Tagged: Hisashi Iwakuma

2014 MLB Bobblehead Battle: AL West

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

Seattle Mariners (Each giveaway is 20,000 fans)

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

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

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

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

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

Total: 15 1/2 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total: 14 stars

Houston Astros (10,000 fans each giveaway)

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

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

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

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

Total: 11 stars

Oakland Athletics (various amounts of fans)

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

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

Total: 5 1/2 stars

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

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

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

Total: 5 1/2 stars

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

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The 2013 Way Too Early MLB Awards

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)

Fantasy Baseball Pops and Drops: Week One

Fantasy baseball is all about riding the hot hand and getting in and out on players at the right time.  Each Monday I’ll take a look at who’s been added and dropped in the most fantasy leagues in the previous week.

Week One Pops

Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks, OF: ESPN +56.2 %, CBS +42%

Parra, who’s known more for his defense, hit .400 in the first week while getting playing time with Adam Eaton on the disabled list.  He’ll have to keep up the hot hitting to keep the spot when Eaton comes back, but fantasy owners looking for a .280ish average and some speed have found their guy in Parra.

Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners, SP: ESPN +40.7%, CBS +7%

One of my favorite pitchers coming into the season had a great two-start week against the Athletics and White Sox.  He compiled a 2.57 ERA and 0.43 WHIP with 10 strikeouts in 14 innings.  Iwakuma was one of the best pitchers in the 2nd half of last year and it’s carried over to 2013.  I’m particularly fond of pitchers who don’t walk people and he fits the bill as he hasn’t walked a single batter yet.  He hasn’t been added in as many CBS leagues, because he had a higher ranking there compared to ESPN.

Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics, SS: ESPN +38.9%, CBS +37%

When Lowrie is healthy, he’s more than serviceable at shortstop and at a middle infielder spot.  He started off hot last year in Houston and is doing it again in Oakland hitting .500 with three home runs so far.  Owners looking for a fill-in for Derek Jeter have pounced on Lowrie for the time being.

John Buck, New York Mets, C: ESPN +27.1%, CBS +32%

Fantasy owners that hop on the hot catcher are all over John Buck this week as he hit .400 with two home runs for his new team.  He was owned in less than 1% of ESPN leagues coming into the season.  He has 15-20 home run potential, but expect a slump soon as he hit a dismal .192 in 300+ at-bats last year.  He has potential though for hitting .240 with 17 home runs and that’s worth a shot with slumping catchers like Jonathan Lucroy to start the year.  I wouldn’t be adding him in 10-team mixed though.

Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs, RP: ESPN +15.2%, CBS +18%

Carlos Marmol is obviously in the drops department as he’s officially lost the Cubs closer role to the newly-signed Fujikawa.  Be weary though as the Cubs may not have enough save chances to go around.  If you didn’t pay for saves though, he’s an obvious pickup.

Predicting next weeks pops: Kelvin Herrera, Royals, RP, Paul Maholm, Braves, SP, Chris Johnson, Braves, 3B, Jim Henderson, Brewers, RP

Week One Drops

Phil Hughes, New York Yankees, SP: ESPN -34.0%

Hughes was strong enough to stay in the Yankees rotation and not miss his first start due to injury.  Unfortunately for Yankees fans, that start wasn’t very good giving up three earned runs and eight hits in just four innings.  He’s not ready and should be on the waiver wire until he proves otherwise.

Bruce Rondon, Detroit Tigers, RP: ESPN -12.4%, CBS -6%

Also on my avoid list, the rest of the Tigers bullpen.  I want no part of Rondon, Al Alburquerque, Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, and re-signed Jose Valverde.  I’m not that desperate for saves and I hope you aren’t either.  I’ll wait for someone to grab actual hold of the job before making a move.

  Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants, 1B: ESPN -11.3%, CBS -6%

Oh Brandon Belt, why must you tease us so?  He was spectacular during spring training, making people believe that this would be the year the former top prospect would break out.  Instead, he’s started the season 1 for 14 and missed a couple games with a stomach illness.  Fantasy owners are ready to go with other options like a hot Mark Reynolds in Cleveland and the Cardinals Matt Carpenter.

Predicting next weeks drops: The rest of anyone owning Carlos Marmol, Cubs, RP,  John Axford, Brewers, RP, Ryan Dempster, Red Sox, SP, J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays, C

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)