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Tag:Howie Kendrick
Posted on: January 7, 2012 9:26 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 10:22 pm
 

Howie Kendrick signs four-year extension

By Matt Snyder

All-Star second baseman Howie Kendrick has signed a four-year contract extension to stay put with the Angels, confirms CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman. The news was first reported by Fox Sports. The deal is pending a physical.

The four-year contract eats up the final year of arbitration for Kendrick while also covering three years of would-be free agency. So he's now off the market until after the 2015 season.

Kendrick, 28, is coming off a breakthrough season in terms of power, as he hit .285/.338/.464 with 18 home runs, 63 RBI and 86 runs scored. He set career highs in runs, triples, homers, slugging percentage and OPS. He also made his first All-Star Game.

Kendrick had been an asset for the Angels with his versatility, having played first base, second base, third base, left field and center field thus far in his career. With Albert Pujols now manning first base and highly-touted prospect Mike Trout on the way in the outfield -- along with Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter -- it appears Kendrick will be used pretty exclusively at second base now. He made 105 of his 136 starts at second last season, but expect the percentage of starts there to increase. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they just stopped moving him around.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:27 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Los Angeles Angels



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the entire schedule and past posts, click here.

While we slog through all the rumors and real-life moves provided by the Winter Meetings, we're here with your daily break from reality. This time around, it's the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Lineup

1. Erick Aybar, SS
2. Casey Kotchman, 1B
3. Howie Kendrick, LF
4. Mike Napoli, C
5. Mark Trumbo, DH
6. Mike Trout, RF
7. Sean Rodriguez, 2B
8. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
9. Peter Bourjos, CF

Note: Kendrys Morales is here, too, though he's been down with a broken leg for almost two seasons. If healthy, he figures in the DH/1B mix prominently, likely pushing Trumbo to the bench -- but I'd hear arguments for Kotchman to sit instead.

Starting Rotation

1. Jered Weaver
2. Ervin Santana
3. John Lackey
4. Tyler Chatwood
5. Joe Saunders

Bullpen

Closer - Francisco Rodriguez
Set up - Jordan Walden, Bobby Jenks, Darren O'Day, Sean O'Sullivan, Trevor Bell, Kevin Jepsen, Jose Arredondo
Long - Ramon Ortiz

Notable Bench Players

Hank Conger, Jeff Mathis, Alexi Casilla and that's about it.

What's Good?

The front of the starting rotation with Weaver and Santana is very good. The bottom of the lineup is pretty strong, relatively speaking, as those guys could be two-hole hitters on many teams.

What's Not?

There just isn't much exciting about this group. The middle of the lineup is thin, until Trout becomes a star. There is no depth and the rotation is a bit lackluster with Lackey and Saunders, at this point.

Comparison to real 2011

The real-life Angels finished 86-76 and 10 games behind the Rangers in the AL West. They hung around in the wild-card race until the last week of the season, too. While this team certainly isn't terrible, I feel like it's worse than 86 wins. Maybe they could approach .500, but there's just not enough here to be a playoff contender in this fictitious exercise.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 3:52 pm
 

R.I.P. 2011 L.A. Angels of Anaheim

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Record: 86-76, second place in AL West, 10 games back.
Manager: Mike Scioscia
Best hitter: Howard Kendrick -- .285/.338/.464, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 86 R, 14 SB, 30 2B
Best pitcher: Jered Weaver -- 18-8, 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 198 K, 235.2 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Angels hung in the race all season, eventually missing out on the AL wild card by five games. They were in first place as late as July 5, and didn't really fall out of the AL West race until the middle of September. They exceeded the expectations, according to many preseason predictions, but the failure to make the postseason for the second year in a row was evidently not acceptable for owner Arte Moreno. He absolutely cleaned house in the front office. The Angels did win the AL West five out of six seasons before 2010, so the bar has been set. Moreno seemingly wants division titles or else.

R.I.P. series
2012 AUDIT

The Angles already have over $102 million committed to next season in player contracts, and that's without including the salaries of arbitration players like Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo, who are certainly going to have raises. Basically, the Angles are going to have somewhere around $125 million in payroll before even looking at possible free agents. Thus, if they want to make a big splash, the new general manager, whoever it is, will probably have to back-load contracts. The more likely path is to look for internal improvement from the young players like Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Walden, Mark Trumbo and uber-prospect Mike Trout. Getting Kendrys Morales back healthy would be a huge boost as well. The Angels do have a strong minor-league system, but most of the help is a few years away.

