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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
In case you missed it, Brandon Moss just hit his second home run of the game for the A’s tonight and walked off with a 10-8 victory. In the 19th inning. I’m not kidding. Here is the game-winner (embedded video coming soon):
The two teams combined for 18 runs, 31 hits, 597 pitches, and three starting pitchers.
That’s not a typo.
Among the crazier aspects to this game was the A’s original starter Brett Anderson throwing nearly six innings beginning around the 12th. He was scratched with a bum ankle, but ended up pitching almost enough for a quality start by the end.
The A’s lost Coco Crisp, Chris Young and Anderson to injuries before the game ended, and Angels catcher Chris Iannetta, incredibly enough, was behind the dish for every single one of the Angels’ 297 pitches tonight. There has to be some kind of rule that allows a catcher in a game like this to get a stool to squat on. My goodness.
Well, it’s 1:46 a.m. and yours truly needs to get to bed. But here’s a video of Mark Trumbo’s monster home run that traveled an estimated 475 feet…in the second inning. Over six hours ago.
Also, Josh Hamilton was given a sarcastic “Josh Hamilton Appreciation Night” by A’s fans, who did everything in their power to remind him of his error last season that helped Oakland clinch the AL West. He responded by going 0-for-8 in the game.
But the night belonged to Moss, who continues to prove everyone who passed on him wrong as he carries the A’s and shreds Angel pitching (now has four homers in four games vs. Anaheim). He topped everything off with a very short, out of breath, postgame interview in which he pied himself in the face for winning it.
And before I pass out on the keyboard, a special shout out to friend of the podcast @vdemske and her small crew of fans who stuck out the entire damn game tonight. That is true dedication.
Ok, goodnight now.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
The Angels placed star pitcher Jered Weaver on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured elbow of his non-throwing arm. He suffered the injury during his last start against the Rangers.
The Angels ace will be out 4-6 weeks and depletes an already weak Angels starting rotation. Dane De La Rosa was called up from AAA Salt Lake to take Weaver’s roster spot.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
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:
SP Jason Vargas
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
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Chicks may dig the long ball, but it’s fielding that makes for the most exciting highlights in the game of baseball. What have been the best displays of defensive excellence this season? Let’s see if I can only limit Mike Trout to one play.
Let’s start it off with Mike Trout with what I believe is the best play of the year. Look at the leap. Look at the extension. I don’t think there is anyone else that makes this play in the Majors. Trout has taken away five home runs this season, but this one was the best.
Trout’s catch was given a run for it’s money though by Blue Jays Rajai Davis. He uses the wall to catapult himself up over a 10-foot wall to rob Casey McGahee. This one is a thing of beauty.
This is one of the top infield plays of the season by Diamondbacks do-it-all man Willie Bloomquist. He ranges to the other side of 2nd base and flips the ball backward almost in a somersault position to Aaron Hill for the force out. Bonus points for getting out Emilio Bonifacio, one of the fastest players in MLB.
Speaking of somersaults, here’s Twins Ben Revere making a great catch in the 9th inning and rolling into a somersault. Revere is one of the best in the league at spectacular plays.
I’m impartial to this play because I was at the MLB Fan Cave when it happened. Tigers Quintin Berry gets turned around, goes back and make a leaping catch over his head. I’m still not sure how he got to it. It was a huge save for the Tigers as they kept the lead at one and took the lead in the 9th inning. Without this catch, they lose.
Who has the best right field arm? My answer has been Jeff Francouer since he was an Atlanta Brave. Look at that laser rocket arm throwing out Alexei Ramirez.
Why has Brandon Phillips won two straight Gold Gloves at second base? Plays like this are part of the reason. He makes a behind-the-back flip look easy.
I promised my fellow podcast host Jeremy Dorn that I would get a Dodgers play into this. Check out Justin Sellers going full sprint over the shoulder and going head first into the stands. If you can get Vin Scully to go “Whoa!” and “Gee whiz!” that works for me.
A late addition to this blog. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher almost end up on the dirt to make a play in no-man’s land going the wrong way like J.P. Howell.
The hands-down Minor League play of the year. Jason Repko robs a grand slam from Kosuke Fukudome for the Pawtucket Red Sox. He even tumbles OVER the wall to complete the play.
