Pete Alonso

A's Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks deserving of MLB All-Team honors

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AP

A's Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks deserving of MLB All-Team honors

Major League Baseball has initiated the first-ever All-MLB Team. This was put forth for fans to vote on their favorite players from the 2019 season's entirety.

This is a bit like the All-Star selections only that, in this case, it's not in the middle of the season, and with these, there are both first and second teams. Also, this team will not be broken up by leagues and players were previously nominated -- pretty cool, right?

I voted for my 2019 All-MLB Team and here are my results:

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso put on a show at the plate this season and during the Home Run Derby. Sure, we dig the long ball, but we also appreciate a guy who shows his emotions when he does something great on the field, like setting a rookie home-run record with 53 dingers this season.

The middle-infielders as of late have become these gems filled with power, which is a characteristic we didn't see in the earlier eras of the game. 

For second base, Houston Astros star José Altuve proved once again why he is a constant force to be reckoned with. The six-time All-Star finished his 2019 campaign slashing .298/.353/.550 with 31 home runs and 74 RBI in 124 games. 

Marcus Semien was the vote at the shortstop position. While there were plenty that deserved the honors (Jorge Polanco and Xander Bogaerts should not go unmentioned), Semien was such a fascinating player this season.

Sure, there's a slight bias over here, but imagine having someone only get better as the season went on. Semien started in all 162 games this season and showed no signs of tiring, finishing with 33 homers and doubling last season's total. He was also third in AL MVP voting behind Mike Trout and Alex Bregman. 

Semien didn't receive All-Star honors this season, which is a shame. He deserves something after the show he put on.

Speaking of Bregman ... I voted for him at third base, the position that was the toughest to select across the roster.

He, Matt Chapman and Nolan Arenado each put up a phenomenal season and reminded you just why it's called the hot corner.

For Bregman, he was sensational across the board in each hitting category, finishing 2019 with a .296 average, 41 homers and a 1.015 OPS. Arenado matched Bregman's long-ball numbers with 41, but ya know -- Coors. 

And that energy is contagious.

Outfielders were easy to vote for.

Trout, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. I really hope you guys won't argue with me on those.

The starting pitchers, for the most part, hosted arms from the final two teams still playing October baseball. Justin Verlander earned his second Cy Young Award, posting a 2.58 ERA with 300 strikeouts in 223 innings and an MLB-leading 0.80 WHIP.

Well-deserved. 

Verlander's former teammate Gerrit Cole was behind him in Cy Young voting, leading the AL with a 2.50 ERA and MLB with 326 strikeouts and 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

I also voted for Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and once again, I hope there are no arguments there. If there is, I have plenty of photos of them drenched in champagne celebrating a World Series championship to back me up.

Former A and current Cincinnati Red Sonny Gray didn't reach his 2015 heights, but he dropped his ERA drastically from his 2018 campaign, boasting a 2.87 ERA with the Redlegs. His season deserved to be recognized.

From the bullpen, A's Liam Hendriks got a vote because he not only put up the numbers but switched to closer role responsibilities and did it smoothly and masterfully.

He finished his 2019 All-Star season with a 1.80 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 85 innings with a 0.97 WHIP.

[RELATED: Hendriks shift in energy factors in success with A's]

How'd I do? Let me know.

The winners for first and second-team honors will be announced at this year's Winter Meetings in San Diego. 

Giants' Madison Bumgarner convinced balls are juiced: 'No denying it'

Giants' Madison Bumgarner convinced balls are juiced: 'No denying it'

Madison Bumgarner isn't one to mince words, and recently the Giants starting pitcher said what everyone has been thinking.

The balls are juiced.

"There's no denying it," Bumgarner told the San Francisco Chronicle in a story published Friday. "I don't think anybody at this point is denying the ball is different. It's definitely different, and it's affecting a lot of the all-time stats."

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and a simple glance at the home-run leaderboard serves to confirm Bumgarner's suspicion. While New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso is the only player thus far to reach the 50-homer plateau, there are another seven players in the forties, and another 47 in the thirties.

The league's previous home run record -- 6,105, set in 2017 -- was surpassed two weeks ago. There's still a week left in the season. Those are the only two seasons in MLB history with at least 6,000 home runs.

The Giants haven't had a single player with 20 home runs in any of the last three seasons. They already have two this year, with Evan Longoria knocking on the door with 19.

So, it's not as if the Giants' hitters haven't similarly benefitted from a juiced ball. Still, Bumgarner isn't a fan.

"I just don't like it when they change the game so much," he said. "This changes it a lot."

[RELATED: Giants rookie Webb trying to send message to front office]

Given that the current game has basically been turned into a nightly home-run derby, it's not surprising that a pitcher would complain. Of course, Bumgarner has only hit one himself after five previous multi-homer seasons, so maybe he's just frustrated he hasn't been able to take better advantage.

Shaun Anderson shows resilience, but it isn't enough for Giants vs. Mets

Shaun Anderson shows resilience, but it isn't enough for Giants vs. Mets

NEW YORK -- As he prepared for batting practice on the first day of this series, Mets rookie star Pete Alonso smiled and shook his head when asked if he was surprised by Shaun Anderson's quick rise to a big league rotation.

"He's one of those people that if he gets knocked down, he gets right back up and perseveres and figures out what he did wrong and immediately fixes it," Alonso said of his college teammate and friend. "He's extremely resilient and mentally tough."

When his days as a slugging first baseman are over, Alonso might want to become a scout. 

Anderson, facing his friend's team for the first time, gave up two solo homers to begin his day. He then walked Alonso in their first big league showdown and allowed a single to Michael Conforto. His start was spinning out of control at the bottom of the first. Two hours later he walked off the mound with a 3-2 lead. 

The Giants would lose 7-3 to the Mets, ending their road trip on a sour note, but as they look towards the future, they continue to see positive traits in their top pitching prospect.

“He did a terrific job. He got in a jam and then pitched out of that, and then he settled down and got in a good groove,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “What a terrific job he did of keeping his poise out there and giving us a chance to win ... he didn’t get unraveled and he competed really well. He came back after that first inning and really settled down. He didn’t look fazed by anything. That’s always a good sign, especially for a young kid. He’s not intimidated by anything.”

In the middle of all the trouble, Anderson received a visit from interim pitching coach Matt Herges. He said Herges told him that’s all the Mets were going to get, and Anderson ran with the motto. He was charged with three earned in six-plus innings, completing a strong trip. In two starts, Anderson allowed five earned in 13 innings.

Anderson said he simply needed to gather himself after the first four batters Thursday. His recovery even included a small victory over Alonso, who won last year’s matchup with a homer in a Triple-A game. In Alonso’s second plate appearance, he swung through a good two-strike changeup and walked slowly back to the dugout. 

“I knew I needed to locate the ball,” Anderson said of his recovery. “I locked it in after that.”

Anderson’s ability to put the first inning behind him did not lead to a second big league win. The Mets pulled away with four runs off Mark Melancon in the eighth, the decisive blow being a two-run shot by Todd Frazier.

That left the Giants with a 4-5 record on their easiest trip of the year, a journey through Miami, Baltimore and New York.

[RELATED: How Giants draft class fares one year later]

“You’re hoping to do a lot better,” Bochy said. “There’s no getting around that.” 

The Giants are who they are, a franchise now down near the bottom of the standings with the likes of the Marlins, Orioles and Mets. But on Thursday, at least they learned a bit more about a young pitcher who looks like part of the solution.