I just happened to notice that a wealth of brilliant GIF’s were produced over the last week or so of baseball. I’d like to take a few minutes of yours to ask: Which one is the best?
Use whichever parameters you see fit–hilarity, overall awesomeness, quality of GIF-making abilities–to judge the best GIF among the five I present below. Then make sure to vote in the poll. Thanks for playing, and keep tuning in for more baseball fun this season:
1. Yu Darvish “throws” all his pitches to Albert Pujols
2. An ump gets unwanted cup check
3. Michael Morse hits a no-doubter, pitcher says bad things
4. A.J. Burnett doesn’t understand baseball
5. John Buck is a mean pie-thrower. Really mean.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
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)
We’re back for another look into the hottest pickups and stay-aways in fantasy baseball in week two. I haven’t looked at the numbers yet as I write this, but if Jarrod Parker who burned me the 1st two weeks of the season isn’t here, I’m going to be sad.
Week Two Pops
Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves, C: ESPN +81.6%
El Oso Blanco isn’t messing around. He’s not just a great story, but he sure can hit. Gattis became just the 42nd player since 1916 to have 10 RBI’s in their first nine career games. He has four home runs and is playing everyday between catcher and first base with Freddie Freeman on the DL. Things will become iffy for Gattis’ playing time when Freeman and Brian McCann come back, but for now, the clean-up hitter on one of the better lineups is a must-own at catcher. I’ll also give some love to last weeks pop John Buck who was added in another 70% of ESPN leagues this week. Buck has been amazing for the Mets offense.
Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves, SP: ESPN +52%
One of my predicted pops from last week, Maholm hasn’t given up a run yet this season. Since that’s not going to continue, I hope you snagged him and can sell high to help you elsewhere, go right ahead.
Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers, RP: ESPN +81.3%, CBS +27%
John Axford is out of the closer’s role for now. If you didn’t pay for saves, snap up Henderson if he’s still out there. It’s better than trying to catch fire with the Cubs bullpen that is without Kyuji Fujikawa and won’t give the job back to Carlos Marmol. If I had to own on Cubs reliever, it’d be James Russell. Same goes for the Tigers bullpen, but at least they have a pitcher the manager says will get the 9th inning work in Joaquin Benoit.
Chris Carter, Houston Astros, 1B: ESPN +30.3%, CBS +28%
Don’t be afraid of the words “Houston Astros”, their players can help your fantasy team too. Carter has pop (four home runs in 2013, 16 in 2012 in just 218 at-bats) if you’re looking for power, Carter can help you at a corner infielder or utility spot. He’s still available in a lot of leagues.
Predicting next week’s pops: Tommy Milone, Athletics, SP, Joaquin Benoit, Tigers, RP, Daniel Nava, Red Sox, OF, Tony Cingrani, Reds, SP, Emilio Bonifacio, Blue Jays, OF, and yes I still like Chris Johnson, Braves 3B/1B
Week Two Drops
Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics, SP: ESPN -45.4% CBS -20%
Man, has Parker been frustrating. He was supposed to have a two-start week in week one that got changed into one start. He then proceeds to get rocked in his actual two-start week against the Angels and the Tigers. He’s gone from a must-start to spot-starter in two weeks.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox, OF: ESPN -43.9%, CBS -17%
One of the best players in spring training hasn’t carried it over to the regular season. Bradley could be on the verge of a ticket back to the minors for some more seasoning. His defense might be what saves him from that fate, but defense doesn’t count in fantasy baseball.
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers, C: ESPN -40.9%
Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners, C: ESPN -40.5%, CBS -10%
For Gattis and Buck to be added in the amount of leagues they have, someone needs to take the fall and it’s Lucroy and Montero for now. I would definitely throw them on to a watch list and at the sign of them heating up, pick them back up. The walk-off home run for Lucroy on Sunday against the Cardinals, could be that turning point.
Predicting next week’s drops: Franklin Gutirrez, Mariners, OF, Ben Revere, Phillies, OF, J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays, C
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
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)
3U3D alluded to the Marlins fire sale possibilities on July 23rd, then again on July 25th, but it wasn’t really there yet. They had kept everyone they signed in the offseason on the team…so far. Then a little fuel was added to the fire sale with Heath Bell being sent to the Diamondbacks on October 20th. Tonight, the hot stove and fire sale was set ablaze with a blockbuster deal that ends an era in Miami before it even begins and put the Blue Jays in the thick of the AL East, making it officially the toughest division in baseball. Let’s take a look at the trade that’s going down.
The Blue Jays receive: SS Jose Reyes, LHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, do-it-all player Emilio Bonifacio, and C John Buck
The Marlins receive: SS Yunel Escobar, RHP Henderson Alvarez, C Jeff Mathis, and prospects Adeiny Hechevarria, Jake Marisnick, Anthony Desclafani, and Justin Nicolino
The first thought that comes to mind is wow. Look at all of that talent that is heading north of the border. The Blue Jays have decided to take on a ton of money (up to $165 million) in order to try and compete in the A.L. East. The speed throughout the order with Reyes, Bonifacio, and Rajai Davis will be the best in the American League. Buehrle and Johnson instantly become the best pitchers in Toronto and can provided veteran leadership for Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero. Romero will need it after the 2nd half he had in 2012. The Blue Jays also shed Escobar who needed a fresh start after the unfortunate, gay slur incident. I do find it interesting that the Jays brought in John Buck in the deal. The Jays have J.P. Arencibia behind the plate starting and top prospect Travis d’Arnaud looking for his opportunity in AAA. It almost makes me believe that one of those three could get moved in another move to get more pitching help. Pure speculation though.
What do the Marlins get out of this? Well obviously more PR woes and grief that they may have fleeced the city into a new stadium, while not providing a competitive team. Not to mention the continued outcry for owner Jeffrey Loria to sell the team. Miami basically stole the Red Sox reset button and brought it to little Havana. They’ve undone everything that they did in the offseason and then some. Escobar is a good, but not great player. Alvarez showed some promise in 2011, but took a step back last season. He’s still young (turns 23 early in the 2013 season) and more importantly to the Marlins, affordable. We’ve seen pitchers turn it around in the N.L. maybe Henderson Alvarez is next. Of the prospects, Marisnick is the most intriguing. He’s ranked as the #32 best prospect in MLB by ESPN’s Keith Law. Nicolino was the best left-handed pitching prospect in the Jays system. Hechevarria could replace Escobar at shortstop in the near future and was ranked by MLB.com as the 7th best prospect for Toronto.
What does Miami do next? There are rumors that Giancarlo Stanton could be next on the block, with Stanton even saying on Twitter that he was pissed off at the situation. Fans for every team are already comtemplating trades to get the slugger on their team. Time will tell if the fire sale rages on in Miami.
-Bryan Mapes ( @IAmMapes)