It’s May Day! Meaning the first month of the MLB season is in the books, also meaning it’s time for the monthly awards rankings. Last year, I finished by picking four of six awards correctly, missing out on NL Rookie of the Year (I still think Wade Miley should’ve won) and AL MVP (ditto Mike Trout). Here’s who I think is in line for some hardware after April.
American League Rookie of the Year
Silver Medal: Nick Tepesch, Texas Rangers
Normally, we do a top three with a bronze medal, but the American League rookie crop is so poor right now that you’re only getting two. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Aaron Hicks both had promise coming into the year and underwhelmed. Wil Myers or Dan Straily should hurry up and get called up and take the award you’re supposed to win. Tepesch has been solid for the Rangers going 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA and an inpressive 14:3 K:BB ratio.
Gold Medal: Justin Grimm, Texas Rangers
Unfortuately for Tepesch, his teammate has been slightly better for now. Grimm is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and a 15:4 K:BB ratio that’s been impressive in place of Matt Harrison. There’s still plenty of time for someone to step up and become the frontrunner for this award.
In the Running: Stephen Pryor, Seattle Mariners
National League Rookie of the Year
Bronze Medal: Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers
Unlike the American League, there is a plethora of rookie candidates in the NL that had a great start to the season. Jim Henderson has wrestled away the closer’s role in Milwaukee from John Axford and isn’t giving it back. He’s six for six in save chances, with a sparkling 0.75 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 innings.
Silver Medal: Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves
It’s clear that Gattis has been the best rookie hitter in the Majors leading all MLB rookies with six home runs and 16 RBI. He’s journey back to baseball has been nothing short of remarkable. Can he keep it up though is the main question. Especially with Brian McCann returning from injury, there might not be a daily spot in the Braves lineup for El Oso Blanco.
Gold Medal: Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals
If Tony Cingrani of the Reds had been called up for one more start this month, he might be in the top spot. For now, I’m giving the edge to Shelby Miller who’s been everything Cardinals fans hoped he would be in place of Chris Carpenter. Miller is 3-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 30.2 IP this season.
In the Running: Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers, and A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks
American League Cy Young
Bronze Medal: Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners
My love for Hisashi Iwakuma has been strong from the preseason. Iwakuma is only 2-1, but has 1.67 ERA and leads MLB in WHIP at 0.69. He’s also become more in command of his pitches with a fantastic 7.4 K:BB ratio. The Mariners have a formidable 1-2 punch now with Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez. All due respect to Yu Darvish, who leads the American League in strikeouts, I have a feeling he’ll crack the top three at some point this season.
Silver Medal: Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays
It’s a close call for the top spot and Matt Moore gets the short end of it for now. He’s given the Rays rotation a great boost as defending Cy Young winner David Price has been a little bit of a disappointment thus far. Moore leads the American League in wins, ERA, and hits/9 innings, but his inability to work deep into games keeps him in the silver spot.
Gold Medal: Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox
It’s really splitting hairs between Buchholz and Moore, but I’m going to give the razor-thin edge to the Red Sox starter. Both pitchers are 5-0, Buchholz has slightly worse ERA and WHIP, but has gone deeper into games for Boston. Buchholz also has the advantage over Matt Moore in WAR and is tops in the AL in that stat.
In the Running: Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers, Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers, Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, and Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees
National League Cy Young
Bronze Medal: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw or Verlander? Who’s the best pitcher in all of MLB? That’s a debate for another day, but right now based on the stats, Kershaw has been 3rd best in the National League. The Dodgers ace finished the opening month with a 1.71 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and is tied for 2nd in the National League in strikeouts.
Silver Medal: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Wainwright looks fully back from Tommy John surgery and better than ever. His streak of not walking a batter to start the season reached epic proportions and leads the league in K:BB, wins, and innings pitched. He sports a beautiful 2.03 ERA and 0.99 WHIP and hasn’t given up a home run yet this season. Let me repeat, HE LEADS THE LEAGUE IN BATTERS FACED AND HASN’T GIVEN UP A HOME RUN TO ANY OF THEM. Amazing.
