Monday, March 05, 2012

Box Score Watch for 2012

Every once in a while, a baseball writer has to step back from analysis mode and put his fan hat back on and point an over-sized foam finger. With a site called, "The Flagrant Fan," this, of course, is much easier. One of the greatest pleasures of being a baseball fan is looking at box scores. If there was a dollar to be had for every box score pored over in this lifetime, the bank account would be fat and happy. 

Box score watching is perhaps the most consistent joy of being a fan. And every year, there are certain players that carry more interest than others. When faced with a list of box scores to choose from, the order they are read often has to do with team affections, but even more so, it has to do with players that tickle the fancy. Last night, it was imperative to check out Stephen Strasburg's line for his first spring start. That's how it rolls. This post is about nothing scientific. It is about being a fan. What follows is a list of each team and the players on each team that will hold the most interest in box score watching in 2012.

  • Atlanta Braves - Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward, Tyler Pastornicky and Tommy Hanson. There is real hope that Jones has one more good year to cap his HOF career. Heyward was one of the most exciting prospects in the game. And then last year he wasn't. This year? We'll see. Pastornicky seems like such a risk that he merits the car accident rubberneck. 
  • Arizona Diamondbacks - Ian Kennedy, Craig Breslow, Justin Upton and Paul Goldschmidt. You'll notice a lot of ex-Yankees on this list. They are like family and no matter where they go, they are followed. Breslow is Josh Borenstein's fault. Goldschmidt captured the imagination last year and Upton is one of the most exciting players in the game.
  • Baltimore Orioles - J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds and Matt Wieters. Hardy has drawn interest after two teams gave up on what seemed to be a very good player. The Orioles benefit from their stupidity. Reynolds is the car wreck rubberneck ("How many times did he strikeout today?"). Wieters has come a long way. How much better will he be?
  • Boston Red Sox - Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz, Daniel Bard and Mark Melancon. Melancon: former Yankee. Ellsbury: Is he really that good!? David Ortiz is larger than life. And of course, Bard draws interest because of his arm and converting that arm to the rotation.
  • Chicago Cubs - Alfonso Soriano, Bryan LaHair and Carlos Marmol. Soriano: former Yankee. LaHair is one of those career minor league, finally getting his chance guys you have to root for. Marmol is like no other relief pitcher in baseball. He is the Mitch Williams of this generation.
  • Chicago White Sox - Phil Humber, Chris Sale, Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn. Humber is the LaHair of pitchers. Former number one pick for the Mets. Cast off and re-found by the White Sox. Sale is like Bard and trying to become a starter. Peavy is the comeback hope we all root for. And Dunn's 2011 season has to provoke interest in how he'll do in 2012.
  • Cincinnati Reds - Joey Votto, Zack Cozart, Mat Latos and Mike Leake. Nobody believed in Leake and darned if he just keeps succeeding anyway. Latos is the big arm on a new team. Cozart is the experiment and Votto is the best player in baseball today.
  • Cleveland Indians - Shelley Duncan, Shin-Soo Choo, Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson. Duncan is a former Yankee, Choo is a comeback candidate. Ubaldo's name and fastball captures the imagination. And Masterson can be a great pitcher.
  • Colorado Rockies - Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki and Jeremy Guthrie. Helton is the old pro that brings to mind Don Mattingly. Does he have anything left to offer? Tulowitzki is the best shortstop to come along since Ripkin. How will Guthrie fare away from the Orioles?
  • Detroit Tigers - Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander and Doug Fister. Verlander of course. Fister was the key to last year's Tiger success. Did anyone know he was this good? How will Prince do in Detroit?
  • Miami Marlins - Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Johnson. Stanton, whatever his name is, is that power hitter to make you drool. Reyes can be the most exciting player in the game. Can Ramirez make it at third and get back his mojo? And of course, JJ is the stud pitcher who can't stay healthy.
  • Houston Astros - Wandy Rodriguez, Jose Altuve and Brian Bogusevic. Just love to say, "Wandy!" It is obligatory to root for short guys like Altuve. And there is no explanation for Bogusevic. Just like the name.
