What's buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

25 Degrees: Let the Mike Trout hardware parade commence

Jeff Passan
Yahoo Sports
Mike Trout
.

View photo

Angels outfielder Mike Trout shows off the All-Star MVP trophy Tuesday night. (AP Photo)

The idea for this column came five years ago, inspired by a dreadlocked malcontent with an ego problem. Joe Mauer and Ichiro were eyeing .400, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols were the game’s best right-handed hitters and the Los Angeles Angels two weeks to the day earlier signed a high school kid named ...

1. Mike Trout without any idea that the baseball world would revolve around him half a decade later like it did Manny Ramirez back in July 2009. Following another out-of-this-world first half that he cherry-on-topped with an All-Star Game MVP award, Trout now can focus on taking the full-season hardware stolen from him twice and guiding the Los Angeles Angels to his first postseason appearance. Whether they can leap ...

2. Jeff Samardzija and the Oakland A’s in the AL West is one of the sport’s burning questions, particularly considering how good the A’s were in the first half before they acquired their new ace. He fits their team personality-wise and their gloves with a big groundball rate, though if he in any way falters he’ll forever be compared to ...

3. David Price because the A’s were chasing him in trade talks, too. Tampa Bay turned down an Addison Russell-led package, which shows how much the Rays value Price. They won’t give him away, not with another year left on his contract, even if the Dodgers covet him and have both the prospects and cash to make it work. Tampa Bay knows not to settle for anything less than the best deal, especially when ...

View gallery

.
Cliff Lee's contract makes trading him a tough proposition. (AP Photo)

Cliff Lee's contract makes trading him a tough proposition. (AP Photo)

4. Cliff Lee could juice interest with a pair of good starts before the July 31 trading deadline. Of course, trading Lee will not be easy. For one, he owns a no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to two-thirds of teams. Even more, he has the sort of contract that will frighten enough teams off to make him a candidate for a post-deadline waiver deal. Lee is owed $10.3 million for the rest of this season, $25 million for next year and has a $27.5 million club option (with a $12.5 million buyout for 2016). In other words, the acquiring team can either pay $47.8 million for a maximum of 47 regular-season starts (if the option is declined) or $62.8 million for two seasons and two months. It’s the sort of contract ...

5. Ryan Howard got from the Phillies, not just wildly expensive but entirely ill-conceived. Howard remains due $25 million each of the next two seasons, and he’s being outslugged this season by Alcides Escobar, Denard Span, Kurt Suzuki and Dee Gordon, of whom he’s nearly twice the size. Howard, 34, could strike out 200 times, his plate discipline gone to pot, his position as sluggingest hulking first baseman inherited with aplomb by ...

6. Jose Abreu upon his defection to the United States from Cuba. With Masahiro Tanaka out for the foreseeable future, a brilliant AL Rookie of the Year race turned into a one-man show. Abreu’s 29 home runs already rank 26th all-time for a rookie, and he’s got Mark McGwire’s record 49 well within reach. Abreu’s raw power may be exceeded only by …

7. Giancarlo Stanton and his freak-of-nature Superman thing. He is the sort of physical marvel who would inspire homages like this, and he’s finally stayed healthy and put together the sort of season that could render him untradeable, because not even the Marlins are foolish enough to part with him. He’s still just 24, a little more than two years older than ...

8. Kris Bryant, who has similar power to Stanton's but is 138 career home runs behind and still stuck ripping up Triple-A. His time is nigh, and it would be wonderful if the Cubs consider giving him a taste of September baseball. Because he’s not on the 40-man roster, Chicago may consider holding him off until next year, a tack that left ...

9. George Springer in the minor leagues to start the season when it’s evident he belonged with his big league club. Since joining Houston, the 24-year-old – who’s actually older than Stanton – has walloped 19 home runs in 337 plate appearances, which is awfully impressive. Even more impressive: 112 of his outs have come via strikeout. Only six times in history has a player finished with a higher strikeout rate than Springer’s 33.2 percent. Balancing his strikeout gluttony is ...

