Top 100 Baseball Blog

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ernie Fazio's Meteoric Rise to a Major League Baseball Career

In baseball, young players are rushed to the majors all the time for a variety of reasons. This can be especially true for expansion teams, who are attempting to stock their rosters with any semblance of big league talent. Sometimes it ends up working out for the player and other times, like in the case of infielder Ernie Fazio, things just don’t up clicking and leading to a lengthy career.

Fazio was a slight (5’7” and 165 pounds) second baseman who starred for Santa Clara University. He was signed by the fledgling Houston Colt .45s in 1962 as a 20-year-old and made his big league debut by the end of the year, collecting a long single in 12 at-bats.

In 1963, Houston lost 96 games but gave Fazio extended playing time. Unfortunately, he was just not ready for primetime. Appearing in 102 games (228 at-bats), he hit just .184 with two home runs and five RBIs. However, a significant highlight was hitting a home run on August 18th against future Hall-of-Fame Warren Spahn.

Fazio spent the next two years in the minors, hitting a combined .263 with 35 home runs. Although that production put him back on track for a promotion, it would not come with Houston, as following the 1965 season he was the player to be named to complete a trade that had occurred earlier that brought slugger Jim Gentile over from the Kansas City Athletics.

Appearing in 27 games, primarily off the bench, for Kansas City in 1966, Fazio managed just seven hits in 34 at-bats and drove in two runs. He continued playing in the minors through 1969 for several organizations but never realized the potential that had brought him to the majors at such an early age. He wound up appearing in 141 big league games, hitting .182 with two home runs and eight RBIs.

A number of years ago, Fazio answered some questions about his career. Keep reading for more.

Ernie Fazio Interview:

How did you first become interested in baseball?: I started when I was really young. I kept playing, and my dad helped me along the way. Before you knew it, I played for a real good American Legion team in Oakland, California. A coach there; he coached guys like Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, and Curt Flood; and so I stayed. I worked out every day, and so that’s how I got started.

Did you have a favorite team or player while you were growing up?: Not really. I just loved baseball and followed everyone.

What was your signing experience like with Houston?: I was playing very good baseball, and played against all the top teams. Then I went to Santa Clara University, and we had a great team; I mean the best they ever had at the university. We went to the College World Series and we lost the championship game in 15 innings, which is a world record.

Right after the game, I came home, and Houston was there, and I signed with them. That was it. They had a bunch of other ball players that signed at the same time.

What was it like being part of the inaugural Houston team (1962)?: I met a lot of good guys, but overall they were jealous. I was making big money at the time, and they weren’t making that much money, so they kind of took a little back seat to me.

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: It was hitting my first major league home run, off Warren Spahn. Willie Mays hit his first home run off Warren Spahn too. I really respected Willie Mays, so that felt kind of great.

If you could do anything differently about your career, what would you do?: Not really. If I had to do it again, I would probably sign with the San Francisco Giants, because Houston, they had their pick of three ball players from every major league team. When I signed, I was the first rookie, and being a small guy, they said, ‘How did you ever sign with someone?’ So, I think I would have probably signed with the San Francisco Giants, or one of those teams from around here.

I would probably work just as hard as I did to get there. Once I got there, I got swamped by everything else. I would have worked twice as hard, looking back, because I wish I was still in baseball in some capacity. 

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

National Harbor, Maryland Welcomes the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Approximately 3,000 baseball executives from nearly 200 professional teams, media from around the world, and hundreds of exhibitors and job seekers will converge on National Harbor, Maryland, for the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings™ at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center from Dec. 4-8. 

The Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities (PBEO®) Job Fair will begin the morning of Sunday, Dec. 4, with the Business of Baseball Workshop. The workshop will provide insight on how to find the right job in baseball, what it takes to succeed once they find a job and what to expect throughout the baseball season. The event will include speakers from Minor League Baseball® and Major League Baseball® organizations and an address from Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. 

The 23rd annual PBEO Job Fair will conclude Dec. 7. Currently, more than 250 jobs have been posted for this year’s event. Just over 550 individuals have registered for the job fair, looking for the opportunity to choose from a variety of available positions, meet with representatives from professional teams and interview on-site. 

The Banquet, presented by New Era Cap Co., will take place Sunday night, Dec. 4. Emceed by Houston Astros radio broadcaster and PBEO Job Fair alumnus Robert Ford, the Banquet will feature the presentation of some of Minor League Baseball’s most prestigious awards, including the King of Baseball, John H. Johnson President’s Award, Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award, Larry MacPhail Award, Mike Coolbaugh Award, Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award and the John Henry Moss Community Service Award. 

The Awards Luncheon, sponsored by Musco Sports Lighting, will be held Monday, Dec. 5. Mike Capps, the play-by-play voice of the Round Rock Express, will host the annual event that honors award winners from the previous baseball season. 

A staple of the Baseball Winter Meetings for more than two decades, the Bob Freitas Business Seminar & Workshop Series will take place Monday, Dec. 5, and Tuesday, Dec. 6, delivering insightful speakers and attention-grabbing topics to attendees. The event allows for attendees to hear featured speakers, as well as break into smaller groups to discuss ideas and thoughts on the business of professional baseball. A complete list of speakers and topics can be accessed here. 

