Monday, November 26, 2018

Is The Career of Joey Bats Over?

I'm calling him retired. He may not like it, and I could be wrong. He's 38 years old, and he's been in decline for a long time. He had a better 2018 than 2017, but he travelled 3 teams trying to stay employed in the MLB. Joey had a great career, but he is not a HOF guy, he never had a decent year until 2010, when he had a world class year. He's someone everyone loves to hate, mainly because he's just not a nice guy. He does have a higher IQ than the average baseball player though. 

Joey Bats bat flip

The infamous bat flip seen 'round the world. The Texas Rangers aren't mad at Joey, but don't be surprised if they plunk him a time or two early in the 2016 season.
The infamous bat flip seen 'round the world. The Texas Rangers aren't mad at Joey, but don't be surprised if they plunk him a time or two early in the 2016 season. | Source

The bat flip won't be forgotten by the Texas Rangers pitching staff

When the bat flip happened, I knew the game was basically over. The game was over, and so was the season. I reminded myself how great it was the Texas Rangers had made it to the post season to begin with.
Jose Bautista flipped his bat rather flippantly. People flipped out about it. I don't mean to sound too aggressive or anything. I'm just a guy writing about Jose Bautista here. He's going to get plunked by the Rangers pitching staff this year. You can bet on it. Intentional plunking is going to be going down.
Who knows what is going to happen? Maybe Jose will take it in stride. Trot to first base for a free pass. Maybe he'll charge the pitching mound. Maybe both benches will clear, and someone gets suspended for a few games.
Regardless of any of that, everyone appreciates Jose for who and what he is. A very formidable baseball player. He's not a bad writer either. You can read Jose in his own words talking about the bat flip. How he got to be batman there on the big stage. Everyone who plays baseball dreams of having a special moment like that one. One that gets replayed over and over thousands of times.

Jose Bautista - established power hitter

Joey Bats is a productive bat though. The bat flip was a clutch bit of performance. He got a lot of air time out of it. The replays of the bat flip go on and on, and on. No doubt the bat flip has helped his career.
He is at an age and place in his career when he needed something a little extra. So he helped himself. He hit a big go ahead homer and showed out with the bat flip. He is now 35 years old. He makes 14 million in 2016. He'd like to prove this year he has still got it. Make as much money as humanly possible in the coming seasons, then retire a wealthy man.
He was a late bloomer so far as baseball stars go. But boy-howdy, did he ever bloom. He's a member of the 50 home runs in a season club. He's led the American League in home runs for two different seasons. He had fine power numbers in 2015 too.

Jose has a strong throwing arm, but will probably become a designated hitter in the future

But maybe we should stop looking at Jose and his bat. He's more than a bat. Joey is a right fielder. Why right fielder? Right field is often a spot where you put your outfielder with the strongest arm. Joey Bats has a strong right throwing arm.
He's known mostly for the stick though. The bat. Joey Bautista is a right fielder for now. But don't be too surprised should he wind up as someone's designated hitter in a year or three.
There had been a news story claiming Joey asked the Toronto Blue Jays for $150 million for 5 years. Joey denies he asked for that kind of money. Thirty million a year is more than twice what he makes already. He is 35 years old, and a sort of borderline Hall of Fame player.

Young Jose Bautista in a very short stint with the Orioles of Baltimore

Joey Bats in the early years. From the Dominican Republic to the Major Leagues

Jose has bounced around a bit. Like I said, he was a late bloomer. He bloomed though. He's the only guy in history to appear on the rosters for 5 Big League organizations in one year. He bounced some in the early days.
But Jose is from the Dominican Republic. He is yet another reminder about how the competition and level of play in the Major Leagues has improved as the game expanded its scouting into the rest of the world. Jose wasn't from a poor family. He's from a seriously educated family. Jose started learning English at 8 years of age. He's probably a lot more brainy fella than you realize.
Joey studied business in college just in case. He banked on baseball though. He turned down the first two offers he got from Big League clubs. The third offer was quite large, and Jose accepted that $300K from the Reds of Cincinnati. The check didn't clear though. The Reds changed ownership, and the big check died in the transition.
When you think of Joey Bats think of the punch in the gut he must have felt when he learned that three hundred thousand dollar check wouldn't be honored. He had a pass to the American dream. Then it was taken away from him, though he'd done no wrong.
Well, things worked out alright. It just took a while longer. He got picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Due to some rules known as the rule 5 draft, after three seasons of minor league ball for the Pirates, Jose became a Baltimore Oriole. It was with them he first appeared in the MLB.

Bautista bounces around the Big Leagues

Jose would bounce from Baltimore to Tampa Bay. From Tampa Bay to Kansas City, and from there to the New York Mets. The Mets would trade him back to Pittsburgh. So there is the five teams or organizations Jose was a part of in one year's time. That was the 2004 season. In 2005 he'd get a chance to play, but only a little. In 2006 Jose got to play for real. He got 400 at bats for the Pirates, and he showed a little pop in his bat, he hit 16 home runs.
When Joey was originally scouted his potential as a power hitter was noted by the scouts. But Joey isn't a big guy. He stands just six feet tall. You can see he's not exactly built like Prince Fielder or anything either. He's listed at just over 200 pounds. But he showed some power. He looked like a guy who could hit a solid 20 home runs per season. That's nothing to sneeze at. But nobody could have predicted what would eventually come about.
Jose played third base for the most part. His strong throwing arm made him a good fit there. It was understood that Bautista was a young guy with potential, and he was given playing time to develop. He started at 3rd base most of 2007 for Pittsburgh, and produced similar numbers as he had the year before: a .254 batting average, 15 home runs, and 63 runs batted in.
Some folks weren't sold on the potential. Some baseball folks had predicted Jose would be no more than a 4th outfielder. Another guy said something to the tune of he's no Mike Schmidt.

