Monday, April 30, 2012

Advanced Baseball Concepts Every Player Should Know

By Richard Horowitz

As a player or coach in baseball, the more that you are knowledgeable about, the more control you will have in any situation that comes along. Physical skills and methodology are the two aspects of baseball. They are both just as important. The team has to practice how to hit an play each of their positions. But, they must always know what needs to done and how to prioritize at all times. Let us discuss a few advanced baseball principles that everybody on the team should be familiar with.

Whenever a batter gets up to plate, the purpose will different according to what the circumstances may be at that time. The runner who is consistently attempting to hit home runs is not adding value to the team when only a base run is needed. This is why all players should know how to bunt and when to take a ball if only a walk is need during the game. There are generally those players on a team who do not follow this concept well because their focus is on personal fame and not on the team. It is of the utmost importance that coaches and managers make all team member see that the team comes first and then their dreams for fame.

One particular exercise that all players should know is tagging up. If the team currently has players on base and there are under two outs, a runner can tag up or run to the next base whenever a fly ball is caught. It is important that you understand that the play cannot run until the after the ball has been caught. This very risk run is usually attempted when there is a player on the third base and the ball is considered to be way out in leftfield. This can make a score for the running team. But then again, if the outfielder is really good at throwing the ball, the runner should be especially fast if he wants to reach home plate.

When a batter steps up to the plate he can think about where he is going to hit the ball so that it can help his teammates get base runs. For instance, if the is a runner on the first base, then the batter should hit the ball into the right side of the field. This means that the runner has a higher probability of getting to the third base. The player in the right field would have to throw the ball further than the player in the right field to reach third base if the ball was knocked into the left field. You might also know this play as hitting behind the runner. It is a situation that you should not forget when you are a batter at home plate.

To be considered an baseball expert, you have to do more than just know how to keep a few plays in your memory. You must be able to leverage the strengths of each team member and compensate for any problems. In addition to practicing skills, the players must be able to pick out the pros and cons of each game played. These are just a few of the tips that are good for making a team or player get better performance. The more knowledgeable you are about baseball, the more you will improve and love the game even more.

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Expert Baseball Techniques Used By The Pros

By Brian Derflinger

Anybody who plays or coaches baseball has to be knowledgeable about various tactics for different points of the game. Even though it is very crucial that team players are drilled on physical aspects of the game, it is also very important that they are prepared for all things. Also, it is a necessity that good teamwork and communication is used during the entirety of the game. The purpose of this article is to show baseball tactics that will help you be a winning team.

Sometimes, the main point of a defense team is to deter a run for happening. This can be complicated situation like when the winning run is on second or third base and another run for your team would end of the game victory. However, even if the entire game is not at stake, you will still want a method for preventing runs when you are in the field. One such technique is to keep the infield in place when there is a runner on the third base. If a ground ball is hit into the outfield, the outfields can throw it home to stop the runner, instead of trying to out the runner on first base. Obviously, this technique has some risk. This means that there is a huge chance that the balls will go over the infielders' heads.

Even there are some batters that are more talented than others when hitting the ball, the best method for improving these skills is to practice. Almost anybody from a child to an adult will discover how practical a batting tee can be. This is a tool that can be utilized during the offseason just like the normal baseball season. So it can help hitters to practice and their swing for the entire year. Even when you practice swinging at the ball in air will help you if you really can visualize striking the ball. Coaches should also try monitor every batter very closely and see if there are things that need to be improved. This is because a few hitters should chance the way they stand or grip the bat.

Players talking to each other during the game can make or break the game. This is really very crucial in the outfield. This happens when they are confused about who should get the ball. If players do not correspond with one another in the right way, there will be confusion or issues in the outfield. The center fielder is given the most focus. So, the left and right field players should not go into this area. Players should always says when they are getting the ball. Once a player does this, the remaining players should avoid the area.

As this article proves, being a pro baseball player means that you have to work together as team, along with other things. It is good to learn from both the good and bad things that have been. So coaches should speak about the games with errors as a way to teach and motivate players for the next time and not to punish them. Even though the main focus of baseball is to have plenty of fun, no will say that they like to lose more than win.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Baseball Gear Can Make Or Break Your Game

By Edward French

Baseball equipment comes in a variety of types which can differ from person to person as far as what is needed. Before you start purchasing gear, you not only have to take into consideration what position you play, but also what the rules of your particular league and team might be. Nevertheless, there are some general principles you can use when shopping for baseball gear, and we'll be looking at some of these in this article.

The whole game of baseball revolves around one object -the baseball itself. Baseballs don't have a very long lifespan. In a typical major league game, for example, a few dozen baseballs are used. It's always a good idea to have several extras on hand since they can be easily damaged by a hard swing or perhaps lost in a number of ways. Besides games and practices you'll want to have extra balls for practicing on your own. It's not important to have major league quality for practicing with but they should still be of good quality synthetic or leather materials.

The catcher is believed to have the most difficult job in baseball. If this is your position, you have to crouch behind the plate for hours, risk getting hit with a bat and catch fastballs coming at you at blistering speeds. Catchers also need shin guards, chest protection, and groin cups since you never know when a wayward ball or the end of a bat is going to land a hit in a sensitive area. You also want to make sure all your protective gear fits comfortably, as you'll be wearing it for hours on end.

For a pitcher, a pitching target is an essential piece of practice equipment. These are simple devices that help you improve your aim and style, when there's no one around to catch the ball for you. One such device is made by Rawlings and is called the Comeback which is perfect for pitching as well as fielding practice. You can adjust the angle if you want fly balls or grounders making this a useful device for infield and outfield positions as well as pitching positions. Steady practice is the best way to increase your baseball skills and having adequate equipment makes this goal even easier.

In the above article we've given you some examples of the baseball gear that you'll want to consider and why it may be right for you. You may have to experiment a bit to find the right style for you. If you play more than one position, you may need a wider variety of gear, such as the right glove for each position. The above guidelines can help you choose the right baseball gear, but you also have to make sure you get equipment that's consistent with the rules of your own team and league.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Expert Baseball Strategies You Should Be Aware of

By Jim Freeman

Whether you are a baseball player, coach or parent, there is always something new to learn about baseball. Baseball has a lot of different components. There are plenty of varied ways to hit, pitch and field. There are both physical and mental parts of this game. In this article, we will examine a few professional baseball tips that will give you and your players a jump up when playing the game.

Many of you know that I'm a sports lover. You most likely already realized that if you look at the write-up on the subject of how to increase your vertical or a few of the other ones! I hope this is another post that is useful.

When it comes to playing defensively, then you simply have to remain alert to the context. In some cases, it makes sense for the infielders to guard the line, which means playing their position closer to the foul lines than usual. That strategy is all about containing any offensive plays that are made. On the other hand, this creates an opening in the middle of the field, making base hits easier to hit. When you think about this, it is a question of minimizing the most dangerous scoring opportunities. But these are the decisions that must be made when the situation is close.

Players in the outfield have to be knowledgeable about what is taking place in the game and know priorities at all times. Simply put, your job is to catch all balls that come in your section of the outfield. But it is also essential that you know where the ball should be thrown once it comes to you. It is very normal for players in the outfield to throw the ball to the incorrect base. This can be an error that costs the game.

When a batter steps up to the plate he can think about where he is going to hit the ball so that it can help his teammates get base runs. For example, if there is a runner on the first base, the batter can attempt to hit the ball into the right field, which is on the other side. This means that the runner has a higher probability of getting to the third base. The right fielder has a longer throw to third base than the left fielder would have if the ball was hit into left field. Others might recognize this scenario as hitting behind the runner. It is a situation that you should not forget when you are a batter at home plate. To be an expert baseball player, you have to do more than memorize some strategies. You must be able to leverage the strengths of each team member and compensate for any problems. In addition to practice that builds upon skills, the players have to talk about the bad and good things of each game. These are just a few tips for improving a team or player. The more you know about baseball, the better you will get and enjoy it more.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 Cincinnati Reds Pitching Projections

By Jack Jones

A disappointing 79-83 record last year ended the Cincinnati Reds' chances to defend their National League Central championship from 2010. But general manager Walt Jockety didn't make many moves to improve them, resulting in a disappointing 2011. The GM feels like he has added in the right pieces to contend in 2012, however. He has acquired a proven starter in Mat Latos and a shutdown closer in Ryan Madson. With the St. Louis Cardinals losing Albert Pujols, and Prince Fielder not returning to the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati believes it is the team to beat in the Central. Here are my MLB predictions for the Reds' starting rotation and closer in 2012.