10. Jose Altuve and his 29 Ks in 418 plate appearances. That’s a 6.9 percent rate, a tenth of a percent behind Victor Martinez’s baseball-best rate and the 22nd best of the past decade. Altuve is a monster beyond his contact, a .335-hitting, 41-base thieving, Mighty Mouse of a second baseman who makes life for a short guy look easy in a big-man’s world. The name of his game is speed, though it’s unlikely he or Dee Gordon hold off ...

11. Billy Hamilton for the major league stolen base crown. He’s at 38, and that’s after a miserable April when Hamilton looked like he didn’t belong in the major leagues. Since the beginning of June, Hamilton is hitting .321/.351/.512. Over the full 2014 season, only six hitters have matched or exceeded all three numbers: Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall. And Hamilton may not even be the most exciting player on his team, not when ...

View gallery

.
Do enough fans realize how special Aroldis Chapman is? (AP Photo)

Do enough fans realize how special Aroldis Chapman is? (AP Photo)

12. Aroldis Chapman is throwing 100.1 mph. Not just one fastball at 100.1. His average is 100.1, meaning for every 99-mph fastball he deigns to throw, Chapman needs a 101 to balance it out in triple digits. And to think, just a few months ago he looked like Frankenstein’s monster after a gruesome spring-training line drive to the head. It’s almost like we underappreciate Chapman in the same manner we do ...

13. Clayton Kershaw when he’s throwing 41 straight scoreless innings and the proper response is, “Well, yeah, it’s Kershaw. Of course he is.” That’s not fair, not when he’s using the same limb and same training as so many others. He really is that much better, though, that much sharper, that much more in command, that much better at reading hitters, well on his way to a third Cy Young in four years, which might have been a fourth if not for R.A. Dickey’s magical year. Kerhsaw plugs away nonetheless, his Wonder Twin in the other league ...

14. Chris Sale activating his powers similarly this season. Five years into the Sale experiment, his arm has held up fine thus far, and the concerns about elbow injuries have more or less vanished. Now it’s about maintaining those career-low walk and home run rates and improving a finished project who’s already next to ...

15. Felix Hernandez as the American League’s best pitcher. If Sale is all arms and legs, Felix has grown into the brains-and-guts destiny that he needed to embrace to get past his diminishing stuff. Then something crazy happened: long-missing velocity started coming back recently, capped of by an average speed around 94 mph in his last start. Telling someone to get a hit off him is like asking a pitcher to get ...

View gallery

.
bigleaguestew :  Is King Felix the AL Cy Young favorite?  Nasty.

bigleaguestew : Is King Felix the AL Cy Young favorite? Nasty.

yahoosports Follow on Tumblr
33 notes Reblog on Tumblr

16. Miguel Cabrera to strike out on three straight pitches, which he’s done only six times this season. Even if Cabrera isn’t having a Cabrera season – sub-.900 OPS, 14 first-half homers a year after hitting 30 in 2013 – he remains the heart of a Detroit lineup that could use the return of an on-the-mend Victor Martinez. The Tigers have the biggest division lead at 6½ games, and even if he isn’t in MVP-level form, he doesn’t need to be. Just look at ...

17. Troy Tulowitzki as proof that one elite player does not necessarily make a good team. Because the Rockies are awful, and Tulowitzki’s desire to leave Denver is based more on his lack of confidence in a management team that after all these seasons remains a mystery. One team recently inquired about Tulowitzki’s availability, only it didn’t know whether to call general manager Dan O’Dowd or baseball-operations VP Bill Geivett. Tulowitzki’s suitors would range far and wide, and the most tantalizing option could be teaming him up with ...

18. Robinson Cano to make one of the best keystone combinations of all time. Granted, rival teams question the Mariners’ willingness to take on additional salary despite president Kevin Mather telling the Seattle Times there is flexibility, and even so, with Seattle’s desperate need for right-handed power, their ability to put together a strong enough package to induce a deal is questionable. Teams today are as wary as ever about centering packages around pitchers – especially ones with previous arm issues, like Taijuan Walker – because of the uncertainty of arms that ...

