough negative stuff though, Verlander is the clear best pitcher in the game today.  There is no pitcher (Kershaw could get there) where you’re watching every start, because there’s a real chance a no-hitter will be thrown.  That’s what Verlander brings to the ballpark every fifth day.  Verlander also does so much for the Tigers bullpen by leading the league in innings pitched the past two years.  He even went 63 straight starts pitching at least six innings. Verlander in 2011 was the first starting pitcher since 1986 to win an MVP award and does more to help his team than any pitcher in the game today.  Ridiculous random list this player is on!  Pitchers since 1946 to lead their league in innings pitched AND earned run average: Sandy Koufax (1965-66), Greg Maddux (1993-95), Randy Johnson (1999 & 2002), Johan Santana (2008), Felix Hernandez (2010), & Justin Verlander (2011).

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 12.53.59 AM#2, Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (MLB Network’s #3)

What batter would you want to have up with your World Series on the line?  Too soon, Tigers fans?  Cabrera is the best slugger in the game and proved his with his monstrous 2012 season in which he became the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown.  He doesn’t run much and the defense is still so-so adjusting to third base, but man can he hit.  He’s not just a slugger with eight 30-homer seasons in his first nine full years, but also hits for average!  Cabrera has never hit below .292 in a full season and has back-to-back batting titles on his mantle.  He’s still in his prime too!  I can’t imagine if he actually IMPROVES on his Triple Crown season.  No random list, but here’s a fun stat: Every MLB Triple Crown winner, also led their league in OPS, maybe it should actually be the Quadruple Crown?

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#1, Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (MLB Network’s #1)

It’s pretty anticlimactic that I actually agree with MLB Network’s best player in the league right now.  The term “five-tool player” gets thrown around a lot, but in one season Trout has proved he’s the best all-around player in the game.  Whether it’s home run-robbing catches, speed on the base paths, hitting for average, or blasting 30 home runs despite not being called up in the first three weeks of the season, there is nothing Mike Trout can’t do.  Even if he regresses in his sophomore season, his numbers will still be eye-popping.  If I told you last year that a kid that wasn’t even going to start the season in the Majors would be #1 on this year’s list you’d have thought I was crazy, but that’s where we are.  One last time!  Ridiculous random list this player is on!  Players in American League history with 30+ home runs and 47+ stolen bases in the same season: Mike Trout (2012), that is all.

The list is complete!  Who would top your list of the best players in MLB right now?  Let me know in the comments or tweet me using the link below with #MapesRightNow!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The 2nd Annual Jeremy vs. Mapes MLB Jersey Draft

I’m sure some or maybe all of you have heard that Jeremy and I made the top 52 for the MLB Fan Cave in 2013. We’ve been blown away by your support so far and we want to start by saying thank you.

Now for the main event! The 2nd annual jersey draft battle! I may have had the worst pick in the draft last year (Adrian Gonzalez, who’s no longer on the Red Sox), but I did score the NL MVP’s jersey (Buster Posey) with the 2nd to last pick. Plus, I got to give grief all season for Jeremy picking Matt Cain 4th overall.

The rules are simple: I will pick 1st because Jeremy had the first choice last year. Jeremy will get 2nd and 3rd picks and then alternate from there. What we’re looking for in our jersey investments are quality of player, potential time in uniform, and overall awesomeness. You can only have one player, per team on your own draft. Both of us can pick a player from the same team, for example Matt Cain/Buster Posey and Miguel Cabrera/Prince Fielder were all picked last year. It does play into strategy, because it let me wait on Posey, knowing Jeremy couldn’t take another Giants player. Without further adieu!

Team Mapes Pick #1, #1 Overall: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Last year, I picked Albert Pujols at #3 overall based on the long length of his contract ensuring great use from his Angels jersey.  This year, Trout is the most exciting player in the game and is under team control through 2017.  Trout’s jersey’s the hands down top pick to me.  You’re getting five seasons of sweet-jersey wearing time. Bonus points for completing the Trout ensemble with a foam Trout hat. I might have just let Jeremy get a steal of Pujols or Josh Hamilton later in the draft though, time will tell. You’re up Mr. Dorn. I have a sneaking suspicion you’ll be repeating your top pick from 2012.

Team Jeremy Pick #1, #2 Overall: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles

Two things: First, Mapes is absolutely correct. No way I’m not going to take my first overall pick in last year’s draft, Matt Kemp. Not only is he under contract in Los Angeles through the decade, but when healthy he is the best all-around player in the game. Teammates like him, fans like him, and even opponents like the laid-back, uber-talented center fielder of the Dodgers. He came freakishly close to a Triple Crown and 40/40 season in 2011, and will look to return to that form after injuries derailed him last year. Oh, and secondly — give me crap all you want for the Cain pick, but the dude threw a perfect game last season and I hypothetically had that jersey!

Team Jeremy Pick #2, #3 Overall: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

I snatched this pick off Mapes’ team from last year, and I’m glad I did. Votto has been one of the most consistent, destructive hitters (when healthy) since he entered the league, and will be mashing in Cincy through 2024 under his current contract. Votto should always be a favorite in the National League for the MVP award, given his batting average, on-base percentage, power numbers and defense in a given year. Plus, the jersey just looks GOOD!

Team Mapes Pick #2, #4 Overall: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

There are so many options at this pick it’s ridiculous. I don’t want to talk (or type) out loud and give you any ideas though! I think that Cutch was going to be your next pick so I’m grabbing him now. He’s under team control through 2018, a great player, and completely entertaining as evidenced by his MLB Fan Cave videos. He’s a player you WANT to root for and a baseball fan that has a Pirates jersey when they finally end their sub-.500 season streak will be looking good. That being said, I really hope you don’t take the player I strongly considered here. McCutchen moves up from the #8 jersey overall selected in 2012.

Team Jeremy Pick #3, #5 Overall: Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves

Oh, yes I did just pick the J-Hey kid from your own squad! No way I’m letting you stack your lineup with one of the best and most popular players in the game today. After a dismal sophomore season in 2011, Heyward bounced back to prominence and beyond in 2012, and will be a power-hitting, web gem-making, on-base getting (huh?) beast for at least the next four years in Atlanta. Snag his jersey now, before it’s too late. Mapes, when you’re done crying that I’ve drafted your boy, feel free to make your next pick!

Team Mapes Pick #3, #6 Overall: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU JEREMY?!?! I’ll have to console myself with the TWO Jason Heyward shirseys that I have hanging in my closet. Don’t worry, I have a plan for my Atlanta Braves pick later. There’s only one real way to get back to you and that’s with a picture of the Giants having a champagne celebration. When was the last time the Dodgers did that? Posey is a great jersey pickup, solid name, defending NL MVP, and safety of knowing he’ll be in the orange and black for a long, long time. Plus, Posey and I are birthday buddies on March 27th!

Team Jeremy Pick #4, #7 Overall: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

That is a low blow, my friend. I’ll pretend there is just a bubbly leak from the sprinklers in that clubhouse picture. Jones is quickly climbing the chart of all-around athletes in MLB and fans are really starting to take notice. Not only is Jones a graceful defender, but he’s only just starting to fully develop the offensive side of his game at age 27. He’s signed in Baltimore through the 2018 season and is extremely close to breaking into McCutchen popularity territory in my opinion. This is the only orange and black jersey in my collection this year, Mapes!

Team Mapes Pick #4, #8 Overall: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Adam Jones is a solid pick, but I’d rather have a new Orioles hat than a jersey, I think. I’m going back to an MVP I took at #5 last year. Braun is basically going to be a Brewer forever, or at least 2020 seems forever away. He’s been consistently good so far in his career and I don’t think there will be much of a drop off later in his career. It’ll always be cool to wear a Braun jersey, especially in the Badger State. Eight picks in and we have six National League player jerseys…interesting.

