Monday, January 23, 2017




Cespedes has collected no fewer than 22 homers and 80 RBIs in each of his five seasons in the majors. He was the driving force in the Mets lineup until a quadriceps injury kept him out for two weeks last year. He returned to action in late-August, finishing with 31 long balls and 86 RBIs. The Mets waited until November 29th to sign him to a four-year contract worth an average of $27.5 million per year. 


Encarnacion has been among the most reliable sluggers in the AL over the last five seasons. In that span, he has averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs. In 2016, he led the AL with 127 runs batted in. Even so, the Blue Jays didn't feel he was worth the investment. The Indians ended up signing him on January 5th for an average of $18.7 million per year over the next four seasons. 


A left-hander, Sale has spent his entire seven-year career with the White Sox. Since 2012, he has posted a 70-47 record while leading the league twice in complete games. The five-time All-Star signed a three-year contract with the Red Sox in early-December, joining a pitching staff that is already one  of the best in the majors.


Trumbo is the American League's reigning home run king, having launched 47 bombs last year. On the downside, he struck out a whopping 170 times and posted a mediocre .316 on-base percentage. Perhaps that's why the Orioles waited until January 20th to meet his salary demands (3 years $37.5 million). The Rangers were said to be seriously pursuing Trumbo before then. 


Bautista was on target for another 30 homer 100 RBI season before losing time to multiple injuries in 2016. When healthy, he can slug with the best of them and draws a lot of walks. On January 18th, the Blue Jays decided it would be best not to let Bautista go, re-signing their perennial fan favorite to a multi-year contract with mutual options. 


Desmond has been one of the top offensive shortstops in the majors for seven years now. In 2016, he had one of his finest seasons ever, reaching career-highs in runs scored (107) and runs batted in (86). Mixing speed with power, he has captured three Silver Slugger Awards and played on two All-Star teams. In mid-December, the Rockies took advantage of his availability, signing him through 2021. The thin air in Colorado can only serve to pad his numbers.


Chapman's 100-plus mph fastball made a nice addition to the Cubs bullpen in July of 2016. Chapman saved 16 games down the stretch, helping Chicago break a World Series curse spanning more than a century. In December, the Yankees decided they wanted him back, inking a five-year deal worth $17.2 million per year.

 Turner is among the most productive third baseman in the majors. He had a breakout season with the Dodgers in 2014, accruing a robust .340 average in 109 games. He hasn't come close to matching that figure since, but he reached career-high marks with 34 doubles, 27 homers and 90 RBIs in 2016. He spent well over a month on the free agent market before the Dodgers locked down his contract through 2020. 


A mountain of a man at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, Jansen had his best season ever in 2016, gathering 47 saves--second only to Jeurys Familia of the Mets. Jansen also recorded an impressive 1.83 ERA in 71 appearances. Despite those numbers, he remained a free agent until January 10th, when the Dodgers finally made him an offer he could not refuse (5 years $80 million).


Colon has averaged 15 wins per year over the last four seasons. He posted a 3.43 ERA last year and came close to the 200 inning mark at the age of forty-three. A smart, savvy right-hander, Colon signed with the Braves in Mid-November, leaving behind a legion of fans in New York.  


Knuckleballers are a dying breed. And despite Dickey's sub-par performance in 2016 (10-15/ 4.46 ERA), the Braves have much to gain by adding him to their rotation. A change of scenery might be just what the veteran right-hander needs. During his three previous seasons in the National League, he posted a 39-28 record with an ERA of 2.95.   


Fowler was a key ingredient in the Cubs success last season. When he sustained a hamstring injury in late-July, the team hit a rough patch until his return. The highly regarded Fowler hits, runs and fields well. He seems to be getting better with age, making his first All-Star appearance last year at 30 years old. In early-December, the Cardinals signed him to a five-year contract.  

Monday, January 9, 2017



Just twenty-three years old, Fernandez's career was cut short in a boating accident on September 25th, 2016. Among the top pitching prospects in the majors, he won Rookie of the Year honors in 2013. The following year, he sustained a season-ending injury and underwent Tommy John surgery. He successfully rehabbed, becoming the Marlins staff ace in 2016 with a 16-8 record and 2.86 ERA. He was posthumously given the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. 


