Tagged: Josh Hamilton

“The Natural” is Still the Best

With Matt Kemp on the shelf for the foreseeable future and nobody else in the National League stepping up to take over his spot as “the best in the senior league” the defacto best player in the NL falls into Joey Votto’s lap.

Votto is a good player a very good player actually he is currently on pace to break the record for most doubles in a season (a record held for 80 years by Earl Webb) but Kemp has that extra something special about him that fans and players alike want to go see. To see him gracefully chase down would be hits in the outfield or crush bombs at the plate is something special. When he said he was going to be the first player ever to go 50/50 people thought he was crazy until his torrid start to the season that made people question their own sanity for ever doubting him.

To say that honor “fell” to Votto may be a bit of a stretch but it is in no way a slight against the man but with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder moving to the AL it has created a power outage in the NL. It just shows you how much ahead of the pack Kemp really was before his injury. With that void however it has supplanted one fact: Josh Hamilton is the best player in baseball right now.

Starting the month of June with a lead in two categories for the triple crown and and being second in batting average at .338 is impressive. It is still way to early to even begin to look at his triple crown possibilities but he has been raking this season so far. The next best hitter in the American League with the potential like Hamilton has is Evan Longoria (currently on the DL) down in Tampa Bay but he has his injury issues as well.

Hamilton showed in a seven day span what being a “hot” hitter really means when he started off the week hitting 5 homeruns in 6 at bats while adding a double in there for good measure. During that week he belted 9 homers and had 18 RBIs. Many players would love to have that kind of production over a months span doing it over a week is insane.

As he has cooled off in recent weeks his leads have diminished but like all good players he will snap out of it and take a firm hold on them once again. He finally snapped out of his 8 game homerless drought on Friday when he hit his 22nd of the season. The next closest season he has had with this kind of production was 2008 when at the All-Star break he had amassed 21 homeruns and 95 RBIs.

If you were to make a list of players that can possibly hit for the triple crown Kemp and Hamilton are at the top of that very short list.

Who do you think is the best?

-Brian Boynton

Episode 14 Is Extremely Pristine

Three Up, Three Down comes back this week to recap the big news in baseball.   We hit the DL and also attack ‘Mapes Too Early Awards’.  It also wouldn’t be a “Three Up, Three Down” without our 3U3D Fantasy segment, which continues to provide you with some very good picks.  Sit down, grab your favorite beer, and take a listen to this week’s episode. Thanks for listening!!

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!

The Too Early MLB Awards

At the beginning of May I unveiled my Way Too Early MLB Awards” to show who’s in the pole position for each award at this juncture of the season. Another month is in the books so let’s knock off an adjective and dub this the “Too Early MLB Awards”. Going to mix up the format with the Summer Olympics coming this summer and have a top three for each award in medal order. Sadly, there is no baseball at the London Olympics, so I have to make a connection to bring it back for 2020. Please note this is not a “player of the month” post. This is cumulative from the start of the season until now. The May Player of the Month awards have already been handed out by MLB. Josh Hamilton and Giancarlo Stanton were the top hitters, Chris Sale and Gio Gonzalez were the top pitchers, and Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were the top rookies. Where do they land in my awards?

National League Rookie of the Year

Bronze Medal: Bryce Harper, Nationals

No better place to start than the May NL Rookie of the Month. The 19 year-old phenom has been everything Nationals fans hoped he would be since getting called up. Harper is hitting .288 thus far and has provided some consistency in the middle of the Washington lineup. His .922 OPS leads all MLB rookies. He still has time to track down the two rookies I have ahead of him for the award.

Silver Medal: Wade Miley, Diamondbacks

Miley took home top NL rookie honors in April and didn’t slow down very much in May. Miley leads Arizona with six wins and has the best ERA in the rotation at 2.72. Unfortunately for Miley, one player has even better statistics.

