The American League’s best power hitter is now the American League Rookie of the Year

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Early in April, I saw something in Jose Abreu that intrigued me. He hit a couple balls to spots of Coors Field that they shouldn’t have been hit to pretty effortlessly, and then a few days later; he hit a couple more out against the Cleveland Indians in Chicago to similar spots that aren’t usually reached in a game.

I knew then that the White Sox had a prolific power hitter on their hands; it was just a matter of was he a .270 hitter who could drop bombs or a guy who could hit for some average? Forget all about the White Sox blowing it with a six-year contract for the Cuban defector.

Well, Abreu finished the season with a .317 average, showed some surprising plate discipline, and hit 36 home runs despite missing some time with a disabled list stint. Due to this, we’ve got a unanimous selection for the American League Rookie of the Year today.

As a guy who has love for the ChiSox, I’m happy about this. I loved stealing Abreu in the fifth round of a fantasy draft in my big money keeper league, rejecting huge trade offers for him all season long, and seeing him sustain such success.

The next half-decade is going to be a glorious ride.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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Sure it’s hot stove season, but we’ll keep the home fires burning here at Diamond Hoggers until there’s live, non-AFL baseball on the television again. It’s what we live for.

And it’s hard to believe that this is probably my last Saturday Baseball Post as a non-father. Updates with that as they come in.

So there’s no fantasy baseball lineups to update, there’s not a lot of news to cycle through, we just need to wait it out and stare out the window until business picks up. Novembers are always like this for the baseball fan.

Enjoy our Saturday, thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

Which Free Agents Should the Mets be Targeting for the 2015 MLB Season?

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With December just around the corner, baseball’s hot stove is as warm as ever as teams prepare to address their roster needs via free agency or trades. The Mets will go into those winter meetings searching for upgrades to their two most blatantly obvious positions of need at shortstop and corner outfield.

The many possible options for each position (big names like Hanley Ramirez and Nelson Cruz have been thrown around) have been discussed ad nauseam over the last few months, but those aren’t the only two spots where the Mets need improving.

With the recent outrighting of left-handed relievers Dana Eveland and Scott Rice, the Mets suddenly find themselves in the market for a lefty out of the bullpen. They could also use a right-handed power bat who could play first or the outfield.

While the addition of a lefty arm or two or a bat off the bench won’t drastically shift the Mets’ odds to win the National League in 2015 like the signing of Ramirez or Cruz, those moves are nevertheless significant in building the kind of affordable lineup the Mets would need to compete for a pennant.

This year’s free agent market has a couple of very interesting lefty arms, from established veteran relievers (Scott Downs and Jason Grilli) to a couple of very promising converted starters (Zach Duke and Andrew Miller).

Miller will be in particular demand after striking out 103 batters (5th in MLB) last season, but Duke wasn’t too bad himself. He had a breakout year with Milwaukee with 74 strikeouts in 58.2 innings and would be a terrific addition alongside Jeurys Familia as potential setup men.

The market on big impact bats in the Mets’ price range isn’t as plentiful, though, and it could get a little shallower if Michael Cuddyer comes off the market. The 35-year old had been a popular choice as a stopgap, but he may not be available for much longer after the Colorado Rockies extended him a $15 million qualifying offer.

Michael Morse, a contributor on the San Francisco Giants’ World Series run, would be a decent fallback target. He can play in the outfield and can platoon at first base with Lucas Duda against left-handed pitching.

Morse won’t be quite the ideal guy if the Mets need him to be an everyday corner outfielder, especially given his injury history. But he would be a nice addition as a utility bat and could be part of a larger piecemeal solution to the outfield question.

Miami Marlins would like to have Stanton extension wrapped up by winter meetings

While the entire sports world was distracted by NFL football, Jim Bowdwen welcomed the Miami Marlins’ President of Baseball Operations on MLB Network Radio. It would seem that good old Ralph Bowden might have an inside track of a story here when something goes down – he’s been talking a lot about this story and served as a point of reference (stating he would get this thing done by offering Giancarlo Stanton a no-trade clause).

Hill basically said in some conjecture that the Marlins have created an environment to be one of the ten teams that could be playing in October 2015 in the postseason, and he thinks Stanton recognizes this.

I don’t know what to expect here. I could see the Marlins somehow pulling this off – because you would have to think about folding up shop if you’re not going to build around a player like Stanton. I also think they need to sell hard on the what the Royals were just able to do. If they can paint a picture for Stanton that the Marlins could be the National League’s version of the Royals; something that isn’t that far-fetched, this thing could become a reality in a hurry if they’re offering $28 to $30 million a year over the next six or seven years with a no-trade clause.

You can hear the clip from MLB Network Radio below:

Rest in Peace, Oscar Taveras

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I’m by no means a Cardinals fan, but I am a huge fan of talent; and I am an even bigger fan of young phenomenal talent.

When I got a text message from a friend while at dinner last night that Oscar Taveras was dead, I had to take a moment to read it several times. I didn’t want to believe it.

