- Clemson 11-1
- Oklahoma 11-1
- Auburn 10-2
- Wisconsin 12-0
- Georgia 11-1
- Alabama 11-1
- Miami 10-1
- Ohio State 10-2
- Penn State 10-2
- USC 10-2
- TCU 10-2
- UCF 11-0
- Notre Dame 9-3
- Washington 10-2
- Michigan State 9-3
- LSU 9-3
- Stanford 9-3
- Washington State 9-3
- Oklahoma State 9-3
- Memphis 10-1
- Mississippi State 8-4
- Northwestern 9-3
- Virginia Tech 9-3
- Fresno State 9-3
- San Diego State 10-2
This is one real weak free agent catcher class. There may be only three guys in this group who wind up being the starting catcher for the team they sign with. The rest of them will hope to be back ups, but some may just receive an invite to spring training.
1. Jonathan Lucroy: Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-years/$30M
2017 Stats: 6 HR, 40 RBI, .265/.345/.371, 20/75 CS, 0.6 WAR
Jonathan Lucroy had an extremely disappointing year after arguably the best season of his career and an All-Star Game appearance in 2016. He was traded at the deadline by the Rangers to the Rockies, and the change of scenery helped his cause. It was not the “Coors” effect as his power numbers were still down. However, he increased his OPS from .635 to .865. Defensively, he was horrible and he never really has been very good back there. In a weak class he is still the top catcher. He should receive 3-years as many teams are in need of help behind the dish.
Other Destinations: Rockies, Athletics, Rangers, White Sox
2. Welington Castillo: Colorado Rockies, 2-years/$18M
2017 Stats: 20 HR, 53 RBI, .282/.323/.490, 24/49 CS, 2.1 WAR
Welington Castillo was extremely underrated last year as he may have been a top-10 overall catcher in baseball last year. So, why isn’t he number 1? It was the best year he has had in his 8-year career and it is not very close. Defensively, he was one of the best in baseball as he led the league in runners caught stealing percentage. The Rockies lose Lucroy, but they’ll go out and sign Castillo, as they hope he can give the same production as he did in 2017.
Other Destinations: Diamondbacks, Orioles, Athletics, Rangers, White Sox
3. Alex Avila: Oakland Athletics, 2-years/$18M
2017 Stats: 14 HR, 49 RBI, .264/.387/.447, 17/55 CS, 2.7 WAR
Does Alex Avila deserve the same amount of money as Castillo? Definitely, not. Will he receive the same or close to it? Yes. A very thin class and multiple teams who need starting catchers means a nice payday for Avila. The Athletics are a team who can afford to overpay for a position they desperately need. Avila had a solid season offensively, but he will need to improve defensively if he is going to live up to his contract.
Other Destinations: Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Rangers, White Sox
4. Chris Iannetta: Texas Rangers, 2-years/$14M
2017 Stats: 17 HR, 43 RBI, .254/.354/.511, 8/33 CS, 1.8 WAR
Chris Iannetta is not very good defensively, but he has enough pop in his bat to warrant himself a decent contract. As mentioned, the Rangers traded Lucroy at the deadline last season, but either way he was most likely gone. They are very thin at the position and Iannetta actually has a chance to become their starting catcher. He can keep that position if he improves defensively a bit and continues to drive the ball out of the park.
Other Destinations: Diamondbacks, Athletics, White Sox, Cubs, Tigers
5. Nick Hundley: Chicago White Sox, 2-years/$12M
2017 Stats: 9 HR, 35 RBI, .244/.272/.418, 15/51 CS, 0.5 WAR
Nick Hundley is another player who has a chance to start if he is signed to the right team, and the White Sox are one of those teams. The Sox are very young and do not have a true starting catcher at the moment. They may want to bring in a veteran catcher to help with their young staff, even if that means overpaying for a player a bit. Hundley has some pop in his bat as well.
Other Destinations: Giants, Padres, Rockies, Athletics, Tigers
6. Rene Rivera: New York Mets, 2-years/$8M
2017 Stats: 10 HR, 35 RBI, .252/.305/.431, 12/33 CS, 0.1 WAR
This most sought out true backup catcher this off-season may be Rene Rivera. He had a serviceable year at the dish last year and is one of the better defensive catchers in the league. The Mets’ pitching staff has trouble holding guys in and they will look to bring back Rivera to be their go to defensive man behind the plate.
Other Destinations: Athletics, Cubs, Giants, Blue Jays, Tigers
7. A.J. Ellis: Chicago Cubs, 1-year/$4M
2017 Stats: 6 HR, 14 RBI, .210/.298/.371, 5/15 CS, 0.4 WAR
A.J. Ellis has been one of the more consistent back up catchers in the league throughout his 10-year career. The Cubs already have their starting catcher in Willson Contreras, but they need a back up since Avila will most likely not be back. Ellis will come very cheap and he will serve as a solid defensive back up, who will call a good game.