Gold Medal: Lance Lynn, Cardinals

Lynnsanity has hit St. Louis with full force. Lynn leads not just rookies, but is tied for the MLB lead with eight winsalong with Cole Hamels and R.A. Dickey. Lynn’s 2.63 ERA is the best among eligible starting rookie pitchers, while holding batters to a paltry .213 batting average over 68.1 innings. Lynn has been the anchor on a pitching staff still missing Chris Carpenter and waiting for Adam Wainwright to be 100%.

Just off the Podium: Yonder Alonso, Padres, Steve Lombardozzi, Nationals, and Kirk Nieuwenheis, Mets

American League Rookie of the Year

Bronze Medal: Ryan Cook, Athletics

Yoenis Cespedes was the big name rookie for Oakland coming into this season. Jarrod Parker was the big get in the Trevor Cahill trade with Arizona in the offseason. But who has outperformed both so far this season in the Bay Area? Ryan Cook. Cook has appeared in 23 games for Oakland and has only given up a run in one appearance for an exquisite 0.75 ERA. He’s the Athletics closer of the future if they decide to deal Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour at the trade deadline.

Silver Medal: Mike Trout, Angels

I think when we reach the end of this season Mike Trout will end up as you 2012 AL Rookie of the Year. For now though, he’ll have to settle for the silver. Trout has been even better than Bryce Harper since they got called up on the same day. Trout leads all rookies in batting average at .315 and stolen bases with nine. He’s second among all rookies in OPS and OBP (behind Harper) and in slugging (behind Will Middlebrooks). More importantly he’s been the spark plug for a languishing Angels team that has surged since his call-up.

Gold Medal: Yu Darvish, Rangers

Darvish keeps his top spot in my rankings, for now. Darvish leads American League rookies in wins (7) and strikeouts (71) while keeping together a solid 3.21 ERA. Darvish’s .230 batting average against has been great, but when you add in his wildness thus far, his WHIP is at a 1.44. With the way Trout has come out of the gate, Darvish’s days on the top of the rookie heap may be numbered.

Just off the Podium: Jesus Montero, Mariners, Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox, and Drew Smyly, Tigers

National League Cy Young

Bronze Medal: Brandon Beachy, Braves

There is a ton of great pitching in the National League right now as evidenced by the NL leader in ERA being just 3rd in my Cy Young rankings right now. Beachy also leads in adjusted ERA and adjusted pitching wins, plus is 3rd in WHIP and tied for 2nd in WAR among NL pitchers. The pitcher that never pitched a game before getting drafted has adjusted tremendously to the mound.

Silver Medal: Aroldis Chapman, Reds

This will be a controversial pick I’m sure, but how can I not include a player who hasn’t given up a run in 28 innings and has 50 strikeouts this season. Let me repeat that AROLDIS CHAPMAN HAS NOT GIVEN UP A RUN IN 28 INNINGS AND HAS 50 STRIKEOUTS. I didn’t even pitch that well in video games when I was little. He’s done it in a set-up role and now as the closer for Cincinnati. He leads the NL in K/9 ratio, base-out runs saved, and win probability added. Chapman just has jaw-dropping numbers right now.

Gold Medal: Gio Gonzalez, Nationals

Another month, another Nationals pitcher atop my rankings. Gonzalez has been arguably the best offseason acquisition in the Majors as he’s adjusted beautifully to the NL. Gonzalez sports a nifty 2.04 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, both numbers 2nd best in the senior circuit. He also his tied for 2nd with teammate Stephen Strasburg in strikeouts, but leads the NL in K/9 ratio. The best case for Gonzalez as NL Cy Young right now is that he leads NL pitchers in WAR at 2.4. Four pitchers are behind him a 2.0 including the aforementioned Beachy who Gonzalez beat head to head on the road on Memorial Day eve. Gonzalez and Strasburg have formed the best current 1-2 pitching punch in MLB.