Bottom of the 12th, up by one with runners on 1st and 2nd, Roger Bernadina saves the day as he becomes one with Minute Maid Park to win the game for the Nationals.
I’ll close with a double-dip of amazing Giants plays. The first was an amazing, diving catch for Gregor Blanco. This catch was the most important on this list as it preserved Matt Cain’s perfect game. The second is the kookiest play of this list as Pablo Sandoval bobbles a catch in foul territory, dives, tips it up and is caught by a diving Brandon Crawford.
Everyone goes with a top ten list, but I love defense so much that I went with a top thirteen! I can’t resist the urge though, here’s another Mike Trout home run robbery! This one to end the game off the bat of Prince Fielder.
Did I miss anything? What’s your favorite play of the year? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Earlier edition of Weekend Watch this week. Only three games on a Thursday night? Something seems off with that, I’m currently filling my time with the Women’s College World Series and Scripps National Spelling Bee. Would it kill them to make sure there is a day game every day? Here’s what I’m excited for this weekend.
5) Braves at Nationals
I’ve decided to stop putting the Braves near the top spot in these rankings every week, but this match-up is still too juicy to not include at all. Nationals befuddled the Braves at Turner Field this weekend while Atlanta was in the midst of a 8-game losing streak. Taking two of three from the Cardinals put some spring in their step heading on the road. Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman’s returns were sorely needed for the Braves offense. Almost the same pitching duels as last weekend as we’ll see Mike Minor/Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Beachy/Gio Gonzalez part deux, along with Tommy Hanson/Jordan Zimmermann on Sunday. Gonzalez was the most impressive last Sunday shutting down the Braves to one hit over seven innings with 10 strikeouts. He now leads the NL in strikeouts and K/9. Was that start enough to take my NL Cy Young in the “Too Early MLB Awards”? Answer coming this weekend. Weird but true stat: Michael Bourn already has five home runs this season, he had four in 2010 and 2011 combined.
4) Yankees at Tigers
The Tigers have been the biggest team disappointment in the Majors this season sitting at just 23-27 so far in a weak AL Central. Doug Fister is heading back to the DL to join teammate Austin Jackson. Tigers might be in some trouble with the Yankees coming to town. CC Sabathia is heading to the hill for the opener against Casey Crosby, who has a 4.26 ERA in AAA this season. What does bode well for Tigers fans is the Yankee lineup typically has trouble with pitchers they have never seen before. I’m excited to watch Justin Verlander on Sunday take on the Yankee lineup in a rematch from the 2011 ALDS. Not weird but true stat: CC Sabathia has more losses against the Tigers (12) than any other team.
3) Marlins at Phillies
There is no team hotter in the Majors than the Miami Marlins. Their 21 wins in May set the franchise record for wins in a month. The Phillies were dealt a tough blow with the loss of ace Roy Halladay for 6-8 weeks, but still have enough rotation goodness to survive. Kyle Kendrick has filled in admirably thus far and Vance Worley should be due back shortly. Cole Hamels with his 8-1 record and 2.43 ERA is also in the running for the “Too Early MLB Awards” NL Cy Young. Two plugs for a future blog in this blog? Oops. Weird but true stat: Giancarlo Stanton is 3 for 4 this season with two outs and the bases loaded with two grand slams. He loves the pressure. Please vote for him to go to Kansas City for the All-Star Game.
2) Orioles at Rays
Typically, I would put the battle of teams tied for the division lead in the AL East in the top spot, but A) I don’t want to hear about any East Coast bias and B) there’s a match-up that intrigues me slightly more. Orioles are hitting a rough patch right now, just 2-8 in their last 10 games, but did take two of three from the Rays, three weeks ago. Wei-Yin Chen has been a find for Baltimore and will take on David Price in the Friday opener. I’m also intrigued to see if shutting down a then-hot White Sox offense on Memorial Day is enough for Matt Moore to turn the corner. Would make me feel a lot better about picking him to win AL Rookie of the Year and AL Cy Young in the preseason. Signing a new extension hasn’t slowed down Adam Jones as he’s hitting .385 with two home runs since the press conference before last Sunday’s game. Not weird but true stat: Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson has beaten the Orioles more times (4) than any other team in his young career.