FREE AGENTS

Russell Branyan, 1B
Joel Pineiro, SP
Fernando Rodney, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

If any big contracts are handed out, it needs to be a younger free agent that has proven durable and consistent. Huge contracts to veterans past their prime are stifling the organization right now.
  • Hire a general manager who stops trying to fill short-term holes with huge salary veterans. High-salary players are OK for a large market team like the Angels, but that's seemingly been the only answer in recent seasons.
  • Let Trout play everyday. Torii Hunter, Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu can share two spots in some fashion while occasionally filling the designated hitter spot (but I have a different plan for that). The Wells trade was a disaster and Abreu makes far too much money for his current level of production, but what's done is done. You can't let salaries dictate playing time.
  • Keep Morales at designated hitter for the entire season. Trumbo can play first and Kendrick can fill in when Trumbo gets days off. Morales' leg injury was obviously devastating, so the Angels should do everything possible to keep his bat in the lineup. One of the offense's biggest problems was that -- while there are several really good hitters -- the lack of one big bat hurts. Trumbo hit 29 homers, but his OBP was a horrible .291. Until Trout is ready to be a superstar, and remember, he's only 20, Morales has to be "the guy" for the Angels. So protect his health.
  • Hank Conger is only 23 and was a good hitter in the minors. Jeff Mathis is an awful hitter, but Scioscia keeps him as the primary catcher because he's in love with his defense -- it's why the Angels traded Mike Napoli. Conger should at least get a lot more of a look behind the plate, but who knows if Scioscia will let that happen.
  • What money the Angels do have will probably be spent on a one-year starting pitcher. They won't be breaking the bank or anything, but they don't need a front-line ace. They have two, and Ervin Santana is a fine No. 3. Pineiro coming back would be an option. Otherwise you're looking at Jason Marquis or Jeff Francis types. At that point, it's possible the new GM just saves the money and goes with Jerome Williams again. There's no reason to spend more money on a marginal upgrade. Garrett Richards, 23, could probably use some seasoning in Triple-A, so there is only a need for one year. Maybe they start the year with Williams and keep him there until Richards is deemed ready.
  • Overall, it's tough to tell what's going to happen, because the entire front office has been cleaned out and there are several large -- and probably untradeable -- contracts. They may just have to tread water for a season. The good news is the low levels of the minors are stocked with good talent and the bad contracts will all be cleared in a few years. Whoever takes the GM job is walking into a situation to thrive within the next three seasons, with a combination of a strong, youthful foundation and being able to spend big dollars on free agents starting in 2012.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 1:47 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kennedy makes Cy Young case



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: For anyone not including Arizona's right-hander in their Cy Young discussion, Kennedy gave them something to think about on Monday. Not only did he become baseball's second 20-game winner this season, he did it in fantastic fashion, holding the Pittsburgh Pirates to one hit over eight innings, while striking out a career-high 12. The only hit Kennedy gave up was to Pirates starter Jeff Karstens -- the rest of the Pirates were unable to do anything against Kennedy, who lowered his ERA to 2.88.

Mike Carp, Mariners: Five RBI in a game signals a heck of a day at the plate, but the Mariners' designated hitter drove in five in one inning on Monday. Carp doubled home the first run of the team's nine-run third inning and then hit a grand slam later after Indians reliever Chad Durbin took over for starter David Huff, as Seattle won 12-6 in seven innings as the rainout make-up game was called for rain.

Kyle Lohse, Cardinals: Opposite Roy Halladay, the Cardinals' right-hander allowed just an unearned run on seven hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings of the Cardinals' big 4-3 win. Coupled with the Braves' loss, the Cardinals are now just 2.5 games back in the wild-card race. In his three starts this month, Lohse has gone 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA, with 14 strikeouts and five walks. On the season, he's now 14-8 with a 3.47 ERA.


Howie Kendrick, Angels: Kendrick is one of the game's best defensive players, but even the best make mistakes. And Monday's mistake was one of the biggest of the season, as the Angels fell further behind and nearly out of the playoff chase with a 10-inning loss in Toronto. With no outs in the 10th inning and runners on first and second, Scott Downs got the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista to hit a grounder to third, where Macier Izturis cleanly fielded the ball and threw to Kendrick to try to apparently start the double play. But when Kendrick tried to turn two, he just dropped the ball. It was ruled that Kendrick dropped the ball on the transfer, so there was one out, but not two. It was a chance for the Angels to get two -- instead they only got one, and ended up losing the game and perhaps any hope of the playoffs.

