As I did last year, I’ll be keeping a running list of the Top 100 Players Right Now as they are revealed on MLB Network, eventually compiling the entire list.
They will have revealed all 100 by the end of Tuesday, February 26th. I’ll update this same space as they reveal the remaining entries.
As before I will understandably highlight the Brewers players on the list. Last year there were six Brewers on the list. Rickie Weeks was 83, John Axford was 77, Yovani Gallardo was 72, Aramis Ramirez was 66, Zack Greinke was 64, and Ryan Braun was too low at number 9.
Based on what has been revealed, it would appear a safe bet that Rickie Weeks has fallen off of the list. And how about John Axford? Could he really be in the Top 40 or did he fall off too? I’m guessing he fell off despite his fantastic 2011 season.
Looks like the Brewers will only have three this year.
The criteria for the list remains the same:
- Emphasized stats from the last three (3) seasons, weighting 2012
- Projected 2013 performance
- Defensive position
Here now are the Top 100 Players as listed by MLB Network.
100. Ryan Howard – 1B – Philadelphia Phillies
99. Sergio Romo – CL – San Francisco Giants
98. Yu Darvish – SP – Texas Rangers
97. Elvis Andrus – SS – Texas Rangers
96. Chase Utley – 2B – Philadelphia Phillies
95. Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – Los Angeles Dodgers
94. Jacoby Ellsbury – OF – Boston Red Sox
93. Victor Martinez – C/DH – Detroit Tigers
92. Jordan Zimmermann – SP – Washington Nationals
91. Michael Bourn – CF – Cleveland Indians
90. Aroldis Chapman – P – Cincinnati Reds
89. Adam Wainwright – SP – St. Louis Cardinals
88. Jon Lester – SP – Boston Red Sox
87. Mike Moustakas – 3B – Kansas City Royals
86. Brett Lawrie – 3B – Toronto Blue Jays
85. Michael Morse – 1B/LF – Seattle Mariners
84. Allen Craig – 1B – St. Louis Cardinals
83. Torii Hunter – RF – Detroit Tigers
82. Carlos Beltran – RF – St. Louis Cardinals
81. Carlos Ruiz – C – Philadelphia Phillies
80. Brian McCann – C – Atlanta Braves
79. Miguel Montero – C- Arizona Diamondbacks
78. Curtis Granderson – CF – New York Yankees
77. Jim Johnson – CL – Baltimore Orioles
76. Jason Motte – CL – St. Louis Cardinals
75. Ian Desmond – SS – Washington Nationals
74. Chase Headley – 3B – San Diego Padres
73. Adam LaRoche – 1B – Washington Nationals
72. Yovani Gallardo – SP – Milwaukee Brewers
71. Madison Bumgarner – SP – San Francisco Giants
70. Alex Gordon – LF – Kansas City Royals
69. B.J. Upton – CF – Atlanta Braves
68. James Shields – SP – Kansas City Royals
67. David Freese – 3B – St. Louis Cardinals
66. J.J. Hardy – SS – Baltimore Orioles
65. Kyle Lohse – SP – (FREE AGENT)
64. Wade Miley – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks
63. Johnny Cueto – SP – Cincinnati Reds
62. Jonathan Papelbon – CL – Philadelphia Phillies
61. Mariano Rivera – CL – New York Yankees
60. David Ortiz – DH – Boston Red Sox
59. Jason Heyward – RF – Atlanta Braves
58. Austin Jackson – CF – Detroit Tigers
57. Zack Greinke – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers
56. Chris Sale – SP – Chicago White Sox
55. Billy Butler – DH – Kansas City Royals
54. Bryce Harper – LF – Washington Nationals
53. Derek Jeter – SS – New York Yankees
52. Starlin Castro – SS – Chicago Cubs
51. Troy Tulowitzki – SS – Colorado Rockies
50. R.A. Dickey – SP – Toronto Blue Jays
49. Gio Gonzalez – SP – Washington Nationals
48. Matt Wieters – C – Baltimore Orioles
47. A.J. Pierzynski – C- Texas Rangers
46. Roy Halladay – SP – Philadelphia Phillies
45. Matt Cain – SP – San Francisco Giants
44. Pablo Sandoval – 3B – San Francisco Giants
43. Josh Willingham – LF – Minnesota Twins
42. Yoenis Cespedes – LF – Oakland Athletics
