Tagged: Three Up

Episode 41 – Today’s Recipe: One Greinke Collar Bone With A Side Of Fantasy Pickups

Three Up, Three Down took in the first week of baseball and found out a few things. The Atlanta Braves are very good at baseball like activities, and that Zack Greinke isn’t as big as Carlos Quentin.  We recap our thoughts on the brawl between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres and touch on the other injuries around baseball. The classic “3U3D Fantasy Special” is back and you might like what we have to say, especially if you’re already a cellar dweller in your league. Check it out and thank us when you start your climb to the top!

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!

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Top 5 Moments of Opening Day

Opening DayThis is no April Fools prank: Baseball. Is. Back!

After the Houston Astros dis–hey…stop laughing…it really happened–dismantled the Texas Rangers last night at Minute Maid Park, we had our first full day of baseball today.

Naturally, ESPN kicked it off with proof that they are extremely stubborn as a network, pitting C.C. Sabathia and the hobbled Yankees versus Jon Lester and the completely average Red Sox.

There were so many amazing moments in a long day of ball that it was hard to narrow down to just five. But here is our best shot at it. This is what we do at Three Up, Three Down. We write stuff on baseball-related activities for your enjoyment. So, enjoy!

5. Justin Jacks One

Welcome to Atlanta, where the playa’s play and Upton hits bombs like every day. No disrespect to Freddie Freeman, who also went mammo today, but this Justin Upton blast was put in orbit. And it’s not just a top moment because of the distance–the Braves outfield is the most freakish in baseball, and this is just the first sampling. The Braves faithful have been waiting for this moment since the original trade was made, and the little bro definitely didn’t disappoint.

4. Brewers Bailed Out

One of KP’s least favorite memories of the 2012 season was any blown save by John Axford and Co. If you see our tallest group member, give him a hug. Because Axford was at it again on Opening Day, giving up a no-doubter with two outs in the ninth to the Rockies’ Dexter Fowler, which tied the game. Fortunately for Milwaukee and the home fans, the Rockies pitching staff is deplorable and Jonathan Lucroy was able to score a walk-off sac fly and bail the bullpen out.

3. Bryce Decides Twice is Nice

If there was any debate that last year’s NL Rookie of the Year would suffer from a sophomore slump, he killed it quick. In his first two at-bats of the 2013 season, Bryce Harper absolutely crushed two Ricky Nolasco pitches and put them in the right field bleachers. I’m not buying that his second one has landed yet. In fact, it might currently be traveling over the Atlantic Ocean. Keep an eye out for it. The 20-year-old phenom is on pace for 324 jacks this year. 

2. Stan the Man MUSIAL PATCH

The late Cardinals legend and Hall of Famer Stan Musial is being honored by the team with a cool, classy patch (pictured to the right) on their left sleeves in 2013. But the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hosted the Cards on Opening Day, pulled off a fantastic move by paying homage with a video tribute to Musial between innings. Unfortunately, I don’t have video for you, but the gesture itself was a true act of sportsmanship and remembrance of one of the greatest hitters and humans the world has ever seen.

1. Kershaw Goes Krazy

Let me set the stage: The defending champions travel to their heated rival’s new stadium and face their fancy new team in a battle between two of the best pitchers in the league. A pitcher’s duel turns into a one-man show as Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw not only throws a complete game, four-hit shutout, but hits a go-ahead home run that breaks a scoreless tie in the eighth inning. Unbelievable. And in a game that began with a well-choreographed first pitch skit from Dodgers heroes Sandy Koufax and Orel Hershiser. I have to take a second to brag, as humbly as possible. I tweeted THIS about five minutes before magic occurred. Of course it was a coincidence  but it makes me believe in fairy tale endings, and reinforces our love of this magical sport.

Buckle up, baseball fans. This was just day one. Only 161 more regular season games to go! Vote below on which one of these moments should have been in the top five, or comment about any moments we missed!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook! The best baseball coverage, coming at you from five different states and five different fan bases.

Arizona Fall League: Winners and Losers From the Rising Stars Game

When we told you that Three Up, Three Down really loves baseball, we weren’t kidding. On Saturday, I watched the Oregon vs. USC football game until 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, at which point I switched away from one of the best games of the year to focus on MLB Network.

No, I’m not crazy – I just love baseball, and the Arizona Fall League’s (AFL) annual Rising Stars Game was on. For those of you that don’t know, the AFL is basically grad school for each team’s top prospects. All 30 MLB teams assign seven players to the AFL, comprised of six teams.

It’s basically a little extra work for the superstars of tomorrow. Last year, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper played in the Rising Stars Game. Mike Piazza, Roy Halladay and Stephen Strasburg are just a few of the alumni of the AFL. And the game in 2012 was no different, showcasing a plethora of talent we will be sure to see on Major League teams in the very near future, such as Detroit’s Nick Castellanos, who won the Futures Game MVP in July.