Opening Night at the Baseball Trade Show, sponsored by Team Scotti and Populous, will be held Monday, Dec. 5, from 5-8 p.m., in Prince George’s Exhibit Halls B-D of Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Featuring more than 250 exhibitors and encompassing over 100,000 square feet of exhibitor space, the Baseball Trade Show is held in conjunction with the Baseball Winter Meetings and spans three days. Exhibiting companies include manufacturers and distributors of apparel, caps, gift items, souvenirs, promotional products, stadium equipment, food and beverage products, player equipment and service companies, including insurance, architecture, concessions, printing, marketing, internet and entertainment, among others. 

Other ancillary events of the week include Moving Diversity Forward on Sunday afternoon, where respected individuals in the field of diversity and inclusion, as well as executives in the baseball industry, will discuss how they have found success establishing diverse practices within their respective organizations and communities. The Women in Baseball Leadership Event, entering its ninth year as a Baseball Winter Meetings event, will be held Tuesday, Dec. 6. This networking opportunity is open to women currently employed by a Minor League Baseball or Major League Baseball club or league, and features interactive discussions and presentations intended to promote professional development and networking among female executives. This year’s event is sponsored by InfoMart. 

The Gala, being held at Nationals Park on Dec. 7, is the final social event of the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings. The event is sponsored by Rawlings, New Era Cap Co., K&K Insurance, Budweiser, the Washington Nationals, Essensa and Levy Restaurants. 

For the complete Baseball Winter Meetings schedule and additional event information, visit

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Connie Mack's All-Early Baseball History Team

Connie Mack is one of the most enduring figures in the history of baseball. The Hall of Famer spent 15 years playing professionally as a catcher and then went on to manage and own the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 seasons. To say that he knew the game would be quite the understatement. That’s why when he gave his opinions it was best to listen—including the time he talked about his all-time team of players who debuted prior to 1900.

In 1944, Mack was getting towards the end of his illustrious career (he stepped down as manager following the 1950 season) but had been on hand to have observed a major portion of baseball history to that point. Therefore, when he was asked by the AP’s Chip Royal to compile a list of the best players who started their career prior to 1900 to ever play the game, it was fascinating to see his answers. Keep reading for his full roster.

Catcher: Mack had two names that came to mind here, as he nominated Buck Ewing and Charlie Bennett.

Ewing hit a combined .303 over 18 major league seasons (1880-1897) and eventually made the Hall of Fame. Considered a true two-way player, his offensive and defensive capabilities made him one of the first superstars in baseball.

Although Bennett hit just .256 during his 15-year career (1878-1893), primarily with the Detroit Wolverines and Boston Beaneaters, he was considered a good-hitting catcher for the time. However, his defense was his real calling card and he is even credited with developing the first chest protector. He was also considered one of the toughest to ever play the position, especially at a time when backstops took a ferocious beating because of the lack of good equipment. He once “declared that only a sissy would use a padded glove with the fingers and thumb cut off.”

First Base: “My first baseman would have to be Fred Tenney of the Boston Nationals who started out as a left-handed catcher,” asserted Mack. “He was more up to date in his time than any man I ever saw.”

In 17 major league seasons (1894-1911), spent mostly with the Beaneaters, he hit just a total of 22 home runs. However this was during the Dead-ball Era and he was a fine batsman, hitting .294 along with revolutionizing how to play first with how he fielded and the way he positioned himself in the field.

Second Base:Nap Lajoie of Cleveland never had an equal at second base,” claimed Mack. There should be no arguments about this selection, as “Larry” hit a robust .338 with 3,243 hits and 1,599 RBIs in 21 major league seasons (1896-1916) with the Philadelphia Phillies and Athletics, and the Cleveland Naps. Yes, he was so good that the team was actually named after him while he was playing for it! The right-handed hitter won five batting titles, including in 1901 when he paced the fledgling American League with a ridiculous .426 mark. Naturally, he was one of the first members of the Hall of Fame.

Shortstop: Herman Long was the pick here. In 16 seasons (1889-1904), primarily spent with the Beaneaters, he hit .277 with 91 home runs, 1,055 RBIs and 537 stolen bases. Although he still holds the major league record for most errors (1,096) in a career, he was a tremendous defensive player and was notorious for his superior range. Despite strong support, the Hall of Fame has continued to elude him, more than a century after he last played a game.

Third Base: Perhaps the most obscure of all his picks, Mack named Billy Nash as his third baseman on this team. He hit .275 with 60 home runs and 979 RBIs over 15 seasons (1884-1898) spent mostly with the Beaneaters.

Utility Infielder: Scrappiness is a trait typically associated with good utility players. Hughie Jennings had that in spades. Known as “Ee-Yah” for his excited yelling on the field, he predominantly played shortstop and first base from 1891-1902 (he played in an additional 12 games while a coach/manager between 1903-1915 but only as a fill-in). He hit .312 with 12 home runs, 529 RBIs and 248 stolen bases. He also still holds the major league record for times hit by a pitch (287) and was the quintessential sparkplug—which led to 14 years as a manager. His combined contributions to baseball garnered him entry to the Hall of Fame.

