Written By: Jimmy Da Saint
Spring training is all about getting in shape, getting your timing down, establishing a rapport with your teammates, evaluating player talent & shaping your team's identity before the regular season starts.
Most teams have only played 6 to 7 games this spring training, but I've seen enough to see which players have their stroke down and which ones that need to spend more time with their hitting coach before they start the 2009 MLB regular season!
Since The All American Home Run Derby is all about celebrating the long ball & showcasing the leagues best homerun hitters; I'm going to breakdown the players in our pool that have been desert hot & mountain cold in spring training!
Josh Hamilton: "Big Ham" has picked up right where he left off last season and has looked very good thus far. Hamilton is 5 for 11 with 2 Home Runs & is batting .500 in 7 games this spring training. Last year's feel good story is proving last season wasn't a fluke, so expect Hamilton to improve his numbers across the board in 2009!
Paul Konerko: Konerko's lingering bad thumb injury seems to be a thing of the past because he's having a very respectable spring training thus far. The 35 year old veteran is batting .400 and has 2 Home Runs in 6 games. Konerko has always been a very streaky hitter, but has proven that he's one of the leagues biggest power threats when healthy.
Johnny Peralta: Peralta is hotter than the Arizona desert in the summer time! J.P. is batting a whopping .636 with 2 Home Runs in just 4 games! Peralta has average 22 Home Runs with 80 RBI's over his last two seasons in the league and I'm expecting some big numbers from Cleveland's short stop this season! He's well protected in the lineup and Cleveland has always been kind to the long ball!
Corey Hart: Hart took a step back from his 2007 season in 2008 by hitting only .239 with 5 Home Runs over the second half of last season! Hart must have hit the batting cages with a vengeance this off season because he's one of the hottest hitter in baseball this spring training. Hart's batting average is a sick .700 and has 2 Home Runs in 5 games. Hart has the potential to join the 30/30 club this season, so keep an eye out for one of my biggest sleepers in baseball this season.
Joey Votto: Start calling him GE because he's showing that his powerful bat "brings good things to life!" Votto hit his second Home Run of the spring against the Yankees and is now batting .563 in 5 games. Votto carries a big stick and will prove that he's one of the leagues most exciting power hitters and fastest rising stars this upcoming season! I'm expecting "GE" to hit a minimum of 35 Home Runs in 2009!
Ryan Howard: Big Lefty is showing us nothing new during his first 5 games in spring training. Howard hit his 3rd Home Run on March 5th and continues to solidify his place amongst the most elite Home Run hitters in the game today! Howard is one of the few players that has enough pop in his bat to hit 50 + home runs every year!
Jack Cust: Cust's batting average is uglier than Betty right now. Cust hit his first Home Run of the season this past week and his batting average of .83 is well below the Mendoza line these days. Like Konerko, Cust has always been known as a streaky hitter, but should have no problem hitting 30+ Home Runs this season in an Oakland line up that's well stacked with plate protection.
Mike Jacobs: Talking about a set back…Jacobs is batting .188 with only 1 Home Run in 6 games this spring training. It's still early, but these types of numbers don't compare to his break out season with the Marlins last year where he hit 32 Home Runs. Don't expect Jacobs to ever hit close to .300, but he's got plenty of power to flirt with 30+ Home Runs this season!
Play The All American Home Run Derby This 2009 MLB Season!