Just off the Podium: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, Matt Cain, Giants, Johan Santana, Mets, R.A. Dickey, Mets, James McDonald, Pirates, Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, Anibal Sanchez, Marlins and Cole Hamels, Phillies (told you NL pitching was deep)

American League Cy Young

Bronze Medal: Chris Sale, White Sox

Is Sale a reliever? Is Sale a starter? I think after his 15-strikeout performance that the White Sox have figured out Sale belongs at the top of the rotation for a long time. Sale currently leads the American League in ERA and adjusted ERA. He’s gotten better it seems with each start since rejoining the rotation going from 5 IP and 3 ER to 5.1 IP and 1 ER to 7 shutout innings to the amazing 15 strikeouts in 7.1 IP against the Rays. He’s even started June off on the right foot with his first career complete game against the Mariners.

Silver Medal: Jake Peavy, White Sox

As good as Chris Sale has been, he hasn’t eclipsed his teammate Jake Peavy. Peavy was in the number one spot after April but slips back to #2 this month. Peavy’s numbers are still great with a 3.05 ERA and 2nd in the AL 0.93 WHIP. He’s also 2nd in WAR and situational wins saved. Peavy is 2nd of course to the guy in the #1 spot right now.

Gold Medal: Justin Verlander, Tigers

What’s weird is before I started digging into the numbers I didn’t think Verlander had been all that great. Before his 6/2 start against the Yankees, he led the American League in WHIP, strikeouts, WAR, and complete games. He had his first career one-hitter against the Pirates after losing a no-no in the top of the 9th. Even more impressive he’s gone 6 innings or more in 54 consecutive starts. The man is a workhorse, the best pitcher in the game right now, and my “too early” pick for AL Cy Young.

Just off the Podium: Jered Weaver, Angels, David Price, Rays, CC Sabathia, Yankees, Jim Johnson, Orioles, CJ Wilson, Angels and Fernando Rodney, Rays

National League MVP

Bronze Medal: Melky Cabrera, Giants

Please don’t spit your drink out at your computer upon reading this. I decided pretty quickly who my #1 is for this award and then there was a cluster of about five to seven players than had a case for second and third. I went with Cabrera for now just because he’s leading the league in batting average, hits, and triples. Plus, he has helped tremendously with an anemic Giants offense scoring 40 runs atop that lineup, good for 2nd best in the NL. It was really tough to not give David Wright this spot or even the next one.

Silver Medal: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

I can’t get blamed for being a biased Braves fan and anti-David Wright if I put Carlos Ruiz second and leave off Michael Bourn right? Chooch has been everything for the Phillies in 2012. He’s had his normal brilliance behind the plate with the pitching staff, but it’s at the plate where Ruiz has shined this season. He’s just behind Cabrera in batting average at .371, while being 4th in OBP, SLG, and OPS. He is the only player in either league to be in the top 6 in both offensive AND defensive WAR. He deserves to start the All-Star Game.

Gold Medal: Joey Votto, Reds

When the season started with Votto’s long, expensive extension people thought it might have been the wrong move. I was ridiculed when I made him the first pick in my jersey draft early this season. Votto has been nothing short of brilliant thus far for the 1st place Reds. Votto is tops in the NL in WAR, OBP, OPS, walks, doubles, and extra-base hits. Matt Kemp’s injuries assured Votto the top spot, but Votto might have taken it anyway.

Just off the Podium: David Wright, Mets, Michael Bourn, Braves, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, Ryan Braun, Brewers, Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins and Andre Ethier, Dodgers

American League MVP

Bronze Medal: Adam Jones, Orioles

This was probably the simplest of the awards for me. There are three clear-cut guys for AL MVP right now to me and they sort out nicely. Jones definitely earned his 85.5 million extension from Baltimore and it’s clear that this is his team. Jones has been a dual threat as he has 16 home runs (tied for 5th) and has nine stolen bases (tied for 6th) and should soon become the 1st player in the ALto double digits in both categories. Jones is 2nd in offensive WAR, plus adding his usual Gold Glove defense. Jones has evolved into a complete five-tool player. He’s one of the major reasons the Orioles are the biggest surprise in the AL.

Silver Medal:Paul Konerko, White Sox

If it wasn’t for the guy at #1, Konerko would have a legit chance at his first MVP award. You know what? He still might. Konerko currently is in the lead in batting average and OBP, while runner-up in slugging, OPS, and offensive WAR. He even finished 2nd on this week “MLB Player Poll” in which the question was “Who is the most underrated player in MLB?” One of these days he’ll be on top, probably when he sneaks across 500 home runs without anyone noticing.