Outfield: Mack picked a real murderers row for his outfield, going with Hugh Duffy, Ed Delahanty and Sam Thompson.

A tiny man (5’7” and 168 pounds) with a big bat, Duffy formed one half of the Beaneaters’ famed “Heavenly Twins” duo with Tommy McCarthy in the 1890s. A right-handed hitter who played 17 seasons (1888-1906), Duffy combined for a .326 batting average, 106 home runs, 1,302 RBIs and 574 stolen bases. He won two batting titles and two home run crowns, and is the only player in history to have at least one .300 season in four different major leagues (National, American, Players and American Association). He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1945.

Delahanty terrorized pitchers with his right-handed bat for 16 seasons (1888-1903), primarily with the Philadelphia Phillies. For his career he hit .346 (5th all-time) with 522 doubles, 186 triples, 101 home runs, 1,466 RBIs and 455 stolen bases. Not much of a defender, he made up for it by hitting over .400 three different seasons. His numbers would likely be even more impressive except for his tragic death at age 35 in the midst of the 1903 season. While playing for the Washington Senators, he was ejected from a train near Niagara Falls for being intoxicated. He somehow fell off the bridge and into the falls, thus sadly ending the life of one of baseball’s greatest hitters. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1945.

Big Sam Thompson played 1885-1898 with the Detroit Wolverines and the Phillies (he also got into 8 games in 1906 with the Detroit Tigers). With his size (6’2” and over 200 pounds) and thick handlebar mustache, he cut quite the intimidating figure. During his career, he combined to hit .331 with 126 home runs, 161 triples and 1,305 RBIs. He was also known for a cannon arm and would have had even more impressive numbers had he not started his major league career when he was 25. Despite his impressive resume, he had to wait until 1974 to get into the Hall of Fame, via the Veteran’s Committee, more than 50 years after his death.

Pitchers: Mack told Royal that “for pitchers, you can’t beat Cy Young, Cleveland’s immortal ace; John Clarkson of the Chicago White Stockings and Tim Keefe of the (New York) Giants.” These were relatively easy choices, as each had at least 328 victories; each eventually made the Hall of Fame; and each helped define the position into what it is today.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Dave Elmore Named King of Baseball

For Immediate Release                                                                 November 17, 2016 

Dave Elmore Named King of Baseball 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball announced today that David G. Elmore, owner and founder of Elmore Sports Group, has been named the 2016 King of Baseball. The King of Baseball is a long-standing tradition in which Minor League Baseball recognizes a veteran of professional baseball for longtime dedication and service. Elmore will receive the King of Baseball Award at the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet on Sunday, Dec. 4, at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. 

“This is a truly amazing honor to be named the King of Baseball,” said Elmore. “There is nothing I have enjoyed more than being a part of Minor League Baseball for these past 36 years and realizing the great good our teams do to bring our communities together and provide countless charitable benefits.” 

“Dave Elmore has had a long and illustrious career as a Minor League Baseball owner and operator, and he has served Minor League Baseball in a number of roles over the years,” said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “He has truly earned this honor through all of his hard work and tireless efforts for the betterment of the game and it is my pleasure to present him with this award.” 

Elmore founded the Elmore Sports Group in 1969, which now consists of six Minor League Baseball teams, including the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, San Antonio Missions, Inland Empire 66ers, Lynchburg Hillcats, Idaho Fall Chukars and Eugene Emeralds. The company also owns hockey and soccer teams, along with facility management, travel, hospitality, special events and concession companies. 

Elmore has served on the Joint Professional Baseball Agreement Committee, which consists of four Minor League Baseball team owners and four Major League Baseball team owners. Together, they work to identify and address issues that arise between both leagues while discussing possible amendments to the Professional Baseball Agreement. 

Elmore was inducted to the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame and the Texas League Hall of Fame for his contributions as an owner. He is also the Pioneer League representative for the Minor League Baseball Board of Trustees. 

Prior to joining the sports and entertainment industry, Elmore was a partner with a law firm in Chicago from 1958 to 1968. In addition, the White House appointed him to the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board in the Department of Commerce in 1983. Elmore was a member of the Young Presidents Organization from 1969 to 1984, and he served as president of the International Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta, which consists of more than 85,000 members. 

PREVIOUS KING OF BASEBALL AWARD WINNERS 1951 Clarence Rowland 1952 J. Alvin Gardner 1953 Frank Shaughnessy 1954 Shelby Pease 1955 Herman White 1956 Tommy Richardson 1957 Charles Hurth 1958 Not awarded 1959 Bonneau Peters 1960 Joe Engel 1961 Rosy Ryan 1962 Phil Howser 1963 Donnie Bush 1964 Eddie Mulligan 1965 Ray Winder 1966 Eddie Leishmann 1967 Alejo Peralta 1968 Dewey Soriano 1969 Chauncey DeVault 1970 George MacDonald 1971 Phil Piton 1972 Vince McNamara 1973 Ray Johnston 1974 Fred Haney 1975 Joe Buzas 1976 Don Avery 1977 Bill Weiss 1978 Zinn Beck 1979 Harry Simmons 1980 Billy Hitchcock 1981 Jack Schwarz 1982 Sy Berger 1983 Oscar Roettger 1984 Donald Davidson 1985 Stan Wasiak 1986 Lefty Gomez 1987 Bill Schweppe 1988 Max Patkin 1989 George Sisler, Jr. 1990 John Moss 1991 George Pfister 1992 John Lipon 1993 George Kissell 1994 Jimmy Bragan 1995 Gene DaCosse 1996 S. “Chief” Bender 1997 Max Schumacher 1998 Leo Pinckney 1999 Tom Saffell 2000 Pat McKernan 2001 Roland Hemond 2002 George Zuraw 2003 Bob Wilson 2004 Dave Rosenfield 2005 Calvin Falwell 2006 Paul Snyder 2007 Dave Walker 2008 Pat Gillick 2009 Milo Hamilton 2010 Don Mincher 2011 Chito Rodriguez 2012 George McGonagle 2013 Charlie Eshbach 2014 Bill Valentine 2015 William Gladstone

