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10 Huge MLB Series to Pay Attention to in May

Baseball fans have seen plenty of action through the first month of the 2013 MLB season, but the month of May is when the schedule really ramps up.

The weather gets warmer, the players get adjusted and the schedule gets more difficult, as May will pit plenty of divisional and crosstown rivals against each other.

Which series should you be paying attention to throughout May?

Take a look.

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Ranking the Most Feared Hitters in MLB

Major League Baseball has somewhat transitioned into a pitcher’s league—as we’ve seen an increase in perfect games and no-hitters the past few seasons—but the league still has its share of feared hitters that no pitcher wants to see in the batter’s box.

From on-base percentages to threats to go deep, each hitter brings an arsenal to the plate that has proven to overpower pitchers in the past.

So who made the cut for the 15 most dangerous hitters in baseball today?

Let’s find out.

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Exicardo Cayones: Full Scouting Report on Prospect Dealt for Vernon Wells

In an attempt to put healthy players on the field for opening day, the New York Yankees have dealt for veteran outfielder Vernon Wells.

In exchange, one of the prospects the Los Angeles Angels will receive is 21-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones (h/t Mark Saxon of ESPN), who came to the Yankees’ organization from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the A.J. Burnett deal.

So who is Exicardo Cayones and what’s he all about?

Here’s a breakdown of what the Angels received by trading Wells to the Bronx Bombers. 



Birth Date: Oct. 9, 1991 (21 years old)

Birthplace: Valencia, Venezuela

Experience: Two years (minor leagues, mainly Single-A ball)

College: None

Height, weight: 6’0″, 183 lbs.


About Cayones‘ Big League Time

The 21-year-old outfielder hasn’t reached the big leagues just yet, as he’s still trying to make his way out of Single-A ball.

In 47 games with the Staten Island Yankees last season, Cayones hit .228 with one homer and 15 RBI to go with seven stolen bases. In 200 plate appearances, he drew 33 walks and finished the 2012 campaign with a solid .374 on-base percentage.


Cayones‘ Offense

For his overall career in the minors (four years), Cayones owns a .261 average and .372 OBP to go with a .358 slugging percentage. Cayones‘ game isn’t built on power, as he has hit only two home runs during his time in the minors, but he has swiped 21 bags.

One favorable aspect of Cayones‘ offensive game is his eye at the plate and ability to draw walks. In his young career he has shown the ability to lay off pitches and pick one to his liking, as you can see here:

Cayones‘ first season in the minors was easily his most successful, when he drove in 34 runs and hit .302—including 18 doubles and two triples—with the VSL Pirates.

Cayones‘ offensive game is still a bit underdeveloped, as he’s clearly not a power hitter, but doesn’t have the speed and stolen base numbers to be considered a “speed guy.”

He needs to put in some serious work at the plate before a big league team is going to think about bringing him up to the majors.


Cayones‘ Defense

Cayones spent the majority of last season manning right field for the Staten Island Yankees, where he committed just one error and sported four assists. 

He has an average arm and has committed only nine errors in his four minor league seasons in the outfield, where he’s played all three positions.



As long as Vernon Wells isn’t a complete bust in New York, I’d say the Yankees made out on this deal.

Los Angeles is picking up most of the tab on Wells and the Yanks hardly gave up anything. In return, they’re getting a former All-Star who can fill the void in the Bronx with the slew of injuries that has struck the Bronx Bombers.


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3 Key Matchups in Tonight’s World Baseball Classic Final

Looking to complete an undefeated run through the 2013 World Baseball Classic and make history, the Dominican Republic will have its sights set on a perfect 8-0 when it faces Puerto Rico in the WBC finale on Tuesday night.

The D.R. has already beaten the Puerto Ricans twice, including a 2-0 victory on March 16 that helped push the Dominicans into the semifinals.

In front of what’s likely to be a sellout crowd at AT&T Park at 8 p.m. ET, the baseball world will see a new champion crowned in the WBC.

Here are three matchups to keep your eye on during Tuesday night’s championship game.

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WBC 2013: Timing of Classic Needs to Change for Team USA to Be Successful

Another year, another disappointment for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

After advancing to the second round and beating Puerto Rico in its first second-round matchup, Team USA dropped two straight games to the powerhouse Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, resulting in an early exit from the WBC.

While there’s no doubting that countries like Japan and the D.R. take more pride in representing their countries in the Classic, it’s also clear that the U.S. is at a disadvantage given the timing of the event.

With the WBC kicking off less than a month before the grueling 162-game MLB season begins, a number of U.S. stars choose not to take part in the national tournament in favor of staying healthy and getting in shape for the MLB season.

The United States’ pitching staff was anchored by R.A. Dickey, Ryan Vogelsong and Gio Gonzalez.

Wouldn’t it be better if the U.S. was giving the ball to guys like Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and Jered Weaver?

Of course it would, but the big arms choose to skip the WBC due to saving themselves for the MLB season and not having to adjust their training schedule, which is something Jorge Ortiz of USA Today touched on.

With MLB organizations investing so much time and money into their stars, often times it’s not even up to a big league player if he’s going to play in the WBC—the decision comes from above.