41. Matt Holliday – LF – St. Louis Cardinals
40. Ian Kinsler – 2B – Texas Rangers
39. Edwin Encarnacion – 1B – Toronto Blue Jays
38. Joe Mauer – C – Minnesota Twins
37. Jered Weaver – SP – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
36. Jay Bruce – RF – Cincinnati Reds
35. Justin Upton – LF – Atlanta Braves
34. Dustin Pedroia – 2B – Boston Red Sox
33. Paul Konerko – 1B – Chicago White Sox
32. Aramis Ramirez – 3B – Milwaukee Brewers
31. Brandon Phillips – 2B – Cincinnati Reds
30. Carlos Gonzalez – LF – Colorado Rockies
29. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B – Washington Nationals
28. Jose Bautista – RF – Toronto Blue Jays
27. Craig Kimbrel – CL – Atlanta Braves
26. Stephen Strasburg – SP – Washington Nationals
25. Jose Reyes – SS – Toronto Blue Jays
24. Yadier Molina – C – St. Louis Cardinals
23. Adam Jones – CF – Baltimore Orioles
22. David Wright – 3B – New York Mets
21. Buster Posey – C – San Francisco Giants
20. Cole Hamels – SP – Philadelphia Phillies
19. Cliff Lee – SP – Philadelphia Phillies
18. CC Sabathia – SP – New York Yankees
17. Andrew McCutchen – CF – Pittsburgh Pirates
16. Evan Longoria – 3B – Tampa Bay Rays
15. Giancarlo Stanton – RF – Miami Marlins
14. Albert Pujols – 1B – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
13. Adrian Beltre – 3B – Texas Rangers
12. David Price – SP – Tampa Bay Rays
11. Prince Fielder – 1B – Detroit Tigers
10. Josh Hamilton – RF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
9. Joey Votto – 1B – Cincinnati Reds
8. Robinson Cano – 2B – New York Yankees
7. Felix Hernandez – SP – Seattle Mariners
6. Ryan Braun – LF – Milwaukee Brewers
5. Clayton Kershaw – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Matt Kemp – CF – Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Miguel Cabrera – 3B – Detroit Tigers
2. Justin Verlander – SP – Detroit Tigers
1. Mike Trout – LF – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Totals by team:
- Philadelphia Phillies – 7
- St. Louis Cardinals – 7
- Washington Nationals – 7
- Detroit Tigers – 6
- Atlanta Braves – 5
- Cincinnati Reds – 5
- New York Yankees – 5
- San Francisco Giants – 5
- Texas Rangers – 5
- Toronto Blue Jays – 5
- Baltimore Orioles – 4
- Boston Red Sox – 4
- Kansas City Royals – 4
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 4
- Los Angeles Dodgers – 4
- Milwaukee Brewers – 3
- Arizona Diamondbacks – 2
- Chicago White Sox – 2
- Colorado Rockies – 2
- Minnesota Twins – 2
- Seattle Mariners – 2
- Tampa Bay Rays – 2
- Cleveland Indians – 1
- New York Mets – 1
- Chicago Cubs – 1
- Oakland Athletics – 1
- Miami Marlins – 1
- Pittsburgh Pirates – 1
- San Diego Padres – 1
- Kyle Lohse – 1
The Brewers hit the road following their brief three-game season-opening homestand. They headed south on Interstate 94 to Chicago to take on the Cubs in a four game series which, because it’s Chicago, meant two evening games and two day afternoon games.
The Crew took the first three games in the series and looked good heading into an opportunity for their first ever four-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. They fell painfully short of that goal, but more on that later.
The fact is that in a venue where the 96-win 2011 Brewers only won two games all year, leaving town with three notches on the bedpost is certainly an acceptable outcome.
For more on each game’s individual happenings, read on!
Game 1 – Monday – Brewers (1-2): 7, Cubs (1-2): 5
Winning Pitcher: Shaun Marcum (1-0, 4.50) Losing Pitcher: Shawn Camp (0-1, 7.36)
Save: John Axford (1)
In the opening tilt of the series, the Brewers not only scored early (RBI sac fly by Aramis Ramirez, plating Nyjer Morgan), but often (scoring runs in six of their nine frames).