Oscar Taveras’s don’t die – they marvel us with their talent. They win Rookie of the Year awards. They hit .353 at a ridiculously young age. They play 15 years in the big leagues and we hate seeing them come to town to play our team because they spend a series filling the box score. The win championships and continue to build the legacy of one of the best organizations in the game.

They don’t pass at age 22; not on a night when they could have been playing in the World Series if the ball had bounced a bit differently.

It still doesn’t seem real to me. I can’t believe I’ll never get to buy a ticket and go watch the second coming of Vlad Guerrero play live. In a weird way, I was looking forward to Taveras torturing the Cincinnati Reds over the next ten years. He would have, too.

I’ll always remember where I was when Oscar did this in the rain the first time we got to witness his talent:

I’m sad to say I didn’t see his last big league hit on television, or his NLCS home run off Jean Machi. And unfortunately, I’ll remember forever where I was standing when I got the horrifying text that Oscar Taveras died, hoping somehow that there had been a mistake; and then learning that it was reality.

Rest in Peace, Primo. Like all things in life, this remarkable young talent had an expiration date. It doesn’t make it any easier to understand or deal with. I will forever go on wondering what this young man could have accomplished if things had not ended tragically, maybe more so than anyone I’ve ever followed in my three decades of loving baseball.

Bryce Harper’s last blast of 2014 was an epic, clutch, historic clout into McCovey Cove

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Game four of the NLDS, and Bryce Harper may have cemented his legend in baseball once and for all.

It was evident that Harper was still locked in from the early going, as he missed a home run to center in his first at bat by a narrow margin. In his second trip to the plate he doubled in the Nationals first run with a great at bat.

In his third at-bat, he took nasty Hunter Strickland into McCovey Cove to tie the game in epic fashion. It was a moment for the ages in postseason baseball.

Baseball can be beautiful, but sometimes it also has a way of showing us that the heroes die in the end. The Nationals would fall 3-2 to end their season.

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An Ode to the 2014 Washington Nationals

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Welp, that’s a wrap. For all intensive purposes, baseball season ended for us tonight a bit prematurely. In a matter of hours, two teams we love to watch completed the foursome of elimination in the League Division Series with the Cardinals getting past Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers and the Giants breaking the hearts of the Nationals out in the Bay Area.

I never dreamed when this postseason started that a World Series would exist without at least one of these two teams. It almost seems unfair – but it’s not. The Giants and Cardinals took the fight to these teams. They just went out and took it, with the help of a little more clutch hitting and better management.

I spent a TON of time watching Washington and Los Angeles this season. They were entertaining, yet flawed teams. Until the spring comes, I won’t see them again. If you want to see the remaining teams left in the playoffs, find and buy sports tickets to do so.

Bryce Harper nearly reaches McCovey Cove with second NLDS Moonshot

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After a hitless game in the 18-inning marathon on Saturday night, Bryce Harper woke up in San Francisco yesterday and decided he was coming to the park to send this to a game four.

Harper had an absolutely huge game, making two great defensive catches with the game on the line, drawing a walk that started the rally, and hitting of course his monstrous home run which was his third of his postseason.

To take a quote from Brandon Belt – that’s probably one of the hardest balls Harper has hit.

You have to love lowly Jean Machi pointing in the air for the ball to assist his outfielder as it heads toward McCovey Cove. Yeah, Jean. He’s got no chance for this.

So the Nationals live to fight at least one more day, 4-1. They survived Madison Bumgarner and one has to wonder if this series has swung and the Nationals have enough left in the tank to get it back to Washington. One thing is for sure – nothing gives the Nats a shot in the arm like a monster Harper bomb.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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It’s the best day of the week, and there are two VERY big baseball games on today. With an ALCS of the friggin’ Royals and Orioles all but decided; only the Nationals and Dodgers can save us from a final four of boring teams.

So here’s to a little of the right kind of magic today. Because neither Washington or Los Angeles had any of that going yesterday. And let this open thread post be a reminder on this Saturday that if you hang around the park long enough, sometimes a little magic sprouts up out of nothing.

That’s still one of the best traditions baseball ever had and it came out of relatively nowhere. And then the Nationals organization decided to make it go kaputz. This was an awful idea, and if they know what’s good for them they’ll roll it out today in Washington.

Here’s to a great Saturday to you and yours. I know if you’re any type of regular checking out this blog you’ll catch some of the baseball action going on today. A legend could be born, dreams could die, the finality of playoff baseball is unparalleled anywhere else in sports.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

So yeah, that sucked.

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It was an unbelievable day of baseball – but the wrong kind of unbelievable. I’m not sure there’s been a more shocking, stunning day from start to finish in the history of the MLB postseason. Clayton Kershaw had one of the worst innings in baseball history today.

Capped off with another stunner in Anaheim, aided by a dominant outing from Yordano Ventura (pictured above, the world will know him now); today saw three home teams lose and a fourth come from a huge late deficit to beat an arguable favorite.

And not ONE single game has had the outcome we desired since the wildcard games took place at the beginning of the week. Not one. We wanted an LCS of Detroit/Anaheim and Los Angeles/Washington. All of those teams are in the hole or on the brink of elimination – Anaheim is done, Detroit could dig out of a two game hole we feel. And tomorrow, Los Angeles and Washington’s seasons are on the line.

