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Tag:Matt Kemp
Posted on: July 4, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 4:01 pm
 

Hurdle upset with McCutchen's snub

Clint Hurdle

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle wasn't happy about Andrew McCutchen's All-Star snub and made sure everyone knew about before Monday's game against the Astros.

John Grupp of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review passes along Hurdle's tirade:

"I know the challenges that come from [picking an All-Star team]," said Hurdle, who managed the NL All-Star team in 2008. "I sat in that chair. Well, I'm going to take this opportunity and be one of those managers and be disappointed in the entire process. The MLB whiffed. That he's not one of the guys getting in this little vote thing, getting into play in that. They whiffed on that. That's an absolute whiff."

"Look at the numbers he has," Hurdle said. "You can look at metrics. You can look at straight batting average, OPS, stolen bases. Whatever you want to look at, he's an All-Star.

"The players, they whiffed. Everybody whiffed on this one for me, in Andrew's case. Being his manager, I'm going to take my 42 seconds of soap box and remind everybody what a whiff-job they did with him not being on the All-Star team."

McCutchen entered Monday with a slash line of .294/.393/.498 with 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases. He's absolutely one of the best players in the National League, and not just outfielders.

The fans voted for the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, Brewers' Ryan Braun and Cardinals' Lance Berkman, while the players added St. Louis' Matt Holliday, Cincinnati's Jay Bruce and Houston's Hunter Pence. National League manager Bruce Bochy added Carlos Beltran of the Mets and Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks. Upton was the Diamondbacks' lone representative. 

The five players on the Final Vote ballot are the Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, Diamondbacks right-hander Ian Kennedy, Nationals first baseman Mike Morse and Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino.

McCutchen is second in WAR (3.7) among NL outfielders according to Baseball-Reference.com and sixth among NL outfielders in OPS (.892) and fifth in OPS+ (150).

In the end, Hurdle knows exactly the reason McCutchen was overlooked and pointed that out as well -- "The name on the front of the jersey has some challenges with it," Hurdle said. "We're out to knock them down. That has been our goal since the start of the season. This is another one we've faced and we'll knock this one down as well."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 3, 2011 5:41 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 7:04 pm
 

Home Run Derby field rounding out

By C. Trent Rosecrans

David OrtizDavid Ortiz has a posse.

In the new setup for the Home Run Derby, each team has a captain that picks his team for the competition. Sunday the American League captain said he'd started rounding up his crew.

Ortiz has already gotten commitments from teammate Adrian Gonzalez and the majors' leading home-run hitter, Jose Bautista. Ortiz told reporters he'd wanted the Yankees' Mark Teixeira, but Teixeira was left off the All-Star roster. Teixeira, though, told reporters after Sunday's game that he wasn't interested in participating in the Home Run Derby (MLB.com's Bryan Hoch on Twitter). Ortiz said he's still waiting to hear from Teixeira whether or not he'd still participate. The next two names on his list are the Yankees' Robinson Cano and the Rangers' Josh Hamilton.

"I've talked to Cano, and he told me he would do it," Ortiz told reporters, including Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. "I haven't talked to Hamilton. I haven't talked to him, but that guy got me tired hitting bombs [at Yankee Stadium in 2008], and if he wanted to do it, I might say, 'OK, hit for me.'"

Hamilton had previously said he doesn't want to participate in the derby, but on Sunday he told the Associated Press he'd consider it if Ortiz asked. 

Prince Fielder said he wants the Dodgers' Matt Kemp on his side. Fielder told MLB.com that he hadn't talked to Kemp, but has communicated with him through former Brewer and current Dodger outfielder Tony Gwynn.

Fielder's teammate, Ryan Braun, said he wouldn't participate, while Rickie Weeks is on Fielder's short list. Weeks said he hasn't been asked, but would participate if Fielder picks him.

Cardinals outfielders Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday expressed interest in participating, as well.

"It would be hard to turn down an invitation," Berkman told MLB.com. "That would be tough to say no."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 1:23 pm
 

Players of the Month: Reyes edges Kemp, Lee rolls

Lee

By Evan Brunell


Baseball is at the halfway point in the season, and the man getting all the attention lately is Cliff Lee, the runaway pitcher of the month for June as voted by CBSSports.com experts. With a 5-1 advantage, Lee took home the honors after posting a sparkling 0.21 ERA (no, the period is not transposed) and running up a 5-0 record.

