Welcome to the 138th running of the Dusty Diamond Derby! We have our typical packed race this year, folks, as 750 of the country’s finest thoroughbreds vie to outrun the competition and focus their sights on a triple crown.
Some of these colts and geldings are veterans of this race. Others have only recently been permitted to leave the farm. The favorites are carrying the burden of living up to expectations, but some dark horses are sure to push for the limelight as the race progresses.
The starting gates are full….there’s the bell…..
And they’re off!
The mass exodus from the gates has created some chaos, but favorites Miguel Cabrera, Justin Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, Yu Darvish and Justin Upton jumped to an early lead followed closely by long-shots John Buck, Matt Harvey, Clay Buchholz, Starling Marte and Chris Davis. Popular bets Matt Cain, Roy Halladay, David Price, Matt Kemp, and Josh Hamilton stumbled at the bell and continue to lag behind.
Jose Reyes, after keeping pace with the leaders for about 200 meters, came up lame and fell to the back of the pack, where he is joined by Giancarlo Stanton, Jayson Heyward, and Jared Weaver. Albert Pujols looks to be limping, but he’s hovering in the front half of the pack…about the same position he started last year’s race.
Buck led the field for a brief moment, stumbled a bit, then forced his way back into the top tier. Coco Crisp, also a front-runner for the first quarter-mile, looks like he has a leg problem and is fading fast.
Favorite Mike Trout, initially boxed in, has moved to the outside and is gaining ground. Carlos Gomez, Shin-Soo Choo, Dexter Fowler and Anibal Sanchez are streaking up the middle, leaving Stephen Strasburg, Joey Votto, Buster Posey and Gio Gonzalez in a trail of dust, which will surely have settled by the time Jay Bruce finally passes the same point on track.
A blazer is moving fast on the left-hand side of the track. Give me a second to find his name. Cingrani, Tony Cingrani. I’ve never heard of this horse, but his deceptive speed is currently putting most of the favorites to shame.
As we move to the 1/5 mark of this 2K race a trio of forgotten horses, Lance Lynn, Nate McClouth and Jean Segura are charging toward the front. Prince, King Felix and Big Papi are holding their own, as are Ryan Braun, Carlos Santana, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria and David Wright. These horses have run before. They realize this isn’t a sprint.
Stay with us, folks! This promises to come down to the wire!
Our Overall Leaders (so far)
Below is a list of the top-20 Yahoo thoroughbreds as of yesterday (May 4). In parentheses is their pre-season rank.
1. Clay Buchholz (241), 2. Miguel Cabrera (2), 3. Justin Upton (22), 4. Felix Hernandez (26) 5. Chris Davis-MRI on right knee Saturday- (121), 6. Jordan Zimmerman (78), 7. Matt Harvey (135), 8. Yu Darvish (46), 9. Clayton Kershaw (11), 10. Starling Marte (212), 11. Carlos Gomez (94), 12. Dexter Fowler-Sore right hip/Day to Day- (174), 13. Mark Reynolds (294), 14. Coco Crisp-recently placed on DL-(161), 15. Bryce Harper (19), 16. Madison Bumgarner (48), 17. Hisashi Iwakuma (283), 18. Nate McLouth (319), 19. John Buck (716), 20. David Wright (23).
Going by pre-season ranks (and we all know that real fantasy studs do not follow these rankings, right?), nine of these guys were available after the tenth round in most drafts this year. Did anybody see Coco Crisp swatting five homers by April 19 (including a stretch of four in a row)? Nope. Was anybody chomping fingernails late in their draft hoping Nate McLouth wasn’t stolen from their grasp? No way. But both had past numbers suggesting they were capable of producing. McLouth’s fast start doesn’t totally stun those who remember his ’08 & ’09 numbers. He’s not had more than 267 ABs in any season since ’09, is only 31 years old, and leads off for a lineup with the sixth best batting average and seventh most homers in the majors. This horse may run all season.
