Barry Bonds, 2030 Hall of Famer?

040914-MLB-San-Francisco-Giants-Barry-Bonds-JT-PI.vresize.1200.675.high_.55Let’s face it, the Marlins are out of the playoff race after only 4 games this season. The team has a decent amount of talent (more than you would think) but they aren’t anywhere close to making the postseason. Come September, why even bother going to a Marlins game? Two words: Barry Bonds. And I don’t mean go watch him coach during BP. That’s right, Barry Bonds should suit up for the Miami Marlins. Hear me out.

The Marlins don’t have a big fan-base. Dating back to 2001 (as far as our data goes) the Marlins have finished in the bottom-5 in average attendance every season except for 2012 when the team moved into their new eye-sore of a stadium. *FUN FACT* When the Marlins won the World Series in 2003, they finished 28th in the Majors in average attendance with 16,290 fans a night, roughly 44% max capacity (only Tampa Bay and the deceased Montreal Expos had worse attendance).

Despite having Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, two of the most exciting players in baseball, people just don’t care about going to Miami games and they definitely won’t care when the team is 12 games back at the beginning of September. Barry Bonds would change that.

*Note – I’m about to call Barry Bonds the all-time Home Run King. Please do not yell at me in the comments section. This is based purely on statistics and nothing else. We’ll save the PED talk for another day.

With the playoffs out of the picture, why not let the all-time home run king suit up again? Despite being 51, Bonds has proven that he can still hit by beating multiple Marlins hitters in a Home Run Derby in Spring Training. It might take him a few swings to catch up to a 98 MPH fastball, but Bonds could probably still hang with most Major League pitching. After all, the guy did have a killer .480 OBP in his final season before he was questionably forced into retirement despite having the desire to still play. *Side note – here is a cool article by Jesse Spector about how every team needed Bonds in 2008.

Since he has proved to the Marlins he can hit, why not show it off to the world? Despite being hated in all US cities outside of San Francisco, Bonds would draw fans from all over. The all-time home run leader coming out of retirement to face Clayton Kershaw in a game that counts? Sign me and every single baseball fan up. With increased attendance and media coverage, the Marlins get exactly what they want, and Bonds will get his.

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Barry wants to be in the Hall of Fame. It means something to him. He wants his face on a plaque in Cooperstown and for it to hang for eternity in the same room as his godfather’s (Willie Mays). While he has the numbers, Barry has been denied the Hall of Fame in all 4 years of his eligibility, never garnering more than 44.3% of the vote. He actually gained 8% this previous year, but that was due to the committee being drastically reduced in size. Despite gaining that 8%, Barry actually lost 7 votes.

With the way the trend is going, Bonds will not see the Hall of Fame. This is due to older voters shunning him for allegedly using PEDs (but come on, he totally did). Many younger voters, however, have showed their support for Bonds in recent years and are campaigning for him to get in.

That’s why Barry would come back. Coming out of retirement and playing in a Major League game would reset his Hall of Fame clock. Instead of having 6 more years with older voters who do not want him in the Hall, Barry’s clock would reset and start again in 2021, meaning his last year of eligibility would be 2031, long after the older voters are retired or, you know…

With a slew of new, young voters that grew up idolizing Bonds, it would almost be a guarantee that we’d see Barry in Cooperstown. So why not come back? It’s a win for Miami and a win for Bonds.

 

What do you think? Do you want to see Bonds come back? Would this crazy idea work? Let us know in the comments section!

Universal DH? Schwarber’s injury brings debate back to the forefront

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One of the more heated debates in recent baseball history is that of a universal designated hitter. American League fans are all for it. National League lovers hate it. So what should really happen?

On Thursday night, Chicago Cubs phenom Kyle Schwarber fully tore his ACL and MCL in a collision with center fielder Dexter Fowler and will now miss the rest of the season. The 23-year-old, playing in just his 43rd career game in left, also spends time at catcher. Let’s be honest here, Schwarber isn’t a guy you want in the field, whether it be in left or behind the plate. He’s a big boy (6-foot, 235 lbs.) and resembles David Ortiz on defense. He made 4 errors in 21 games behind the plate, threw out 3 of 17 would-be base stealers, and was embarrassingly terrible in left during the NLCS sweep by the Mets (example 1example 2example 3).

