Tag Archives: all star game

MANTLE VS. TROUT – TWO OF THE BEST EVER

What else can Mike Trout do? The week before the All Star Game, he was named American League Player of the Week, he homered to lead off the All Star Game on Tuesday and won his second straight All Star MVP Award, becoming the only player in history ever to be MVP twice in a row, received the ESPY Award the next night as the Best Major League Baseball Player and hit a walk off home run, to beat the red Sox 1-0, the first game back after the All Star Break.

As a Yankee fan for all my life, I cannot help but compare Trout with Yankee great Micky Mantle. The similarities in their careers are amazing. Both broke into Major League baseball at the age of 19, Mantle at 19 years and 6 months, Trout at 19 years and 11 months, ( rounded off ).

Mantle, who spent his entire 18 year career with the Yankees, debuted on April 17, 1951 and Trout, who has spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Angels, debuted 60 years later on July 8, 2011. In Mantle’s 18 years, he averaged .298 and had 536 homers and 1,509 RBI’s.

Comparing Trout’s relatively brief career with Mantle’s eighteen years is difficult. Mantle had a career marred by an illness that makes you wonder what he might have done without the poliomyelitis that plagued him. Despite the problems with his legs, he was extremely fast on the bases and in the field, and was once quoted as saying ‘ Hitting the ball was easy, running around the bases was the hard part.’ Hopefully, Trout will be around for many years for us to enjoy watching and compare their careers. Trout has already stolen 111 bases compared to Mantle’s 153 in his career.

Trout was 23 years, 11 months and ten days old on Friday night when he hit the walk off homer against the Red Sox. When Mantle was exactly the same age, he had completed his fifth full year in baseball and was playing in his fourth World Series.

Mantle had hit 121 home runs and driven in 445 at that age and Trout had 125 homers and 363 RBI’s. Mantle’s average was .298, with 719 hits in 2411 at bats and Trout had hit .306 with 674 hits in 2,201 at bats. Mantle had played in 638 games and Trout 582.
Mantle won three Most Valuable Player Awards, won the Triple Crown in 1956, played in every All Star Game but one from 1952-1968 and played in 12 World Series. In his career, Trout has been named to four All Star teams, was Rookie of the Year in 2012, Most Valuable Player in 2014 and has led the league in runs scored for the past four years. He has only been in post season play one year but appears to be leading his team to the Playoffs this year.

Mike Trout has had a remarkable early career. He may be the best hitter in baseball today, with the possible exception of Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers. He is an exceptionally gifted outfielder with one of the best throwing arms among baseball outfielders and is an excellent base runner with the ability to steal bases.

There seems to be no limit to what Trout can accomplish at this point. He appears to give 100 percent all the time and plays the game with complete abandon. Hopefully, he will avoid serious injury and be around for us to enjoy for many years.

Whether he will and will continue to perform as he has in his brief career, no one knows, but he appears to have the ability to rewrite baseball’s record books. Certainly, the accomplishments of the last two weeks of his Major League career, would have constituted a great season for most players.

It is too early in Trout’s career to compare their careers and even more difficult to evaluate two players whose careers were separated by sixty years but these are obviously two of the most talented of all time before the age of 24.

I grew up watching Mantle and am growing old watching Trout. There were many other greats who I saw play during those years who may have been better, including center fielders like Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays and hitters like Ted Williams and Stan Musial but the careers of these two are remarkably similar and perhaps no pair possessed comparable all around ability.

THE BROCKSTAR AN ALLSTAR????

Brock Holt was selected to the 2015 American League All Star team by Manager Ned Yost on July 6. Holt had played at seven different positions in the first half of the season so there was no way he could be picked in the selection process for starters on the team who are selected by position by popular vote of the fans.

In the first 66 games he played in this year, he played the most games, 20, at second base filling in for the injured Dustin Pedroia, and the second most, 17, in right field. He has played every position except pitcher and catcher for the Sox in both 2014 and 2015. Despite being moved around so much, he had handled 675 chances and had 353 put outs, 304 assists and just 18 errors for a .973 fielding percentage in his Major League career.

In that first 66 games, prior to his selection, despite being moved from position to position, sometimes playing multiple positions in one game, Holt had managed to hit .295 with 66 hits in 224 at bats. He had a six game hitting streak when selected and had hit .333 in that period with nine hits in 27 at bats.

Utility players, which is how Holt is categorized, are generally good fielders and poor hitters who fill in when a regular is hurt or needs a day off. Holt is the exception, regulars are given days off to make room for Holt in the lineup.

He was born in Fort Worth, Texas on June 11, 1988, and was a Texas High School star. He started college at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas and the moved to Rice University in Houston.

Holt has always hit well. At Rice, in 2009, where he was named to the All Regional NCAA Team, he hit .348, with 12 homers and 43 RBI’s in 59 games. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the ninth round of the 2009 Amateur Draft and signed by them on June 18, 2009.

In his first year in professional ball, he played for State College in the Low A New York/Penn League where he hit .299 in 66 games before being moved up to Bradenton in the High A Florida League in 2010 where he hit .351 in 47 games. The next year, at Altoona, in the AA Eastern League, he hit .288 in 132 games.