Gold Medal: Matt Harvey, New York Mets
Who would’ve thought that when the Mets traded 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, they would have another Cy Young contender this year? Harvey has been a revelation for the Metropolitans going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA and a league-leading 0.81 WHIP. It’s a shame that he’s not eligible for Rookie of the Year, because he’d be leading that race as well.
In the Running: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler, Washington Nationals, Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds, Jake Westbrook, St. Louis Cardinals, and Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves
American League MVP
Bronze Medal: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
The defending AL MVP picked right up where he left off in 2012. The Triple Crown winner is hitting .363 and is tied for the lead in runs batted in with a player we’ll get to soon. Could there be back-to-back Triple Crowns in the works?
Silver Medal: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
Probably the best player this season you haven’t heard anything about. Santana leads the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, and offensive WAR. He’s blossomed into the AL’s Buster Posey so far this season, we’ll see if he can keep it up. If the Indians can make the playoffs with Santana performing at this level, he’ll be the MVP.
Gold Medal: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
He’s cooled slightly since his blistering start to the season, but “Crush” Davis leads the AL in home runs, runs batted in, total bases, and slugging. He’s even hitting .348 with a great .448 OBP. He’s one of the reasons the Orioles are proving 2012 wasn’t just a fluke. Let’s not forget his clutchness too!
In the Running: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees, Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics, Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers, Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, and Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
National League MVP
Bronze Medal: Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds
I may have made a mistake having Carlos Gonzalez over Choo on my preliminary All-Star Game ballot last week. Choo has been a fantastic pick-up for the Reds. He’s hitting .337 with a league-leading .477 OBP, that has paced the Cincinnati lineup. He’s also 4th in the NL in runs scored, OPS, and total bases. That was a great trade for the Reds so far.
Silver Medal: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
It’s entirely possible that Harper is about to repeat Mike Trout’s twenty year-old season (minus the stolen bases). He’s 3rd in the NL in offensive WAR and leads the league in OPS and OPS+. Harper also is hitting .344 and getting on base at a .430 clip, both top five in the league. It’s going to be beat into the ground that he’s doing this before he can legally drink, so get used to it.
Gold Medal: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves
It’s pretty safe to say that Justin Upton enjoys playing with his brother B.J. The younger Upton has almost carried the Braves lineup leading the National League in home runs, slugging, runs scored, total bases, and offensive WAR, while hitting .298. If Upton can start to hit better with runners in scoring position, he could have one of the greatest seasons in Atlanta Braves history.
Who would win your awards after April? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
The 2013 MLB All-Star Game is 83 days away, but never fear you can start voting for your favorite players today here. You get 25 votes that gets bumped up to 35 if you log in with your MLB.com account. Of course there are still paper ballots that can be found at every stadium and the MLB Fan Cave for you to fill out. While I don’t fill out mine until I get a better grasp of who deserves it (like that ends up mattering) here’s what my ballot would look like on April 24th.