Team Jeremy Pick #5, #9 Overall: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

Given recent news, that pick could become problematic for you. I really hope it doesn’t, and I’ll give you mad props for taking the risk. I’ll continue the run on National Leaguers with the first pitcher of the draft. Of all the exciting young pitchers who I was eligible to select here (remember, I already took Kemp, so Clayton Kershaw was out of the question), I wanted to snag one of the most popular pitchers in all of baseball. Strasburg is a freak of nature on the mound and lights up the radar gun and TV ratings every time he pitches. Not to mention, he’s locked up through at least 2017.

Team Mapes Pick #5, #10 Overall: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Thanks so much for letting me wait and just steal Bryce Harper at the end of the draft. This pick was basically made for me with the news of King Felix’s extension. He’s now the highest paid pitcher in the history of the game, that shows to how great he is. He’s a Cy Young award winner, the face of the Mariners franchise, and you’ve gotta love the King’s Court fan base. Seven years in a Seattle uniform and those trade rumors go away? I’m sure there will be a large influx of Hernandez jersey’s flying off shelves. Let’s just hope they don’t change their uniform scheme.

Team Jeremy Pick #6, #11 Overall: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

I have a couple of things to say about that pick: First…SO LUCKY! If only that news had broken after you made your pick. Second, the Mariners should never change those awesome uni’s. Anyway, I’m going old-school with the Jeter pick. One of our criteria is length of contract, which will obviously not last forever for DJ. In fact, in the unlikely event that he declines his option for 2014, this could be his last year in baseball. But some players’ legacies live on forever, and this first-ballot Hall of Famer is one of them. His jersey was still the top-seller in all of baseball in 2012, and will be popular for years to come, and not just in New York.

Team Mapes Pick #6, #12 Overall: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

I can’t hate on the Jeter pick even though his time is almost up. The Yankees #2 will join #3, #4, #5, #7, and #8 as timeless jerseys to wear for Bronx Bombers fans. You know who’s time isn’t almost up? Evan Longoria. The Rays all-star is under team control through 2023. I would type that year in all caps, but the year is numbers. Hmm… he will potentially be a Ray for the next DECADE. There that works. I’ve had a Longoria shirsey for three seasons now, I hope it doesn’t wear out over the next ten.

Team Jeremy Pick #7, #13 Overall: Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

You know what is a formula for success? Besides signing Albert Pujols and Hamilton in successive years, I mean? It’s taking the guy who had MLB’s second-highest selling jersey in Texas last year, and moving him to Los Angeles for at least five years, where his jersey sales will go flying off the shelves again. You’re going to see a ton of Hamilton jerseys in Anaheim this year, and if this draft weren’t hypothetical, I’d be sporting one myself.

Team Mapes Pick #7, #14 Overall: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs

What’s not the formula for success? You taking your Angel when you could’ve waited until the end to grab him. Plus, I think I take the extra years of jersey wearing from an Albert Pujols Angels jersey over Hamilton, but I digress. Can you believe Starlin Castro is only 23 this season? Seems like he’s already been around forever. He’s under team control until 2020, which also gets you through Castro’s prime. You’ll be singing “Go Cubs Go” in the bleachers for a long time rocking the Castro jersey. Bonus that the Cubs will never really alter their jerseys.

Team Jeremy Pick #8, #15 Overall: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

Except that the Cubs might still be irrelevant in 2020. Just kidding. Castro is a cool pick, but I’m going with a different shade of blue on this pick. In his return from injury, Joey Bats will enjoy the comforts of a much-improved team in 2013. If the entirety of Canada didn’t already have his jersey, they will after this season when the Jays are sure to be featured on national TV broadcasts as much as possible. He’s signed through at least 2015, and will probably have his option for 2016 picked up by the team.

Team Mapes Pick #8, #16 Overall: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

I really want to take Giancarlo Stanton, but his uncertainty in Miami worries me a ton. My final two picks I already have planned out in my head from teams you’ve already taken. That leaves Tulo, who is so talented, but has the injury problems galore. When he’s healthy, he’s an All-star and a potential superstar. He could be in the purple and black for the rest of this decade, so you’ll get plenty use of this jersey.

Team Jeremy Pick #9, #17 Overall: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

I’ll admit, I was hoping Tulo would slide to me at this pick. But a very nice consolation prize is somehow grabbing the best overall catcher in baseball this late. The Cardinal jerseys are classics, and Molina is the best all-around player wearing one right now. He had one of the top-selling jerseys last year (probably mostly Cardinals fans), and will be wearing the birds on the bat until at least 2017, likely beyond. He may be one of the least appreciated players in baseball, but I’m showing him some love in the jersey draft for the second straight year!

Team Mapes Pick #9, #18 Overall: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

Molina was on my short list, but after what the Cardinals have done to me the last two years I just couldn’t do it. Speaking of team jerseys I don’t want to wear, but I’m going to be objective here. Harper is a future star of the game and will be in the nation’s capitol for three years or more. I’d lean towards the or more part. I don’t like him, but I respect the way he plays the game. It’s a solid jersey for a fan to buy. Plus, I got out of picking David Wright at least?

Team Jeremy Pick #10, #19 Overall: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays

This. Just. Happened. The reason I let you snag Evan Longoria earlier is because I knew I’d have this available to me for the last pick. Myers, the top prospect in baseball, isn’t a sure thing — no prospect ever is. But he’s going to get a chance to play every day for the Rays, who have him under control for at least six years, and will likely lock him up for longer as soon as he puts in a little service time. Judging by the last 15 position players who won Minor League Player of the Year (Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Jason Heyward, Mike Trout to name a few), Myers is going to be a very good player in the Majors, and I’ll be the first to have his pretty-lookin’ Rays on my back. Top that, Mapes!

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Team Mapes Pick #10, #20 Overall: The Upton Brothers, Atlanta Braves

How do I top that? By going with the sweetest custom jersey in Braves history. You get not one, but BOTH Uptons. Special thanks to them for deciding to wear single digits to make this work. I went with the 82 because Justin plays in left, therefore his number goes on the left. This jersey will be good to go for 3-5 years and even if one leaves, just pull off one of the numbers and the S and you’re still set. Truly, saved the best for last!

Honorable Mention Team Mapes: Giancarlo Stanton-Marlins, David Wright-Mets, Justin Verlander/Miguel Cabrera/Prince Fielder-Tigers, Joe Mauer-Twins, Martin Prado-Diamondbacks, and Eric Hosmer-Royals

Honorable Mention Team Jeremy: Clayton Kershaw-Dodgers, Carlos Gonzalez-Rockies, Aroldis Chapman-Reds, Mariano Rivera-Yankees, David Price-Rays, Carlos Santana-Indians, Yoenis Cespedes-A’s, and Jose Altuve-Astros

There you have it. The 2nd annual Jeremy vs. Mapes jersey draft is complete. Now it’s up to you, readers! Vote in the poll below to tell us if Mapes will take home his second consecutive jersey draft title, or if Jeremy strengthened his squad enough to earn the victory. Here are the overall teams:

Team Mapes: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Ryan Braun, Felix Hernandez, Evan Longoria, Starlin Castro, Troy Tulowtizki, Bryce Harper, Justin/BJ Upton

Team Jeremy: Matt Kemp, Joey Votto, Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Derek Jeter, Adam Jones, Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista, Yadier Molina, Wil Myers

Remember, vote for the 10 jerseys YOU would rather have, not which group makes up the best hypothetical team. Let us know in the comments which jersey you want in your closet! Thanks for reading! You can like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook or follow @3u3d on Twitter!

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

Rate that Roster! USA World Baseball Classic Edition

The World Baseball Classic returns for the 3rd time starting March 2nd.  Fellow blogger Jeremy Dorn gave his rankings of every team in the WBC last week.  (I haven’t figured out how he has South Korea 11th either) I wanted to delve more into team USA’s chances and how the roster stacks up.