Projected Rotation

Johnny Cueto (RHP) - Cueto put it all together in 2011, posting a 2.31 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He managed just a 9-5 record, but received five no-decisions due to a blown save.

Mat Latos (RHP) - With Latos the Reds could really bolster their rotation. He went just 9-14 in 2011, but his 3.47 ERA and 1.18 WHIP indicate he pitched much better than his record. There are some concerns with him making the move from Petco to Great American (which is generally more hitter-friendly), but Latos still posted solid numbers on the road last year, so don't expect his numbers to inflate too much.

Bronson Arroyo (RHP) - Arroyo had a down year last season, thanks to a mono infection that affected his performance. He started 32 games for the Reds, but he finished just 9-12 with a horrible 5.07 ERA for the year. Now that he seems to have regained his health, look for him to bounce back with numbers more similar to his 3.88 ERA and 17 wins of 2010.

Mike Leake (RHP) - In just his second season in the big leagues, the 24-year-old won a team-high 12 games in 2011. Leake lowered his ERA from 4.23 to 3.86 and WHIP from 1.50 to 1.17, too. So long as he matches his numbers from 2011, then he will give the Reds a legit starter at the back of their rotation.

Homer Bailey (RHP) - Bailey has shown signs of brilliance in his career, but he needs to start producing on a more consistent basis if he wants to keep his job. He went 9-7 last year with a 4.43 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in a career-high 22 starts. If he doesn't improve soon, he might just lose his position in the rotation, should the team decide to make Aroldis Chapman a starter this season.

Projected Closer

Ryan Madson (RHP) - Francisco Cordero saved 37 games for the Reds last year, but he is certainly on the decline and Cincinnati opted not to retain him. Cincinnati is excited about having Madson close the ninth, as he converted 32 of 34 save opportunities with the Philadelphia Phillies last year. Madson could save upwards of 40 games this year, especially with the new look of their starting staff, but an arm injury may cost him the 2012 season.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies Starters & Closer Overview

By Jack Jones

The Philadelphia Phillies captured their fifth sequential National League East Division title with a organizational-record 102 regular season victories. Although it was all for zilch, as the squad wouldn't even make it to the NLCS. In Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phillies would be defeated 1-0 to end their season in disappointment. The defeat wouldn't faze the Philadelphia devoted nevertheless , as it appears as if the fans remain wildly hopeful for their franchise. Here are the Phillies projected starting pitchers and closer situation. There are several blokes on this list who will be favored in the NL Cy Young predictions.

Projected Rotation

Roy Halladay (RHP) - The 34-year-old vet showed no evidence of wearing down in 2011. The anchor went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He's as motivated as ever to win a title, and he had a career-high 220 K's last season.

Cliff Lee (LHP) - Lee had a record of 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Nonetheless he had a stretch of games where he had ludicrous success. He allowed three runs in a span of 10 starts and also threw an impressive six shutouts and set a career-high 238 strikeouts on the year.

Cole Hamels (LHP) - You know you have one of the very finest staffs in history when your third-best starter is Cole Hamels. The left-hander is just now entering the prime of his career, and went 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA and 0.99 WHIP last season.

Vance Worley (RHP) - Worley surprised plenty of folks last season, when the rookie went 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. At just 24 years of age, he's got a good deal of potential waiting to be shown, but plenty of good young throwers struggle in their second season.

Joe Blanton (RHP) - Injuries limited the guy to a career-low eight starts last season. He's the one Philly pitcher who opposing groups will be excited to see. He has career numbers of 4.32 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.

Projected Closer

Jonathon Papelbon (RHP) - The Phillies signed the previous Boston Red Sox nearer to a lucrative $50 million contract. Papelbon averaged 36 saves over the last six seasons in Boston. Look for Papelbon to save 45-plus games in 2012, particularly with the starting pitchers the Phillies have.

With such a solid pitching staff it will be tough for opposing teams to score runs against Philly in 2012.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

More Than A Sports Gift, A Story Hits Home

By Cijaye DePradine

From the smallest child to the oldest adult, the ornaments on the Christmas tree can tell a wonderful story about your life and the lives of your closest family.A personalized collection of keepsakes (such as ornaments) is a wonderful way to chronicle the lives of your family and loved ones.

When it comes to sports players and their sports gifts, we don't usually think of Christmas Ornaments sites to provide the gifts we need (outside of Christmas) do we?

Not usually. We think about jersey stores, ball stores, player shoes, player shirts and so on. But think about this, if your sports gifts are for players themselves, or men who already have the sports items they want, your men are going to be incredibly hard to shop for! Your sports fan, friend or family member usually has a favorite sport of favorite team that only supplies certain "authentic" memorabilia - and it's seen everywhere. Everyone has it.

Sure there are rare sporting gift stores that will supply your sports fan with the sports memorabilia he/she needs. However, if you are looking for a sports gift for a man and he is one of those guys who wants that cool gift that absolutely no-one else has - you have to get creative. That's why we think Personalized Ornaments are such a great gift idea!

Personalized ornaments come in many shapes, sizes, sports themes and more. They are really cool gift ideas no matter who they are for or what they are for.

For example, there are sport specific ornaments, but also licensed sports ornaments. Such as:

Personalized MLB Gift Ornaments Personalizable NFL Gift Ornaments Custom NHL Gift Ornaments

Custom NHL Gift Ornaments

You can also find a large selection of College Team Ornaments on the right websites too.

From little leagues to minors there are personalized ornaments for everyone! Personalized sports ornaments are also a wonderful way to commemorate the achievements of your children over the years.

For active, thoughtful parents who are always in support of their childrens activities it easy to capture the essence of ALL their interests and hobbies, but with sports - and especially sports ornaments, this is not only easy, its actually fun!

But just you wait! When Christmas time does come around and those ornaments go on the Christmas Tree - we are all reminded that all of the pride you collected for your child in Christmas Tree Ornaments has far more meaning than just a little ornament here and there.

Instead of simply sitting around and telling stories from the past year and previous years, personalized sports gifts, allow you to play show and tell. Children love the idea of showing off their achievements and presenting them with a token of your pride in what they have achieved over the year is likely to make them burst with pride. Imagine the look on their face when the whole family sees what they have managed to achieve and they are given the opportunity to hang up their unique ornaments with the others on the family tree.

Ornaments And More (the nets first Ornaments Shop) has a wide range of sports ornaments for you to choose from so there is likely to be something for almost any sports your sports fan might choose. Whether their interest lies in gymnastics, cheerleading, baseball, ballet, karate, volleyball, football or other sports, you can find a fun ornament to suit you.

Boy or girl, has that covered as well. In fact, you can look for different poses, different hair color for many ornaments including different belt colors for your Martial Arts ornaments.

With Ornaments And More, all of your sports ornaments can be personalized for free with more letters and in more creative ways that you might find at other sites. We offer endless ideas and are always open to more. With us, you to add the recipients name, nickname and the year so that each year you can look back to remember the story of all members of your family over the years. These ornaments can be passed on to the child in question when they move out and have their own family Christmas tree, making the ornaments a gift that can be passed along for generations.

Simply visit and browse through the many pages of personalized sports gifts that are available. You may even find some categories that you were not expecting, such as hunting ornaments, camping ornaments, equestrian ornaments, bicycle and motor cycle ornaments, bowling, baton twirling and even coaches ornament gifts. There are plenty more to choose from too.

Just remember: Awards are not everything and these personalized sports gifts are a great way to let your little athlete know that you value their effort and participation as well. While you are celebrating the milestones of the older members of the family, don't forget to include the little guys and what they, no doubt, view as their own special achievements for the year. allows you to choose just the right ornaments to make every member of the family - big or small - feel special over the Christmas holidays.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Starters & Closer Predictions

By Jack Jones

At the beginning of the year, the Pittsburgh Pirates showed a tiny amount of what they could do, but by the end of the year, it was not enough to gather a winning record. The team stopped the year with a disappointing 72-90 record, finishing 4th in the National League Central. They ended their year with a 19-43 record, but folks forget that in their first 100 games, they shared the division lead with a 53-47 record. They didn't add many players to the lineup for 2012, but they managed to add starter Erik Bedard, shortstop Clint Barmes and veteran catcher Rod Barajas. Here are the projected starting pitchers and closer situation for the 2012 year. Check out our Pittsburgh Pirates projections to find out what we think of their hitters.