American League: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles Davis is off to a hot start for Baltimore. He’s hitting .382 with an AL-leading 7 home runs coming into the games on the 24th. Mike Napoli and Prince Fielder have cases and Napoli would be my pick if he was on the ballot at catcher, not first base. (Runner-up: Prince Fielder, Tigers)
National League: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds The power numbers aren’t there, but Votto-matic is automatic at getting on base leading the league with 26 walks so far and a crazy .485 OBP. The next highest walk total is 16 by David Wright. (Runner-up Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers)
American League: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees I can make a case that Robinson Cano is the MVP of the American League right now. Then you can make the case that it’s April 24th and that’s stupid. (Runner-up Ian Kinsler, Rangers)
National League: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds It must be nice for Phillips to just get to drive in OBP-machines Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo getting on base ahead of him all the time. He leads NL second baseman in RBI and is tied for the lead in home runs. Plus, he’s the best defender at the position in the league. (Runner-up Daniel Murphy, Mets)
American League: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics Lowrie has been quite a coup for Billy Beane’s boys. Lowrie leads AL shortstops in runs, RBI, and batting average. (Runner-up: Jose Reyes, Blue Jays, I’m not joking either)
National League: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies Why have the Rockies been surprising in 2013? A healthy and hitting Troy Tulowitzki is a big part of it. He leads NL shortstops in home runs, RBI, and runs, while hitting .292. (Runner-up: Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers)
American League: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers The defending AL MVP is off to a quiet start, but is still among the league leaders in hits and is best among AL third sackers in batting average. (Runner-up: Evan Longoria, Rays)
National League: David Wright, New York Mets I really wanted to have NL batting leader Chris Johnson here, but Wright has had the overall better start to the season, especially on the basepaths. There’s a lot of depth here right now with Todd Frazier, Pablo Sandoval, and Martin Prado off to solid starts. (Runner-up: Chris Johnson)
American League: J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays Napoli not being on the ballot at catcher is Arencibia’s gain for now. He leads the American League in home runs with eight after another one on Wednesday. He’s my least likely from here to be on my actual ballot in a couple months. (Runner-up: Carlos Santana, Indians)
National League: John Buck, New York Mets Let’s just sum up Buck’s start with this meme. (Runner-up: Evan Gattis, Braves, wait he’s not on the ballot?!?)
American League: Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics, Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox, and Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles These three have been the best all-around outfielders in the American League this season. It’s not my fault that they’re all center fielders. (Runners-up: Austin Jackson, Tigers and Alex Rios, White Sox)
National League: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves, Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies, and Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals There is a ton of depth at National League outfield right now. You could take the next four on my list and make a case they deserve it on to the squad. Justin Upton has been hands-down the best hitter in the game so far this season, it’s ridiculous that he’s still on pace for 90+ home runs. (Runners-up: Shin-Soo Choo, Reds, Dexter Fowler, Rockies, Ryan Braun, Brewers, and Andrew McCutchen, Pirates)
American League: Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians Reynolds has been a great find for Cleveland with seven home runs and 18 RBI, both are top ten in MLB right now. (Runner-up: Travis Hafner, New York Yankees)
Who would you have on your All-Star ballot on release day? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
In about six weeks, the World Baseball Classic will be upon us again and Team USA will look to win its first title in the competition’s history. They’ve got a good shot — manager Joe Torre released his roster on Thursday, and they are absolutely loaded.
Unfortunately for fans of Team USA, one glance at a few competing rosters will stop the celebration in its tracks. Can someone unseat two-time defending champions, Team Japan? Will Team USA improve upon their 4th-place finish in 2009?
We can’t predict the results down to the wire, but we’re here to do what we do best at Three Up, Three Down. We rank the rosters! So strap in, baseball fans, and see if your favorite team stands a chance:
**The “Stick to Soccer” Group**
Notable player(s): Barry Larkin, Manager (and Hall of Fame Reds SS)
International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Ranking: 20
Breakdown: Good thing for their dominance on the international soccer scene, because Brazil isn’t going anywhere in the Classic. Yan Gomes was the first Brazilian player to ever reach the big leagues, and the country itself only has 14 players signed to Major League contracts. How they will win: They won’t. Why they won’t: See “How they will win.”
Notable player(s): Bruce Chen, SP, Royals
IBAF Ranking: 18
Breakdown: The Chinese baseball team is a decade away from being a serious contender, but they are headed in the right direction. They’ve made steady improvements over international tournaments since a decent showing at the 2009 WBC, in which they eliminated Chinese Taipei. How they will win: Hustle, starting pitching. Why they won’t: Not enough of either.
Notable player(s): Paco Rodriguez, RP, Dodgers/Engel Beltre, OF, Rangers
IBAF Ranking: 16
Breakdown: I’m not sure what to think about Spain. They lack star power, but did knock off Israel and South Africa in qualifiers. The roster is dotted with promising Major League prospects, but I don’t foresee Spain winning more than a game, maybe two in the WBC. How they will win: Breakout tourney from Beltre. Why they won’t: Their Pool C competition is stacked (Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic).