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Carlos Beltran and the Boston Red Sox Seem Like a Perfect Match

Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz rode off into the sunset at the end of the 2016 season after spending 14 historical years with the team. He can never be truly replaced but the lineup will have a huge hole if a reasonable successor is not identified. Fortunately, Boston seems to be hot on the trail of a tremendous candidate in veteran Carlos Beltran.

Although no deal has been struck, rumors persist that the Red Sox are one of a few teams thought to be in the lead for the services of the soon-to-be 40-year-old. Despite his advanced age, Beltran is an ageless wonder, much like Ortiz, and could be as seamless a transition as the Red Sox could hope for.

Playing for seven teams over 19 major league seasons, Beltran began as an outfielder but has seen more and more time at designated hitter as he has gotten older. He has combined  for a .281 batting average, 421 home runs, 1,536 RBIs, 312 stolen bases and one of the best postseason resumes in history (.323, 16 home runs and 41 RBIs in 55 postseason games).

Beltran kept chugging along in 2016. Playing in 155 combined games with the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, he hit .295 with 29 home runs and 93 RBIs. This translated to a roster spot on the American League All Star team. The switch-hitter is a real professional hitter and there is little reason to believe he won’t continue to be productive moving forward.

The appeal of the free agent to the Red Sox should be manifold. His experience and veteran leadership are obvious. That alone would be immensely helpful in helping bridge from Ortiz, who was a once-in-a-lifetime type of presence for the team. Also, given Beltran’s age, he will not require a contract as exorbitant in years or money as some of the other designated hitter candidates on the market such as Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista.

If Beltran were to play any significant time in the field it would mean something had gone very wrong with the team’s plans. Boston not only has better defensive options but it is also the best way to keep him healthy. However, he is still capable of logging some occasional innings with a glove if needed. That kind of flexibility would provide infinite value, as the major question of what returning pariah Pablo Sandoval will be and what he can do in 2017 still remains completely to be seen.

Unfortunately, the Red Sox will face stiff competition in attempting to lure Beltran to the Hub. The Yankees and Houston Astros are rumored to be the other two teams with the most interest. Nearing the end of his career, it’s likely that he is hoping to land in a situation that will garner him his first World Series ring. Although that would seemingly take the rebuilding Yankees out of the equation, he lives there and apparently loved his previous time with the team. The Astros are chock full of young talent, but just missed the playoffs in 2016 and have already made major rumblings this offseason. They may be a team to watch in 2017 but then again so are the Red Sox, who did make the playoffs this past year and won a World Series as recently as 2013 with a deep roster and deeper pockets.

Boston may not need to make a lot of moves to get back to contention next year. However, they do need to find a replacement for Ortiz; especially someone who can come as close as possible to matching his production and leadership. They will likely not find someone better equipped as Beltran, so the ensuing weeks will be interesting to see if the Red Sox emerge as a mutual match for his services.

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Checking in With Minnesota Twins Prospect Trey Cabbage

The Minnesota Twins last made the playoffs in 2010. They have lost at least 92 games every season except once since and are still rebuilding in an effort to reclaim their former success. One of the young players they are hoping will contribute to that overhaul is third base prospect Trey Cabbage.

A graduate of Grainger High School in Rutledge, Tennessee in 2015, the athletic Cabbage became a baseball prodigy in part due to the influence his entire family had on his development in the sport. Accordingly, when it was time for him to leave school, he was regarded as one of the best young players in the nation and was drafted by the Twins in the fourth round of that year’s draft.

The right-handed throwing, left-handed hitter has been eased into his professional career. Appearing in a total of 64 games at the lowest levels of the minors during the past two years, he has hit a combined .230 with two home runs and 31 RBIs. He has also struck out 75 times in 217 at-bats. However, he is still just 19 and coming into his own as he adjusts to this new level of baseball. 2017 should be a pivotal year for him to play in a full-season league and show what he has learned since turning pro. At 6’3” and over 200 pounds, he projects as a possible power hitter.

Earlier this past winter, Cabbage agreed to answer some questions about his career. Keep reading more on this exciting prospect. You can also follow him on Twitter and see how his 2017 season pans out.

Trey Cabbage Interview

Who was your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite team was probably the Braves and Cubs because I grew up watching both teams. I just grew fond of the Cubs due to the fact that their Double-A team is a short drive from my house, so I got to see a lot of their big league guys in the minors.

