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Run on Impulse: The Best Natural Base Stealers in MLB

It’s not just his unreal knack for swiping bags that earns Billy Hamilton the title of best natural base stealer in MLB. It’s also the fact that the king of thieves almost never gets apprehended.

In the process of drawing up the rankings of the 10 purest base stealers in the game, let’s focus on two key factors:

  1. The total number of steals that the given player piled up
  2. How efficient he was in stealing those bags

The major emphasis was placed on 2015 numbers, but larger track records were also part of the equation—especially when trying to differentiate between similarly talented base robbers.

There was a flood of players under consideration for these rankings, but that didn’t stop a pair of Kansas City Royals outfielders from snatching spots in the top 10.

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2016 MLB Rookies Who Are Being Hyped Up Too Early

It’s not a disaster that rising stars like Corey Seager and J.P. Crawford landed berths on the list of 2016 MLB rookies who are being hyped up too soon.

What their inclusions signal is that these players performed so impressively in 2015 that they are both now facing monstrous expectations as the new campaign looms. The pair of shortstops represent the two types of players who cracked this list.

The first, like Seager, are guys who have tremendous upside but who also have extremely limited big league track records. The second, like Crawford, are players who have excelled in the minors but who are unlikely to live up to the buzz because they are long shots to earn major league jobs out of camp.

As it turns out, after singling out the five rookies for this list, Seager and Crawford aren’t the only shortstops who made the grade.

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Ranking the Top 5-Tool MLB Prospects in 2016 Spring Training Camp

It’s no accident Byron Buxton is one of the premier farmhands in the game.

Simply put, the Minnesota Twins center fielder is the top five-tool MLB prospect, and it isn’t even close.

To figure out which rising stars should join Buxton on this exclusive list, we studied up on the toolsiest prospects of all. The guys who cracked these rankings don’t just check the box in one or two categories on the tools list, but in every department.

Before we begin, here’s a quick rundown of what the toolkit looks like:

  • Hit
  • Power
  • Run
  • Arm
  • Field

Courtesy of, we’ve included the grades for each prospect in each of the five categories. On the scale, 80 is the highest mark, 50 is average, and 20 is at the bottom.

For this exercise, it’s important to remember we’re ranking the best five-tool guys—not the best five guys overall. That means one underwhelming tool sinks the chances for some of the most talented players in the minors.

The competition for spots was downright fierce, but that didn’t stop two future Boston Red Sox players from making the cut.

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Spring Training 2016 Position Battles with the Most at Stake

From the chase for the final spot in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation to the free-for-all for playing time in the Los Angeles Dodgers outfield, MLB spring training 2016 is awash with position battles that will have serious October implications.

In order to determine which derbies have the most at stake, we took two key factors into consideration.

First we zeroed in on clubs that are set up to contend in 2016 either because they turned in an impressive offseason or because their core was already in place. Then we focused on the areas where those teams struggled in 2015 and considered which position battles would play the most important role in addressing those weaknesses.

In addition to exploring the fight for the No. 5 spot in Toronto, there’s also room on the list for a breakdown of the pursuit for the final berth in one rotation that has been drastically upgraded this winter.

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MLB’s All-Hype Team at the Start of 2016 Spring Training

For rising star Mookie Betts and prominent trade acquisition Todd Frazier, it’s far from a disaster that they’ve landed berths on the 2016 MLB All-Hype Team.

What it means is the Boston Red Sox right fielder and the Chicago White Sox’s new third baseman posted such impressive overall numbers in 2015 that they’re now the subject of unrealistic expectations.

There are two types of players who landed spots on this squad. The first group includes ascending giants of the game like Betts. The second is composed of free-agent additions and trade pickups like Frazier who joined their new employers at exorbitant price tags.

All of the players on this list impressed in 2015, but after digging through the overall track records, considering sample sizes, home/road splits and first-/second-half splits, there’s no guarantee those numbers will repeat in 2016.

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MLB Teams Who Didn’t Do Enough This Winter to Keep Up Entering 2016

From the Zack Greinke-less Los Angeles Dodgers to the injured and depleted St. Louis Cardinals, it’s been a bummer of an offseason for some of the top MLB clubs from 2015.

