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Angels sign Josh Hamilton

Last year it was Albert Pujols who signed a major contract deal with the Los Angeles Angels. This year the Angels have made a deal with Josh Hamilton. It looks as though Josh will get a five-year contract worth $125 million. It looks like the Angels are taking some pages out of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox free agent signing book.

Last year the Angels spent $240 million to get Albert Pujols and $77.5 million on C.J. Wilson, who used to play with Hamilton on the Texas Rangers. Last season the Angels failed to make the playoffs, but with adding Josh to the lineup with Mike Trout, they could be looking to be in the post season next year.

The Texas Rangers front office had been reported saying that they never had a chance to match the Angels offer to Hamilton. The Rangers were sad to see the deal happen so quickly, but I am guessing the way Hamilton looked like he was mailing his play in towards the end of last season, the Rangers could look forward to a fresh start with a new outfielder. MLB fans would love to see the Rangers and Angels fight for the top seed in the AL West.

Balls and Strikes: The Fantasy Baseball Beat

Top 5 Free Agents

1). Cody Ross BOS OF .269 AVG 45 R 16 HR 50 RBI 1 SB


Ross’s production this season has been solid even though he lost a month to injury. Ross should continue to add power, runs, and RBI’s to your lineup.

2). Francisco Cordero HOU RP 3 W 5 L 2 SV 26 K 5.60 ERA 1.75 WHIP

Cordero moves to a better league and gains closer status. Solid buy.

3). Homer Bailey CIN SP 9 W 6 L 88 K 3.74 ERA 1.27 WHIp

Bailey looks to  be finally harnessing his solid repertoire of pitches. As long as he keeps throwing strikes he should be a solid rotation buy.

4). Salvador Perez KC C .350 AVG 12 R 5 HR 9 RBI

Need help at the catching position? Have no fear, Perez is here. A hitting catcher who should be a solid choice for years to come.

5). Adam Lind TOR 1B .237 AVG 17 R 8 HR 27 RBI

In need of a first baseman, you might want to take a flier on Lind. Since being recalled from the minors he’s been on a tear putting up a batting average over .300 and most of his RBI, runs, and home runs.

Buy Low- Anibal Sanchez DET 5 W 7 L 110 K 3.94 ERA 1.26 WHIP

The change in league and ballpark could have an affect on Sanchez, but he will play a predominant amount of the time in the AL central which lacks a truly scary offense. Expect Sanchez to fill out nicely in each category with wins starting to finally fall his way.

Sell High- Ryan Dempster CHC 5 W 4 L 77 K 2.11 ERA 1.05 ERA

Dempster should be a solid performer from here on out, with a couple added wins from him eventually being traded to a contender. That being said his luck is eventually going to run out and his ERA will spike and his value will never be this high, sell now!

3 Trends to Watch

1). Ichiro making the switch to the Yankees is intriguing. His production thus far has been lacking. With some actual production behind him, he may actually see a pitch he can do something with. Might be a solid buy low candidate.

2). Miguel Cabrera continues to be the safest fantasy pick in baseball. Guaranteed top 5 ranking every season.

3). Remember how hot Josh Hamilton was at the beginning of the season? He is the absolute polar opposite right now. Injury concerns and a high cost would make me stay away.

Most Valuable Votto

To thundering chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!” no one in the MLB does more with less.


When Joey Votto steps to the plate, taking his customary glance into a distant empty seat before settling into the left-hand batter’s box, one truth seems inevitable to the fans of Cincinnati –something great is about to happen. To a city that hasn’t witnessed a playoff victory since 1995, he brings more than a monstrous bat and poise to the plate. He brings hope. He brings with him a notion that never before resounded within the walls of Great American Ballpark; we may be witnessing the greatest hitter in baseball.

Votto’s 2012 campaign, so far, has transformed that once seemingly impossible notion into something, oh, so possible.  Sixty-five games into the season, no one is hotter, and the numbers Votto is creating are simply incredible. In his past 22 games, he’s hitting .500, reaching base safely in all of them but one. He’s on pace for 70 doubles this season; the all-time record is 67, held by Earl Webb since 1931. No one has even hit 60 doubles since 1936. Votto is also on pace to amass 200 hits and 130 walks. Most people have heard of the last, and only, player to ever do that. It was some guy named Babe Ruth. Needless to say, Votto is potentially facing a season of not just greatness, but historic proportions.