I’ve picked five winners and losers from the game yesterday – read on to see if one of your team’s top prospects made an impact!

Full rosters for the Rising Stars Game can be found HERE!

WINNER:

Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds

Hamilton was this game’s biggest draw, and he delivered big time. One of the few players to start and finish the game, Hamilton got to show off the speed that has made him Cincinnati’s top-rated prospect (Minor League record 155 steals in 2012 – that is NOT a typo) right from the get-go. After drawing a walk to lead off the game, Hamilton promptly stole second, stole third, and scored on a double two batters later. Hamilton also laid down a beautiful bunt that forced an errant throw, resulting in him coasting to third base on the play. Though he recently transitioned from shortstop to center field in order to take advantage of those wheels, Hamilton looked right at home, making a diving play later on in the game. This kid is undoubtedly a future star.

LOSER:

Michael Tonkin, Minnesota Twins

Jason Kubel’s brother-in-law had a very rough time against the elite hitters of the AFL. Tonkin pitched to five batters and didn’t get a single one out – instead, he allowed three hits, five base runners and four earned runs (five runs total) on 17 pitches. The 6-foot-7 22-year-old righty has really strong stuff, but melted in a big spot yesterday. To add to the disappointment for Tonkin, he was charged with a blown save, took the loss, and saw a 4-3 lead turn into an 8-3 deficit under his watch. Tonkin has a good, low-to-mid 90’s fastball and a pretty good slider – his 2.08 ERA and 97 K’s in 69 1/3 innings in Minor League ball this past season don’t lie – but he really fell apart in the Rising Stars Game.

WINNER:

Rymer Liriano, San Diego Padres

Holy smokes, can the Padres’ number one prospect swing a bat! There’s a visibly arrogant swagger to Liriano’s game, but he walks the walk on the field, and proved it again last night. In five plate appearances, Liriano went 3-for-4 with two doubles, walked, drove in a run, and scored a run. He had great plate discipline and was being lauded by premiere minor league analyst Jonathan Mayo for his speed as well. The Padres may have a legitimate offensive threat in Liriano, as long as they can keep him grounded when he hits a slump in the big leagues.

LOSER:

Michael Almanzar, Boston Red Sox

It’s been a strange journey for Almanzar, a 21-year-old infielder from the Dominican Republic. When he was originally drafted, the Red Sox thought they were getting a future power hitter. And while he’s shown potential to pop a few out of the yard, he needs to put on some muscle. At 6-foot-3 and only 190 pounds, he has the frame of a guy who should be shooting the gap, yet the eye and the swing of a homer-happy free swinger. The Rising Stars Game proved to be a disaster for Almanzar, as he came up to bat twice, including in the top of the 9th with the bases loaded, and struck out both times. To his credit, Almanzar did have a good at-bat in the 9th, before caving to strike three.

WINNER:

Austin Romine, New York Yankees

Going 1-for-2 with a strikeout doesn’t sound like such a fantastic game, does it? But the Yankees’ farm hand narrowly missed a monster home run in his first at-bat, instead settling for a triple. Romine also was hit by a pitch in the left elbow and came around to score his second run of the game. The reason Romine is a winner here, is because the kid has suffered through injury after injury during his young career, and proved his toughness in front of a TV audience last night. The half inning before getting plunked, Romine took two hard foul tips off the body and walked both of them off. He’s a gamer, and proved it in Arizona – the Yankees will definitely be keeping a close eye on him in Spring Training.

LOSER:

Nick Ahmed, Atlanta Braves

Ahmed actually has a good-looking future, as he swatted 36 doubles and swiped 40 bags in 130 games in the Minors this season. I don’t know if his future with the Braves will be at shortstop, but he didn’t give them any reason to think so in this one-game sample size last night. Ahmed made a couple nice plays and redeemed himself later with a walk and a run, but he started the game with a strikeout at the plate and an ugly error in the field. I’m talking, line drive right to him, off the glove, into left field type of error. With guys like Andrelton Simmons and Tyler Pastornicky already ahead of him, Ahmed might be looking to learn a new position if he wants to break in with the big club.

WINNER:

Brian Goodwin, Washington Nationals

After the West team went up 2-0 in the top of the first, Goodwin sparked the East by hitting a leadoff homer, the only one of the game. The analysis on Goodwin is that he has legitimate five-tool potential. I can see why people might think so; Goodwin’s left-handed swing is extremely quick and he has the abilities to hit for average and power. He has decent speed and plays solid outfield defense, too. The Nationals may need to make room for this guy in their outfield very soon. My guess is he would supplant Harper in center field at some point in the next two seasons. Goodwin, who just turned 22 on Friday, had an OPS of .852 between two Minor League stops in 2012, and showed off his skills in Arizona going 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored.