Catcher

WBC catchers

Who’s In: Joe Mauer-Twins, J.P. Arencibia-Blue Jays, and Jonathan Lucroy-Brewers

Who’s Out: Buster Posey-Giants and Brian McCann-Braves

Interesting that the deepest offensive position with three players is at catcher.  They clearly want to rotate these guys so they don’t get too banged up before the MLB season begins.  Not being able to score the defending NL MVP in Buster Posey is a tough blow to team USA, but having hitting machine and former AL MVP Joe Mauer lessens the blow.  He could even be the designated hitter option, when Arencibia or Lucroy are behind the plate.  Arencibia’s inclusion seems to coincide with R.A. Dickey’s appearance on the roster.  The two are now teammates in Toronto and have been working together to have knuckleball success.  I’m sure the Blue Jays will be pleased with them getting reps together in high pressure situations.  Lucroy had his best season at the plate last year, but was hampered by injuries.  He’ll be a solid offensive piece down the lineup.   Getting Posey on board would’ve made this an easy A, but alas.  Grade: B+

First Base

Who’s In: Mark Teixeira-Yankees

Who’s Out: Prince Fielder-Tigers, Paul Konerko-White Sox, Adam LaRoche-Nationals, and Freddie Freeman-Braves

I would’ve much preferred the bat of Prince Fielder, but I have no qualms with Teixiera joining team USA for the 2nd time.  He’s not the hitter he once was, but does have pop, will provide for some interesting decisions with his switch-hitting ability, and is one of the best defensive first baseman in the game.  He’s going to get a lot of work in as the only true first baseman on the roster, but could get spelled by Mauer and maybe even Ben Zobrist.  Grade: B-

Second Base

WBC 2B

Who’s In: Brandon Phillips-Reds and Ben Zobrist-Rays

Who’s Out: Dustin Pedroia-Red Sox, Ian Kinsler-Rangers, and Aaron Hill-Diamondbacks

Pedroia and Kinsler are probably better hitters than Zobrist, but the Zorilla’s ability to play mulitple positions makes him a suitable choice.  I don’t think we’d see any of the other possibilities manning right field or shortstop the way Zobrist does for the Rays.  Brandon Phillips will get the majority of time at second base and the three-time Gold Glove winner will flash plenty of leather for the red, white, and blue.   The only better second baseman in the tournament is Robinson Cano for the Dominican Republic.  Grade: B+

Shortstop

WBC SS

Who’s In: Jimmy Rollins-Phllies and Willie Bloomquist-Diamondbacks

Who’s Out: Derek Jeter-Yankees, Troy Tulowitzki-Rockies, and Ian Desmond-Nationals

One would have to believe that Rollins is on the roster over Desmond just based on experience and leadership ability.  Jeter’s ankle may not be 100% in time for the WBC and with Tulo’s injury history it was clear he wouldn’t risk it.  Rollins is the defending NL Gold Glove winner at the position and played in the last WBC for USA.  He’s not the hitter we once was, but can provide speed atop the lineup.  Bloomquist is the questionable pick for the roster, but he’s a clear utility player and can play numerous positions in case of injury.   When compared to the players team USA could’ve had if healthy, I can’t give out a great grade.  Grade: C

Third Base

Who’s In: David Wright-Mets

Who’s Out: Chase Headley-Padres, Ryan Zimmerman-Nationals, and David Freese-Cardinals

This was the easiest call for team USA.  Wright is the best third baseman in America right now.  The only problem for the Stars & Stripes is that Venezuela (Miguel Cabrera) and the Dominican Republic (Adrian Beltre) have better options at the position.  Grade: A-

Outfield

WBC OF

Who’s In: Ryan Braun-Brewers, Adam Jones-Orioles, Giancarlo Stanton-Marlins, and Shane Victorino-Red Sox

Who’s Out: Mike Trout-Angels, Bryce Harper-Nationals, Andrew McCutchen-Pirates, Josh Hamilton-Angels, and Matt Holliday-Cardinals

Now we’re getting to the good stuff.  Even without Trout and McCutchen, I love this outfield.  Braun is the best left fielder in the game and a perennial MVP candidate.  Jones is a budding superstar that helped turned the Orioles around and is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game.  Stanton is a straight masher that you can’t pitch around in middle of the lineup.  Victorino doesn’t have the name of some of the other players that aren’t playing, but his ability to play all three oufield positions, while filling in as pinch-runner and possibly designated hitter is good enough.  I know Mike Trout wanted to have a traditional spring training entering his 2nd full season, but I think that he’s going to come to regret not being around this talented group.  Grade: A

Starting Pitching

WBC SP

Who’s In: R.A. Dickey-Blue Jays, Kris Medlen-Braves, Ryan Vogelsong-Giants, Derek Holland-Rangers

Who’s Out (for now): Justin Verlander-Tigers, David Price-Rays, Jered Weaver-Angels, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee-Phillies, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw-Dodgers, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner-Giants

It’s pretty easy too look at those two lists and get a lump in your throat.  There is one spot still open for a starting pitcher that’d presumably would go to Verlander if he wants it.  Let’s look at what is definite right now.  Team USA sports the defending NL Cy Young winner in Dickey, who’s knuckleball will give batters fits seeing it for the first time this season.  Medlen was arguably (and I’d argue was) the best pitcher in the 2nd half last season.  When he’s on his game, he’s unhittable.  Vogelsong is a fantastic story since returning to MLB from Japan and can be useful as he might have some inside knowledge on the Japanese hitters.  Holland is a decent southpaw, great in the clubhouse, and let’s be honest we’re all secretly hoping he faces the Netherlands.  If Joe Torre has a sense of humor, it’ll happen.  It’s not the best, but it’s certainly not the worst.  Grade: B-

Left-Handed Relievers

WBC LHP

Who’s In: Jeremy Affeldt-Giants, Tim Collins-Royals, and Glen Perkins-Twins

Who’s Out: Sean Marshall-Reds, Eric O’ Flaherty and Jonny Venters-Braves, Darren Oliver-Blue Jays, and Sean Burnett-Angels

No offense to Tim Collins, but I’d rather have all five pitchers in the “Who’s out” list than him.  Affeldt is a great big-game pitcher as he proved in the 2012 postseason.  He’ll have to come through in big spots as the best of this bunch.  Perkins has become a solid lefty.  He’s climbed his way up the ranks to become the Twins closer.  Seeing a lot of quality lefties staying in their spring training homes is a little disheartening though.  Grade: C+

Right-Handed Relievers

WBC RHP

Who’s In: Heath Bell-Diamonbacks, Mitchell Boggs-Cardinals, Steve Cishek-Marlins, Luke Gregerson-Padres, Craig Kimbrel-Braves, Chris Perez, and Vinnie Pestano-Indians

Who’s Out: Jim Johnson-Orioles, Jason Motte-Cardinals, Jonathan Papelbon-Phillies, Joel Hanrahan-Red Sox

As long as the words “Heath Bell in a high pressure situation” aren’t used I really like the bullpen that Greg Maddux has to work with.  Craig Kimbrel is the best relief pitcher in the world right now and should lock down any game in the 9th inning.  Perez and Pestano work well together in Cleveland.  Boggs was a revelation in St. Louis this past season.  Cishek will be a change of pace reliever with his submarine delivery.  Cishek did really well filling in as the Marlins closer when Heath Bell fell apart last season.  Gregerson is one of the leagues most underrated relievers because he pitches in San Diego and has never had an ERA over 3.24 in his four seasons.  Having Kimbrel on the roster is such a boon for this bullpen.  Grade: A-

Final Thoughts: Team USA will have a real shot at knocking Japan off the top of the WBC mountain.  The coaching staff with Joe Torre, Greg Maddux, Dale Murphy, Gerald Perry, Larry Bowa, Willie Randolph, and Marcel Lachemann is top notch.  The only real question marks are at shortstop and left-handed pitching to me.  I believe that if the starters can get a lead to the bullpen though, USA will be dangerous.  I expect at least another run to the semi-finals and a trip to San Francisco.  Every team at that level is so talented, it’s going to come down to the little things to decide the champion.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Grade That Trade! Mariners Finally Make a Move Edition

I won’t lie – I have a soft spot for the Mariners. That seems a bit strange because I live near Oakland and root for the A’s in my free time. Let me explain: I went to Washington State University and spent four years surrounded by sad, wandering M’s fans.

