Tag Archives: Jay Bruce

Jay Bruce is entering one of his customary hot streaks

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It’s happening. At least, it may be happening. It’s hard to know for certain, but it sure feels like Mt. Bruce is starting to erupt. And when it happens, there’s nothing that can stop it. You best just get your camera and get the fuck out of the way, because there is no pitcher (any handed) that is safe when the Bruce volcano starts to bubble and burst like so.

When he was in the middle of one of these rages last season, we did a post about the finest hot streaks of his career. By our count, he only really erupted for one stretch last year, and if indeed that is what is going on right now it would be the first time this year that he has done so.

The hallmark signs are all there. It started with the game-winning home run on Sunday. Then he dropped the bat head on one last night for another no-doubter. This afternoon, while you were working (you should have been working you sand-baggin’ son of a bitch), he hit another moonshot that was the difference in the game. Three days, three moonshot home runs off left-handed pitching. Including one in his first career game as a first baseman!

The Reds really need this. They’ve gained 2.5 games on the division leading Milwaukee Brewers in a couple of days, and have the chance to do more damage tonight. With Joey Votto hitting the disabled list, the Reds just need to step up and carry them for a little while.

While I think the Reds have a formidable lineup overall and a good pitching staff, Bruce is the one guy in the lineup who can step in and carry them on his back for a few weeks. He’s one of the few guys in baseball capable of doing that. He’s a truly mystifying player – but if he’s in one of those Jay Bruce grooves – Reds fans are in for the best stretch of their summer. Do not doubt the man when he gets hot.

He *could* change the shape of the NL Central division, single handed. Opposing teams know it, opposing pitchers know it, and they all know they’re in deep shit if he keeps deciding to erupt. There simply without a remedy or solution for him. We’ve also covered that before.

Baseball is fun, unpredictable, and random

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Out of absolutely NOWHERE: Jay Bruce is the Reds new first baseman.

I think I know Reds baseball and specifically Jay Bruce about as well as anyone out there. If they played the game for one hundred years I never could have predicted this. This is awesome!

We already have a lunch bet with our boy Nick that Jay Bruce gets through tonight without an error. If he moves to another position at any point during the game the bet is off. If he does not commit an error, free Piada!

Sometimes you’re just proud of a player

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[Box Score]

It’s a funny thing. Jay Bruce is still our favorite player. Other guys might be more exciting, other guys are a more captivating watch, other guys are just plain better; and he’s not the superstar we were certain at points he would be. He’s a good player. But we’ve said it before, Jay Bruce is just our sentimental favorite. There’s no one that can take that place and hold it in baseball, no matter how low his batting average gets. No matter how inconsistent he remains. No matter when the end comes of him wearing a Reds uniform.

We couldn’t wait to get to the park to see him play today, just like that first magical night when he made his MLB debut. And then the next night when we went back. We talked with our wife about how Bruce has actually been with the Reds now for parts of SEVEN seasons! It seems like yesterday that we were watching Bruce in big league game numbers one and two. Today, was Bruce’s 899th big league game. It was the first game we’ve gone to with our pregnant wife. It seemed like when we started watching Jay Bruce we were still immature children. Life – and baseball – can blend time and be weird like that. Nonetheless I was excited to see Jay Bruce play today, just for some reason I had a feeling about something.

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We got out of our car and parked in a choice spot. The sun seemed to be shining on the Redlegs from the time we got out of the car, as it was a beautiful day for baseball. Was it foreshadowing that the sun would shine upon the Reds on this day?

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I told my wife that Yovani Gallardo was Jay Bruce’s ‘type’. That he could get one today off him. If you can fight through what my iPhone did to the Reds jumbotron here, you can see he had great career numbers against Gallardo. He would groundout for an RBI in his first at-bat, fly out against the wall in left-center in his second AB, and hit a rocket line out to center in his third. His fourth at-bat wouldn’t come against Gallardo, but rather Will Smith. And Jay Bruce won the Reds the game.

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Here’s a picture of the Reds Smokehouse out in the right field corner. The food options are a little pricey, but they feature really cool special menu items that change with each opposing team that comes to town. For the Brewers, they were serving beer-soaked bratwurst.

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I just realized the All-Star Selection show was tonight when I saw this advertisement for the All Star Game at the stadium. Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco are All Stars for the first time.