LOSER:

Jarred Cosart, Houston Astros

I was really excited to watch Cosart start this game, because I knew his reputation (a 2.60 ERA in the Pacific Coast League this year; electric fastball, good change-up, above average breaking ball and great command). He was a key piece, along with Rising Stars teammate Jonathan Singleton, in the Hunter Pence deal to Philadelphia in 2011. Cosart has been a top prospect in both organizations he’s played for since day one, but I was truly disappointed with his outing last night. Though the numbers weren’t bad (2 innings, 1 hit, 2 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout), he was missing his spots all day, going 3-0 on multiple batters across those frames. I had no doubt after watching that Cosart has the tools to be a good starter or a great reliever, but he really laid an egg in his start on Saturday.

WINNER:

Mark Montgomery, New York Yankees

Yeah, yeah. I hate putting two Yankees in the winner’s column as much as the next guy. But I can’t pretend I wasn’t very impressed with both prospects I have listed here. Though I probably could have chosen any reliever after the sixth inning on either squad (The 12 total pitchers entering in the 6th inning or later, combined: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K), I went with Montgomery for his dominant performance. The 21-year-old righty blew away the West team in his frame, striking out all three batters on 16 total pitches. His 1.65 minor league ERA and 16.1 K/9 are ridiculous, and I wonder if he has the make-up or velocity (tops out at 95 MPH) to some day fill Mariano Rivera’s shoes as the closer in the Bronx. Either way, I expect to see him getting big league action by 2014 at the very latest.

LOSER:

Anyone who didn’t watch the game!

Seriously. It’s not a cop-out. I’m not saying you should also sacrifice your college football or NFL, or even NBA watching during the MLB off-season, but don’t pass up an opportunity to watch some of the next great generation of baseball stars in action. Follow along with the AFL this winter and see how your team’s top prospects are handling some of the best minor league competition in all of baseball. Better yet, just follow the 3u3d blog and we’ll give you everything you need to know until Opening Day is back upon us. If you want to follow us on Twitter, you can find us @3u3d, and you can like us on Facebook at Three Up, Three Down. All the glorious baseball news you can stomach, right here, all winter long.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Making a Case for the Hall of Fame: St. Louis Cardinals Version

In case you missed it, Jeremy wrote a piece last week making a case for five players (Paul Konerko, Adrian Beltre, Juan Pierre, C.C. Sabathia and Adam Dunn) for the Hall of Fame. Check it out here! When in the process of narrowing the list to five, three unfortunate Cardinals players were left off.

We wanted to get perspective on those three players, so we turned to the biggest Cardinals fan we know! Former Three Up, Three Down podcast guest and 2012 MLB Fan Cave Top 30 Finalist Kelsey Shea is here today with a guest blog, detailing whether or not three of her team’s best players have a shot at Cooperstown. Take it away, Kelsey!

The St. Louis Cardinals are not exactly strangers to the Hall of Fame. In fact, a grand total of 38 players and 8 managers have both worn the historic birds on the bat and been inducted. And of course, there’s always talk of the two great presences lost by the team at the end of last year’s amazing World Series run: Tony LaRussa and a little old first baseman named Albert Pujols. But who currently on the Redbird roster might earn a ticket?

Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran, and Matt Holliday, while maybe not long-standing fixtures in St. Louis, have each contributed greatly during their time under the Arch. And each came to town with an already-established, illustrious career. Let’s dive into some specifics…

The Case for Berkman:

Originally an enemy of the Cards, Berkman positioned himself as a favorite in Houston with his huge offensive numbers and his title as one of the “Killer B’s” alongside Astros royalty Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. But after fading in his later years, he endeared himself to St. Louisans with his contributions to a World Series title (his first) and a Comeback Player of the Year award.

Today, he remains on the DL for the rest of the 2012 season due to an unfortunate, recurring knee problem, leaving everyone wondering: is he done?

As far as accolades, Berkman is a six-time All Star with a habit for creeping into the MVP conversation. Although he never did get the MVP nod, he does hold the NL record for single season switch hitter RBIs with 136, and the NL record for single season switch hitter homers with 45…tied with another soon to be retiree and a sure Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones, for the latter. Berkman has a penchant for great postseason play, and let’s not forget The Big Puma also has another important and memorable attribute: a great nickname.

His numbers are impressive, though he fails to reach some key milestones with under 2,000 total hits (1,843) and less than 400 homers (360). He’s a .296 hitter, but are these HOF caliber? I’m not sure…We have to remember that he will be competing with likes of PED-free Chipper, Vlad Guerrero, Jim Thome, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Granted, the offensive monsters of the steroid era that ruled the game for the first eight or so years of his career rendered the ability to stand out no small feat.

Verdict: Not if he retires this year. His numbers just don’t match up to his competitors. And this one breaks my heart since he is probably one of the most likeable guys in the sport today. If anything gets him in, it will be his position as one of the game’s top switch hitters. However, without a few more seasons to boost his numbers, the Hall of Fame might be lacking one cuddly Puma.

The Case for Beltran:

Here we have another switch hitter, another former Cardinal killer, and another former Astro. But Houston was not the city that Beltran would call his baseball home if you asked him today. Spending the majority of his career in Kansas City with the Royals and in the Big Apple with the Mets, he has enjoyed many years near the top of the MLB’s premiere hitters list. And when Albert Pujols departed for Anaheim, Beltran was the Cardinals’ answer to their offensive hole.

He began his career with a Rookie of the Year award, and hasn’t slowed down much since. A seven-time All Star with one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger, Beltran has proven himself to be an extremely well-rounded player. He has also been a huge postseason threat, tying the record for most home runs in a single postseason, with eight in 2004.

He currently has 333 career homers, 2,049 hits, and a .282 average. But his most impressive numbers lie in his switch-hitting and base running abilities. This year, Beltran became the 1st player to hit from both sides (8th overall) and attain 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases. He is 6th all time in homers among switch hitters and he also holds the MLB title for highest stolen base percentage since 2000 at 87%.

At 35 years old, it’s safe to say he’s nearing the end of his career. The question lies in how many good years he has left…He’ll probably end with just under 3,000 hits, but 400 homers are definitely within reach.

Verdict: Yes. He will likely have to continue to show us the good stuff for at least 3 or 4 more years, and he’ll have to stay healthy, but I’d say he has a good shot. He has some honorable accolades and could possibly rank just under Chipper as far as his switch hitting numbers. His legacy will probably light the way to the Hall of Fame!

The Case for Holliday:

Holliday made a name for himself in Colorado before spending a short half season with the Athletics, and coming to St. Louis. Of these names, he is perhaps the biggest fixture on the Cards, this being his 4th year with the club. And did I mention, he’s currently putting together a quiet bid for the 2012 NL MVP?

He may lose out to Andrew McCutchen or Buster Posey this November, but he did have a monster year in 2007. He was NLCS MVP, runner-up for the NL MVP, and he led the league in RBIs and extra base hits with a Batting Champion title. And he’s remained a consistent threat at the plate, although his fielding might leave something to be desired…

His 229 homers, 1,511 hits, and .313 average will hopefully continue to grow. With perhaps five more good years left (he’s currently 32 years old), I wouldn’t really expect him to reach 400 homers or 3,000 hits, but he may come close. And we have to consider who he’s up against playing in the mid-2000’s and beyond. With Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp, and many other big names, it will be a tough class when it comes to breaking into the Hall of Fame.

Verdict: Probably not. Unfortunately, Holliday seems to be one of those exceptional players who for the most part, goes unnoticed. And his Hall of Fame bid isn’t likely to be much different. Besides 2007, he just doesn’t have anything tangible to show for his consistent and superb play. I would like to hope he’ll prove me wrong and go on a tear for the next 5 or 6 years, but that remains to be seen.

Fell free to comment below! Did I make the right calls? Are there any other current Cardinals for whom you could make a case for Cooperstown? And don’t forget to VOTE!:

– Kelsey Shea (@KelseyShea11)

Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter, LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook and FOLLOW our lovely guest blogger @KelseyShea11!

Grade That Trade! The Yankees, I Mean Dodgers, Get Richer

It’s official. The Dodgers and Red Sox have completed a ridiculous nine-player swap that sends first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and a whole bunch of crappy contracts to Los Angeles, in exchange for James Loney and some prospects to Boston.

Holy cow. Let me get this out of the way as a Dodger fan: WOOOOOHOOOOOO!

Okay, thanks. That being said, let me explain how this trade affects both teams, and then I’ll leave it up to you to vote which team got the better deal.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Boston receives:

1B James Loney

SP Rubby De La Rosa (AAA)

SP Allen Webster (AA)

OF Jerry Sands (AAA)

IF Ivan De Jesus (AAA)

Los Angeles receives:

1B Adrian Gonzalez

SP Josh Beckett

OF Carl Crawford

UTIL Nick Punto

PLUS Cash

If you’re a casual baseball fan, you might think Wow, the Dodgers just scored 3 All-Stars!

Little do you know, Beckett and Crawford are owed big money for little production and spotty health over the last year or more. Punto is simply a utility player but a great clubhouse guy who can contribute to a winning team (just ask the 2011 Cardinals). Besides, it’s a huge upgrade over Juan Uribe and Adam Kennedy.

If Crawford comes back healthy from Tommy John surgery in 2014, he could be worth the money. Before being signed by Boston, Crawford was annually one of the better all-around players in baseball. Who knows – maybe a change of scenery does him well, but I don’t expect anything out of him.