How did you first find out that the Twins were interested in you, and what was your draft experience like?: I found out of the Twins’ interest when they contacted me about coming to a high school game. The draft was a nerve-wrenching experience, but I'm blessed and happy to be where I am.

What position do you think is your best, or where you future lies in baseball?: I honestly don't have a preference where I play in the field. I have been told I'm more suited to play third so I'll keep working to be the best third baseman I can be.

Was there anything in particular you did to celebrate after being drafted?: No, I didn't do anything to celebrate really. I just stayed working and went to play

How difficult was it to get adjusted to actually being a professional ball player and going through all the work and experiences for the first time?: It definitely was an adjustment into pro ball but I felt like I caught on pretty quickly and am excited to get back at it in year two.

How instrumental has your family been in your development as a baseball player?: My family has always been there and supportive in every aspect of my life, including baseball. My father and I have been playing ball and working skills since I was three years old. My family also helped me out in other sports along the way, so I wouldn't be burnt out, or pigeon-holed if you will.

Who is one pitcher from any time in baseball history that you would like to face?: To face any pitcher.... That's a tough one. I just want to make every at bat a quality one and give the best I've got against every pitcher I face.

What do you like to do in your free time?: I love the outdoors so I like hiking and just running and training outside. 

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Predicting the 2016 MLB Awards

The World Series just concluded in historic fashion, meaning another baseball season is in the books. With many exciting moments and performances, there was plenty to keep fans busy in 2016. Soon, the sport will announce the winners of its awards, and there is plenty of competition for the top honors. Without further ado, here is my (unofficial) ballot.

American League MVP- Boston Red Sox Outfielder Mookie Betts: First, let’s get some business out of the way. If someone were to say Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout had a better season I wouldn’t put up much of an argument. However, both players are phenomenal five-tool talents and this is not the best player award. While Trout’s team was fighting to stay out of the baseman, Betts’ Sox took the tough American League East.

Having just turned 24 after the end of the regular season, Betts established himself as one of the best players in the game in 2016. Appearing in 158 games, he hit .318 with 31 home runs, 113 RBIs, 214 base hits, 122 runs scored and 26 stolen bases. This all helped contribute to a stellar 9.6 WAR. The converted infielder also proved himself as an elite defensive outfielder. His 32 defensive runs saved led the league and where a whopping 10 more than the runner up, Adam Eaton of the Chicago White Sox. Simply put, no player was more valuable to his team and their success than Betts.

National League MVP- Chicago Cubs Third Baseman/Outfielder Kris Bryant: Although he didn’t run away with it, Bryant is the clear choice here. Just 24 like his counterpart Betts, he was the best of a Cubs team that won an impressive 103 games and the World Series. Appearing in 155 contests, he hit .292 with a league-leading 121 runs scored, 39 home runs and 102 RBIs.

Splitting his time between third base and the outfield, Bryant is better in the field than he is given credit for. He compiled a positive dWAR and was also good enough for five defensive runs saved. He may be hurt a little by his teammate, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, having a similarly strong season. However, he was just a bit more productive and consistent and deserves to take home what will likely be the first of multiple MVP awards.

American League Cy Young- Boston Red Sox Starting Pitcher Rick Porcello: The right-hander bounced back from a miserable 2015 season in Boston to finally assume the mantle of an ace at the age of 27. Making 33 starts, he went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA. His win total led the league, and he struck out a career-high 189 batters in 223 innings (also a best). His 1.01 WHIP was .008 behind the leader and possible Cy Young runner up, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. 

Porcello gets the nod because he not only matched Verlander on ERA and WHIP but he notched six more wins, which is perhaps the sexiest stat taken into consideration by voters (no matter how right or wrong that is). He was also ridiculously consistent, pitching at least into the sixth inning in all of his starts. He was also tougher as the season wore on. He had matching 11-2 records in each half of the season, but his 2.62 ERA after the All Star break was a little more than a run better than his mark before that.

National League Cy Young- Washington Nationals Starting Pitcher Max Scherzer: There are few pitchers in baseball as consistent as the power right-hander. His ERA+ has sat between 123 and 144 in each of the past three seasons, which yielded a CY Young Award (2013) and two fifth-place finishes. He was in vintage form in 2016, going 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA and 284 strikeouts and a 141 ERA+. He led the league in wins, punch outs and innings (228.1). He also followed up two no-hitters in 2015 with a record-tying 20 strikeout game earlier this year.

There has been significant support for Chicago Cubs right hander Kyle Hendricks, who led the league in ERA (2.13) and ERA+ (188).  However, he threw nearly 40 less innings, and went seven or more innings in a start seven times compared to 20 for Scherzer.

Somehow, Scherzer sometimes seems to fly under the radar, yet he is consistently one of the best pitchers in the game. He was in vintage form this season and should take home another piece of hardware for his trophy case.

American League Rookie of the Year- Detroit Tigers Starting Pitcher Michael Fulmer: This may not be the popular pick but it is the right choice. Sentiment may be on the side of New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who hit .299 with 20 home runs in just 53 games. No matter how dominant Sanchez was, he should not be rewarded for what was such a relatively short hot streak.