I would like you to remember back to the Reds season preview post we did for a moment. Here’s what we said:

Ryan Ludwick returns from injury. He’s really aging, so I don’t expect much. I think the Reds will get less than people want to see out of Ludwick and Cozart and they’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much Mesoraco and Todd Frazier hit. Frazier is one of my breakout player candidates in all of baseball. He has an ugly swing but I think he’s simply too talented to flop completely and that park will aid his numbers in a great way.

Bada-bing bada boom.

 

 

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We’re on our way to the game and I’m listening to Sirius MLB Network radio and Jim Bowden tells us that the Reds owner is in the clubhouse and something big is going down. Joey Votto was actually headed to the disabled list, again. So this is the only Votto sighting we had today.

Mat Latos went eight strong innings and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Todd Frazier had two hits and Devin Mesoraco had three. But the take-home from today was Jay Bruce.

On a day when baseball selected it’s All-Stars, Bruce wasn’t on the list. He has had better seasons, and he will certainly have better seasons. His stats are pretty and his teammates have dropped like flies all season around him, he’s even had knee surgery. But he’s continued to grind – because that’s the type of player he is. Even within the game today, he had to grind. He drilled a couple of balls right at people and just when it seemed he couldn’t buy a hit and the average is plummeting, he steps up in the bottom of the 8th inning and hits a towering home run off a lefty that made George Grande sing, voice cracking like a schoolgirl.

I’ll always love Jay Bruce. I have no way of knowing how many pages to the scrapbook I’ll be able to add to before the game has decided time has run out for us, but today was yet another. Our time has not come yet. I’m still really thankful Jay Bruce is playing in my big league city and hitting in the middle of the lineup. Sometimes, it’s easiest to love those who have their glaring imperfections because they’re like the rest of us. It’s easy to love Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera right now. These guy are the perfect ballplayers. We’ll still take Jay Bruce with his warts and these big moments that mean all that much more.

I went to see Yasiel Puig play today

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[Box Score]

[Game Highlights]

Another item can be crossed off the baseball bucket list; I spent an afternoon in the same ballpark as Yasiel Puig.

That said, I didn’t get to my seat until the fifth inning, meaning I saw exactly four and a half innings of baseball. Let me go on a small mini-rant now if I may to relieve some frustration.

It was a Reds ‘business day special’. I’ve went to two or three of these in my life, but it was always when I was working downtown and didn’t need to find a place to park.

My friend and I learned today that you don’t go to a Reds business day special unless you work downtown. We arrived around 12:15, twenty solid minutes before the scheduled first pitch. Every garage was ‘PERMIT ONLY’ and the one parking garage that a cop told us we would be able to park in behind the US Bank Arena was full. We drove around in one-way street traffic for a solid hour it seemed. Finally we found a lot about two miles away. We parked, and we walked what seemed like forever.

Alfredo Simon and Zach Greinke cruised through the first four innings. By the time we parked, took a leak, fought through the lines and grabbed a hot dog and some peanuts; the game was into the fifth inning and I had missed two Puig AB’s and two Bruce AB’s. Not good.

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I missed Puig hitting a single in the first inning – his only hit on this day – but I did not miss his caught stealing to end an inning. Here he is heading out to right field after getting caught stealing. Dee Gordon and Adrian Gonzalez can be seen in the shot.

The Dodgers on this day as a whole (for the half game I saw) looked like a team ready to get back to Los Angeles. They just looked tired and went through the motions. How else to explain Alfredo ‘Big Pasta’ Simon throwing eight strong innings of one-run baseball? The Dodgers had no fight in them. And by the way, Alfredo Simon has tied Adam Wainwright at least for the time being for the National League lead with nine wins on the mound.

Baseball is completely unpredictable.

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And it is that unpredictability that keeps me rabidly interested. I feel like going to a baseball game live is like buying a ticket and playing the lotto. As you are on your way to the game, you have no damn idea what you’re about to see as a whole or in terms of what each player is going to do. I thought about this on my way to the game – was today going to be the day I hit the Yasiel Puig lotto and possibly see a two homer game?

My ticket was a dud. He was 1 for 4 with a couple of ground outs and of course the aforementioned caught stealing.