Notable player(s): Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates/Francisco Cervelli, C, Yankees/Nick Punto, IF, Dodgers/Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs/Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres
IBAF Ranking: 9
Breakdown: Not only did we miss out on a Hall of Fame induction for Mike Piazza, but he won’t be participating on Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic either. Props to the Italians for back-to-back Euro Championships, but the competition is pretty weak over there right now. I think they will be humbled in the WBC. How they will win: Play with a chip on their shoulder. Why they won’t: Even the MLB-level hitters are thin.
#12: KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS
Notable Player(s): Jair Jurrjens, SP, MLB Free Agent/Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox/Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers/Jonathan Schoop, 3B, Orioles/Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves/Roger Bernadina, OF, Nationals/Andruw Jones, OF, MLB Free Agent
IBAF Ranking: 7
Breakdown: The Dutch soccer team is one of my favorites to watch. And for the first time in recent memory, so will their baseball team. They just missed my “dark horse” cut, due to sheer overall talent of the rest of the field. But the Major League potential of some youngsters on this roster is extremely intriguing. They’ve won 20 of 32 Euro Championships ever played. How they will win: Infield of dreams breaks out. Why they won’t: Not all the youngsters will perform.
**The Dark Horses**
#11: SOUTH KOREA
Notable player(s): Jae Seo, SP, former Met, Dodger, Ray in MLB
IBAF Ranking: 4
Breakdown: I feel ridiculous ranking Korea this low, considering their past successes in the WBC. But, it’s the third time this tournament has been played and each team has scouting on the opposition now. I don’t think South Korea will sneak up on anyone this time around. How they will win: High on-base percentage, good defense. Why they won’t: Too much good competition.
Notable player(s): Peter Moylan, RP, Dodgers
IBAF Ranking: 10
Breakdown: There’s a handful of good Major League players (like A’s closer Grant Balfour) who hail from the land down under, but there isn’t a whole lot of MLB experience on this roster. Team Australia still has a shot at advancing, but they may have more trouble than in years past. How they will win: Pure grit. Why they won’t: Not enough runs, upstart opposition in Pool B.
Notable player(s): Jesse Crain, RP, White Sox/John Axford, RP, Brewers/Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates/Russell Martin, C, Pirates/Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays/Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
IBAF Ranking: 6
Breakdown: We all know that Canada produces some bona fide stars in MLB (Joey Votto, anyone?), but not all are present and accounted for on this roster, similar to Team Australia. They still have the talent to make a run with Lawrie, Morneau and Martin in the middle of the lineup though. How they will win: Dominant bullpen, good middle of the lineup. Why they won’t: Too much youth in the rotation.
#8: CHINESE TAIPEI
Notable player(s): Chien-Ming Wang, SP, MLB Free Agent
IBAF Ranking: 5
Breakdown: There’s a reason that Team Chinese Taipei is a top-five ranked country right now. But their proudest current professional representative (Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen) is not on the team yet. This team is still legit, and has a very winnable pool group. How they will win: Small ball. Why they won’t: Overall talent is lacking.
**The “Justtttt A Bit Outside” Group**
#7: PUERTO RICO
Notable player(s): Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals/Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals/Angel Pagan, OF, Giants/Mike Aviles, IF, Indians/Javier Vasquez, SP, MLB Free Agent
IBAF Ranking: 12
Breakdown: There may be no more high-ceiling-yet-average team in the WBC this year. Team Puerto Rico has finished fifth at both tournaments preceding this, and killed Team USA in 2009 before being ousted by them two games later on a walk-off hit. Even with players such as Molina, Beltran and Pagan, they won’t even be favorites in their own pool. How they will win: The Major League talent they have is relentlessly good. Why they won’t: Lack of depth in the rotation.
Notable player(s): Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers/Luis Cruz, 3B, Dodgers/Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers/Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals/Sergio Romo, RP, Giants
IBAF Ranking: 11
Breakdown: In their pool, Team Mexico will have to deal with Team USA, but other than that they should be favored to top Team Canada and Team Italy to move on. They have a decent infield, top-of-the-line ace, and one of the best closers in baseball. How they will win: Adrian Gonzalez goes off, Gallardo is dominant. Why they won’t: Romo is neutralized unless they have a lead late.