That said, having the tournament a mere three weeks before the start of the MLB season doesn’t favor the U.S.

Perhaps if the WBC took place during the early winter in indoor stadiums and warmer climates, some of the best Americans would feel more comfortable playing, knowing they had more time after the Classic to prepare for the upcoming MLB season.

As a result of the WBC, David Wright—who was largely the only offense for Team USA—could be forced to miss opening day for the New York Mets due to an injury he aggravated during the Classic, according to the New York Daily News.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s no excuse for how poorly the U.S. played in the WBC.

Ryan Braun, Brandon Phillips, Giancarlo Stanton, Adam Jones and Shane Victorino all hit under .300 and only Jones contributed more than one RBI out of the aforementioned players.

The fact of the matter is that the timing of the event isn’t set up for the U.S. to field its best players, and as long as this timeframe for the WBC continues, Team USA will never be successful.


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Fantasy Baseball 2013: Unheralded Players Poised for Monster Seasons

We all know guys like Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout will be the most sought-after fantasy baseball players in 2013, but as most successful fantasy owners know, it’s the unheralded, under-the-radar finds that usually culminate in a league championship.

Whether the reason is a change of scenery, more experience in the big leagues or finally getting healthy, the following three players are poised for monster seasons in 2013.

Let’s meet the candidates.


Mike Napoli

2012 Stats: 108 games, .227 average, 24 HR, 56 RBI, 53 RS and .343 OBP

After a somewhat injury-plagued season in 2012, Mike Napoli now finds himself in Boston as a member of the Red Sox, following a two-year stint with the Texas Rangers.

Playing in a more hitter-friendly park like Fenway, Napoli will be one of the leaders in this Red Sox lineup.

According to NBC Sports, he recently received good news regarding his hip:

Furthermore, Napoli enjoyed his time at Fenway Park last season, sporting a .462 batting average with three home runs and eight RBI in 13 at-bats.

For the last three seasons combined, the 31-year-old owns a .366/.438/.854 line at Fenway.

With his hip getting better, Napoli should be able to turn on inside fastballs and drive them into/over the Green Monster in left field, making for a productive season in Boston.


Anthony Rizzo

2012 Stats: 87 games, .285 average, 15 HR, 48 RBI, 44 RS and .342 OBP

No one is doubting Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s potential. He just needs the opportunity to showcase it.

The 23-year-old didn’t appear in a game for Chicago until June 26 last season, but he still produced on a Cubs team that ranked 28th in runs scored in 2012.

Chicago skipper Dale Sveum has confidence in his young first baseman, telling ESPN:

I have all the confidence in the world in him to double what he did last year. “He came up, did well, had a little hiccup but other than that he was really good. There will be some bumps along the road but you give Rizzo 600 plate appearances there’s going to be some damage done.

I wouldn’t expect a high total of RBI from the young slugger, given the lack of production up and down the Cubs lineup, but I do expect his average and power numbers to improve.

The lefty excels against pitches down and in the middle of the zone, which will be something for you to keep an eye on this season.

Nonetheless, 2013 will be a breakout year for Anthony Rizzo.


Brett Gardner

2012 Stats: 16 games, .323 average, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 7 RS and .417 OBP

New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner played in just 16 games for the Bronx Bombers last season after suffering an elbow injury to his non-throwing hand in mid-April (h/t ESPN).

According to Dan Martin of the New York Post, Gardner’s elbow has healed and he’s ready for the 2013 season. “’I probably rushed it back a little bit last year to get to the playoffs, but I felt great when I played,’ Gardner said of his injury, which he says is fully healed. ‘It’s completely in the rear view mirror, which is a good thing.’”

Fantasy owners know they won’t be getting power numbers from Gardner, but they should expect hits, runs and stolen bases, as Gardner possesses some of the best speed in the league.

In 2010 and 2011—seasons in which the 29-year-old played in at least 150 games—Gardner swiped 47 and 49 bags respectively, and he could very well bring that type of production to your lineup this year if he stays healthy.

New York has plenty of depth in the lineup to drive Gardner home; he just needs to remain healthy and get on base to make it happen.

After missing practically the entire season last year, Gardner will be hungry and productive in 2013.


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Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2013: Predicting Top 5 Hitters Drafted This Season

It’s never too early to discuss baseball.

As spring training fast approaches, fantasy owners are already planning their draft strategies for the upcoming 2013 season.

Here are five guys who should be considered top-five picks.


1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

2012 stats: .330, 44 HR, 139 RBI, .999 OPS

The baseball gods will sacrifice someone if the reigning Triple Crown winner and AL MVP isn’t the No. 1 overall pick in all fantasy baseball drafts.

Cabrera put together one of the most historical seasons in baseball during his 2012 campaign while setting career-bests in the home run and RBI departments.

For a guy with so much production, Cabrera stayed extremely healthy, playing in 161 games and striking out just 98 times last season while posting a 7.1 WAR (h/t Fan Graphs).

If Cabrera isn’t your No. 1 pick this season, there’s something seriously wrong with you.


2. Mike Trout

2012 stats: .326, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB

Like Cabrera, newcomer Mike Trout had one of the best seasons the MLB has ever seen.