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I didn’t hit the lotto on Jay Bruce either. It seems his number is coming up further and farther in between these days. I remarked during the game that Bruce seems disappointingly like a player who is simply content with being ‘good’. He appears to realize that it’s no longer possible that he will be a ‘great’ player.

I realize he’s had to play through some problems with his knee. Not much has changed since his return. He’s hitting .212 on the year now – there isn’t much you can say about a guy hitting .212 – other than I think he was a better hitter all around when he came out of the minor leagues. He’s just a pull-happy guy with some power now who is never going to hit for much average, strikes out too much, plays a solid right-field, and will not get noticed outside the Reds fanbase. I had higher hopes for Jay Bruce to be honest.

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I did get to see Aroldis Chapman lock down another save, his tenth of the season. One thing that will never get old to me is seeing this guy pump 99, 99, 101, 101, 102 in the ninth inning. Blowing 3-1 fastballs past Matt Kemp when Kemp has to know it’s coming and he still can’t touch it.

Chapman struck out the side in the ninth inning to reward the Reds with their victory. He struck out the second hitter of the inning with a 92 MPH slider down. Just filthy. This guy is a God-given talent and a gift to be able to watch. He’s why you buy the ticket.

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The Todd Frazier lottery numbers came up today, as he hit his 14th home run of the season. Of course, I didn’t see it; we were behind the left field bleachers on Mehring Way when the fireworks were going off listening to it on 700 WLW.

The Reds shouldn’t have business day games if there isn’t a better solution for parking, plain and simple. If you plan to attend one of these games, be ready to have it really dampen your entire experience. I didn’t get to walk around the park, I didn’t get to try any of the new concession stands, I just sat in my seat for what seemed like ten minutes because we arrived so late because it was a true downtown-disaster. I doubt there are these problems around Wrigley.

I’m over it, and happy I got to spend an afternoon watching a few innings of baseball. And I got to see Puig play a few innings. And the Reds split a tough series, even if I know it will end up meaningless.

And next time I buy a ticket, I just might win some kind of baseball lotto!

I Went to the Reds Game LastFriday Night

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[Box Score]

[Game Highlights]

My bank has a box on the Owner’s club level at Great American Ball Park. Friday night was my first game of the season and it unfolded pretty perfectly. Here are some notes on it:

  • I honestly, legitimately knew the Reds would win this game. I didn’t look at the MLB Betting Odds on the way to the game but I did put money on the Reds without even caring if they were underdog or heavy favorite. I looked after I won. Of course they were a 150-plus favorite.
  • It was Jay Bruce’s first game back. He had a smoke double to right center off Shelby Miller. That was his only wow moment of the game. Man it’s just good to have
  • I think the moment everyone will remember from this game is the Brayan Pena play at first base (complete with Broxton cover – look at big fella get over there).
  • Devin Mesoraco is going to be a star, at least offensively. He hit an upper deck home run.
  • We played Makatewah Golf Course – a private course since 1910 – earlier in the afternoon. It’s a beautiful course, and we had a perfect day. If you ever get the chance to see it and you love golf, don’t think twice about it. I am told that Marty, Paul O’ Neill, Chris Sabo and a bunch of others who are famed in Reds-lore play there.

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  • I got to see save number 81 in the career of Aroldis Chapman. Which, it’s really quite amazing. I mean, look at a few of the Reds players on the roster and the number of home runs they have in their career. I’ve been to a lot of Reds games over the years that Chapman has been on the team, sure. But I would guess this is probably the fifth or sixth career save I’ve seen him notch in person and he has less than 100 in his career. He was pumping 102, 101, 100 pretty consecutively.
  • Todd Frazier went deep this game to put the Reds out 3-0, and he’s got nine now on the season. I told you all Mesoraco and Frazier would hit more than people thought this year;  and Ludwick and Cozart would struggle.
  • We had Skyline in our box. Amazing. Also this was the first time I’ve had Larosa’s Pizza in quite a while – it puts Donatos to shame.

After the game I headed out to Horseshoe Casino, and learned how to play craps. All it did was cost me $300 in a matter of minutes.

A great night at the park, a big Reds win, and a great way to kick off a holiday weekend.