There’s that, and the fact that they have an awesome stadium, badass jerseys, and a slew of fan-favorite heroes (A-Rod, Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez, Felix Hernandez, Ichiro, etc.). Anyway, it’s been disappointing to see GM Jack Zduriencik not really pull the trigger on any big moves in which Seattle was set up perfectly to do so.

The Mariners have a decently sized payroll, plenty of minor league depth, and a desperate need for hitters. Despite a lack of offensive punch, the Mariners managed to finish just a handful of games short of .500 in 2012, albeit still in fourth place.

With Hernandez leading the rotation, and a plethora of young pitching talent in Triple-A, the Mariners have the pieces to move to acquire a big bat. Today, this theory finally came to fruition. They went out and traded 14-game winner Jason Vargas to Anaheim for Kendrys Morales.

Let’s break this thing down:

Angels Get:

SP Jason Vargas

Mariners Get:

1B/DH Kendrys Morales

It’s hard to decide who wins this trade, but my gut tells me both teams come out pretty hot. The Angels, with the losses of Zack Greinke, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren this winter were in dire need of a pitching upgrade (and no, Joe Blanton doesn’t count). They made a nifty move in acquiring Tommy Hanson from Atlanta, but it wasn’t enough.

I’m not sure if you can say Vargas is the final piece they need, but it surely won’t hurt. This gives the Angels a pair of very good lefty starters in Vargas and C.J. Wilson to pair with Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver. We know Los Angeles added Josh Hamilton to the lineup, making Morales expendable.

But is it enough? Can the Angels improve on a 90-win ball club and return to A.L. West supremacy? Having Vargas in the third spot in that rotation will help them inch closer. And you have to expect a full season of Mike Trout, plus Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo, that they will be a better team.

For the Mariners, who are chasing the Angels (and everyone else for that matter) in the division, this should spell the end of the long-drawn out Justin Smoak experiment. Morales is an instant upgrade in all departments over Smoak, and will provide a good source of punch to the lineup.

With the emergence of Kyle Seager and a likely improvement next season from Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero, the Mariners could be a sneaky dangerous team in 2013. As long as the rotation can pick up the slack left by Vargas, I expect an improvement for Seattle, though I don’t think they are quite ready to be a contender yet.

That being said, Zduriencik knows he needs another bat or two, and may be chasing an Andre Ethier or Michael Bourn-type player as the winter evolves. If they can pair one more veteran power bat like Ethier’s, or a good top-of-the-order guy like Bourn, without giving up too much pitching, I see no reason why the Mariners can’t make like the 2012 A’s and take the league by surprise.

As for grading this trade, I’m giving a slightly higher mark to the Mariners, simply for going out and being aggressive in adding a bat to a flat lineup. They have pitching depth and are on the right track with getting some power in there with Morales and Jason Bay (well…you know…maybe). Mariners Grade: B+

The Angels got an underrated starting pitcher, but still haven’t made up for lost talent in the rotation. Not to mention, Morales was as good a hitter as they could ask for in that DH/1B slot. The offense did downgrade with the loss of Morales and Torii Hunter, even after the Hamilton signing. Overall, it’s a good move, but they better make a World Series run before 2014 when Vargas is a free agent or be prepared to shell out a pretty hefty extension. Angels Grade: B

 

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- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Arizona Fall League: Winners and Losers From the Rising Stars Game

When we told you that Three Up, Three Down really loves baseball, we weren’t kidding. On Saturday, I watched the Oregon vs. USC football game until 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, at which point I switched away from one of the best games of the year to focus on MLB Network.

No, I’m not crazy – I just love baseball, and the Arizona Fall League’s (AFL) annual Rising Stars Game was on. For those of you that don’t know, the AFL is basically grad school for each team’s top prospects. All 30 MLB teams assign seven players to the AFL, comprised of six teams.

It’s basically a little extra work for the superstars of tomorrow. Last year, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper played in the Rising Stars Game. Mike Piazza, Roy Halladay and Stephen Strasburg are just a few of the alumni of the AFL. And the game in 2012 was no different, showcasing a plethora of talent we will be sure to see on Major League teams in the very near future, such as Detroit’s Nick Castellanos, who won the Futures Game MVP in July.

I’ve picked five winners and losers from the game yesterday – read on to see if one of your team’s top prospects made an impact!

Full rosters for the Rising Stars Game can be found HERE!

WINNER:

Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds

Hamilton was this game’s biggest draw, and he delivered big time. One of the few players to start and finish the game, Hamilton got to show off the speed that has made him Cincinnati’s top-rated prospect (Minor League record 155 steals in 2012 – that is NOT a typo) right from the get-go. After drawing a walk to lead off the game, Hamilton promptly stole second, stole third, and scored on a double two batters later. Hamilton also laid down a beautiful bunt that forced an errant throw, resulting in him coasting to third base on the play. Though he recently transitioned from shortstop to center field in order to take advantage of those wheels, Hamilton looked right at home, making a diving play later on in the game. This kid is undoubtedly a future star.

LOSER:

Michael Tonkin, Minnesota Twins

Jason Kubel’s brother-in-law had a very rough time against the elite hitters of the AFL. Tonkin pitched to five batters and didn’t get a single one out – instead, he allowed three hits, five base runners and four earned runs (five runs total) on 17 pitches. The 6-foot-7 22-year-old righty has really strong stuff, but melted in a big spot yesterday. To add to the disappointment for Tonkin, he was charged with a blown save, took the loss, and saw a 4-3 lead turn into an 8-3 deficit under his watch. Tonkin has a good, low-to-mid 90′s fastball and a pretty good slider – his 2.08 ERA and 97 K’s in 69 1/3 innings in Minor League ball this past season don’t lie – but he really fell apart in the Rising Stars Game.

WINNER:

Rymer Liriano, San Diego Padres

Holy smokes, can the Padres’ number one prospect swing a bat! There’s a visibly arrogant swagger to Liriano’s game, but he walks the walk on the field, and proved it again last night. In five plate appearances, Liriano went 3-for-4 with two doubles, walked, drove in a run, and scored a run. He had great plate discipline and was being lauded by premiere minor league analyst Jonathan Mayo for his speed as well. The Padres may have a legitimate offensive threat in Liriano, as long as they can keep him grounded when he hits a slump in the big leagues.

LOSER:

Michael Almanzar, Boston Red Sox

It’s been a strange journey for Almanzar, a 21-year-old infielder from the Dominican Republic. When he was originally drafted, the Red Sox thought they were getting a future power hitter. And while he’s shown potential to pop a few out of the yard, he needs to put on some muscle. At 6-foot-3 and only 190 pounds, he has the frame of a guy who should be shooting the gap, yet the eye and the swing of a homer-happy free swinger. The Rising Stars Game proved to be a disaster for Almanzar, as he came up to bat twice, including in the top of the 9th with the bases loaded, and struck out both times. To his credit, Almanzar did have a good at-bat in the 9th, before caving to strike three.

WINNER:

Austin Romine, New York Yankees

Going 1-for-2 with a strikeout doesn’t sound like such a fantastic game, does it? But the Yankees’ farm hand narrowly missed a monster home run in his first at-bat, instead settling for a triple. Romine also was hit by a pitch in the left elbow and came around to score his second run of the game. The reason Romine is a winner here, is because the kid has suffered through injury after injury during his young career, and proved his toughness in front of a TV audience last night. The half inning before getting plunked, Romine took two hard foul tips off the body and walked both of them off. He’s a gamer, and proved it in Arizona – the Yankees will definitely be keeping a close eye on him in Spring Training.

LOSER:

Nick Ahmed, Atlanta Braves

Ahmed actually has a good-looking future, as he swatted 36 doubles and swiped 40 bags in 130 games in the Minors this season. I don’t know if his future with the Braves will be at shortstop, but he didn’t give them any reason to think so in this one-game sample size last night. Ahmed made a couple nice plays and redeemed himself later with a walk and a run, but he started the game with a strikeout at the plate and an ugly error in the field. I’m talking, line drive right to him, off the glove, into left field type of error. With guys like Andrelton Simmons and Tyler Pastornicky already ahead of him, Ahmed might be looking to learn a new position if he wants to break in with the big club.