1) Rangers at Angels
So why this series over Orioles/Rays? I want to watch how the Rangers respond to getting 20+ runs put up on them by the Mariners. I want to see if Albert Pujols hot streak continues. I want to watch Mark Trumbo demolish pitches. I want to see Mike Trout do everything. (Told you I’d rather have him than Bryce Harper this season.) I want to see Yu Darvish pitch against C.J. Wilson. I want to see if Mike Trout can chase down Yu Darvish for AL Rookie of the Year. I want to see if Dan Haren has really turned things around. I want to see if the Angels can get over the .500 hump and make the AL West interesting. Last but definitely not least, I want to watch Josh Hamilton. Weird but true stat: Yu Darvish has given up 9 ER in 9.2 IP against the Mariners and 13 ER in 50.1 IP against every other team he’s faced. I asked for votes for Giancarlo Stanton before for the All-Star game, now it’s Mark Trumbo’s turn. He’s hitting .348 this season with 10 home runs this season while bouncing around from 3B to 1B to RF, to LF, to DH. If that doesn’t convince you, let my friends at the MLB Fan Cave try and do it.
Mapes Fantasy Special
A great 3-0 week last week as Ivan Nova, Mark Buehrle, and especially R.A. Dickey came through with starts that helped your fantasy team. These are now 15-5 on positive starts on the season. Sadly, Dickey and Buehrle have moved over the 50% owned threshold for Mapes Fantasy Special, so let’s see what I can find for this weekend.
6/1 Wade Miley at Padres (45% owned), Might as well go with our Three Up player on the podcast this week. Miley has been great and you have to like facing the Padres at Petco even with the return of Carlos Quentin.
6/2 Brandon McCarthy at Royals (45% owned), I’m not feeling too strong about this one with McCarthy just coming off the DL. It is a nice spot though against a KC team that is just 5-17 at home this year. McCarthy gave up 2 ER in 6 IP earlier this year against the Royals.
6/3 Barry Zito vs. Cubs (22% owned) I really like Zito here at home coming off a good start against the Diamondbacks. Cubs are 27th in the league in runs scored and are pitching Travis Wood, who hasn’t been great.
Coming soon is my “Too Early MLB Awards” now that June is upon us. Who do you think should be taking the hardware at this point in the season?
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
There undoubtedly other fun sporting events to watch this weekend like the NHL and NBA playoffs, plus the Kentucky Derby. However, here’s what I’m watching on the diamond this weekend.
5) Orioles at Red Sox
The battle between the team in 2nd place in the AL East and the team in the basement. Only it’s the reverse of what everyone thought it would be at the start of this season. Can the Orioles keep up the momentum? For Baltimore, is Jason Hammel for real? That trade with the Rockies for him is looking pretty shrewd right now as Hammel is 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA and passed his first difficult test of the season against the Yankees. The Red Sox schedule is easing up, but after losing two straight against the Athletics, all hands need to be on deck in Beantown.
4) Blue Jays at Angels
I’ll really just be keeping an eye on this one to see if Albert Pujols is going to decide to hit a home run this season. The Jered Weaver no-hitter bump already seems to be gone as the Halos dropped the first game of this series on Thursday night.
3) Phillies at Nationals
I want to see if Bryce Harper can bring people to Nationals Park on the weekend. The Nats haven’t seen a bump in attendance in the first series with “The Chosen One” in the lineup. My leader in the NL Cy Young after April will be taking the hill on Friday night in Stephen Strasburg. If Washington can’t get 30,000 in the seats for that, I give up. Hamels vs. Zimmermann on Sunday Night Baseball will be a great duel.
2) Braves at Rockies
A little bit of a homer pick by me, but I always enjoy watching games in Colorado. I’m excited to watch Tim Hudson’s continued return, hopefully a 49 year-old Jamie Moyer vs. 40 year-old Chipper Jones matchup on Saturday, Carlos Gonzalez has been on fire lately.
1) Rangers at Indians
The only weekend matchup pitting two 1st place teams. There hasn’t been a lot the Rangers have done wrong so far this season with Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler mashing in the lineup and Yu Darvish and Colby Lewis cruising along in the rotation. The Indians have been a little bit of a surprise in the AL Central that was supposed to be controlled by the Tigers. The Indians started off hot last season before fading, did they learn from it in order to make a run in 2012? Winning this series against the two-time defending AL Champion Rangers would be a nice boost.