In 24 August games, Sanchez hit .389 with 11 home runs. He hit .217 with nine home runs in his other 29 games. While he literally set records, the Rookie of the Year award should be about cumulative performance and not about portions of a season.

Enter Fulmer. The right-hander quietly performed like a veteran all season, going 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 26 starts. He struck out 132 in 159 innings while allowing just 42 walks and 136 base hits. He gave up two or fewer runs in 16 of his starts. Although he did not make the same splashy headlines as Sanchez, he submitted an impressive body of work and did so over the course of a full season.

National League Rookie of the Year- Los Angeles Dodgers Shortstop Corey Seager: Perhaps the easiest of all the awards to prognosticate, the 22-year-old will also be in the conversation for MVP. Appearing in 157 games, he hit .308 with 26 home runs, 40 doubles and 72 RBIs. He collected 193 hits and scored 105 runs, all while playing surprisingly solid defense for a player of his size (6’4” and 215 pounds).
The National League was chockfull of rookies this year, making Seager’s efforts all the more impressive. He looks to be one of baseball’s next superstars.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Montreal Expos' Pitcher Ernie McAnally Talks About His Baseball Career

Expansion teams can give many baseball players their first taste of the major leagues and act as a spring board to a big league career. Such was the case for right-handed pitcher Ernie McAnally, who nearly gave up on the game before being finding his chance by the Montreal Expos.

Originally drafted as a catcher in the 20th round in 1966 by the New York Mets out of Paris Junior College in Texas, it quickly became apparent that his future was going to be on the mound instead of behind the plate. His transition was so impressive that it caught the attention of the fledgling Expos organization, who made him the 49th selection in the 1968 expansion draft.

Sent to Single-A in 1969, McAnally decided to quit half-way through the season in order to make a higher wage back home as an insurance adjustor and thus better support his family. He mistakenly thought the Expos weren’t that high on him because of where he had been assigned but in truth they did not yet have a Double-A team and didn’t want to rush him too much. His decision to return to the franchise was a good one, as he became a full-time starter for the big league club in 1971.

In the four years (1971-74) that McAnally pitched for the Expos the team never had a winning record. Although his 30-49 record doesn’t deserve much attention, his 4.03 ERA and .256 batting average allowed show what a solid pitcher he was. He was particularly tough against Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente, allowing just a lone single in 15 official at-bats.

McAnally was often the victim of bad offense backing him up. In 1972 he posted a very respectable 3.81 ERA but finished just 6-15. It could have been even worse, as he started the year 1-13 but ended up winning five of his last seven decisions.

Following the 1974 season, he was sold to the Cleveland Indians. He never appeared in another major league game because of an injured rotator cuff, and other than one disastrous two-inning appearance (seven runs allowed) with their Triple-A team in 1975, his career was done at the age of 28.

I had the opportunity to ask the former pitcher some questions a while back. Keep reading for some memories he shared about his playing career.

Ernie McAnally Questionnaire:

What was the strangest play you ever saw in baseball?: A pop fly in San Diego, with two outs and the bases loaded. The ball fell in and Dave Winfield picked it up with runners going to every base. Enzo Hernandez, the shortstop, was trying to get out of the way, but when Winfield cut loose with a throw, it hit Hernandez square in the back from 20 feet away. The runners kept running and Enzo was in great pain.

Who was your favorite coach or manager?: Whitey Herzog.

Who was your toughest out?: Ted Simmons (The catcher collected 16 hits in 29 career at-bats against McAnally).

If you could do anything about your playing career differently, what would that be?: Certainly, there could be a lot of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’s,’ but I choose to have the mind set to have taken my opportunities and abilities; having done my best and be satisfied with the outcome. It leads to peace and happiness.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Alternative Baseball Organization All-Star Game

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The Alternative Baseball Organization is a 
developmental baseball/softball organization based out of Atlanta, Georgia that is targeted towards teens & adults with autism, Asperger's, Down Syndrome, LD, and other special needs. Players participate in practices, drills (hitting, fielding, base running), and games (officiated by a real umpire organization!)! Everyone also gets the chance to form social friendships with their teammates, improving their social skills. This program has been established to raise awareness for special needs and to give the participants the opportunities to take on new challenges and break barriers! 

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Sunday, October 23, 2016

David Ortiz Leaves Behind Best Legacy with Boston Red Sox

The illustrious career of the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz has come to a close. Given what he has meant to one of the flagship franchises of Major League Baseball for the past 14 years, his departure will create a crated-sized void. He will leave behind quite the legacy; one that had never been seen before and will never be seen again.

Getting it out of the way right off the bat, Ortiz is a Hall-of-Famer and nothing can be said to change my mind of that opinion. There is no need to go over the numbers, as they are not only impressive but have been reviewed with microscopic precision by many before me. People can pick at his record and how it compares to others all they want. They can point to the vast majority of his career being spent as a designated hitter. However, taking his entire body of work, both on and off the field, there is no way he can be denied baseball’s ultimate honor.