Marte is a sore spot for me. I claimed him in nearly all of my drafts, but gave in to temptation in the beginning weeks of the season. At the time, he had yet to demonstrate power – so I dropped him in pursuit of various other players. He’s making me pay for my impatience with a .328/22R/3HR/9SB line. Oh, and he’s only failed to reach base twice this season (even though he only has seven BBs), is slugging .517 and has thirteen multi-hit games to his credit.
Mark Reynolds is fanning at a rate of 27%, but this is actually an improvement. He’s struck out in 37% of his career ABs. Gone are the days when speed was a part of his package, but this guy can still mash. He’s hitting .293 with 9HR and 24RBI, including 8-for-22/2HR/5RBI during the Indians’ recent five-game winning streak.
Buchholz was accused by former pitcher Jack Morris, now a broadcaster for the Blue Jays, of doctoring the baseball Wednesday night. The BoSox hurler did appear to have an oil-based film on his non-throwing forearm and touched that forearm frequently with his pitching hand. When asked later, he claimed the film was rosin. It doesn’t look like a big deal, except to Morris, but pay attention to Buchholz’s next start Monday against the Twins. If the gig is up, a regression may be coming.
In past two weeks, Kyle Seager has hit .412 with 4 HR/10 RBI. In the same stretch, Nelson Cruz is hitting .304 with 4HR and leads MLB with 15 RBI. Mike Napoli has also rapped 4 HR to go with 14 RBI. And since everyone loves the sexy hitting stats, let’s look at the top performers the past two weeks:
|1. Edwin Encarnacion||7|
|3. Yuniesky Betancourt||5|
|4. Carlos Beltran||5|
|5. Russell Martin||5|
|6. Matt Joyce||5|
|1. Nelson Cruz||15|
|2. David Ortiz||15|
|3. Mike Napoli||15|
|4. Edwin Encarnacion||13|
|5. Ryan Howard||13|
|6. Mike Trout||13|
|7. Josh Donaldson||13|
|8. Yuniesky Betancourt||13|
|1. Nate McLouth||15|
|2. Chris Davis||12|
|3. Starling Marte||11|
|4. Daniel Nava||11|
|5. Carlos Gomez||11|
|1. Starling Marte||7|
|2. Juan Pierre||7|
|3. Carlos Gomez||6|
|4. Jean Segura||6|
|5. Nate McLouth||5|
Struggling (and Stroking) Favorites
Here is the pre-season top-20 Yahoo players with their rank (as of yesterday) in parentheses.
- Mike Trout (44) – Is kicking into gear (6-for-15/2HR/8RBI past four games).
- Miguel Cabrera (2) – Mr. Consistent.
- Ryan Braun (29) – Has raised BA from .257 to .302 in past six games.
- Robinson Cano (21) – See Cabrera
- Matt Kemp (241) – 1 HR in 105 ABs. Is he still thinking about Greinke?
- Andrew McCutchen (43) – 7 hits in last 15 ABs with 2 HR. Marte Motivation?
- Joey Votto (92) – Always on base, but power is dim. Don’t quit on this guy.
- Carlos Gonzalez (23) – When healthy, a five-tool stud.
- Albert Pujols (155) – Foot is hurting and his numbers show it.
- Giancarlo Stanton (DL) – A change of scenery needed for this one-man show.
- Clayton Kershaw (9) – The best pitcher in baseball.
- Prince Fielder (27) – Back half of the best 3-4 combination in the game.
- Justin Verlander (61) – Top workhorse in a stacked rotation.
- Stephen Strasburg (247) – Still great, but are mechanical issues holding him back?
- Jose Bautista (166) – Dancing with Mendoza, but 7 of 17 hits have been four-baggers.
- Troy Tulowitzki (41) – He and CarGo have Rockies tied for first in NL West.
- Adrian Beltre (153) – 4-for-5 day on May 3rd raised Avg. from .215 to .241.
- Jose Reyes (DL) – Raked in 38 ABs prior to spraining ankle. Likely out till July.
- Bryce Harper (15) – 2 hits in last 20 ABs, but still hitting .320 with 9HR.
- Dustin Pedroia (96) – Along with Ellsbury, running BoSox to best record in baseball.