The Final Post from ‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’

After 434,498 words, 664 blog posts, 614 comments, 72 months, dozens of interviews, and hours upon hours spent pecking away at the keyboard, I’ve decided to end my run writing for ‘The Unbiased MLB Fan’.

I first began thinking about calling it quits way back at the beginning of 2015, when a somewhat uneventful offseason left me struggling to come up with a topic to write about from one given week to the next. But when that season began, things got a little easier, with there being a lot more to write about, so my mind somewhat drifted from the notion of quitting.

But as time went on, I found myself not enjoying the work it takes to keep up this blog nearly as much as I had in the past (some posts take several days to construct). While I still had a lot of thoughts and opinions surrounding all of the things going on in baseball, and was keeping up with absolutely everything that was going on, I didn’t feel the urge to write about it on here with the frequency I had in the past.

That feeling only grew stronger in 2016.

In 2014, I blogged 129 time throughout the year — the most I’ve ever done in one single year. That number has been noticeably lower each of the past two years, and I don’t feel the quality of the writing has been where it used to be either, with all of this tracing back to the original reason I finally decided to quit blogging: I stopped enjoying it.

In fact, there were a number of times that I contemplated quitting during the season, simply dropping it without warning or a reason as to why I was giving it up. But I didn’t want to do that. I’ve followed far too many blogs that simply fade away without as much as a farewell. That’s always left me scratching my head, and I made up my mind that I wouldn’t join that group. I wanted to see the whole year through — and now I have.

Originally, the plan was to publish this post around Christmas time, but I had a few posts already completed, and I didn’t want to have them go to waste. Therefore, I kept up this blog for a month longer than I anticipated, which ended up working out nicely. It was January 20th of 2011 that I began this blog, and now it’s a January 20th of 2017 that I’m ending it — a nice round six years of blogging.

I began writing this particular post back in August of 2015, as although it wasn’t until the end of 2016 that I decided wholeheartedly that this would be my last year of writing, I didn’t want to just throw something together at the last second. I wanted to say everything I wanted and needed to, and I wanted the wording to be as close to perfect as I am capable of. Whether or not this blog post is perfect, I don’t know. I’d pretty much guarantee that it’s not. But I can guarantee that I put every ounce of my heart into writing this one post, and that’s all that truly counts.

Giving up blogging comes with its own set of strong, mixed emotions. This blog has been a huge portion of my life for the past six years. It’s allowed me the opportunity to correspond with dozens of interesting baseball figures and players, and even rewarded me with a trip with my grandpa to the 2012 Home Run Derby in Kansas City. I’ve gotten more than my fair share of good things out of this blog, and I feel extremely blessed for all of it.

I am now 21 years old, and, as previously stated, have been writing on this blog since January of 2011. That’s over a fourth of my entire life. I’ve poured my opinions and heart into a wide variety of posts, and I have truly had a blast doing so. But, although I’ll undoubtedly miss writing from time to time, the time has come for me to give it up. I’m moving on to the next chapter in my life, and I’m excited to find out what that will be.

Although I won’t be writing anymore on here, I’ll still be keeping track of all that’s going on around baseball, and my opinions will be as strong as ever. I’ll keep reading books and articles about baseball, I’ll keep watching MLB Network on a religious basis, and I’ll keep discussing baseball with my family and friends. My passion for the game hasn’t gone away — if anything it has gotten astronomically stronger. It’s my passion for writing about it that has faded. Thus, it’s time I step aside and give the next guy with opinions and a computer a chance.

So thank you, to every single person who has ever read anything I’ve had to say. At times, it probably didn’t seem like I knew what I was talking about, and most of the time I was simply recycling news that had been already relayed on larger markets, but people read what I had to say anyway. That means a tremendous amount to me.

At the end of the day, this blog wasn’t merely for me, but for all of the readers who share my passion for baseball. I hope I entertained you and informed you over the past six years as I covered the single greatest sport in the world. God bless.

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October to Bring Uptick of Blog Posts

I haven’t been blogging all that often lately, but that’s about to change in a big way.

On Sunday night, I’m planning to post the final “Latest Leaders” blog post of the 2015 season. (I’m not doing it on the first day of the month because the season is ending on the 4th.) So be on the lookout for that.

But that’s just the beginning.

After that post, things will get hectic. On the 5th, I’ll be posting my postseason predictions for the 2015 playoffs. With the two Wild Card games being played on the 6th and 7th, it seemed to be the perfect time to do so. It should be interesting to see how I do with so many teams in the postseason that I hadn’t predicted at the start of the year.

Then, at some point towards the end of that week, I’m going to publish a pair of blog posts on who I feel should be the American League and National League Rookie of the Year, Cy Young winner and MVP’s. I’ll also be giving my reasoning behind those. I’m planning to post the AL version and NL version of each award on back to back days, with a day in between each of the three awards. That may not make a lot of sense, but it will be more understandable as I publish them.

Once the World Series teams have been decided, I’ll also be posting a blog post with my predictions on who will win the World Series. But that’s still several weeks down the road. I have a very busy blog schedule remaining between now and then.