As someone who saw most of Ortiz’s games in a Boston uniform over the years, I can say with confidence that he is the most important player I ever saw don a Red Sox uniform. It goes well beyond his statistics. He was an integral part of three teams that won the World Series, including the memorable 2004 squad that took the title 86 years after the team had won its last championship. His gregarious personality and leadership not only defined those teams but also served as a connecting link to the trophies that were won over the span of a decade. The Red Sox probably have had more talented players in their past, such as Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, but none have combined results on the field and in the community with success quite like Ortiz has.

With the admission that the “clutch-ness” of a baseball player cannot possibly be measured, Ortiz has over and over again passed the eye test that can be given. It’s not just his .455 batting average and 1.372 OPS in 14 career World Series games, it’s the countless times he came through when the odds were long and the pressure high. Perhaps no moment was more memorable than the game-tying grand slam he hit in Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, which occurred when the team was struggling to scratch out base hits let alone score runs.

Ortiz wasn’t perfect. His much-discussed alleged failed PED test in 2003 has long cast a cloud on his otherwise pristine career. Although he has never been proven to have taken steroids, the suspicion has lingered ever since. However, Commissioner Rob Manfred recently indicated that there is no reason to believe the validity of the test.

Ortiz’s passion also sometime led him to taking things to debatably appropriate lengths, such as arguing a scorer’s decision after a game, or making it known that he was not pleased with the status of his contract. However, at the end of the day, he was human and always represented the Red Sox and the city of Boston to the best of his abilities.

Ortiz would be eternally memorable simply for his feats on the field. His “Big Papi” persona only makes him all the more unforgettable. Adored by adults and children alike, he inspired commercials and Saturday Night Live bits that brought him to a more national and international stage. He used that extended reach to do myriad charitable work, and was best known for his ability to touch the lives of kids.

There is no doubt that Ortiz has left an indelible legacy now that his 2016 season has come to an end. The 40-year-old slugger has provided Boston fans with 14 years of success and amazing memories. Fittingly, he is going out just as strong and productive as when he first joined the team in 2003. It seems like he could play forever but all good things must come to an end. David Ortiz was the best and he has decided it is his time to walk away—a decision he earned the right to make many times over.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Don Larsen's Perfect Game: Recalling the Pitching Gem On Its 60th Anniversary

Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of one of baseball’s most cherished feats. On October 8th, 1956, New York Yankees starting pitcher Don Larsen threw the first and only perfect game in the history of the World Series (and playoffs). Not only is it one of the major gold standards in the sport, it also still captivates fans as much today as it did six decades ago.

The right-hander’s perfect came in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium against the Brooklyn Dodgers, giving the Bronx Bombers a 3-2 Series lead. They ultimately took the championship two days later in the 7th and deciding game. Here are some interesting facts about Larsen and his perfect game.

-Larsen beat tough veteran hurler Sal Maglie, 2-0. The Dodgers pitcher was no slouch himself, as he permitted just five hits and pitched a complete game in taking the hard-luck loss.

-Yankees center fielder Mickey Mantle accounted for the first run by hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Right fielder Hank Bauer drove in third baseman Andy Carey with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to cap the scoring.

-Although Larsen had a great regular season in 1956 (11-5 with a 3.26 ERA in 38 games), the 26-year-old had previously endured much rockier times. In his first two seasons (1953-54), which were spent with the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles, he was a combined 10-33 with a 4.27 ERA and a 176/153 strikeout/walk ratio.

-In 1954, Larsen had one of the most futile seasons to ever go on record for a pitcher. In 29 games with the Orioles, he was a ghastly 3-21 with a 4.37 ERA. Naturally, two of his three victories were against the Yankees.

-The perfect game ended what had been a horrendous start to Larsen’s World Series career. In his first two games, spanning 5.2 innings and two Series, he had permitted six walks and nine runs. He had started Game 2 of the 1956 Series but was knocked out after allowing four runs and four walks after just 1.2 innings.

-The perfect game came against a lineup that wasn’t exactly a tomato can. The Dodgers boasted four hitters who went on to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame- Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider and Pee Wee Reese. A fifth, Gil Hodges, has just missed out in previous appearances on ballots.

-Larsen struck out the first two batters (Jim Gilliam and Reese) looking.

-Maglie struck out his final three batters of the game swinging.

-Only one Dodgers batter (Reese in the first inning) was able to get as many as three balls in any one count during the game.

-The final out of the game came when Larsen caught pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell looking for his seventh punch out of the day. He was an unusual hitter for such an ending, as the left-handed swinger had one of the most discerning eyes in baseball history, resulting in just 119 strikeouts in 4,358 regular season major league plate appearances. It was also the only time he struck out in 32 career postseason trips to the dish.

-The game was the final time home plate umpire’s Babe Pinelli’s called a game. Although he umpired in the field during the remainder of the Series, he retired after Game 7, following 22 years as an arbiter and another 16 spent as a professional player.

-Making Larsen’s laser focus even more impressive is the fact that his then-wife Vivian filed for divorce prior to the game.

-Future legendary Yankees manager Joe Torre attended the game, watching as a 16-year-old from the left field bleachers.

-The final two games of the Series were both shutouts, as the Dodgers took Game 6 1-0 and the Yankees won the clincher in a 9-0 laugher.

-Larsen pitched for another 10 years in the majors after his perfect game. However, it was with the Yankees and six other teams, and he only once won as many as 10 games in a season again.

