Boston Runs on Pedroia

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

5’8″, 165 pounds, and 100% heart, determination, and dedication. Of course I am mentioning the Rookie of the year, All Star, and MVP second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The Woodland, CA native was drafted in the second round and 65th overall as an undersized shortstop. In addition to his paramount success in the MLB at the plate and in the field, he is a class act off the field as well. In college, he gave up his last two years of scholarship in order to recruit a better pitching staff. Much to my delight, he also resigned with the Red Sox for another 7 years. Safe to say, he has been one of the vital components of the Red Sox for the past 6 years and will continue to be a major contributor on the diamond and in the locker room.

Let’s breakdown some of Pedroia’s stats over the course of his MLB career. He has hit above .300 in all but two years during his 6 full seasons including solid RBI numbers and OBP. Additionally, he has been averaging 20 stolen bases and scores at least 90-100 runs most seasons.

YEAR GP AB R H 2B HR RBI SB AVG OBP
2007 139 520 86 165 39 8 50 7 0.317 0.380
2008* 157 653 118 213 54 17 83 20 0.326 0.376
2009 154 626 115 185 48 15 72 20 0.296 0.371
2011 159 635 102 195 37 21 91 26 0.307 0.387
2012 141 563 81 163 39 15 65 20 0.290 0.347
2013 160 641 91 193 42 9 84 17 0.301 0.372

After winning Rookie of the Year in 2007, along with a World Series title, Pedroia came back to win the MVP award in 2008. During this season, he hit .326 with an OBP of .376, 17 HRs and 83 RBIs. Not to mention the countless incredible plays in the field that he made including a .992 fielding percentage which was his career high until this past season.

It’s hard to decide which is more enjoyable to watch. A moonshot home run over the green monster where Dustin gets every inch of his 5’8″ (more likely 5’6″-7″), 165 pound frame into a high and inside fastball that sails over the Sports Authority billboard in left field. Or a rocket line drive that skips past the pitcher up the middle destined for a base hit only to be met by the diving #15 who bounces up, turns and throws before the hitter can even believe that his average somehow just declined. I will leave that up to you based off of these 2013 highlights.

Whichever you found to be more enjoyable I think everyone can agree that PD is one of the best players in the MLB but for different reason. As an undersized middle infielder, discounted as just another average prospect in college, and riddled with minor nagging injuries thus far, it’s safe to say he is somewhat of an underdog despite his two WS championships, ROY, and MVP awards. Seeing as we share the same birthday, Pedroia will always go down as my favorite childhood baseball player and role model.

~MTE

Advertisements

Angels Fishing for Trout during Contract Negotiations

The latest rumors concerning baseball’s most promising outfielder are mentioning a contract potentially north of $300 million. If this were to come to fruition, it would give Mike Trout the largest contract in all of professional sports. All of this occurring at the age of 22 and having only two (impressive) seasons under his belt. Needless to say, a contract of this magnitude represents an incredible financial risk for the Angels but from what Trout has shown thus far, he is more than deserving of the largest contract in baseball and professional sports.

Reflecting on Trout’s past two seasons offensively, his numbers are up there with the best of all time. With a .320+ batting average across both seasons along with 238 runs scored, 180 RBIs, and 82 stolen bases. Perhaps the most eye popping stat however are his power numbers. Averaging nearly 29 HRs over the course of two seasons is incredible for the OBP and is one of many reasons why Trout is deserving of such a large contract.

Year R HR RBI SB AVG OBP
2012 129 30 83 49 0.326 0.399
2013 109 27 97 33 0.323 0.432

In addition to his dominance at the plate, Trout has established himself as one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball over the past two seasons. Here is one of the highlights that demonstrates Trout’s awareness and ability in the outfield as he robs a home run from Prince Fielder at the end of the 2012 season.

And yet another incredible grab can be seen here. Being able to sprint and get into a launch position before the wall and make the catch on the run is truly breathtaking to watch as a baseball fan.

While I only took out two examples of athletic catches from Trout, many more can be found at the video attached at the end of this post. In an age where power numbers have triumphed contact and on base percentage, Trout seems to exemplify the ever sought after 5 tool player – Speed, Arm Strength, Hitting for Average, Hitting for Power, and Fielding. Seeing as the Angels have the budget, I could not think of a better player in baseball to lock down to a record breaking contract.

~MTE

Recently, Mike Trout was signed to a one-year, $1 million contract. This makes Trout the highest paid player for his age in the history of baseball.

