Category Archives: Alex Richter

2017 MLB Preseason Position Rankings

Tomorrow is Opening Day for Major League Baseball. It’s one of the greatest times of the year to be a sports fan. The Final Four will be played in Phoenix this weekend, the NBA and NHL playoffs are right around the corner, the Masters are next week and the NFL Draft is just a few weeks away. Those are all iconic sporting events, but there is only one America’s pastime. The Chicago Cubs finally broke the longest “curse” in professional sports history in 2016.

So what is in store for 2017?

Baseball is back, so we decided to rank the best of the best entering the 2017 season. Three of my colleagues and I ranked our top MLB players by position. The point system goes as follows:

1st Place = 6 points

2nd Place = 5 points

3rd Place = 4 points

4th place = 3 points

5th Place = 2 points

Honorable Mention = 1 point

*  = Unanimous

Starting Pitchers are ranked from 10 to 1 beginning with 11 points for the top position and ending with 2 points for the 10th spot. The total from our four lists were added together to come up with our final preseason rankings.

Top 10 Starting Pitchers

Honorable Mention: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers (6 points)

Honorable Mention: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners (8 points)

No. 10: David Price, Boston Red Sox (9 points)

No. 9: Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants (11 points)

No. 8: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets (19 points)

No. 7: Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs (20 points)

T-No. 5: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians (21 points)

T-No. 5: Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs (21 points)

No. 4: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants (29 points)

No. 3: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox (34 points)

No. 2: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (35 points)

No. 1: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (44 points)*

 

Top 5 Catchers

Honorable Mention: Evan Gattis, Houston Astros (2 points)

Honorable Mention: Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays (4 points)

No. 5: Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers (7 points)

No. 4: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (8 points)

No. 3: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (16 points)

No. 2: Jonathan Lucroy, Texas Rangers (20 points)

No. 1: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (24 points)*

 

Top 5 First Basemen

Honorable Mention: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles (3 points)

Honorable Mention: Edwin Encarnacion, Cleveland Indians (6 points)

No. 5: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (8 points)

No. 4: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (9 points)

No. 3: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks (14 points)

No. 2: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (20 points)

No. 1: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs (23 points)

 

Top 5 Second Basemen

Honorable Mention: Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs (4 points)

Honorable Mention: Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers (5 points)

No. 5: Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins (8 points)

No. 4: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (10 points)

No. 3: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (12 points)

No. 2: Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners (20 points)

No. 1: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (24 points)*

 

Top 5 Shortstops

Honorable Mentions: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox (5 points)

T-No. 5: Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants (6 points)

T-No. 5: Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto Blue Jays (6 points)

No. 4: Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs (7 points)

No. 3: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (13 points)

No. 2: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians (16 points)

No. 1: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (23 points)

 

Top 5 Third Basemen

Honorable Mention: Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners (3 points)

Honorable Mention: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (4 points)

No. 5: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (5 points)

No. 4: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies (12 points)

No. 3: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (17 points)

No. 2: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (20 points)

No. 1: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (22 points)

 

Top 5 Right Fielders

Honorable Mention: Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates (4 points)

T-No. 5: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (6 points)

T-No. 5: Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants (6 points)

No. 4: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (7 points)

No. 3: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (16 points)

No. 2: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (19 points)

No. 1: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (22 points)

 

Top 5 Left Fielders

Honorable Mention: Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics (4 points)

Honorable Mention: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals (5 points)

T-No. 4: Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs (7 points)

T-No. 4: Justin Upton, Detroit Tigers (7 points)

No. 3: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (16 points)

No. 2: Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates (17 points)

No. 1: Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (23 points)

 

Top 5 Center Fielders

Honorable Mention: George Springer, Houston Astros (4 points)

T-No. 4: Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers (5 points)

T-No. 4: Adam Eaton, Washington Nationals (5 points)

T-No. 4: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (5 points)

No. 3: Dexter Fowler, St. Louis Cardinals (9 points)

No. 2: Christian Yelich, Atlanta Braves (19 points)

No. 1: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (24 points)*

 

Top 5 Designated Hitters

Honorable Mention: Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2 points)

Honorable Mention: Kendrys Morales, Kansas City Royals (4 points)

No. 5: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians (5 points)

No. 4: Carlos Beltran, Houston Astros (8 points)

No. 3: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers (9 points)

No. 2: Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles (15 points)

No. 1: Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners (18 points)

 

Top 5 Closers/Relief Pitchers

Honorable Mention: Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians (1 point)

Honorable Mention: Wade Davis, Chicago Cubs (4 points)

No. 5: Craig Kimbrel, San Diego Padres (5 points)

No. 4: Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers (10 points)

No. 3: Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees (11 points)

No. 2: Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles (12 points)

No. 1: Andrew Miller, Cleveland Indians (18 points)

 

      

Paul Schaum        Alex Richter         Matt Hrncar         Ethan Buss

Why the super team is the NBA’s new best friend

With the signing of Kevin Durant to the Warriors, the idea of super teams is making a lot of people nervous. Fans are worried about their teams not competing, players are worried about never getting that ever-elusive ring, and even commissioner Adam Silver does “not think it is ideal” to have super teams. I’m here to tell everyone to relax and enjoy the ride. When you look past the immediate threat to your favorite team and start to look at the big picture, it becomes clear that WE ARE WATCHING HISTORY!