-Larsen’s next appearance on a mound came on April 20, 1957, against the Boston Red Sox. His start lasted just 1.1 innings, as five hits, a walk and four runs knocked him out (which was won by the Yankees, 10-7).

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Monday, October 3, 2016

Esurance and Minor League Baseball Recognize September Call-Up Worthy Players

SAN FRANCISCO, CA and ST. PETERSBURG, FL--(Marketwired - October 03, 2016

With the Major League Baseball postseason beginning tomorrow, Esurance and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) today announced the inaugural class of Esurance September Call-Ups. A total of 46 players were called up this September, including top prospects Yoan Moncada, Jose De Leon and Gavin Cecchini.

The 2016 Esurance September Call-Ups included the following players:
Date Player Position Team
9/1 Destin Hood OF MIA
9/1 Ty Blach LHP SF
9/1 Jed Bradley LHP ATL
9/1 Juan Minaya RHP CSW
9/2 Brady Rodgers RHP HOU
9/2 Hunter Dozier 3B KC
9/2 Jonathan Holder RHP NYY
9/2 Matt Dermody LHP TOR
9/2 Raimel Tapia OF COL
9/2 Robby Scott LHP BOS
9/2 Wandy Peralta LHP CIN
9/2 Yoan Moncada 2B BOS
9/2 Yohander Mendez LHP TEX
9/3 Joe Mantiply LHP DET
9/3 Kyle Jensen 1B ARI
9/4 Carson Kelly C STL
9/4 Jose De Leon RHP LAD
9/5 Raul Alcantara RHP OAK
9/6 Blake Smith RHP CWS
9/6 David Paulino RHP HOU
9/6 Gavin Cecchini SS NYM
9/6 German Marquez RHP COL
9/6 James Beresford 3B MIN
9/6 Jordan Patterson OF COL
9/6 Jose Martinez OF STL
9/6 Kevin McCarthy RHP KC
9/6 Matt Koch RHP ARI
9/6 Pat Valaika SS COL
9/6 Trevor Williams RHP PIT
9/7 Jake Smith RHP SD
9/7 Jharel Cotton RHP OAK
9/10 Joely Rodriguez LHP PHI
9/11 Roman Quinn OF PHI
9/12 Daniel Vogelbach 1B SEA
9/12 Matt Olson OF OAK
9/12 Renato Nunez 3B OAK
9/17 Rio Ruiz 3B ATL
9/18 Trey Mancini 1B BAL
9/20 Adam Plutko RHP CLE
9/21 Hunter Renfroe OF SD
9/21 Manuel Margot OF SD
9/21 Carlos Asuaje 2B SD
9/21 Jose Torres LHP SD
9/22 Juniel Querecuto 3B TB
9/27 Spencer Kieboom C WSH
9/27 Chris Smith RHP TOR
This season, Minor League Baseball and Esurance created the Esurance Call-Up Worthy platform, which launched exclusively on and MiLB team websites in June. The new, modern platform celebrated the iconic moment in Minor League Baseball when a player is called up to Major League Baseball, highlighting his journey through shareable digital and social content such as virtual trading cards, video highlights and the Esurance Farm Report.

"It's been a fantastic first year for Esurance Call-Up Worthy players and their fans as they've followed the players' journey online and on the field," said Cyndie Beckwith, Vice President, Marketing for Esurance. "We've celebrated 152 players being called up this season, re-living their most memorable moments together, and we continue to recognize more prospects as they make their first Major League appearance this September."

"The September call-up has long been a pivotal moment in a player's career, marking a coming of age of sorts," said David Wright, Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer for Minor League Baseball. "Through the Esurance Call-Up Worthy platform, we celebrate these prospects in their quest to make a big-time impact with their Major League teams."

In June, Esurance and Minor League Baseball announced a strategic multi-year partnership making it the exclusive home and auto insurance partner of Minor League Baseball. To learn more about Esurance's Call-Up Worthy campaign with Minor League Baseball, visit

About Minor League Baseball
Minor League Baseball, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, is the governing body for all professional baseball teams in the United States, Canada, and the Dominican Republic that are affiliated with Major League Baseball® clubs through their farm systems. Fans are coming out in unprecedented numbers to this one-of-a-kind experience that can only be found at Minor League Baseball ballparks. In 2015, Minor League Baseball attracted 42.5 million fans to its ballparks to see the future stars of the sport hone their skills. From the electricity in the stands to the excitement on the field, Minor League Baseball has provided affordable family-friendly entertainment to people of all ages since its founding in 1901. For more information, visit

Follow Minor League Baseball on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

About Esurance®
Esurance, insurance for the modern world®, provides auto, homeowners, motorcycle, and renters insurance direct to consumers online, over the phone, and through select agents. With an easy-to-use mobile app, helpful online tools like photo claims and Coverage Counselor®, and knowledgeable experts available around the clock, Esurance is the smart choice for today's web-savvy consumer. And as a member of the Allstate family with an A+ rating from A.M. Best, Esurance offers auto and home insurance anytime with service just a click, call, or tap away. For more information, visit or call 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

Follow Esurance on the Esurance BlogFacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew