Saturday, January 28, 2017

The top 5 players at every position in the MLB

    In the MLB, there are 9 positions. (10 in a American league game) Each position has its stars and its not so good players. Here are the top 5 players at each position:
     Catcher: 1. Buster Posey, 2. Jonathan Lucroy, 3. Salvador Perez, 4. J.T. Realmuto, 5. Gary Sanchez/ Willson Contreras.
      The catchers now are more focused on fielding, and the hitting part isn't that great compared to every other position. Posey is definitely the top catcher, but at his second position, first base, he's probably the 9/10th best hitter. Lucroy was solid between Milwaukee and Texas last season, and should do better in a full season in Texas. The surprise is who I think is the biggest bounce back in the MLB, Salvador Perez. Maybe he plays even better in tribute of the life of former Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura. Maybe he, as well as other Royals, can get back to their 2015 ways, even without Kendrys Morales. Realmuto broke out in 2016, and should breakout even more in 2017, being the only catcher who's a double digit steal threat. The only tie in the list is between 2 rookies who played amazing in less than a season. The only reason they're both not higher is because they might go through a mini sophomore slump this year.
       First base: 1. Paul Goldschmidt, 2. Miguel Cabrera, 3. Anthony Rizzo, 4. Edwin Encarnacion, 5. Joey Votto.
        First base could be the deepest position in baseball, but all of the infield (besides catcher) is pretty deep. Goldschmidt started off rough in 2016, but ended off well. Miggy returned to his MVP form too, as there are two .300 hitters, who can hit 30+ HRs and 100+ RBIs, where you don't see that at all at catcher. Rizzo is another guy who could really impact the game. Encarnacion won't hit for average, but is a 40 homer threat every year, and could be better in Cleveland this season. Votto seemed lost 2 years ago, but is an all star once again.
         Second base: 1. Jose Altuve, 2. Robinson Cano, 3. Daniel Murphy, 4. Brian Dozier, 5. Rougned Odor.
         Second base usually consists of speed threats and average hitters. Altuve has always been that, and hit career highs with 24 homers and 96 RBIs last year. In his first 2 years in Seattle, Cano struggled badly. In 2016, he hit 39 homers, a career high, and had 103 RBIs, his first 100+ RBI season since 2013. In his first year in Washington, Murphy was a NL MVP finalist, not much more to say. Dozier hit 30 home runs for the first time ever, in fact, he hit 40 HRs for the first time ever with 42. He also hit for 99 RBIs, a career high. Odor broke out with 33 HRs and 88 RBIs last year.
           Shortstop: 1. Corey Seager, 2. Francisco Lindor, 3. Carlos Correa, 4. Xander Bogaerts, 5. Trea Turner.
            Before we start, a little fun fact. The oldest of these 5 players is Bogaerts, who is 24 years old, proving that SS is probably the youngest overall position. Seager was the ROY winner last year, and almost beat Kris Bryant for the MVP. Lindor, Correa and Bogaerts are all 5 tool players, and Turner, who played CF last season, will slot in at his natural position of SS, and can be a league leader in steals, swiping 33 bags in 73 games last season.
              Third base: 1. Kris Bryant, 2. Josh Donaldson, 3. Nolan Arenado, 4. Manny Machado, 5. Adrian Beltre.
               The top 4 were really easy to pick, then it was a toss up between a lot of guys, like Kyle Seager, brother of Corey, to decide on the 5th spot, but I went with Beltre, who at age 37, has at least 2 more quality years left in him. Arenado, Bryant, the NL MVP winner, Donaldson and Machado can all be .300 hitters with 35+ HRs and 100+ RBIs. Not much more to say.
                Outfield: 1. Mike Trout, 2. Mookie Betts, 3. Andrew McCutchen, 4. Bryce Harper, 5. Yoenis Cespedes.
                 I could of gone with LFs, CFs, and RFs instead of just OF, but most guys play multiple of those positions, so I went with just OF. Trout and Betts were 1 and 2 in the AL MVP race, with Trout winning. McCutchen and Harper both had disappointing seasons last year, but should bounce back in 2017. Cespedes has a couple of really good seasons in the last 2 years, and should have another one this year.
                 Designated hitter: 1. Nelson Cruz, 2. Kendrys Morales, 3. Victor Martinez, 4. Carlos Beltran, 5. Hanley Ramirez.
                 With the retirement of David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez, the DH position is pretty weak. Cruz might play some time at RF this season, and Morales and Ramirez could play some 1B. They're all older guys with a lot of power, but not much of the ability to hit for average.
                  Starting pitcher: 1. Clayton Kershaw, 2. Max Scherzer, 3. Madison Bumgarner, 4. Corey Kluber, 5. Chris Sale.
                  Kershaw was hurt most of last season, but should be as amazing as usually this year. Scherzer and Bumgarner have been outstanding the last few years. Kluber bounced back last year, leading the tribe to the world series. Sale was always dominant in Chicago, and should be even better in Boston.
                  Relievers: 1. Kenley Jansen, 2. Aroldis Chapman, 3. Zach Britton, 4. Mark Melancon, 5. Craig Kimbrel.
                   Jansen has always been a consistent sleeper, but is now a widely recognized star. Chapman and his 100+ MPH fastball were dominant with the Yankees and led the Cubs to their first WS win in 108 years. Britton was incredible last season with Baltimore, and should also be amazing again this year. Melancon was outstanding with Pittsburgh and Washington last year, and should be even better with San Francisco this year. Kimbrel was great in his first year in Boston, and should be better in his second.
                     So that is who I think is the top 5 players at each position in the MLB. Comment down below if you agree or not.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