The Storywriting Continues Friday

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A player’s career plays out like a story. In Jay Bruce’s case, we’re a few chapters in; but the story is not yet fully written.

The writing of the story will continue Friday; when Jay Bruce likely returns to the Reds lineup. He was activated from the DL today (don’t get too excited, they lost Joey Votto; continuing the trend of as soon as something good happens, it’s counter-acted by something bad) returning early from minor knee surgery.

As luck would just so have it; Friday at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati happens to be the first game I’m attending live all season long. I look at Friday as the beginning of the Reds season. Sure, they don’t have everyone, but it’s one last round-up with a lot of the main faces factoring in. Pretend the Reds are 0-0 and from that day onward they need to make a run.

Homer Bailey will be on the mound. Jay Bruce will be in right field. If they can muster up the effort to get a big win over the hated rivals while I’m at the park; all will seem right with the world for at least one night.

Last call for drinks; bar is closing soon. One last running of the bulls. One last chance to make a run with this current group before the window slams shut. I can’t say I believe, but as a fan I’ll go to war and go down shooting with Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey, The Toddfather and the same cast of characters I love. This sailor is going down with his ship.

Game 4, 2014: Mets 4, Reds 3

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[Box Score]

Another ballgame, another heartbreaker one run loss for the Reds. Another Jay Bruce home run in a losing effort.

Mike Leake provided a very Leakian effort – he went 6 and 2/3 striking out three and walking three, but gave up two two-run bombs to Lucas Duda which was all the Mets needed to thwart the Reds.

Bruce’s home run was the 166th of his career, and his second of the season. It came off lefty John Lannan and put the Reds within a run at 4-3. He drove in all three Reds runs while also adding an RBI single earlier in the ballgame.

The story of the game for me was little Jenrry Mejia who went six innings while striking out eight for the Mets in earning the win. he walked five batters but had the stuff to get out of several jams with the strikeout; he might be a guy to watch as the season goes on because he has exceptional stuff with a plus fastball to go with.

Of course, it was gut wrenching to watch Jose Valverde work himself into trouble in the ninth inning only to get out of it by Joey Votto having a poor at bat and popping out, then dropping a splitty in to Jay Bruce to get the final out of the game and lock down the save.

Jay Bruce got one yesterday

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The Reds dropped another heartbreaker to the Cardinals yesterday afternoon, 7-6. The game featured a rain delay that took the start time from 12:35 PM ET to around 4:35 PM ET.

Jay Bruce hit a towering two-run home run off Lance Lynn in the first inning to put the Reds up 2-0 for his first home run of the season. Todd Frazier followed with a towering bomb to left field and the Reds were out front and running 3-0. Frazier would later add another home run later in the game off Pat Neshek that cut the Cardinals lead to the one-run deficit they would win by.

Overall, Homer Bailey was not sharp. He allowed seven hits and four earned runs over 4 and 1/3 innings. The two-run homer he allowed to Jhonny Peralta proved costly because it nearly erased a three run lead and was foreshadowing for the tough outing that Bailey had ahead of him.

Why Jay Bruce might be the smart money in your prop bet

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Bovada released their player-prop bets for 2014 today, and Jay Bruce checked in at fairly long odds to win the National League MVP at 33 to 1.

This seems particularly insane; when the following players are on the board at such odds:

Bryce Harper 12 to 1
Buster Posey 12 to 1
Yasiel Puig 14 to 1
Freddie Freeman 14 to 1
Matt Kemp 16 to 1

Heck, I would put Bruce’s chances at equal or greater than all of those players. He’s certainly been more consistent despite not having that ‘monster’ year yet on the back of his baseball card.

Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk agrees with us:

Bruce is going to have at least one 40-homer, 120-RBI season before he’s done. I doubt he’ll actually be a better player than Votto, but he’s the one of the two more likely to win an MVP, mostly because he gets to hit behind the guy with the .430 OBP.

Yes, and Bruce is entering that magical age-27 season. He’s either going to go off and have that monster year this year or next while still in a Reds uniform or possibly elsewhere in his early 30′s when he’s playing in his home state of Texas. Or he’ll never have it. We still think there will be a year where Bruce stays locked in all year long and is the unstoppable version of himself.

If he does that, and you lay $300 on him being the National League’s MVP, you walk away with a $10,000 payday in October when you cash in your ticket. Think about that for a bit.