Arroyo was a left-handed pitcher who spent eight years in the majors with four different teams. He was among the earliest crop of Puerto Ricans to find success in the big leagues. Arroyo's best season came in 1961, when he won 15 games for the Yankees with 29 saves. He logged a career-low 2.19 ERA that year. In the '61 World Series, he made two appearances and was credited with a win against the Reds. He was a two-time All-Star. After his playing years, he managed for three seasons in Mexico. In 2010, he suffered a heart attack on a cruise sponsored by the Yankees. Elected to the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012, he died on January 13, 2016, having been diagnosed with cancer a month earlier.


 Known more for the broadcasting career he forged after his retirement as a player, Garagiola grew up in the same neighborhood as Yogi Berra. The two were childhood friends. Garagiola played nine major league seasons primarily for the Cardinals, helping the club to a World Series victory in 1946. Garagiola hit .316 in that Series with 4 RBIs. He later called games for the Cardinals, Yankees, Angels and Diamondbacks. He was also a long time announcer on NBC's Game of the Week. Additionally, he authored several books and was a regular personality on the Today show. He was 90 years old when he passed away in March of 2016. 


Born and raised in Detroit, Pappas was known for his blazing fastball. He is one of only sixteen live-ball pitchers to win 150 games before the age of thirty. He averaged 14 wins per year for mostly mediocre Orioles squads between 1958 and 1965. Before the '66 slate, he was involved in an infamous trade that brought Hall of Famer Frank Robinson to Baltimore. Robinson led the Orioles to three World Series. Pappas had a handful of good seasons elsewhere, making stops in Atlanta and Chicago after leaving Cincinnati. He won 17 games for the Cubs in two straight seasons. In '72, he pitched a no-hitter over the Padres. He lost a perfect game that day when umpire Bruce Froemming issued a ninth inning walk on a close pitch. Pappas was 76 years old when he died in April of 2016. 


Irvin began his career when major league baseball's color barrier was in place. He spent nine seasons with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League, establishing himself as a major star. In 1949, he was signed by the Giants and made his debut at the age of thirty. Irvin helped guide the Giants to a pair of pennants, earning a World Series ring in 1954. He averaged 19 homers and 80 RBIs per year during major league seasons in which he made at least 100 appearances. He was enshrined at Cooperstown in 1973. He died of natural causes on January 11, 2016. He was 96 years old.  


For five seasons, Hart was among the most consistent run producers in the majors. He averaged 28 homers and 89 RBIs per year from 1964-1968--a period sometimes referred to as baseball's second deadball era. Hart was a runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 1964. Primarily a third baseman, injuries slowed him down during the 1970s. After falling from the major league ranks in '74, he continued in the Mexican League for two more seasons. Quiet and modest, he died in May 2016 after a long illness.


Hickman spent thirteen years in the majors, breaking in with the woeful Mets of the early-'60s. A versatile utility man, he appeared at every outfield station and both corner infield positions. He even pitched two innings in 1967. His finest offensive showing came in 1970 as a member of the Cubs. He hit .315 that year with 32 homers and 115 RBIs. His twelfth inning single drove in the winning run for the National League in the 1970 All-Star game. The play involved an infamous collision at the plate between Pete Rose and catcher Ray Fosse. Hickman died in June 2016 after a long illness.


Phillips had a solid major league career that lasted eighteen seasons and included long stints in Detroit and Oakland. As a member of the late-'80s powerhouse A's, he filled many defensive positions and blossomed into a fine leadoff hitter. With impeccable plate discipline, he led the league in walks twice, averaging 114 free passes per year between 1993 and 1997. Injuries and off-field problems eventually derailed his career. Remembered by teammates for his contagious sense of humor, he died of a heart attack in February 2016.


A sure-handed third baseman and versatile defensive player, Davenport spent his entire thirteen-year playing career in San Francisco. He enjoyed one of his best offensive efforts in 1962, when he compiled a career-best .297 batting average and made his only All-Star appearance. He also won a Gold Glove that year. Highly durable, Davenport appeared in no fewer than 106 games every season from 1958-1969. In all, he spent forty years as a player, coach, manager and front office executive He died of a heart attack in February 2016 at the age eighty-two.


McAuliffe logged close to 1,000 games at second base and nearly 700 as a shortstop. He was a vital cog in the Tigers' postseason appearances of 1968 and 1972. An All-Star for three straight years, McAuliffe earned MVP consideration in 1968, when he led the league in runs scored. Typically appearing in the leadoff spot, he drove in no fewer than 56 runs on seven occasions. He had a dramatic uppercut swing and an open stance. Known as "Mad Dog" to teammates, he retired among the Tigers' top ten in multiple offensive categories. He succumbed to complications of Alzheimer's Disease in May 2016.