Beckett has a chance to shine in L.A., but that’s based on a bunch of big “if’s” as well. IF Beckett stays healthy. IF he keeps the ball down. Worst case scenario, the Dodgers have a seasoned veteran with tons of postseason experience to help guide guys like Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang through a potential playoff berth. But, with Chad Billingsley’s possible elbow injury, adding a usually mediocre, formerly incredible starting pitcher is something sorely needed right now.

And do I really have to explain why Gonzalez was a great pick up? He hit .338 last year in Boston and has also been a perennial All-Star throughout his career. He can hit 30 homers, drive in 100 runs and bat .300 as his career numbers will attest to. Plus, he’s won multiple gold gloves at first base. So you’re telling me the Dodgers swapped a .250-hitting, powerless, smooth-fielding James Loney for a .300-hitting, powerful, smooth-fielding Gonzalez? I’ll take it.

Before I move on to analyzing what the Red Sox obtained in this deal, let me remind everyone of two things. If the Twitter world is the collective opinion of baseball fans, I’m seriously worried for the sanity of the sport’s fan base. So, here goes:

1) Money doesn’t matter. The new ownership of the Dodgers paid $2 billion to buy the team, and will be securing a $4 billion TV deal soon. They will over pay, and they openly admit it. Money is NOT an issue. They can take on all those big contracts and blow their noses with the $100 bills.

2) Telling me the Dodgers don’t have the pitching to win the division is not backed up by statistics. As of today, the Dodgers still have the second-best ERA in the National League as a team, two spots ahead of the pitching-heavy San Francisco Giants (also leading them in batting average against, strikeouts and quality starts). Until that changes, please don’t tell me the Dodgers have no pitching, because five months into the season those numbers are no longer “flukes.”

Back to business. Some  of the prospects the Red Sox received might be no-names to the casual baseball fan. But let me tell you, Boston received a pretty good haul. In addition to ridding themselves of about $78.5 gazillion in salary, they picked up two high-ceiling starting pitchers and two hitters who have a shot at developing into legitimate every day players.

James Loney could also benefit from a change of scenery. Once considered an elite prospect, he looked well on his way to becoming a star about five years ago with the Dodgers. Then came a dip in power. Then a dip in average. A dip in RBI. Now, he’s one of the most average offensive bats you’ll find. Except he’s not even going to reach 10 home runs this season.

I love James Loney. He’s been one of my favorite players on the Dodgers for a number of years (I even have his jersey – oh, what to do with it now?!) and I hold a high value on defensive prowess, which he possesses a lot of.

I truly hope Loney does well in Boston. But with free agency looming in 2013, chances are he won’t be around for them anyway. Guys that will hang around are these three AAA and one AA players they acquired. 

The one with the highest ceiling in my opinion is Allen Webster, the AA starter. He was an 18th-round draft choice in 2008 that many thought might have a better career down the road than Dodgers’ top prospect Zach Lee after both started to develop in the minors.

MLB.com ranks Webster their 65th best prospect in baseball right now, mostly due to a mid-90’s sinker, plus-curveball and plus-change. He really does have a great chance to be a future star in Boston.

De La Rosa is in the same boat – he just made his first appearance back with the Dodgers after a lengthy recovery from Tommy John. But before, during and after the surgery reviews about him were rave. He throws very hard: about an average of 95, just a bit higher than Justin Verlander’s average, and he has topped out at 99.

De La Rosa needs to work on his willingness to work the inside part of the plate, and gain confidence in his secondary pitches so hitters can’t sit on the heater. As he matures, these issues should be sorted out and De La Rosa could become a poor man’s Pedro Martinez if he doesn’t stray from the path mentally or physically.

Jerry Sands can play outfield or first base and has shown tons of promising power in the minors. That being said, the Pacific Coast League is notorious for inflating young players’ numbers because it’s such an offense-friendly league. In a few stints in the Majors with Los Angeles, Sands showed very infrequent flashes of potential. Most of his time was spent trolling around the Mendoza line with little power and plate discipline to show for it.

The same can be said for De Jesus. I believe he has more potential than Sands overall, but is a smaller-name player so goes unnoticed. De Jesus had some big appearances for the Dodgers in 2012 and could become a spark player for the Red Sox down the road if developed properly.

It’s hard to tell in a trade like this who “wins” per se. Loney for Gonzalez is an obvious win for the Dodgers. And for right NOW, I have to say L.A. won the trade. They are going for a World Series title, no matter the cost. But the fact that they got a huge left-handed bat, a potential number two starter and an improvement on the bench AND were able to keep Dee Gordon and Zach Lee, speaks for itself.

But, if Boston develops the four young players they received in the deal properly, we’re talking about one or two potential impact bats and the possibility of two middle of the rotation starters. Down the road, the Red Sox may be reloading for another big run.