NBA Board of Governors Press Conference

Basketball history is separated by the greatness and dynasties from so called “super teams.” Those teams are how we define the era. Bill Russell’s Celtics in the 60’s, the Showtime Lakers in the 80’s, MJ and the 90’s Bulls, and the Lakers of the early 2000’s were all super teams of their respective eras, and as a result, they are the teams we remember. We remember being amazed at Michael coming back and winning 3 more titles or the slick passing of the Showtime Lakers, but what we don’t remember are the average teams that win a title in a down year. Super teams provide a storyline that keep people talking about the NBA just a little bit longer, which is what it needs at a time when the NFL is quickly becoming a 12-month sport. The season, the playoffs, the draft, free agency, the Olympics or FIBA World Championships… these are all elements that keep us talking about the NBA year round. Kevin Durant and the Warriors have single-handedly taken over water cooler talk at work… at least this year. Without these storylines, professional basketball will fade into the background, like baseball. The MLB’s best players even admit that their sport lacks star power. The NBA doesn’t, and what better way to amplify that star power than to have them join forces and make history.

Pat Riley and Magic Johnson Game Portrait

Kevin Durant to the Warriors has provided us with the narrative that will define the rest of this decade. The Warriors, newly retooled, are the largest roadblock to Lebron’s quest to end his career as the greatest player ever. Because of Kevin Durant and his decision, the 2010’s are shaping up to become one of the most important decades in NBA history, and we should all be grateful. If Golden State wins it all, they could be one of the greatest teams ever assembled. If they lose, it could be one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Free agency moves like LeBron’s in 2010 and KD’s this year are what leaves an imprint in the minds of basketball fans for years to come.

lebron-decision

NBA fans better get used to the idea of super teams… because it has existed for decades, and it won’t be changing anytime soon.

alex

  Alex Richter

Avid sports fan specializing in NFL and NCAA football. University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate. Living in Madison, WI. Go Badgers!

Twitter: @richterat13

How the NCAA can make the College Football Playoff even better

Today’s NCAA College Football Playoff is one of the most exciting changes to the sports landscape in years and has the potential to be the largest source of income for the NCAA. Seen by most as a vast improvement over the outdated BCS system, the playoff can finally bring a sense of parity to the college football landscape. However, the viewership in 2016 decreased by 36 percent, so there is always room for improvement. I believe the following changes would maximize revenue for the NCAA, while also bringing a sense of parity among the Power 5 Conferences.

Bringing change to the College Football Playoff system has to start with scheduling differences among the conferences. Within the Power 5 conferences, there are several different formats that the conferences have to adhere to. For example, the Big 12 plays every school within the conference without divisions, SEC schools throw in “cupcake” games against FCS opponents, and the Big Ten has recently changed to a nine game conference schedule without FCS opponents. Within my newly proposed system, the Power 5 programs would be required to play only other Power 5 schools… including Independent FBS schools like Notre Dame. It would completely separate the FBS schools from the FCS schools and would increase competition within all five conferences in hopes of achieving more parity in college football. An example of a Big Ten Schedule would be nine conference games plus an SEC, Pac 12 and ACC opponent.

power 5

The ultimate motivating factor within the NCAA is the same as any other organization—money. In order to maximize the potential earning by increasing interest and national viewership, I propose increasing the CFP to eight teams. These eight teams would be decided as follows: seeds 1-5 are the conference champions ranked according to the AP poll with three “wild card” bids going to the next highest ranked teams that didn’t win their conference. (I know what you’re thinking… YES, Notre Dame would have to join a conference). With the conferences having similar schedules, the College Football Playoff would be able to reward teams based on record, as opposed to the current system of the committee picking the teams to enter the College Football Playoff. Having a guaranteed playoff contender from each conference would solidify the viewership from every region of the country and ultimately drive up ratings nationwide.

The final step in increasing and maintaining the viewership of the College Football Playoff would be to give the Playoffs its own separate entity, separate from the College Bowl Season. This change would increase the presence of the CFP, while also maintaining the integrity of the crumbling bowl season. In the 2015-16 bowl season, there were 41 bowls played but only 77 bowl eligible teams (6-6 record or better), so the NCAA had to invite teams with a 5-7 record to fill the empty slots in the remaining bowl games. While the increase in the number of bowls would theoretically increase overall revenue, I propose increasing the bowls for the elite schools at the top… not the bottom. This would involve adding an entire College Football Playoff system, similar to the NFL Playoffs, and have the rest of the teams play in the other bowls. It would maintain the lure of getting into a larger bowl for the teams that may have lost a conference championship game and would also keep “traditional” bowl games with their respective conferences.

rose bowl

For example, the Rose Bowl would be the loser of the Big Ten Championship against the loser of the Pac 12 Championship. Overall, I believe this would increase revenue and competition at the top of the rankings and would remove many of the bowls at the bottom that may need a 5-7 team.

Overall, the CFP has changed NCAA football for the better. It just needs a few more tweaks before reaching its full financial and entertainment potential. With time will come improvement, and I believe it should happen sooner rather than later.

alex

  Alex Richter

Avid sports fan specializing in NFL and NCAA football. University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate. Living in Madison, WI. Go Badgers!

Twitter: @richterat13