NHL Trade review: Sharks send Wingels to Sens for 2 forwards, pick

     The Ottawa Senators have acquired LW Tommy Wingels from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for forwards Buddy Robinson, Zach Stortini, and a 7th round draft pick in the 2017 draft. Here's why it happened:
      For the entire year, the Sens have been looking to find a solid bottom 6 winger. Prospect Curtis Lazar has just 1 point, an assist, in 25 games this year and is a -6, being a major disappointment. The Sens found some success in their depth, though, as C Ryan Dzingel has 23 points in 45 games. Players like Robinson, LW Max McCormick, and RW Casey Bailey have played a few amount of games this season. LW Matt Puempel was dealt to the New York Rangers earlier this year. The 28 year old Wingels has 8 points in 37 games this season. Wingels also has some playoff experience, especially with the Sharks in last year's Stanley Cup final. "Tommy has been a valuable member of our franchise for many years, a phenomenal teammate and a true role model on and off the ice for our organization and the NHL," San Jose GM Doug Wilson said. "As a team evolves and younger players push for roster spots, unfortunately tough decisions have to be made. We wish Tommy and his wife, Molly, nothing but success in the future." Wingels has 122 points in 337 games so far in his career, all with San Jose. Wingels should first play with Ottawa Thursday against the Calgary Flames.
         The Sharks will also retain 30% of Wingels contract. He's owed $2.45 mil in his 3rd year of his contract, and he will be a UFA on July 1st this year.
        For the Sharks they get some depth in their minor league system. "We also want to welcome Buddy and Zach to our organization. They add size and depth to our reserve list and we look forward to having them in San Jose," Wilson also said. The 6 foot 6, 232Ib, 25 year old Robinson has 0 points in 4 games this year in the NHL. He made his debut last year in 3 games, with a goal and an assist in 3 games. The 6-2 219Ib, 31 year old Stortini has 3 points in 22 games this year in the AHL, and has 257 games of NHL experience, most recently in the 2011-12 season with the Nashville Predators.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hard Hitting Questions for the Hard Hitting Johnny Boychuk

  Today I had the pleasure to meet/interview New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk, who is turning 33 tomorrow, was drafted 61st overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2002. He is now playing in his 7th full NHL season, having played for the Avalanche, Boston Bruins, and now the Islanders. He has 37 goals and 98 assists for 135 career NHL points. Boychuk, who is known for his big slap shot, won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011. In 2015, Boychuk signed a 7 year contract extension with the Islanders
      1. This season has been a tough one for the team, being last in the conference and Jack Capuano was just fired yesterday. How does it affect things in the locker room going forward?
  JB: I think it's a difficult transition but he was a good coach. We have a lot of guys who have to step up and to do their job and it will be a good test for everybody.  

     2. How do you think Doug Weight as head coach can help turn around the season? 
JB: It will be good, he used to be a player, and he knows the keys to either changing in game strategy or seeing what the other team is doing and can adapt well.  

