MLB
30 Players, 30 Teams - Atlanta Braves
Category: MLB
Tags: MLB Atlanta Braves Craig Kimbrel

 

In this series, we are going to spotlight one player on each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams. However, we won't be highlighting just any player. Rather, we are going to call attention to the one guy from each squad that is the heart and soul of the team.


If you missed the previous installments, be sure to check them out:


Arizona Diamondbacks - Miguel Montero

 

We're going to start things off alphabetically, which gets us started with the Arizona Diamondbacks

 

Atlanta Braves - Craig Kimbrel - Closer

 

Acquired: Draft - 3rd Round (96th overall) 2008 Amateur Draft

Signed Through: 2016 (Pre-Arbitration Eligible)

MLB Debut: June 6, 2008

 

In 1992, at the age of 37, Dennis Eckersley won the American League Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards with a season that saw "Eck" post a 7-1 record, a 1.91 ERA, a 10.5 K/9 ratio, and a measily 2.8 bWAR. Those stats aren't too shabby when you consider they came out of a closer and nabbed Eckersley the rare sweep of the award by a pitcher, let alone a closer. Eckersley would claim the award over three 20-game winners and four (!) pitchers who would throw more than 10 complete games on the season.

 

Yet, they had absolutely nothing on the season that Craig Kimbrel put forth for the Braves in 2012.

 

Kimbrel is the rare closer that when he comes into the game, most offenses feel like they are done. Last season, Kimbrel authored a closer's season for the ages, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.01 ERA, a 3.2 bWAR, and an astronimical 16.7 K/9 ratio. He converted 42 of 45 save opportunities. Kimbrel surrendered just 7 total runs in 63 appearances.

 

Yet, when the dust cleared from the National League Cy Young voting, Kimbrel finished a distant fifth, garnering only a single vote for the award that eventually went to R.A. DickeyClayton KershawGio Gonzalez, and Johnny Cueto all helped to make sure that Kimbrel received only a single first-place vote in what can only be seen as closer discrimination.

 

That aside, one would think this was a blip on the radar, that a statistical season like that for a closer would be a once in a lifetime occurrence. However, it was actually a slight improvement on his 2011 campaign. Here are the comparisons:

 

 

Year

W

L

ERA

G

SV

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

ERA+

WHIP

SO/9

2011

4

3

2.10

79

46

77.0

48

19

18

3

32

127

183

1.039

14.8

2012

3

1

1.01

63

42

62.2

27

7

7

3

14

116

399

0.654

16.7

Generated 3/12/2013.

 

The Braves will once again look to their 24-year-old anchor to provide stability and leadership to the back-end of their bullpen. With a revamped line-up that included both Justin Upton and B.J. Upton, Kimbrel will see plenty of save opportunities in the years to come.

 

And the man with the triple-digit gas will be more than happy to convert them.

 

30 Players, 30 Teams - Arizona Diamondbacks
Category: MLB
Tags: MLB Arizona Diamondbacks Miguel Montero

 

In this series, we are going to spotlight one player on each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams. However, we won't be highlighting just any player. Rather, we are going to call attention to the one guy from each squad that is the heart and soul of the team.

 

We're going to start things off alphabetically, which gets us started with the Arizona Diamondbacks

 

Arizona Diamondbacks - Miquel Montero - Catcher

 

Acquired: April 23, 2001 - Amateur Free Agent

Signed Through: 2017 (6-Year, $65.9 Million)

MLB Debut: September 6, 2006

 

They say that catchers are the gateway to the game and Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero is the perfect example of that philosophy. A 7-year veteran, Montero has proven himself as one of the best catchers in the game by placing in the top 4 among Major League catchers in fWAR in both 2011 (4.3) and 2012 (5.0).

 

Since becoming a regular in 2009, Montero has carved a solid name for himself with his bat, being one of the few catchers in the league that have been able to provide the unique ability to hit for both average and power, averaging nearly .283 at the plate while adding 15 home runs and 69 runs batted in over that period. His production has only increased over the last two seasons, as Montero has been thrust into a position as a run producer, with the stud catcher notching 86 and 88 RBI's in each of 2011 and 2012 respectively.

