I headed to Cleveland this morning along with Amy, Olivia, and fellow ballhawk Nick Pelescak. We left around 7:45 and after searching for affordable parking, got to the gates around 10:20, over an hour before they were to open.
The game was a 1:05 day game, and Progressive Field only opens 90 minutes open for day games, meaning that if there was batting practice, we’d miss half of it. It was a gamble, but it was worth taking as it’s early in the season.
The plan was to go there, and hope for loads of Easter Eggs that would be left behind by the Indians batters. I peered in and saw that the Indians were indeed hitting.
Nice, there would be Easter Eggs everywhere. Nick and I walked over to the Home Run porch and watched ball after ball land in the right field seats. Unfortunately, there was an usher pretending to wipe off seats who was going around and pocketing them all.
It was important to get on the board early, because we were going to get an abbreviated batting practice with the late gate times, and also there was a huge crowd lined up to get in.
All of the gates opened at 11:30, and I ran in. As I was looking for an Easter Egg, a home run landed a section to my right. I ran over to pick it up, as the only person around was an usher who was acting like he was wiping off seats. Well, the usher sprinted for the ball and grabbed it before I could. Perhaps realizing how over the top it was, he looked at it and then flipped it to me to put me on the board.
I found a second ball in the seats a few rows back before heading over to left field.
I should mention that the visiting Blue Jays were already hitting when the gates opened, so we missed at least half of BP.
I hate Progressive Field’s left field. It’s dangerously steep, and I always do poorly there. After getting shut out for a round, I headed back to right field.
While there, I watched a ball bounce into the trees in Heritage Park. I ran over and found it sitting just under the fence that separates the trees from the monuments.
In the Jays third group, which was all lefties, I caught a home run on the fly cleanly here:
And less than 20 seconds later corralled another home run that bounced off the concrete partition between the outfield wall and front row of seats here:
I failed to get anything else during batting practice. I thought I had a sixth one that I saw go into the trees at Heritage Park, but after a thorough search, I gave up. There were a couple teenagers there looking for the same ball, but none of us found it. After BP, I returned and systematically scanned every inch of the area behind this wall:
Eventually, I found it after BP had ended when I searched a second time. It was right up against the concrete out of view. It was my sixth and final ball of the day.
Opening Day is fast approaching, spring training camps are set to open any day now, and many teams have begun selling individual game tickets. Fans all around the country are getting ready for baseball season and offering their opinions on how their team is going to do. I’ve decided to do the same. Rather than do a team-by-team break down, I’ll offer my predictions by division.
I’ve also included 2012 Predicted statistics from the 2012 Major League Baseball Yearbook and Fantasy Guide
I’ll start with the American League East.
In 2011, the Yankees took the division, while the Rays capitalized on the Red Sox epic collapse to earn second place and a wild card spot. Toronto played decent ball in baseball’s toughest division, finishing with as many wins as losses, and Baltimore brought up the rear of the division.
So, here’s my picks:
1st place: New York Yankees (My projection 96-66)
The Yankees made a major move during the offseason, acquiring Michael Pineda from the Mariners to shore up their rotation. Their rotation is anchored by CC Sabathia, who along with Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, and Pineda, should be about average.
The Yankees have a great offense. C Russell Martin is not much of an offensive threat, but the Yankees have Mark Teixeria, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher to provide the firepower – all of who have 25+ home run potential. It will be interesting to see how Derek Jeter does as he enters his age 38 season. Might this be his last as a starting shortstop before age necessitates a position switch to the outfield or DH? Speaking of Jeter, will he still hit leadoff, or will Girardi put speedster Brett Gardner there?
Here’s the Yankees 2012 Statistical Projections (AVG-HR-RBI):
C Russell Martin .242-15-59
1B Mark Teixeira .253-36-108
2B Robinson Cano .308-28-114
3B Alex Rodriguez .271-26-101
SS Derek Jeter .297-8-65
LF Brett Gardner .261-6-37
CF Curtis Granderson .258-35-103
RF Nick Swisher .268-23-84
SP CC Sabathia 21-8, 3.12 ERA, 231 IP, 213 K
SP Hideki Kuroda 15-12, 3.49 ERA, 211.1 IP, 171 K
SP Ivan Nova 14-7, 4.10 ERA, 167 IP, 101 K
SP Freddy Garcia 12-7, 4.13 ERA, 153 IP, 96 K
SP Phil Hughes 13-9, 4.60 ERA, 172 IP, 134K
SP Michael Pineda 13-12, 3.96 ERA, 200 IP, 203 K
RP Mariano Rivera 1.78 ERA, 61 IP, 57 K, 40 Saves
RP David Robertson 2.19 ERA, 66 IP, 98 K, 2 Saves
2nd Place: Tampa Bay Rays (My prediction 90-72)
I kept going back and forth between the Rays and Red Sox for my second place pick. I ultimately decided that the Rays had a better pitching staff that the Red Sox along with miracle worker Joe Maddon.
The Rays offense isn’t nearly as strong as the Yankees and Red Sox. They have Evan Longoria, but besides him, there’s not much else that makes me say, ‘wow.’ BJ Upton has been up and down his whole career, but there’s some in the business who think that he could break out in a big way in 2012 – just like Matt Kemp did for the Dodgers last year.
I really like the Rays pitching staff. All five starters are dependable and should keep the Rays in the game day in and day out.
Here’s the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2012 Statistical Projections:
C Jose Molina .266-8-39
1B Carlos Pena .236-32-93
2B Ben Zobrist .264-18-91
3B Evan Longoria .268-36-91
SS Sean Rodriguez .229-9-51
LF Desmond Jennings .269-15-50
CF BJ Upton .241-20-72
RF Sam Fuld .266-2-23
OF Matt Joyce .270-21-86
DH Luke Scott .249-22-59
SP James Shields 14-13, 3.57 ERA, 227 IP, 226 K
SP David Price 15-11, 3.12 ERA, 219 IP, 216 K
SP Jeremy Hellickson 15-9, 2.92 ERA, 219 IP, 145 K
SP Matt Moore 12-10, 3.99 ERA, 160 IP, 163 K
SP Wade Davis 11-10, 4.09 ERA, 189 IP, 114 K
RP Kyle Farnsworth 2.30 ERA, 23 saves, 55 IP, 51 K
RP Joel Peralta 3.44 ERA, 5 saves, 71 IP, 73 K
3’rd place: Boston Red Sox (My prediction 87-75)
The Red Sox crashed and burned in 2011, missing the playoffs despite holding a nine game advantage heading into September. I believe that they will narrowly miss the playoffs again in 2012. Red Sox nation is excited to have Bobby Valentine at the helm. A new manager will bring a new voice and hopefully hold all of the players accountable for their actions. Are the Red Sox players too whiny? How will they take to Bobby V? The Red Sox have an offense that rivals that Yankees, but they’re pitching staff isn’t as good. And my bold predictions are the Kevin Youkilis absolutely tanks this year while Carl Crawford rebounds from a poor 2011.
2012 Red Sox Statistical Projections:
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia .230-18-62
1B Adrian Gonzalez .337-34-136
2B Dustin Pedroia .308-24-101
3B Kevin Youkilis .282-24-99
SS Mike Aviles .275-9-45
LF Carl Crawford .274-13-68
CF Jacoby Ellsbury .316-25-81
RF Ryan Sweeney .272-4-53
DH David Ortiz .292-26-96
SP Jon Lester 16-9, 3.43 ERA, 194 IP, 197 K
SP Josh Beckett 13-9, 3.67 ERA, 191 IP, 176 K
SP Clay Buchholz 13-7, 3.27 ERA, 154 IP, 112K
SP Alfredo Aceves 12-7, 3.72 ERA, 172 IP, 122 K
SP Daniel Bard 4-3, 3.03 ERA, 62.1 IP, 65 K
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka 6-5, 4.89 ERA, 96 IP, 80 K
RP Andrew Bailey 2.52 ERA, 38 SV, 54 IP, 49 K
RP Mark Melancon 3.39 ERA, 4 SV, 72 IP, 67 K
4th Place: Toronto Blue Jays (My prediction 79-83)
I am the least familiar with the Toronto Blue Jays of the five teams in the AL East. Their only player that I keep an eye on is Jose Bautista, who for a while was my favorite player on the Pirates. I loved that he was versatile and played infield and outfield for the Buccos. He used to play center field and toss balls into the stands between innings. I caught his 10th career home run on the fly. I’ve loved the guy ever since. Of course, the Pirates traded him for some bum named Robinzon Diaz, and then he became arguably the best player in the MLB after he left town.
Here’s their 2012 statistical predictions:
C JP Arencibia .223-25-83
1B Adam Lind .246-25-83
2B Kelly Johnson .238-22-59
3B Brett Lawrie .304-13-70
SS Yunel Escobar .298-10-53
LF Eric Thames .257-13-40
CF Colby Rasmus .254-18-62
RF Jose Bautista .284-41-99
DH Edwin Encarnacion .268-21-65
SP Ricky Romero 15-10, 3.30 ERA, 213 IP, 170 K
SP Brandon Morrow 13-12, 4.65 ERA, 201 IP, 230 K
SP Brett Cecil 10-14, 4.08 ERA, 212 IP, 146 K
SP Henderson Alvarez 10-9, 4.13 ERA, 146 IP, 105 K
SP Dustin McGowan 7-8, 4.10 ERA, 123 IP, 102 K
RP Sergio Santos 3.64 ERA, 29 saves, 59 IP, 88 K
RP Casey Janssen 2.78 ERA, 1 save, 58 IP, 53 K
5th Place: Baltimore Orioles (My prediction: 69-93)
The Baltimore Orioles haven’t had a winning season in years. Fourteen years to be exact. They’ve toiled at or near the division for all these years, not able to succeed with the big spending Yankees and Red Sox in their division. You have to feel bad for them. I can relate. My favorite team, the Pirates, haven’t had a winning record in 20 years. However, I do believe the Pirates have a better chance of a winning season that the Orioles since the Buccos don’t play the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox 18 times. That’s tough. Frustratingly tough.
The Orioles have a few decent players in Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis, but not much else. Their rotation looks dreadful.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Matt Wieters .280-23-74
1B Mark Reynolds .219-36-85
2B Brian Roberts .260-8-42
3B Josh Bell .260-9-40
3B Wilson Betemit .286-9-44
SS JJ Hardy .266-28-82
LF Nolan Reimold .247-21-72
CF Adam Jones .285-27-83
RF Nick Markakis .286-15-72
DH Chris Davis .273-9-35
SP Jake Arrieta 12-11, 5.05 ERA, 162 IP, 118K
SP Tsuyoshi Wada 11-11, 4.23 ERA, 202 IP, 136 K
SP Zach Britton 11-10, 4.76 ERA, 144 IP, 91 K
SP Brian Matusz 7-15, 5.97 ERA, 146 IP, 118 K
RP Jim Johnson 2.63 ERA, 22 SV, 82 IP 66 K
RP Kevin Gregg 4.25 ERA, 12 SV, 59 IP, 56 K
So, to summarize, I’ve got
How do you think they’ll finish?
Leave a comment. Thanks to Frank Peavy for pointing out several roster moves that weren’t reflected in this post. They’ve since been edited.
49 days until opening day, 2 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, and 3 days left to win this Dustin Pedroia T-Shirt.
Back in Cleveland yet again.
However, it would not be a fun time in Cleveland today.
It would be a record low tying day for me. Record low in terms of balls snagged in 2010 and also record tying low for balls snagged at Progressive Field.
After being shut out for over fifty minutes, I snagged a Shin Soo Choo home run in this area:
It was too deep for me to get to in time to make the catch, so I settled for grabbing the ball off of the concrete.
It was about 5:20. My next ball wouldn’t come until about 6:15 or so.
It was that kind of day.
Season: 268 balls (142 hit, 64 thrown, 26 device, 36 found)
Games: 41 games
Average: 6.53 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 846 balls
Streak: 137 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
Another day of snagging at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
I was the first one into the stadium, and despite there being early batting practice, didn’t find any baseballs on my first sweep through the sections. I also checked Heritage Park, where there was nothing.
Upon returning from Heritage Park I spotted a baseball as another ballhawk/autograph hound was picking it up. I was about five seconds too late.