The End of an Era for the Yankees

As Derek Jeter announced his retirement after the conclusion of the 2014 season, I felt the need to write a commemorative acknowledgment of his stellar career. Even as a Sox fan, I have nothing but respect for the future Hall of Famer as he concludes his career as the face of the Yankees franchise. Rookie of the Year, World Series MVP, 5x Silver Slugger, 5x Gold Glove Winner, and member of the 3,000 hit club. Not to mention the 5 World Series championships including three in a row from 1998-2000. All rivalries aside, it has been a pleasure to watch Jeter play and the Yankees are going to have quite the hole to fill at shortstop.

As a career .312 hitter with 3,316 hits and an OBP of .381, it can be easy to overlook Jeter’s adept ability in the field. Here is just one example of his athletic ability combined with his incredible defensive awareness on a play where he had no business even being close to making.

Another example comes against my hometown favorite. With Trot Nixon at the plate and a blooper hugging the left field line that falls as a hit 9 times out of 10. Nevertheless, Jeter comes careening from the shortstop position and flies into the stands with complete disregard for his body.

Lastly, a play that he regularly made throughout his stellar career. The backhander in the hole followed by the jumping throw across the body to make the out at first. In fact, growing up as a little leaguer, every kid would always try a play of similar character and naturally call it the “Jeter.”

Even with all of these credentials both in the field and at the plate, it is difficult to find more of a class act in baseball. The 2006 season perhaps sums up Jeter’s best year. With a .343 Batting Average, .417 OBP, 97 RBIs, and 118 runs, Jeter finished 2nd in MVP voting. Also, making the All Star team, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards, add to the hardware that he achieved during this season.

That being said, one of the most impressive parts about the Yankee captain is his work off the field through his foundation, Turn 2. Founded in 1996, the goal is to prevent teenage drug and alcohol use in the New York City, Western Michigan, and Tampa Bay areas. While he might be leaving baseball at the conclusion of next season, it is reassuring to see that his positive effects will not leave the communities he has influenced.

~MTE

Sports as an Outlet for Urban Teens

Image

Urban cities struggle for many different reasons stemming from poverty, housing issues, and crime. Most of all, children can become immersed in this detrimental environment without any hope or belief of escaping the difficulties they have faced their entire lives. Cue RBI Baseball, which is a program sponsored by the MLB in order to promote baseball to youths in the inner cities across the country. Since 1991, the program has achieved great success through various leagues, tournaments, and scholarships for its participants year in and year out.

As a participant in the program, I can attest to the noble cause that the MLB undertook with this project. Whether it is the league games against cross town rivals or the collaborative events with the Red Sox, being a participant in the program paid dividends across many different aspects of baseball. By far the highlight of my career with RBI baseball was the regional and national tournaments that I participated in as a young 15 year old.

The local league held tryouts for the Boston All Star team and I was fortunate to make the team with several of my friends. While we traveled to Jersey City for the regional tournament we began to get to know each other and realize that our teammates grew up and lived in drastically different environments than we were used to. As opposed to the occasional neighborhood prank being the cause of worry, these kids literally witnessed some of the worst crime in Boston nearly first hand. One of their games a few weeks prior had to be postponed due to a shooting in the basketball courts in the outfield. Looking back, it was touching to be able to share such special moments such as winning the regional tournament at Yankee stadium and traveling to the RBI World Series at the spring training facility in Jupiter, Florida.

In an age where many professional athletes participate in community service simply for a better PR image, programs like RBI are a refreshing change of pace. Another example is the organization Ice Hockey in Harlem (IHIH). The program’s goal is to promote academic and social development for children in Harlem through teaching the fundamentals of hockey along with other programming. While I cannot speak personally about this program, it appears to be even more beneficial than the RBI program because of the extensive after school programs in addition to the hockey component. By teaching skills such as reading comprehension, math, and history in the context of hockey, students can establish these skills in a different manner than the typical classroom setting.

In conclusion, community outreach programs such as RBI and IHIH provide exemplary means of ensuring the well being of children in urban areas. Not only do they provide a physical outlet for children to express themselves, but it also builds a community outside of what they are used to being surrounded. Additionally, the focus on education through after school programs further helps children in their eventual progression to college.