 

 

Year

G

PA

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

7 Yrs

654

2395

281

581

135

6

73

334

227

463

.275

.351

.448

.798

109

162 Game Avg.

162

593

70

144

33

1

18

83

56

115

.275

.351

.448

.798

109

2009

128

470

61

125

30

0

16

59

38

78

.294

.355

.478

.832

113

2010

85

331

36

79

20

2

9

43

29

71

.266

.332

.438

.770

102

2011

140

553

65

139

36

1

18

86

47

97

.282

.351

.469

.820

121

2012

141

573

65

139

25

2

15

88

73

130

.286

.391

.438

.829

120

Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Original Table

Generated 3/10/2013.

 

That all said, while Montero's skills at the plate are his calling card, he hasn't been too shabby behind the dish either. In 2012, Montero finished third in caught stealing percentage with a 42.1% mark, placing him behind only Ryan Hannigan of the Cincinnati Reds and Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals. In 2011, Montero led Major League Baseball in the catergory, serving as the only catcher in baseball to throw out more than 40% of would be base stealers.

 

With the trade of Justin Upton and a remaking of the roster, Montero's role on the 2013 squad will be decidedly greater. The Diamondbacks have been remade under the image of their manager, Kirk Gibson, and by bringing in grinders like Cody Ross and Martin Prado to join dirt dogs like Jason Kubel and Aaron Hill, having one entrenched in the catchers role and in the heart of the order will be essential.

 

And that is exactly what Montero brings to the table. A down and dirty, take no prisoners approach to the game, and he's in the right environment for it.

 
Jones Not So Chipper On Joining Yankees
Category: MLB
Tags: MLB Chipper Jones New York Yankees Atlanta Braves

 

 

You have to give New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman some credit; the man can certainly get creative. Even George Steinbrenner would be proud.

 

While the rest of the baseball world is spinning its wheels, wondering how Cashman is going to replace the offense lost by losing both Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson for the first two months of the season, the hobbled GM (he broke his leg skydiving) is not leaving any stone unturned.

 

That apparently means making a quick streak down Major League Baseball's retirement list.

 

Cashman has contacted the agents of three retired ballplayers to date; first baseman Derrek Lee, third baseman Scott Rolen, and, wait for it, third baseman Chipper Jones. That's right, Cashman apparently thought the lure of playing for the Yankees and the untold riches that went with it would be enough to lure the lifelong Brave out of his nearly five-month retirement to play on a one-year deal with the Yankees.

 

Jones, for his credit, wasn't buying in.

 

"Enough with the rumors! While I am flattered about the speculation of being enticed out of retirement, I'm happy with life as a bad golfer!"

 

Still, that didn't stop Cashman from at least kicking the tires. After all, we are talking about a future Hall of Famer who is coming off a season in which he appeared in 112 games and a .287 average, 14 home runs, 62 RBI, and a  .832 OPS in his farewell tour. Still, it was far-fetched to say the least, with Jones more likely to return to the Braves than anywhere else in baseball.

 

James Huneker once said, "All men of action are dreamers." And when the action requires thinking outside the box, then dreams are maybe all that is left.

 

It beats settling for Juan Rivera.

Hawkeegn's Thoughts
Category: MLB
Tags: World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic

Okay so some folk this is a bad idea or dumb. So be it. I think it's cool. Then again, it's hard to get too excited about it when most of your own country's players are skipping it. Other countries sent a lot of their best players (Japan especially). Imagine a team that had Prince Fielder, Buster Posey, Matt Cain, and Bryce Harper? Well yeah they'll likely be part of the National league All-Star team this season. But none of them are playing for Team USA.

Yes they won today to advance to the second round. And they might advance to the semifinals. I'm not counting on it. As long as you have Cuba (always a power even if many past WBC Cuban players defected and now are in the majors) and Japan, you could easily put those two teams in the final. Although this time, the Netherlands & Italy (!) have beaten teams no one thought they would and are clearly the upstarts. You always have to like the underdog.

As for Team USA, they really need to find a way to encourage the superstars that it's really okay for them to play for the US team, that the chance of injury is small (unless you happen to be Mark Texiera) and with you there, they might actually win in the semifinal round! And if they did that, more American fans might actually pay attention. And since the WBC is Major League Baseball's idea, wouldn't it make sense to attract as many American fans as they could? Just a thought.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. See ya next time.

Hawkeegn

Baseball Digest is hiring
Category: MLB
Tags: Baseball Baseball Digest

In the March/April 2013 issue of the Baseball Digest, the magazine is looking for writers for their website as they want to expand their coverage.

If you are interested contact writers@baseballdigest.com

you will need to submit a resume and a sample writing.

 

Scott

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