Obviously, Votto’s incredible season doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Other players across the league are having great hitting seasons, thus far. Here’s how Votto compares to some of baseball’s most prolific hitters of 2012 (through June 17, 2012):

Name BA OBP % HR RBI Doubles SLG % WAR (wins above replacement)
Joey Votto .366 .489 12 44 28 .652 3.5
Josh Hamilton .330 .390 22 62 14 .674 3.4
Ryan Braun .316 .395 19 47 11 .620 3.3
Carlos Beltran .306 .389 19 48 7 .594 2.4
David Wright .355 .458 8 37 22 .575 3.7


Clearly, Votto isn’t currently vying for the Triple Crown or running away from his competition in every category. But, a closer look reveals that Votto ultimately is the most valuable hitter of this elite group. For one, his lower power numbers are deceiving. While he isn’t mashing home-runs at a record pace, combining doubles and home-runs into total bases evens the power-playing field (Votto: 104, Hamilton: 116, Braun: 98, Beltran: 90, Wright: 76). And his low RBI total can’t be blamed on Joey Votto –that falls on the shoulders of those hitting around him.

The most common hitters batting in front of Joey Votto are Zach Cozart and Drew Stubbs. They aren’t exactly giving him ample opportunity to drive them in. Zach Cozart is hitting .264, with an on-base percentage of just .308. He’s also struck out 55 times. Drew Stubbs’ numbers are very similar, if not worse. He’s hitting .235 with a .300 OBP and 59 strikeouts. And to make matters worse, Votto’s protection in the cleanup spot hasn’t done much to strike fear in the pitchers issuing walks to number nineteen. Brandon Phillips, the most common cleanup hitter, is having a pretty good season. He’s hitting .287, getting on base over 33% of the time, and has recently gone on a home-run tear. But he’s also grounded into ten double plays this season. There’s a reason that Joey Votto leads the league in intentional walks. Pitchers aren’t too intimidated by Brandon Phillips.

Compare that supporting cast with the lineups that surround most of the other hitters on the list, and you’ll see why Votto means more to his team than any hitter in baseball.

Hitting in front of Josh Hamilton:

  • Ian Kinsler: .274 BA/.338 OBP/33 SO
  • Elvis Andrus: .298 BA/.375 OBP/33 SO

Hitting behind Josh Hamilton:

  • Adrian Beltre: .309 BA/.336 OBP/11 HR/5 GIDP (Grounded into Double Plays)

Hitting in front of Carlos Beltran:

  • Rafael Furcal: .287 BA/.339 OBP/33 SO

Hitting behind Carlos Beltran:

  • Matt Holliday: .282 BA/.305 OBP/12 HR/7 GIDP

Hitting in front of David Wright:

  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis: .290 BA/.350 OBP/60 SO
  • Daniel Murphy: .273 BA/.318 OBP/34 SO

Hitting behind David Wright:

  • Lucas Duda: .262 BA/.352 OBP/10 HR/3 GIDP

 *Stats in italics are the few in which Reds’ hitters have better stats.

That’s right. David Wright is getting better support from the unknown trio of Nieuwenhuis, Murphy, and Duda than Votto is from his friends leading off and cleaning up. In nearly every category, all of these hitters out-perform those batting before and after Votto at the top of the Reds lineup. So, yes, Votto trails in RBI. But 19% of all base-runners that have been on in front of him this season have scored on his at-bats. That’s bested, in this group, only by Josh Hamilton.

If anyone can empathize with Joey Votto’s lack of surrounding support, it’s his fellow NL Central MVP candidate Ryan Braun. His most common leadoff hitter, Rickie Weeks, is hitting a lowly .177 and has struck out 77 times in twelve less games. At cleanup, Aramis Ramirez is only batting .252, has only hit 7 home-runs, and has grounded into eight double plays. If anything, Braun’s supporting cast (which also includes the irrationally flamboyant Nyjer Morgan in the two-hole) may be worse than Votto’s.

So why is Votto more valuable than the reigning MVP? One needs to only look at the standings. Braun’s team is far from first place, despite a rotation that includes Zach Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shawn Marcum, and Randy Wolf. Even though they lost Fielder in the off-season, expectations were high in Milwaukee. The reality is much lower.

That can’t be said in Cincinnati. Votto, alongside one of the league’s best bullpens, is carrying his team to a smashing of most analysts’ pre-season predictions. Their rotation of Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and Mat Latos doesn’t look near as prolific as the Brewers’ staff, but it is the Reds that sit atop the standings and well above .500. The season is young, but in the River City of Cincinnati, it is also promising.