So go ahead, let Jay Bruce fund your retirement account. It will be fun. It will be easy.

Cincinnati Reds 2014 Team Preview

One of the fastest to ever play the game.

One of the fastest to ever play the game.

Since that 2012 season ended and the Reds lost to the Giants in game five of the NLDS in Cincinnati after being up two games to zero on the eventual World Champion Giants, I have really been in a deep and dark depression as a Reds fan.

Some people might get really down on me for saying that – they’ll point to when the Reds were running out Jose Acevedo or Jimmy Haynes or Brandon Claussen as starting pitchers and were a losing team and tell me how good we have it now. How we’ve ‘made the playoffs’ three out of the last four years.

But there’s something that kills you about watching a team evolve from the abyss into what you know is a core’s window – and make no mistake – the last two seasons were the peak of this current group’s window. It didn’t ever hurt like that (like this) back when we were so horrible. It has taken me the entire offseason just to get some feeling back in me after the way we went out. To be fully honest, I’m still not over that 2012 afternoon that Buster Posey hit the grandslam off Mat Latos. I’ve never felt anything like that in a lifetime of watching sports. I don’t know if I’ll ever really get over it. It was like dealing with a death.

It’s made it increasingly tough to write about the Reds. Their passive offseason this year really did nothing to dispel that. If anything, it just made me a little bit apathetic towards their upcoming season. You look at their lineup, and there’s still some thunder. There are things you can find a positive in. If their pitching staff doesn’t have any injury, it features some phenomenal arms.

But this is largely the same group that couldn’t get it done the last few seasons. Something is missing. If I could tell you what that something was I would be doing a lot more than just writing about the Reds; it’s like the million-dollar question. I think the Reds needed Aroldis Chapman to develop into a top of the rotation starter that they could roll out in a must win game in the playoffs. A Randy Johnson type figure who the opposition knows is simply going to always beat them. Someone to get Mike Leake out of there. A lot of guys could close for this team. Few guys in the league strike fear into a lineup like Chapman could as a starter. But that’s never going to happen now.

Maybe that something is a real heart and soul leader. Someone who keeps Brandon Phillips in line. As much as I like Phililps, I’m starting to wonder if he’s not a little bit of a cancer in the locker room. I wouldn’t have cared if the Reds decided to part with him – but almost sheepishly they made the choice to bring him back. And along with that, they brought back the entire group that has failed to win the big one year after year. That’s concerning. You keep banging your head against the same wall long enough, all you’re going to get is a headache. The only thing different is the manager, and Bryan Price isn’t even a new voice. It’s not a shake-up. Everyone else got better, and at best the Reds stayed the same.

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Baseball is Back

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Today, baseball returned to the field (and there was only one collegiate team in play as an opponent).

The Reds beat their friends from around the Cuyahoga 8-3. Jay Bruce was back in right field. Joey Votto manned first base. Billy Hamilton hit lead-off and played centerfield.

Even though it was a long day at work, it seemed all was once again right with the world. Spring is on it’s way. There is a new hope arriving. As the sun shined during freezing temperatures outside today, something just felt different.

That Yasiel Puig guy went 2 for 3 as well.

Jay Bruce, still our favorite Big Leaguer

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Just like in a marriage, after all the years have gone by the ‘freshness’ has worn off. The butterflies aren’t there every time you kiss and your appetite has magically returned on dates (much to the chagrin of your waistline, and those dates end up being more infrequent and less romantic). But even with the chance to stray for all those younger prospects, you never leave the one you truly love.

That’s what it’s like with Jay Bruce. Sure, there are younger flavor-of-the-month players all over the league who are exciting because you don’t know where the ceiling lies. And those guys are a lot of fun to watch. But on a given night, there’s nothing better than buying a ticket and going down to the park just to see Jay Bruce get four hacks at it.

I am at the point where I am settled and comfortable with the player Bruce has become.  That player is a very high-end player, even if it is just short of being the generational superstar we all hoped for.

Bruce plays hard every night and keeps his mouth shut. He’s a franchise cornerstone and consummate professional. He’s a good person away from the field who hasn’t changed much since signing a mega-deal that made him a rich young man.