~MTE

Image

A Payroll Recap of the 2013 MLB Season

BStrong

The 2013 season turned out to be a drastic turnaround and fairy tale ending for the World Champion Red Sox. After a 69-93 record and finishing last in the AL east in 2012, former pitching coach John Farrell lead the team to its third post season title in the last 10 years. Per the usual insane postseason performance from David Ortiz hitting .353 with 5 HRs and 13 RBIs and some inspirational words concerning the Marathon tragedy the Red Sox were back on the map as a serious contender in Major League Baseball.

Following some of the logic written in Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball,” here is an analysis of the regular season when compared to payroll and wins. No surprise to see the A’s ranking amongst the best in the cost per win category after reading the depiction of Billy Beane’s philosophy during the early 2000s.

Payroll Wins Cost per Win
Tampa Bay Rays $57,505,272 92 $625,057.30
Oakland Athletics $60,372,500 96 $628,880.21
Washington Nationals $114,194,270 86 $1,327,840.35
Boston Red Sox $140,657,500 97 $1,450,077.32
Philadelphia Phillies $170,760,689 73 $2,339,187.52
New York Yankees $203,445,586 85 $2,393,477.48
Los Angeles Dodgers $220,395,196 92 $2,395,599.96

Here are a few surprises that I noticed when compiling this list. First, the Dodgers ranked among the worst in the league in this cost per win category despite having a successful regular season with 92 wins and winning the NL West by 11 games. However, they had the highest payroll in the MLB by nearly $17 million above the Yankees (more to come on them later). Much of this payroll spike came from a blockbuster deal in August of 2012 that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers from the Red Sox after their abysmal finish to end the 2012 season. As a Sox fan, I was a little discouraged to see Gonzalez sent away after such a good year statistically. Now I am eating my words naturally but now I am beginning to question what the Dodger’s GM was thinking at the time.

First, you have Josh Beckett a clear veteran on the pitching staff and 2 time World Series champion and WS MVP with the Marlins in 2003. That being said, at the time of the deal, he is approaching the end of his prime and had a 5.23 ERA with Boston up until that point. Not to mention, his contract is quite the price to pay because of his veteran status. I do not fault the idea of bringing a senior starting pitcher to a championship contender but I do question the $17 million they paid him in 2013 only to make 8 starts on the season.

Then there’s Carl Crawford. From 2005 to 2010 with the Rays, he hit above .300 in all but one season with 40+ stolen bases most years and 100+ runs twice over that span. But here comes the catch. After being acquired by the Red Sox, he hit .255 and had an OBP of .289, both career lows. In addition, he battled an injury all of the 2012 season. Even with the bounce back during 2013, I question the $20 million he was paid after some pretty horrendous results the previous two season.

Finally, Adrian Gonzalez who had to have been the only reason the Dodgers even considered this deal. Great first baseman at the plate and in the field coming off of 6 straight seasons of either 100+ RBIs, BA of .300+ or BOTH! Fun fact is that I saw him play in AA when he was with the Rangers and I still have the splintered Louisville Slugger he gave me after the game. But in the context of this trade, he was really the only upside the Dodgers had and while they had a successful regular season, credit the World Series hardware to the Red Sox.

Naturally since I am a diehard Sox fan, here comes the expected gloating in the face of Yankee fans. A $200 million payroll, steroid-using third baseman, and a new stadium with a shortened right centerfield cannot buy you a championship. But all rivalries aside, it was a dismal season for the Bronx bombers in 2013. A third place finish in the AL East (tie with Baltimore actually), 85-77 record, and a negative run differential are all some pretty troubling signs for the Evil Empire. That being said, GM Brian Cashman has spent no time sitting around and has acquired CF Jacoby Ellsbury, C Brian McCann, and Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. The 2014 season is shaping up to be one of the best rivalries between the Sox and Yanks.

Lastly, here’s some praise for small budget teams’ success in the regular season. I will stick to the Rays since it is no new phenomenon that the A’s continue to compete with the big boys on a tight budget (credit to Billy Beane once again). First, let’s focus on Evan Longoria easily one of the best third baseman in the MLB and someone who values their organization over their paycheck (Robinson Cano have fun in Seattle). Longoria agreed to a contract extension for six years with the Rays for much less than he could have received on the open market. Through 6 seasons he has an OBP of .357 and 544 RBIs. However, he is one of the best defensive corner infielders in baseball and makes highlight reel plays appear to be routine. Along with David Price leading the pitching rotation and Ben Zobrist as one of the best offensive second basemen, the AL East should continue to be one of the most competitive divisions in the MLB next season.

~MTE

A discussion about baseball and life