Projected Rotation

Erik Bedard (LHP) - Bedard put up solid numbers last year after missing the entire 2010 year, but injuries are a big concern moving forward. He went just 5-9 in 24 starts, but posted a strong 3.62 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. He has what is required to be a 15-game winner if he can make 30 starts, but hasn't managed to do so since 2006.

Charlie Morton (RHP) - Morton appears like he is eventually proving his worth in Pittsburgh. His 10 wins and 3.83 ERA were both career bests, but he needs to step up and show better control. His 77 walks led to a high 1.53 WHIP, something that he must improve if he wants to keep his position at the very top of the rotation.

James McDonald (RHP) - Similar to Morton, McDonald has what is needed to be a legit pitcher in the NL, but he wishes control so as to take that next step. He went 9-9 with 4.21 ERA, but posted a 1.49 WHIP because of a whopping 78 bases on balls.

Kevin Correia (RHP) - Correia began the season strong, earning a spot on the All-Star team by going 10-6 to start the season. But he wilted in the second half, and his poor 6.08 Age in July and 8.41 ERA in Aug have lowered some expectations going into 2012. But he is still good for a minimum of 10 wins, as he has reached that mark in every one of the past 3 years.

Jeff Karstens (RHP) - His pin down control is what gives him good success, as he doesn't have the arm strength to blow away hitters. He had a great 2011, posting his best season as a starter, going 9-9 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 26 starts. So long as he hits his spots, he should stay an efficient starter despite not having an overpowering fastball.

Projected Closer

Joe Hanrahan (RHP) - In his first complete season as a fulltime closer, Hanrahan surprised plenty of individuals by converting 40 of 44 save opportunities while posting an exceptional 1.83 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He figures to be part of in the Top 10 closers going into 2012, with 1 or 2 strong years in front of him.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2012 Cincinnati Reds Hitting Projections

By Jack Jones

The Reds followed up their NL Central Championship run in 2010 with a disappointing 79-83 record last season. The good news is that the rest of the teams in the division lost some key pieces, meaning the Central is wide open for the Reds to make another run at a title in 2012. Here are our MLB predictions for Cincy's starting lineup for the upcoming season.

Projected Lineup

Ryan Hanigan (Catcher) - After the Reds decided not to bring back veteran Ramon Hernandez, Hanigan will likely open the 2012 season as the everyday catcher. He isn't a real threat offensively, as he hit just.267 with 6 home runs and 31 RBI in 266 at-bats last year. If things don't work out, we could see a lot of Devin Mesoraco this year.

Joey Votto (First Base) - Votto had a "down" year in 2011, hitting .309 with 29 home runs and 103 RBI. He is to the top hitting first baseman in the National League (with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder moving to the American League) and, at 28 years old, some of his best years could still be ahead of him.

Brandon Phillips (Second Base) - Another phenomenal season last year has vaulted Phillips into the class of elite second basemen. His career-high.300 average topped all NL second basemen last year, and he also had 18 home runs and 82 RBI. If you include his exceptional defense, it is no wonder that the three-time Gold Glove winner is considered one of the best at his position.

Zack Cozart (Shortstop) - Before being knocked out by an elbow injury, Cozart showed a little bit of his potential in the 11 games that he was able to play last year. Cozart hit.324 with 2 home runs and an impressive seven-game hitting streak in his first seven games.

Scott Rolen (Third Base) - Injuries derailed the 2011 season for the 37-year-old veteran. After hitting a remarkable.285 with 20 home runs and 83 RBI in 2010, Rolen was limited to just 65 games last year and hit just.242 with 5 homers and 36 RBI.

Chris Heisey (Left Field) - Heisey is expected to get a chance to start every day in left field after a couple of seasons in which he was used primarily as a backup. He has hit just.254 in 480 career at-bats, but he has some power worth keeping an eye on. After hitting just 8 home runs in 201 at-bats in 2010, Heisey belted 18 home runs in just 279 at-bats in 2011.

Drew Stubbs (Center Field) - Stubbs is a solid defender and can be an excellent contributor to this lineup. The biggest hole in his game is simply making contact at the plate - he set a franchise record with 205 strikeouts last season. As a guy who hit 15 home runs and stole 40 bases in the same season, you can see that the potential for great things is there, he just needs to find some discipline.

Jay Bruce (Right Field) - Despite coming off an All-Star season in 2011, he was wildly inconsistent down the stretch. He finished up the year with an impressive 32 home runs and 97 RBI, but 12 of his home runs and 33 of his RBI came in the month of May. He hit just.228 in April and.217 in June, with just 6 homers in those two months combined.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012 Chicago Cubs Batting Predictions

By Jack Jones

After another awful end in the National League Central the Chicago Cubs emptied the cupboard and signed Theo Epstein and Dale Sveum. This is not a one year reconstructing project though, it's going to take some time to turn Chicago around into a challenger. Let's take a look at the offense they're going to be sending out to the field this year. You can see where we think they're going to end the year in our Chicago Cubs preview.

Projected Offense

Geovany Soto (Catcher) - After winning the National League Rookie of the Season award in 2008, Soto has regressed and had a very poor season last season. He hit .285 with 23 home runs and 86 RBI in his rookie season, but last season he hit just .228 with 17 home runs and 54 RBI. His numbers need to boost big time if he would like to help the Cubs contend in the Central.

Bryan LaHair (First Base) - For almost all of his career, LaHair has lit it up primarily in the minor leagues. Now he will be given the chance to showcase his gifts in the Major Leagues this season. Last season, LaHair had a minor league-best 38 home runs and the Cubs hope that those power numbers translate into the major leagues. Power-hitting prospect Anthony Rizzo is also in the mix, should LaHair struggle.

Darwin Barney (Second Base) - Barney showed some of his potential as a rookie last season. He hit .276 with 23 doubles and 43 RBI. Barney needs to stake his claim as the future at 2nd base as the only other option is vet Jeff Baker.

Starlin Castro (Shortstop) - Starlin Castro is among the most promising guys in the organization. The young star will turn just 22 in March and already he has turned in 2 stellar years of play. He backed up his superb rookie year by batting .307 with 10 homers, 36 doubles, 9 triples and 66 RBI. As he continues to age, he's got the chance to really be a great player.

Ian Stewart (3rd Base) -Long time 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez left thru free agency, so that the Cubs were forced to sign Stewart to take over at the hot corner. Stewart is coming off an awful 2011 season for the Colorado Rockies in which he hit just .156 in 48 games and then was demoted to the minors, but he has produced during the past. He hit 43 home runs and drove in 131 runs mixed in 2009 and 2010.

Alfonso Soriano (Left Field) - The Cubs were supposed to part tactics with Soriano this offseason, but as of now he's the Opening Day left fielder. Soriano still has decent power, as he belted 26 home runs and drove 88 runs last season, but he has been struggling to make contact on a regular basis. He is just averaging a measly .248 during the past 3 seasons.

Marlon Byrd (Center Field) - An unlucky accident forced him to miss a good chunk of the year. He was hit in the face by a pitch, which led to him batting .276 with just 9 homers and 35 RBI. The previous All-Star is on a decline, but he has a few solid years left in the tank.

David DeJesus (Right Field) - Prior to last year, the right fielder has hit at or near .300 for the majority of his career, but DeJesus hit just .240 in 131 games with the Oakland A's in 2011. He will probably get a shot at opening the year as the leadoff hitter, but he doesn't precisely have The speed teams look for at the very top.

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Houston Astros Starting Pitcher & Bullpen Prophecies

By Jack Jones

The Houston Astros were absolutely horrible last year and things aren't going to improve any time soon. This is the year the organization will play in the NL and they most likely won't get anywhere close to the postseason. Let's have a look at the way the offense is going to perform this year. If you're going to bet on baseball read as many previews as practical to stand by for the year.

Beginning Lineup

Chris Snyder (Catcher) - The Astros signed Snyder away from the Pittsburgh Pirates this winter and he may at least start at the year opener. Snyder has been troubled with injuries, but he has played well when at full strength. He batted .271 in limited action, but his career average of .231 isn't very promising. Snyder will probably be in the batting order until prospect Jason Castro is prepared.

Carlos Lee (First Base) - Although the vet is definitely getting up there in years, he's still very capable of putting up nice production for Houston. The 35-year-old batted .275 with 18 homers and 94 RBI with Houston last year. Expect him to be dealt to a possibility at some specific point during the year , however , as he's entering the final year of his deal with the Astros.

