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Aroldis Chapman Hits 105MPH Again, This Time in the Big Leagues

This just in: Aroldis Chapman throws hard.  There have been plenty of stories about the Cincinnati Reds’ freak of nature blowing up radar guns and throwing upwards of 100mph.  Back in march, we heard that Chapman regularly hit 102mph on the gun.  Impressive?  Yes, but guys like Joel Zumaya and Daniel Bard have been there and done that.  Then we heard he hit 105mph during a Triple-A game.  That’s insanely fast and would have qualified for the fastest pitch ever recorded if it were thrown during a big league game.  Everyone knows those minor league guns are juiced though, right?

Apparently that’s not the case.  Aroldis Chapman hit 105mph again, this time against the San Diego Padres on Friday night, to give him the record for the fastest pitch ever thrown in a Major League Game.  The previous record was 104.8mph, held by Joel Zumaya.  Chapman’s pitch was actually a 105.1 mph fastball. 

If this kid’s arm doesn’t fall off, I’ll be shocked.

Villanova Baseball Player Solicits Steroids Advice on Message Board

A person claiming to be a Villanova baseball player recently posted a series of questions on a steroid.com message board asking for advice on managing his cycle. Let’s put aside the legal and ethical issues at hand for a second. How about focusing on how dumb someone can be to post incriminating information like that on the internet for public viewing? I know we’ve seen players kicked off their teams for saying things on facebook and criticizing coaches on twitter, but those comments don’t exactly have legal ramifications.

Here’s the thing: if you’re going to solicit advice regarding illegal activities, don’t be so darn conspicuous while you’re doing it. As Deadspin pointed out, the player in question titled his thread “Villanova baseball player 1st cycle.” He then went on to say he plays college baseball, gave his measurements, and said he was looking to bulk up to get drafted. He asked for advice on how to modify his current steroids cycle. No joke.

The steroid.com poster’s username is “ultimatepr27,” (as you can see above) and the dimensions listed in the post description matches up closely with the only player on the roster whose initials are P.R. Let’s just hope Paul Rambaud (or whomever it was) really wasn’t that stupid. If he really wanted everyone to know his business why didn’t he just tweet Jose Canseco for the advice? Dummy.

NL Playoff Preview and Players to Watch

Also check out Alan Hull’s AL Playoff Preview

As the season wraps up and the National League contenders begin to separate themselves from one another, here is a look at some key players to watch down the stretch and through October.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Derrek Lee: There is no better way to add zeroes to the back of your next contract than to perform in the post-season when the stakes are the highest and all of baseball is watching. Lee will be looking to sign one last lucrative contract after this season. He had an opportunity to reinvent himself upon being traded to Atlanta, with the hopes he would replace some of the production lost when Chipper Jones went down. Lee responded by hitting a decent .289/.375/.433 since the trade. He will get another chance to start over in October and a few big hits will go a long way for his financial future.

Tommy Hanson: Tim Hudson has had a big season for the Braves, but has faded a bit down the stretch. Hanson, however, is the Braves most talented pitcher and has flown under the radar due to a mediocre win-loss record. This post-season may be a coming-out party for the 23-year-old future ace.

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Indians Turning Progressive Field into Snow Days Amusement Park

The Cleveland Indians haven’t done too many things right this year on the field. Credit them for getting something right off of it.

Even though their latest project could upset the purists who don’t like seeing mounds destroyed for soccer games and the like, the Indians are getting innovative by unveiling plans to run a winter amusement park at Progressive Field during the offseason. The team is calling the new plan “SnowDays” and beginning it on November 26th, and running it through January, 2011 at the least.

They’ll be offering a snow tubing hill, a quarter mile ice skating track, a skating rink, and a snow mountain as part of their activities. Basic admission will be $5 while a full access pass is $25. I don’t know about you, but this seems pretty darn cool and exactly like the type of thing I would have loved to do as a kid.

Cleveland Indians: last in the AL Central, first in innovation and creativity.