What are you looking forward this weekend in Major League Baseball?
The future is now in Washington D.C. and Anaheim as the Nationals and Angels Friday night made a big splash calling up “phenoms” Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. Harper is filling the roster spot opened up by Ryan Zimmerman heading to the 15-day disabled list. Trout’s stay looks a little cozier as the Angels outright released Bobby Abreu to make room for the 20 year-old. What former phenoms that got called up at age 20 or younger did well? What can we expect from these two young studs?
Here are what recent players did in their first chance in the big leagues at age 20 or younger:
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, 2010, age 20
359 AB, .259 BA, 22 HR, 59 RBI, 45 R, .833 OPS
Stanton was probably the best of the sluggers at this age recently. 22 home runs and an .833 OPS would be at the high end of Harper’s potential for 2012.
Jason Heyward, Braves, 2010, age 20
520 AB, .277 BA, 17 HR, 72 RBI, 83 R, 11 SB, .849 OPS
Could this be Harper’s projected line? Both Heyward and Harper are tremendously hyped and play in the NL East. Being called up this early, Harper has a chance to play his way into 500 at-bats. If he does that, this line is very much in play.
Elvis Andrus, Rangers, 2009, age 20
480 AB, .267 BA, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 72 R, .329 OBP, 33 SB, .702 OPS
Trout and Andrus are similar offensive players. If the Angels decide to let Trout hit leadoff we could see him put up these kind of numbers with possibly more runs scored with the bats that are behind him in Howard Kendrick, Albert Pujols, and Mark Trumbo. Andrus went on to finish 2nd in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2009.
Starlin Castro, Cubs, 2010. age 20
463 AB, .300 BA, 3 HR, 41 RBI, 53 R, .347 OBP, 10 SB, .755 OPS
Trout has a lot more pop that Castro with his 5 homers in just 123 AB’s last season, plus more speed. The average numbers would be at the top echelon of what Trout could do this season. If you morphed together Andrus and Castro’s 20 year-old seasons into one, that could be what we see out of Trout.
So what can we expect out of Harper and Trout? There’s still a lot of learning to do, but Trout has been fantastic thus far in AAA, while Harper has been so-so at best. Harper is in a difficult position to stay up in the Majors as it seems like he’s just a fill-in while Zimmerman is injured. Harper does have a chance to prove that he belongs to stay over one of Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina, Xavier Nady, and Mark DeRosa. Harper sells more tickets than those four players combined. A hot start would be most beneficial to him and I think in the end he stays in Washington for the duration of the season. Harper’s AAA numbers started off slow, but after going 6 for his last 18, the Nats are ready to give him a shot.
Trout on the other hand, is here to jump start an Angels offense that is 3rd to last in the American League in OBP. The Angels let go of a decent player in Bobby Abreu to make room for him. Trout is here to stay, much to the chagrin of either Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo, or Vernon Wells. Trout was hitting a blistering .403 with six stolen bases in AAA Salt Lake before the call-up, proving he’s ready to go.
Here are my projected lines for Harper and Trout for 2012.
Bryce Harper, Nationals, age 19
440 AB, .257 BA, 16 HR, 64 RBI, 55 R, 11 SB, .810 OPS
Mike Trout, Angels, age 20
482 AB, .281 BA, 9 HR, 42 RBI, 65 R, .335 OBP, 22 SB, .745 OPS
Which phenom do you think will have the better first full season in the majors? Can either win Rookie of the Year in their respective league? Tell us in the comments!
Today, Major League Baseball released the list of the 20 best-selling jerseys in 2011. Derek Jeter to no one’s surprise led MLB in jersey sales (He also was tops in 2010). His Yankee teammate Mariano Rivera still cracked the list at #18 despite being north of 40 years old. However, which jerseys are the best investments for the common baseball fan? One that collects items from all teams, not just their favorite team.
Jeremy Dorn and I are going to do this draft style. He won the toss and will pick 1st, while I get the 2nd and 3rd and then alternate after that. What we’re looking for in our jersey investments are quality of player, potential time in uniform, and overall awesomeness. Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera would have been high on this list in 1997. Now lets see if they can crack out top 20 as their careers wind down.