Scanning the league, the Dodgers and the Cardinals headline the list of October hopefuls who have been far too quiet this winter if they want to keep up with the best of the best.

To single out the following five squads, we zeroed in on teams who have obvious needs—which have so far gone unmet—and who play in unforgiving divisions. Naturally, with the second criteria in mind, we had to include one team from the relentless American League Central.

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Predicting Boom or Bust on Each Hyped-up MLB Offseason Rebuild

From the reloaded Chicago Cubs to the restocked San Francisco Giants, there’s no shortage of teams that have gone big during the MLB offseason.

Now that the hype machine is in full swing, it’s time to look back at the winter and predict which club’s offseason activity will translate to regular-season (and playoff) success.

The first step was to scan the majors to single out the franchises that moved the most aggressively since the close of the 2015 campaign.

The next step was to consider whether these teams successfully addressed their most pressing issues from last year, how fierce the landscape of their respective divisions figures to be and whether they can count on any holdovers turning in bounce-back seasons after lackluster ones in 2015.

All six of the “rebuilt” clubs made important improvements to their rosters, and in the case of the Cubs, that roster was already ridiculously good.

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Predicting Every MLB Team’s Best and Worst 2015-16 Offseason Move

From the Toronto Blue Jays’ mini-extension for Josh Donaldson to the New York Mets’ pact with Yoenis Cespedes, MLB brain trusts across the league have been swinging some seriously shrewd deals during the 2016 offseason.

While the new contracts for J.D. and La Potencia headline the list of “best” moves, there has also been no shortage of suspect signings and trades.

Before we get to the following list, let’s first define what we mean by “best” and “worst” moves.

The signings and trades that earned the “best” label all addressed crucial team needs in 2016 (and the near future beyond that) without hamstringing the given clubs in the long run. Meanwhile, the “worst” moves either didn’t effectively address important team needs, or did so at an exorbitant cost compared to signings and trades for similar players.

And in the case of some clubs, the worst move was the one that—at least to this point—they’ve failed to make.

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MLB Stars Who’d Benefit the Most from NL Adopting the DH

In what would be a major boon for aging sluggers such as Jose Bautista, the designated hitter could soon be arriving in a National League city near you.

According to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, the adoption of the DH in the Senior Circuit looms as a potential discussion point for the upcoming round of collective bargaining talks.

“Twenty years ago, when you talked to NL owners about the DH, you’d think you were talking some sort of heretical comment,” Manfred cracked, per, during the owners meetings in January.

“But we have a newer group,” he continued. “There has been turnover, and I think our owners in general have demonstrated a willingness to change the game in ways that we think would be good for the fans, always respecting the history and traditions of the sport.”

Adding the DH to the NL would also be good for guys such as Joey Bats. Like many of the players on this list, Bautista is a free agent-to-be who would have even more leverage on the open market if 30 teams—rather than 15—employed a full-time DH.

After all, clubs would feel a lot more comfortable dishing out a multiyear deal to Bautista, who turns 36 in October, if they knew he could spend at least part of his time in the DH spot.

While 2017 free agents dominate the list, there’s also room for a few prominent players who could put up even bigger offensive numbers if they could reduce their current defensive responsibilities.

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MLB Predictions 2016: Projecting the Final Standings

Thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays’ relentless offense and the Chicago Cubs’ incredible stable of talented young position players, those two teams are the kings of these 2016 MLB predictions.

The Jays and the Cubs land the title of “team to beat” in the American League East and the National League Central, respectively, which just so happen to be two of the most fearsome divisions in the game.

In the process of projecting final standings for the AL East, the NL Central and the other four divisions, we took two key factors into consideration:

  • Last year’s results—with an extra emphasis on second-half numbers
  • Whether given teams bolstered their rosters (or in some cases depleted them) during the offseason

As will be the case with the Cubs, the teams that did the best in these projections stand to improve significantly thanks to external improvements on the free-agent and trade fronts and via internal improvements as promising young stars enter their prime.

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