My Final Baseball Game of 2015

Sunday will mark the 16th and final game I will attend of the 2015 MiLB season.

It’s certainly been a fun year, and it seemed to fly by. But with neither the Mudcats or the Bulls (my two local teams) set to make the playoffs this season, Sunday’s game between the Durham Bulls and Charlotte Knights will be the last one for me this year.

The previous fifteen games I’ve gone to so far this year were all exciting, and saw me heading to ballparks in Hickory, Greensboro, Durham, Zebulon and Myrtle Beach. Throughout the year, and my travels, I managed to get around 100 autographs again this year, and I’ll be detailing them all in full within the next week or two.

With the Bulls schedule for next year already released, I’ve already been looking ahead to the 2016 season, trying to project which players will be coming to town. From the way I’m viewing things, next year could be even more eventful than 2015, but that’s a long time down the road, and anything can happen.

Alex Rodriguez Homers for 3,000th Career Hit

When Derek Jeter homered for his 3,000th career hit, the moment was magical. When Alex Rodriguez did the same on Friday night, the moment was controversial. The fans cheered, they acknowledged the historic moment, but there was a lingering feeling that things just weren’t the same.

3,000Although Rodriguez has played in 63 games since returning from a season long performance enhancing drug suspension in 2014, the air around A-Rod is still rather bad. The majority of baseball fans have vowed to never get over his PED use and don’t see the milestone as much to celebrate. While I agree to an extent, A-Rod’s 3,000th hit is still something to stop and think about for a moment.

After all, only 28 other players in the history of Major League Baseball have ever recorded 3,000 or more hits in their careers — 28 out of over 18,000 players. In addition, Mike Schmidt and Derek Jeter are the only other players to record their 3,000th hits on a home run. So the hit by A-Rod shouldn’t be completely overlooked.

But at the same time, the moment won’t ever be seen in the same light as it should have been if A-Rod had remained clean. Rodriguez is creeping up towards 700 home runs, and is one of only five players to record 3,000+ hits and 500+ homers, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro. He’s one of the all-time greats. Rodriguez should be getting celebrations around baseball, but instead he’s getting booed by many of the fans everywhere he goes.

And rightfully so. I don’t agree that a player who recorded 3,000 hits clean and one who used PED’s throughout their career should be looked at in the same light, even if it is a remarkably rare achievement. But, thankfully, it shouldn’t be too long before we get the chance to wholeheartedly celebrate a player reaching 3,000 career hits: Ichiro Suzuki, who is just 114 hits away.

Cubs Show Signs of the Future In Tuesday’s Game

For the first time in awhile, the Cubs could be relevant in 2015.

A big reason for that is their young, future superstars who showed signs of their potential in the Cubs’ Spring Training game against the Indians on Tuesday afternoon.

Hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs off of the Indians’ Trevor Bauer — a player who really needs to figure out once and for all if he’s ever going to be the star pitcher he was once hyped as –, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant each gave the Cubs reason to look forward to this year.

But there is a really good chance that Bryant (the number 2 prospect in all of baseball) may not begin the season in Chicago. For several reasons — none of which really involve talent level — the Cubs have made known that their likely plan is to send Bryant to Triple-A for the first portion of the season. To me, although I can comprehend the reasoning, that could turn out to be a mistake.

I understand that leaving Bryant in the minors for a few weeks allows them another full year of control over him, and that leaving him in the minors through June would save the Cubs some money. But that’s major production that the Cubs could truly use this year, in my opinion, if they want a true shot at the postseason.

The Cubs owe it to their fans, after so long without a World Series, to put out the best team possible on every given day of the regular season each and every year. In order for that to happen, the Cubs need to have Kris Bryant playing third base on Opening Day.

Who I’d Like to See In the 2014 Home Run Derby

Due to the fact that the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star ballots are asking fans to once again vote for who they’d like to see participate in the home run derby (unfortunately, the votes are only a poll, and don’t actually count towards anything), it hasn’t yet been announced who the derby captains will be, as it had been by now each of the past several years. And therefore, not knowing when it will be revealed, I didn’t want to wait until then to give my take on who I’d most like to see in the derby, along with my reasoning for each pick.

While there are some players that I left off, for one reason or another, I feel the players I selected would make for a great 2014 home run derby, as they all have to ability to hit a good amount of home runs as well as doing so for big power. With the 2014 home run derby now around three weeks away, here are the players I’d most enjoy seeing take part:

American League

Nelson Cruz: One of the game’s most underrated power hitters, Nelson Cruz would be a fantastic pick for the home run derby next month. Currently leading all of Major League Baseball in home runs, Cruz would likely make it deep into the derby, possibly even reaching the final round. His ability to hit home runs seemingly at will and the overall power he possesses would make things very interesting in the derby.

Edwin Encarnacion: After breaking out back in 2012, hitting 42 home runs that season, Edwin Encarnacion has been in a groove ever since. Going on an absolute tear in May, Encarnacion has cooled down a bit as of late, but he would definitely thrive in a home run derby atmosphere. Though Target Field isn’t necessarily a hitter’s park, Encarnacion could easily make it one.