Since the Indians have a new later batting practice schedule, this gave me plenty of time to search. I went up and down every row and searched for about ten minutes before finally happening upon ball #1, hidden in the shadows:
When the Indians began hitting, I would get ball #2 from Shin Soo Choo. It was a home run that I caught on the fly in center field, fully extended in this area:
Season: 266 balls (141 hit, 64 thrown, 25 device, 36 found)
Games: 40 games
Average: 6.65 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 844 balls
Streak: 136 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I arrived at Progressive Field early enough to be first in line, however, it wouldn’t matter, as BP wouldn’t even end up beginning until 4:50PM.
I had to wait as the Indians stretched, threw, and took a few rounds of infield.
Additionally, the cages hadn’t been set up early due to thunderstorms that moved through just south of Cleveland around 3-3:30 (the Indians likely took a wait and see approach – it ended up not raining in downtown Cleveland.
So, upon entering, I looked for an easter egg halfheartedly out of force of habit. There was nothing in the seats, so I went over to Heritage Park, where this was waiting:
It was a damp, wet baseball that had likely been there at least a few days. It also was very badly worn, and didn’t look like it was a major league baseball. It may have been hit into the trees sometime during the last week and a half when the Indians were out on the road. After debating on whether to count it or not, I decided to – it is a baseball snagged in an MLB stadium. I reached in an was just able to grab ball #1 without using my ‘Cleveland Stick.’
My second ball came from Shin Soo Choo. He turned and threw a ball to a group of kids in the front row. The ball sailed over their heads and into an empty row about six rows back. I bent over and picked up ball #2.
None of the kids asked for the ball, but I could feel Choo staring at me. I looked, and sure enough, there he was, looking right at me.
I tossed ball #829 to one of the kids in the front row. Choo saw this, whistled at me, took a ball out of his back pocket and fired a ball at me. It was ball #3.
He then ran off the field before I could get his picture to go hit.
No one else was in the area, so I raced over to grab ball #10. It turned out that was the last BP home run of the Blue Jays batting practice, because as I returned to my spot, the Blue Jays were running off the field.
Today’s baseballs (9 pictured because #829 was given away):
Sweet spots (9 pictured because #829 was given away):
Game: 10 balls (4 hit, 3 thrown, 2 device, 1 found)
Season: 259 balls (136 hit, 63 thrown, 25 device, 35 found)
Games: 39 games
Average: 6.64 balls per game
2010 Game Balls: 3
Career: 837 balls
Streak: 135 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
I decided to take a little road trip this weekend. My first stop was Baltimore’s Camden Yards.
I had been to the stadium several times last season, with little success. My best showing was a six ball day against the Mets, but other than that I have had terrible luck there. Luckily, at least the weather had decided to cooperate, as it was a nice spring day.
I left about half way through the game to drive to Philadelphia. The
plan was to stay overnight in Philadelphia, and then wake up early the
next morning and drive the rest of the way to New York City.
I was able to watch the Pirates at Diamondbacks live on the drive from Baltimore to Philadelphia.
MLB At-Bat for the Iphone. Love it. Don’t worry, I took this photo moments before leaving the Orioles’ parking lot, I wasn’t driving at that point. Also, I did put my seat belt on after taking the photo.
Game: 3 balls (3 hit)
Season: 12 balls (8 hit, 0 thrown, 4 device)
Games: 3 games
Average: 4.00 balls per game
Career: 590 balls
Streak: 99 consecutive games attended with at least 1 ball snagged.
2009 through 3 games: 13 balls, 1 behind last year’s pace.
I attended my first Spring Training game of the year today with my dad. We traveled from Orlando to nearby Kissimmee FL to see the Blue Jays take on the Houston Astros. Of course, we arrived early.
Although Osceola County Stadium has no access points to get behind the outfield wall, it doesn’t matter because the Astros take their BP on the adjacent practice fields. One is easily able to walk behind any of those practice field fences and await balls to sail out.
Check out the aerial view of the complex:
When we arrived, two fields were being used by minor leaguers, and the Astros were using two fields. They were just running and stretching, so there was some time to hunt for Easter Eggs. After not too long, I found one. It had sailed over the centerfield batters eye on the ‘9 oclock field’ (if you look at the 4 practice fields as 12, 3, 6, 9 oclock in the photo above). It likely had landed on the road, bounced, and settled in the grass. It had likely been there a day or two as it was a bit damp.