And he only played in 139 games in 2012.

Aside from his gaudy numbers above, Trout posted an MLB-leading 10.0 WAR and led the AL in runs scored, with 129.

If Trout stays healthy in 2013, we could see the first 40-40 player since Alfonso Soriano in 2006.

He averaged a strikeout per game in 2012, but I think owners can forgive him with all of the other production he’s going to put up.

In a stacked Los Angeles Angels lineup, look for Trout to benefit immensely.

3. Josh Hamilton

2012 stats: .285, 43 HR, 128 RBI, .931 OPS

Hamilton didn’t exactly close out his 2012 season on good terms with fantasy owners, but that shouldn’t matter.

Now hitting in the middle of a powerful Angels lineup, Hamilton has plenty of protection to put up some stout fantasy numbers in 2013.

Hamilton’s torrid start to last season is just a small sample size of what he’s capable of, as he ranked second in the MLB in home runs and RBI.

With a change of scenery and a world of help around him, look for Hamilton to put up another big season for fantasy owners.


4. Ryan Braun

2012 stats: .319, 41 HR, 112 RBI, 30 SB

Because of Cabrera and Trout, it seems that Ryan Braun’s outstanding 2012 campaign was overshadowed.

Braun led the NL in home runs, finished second in hits and RBI and ranked third in terms of batting average.

He has an unheralded combination of power and speed and has played in at least 150 games in every season since 2008.

With consistent seasons of a 300-plus average, at least 25 home runs and more than 100 RBI, Braun is absolutely a top-five pick in your fantasy draft.


5. Andrew McCutchen

2012 stats: .327, 31 HR, 96 RBI, 20 SB

He’s one of the best up-and-coming stars in the MLB and Andrew McCutchen looks like he’s here to stay.

In his third complete season in the big leagues, “Cutch” put up career numbers across the board, ranking second in the NL in batting average and first in hits, with 194.

With McCutchen‘s numbers elevating every season thus far, one has to think he’ll collect more than 100 RBI in 2013 to help your fantasy team.

With McCutchen spreading the love in multiple fantasy categories, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ center fielder should be a top-five selection.


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MLB Trade Rumors: Players Most Likely to Be Dealt before Spring Training

MLB fans have seen a slew of free-agent acquisitions this offseason, but there are still a handful of potential trades that could happen before spring training starts.

MLB trade rumors are about as common as Mark Sanchez turnovers, but the following five players and their rumored deals have some weight to them.

As always, you’ll want to stay up-to-date with Bleacher Report’s MLB page to follow the potential moves, but here are five players who have great chances of being traded this offseason.

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Mike Napoli Rumors: Boston Red Sox in Trouble If Catcher Is No. 1 Target

If acquiring a catcher is the Boston Red Sox’s main offseason priority, they might as well hire back Bobby Valentine and replace the Bazooka bubble gum bucket with a 30 pack of Bud Light.

But that’s the plan according to the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber, who reports that the Red Sox have made Mike Napoli their No. 1 priority this winter:

This is a fantastic idea. And by that I mean it’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard since Rex Ryan claimed the New York Jets could still make the playoffs after losing a handful of games and still starting Mark Sanchez at quarterback.

Only the Red Sox would make their offseason priority a catcher/first baseman/designated hitter who’s coming off a season in which he hit .227 with 24 home runs and 56 RBI, and this is before we’ve even heard how much Napoli is looking to make.

At this rate, I’m not even sure if you can consider Napoli as a full-time catcher, considering he spent a considerable amount of time at first base due to his inability to keep balls in front of him (eight passed balls) and poor effort throwing runners out (.208 caught stealing percentage).

You could make a case for Napoli being more productive than current Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but even at that, it’s a far stretch to declare a mediocre catcher and strikeout machine as the No. 1 offseason priority after the pitching staff ranked No. 27 in the MLB in quality starts and sported a team ERA of 4.70.

Ben Cherington must have one strong case of amnesia to forget the way his starters pitched last season, especially “ace” Jon Lester (9-14, 4.82 ERA, 1.38 WHIP).

I’m all for Napoli leaving Texas in favor of Boston—I think he’s a good player who had a down year—but to anoint him the golden nugget of the winter is a complete and utter mistake by the Red Sox.

What they need to be doing is nailing down starting pitching, a closer, corner outfielders and then address the idea of turning Napoli into a full-time first baseman, which is something that Lauber touches on here

To each his own, but if the Red Sox are trying to mirror their past two seasons, they’re sure doing a good job of it in the early going of the free-agency period this winter.

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14 Most Notoriously Soft Players Baseball Players in the Last 25 Years

After reading through these slides, your appreciation for the “Iron Man” Cal Ripken Jr. will only grow.

Major League Baseball boasts the longest and most grueling season in professional sports, so injuries are undoubtedly expected.

But there’s a fine line between injuries and injury-plagued players.

I’m not talking “soft” in regards to attitude or style of play, but rather health and being able to stay on the field and perform at a high level.

I’m sure there’s a long list of other players who belong on this list, but here are 14 of the most oft-injured players in the past 25 years.

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