Jose Abreu: Although Jose Abreu is a rookie, he’s already done more than enough to prove that he belongs at the big league level. Coming over from Cuba to the White Sox, Abreu set a rookie record for home runs in his first month, and despite a minor setback due to an injury, Abreu hasn’t let up. If Abreu is in the derby, along with his phenom status and incredible power, he will be someone to watch closely.

Yoenis Cespedes: Winning the home run derby last season, Yoenis Cespedes is somewhat overlooked, playing for the Athletics, but he’s truly a major power threat every time he steps to the plate. Although I don’t feel he will win two years in a row, especially if the other players on my list are going up against him, Cespedes could very well surprise me, as he did in 2013.

National League

Giancarlo Stanton: If Giancarlo Stanton is one of the sluggers in the 2014 derby, I truly don’t think any other hitter stands even a slight chance. The guy is simply amazing, with arguably the most power in all of baseball. When Stanton hits a home run — which is often for him — you immediately know it’s gone. Stanton would put on an unbelievable show in the derby in a few weeks.

Evan Gattis: The true definition of a natural power hitter, Evan Gattis has raw power and can absolutely crush a ball when he squares it up. Although he likely wouldn’t make it terribly deep, with the immense talent that’s in the derby each year, he would hit his share of amazing blasts. Gattis isn’t necessarily a top pick for the derby, but I’d love to see him participate, just to see what he can do.

Carlos Gomez: While some of Carlos Gomez’s on field antics have rubbed people the wrong way, it’s a fact that he’s super-talented. Gomez isn’t a guy who hits an extremely high amount of home runs each year, but put in an environment where the only goal is to hit a homer, I think Gomez would do well. Given the underlying power that he has, Gomez might actually make it deep into the derby.

Yasiel Puig: As with Carlos Gomez, not everyone appreciates the flair that Yasiel Puig shows on a daily basis, but he’s undeniably one of the most exciting young players on the big league level today. Coming up as a rookie from Cuba in 2013, Puig helped to turn around a struggling Dodgers team, and I feel he’d put on a show in the derby (as long as he doesn’t do a bat flip after every home run).

So, those are my picks for who I’d like to see in the 2014 home run derby, up at Target Field, on July 14th. Odds are that not all of them will be selected, but I truly hoped the majority of them are in the derby. Do you agree or disagree with my picks? Who would you like to see participate? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Better Team In 5 Years: Cubs or Astros?

After starting from a level playing field on Opening Day, there are always certain teams who find themselves falling lower and lower in the standings as a given season goes on. Though it can vary from year to year, with teams having an off season compared to their normal standards, for the last several seasons it has been two main teams: the Cubs and the Astros. Jose Altuve, David DeJesus

Currently sitting dead last in their respective divisions through a fourth of the season played, and with no signs that things will be changing in the near future, even with a good amount of the season left to go, it’s once again not looking too good for either the Cubs or the Astros. However, despite neither having finished with a winning record since 2009, their fortunes could be changing over the coming years. One thing they both have in common is their strong farm systems, which are loaded with top prospects that will be coming up to help out down the road.

For the Cubs, having not reached the postseason since 2008, they currently have prospects such as Javier Baez, who’s off to a rough start to 2014 after dominating last year; Kris Bryant, who’s expected to have 40 home run power in the majors; and Albert Almora, who is a few years away but is likely to have a big impact once he reaches Chicago. Those players, combined with those they have now, should make for a good team beginning around 2016 and continuing for the many years beyond.

To go along with their already decent major league team, the Astros, who haven’t made the postseason since 2005, have a ton of talent coming their way, including Carlos Correa, who is expected to be an all around fantastic player; Mark Appel, who’s likely to get a late season call up if he’s performing well; and Jonathan Singleton, who possesses some above average power. After losing over 100 games and being the worst team in baseball as of late, the Astros could see things turning around very soon.

The only good thing about performing so poorly each season is that you receive a high pick in the following year’s draft, with it looking likely that the Astros will take Carlos Rodon as the number one overall pick in the upcoming 2014 draft (the Cubs have the fourth overall pick.) But even so, your top picks in the draft, which subsequently become your top prospects, don’t always pan out and reach the big league level. And even when they do, for some players, it takes them a bit of time to adjust once they get the call up.

The most recent example of that being George Springer, who has hit a mere .222 with 3 home runs so far this season with the Astros after blasting 37 homers to go along with a .303 batting average as part of their farm system in 2013. Though he’s predicted to still have a great career, sometimes it just takes awhile for players to make the adjustment to big league pitching, no matter how good they are.

And therefore, while I’m not saying either the Astros or the Cubs will be winning the World Series in the coming years, I do feel that with their high level of talent from the minors on its way they will become much more competitive than they currently are, having to settle with last place finishes year after year.

With it being nearly equal in terms of current talent, and taking prospect depth into consideration, it’s somewhat difficult to predict which of the teams will be the best half a decade from now. But if I had to choose, I’d likely go with the Cubs, even though the Astros should be a lot better as well. It’s truly too close to call, and that’s something to look forward to if you’re a fan of either team — or just a baseball fan in general.

Who do you think will be the better team in five years?