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However, the National League does not use a DH, thus forcing the Cubs to accept his atrocious defense in return for his light-tower power. Unfortunately, injuries like this sometimes happen when you put a terrible defensive player on the field. Not only does it hurt the team, but it puts multiple players in danger. There was no reason for Schwarber to be going after that ball. Anyone who has ever played baseball knows that is Fowler’s ball and that Schwarber should be backing him up. Instead, Schwarber went for it and is now paying the price for his poor decision.

Had he been in the American League, he would be slotted in at DH everyday and this disaster would have been avoided. However, the NL and AL ridiculously play by a different set of rules. One gets to use 9 full-time hitters every game, the other uses 8 and a pitcher (obviously not counting interleague play). This brings up my final point.

Why do pitchers hit? When you sign a pitcher, you’re paying him to pitch, not hit. It’s really that simple. We’ve seen multiple pitchers face serious injuries the past few years because they’re forced to step-up to the plate. Add in the fact that almost all pitchers in the DH era are terrible hitters, there’s really no reason why we shouldn’t have a universal DH. The best hitting pitcher in baseball today is Zack Greinke who is a .223 career hitter. The only players who can hit that low and stick in the MLB probably hit 25+ homers or are defensive wizards. Sure we’d miss the blessing that is Bartolo Colon swinging a bat, but the game would vastly improve. Offense would be up and Kyle Schwarber would still be in the Cubs lineup this season.

Sorry National League fans, the universal DH is long overdue, and it could be here sooner than you think.

This reminds me, why was Dontrelle Willis never converted to first base? Imagine having this in the lineup everyday.

Hat Tips and Bat Flips: Our 2016 AL East Projections

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1st) Toronto Blue Jays – 97-65

With one of the most exciting teams in recent memory, Toronto has their eyes set on the World Series.  Ace David Price took the money and ran to division-rival Boston and the Jays failed to find a near-value replacement.  They will now be led by 24-year-old Marcus Stroman.  The former Duke Blue Devil is the lone bright spot in a very bleak rotation.  Returning late last season from a torn ACL, Stroman went 4-0 to the tune of a 1.67 ERA.  While he won’t have a sub-2 ERA, “Stro” will be considered one of the elite pitchers in the game by the time October comes around.  The rest of the rotation features 41-year-old R.A. Dickey, free-agent signee J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez who only has 11 career starts.  And yet, none of this matters because Toronto has one of the best offenses in the post-steroid era.  Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and reigning MVP Josh Donaldson all made the All-Star team last year while 39 homer guy Edwin Encarnacion was criminally left off.  The bullpen is much improved after acquiring Drew Storen and Jesse Chavez and that should be enough to bridge that gap between the rotation and Roberto Osuna.  Enjoy this team while you can because there aren’t many like it.

Key pitcher to watch: Aaron Sanchez.  As stated earlier, Sanchez only has 11 career starts.  Still, he has put together two solid season out of the pen and is only 23 years old.  He will need to step up if Toronto wants to make a deep postseason run.

Key hitter to watch: Chris Colabello/Devon Travis.  I’m breaking my own rules and picking two guys.  Colabello is the better part of a first base platoon with Justin Smoak and, in reality, should get a lot more AB’s than he does.  He hit .321 with 15 HR in a limited role last season and will look to garner some more playing time.  Toronto will be better if he does.  Devon Travis had one of the best April’s in baseball last season.  However, he hurt his shoulder in May and it bothered him the rest of the season and forced him to the 60-day DL in September, ending his fine rookie year.  Out until late May, Travis hopes to rehab quickly and be a spark-plug in an already fantastic Blue Jays lineup.

2) Boston Red Sox – 83-79

Boston is very confusing.  They somehow found a way to finish last in the division in 2015 behind the Tampa Rays, yet they have a lot of star power.  I’m not really sure they’re good, but fortunately for them, neither is the rest of the division.  Boston did get a bit better this offseason by adding David Price and demoting Pablo Sandoval to bench duties (or should I say doodies).  However, the team still has some glaring holes.  The rotation is very weak after Price and Clay Bucholz, we don’t trust Jackie Bradley, Jr. as an everyday player, Hanley Ramirez doesn’t seem to care about the game anymore and starters Blake Swihart and Travis Shaw have only combined for 149 career Major League games.  Still, Boston does have some incredible talent in its lineup.  Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts not only have two of the best names in baseball, but they’re also key to the future of baseball.  Both recently turned 23 and are already the best players on the roster.  David Ortiz made sure to let everyone know he’s retiring at season’s end (so prepare for every team to shower him with gifts and act like they love him. UGH.) and has his eyes set on the World Series.  However, he and the Sox won’t get there.  In fact, they won’t even get to the playoffs.  Big Papi will tip his cap for the last time on October 2 at Fenway against the Jays.

