Zak Schmoll

Zak Schmoll has 9 articles published.

Can Miguel Cabrera Grab Another Triple Crown?

in MLB by

Miguel Cabrera is one of the most talented hitters to ever step on the diamond. Last season, he completed one of only 17 Triple Crowns in Major League Baseball history by hitting .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI. He is obviously now a member of a pretty elite fraternity.

However, given the pace that he is off to in 2013, it is not too hard to believe that he might become a member of a more exclusive club. He is in a position to win his second Triple Crown, and he would join only Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams as the only men to complete this accomplishment.

Right now, 52 games of the season are in the books, and here is how Cabrera stands in each of the big three categories. Keep in mind that he only needs to lead the American League in each of these categories in order to win the title.

In terms of batting average, he is currently sitting in first place with a .368 batting average. Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles is his nearest competition with a .356 average, but I would like to point out that Davis is notorious for his high strikeout totals and consequently low average. Over his career, he only has a .268 average which is definitely solid, and I do not mean to diminish that, but the odds of him keeping up with Cabrera are very slim. The next closest competitor is also from the Baltimore Orioles. Manny Machado is having a great rookie season, and he is hitting .336. However, with an over 30 point difference in average, Cabrera seems like a very safe bet for this statistical category.

It is not surprising that the home run category is competitive. Right now, Cabrera is sitting in second with 15 bombs. Not surprisingly, Chris Davis is also the top of this category with 19 home runs. Last season, he did hit 33 home runs, so there is no doubt that he has power, and perhaps he has taken that production to another level. I believe that this will be the toughest category for Cabrera to recapture.

Finally, he has a very familiar competitor in the race to dominate RBI. Cabrera is on top with 59 RBI, but Davis is right behind him with 50 of his own. Both of them are sitting in the middle of lineups that produce a lot of runs as well, so it is highly unlikely that either one slows down substantially. Cabrera has a slightly better track record than Davis, so while this race is far from over, I would have to assume that he has a little bit of an advantage.

Right now, if Miguel Cabrera is going to land his second Triple Crown, he needs to overcome the power hitting first baseman of the Baltimore Orioles Chris Davis. History would obviously lean in favor of Cabrera, but Davis has shown so much improvement this season that it is hard for me to write him off as a hitter who is simply going to cool off.

With this serious competition, Cabrera needs to stay hot. I think it is possible, but there is a lot of baseball left to play.

Texas Rangers off to a Blazing Start

in MLB by

The Texas Rangers are currently the best team in baseball in terms of pure record. They are sitting at 27-14, and they are quite frankly dominating both sides of the ball.

Right now, they have scored the seventh most runs in baseball. An obvious contributor is Nelson Cruz. Even though his average is a little bit low at .264, he has clubbed 11 home runs and driven in 33 runs. Those 33 RBI rank him tied for sixth in all of Major League Baseball.

Of course, he is not alone. Adrian Beltre has driven in 26 runs and crossed the plate 26 times. Ian Kinsler is hitting .302 with 20 RBI and 24 runs scored. This lineup has so much production from top to bottom that it is hard to imagine them slowing down. They seem to have adjusted to the large hole that was left by the departure of Josh Hamilton, and they have regained their position as one of the top offensive units in all of baseball.

When you combine this type of offensive production with the type of pitching staff that is ranked fifth in ERA in all of the MLB. Of course, they are the top unit in the American League. That great performance comes largely from the strong bullpen work turned in by Tanner Scheppers and Robbie Ross. When you combine their numbers, these two men have pitched 37.2 innings and allowed a miniscule two runs. That is flat out ridiculous, but when you put that type of bullpen behind a staff led by men like Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando, it is no surprise that the wins are piling up.

Obviously, when you put together the two most important dimensions of the game of baseball and have success in both of them, good results are going to follow. The Texas Rangers are playing great baseball right now, and it will be interesting to see if they can maintain this level of performance for the entire season. They have done it for one quarter of it already.

Justin Upton’s Remarkable Start to 2013

in MLB by

What has gotten into Justin Upton?

The 25-year-old Atlanta Braves outfielder is off to arguably the best start in all of Major League Baseball this season, and maybe we are finally getting to see the potential that we all knew he had.