Gold Medal: Josh Hamilton, Rangers

Was there any doubt who would still be number one? Just when you thought he couldn’t get any better he adds a FOUR HOMER GAME to his resume in May in taking home his 2nd Player of the Month award this season. Let’s just knock out all the categories he leads the American League in for the first-place Rangers and call it a blog post. Ready? Hamilton is 1st in WAR, slugging, OPS, home runs, total bases, runs batted in, extra-base hits, and even sacrifice flies. He’s the best player by far on a first place team, it’s his award to lose.

Just off the Podium: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, Jason Kipnis, Indians, Derek Jeter, Yankees, Adam Dunn, White Sox, Mark Trumbo, Angels, David Ortiz, Red Sox and Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

What do you think I missed on? Should I really have had Melky Cabrera top 3 for NL MVP? Or Aroldis Chapman who spent most of the year in middle relief 2nd for a Cy Young? Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The Triple Crown is On the Line!

The horse racing Triple Crown hasn’t been won since Affirmed in 1978. The last baseball Triple Crown achievement goes back even farther, last won by Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Is 2012 the year we see one or maybe even both Triple Crowns achieved? I’ll Have Another and Texas Rangers superstar Josh Hamilton will do their best to do it. You can hear everyone’s thoughts on this weeks Three Up, Three Down podcast, here is how I think it will shake out.

The Case for I’ll Have Another

I’ll Have Another shocked the horse racing world winning the Kentucky Derby at 16-1 odds after a late charge on the favorite Bodemeister. Then followed with the same performance chasing Bodemeister down the backstretch to win the Preakness Stakes at the wire. The Belmont Stakes is the ultimate test for a thoroughbred. The mile and half race that has ended Triple Crown chances for great horses like Smarty Jones, Big Brown, Funny Cide, Real Quiet, Charismatic, and Silver Charm in their bids for horse racing immortality. Helpful to I’ll Have Another’s chances is Bodemeister, his main rival, will not be taking part in the final race. This could back fire though as a fresher horse could be taking Bodemiester’s place to run the full mile and a half. Smarty Jones went off at 2 to 5 odds for the Belmont Stakes in 2004 and got edged out by Birdstone. I could see I’ll Have Another having similar odds, making him the statistical favorite to pull off the Triple Crown.

The Case for Josh Hamilton

Let me start off by wishing a happy 31st birthday to Josh Hamilton! This season has been a dream so far for the Rangers slugger as he currently leads the American League in batting average (.389), home runs (18), and runs batted in (47). Can Hamilton keep those numbers up to win add his name among baseball greats like Yaz, Frank Robinson, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig? Hamilton has a batting title in 2010 and an RBI title in 2008 under his belt already, so he knows that he can lead the league in those categories. What about the home runs though? He’s already more than half way past his career-high total of 32. Last years AL league leader in homers was Jose Bautista with 43, so Hamilton would have to increase his career best by 11 to match last years number. This is doable as Hamilton is on pace for over 70 home runs this season and currently had a lead of four on his closest competitors Adam Dunn and Adam Jones. The home runs will be the toughest category of the three. Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus continuing to get on base will give Hamilton enough runners to drive in to win that category. Hamilton leads Paul Konerko by .022 in batting average right now so that is still in range with this much of the season left. We’ve already seen Derek Jeter lose over .050 in batting average in a short time. If any player can pull of the Triple Crown it’s Hamilton, especially with the prospects of a Triple Crown at the top of his resume going into his free agency.

The Final Verdict

As I said on the podcast this week, I believe that BOTH will get their Triple Crowns. I’m definitely rooting for I’ll Have Another and will be at Belmont for the race on June 9th. Hamilton’s is less likely, but Matt Kemp came close last year in the NL, so it certainly is doable.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Episode Eleven Sounds Like Heaven

Three Up, Three Down recaps all of baseball last week with talk about Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, and the dreaded Disabled List. The “3U3D” segment features some interesting players in lieu of injuries around the league and we get some heated debate for the match ups of the week.