Jose Altuve (Second Base) - At just 21 years of age, Altuve has shown that he has a lot of potential for the Astros in days to come. In limited action last season, he hit .276 with 2 home runs and 7 stolen bases in just 57 games. The kid definitely has talent and range, but it's tough to envision if he is prepared to be an everyday starter yet.

Jed Lowrie (Shortstop) - Houston dealt for Lowrie in a deal with the Boston Red Sox, and he will finally have a chance to show what he will do in a full time role. In just 55 games in 2010, Lowrie hit .287 with 9 homers and 24 RBI, but he struggled last year with just a .252 average in 88 games.

Jimmy Paredes (3rd Base) - The 23-year-old is still pretty raw on defense, but he has shown some potential at the plate. In just 46 games last year, he batted .286 with 2 homers and 18 RBI. He's still young, so he has a lot of time to figure things out and be a decent producer for the Astros.

J.D. Martinez (Left Field) - After a late-year call-up, Martinez used his opportunity by batting .274 with 6 homers and 35 RBI in just 53 games. It is going to be intriguing to see what he'll produce over the course of a full year.

Jason Bourgeois (Center Field) - When given time, Bourgeois basically played well last year. He doesn't have a large amount of power, but he hit .294 with 31 stolen bases in just 93 games. Houston did obtain Jordan Schafer from Atlanta so there's a possibility that he'd be unable to keep his job in center field.

Brian Bogusevic (Right Field) - Bogusevic did a total 180 from what he had done in 2010, hitting for a.287 average in 87 games in 2011. He only hit.179 in 19 games in 2010, so it's tough to expect a lot out of a guy that's already 28 years of age.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

2012 Cleveland Indians Hitting Predictions

By Jack Jones

The Cleveland Indians bounced back from a rotten 2010 year to win 80 games last year. The Indians are dreaming they can build off that improvement and move in the correct direction. Let's have a look at this lineup to see if they have what is needed to power the team to the top of the division. If you want to know what we think about the pitchers have a look at our 2012 Cleveland Indians predictions article.

Projected Lineup

Carlos Santana (Catcher) - Santana showed a glance of his potential last season. In spite of hitting just .239 in his first full season, the 25-year-old actually made up for it by belting 27 home runs with 79 RBI. His best years are definitely ahead of him, and look for him to improve on his average with similar, if not better , power numbers in 2012.

Casey Kotchman (First Base) - After another disheartening season from Matt LaPorta at first base, the team went out and signed Kotchman to take over. Coming off one of his best seasons in the big leagues, Kotchman hit a career-high .306 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI in 146 games with the Tampa Bay Rays last season. It looks as though Kotchman is a perfect slot in Cleveland.

Jason Kipnis (Second Base) - In just 36 games in 2011, Kipnis did good enough to get the nod for the starting job in 2012. The 24-year-old batted .272 with 7 homers and 19 RBI. If his is able to keep up that pace over a full year, he will straight away become one of the top 2nd baseman in the American League.

Asdrubal Cabrera (Shortstop) - Cabrera shocked the whole league when he blasted 25 home runs in 2011. Prior to last season, he had hit a combined 18 home runs in his prior 1,415 at-bats. He also set a career high with 92 RBI and tied his career best of 17 stolen bases. The future looks bright for the 26-year-old, but he may need to copy his 2011 numbers in 2012 if he would like everyone to buy in.

Lonnie Chisenhall (Third Base) - Out of greatest prerequisite, Chisenhall is anticipated to open the year at 3rd base, even if he will not be ready. The 23-year-old hit just .255 with 7 homers and 22 RBI in 212 at-bats last year. He had just 8 walks over stretch, signaling that he could be a couple more seasons from a breakout year.

Shelley Duncan (Left Field) - It looks like Duncan will get an opportunity to start in left, with Sizemore out of the order and Michael Brantley moving to center field. Duncan is somebody to actually look into; even though he batted just .260 in 76 games last year, his 11 homers and 47 RBI are worth noting. Given a full year, he'd just surprise and hit 20-plus homers with 90-plus RBI.

Michael Brantley (Center Field) - A broken bone in his hand stopped his 2011 year early. He ended up batting just .266 with 7 homers, 46 RBI and 13 steals in just 114 games. The 24-year-old still has plenty of time to take that next step - Cleveland is just hoping it comes sooner rather than later.

Shin-Soo Choo (Right Field) - After back-to-back seasons with at least .300 average to go with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 2009 and 2010, Choo unsatisfied with a sub-par performance while restricted to 85 games last season. Choo wants to return to form in 2012 as the Indians are counting on him.

Travis Hafner (Designated Hitter) - After signing a huge contract in 2007, Hafner has been pretty mediocre, to say the least. Coming into the year of his sizeable contract, he owes it to Indians fans to do something worthwhile in 2012. Last year, he played in just 94 games. This was the player who batted .308 with 42 homers and 117 RBI in 2006? He may turn 35 in June, but the hope in Cleveland is that he still has another good run in him.

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2012 Milwaukee Brewers Hitting Preview

By Jack Jones

The Milwaukee Brewers had a formidable 2011 season when they captured the National League Central. Nevertheless they could not turn that success into a World Series showing as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated them in the National League Championship Series. This team lost Prince Fielder in the winter, but with Ryan Braun not having to serve a 50 game suspension the Brewers caught a little break for this season. Check to determine how we believe they end up in the division with our MLB projections for 2012.

Projected Hitters

Jonathan Lucroy (Catcher) - There are a large amount of reasons for Milwaukee to be thrilled about their 25-year-old back stop. Lucroy batted .265 with 12 homers and 59 RBI in 136 games last season. The power stats are only going to get better with age, and his defense is improving. Overall, the guy has a lot of potential for the future.

Mat Gamel (First Base) - Gamel wasn't able to interpret his minor league stats to the big leagues in 2011. While he hit 28 homers and drove in 98 RBI in the minors last season, he utterly unsatisfied with Milwaukee, batting just 3 for 26 in 10 games. He probably did belt 2 homers, and if he'll step in and hit 20 homers this season, it would exceed Milwaukee's expectations for him.

Rickie Weeks (2nd Base) - Rickie Weeks is one of the rising talents at 2nd base, and he is going to be counted on to step up with the departure of Fielder. An ankle injury hampered his 2011 year, but he was still able to offer excellent production of 20 homers and 49 RBI in 113 games. If he can enjoy health, the All-Star has the chance to put up giant stats in 2012.

Alex Gonzalez (Shortstop) - Gonzalez's main role in the order is to enhance one of baseballs worst defense. He won't be depended upon to do much on offense, as he batted just .241 in 149 games with the Atlanta Braves last season. He has hit 38 homers during the last 2 years, so he isn't actually that big a responsibility on offense.

Aramis Ramirez (Third Base) - The Brewers hope the addition of Ramirez can help soften the departure of Fielder in the heart of the order. A healthy Ramirez is still one of the game's best-batting third basemen. In 149 games last season, he bat .306 with 26 homers and 93 RBI with the Chicago Cubs. He might be in for a big year hitting cleanup behind Braun.

Ryan Braun (Left Field) - Coupled with the departure of Fielder, the Brewers would have been in trouble if Braun's 50-game suspension wasn't lifted. But now they're prepared to stay one of the top offensive groups in the National League. Braun is coming off a spectacular year in which he hit .332 with 33 home runs, 111 RBI and 33 steals. The Brewers are expecting him to have a slight dropoff, but he is still good for around .310 average with 30 homers and 100 RBI.

Nyjer Morgan (Center Field) - Morgan put up a pretty amazing season last year. He batted .304, which was 2nd on the team only to Braun, and is precisely what the Brewers want from their No. 2 hitter.

Corey Hart (Right Field) - In 130 games for the Brewers last season, Hart hit .285 with 26 homers and 63 RBI, which means he has hit 58 homers over the last two seasons. His speed is on the decline, as he had just 7 stolen bases in every one of the last two years, but his power is rare for a leadoff hitter.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

San Fran Giants Offensive Overview

By Jack Jones

The San Fran Giants took home the World Series in 2010, but could not reach the postseason last season. Their mark was 86-76, so they were never far off the pace and with the signings of outfielders Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan this group should get enough of a boost for San Fran to be in the mix once again. If you would like to know a lot more about this squad check our 2012 San Francisco Giants predictions.

Projected Lineup

Buster Posey (Catcher) - Posey played just 45 games last season thanks to a bad ankle injury. San Francisco really missed his hitting in the heart of the order after he got injured. In 160 big league games, Posey has batted .294 with 22 homers and 88 RBI. The Giants expect similar stats from him when he comes back in 2012.

