Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier is here to help you become a star outfielder.
There’s no luck involved in winning two straight Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove Award. The only road to becoming as great an outfielder as Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier is consistent hard work and dedication. Luckily, Kevin is here to give you some great pointers on how you can start on your own path towards defensive greatness.
How To Cover More Ground
“As far as speed on defense goes, you have to put a lot of time and effort into that each day. If you want to be the best of the best, you need to do a lot of things behind closed doors. Spend a lot of time on speed workouts and footwork drills, because it’ll keep you crisp out there and you’ll be able to make the big plays. Like I said, you need to do everything you can to help your team win.”
How To Boost Your Reaction Time
“My time playing basketball and football has helped me react quicker—so play other sports. Another big part of it is instincts. The routes you take on balls, how fast you get there, all of those things are instinctive and factor in to making the big play. You only get that by spending a ton of time during practice on defense.
I’d also say, find little things to motivate you each and every day. Part of why I train as hard as I do is that I never want to come up just short of a ball. I remember moments, like last season in Detroit. I came up a little short, and unfortunately my hand got caught in the grass and I broke two bones. But if I would have been a step quicker, it probably wouldn’t have happened. I let those moments eat at me and push me during every workout.”
How To Throw Out More Baserunners
“I would recommend long tossing. Head to the outfield with a teammate or coach and throw the baseball as long and far as possible. That definitely helps you maintain and increase arm strength. I’ve been doing that for years. Long toss can help every baseball player, not just outfielders.
And I can’t stray away from the fact that my brothers and I played catch with a football our whole lives. We have to be top-10-all-time in passes completed! No joke. I credit my brothers Dan and Steve, because I’m telling you, it’s unreal how much that has an effect. You do that throwing motion so many times and, obviously, throwing a football is heavier than a baseball. I just feel like it really increases arm strength.”
For the American League East and the National League West, it came down to the final day of the season to determine the division winners. For the Yankees and the Rays rivalry, as well as the Padres and the Giants, you really wouldn’t have expected it to end a game sooner this season. Now that the puzzle pieces are in place, let’s take a look at the first round matchups and see who has the advantages.
Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays
In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays finished one game ahead of the Bronx Bombers in the American League East, securing the best record in the American League at 96-66. The Rays will host the Texas Rangers on Wednesday to open up the post-season action. The Rays will begin the series with 19-game winner David Price taking the mound in Tampa Bay against the 2008 American League Cy Young winner Cliff Lee of the Rangers. During a few days off for Evan Longoria, the Rays offense was still able to lead the team to the top spot in the AL East, and with him back for Wednesday’s game, Texas has a tough road ahead of themselves.
Prediction – Tampa Bay took the regular season series 4-2 over the Rangers, and although the Rays have had the added stress of fighting for the final playoff spot, they’re a better team than the Rangers, even if they don’t have fans that show up. If Texas can get a win in game one, they’ve got a good chance at an upset, otherwise I’m going with the Rays 3-1.
New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins
In the second of the AL playoff matchups, the Minnesota Twins, who will have to get through the playoffs without 2006 American League MVP Justin Morneau, who was recently ruled out for the entire post-season by Twins GM Bill Smith. The Twins will send Francisco Liriano to the mound for the opening game of their series against the Yankees. New York will be visiting Minnesota Wednesday evening and will be handing the ball over to one of this year’s strongest Cy Young Award candidates in 21-game winner CC Sabathia. Offensively, the Yankees “lesser known” superstars, like Robinson Cano, will be the key to victory for the Yanks this post-season, while the Twins will look to the added experience of players like Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson.
Prediction – The Twins have lost to the Yankees in their last three playoff meetings. This year, the Yankees went 4-2 in their meetings, and the Yankees know how to step it up in the playoffs. With that said, the Twins can push New York to five games with home field advantage, but whether they’ll be able to finally overtake the Yanks is still uncertain. However, with Joe Mauer, Jim Thome and the new Target Field, I’m going with the favorite that is really the underdog, the Minnesota Twins in five games.
Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies
In the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies will look to continue their hot streak into the post-season by sending the NL’s top Cy Young Award candidate to the mound, Ray Halladay. Halladay has been the leader of one of the most dominating starting rotations in baseball this season, and the Phillies best record in baseball of 97-65 record reiterates that. Cincinnati will send Edinson Volquez out for the first game of the series on Wednesday evening. The Cincinnati Reds play well together and have surprised many behind Dusty Baker’s leadership. Their bats are capable of beating the Phillies, but their lack of experience compared to the veteran Philly lineup will be their downfall.
