Wholesale Kansas City Royals Jerseys

Everyone wants to be optimistic. Well, almost everyone. Hope springs internal and there was no shortage of hope in Spring Training. Maybe the Kansas City Royals could be sneaky good this season, despite some key losses in free agency.

There was also the thought that the Kansas City Royals could end up at the bottom of the American League standings while going through a rebuilding. This process would be similar to a few years ago, one that worked out in their favor.

I would say two straight trips to the World Series, winning the title the second time around, was a successful rebuild. Should have been back-to-back champs if not for Madison Bumgarner but I digress.

“Rebuilding” is not a word that fans like to hear. Many prefer the route that teams such as the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, and Milwaukee Brewers took last season. A mixture of both youth up-and-coming talent with veterans pieced in a winning formula.

There was a term that TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle once told me a couple of years ago – “You don’t rebuild, you reload.”
The Royals were hoping that might be the case in 2018.

So, here’s where things stand going into the last full week of April. The Royals are 5-15 (record should be better if not for bullpen problems) and look every bit of a rebuilding project.

However, there is some optimism as the calendar prepares to switch to May and it has everything to do with the lineup.

No doubt, the offense struggled out of the gate. Hitting in the clutch just was not happening on a consistent basis. Not to make any excuses but it can be very difficult to get into a groove at the plate when the elements do you no favors. Most of your early season games were played in the cold. They also mixed in with a few postponements due to “inclement weather”. Not the best way to start out on the journey.

Despite the weather, the lineup did show some signs of getting out of an early season funk and start putting runs on the board. There were plenty of times hitters such as Mike Moustakas, Whit Merrifield, Cheslor Cuthbert and Abraham Almonte were squaring up the ball but ended up with hard outs.
The tide may be turning if Sunday afternoon is any indication.

Moustakas extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a three-run blast. Merrifield had a solo shot and Almonte joined in the fun with a grand slam as the Royals earned the 8-5 road win over the Detroit Tigers.

What’s big about this is that the Royals offense looked the same as it had during the first month of the season, one that was struggling to do anything. They didn’t have a hit until the sixth inning when Merrifield led off with the solo homer. After that, things started to click.

Almonte’s Grand Slam later in the inning erased a 2-1 deficit, making it a 5-2 game in favor of Kansas City. The Tigers would later tie things up before Moustakas took an off-speed pitch that hung over the inside part of the plate for what would be the game-deciding three-run homer.

The Royals had an answer every time the Tigers would counter. That’s a good sign going into May and beyond.
Final Thoughts

Also, keep in mind that injuries played a big part out of the gate. Catcher Salvador Perez has yet to take the field this season due to a knee injury. Outfielder Alex Gordon later hit the DL with a left hip injury. Both are expected to return to Kansas City in the near future and both will boost both sides of the ball, in the lineup and on the field.

Important to point out that the temperature on Sunday was a sunny 56 degrees in Detroit. Interesting to see how this offense will do once the temperature gauge starts to rise over the next few months.

What do you think Royals fans? Is the offense starting to heat up a bit? Let us know below!

Wholesale Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Jerseys

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The sliders sailed high, the splitters were spiked, and the fastballs remained flat.

The impressive arsenal of pitches that Shohei Ohtani displayed through his first two starts for the Los Angeles Angels were nowhere to be found against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night, and he was removed after two innings with a blister on his right middle finger.

The two-way Japanese rookie sensation left after just 66 pitches. He gave up three runs on four hits — including one of Mookie Betts’ three home runs — in a 10-1 loss at a sold-out Angel Stadium.

“[The blister] had an effect on the overall command of all his pitches,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

“He didn’t say anything in warm-ups about it. …. He got through two innings, but we don’t want it to get any worse. Just make sure you bounce back for his next start, which we anticipate right now.”

The date of Ohtani’s next scheduled start has yet to be determined. The blister isn’t expected to impact his ability to hit, which leaves open the possibility that he will serve as the designated hitter in Thursday’s series finale.

“We’ll be flexible,” Scioscia said when asked specifically if Ohtani would start next Tuesday. “Obviously, this is a new wrinkle right now, with the blister coming up, but we’ll get into that later in the week. He’s going to hit a couple times, obviously, before he pitches again. We’ll see where everything sets up.”

Ohtani, 23, dealt with blisters on the same finger in Japan and said through his interpreter that they typically don’t impact his availability.

