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MLB All-Star Roster 2014: Breaking Down This Year’s Most Deserving Players

There are plenty of bubble players for the 2014 MLB All-Star rosters, but some have already locked up spots.

These players are not only guaranteed All-Stars, but they’re MVP and Cy Young candidates as well.


4. SS Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

Tulowitzki is on pace to finish with one of the highest batting averages since the turn of the century. He leads the majors with a .350 batting average. If he maintains it, he’ll finish with the highest average since John Hamilton hit .359 in 2010. 

While there are several contact hitters on Tulowitzki’s tail for the league lead in batting average, his power gives him a huge edge when it comes to who is most deserving of an All-Star roster spot. He also boasts 47 RBI and 18 home runs, which ties him for the ninth highest total in the league.


3. RHP Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees

Tanaka wasted no time not only becoming the Yankees’ best pitcher but one of the best pitchers in baseball. He leads the majors with 12 wins in 17 starts this season. And in those 12 starts, he’s established quite the stat line.

He has struck out 130 batters, tying him for fifth most in the league, and recorded a 2.27 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, ranking him fourth and fifth, respectively. He’s also walked fewer batters than any pitcher with double-digit wins. The 25-year-old will be on this list for years to come.


2. 1B Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays

No one has created more runs for his team than Encarnacion this season. Entering Friday night’s action, he’s racked up a league-leading 69 RBI, many of which have come off his league-leading 26 home runs. While Nelson Cruz and Jose Abreu have produced comparable numbers in the race to be baseball’s best power hitter, Encarnacion earns the edge with contact.

He has a higher batting average than both Cruz and Abreu. He also has a higher on-base percentage, having drawn 43 walks. He’s the greatest reason why the Blue Jays are the fourth highest-scoring team in the league this year.


1. RHP Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Hernandez doesn’t have as many wins as Tanaka (10), but that’s about the only number of Hernandez’s that isn’t better. He’s third in the majors with a 2.10 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP and 137 strikeouts. While he doesn’t lead the league in those categories, no other pitcher is consistently rated as high across the board.

King Felix has also allowed just four home runs in 18 starts and 96 hits in 128.1 innings pitched. No pitcher with more than 100 innings has allowed fewer homers. Out of all the elite pitchers this season, no one has been better than Hernandez.


David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz Around League

Slowly but surely, MLB trade rumors are swirling faster by the day.

The deadline is now just over a month away. The rumors mill began quiet, but noise will continue to pick up as teams’ desperation rises for one last piece of their championship-push puzzles.

Here’s the latest trade buzz from around the league.


LHP David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

The talent that has Tampa Bay at the bottom of the AL East has hurt some of Price’s numbers this season. But it hasn’t stopped him from leading the MLB in strikeouts with 133 in 16 starts.

He’s the biggest name on the trade block by far.

According to ESPN’s Jason Stark, the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves are the favorites to acquire Price. Stark also reported that the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays are impossibilities because they play within the Rays’ division.

This is after ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription needed) reported last week a high-ranked executive told him, “It’s inevitable that [Price] will wind up with the Dodgers, isn’t it?”

And then there’s this from Friday night:

The Rays need to trade him. They can’t be left empty-handed after his contract expires after next season. Trading Price for the right price can greatly quicken their rebuilding process.


OF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

Speaking of the Dodgers, they aren’t looking up at everyone in their division like Tampa Bay, but one of their biggest names could also be on the move. Kemp is third on the team in batting average and fourth in home runs and RBIs.

However, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported not his bat but a “tempestuous” relationship with superiors could have him on a plane out of Los Angeles.

Rosenthal did clarify that’s he’ll most likely be dealt in the offseason. But considering how aggressively the Dodgers are expected to work the phone at this year’s deadline, if Kemp’s name comes up, he seems far from untouchable.

Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller doesn’t think they should wait until the offseason to trade him, claiming, in fact, that moving Kemp could save their season as they sit four games behind the Giants at 40-34.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden (subscription required) also reported earlier this week that another Los Angeles outfielder has started to draw interest, Scott Van Slyke.


New York Yankees

The New York Post’s Ken Davidoff reported that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman plans on buying at the deadline.

For who is the question. If not Price, rumors suggest they’ll exclusively pursue starting pitching. Bowden (subscription required) reported that New York will indeed acquire a starter this season, and Gary Sanchez will likely what it deals in return.

John Ryan Murphy is another Yankee who could be traded, if they share the interest of the teams calling according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman

In 63 at-bats for them this season, Murphy hit .286.


David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.

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St. Louis Cardinals’ Michael Wacha Isn’t a Fan of ‘Wacha Flocka Flame’ Nickname

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha never wanted to be called “Wacha Flocka Flame.”

“I guess it’s just something I have to get used to,” he said on Friday before the Cardinals played the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The nickname is a reference to the similarly named rapper Waka Flocka Flame. Wacha had never heard of the hip-hop artist before a friend his freshman year at Texas A&M introduced Wacha to his music.

And it was not love at first listen.

Wacha had no interest in adopting a nickname associated with the rapper then, let alone filling his iPod with Waka Flocka Flame songs. Wacha still doesn’t. But fans, along with outlets including ESPN, Sporting News and Arch City Sports, have embraced its usage.

Wacha’s disinterest in the nickname doesn’t stem from a disinterest in rap. He listed hip hop and country as his favorite genres of music for his get-to-know-you Q&A on the official website of the Memphis Redbirds, the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate. His lack of interest is individualized.