Chipper Jones, Braves: Jones wasn't charged with an error in the ninth inning, but it was a play he probably should have made -- as he lost a Emilio Bonifacio chopper in the lights of Sun Life Stadium. If Jones fields the ball cleanly, the Braves shake hands and feel better about their 3 1/2-game lead over the Cardinals in the wild-card race. Instead, rookie closer Craig Kimbrel gave up a walk-off homer to Omar Infante. Coincidently, it was Infante's seventh-inning error that allowed the Braves to take the lead.

Brian Matusz, Orioles: If Baltimore's left-hander doesn't pitch again this season, his 10.68 ERA could be the highest in major league history for any pitcher with at least 10 starts. Matusz, 1-8, can take solace in who hold the record he is about to break -- Halladay had a 10.64 ERA in 13 starts in 2000.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 1:24 pm
 

American League pitchers and reserves

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The biggest notable name that's not on the list is Yankees' starter CC Sabathia, who is scheduled to start next Sunday, so he wouldn't be eligible to pitch in the game anyway. He also said he was happy not to go, instead using his time off to take a mini-vacation.

American League

Pitchers

Chris Perez, Indians (players' pick)

Jose Valverde, Tigers (manager's pick)

Aaron Crow, Royals (manager's pick)

Josh Beckett, Red Sox (players' pick)

Mariano Rivera, Yankees (players' pick)

Gio Gonzalez, Athletics (manager's pick)

Felix Hernandez, Mariners (players' pick)

Justin Verlander, Tigers (players' pick)

Brandon League, Mariners (player's pick)

David Price, Rays (managers' pick)

James Shields, Rays (players' pick)

Jered Weaver, Angels (players' pick)

C.J. Wilson, Rangers (managers' pick)

Reserves

C Matt Wieters, Orioles (manager's pick)

OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox (players' pick)

OF Carlos Quentin, White Sox (players' pick)

SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (players' pick)

1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (players' pick)

2B Howie Kendrick, Angels (players' pick)

OF Michael Cuddyer, Twins (manager's pick)

C Russell Martin, Yankees (players' pick)

OF Matt Joyce, Rays (players' pick)

3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers (players' pick)

IF Michael Young, Rangers (players' pick)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 12:17 am
 

Picking All-Stars on performance, not popularity

Adrian Gonzalez

By Evan Brunell


The final week of All-Star voting is around the corner, and it can only be done online. That's the perfect opportunity for me to unveil my own All-Star ballot, and I'll be part of a record.

Fans so far have cast 250 million votes (which is misleading because each e-mail address can vote up to a whopping 25 times), which broke the record from 2009, with 223.4 million votes, as MLB.com reports.

Rosters will be unveiled on Sunday, July 3, but until then there are still plenty of races to be decided. I'm not really a fan of voting when the chance to do so opens in late April, because... come on. That's why this will be my first ballot, so let's take a ride through who I select and why. To vote yourself, simply click here.

All statistics prior to Thursday's games.

AMERICAN LEAGUE BALLOT

C: Alex Avila, Tigers -- Russell Martin is surely a lucky dude as he gets to play in New York, hit .233/.342/.407 (with much of his value tied up in a scorching April) and yet Alex Avila quietly puts up a .300/.373/.532 line in Detroit -- outhitting every other catcher in the game. Well, that stops now. Simply put: Anyone who votes for Martin clearly doesn't get what the All-Star Game is about: putting the best players on the field, not the players who play in a big media market.

1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Do you really need an explanation? OK, let's give it a go. Gonzalez's .359 batting average is 24 points better than Jose Reyes', whose .335 mark leads the senior circuit. Gonzo also leads baseball with 69 RBI, 109 hits and 25 doubles. Oh, and those 15 home runs aren't bad at all. Overall, that's a scintillating .359/.410/.609 mark. Dude loves being out of Petco.

2B: Howie Kendrick, Angels -- Quick, who is the best offensive second baseman in the league? If you said Robinson Cano, you're right -- but it's not by much. Cano is currently raking at a .299/.344/.520 mark, but Kendrick is right there with a .305/.362/.498, barely a step behind. Kendrick is also the better defender at second base and in my version of the All-Star Game, defense counts too.

SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians -- Apologies to Alexei Ramirez who actually grades out better once you factor in defense, but I can live with Cabrera's D (which isn't bad by any means) in order to get his bat in the lineup. The offensive difference is simply too great as Cabrera is delivering on the promise he showed in 2009 with a .298/.351/.498 mark with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases. He actually has a similar offensive game to Jhonny Peralta, but the stolen bases were the clincher.

3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- Many have thought A-Rod's best days are behind him and while that's certainly true, he's still the best third baseman in the game, although that designation means a little less in what is a surprisingly weak class this year. All due respect to Rodriguez, who deserves the honor with 13 bombs and a .296/.375/.510 line. Kevin Youkilis actually appears to be the better hitter, but it's close and while I don't really trust Rodriguez's fielding metrics this year that show him as a top fielder, not many would argue he's worse than Youk in the field.

OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- .325/.470/.645. Next!

OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees -- Granderson is exploding into the 40-homer monster a few people (cough, me, cough) predicted after his trade to the Yankees. It took until his second season, but he's keeping pace with Bautista in the home run department, just two behind with 20. He's even hitting lefties this season, and once you add in his speed and fielding, it's all over.

OF: Alex Gordon, Royals -- There were several candidates for this position, most notably Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Gordon gets the call here with a 288/.356/.483 line, better Gardner and just under Ellsbury. While Gordon is a left fielder and Ellsbury is plying his trade in center, Ellsbury has bad fielding instincts which his speed hides quite a bit. Gordon, meanwhile, is a sound fielder, all the more impressive given he came up and began his career as a third baseman. Plus, someone from Kansas City's got to make it.

DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox -- Big Papi is turning back the clock with his best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage since 2007, the last year he was truly the Big Bad Papi. At .313/.391/.586 with 17 homers, he's enjoying quite the renaissance and has earned this nomination.

ReyesNATIONAL LEAGUE BALLOT

C: Brian McCann, Braves -- Alex Avila is outhitting every catcher in the game as mentioned above, but Brian McCann is trying his hardest to take away that distinction with a .305/.380/.523 line. McCann, who already has an All-Star MVP to his name by knocking a bases-clearing double in the 2010 Game to finally give the NL a victory, deserves the chance to start for the first time in what will be his sixth All-Star Game.

1B: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- The loss of Albert Pujols makes this an easier crop to sift through, and Fielder comes away with the prize. Really, it's between the Brewer and Joey Votto, with apologies to Gaby Sanchez. While Votto's the better fielder (pun unintended), Prince's 20 home runs are 11 more than Votto and he's miles ahead of the 2010 NL MVP in power production at this point.

2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- Weeks joins Fielder in creating an all-Brewer right side of the infield, and he's deserving. Following up his breakout 2010 campaign, Weeks has gotten right back at it with a .287/.356/.498 line. He's also picking up his speed, already swiping seven bases after just 11 last season.

SS: Jose Reyes, Mets -- This one just isn't close at all; Reyes' 4.2 Wins Above Replacement (which combines offense, defense and baserunning) is miles ahead of the next best mark at the position, held by both Troy Tulowitzki and Alexei Ramirez. Reyes is simply doing it all in a season that could net him a $150 million contract in the offseason, and is just one of three shortstops with at least 20 stolen bases. Naturally, he leads all of them with 26.

3B: Chase Headley, Padres -- I didn't quite realize how unimpressive the third-base crop was in the NL, but none separate themselves from the pack. I suppose that's what happens when Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright and Pablo Sandoval all knock themselves out of the running due to being injured. Ryan Roberts has one of the best seasons of any NL third baseman that qualifies for the batting title, but his entire value with the bat is packed into April. So Headley it is, who is hitting .295/.389/.402, a pleasantly surprising number for the former left fielder who is enjoying his best season so far. 

OF:  Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Kemp is already a member of the 20/20 club and has put to rest any ideas that he doesn't care enough with an impressive .328/.420/.620 line, with his slugging percentage leading all of the NL. He's added 20 home runs, 15 doubles and 58 RBI as a major, major reason the Dodgers can still kinda/sorta call themselves contenders after injuries have decimated their team.

OF: Matt Holliday, Cardinals -- I don't think Holliday misses Coors Field, do you? He definitely doesn't miss the Coliseum in Oakland or whatever the heck it's called these days. He's doing just fine in St. Louis with a .335/.439/.555 line. I have to admit, I didn't realize Holliday was hitting this well. Of all the big outfield boppers in the game, he flies under the radar the most.