Let me put this into a little bit of perspective just in case you haven’t been tracking this campaign. So far, the Atlanta Braves have played 15 games. Over that time, Justin Upton has nine home runs. I know that it is virtually impossible to maintain this pace over an entire campaign, but if he was able to, he would completely demolish Barry Bonds’ single-season home run record by slamming 97 home runs.

On top of that, he has driven in 13 runs so far. Again, if we extrapolate this over the entire season, he would end up with 140 RBI.

This is the type of production that the Atlanta Braves were hoping for when they dealt for Upton this off-season. Last season was a bit of a struggle for him, and that was what made this trade possible. Generally, five-tool 24-year-olds are given all the time in the world to develop, but I have to admit that I was a little bit confused as to his aggressive sale.

Of course, he only hit 17 home runs and drove in 63 runs all of that year. His average dipped down to .280, and I think the fact that that potential I already mentioned was not shining through eventually frustrated the Arizona Diamondbacks.

What is interesting is that in 2011 hit .289 with 31 home runs and 88 RBI. Of course, having a down year is less than desirable, but he was only one year removed from an excellent season. For a young player in his mid-20s, that is often times to be expected.

Regardless of what Arizona was thinking at the time, the Atlanta Braves are certainly cashing in on this trade right now. There is no doubt that he will cool off, but for right now, it will be fun to see how far he can take this.

Who Is on Top of Baseball on April 12?

in MLB by
Courtesy of:

Right now, who do you think is the best team in Major League Baseball?

Personally, I think that there is a very clear top three, and we’re going to talk about those today.

3. Oakland Athletics (8-2)

I know that Oakland Athletics have grabbed six of their wins at the hands of the floundering Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the incredibly strikeout-happy Houston Astros, so you might want to discount what they have done so far.

However, that is significant on one level. These teams will be the ones that the Athletics will see the most throughout the season because they are in the same division, so this dominance is a good sign for the future.

The team has had surprising performances from Jed Lowrie and Brandon Moss. These men have hit five home runs and driven in 18 runs combined over the first 10 games.

On the mound, most of the staff has been outstanding. The bullpen has been particularly solid, and Chris Resop, Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins have combined to pitch 13.2 shutout innings so far this year.

Despite a lower strength of schedule, Oakland looks great this year.

2. San Francisco Giants (7-3)

Remember a few years ago when we all thought that Barry Zito was down for the count? He is off to a great start for the San Francisco Giants this year. He has pitched 14 shutout innings so far, and while I would say that is the most impressive achievement so far, the rest of this staff is doing a great job as well.

On offense, there seems to be kind of a triple threat going on. Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence are serving as key run producers. Combined, they have scored 17 runs and driven in 21.

This team will probably see a challenge from the Los Angeles Dodgers by the end of the season, but if they keep playing like they have been, they are in a good position.

1. Atlanta Braves (8-1)

Last season, the general consensus was that the Atlanta Braves were an excellent bet for the future. They were loaded with young talent then, and they added BJ and Justin Upton to the outfield this winter.

BJ is struggling so far, but Justin has six home runs in nine games with a .353 batting average. Also highlighting the offense has been the outstanding rookie (as well as surprising story) Evan Gattis. He has three home runs and six RBI in six games so far, and it seems as if the absence of Brian McCann has not been nearly as painful as it might be.

Their pitching staff has been incredible. Four of their seven bullpen pitchers have ERAs of 0.00 so far, and Paul Maholm has also not allowed a run over two starts and 12.2 innings. The Atlanta Braves have historically been known for their pitching, and that is the main reason they are on top of my ranking right now.

Projecting the Four Major Awards of 2013

in MLB by

Because the baseball season is officially getting underway on Monday, this is the perfect time for me to lay out some predictions. Today I am going to talk about my predictions for the four major award winners.

American League Cy Young Award: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

King Felix will only turn 27 in a few days, but it feels like he has been around Major League Baseball for a very long time. Part of that is that he made his debut at 19, but it also feels like a long time because he has spent most of that time the spotlight.

He already captured his first Cy Young Award in 2010 when he posted a remarkable 2.27 ERA. In the American League, that is flat out ridiculous.

