Archive for the ‘Game Changers’ Category

MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres

Great starts live long in the memory. Posting terrific numbers in April seems to have a much different effect on the way we remember players than putting up a great July or playing the best ball of your season between May 17th and June 23rd. The impression made in the season’s early days lasts a long time.

The All Star Break doesn’t reset our memories but it does provide a discreet starting and ending point.

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andrelton stretch

Shortstop is a defensive position. Full stop. Few positions (other than catcher) permit a player to reach the big leagues based on the strength of their defensive game alone. If you can pick it at shortstop, you’ll usually have a job. Hitting isn’t optional but it ranks as a distant second in terms of prerequisites for big league shortstop success.

Not all shortstops are defensive whiz kids. Some are merely adequate, bringing enough to the table with their bats that a lack of range can be excused. Today, we honor the real glove men. The guys for whom defense ranks first, second, and third too.

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Seattle Mariners v. Chicago White Sox

Everybody loves a closer. They stride from the bullpen with strains of a recent heavy metal classic blasting over the stadium loudspeakers, flames and explosions leaping from the videoboards. They lock down the ninth inning, shaking hands with the catcher after a job well done. They get the praise and, eventually, they get the paychecks.

Somebody needs to get that lead to the ninth, and that brings us to three of the best setup relivers in baseball right now: Mark Melancon, Jesse Crain, and Brett Cecil.

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