Aubrey Huff (First Base) - After batting .290 with 26 homers and 86 RBI in 2010, Huff really disappointed last season, with just a .246 average to go along with 12 homers and 59 RBI in 150 games. At the age of 36, it is hard to expect him to come back after a bad showing, but with his record, you never can tell.

Freddy Sanchez (2nd Base) - Sanchez has been into and out of the order thanks to injuries since coming over from Pittsburgh in 2009. He has the ability to bat around .300 with 10 homers and 75 RBI if at full strength, but that sure is a big if, as he has played in just 111 games in 2010 and 60 games last season. At the age of 34, he doesn't get any younger, either.

Brandon Crawford (Shortstop) - The Giants hope Crawford's defensive talent can offset his offensive inadequacies. He batted just .204 in 66 games last year, and the 25-year-old hasn't shown any progress towards be anything greater than an OK hitter at the very best.

Pablo Sandoval (3rd Base) - A horrible 2010 season had some individuals doubting him, but after losing 40 pounds in the offseason, he proved the doubters wrong by posting All-Star numbers last year. He hit .315 with 23 home runs and 70 RBI in just 117 games. So long as he stays fit and galvanized, Sandoval has what it takes to be even better in 2012.

Melky Cabrera (Left Field) - Cabrera is coming of a career year in which he hit career highs with a .305 average, 18 home runs, 87 RBI and 20 stolen bases with the Kansas City Royals. It is safe to assume that last year won't be simply a fluke for Cabrera, as he's only turning 27 in August.

Angel Pagan (Center Field) - Pagan will be looking to forget a terrible 2011, as the outfielder batted just .262 with an OBP of .322 after posting a .290 average and .340 OBP in 2010. He managed to steal 32 bags in just 123 games, which gives him a sum total of 69 stolen bases during the last two years.

Nate Schierholtz (Right Field) - The expectancies for Schierholtz in 2012 are relatively low, as he batted just .278 with 9 homers and 41 RBI in 335 at-bats last season. The Giants are hoping he will hold his own in the right field this year, but they are no longer hoping for a breakout year from the guy.

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2012 Pitching Preview For The Milwaukee Brewers

By Jack Jones

The Milwaukee Brewers are coming off one of the very finest seasons the franchise saw in a considerable time. With an impressive 96-66 record, the Brewers won the National League Central in 2011. Nonetheless they weren't ready to interpret their achievement into a World Series berth like they were hoping. Milwaukee beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1st round, but afterwards lost to the resulting champ St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. Prince Fielder left Milwaukee in the offseason, but the Brewers were handed a reprieve when Ryan Braun's 50-game suspension was lifted. Milwaukee still has enough talent to defend its division title, but whether or not that translates to a shot at the World Series is up in the air. Here are the Brewers projected starting rotation and closer situation. Check out what else we think of the team with our 2012 Milwaukee Brewers preview.

Projected Rotation

Yovani Gallardo (RHP) - The 25-year-old Gallardo is coming off a career year in 2011. He notched a career-high 17 victories and recorded a career-low 3.52 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He also set a organization record for the third consecutive year with 200-plus K's. As young as he is he has what it takes to be still more outstanding in the approaching seasons.

Zack Greinke (RHP) - Greinke had the galvanizing debut Milwaukee had been hoping for. After dealing for him in the winter of 2011, he did not disappoint, going 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 28 games. He was also a dominant 9-3 with a 2.61 ERA over his last 16 games.

Shaun Marcum (RHP) - Shaun Marcum is another player who joined the Brewers in a trade last year. Marcum had a very good regular season, but he was awful in the playoffs. Marcum went 13-7 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in his first year with the Brewers.

Randy Wolf (LHP) - One of the more trusty and consistent players in Milwaukee is Randy Wolf. He has made at least 33 starts and pitched at least 212 innings in each of the past 3 seasons. Last year, he went 13-10 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. It was his fourth straight season in which he reached the double-digit mark in wins.

Chris Narveson (LHP) - Narveson battled with consistency last season. He would come out with unhittable stuff one night and then struggle to get a man out the next time he threw. He finished going 11-8 with a 4.45 ERA, which is decent for the base of the staff.

Projected Closer

John Axford (RHP) - In his first full year as Milwaukee closer, Axford shined and proved that he belonged. He converted 46 of 48 save opportunities with a magnificent 1.95 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Now that Francisco Rodriguez is back as the most important setup man, Milwaukee has one of the greatest 1-2 punches to close a game in all of baseball.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Miami Marlins Offensive Predictions

By Jack Jones

The Miami Marlins modified their name from the Florida Marlins this season and modified rather a lot about their team to finish the refresh. Shortstop Jose Reyes was the star player brought in to bolster the lineup so let's have a look to who will be rouding in the lineup with him. If you'd like to know a lot more about this team check our 2012 Miami Marlins predictions article.

Projected Batters

John Buck (Catcher) - In his first year with the Marlins, Buck's numbers took a gigantic nosedive, offensively. He hit just .227 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI last year, after hitting .281 with 20 home runs and 66 RBI in 2010 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Gaby Sanchez (First Base) - In the initial half of the season, Sanchez showed his talent when he made the All-Star team. However , his stats plummeted after the All-Star game and he ended up batting just .266 with 19 homers and 78 RBI. At 28, he is just entering his prime, so he might be going back in the correct direction in 2012.

Omar Infante (Second Base) - Infante isn't an offensive-minded guy, as his defensive acumen has become his speciality in the previous few seasons. He batted just .275 with 7 homers and 49 RBI, but he should form a deadly tandem on defense with Reyes. He's already 30 years in age , so I think he has reached a level on offense.

Jose Reyes (Shortstop) - When at full strength, Reyes is one of the most flexible players in all of the big leagues. In just 126 games last season with the New York Mets, Reyes took home the NL batting title with .337 average, batted a Major League Baseball-best 16 triples (tied with Shane Victorino), scored 101 runs and stole 39 bases.

Hanley Ramirez (Third Base) - The Marlins ' 2011 starter at the shortstop spot, Ramirez was moved to 3rd base upon the appearance of Reyes. Ramirez underwhelmed last season, batting just .243 with 10 homers and 43 RBI in just 92 games. Multiple injuries to his spine and shoulder slowed Ramirez's game down. If he will be able to get back to full strength, he'll doubtless re-establish himself as one of the greatest hitters in the game.

Logan Morrison (Left Field) - Regardless of having a down season last season with regards to his average, batting only .247, Morrison provided nice power stats with 23 homers and 72 RBI. He is still just 24 years old , and if he will build off his performance from last season and improve his eye at the plate, he might be a massive surprise this season.

Emilio Bonifacio (Center Field) - Bonifacio is one of the more trusty players for Miami. He has played pretty much every spot for Miami except for catcher and first base. He is going to be given a shot at the center field position in 2012, but he could be a valuable backup to Reyes and Ramirez in the infield. He batted .296 with 40 swiped bases in 152 games last season.

Giancarlo Stanton (Right Field) - The player who previously went by Mike Stanton improved his stats from 2010, when he was a rookie. Already posting nice stats in 2010 when he batted .259 with 22 homers and 59 RBI, Stanton raised his production last season to .262 with 34 homers and 87 RBI. With the guy turning just 23 years old in November, he has all of the time in the world to improve and be a player for Miami for years to come.

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San Fran Giants Starter & Closer Predictions

By Jack Jones

Last year, the San Francisco Giants weren't able to protect their 2010 World Series title. Though they ended up with a winning mark of 86-76, that wasn't good enough to take their division as they were 8 wins back of 1st place behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. This year, the Giants have signed outfielders Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, which gives them enough production on offense to have a chance at returning to the playoffs in 2012. Here are the predicted starting pitchers and bullpen situation. If you want to find out about more groups check our MLB predictions for 2012.

Projected Staff

Tim Lincecum (RHP) - A poor mark of 13-14 last year doesn't hide the year he had, as he recorded a 2.74 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. In Lincecum's games, the Giants scored a gigantic 2.8 runs. He is still one of the elite pitchers in the game today and he's prepared to put up a far better record in 2012.

Matt Cain (RHP) - A lack of run support also trashed Cain's record last season. He finished just 12-11 last season, but he posted a solid 2.88 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Cain has been as consistent as they come early in his career. He has now thrown at least 200 innings in each of the last 5 seasons.