While last year was not quite as strong, one particular thing that stood out to me was the fact that he led the American League with five shutouts. In my mind, shutouts are indicative of dominance, and that might forecast great things for this season.

National League Cy Young Award: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

Cole Hamels posted a career-high 17 wins last season while compiling a 3.06 ERA. Unfortunately, that was only good enough to grab eighth place in Cy Young voting.

However, the Philadelphia Phillies had a difficult season last year, and if he had more run support, maybe that record would have been even better. It might not have changed the voting, but it does make me think that he can hit 20 victories this season.

If he can step up and be the ace of the rotation, don’t be surprised to see him in serious competition for this award one more time.

American League MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

Pulling off back-to-back MVP awards would be impressive, and Cabrera has the bat to do it. He is one of the best hitters in baseball today, and as the voters proved last year, prowess at the plate is the most important factor in this voting process.

In every complete season he has ever played in, he has hit at least .292, 30 home runs and driven in 103 runs. Why should that trend change this year?

I would like to say that Mike Trout will have another amazing season and take the award, but I think that he might experience a little sophomore slump and come up a bit short again.

National League MVP: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves

I have always been convinced that Justin Upton has some of the best all-around talent in Major League Baseball. Obviously, it was not working out quite as well as it might have with the Arizona Diamondbacks, so maybe a change of scenery will be helpful.

In his best season of 2011, he hit .289 with 31 home runs, 88 RBI and 21 stolen bases. I would not be surprised to see him improve on those numbers a little bit and pull off a 30-30 season.

The Atlanta Braves are hoping to make some major steps this year, and Upton, along with his brother, has an excellent opportunity to be a part of this process.

Hanley Ramirez to Miss Eight Weeks with Torn Thumb Ligament

in MLB by

The Los Angeles Dodgers received some bad news this past week. Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez tore his right thumb ligament in the final game of the World Baseball Classic according to Ken Gurnick of and is expected to miss two months.

As one of the most talented all-around players in baseball, Ramirez was looking for a big return to prominence in 2013. Last year, he hit .257 with 24 home runs, 92 RBI and 21 stolen bases. While that is obviously a solid campaign, he is a career .298 hitter. If he could get his average back up to that level, there is no reason that he could not reach 30-30 in a complete season.

Last year, once he was traded to the Dodgers, he did hit .271, so that is a good indication that perhaps he will be able to get on base more once he returns to the field.

Of course, opponents of the World Baseball Classic are going to try to use this as evidence as to why we should eliminate the competition. While that argument may or may not be valid, the point remains that the Dodgers need some type of answer at shortstop.

According to that same article by Gurnick, Luis Cruz or Dee Gordon are expected to fill in until Ramirez returns.

Cruz, a high average, low power hitter, was expected to start at third base this season anyway, so if the Dodgers decide to shift him to shortstop for the time being, the essence of the Los Angeles lineup would not be that much different.

Gordon on the other hand would provide something substantially different. As a shortstop who hits like Juan Pierre, he seems to be most comfortable running the bases. Last year, even though he only hit .228, he stole 32 bases. Much of his playing time disappeared when Ramirez arrived last season, but now he may have an opportunity to prove himself once again.

Whichever option the Dodgers choose, being without All-Star Hanley Ramirez will leave a big hole in the middle of the lineup. It will be interesting to see how to adapt as the season is almost ready to begin.

Kyle Lohse Needs to Get Back on the Field

in MLB by
Kyle Lohse

How many pitchers do you know who finish seventh in the Cy Young voting while compiling a 16-3 record and a 2.86 ERA?

Those numbers look like they belong to a top of the rotation ace, and on some level you would be right. However, on another level, it is hard to be at the top of the rotation when you don’t have a team.

Kyle Lohse had an amazing season for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012. He posted career-bests in nearly every major statistic and seemed to be in a prime position to cash in on a huge paycheck over the winter.

He is still unemployed right now.

His agent, Scott Boras, is well-known for getting his clients great contracts, but right now, it seems as if his demands of a three-year deal are getting Lohse several looks, but apparently no major offers according to Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports.

You have to wonder if it might not be a bad idea to look for a one-year contract.