Tell us below in the comments who YOU think won the trade! Don’t forget to vote in the poll! And please follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Which Perfect Game Was More Impressive? Cain or Felix?

It’s like choosing between Christmas and 4th of July. Or Batman and Spiderman. The most badass actor in The Expendables. Coffee cake or angel food cake. Bieber or Miley!

The point is, both Felix Hernandez’ perfect game, and Matt Cain’s perfect game…were equally, legitimately, epically, incredibly awesome.

But which was more impressive?

Let’s break it down:

King Felix – Thursday, August 16th, 2012 – SEA 1, TB 0

Hernandez was untouchable. One would have to be to throw one of only a couple dozen perfect games in the 140-something year history of Major League Baseball.

But striking out 12 batters on 113 pitches (77 for strikes) with a 1-0 lead has to count for something, regardless of how bad the opposing team’s offense is. And that opposing team’s offense just dropped 36 runs on an Angels team widely-hailed for having the best pitching staff in the league. And swept them in four games. On the road.

Hernandez had the 1-0 lead which adds a ton of pressure to the pursuit of perfection. Having a one-run lead will add pressure to the pursuit of anything. Although Felix probably takes the mound every day expecting he will have to toss a no-no just to get a win, the fact that he had to be flawless also garners extra consideration.

The stadiums in which the perfect games were thrown is a wash – AT&T Park and SafeCo Field are two of the best parks for pitchers in all of baseball. We can toss that factor out. But one stat that really stood out to me about Hernandez’ perfect game is that he struck out the side in the 6th and 8th inning, and had 8 of his 12 strikeouts in the last four innings.

That tells me that Felix realized part way through the fifth (he would later say he realized he had a shot at it in the fourth inning) that in order to maintain perfection, retain a shutout and win the ball game, he would have to turn up the after burners and go all Verlander on the Rays.

There is one big negative – the new trend of “Felixing?” Not cool. Not cool at all.

Matt Cain – Wednesday, June 13, 2012 – SF 10, HOU 0

Again, this was about complete and utter dominance. I recently ranked Cain’s perfect game the third-best (by numbers) of all-time. OF ALL-TIME! Was he bumped to fourth by Hernandez?

Let’s start with the basics. Naturally, there were 27 up and 27 down. So like nine of us. Nine 3 up, 3 downs. No hits, no walks, no runs, no base runners, no errors (errorless…also like us!).

Cain struck out 14, so two more than Hernandez, and used an extra 12 pitches (125 in total, 86 for strikes) to do so. That being said, he had a 10-0 lead. The score differential both works for and against Cain. It means he had to sit in the dugout thinking about the perfect game, getting cold, etc. for much longer between innings. It also means that the only pressure-packed part of that performance was finishing the perfect game.

He didn’t have to worry about securing a win with such a big cushion. And why was the cushion so large? Let’s just say the Astros aren’t as…um…”offensively proficient”…as the Rays are.

Also, factor in the fantastic running, diving catch Gregor Blanco made in the 8th inning to preserve the perfecto, or the ball that was hit about 550 feet in the later innings that hit a wall of wind in deep left and nestled into Melky Cabrera’s mitt on the warning track.

Conclusion:

Both pitchers were brilliant in their respective, historic outings. Hernandez threw more first-pitch strikes and got more swings-and-misses. Cain induced more foul balls, meaning the hitters likely were just more terrible at squaring pitches up in general. But they were close.

That being said, the Cain perfecto featured two more strikeouts overall, and there wasn’t as consistent a flow to the game.

In King Felix’s perfecto, he struck out the side in the sixth and eighth and still had less K’s than Cain. Also, Hernandez didn’t have to hit for himself and waste energy getting ready to hit, swinging in the on-deck circle, or having at-bats.

So you be the judge. Keep personal emotions out of it, people. Mariners fans, contemplate everything. Giants fans, be impartial and look at just the numbers and quality of competition.

Which perfect game was better. Felix Hernandez? Or Matt Cain? (sorry Phil Humber – just didn’t make the cut this year, buddy)

Comment on the issue here below, and VOTE in the poll!

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– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

 

 

 

2012 Power Rankings: Monday, August 13th

Last week in MLB, things started to even out a little bit. The Reds came back to Earth, the Angels took a small step backwards, and the Diamondbacks also recovered to normalcy.

All is right in the AL East, as the Yankees have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division. In the AL Central and NL West, two teams are vying for first place in each and the races are as tight as we left them last week.

