Time for more bobblehead madness. In case you missed part one on the AL West, check it out here. Again, each bobblehead will be rated 1-5 stars based on quality of subject, originality, number available, and overall awesomeness. Teams will be ranked by total stars, so the more giveaways (especially quality ones) the better. Which bobbleheads in the AL Central will be crowned the king? Let’s find out!
Cleveland Indians (amount of giveaway varies)
Saturday, May 3rd, Orel Hershiser: Interesting choice for a throwback bobblehead as Hershiser had a 4.21 ERA in his three seasons with the Tribe. He is a big name though. This giveaway is for 10,000 fans. ** 1/2
Saturday, May 31st, BrOhio: I have no idea where this is going, but it has potential to be the most creative bobblehead in Cleveland’s crop. They also up the giveaway to 12,500 for this one. *** 1/2
Tuesday, June 3rd, Michael Bourn: Pretty standard stuff here. Back down to 10,000 fans on this giveaway **
Tuesday, July 8th, Jason Kipnis: See, Michael Bourn. But a slightly better player and 12,500 fans get this one. ** 1/2
Monday, September 1st, Michael Brantley: Another average to slightly above average player getting his bobble on. Still 12,500 fans for this one, but still a low number compared to other teams. A lot of quantity, but not much quality from the Indians in 2014. **
Total: 12 1/2 stars
Minnesota Twins (10,000 fans)
Friday, June 20th, Harmon Killebrew 1965 All-Star Game: I had a feeling the Twins would go the route the Mets did in 2013 and honor players that appeared in All-Star Games with the team. The Twins are hosting the 2014 All-Star Game. This would be a huge boost if the Twins also featured the three Minneapolis stadiums to host the All-Star Game as well. Killebrew is one of my favorite players of all-time. ****
Friday, July 4th, Lou Gehrig: This giveaway is with the Yankees in town and corresponds with the 75th anniversary of Gehrig’s farewell speech. Great tip of the cap to history by the Twins. ****
Saturday, July 5th, Tom Brunansky 1985 All-Star Game: Brunansky picked a great year to be the only Twins All-Star and make his only appearance in the Midsummer Classic. The career .245 hitter does have a sweet mustache, but it’s not enough to probably be the worst bobblehead of 2014. *
Saturday, September 6th, TBD 2014 All-Star Game: Fake Vegas odds on who this bobblehead will be. Joe Mauer -2000, Glen Perkins +500, anyone else +1500. If it’s Mauer…….. ***
Total: 12 stars
Kansas City Royals (10,000 fans)
Saturday, June 28th, James Shields: This is going to be tough to dole out stars with a measly 10,000 fans getting each bobblehead. Shields is a solid pitcher, but not a big star. **
Saturday, July 12th, Salvador Perez: Perez isn’t even on Shields’ level, yuck. * 1/2
Sunday, August 10th, Alex Gordon: Gordon is the “star” of the team. We’ll see if they make it with a Gold Glove variation, that’d be a nice addition. ** 1/2
Saturday, August 30th, Mr. Royal: This one could actually be fun! This throwback mascot will get a bobblehead on retro night. I’m in. *** 1/2
Total: 9 1/2 stars
Detroit Tigers (amount of giveaway varies)
Thursday, June 5th, Max Scherzer 2013 Cy Young Award: No picture yet of the the bobblehead, but I’d suspect it’ll be him holding the Cy Young award. Maybe they’ll throw in the WWE Title belt that Scherzer was given for winning Cy Young. This giveaway is for 15,000 fans. ***
Thursday, August 14th, Justin Verlander Mini-Bobblehead: Mini-bobblehead? Can’t give him a normal sized one? I’ll only accept this if there’s a mini-Kate Upton on it too. This giveaway is for just 10,000 fans. Dislike. * 1/2
Friday, August 15th, Miguel Cabrera 2-Time MVP: Apparently to get a normal-size bobblehead you have to win an award the previous season. I want Cabrera to be wearing his Triple Crown crown while holding two MVP’s in his arms. I’d bet it won’t look like that. This giveaway is also for 10,000 fans. ****
Total: 8.5 stars
Chicago White Sox (20,000 fans)
Saturday, May 24th, Chris Sale: Sale is the current and future ace of the White Sox. The extra 5,000 fans that get to take this home compared to the Yu Darvish bobblehead in part one, gives this an extra 1/2 star. ***
