Posts from Maryland about everything MLB, NFL and college sports

Posts tagged “Derek Jeter

Summer of Scott Podcast #3

Scott Kornberg discusses the United States women’s soccer team, John Mackey’s death and the first half of the baseball season. Listen HERE!


A Great First Half of Baseball

We have officially arrived at the All-Star Break. It has been a memorable first part of the season. Here is a short summary of what has happened so far:

As expected, the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies have proved to be the three strongest teams in baseball this year. However, the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays continue to shock (most of) the world by being in contention for a playoff spot. The Rays are currently the furthest out of a playoff spot, just five games behind the Yankees in the American League Wild Card race and six games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. The Diamondbacks are just three games behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West while the Pirates are just one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. The Indians currently stand 0.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

There were two managers who had to be replaced already this year, yet neither was fired. Florida Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez resigned after a horrific 1-18 start to the month of June (the Marlins finished the month 5-23). The Marlins began the month just two games behind the Phillies in the NL East but ended it 14.5 games back. Florida replaced Rodriguez with 80-year old Jack McKeon. McKeon led the 2003 Marlins to a World Series Championship, also taking over the helm in Miami at midseason during that year. Connie Mack managed the Philadelphia Athletics from 1940 through 1950 until the age of 87, making McKeon the second-oldest manager in baseball history. Florida was 32-39 under Rodriguez and are 11-8 with McKeon as manager.

The Washington Nationals also had to make a midseason managerial move. Washington was in the midst of an 11-1 run, putting them over .500 for the first time since the team moved to D.C. in 2005 when Jim Riggleman quit on June 23 due to a contract dispute with Nationals’ management over his option for next year. The Nationals tabbed Davey Johnson as his replacement. Washington is 6-8 under Johnson, but was 38-37 with Riggleman guiding the team.

There have also been some notable achievements by players through the first part of the year. Derek Jeter reached 3,000 hits with a home run at exactly two o’clock at Yankee Stadium to become the first Yankee to achieve that milestone. Francisco Liriano and Justin Verlander each threw no-hitters within four days of each other, on May 3 and 7, respectively. Liriano walked six hitters and struck out two. Verlander struck out four and walked just one hitter in the seventh inning, beginning a streak of pitching at least eight innings in eight of his next 10 starts. Andre Eithier strung together a 30-game hitting streak that began on the second day of the season. The streak is the second-longest in Los Angeles Dodgers’ history and is the longest in the majors since the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman’s 30-game streak in 2009.

The first half of the season featured many close divisional races. In fact, there is no division separated by more than a 3.5 game lead. There are currently 17 teams, more than half the league, within 6.5 games of a playoff spot. This season is shaping up to have some terrific playoff races that will go down to the wire in September. Here are my predictions from the beginning of the season and how they stack up with what has happened so far this year:

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

My Prediction:

1. Boston Red Sox

2. Tampa Bay Rays (Wild Card)

3. New York Yankees

4. Baltimore Orioles

5. Toronto Blue Jays

Actual:

1. Boston Red Sox

2. New York Yankees

3. Tampa Bay Rays

4. Toronto Blue Jays

5. Baltimore Orioles

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

My Prediction:

1. Chicago White Sox

2. Minnesota Twins

3. Detroit Tigers

4. Kansas City Royals

5. Cleveland Indians

Actual:

1. Detroit Tigers

2. Cleveland Indians

3. Chicago White Sox

4. Minnesota Twins

5. Kansas City Royals

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

My Prediction:

1. Texas Rangers

2. Oakland Athletics

3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

4. Seattle Mariners

Actual:

1. Texas Rangers

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

3. Seattle Mariners

4. Oakland Athletics

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

My Prediction:

1. Atlanta Braves

2. Philadelphia Phillies (Wild Card)

3. New York Mets

4. Florida Marlins

5. Washington Nationals

Actual:

1. Philadelphia Phillies

2. Atlanta Braves

3. New York Mets

4. Washington Nationals

5. Florida Marlins

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

My Prediction:

1. Cincinnati Reds

2. Milwaukee Brewers

3. St. Louis Cardinals

4. Chicago Cubs

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

6. Houston Astros

Actual:

T-1. Milwaukee Brewers

T-1. St. Louis Cardinals

3. Pittsburgh Pirates

4. Cincinnati Reds

5. Chicago Cubs

6. Houston Astros

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

My Prediction:

1. San Francisco Giants

2. Colorado Rockies

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

4. San Diego Padres

5. Arizona Diamondbacks

Actual:

1. San Francisco Giants

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

3. Colorado Rockies

4. Los Angeles Dodgers

5. San Diego Padres


Are the Yankees Really in Trouble?