In a nice blend of small ball and…big ball, I guess…the Brewers got a solo home run from Rickie Weeks in the third and RBI extra-base hits from Mat Gamel (triple) in the sixth inning and Ramirez (double) in the Brewers’ next frame. Milwaukee also picked up RBIs by way of both a safety and suicide squeeze, and a pair of sacrifice flies.
The only real point of concern came in the bottom of the ninth when, sporting a 7-3 lead and with closer John Axford having just thrown 27 pitches the night before, manager Ron Roenicke called on Manny Parra to finish out the game.
Parra allowed a leadoff double and was lifted for Tim Dillard once the left-handed hitters were done. Dillard walked Geovany Soto which forced Roenicke’s hand.
Axford entered the game and allowed his first batter faced to single home a run on Parra’s linescore. With men at second and third and only one out, Axford struck out David DeJesus but then walked Darwin Barney to load the bases.
In a beautifully-called and executed sequence, Axford then struck out Starlin Castro on three pitches to end the game.
Game 2 – Tuesday – Brewers (2-2): 7, Cubs (1-3): 4
Winning Pitcher: Chris Narveson (1-0, 3.60) Losing Pitcher: Paul Maholm (0-1, 13.50)
Save: Francisco Rodriguez (1)
A cold night in the Windy City saw a team of (mostly) hooded men residing in the first base dugout.
The hoods designed to keep a player’s head and neck warm could also be pulled up to cover the face while running the bases, and the sight of so many of the Brewers wearing them caused many fans to invoke a “ninja” theme to the evening’s events.
It was a mostly fitting description for the early part of the game as the Brewers struck blows to the Cubs starting pitcher repeatedly. The loudest blow of the night for Milwaukee came from the first hitter in the batting order to plays sans shroud, Alex Gonzalez. He made plenty of noise by blasting a three-run home run into the left-center field bleachers, capping the scoring at five for the frame.
The ninja thing might have been a perfect description if not for the fact that Corey Hart and Mat Gamel were both hit by pitches in the first inning. After all, ninjas are supposed to be incredibly stealthy and therefore shouldn’t be able to be plunked.
The Cubs were never really in this game, though they did cut the lead to three runs in the third inning.
There was more ninth inning drama as well. The Brewers once again put a four-run lead up against the Cubs final three outs and put a non-closer on the bump to begin the ninth.
After Kameron Loe had pitched two mostly brilliant innings of scoreless relief, Jose Veras was given the first chance to slam the door but hung a curveball to Geovany Soto which was blasted into the stands for a home run. After striking out the scuffling Marlon Byrd, Veras walked the pinch-hitting Bryan LaHair.
The situation now being a three-run lead with the tying run in the on-deck circle made it a Save opportunity. With John Axford having thrown over 50 pitches over the previous two days, manager Ron Roenicke had decided prior to the game that the Ax Man was off limits tonight. Roenicke walked to the mound and signaled for a right-hander to enter the game.
Francisco Rodriguez jogged to the mound looking to record his first Save as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.
K-Rod needed just seven pitches to get through the final two hitters. He secured Chris Narveson’s first Win of the year by striking out David DeJesus and inducing Darwin Barney to ground out to Alex Gonzalez.
The Brewers had just guaranteed themselves no worse than a series split, but had eyes for more.
Game 3 – Wednesday – Brewers (3-2): 2, Cubs (1-4): 1
Winning Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo (1-1, 5.91) Losing Pitcher: Ryan Dempster (0-1, 1.88)
Save: John Axford (2)
Yovani Gallardo’s start on Opening Day was brutal. (You can click here for that recap.) A lot of people were questioning the staff ace and his abilities, which is ridiculous but they were, and were looking for a bounce-back start against the Cubs.
Going seven strong innings, only allowing one run (earned) while scattering five hits and two walks, he struck out six Cubs hitters on the day. He shaved nearly nine runs off of his ERA (early season small sample sizes are fun!), nearly a point and a half off of his WHIP, and thousands of doubters off his back about his admittedly rough start five days earlier.