19. Masahiro Tanaka personifies. The Yankees guaranteed $175 million to secure Tanaka’s rights, and within three months his ulnar collateral ligament was frayed and his future nebulous. Tanaka will come back, and chances are he’ll be fine. The only question is when. Perhaps the platelet-rich plasma therapy he’s undergoing now fixes the partial UCL tear. Likelier is Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation until the 2016 season. The rash of elbow tears today makes a good case for teams to pull a …

20. Carlos Torres and run a guy out there until he breaks, because it’s practically an inevitability anyway. Torres is the Mets’ long reliever, a throwback who’s on pace to throw 101 innings. He’d be the first reliever in eight years to exceed the 100-inning mark, when Scott Proctor and Hector Carrasco cracked triple digits. Not far behind is the Yankees’ Dellin Betances, who’s on the Mariano Rivera plan of a big-inning season the year before he takes over as closer. Minus the hefty workload ...

View gallery

.
Royals reliever Wade Davis is having quite a unique season. (AP Photo)

Royals reliever Wade Davis is having quite a unique season. (AP Photo)

21. Wade Davis is on the same future-closer path in Kansas City, which would do well to capitalize on Greg Holland’s value this offseason and deal him for the bat it so desperately needs. Because the 28-year-old Davis is more than ready to pitch the ninth after one of the most incredible first halves in memory. Over 39 2/3 innings, Davis allowed 15 hits – and every one of them a single. Yes, his team is nearing the 100-game mark, and he still hasn’t allowed an extra-base hit. The record for most innings in a season without an extra-base hit is Cisco Carlos’ 41 2/3 in 1967, and Carlos came back the next season to post the fifth-worst home run rate in the major leagues. Davis is no one-hit wonder, nor is ...

22. Garrett Richards, his counterpart on the starting side who has the lowest slugging percentage against among those who pitch every fifth day. A big part is his fastball. At 96.2 mph, Richards is carrying the second-highest velocity ever for a starter’s average heater, trailing only Yordano Ventura’s 96.8 mph this season. Considering how fans hooted and hollered at Chapman’s 100-mph scoreboard readings at the All-Star Game, it could’ve been fun to see Richards’ arm unleashed for an inning. That’s all it took for ...

23. Adam Wainwright to make All-Star Game history with his performance Tuesday. Of course, it was the least-representative outing of Wainwright’s season, completely incongruous with his 1.83 ERA, his minuscule home run rate and his curveball-slider combination that’s more wicked than any witch. The Cardinals need first-half Wainwright in the second half, particularly with Yadier Molina and Michael Wacha shelved, and for him to leave groovegate in the past. Let ...

View gallery

.
Adam Wainwright is really good. Like, really, really, ridiculously good.

Adam Wainwright is really good. Like, really, really, ridiculously good.

yahoosports Follow on Tumblr
40 notes Reblog on Tumblr

24. Derek Jeter deal with all that. He’s used to deflecting drama better than anyone, and he’s the perfect person to do a retirement tour without any trappings. He’ll snuff out the hype, rain on the hoopla, play wet blanket to those who care to reminisce. Jeter made a choice at the beginning of the season: say he was retiring after 2014 as opposed to field the same … questions … every … day. It’s a different set this way, more deferential, tinged with disappointment of losing someone who meant as much as he did to baseball. And he meant oodles, even if he was never of …

25. Mike Trout’s caliber. It’s almost unfair how good he is, and his evolution has been remarkable. At 20, he was raw, like this unmolded talent who was the best on instinct alone. At 21, he started to recognize his talents and develop them at the expense of others. At 22, he overcompensated in one area (strikeouts) to grow another (power). Next season, when he turns 23, surely Trout will vow to strike out less while maintaining the gains in everything else he made the previous year. And by this point, we know better than to doubt him.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Basketball
View Comments (92)