Pick #1: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
You know I have to go with my boy Matt Kemp. He was one home run shy of 40/40 last season, and just signed a long-term deal with the Dodgers. So to meet the criteria, we have the quality, we have the time spent in uniform, and the overall awesomeness speaks for itself. But I’ll elaborate anyway, because I have an unhealthy bromance with Kemp. Undoubtedly the best five-tool player in baseball today, Kemp hits for average (.324 in 2011), power (39 home runs, 126 RBI last year), steals bases (40), plays defense, and guns people from the outfield (NL Gold Glove for center field). He does all these things while being incredibly handsome. That’s all. Go buy a #27 jersey, everyone.
Pick #2: Joey Votto, Reds
A pick I don’t think you saw coming. After signing a long extension, Votto will be in a Reds uniform potentially through the 2024 season. That’s what I’m looking for in my picks. It’s much easier for me to buy a jersey, when I have the security that player won’t be gone any time soon. Votto is no slouch of a player either. He is the 2010 NL MVP and his 162 game averages of .313 BA/31 HR/105 RBI will only get better as he continues in his current prime. He’ll end up on a short list of greatest Reds of all-time especially if he leads the Queen City to their first World Series title since 1990. What also helps Votto’s case is what other Reds jersey would you buy? Brandon Phillips? Johnny Cueto? Jay Bruce? Drew Stubbs? Give me Votto all day.
Pick #3: Albert Pujols, Angels
The player you probably thought I was going with at #2, but the extra length on Votto’s contract gave him the nod over Pujols. It’s always nice to get in on the ground floor of a new player that has just joined a team. Especially when he signs a NINE-year contract. Angels fans won’t go wrong having a Pujols #5 jersey in their closet as he passes milestone after milestone and ends his career in Anaheim. Pujols’ credentials speak for themself, 3-time MVP, 9-time All-Star, 2-time World Series champion, and 445 home runs and counting. You gave me potentially the greatest player in MLB history in my closet, hope you can recover from that.
Pick #4: Matt Cain, Giants
Hah! Gotcha, Mapes. I hate the Giants with all my might, but I can’t deny greatness when I see it. Cain just signed a long extension in San Francisco and should be at the top of the rotation, dominating poor National League hitters for almost another decade. If you want a guy who not only oozes talent and will be in one place for a long time, but is also generally accepted as one of baseball’s good guys, go buy a Matt Cain #18 jersey. Even if it is that ugly orange and black.
Pick #5: Ryan Braun, Brewers
Hah! Gotcha, Dorn. That wouldn’t be the Giants jersey I would buy AND I just got the Dodger fan to take a Giants jersey. I’ll take Ryan Braun last year’s NL MVP. With Prince Fielder now in Detroit, it doesn’t leave many options for a Brewers jersey in your closet. Braun is signed in Milwaukee through the 2020 season with a mutual option for 2021, or as I like to call it “longer than Matt Cain.” I love that I have now locked up the last four years worth of National League MVP’s in my closet while you’re sitting with your favorite player and not even the best pitcher on your hated rival. Advantage Mapes. Bonus point for Braun is you get the sweet, baseball mitt style Brewers uniform.
Pick #6: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
First of all, I only took Cain because I’m butt hurt that the Dodgers can’t sign him. It makes sense, just let the logic sink in. I guess we’ll see which Giants jersey you WOULD take here soon *cough, Posey, cough* and that’s nice that you want to represent a player who roids. Well done. I’m taking Miggy for Detroit and his yearly MVP quest. I recently ranked him as the second best player in all of baseball and his numbers back that up. I don’t even care to look how long he will be with the Tigers under his current contract. Why? Because if he moves to a new team, I’ll gladly go out and get the new jersey anyway! That’s how badass this guy is.
Pick #7: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
Sure go buy a new Cabrera jersey after 2015, maybe he’ll even go to the Dodgers. Nah, he’ll probably be another free agent they don’t sign. I’m taking the best shortstop in the game, Mr. Troy Tulowitzki. Rockies lock up their players long-term, if you had bought a Todd Helton jersey in 1997, you’d still be wearing it proudly today. (Top 4: Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Helton) I’ll take nine years of Tulo than 4 years of Cabrera any day. He hasn’t even hit his peak and has batting titles in his future hitting in Coors Field. Plus, chicks dig the purple. It’s science.