Other Destinations: Mets, Marlins, Nationals, Giants, Blue Jays, Tigers, White Sox
8. Jose Lobaton: San Francisco Giants, 1-year/$3M
2017 Stats: 4 HR, 11 RBI, .170/.248/.277, 8/41 CS, -1.0 WAR
Jose Lobaton was just downright bad last year. There is only one reason why Lobaton makes this list. He is a switch-hitter. The Giants need someone to spell Buster Posey every now and then. Lobaton can fit into their lineup nicely in any game since he can hit from both sides of the plate. Lobaton has had some serviceable years in the past and the Giants will get him relatively cheap. They will hope he can turn back the clock a bit and give them a decent year.
Other Destinations: Nationals, Tigers, Blue Jays, Rangers, Athletics
9. Carlos Ruiz: Toronto Blue Jays, 1-year/$3M
2017 Stats: 3 HR, 11 RBI, .216/.313/.352, 7/30 CS, 0.5 WAR
CHOOOOCH! Carlos Ruiz may have had the worst year of his career last season, but he will still get a deal with a team to be their back up. He is definitely on the decline in his career, but he will bring a valuable veteran presence to any team he plays for. The Blue Jays do not really have a back up catcher and need someone who can give Martin a rest every now and then. Ruiz will fit nicely in Toronto and I would not be surprised to see him with the Blue Jays come 2018.
Other Destinations: White Sox, Tigers, Athletics, Cubs, Rangers, Mariners, Phillies
10. Derek Norris: Detroit Tigers, 1-year/$2M
2017 Stats: 9 HR, 24 RBI, .201/.258/.380, 8/41 CS, 0.0 WAR
Derek Norris‘ 2017 season was cut short due to a suspension in which he was accused of domestic violence. He would be much higher on this list if it was not for that incident as he had better numbers than most of the other players on this list in only 53 games. I’m sure some team will take a chance on him since he will come very cheap and he does have the chance to be productive.
Other Destinations: Athletics, Mets, Blue Jays, Giants, Cubs, Nationals
- Alabama 11-0
- Clemson 10-1
- Miami 10-0
- Wisconsin 11-0
- Oklahoma 10-1
- Auburn 9-2
- Georgia 10-1
- Notre Dame 9-2
- Ohio State 9-2
- Penn State 9-2
- USC 10-2
- TCU 9-2
- Washington State 9-2
- UCF 10-0
- Mississippi State 8-3
- Michigan State 8-3
- Washington 9-2
- Oklahoma State 8-3
- LSU 8-3
- Memphis 9-1
- Stanford 8-3
- Northwestern 8-3
- Boise State 9-2
- Virginia Tech 8-3
- USF 9-1
- Alabama 8-0 SEC
- Georgia 8-0 SEC
- Ohio State 7-1 BIG 10
- Notre Dame 7-1 Independent
- Wisconsin 8-0 BIG 10
- Penn State 7-1 BIG 10
- Oklahoma 7-1 BIG 12
- Clemson 7-1 ACC
- Miami 7-0 ACC
- TCU 7-1 BIG 12
- Washington 7-1 Pac-12
- Oklahoma State 7-1 BIG 12
- Virginia Tech 7-1 ACC
- Iowa State 6-2 BIG 12
- Auburn 6-2 SEC
- UCF 7-0 American
- USC 7-2 Pac-12
- Stanford 6-2 Pac-12
- North Carolina State 6-2 ACC
- LSU 6-2 SEC
- Mississippi State 6-2 SEC
- Arizona 6-2 Pac-12
- Washington State 7-2 Pac-12
- Michigan State 6-2 BIG 10
- Memphis 7-1 American
A battle of the titans, a fight between two powerhouses, the World Series matchup everyone was predicting in July has come true. This matchup is the first time since 1970 that two teams with 100 wins meet in the big series, Astros (101-61) and Dodgers (104-58). The two most consistent teams of the 2017 campaign (Indians found stride after the all-star break) are set to duel it out with the first pitch set for Tuesday, October 24. This is only the second time in the Houston Astros 56 year history that they have made it to the World Series and every fan is hoping for a completely different outcome than the 2005 series against the White Sox.
This series pits two very deep rosters against each other. The Astros have the higher-powered offense, giving them the advantage yet the pitching staff from the rotation to bullpen favors the Dodgers. The Dodgers bullpen has been near lights out allowing only 4 runs in 28 2/3 innings this postseason so it will be up to the Astros lineup to attack this fastball friendly crew. Houston is the best team in baseball against the fastball and the Dodgers seemed to ride or die with the fastball against the Cubs in the NLCS. With both rotations being solid 1-3, the bullpens will be crucial in this series. Both teams, but especially the Dodgers, will look to take the starters out of the games early by accumulating high pitch counts early on forcing the bullpens to win the game.
The Houston Astros are the first team to make the World Series in both the National League and the American League.
