Tagged: Derek Jeter

Fantasy Baseball Pops and Drops: Week Three

We’re heading into week four!  There are a lot of changes coming with players hitting the disabled list and players behind them getting some extra playing time.  Here’s a recap of who were among the top added and dropped in ESPN fantasy baseball leagues during week three and what to do now.

Week Three Pops

Chris Johnson, Atlanta Braves, 1B/3B: ESPN +73.9%

My undying love of Chris Johnson pays off in week three as my “predicted pop” each of the last two weeks finally gets added in the ton of leagues, I even talked about him on this week’s podcast.  I also did pretty well with “pops” Tony Cingrani, Daniel Nava, and Joaquin Benoit.  If you grabbed Johnson I would use him this week on the road against the Rockies and he should get DH at-bats against the Tigers.  With Freddie Freeman’s return though, Johnson will soon be back in a platoon with Juan Francisco.  Sell high while he’s leading the NL in batting average!

Edward Mujica, St. Louis Cardinals, RP: ESPN +50.1%

Who’s gonna be the closer for Mike Matheny’s squad?  Jason Motte seems destined for Tommy John surgery.  Mitchell Boggs has been horrendous in 2013 and that might be an understatement.  Trevor Rosenthal is an intriguing option, but it looks like the job for now belongs to journeyman Edward Mujica.  If he can keep the job for the season I’d expect 30 saves.  Grab him while you still can.

Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants, SS: ESPN +68.2%

To quote Randolph and Mortimer Duke from “Trading Places” get in there and SELL SELL SELL!  I don’t think he’s remotely this good.  He’s a great glove at shortstop, but a career .242 hitter and is already one home run short of the four he hit last year in 435 at-bats.  There’s some growth here, but if you can get Derek Jeter’s owner to overpay for him at shortstop or middle infielder, you have to pull the trigger on a trade.

Predicting next week’s pops: Brett Anderson, Athletics, SP, Lorenzo Cain, Royals, OF, Wandy Rodriguez, Pirates, SP

Week Three Drops

Derek Jeter, New York Yankees, SS: ESPN -36.3%

It’s no longer time to hold on to the Yankees captain as his ankle injury will now keep him out through the All-star break.  In standard leagues that only have one DL spot, there are better players (Jose Reyes, Jered Weaver, Ryan Zimmerman) for you to be using your DL spot on.  Even when he comes back I don’t think we see the player you’re expecting and there will be not as much speed.  Just a batting average play at best.

Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals, 3B: ESPN -33%

The Royals really have a chance to contend this year but Moustakas and teammate Eric Hosmer are going to have to pick up the pace.  Moustakas is never going to hit for average, but you were hoping there would be a chance at a 25-30 home run season.  Instead he hasn’t gone yard this season and has just one RBI on the year.  I still slightly believe, so if he’s been dropped in your league, throw him on a watch list as May and June were his best month in 2012.

Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants, SP: ESPN -30.4%

Is there a pitcher that can have one bad start and elicit such a drop-off as Barry Zito?  He gets rocked on the road by the Brewers (9 earned runs), but hasn’t given up a single run in 21 innings at AT&T Park this season with 3 wins.  He’s a match-up play, but one of my favorite match-up spot starts this season, especially at home.  I just wish he could drop under 50% so I can use him for #MapesFantasySpecial’s again.

Predicting next week’s drops: Adam Dunn, White Sox, 1B, Kendrys Morales, Mariners 1B, and Dan Haren, Nationals, SP

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Episode 42 – The 15 Day DL Is Getting Crowded

Welcome back! The gang is back this week discussing the many many trips to the 15 Day DL that everyone is taking. Zimmerman, Chacin, Billingsley, etc etc, the list goes on and on. Derek Jeter has also sprung up in conversation as he won’t be back until after the All Star Game.  David Ortiz and Chase Headley return from the DL to help their respective teams, and the Brewers get a little crazy stealing first base and throwing water at other players.  We also give you your hot fantasy pickups and drops to help you win that office league. Take a listen and start winning!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

Jeter or A-Rod: Who’s Back First?