June's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Reyes Lee
Miller Reyes Lee
Brunell Kemp Lee
Rosecrans Fielder Lee
Snyder Kemp Lee
Fantasy Reyes Verlander

Lee didn't pitch the most innings in the month -- the prize goes to Justin Verlander there ... or even whiff the most (Zack Greinke); or walk the least batters (Josh Tomlin). But when you put the whole package together, it's hard to deny Lee's month as one for the ages, allowing just one earned run in the month and it's not as if he was pitching against the Mariners of the world. He shut down the Dodgers and Matt Kemp, who finished second in batter of the month balloting. He handcuffed the Cubs for eight innings and then kicked off his three-straight complete-game shutouts by stifling the skidding Marlins. There was nothing skidding about his next two opponents, though, as he baffled the Cardinals and baseball's best offense in the Red Sox.

Kemp, meanwhile, fell to Jose Reyes to be named batter of the month although Kemp was one of the best offensive hitters in the game during June along with Prince Fielder.

Why Reyes, then?

Because he's been a wrecking ball no matter what aspect of the game. Fielding? He ranks positive in that mark for the month, continuing a yearlong trend of reversing the perception he had slipped in the field. His .385/.425/.598 slash line proves that he can hit for average and power just fine and knows how to wait for his pitch, while his 11 stolen bases were second in baseball to Michael Bourn's blistering pace of 14. Fangraphs' new baserunning metric shows him excelling in that mark as well, his 0.8 mark tying for 16th in baseball.

Even Kemp's sublime .375/.472/.795 line with nine home runs, 23 RBI and 18 runs can't outstrip Reyes. Prince Fielder himself was no slouch, with a .337/.491/.747 line and 10 blasts, driving in 27 and scoring 19.

Past players of the month: April | May

Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
Jose Reyes Jose Reyes
Three guys hit 10 home runs in June. But only one guy had seven triples, only one guy scored 29 runs, and only one guy made the Mets watchable, all by himself. That's enough to win my vote, and it should be enough to get Sandy Alderson's cell phone buzzing with trade offers.
Jose Reyes Jose Reyes
Nobody in the game is more exciting and fun to watch right now. Reyes scored 29 runs in the month of June, the most he's ever scored in one month and the second-most of any month in team history (Edgardo Alfonzo scored 31 in August 1999). He runs, he hits, he fields ... doubles, triples, steals ... take your pick. This is the Jose Reyes the Mets thought they could get if he could stay healthy. Sit back and enjoy.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Matt Kemp Matt Kemp
Let's bust out some advanced metrics to try and figure out just how good Kemp was this month. wOBA is basically OPS, just jiggered a bit to correct flaws present in OPS and is scaled to OBP. Kemp's wOBA was a jaw-dropping .537, best among mortal men. (Jose Bautista, far from mortal, topped Kemp in April.) Put another way, Kemp created 151 percent more runs than the average player in June. Even below-average fielding can't obscure how damaging Kemp was at the plate.
Fielder Prince Fielder
It's not just that he hit 10 homers this month while batting .337/.491/.747, it's that he's done it when his team has needed him the most. In the thick of a pennant race, Fielder's delivering, with a 1.76 win probability added -- dwarfing every other player in baseball during the month. In a 10-game stretch earlier in the month that saw the Brewers go from 2 1/2 games back to first place in the NL Central, Fielder clubbed eight homers and had an OPS of 1.828.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Matt KempMatt Kemp
Very similar numbers to Fielder, but Kemp gets the nod with a bit higher average (.375), slugging percentage (.795) and eight stolen bases. As everything else with the Dodgers seems to be falling apart around him -- both on and off the field -- Kemp has been a steady force.
Jose ReyesJose Reyes
In June, Reyes boosted his MVP candidacy by making the Mets actually look like a contender with a 16-11 record. He had an MLB-leading 45 hits, putting him on pace for 248 this season, and once again showed the value of healthy legs with 11 steals and an astounding seven triples. He led all hitters in fantasy points and did it at arguably the weakest position.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee
I almost made Luis Montanez of the Cubs the player of the month, because of the 147 batters who came to the plate against Lee in June, he was the one -- the only one -- who drove in a run. Not that it mattered. Lee won that game, 7-1. And he followed that Montanez hit with 32 consecutive scoreless innings -- and counting.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee
As pitching has re-emerged over these past two seasons, Lee right now is changing our thinking from staying on no-hitter alert to hawking shutouts. Three in a row and counting, Lee has been untouchable. And he's showing why these Phillies are the best in the NL: With their rotation, it's like that old game of Whack-A-Mole. You knock one or two of their starters down, another ace pops up somewhere else. Good luck, opposing hitters.
Brunell Rosecrans
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee
Lee or Verlander? Verlander actually outpitched Lee in peripherals, besting Lee in strikeout and walk metrics, but the bottom line is that Lee allowed exactly one run to cross the plate, induced over half of his batted balls allowed as groundballs and looked like he was playing catch the whole time.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee
The only thing more ridiculous than Verlander seeing his June ERA rise after allowing just one run in seven innings in his sixth win of the month on Thursday is that Verlander with a 6-0 record and 0.88 ERA for the month wasn't the best pitcher in June. With all due respect to Verlander, it was Lee, who went 5-0 with an 0.21 ERA, allowing just one run in five starts and 42 innings this month. Unreal.
Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee
It's a toss up between Lee and Verlander, but I'm going Lee due to going an entire month only allowing one run and having pitched in all but three possible innings (42 IP in five starts) when he took the hill. That's just absurd. Verlander's been the top pitcher for the entire season, but in looking only at June, Lee's month was slightly better for me.
Justin Verlander Justin Verlander
In the world of real baseball, Cliff Lee would be my choice for pitcher of the month. In Fantasy, though, strikeouts count, and Verlander delivered them in much greater quantities. Like Lee, Verlander limited his walks, and he also remained one of the best pitchers in the majors at getting batters to pop out.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.