Pick #8: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
Who doesn’t love a little Cutch? McCutchen is locked up for the next half decade at least with Pittsburgh, and when the Pirates finally climb back above .500 and start to contend again, McCutchen is going to be the face of the new era. He plays a solid center field and can rake with the best of them. He’s still young too…give him another two or three years and you’ll be seeing #22 jerseys everywhere. Not just in Pittsburgh.
Pick #9: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
You finally have a pick I like. I have to go with my man Giancarlo Stanton before you snap him up on me. Hell, I’m wearing his jersey t-shirt in my favorite color (orange) right now. I don’t have to worry about the Marlins changing their uniforms so I know I’m getting full tenure of the jersey when he’s in Miami. Stanton isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, where I might get worried that he moves on in free agency. Even then he’ll just be entering his prime and I have no qualms of getting another Stanton jersey, preferably a Braves one.
Pick #10: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Bring on the girlfriend jokes. I know, I know. But is there really a cooler catcher to get a jersey of in baseball right now? Not only is he far and away the best defensive catcher in baseball, but he really brought on his offensive game in 2011. Talk all you want about Pujols and Freese and Carpenter from last year’s World Series run, but Yadi is the heart and soul of that team. There’s a reason he looks so angry all the time – he’s a very intense, focused player. And even though he wouldn’t care, I’d love to rep his jersey. That #4 is going to be the backstop for the Cards through at least 2017.
Pick #11: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
I’ll even let you take Jose and Bengie Molina’s jerseys too. You could’ve had Molina in the last round if you wanted, but I’m sure you do look good in Cardinal red. I’m gonna go with the jersey t-shirt I actually bought today. I had a Jonathan Papelbon jersey t-shirt and we had a good run from 2006-2011, I picked Gonzalez today over Jacoby Ellsbury. The Red Sox have A-Gon in the lineup through 2018, I’ll take a solid seven years out of this shirt. There are no worries about the Red Sox changing uniforms. There’s a guy sitting out there that I thought would go top 5, but I can’t bring myself to take him yet. Maybe next round.
Pick #12: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
King Felix is still one of the most underappreciated pitchers in baseball. Mostly because he’s been buried on bad teams in Seattle. You’ve to go love this guy. He’s already established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game, and he’s still surprisingly young. If you have any baseball fashion sense (says the guy wearing jeans, $25 Nikes and a 10-year-old sweater), you know the Mariners jerseys are sick. And when you throw the “Hernandez” across the shoulders, you’re really stylin’! Felix loves living in the Pacific Northwest and is already signed there for a while longer. But I feel like by the time he’s due a new deal, the M’s will be contending, so I’ll take my chances.
Pick #13: Prince Fielder, Tigers
You really just picked a guy who’s rampant in trade rumors and is more than likely gone after 2014? You’re gonna go poor with all the jersey you have to buy. I’ll take the player I thought was going to go in the top 5 picks, the Tiger you should have picked, and a slugger that’s signed in the uniform through 2020, Prince Fielder! Chicks dig the long ball and Fielder provides that. Tigers also have a timeless uniform and worst case if he leaves, I can always pretend it’s a Cecil Fielder jersey.
Pick #14: Eric Hosmer, Royals
I have so much bro love for Hosmer that it hurts. He’s still on his rookie deal and will more than likely be the next long-term deal handed out by Royals management. You know I have to get a Hosmer jersey in that powder blue, too. As for the Fielder jersey, it’s a solid choice. He’s going to be a popular choice though, and I am more of a dark horse jersey kind of man. For example, I rep my James Loney Dodger jersey proudly all the time. Now imagine another pretty blue jersey with another first baseman’s name across the back? Hosmer is the best young first baseman in the game, Freddie Freeman be damned.
Pick #15: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
That is the first pick you’ve made that made slam something in anger. I should’ve gone Hosmer over Prince because you already had a Tigers jersey. That was a misstep on my part. I’ll redeem myself with taking the ONLY pitcher jersey I would buy and that is Strasburg. I fear the big injury with pitchers and they never recover, but I think Strasburg already has that out of the way. There is no player in MLB that gets the attention he does when he’s on his game. He’s under contract until 2016 and I look really good in red.