The Yankees injury hits just keep on coming.  The news today is “The Captain” Derek Jeter has a small crack in the same left ankle that he injured during last season’s playoffs and will now be out until after the All-Star break.  This is the third setback for Jeter as he originally played in Spring Training to be ready for Opening Day and then had a target date of May 1st.

Jeter isn’t the only Yankees superstar on the disabled list until after the All-Star Game.  Alex Rodriguez underwent his 2nd hip surgery in four years in January and his planned rehabbed would have him coming back to the Bronx Bombers lineup after the Mid-season Classic.  Rodriguez’s rehab seems to be going well, at least from the pictures he posted on his Facebook page.

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Look at those bulging biceps, they’re ready to go right now.  Unfortunately for A-Rod, rehabbing might not be his only problem.  He’s under investigation by MLB for his connections to the Biogenesis clinic and Anthony Bosch.  That investigation could result in a suspension for the Yankees third baseman that would push back his return into August or further.  The Yankees need all the help they can get with Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira also out.  That being said, the Bronx Bombers are 8-5 this season with the likes of Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay, and Vernon Wells playing key roles.  There’s just something that happens when you put on the pinstripes.

The question is simple.  Who makes it’s back into Joe Girardi’s lineup first?  The Captain or A-Rod?

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Rangers and Elvis Andrus agree on a long-term extension

Where did all these teams find the money? Following the trend of giving young marquee players huge extensions the Texas Rangers have signed two time All-Star shortstop Elvis Andrus to an eight year extension worth $120 million.

Elvis-Andrus-Getty

The Rangers now have $131 million committed to Andrus over the next 10 seasons. Looking at similar deals given to young shortstops like Troy Tulowitzki the Rangers could have just signed Andrus to a very team friendly deal.

Andrus can opt out four years into his extension which will go into effect after his current deal expires after the 2014 season. So he will be in a Rangers uniform until he is at least 30 and maybe until he is 34 if he decides not to opt out.

This signing is very good news for the Rangers as both Hanley Ramirez and Derek Jeter’s contracts both expire after the 2014 season, and face it the free spending Yankees and Dodgers are both capable of outbidding the Rangers for Andrus.

The Rangers now have some flexibility on the field that GM Jon Daniels will have to work out. He has some very important personal decisions to make regarding certain players futures with the team. What does this extension mean for Ian Kinsler, Jurickson Profar and many others on the team?

This move almost certainly means that top prospect Jurickson Profar will either be the Rangers second baseman in the future or he could be the centerpiece in a deal that brings either David Price or Giancarlo Stanton to Texas. Both of whom are expected to be available  as they near free agency and arbitration respectively. That future could come later this season if Kinsler is moved to first base or elsewhere in the field.

Mitch Moreland could be the player most directly affected by this signing. Before Spring Training this season for the first time in his career Moreland was the starting first baseman from day one. He won’t be platooned like he has in the past few seasons, being sat down against lefties. One reason for this is because of the loss of Michael Young and Mike Napoli but the team also thinks he has matured into an everyday player. With this signing though his leash has likely been shortened and they might be quicker to pull him in favor of bringing Profar up and moving Kinsler over.

Currently the Rangers only have two outfielders on the big league roster under contract past this season, Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin. Both Nelson Cruz and David Murphy could hit free agency at the end of this season if they can’t agree on extensions with the team. So the Rangers could look to next season and try Kinsler in the outfield to see if he can be a replacement for either one of them.

What do you think of the signing? What should the Rangers do about Profar now? Let us know in the comments.