For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: June 27, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Weeks takes over lead at 2B in All-Star voting

Rickie Weeks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Brewers are closing strong, not only on the field but also in All-Star voting, as Rickie Weeks has taken over the lead from the Reds' Brandon Phillips at second base and Prince Fielder has overtaken Cincinnati's Joey Votto for second at first base, both behind the injured Albert Pujols.

Pujols is unlikely to be healthy for the July 12 game in Phoenix, so the starting nod will go to the second-place finisher. Fielder has 2,903,584 votes with Votto just behind at 2,832,857.

Voting is now online only and goes through Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Weeks leads Phillips by 78,397 votes.

The rest of the leaders remain unchanged -- Philadelphia's Placido Polanco at third base, Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, Atlanta's Brian McCann at catcher and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, as well as Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals in the outfield.

Of those, the closest races are at shortstop and in the last outfield spot. The Mets' Jose Reyes is still 245,000 votes behind Tulowitzki and the Dodgers' Matt Kemp 192,038 behind Holliday.

The full teams will be announced Sunday.

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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Posted on: June 20, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Votto, Fielder to battle for NL starter at 1B



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Although St. Louis' Albert Pujols still leads the voting at first base for the All-Star Game, the race for first base will likely come down to two other National League Central first basemen, Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

Even if Pujols hangs onto his lead over Votto and Fielder, he went on the disabled list on Monday with a forearm fracture and is unlikely to be available for the July 12 All-Star Game at Phoenix's Chase Field. However, All-Star rules stipulate if a voted starter in unavailable, the honor goes to the second-place finisher at the position.

In the next-to-last National League balloting update before the July 3 announcement of roster, Pujols is second in total votes for NL players behind Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. Braun leads the voting with 3,034,057 votes while Pujols has 2,806,864 votes.

Joey Votto is second in balloting among first basemen, narrowly edging the Brewers' Prince Fielder 2,270,211 to 2,066,327. Both Votto and Fielder certainly have convincing arguments. Votto, the reigning NL MVP, leads the NL in on-base percentage (.449) and is third in batting average (.327), while Fielder is second in the league in OPS (1.031), is tied for the league lead with 20 home runs and leads the league with 61 home runs.

The second base spot has a similar split between a Red and a Brewer, with Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips leading Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks 2,286,378 to 2,094,502 with Weeks closing in.

Philadelphia's Placido Polanco leads Atlanta's Chipper Jones by more than a million votes at third base, while Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki has a respectable lead over the Mets' Jose Reyes at shortstop. The Braves' Brian McCann leads the Cardinals' Yadier Molina by nearly half-a-million votes. The outfield's top three are Braun and the Cardinals' duo of Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday. The Dodgers' Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, along with the Reds' Jay Bruce, are the next three in line.

Complete balloting is up at MLB.com.

The American League update will be released tomorrow.

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