OF: Shane Victorino, Phillies -- I feel as if no matter who I pick here, I'm leaving off quite a few deserving candidates. It's true -- where is Ryan Braun? Lance Berkman? Andrew McCutchen? Justin Upton? But I'm loving the year Victorino is having with a .296/.362/.511 line with 11 stolen bases in 58 games after missing time due to injury. (Kemp, for comparison, has played in 76 games.) Add in his excellent fielding and smart baserunning, and Victorino is bringing the whole package this year.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 12:17 am
 

Picking All-Stars on performance, not popularity

Adrian Gonzalez

By Evan Brunell


The final week of All-Star voting is around the corner, and it can only be done online. That's the perfect opportunity for me to unveil my own All-Star ballot, and I'll be part of a record.

Fans so far have cast 250 million votes (which is misleading because each e-mail address can vote up to a whopping 25 times), which broke the record from 2009, with 223.4 million votes, as MLB.com reports.

Rosters will be unveiled on Sunday, July 3, but until then there are still plenty of races to be decided. I'm not really a fan of voting when the chance to do so opens in late April, because... come on. That's why this will be my first ballot, so let's take a ride through who I select and why. To vote yourself, simply click here.

All statistics prior to Thursday's games.

AMERICAN LEAGUE BALLOT

C: Alex Avila, Tigers -- Russell Martin is surely a lucky dude as he gets to play in New York, hit .233/.342/.407 (with much of his value tied up in a scorching April) and yet Alex Avila quietly puts up a .300/.373/.532 line in Detroit -- outhitting every other catcher in the game. Well, that stops now. Simply put: Anyone who votes for Martin clearly doesn't get what the All-Star Game is about: putting the best players on the field, not the players who play in a big media market.

1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Do you really need an explanation? OK, let's give it a go. Gonzalez's .359 batting average is 24 points better than Jose Reyes', whose .335 mark leads the senior circuit. Gonzo also leads baseball with 69 RBI, 109 hits and 25 doubles. Oh, and those 15 home runs aren't bad at all. Overall, that's a scintillating .359/.410/.609 mark. Dude loves being out of Petco.

2B: Howie Kendrick, Angels -- Quick, who is the best offensive second baseman in the league? If you said Robinson Cano, you're right -- but it's not by much. Cano is currently raking at a .299/.344/.520 mark, but Kendrick is right there with a .305/.362/.498, barely a step behind. Kendrick is also the better defender at second base and in my version of the All-Star Game, defense counts too.

SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians -- Apologies to Alexei Ramirez who actually grades out better once you factor in defense, but I can live with Cabrera's D (which isn't bad by any means) in order to get his bat in the lineup. The offensive difference is simply too great as Cabrera is delivering on the promise he showed in 2009 with a .298/.351/.498 mark with 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases. He actually has a similar offensive game to Jhonny Peralta, but the stolen bases were the clincher.

3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- Many have thought A-Rod's best days are behind him and while that's certainly true, he's still the best third baseman in the game, although that designation means a little less in what is a surprisingly weak class this year. All due respect to Rodriguez, who deserves the honor with 13 bombs and a .296/.375/.510 line. Kevin Youkilis actually appears to be the better hitter, but it's close and while I don't really trust Rodriguez's fielding metrics this year that show him as a top fielder, not many would argue he's worse than Youk in the field.

OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- .325/.470/.645. Next!

OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees -- Granderson is exploding into the 40-homer monster a few people (cough, me, cough) predicted after his trade to the Yankees. It took until his second season, but he's keeping pace with Bautista in the home run department, just two behind with 20. He's even hitting lefties this season, and once you add in his speed and fielding, it's all over.

OF: Alex Gordon, Royals -- There were several candidates for this position, most notably Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Gordon gets the call here with a 288/.356/.483 line, better Gardner and just under Ellsbury. While Gordon is a left fielder and Ellsbury is plying his trade in center, Ellsbury has bad fielding instincts which his speed hides quite a bit. Gordon, meanwhile, is a sound fielder, all the more impressive given he came up and began his career as a third baseman. Plus, someone from Kansas City's got to make it.

DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox -- Big Papi is turning back the clock with his best batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage since 2007, the last year he was truly the Big Bad Papi. At .313/.391/.586 with 17 homers, he's enjoying quite the renaissance and has earned this nomination.