-Brian Boynton (@gingabeard_man)

The 2nd Annual Jeremy vs. Mapes MLB Jersey Draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Predicting the Winners: 2012 Gold Gloves

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

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

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

A.L. Catcher:

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

Winner: Avila

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

N.L. Catcher:

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

Winner: Molina

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

A.L. First Base:

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

Winner: Teixeira

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

N.L. First Base:

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

Winner: LaRoche

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

A.L. Second Base:

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

Winner: Cano

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

N.L. Second Base:

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

Winner: Barney

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

A.L. Third Base:

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

Winner: Beltre

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

N.L. Third Base:

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

Winner: Headley

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

A.L. Shortstop:

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

Winner: Hardy

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

N.L. Shortstop:

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

Winner: Rollins

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

A.L. Left Field:

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

Winner: Gordon

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

N.L. Left Field:

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

Winner: Prado

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

A.L. Center Field:

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

Winner: Trout

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

N.L. Center Field:

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

Winner: McCutchen

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

A.L. Right Field:

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

Winner: Francoeur

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

N.L. Right Field:

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

Winner: Heyward

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

A.L. Pitcher:

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

Winner: Peavy

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

N.L. Pitcher:

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

Winner: Buehrle

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

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

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Mapes vs. Jeremy V: Predicting the Silver Sluggers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Jeremy:

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

Team Mapes:

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

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

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

The 3U3D Awards: American League MVP Edition

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

American League

 

Here are everyone’s thoughts on MVP:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derek Jeter and the 5 Players We Can’t Imagine in Another Jersey

Imagine my poor blood pressure this morning when I woke up to a headline like THIS today.

Something like what Derek Jeter is alluding to would be disastrous if it actually came to fruition. I’m no Yankee fan by any measure, but I truly respect Jeter and have looked up to him since I was a little kid. And I just can’t imagine him wearing anything besides the pinstripes.

None of that Joe Montana-to-the-Chiefs, desperate-to-keep-playing, end of the career crap from Jeter, please.

Sure, the unthinkable has been done before – Ken Griffey, Jr. moved to Cincinnati from Seattle even though he looked like a super hero in the silver and teal. Heck, we had one happen this past off-season when Albert Pujols jumped ship to Anaheim, despite looking so damn good in Cardinal red.

But the super fan in me would like to keep that kind of olé B.S. to a minimum. I don’t know what it is…the players themselves, the jersey/color combo of the teams they represent, or just the nostalgia of a childhood long-gone (okay, I’m not that old), but I identify Jeter and the rest of this list as players who I could never, ever see in a different jersey:

*Disclaimer: Mariano Rivera and Chipper Jones not included because they are guaranteed to stay a Yankee and Brave, respectively, for the remainder of their Hall of Fame careers*

1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

Let’s start with the Captain himself. Jeter has played all 18 seasons as the shortstop of the Yankees, number two plastered on his back. Needless to say, Mr. November will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the next great Yankee to have his number retired. There is no more iconic jersey in sports than those of the Yanks, and even imagining Jeter in an Angels, Cubs, Red Sox (god forbid) or any other jersey is painful.

2. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

I know he’s only been around a few years, but damn if Posey hasn’t made himself a celebrity in San Francisco at Usain Bolt-esque speed. There is no way the team will let this guy walk away as long as he’s physically able to play the game. It’s really hard to predict this early, but we could be seeing the next great “one-team” lifer in Posey, who should be representing that awful orange and black for another decade and a half.

3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if Mariners GM Jack Zdurineck trades Felix, he should not only be fired, but tarred, feathered and forced to watch Jack and Jill on loop. Hernandez is the King of Seattle and it should stay that way forever. I dig the silver and teal uni’s up there in the Pacific Northwest, and Hernandez wears it best. Plus, he wants to stay a Seattle Mariner. I’m sure Brian Cashman has visions, but I just can’t see this guy in Yankee garb.

4. Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies

When I say Rockies, you say Helton! “ROCKIES!” “HELTON!” Thank you. But seriously, Helton is about as synonymous with Colorado baseball as macaroni is with cheese. He’s played all 16 years of his career manning first base at Coors Field, and will most definitely have his number retired there whenever he hangs up the spikes. Todd Helton in anything but purple would be straight criminal.

5. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

I know a few Cardinals fans who would actually sob uncontrollably if Yadi ever slips on another team’s jersey. And they should, because it would arguably be more devastating than the loss of Pujols to that devoted fan base. Whereas Pujols was the power and glam of the team, Molina is the heart, soul, lungs and kidney of the franchise. I know NL catchers have a short shelf life, but just trying to picture him as a Dodger or Phillie makes me want to elbow drop a baby penguin.

6. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Last, but certainly not least, we have arguably the best all-around player in the National League. I don’t know what it is with him and that black and gold, but McCutchen just looks so right in a Pirates uniform. Maybe it’s the dreads, or the blindingly white smile, or the elegant physique over which the Pirates’ jersey falls. No matter, McCutchen can never go play for the Indians or Orioles or anyone else. He needs to be in Pittsburgh for life.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Mike Trout (Angels), David Price (Rays)

Comment below if you think someone else should be considered for this list! And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:

If you like what you see, you can follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

The “Perfect” American League All-Star Ballot

Major League Baseball announced the 2nd round of voting for the All-Star game over the past two days. The American League voting is still being dominated by the legions of Texas Rangers fans voting at will and having their players hold down five starting spots. With just over two weeks left before the starters are announced, I think it’s time to announce what my ballot will be for my 125 votes. (Like you don’t have more than one e-mail account to use too.) My National League ballot will be coming out tomorrow, but for now here’s who I think should start for the American League. I will break this up into my pick, who’s acceptable to vote for, and players that are currently placing that you probably shouldn’t be throwing support to.

Catcher

Mapes Pick: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox

American League catcher is a mess right now. Mike Napoli, Matt Wieters, and Joe Mauer have been slight disappointments so far. It’d be a nice final All-Star appearance (probably) for Pierzynski who last made the Midseason Classic in 2006. Pierzynski leads AL catchers in OPS and RBI currently, while being 2nd behind Mauer in batting average (.288), and 3rd in home runs, just one behind Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. (Author’s Note: As I was writing the blog, Pierzynski tied Napoli and Saltalamacchia with his 11th HR of the year.)

Acceptable to Vote For: Joe Mauer, Twins, Mike Napoli, Rangers, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox

Please Stop Voting For: Russell Martin, Yankees

First Base

Mapes Pick: Paul Konerko, White Sox

I’d like to think my first All-Star injustices column helped propel Konerko past Mark Teixiera into the #2 spot at first base. Konerko leads the American League still in batting average and OBP. Plus, he leads A.L. 1st baseman in OPS and has more home runs than current leader Prince Fielder. Fielder does have the advantage in runs scored and batted in.

Acceptable to Vote For: Prince Fielder, Tigers

Please Stop Voting For: Mark Teixiera, Yankees, Mitch Moreland, Rangers, and Albert Pujols, Angels

Second Base

Mapes Pick: Robinson Cano, Yankees

Ian Kinsler has six more runs scored than Cano. Cano just has four more home runs, the same RBI, a better batting average and OPS and is playing Gold Glove 2nd base compared to his Texas counterpart. Kinsler is having his typically solid year and I think should be picked by his skipper Ron Washington to head to Kansas City, but Cano should be getting the starting nod.

Why Jason Kipnis is in 5th is beyond me, he’s the only 2nd baseman with double digit steals and home runs. Kipnis is hitting .285, is tied for 2nd in the A.L. in runs scored (behind Kinsler), and is tied for the A.L. lead in stolen bases with someone we’ll get to later.

Acceptable to Vote For: Ian Kinsler, Rangers and Jason Kipnis, Indians

Please Stop Voting For: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox and Robert Andino, Orioles

Shortstop

Mapes Pick: Derek Jeter, Yankees

It’s closer than the near million votes that Jeter is leading the pack by. It’s Derek Jeter though, if he’s having a good season, then he should start the All-Star Game. Fans are getting this one right.