Derek Jeter

            With a 6-5 loss last night to the Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Yankees losing streak has now reached six. More importantly, four of those six losses are against the two most likely challengers to New York in the American League East – Boston and the Rays. Despite a very veteran-laden and talented ballclub, this Yankees team looks like it could be trouble.

            The last time a Yankees losing streak reached six games was 2007. Despite leading baseball in home runs (61) and scoring the second-most runs in the AL, the Yankees offense has really struggled recently. New York has scored more than 5 runs just once in the last 13 games and is averaging just 3.9 runs per game during that stretch.

            With the exception of Curtis Granderson, each regular in the Yankees lineup has a lower batting average and on-base percentage than their career averages. Brett Gardner and Granderson are the only Yankees regulars with higher slugging percentages than their career averages.  However, there has been some degree of bad luck for the Yankee lineup. Brett Gardner’s BABIP is right about at league-average with a .301 clip. Every other Yankee regular has a BABIP lower than .300, indicating that they have been unlucky up to this point of the season.

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter

            Even with the luck factor, it appears age may finally be catching up with some of the great players of this era in Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Jeter’s numbers are in the process of severely dipping for the third straight season. He is hitting .255 with a .312 on-base percentage. Jeter’s problems at the plate are more than getting on base, though. He has just five extra-base hits in 37 games. Jeter’s only two home runs came in the same game. He is slugging just .314 on the season. He is simply not hitting the ball hard, and at age 37, may not have much left in the tank.

            Rodriguez’s numbers are in the process of dipping for the fourth straight season. He is in the midst of a major slump right now, posting a .176/.255/.275 batting line in his last 24 games. He should break out soon, but at age 35, he is certainly not the same player he was during his prime, when he won three MVP awards.

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

            Rodriguez’s lack of production has likely had an effect on the players he is surrounded by in the lineup, Mark Texeira and Robinson Cano. As great of a hitter as Cano is, he has struggled with plate discipline this year. Cano posted a career-high .381 OBP last season compared to a .323 mark this year.  The Yankees are still waiting for Mark Texeira to heat up after a typically slow April for him. However, at 31 years old, coming off his worst season since his rookie year, Texeira may already be showing signs of declining. He may never post the .292/.383/.565 line he did in his first season in New York two years ago. Rodriguez’s lack of protection may have a hand in Texeira’s continued decline from his first two seasons in New York.

            The supporting cast has not been much of a help to these aging stars. Despite a strong start, Russell Martin is hitting just .200 with a .383 slugging percentage in his last 19 games. In his last 22 games, Nick Swisher is hitting .179/.297/.308. After a career year last year (.288/.359/.511 with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs), Swisher is hitting .218/.331/.308 with just 6 doubles, 2 homers and 14 RBIs for the season.  Jorge Posada is posting a .165/.278/349 batting line and is 0-for-24 against left-handed pitchers this year.

Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero

           While this may be troublesome, the Yankees may be able to find help on the way. With an almost limitless budget, the Yankees are always in the market to take on a player with a big contract. They also have help right in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, their AAA-affiliate. Jesus Montero, rated the #3 minor league prospect by Baseball America, is currently raking with 2 home runs, 12 RBIs and a .336/.369/.443 line in 30 games. Should Posada and Martin continue to struggle, the Yankees could turn to their 21-year old super prospect as their designated hitter and/or catcher. There is also the chance the Yankees trade Montero in a huge trade to land a possible star. Either way, Montero could play a large role in how the Yankees season turns out.

            Currently sitting at 20-19 and 3 games back of Tampa Bay for first place in the AL East, the Yankees offense is surprisingly giving them cause for concern to compete with the streaking Red Sox and Rays for the rest of the season. Barring a big trade, it could be the Yankees lineup, not their pitching staff, that may prevent them from participating in the postseason this year.