He’s got his blemishes, but we love the guy for them just like we do his strengths. It’s okay that he’s going to slump for several week periods that make you wonder when he’s going to hit again. That’s because you’re going to get Gold Glove defense during that stretch and he will heat up again. And when he does, there’s going to be Hell to pay.

I also feel like in a year like the one the Reds are about to have – one that will be a mediocre showing without a postseason series win – it will be enjoyable to watch Bruce continue his career milestones. He’s a guy I enjoy going to the park to watch play on an every-day basis. I love having the guy as part of my big league city. It’s been a privilege to watch his career develop from day one.

I hope to see the Reds sign Bruce to some type of contact that makes him close to a career Red. While we wait on that, we’ll keep heading to the park to see him play; in search of the same goal, trying to get that one championship before the sun sets on us. Neither one of us knowing how much time is left to get there. All the while we’ll keep piling up those Bruce Bombs on the page of the blog.

You never forget your true love. We still love Jay as much as we did in the beginning.

Our Top 20 Fantasy Baseball Outfielders for 2014 & Commentary

You never lead with the top guy. Just one of the top guys.

You never lead with the top guy. Just one of the top guys.

Since we’re fantasy baseball nerds, we’ll be running down as much of a commentary as we can prior to your March fantasy drafts. If you’re having a draft before then, you’re violating a major man-law. Don’t do it. You’ll inevitably draft some guy who breaks his nads installing a hardwood floor or something. Here are our top-20 Outfielders for fantasy baseball 2014. We’re running this down similar to the guys at Razzball, though we could never pretend to be of the legendary status they’ve achieved.

1. Mike Trout: Until the younger bull knocks the old bull off the hill (Trout is the old bull in his age 22 season, didn’t you know?) you have to keep putting this guy here and leaving him alone. We just hope you were one of the lucky bastards who snagged him late and were able to keep him after that lackluster cup of coffee in 2011. That was so, so long ago. We figure Trout finally wins that MVP award, hits 30 homers, drives in around his career-high 97 and steals close to 40 while hitting around .320 again. No regression in sight.

2. Andrew McCutchen: There’s just no reason to move an MVP much when he’s entering that magical age-27 season. He wasn’t as Heavenly as his 2012 last season, but he was still remarkable and helped owners win a lot of leagues. What is there to say that hasn’t been said (that’s what we hate about these rankings at the top, everyone has these guys up here). McCutchen is a Ferrari, get him in your garage if you can.

3. Carlos Gomez: This is the guy we’re pretty proud of. He was our major sleeper heading into 2013, and he finally put it all together. What we love about Gomez is he’s a guy who seems to want those stats for you. He steals bases when his team is up big, he challenges for the extra base, he isn’t happy settling with that three-hit night. He plays the game hard and we think the power could enjoy another slight up-tick in 2014. The only thing about Gomez that sucks is when he takes away home runs from your other fantasy players playing center field. He owes Jay Bruce several.

4. Giancarlo Stanton: Big Mike struggled last season hitting .249, but he’ll enter 2014 with major motivation: play so well he can escape Miami for greener pastures and a mega-deal soon following. This will be the year that he eclipses 40 home runs if anyone does in the National league. This will be a .900 OPS season. This will be the year he finally plays like a first rounder. As they say on eBay, bid with confidence.

5. Carlos Gonzalez: 2010 seems so long ago when he finished third in MVP voting. Since then he’s missed time each season but was still spectacular when he was on the field. The only question with Gonzalez is health, if you believe he can stay healthy he will be stellar and steady. He’s not going to go out there and hit .260 at Coors Field. It’s just not going to happen. A solid first-round guy if he can play in 140-150 games.

6. Adam Jones: He’s in a great lineup, he’s in a nice hitter’s park, he’ll be just 28, and he’s baseball’s closest present-day version to Eric Davis. What we like most about Jones is his games played the past three years: 151, 162, 160.