Thanks for listening!

Listen below and 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!

Josh Hamilton’s Home Run Heroics

Texas Rangers superstar Josh Hamilton has been on a tear this entire season leading the American League in all of the Triple Crown categories.  Hamilton’s early season dominance culminated with FOUR home runs against the Baltimore Orioles.  Hamilton added a double to set the American League record for total bases in a game.  None of these home runs were cheap either, just take a look.

Three to center field and another to the opposite field totaling over 1600 feet in home run distance.  However is this more impressive than his 1st round Home Run Derby antics where he dropped 28 bombs in Yankee Stadium?

Sixteen players have had four home run games, but NONE have had 28 home runs in a round of home run derby.  The second-most is 24 set by Bobby Abreu.  Even more ridiculous is that Hamilton didn’t even win the derby that year, Justin Morneau did.     That kind of prodigious power may never be seen again, which begs the question.  What do you think is the more impressive Josh Hamilton feat four homers in a actual game or 28 homers in a round of Home Run Derby?

Let us know!

-Bryan Mapes

Is Hamilton the Best in the Game?

It’s May 9th and already this season we have seen a perfect game, 4K’s in one inning (twice), two triple plays, a teenager steal home, a 49-year old win a game, two 40-year olds hit walk-off home runs, a position player win a game, a cycle, a no-hitter and now FOUR home runs in one game.

After that outing Josh Hamilton can not be seen as a mere mortal anymore. He is in fact a government built cyborg who’s sole purpose is to crush opposing pitchers.

What Josh Hamilton did to the Orioles pitching staff Tuesday is the stuff legends are made of. Not only does he now hold the franchise record, four home runs in a game becoming only the sixteenth player to accomplish this. He is the first since Carlos Delgado did it in 2003. Hamilton also set the American League record for total bases in a game with 18 adding a double as well. This was the best offensive output by one player so far this season followed by Ryan Braun’s 4-5. A game in which Braun hit 3 home runs and a triple.

Every home run Hamilton hit was a 2-run shot as Elvis Andrus was standing on first for every one of them.

As awesome as this ride has been with Hamilton so far this season, a revelation came over me as I was watching his fourth home run exit the field by way of center field. Is Josh Hamilton just a great contract year player?

He was last seeking a new contract after the 2010 season one in which he had won the AL MVP award. Hitting a career best .359/.411/.633 with 32 home runs. This season he is on pace to crush all of his personal best records as well as maybe a few Ranger records as well.

I know he is arguably the best player in the game when he is healthy every other year but he seems to be focusing a little more this year than he was last year. Or is my pessimism taking hold of me? Could it be that he is just more determined to win this season after losing his second World Series in a row last year.

Sorry for going off on a rant but that had to be said.

Now back to the man of the hour. Hamilton in his last six at bats is 6-6 with 5 home runs again all with a man on. Giving him a round 10 RBIs over that stretch.

He is the best hitter in baseball right now at this particular point in the season. What makes him even more dangerous are the players that play behind him. With the way he’s hitting right now the obvious question is: why even pitch to him?

When he is followed by Adrian Beltre (who had a home run tonight of his own) and Michael Young, the simple answer is you have to pitch to him.

I see this season, with Hamilton all predictions are based on presumed health, being his most prolific and maybe the best “natural” offensive season we have seen in a long time. Remember he was once deemed “The Natural”.

Does a record night like that have you forgetting what happened to him during the offseason and his impending contract? No, but it should help his case that he should be paid as one of the best in the game.

Matt Kemp the pressure is now off of you to hit home runs as Hamilton now leads the league in home runs. You may now start working on your stolen bases.

I also learned tonight that Josh Hamilton is latin for MVP. Who would have thought?

-Brian Boynton

The Way Too Early MLB Awards

May is upon us!  Let’s hand out the awards if the MLB season was only one month long.  Thankfully, it’s not.  All stats are as of May 2nd.

