A yearly tradition on the MLB Network is the revealing of the top 100 players in MLB today. This is unveiled on the network right at the beginning of spring training. MLB revealed its newest installment this week, and three players from the Commonwealth of Virginia made the list.
Coming in at #84 on the list was Braves OF Justin Upton (Chesapeake). Upton signed with Motown after 9 years in the National League with Arizona, Atlanta, and San Diego, and was a big boost to the Tigers lineup, tying his career high with 31 HR for a Tigers team that fell just short of a Wild Card birth.
Coming in at #73 on the list was a player who broke through in a big way last year, Red Sox OF Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Prince George). After a very rocky first 3 years in the big leagues, constantly shuttling back and forth between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket, and with his future in the major leagues very much in jeopardy, Bradley spent the off-season after 2015 working on his game with coaches in Florida. It showed in 2016. JBJ hit 26 HRs, drove in 87 runs, batted .267, and posted his first career 100-hit season (149). All were career highs, and for good measure, he played in his first All-Star game. The dynamo defensive player broke through with his hitting big time, and will be counted on by a Red Sox team that many expect to be a playoff contender in 2017.
After an extremely rocky 2015 season, the #43 player on this list, Tigers P Justin Verlander (Goochland/ODU) got back on track nicely in ’16. Verlander won 16 games and posted a 3.04 ERA. His .640 winning percentage was his highest since 2012, and his 254 strikeouts, which led the AL, were his highest since 2009. Besides his LL SO total, he finished in the Top 10 in the AL in just about every pitching category. It would appear that the Justin Verlander of old is back to his old ways. A Tigers team that expects to contend in 2017 is certainly hoping so.
In recent years, the Commonwealth of Virginia has truly emerged as a goldmine of baseball talent, and certainly the 2016 Major League Baseball season is adding credence to that. A number of the state’s MLB heroes are keying surging teams.
In Detroit, the Tigers had high expectations going into the season. They added free agent SP Jordan Zimmermann and slugging OF Justin Upton (Chesapeake). But the Motor City faithful will certainly tell you that the key to any hopes of a pennant in ’16 rest on the work of incumbent ace SP Justin Verlander (Goochland Co./ODU). When Verlander allowed 7 earned runs on May 3, raising his ERA to a very bloated 6.49, it appeared to be a lost season for the Tigers already.
Boy, has Verlander rebounded!
In 4 starts since, he has a 1.20 ERA, and his mark for the season has gone down in each of his last 4 starts, from 6.49 down to a much better 4.02. In addition, on May 18th, a Wednesday afternoon game against the Twins, Verlander added to his legend, with a 4th inning strikeout of Twins OF Eddie Rosario, the 2000th strikeout of his career. He joins Mickey Lolich as the only Tigers hurlers to ever accomplish that mark, and is less than 700 Ks from matching Lolich.
In Colorado, the Rockies sit at 23-24, 5 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West. While no team is truly out of the playoff picture on Memorial Day weekend, the Rockies have the offense to carry them. The emergence of rookie SS Trevor Story may be the talk of baseball, but one of the keys to any playoff games coming to Denver this year is slugging 1B Mark Reynolds (Va Beach/UVA). Reynolds, who is the only batter in history to post 3 200+ strikeout seasons, has found his discipline at the plate in recent years, and so far in 2016, he is 2nd in the NL among 1B with a .317 BA.
Perhaps the biggest shocker in baseball, certainly in Boston so far, has been the emergence of CF Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Prince George). Bradley, at one time a top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was struggling to hold down an OF job at Fenway due to hitting, lackluster at best. His glovework was the only thing keeping him with the Red Sox. But JBJ, has he is affectionately known as by Red Sox Nation, persevered, working with a hitting coach in Florida during the winter months.
In 2016, that has paid off, and big time!
As of May 27, Bradley is 2nd in the AL with a .341 Batting Average, tied for 4th with 35 RBIs, and tied for the league lead with 4 triples, and has garnered a Player of the Week honor during the month of May. And from April 24th to May 25th, he was unstoppable, literally!
JBJ put together a 29-game hitting streak, during which time his batting average skyrocketed 117 points! His streak included 11 multi-hit games, including, at one point, six straight!
Justin Verlander. Mark Reynolds. Jackie Bradley Jr. Proving that the Virginia-MLB pipeline is alive. And strong!