Madison Bumgarner (LHP) - In 18 games in 2010, Bumgarner went 8-8 with a 3.00 ERA. He then followed it up with a pretty provoking full year as a starter, going 13-13 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 33 starts last year. The 22-year-old has loads of talent and really gives San Francisco a powerful 1-2-3 punch at the top of the rotation.

Ryan Vogelsong (RHP) - Vogelsong was one of the enormous surprises in 2011. The 34-year-old posted a pretty electrifying 13-7 record with a 2.71 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 28 starts after spending the last three years in Japan. The burning question now is whether or not the veteran can replicate that fulfillment in 2012.

Barry Zito (LHP) - After going 16-10 with a 3.86 ERA in 2006 with the Oakland A's, Zito has positively bombed in his reign in San Francisco. In 5 years with San Franicsco, he hasn't ended with a Time below 4.00 and is just 43-61 over that stretch. There are times where it looks as though he will be able to go back to his 2006 self, but at about that point in his career, you can not expect anything more than a standard year from Zito.

Projected Closer

Brian Wilson (RHP) - Although Wilson was not quite as good as he was in prior years, he was still able to save 36 of 41 opportunities last year. He's ERA was just 3.11 last year, the highest it's been since 2008, but I wouldn't worry too much. With the starting staff capable of going deep into games and an offense that should improve from last year, Wilson could save 45-plus games in 2012.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

2012 Baltimore Orioles Pitching Projections

By Jack Jones

Under new manager Buck Showalter, the Baltimore Orioles struggled, finishing last in the loaded American League East with a 69-93 record. The biggest challenge for the team has been finding the right mix of starters to keep them in contention. The Baltimore pitching staff finished last year with an AL-worst 4.89 ERA. The Orioles added Wei-Yin Chen from Taiwan, but it seems as though that won't be enough for the team to rise up the rankings in the East. Here are our MLB predictions for the Orioles' starting rotation and closer this season.

Projected Rotation

Zach Britton (LHP) - Despite this being just his second full season with Baltimore, Britton finds himself at the top of the rotation for 2012. He started last year brilliantly, posting a 3.18 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over his first 13 starts, but faltered over the second half of the season, posting a 6.22 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in his final 15 starts. The youngster still has a lot of room to improve and could grow into a top-of-the-line starter as early as this year.

Jason Hammel (RHP) - The Orioles acquired Hammel in a deal that sent Jeremy Guthrie to the Colorado Rockies. He went just 7-13 with a 4.76 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 27 starts with Colorado last season, so I wouldn't be expecting too much from him in Baltimore.

Jake Arrieta (RHP) - Arrieta was second on the team with 10 wins in just 22 starts last year, but his 5.05 ERA and 1.46 WHIP are unsettling. If he is unable to improve in those two areas, it's tough to predict if he can maintain the double-digit win plateau. He just turned 26 in March, so there is still a lot of time to grow and improve as a player.

Wei-Yin Chen (LHP) - Chen could very well being the best starter in this rotation, but his lack of MLB experience makes him a bit of a wild card. He has played four season in Japan, posting a 2.48 ERA and 1.06 WHIP during his time there. Only time will tell if he can translate those numbers into success in the Majors.

Tsuyoshi Wade (LHP) - Another pitcher coming over from Japan is Tsuyoshi Wade. However, he doesn't seem to have the same potential as Chen. Wade is a soft-tossing lefty with a number of different pitches, but you have to be accurate if you are going to throw a mid-80s fastball, especially in the offensive-minded AL East.

Projected Closer

Jim Johnson (RHP) - The Orioles signed Kevin Gregg last year with the intention of serving as the team's closer. But he quickly quashed those plans, pitching himself out of the ninth inning. Johnson took over the closer role with moderate success in September, so he is expected to get first crack at the job this spring.

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2012 Baltimore Orioles Batting Predictions

By Jack Jones

The Orioles continue to struggle in the always-difficult AL East, but some young talent should have fans excited for the future of the team. Here are our MLB predictions for Baltimore's starting lineup in 2012.

Projected Lineup

Matt Wieters (Catcher) - A breakout campaign in 2011 had the Orioles buzzing about Wieters' future. Wieters hit.262 with 22 home runs and 68 RBI in 139 games, but it is his 15 home runs and.833 OPS in the second half that really has the organization excited.

Mark Reynolds (First Base) - Despite a poor.221 average, Reynolds had 37 home runs with 86 RBI last year. It was the third straight season in which he hit at least 32 homers with 85 RBI.

Brian Roberts (Second Base) - A serious concussion ended his season after May 16, but he has shown encouraging signs that he will be able to play this season. When healthy, Roberts is a legit leadoff hitter. He hit.283 with 16 home runs, 78 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 2009, but has totaled just 98 games the past two seasons. If he is not ready by the start of the season, Robert Andino could take his place at second.

J.J. Hardy (Shortstop) - When he is healthy Hardy is one of the better offensive shortshops in the game. Last year he exploded for 30 home runs and 80 RBI while hitting .269. The Orioles are hoping J.J. can stay healthy and continue providing above-average defense and production out of the shortstop postion.

Chris Davis (Third Base) - The Orioles are hoping Davis can provide some power for the offense this year. Much like Reynolds, Davis strikes out too much to post a strong batting average, but he is also capable of hitting 38 home runs with 114 RBI, which he totaled in 2008 and 2009.

Nolan Reimold (Left Field) - Reimold could get the first crack at the starting job in the left field this year. He was given limited playing time in each of the last three years, but he could be in line for a breakout season in 2012. He hit 13 homers and drove in 45 runs in just 267 at-bats last season. He should hit right around 24 home runs with 80 RBI if given 500 at-bats.

Adam Jones (Center Field) - Jones was the Orioles' best player last season, and his expectations for 2012 are even higher. The 26-year-old set career highs in 2011 with 25 home runs, 26 doubles and 83 RBI, while also a posting a solid.280 batting average. Jones has steadily improved over the last three seasons, which is a good indicator that the best years are still ahead of him.

Nick Markakis (Right Field) - Markakis had a down year last year, as he was unable to keep up the strong performances of years past. That's not to say that he didn't have a good season, as he did, but his string of four straight seasons with at least 43 doubles was halted when he had just 31 last year. He did hit.284 with 15 home runs and 73 RBI.

Wilson Betemit (Designated Hitter) - Betemit could be the designated hitter come Opening Day, but don't put too much value in his stock, as Reimold and Wieters also are likely to see time at DH. He hit.285 with 8 home runs and 46 RBI with the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals last year.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 Detroit Tigers Batting Projections

By Jack Jones

The Tigers added one of the top free agents in this offseason when they landed Prince Fielder, adding some power to an already-effective lineup. Here are our MLB predictions for Detroit's starting lineup.

Projected Lineup

Alex Avila (Catcher) - Avila was a pleasant surprise for the Tigers last season, hitting .295 with 19 home runs and 82 RBI. The 24-year old won the Silver Slugger Award, was named to the All-Star team and led all catchers with a .895 OPS. The expectations for the young catcher are sky-hight in 2012.

Prince Fielder (First Base) - With the addition of Fielder, the Tigers are suddenly an even more formidable team and have one of the more feared lineups in all of baseball. The All-Star first baseman hit .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBI with the Milwaukee Brewers last year, and he now has at least 30 homers in the last five seasons. The son of former Tigers star Cecil Fielder is also one of the more durable players in the league. He has played in at least 157 games in each of the past six seasons.

Ryan Raburn (Second Base) - Raburn is a versatile player who figures to take over second base full time. He hit just .213 in the first half of last season, but progressed in the second half, when he hit .341. In 121 games last year, he had 14 home runs and 49 RBI, which is promising for a second baseman. Rayburn needs to cut down on his strikeouts. If he can, he could end up being extremely productive in 2012.

Jhonny Peralta (Shortstop) - After a strong season last year, Peralta solidified his position in the lineup and has now earned himself the starting job at shortstop. He has improved his game and has learned to strike out less, which resulted in him finishing with a career-high .299 batting average. He also put up solid power numbers of 21 home runs and 86 RBI.

Miguel Cabrera (Third Base) - One of the best offensive players in the game, Cabrera will make the move defensively to third base to make room for Prince Fielder at first. There's almost no player in the league that has been as consistently great at the plate than Cabrera. He hit .344 with 30 home runs and 105 RBI last season, marking the third-straight season he's hit at least .324 and knocked in 30 home runs and driven in at least 100 runs.

