Derek Jeter Finishes His Baseball Career In Cooperstown

Reaching the Hall of Fame in your chosen sport means that you were clearly a premier player during your career. To do so while finishing with 99.7% of the voting in your first year of eligibility – falling just one vote shy of being a unanimous player – means that you are officially a legend of your sport.

That makes Derek Jeter a baseball legend.

Jeter is a player who has been Cooperstown bound from the very beginning. His career would have seen him reach the Hall no matter the team he played for, but to do it all as a New York Yankee just makes his achievements mean a little more. That is the power of playing in the history laden stadium in the Bronx.

His career WAR – a metric that baseball writers and voters are in love with today – is an impressive 72.4. He is not the greatest shortstop of all time – that nod goes to either Honus Wagner or Cal Ripen – but he is a player who has raw numbers that compete with the best. His legacy and his stance as a premier player, however, go far beyond the raw numbers of his career. He is a player that people will argue all day about being overrated or underrated to the point that Jeter is rated just about where he should be, and that is as an icon of the game.

Jeter was a 14-time MLB All-Star. He was the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year and he won the World Series with the Yankees five times. He finished his career sixth all-time in hits with 3,465, which makes sense as he was a contact hitter known for his ability to find gaps in the infield with his smooth stroke of the bat.

He played with the Yankees for 20 seasons and seemed to love every single minute of being a professional athlete. His postseason numbers were even better as he put together a .306/.374/.465 slash line.

Jeter was also a player who seemed to make big plays when needed. They are the plays that you remember and that will continue to be a part of telling the story of the Yankees for generations to come. When you add in the principles of the man, his leadership, character, and consistency, you have everything you would want in a premier player and newly minted Hall of Famer.

 

Article by Premier Players

Nakken Becomes First Woman On An MLB Coaching Staff

We call a lot of plays we see on the field, diamond, or court historic or iconic. That is why it’s important we recognize when something happens outside of the playing arena that ticks both those boxes in a way that a single play rarely does.   Such was the case in the first couple of weeks of this decade when the San Francisco Giants and their manager Gabe Kapler hired Alyssa Nakken as the first woman on a major-league coaching staff in MLB history.

Nakken is no stranger to the rigors of big league baseball. Over the last few years she has worked on health and wellness initiatives with the Giants and she has clearly been successful in the role. So successful, in fact, that she will now be forever remembered alongside some of the other trailblazers in the history of the league thanks to her promotion to a coaching role.

Nakken played first base at Sacremento State and was a premier player for the team. What really set Nakken apart though was her mind for the game – and for sports in general – with it being of no surprise to former teammates that she has elevated herself through the Giants organization since first joining as an intern in 2014.

While some people might question the hire, Nakken has been moved into this position on merit alone. There is no “Rooney Rule” style process for a hire like this, it was just Kapler seeing that Nakken had talents that were above her former role, and him moving to hire the right person – male or female – to help make the Giants a better team from 2020 onwards.

“Simply, I think she’s going to be a great coach,” Kapler said. “Merit and the ability to be a great coach trumps all.”

Switching from a premier player to a premier coach isn’t easy for anyone, let alone someone who is a female in a male dominated organizational role when you look league wide. Thankfully for Nakken she won’t have to travel far to find a woman in a similar situation. Katie Sowers is the San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant and has proven to be a stunningly successful hire for the team.  Therefore, Nakken may have a ready-made soundboard for advice should she need it.

It will be fascinating to see if this hire leads to other teams looking in different areas for coaches that can bring something different to the table. If any sport needed a breath of fresh air in the ranks it was baseball, so best of luck to Nakken as she starts her journey to the top of the sport.

Article by Premier Players

Mike Trout Continues To Build Legendary Career

To reach the mountain top of being a legendary sports figure isn’t easy. It usually happens late in a players career (Tom Brady) or when a player dominates his game with a big play and a loud personality (LeBron).

Even then, these players are legends in leagues and sports that are still relatively young. What, then, would you say to the claim that we have a legendary player who at 28-years-old still has much of his career in front of him? Oh, and he is a premier player statistically destroying a sport that has been played professionally in this country since the year of the first east-west transatlantic radio broadcast.

Welcome to the career of Mike Trout.

Walking through Trout’s career before he hit his 28th birthday is a little ridiculous. He ranks in the top 10 in home runs, walks, and on-base percentage, just three of the many significant categories he is among the best all-time in at that age.