Pick #16: Matt Moore, Rays
Whoa, calm down there buddy! Strasburg is the ONLY pitcher’s jersey you would take? I think the fact that he’s already been injured is reason to NOT take him. What if the same problem crops up again? Once you’re damaged goods, you will literally always have the injury questions following you. So I’ll go with a guy who’s very young, very talented and going to be a breakout star in Tampa in 2012. He’s still on a rookie deal so he should be around for at least four more years, and he will have a chance to contend for a Cy Young by 2013 in my opinion. Moore, Felix and Cain. I dig my pitcher jerseys!
Pick #17: Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays
You’re right, I’d probably take a Matt Moore jersey too. I even picked him to win AL Cy Young this year somewhere on this blog. You took Hosmer, so I’ve to get a young stud in a blue jersey too and none better than Brett Lawrie. Toronto just updated their uniforms coming into this season, so hopefully they stick with them for a while. Lawrie is also a Canadian born and bred, so I have a feeling he can be a lifetime Blue Jay, unless they stick a team in Vancouver in the next 15 years, making this a safer investment.
Pick #18: Carlos Santana, Indians
You can’t take a guy who hasn’t actually proved anything yet…can you? I’m going with a sure bet. I don’t know if Santana will ever bring his average up, but the power game alone is going to keep fans in love with this young catcher. Plus, I’m still a little bitter that the Dodgers traded him away for Casey Blake. Talk about a bad decision. Right now, I’ve got the best young catcher in the AL Central, the best young first baseman, and the best overall player in the division all tied up on my team. I’m not a huge fan of that division, but I’ll gladly wear these guys’ jerseys.
Pick #19: Buster Posey, Giants
I’ll take the guy I knew you wouldn’t pick or be ridiculed for being a Dodgers fan with two Giants jerseys in his closet. Posey went to my favorite college when I was little (Florida State) and we have the same birthday! How do I NOT take him? As previously mentioned, orange is my favorite color too. Posey is on his way to super stardom and being the best catcher in the game, unless Joe Mauer can get himself back on track. A steal this late in the jersey draft as Posey’s jersey was in the top 20 sold in 2011 and he was hurt for the 2nd half.
Pick #20: Robinson Cano, Yankees
How can you have an epic jersey collection without a Yankee in there? I know they are the Evil Empire but if you think those classic threads are ugly, you are a sad, sorry person. If I’m going to take a Yank, it’s gotta be Cano. He’s the future of their franchise and has already established himself as a legit MVP candidate. He’ll be there for life more than likely as all great Yankees are. When I put that on, I’ll get evil glares until they see the big #20 on my back.
Clearly, I’ve out-drafted you tonight, Mapes. I’ll give you props for taking Giancarlo, Tulo and Strasburg. They are bold picks and we could be talking about those three for years to come. But Votto, Prince, Pujols and A-Gon? Come on, I know you’re more original than that! Everyone already has those ones, and while they look pretty, you’ll be matching about 5,000 other fans at any given game.
My team is clearly the more solid one, what with a classic Yankee jersey, the best young star in baseball (Kemp), and three awesome pitchers included on the rack. When making these choices, one must consider first how the jersey looks, then how relevant the player is. And anyone who thinks a Yadi Molina Cards jersey won’t just be pure glory is clearly in contact with Ryan Braun’s dealer.
Robinson Cano was going to make my honorable mention list, but they fact that he’s a free agent after next season kept me at bay. If he got signed to a 7-year extension tomorrow, he catapults to top 3. I was for players that I know I will get many years of enjoyment out of. You will be buying jerseys left and right while I’ll still slip on my Votto, Pujols, Fielder, and Gonzalez late into this decade. Gonzalez isn’t as owned as you think in Boston, I’ve actually been to Fenway Park. Plus, I have the color wheel completely covered red, purple, navy blue, bright blue, black, and orange. My quality of player is also far better and I didn’t pick a jersey of my biggest rival with my 2nd pick, what kind of fan are you?
Here are our honorable mentions!