Key pitcher to watch: Steven Wright.  I’ve been getting into astronomy so I installed a skylight. The people who live above me are furious.

Key hitter to watch: Brock Holt.  I have always been a fan of Holt.  He makes solid contact and can play practically anywhere on the diamond.  I expect him to hit his way out of the timeshare with Rusney Castillo and assume full-time left field duties for the Sox.

3) New York Yankees – 81-81

I have absolutely no idea how the Yankees made the playoffs last year.  The team is old and not extremely talented but, hey, baseball is weird.  Their best hitter is Alex Rodriguez who, two short years ago, was about to be launched into the sun.  Now he’s the most beloved man in New York not named Porzingis.  He has a real chance to pass Babe Ruth for 3rd on the all-time home run list and, come July, that will be the only reason to pay attention to the Yanks.  The end of the bullpen is terrifying (Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances) but they won’t be given the opportunity to shine because the lineup won’t give them many leads.

Key pitcher to watch: Luis Severino.  I wanted to pick Nathan Eovaldi but my friend who is a Yankees fan equates Severino to a Greek god, so here we go.  Severino might actually be the best pitcher for the Yanks.  Forget the name power and money behind Masahiro Tanaka, Severino is the real deal.  He put together a 2.89 ERA in his rookie season, albeit 11 starts, and will look to repeat his performance.  As one of the top prospects in the game, I don’t see any reason why he can’t.  This kid is a star in the making and will be fronting New York’s rotation for many years to come.

Key hitter to watch: Starlin Castro.  After leading the Majors in hits in 2011, I was ready to proclaim Starlin Castro as the greatest shortstop of all-time (once his career ended, of course).  He has seen his hit total drop every season since and just doesn’t care about playing defense.  Maybe the change of scenery will do him some good and he can fulfill the prophecy and become the next Derek Jeter.

4) Baltimore Orioles – 78-84

After a few exciting seasons, Baltimore has reverted to the team we’ve known for a long time.  They have some talent, Manny Machado is one of the best players in the world and is only 23, and players like Adam Jones and Chris Davis have been household names during their stays in Baltimore.  However, they’re not enough to get them back to the playoffs.  The rotation is bad and the lineup is very meh.  No one except for Machado and Jones hit the ball consistently so expect the O’s to strikeout a lot and have one of the worst averages in the league.  Come July, Baltimore might want to consider trading players like Jones and Davis for prospects in hopes to develop them while they still have Machado under contract.  If not, it will be another decade, at least, before we see the Orioles playing in October.

Key pitcher to watch: Kevin Gausman.  The Orioles rushed Gausman to the Majors two years too early and it stunted his development.  Mix in repeated right shoulder problems and we’re left with a big question mark.  Gaus is three years into his big league career and people still don’t know what to think of him.  He’s starting the season on the DL, so we’ll just have to wait a bit longer.

Key hitter to watch: Hyun Soo Kim.  Watch him for a completely different reason than all of my others picks.  Kim won’t be good.  He had a historically bad Spring Training and has already fallen out of favor with Baltimore after zero career Major/Minor League games.  The Korean hitter put together some great seasons in the KBO, but is already considered a bust.  He refused to be sent to AAA and, as written in his contract, must now be included on the Major League roster.  There is a real chance he is sent back to Korea before he even takes a Major League at bat.  This is unprecedented and it will be fun to watch it unfold.

5) Tampa Bay Rays – 72-90

If they change their name back to the Devil Rays and bring back those sweet, sweet jerseys, I will put them at number 4.  They don’t deserve any further analysis.

Key pitcher to watch: Matt Moore.  The Rays actually have a pretty good rotation.  Damaged, but good.  Moore was one of the most exciting players in baseball before Tommy John Surgery forced him to miss most of 2014 and have an awful 2015.  Looking to regain his pre-surgery form, Moore will be a very interesting player to watch.

Key hitter to watch: Logan Forsythe.  Forsythe is the most tradeable player in the lineup.  He offers some solid power at second and will be asked about a few times around the trade deadline.  That’s literally the only reason I picked him.  There’s not a reason to closely watch other Rays’ hitters.  If Fred McGriff and Quinton McCracken ever decide to come out of retirement, I choose them.