WINNER:

Brian Goodwin, Washington Nationals

After the West team went up 2-0 in the top of the first, Goodwin sparked the East by hitting a leadoff homer, the only one of the game. The analysis on Goodwin is that he has legitimate five-tool potential. I can see why people might think so; Goodwin’s left-handed swing is extremely quick and he has the abilities to hit for average and power. He has decent speed and plays solid outfield defense, too. The Nationals may need to make room for this guy in their outfield very soon. My guess is he would supplant Harper in center field at some point in the next two seasons. Goodwin, who just turned 22 on Friday, had an OPS of .852 between two Minor League stops in 2012, and showed off his skills in Arizona going 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored.

LOSER:

Jarred Cosart, Houston Astros

I was really excited to watch Cosart start this game, because I knew his reputation (a 2.60 ERA in the Pacific Coast League this year; electric fastball, good change-up, above average breaking ball and great command). He was a key piece, along with Rising Stars teammate Jonathan Singleton, in the Hunter Pence deal to Philadelphia in 2011. Cosart has been a top prospect in both organizations he’s played for since day one, but I was truly disappointed with his outing last night. Though the numbers weren’t bad (2 innings, 1 hit, 2 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout), he was missing his spots all day, going 3-0 on multiple batters across those frames. I had no doubt after watching that Cosart has the tools to be a good starter or a great reliever, but he really laid an egg in his start on Saturday.

WINNER:

Mark Montgomery, New York Yankees

Yeah, yeah. I hate putting two Yankees in the winner’s column as much as the next guy. But I can’t pretend I wasn’t very impressed with both prospects I have listed here. Though I probably could have chosen any reliever after the sixth inning on either squad (The 12 total pitchers entering in the 6th inning or later, combined: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K), I went with Montgomery for his dominant performance. The 21-year-old righty blew away the West team in his frame, striking out all three batters on 16 total pitches. His 1.65 minor league ERA and 16.1 K/9 are ridiculous, and I wonder if he has the make-up or velocity (tops out at 95 MPH) to some day fill Mariano Rivera’s shoes as the closer in the Bronx. Either way, I expect to see him getting big league action by 2014 at the very latest.

LOSER:

Anyone who didn’t watch the game!

Seriously. It’s not a cop-out. I’m not saying you should also sacrifice your college football or NFL, or even NBA watching during the MLB off-season, but don’t pass up an opportunity to watch some of the next great generation of baseball stars in action. Follow along with the AFL this winter and see how your team’s top prospects are handling some of the best minor league competition in all of baseball. Better yet, just follow the 3u3d blog and we’ll give you everything you need to know until Opening Day is back upon us. If you want to follow us on Twitter, you can find us @3u3d, and you can like us on Facebook at Three Up, Three Down. All the glorious baseball news you can stomach, right here, all winter long.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Predicting the Winners: 2012 Gold Gloves

Three (in some cases four) finalists at each position in each league for the Gold Glove awards were announced today. The award, which recognizes the best defensive player at each position in each league, is voted on by managers and up to six coaches on their staffs.

Managers and coaches can not vote for someone on their own team. We’ve seen over the years that some deserving players get recognized (Yadier Molina has won four straight at NL catcher), some get snubbed (Mark Ellis and his career .991 fielding percentage has never won), and some only win because of their name.

Yes, even managers and coaches get caught up in player celebrity for things like this. Anyway, the final results will be announced tomorrow night on ESPN2, but we’re here today to tell you who should win each Gold Glove.

A.L. Catcher:

Finalists – Alex Avila (Tigers), Russell Martin (Yankees), A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox), Matt Wieters (Orioles)

Winner: Avila

These were the only four A.L. catchers to start at least 100 games. Martin, Pierzynski and Avila all had a .994 fielding percentage, while Wieters sat at .991. While Wieters had the most errors of the group, he also had the best caught stealing percentage. For me, those nearly cancel out – I’m giving the award to Avila, who had the most consistent stats across the board.

N.L. Catcher:

Finalists – Yadier Molina (Cardinals), Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks), Carlos Ruiz (Phillies)

Winner: Molina

It’s not even close. Again, Molina has blown away the competition and perfected the art of catching. Ruiz and Montero both had good seasons behind the dish, but one could argue that there were more worthy candidates to lose to Molina. In 133 games started, Molina made 3 errors (.997 fielding percentage) and threw out nearly 50 percent of attempted base stealers (35 out of 73). Need I say more?

A.L. First Base:

Finalists – Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox/Dodgers), Eric Hosmer (Royals), Mark Teixeira (Yankees)

Winner: Teixeira

I’m not sure what Hosmer is doing as a finalist, since he had the second lowest fielding percentage for qualifying first basemen in the American League. Gonzalez and Teixeira both have a reputation for being smooth fielders, and proved so again this season. I give the edge to the Yankee first baseman because he made one less error in many more chances. And now we’ve avoided the awkwardness of giving a Dodger an American League Gold Glove.

N.L. First Base:

Finalists – Freddie Freeman (Braves), Adam LaRoche (Nationals), Joey Votto (Reds)

Winner: LaRoche

The Nationals most consistent player isn’t just a home run hitter. The guy can play a mean first base, and proved it this year. You’d never guess who the best defensive statistics among first base qualifiers belonged to in 2012 (Spoiler: It’s Carlos Lee…WHAT?), but LaRoche was right there with him. He edges Votto because LaRoche played in more games and had a slightly better fielding percentage.

A.L. Second Base:

Finalists – Dustin Ackley (Mariners), Robinson Cano (Yankees), Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)

Winner: Cano

I’m not sure why Ackley got the nod over the likes of Gordon Beckham or Jason Kipnis, but none of them would compete with Cano and Pedroia here anyway. They tied for the best fielding percentage in the league at .992, and though Pedroia turned more double plays, Cano has the better range. Both are good for one highlight play a night, but I think the vote will go to the Yankees star.

N.L. Second Base:

Finalists – Darwin Barney (Cubs), Aaron Hill (Diamondbacks), Brandon Phillips (Reds)

Winner: Barney

All three of these guys certainly deserve to be here, but even if Mark Ellis had played a full, healthy season for the Dodgers he would have been snubbed. Sigh. Though Hill and Phillips and their .992 fielding percentages are very impressive, you can’t discount Barney’s ridiculous errorless streak in Chicago. Any other year, Phillips defends his title.

A.L. Third Base:

Finalists – Adrian Beltre (Rangers), Brandon Inge (Tigers/A’s), Mike Moustakas (Royals)

Winner: Beltre

Brandon Inge didn’t even qualify at third base, technically. While that doesn’t mean he can’t be voted for, it’s a strange selection. How about the third best fielding percentage in the league for Miguel Cabrera? Give him the spot as a finalist. Alas, it wouldn’t matter. Moustakas has a lot of Gold Gloves in his future, but he might have to wait for Beltre and his league-leading 8 errors to retire.

N.L. Third Base:

Finalists – Chase Headley (Padres), Aramis Ramirez (Brewers), David Wright (Mets)

Winner: Headley

This is the closest race so far, as all three of these guys are grouped tightly way ahead of the rest of the pack at their position. Ramirez had a .977 fielding percentage, Headley had a .976, and Wright had a .974 this year…so how do you choose? Even though Ramirez had the best percentage, Headley had 125 more chances and only made 3 more errors, plus his range factor was the best in the league.

A.L. Shortstop:

Finalists – Elvis Andrus (Rangers), J.J. Hardy (Orioles), Brendan Ryan (Mariners)

Winner: Hardy

Look, all three of these guys are good shortstops, but it’s inexplicable that Jhonny Peralta was left off this. He only made 7 errors all season! Andrus had a worse fielding percentage than Derek Jeter, so he’s out right off the bat. Ryan is one of the most exciting shortstops in baseball and can grow a great mustache. Sorry Seattle fans, that’s not enough – Hardy and his league-leading 6 errors take the cake here.

N.L. Shortstop:

Finalists – Zack Cozart (Reds), Ian Desmond (Nationals), Jose Reyes (Marlins), Jimmy Rollins (Phillies)

Winner: Rollins

It’s really a three-horse race between Cozart, Reyes and Rollins (the Mets’ Ruben Tejada should have had Desmond’s spot), and I’m giving it to the wily vet in Philadelphia for having the most impressive all-around defensive numbers at the position. Cozart is definitely a future winner though. As for anyone calling for Brandon Crawford? Yes, he had a great postseason defensively, but also had the second-most errors and third-worst fielding percentage in the league.

A.L. Left Field:

Finalists – Alex Gordon (Royals), Desmond Jennings (Rays), David Murphy (Rangers)

Winner: Gordon

Let me explain myself – major props to Jennings (0 errors this year) and Murphy (1 error), but Gordon and his 2 errors are going to win his second consecutive Gold Glove. Yes, you have to be able to catch the ball and all three players do that supremely well. But you need to have an arm too, and Gordon blew away the competition with 17 outfield assists in 2012.

N.L. Left Field:

Finalists – Ryan Braun (Brewers), Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies), Martin Prado (Braves)

Winner: Prado

This is definitely the most messed up voting by the managers and coaches so far, as these three were the bottom three performers among qualifiers at their position. Surprisingly enough, the two strongest candidates were Jason Kubel and Alfonso Soriano. Prado gets the edge for making half as many errors as Braun and having the most outfield assists of the three.

A.L. Center Field:

Finalists – Austin Jackson (Tigers), Adam Jones (Orioles), Mike Trout (Angels)

Winner: Trout

It should be Jackson, but will be Trout. Jackson had better numbers across the board defensively, though not by much. Trout only had 2 outfield assists, but made just 2 errors (Jackson had 1) and robbed at least four home runs. Surprisingly, Jones was one of the worst statistical center fielders, even though he’s extremely athletic out there. Again, it should be Jackson’s Gold Glove, but no way Trout won’t add this to his trophy case.

N.L. Center Field:

Finalists – Michael Bourn (Braves), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Drew Stubbs (Reds)

Winner: McCutchen

Angel Pagan, Carlos Gomez and Cameron Maybin all have stronger cases for this award than Stubbs, but for some reason managers and coaches LOVE the Reds’ defense (MLB-best 6 finalists). Neither Bourn nor McCutchen had many outfield assists, but both were stellar defensively. Even though the award should probably go to Jon Jay of St. Louis, it’ll be McCutchen edging out Bourn because of one less error.

A.L. Right Field:

Finalists – Shin-Soo Choo (Indians), Jeff Francoeur (Royals), Josh Reddick (A’s)

Winner: Francoeur

Reddick was a revelation in all facets of the game, making some of the most eye-popping plays of the year for the A’s in 2012, but 5 errors will outweigh his high range factor and 14 assists. It’s especially difficult to compete with Francoeur, who had less errors and a league-leading 19 assists. Choo had a great fielding percentage, but didn’t throw enough guys out to compete. That means the Royals’ corner outfielders threw out 36 guys on the base paths combined this year. Wow.

N.L. Right Field:

Finalists – Jay Bruce (Reds), Andre Ethier (Dodgers), Jason Heyward (Braves)

Winner: Heyward

Etheir won his Gold Glove in 2011 because he didn’t make an error all season and had a lot of outfield assists. His numbers declined a bit in 2012, but he was still worthy of a final spot. Bruce on the other hand? That spot should have definitely gone to Justin Upton or Carlos Beltran. Even tho Ethier had less errors and a slightly better fielding percentage than Heyward, you have to give J-Hey the Gold Glove for his 11 outfield assists this year, which was tops in the league.

A.L. Pitcher:

Finalists – Jeremy Hellickson (Rays), Jake Peavy (White Sox), C.J. Wilson (Angels)

Winner: Peavy

Ah, the most random and pointless Gold Glove award. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for pitchers to field their positions cleanly, but if we are talking about numbers, there is about a 37-way tie in each league. Technically, the most impressive line goes to Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees, but his name doesn’t appear. Among the three finalists, Peavy had the least errors and most double  plays turned.

N.L. Pitcher:

Finalists – Bronson Arroyo (Reds), Mark Buehrle (Marlins), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)

Winner: Buehrle

All three of these guys are widely known for fielding their positions well, and while I’d love to give my boy Kershaw some love, I’ll let him keep his 2011 Cy Young Award and 2012 Roberto Clemente Award to themselves. All 3 guys made 0 errors this year, but Buehrle dominated in range factor and turned the most double plays. And making this play in 2010 earned him free Gold Gloves for the rest of his life. Geez, still the coolest play ever!

Let us know in the comments if you think these picks are correct. Did we goof on any? Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Mapes vs. Jeremy V: Predicting the Silver Sluggers

This feels good to say: It’s MAPES’ turn for redemption. It feels good because that means in our two most recent challenges, I have taken commanding victories. After complete and utter embarrassment for Mapes in the Home Run Derby Challenge, and a shellacking revenge story in the Vin Scully vs. Sid Bream Bobblehead Battle II, Mapes needs some cheering up.

So this is another chance for him to re-assert dominance in sports predictionism (it’s a word now, okay?) over me. Just like the Derby Challenge, this one will not be left up to the audience. Instead, we will take one pick at a time guessing which players will win Silver Sluggers for 2012 in each league.

Similar to our Jersey Draft format, I will take the first pick, Mapes will take the second and third, and we will alternate from there. One small wrinkle this time, though: Once a position has been selected, it is gone. That means if I take Miguel Cabrera as the AL third baseman first (spoiler alert – I will!), Mapes can not later take Adrian Beltre because the AL third base position is already gone.

We will each take 9 positions and whoever gets the most right, wins. Simple as that. Here goes nothin’ – may the best man win:

Pick #1 – Team Jeremy: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (A.L. 3B)

Told you I would take him. Triple Crown, potential MVP, best swing in all of baseball. I really have nothing else to say. This one is a lock.

Pick #2 – Team Mapes: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees (A.L. 2B)

I’m already ahead because you picked first. Enjoy figuring out the NL pitcher Silver Slugger, sucker! My first pick I also believe is a lock. Cano led second baseman in every major statistical category and will grab his 3rd straight Silver Slugger.

Pick #3 – Team Mapes: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (N.L. OF)

Ryan Braun put up arguably the best offensive season in the National League, leading in homers (career-high 41), runs, OPS, and total bases. Braun decided to throw in a .319 batting average to boot In my opinion, he’s a lock for his 5th straight Silver Slugger. I’ve already got two in the bank. I’m glad I came up with this challenge.

Pick #4 – Team Jeremy: Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays (DH)

I’ll admit that I originally listed Billy Butler here, forgetting that Encarnacion actually played the majority of his games at DH in 2012. Bad research by me. Yes, Adam Dunn always has a case here, but he hit .204, and struck out approximately 598 times. With the breakout season Encarnacion had (.280/42/110), it would be a monumental travesty if he didn’t win the DH Silver Slugger.

Pick #5 – Team Mapes: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (A.L. OF)

Butler is in the discussion at designated hitter, but I agree that Edwin Encarnacion, who started at DH more than any other position, does get the Silver Slugger there.  Adam Dunn has a chance too if they just fall in love with his home runs.  Too early for that kind of risk, in my opinion, but I respect your guts.  I’ll go with another lock on my board with Mike Trout, who hit .325, blasted 30 homers, and led the American League in runs scored. Easy call, I’m 3 for 3 guaranteed.

Pick #6 – Team Jeremy: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (N.L. C)

I was a little bit unsure about this pick, simply because there were a few other hot-hitting catchers in the league this year. While Posey is the leading MVP candidate in the National League, you can make a pretty good case for Yadier Molina, Wilin Rosario, or even Carlos Ruiz. After Posey’s scorching second half and huge grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS, I have no doubt that he will get the vote for Silver Slugger.

Pick #7 – Team Mapes: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (N.L. OF)

Look at you redeeming yourself.  I thought about taking Posey at five, but the Yadier Molina risk with Trout still on the board made me pass.  Instead, I’ll go to the 2nd National League outfielder on my list in Andrew McCutchen.  Cutch led the NL in offensive WAR and was tops among N.L. outfielders in batting average (take that Melky).  The Pirates star also led the senior circuit in hits, which I think make him a lock for his first Silver Slugger.  That’s right, I’m calling all FOUR of of my picks so far LOCKS.

Pick #8 – Team Jeremy: Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals (N.L. SS)

Look at you thinking all your picks are “locks.” That’s cute. This pick here is a lock – Desmond was by far the best offensive shortstop in the National League this season, helped by the fact that Troy Tulowitzki was injured. Even if Tulo was healthy, it might have been a tight race. Desmond really busted out in 2012, posting career highs across the board (.292/25/73) and the only guy who comes close to matching him is Jimmy Rollins, who hit .250 with less homers and RBI.

Pick #9 – Team Mapes: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees (A.L. SS)

Desmond is a lock?  We’ll see what Jose Reyes, Rollins, and Starlin Castro have to say about that.  This one might not be a lock, but why should I go against a player that led the American League in hits?  Who else are they going to give it to?  Alcides Escobar?  Ben Zobrist?  (Not sure he would qualify there)  Elvis Andrus?  This would be Jeter’s first Silver Slugger since 2009.

Pick #10 – Team Jeremy: Chase Headley, San Diego Padres (N.L. 3B)

All those guys will be saying is “Congratulations, Ian!” I do, however, think Jeter will be congratulating J.J. Hardy at season’s end. My pick here is a tough one, because the third base position in the National League is stacked with pretty good candidates. Headley won the NL RBI title and was huge in the second half. Regardless of the team he plays for, I think coaches and managers will remember the type of season Chase had in 2012 when it comes time to vote.

Pick #11 – Team Mapes: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (A.L. OF)

J.J. Hardy?  Hardy finished 18th at shortstop on the ESPN Fantasy Player Rater. A.L leader in hits or dude who hit .238?   I’ll send you a J.J. Hardy shirsey if he wins.  David Wright has a better chance at stealing Headley’s Silver Slugger than Hardy stealing Jeter’s.  I’ll continue my run on the outfield awards and I think getting Josh Hamilton here is a steal.  He’s clearly one of the top three offensive American League outfielders hitting .283 with 43 homers and knocking in 128 runs.  I love this pick, I would date this pick if I could.

Pick #12 – Team Jeremy: Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks (N.L. 2B)

Hamilton definitely was a top three hitter in the A.L. outfield, but will he get the vote with people like Adam Jones, Josh Willingham and Curtis Granderson also in there? We shall see. I feel totally fine calling this pick a lock, considering the usual suspects (Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips, etc.) can’t hold a candle to the numbers Hill (.302/26/85) put up this year. He hit for the cycle twice in one week. That’s EPIC!

Pick #13- Team Mapes: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins (N.L. C)

True story, I like A.J. Pierzynski’s numbers and that makes me not too confident here.  True story, no one likes A.J. Pierzynski which makes me confident in this pick.  Mauer was 4th in the A.L. in batting average and led the league in OBP.  Good enough for me to give him his 1st Silver Slugger since 2010.  Plus, he led me and Lindsay Guentzel to a fantasy baseball title.  Love that guy.  P.S. loved that Aaron Hill pick.

Pick #14 – Team Jeremy: Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals (N.L. 1B)

You know what? Even if I lose this contest, getting props on the Hill pick from you is a victory in itself. See, good sportsmanship people! The National League first base crop definitely got weaker with the defections of Albert Pujols and prince Fielder to the A.L. and the injury to Joey Votto. That being said, I like LaRoche (the only NL first baseman with 100 RBI) to get the vote over guys like Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt. LaRoche hit .271 with 33 homers and 100 RBI.

Pick #15 – Team Mapes: Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers, (A.L. 1B)

It took us forever to go to first base, but might as well knock them out back to back.  Fielder had the most consistent season at the position hitting behind Miguel Cabrera.  Pujols is in the mix, but the voters could still remember his slow start.  Fielder finished 6th in batting average ( a career-high .313) and 5th in RBI in the American League, while hitting 30 homers for the 6th straight year. The middle of the Tigers lineup is crazy good, huh?

Pick #16 – Team Jeremy: Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals (N.L. OF)

Even though his own teammate, Matt Holliday, had better overall numbers, I think Beltran has earned the votes of managers and coaches across the league. You would be hard pressed to find an opposing team who didn’t get burned by Carlos Beltran heroics at some point in 2012, and I doubt that it will be forgotten when tallying votes for Silver Slugger. Beltran finished with a line of .269/32/97. The middle of that Cardinals lineup is crazy good, huh?

Pick #17 – Team Mapes: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (A.L. OF)

You stuck me with A.L. outfielder?  Let’s see if I can nail all three with Trout, Hamilton and now Adam Jones.  There are a couple of other options with Alex Rios, Curtis Granderson, and Josh Willingham.  However, I think that the story of the Baltimore Orioles will carry Jones to his first Silver Slugger.  They already snubbed Willingham for the A.L. All-Star team, why not for Silver Slugger too.  At least I gave him a 10th place MVP vote.  Good luck picking the right pitcher for a Silver Slugger!

Pick #18 – Team Jeremy: Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds (P)

I figured I’d give you a shot at sweeping the outfield in the American League. You’ve got a lock on Trout, though I think Hamilton might get upset, and you never know about that third spot. As for N.L. pitcher, this was easier than expected. After crunching the numbers, it came down to Leake and Stephen Strasburg. I’m sacrificing a probable winner by taking Leake, because Strasburg has the name recognition (yes, even among coaches and managers) that Leake doesn’t. But I must point out so the world knows: 18 hits, .295 average, 2 home runs for Mike Leake as a pitcher this year. Give him the Silver Slugger!

Team Jeremy:

Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Buster Posey, Ian Desmond, Chase Headley, Aaron Hill, Adam LaRoche, Carlos Beltran, Mike Leake

Team Mapes:

Robinson Cano, Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Adam Jones

Who do you think will be taking home some fancy Silver Slugger awards?  Let us know in the comments!

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

The 3U3D Awards: Rookie of the Year Edition

Rookie of the Year, in the American League it’s the easiest call on the board. However, in the National League there are a few players that have a chance at taking home the hardware. Here’s who 3U3D picked for the best rookie in each league.

American League

Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): If I could list Trout as first, second and third for this category, I would. No disrespect to Cespedes, Chen, or guys like Jarrod Parker, Will Middlebrooks, and Brett Lawrie…but this is going to be a unanimous decision. The only real question is whether Trout receives a nice, shiny, MVP trophy to go along with his Rookie of the Year.

Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Not much needs to be said about why Trout is the AL ROY considering he’s close to an MVP. Yu had a stellar year and probably would have won ROY if it wasn’t for Mike Trout.

Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Is there anyone else that can win this award or will even get first place votes other than Mike Trout? There is no way he doesn’t win this award. Led the AL in steals, he is the youngest member of the 30/30 club and hit well above .300 doing this while being 20 for much of the season and missing the first month before being called up. Yoenis Cespedes had a very good rookie season and would win this award in most seasons but he was second in almost every offensive category only behind Trout. Had Yu Darvish not faded for much of the middle months of the season there could actually be a debate as to who should win. He started the season very strong faded in the hottest months of the season and finished strong his team winning his last 6 regular season starts.

Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): There’s not much to be said for AL ROY. Mike Trout is a destroyer. As for the other two spots on my ballot, it’s hard to argue against Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes. Darvish led all rookies in Ks and tied Wade Miley for wins. Did I mention the 2nd closest guy in Ks had almost 50 less? It was a no brainer. Yoenis Cespedes also turned heads with his performance all season. Posting a .292 average with all of the hype and money being thrown at him wasn’t easy. Not only that, he led them to the late playoff surge behind Billy Beane’s magic that is ‘Moneyball’. A truly memorable season for the A’s and Cespedes.

Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): My thoughts are Mike Trout is the clear one. Yoenis Cespedes is the clear #2. That leaves my 3rd place vote and it comes down to the best rookie pitcher in the American League. I’m basing this partly on ERA+ which factors in ballpark and opponents and partly on my own observations. Hisashi Iwakuma 118, Yu Darvish 116, Scott Diamond 115, Jarrod Parker 114, Tommy Milone, 106, Wei-Yin Chen 105, and Matt Moore 100. I’m giving the edge to Parker who helped the A’s to the AL West title. Iwakuma didn’t throw enough innings, Darvish was a little too wild, and Diamond was so close, but couldn’t pull the trigger.

National League

Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): I’m proud of 3U3D for not giving into the hype and just handing Bryce Harper the N.L. Rookie of the Year. It’s hard comparing apples and oranges in the hitter (Harper) vs. pitcher (Miley), but I truly believe that Miley was the best rookie this season. Miley led National League rookies in wins, ERA, WHIP, innings pitched, and strikeouts. He was heads and shoulders above any N.L. rookie pitcher. I can’t make the same case for Harper, where other hitters like Frazier, Aoki, Rosario, Zack Cozart, Yonder Alonso, and even Anthony Rizzo had comparable numbers.

Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): The NL ROY race is all about what you prefer. Are you a fan of phenoms? Pitching? Consistency? For me, I only had a little bit of Harper fever in me, that’s why he landed 2nd in my ballot. When looking at consistency and value added for the team, no one did it better all season than Norichika Aoki. He never slumped below a monthly BA of .260 and ended the season T-20th in the NL in BA. Not only that, he stole 30 bases, fielded his position with only 2 errors, and ignited the Brewers comeback late in the season by slugging .536 in September. Miley no doubt put up a great season for the Diamondbacks, but as a whole, his stats don’t speak to me as much. Pitching is valuable, but he certainly wasn’t dominant in Ks and lost a few too many games to get me to put him up a little higher.

Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Wade Miley led the NL rookies in wins, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. I know he played for Diamondbacks, but after a dismal season they need something to look forward to next season. Plus as a pitcher he directly resulted in the outcome of more games than a positional player which is why he gets my vote. Wilin Rosario put up video game like numbers leading NL rookies in home runs, 28, and RBI, 71. His power numbers will be slightly skewed playing in hitter friendly Coors Field. He will be hitting in the middle of that lineup for a long time coming. The other rookie to make his debut the same day that Trout did is Bryce Harper and his numbers were very good. He hit .270 with 22 home runs and 59 RBI. When he was called up he was my choice to win this award because he has been a household name for the last three or four years.

Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Bryce Harper had a September to remember hitting .330/.398/.651 and overtaking the NL ROY lead. Wade Miley was efficient for a rookie, but had a mediocre September which allowed Harper to sneak into the top spot.

Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): I have a bad feeling that Harper is going to take this award because of name recognition. That would be an absolute travesty, because Miley has been not only the best rookie pitcher in baseball this season, but one of the best regardless of experience. He has been the one rock solid constant on the Diamondbacks staff this year, and deserves the award, hands down. All apologies to Frazier, Michael Fiers, Norichika Aoki and Wilin Rosario, but you picked a bad year to burst onto the scene.

Congrats to Mike Trout and Wade Miley on winning the 3U3D Rookie of the Year awards!

You’ve seen our ballots? Hate them? Love them? Let us know in the comments or yell at us on Twitter, all of our handles are right there. Don’t forget to vote in the polls below! And if you like what you see, follow @3u3d on Twitter or LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

The 3U3D Awards: American League MVP Edition

We gave you taste of our MVP ballots on this week’s podcast, with the great debate between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera for the honors in the American League. Here are our full ballots and winners of our 3U3D MVP awards.

American League

 

Here are everyone’s thoughts on MVP:

Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): I am a huge Miguel Cabrera fan, but even though he pulled off the Triple Crown, Mike Trout has to be the MVP. His WAR is off the charts, and a 30/49 season is even more impressive than a Triple Crown. Let’s not forget that Trout is doing all of this as a barely legal rookie. When you add the whole package (average, power, speed, defense), Trout is far and away the best player in the league and the Majors. Cabrera joined the ranks of few by snatching the Triple Crown – Trout joined the ranks of…well, one. He is the only player in Major League history to hit 30 home runs, steal 45 bases and score 125 runs. And don’t forget the .325 average, gold glove defense and that he’s only been caught stealing FIVE times. The future for this kid is terrifying. In the year of the underdog, I tip my cap to guys like Adam Jones and Josh Reddick for bringing their teams to a playoff appearance, but the talent across the league is just too strong this year.

Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Miguel Cabrera wins the first Triple Crown in 45 years. Mike Trout becomes the first player in history to hit 30 HRs, steal 40 bases, and score 120 runs. Both players are completely different from each other. Miguel can’t beat out an infield hit like Trout can, but no-one is as clutch as Miguel is. Trout’s numbers started off hot when he started the year but the last two months have been far from great. Could it have been the fact that pitchers know him better now? Possibly. But Miguel Cabrera got stronger as the season wore on. 25 HRs, .327 BA, .401 OBP, and 65 RBIs since the All-Star break. How about his 17 HRs, .330 BA, .405 OBP, and 45 RBIs in the 7 th inning or later this year? That’s what Miggy did. You can say Trout’s WAR is almost 4 points higher than Cabrera’s and his defense is far superior. Miguel will be playing in the playoffs, Trout will not. Cabrera will win MVP, Trout ROY and quite possibly a gold glove (didn’t have a top 3 AL fielding % at CF).

Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Cabrera gets my vote because of what he has been able to do when his team needed it the most. In the month of September he hit a slash line of .308/.378/.654 with 10 home runs, and 27 RBI. Winning the Triple Crown while leading his team to the playoffs puts him just over Trout. While Trout has put together one of the best seasons ever, and not just for a rookie. What he has been able to do this season at such a young age is phenomenal. He is a tremendous outfielder providing a highlight full of home run stealing catches and getting under fly balls most other outfielders wouldn’t dream of getting to. However he was not able to do enough to lead his team to the playoffs. (I swear I’m not biased) While most of the Rangers team was struggling during the months of July and August Beltre was just starting to heat up leading the team in almost every offensive statistic. Also arguably being the best third baseman in the game making tough plays look routine. (Okay maybe I’m a little biased)

Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): Starting with the AL MVP, there’s not a valid reason why Miguel Cabrera shouldn’t win the AL MVP. The man plays in one of the toughest stadiums to hit home runs and won the Triple Crown. Mike Trout has undoubtedly brought a lot of fire power to the Angels, but not leading them to the playoffs hurts his resume. (Don’t worry, he’ll get his shot at MVP, I’m sure of it)

Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): Everything else is a sideshow in the AL MVP ballot compared to the main event that is Trout vs. Cabrera. Now I love Cabrera, but Trout is the no-doubt MVP to me. The goal is to help your team win games. Trout did that better than any player in the American League. The Angels called up Mike Trout when they were 6-14 and since then he sparked them to the best record in the American League. There have been seven American League Triple Crown’s, but there has never been an American League season in which a player had 30 homers and 49 stolen bases. When you add in leading the league in runs and stolen bases, while hitting a near .325 with amazing defense (he robbed FIVE home runs) Trout wasn’t just the most exciting player, but the most valuable one in the league. Josh Hamilton dropped to 7th in my rankings as the Rangers collapsed like the fly ball he dropped in game 162. Rodney will be behind David Price in my Cy Young rankings, but I believe closers are more everyday players and have him in my MVP ballot. Rodney was even named the Rays MVP by teammates. Josh Willingham gets some love from me for having a great season that went largely unseen in Minnesota. There was no bigger breakout player than Edwin Encarnacion in Toronto. Adam Jones led the surprising Orioles to the playoffs and was the heart of the team. Curtis Granderson, Jim Johnson, Derek Jeter, Josh Reddick, Austin Jackson, and Ben Zobrist just miss my list.

Congrats to Tigers Miguel Cabrera on winning the 3U3D AL MVP!

You’ve seen our ballots!  Who would be on yours?  Let us know in the comments!  Feel free to tweet at any of us individually to debate our points as well. Don’t forget to vote in the poll:

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