He is already an eight-time all-star and a two-time league MVP, with the odds being good that he will win a third MVP award at the end of the 2019 season. Trout, like most of the premier players we see, is only getting better as he gets older. This season he is going to break his personal career-high marks in RBI, home runs, and on-base plus slugging (OPS) categories. Given how stellar his stats already were, that is some achievement.

If this were four or five decades ago, Trout would be the most talked-about sportsman on the planet. Even in the days of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, baseball was a factor in the national conversation. In 2019, however, the sport just hasn’t found a way to grip fans in the way football and basketball seem able to do. That is why Trout could walk through most towns in America as the premier player of the national pastime and most wouldn’t even recognize his face.

While Trout increases his home run numbers and his Wins Above Replacement (WAR) ranking seemingly every time he plays, it is the MVP numbers which might be his most impressive legacy when all is said and done. Trout has finished in the top-two of voting for the award every full season he has played the game. The only exception to this was in 2017 where he played just 114 games due to injury. Even then he finished fourth. Seven seasons in the top five is the longest such streak for any player since 1931. When the voters for the biggest individual prize in your sport are that enamored with your game, then you are the premier player on the planet.

Trout is a Hall of Famer in waiting. That he could potentially have another five to seven seasons in his sport is truly impressive. Watch the numbers grow and watch the legend increase as Trout does what he does day after day in the major league. One day, just maybe, Mike Trout will be more recognizable to the average American sports fan.

By Steve Wright
Independent Writer

 

Top 10 ways to prepare for a Baseball Game

For most players baseball courses through their veins. It’s more than a game – baseball is a way of life. This statement rings true for all players, from the premier players of the big leagues, to the little leaguers down the street. Preparation is an integral part of the game, both before you arrive at the field and after, and we’ll cover the Top 10 ways to prepare for a baseball game.

The Top 10 ways to prepare for a game can be divided into three categories: What you can do before you get to the ballpark, mental preparation, and physical preparation.

Before You Arrive At The Field
1. If you don’t stay hydrated, the summer heat can zap your strength and slow you down.

2. The same rings true for your diet, if you eat meals that are too rich- it can bog you down. Make it a game-day routine to find your super food. Nobody wants to be thrown out or thrown up on a steal attempt.

Mental Preparation
As the great Yogi Berra once said, “The game is ninety percent mental, the other half is physical.”

3. The best way to prepare mentally is to study the scouting report on your opponents if one is available. That way you can figure out what type of pitcher you’ll be facing, if he’s a righty or lefty, and if he’s a junk ball or power pitcher. That would help you immensely in making a game plan at the plate.

A scouting report can also help you with your defensive game plan. Find out which of their players hit for power, contact, if they’re a pull hitter, or if they can go opposite field. A spray chart can help you with that information, but you’ll only see those at the college or professional levels. If you’re playing American Legion, Babe Ruth, Little League, or High School Baseball, you can generally get this information from friends that play on other teams that have faced your opponents before.

4. Another way to prepare mentally is to arrive at the park early. Put away everything else and focus on the upcoming game- it’s amazing what being in the right state of mind can do.

Physical Preparation
5. Before anything, you need to stretch, getting your muscles loosened up is necessary. With all the torque and strain you can put on your body while throwing, or in the batter’s box, you need to be ready.

6. Run. After stretching, you could do a few ninety-foot sprints, or do a foul pole jog, that would help get your blood flowing, and your adrenaline pumping.

7. Warm up the arm – play some catch. Many player, even premier players, recommend that you warm up with progression throws, starting with your wrist, then elbow, then full shoulder motion throws, then finally into the crow-hop and throw motion. Proper progression while warming up can reduce the risk of injury or strain.

8. Step up to the plate and get some batting practice in, get dialed in and work on your mechanics before the game. With batting practice it’s great to have a routine. With a routine you can work on situational hitting: practice hitting ground balls to advance runners or for hit and run situations, even scoring a runner from third with less than two outs. If you’re struggling at turning pitches inside-out, work on that, try to take some pitches to the opposite field.

9. Let’s not forget about fielding practice – you can do a lot to prepare for a game by just taking a few grounders to feel out your range to the right or left if you’re playing at an infield position. Make it a routine; range to the left a few times, then to the right, then work on charging and bare hand if you’re playing third base. You can do the same thing if you play outfield, practice reading pop flies and line drives.

10. Creating a routine that can cover all of these ways to prepare for games is imperative. If you can create the right routine and adhere to it, your body will recognize the pattern and be prepared for what’s next. Having a good routine the most important way to prepare for the game of baseball, it can propel you into the premier league in the world – Major League Baseball.

Story by Michael Milliken