Prediction – Both of these teams can play well against each others’ weaknesses, which could make for an unpredictable series, and considering their closing pitchers Brad Lidge and Francisco Cordero both have a track record of cold streaks, either team could be the benefactor. The way the Phillies have been playing recently, and their experience in the post season, gives them the edge. Philadelphia wins this one 3-0.
Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants
The last series to get underway in the 2010 MLB Playoffs will be in San Francisco, where the Wild Card winning Atlanta Braves will take on the National League Division West champs, the San Francisco Giants. The Giants will send last week’s Pitcher of the Week, Tim Lincecum, who is back to his old form that won him back-to-back Cy Young Awards in the last two seasons. The Braves will counter with veteran right-hander Derek Lowe, who has won his last five consecutive starts. Offensively, the Braves will look to Derrek Lee, Troy Glaus and Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Heyward. Both of these teams have more emotion tied into their post-season hopes than any of the other matchups, which will make for some great baseball. What gives the Giants the ultimate edge is not their starting pitchers, but the dominance of their bullpen pitchers, like Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson.
Prediction – Atlanta is playing for Bobby Cox, one of the most respected coaches in baseball’s history, which is reason to fight until the end. However, the Braves have really held tightly to the final spot in the National League, and that momentum may cause difficulties for the Giants. The Giants have the healthiest balance of youngsters and veterans in the league and one of the best pitching staffs in the league. The Giants struggle against Atlanta ace Tim Hudson, who pitches in game three against SF’s Jonathan Sanchez. Otherwise, I don’t see the Braves getting much more than one win in the series. The Giants will take this one 3-1.
images via yahoo
With only a little more than two weeks left in the regular season, things are really coming down to the wire in a couple of close division races. The National League East and National League West are both going to come down to a tight race – a race in which the second place team, in either division, may not even have a shot at the Wild Card.
In the American League, only the AL East Division is shaping up to be competitive. As a matter of fact, the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees have been a part of one of the tightest pennant races all year. Fortunately, either team that falls short of the division title is all but guaranteed the American League Wild Card.
Check out this week’s images from around the league below. For more images from around the league, check out past editions of MLB Watch.
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Rickie Weeks wears Nike Air Max MVP cleats and Franklin batting gloves.
Mets knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey continues to impress wearing a Rawlings glove.
Nyjer Morgan wears Under Armour Natural Low cleats.
Manny Ramirez wears the Nike Air Max Diamond Elite PE.
Justin Maxwell circles the bases in Under Armour batting gloves.
J.J. Hardy slides in safely wearing New Balance cleats.
Jonathan Papelbon wearing the Under Armour Natural Low cleats and Wilson glove.
Jason Heyward wearing Nike batting gloves.
Evan Longoria wearing a Player Exclusive Nike Shox Fuse 2.
David Ortiz sends one deep wearing Player Exclusive Reebok U-Form cleats and Easton batting gloves.
images via yahoo
Less than fifteen games into the Major League Baseball season and the Tampa Bay Rays have already hit double digits in the win column. That might not be surprising to many, however if you would have asked if anyone would have predicted that after opening the season with three wins and three losses after the team’s first home stand, you might not have had many people thinking the Rays would be the first team in the league to hit the 10 win mark.
The Rays ended their first home stand by losing a series to their American League East Rivals, the New York Yankees. Since that series ended, they’ve hit the road for their first road trip stopping in Baltimore first, where they swept the injury-plagued Orioles three games in a row.
The Rays rolled into Boston with a 6-3 record to battle the struggling 4-5 Red Sox. Four days later the Rays emerged with the Major League’s best record, 10-4. Before the sweep of the Red Sox, the Rays had only once swept the Red Sox in Boston and that was back in 1999.
Now with seven straight road wins and baseball’s best record the Rays will head towards Chicago to take on the struggling White Sox. Unless the Sox really step up, it doesn’t look like the Rays will slow anytime soon.
Tampa Bay fans can get the gear to support the team from Eastbay. Including the on-field New Era Fitted Hat and Majestic Full Force V-Neck Jersey seen below.