50 Home Run Club Stats and Flukes

Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista hit his 50th home run on Thursday, leaving me continually startled by his impressive batting this year. I called Bautista’s season the “most improbable and greatest power surge ever,” and I believe that is the case. In fact, I went through and analyzed the careers and stats for all 26 members of the 50 home run club. We know that Brady Anderson and Luis Gonzalez were some of the biggest fluke 50 home run hitters in history and that Bautista also fits in, but how do all the other hitters stack up? Here is a chart of the 50 home run hitters in baseball along with numbers that indicate their career power prowess. This helps us determine the legitimacy of each 50 home run hitter. (click twice to enlarge)

Based on this data, it appears as if the players who would qualify as flukes are Gonzo, Brady Anderson, George Foster, and Hack Wilson. What do you think? You buying Bautista’s 50 home runs? Who else from the group should be considered fluky?

Jose Bautista Has Most Improbable and Greatest Power Surge Ever

Jose Bautista’s incredible home run march has been ongoing this entire season. I could have written this post a few days ago, a few weeks ago, or month ago, and it still would have applied. So why write it now? Well the Toronto third baseman/right fielder has bashed his way to the nice, round, and pretty number of 50. Bautista will now officially go down as one of the 26 members of the elite 50 home run club. And every step of the way I’ve been detracting.

With a first inning blast against Cy Young contender Felix Hernandez of the Mariners on Thursday, Jose Bautista accounted for the only run of a 1-0 game. Every single superlative you could possibly conceive would apply to Bautista. He’s become an incredible fastball hitter, often knocking high heat out of the park. He’s done it off the best pitchers in the game, as evidenced by the blow against King Felix who only allowed two hits the entire game! He hit 24 home runs before the break leaving us scratching our collective heads, but then he followed it up with 26 home runs after the All-Star break!

Bautista’s jump from 13 home runs last season to 50 this year represents the second-largest home run jump ever. Before his days as a manager, Davey Johnson went from hitting five home runs in 118 games with the Orioles in 1972 to 43 home runs in 157 games with the Braves in 1973. Other members of the 50 home run club have enjoyed monstrous jumps in their careers. Hack Wilson, Andruw Jones, and George Foster’s power explosions to the 50 dinger plateau were largely unexpected. Luis Gonzalez and Brady Anderson are in a class to themselves as far as fluky power seasons go. But as far as I’m concerned, there has never been a power surge this great that was more improbable.

Now the question is what will Bautista do from here? Is this year merely a fluke, or is it the beginning of an All-Star career? Only time well yield the answer, but I’m betting on the fluke side. Hopefully Bautista proves me wrong.

As for particular stats about all the 50 home run hitters, check out our chart on the most legitimate and fluky 50 home run hitters of all-time. Bautista certainly is high on that list.

Photo Credit: The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn

Jim Edmonds, Russell Branyan Add to Weird Baseball Injuries

The extensive list of weird injuries continues to grow. Sadly, it looks like we also have a couple of repeat cases too.

Reds outfielder Jim Edmonds hit a home run on Tuesday night and hurt himself circling the bases. Edmonds thought he had popped his Achilles tendon taking his victory lap but it turns out he did not tear it. Either way, the entire spectacle was pretty strange to see, as I came across through SI Hot Clicks. Strangely enough, Edmonds isn’t the only player to hurt himself on a home run trot this year.

Even though we have frequent additions to the weird injuries list, Russell Branyan may have distinguished himself as the first two-time member of the club. The Mariners first baseman was inducted in July for hurting his toe on a coffee table in his hotel room or something like that. He has earned a second spot on the list for hurting himself in a pizza parlor. No joke. He said he was bending over to pick up his son’s flip flop when the chair underneath him went out. Apparently he fell to the ground and landed on his tailbone. Honestly, this poor guy is cursed.

You hear stories like these ones and it makes you really appreciate Cal Ripken Jr. more than you had before. Either that, or it makes you realize how much more difficult every day living is than you ever thought.