Saturday, August 30th, Tony LaRussa: Many people forget that LaRussa started his managing career on the Southside. In his Hall of Fame induction year, I like that they’re giving him a bobblehead. I hope it’s in this classic throwback uniform. *** 1/2
Total: 6.5 stars
That’ll do it for the AL Central. I’m quite disappointed that there were no pictures of any 2014 bobbleheads in this division. The Indians win on quantity, but the Twins win on quality. Unless, it’s Tom Brunansky of course.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Wei-Yin Chen gave us his 2nd consecutive successful #MapesFantasySpecial last night, despite not getting a win. Mets Matt Harvey had his start pushed back due to rain, so we’ll see how that plays out tonight. I’m not sure he can get a win against Cole Hamels, but hopefully the peripherals and strikeouts will be there. Here’s what I like for Thursday, September 20th that’s available in more than half of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was featured on this week’s podcast as a 3UP player and I really like him at home against the White Sox. Guthrie shut down the White Sox just a week and a half ago, tossing eight shutout innings. Even more impressive, Guthrie has had three starts against the White Sox since coming to Kansas City, would you like to guess how many runs he’s given up in 23.2 innings? That’s right, zero! I’ll trust him one more time to get solid numbers, he’s owned in just 15% of fantasy leagues.
If You’re Desperate: Cardinals Jaime Garcia (49% owned) takes on the Astros in a solid matchup, but has been so terribly up and down since returning from injury he might no be worth the chance. Brewers rookie Michael Fiers (45% owned) had 10 strikeouts, last time he faced the Pirates, but has a 5.40 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh this year. A’s Tommy Milone (44% owned) hasn’t been good on the road this season and takes on Detroit at Comerica. No thanks. Nationals Ross Detwiler (35% owned) has been good this season and could help your WHIP, but don’t expect a ton of strikeouts. If you need strikeouts and can afford the ERA/WHIP hit, Francisco Liriano (35% owned) could get you some strikeouts, but got lit up last time out against KC. Lastly, Giants Barry Zito (21% owned) got beat up by Colorado last time at home, 4ER over 5.1 IP, but is 6-2 in his career with a 2.59 ERA and 1.09 WHIP against the Rockies. The Rockies do have trouble scoring runs on the road, except against Andrew Cashner of course.
If You’re Desperate Rankings: Fiers, Zito, Detwiler, Garcia, Liriano, Milone
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Mapes Fantasy Special’s have been doing quite well since making a comeback on the blog to help you out in your fantasy playoffs. Travis Wood, Clayton Richard, and Wei-Yin Chen have combined for three quality starts, with a 2-0 record, 1.63 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 18 strikeouts in 22 innings. Hope you were able to grab all three. Let’s see what’s in a bag of tricks for Friday.
Looks like I pulled out Padres flamethrower Andrew Cashner! Cashner returned from injury to give up 2ER in 5 innings against the Diamondbacks and now gets a last-place Rockies team at Petco. The Rockies are 28th in MLB in road OPS this season and have had their troubles away from hitter-friendly Coors Field. Cashner also provides some great strikeout potential with 50K in 41.2 IP this season. Cashner is owned in just 14% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
There are some other good options for a spot start tomorrow that are available in 50% or more of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. Athletics Tommy Milone (44% owned) is home against the Orioles who as I type just walked-off against the Rays in the 14th inning and have to travel all the way across the country. Milone has a 2.77 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP at home this season. You can use him before the Athletics hit the road against some tough competition.
White Sox Francisco Liriano looks intriguing against his old team, the Twins, at Target Field. The 33% owned pitcher gave up 2 runs in 6 innings with 8 strikeouts the first time he faced his former team on the road. If you can afford the WHIP hit and need strikeouts, he may be worth the risk. Be warned though that the Twins are the 2nd hardest to strikeout in the Majors this year.
If you’re looking for ERA/WHIP help I’d go Milone. If you’re looking for strikeouts, I’d go Liriano. However, I think it’s Andrew Cashner that will get the best mix of everything on Friday and is available in the most leagues. Good luck in your fantasy playoffs!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
The Twins have had enough of Francisco Liriano. The starter has been arguably the biggest Jeckyl and Hyde pitcher in the Majors. He’s been marvelous at times with a 12-3 record and 2.13 ERA in 2006 or the no-hitter in 2011. He’s been down right awful at times with a 12-20 record and a 5.18 ERA over the past two seasons. It’s the latter that finally caused the Twins to cut bait instead of hoping Liriano would return to his former self.
The White Sox were looking for another starter in the rotation as Cy Young candidate Chris Sale is battling fatigue. Honestly though, you can never have enough starting pitching, just ask the Yankees. It was shocking that the Twins traded Liriano in their own division, but maybe that shows how little they thought of Liriano now. They think that he can’t hurt them.
The Twins picked up two prospects in the deal with infielder Eduardo Escobar and pitcher Pedro Hernandez. 23 year-old Escobar was called up by Chicago this season and has hit only .207 in 87 at-bats. Escobar’s value is in his fielding where scouts have him rated as having above-average range and a fantastic arm. Escobar was the 8th ranked prospect in the White Sox system coming into 2012 by Prospect Corner and 7th by ESPN prospects guru Kevin Goldstein. He will battle Brian Dozier to be the Twins shortstop of the future. Hernandez is also 23, but the lesser of the two prospects. Hernandez got rocked in his 1st start in the Majors giving up 8 earned runs over 4 innings at the Red Sox, but has been good in the minors this season going 8-2 with a 2.94 ERA over 85.2 IP in AA and AAA.
The key to this deal though is if Liriano just needs a change of scenery to rekindle his former magic. Liriano has shown that he can still strike batters out with a great 9.8 K/9 this season, but with that comes the wildness. The past two seasons have been the worst for Liriano’s control as he has given up 5.0 BB/9, that stat has been the biggest in contributing to Liriano’s woes the past two years. It will be an interesting project for White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper to try and be the one to fix Francisco Liriano.
The way I’m seeing the trade presented right now, I think the Twins got the better end.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
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?
The AL Central is composed of the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins. If I was going to build a line-up consisting of AL Central players ONLY, here is my starting 9, DH, set-up man, and closer. Consider this the AL Central fantasy draft. I take in consideration the ability to play this year and only this year and I am not trying to build for the future.
Leading off and playing Center Field: Austin Jackson (Detroit)– He batted .294 with 34 doubles his rookie season and is off to a scorching start this year.
Batting 2nd and playing Right Field: Brennan Boesch (Detroit)– His power is up there with Miguel and Prince and batting in front of those two, he will see his fair share of fastballs.
Playing 3B and batting 3rd: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit)– This year shapes up for him to win the AL MVP giving the fact Prince is protecting him (in real life, not just this lineup). Strong arguments support he IS the best hitter in baseball.
Batting clean-up and playing 1B: Prince Fielder (Detroit)– Couple options at 1B but Prince needs to be the everyday guy. Butler and Morneau are possibilities, but Prince will out-homer them. Grand Slams? Yes please.
The DH and batting 5th: Billy Butler (Kansas City)– Tough to choose between Billy and Morneau but taking in consideration age and current health (Justin’s injury last year), Billy is the guy I want hitting everyday.
Batting 6th and catching: Joe Mauer (Minnesota)– Joe’s track record is better than recent AL All-Star, Alex Avila. I have to take the experience here and also not be such a homer.
Playing Shortstop and batting 7th: Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland)– He rakes and makes at least one ridiculous play a week. I would take him purely because of his glove, he also happens to be a stellar hitter.
Batting 8th and playing Left Field: Alex Gordon (Kansas City)– Alex shows pop in the bat, speed on the bases, and a strong arm from the outfield.
Playing 2B and batting 9th: Gordon Beckham (Chicago)– Good young player that shows life on his bat from time to time and a consistent glove. Also not much to choose from at this position so he wins by default.
Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander (Detroit)– AL MVP. CY Young. Need I say more?
RP: Vinnie Pestano (Cleveland)– Bullpen mafia O.G.. Lights out and is a trusty arm in the 8th inning.
Closer: Jose Valverde (Detroit)– Papa Grande didn’t blow a save all year in 2011, but blew his first chance in 2012. Due to injury to Soria, he is the only real candidate. At least he’s consistent.
Honorable mention: Ricky Vaughn (Cleveland) and Jack Parkman (Chicago)
How did I do? What are your thoughts? Who would you plug in where?
Don’t forget to follow me @GODF_TH_R and Three Up, Three Down @3U3D
Opening Day Thursday is almost in the books. I sit here watching the Dodgers and Padres with the masterful Vin Scully calling the game taking in all that we already saw. Great pitching matchups in the afternoon games, a walk-off win for the Detroit Tigers after Jose Valverde blew the save after not messing up a chance in all of 2011, and the longest game in Opening Day history with the Blue Jays and Indians going SIXTEEN innings after Chris Perez coughed up a three-run lead for Cleveland in the top of the 9th. It’s gonna be hard for Friday’s matchups to top all of that. Let’s see what we have on tap.
White Sox at Rangers 2:05 ET
The Rangers begin their march for a 3rd straight AL pennant, something that hasn’t been done since the 1998-2001 New York Yankees. Important for John Danks to get through the 1st inning unscathed as the Rangers top 4 hitters in the lineup all hit .350 or better off of Danks in their career.
Twins at Orioles 3:05 ET
Possibly the worst opening day pitching matchup between Carl Pavano and Jake Arietta. Twins fans will just be excited to have their M&M boys (Mauer and Morneau) back in the lineup together after they missed a combined 173 games for Minnesota in 2011.
Yankees at Rays 3:10 ET
New York and Tampa Bay start off the 2012 regular season the same way the 2011 one ended at Tropicana Field. If the drama for this game is anything like game #162, we’re in for a treat. My AL MVP prediction Robinson Cano hits .386 lifetime against James Shields and makes for a solid Beat the Streak pick on MLB.com
Cardinals at Brewers 4:10 ET
Ryan Braun doesn’t have to face the road crowd after a tumultuous offseason. The real story here though is Yovani Gallardo, who sports a 1-7 record with a 5.66 ERA in his career against rival St. Louis. A stat that will not make my co-host Kurt Peter very happy at all.
Rockies at Astros 7:05 ET
Jeremy Guthrie gets the Opening Day nod for Colorado after being traded for in the offseason. Guthrie was solid in spring training and is the Mapes Special for fantasy streaming pitcher of the day (owned in just 5% of Yahoo! leagues). Rules for the Mapes Special are they must be available in more than half of leagues, I’ll have another one coming up.
Giants at Diamondbacks 7:10 ET
Two Cy Young candidates on the hill in Tim Lincecum and Ian Kennedy, so expect a pitcher’s duel like we saw in many games Thursday. The big story though, is the return of catcher Buster Posey to the Giants lineup after a devastating ankle injury last season. If Posey is 100% he makes the Giants lineup average instead of subpar.
Dodgers at Padres 10:05 ET
The only two teams that play both Thursday and Friday. For those of you that get to listen to Vin Scully again, I’m deeply jealous. Cory Luebke and Chad Billingsley make for an interesting pitching matchup in Petco Park has both have had success against their opponent.
Royals at Angels 10:05 ET
Alright, I guess you should be watching Albert Pujols debut for the Halos. I’m not going to get cute on this one.
Mariners at Athletics 10:05 ET
Welcome back to America. Not a rematch that we saw in Japan as Brandon McCarthy will take on Jason Vargas instead of Felix Hernandez. Both McCarthy and Vargas were impressive in their 2012 debuts in Japan, with the Athletics ballpark coming into play Jason Vargas (7% owned) is the 2nd Mapes Special of the day!
Enjoy opening day #4!