Much of that promise –a foreign scent in the air of Cincinnati these days—arrived with the bat and consistent greatness of Joey Votto. If Cincy is to be restored to its old status as a baseball city, it will come alongside the beautiful swing of their favorite Canadian left-hander. Not only can I not imagine a hitter in today’s game more important to his team’s success…I can’t imagine a player more important to his fans. A trip to Great American Ballpark reveals why.

The stadium is littered with the number nineteen –on the backs of children, adults, and their newest hero. When “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones sounds over the system and Votto steps to the plate, first glancing upward, then zeroing in on the pitcher, the crowd erupts. He’s their guy. And there is no other quite like Joey Votto. Often, the bases are empty when Votto takes his place in the batter’s box. And sometimes, the fans can only look on in silence as the catcher stands up to issue the intentional walk. But none of that matters.

Because something comes alive in Cincinnati when Votto shakes off the donut and takes his wood to the plate. It’s more than his incredible stats and his quest for history. It’s a feeling –a feeling that hasn’t touched the hearts of Cincinnati in over a decade.

It’s the feeling that, by God, with this Canadian kid at the plate, they have a shot. They have a shot at greatness. And with the recent contract extension given to Joey Votto through the foreseeable future, it’s a feeling that promises to last for many more nights in Cincinnati’s riverside stadium.

Over the years, many definitions have surfaced for “value” in the prognostication of the Most Valuable Player Award. But this year, much like the base paths that fall beneath his feet, Joey Votto seems to have all of them covered.


*Author’s note: As I wrote this article, Votto hit his 13th home-run of the year.

Balls and Strikes: The Fantasy Baseball Beat

Top 5 Free Agents To Add

1). Josh Reddick OAK 23 R 8 HR 21 RBI 4 SB .291 AVG

Reddick is flat out producing across the line in every category. The only question is will he be able to keep this up? He probably won’t keep up this pace, but he at his worst should be solid 4th outfielder.

2).  Jeff Samardzija CHC 38.2 IP 39 K 4-0 3.03 ERA 1.19 WHIP

The man is strait beasting the league. Producing ridiculous strikeout totals while also piling up a solid ERA and wins. He should continue to be a solid starter for the entire season!

3). Carlos Zambrano MIA 41 IP 32 K 1-0 1.98 ERA 1.02 WHIP

The change in location seems to be working for Big Z. As long as he continues to keep his emotions in check, he should produce solid numbers. Some regression should be expected.

4). Chipper Jones ATL 16 R 5 HR 22 RBI  .302 AVG

When healthy Chipper is still a productive fantasy member. Now that being healthy is a big if, but until he gets injured I would slot him in your lineup.

5). James McDonald PIT 44.2 IP 39 K  2-0 2.42 ERA 1.03 WHIP

McDonald’s stuff has always had the scouting community in awe and it looks like he is finally translating that talent into results. He may not get you a lot wins, but he is lesser known commodity that could slot in as a perfect back end to your fantasy staff.

3 Fantasy Baseball Thoughts

1). Josh Hamilton’s production this week is just completely out of this world. Him dropping out of the 1st round looks to be a major coup for those grabbed them.

2) Buy any starting pitcher in Miami. That stadium is the new Petco Park!

3). Two players I would sell high right now are Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal. Both are getting up there in age and simply will not continue this production for an entire season.

Pinkies Up!!! Masters Of The Universe Edition


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Jay Mariotti Is Going Back To Chicago, UGH!! (Awful Announcing)

Josh Hamilton Likes Jesus And Whipped Cream (Babes Love Baseball)

Kids These Days… (Rumors And Rants)

Playing Catch Banned In Clearwater, Florida!! (With Leather)

Robbie Alomar’s Wife…UH YUMP!!! (Busted Coverage)

‘Sandlot’ Kid, Yeah Yeah, He Needs Money (TMZ)

Shaquille O’Neal’s New TV Show “Shaq Vs.” Debuts August 18th (GOT)

Strip Club Etiquette (Tasty Booze)

Ten Funniest Videos Of Fat People Breaking Things With Their Fatness (Manofest)

Ten Things Children Can Get Away With That Adults Can’t (Hail Mary Jane)

Ten Ways To Keep Your Dream Girl (Ask Men)

The Hotties Of Beer Pong (Spewf)

Will Kurt Rambis Get The Last Laugh (Barkley’s Mouth)