And despite another week of games, seemingly everyone outside of Colorado and Houston are still in the playoff race. That being said, here are this week’s official Three Up, Three Down MLB Power Rankings:

30. Houston Astros (38-78, 2-4 record last week, ranking last week: 30)

I’ll give the ‘Stros this: the two wins they were able to muster since we last met here were pretty awesome. Back-to-back walk-off wins against the Brewers at home is exciting, no matter how bad the team is. That being said, it took over 100 games to get their first walk-off? Eh…

29. Colorado Rockies (41-71, 3-3, 29)

The Rockies had to play the Giants and Dodgers, the leaders of the NL West, on the road for three games apiece. Splitting six is actually a huge moral victory for a team that is playing with half its normal roster right now. Colorado would be a player again if they could get some arms. In related news, breathing is good for you.

28. Chicago Cubs (44-69, 1-5, 28)

So, remember those cool top prospects I told you were coming up last week for the Cubs? Well Brett Jackson got three hits in his debut, then pretty much struck out the rest of the week. Josh Vitters hasn’t done anything on the offensive end. And the Cubs went 1-5. Whoops.

27. Minnesota Twins (49-65, 1-5, 21) 

And they were doing so well. A 1-5 week will slide you the wrong way in the rankings, and despite the surprisingly efficient lineup, this pitching staff is in need of major work. Honestly, none of the young starters they’ve used in 2012 show a lot of promise.

26. Kansas City Royals (49-65, 4-2, 27)

I TOLD YOU THE ROYALS WERE GOOD! If only this was the first week of the season. As long as one of my main man crushes Billy Butler is leading the way, I will always have a soft spot for the Royals. That being said, despite moving up in the rankings, they are really, awfully terrible.

25. Cleveland Indians (53-62, 3-3, 25)

Remember when the Indians were in first place? Er…a good team? Er…even above .500? Those days are long gone. Considering the Tribe had an 0h-fer last week, this is a huge improvement. The best thing I can write about Cleveland is that they don’t have the distinction of the down arrow this week. It’s the small victories sometimes.

24. San Diego Padres (51-65, 5-1, 26) 

Stay classy, San Diego. The Padres are in sole possession of fourth place in the NL West now, thanks to a five-game winning streak! Good job, Padres. Good hustle. Good effort. I really have nothing exciting to say about this team. Can you tell? Moving on…

23. Toronto Blue Jays (54-60, 1-5, 20) 

Another long, Jose Bautista-less week for the lone Canadian survivor in MLB. At least they have good, young pitching. Oh, wait. Er…at least they have Brett Lawrie. No? Damn. At least they have Joe Cart–what do you mean that was 20 years ago? Hmm…oh! AT LEAST THEY HAVE CALL ME MAYBE!

22. Miami Marlins (52-63, 3-3, 23)

Getting Giancarlo Stanton back means only one thing for the Marlins: their losses are going to be way cooler. Stanton has already made a huge impact back in the lineup, but Miami might still be looking at a last-place finish. What a poor choice for HBO’s “The Franchise.”

21. Philadelphia Phillies (52-62, 3-3, 24)

Honestly, the Phillies continue to play better since trading away Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton, but that’s probably more because Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are back than anything else. The annoying thing is that with a full healthy season from those two, the Phillies are still a legit playoff team, even after the mini fire sale.

20. Milwaukee Brewers (52-61, 3-3, 22)

The fact that the Brew Crew lost on two straight walk off hits against the Astros is reason enough to give this team their first big, red down arrow. Alas, they are spared, but the bullpen is truly atrocious. Please make sure you aren’t talking to a Milwaukee fan before complaining about your team’s bullpen.

19. New York Mets (55-60, 2-4, 18)

I don’t know why I bought into the 2012 version of the Mets any more than I did the 2010 or 2011. All three teams had solid first halves only to be a massive disappointment in the second halves. Even their coolest moment, a no-hitter by Johan Santana, was lame because of a blown call.

18. Boston Red Sox (57-59, 2-4, 17)

Jon Lester is finally coming around and Adrian Gonzalez is absolutely tearing it up, but it’s probably too little too late for the Red Sox. Despite ESPN’s best efforts at convincing you otherwise, the roster in Beantown just isn’t good enough to overcome a six-game Wild Card deficit.

17. Seattle Mariners (53-63, 3-3, 19) 

You might see the record at ten games  below .500 and think the M’s season has failed. Considering the low expectations and that pretty much everyone left on the roster is a rookie, this has been a very successful season in Seattle. Building on it and maintaining it are the next steps.

16.  Arizona Diamondbacks (58-57,  3-3, 16)

How about a round of applause for NL Rookie of the Year front-runner Wade Miley and his young pal Patrick Corbin? If not for these two hot shots, the D’Backs aren’t even in the hunt right now. Ian Kennedy and Justin Upton have struggled, but somehow they are hanging tough still.

15. Los Angeles Angels (60-55, 2-4, 12) 

I excused the Angels last week for stumbling, because they played two first place teams on the road and three of their four losses were in extras. This past week, they played the A’s and Mariners. And went 2-4. These are the divisional games L.A. must win to be taken seriously.

14. Oakland A’s (61-53, 3-3, 13) 

Oakland is learning that living life in the fast line is harder than advertised. Despite continuing to play good baseball, some of their young stars are starting to crack. Plus, it doesn’t help that the Rangers went and took off. All that aside, they are still ahead of the Angels, which is a victory in itself.

13. Los Angeles Dodgers (62-53, 3-3, 10)

Don’t put Hanley in a corner, Ozzie Guillen! He will do mean things to your team. After Guillen either intentionally walked batters in front of Ramirez or neglected to walk him in situations that called for it, Ramirez picked the pitching of his former teammates apart. If he’s heating up, we’re talking about a two-horse race in this division.

12. Baltimore Orioles (62-53, 4-2, 14)

The Orioles are like the anti-Mets. A great first half story that is actually…still good in the second half? Weird. I don’t think most baseball fans are realizing how incredible the work is that Buck Showalter has done in Baltimore. Credit the offense and some of the pitching too, but Showalter has quietly turned this team into a formidable contender.

11. Tampa Bay Rays (62-52, 6-0, 15) 

The Rays get knocked down, they get up again, you neverrrrr gonna keep them down. Okay, sorry – still upset that Chumbawumba wasn’t one of the British artists to make an appearance at the Olympic Closing Ceremonies last night. Huge snub. Bigger snub than forgetting how good the Rays really are. Oh, right. Evan Longoria is back. Can you tell?

10. Detroit Tigers (61-54, 2-4, 9)

I’m still confused as to why the Tigers are two games behind the White Sox in the division. I figured they’d be making reservations for October by now. There’s one tiny problem for anyone who plays Detroit in the coming weeks: Miguel Cabrera is in absolute beast mode. Poor pitchers.

9. San Francisco Giants (63-52, 4-2, 11) 

The Giants put up 15 runs on the Cardinals in St. Louis last week. They split two on the road, then came home and dismantled the Rockies on Friday and Sunday. If Hunter Pence is settling in, this is probably the team to beat in the NL West. Ruh-roh!

8. St. Louis Cardinals (62-53, 2-4, 7) 

After jumping six spots to the top ten last week, the Cards had a bit of a rough go this week. Splitting with the Giants at home isn’t terrible, but dropping two of three over the weekend to the Phillies is bad. Especially considering how tight the NL Central is. There is not a lot of room for error this late.

7. Chicago White Sox (62-51, 3-3, 8)

If the Tigers continue to play below their abilities, the Sox will be beneficiaries. I know they made some minor moves at the deadline, like bringing in Francisco Liriano and Brett Myers, but those moves will pay off. Speaking of obscure players lighting it up in Chicago, what is Alex Rios doing hitting over .300? What did you put in my water?

6. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-50, 2-4, 6)

With about 40 games left, the Pirates need to win 17 more to reach .500 for the first time since I was in diapers. I believe they will do it, but they have their sights set higher. A 2-4 week means no distance added between them and the third-place Cardinals. A 2-4 week also means a bigger deficit behind the first-place Reds.

5. New York Yankees (67-47, 4-2, 4)

New York is 20 games over .500 and it ain’t no thang. Forget that Mark Teixeira missed time and both Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia are on the DL. The gaps just get filled and there is more than enough offensive firepower to outscore other teams. One thing for sure will be strange: Derek Lowe in a Yankees uniform.

4. Atlanta Braves (66-48, 4-2, 3) 

It must be immensely frustrating to be a Braves fan. Forget that they won a million straight division titles but only one World Series. Now they are playing unbelievably well and are still 4.5 games back in their own division. The pesky Nats aren’t going anywhere, so the Braves need to step it up even harder than usual. Yickitty!

3. Texas Rangers (67-46, 5-1, 5)

The world is not ending in Arlington after all. The Rangers are back, and with them come its star pupil, Josh Hamilton. The big lefty is back in the swing of things, and Texas took down some big opponents over the last week. This is going to be a scary team (again) in October.

2. Cincinnati Reds (69-46, 3-3, 1)

The good news: Cincinnati widened their lead on St. Louis and Pittsburgh by a full game, despite playing to a .500 clip last week. The bad news: Joey Votto needs another knee surgery. No big deal for now, considering how well they’ve played with him shelved, but when the playoffs roll around they need their star first baseman at full strength.

1. Washington Nationals (71-44, 5-1, 2)

Believe it. The Nationals are the best team in baseball. First to 70 wins and they earned every inch of it. Washington has two huge series coming up against the Giants in San Francisco this week and three at home against Atlanta to start next week. If they win four of those six, it might seal the division for them.

*Records current as play began on Monday, August 13th, 2012*

Do you agree with the rankings? Disagree? Want to punch us in the baseballs? Comment below to let us know how you really feel! And while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter @3u3d and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)