Andy Dirks (Left Field) -It seems that Dirks will have every opportunity to hold down the open spot in left field, but after hitting just .251 with 7 home runs and 28 RBI in 78 games last year, it's hard to expect a lot from him offensively. He did just turn 26 in January, so there is still an outside shot for him to have a breakout season.

Austin Jackson (Center Field) - After hitting only .293 in 2010, Jackson managed just a .249 average in his second season as the Tigers' starting center fielder. Jackson's biggest asset is his glove, which is well above-average, but he also provides some speed on the base path, stealing 49 bases and hitting 21 triples over the past two seasons combined.

Brennan Boesch (Right Field) - A thumb injury ended Boesch's season early in 2011. He was really coming along nicely, hitting .283 with 16 home runs and 54 RBI in 115 games. He is expected to be healthy and ready to go for 2012, and the Tigers are hoping he can continue from where he left off before the injury.

Delmon Young (Designated Hitter) - After the Tigers acquired Young from the Minnesota Twins via a midseason trade, the former No. 1 overall pick really came into his own and played extremely well for Detroit. Young hit .274 with 8 home runs and 32 RBI in just 40 games with the Tigers. At the age of 26, he is still relatively young, and even though he has never reached his potential, he still has a lot of time to do so in the future.

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How To Find Your Rhythm In Baseball

By Joe Wiser

So I'm not much of a dancer. I don't know perhaps you are , but I'm not, because you've got to have a little hitting stance rhythm. But rhythm and dancing is different than rhythm and hitting. Rhythm and hitting is necessary. Lack of rhythm at the plate causes rigidity, causes stress. We want to be comfortable and loose at the plate. Allow me to explain.

In this segment we are going to talk about rhythm. There's lots of different rhythms. If you target my hands now, you can see how there just barely moving around. Some guys like to have rhythm with they are legs swaying forwards and backwards just gently. We do not need big movements. This is where we wish to avoid extremes. There's a large amount of different ways. Some hitters like to wiggle their fingers. Some hitters like to tap their front toe. They get in this position. This is their rhythm. The rhythm is the way the hitter relaxes his body. He would like to stay loose. If he just stands there like this, yes just standing there just fully still, stress comes into his stance, stress comes into his swing. He isn't as cosy. He isn't as loose and his body can't function the way in which it wishes to.

So when you get in the box, you want to have something that keeps you loose. This is your rhythm. I'm nice and loose. Now avoid having too many types of rhythms going on simultaneously. That can lead to issues also. You get too much of a sway going backwards and forwards, your hands start going up and down, now I have too many things that can go bad. Remember that pitcher's trying to get you out. You're not sure always how he's going to deliver the ball. Whether he'll slide step and be fast to you or go with a high leg kick and take his time. So this is just a way to relax ourselves. Nice and smooth. We need to be comfy. We need to be loose. This is how we keep ourselves loose is with our rhythm.

Now rhythm also occurs in our load and through our swing. You check out this and see which one makes more sense, this, or nice and regular as I am getting ready? When we do it nice and smooth, we're really regular. We give our self an opportunity to be in hand. When we rush things and we lose our rhythm, we run into difficulty as a hitter. Rhythm is a major part of hitting. It's regularly over looked, so frequently mechanics are just taught. We actually need to have rhythm. We want to be loose.

So next time you get in the box, go ahead find your rhythm, figure out what it is you do. Maybe you're a booty shaker. Whatever it is, find your rhythm, just not too many of them. Relax, that way your body can work, and have a good game.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 Atlanta Braves Pitching Preview

By Jack Jones

The Atlanta Braves ' significant fall off during the last month of the 2011 season allowed the St. Louis Cardinals to squeak into the playoffs and afterwards take home the World Series. Atlanta led St. Louis by 8.5 games in Sep and would cling on to the margin until the last day of the regular season. It had been a very tough pill to swallow for newly employed manager Fredi Gonzalez, who failed to get to the playoffs regardless of an 89-73 mark. Atlanta didn't make major changes , however , and the squad will stick it out with most of its roster untouched. Here are the projected starting rotation and bullpen situation. If you would like to know a lot more about our projections on the franchise have a look at our 2012 Atlanta Braves predictions.

Projected Starters

Tim Hudson (RHP) - The 36-year-old veteran had another solid season last season. He went 16-10 with a 3.22 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He is coming from back operations over the winter, but he's anticipated to be prepared for early season action.

Tommy Hanson (RHP) - Hanson had to miss a massive part of August and September with a shoulder injury. He will be dominant when at full strength, though, as he went 10-4 with a 2.44 ERA early on. He did struggle in his last 5 games before getting hurt, going just 1-3 with an 8.10 ERA in that time frame.

Jair Jurrjens (RHP) - A knee injury also sat Jurrjens for a long-lasting amount of time last season. He ended up 13-6 with a 2.96 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. His incapacity to stay on the field is a bit worrisome, but his low ERA is highly important to the team's success.

Brandon Beachy (RHP) - Beachy churned in quite a powerful performance as a rookie last year. In 25 starts, the guy went 7-3 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. The stat which has a large number of people excited is his 10.7 Ks/9 innings. He's got the potential to be the ace of this staff for many years to come.

Mike Minor (LHP) - Minor stepped in for the injured starters and held his own as he helped Atlanta go 9-3 in his 12 games. He finished up 5-3 with a 4.14 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. He's still just 24 years old and still has masses of time to pan out. If he is unable to hold down the fifth spot, the Braves have the option to turn to a couple of highly touted prospects in Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran.

Projected Closer

Craig Kimbrel (RHP) - In only his first year in the Major Leagues, the kid has proved his stock as he set a rookie record with 46 saves and earning the National League Rookie of the Year award. Both right- and left-handed hitters hit under just .200 against him. He struck out 127 batters in just 77 innings. He's already being offered as the most dominant closer in the game.

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Philadelphia Phillies Lineup Predictions

By Jack Jones

The Philadelphia Philies have been beating everyone in the National League East the past five seasons and last year they picked up 102 victories during the regular year. That went for naught though when Philly was taken out in the first round of the postseason versus St. Louis. Let's take a look at their hitters to see if they have enough offense to take home another division title. If you would like more info on the team check our Philadelphia Phillies 2012 preview.

Projected Hitters

Carlos Ruiz (Catcher) - Carlos Ruiz is among the more disparaged backstops in the league today. The veteran has done a superb job managing the Philadelphia pitchers, and gave excellent offensive stats during the process. Last year he batted .283 with.371 OBP. Ruiz barely swings at a horrid pitch. In reality the man struck out just 48 times in 410 at-bats last year.

Ryan Howard (First Base) - The All-Star first baseman Ryan Howard is anticipated to miss one or two months while recovering from an Achilles ' injury he went through in the last game of the NLDS versus St. Louis. He isn't predicted back in the order until early May and veteran Ty Wigginton is expected to start in his spot in the meantime. The large concern the Phillies have coming into the 2012 year is whether the injury will affect Howard's power production once he returns in May.

Chase Utley (Second Base) - Persistent knee tendinitis forced Utley to miss the first 46 games of the season last season and injuries are keeping him out of the lineup at the start of 2012 as well. The injury took its toll on his offensive numbers in 2011, as he hit for a career-low .259 average to go with 11 home runs and 44 RBI in 103 games. Now that Utley has had a full offseason to recuperate and is taking the time to get back into game shape, the Phillies are hoping that the Utley who will show up in 2012 will be the Utley who hit .282 with 31 home runs and 92 RBI in 2009.

Jimmy Rollins (Shortstop) - Another Philadelphia player who has been hampered by injury is Jimmy Rollins. Regardless of this, I think we continue to haven't seen the last of what Rollins can do. Rollins managed to bat .268 with 16 homers, 63 RBI and 30 steals in just 142 games last year. And I suspect that he has what's needed to have similar if not better stats in 2012.

Placido Polanco (Third Base) - The 36-year-old veteran is still as good on defense as anyone, but his offensive stats are starting to regress. Polanco's .277 average last year was a career low for a year in which he played at least 100 games.

John Mayberry Jr. (Left Field) - The Phillies are actually thrilled about what Mayberry Jr. Can do offensively. The 28-year-old is coming off a season in which he hit .273 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI in just 267 at-bats. The Phillies hope for more of the same in 2012.

Shane Victorino (Center Field) - Victorino is another player who was held down by the injury bug last year. He played a great 2011 year before a thumb and hamstring injury stopped it too early. In 132 games, Victorino hit .279 with 17 homers, 16 triples and 61 RBI.

Hunter Pence (Right Field) - After a midseason deal that landed him in Philly from the Houston Astros, Pence truly caught on fire and was a major help in the Phillies ' search for playoff contention. In 100 games with Houston, Pence hit .308 with 11 homers and 62 RBI; in just 54 games with the Phillies, he hit .324 with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

2012 NY Yankees Batting Preview

By Jack Jones

You know the Yankees are going to be a organization to be dealt with each year. They have quality arms, but what really makes this organization go is one of the most awesome group of hitters in the majors. Let's take a look at who will be filling out the lineup in 2012. If you'd like to read about more teams check out our MLB predictions for 2012.

Projected Lineup

Russell Martin (Catcher) - Martin played solid in his first year with New York. His .237 batting average was the worst ever, but he was decent on offense with 18 home runs and 65 RBI in just 125 games. We could see more of Martin at catcher in 2012, especially since Montero is not on the roster.

Mark Teixeira (First Base) - The power numbers for the vet were a solid 39 homers and 111 RBI, but he only hit for an average of about .250 for the second straight season. If he can get back on course and enhance his average closer to .300 together with those solid power numbers, we could see Teixeira be in the short-list for the AL MVP.

Robinson Cano (2nd Base) - Cano is coming off another galvanizing season with the Yankees. He hit .302 with 28 homers and 118 RBI last season. The 29-year-old All-Star second baseman has racked up 3 straight seasons with at least a .300 average to go along with an average of 25 homers and 85 RBI.

Derek Jeter (Shortstop) - Jeter started out the year fighting at the plate, but got his second wind after reaching the 3,000-hit mark. He batted .331 with 41 RBI from that point on, but his poor start meant he ended up with a .297 average, a career-low 6 home runs and just 61 RBI. Father Time might ultimately be catching up to the future Hall-of-Famer, as he'll turn 38 this summer, and you have got to wonder how much longer he will be able to keep up this All-Star pace before losing his value.

Alex Rodriguez (Third Base) - An injury-plagued year limited him to just 99 games last year. As a result, he snapped a 13-year run with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI when he hit just 16 home runs and 62 RBI. The soon-to-be 37-year-old is still one of the top batters in the game when healthy, so the Yankees hope he can bounce back with a giant year in 2012.

Brett Gardner (Left Field) - Brett Gardner is one of one or two Yankee hitters who don't thrive on hitting home runs. His bread and butter are on the defensive end and with his ability to wreak havoc with his base stealing. Gardner batted just .259, but scored 87 runs and tied for the American League lead with 49 steals.

Curtis Granderson (Center Fielder) - Granderson had a year for the ages when he exploded for 41 home runs and 119 RBI in his second year with New York last year. He also had 10 triples and 25 stolen bases; he became the 1st player in history to record 40 home runs, 100 RBI, 10 triples and 25 stolen bases. The best part is that he's turning just 31 in a couple of weeks, so there's still reasonable excuse for the Yankees organisation to wish that he can put up similar stats in 2012.

Nick Swisher (Right Field) - Swisher has now put together a chain of solid regular seasons in New York, hitting .260 with 23 homers and 85 RBI in 2011, but he has continued to struggle mightily to provide in the postseason. In 3 seasons with the Yankees, he has hit just .160 in the playoffs.

Raul Ibanez (Designated Hitter) - The Yankees went out and added the vet Ibanez to supply a steady hand at DH. He turns 40 in June, but he could see a spike in his numbers playing in Yankee Stadium. Though he hit just .245 in 144 games with Philadelphia Phillies last season, he did manage to hit 20 homers and drive in 84 runs.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

2012 Arizona D-Backs Offense Preview

By Jack Jones

The Arizona Diamondbacks came out of nowhere last year to take home the division and make the playoffs. This franchise has gotten better on offense by adding Jason Kubel, so let's take a look at the batting order. If you want more information on the franchise check our Arizona Diamondbacks projections for 2012.

Projected Lineup

Miguel Montero (Catcher) - After an injury-plagued 2010 year, Montero charged back and had a big season last year. The 28-year-old batted .282 with 18 home runs and 86 RBI in 140 games as the Arizona catcher. He has the talent to reach 20 home runs and 100 RBI this year.

Paul Goldschmidt (First Base) - After getting promoted in Aug last year, Goldschmidt posted huge stats of .250 with 8 home runs and 26 RBI in just 49 games. The D-Backs are surely delighted with what the guy can offer during a full year, as he's got the power to knock out 30-plus home runs in the enormous leagues. But it is tough to guess when the 24-year-old will put it all together.

Aaron Hill (Second Base) - After coming over from the Toronto Blue Jays in a midseason trade, Hill really provided a spark on both sides of the ball. He hit just .225 in 104 games with Toronto, but Hill played better when he arrived in Arizona, as he posted .315 average in 33 games with the club. It's a bit odd though, as he hit just 8 homers between Arizona and Toronto, after hitting 62 homers combined the previous two seasons.

Stephen Drew (Shortstop) - A fractured right ankle stopped his Drew's year prematurely , after he played just 86 games. Before he went out, he batted just .252 with 5 home runs.

Ryan Roberts (Third Base) - Roberts had a great year last year notwithstanding hitting just .249. He had 19 home runs, 65 RBI and 18 stolen bases, which were all career highs. He is certainly somebody worth keeping an eye fixed on, if only to determine if he has what it takes to have another massive advancement in 2012.

Jason Kubel (Left Field) - Arizona is hoping that Kubel can return to his 2009 form, when he hit .300 with 28 homers and 103 RBI with Minnesota. Unfortunately, 2011 was an injury-plagued season for him, as he was restricted to just 99 games due to an ankle problem. He did manage to hit .273 with 12 homers and 58 RBI.

Chris Young (Center Field) - Young was one of the few guys on the Diamondbacks last year who saw a dip in his numbers. He was never going to hit for a high average, as he is merely a career .240 hitter, but his power numbers dropped from 27 home runs and 91 RBI in 2010 to 21 home runs and 71 RBI in the same number of games.

Justin Upton (Right Field) - After batting .289 with a career-high 31 home runs, 88 RBI and 21 stolen bases, Upton has solidified himself as one of the premier young players in the league while becoming the best hitter on the organization in the process. He is still just 24 years in age , so it is safe to assume that his best years are still before him.

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2012 Arizona D-Backs Starting Pitcher & Closer Predictions

By Jack Jones

The Arizona Diamondbacks surprised the major leagues in 2011, when they ended the year with a 94-68 record. Prior to last year, Arizona was dead last in the National League West division with a 65-97 record, but some breakout years from main players bolted Arizona to the apex of the National League West division last year. The team appears to have gotten even better for 2012, keeping its core nucleus together while adding starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and outfielder Jason Kubel. Here are the projected starting pitchers and closer situation for the upcoming year. Check out more teams with our baseball projections for 2012.

Projected Rotation

Ian Kennedy (RHP) - Kennedy shocked a lot of people with his elite numbers last season. After going just 9-10 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 2010, Kennedy outdid himself by recording a highly galvanizing 21-4 record with a dominant 2.88 ERA and 1.09 WHIP to complete fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting. It will be tough to match the numbers that he had last season, but he may be one of the top-notch starters in the National League.

Daniel Hudson (RHP) - Hudson had a pretty good season of his own. In his first full year as a full time starter, he went 16-12 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. If he continues to improve in 2012, Arizona will have a pretty scary pair at the top of the order.

Trevor Cahill ' (RHP) - Cahill can offer a steady arm in the middle of the rotation, especially if he will bounce back from a disheartening 2011 campaign. Cahill went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 30 starts with Oakland in 2010, but saw those numbers drop last season, going just 10-12 with a 4.16 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 34 starts.

Joe Saunders (LHP) - Saunders ended up just 12-13 last year, but his 3.69 ERA and 1.31 WHIP show that he threw better than his record showed. Still, it was his best year as a starter since going 17-7 with a 3.41 ERA in 31 starts with Anaheim in 2008.

Josh Collmenter (RHP) - At the base of the rotation, Collmenter could be a pretty excellent choice to have. In his first big league season, Collmenter went 10-10 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 24 starts. But his 4.00 ERA in the minors places him at a risk for a decrease in 2012.

Projected Closer

J.J. Putz (RHP) - The Diamondbacks had to once have been slightly surprised with how well Putz pitched in his first season with Arizona. The veteran went out and converted 45 of 49 save opportunities with a 2.17 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. What's even more impressive is he did that despite missing a month due to right shoulder tendinitis.

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