American League Rookie of the Year

Yu Darvish, Rangers

I strongly dislike the rule that allows Japanese players to be eligible for Rookie of the Year, but I digress.  Darvish has been nothing short of phenomenal after a rough first start against the Mariners.  Darvish completed April 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA.  Darvish also is not doing this against weak competion, three of his five starts have come at Detroit, vs. New York, and at Toronto.  This is his award to lose.  There are other rookies that have had a great start including the Mariners Jesus Montero (.294 BA, 4HR), Athletics Yeonis Cespedes (5HR, 20 RBI, 4SB) and don’t sleep on call-ups A’s Jarrod Parker and Angels Mike Trout to get themselves into the race.

National League Rookie of the Year

Lance Lynn, Cardinals

You’d be shocked if I told you that there was a rookie that had been even more impressive than Yu Darvish.  However, in the National League Cardinals Lance Lynn has been everything and more for St. Louis.  Thrust into the rotation with Chris Carpenter’s injury, Lynn finished April 4-0 with a scant 1.33 ERA.  Lynn also has a solid 24/6 K/BB ratio.  Lynn is 4th in the NL in ERA and 2nd in WHIP.  Those stats are among all players, not just rookies.  Reds Zack Cozart and Diamondbacks Wade Miley are on the radar after good April’s, but the real contender is if Bryce Harper can be impressive enough to wrestle the award away from Lance Lynn.

American League Cy Young

Jake Peavy, White Sox

Idon’t expect Peavy to be the AL Cy Young winner when the season is over, but at this moment he has been the most impressive pitcher in the American League.  Peavy leads the league in ERA (1.67), WHIP (0.69) and complete games (2).  He’s erased the questions marks that came into the season and looks back to his prime days in San Diego where he won the 2007 NL Cy Young.  There is no shortage of contenders for this prize.  Mariners Felix Hernandez (1st in win probabilty added and strikeouts), Angels Jered Weaver (3-0, 2.02 ERA) and defending champion Tigers Justin Verlander (2nd in WHIP, 4th in strikeouts), and the adformentioned Yu Darvish lurking.

National League Cy Young

Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

This was the closest call so far.  Matt Cain has been great for the Giants leading the NL in WHIP (0.68) and has a 2.35 ERA, but the 1-2 record unfortunately is enough of a detractor for me.  Journeymen pitchers DBacks Joe Saunders, Cardinals Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook, and Dodgers Ted Lilly have far exceeded expectations thus far.  However, the award right now would go to Stephen Strasburg.  Strasburg has been the anchor of the best starting rotation in the NL supporting a 1.13 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, while sporting a 9.6 K/9 ratio.  Even more impressive is Strasburg has yet to allow a home run this year.  Strasburg is in no way a sure thing to win this as his innings limit might let others come up to his level, especially Roy Halladay who may end up throwing 70 more quality innings than Strasburg.

American League MVP

Josh Hamilton, Rangers

A tight four-way race right now for the AL MVP between Hamilton, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and Paul Konerko.  Hamilton gets the leg up for leading in what I think is one of the most important statistics, OPS at 1.182.  Hamilton also leads the AL in home runs, runs batted in, total bases, while maintaining .395 batting average good for 2nd in the AL.  The question as always with Hamilton is his health, but if he can get in 130+ games like he did in his 2010 MVP season.  Hamilton is well on his way to joining Juan Gonzalez as Texas Rangers with multiple MVP’s.  Don’t let Hamilton’s domination let you sleep on the older guys.  Derek Jeter is still hitting .400 into May and leads the AL in OBP (.440) at 37 years old.  David Ortiz at age 36, is 2nd in the AL in OBP, slugging, hits, while hitting .386.  Paul Konerko, also 36 years old, is the White Sox offense and is just a notch behind the other three in most statistical categories, but is doing it all with a weaker offense around him.  This should be an exciting race all season.

