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Scherzer, Davis turned seasons around

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Scherzer, Davis turned seasons around

Back on June 1, the AP unveiled a list of 10 players who were off to slow starts but were likely to bounce back quickly - some thinly veiled advice for fantasy players, if you will.

In the interest of accountability, now it's time for a look back at how we did:

ALBERT PUJOLS, 1B, ANGELS

What We Said: ``Pujols' numbers began to slip a bit last year, but his .243 average in his first season with Los Angeles has been a shocker. There's no reason to think the 32-year-old's swing has deserted him for good. He might not reach 32 homers, his previous low for a season, but Pujols is hitting .329 since May 12. The worst seems to be over.''

What Happened: It almost felt like cheating to pick Pujols, whose track record made it fairly obvious he wasn't going to keep scuffling for an entire season. His final numbers: .285, 30 homers and 50 doubles. Not bad considering what a nightmare April was.

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TIM LINCECUM, RHP, GIANTS

What We Said: ``The two-time Cy Young Award winner has an unsightly 5.82 ERA, but he's struck out 64 hitters in 60 1-3 innings. Lincecum has struggled to avoid the big inning, and he's walking too many hitters, but his performance isn't as bad as it's looked. Opponents are hitting .339 off Lincecum on balls in play. That's a fairly high number, especially for someone who is a bit of a groundball pitcher. Lincecum should improve as more balls start finding the gloves of his fielders.''

What Happened: Since June 1, Lincecum is 8-9 with a 4.87 ERA - better but still not very good. Instead of being San Francisco's No. 1 starter in the playoffs, the Giants may simply be hoping he doesn't hurt their chances.

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MARK REYNOLDS, 3B, ORIOLES

What We Said: ``Reynolds is hitting .202 with only two home runs, but Baltimore fans have been through this before with the slugging third baseman. Last year Reynolds was hitting .193 at the end of May, but he finished the year with 37 homers. Low batting averages are the norm for Reynolds, but his power should be there now that's he's back from the rib cage injury that sent him to the disabled list earlier this month.''

What Happened: Reynolds finished the season with a .221 average and 23 homers in only 135 games. He turned 29 this year, and his power stroke seems fine if he can stay healthy.

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MARK TEIXEIRA, 1B, YANKEES

What We Said: ``Usually a slow starter anyway, Teixeira has been playing through a terrible cough all season that's sapped his strength and energy at times. In his last five games, Teixeira is 11 for 24 with four homers and nine RBIs. Just like that, the New York star is back on pace for another 30-homer season.''

What Happened: Teixeira ended up with only 24 homers thanks to more health problems. He's been out for most of the last month with a left calf injury, and although he returned during the final series against Boston, he has to be considered a question mark going into the postseason.

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MAX SCHERZER, RHP, TIGERS

What We Said: ``Scherzer might be the American League's version of Lincecum, although he doesn't have the career track record of the San Francisco ace. Scherzer has a 5.55 ERA this year, but he's striking out an impressive 11.7 hitters per nine innings. Scherzer is clearly still fooling batters with his stuff. He's also shown improved command lately and could be due for a breakout.''

What Happened: Lincecum could only wish he enjoyed this type of resurgence. Since June 1, Scherzer went 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA. He finished the year with 231 strikeouts, second in the majors to teammate Justin Verlander.

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JOSH JOHNSON, RHP, MARLINS, and ADAM WAINWRIGHT, RHP, CARDINALS

What We Said: ``Both pitchers came into the season off injuries to their throwing arms, and both have ERAs well over 4.00. But there are some encouraging signs. Their strikeout and walk rates are reasonably in line with what they were when these two were among the top pitchers in the National League. Wainwright has allowed only one run over 15 innings in his last two starts.''

What Happened: Johnson went 5-11 from the beginning of June on, but he was actually pretty good over that span, posting a 3.30 ERA. Wainwright also improved, going 10-8 with a 3.73 ERA since June 1. Perhaps most importantly, Johnson made 31 starts this year and Wainwright made 32.

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IKE DAVIS, 1B, METS

What We Said: ``After missing most of last season with an ankle injury, Davis was diagnosed with a likely case of valley fever in spring training. Now he's hitting .170, one of the worst averages of any regular in baseball. Davis is striking out about once a game, and when he does make contact the ball seems to go right at somebody - witness his .210 average on balls in play. Davis has a long, unorthodox swing that would seem to lend itself to lengthy slumps, but it's too early to write off the 25-year-old after the promising start to his career.''

What Happened: Davis finished the year with 32 homers and 90 RBIs, salvaging a decent power-hitting season despite a final average of .227.

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JUSTIN MORNEAU, 1B, TWINS

What We Said: ``Morneau was hitting .345 with 18 homers in July 2010 when a concussion knocked him out for the rest of that season. He hasn't been the same since, hitting .233 in 103 games while battling other injury problems in 2011 and 2012. But he's hit five homers since coming off the disabled list a couple weeks ago - a sore right wrist was keeping him out that time. At 31, Morneau should still have some productive at-bats left if he's finally healthy again.''

What Happened: Morneau finished with a .267 average and 19 homers - and he stayed pretty healthy for the rest of the season. He has one year left on his contract, and still a lot to prove in terms of durability and productivity.

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ADRIAN GONZALEZ, 1B, RED SOX

What We Said: ``The last-place Red Sox could use more from Gonzalez than a .267 average and four homers, but he does have 18 doubles, so there's still plenty of pop in that bat. Last year Gonzalez hit .347 at Fenway Park, but a majority of his homers came on the road. Perhaps that should be the expectation going forward.''

What Happened: Gonzalez was traded from Boston to Los Angeles in August, but he picked up the pace with the bat as the season progressed. He hit .314 from June 1 on, finishing the year at .299 with 18 homers and 108 RBIs.

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

MORE ALL-STAR NEWS:

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

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USA Today Sports

2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado took an even larger lead in the latest update for 2018 MLB All-Star Game voting.

The superstar shortstop maintained his position at the top of American League shortstops in the second round of All-Star voting updates, released Tuesday morning. 

After the first ballot was released, Machado led the shortstops category by over 100,00 votes.

This week, he now holds north of a 200,000-vote lead over last year’s American League starter, Carlos Correa.

The Astros’ Correa jumped from fourth to second this past week while the Indians’ Francisco Lindor dropped to third.  

Machado now has 671,133 votes, seventh among all American League players. For the second straight week, Machado remained the only Orioles player on the list.

Through 69 games in 2018, Machado is batting .310 with 18 home runs, 15 doubles and 53 RBIs. He is posting his best OPS (.945) and on-base percentage (.377) in his career, a bright spot for the O’s, who sit dead last in MLB with a 20-50 record.

The All-Star voting will be open until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and fans can vote five times every 24 hours.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 26.

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