Everyone is wrong in the Adam LaRoche scandal

larocheBy now you have definitely heard that Adam LaRoche walked away from a contract with the Chicago White Sox that would have paid him $13 million because General Manager Ken Williams asked that LaRoche’s 14-year-old son, Drake, not be brought into the clubhouse every day. The media was quick to label LaRoche as a fantastic person and a hero, while calling Williams a literal villain. Well, I’m here to tell you that there are no heroes or villains in this story. Instead, every person involved in this is just plain wrong.

Adam LaRoche is not a hero for retiring to be with his son. If anything, he actually displayed horrible parenting skills. Instead of telling Drake he can’t be in the clubhouse every day, Adam LaRoche quit because he didn’t get his way. What kind of example is that for his son? To quit because he didn’t get everything he wanted? Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Adam loves his son and wants to spend time with him, but he handled this whole situation terribly.

Also, how does LaRoche not know that a Major League clubhouse is no place for a young kid? Players feel like they can’t be themselves and they really have to watch their actions at all times which creates an awkward, artificial feel in the clubhouse. If the kid wants to come by every now and then, that is completely ok. But a kid being in a clubhouse every single day, including road trips, for years? That’s just idiotic.

The front office should not set the tone for the locker room. Instead of confronting Adam, multiple players on the team decided to run to GM Ken Williams and ask him to handle the situation. Williams should have told his players that it’s their job to set the clubhouse rules, not the front office.

However, my biggest beef here is with All-Star pitcher Chris Sale and starting outfielder Adam Eaton. They really blew this whole scenario out of the water. Sale reportedly got into a screaming match with Williams and Eaton told the media that they lost “a leader” in Drake LaRoche. Really? You lost a leader in a 14-year-old boy? If a teenager is the leader for a Major League Baseball team, that speaks volumes of how poorly that organization is run. Also, they really exposed their manager, Robin Ventura. Going on these rampages shows that Ventura has absolutely no control over the clubhouse and likely puts him back on the hot-seat.

If you’re a White Sox fan, sorry. If you aren’t, sit back and enjoy what will be an interesting season.

Kansas City Royal Again: Our 2016 AL Central Predictions

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1st) Kansas City Royals – 92-70

This should only surprise you if you are a devoted follower of PECOTA, who picked the reigning World Series winners to win only 75 games and finish last in the division. Sure, the rotation is pretty weak, but do you really want to doubt Kansas City? They feature a lineup, headlined by Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain, that does everything well and has one of the best bullpens the game has ever seen (Wade Davis is one of the best relief pitchers in the modern game). With well established big leaguers in Alex Gordon and Kendrys Morales, combined with Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez who are just hitting their prime years, the Royals are a lock as division winners.

Key pitcher to watch: Kris Medlen. Once thought to be the future ace of the Atlanta Braves, Medlen is finally healthy after suffering from two Tommy John surgeries. Entering his age-30 season, don’t expect him to take over as ace, but we should expect Medlen to be a 13 win, 3.80 ERA guy.

Key hitter to watch: Mike Moustakas. One of the most powerful prospects in recent memory, Moustakas really struggled at the plate his first 4 seasons. However, last year he took a big step in becoming the All-Star caliber player everyone thought he could be. He has displayed better plate discipline in recent years and is looking to pick up where he left off last season. Could this finally be the year he hits 30+ home runs, or will he regress to the player he was two seasons ago? We’re betting on the former.

2nd) Cleveland Indians – 87-75

With on-base machines like Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis, a phenom shortstop in Francisco Lindor, and arguably the best top of the rotation in baseball (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar), the Cleveland Indians have their eyes set on their first World Series since 1948. However, a one-and-done appearance in the Wild Card seems much more likely. Still, the Indians are a very solid team that will finish with a winning record for the 4th consecutive season. And, hey, isn’t that really all Cleveland sports fans can ask for?
Key pitcher to watch: Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco put up poor numbers in the first half of the season (4.07 ERA, .259 BA), but he pitched like a man on fire the second half. Pulling together a 2.99 ERA while striking out 94 guys in 75.1 innings, Carrasco is emerging as the ace of the Indians phenomenal staff.

Key hitter to watch: Francisco Lindor. We wanted to say Michael Brantley because we love him so much, but, ultimately, Lindor is going to be the spark plug this year. Don’t expect him to repeat his 12 home run performance from last season, but you should expect all of the other numbers to remain the same. He does a solid job of getting on-base and is a very good base stealer who should be scoring most of Cleveland’s run.