National League MVP

Matt Kemp, Dodgers

I’ll end it with the easiest of the easy calls.  Kemp has been otherworldly thus far for the Dodgers.  Should I start with the .409 batting average or the .864 slugging percentage, or the 1.349 OPS, or the 12 home runs, or possibly the 76 total bases?  Those are all categories that Kemp not just leads in, but is blowing away the rest of the competition.  Kemp has the Dodgers sitting in 1st place as we speak, which might be the most impressive out of everything.  Matt Kemp is on pace for a season for the ages.

Who do you think should be taking home the hardware after April?

-Bryan Mapes

Chowin’ Down: The Boomstick

I would like to go on record by saying that I do not wish this torment on anybody. But, I have successfully eaten the Boomstick.

If you don’t know what the Boomstick is, where have you been?

It is two feet of hot dog smothered in chili, cheese, onions and jalapenos. It is the most deliciously awful thing I have ever eaten:

If you are able to finish this beast they will give you a t-shirt which is the main reason I forced myself to eat it.

I arrived at the game a little late so I started eating just before the first pitch. I had it down by the end of the second inning Sunday. I wish I would have realized there was some skill to being able to finish when I started.

I destroyed the first foot and a half in about ten minutes and then hit the wall. I had to change my eating habits in order to finish it. It’s a secret I can’t reveal as you all must find your own route to victory.

The highlight of my Sunday was not the six shutout innings that Matt Harrison threw or the MVP caliber game that Josh Hamilton had. It was in fact the moment when my shirt was brought out to me. I have never been more disgusted and proud of myself as I was in that moment.

If you think you can handle it, go check out a game in Arlington, TX.

– Brian Boynton (@Rangerfanbrian)

Are They Serious?

This is not a real popular topic in Dallas right now, but are you comfortable with Josh Hamilton being the Rangers’ every day centerfielder? Which would in turn put David Murphy in left field?

Murphy is a solid outfielder and a decent enough hitter. He wont have the gaudy numbers that people seem so enamored with. He will, however, have a .280 average, hit with some power, and he will play every game as hard as he possibly can. He will also be the stable outfielder that this team seems to lack.

The Rangers shuffle outfielders more than any good team should. Either by necessity or lack of consistent play, they had five different players start in centerfield last season.

With the three centerfielders’ potentials being unable to secure down the spot, look for Hamilton to likely be the Opening Day centerfielder. Leonys Martin showed flashes of brilliance, but was inconsistent and was sent to the minor league camp earlier this week for further work. That left the job for either Craig Gentry or Julio Borbon, neither of whom have shown they deserve the spot.

Gentry has had some ailments this spring, including a bout of dehydration on Sunday which forced him to leave the game in the third inning. He is the best defensive option they have, but his inability to hit consistently and injury problems may have secured his spot as the “fifth” outfielder if they can trade for a right-handed hitting outfield option. At best, I see him as a defensive replacement late in the game and as a pinch runner.

Borbon has been bad, and I think he is wearing his welcome thin with the Rangers. They have given him every opportunity to seize the centerfield spot for the better part of three seasons. It has been his spot to lose and he has lost it every year. He cannot do the little things that he would be required to do in his situation. He does not have to be a .280 hitter, but what they do expect from him is stealing bases and being able to lay down a suicide squeeze, which he was unable to do twice last night.

Manager Ron Washington has had some praises for Martin after sending him down, but added that he is not yet ready. Look for him to be the first call-up when Hamilton/Cruz get hurt this year. I see him coming up for good around the end of July/early August.

The play of Martin also will force the organization’s hand one way or the other in dealing with Josh Hamilton’s contract.

Hamilton has said that he will give the Rangers the first option and allow them to match any contract offer that he is given. He even went so far as saying that he would give a hometown discount.

How much would that discount be? I do not see the Rangers offering him a huge contract either in money or years. Someone will make him an offer that will blow away anything I see the Rangers willing to offer him, depending on how Martin or Engel Beltre progress this season.

Both of them, along with Martin Perez, Mike Olt, and Jurickson Profar, will have implications in contract signings over the next two season.

I leave you with this: the best offense the Rangers can throw out there has Murphy, Hamilton and Cruz starting in the outfield.

-Brian Boynton (@RangerfanBrian)