He started 2012 in Altoona and hit .322 in 102 games before being moved up to Indianapolis in the Class AAA International League, where he played in 24 games and hit .432.

He made his debut in the Major Leagues with Pittsburgh on September 1, 2012 against the Milwaukee Brewers. He pinch hit for relief pitcher Jared Hughes in the eighth inning, drew a walk and eventually scored the tying run to send that game to the ninth 2-2. He played in 24 games in the majors with Pittsburgh that year and hit .292.

On December 26, 2012, he was traded, with Joel Hanrahan from the Pirates to the Red Sox for Ivan Dejesus and Mark Melancon. Holt was a throw in in that trade which was all about the Sox getting rid of Melancon and acquiring Hanrahan, neither of who panned out in Boston.
In 2013, his first year in the Red Sox organization, he was assigned to Pawtucket, the Sox affiliate in the AAA International League. He played in 83 games and hit .258. In 26 games with the Sox that year, he hit only .203. In 2014, he started the season with Pawtucket again and hit .315 in 27 games.
In his minor league career, he averaged .307 at the plate and played almost exclusively middle infield positions with 283 games at shortstop and 178 at second base. He did play 11 games at third base but never played the outfield or first base.

He spent most of 2014 with the Red Sox and played in 106 games, hitting
.281 with four homers and 29 RBI’s. For the first time, he was given the opportunity to play many different positions and became a valuable part of a very weak team.

At 5’10’, 180 pounds, he has the ability to hit the long ball and hit to all fields.
On June 16, against the Atlanta Braves, he hit for the cycle, a single, double, triple and home run in the same game, becoming the first Red Sox player to do so since John Valentin did it in 1996. A left handed hitter, he hits left handers almost as well as righties, hitting .299 against right handers and . 277 against lefties this year.

His salary of $531,000. makes him a bargain on a team that spent a fortune for the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Rick Porcello, none of whom have been nearly as valuable to the Sox as Holt. He is signed through this season and is eligible for arbitration in 2017 and will not be eligible for Free Agency until 2020.

There is an old baseball adage that says a team must be strong up the middle. The Sox have the ability to ensure that they are strong there for a long time by taking steps to lock catcher Christian Vazquez, and/or Blake Swihart, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, center fielder Mookie Betts and Holt into long term contracts as they have done with second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The money it would cost to do so would be a much better investment than most of their other recent large expenditures.

In the meantime, congratulations to their first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman, left fielder, center fielder and right fielder for making the All Star Team where he stole a base and scored a run in a winning cause for the American League.

ALL STAR GAME SHOULD NOT AFFECT WORLD SERIES!!!

The Major League All Star Game will be played in Cincinnati this year at the Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds. The Game, which will be held on July 14, is the final event of a Gala Weekend which starts on Friday with a Fan Fest kickoff. The Fan Fest, with every kind of baseball related event you can imagine, runs until Tuesday night just before the Game itself.

On Saturday, there is a 5K race called the Color Run with music at night. Sunday features the Futures Game, where some of the top young players in baseball compete in an exhibition game, followed by the All Star Legends softball game with stars of the past playing against celebrities.

Monday is workout day followed Monday night by the home Run Derby which supposedly tests the skills of the best home run hitters in baseball against each other but, in reality, is the equivalent of golf’s longest drive contest. Contestants might as well be hitting the ball off a tee as the ball is lobbed up there by relative, friends or coaches and the players just swing for the fences. Any resemblance to game conditions or reality is purely coincidental.

Then there is the game itself. Players get there as a result of a popular vote among fans, this year conducted only on line, which only emphasizes the senselessness of selecting player this way. Fortunately, most years the fans come up with very repreentative teams, if only by accident, as they are urged to vote and vote often and each team asks their fans to vote, not necessaarily for the best players, but their home team players. Some of the players are also chosen by the team Managers who are the managers of the previous year’s World Series teams.

Then there is the game itself. Every effort is made to ensure that all position players named to the team get into the game no matter the effect upon the final score. Pitchers, for obvious reasons, are limited in the amount of innings they pitch and some of the pitchers selected for the team cannot pitch because they have pitched in the last few days.

It’s a great spectacle but, like most All Star Games, especially the farce that the NFL puts on, the game is a meaningless showcase of talent.

Unfortunately, the winner of the game is given the advantage of home field in the World Series. The home field advantage means that four of the seven games scheduled in the Series will be played in the winning league’s representative’s park. It is ludicrous that a meaningless game provides such an advantage in the determination of the World Championship of baseball.

In the age of Interleague play, with games being played every day between teams from each league, why not give that advantage in the World Series to the league whose teams have the best record against the other league. Those games are for real, with each team doing their best to win because the games all count toward the final standings and they determine what teams will get to post season play.

The All Star Game is a grand spectacle but it should not affect the outcome of the World Series. Interleague play records are the logical way to assign home field advantage in the World Series. Home field advantage should be determined the old fashioned way, the league getting it would earn it.