Jeremy: Yonder Alonso (Padres), Justin Upton (Diamondbacks), and Jose Bautista (Blue Jays)
Bryan: Starlin Castro (Cubs), Jason Heyward/Freddie Freeman (Braves), and Joe Mauer (Twins)
Final Jersey Rosters:
Jeremy: Kemp (Dodgers), Cain (Giants), Cabrera (Tigers), McCutchen (Pirates), Molina (Cardinals), Hernandez (Mariners), Hosmer (Royals), Moore (Rays), Santana (Indians), and Cano (Yankees)
Bryan: Votto (Reds), Pujols (Angels), Braun (Brewers), Tulowitzki (Rockies), Stanton (Marlins), Gonzalez (Red Sox), Fielder (Tigers), Strasburg (Nationals), Lawrie (Blue Jays), Posey (Giants)
The fact that we got through twenty players and there are still a bunch of players that I would proudly wear on the street, shows what a great place America’s pastime is in.
Who would you want in your collection? Vote in the poll, eave a comment or yell at us on Twitter @Mapes4FanCave for Bryan or @Jamblinman for Jeremy!
Opening Day Thursday is almost in the books. I sit here watching the Dodgers and Padres with the masterful Vin Scully calling the game taking in all that we already saw. Great pitching matchups in the afternoon games, a walk-off win for the Detroit Tigers after Jose Valverde blew the save after not messing up a chance in all of 2011, and the longest game in Opening Day history with the Blue Jays and Indians going SIXTEEN innings after Chris Perez coughed up a three-run lead for Cleveland in the top of the 9th. It’s gonna be hard for Friday’s matchups to top all of that. Let’s see what we have on tap.
White Sox at Rangers 2:05 ET
The Rangers begin their march for a 3rd straight AL pennant, something that hasn’t been done since the 1998-2001 New York Yankees. Important for John Danks to get through the 1st inning unscathed as the Rangers top 4 hitters in the lineup all hit .350 or better off of Danks in their career.
Twins at Orioles 3:05 ET
Possibly the worst opening day pitching matchup between Carl Pavano and Jake Arietta. Twins fans will just be excited to have their M&M boys (Mauer and Morneau) back in the lineup together after they missed a combined 173 games for Minnesota in 2011.
Yankees at Rays 3:10 ET
New York and Tampa Bay start off the 2012 regular season the same way the 2011 one ended at Tropicana Field. If the drama for this game is anything like game #162, we’re in for a treat. My AL MVP prediction Robinson Cano hits .386 lifetime against James Shields and makes for a solid Beat the Streak pick on MLB.com
Cardinals at Brewers 4:10 ET
Ryan Braun doesn’t have to face the road crowd after a tumultuous offseason. The real story here though is Yovani Gallardo, who sports a 1-7 record with a 5.66 ERA in his career against rival St. Louis. A stat that will not make my co-host Kurt Peter very happy at all.
Rockies at Astros 7:05 ET
Jeremy Guthrie gets the Opening Day nod for Colorado after being traded for in the offseason. Guthrie was solid in spring training and is the Mapes Special for fantasy streaming pitcher of the day (owned in just 5% of Yahoo! leagues). Rules for the Mapes Special are they must be available in more than half of leagues, I’ll have another one coming up.
Giants at Diamondbacks 7:10 ET
Two Cy Young candidates on the hill in Tim Lincecum and Ian Kennedy, so expect a pitcher’s duel like we saw in many games Thursday. The big story though, is the return of catcher Buster Posey to the Giants lineup after a devastating ankle injury last season. If Posey is 100% he makes the Giants lineup average instead of subpar.
Dodgers at Padres 10:05 ET
The only two teams that play both Thursday and Friday. For those of you that get to listen to Vin Scully again, I’m deeply jealous. Cory Luebke and Chad Billingsley make for an interesting pitching matchup in Petco Park has both have had success against their opponent.
Royals at Angels 10:05 ET
Alright, I guess you should be watching Albert Pujols debut for the Halos. I’m not going to get cute on this one.
Mariners at Athletics 10:05 ET
Welcome back to America. Not a rematch that we saw in Japan as Brandon McCarthy will take on Jason Vargas instead of Felix Hernandez. Both McCarthy and Vargas were impressive in their 2012 debuts in Japan, with the Athletics ballpark coming into play Jason Vargas (7% owned) is the 2nd Mapes Special of the day!
Enjoy opening day #4!