3. Over your 3 years here in NY, do you feel more comfortable playing with a puck-moving defenseman in Nick Leddy, a traditional d-man like Travis Hamonic, another shot-blocking machine like Calvin de Haan, an all around guy like Thomas Hickey, or Dennis Seidenberg, whom you played with in Boston?
JB: I like playing with Nick [Leddy] and I also like playing with Thomas [Hickey]. I think with either one we do well together and complement each other. We kind of have a chemistry of knowing where to be and we talk a lot when we're out on the ice. So it's easy to play with them.         

     4. In your career, you’ve never scored double digit goals, but in your first 2 seasons with the Islanders, you have set career highs in both seasons with 9 goals. This year, you have 5 goals in half a season. Are you feeling a little more confident that this will finally be the year you score at least 10 goals?
JB: I think I can score 10 goals this year. It's not out of the question. It's about getting the right opportunities, getting your shots on the net and not getting them blocked. 

     5. There has been some young defenseman coming up in this Islanders system recently in Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and others. Would you consider yourself a mentor to them? 

     JB: Yes, definitely. When I came into the league there were some older players that helped me along the way. It's always nice to help the younger guys when they come in because most of the time they are going to be nervous. Talking to them will make them feel comfortable and let them play their game.  
     6. The road to the NHL was a long one for you, signing your 1st one way deal about 7 years after you were drafted. How did you persevere to become a stable defenseman in this league?
JB: Getting to play in Boston was a key opportunity for me. I think just having fun and working hard was a big thing. I kept doing that and gave it my best and luckily I got to stay.

7. In your NHL career, you have 920 blocked shots. Do you ever get a little scared to block a shot? and what player would you least like to block a shot from?
JB: Yes, especially when it's going at you over a 100 miles per hour. You have to block the shot but you don't really want to because you know it's going to hurt. But that's your job and hopefully it's only going to hurt for a little. I'd probably least want to block Zdeno Chara's shot. I've blocked a few of his in practice [with the Bruins] and it's not really fun because they are going really fast. 

8. When you first played with the Colorado Avalanche, you played a few games as a forward. Do you think you could have made it as a forward in the NHL?

JB: No! (laughing) It was a fun experience and to get your first few games as a forward was definitely different.  

     9. You normally seem to play a physical style, but manage to stay out of the penalty box. Is it easy to play that kind of style and stay out of the box?
      JB:  Yes it is if you're smart about it, some guys aren't and end up in the penalty box. If you know how to play the right way you should be out of the penalty box more often than not.
10. Growing up, who was your favorite player?
 JB: Al MacInnis and Ray Bourque

11. Which city (besides Brooklyn) is your favorite to play in?
 JB: I like playing back home in Edmonton. I also enjoy playing in Boston, Montreal, and Nashville.
      12. When you won the cup in 2011, where did you take it?
JB: First, I took it to a children's hospital back home. Then, I took it to my Mom and Dad's house, and then to another place for people to take pictures with it.

13. Excluding this year, you’ve had 3 different home arenas in 3 years. (TD Garden, Nassau Coliseum, Barclays Center) is it difficult to keep making adjustments to home ice? 
JB: Sometimes, but you get used to playing in your home arena after a little while.

14. Before last year, the NHL changed from 4 on 4 OT to 3 on 3 OT. Which style do you like better?

JB: I don't play in OT (laughing) so it doesn't matter to me. 

      15. Over the years, the game has become more high-paced and focused on speed. Is it hard to keep up with this style of play?
JB: Sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not. You just have to adjust your style of play, depending on who you are playing against. Some teams are faster then others, and some teams are more hard hitting and physical so you just need to prepare and be ready for everything.
 16. Since your rookie season, do you think the game has changed? 
      JB: Yeah it has, quite a bit. Especially with the way you can hit people. There is a lot more emphasis on limiting head shots now because there have been a lot of concussions.

 17.  After signing a long term deal and buying a house here on Long Island, what do you and your family enjoy about the area?
JB: There's a lot of family oriented stuff around Long Island. Either from going to the beaches or going into the city, there is a lot of good things on Long Island. The school systems are really good too.   

Thank you to the New York Islanders and Johnny Boychuk for this awesome experience.