Acceptable to Vote For: Elvis Andrus, Rangers and Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

Please Stop Voting For: Alcides Escobar, Royals

Third Base

Mapes Pick: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Like his fellow teammate on the left side of the infield Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre should be coming off the bench for the All-Star team not starting it. Cabrera is one of is the not the most feared hitter in the American League. Cabrera is better than Beltre in every statistical category this season. If I was to choose one player currently not starting to track down his positions leader, it’s Cabrera first, then Konerko.

Please stop voting for Evan Longoria, I beg of you. You’re making all of us look bad. You’re better off trying to swing the vote for hometown player and underrated this season Mike Moustakas. It’s also pretty embarrassing that Angels Mark Trumbo isn’t in the top five at this position. I mean he’s only 4th in AVG, 2nd in OBP, 3rd in OPS, and 7th in HR’s in the entire league.

Acceptable to Vote For: Mark Trumbo, Angels, Adrian Beltre, Rangers, Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, and Mike Moustakas, Royals

Please Stop Voting For: Evan Longoria, Rays

Designated Hitter

Mapes Pick: David Ortiz, Red Sox

Hard to go against Adam Dunn who has bounced back from a horrific 2011 to have over 20 home runs already. The difference between Ortiz and Dunn is seven home runs, but I value Ortiz’s lead in average (massive), OBP, SLG, and OPS more. Fun Adam Dunn stat: he currently leads the American League in both walks AND strikeouts.

The underrated player in this position is Edwin Encarncacion who has been fantastic for the Blue Jays this year, but doesn’t make the top 5. Michael Young is one of my favorite players of the past decade, but doesn’t belong 2nd based on what he’s done. He’s just getting the Ranger fan bump.

Acceptable to Vote For: Adam Dunn, White Sox and Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

Please Stop Voting For: Michael Young, Rangers and Raul Ibanez, Yankees

Outfield

Mapes Picks: Josh Hamilton, Rangers, Adam Jones, Orioles, and Mike Trout, Angels

I’ve spent enough time this season talking about Hamilton, he’s the clear-cut A.L. MVP right now and should be the top vote-getter.

Adam Jones has done everything in his power to carry the Orioles. He’s the top reason that Baltimore is in contention right now in the A.L. East. In addition to Gold Glove defense he’s top five in the league in home runs, total bases, hits, and offensive WAR. Plus, Jones is adding a .300 batting average and nine stolen bases to the mix. The closest battle for a starting spot right now is for the 3rd A.L. outfielder. Nelson Cruz, Jose Bautista, and Jones are separated by a shade over 80,000 votes. Jones is the clear-cut choice of those three to me.

Curtis Granderson is 2nd in the voting and will be included in my “acceptable to vote for”, but who wouldn’t want to see Mike Trout in the outfield. Trout has turned the Angels fortunes around since getting called up. If Trout currently qualified, he would be 2nd in batting average, 4th in OBP, 9th in SLG, and 6th in OPS. For good measure he’s tied for the American League lead in stolen bases and he didn’t even play the first month! Trout has earned a spot. Only problem is you have to vote for him as a write-in candidate.

The true atrocity at this position is Josh Reddick and Josh Willingham not cracking the top 15 at the position. They are both having breakout seasons and will more than likely be their respective teams solo representatives (unless the A’s Ryan Cook is picked over Reddick). Willingham is 2nd in the league in on-base. How can you not be #WildForWillingham after watching this either?

http://mlbfancave.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=22031457&topic_id=19224580&click=fancave_video&width=400&height=254&property=mlb

Acceptable to Vote For: Curtis Granderson, Yankees, Josh Reddick, Athletics, and Josh Willingham, Twins

Please Stop Voting For: David Murphy, Rangers, Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox, Brett Gardner, Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, and Nick Markakis, Orioles

Anything you think I’m completely crazy on? Want to defend a player that currently has a starting spot? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)