7. Bryce Harper: Someday soon the nagging injuries that drive fantasy owners like us nuts will end, and Bryce Harper will have the biggest numbers of his young career. It’s not too much to ask for a player like Harper to post an average in the .280-.290 range with upwards of 35+ home runs and over 100 RBI and runs scored. We don’t look for him to steal many more than 10 – he’s bulked up – but that power is coming in a big way. He hit .344 and 9 HR in April last season. If he can put that together over a full year like he’s going to try to do……

8. Jacoby Ellsbury: We don’t like that he’s turning 30. We don’t like that he misses monstrous amounts of time about every other season. We do like that he is in that hitter’s park in the Bronx and think he offers 20-50 potential. Solid bet to be very good in the near-term. I want no part of him in a year or two though.

9. Jay Bruce: The Reds are going to have an average year. Jay Bruce is going to have a career year. He’s entering his age-27 season. He’ll get as close to 40 home runs as he has yet and he’ll hit around .275, and with Bruce what you’re buying is the consistency. A lock for 30+ home runs and 150 games played. His slumps will make you want to drown kittens. His hot streaks are other-worldly.

10. Ryan Braun: He’s really not going to miss a beat when he returns from his little hiatus in 2013. He’ll be the same old Braun, which is video-game numbers. It won’t be his career year, but short of that you’re getting one of the top sluggers in baseball with some steals, albeit a few less steals and probably a few less homers. All things considered, a guy we would love to have; even with the cheating!

11. Justin Upton: So now the world knows that he’s not the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr., and that’s okay! What Upton is, is just a pretty good player. And he’s going to be more comfortable in his second season in Atlanta. Something about Upton worries us a little bit; but when we think about it it’s just the poor taste he left in our mouth in 2012. Even then, he was pretty solid. He’s deserving of this high ranking.

12. Shin-soo Choo: He’s going to score a lot of runs out in that Texas heat and don’t be surprised if his numbers improve across the board in a lineup full of threatening hitters.

13. Yasiel Puig: There will be no in between for Puig in 2014. He does not simply maintain; he either becomes full-fledged fantasy superstar or completely collapses in his sophomore campaign. We’re talking .240 or .315ish with power and steals again. Either way, it’s going to be VERY entertaining. Biggest risk factor of anyone in these rankings.

14. Jose Bautista: He may be quickly approaching his decline. He is at an age where it is reasonable for a lot of players to lose bat speed and miss time to injuries. But we believe enough in Joey Bats’ skills to say he will provide one more glorious summer in the sun for fantasy owners. A return to the 30′s in HR, 100 RBI, and an OPS in the .900s for those that believe.

15. Jason Heyward: We don’t really plan to target him – which is why he’ll inevitably break out. If that’s not a good enough reason, keep in mind he’s playing for a monster contract. If you believe what the scouts originally said about Heyward back entering 2010, that huge year is coming this year or next.

16. Allen Craig: The guy with two first names always wrecks shit when he’s in the lineup. He’s a .300 hitting machine in a baseball town where everything seems to line up nicely for that organization. He’ll probably have a DL stint included, but if you can weather that storm you’ll get a .300 average, 20+ homers, near 100 RBI, and peace of mind rotating him between OF and 1B.

17. Matt Kemp: Another guy we don’t want to own, in part because his risk is not worth the overpay it will take to land him on draft day. If for some reason the bargain exists in the middle rounds – take a flier on the guy. The decline might only be a season or two away, but for now Kemp has something to prove and will be taking the field for a team with World Series expectations. It should be a nice year for the back of his baseball card.

18. Starling Marte: A lot of people out there will shy away from putting Marte in their top-20 because it’s too out on a limb. His power numbers should improve and he’ll be a realistic possibility for a 20-40 season. His average should not dip much further than .280 because speed like his doesn’t slump. An .800 OPS player who will be 25. The soon to be Pirates outfield of Marte, McCutchen, and Polanco could be a lot of fun.

19. Yoenis Cespedes: Why do I feel like the guy is probably older than his listed age of 28? He’s probably like 34, but these damn Cubans are ageless wonders with their chicken blood voodoo cocktails. If you want a projection on him an average of his first two seasons is fair to expect: 25ish HR, .265-.270, 81 RBI, 12 steals, 70 runs.

20. Domonic Brown: The bottom line is power comes at a premium these days in baseball. Gone are the days where any number of middle infielders slug 27 home runs for you and drive in 80-plus. For that, you’ll need to pick up a guy like Brown who should continue to hit home runs in bunches. If it wasn’t for an injury he would have easily entered the 30-homer club. He’ll be inducted in 2014.