ReyesNATIONAL LEAGUE BALLOT

C: Brian McCann, Braves -- Alex Avila is outhitting every catcher in the game as mentioned above, but Brian McCann is trying his hardest to take away that distinction with a .305/.380/.523 line. McCann, who already has an All-Star MVP to his name by knocking a bases-clearing double in the 2010 Game to finally give the NL a victory, deserves the chance to start for the first time in what will be his sixth All-Star Game.

1B: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- The loss of Albert Pujols makes this an easier crop to sift through, and Fielder comes away with the prize. Really, it's between the Brewer and Joey Votto, with apologies to Gaby Sanchez. While Votto's the better fielder (pun unintended), Prince's 20 home runs are 11 more than Votto and he's miles ahead of the 2010 NL MVP in power production at this point.

2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- Weeks joins Fielder in creating an all-Brewer right side of the infield, and he's deserving. Following up his breakout 2010 campaign, Weeks has gotten right back at it with a .287/.356/.498 line. He's also picking up his speed, already swiping seven bases after just 11 last season.

SS: Jose Reyes, Mets -- This one just isn't close at all; Reyes' 4.2 Wins Above Replacement (which combines offense, defense and baserunning) is miles ahead of the next best mark at the position, held by both Troy Tulowitzki and Alexei Ramirez. Reyes is simply doing it all in a season that could net him a $150 million contract in the offseason, and is just one of three shortstops with at least 20 stolen bases. Naturally, he leads all of them with 26.

3B: Chase Headley, Padres -- I didn't quite realize how unimpressive the third-base crop was in the NL, but none separate themselves from the pack. I suppose that's what happens when Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright and Pablo Sandoval all knock themselves out of the running due to being injured. Ryan Roberts has one of the best seasons of any NL third baseman that qualifies for the batting title, but his entire value with the bat is packed into April. So Headley it is, who is hitting .295/.389/.402, a pleasantly surprising number for the former left fielder who is enjoying his best season so far. 

OF:  Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Kemp is already a member of the 20/20 club and has put to rest any ideas that he doesn't care enough with an impressive .328/.420/.620 line, with his slugging percentage leading all of the NL. He's added 20 home runs, 15 doubles and 58 RBI as a major, major reason the Dodgers can still kinda/sorta call themselves contenders after injuries have decimated their team.

OF: Matt Holliday, Cardinals -- I don't think Holliday misses Coors Field, do you? He definitely doesn't miss the Coliseum in Oakland or whatever the heck it's called these days. He's doing just fine in St. Louis with a .335/.439/.555 line. I have to admit, I didn't realize Holliday was hitting this well. Of all the big outfield boppers in the game, he flies under the radar the most.

OF: Shane Victorino, Phillies -- I feel as if no matter who I pick here, I'm leaving off quite a few deserving candidates. It's true -- where is Ryan Braun? Lance Berkman? Andrew McCutchen? Justin Upton? But I'm loving the year Victorino is having with a .296/.362/.511 line with 11 stolen bases in 58 games after missing time due to injury. (Kemp, for comparison, has played in 76 games.) Add in his excellent fielding and smart baserunning, and Victorino is bringing the whole package this year.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 11:53 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:33 pm
 

Josh Hamilton's struggles due to blue eyes?

Hamilton

By Evan Brunell


Josh Hamilton thinks he knows why he struggles in day games.

It's his blue eyes.

"I ask guys all the time" as to whether they struggle in day games, Hamilton told ESPN 103.3 FM" "Guys with blue eyes, brown eyes, whatever ... and guys with blue eyes have a tough time."

Hamilton is hitting .297/.360/.513 in his follow-up campaign to his MVP season, which is an impressive mark but quite a bit off his line from 2010. Yet, if you look at just his night numbers, he's tossing up silly numbers with a .376/.415/.661 line in 118 PA. His day numbers are a different story, as he's flailing to the tune of a .112/.246/.184 mark in 57 PA. Hamilton had a wide split in 2010 too, but it wasn't as severe: .286/.345/.474 in the day and .384/.433/.688 at night.

"It's just hard for me to see [at the plate] in the daytime," Hamilton said. "It's just what it is. Try to go up [to the plate] squinting and see a white ball while the sun is shining right off the plate, you know, and beaming right up in your face."

The solution could be in a pair of sunglasses that he used in the field last season, but could not find. Until now.

"Hopefully that'll help my eyes relax enough to take them off and bat and put them on again," Hamilton said.

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