Notable player(s): None
IBAF Ranking: 1
Breakdown: Don’t let the lack of notable players deceive you — this team is good. Really good. They have played in the IBAF World Cup 29 times and won 25 gold medals, finishing second the other four times. In the WBC, Team Cuba has finished second and fourth (which, at the time, was their lowest finish ever in international competition). They just can’t legally have players like Aroldis Chapman or Yoenis Cespedes on their squad, otherwise they might be even better. How they will win: Hard-throwing starters, handful of five-tool prospects. Why they won’t: The top four teams are just too stacked.
Notable player(s): None
IBAF Ranking: 3
Breakdown: Again, don’t let the lack of Major League firepower fool you. Much like Cuba, Team Japan has been a hotbed for MLB stars over the years (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish). Even though none of them joined the fray in 2013, this team is stacked. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of future MLB players come off this roster after good WBC performances. After all, they are two-for-two in WBC titles up to this point. How they will win: Ichiro-style on-base scavengers, deceptive pitching. Why they won’t: Not having Ichiro and Darvish, among others, will end up costing Team Japan.
#3: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Notable player(s): Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants/Octavio Dotel, RP, Tigers/Alexi Ogando, RP, Rangers/Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays/Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Pirates/Edinson Volquez, SP, Reds/Carlos Santana, C, Indians/Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers/Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees/Edwin Encarnacion, DH/OF, Blue Jays/Hanley Ramirez, IF, Dodgers/Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays/Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers/Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays
IBAF Ranking: 13
Breakdown: The only reason Team Dominica is ranked so low by the IBAF is because all those notable players are stars in the big leagues, and don’t regularly compete internationally for their country. But now that the WBC has rolled around again, this is one unbelievably good team. My only concern is their starting pitching depth. How they will win: Scoring 15 runs per game (no…really). Why they won’t: Like I said, starting pitching depth. Will Volquez and Rodriguez be enough?
#2: UNITED STATES
Notable player(s): Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants/R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays/Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves/Kris Medlen, SP, Braves/Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants/Chris Perez, RP, Indians/Joe Mauer, C, Twins/Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds/Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies/David Wright, 3B, Mets/Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees/Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers/Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins/Adam Jones, OF, Orioles/Joe Torre, Manager
IBAF Ranking: 2
Breakdown: I didn’t even pick all the “notable players” I could have for this team. It’s Team USA’s equivalent of the MLB Dream Team, and Justin Verlander still is undecided as to whether he’ll join the rotation. This team is already a favorite with a balanced lineup and very strong pitching staff, but adding JV would be a coup. Check out fellow Three Up, Three Down host Bryan Mapes’ grades-by-position for Team USA. How they will win: Veteran experience, explosive pitching. Why they won’t: The bane of their existence, Team Japan, will come along eventually.
Notable player(s): Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers/Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners/Francisco Rodriguez, RP, MLB Free Agent/Ronald Belisario, RP, Dodgers/Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks/Salvador Perez, C, Royals/Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers/Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians/Miguel Cabrera, 3B/1B, Tigers/Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants/Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants/Carols Gonzalez, OF, Rockies/Gerardo Parra, OF, Diamondbacks
IBAF Ranking: 8
Breakdown: The quantity of star power on Team Venezuela might not match up to Team USA or Team Dominica, but the quality is far and beyond. When you start your rotation with Hernandez and stack the middle of your lineup with the reigning Triple Crown winner between Gonzalez and Sandoval, you are a very, very scary team. Even though their WBC pool is very tough, it would be a momentous upset to not see Team Venezuela make moves in the 2013 tournament. How they will win: A large margin of victory. Against anyone. Why they won’t: Slumping hitters or being outplayed by one of the other favorites.
And that’s a wrap. This writer believes Team Venezuela is the team to beat, with Team USA, Team Dominica and Team Japan not far behind. But in all honesty, there are about 10-11 teams who could potentially take home the title in 2013. Root for your team and country to take home top honors, and stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down because we’ll have all your World Baseball Classic coverage.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
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!