Well would you look at that. It’s finally the start of training camp.
What an exciting offseason. Lets do a quick recap to refresh everyones memories…
- Celtics finish regular season 53-29
- Celtics get No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference
- Lose to Cavs in 4-1 in Eastern Conference Finals
- Celtics get No. 1 pick (Brooklyn Pick) in 2017 NBA Draft
- Trade No. 1 Pick to 76ers for the No. 3 and future first round pick
- Celtics draft Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 pick
- Celtics sign Gordon Hayward
- Celtics trade Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and next years Brooklyn pick to Cavs for Kyrie Irving
- Kyrie Irving (Trade with Cavaliers), Gordon Hayward (Signed), Jayson Tatum (Duke), Marcus Morris (Trade with Pistons), Semi Ojeleye (SMU), Aron Baynes (Signed), Guerschon Yabusele (France), Shane Larkin (Signed), Abdel Nader (G-League), Jabari Bird (Cal), Daniel Theis (Germany), Kadeem Allen (Arizona)
With so many new players and Brad Stevens’ belief in not needing the traditional 5 position lineup, the Celtics starting 5 could go a variety of different ways throughout the season. Here is my prediction for the Celtics starting lineup for opening night.
- PG: Kyrie Irving
- SG: Marcus Smart
- SF: Gordon Hayward
- PF: Marcus Morris
- C: Al Horford
Now I know there are better players that could be thrown in there as well like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, but they are both still very young and still have some work to do before they become everyday starters. I do believe, however, Jaylen Brown could be switched in for Marcus Smart or Marcus Morris. For now, this seems to be the opening day lineup for the Boston Celtics.
1st Place in Eastern Conference
I think it is pretty safe to say the Celtics got better this year. Adding All-Star players to the squad, drafting a top 3 talent from Duke with massive upside potential, along with Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, this looks like a top team in the league. One of the minor complaints for this Celtics team is we lost our deep bench that we used to pride ourselves on for the past couple of seasons. Although that may be true, we made up for it in top tier talent. Now obviously there is going to be an adjustment period to start the season, so don’t expect these guys to come out firing in the first few games of the season. Most of these “big 3” teams tend to take a little longer to get adjusted to their new teammates and setting, but rest assured this team will be able to adjust to their new setting early and play to their full ability. This team has gotten much better than they were last year, which makes sense to predict them to take the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference once again with a regular season record of 56-26.
Photo Credits: CetlicsLife.com
We’ve gone through weeks of training camp and meaningless preseason games to get to this point – the regular season is about to begin! Here are some bold predictions that will probably sound silly in December.
1) Martavis Bryant is going to have 1,000 yards receiving, 13 touchdowns and will win Comeback Player of the Year.
In almost every article I write, I mention Bryant is going to have a huge year. Why?
a) He has 15 touchdowns in 21 games – and that’s before his suspensions.
b) After a being suspended for a year, all he has heard is criticism over his maturity and intelligence. Think he won’t be motivated?
2) T.J. Watt will have over 10 sacks.
Steelers linebackers usually don’t make much of an impact their rookie year but T.J. Watt could be an exception. He will struggle, but I predict he will have over 10 sacks because the rest of the defense will be much better. Cameron Heyward, Javon Hargrave and Stephon Tuitt are going to wreak havoc on the defensive line. Bud Dupree is going to be much improved and Ryan Shazier is going to be a beast. The secondary will be much improved. Offenses will have to figure out how to stop all those weapons and Watt will capitalize.
3) Landry Jones will save the season.
There are few certainties in life: death, taxes, and Ben Roethlisberger will suffer some injury (or injuries) and miss 1 or 2 games. Landry Jones will have to step in. He’s done it in the past with some success. He’s a good backup, as long as it is just for a game or two.
4) Antonio Brown will have over 2,000 yards receiving.
Brown had a down year statistically in 2016, “only” getting 1,284 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. Why? The wide receiver group was decimated with injuries and the suspension of Martavis Bryant. The Steelers fortified the position and now have tremendous depth. Why will Brown have a monster year? Because Martavis Bryant will stretch the field and cause defenses to worry about multiple threats.
5) Le’Veon Bell will rush for over 1,500 yards.
This one is easy. Bell is super motivated after not working out a long term contract and sitting out training camp. He’s heard for months how he’s stupid and selfish. He was designated with the franchise tag so his contract only lasts this year. He needs to have a monster year to get bigger money next year.
6) The only time the Steelers will play the Patriots is in the regular season…and they’ll win.
There’s so much talk of how the Steelers will do against the Patriots in the playoffs since the Patriots seem to always beat the Steelers. Well that won’t be an issue because the Steelers will beat the Patriots on December 17. This will give the Steelers home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Patriots will lose to some team in the playoffs and the Steelers will beat the Raiders in the AFC Championship game and go to the Super Bowl. Message me and I’ll give you next week’s winning lottery numbers!