At the 2004 MLB player draft, the Padres had the first pick, and choose P Matt Bush, who got into all kinds of legal trouble and has served prison time. The Detroit Tigers had the second pick, and chose a flame-throwing hurler out of Old Dominion University in Virginia. To this day, do you think the Padres are regretting not choosing Justin Verlander (Goochland Co.)?
Verlander made his major league debut on Independence Day, 2005, and 11 years later, his mantle is filled to the brim with accomplishments, awards, and accolades. 6-time all-star, ROY, Cy Young Award, MVP, 2 no-hitters, established himself as one of the greatest Tigers pitchers of all-time, in the Top 10 in just about every pitching category in Detroit history.
Yesterday, he accomplished another major career milestone.
On a warm afternoon at Comerica Park in Detroit, the Tigers faced the Minnesota Twins. Verlander threw 7 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts in a win for the home club. However, its what happened in the fourth inning that was the milestone. He struck out Twins LF Eddie Rosario for his 2000th career K.
Verlander became the 76th pitcher in ML history to reach that mark, and joined the great Mickey Lolich as the only Tigers hurlers to do so.
All hail, Tigers nation. Your ace pitcher is back!!
Detroit Tigers ace RHP Justin Verlander (Goochland/ODU) will make his 2015 season debut Saturday against the Cleveland Indians. Verlander has been out all season, having suffered a strained triceps muscle during the tail end of Spring Training. His return could not come at a better time for the Tigers, who have a lot of question marks in their rotation after de facto ace David Price. Price has been an ace, but fellow starters Anibal Sanchez and Alfredo Simon have been up and down. Trade acquisition Shayne Greene started out 3-0, but has faltered big time.
Verlander’s return also marks sort of a crossroads for the 2015 Detroit Tigers. If it goes well, it could be the boost the Tigers need to make a run at a fifth consecutive AL Central division title. If it does not go well, the Tigers probably lose out to the Royals for that title.
The Arizona Diamondbacks announced Sunday that RHP Daniel Hudson (Virginia Beach/ODU) will be the starting pitcher in their afternoon tilt with the Padres in San Diego.
Yes, that Daniel Hudson.
Hudson will get his first starting role in three years.
Not long ago, Hudson’s future in baseball was in serious jeopardy. In 2012, Hudson underwent Tommy John surgery, costing him the remainder of that season. Roughly a year later, while rehabbing at AA, he again tore the same ligament that he had the TJ surgery on, meaning he was through for the season. Arizona did release him after the season, but re-signed him to a minor league contract, and moved him to the bullpen. He made a comeback late in the 2014 season and pitched 3 games in relief, to the tune of 2 2/3 innings.
Now, with Arizona’s rotation in flux due to recent rainouts, Hudson will be on the mound starting a game. It will be interesting to see how long manager Chip Hale lets him pitch.
Hudson has a career record of 28-19 with a 3.82 ERA in 74 games. He won the NL Silver Slugger award for pitchers in 2011.
When Tigers P Justin Verlander (Goochland/ODU) suffered a triceps injury in Spring Training, just days before Opening Day, it was believed to be a minor one, possibly not forcing him to even miss a start in ST.
It turned out to be more serious than that, and Verlander has so far missed all of 2015 because of it.
But, good news, Tigers fans, he is on the mend.
Verlander has been cleared to begin throwing again, and Tigers brass has put him on a schedule, first having him throw 50 pitches off flat ground this past Wednesday, then stretching him out to throwing from a distance of 90 feet. According to MLB.com, doctors performed an MRI and discovered that the inflammation had gone down enough that he could really begin rehabbing.
Tigers management obviously does not want to rush their ace back to work, but all indications are that there is some light at the end of the tunnel for seeing Verlander back on the mound at Comerica Park.
In his 10-yr major league career, Tigers P Justin Verlander (Goochland/ODU) has had quite a resume. He has won 152 games, been named Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award, and MVP, led all of baseball in wins twice, won the 2011 Triple Crown, thrown 2 no-hitters, and has been on 2 AL-pennant winning Tigers teams.
One of the key reasons to his great success has been the fact that he has never been on the DL.
Verlander will open the 2015 season the DL, the first such action of his career, due to a strain in his triceps. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is optimistic, however, that Verlander can make his first start not long after Opening Day this weekend-April 12th versus Cleveland.