Nearly exceeding his performance, however, was Cub starter Ryan Dempster. He too pitched on Opening Day for Chicago, but with much better personal results than Gallardo achieved. Dempster made it to the seventh scoreless, but allowed a one-out, two-run home run to George Kottaras which proved to be the difference in the game.
Gallardo was set to be pinch-hit for had Kottaras not come through, but instead he came back out in the bottom of the seventh and worked himself into and out of the only substantial Cub threat of the afternoon.
The eighth and ninth were by design after that, with both Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford striking out the side around two walks and one double, respectively.
Having hoisted the L flag atop Wrigley for the third consecutive game, the Brewers looked to do what they had never done before…
Sweep a four-game set from the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Game 4 – Thursday – Brewers (4-2): 0, Cubs (1-5): 8
Winning Pitcher: Matt Garza (1-0, 1.23) Losing Pitcher: Zack Greinke (1-1, 6.75)
When you head into the final game of a series with a chance to sweep that series, and you have one of the best pitchers on your staff starting, you feel pretty good about your chances that day. So, too, did the Brewers with Zack Greinke toeing the rubber on Thursday afternoon.
In a confluence of recent and unfortunate trends, however, Greinke pitched during the day and on the road. While coincidental at best, neither of those situations was particularly friendly to Greinke last season. (For the record: Greinke’s Win-Loss record was good during the day last year, but we all know how much that actually reflects his performance.)
Regardless of the circumstances, Greinke seemed out of sorts the entire day. He barely touched speeds with his fastball that he usually sits comfortably at. He normally sits 94-95, touches 97, but on Thursday he was sitting 91-92 and his high watermark only rounded up to 95. PitchFX information had Greinke topping out at 94.9 MPH, while averaging 92.64. (Those figures were quoted to me by mutual Twitter follow Jaymes Langrehr of the Disciples of Uecker blog. You can follow him on Twitter: @JaymesL.)
The second half of the Brewers pair of aces could only muster 3.2 innings pitched on Thursday afternoon, and he was charged with eight earned runs before it was all said and done. That was a far cry from his seven shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals five days prior.
The highlights of the game for the Brewers would be that two relief pitchers, who had been previously roughed up a couple of times, posted multiple, scoreless innings in relief of Greinke. Manny Parra took over in the fourth inning and pitched through the sixth, striking out four along the way while walking none. Tim Dillard then covered the seventh and eighth, also walking no one. Each relief pitcher allowed two hits while working.
Otherwise, Matt Garza simply had his way with every Brewer hitter not named Nyjer Morgan (two hits in four trips to the plate) or Jonathan Lucroy (one hit, one walk in three PAs). Garza only allowed three hits through 8.2 innings pitched, while striking out nine and walking only two.
His only hiccup, if you can even call it one, was when Garza induced a ground ball back to himself off of the bat of pinch-hitter Norichika Aoki but then threw the ball way over and past first baseman Bryan LaHair, allowing Aoki to reach.
With Garza then at 119 pitches, Cubs manager Dale Sveum marched to the mound and lifted his starter in favor of Monday’s starter Shawn Camp. Camp got George Kottaras to ground out on four pitches to finalize things.
Like I said at the top, taking three out of four games at Wrigley Field is never a bad thing, regardless of whether you lost the final game with arguably your best pitcher on the bump.
Games against the very much so rebuilding Cubs are just as important, if not more so, as games against other opponents in the division. You must beat the teams which you are supposed to beat if you hope to approach last season’s franchise-best win total.
I really liked seeing solid starts from Shaun Marcum and Chris Narveson in their first turns, and was greatly encouraged by the fact that heavy use early didn’t affect John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez as they were both very good as usual.
The bats need to wake up a bit still. Look no further than notoriously slow starter Aramis Ramirez (2-for-22 to begin the campaign) as evidence of that, but there is plenty of time to turn things around.
After beginning 2011 with a 0-4 record and not winning for the third time on the road until their ninth try, being 4-2 after six with three victories away from Miller Park isn’t a bad place to be.
The Brewers are in Atlanta tonight for the first of a three-game series. Tonight is the Braves’ home opener. That game will be contested by Randy Wolf and Jair Jurrjens with the first pitch being scheduled for 6:35 Central Daylight Time.