3) Minnesota Twins – 81-81

It seemed like the Twins were overachieving all of last season. The rotation is a wasteland and the lineup was mostly average. Despite predicting them to win less games this season, we believe the Twins are in for better days. Top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are going to be fully unleashed this season and it should put fans in the seats. If they had a better rotation, we would have no problem putting Minnesota in the number 2 spot. The lineup has some solid pieces, Brian Dozier is one of the more underrated players in the league, and the Twins could play “spoiler” for a playoff-hopeful team.

Key pitcher to watch: Tommy Milone. Milone has had a solid spring and is looking to finally take the step to become the best pitcher in a rotation. However, given Minnesota’s staff, that’s not saying much. We’ve always been supporters of Milone, going back to his days in the Nationals’ farm system, and we still think he can be a good pitcher. Right now he’s sitting at average and we think he finally takes the next step.

Key hitter to watch: Byung Ho Park. Minnesota’s big move this offseason was signing Park who launched 105 home runs and 270 RBI over the past two seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization. Obviously we should not expect numbers remotely close to that, but Park is still a very good professional hitter who is in the prime of his career. He should offer some much needed stability to the Twins’ lineup.

4) Chicago White Sox – 78-84

Chicago has a brand new lineup, centered around masher Jose Abreu and off-season pick-up Todd Frazier, and a rotation that has the potential to be very good. However, there is one big question looming over the team coming into the season: How will they respond to the Adam LaRoche controversy? Players seem split on the outcome, some glad that a young boy will no longer be in the clubhouse everyday, while some (Adam Eaton and Chris Sale) are upset that the team lost a LEADER in a 14-year-old boy. Yeah, ridiculous. This has created a huge rift between the players and the front office and shows that manager Robin Ventura has no control over the locker room. This will be fun.

Key pitcher to watch: Carlos Rodon. Remember this name because this kid is good. At 23 years old, Rodon has already shown he can pitch at the Major League level. Don’t be surprised to see him on the All-Star team every year for the next decade.

Key hitter to watch: Avisail Garcia. “Mini-Miggy” is regarded by many to be a bust, however, the kid is only 24. While he probably won’t be the next Miguel Cabrera, we’re still looking at someone who could be a consistent .280, 20 homer guy.

5th) Detroit Tigers – 73-89

Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Tigers used to be considered World Series favorites year after year, yet they could never seem to seal the deal. Despite having a lot of “star power”, the Tigers don’t actually have a whole lot of talent on the roster. After Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmerman, the Tigers have a bad rotation. Despite having one of the greatest hitters of all-time in Miguel Cabrera, the lineup isn’t much better. We’re concerned with J.D. Martinez‘s shocking strikeout rate and expect his on-base percentage to drop off to a normal .310. Ian Kinsler is entering his age-34 season and Victor Martinez looks ready to be put out to the pasture. Detroit is one of those teams that never wants to give up but it’s best that Detroit blows it up and tries again in 5 years.

Key pitcher to watch: Daniel Norris. Norris will start the season on the Disabled List but Detroit is hoping he could come back strong. The Tigers’ ace of the future, Norris is an exciting pitcher that Detroit shouldn’t rush back to the mound. Let him take his time to heal.

Key hitter to watch: Nick Castellanos. Like Avisail Garcia, Castellanos is regarded as a bust despite being 24 years old. While he has been a below average third basemen so far, he still has plenty of time to become the key middle-of-the-order piece Detroit thought he would be.

Guys, we did it…

chone read my article

WOW. There are no words to describe the feeling that came over me when I read Juan’s response. This is one of those defining moments in life that I will never, ever forget. I may never meet Chone again, and that’s ok, because I got to tell my hero what he means to me and, most importantly, tell him thanks. That’s all I could ever ask for.

Thank you to all of my readers who support this blog and helped get my letter into Juan’s hands. Your persistence paid off. And, of course, thank you to Juan Pierre for sharing this with Chone. You will never know how much this means to me.

-Joe

We have the Juan Pierre stamp of approval!

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For those that don’t know, Juan Pierre is one of the greatest leadoff hitters of all-time. He’s also great friends with Chone Figgins. We decided to send him the link to our Figgins tribute piece (which can be found here) and he loved it! We’re one step closer to getting Chone himself to read it! Go give our boy Juan a follow on Twitter. He’s a great player and a great man (and my brother’s hero).
Also, earlier today we were officially published on Baseball-Reference.com, the ultimate site for baseball statistics! Starting today, all of our posts that mention a player can be found on that player’s page (ex. Figgins and Vlad Guerrero). This is an absolutely HUGE day for The Batter’s Eye and we thank you for being part of it!