“I’ve fought through it,” said Ohtani, who was still able to hit 100 mph on the radar gun with a handful of second-inning pitches. “I think it’s going to be something similar this time too.”

Ohtani, who surrendered only three runs in his first 13 innings, began the game by giving up a leadoff home run to Betts. He also gave up two walks while throwing only 52 percent of his pitches for strikes and generating just three swing-and-misses.

“He didn’t have his off-speed pitches, and his fastball wasn’t as good as it has been the last two games,” Angels catcher Martin Maldonado said. “They took advantage of it.”

Ohtani took the mound on eight days’ rest because his Sunday start against the Kansas City Royals was postponed due to frigid weather.

The blister actually developed during Ohtani’s previous start, when he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics.

“The medical people took a look at it, and they felt like it would be fine for today,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “I also felt the same way. I tried to pitch, but with the high intensity of the game, it didn’t hold up too well.”

Ohtani spiked five pitches in the first inning, one of which bounced about 5 feet in front of home plate and resulted in a wild pitch. He began the second inning with two high sliders that backed up Eduardo Nunez, then allowed each of the next four batters to reach base, with Brock Holt providing an RBI single and Andrew Benintendi adding a sacrifice fly.

“My splitter, I didn’t have good command of that. My fastball, I didn’t feel off my fingertips. Same with my slider,” Ohtani said.

Ohtani threw just 34 percent of his off-speed pitches for strikes, down from 68 percent in his first two starts, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Sixty-two percent of his off-speed pitches were noncompetitive pitches, which means they were more than 18 inches from the center of the strike zone. That was a sharp increase from the 26 percent in his first two starts.

It wasn’t until Ohtani exited that Maldonado found out the pitcher had been dealing with a blister.

“I didn’t know [he didn’t have his best stuff] right away because sometimes he doesn’t have it one inning, and the next inning, he’ll go out there, and he’ll have it,” Maldonado said. “Maybe he bounces one split-finger [fastball], and the next pitch he throws it filthy. It’s hard to tell when he has it or he doesn’t have it.”

The Ohtani craze continued Tuesday, with an announced crowd of 44,822 — the team’s first sell-out on a Tuesday in four years. The Angels’ public relations department also issued approximately 160 additional credentials.

Ohtani dominated in his first two starts, at one point retiring 27 consecutive hitters in a stretch that covered both outings against the A’s. Offensively, he carried a .367/.424/.767 slash line, with three home runs in 33 plate appearances.

Scioscia was asked pregame to compare what Ohtani was doing to the hype that surrounded Fernando Valenzuela, his former Los Angeles Dodgers teammate, in the 1980s. The manager’s assessment: “He has the chance to be just as dynamic in his first season.”

Wholesale Los Angeles Dodgers Jerseys

Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers

Mason City native Jake Peter can play almost every position on a baseball field.

But no one has been able to find him a spot on a big-league roster.

That could change this season, as Peter’s been given a new opportunity after being traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason.

“I think there’s a little bit more opportunity for me here,” Peter said of his new home in the Dodgers’ system. “Being a versatile player, I think that bodes well for me in this organization because you look at pretty much every guy they have in the big leagues can play multiple positions.”

That’s been Peter’s calling card ever since the White Sox selected him the seventh round of the 2014 draft. Peter was a super utility man, logging time at every position but pitcher and catcher. He also showed plenty of pop with his bat, hitting a .282 with 86 doubles, 15 triples and 24 homers during his first four professional seasons.

But as good as Peter was with his bat and as versatile as he has been, defensively, he couldn’t rise above the Triple-A level with the White Sox. Peter hoped that would change this season. He was preparing for another season in the system when he got a surprising phone call over the winter months from Chris Getz, Chicago’s director of player development.

Peter, who was back home in Mason City, was told he had been traded to the Dodgers. He was one part of a three-team deal that also included the Kansas City Royals.

“When I got the call that I was traded, it kind of came out of nowhere,” Peter said. “So it caught me off guard. And it was a little overwhelming at first.”

Previously:

10 MLB prospects who could play the Iowa Cubs this season
Mason City native Jake Peter rising at the right time with the Chicago White Sox
‘Super-utility’ man Jake Peter simply super at bat

After talking to his parents and agent, Peter realized the trade might work out well for him. Peter figured the Dodgers, who love versatility, would certainly covet him and his ability to play all around the field.