While the 22-year-old Wacha has quickly developed into a prominent pitcher, Waka Flocka Flame isn’t the most respected rapper.

Wacha won four of the five games he pitched in the 2013 MLB playoffs, finishing with a 2.64 ERA. Comparatively, in review of Waka’s last album “Triple F Life,” Rolling Stone wrote “classing up Waka is like putting a fig leaf over King Kong’s balls.”

Due to the not-so-gratifying comparison, it isn’t shocking that Wacha doesn’t lay in bed at night dreaming about Waka writing a song about him, though the idea of isn’t far-fetched. Waka is a sports fanatic and coined “hard in the paint,” a phrase used often enough by athletes for ESPN to publish a feature about it.

The pitcher did say he isn’t fazed by the nickname as much as he used to be, but he’s not dying to hear a “Hard on the Mound” remix.


*All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. 

David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.

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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2012: Pedro Alvarez and Top Under-the-Radar Sluggers

Fantasy baseball champions swing for the fences with every single selection.

The difference between the champ and the owner in last place: late-round picks.  Here are four super sleeper sluggers who will give you more than enough bang for your buck.


4. Mat Gamel (3B, Milwaukee Brewers)

Gamel has yet to spend a full season in the big leagues, but don’t let that stop you from spending a late-round pick on the Brewer.  He isn’t a great contact hitter, but Gamel boasts the power to drive in plenty of runs for your team.


3. Pedro Alvarez (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates)

Alvarez is ready to blow up.  Last season, the Pirates third baseman only batted .191, so he’ll most likely drop further in your draft than he should.  Despite his struggles, his immense talent is through the roof, making him well worth the risk.


2. Chris Carter (1B, Oakland A’s)

Carter will play the role of designated hitter this season for the A’s and he’s sure to take off.  The only thing holding the 6’4”, 244-pound beast back is finding playing time.  If he can do that, the sky is the limit.


1. Jed Lowrie (SS, Houston Astros)

Injuries and playing in a crowded Boston Red Sox lineup have held Lowrie back.  If he can stay healthy, he really has a chance to take off with the Astros.  There aren’t an abundance of solid shortstops out there, but Lowrie has the potential to turn into a starter on your squad. 


David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.

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Mark Buehrle Forced to Move Due to Absurd Pitbull Ban

Mark Buehrle has a dream.

A dream that his four little dogs will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the ferocity of their appearance but by the content of their tameness. A 1989 pitbull ban in Miami-Dade County forced Buehrle to distance himself from the Miami Marlins ballpark in order to legally keep one of his dog.

According to the Miami Herald, Buehrle is an avid dog lover and wouldn’t even fathom parting with his pitbull Slater over the ban. The All-Star ace even said that if there hadn’t been a place for him and his family to move that permitted the pitbull, he wouldn’t have signed in Miami. Luckily for the Marlins, Broward County shares his love for canines.

Buehrle, one of many dog owners who admitted that they hoped Michael Vick would get hurt, complained about the absurd law saying (via Yahoo! Sports):

“It’s kind of ridiculous that because of the way a dog looks, people will ban it. Every kind of dog has good and bad, and that depends on the handlers. If you leave a dog outside all the time, it’ll be crazy. Slater would never do anything harmful.”

The former Chicago White Sox pitcher is right. 

You can’t judge a book or dog by its cover. To put a ban on a specific breed makes no sense. Back in 2009, a judge in the county even ruled that the law was too vague to enforce.

Buehrle has a dream that one day, down in Miami, with its unjust cat lovers, with its lawmakers having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Miami, little bulldog boys and bulldog girls will be able to join hands with little boy cats and girl cats as sisters and brothers.


David Daniels is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.

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MLB Rule 5 Draft: Boston Red Sox Get Carl Crawford, New York Yankees Get Even

A whole new chapter was added to the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox bitter rivalry Thursday.

The Red Sox signed all-star outfielder Carl Crawford to a 142 million dollar deal forcing the Yankees to make a move.

Instead of just signing Cliff Lee, Brian Cashman came up with an ingenious plan.

Signing Lee would only improve the Yankees.  Cashman wanted to make a move that would improve the Yankees and hurt the Red Sox at the same time.

Cashman’s response: drafting Daniel Turpen in the MLB’s Rule Five Draft.

The rivalry of rivalries just got taken to a whole new level.

Turpen is a 6’4″ Goliath, a 215 pound tank that can mow down batters at the plate like a John Deer.

He humbly boasts a fast ball that accelerates faster than a Maxximus G-Force at 94 miles per hour.

Don’t blink.

Last season, he absolutely shut down opposing batters.  No one could touch him as he produced a 4.3 ERA.

Nolan Ryan who?

At the young age of 24, he’s not even at the top of his game yet.  It’s almost impossible to dream of him getting any better than he already is, but he has no ceiling.

A few months into next season, C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez will all be jumped in terms of the greatest Yankees pick up of the past decade.

The Yankees just slapped the Red Sox organization right in the face.

Babe Ruth left Boston a curse that lasted for 86 years.  The curse Turpen leaves could, should, will last a life time.


David Daniels is an NFL Featured Columnist and Writing Intern at Bleacher Report and a Syndicated Writer.  Follow him at One Yard or on Twitter

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