New stars are being born right now. Eric Hosmer, Joe Panik, Yordano Ventura; these are just a few of the guys who are rising up in the world like a regular Tony Montana.

Tomorrow is a new day. Today once again showed how intense baseball can be, how cruel of a game it is, and that sometimes things simply aren’t going to go your way no matter how bad you want it.

Bryce Harper hits the biggest, most titanic home run of his career

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[Box Score]

Bryce Harper possibly hit the premiere home run of the postseason this afternoon. And the Nationals lost a heartbreaker, giving those rotten Giants from the left coast their ninth straight playoff victory. But damn it, Bryce Harper put on his eye black and brought his game to the park today.

And the Nats seemed so lifeless for much of the day. I had the thought that if they could just get a Bryce Harper home run; it would be the one thing that could ignite the crowd and the rest of the Nationals enough to get them back into the game while trailing 3-0. It needed to be something big, and something epic.

And man, they don’t get any bigger or epic than this one. The only way it could have been more out of The Natural is if it was to win a game. It came off a guy in Hunter Strickland who is a relative newcomer to the Major League level, and his stuff is absolutely filthy. He’s never been touched up like this before:

Harper turned on a 97 MPH fastball, and nearly hit it out of the stadium.

The Nationals would add an Asdrubal Cabrera home run to cut the deficit to it’s final resting spot of 3 to 2, but the titanic home run wasn’t enough to dig them out of the hole that their slumber caused.

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Still, anyone who tuned in today expecting to see Harper and Stephen Strasburg play the roles of the two leading Knights in the baseball Camelot that is the Nation’s capital got half of it (Harper also broke up Jake Peavy’s no-hitter the second time through the lineup).

Betting on Major League Baseball

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With the season already started there are certain to be plenty of novice punters exploring MLB betting for the first time. Here’s a quick introduction to the basics of baseball betting.

It’s probably safe to say that anyone reading this won’t take much convincing that baseball is the greatest spectator sport but for those of us who are partial to the odd wager it must also rank as one of the most engaging sports to bet on.

Today’s baseball games are not as wildly unpredictable as they used to be, which means betting on MLB is far safer. If you do your research properly and study the stats, serious and recreational punters alike can really turn a profit.

Always do your research

If you are new to the game there are sites out there offering tips, some you’ll have to pay for others give tips away for free. If you do go for a free service it’s a good idea to follow their picks for a while and get a feel for how accurate they are before you put any money down. If you want to go for a paid service you should look for reviews of the service on different sites.

While doing your research you can check out odds for all the MLB teams at Betfair.com and place a bet when you’re ready.

How to bet

One of the most popular ways to bet on MLB is handicapping or spread betting. This is where the favorite team (the team the bookmakers think is going to win) will be assigned a number of points they have to win by for you to win the bet.

However, in baseball handicapping is a little more involved than with other sports. The stats on offer from the official MLB site can seem daunting at first but if you want to succeed you need to get used to checking and most importantly understanding these.

For a beginner it can be hard to know which stats are worth looking at and which stats can be ignored. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands it’s a good idea to limit yourself to one team, although you should always be checking the opposition.

Stats to consider

Check out what type of pitchers are throwing and how your team does against each type, this can really affect the score.

When is the game being played, does your team typically play better at night or during the day, again, you’d be surprised how often teams favor one over the other.

The final thing to watch out for is your attachment to the team. Are they going to win or is that just wishful thinking on your part. Keep emotions out of your betting decision and you’ll be one step ahead

2014 MLB Playoff Predictions

NLDS:
Nationals over Giants (in three games)
Dodgers over Cardinals (in five games)

ALDS:
Angels over Royals (in four games)
Tigers over Orioles (in five games)

NLCS:
Nationals over Dodgers (in seven games)
Tigers over Angels (in six games)

WORLD SERIES:
Nationals over Tigers (six games)

Betting on Baseball

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In tonight’s version of Betting on Baseball, we attempt to dig ourselves out of a little hole using an elite team against a middling left-handed starting pitcher.

Baseball can be a game of emotion and adrenaline runs on a limited supply. If you watched that Royals victory the other day that put them in this game tonight, you know that they’ve used up about eight of their nine lives; and they could be feeling a bit of a hangover tonight after a highly emotional win in Kansas City in 12 innings.

Mike Trout is a Hall of Fame player, and I think he’ll do something to swing the pendulum in Anaheim’s favor at the Big A in his first career postseason game. It might be a phenomenal catch, or a clutch hit, or stealing a bag at a crucial point in the game.

The Angels know with a weak three man rotation of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and Matt Shoemaker, they need this game out of their ace tonight because what follows is uncertainty.

I am going to side with SportsBookupdate.com and pick the Anaheim Angels -175 to win the game straight up. And as my boy Dave Cokin adds – this is not a bad spot to try manufacturing a -1 line, playing half the wager on the Angels money line and the other half gambling on the -1.5.

Gamble with confidence, and good luck!

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