Traded to the Toronto Blue Jays

In 2008 Joey started the season for the Pirates as their every day 3rd baseman. He started hot too. But he only started hot. He struggled with the bat for most of the season, and was demoted back to triple A ball. Then, he was traded to the Blue Jays for a player to be named later.
Sometimes a change in latitude changes the attitude, just makes everything click. This has happened for numerable players in baseball. You get traded, and it does something to your mind, makes you damn sure want to prove those people were wrong about you. Or maybe it was something else. In any event, Jose didn't start 2009 as an every day player. He again started the season very well with the bat in hand, but as the season wore on, Jose's production declined steadily.
While it is unclear where Joey was and just when he grew his very first epic beard. The beard has been a mainstay of his presence in Toronto. Not coincidentally, he's become a monster presence in the batting box. The man just out-beards most all others.
Jose's 2009 season in Toronto wasn't much different than any of the other seasons where he got around 400 at bats. He hit 13 home runs, had 40 runs batted in, and batted .235. These were statistics which were consistent for Jose. They were what folks had surely come to expect from him. Then he simply transformed into a monster power hitter the next season.

Jose Bautista - the leg lift helped him time his swing, and become the monster power hitter

The leg kick is a timing device. It only works if you know when to start the kick. The point of it all is to transfer your weight from the back leg to the front leg the moment the bat makes contact with the ball.
The leg kick is a timing device. It only works if you know when to start the kick. The point of it all is to transfer your weight from the back leg to the front leg the moment the bat makes contact with the ball. Source

Something has gotten into Jose Bautista. He's become a monster with a bat in hand

In 2010 Jose Bautista became Joey Bats. He had a breakout year. A freakish departure from the average sort of baseball player he had been. He became one of the American League's most prolific power hitters.
In Major League Baseball you get pigeonholed. People have seen a few seasons of you, and they know just what to expect from you. This is why Jose had been a vagabond in baseball. He was a part player. Someone who filled a hole, but was not a star. He was a borderline Major League player. Lucky for him when he got to play every day in stretches.
Then he just exploded. Jose was always more intelligent than the next guy though. We mentioned before here that he's really a brainiac sort of fella. He maybe doesn't come off that way when he's doing epic bat flips. He'd not been doing too many epic bat flips before 2010, and he'd done nothing else epic other than being an epic fill in, or afterthought.
Jose changes his swing under the tutelage of Cito Gaston. He became Joey Bats because he finally matured in his mind, and got with the right people to teach him how to harness his talent. Of course he got accused of using steroids. He's small for a slugger, but he's no smaller than Hank Aaron was, or Mickey Mantle.

Breakout season of 2010

Since 2010 no one in all of baseball has hit as many home runs as Joey Bats. He hit 54 home runs that year. He also drove in 124 runs, and batted for a .260 average. You can imagine he started getting a lot of walks, and he did. He collected 100 free passes, and being on base so often you can imagine he scored a lot of runs, and he did, 109.
He was also now starting in right field. He won a Player of the Week award in May. By July he'd be selected as a reserve for the All Star game. Before the season ended Joey had set a new record for the Blue Jays organization for home runs. His 54 homers broke the old mark set by George Bell. Only 26 players in MLB history have ever hit 50 or more home runs in a season.Joey won the Hank Aaron award and the silver slugger award, and finished 4th place in the AL MVP award voting.

Joey Bats - perfect swing mechanics at the moment of contact

For students of baseball, this photo demonstrates perfection in swing mechanics at the moment of contact between bat and ball.
For students of baseball, this photo demonstrates perfection in swing mechanics at the moment of contact between bat and ball. | Source

Jose Bautista - he put together another monster season in 2011

In 2011 AL pitchers knew what they were dealing with in Joey Bautista, and so they started walking him very very frequently. He was walked 28 times in the month of April, breaking a team record for walks in a month. Pitchers who got burned by Bautista in 2010 don't want to see the same thing again. They're walking him.
Joey is at this time breaking Blue Jays records left and right. He's winning AL Player of the Week awards often. He's also winning AL Player of the Month awards pretty often too. Pitchers who think they've got Joey's number for having past success. He's burning those guys. Bombing them may be a better description. The 2011 All Star voting is a landslide for Bautista. At this point in time he's like Barry Bonds.
Some players in the big leagues need to have some sort of stability for their defensive game. They need to know, am I playing second? Am I the shortstop? Who am I? Joey doesn't have this issue. He plays third base some days. Like he's Adrian Beltre. Other days he's right field, like a role model for what we expect of Giancarlo Stanton. Joey loves baseball. He'll play wherever his manager wants him too. Be like Joey.
Joey wound out 2011 leading not just the AL in home runs again, but the Major Leagues in home runs. He's the first guy to do that two seasons in a row since Mark McGwire did so. He'd have hit more home runs, but he leads the world in getting walked. Pitched around. But nowadays are the days of the sabermetrics. Joey leads in slugging percentage and OPS, walks both intentional and semi-intentional. Joey's gun in right is a big plus for the Jays, he guns out 13, and takes part in 5 double plays from the outfield.

2012-2013. Bautista keeps up the pace, but battles injuries to wrist and hips

In 2012 and 2013 Joey kept up his home run pace of the previous two seasons, but he spent time in 12' and 13' on the disabled list. He made the All Star team both seasons, and performed in the home run derby.
The injuries Joey suffered were a wrist injury in 2012, and then a hip bone bruise in 2013. The wrists and hips of a hitter are both vitally important. Bautista's bombs kept coming at the previous rates when he was available.

Joey Bautista had strong seasons in 2014 and 2015. Expect more in 2016

Bautista enjoys incredible popularity. At one point he'd set a record for All Star game selection votes. Then Josh Hamilton broke his record. Bautista's popularity with fans has not waned like Josh's has though. In 2014 Bautista mad another All Star start, and was named AL team captain for the home run derby. He also got the most popular votes in the Major Leagues for the second time.
Joey would finish the season with his best numbers since 2011. He'd also win another Silver Slugger award. He hit 35 home runs, drove in 103.
In 2015 Bautista would have another fine season. He returned to close to the form he'd shown in his mega years of 2010 and 2011. He again hit 40 home runs, and this marked the 3rd time in his career to make that mark. He again led the American League in walks, as all AL pitchers fear to throw strikes to Joey Bats. He drove in over 100 runs for the 4th time in his career.
And Joey became famous to everyone for his bat flip. They were even making t-shirt and sweaters to celebrate the affair. joey to The World, they said on them, with a nice knitted Jose Bautista image on the front. But I swear to you we Texans aren't mad. We appreciate Jose for the slugger he is. We love the game for the game unequivocally. There will be no hard feelings. But Joey is likely to get plunked just the same. i wish him the best in 2016, and beyond. So should you. Thanks for reading.

2018 NL Cy Young Winner, Jacob deGrom

He won the Cy Young, and I'm proud for him. I just don't think he should have got the award. Max Scherzer should have got it. Oh, I know, it's all the new metrics in use, and they've decided win totals don't matter that much. But they do matter, they just aren't the be all and end all. Jacob will surely win a Cy Young another year, and will probably deserve it more. Maybe next year. He's a bit of a late bloomer, but he's coming into his own. 

Jacob deGrom

Rising Major League star, Jacob deGrom

New York City is the place for a man to be should he wish to make himself into a baseball superstar, and this is where Jacob deGrom finds himself. No, he's hardly the only superstar pitcher in the very competitive National League, but he probably does have the longest hair. I remember a day when the great Don Mattingly was benched for his hair in New York City. Yeah, the Yankees are a different team. Lets thank the heavens for that, nobody is sweating young Jacob for his long hair on the New York Mets.
That he is pitching at all is something not so new to our long haired ace pitcher. He'd thought himself a shortstop. He's not the only such person in the National League to be a staff ace and originally a shortstop, our friend Zack Greinke was once in the same boat, and he's come out just fine.
Stetson University was the place Jacob was drafted from. It was his junior year there in Florida when his beyond the pale right arm brought to the attention of the team how Jacob might be best suited to standing on the pitching mound, throwing bullets past batters. Jacob can reach back and throw the gas, he can, mid to high 90s on the gun he throws the fastballs.

Jacob deGrom's filthy nasty pitches

He stands six feet and four inches tall, yet he only weighs one hundred and eighty pounds. Because he is so lanky and is tall, the long hair makes him appear somewhat like a young, right handed Randy Johnson. He's not the only long and tall, and long haired rocket arm for the New York Mets, they've also got young Noah Syndergaard in their World Series rotation.
Our Jacob deGrom is a power pitcher. His four seam fastball is regularly above the power pitcher's threshold of 95 miles per hour. Though he struck out over two hundred hitters in 2015, he's not a guy who's forever gunning for the strikeout. He throws a heavy two seam fastball a lot too, and this pitch will forever be coming a tick slower than the four seam fastball, and is often hit into the dirt, as a ground ball can sometimes be turned into two outs with one pitch via the double play.
Jacob deGrom has a standard repertoire of pitches, but his fastballs are above average. Also exceptional is his change-up. He throws a curveball and a slider. He throws both of these pitches hard and fast. They break downward swiftly, and induce a lot of ground ball outs. His strikeouts are primarily a result of the blazing four seam fastball, or the deceptive change of pace or change-up.
Jacob deGrom's rookie season was in 2014, and he had a fine season then too. Twice that year he won Rookie of the Month. When the year ended he'd win the National League's Rookie of the Year award. What stands out the most with Jacob in the baseball realm of statistics is his superlative earned run averages. After two seasons of Major League Baseball, Jacob deGrom is sitting pretty with a career earned run average of just 2.61. These are numbers super ace Clayton Kershaw would admire.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Cole Hamels is Still at the Top of his Game.

With the Texas Rangers this year, it looked like Cole Hamels was past his prime. He's 34 years old. He's lost some velocity. It wasn't Hamels who blew this year, it was the Texas Rangers. When Cole got to the Cubs, he was his old self, and truly, if you look at his total numbers for 2018, they are right where they have always been. He doesn't need 97 miles per hour to win. He has lost some velocity, but he can be just as good without it. Also, this guy is one hell of a philanthropist. He's truly a good human. 

Cole Hamels about to launch towards home plate


The Texas Rangers acquire ace pitcher Cole Hamels

Here in Texas we'd heard all the Winter the Texas Rangers were thinking of acquiring Cole Hamels that off season. We knew what an impressive duo we'd have were we to have both Cole and Yu Darvish starting for us. We'd high hopes for Derek Holland, we always have, and sometimes Derek brings us cheer, sometimes he doesn't.
Watching American League ball all the time, one doesn't get as familiar with the players in the National League. We with the powers of internet, however, can always find out in short order what someone's stats are over the history of the person's career. We can look at the old vids on youtube, and read the old articles.
Well, the Rangers did not acquire Cole Hamels that off season. The interest was still there, though, and apparently the interest existed on both ends of the equation. Cole Hamels wanted to come to Texas and pitch. That's not something that is always the case with a big name established starter. Everyone knows it is hot in the Texas summers. It might be one hundred degrees at game time, and the pitcher stands on that mound right in the sunshine. The open air dugouts surely aren't so much cooler either.

Texas Rangers Ace, Cole Hamels


Not everyone can pitch in Texas

I remember years ago when old Roy Halladay was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Blue Jays were in town to face the Texas Rangers at our lovely stadium. The place was called The Ballpark in Arlington at the time, now Globe Life Park, as we call it now. Anyway, Halladay was a Cy Young winner the season before, I believe, and was clearly one of the most impressive starters in either league of Major League Baseball at that time. He had a great fastball, and a completely devastating curve ball. Thing about it was Roy Halladay couldn't handle the Texas sunshine. Three innings in and he looked like someone who'd been sweating it out on a chain gang or something. He looked like he was maybe going to pass out. He talked about how brutal the weather was after that game.
A few years later Roy Halladay would be pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies, and there he'd get to know a young man named Cole Hamels. Hamels and Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt would make for the most fearsome starting rotation in all of baseball while they were together in Philadelphia. They were a real set of comrades in arms. Oswalt and Lee would both come to Texas before too much longer. Finally, Texas got Cole Hamels.

Cliff Lee - as a Texas Ranger


Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee

When the Texas Rangers got Cliff Lee on the team late in 2010, the team was in a race to the finish line for the AL west pennant. Cliff Lee brought more than just his arm, he brought a real sense that the team had a true ace. Oh his regular season numbers weren't so spectacular in the time he spent in Texas, but his presence was like a huge vote of confidence to the team and to the fans. He seemed to inspire young Derek Holland to be all he could be too. We all knew Cliff Lee was just going to be a gun for hire.
The greatness that Cliff Lee used to bring to the pitching rubber wherever it was he was playing surely rubbed off some on Cole Hamels when the two were teammates in Philadelphia. Their pitching styles aren't too different. Cole Hamels actually has the better body for the job, he is a larger man than Cliff. When you think of how cool, calm, collected, and dedicated Cole Hamels always seems to be you kinda have to assume he'd be the Cole Hamels he is today with or without having ever known Cliff Lee.

A young Cole Hamels


Colbert Michael Hamels

Born as Colbert Michael Hamels in 1983, it is said that at twelve years of age he could have lived on his own had he only been capable financially. He was always athletic, and was drafted in the first round right out of high school in 2002. He won a two million dollar signing bonus as a high school graduate.Only six years later he'd be winning such prestigious awards as World Series MVP.
Four years out of high school, and Cole Hamels made his major league debut. It may have come sooner had he not injured himself seriously in a bar fight in 2005. Pitchers always have arm injuries, it is just amazing that Hamels, a model of composure, ever got into a situation where he literally broke a bone punching someone in the face. Then again, that's something indicative of the competitive spirit so necessary to becoming an ace pitcher in Major League Baseball.
Arm injuries can sometimes bear strange fruit. It was during an arm injury where Cole couldn't work on his curve ball that he instead worked on a change-up. His change-up may well be the best of all change-ups in Major League Baseball. When you are a guy like Cole Hamels, and you know you are being judged so often on the velocity of your fastball, and the bite of your curve ball, you often overlook pitches such as the change-up. Instead, Cole Hamels has virtually perfected the pitch.

Cole Hamels with the Philadelphia Phillies


Cole Hamels early success with the Philadelphia Phillies

His first two starts in the Major Leagues were auspicious, yet he earned no decisions in those starts. From the outset he showed himself to be both a ground ball pitcher and a strikeout pitcher. In just his second season in the top league, he became his team's number one starter, even making the All Star team.
Cole's life with the Phillies early on wasn't always picture perfect. There were disputes about his pay. Disputes even as to who the team ace was, but those disputes were in the offices of the team, not in the numbers produced by Hamels, or in the minds of his teammates. In 2008 he'd throw his first complete game shutout. He'd only just miss recording two hundred strikeouts, and he led the league with the lowest on base percentage against him.
In 2008 the Phillies went to the playoffs and won. Cole Hamels was rated by FanGraphs as having the best change-up in baseball, and the Phillies would march through the National League playoffs to the World Series, where Cole Hamels would win not only National League Championship Series MVP, but also the World Series MVP. He was only six years out of high school at the time, and was dominating the best in the business on the biggest stage there is for baseball. Clearly, Cole Hamels was a clutch situation performer.

Cole Hamels - ups and downs in Philadelphia

Following the 2008 season which had established Cole Hamels as a debonair big league star, he had more of the same - seasons where he proved himself to be one of the best left handed starting pitchers in baseball. Truth is, he showed to be one of the best starters in baseball of either pitching hand, and one thing above all stood out, and that was his consistency. Cole Hamels could forever be counted on to provide a quality start of six or more innings. He was always good for around two hundred innings and as many or more strikeouts. His earned run average was forever just over three runs a game, or even under that nearly sacred statistical parameter.
Oh the Philadelphia Phillies had invested heavily, and banked on their starters. There were some impressive rotations, and Cole Hamels performed well. The Philadelphia offense, however, often left Cole Hamels hanging out to dry. Cole had his best winning season in Philadelphia in 2012 when he won seventeen haves, and had a .739 winning percentage. Then came the dismal 2013 season, where despite pitching more than effectively, Cole Hamels suffered the indignity of a losing record, winning only eight games and losing fourteen while throwing two hundred and twenty innings.

Long and tall, Cole Hamels with the Texas Rangers


Cole Hamels - traded to Texas and becomes ace of the Rangers pitching staff

The 2014 season in Philadelphia was scarcely better than the dismal season before it. The Phillies offense barely existed, and despite Hamels having a stellar earned run average of 2.46 and pitching two hundred and four innings, he only had a five hundred record of nine wins and nine loses. Cole never lost heart, and never approached a start with anything less than his best self to present, but the team was going nowhere, and it became obvious that as soon as Cole was able, he'd find a contender to play for.
When the 2015 season arrived everyone knew, especially Cole Hamels, that he'd be on the trading block, and traded he would be - but not before pitching his first career no hit ballgame. The 2015 season was looking like a repeat of the two previous seasons in Philly where Cole would pitch like a staff ace, and have an ugly record to show for it. The Phillies management knew they were in a rebuilding phase, and they knew Hamels was unhappy, and they also knew what a great deal of good prospects they could get by trading Hamels to a contender.
Cole Hamels came to Texas with fireball throwing late innings guy Jake Diekman for five players. Among the five were power hitting catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, a man the Rangers organization would only part with for someone the caliber of Hamels. Highly touted as well was power pitching prospect Jake Thompson, who may well be more ready for the Major Leagues than Alfaro.
The Hamels trade proved a major success for the Texas Rangers, just as the Cliff Lee acquisition had been several years before, but with Hamels, the Rangers knew they would be keeping him for some years, and maybe for the rest of his career. The Rangers went seven wins and one loss in Hamels regular season appearances on the team, and the vote of confidence a team feels by having a real ace of the pitching staff was noted by all. Cole had said he wanted to go somewhere where he could pitch meaningful games, and that is what he got to do in late 2015 with Texas. Going into 2016 he'll be the staff ace, and hopefully Derek Holland will again have someone to look up to as an example, and of course, the great hope is that when Yu Darvish returns, the Texas Rangers and Cole Hamels will once again be playoff bound in 2016. Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Diamondbacks First Baseman, Paul Goldschmidt

The poster child for why low round draft picks could be MVP type players, Gody seems to not get anywhere near the respect he deserves. This is purely because he's never played for a large market team. We can hope someone in a larger city acquires him before he gets too old, so he can start getting endorsement deals. 

He's not won a batting title yet, but that doesn't mean he won't. He's a potential triple crown player. 

Paul Goldschmidt takes a mighty swing


Paul Goldschmidt - 5 tool player

If there were a poll or contest taken to determine who other players thought most likely to win a league Most Valuable Player award, then Paul Goldschmidt, or 'Goldy,' would likely come in first. He is 28 years old, so he is in the prime of his athletic life, by most all measures. He's already proven himself to be an MVP caliber player, and it is possible he improves his claims further still.
Goldy, as they call him, is a true 5 tool player. He can run, he can throw, he's great with the glove, and can hit for both a high average and for power. He's maybe the single most threatening offensive player in the National League at this time.How can I say that when there is a guy named Bryce Harper in the National League? Because Paul Goldschmidt is a better base thief and defender than Harper is. He is already the owner of two Gold Glove awards, a Hank Aaron award, and two Silver Slugger awards.
Paul Goldschmidt is a Gold Glove first baseman.
Paul Goldschmidt is a Gold Glove first baseman. Source

Paul Goldschmidt will rank high in MVP voting for the foreseeable future

FanGraphs is a site used by millions of baseball fans to get their statistics and projections for any given player. FanGraphs says Paul Goldschmidt is 3rd best offensive player of all MLB players with at least 1500 plate appearances since 2013. Third best? Athletes are athletes for the competition. You can bet Paul wants to be THE best, not 3rd.
From 2013 to 2015 Goldschmidt ranks in the top 5 of the most significant offensive categories. He also plays in nearly every game. He'd had a hand broke by a pitch in 2014, and this limited him to just 109 games that year. Yet Goldschmidt seems largely less publicized than other big names. The players know who he is, and he's in every conversation comparing with names like Josh Donaldson, Mike Trout, and of course Bryce Harper.

Paul Goldschmidt hits a 482 foot home run.
Paul Goldschmidt hits a 482 foot home run. | Source

Paul Goldschmidt is athletically talented, but he is driven to forever improve his game

Goldschmidt hits balls very very hard. He hits some of the longest home runs in Major League Baseball every year. When Giancarlo Stanton, who is barely even considered human, is the guy who's got the only longer distance home runs than you, and they are only two feet longer than yours, well, you must be Paul Goldschmidt.
They say all that glitters is not gold, but then there is Goldschmidt, who's blood may actually contain traces of gold. He led the National League in home runs one year, and thus the Hank Aaron award, but he is not trying for home runs. This can be shown by an analysis of where he hits the ball. He hits most balls to center field. Less than 30% of Goldy's balls are batted to left, which is pulling the ball for right handed hitters.
What is strangest in the Paul Goldschmidt story is how he'd been looked over a lot by Major League scouts. Looked over as in over-looked. You talk about all the best players in the game today, and you talk about Goldy, and all the other names that get mentioned were much higher draft choices. Goldschmidt is a great big guy. He's got the kind of body scouts usually salivate over getting signed to a contract. But people today don't talk about how big and strong Goldschmidt is, they talk about his drive. He's driven to improve, and then find another way to improve. You can't teach someone what Paul Goldschmidt has going on in his head, and you can't scout for that kind of thing either.
Paul Goldschmidt with the Mobile BayBears.
Paul Goldschmidt with the Mobile BayBears. | Source

The Goldschmidt family escaped from Nazi Germany

The Goldschmidt family is Jewish. Paul's great-grandparents had to flee Germany and the Nazis who were taking power there. His great-grandmother was the heiress to a great big printing company in Germany, but in 1938, things were not looking good for Jewish business owners, regardless of how wealthy or established they may be.
The Goldschmidt's fled and re-established themselves in Boston, Massachusetts. The Paul Goldschmidt who is now a Major League All Star and possible future MVP adopted Christianity as his religion, but his father's family legacy or heritage is Jewish. When you are from a line of people forever traumatized by the whims of a majority who may frown upon the strange minority of Jews, there is often a long established disposition towards going all out at what you do to survive in this world. In any case, it is certainly working out well for Paul and the Arizona Diamondbacks today.
Paul Goldschmidt steals another base.
Paul Goldschmidt steals another base. Source

Paul Goldschmidt is the kind of role model America needs badly

Paul was born in Delaware, but his family relocated to the great state of Texas. So he grew up in The Woodlands, a suburb of Houston. Paul always wanted to be a baseball player, but to scouts he looked big and awkward. Kinda like the way Nelson Cruz always just looked strange trying to hit when he was younger. There was always someone better than Paul on any given team. So he didn't stand out much. He just kept working at it though.
By the time Paul was a junior in college, he was starting to look like a real hitter. He had a big clumsy looking swing, but it was steadily getting the kinks ironed out of it. Still, Goldschmidt was passed over for a lot of draft picks who're nowhere compared to where he is now. He got drafted though, and turned professional. He started to shine then. His 2009 rookie league A ball stats were terrific He hit .334, had 18 home runs, and 62 runs batted in - in just 74 games.
Paul may have left college to play professional baseball, but he didn't stop working at his education. He's graduated from college since becoming a Major League baseball star. This Goldschmidt fella is the kind of role model American kids need in this time where most celebrities are vapid and famous for being so.
Paul is also into reading. He has said he never read much when he was younger because he was working so hard at becoming a baseball player. He's thoughtful and philosophical about everything.

Goldschmidt advanced quickly from the minor leagues to the Major Leagues

Paul advanced quickly in the minor leagues. By 2011 he'd be the Diamondbacks top minor league player. He'd also debut in the Major Leagues in 2011. He'd attended Texas State University, and now he'd become the first position player from that university to make the Big Leagues. You can bet there are honors for Paul in Texas State University, and his coaches there surely are using his name and some anecdotal references to inspire the best on their teams now.
When Goldy was called up to the Majors, he was leading the minor leagues in home runs. He'd get a taste of the Big Leagues, and play in 48 games. It would be the next season when he'd get to shine, and show what he was really all about.
The 2012 campaign went very well for Paul Goldy Goldschmidt, he got to play in the majority of the Diamondback games that season, 145 of them. He hit for a very respectable batting average, .280, and blasted 20 home runs over the Major League fences, driving in 82 runs, and even stealing 18 bases. The thing about Goldschmidt's speed is, it isn't so terrific. What Goldy does is read pitchers better than anyone else seems able to do. Paul has pitchers and their behaviors psychoanalyzed. He's not as fast as Mike Trout by a 4 tenths of a second in time to first base from the batter's box.

Paul Goldschmidt becomes a perennial All Star

In 2013 Paul would make the National League All Star team. He got one of the only 3 hits the National League had in the game. Later in the season there would be a game where Paul became the first Diamondback to both tie a game with a home run, then win the game later with a walk off home run.
He led the National League in home runs in 2013 with 36. He also hit for a great batting average of .302, and had an outstanding, National League leading 125 runs batted in. He only missed 2 games the whole season. Goldschmidt is thus far not prone to injuries outside of his control.
In 2014 Goldschmidt was tearing up the National League, and he again made the All Star team. He was batting .300, had 19 home runs, and 75 runs batted in by the first of August, and on that day a pitch hit Paul, breaking a bone in his hand, and ending his season prematurely.
In 2015 Paul would get to play the majority of the season, and were it not for Bryce Harper, he'd likely have been National League MVP. We are all looking forward to the competition between the two, statistically, in the upcoming 2016 season. For 2015 the great Paul Goldschmidt hit a terrific .321 for a batting average, he hit 33 home runs, and drove in 110 RBIs. He won his second gold glove award, and his second silver slugger award. He even stole 21 bases. What does the future hold for Paul Goldschmidt? Well, he's a man so humble that when he hits a home run and there was a man on base, he often returns to the dugout to compliment whichever batter was on base for him to drive in. Surely his days will become ever the more productive and praiseworthy, as he is a very worthy athlete. I wish him the best, and so should you. Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Bryce Harper

So this offseason Bryce Harper turned down three hundred million dollars for a ten year contract. He sure better be able to back that confidence up in the next couple years. He may never get that kind of money offered again, as those big long contracts are increasingly frowned upon in Major League Baseball. 

Bryce Harper


Unanimous 2015 National League MVP, Bryce Harper

As the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player, Bryce Harper goes into 2016 as a exceptionally skilled and accomplished young man. He is all of twenty three years of age, and playing at the highest level of skill in the highest level of competition in the professional sport he pursues. He's a wunderkind.
Eventually, he may become the highest paid professional athlete on the planet. He's got some years to play before contracts can happen, but you can bet he'll be well taken care of in the District of Columbia. But this MVP award business didn't just up and happen out of nowhere. Bryce Harper already had 3 solid seasons behind him. He got started in the Major Leagues younger than most get a chance to do.
What did he do last year, in 2015, to win MVP? He did a lot. He led the National League in home runs with 42 long balls, he led the National League in runs by scoring 118 of them. Then come the newfangled sexy stats. He had an on base percentage of .460, meaning he was on base almost half the time he made it to the batter's box, and he had a slugging percentage of .649. The slugging percentage was what was truly epic, and then there is the OPS, which is merely on base percentage plus slugging percentage - and it goes without saying, as he led the National League in both those categories, he damned sure also had the highest combination, and this was also an epic 1.109.

Bryce Harper demonstrates perfect swing mechanics for hitting a baseball

The weight is transferred to the front foot at the very moment the ball hits the bat, and his head and eyes are on the ball too.
The weight is transferred to the front foot at the very moment the ball hits the bat, and his head and eyes are on the ball too. | Source

Bryce Harper is a legitimate America celebrity sports hero

You look at America here in 2016. You look at the talent-less celebrities our mass media throws at the kids. You look at the horrifying presidential candidates. You know deep down inside of you that America needs some legit heroes. People who you can show to the kids, or to the world, and be proud of. Bryce Harper is that kind of guy. We're proud of him, and the pride we have in him isn't based on him having some stupid rap music, claiming he's a genius, or for him slinging insults at people very publicly.
Remember the Simon and Garfunkel lyric lamenting the absence of Joe DiMaggio? You get the picture. But we've got legit role models right here with Bryce Harper, and Paul Goldschmidt, and others too. Just a decade ago people were saying that baseball was dying. Baseball was done for. They had their reasons for saying things like that, the steroid era messed things up a lot. The steroid sluggers are all gone now. America's national past-time is alive and well, and Bryce Harper is one of the reasons it is so so recovered from the brink of destruction.

Bryce Harper on the cover of 'Sports Illustrated'


Bryce Harper was 'the chosen one' even when he was in high school

There were some angry posts on the internet concerning Bryce Harper when it was announced he would just skip his last two years in high school to pursue professional baseball. Oh there was rue, much rue and bile that day. Well, has it not all worked out in his favor? It has, it has worked out in everyone's favor.
When you are so obviously talented and so obviously committed to a singular goal, then there is no reason to delay the attainment of the goal. Bryce Harper will have plenty of time for education, should he feel the need for more of it, as his life progresses. We live in a highly specialized world, a world where a broad education is always desirable, but not always the best course of action towards the betterment of our future.
Yes, there have been some disasters along the way for young athletes who opted out of education for sports. There has been a lost Josh Hamilton, and then a redeemed one. Sometimes, as in Hamilton's case, the redemption is ongoing. Bryce Harper looks to be the real deal, and for a long time to come. He can always get an education later, or he can spend his life dedicated to a huge business he is already a major part of.

Bryce Harper steals another base


Bryce Harper could be stealing more bases, but should he be?

In Bryce Harper's first year of professional baseball, he stole 30 bases in 38 attempts. If there is a legitimate complaint to be found anywhere for a man who is now the National Leagues reigning MVP, it is he isn't utilizing his base stealing capabilities to the fullest. In 2012 he stole 18 Major League bases in 24 attempts. This is a pretty high rate of success, so you can only wonder why he doesn't try more often.
But Bryce Harper has already undergone a knee surgery. So as a high average and high power hitter who also seems to forever just be on base, isn't this enough already? Why risk injury to steal? Should he risk injury just to please rabid fans who're forever in search of their own superman to adore? I think not. I think he should steal bases when he feels he's competent to do so, and at no other times. Like Mike Trout, who Bryce will forever be compared to, he's dropped off in his pursuit of base thefts. Perhaps the Washington Nationals are protecting their star. There are those who'll argue Bryce should be doing a 30/30 stolen bases and homers thing, or even a 40/40. But lets just let it lie, shall we?

Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, perhaps the two single best everyday players in Major League Baseball


Who is the single best player in Major League Baseball?

Before the 2015 season, Mike Trout was the single best player in Major League Baseball. Hands down. Everyone would tell you the same thing, Harper and Trout were always forever being compared one to another, but Trout was the single best player in the game. Clayton Kershaw was the single best pitcher, Mike Trout, the single best player.
Now things aren't so certain. Bryce Harper's 2015 season was probably a better season, statistically, than any Trout had as of the time, put together. So now the question is valid again, whereas before it was clearly sided towards Anaheim, California. So in 2016 we get the great comparison and the question asked anew, and with new meaning and vigor, who is the single best player in baseball, Mike Trout, or is it Bryce Harper?

Bryce Harper was a MLB legend while he was only in high school

Nobody can compare to Bryce Harper in the realm of media hype. There's only ever been one. We're talking here about a guy who was on the cover of the nation's preeminent sports magazine while he was still in high school. While his talent is everything it was hyped up to be, what amazes me the most is how he's been able to remain composed. He must have terrific handlers.
He is a creature of ritual. People complain his eye black is exaggerated. He's so good, and has drawn so much attention that people want to say he isn't as good as he is. He's not as good as Stephen Strasburg, they will say. Then there is also pity, people say they feel sorry for Bryce, all that hype, how can he deal with it? How can he live up to it? Impossible, we've seen Josh Hamilton, Bryce will implode. But it doesn't happen.
But Bryce Harper was trained relentlessly for all of this. His father, Ron Harper, never stopped investing time and energy into his son's training. Ron is a steel worker, he knows all about hard work, and when he wasn't on the job, he was working towards his son's future. Bryce has no regrets for leaving high school early. Would you?
In high school Bryce Harper's team plays in Tropicana Field, a Big League stadium. It is a high school game, but he hits the longest home run in the history of the ballpark. Longer than A-Rod's longest, longer than Manny Ramirez' longest, longer than Albert Pujols longest. The ball goes 502 feet.

Bryce Harper - the natural debuts with the Washington Nationals as a teenager


Bryce Harper was already 'the natural,' then he got contact lenses

He is the very first player picked out of all available prospects in the 2010 draft. This surprises no one. He is six foot and three inches tall, and weighs about two hundred and fifteen pounds. He's won the Golden Spikes Award for being the best single amateur baseball player there is.
Accolades and quotations about Bryce Harper get ridiculous very quickly. He spends two years in preparation, and everyone knows he could have gone straight to the Major Leagues, but they are worried about his psyche. Worried about him being another David Clyde or something. He had been a catcher at one point, but everyone knows the position is one where a player's body gets used up too quickly, so he's converted to an outfielder.
As astounding as he has been, it turns out he has terrible vision. So he gets contact lenses, and hits nearly .500 in minor league ball. Bryce Harper would have made a legend even had he never made it to the Major Leagues. He is the naturalthe golden child, the messiah of baseball.

Bryce Harper -2012 National League Rookie of the Year

Bryce will make his Big League debut in 2012. He didn't start the season with the Nationals, but he didn't stay in the minors for long. Cole Hamels wasn't' the first pitcher Harper gets a hit off of, but the real excitement came during a game the great Cole Hamels was pitching against the Nationals. Cole had hit Bryce with a pitch, then Bryce managed to advance to 3rd base, and steal home. Steals of home plate are rare in baseball. They are always very exciting plays to see attempted. Harper pulls it off, becoming the first teenager to ever steal home base in a Big League game.
The Rogers Center in Toronto is a massive masterpiece of architecture. The place used to be called the Sky Dome. In an inter-league game Harper hits a 438 foot home run to dead center that majestically smacks an advertising billboard next to a restaurant. After the game, when asked if he would have a celebratory beer due to Canada's lower drinking age, Harper makes a comment about the question, he says,"I'm not going to answer that. That's a clown question, bro." The retort is promptly turned into an internet meme sensation, and Harper seeks to have it patented.
He will go on to make the All Star team in his rookie season. Only Bob Feller and Dwight Gooden have been younger All Stars than Bryce. He finishes the regular season with the most extra base hits ever by a player in his teens. He would, of course, go on to win National League Rookie of the Year for the season, but not before getting to also play with the Nationals in the post-season.

2013-2014 Bryce Harper excels when he is available

The 2013 season showed Harper excelling at the game of baseball. This is what we expect from the natural. He hits 2 home runs on opening day. He is selected again for the All Star game, and participates in the home run derby. He's breaking Ken Griffey Jr. home run records for players so young. For the games he gets to play in 2013, he puts out exceptional statistics. But he needs knee surgery, and has it during the off-season.
In 2014, Harper injures a thumb sliding into 3rd base for a triple. His all out style of play is forever exciting, but puts him prone to injuries. He has torn a ligament in his thumb, and requires another surgery. So while in recovery, he hits 3 home runs in a minor league game.

In 2015 Bryce Harper lives up to all the expectations


Bryce Harper, Unanimous MVP in 2015

On opening day in 2015 Harper again hits a home run. On May 6 he hits 3 home runs in a game. Articles start appearing which compare Bryce Harper to Babe Ruth. None of this is thought to be hysterical any more. Harper is becoming a mythological icon. America needs this. Baseball needs this. By May 6, he's on a pace to hit over one hundred home runs.
Of course he can not sustain that pace. Or maybe he can. We're all waiting to see what Bryce Harper can do in 2013, and he is still several years out from reaching his athletic prime. People talk a lot about how much power Giancarlo Stanton has, and who is the better player. We shall see, please God, make it happen. So we can see.
People start saying Bryce is 'cocky,' and 'polarizing.' Such is human frailty. You see someone with talent so far and away more intense than everyone else's - and the instinct is to criticize them for being so good. It just isn't fair, is it? They have more than you do, more than I do. Bernie Sanders should redistribute some of Bryce Harper's talent to other players. He is now the greatest player since Barry Bonds, but he's not cheating with steroids. Praise God we're not all made the same. Praise God we have people who are far and away superior to the rest in skill. Baseball is America's great national past-time, and the world sometimes needs a superhero.