Once he got to spring training, Peter didn’t waste any time trying to impress the Dodgers. In 26 big-league spring training games, he smacked three home runs and drove in 14 runs. Despite the strong showing, though, he was sent back to Triple-A, this time with the Oklahoma City Dodgers. While he didn’t break camp with the Dodgers, the spring was still a success.

“I think he’s definitely on the radar,” said Oklahoma City manager Bill Haselman. “I think they were impressed with his spring training. They liked what they saw. He definitely got himself noticed.”

Just like Peter anticipated, the Dodgers loved his ability to bounce around the field.

“It’s huge,” Haselman said. “The Dodgers really value versatile players, and you can put him pretty much anywhere, which gives him a lot of value. He’s a great kid and great teammate.”

Haselman, who coached Peter in the 2015 Arizona Fall League, a league for some of baseball’s biggest prospects, has seen him come a long way since then.

“I think he’s improved a ton since then,” Haselman said. “I really liked what I saw in spring training. He hit for power, plays the game hard and is locked in. Really, I think he has a bright future.”

Peter said the plan is for him to continue getting playing time everywhere. He anticipates the bulk of it will come at second and third along with some time in the outfield and maybe some at shortstop and first base.

“Wherever they need me in the lineup that night is where I’ll get my practice in at BP,” Peter said.

The trade is already working out. Oklahoma City’s first series of the season brought Peter back to his home state to play the Iowa Cubs. He’s had fans and family flocking to Principal Park throughout the series to visit him.

Peter’s family even rented out a skybox for Saturday night’s game. Before he came back, the last time Peter played at the park was in 2011, as a part of the Mason City team that lost to Dowling Catholic in the Class 4-A championship game. Peter said walking into the stadium brought memories flooding back.

“We got our butts kicked — that’s what I really remember about it,” Peter said with a smile. “It was real cool, coming to this ballpark for the first time since my senior year of high school and kind of seeing some of the things that have changed, especially around the field and everything like that.”

Peter even celebrated his 25th birthday on opening day in Iowa last Thursday.

“Even just being back in the state of Iowa and being so close to home, it’s a really good feeling.”

Peter is also happy to have a new home.

“I’ve really enjoyed everybody that I’ve met throughout the organization,” Peter said. “I’m really happy that I’m a Dodger.”

Wholesale Miami Marlins Jerseys

The Miami Marlins split their season opening series with the Chicago Cubs, two games apiece. We’re going to take a closer look at the 25 Miami Marlins players who appeared.

Mostly, I used the Wins Probability Added metric (WPA) to help ascertain which players performed in the higher leverage situations. In other words, if the Miami Marlins are winning, 6-0, a plate appearance doesn’t count as much. Conversely, an at bat with two on and two out in the bottom of the 13th has a very high leverage.

Miami’s entire bullpen and every position player got into at least one game. Every starting pitcher currently on the roster also played at least one game. Famously, Odrisamer Despaigne appeared as both a reliever and as a starter. Brian Ellington, who was recently sent down, didn’t appear in the series.

For comparison’s sake, I’ll take a moment here to outline Chicago’s best performers.

Eddie Butler +.947

Butler pitched seven innings of relief on March 30th, in that 17-inning game two Miami victory. He walked one and allowed four hits while striking out five batters. More importantly, he kept the Marlins scoreless.

Kris Bryant +.428

Bryant hit a double, walked, and scored twice in the season opener, Chicago’s 8-4 win. He was three-for-six with a walk, a double, and a homer in Chicago’s 10-6, 17-inning loss. Game three would see him collect three RBI with a single, a double, and a walk, and in today’s contest he hit a single and drew a walk. He finishes the series with a team-leading .389 average and a four-game hitting streak.

Steve Cishek +.299

Cishek pitched three combined scoreless innings. He struck out two and allowed a walk and a hit in 1 2/3 innings of the season opener. In yesterday’s game, he gave up a walk and struck out a batter in 1 1/3 innings. 28 of his 49 pitches were strikes.

Justin Wilson +.234

Wilson pitched in relief in each of the first two games, keeping the Marlins off the board both times. He got 31-of-55 pitches in the zone. He struck out one in a perfect eighth in the opener. In the 17-inning marathon, he whiffed two but allowed three baserunners in 1 2/3 innings (on a hit and two walks).

Ben Zobrist +.221

Zobrist was three-for-seven with a double in the Marlins 2-1, 17-inning win on Friday. On Saturday, he went 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI. He closed the series with a pop-out pinch hit appearance in the ninth inning today.