While it would not provide the long-term security that I am sure Lohse would prefer, it would keep him pitching in baseball, and if he was able to put together another very strong season, maybe the market would be more generous.

Another interesting option would be to try to develop a deal full of performance incentives. Obviously, this would be much more risky, but it could pay off if he puts up another great season. In this type of a situation, both parties are receiving some of what they want.

Lohse would have a job first of all. As a baseball player, I am sure that he wants to get out there and actually play. However, while he is playing, he wants to earn a lot of money. With this type of a system, he would be able to make a lot of money if he plays well. Since I assume that he assumes that he will play well this season, he would make a lot of money.

From the team perspective, the risk would be minimized in this situation. If he performs well, they may have to pay him a lot of money, but they would have gotten a return consistent with what they paid. If he failed to impress, the damage would be minimized.

I think that the most important thing for Lohse is to get back on the field, so if a different type of deal can get it done, I think he needs to make a move.

Pros & Cons: The World Baseball Classic

in MLB by

I know that there is certainly controversy surrounding the World Baseball Classic. We are just beginning spring training, and the WBC will not be complete until March 19.

As a result, many players are going to be representing their countries rather than working with their current teams. Obviously they are preparing and getting in shape wherever they are playing baseball, but there is something to be said about being in spring training with the rest of the team and developing that chemistry that is so vital for sustained success over such a long season.

At the same time, I am the guy who wrote an article a long time ago on this website advocating the return of baseball to the Olympics. I am all about international competition, and I certainly love the concept behind the WBC.

However, is there a possible downside? For instance, we all know that spring training is a pretty low-key environment. Players are given time to get back into the swing of playing baseball. Certainly, if a player is on the edge of making the roster, there is quite a bit more intensity, but, in general, winning and losing does not matter quite so much, and it is all about preparation.

The WBC actually has competitive intentions. Players are there to win just like they are during the regular season. That is where a potential problem lies.

Baseball season is incredibly long to begin with. No other sport plays anywhere near 162 game season. While baseball does become more intense near the end of the season, each player understands that a win in April is just as important as a victory in September. That means that these players need to maintain a high level of intensity for a very long period of time.

Is it possible that extending that time that players need to remain at that mentally intense level could have potentially harmful side effects? Essentially, I’m talking about mental exhaustion.

I know that near the end of the season, players get tired already. Adding another month of competitive play on top of that might lead to decreased performance at the end of the season which is ultimately not good for Major League Baseball.

Again, I love the idea of international competition, but I do recognize that there are certain problems that I just could arise based on an especially long competitive season.

Grandy Goes Down

in MLB by

As most of you have probably heard by now, New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson will miss 10 weeks thanks to a broken arm. Obviously, we all wish him a speedy recovery, but, at the moment, it is also interesting to think about how the Yankees will replace him for the beginning of the season.

Last season, Granderson hit 43 home runs with 106 RBI. Of course, his batting average dropped down to .232, but when you’re producing that kind of power, a low average is somewhat more acceptable.

Obviously then, this is a rather large hole to fill. They need a centerfielder, but they also need a run producer. However, Granderson will be back eventually, so it is not necessarily worth going after a superstar replacement. If they pursue that course of action, Granderson’s eventual return would lead to a bottleneck.

Now that we have set the scene, what options might be out there?

One that immediately comes to mind is Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano. He is also a high power, low average hitter who has played in New York before.

Would the Cubs be willing to trade him?

It is quite possible. Chicago is looking towards the future right now with a younger class featuring Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, so I would be willing to bet that a 37-year-old would not fit into those plans. This would not be a bad pairing.

Another interesting option could be Vernon Wells of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

He is not going to have a lot of room to contribute with the Angels this year, so I am sure that they would like to get rid of at least a portion of his large salary.

He would probably not be nearly as productive as Soriano, but he does provide a little bit of power for what would probably be a very low price. For about a month and a half of regular season service, that might be all that the Yankees need.

Whatever they do, losing Granderson for 10 weeks is going to hurt. He is an All-Star centerfielder who has carried their offense right from the top of the lineup.
– See more at:

Share with your friends

Share with your friends

Share with your friends

Share with your friends

Share with your friends

Share with your friends

Share with your friends

Share with your friends

Share with your friends

Share with your friends

Go to Top