  • Kansas City Royals - Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Bruce Chen. Chen is that blue collar guy who succeeds despite his stuff. Hosmer is the prospect stud and Alex Gordon was Hosmer before there was a Hosmer.
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in southern California on the west coast of America in the northern hemisphere of planet Earth - Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Mark Trumbo and Chris Iannetta. Been a fan of Iannetta for a long time. Wilson and Pujols because of their big free agent deals and Trumbo because it's fun to say, "Look at dem ears!"
  • Los Angeles Dodgers - Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Can Kemp top last year? How exciting would that be? Kershaw was amazing in 2011. Can he stay that good? And of course, Don Mattingly, except he doesn't play any more.
  • Milwaukee Brewers - Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Nyjer Morgan and Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy is a lot better than people think. Morgan is crazy and it's fun to see what he will do next and all of the Brewers' pitchers are just as much fun for their hitting as for their pitching.
  • Minnesota Twins - Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Carl Pavano. Pavano for the Yankee angle. Mauer because so few great catchers in history have faced more criticism and Morneau for the comeback hope.
  • New York Mets - Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese and Ike Davis. Davis is again Josh Borenstein's fault. Niese is vastly underrated. And wouldn't it be great if Santana could be an effective pitcher again?
  • New York Yankees - The entire team. That's just the way it is.
  • Oakland Athletics - Yeonis Cespedes, Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon. Colon for the Yankee angle. McCarthy has become a favorite Twitter athlete and nobody knows what Cespedes will do.
  • Philadelphia Phillies - John Mayberry, Roy Halladay, Jim Thome and Jonathan Papelbon. Any son of a former player you also watched becomes interesting. Halladay is simply amazing. Thome will give us one last look at his greatness and it will be interesting to see how Papelbon does.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates - Andrew McCutchen, Jeff Karstens, Pedro Alvarez and Erik Bedard. McCutchen is such an exciting player. Karstens is a former Yankee. Alvarez was the next big thing that hasn't been yet and Bedard has worked really hard to overcome big health obstacles.
  • San Diego Padres - Tim Stauffer, Cory Luebke, Yonder Alonso and Cameron Maybin. Has Maybin really arrived after all these years? Luebke and Stauffer are two underrated pitching stars and Alonso gets his first real crack at stardom.
  • San Francisco Giants - Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner might be this Fan's favorite young pitcher. Come on, Giants, play Belt already. Really rooting for a big year for Posey.
  • St. Louis Cardinals - Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran and Adam Wainwright. Allen Craig would be on the list if he wasn't hurt. Berkman was the best story of 2011. Can he follow it up? Beltran is the best center fielder of this generation. Does he have anything left? Wainwright is a great, great pitcher. Can he come back from his surgery?
  • Seattle Mariners - Jesus Montero, Hector Noesi, Ichiro and Dustin Ackley. Montero? Sigh. Noesi is a former Yankee. Can Ichiro bounce back? Dustin Ackley is the bomb.
  • Tampa Bay Rays - David Price, Reid Brignac and Matt Joyce. Thought Brignac was a great shortstop two years ago. Don't want to admit being wrong. Joyce has one sweet swing and David Price is simply a personal favorite.
  • Texas Rangers - Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. Hamilton intrigues and scares at the same time. Rooting for him, Kinsler is one of the best unsung players in the game. Darvish is the great unknown and Holland is a great pitcher waiting to bust out.
  • Toronto Blue Jays - Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus and Brandon Morrow. Morrow is going to bust out one of these years. Did Bautista hit one today? And as for Rasmus, the desire here is for him to prove all the naysayers wrong.
  • Washington Nationals - Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth. Well, duh about Strasburg. Will Harper get his chance? And really rooting for Werth to have a bounce back season to get rid of some of those who mock his contract.
That's the list. These will be the names looked for before all others in the box scores. Heck, there is no great meaning in this post. It's just a fan being a Fan.

2 comments:

Cowboy's Baseball said...

Absolutely Great Article!!!

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Thank you!