13 Sep

down to wire

Hunter Renfroe is surging. Tim Anderson is on the brink of a special accomplishment. Mitch Moreland is a solid contributor on the best team in baseball. Corey Dickerson’s numbers are pretty darn good, and Brian Dozier has 20 homers and more RBIs than any other Mississippian in the big leagues. Picking All Mississippi Baseball’s Cool Papa Bell Award winner for 2018 is going to be tough. Ex-Mississippi State star Renfroe clubbed his 22nd homer for San Diego on Wednesday. He is batting .258, slugging .519 and has 48 runs and 60 RBIs in 102 games (he spent time on the disabled list and in the minors). He credits a new two-strike approach for this late-season bolt. “I’m letting the ball get deep, shortening up a bit, making sure I’m as short and quick to the ball as possible,” he said in an mlb.com article. Anderson, the East Central Community College alum, hit his 19th homer – a game-winner – for the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. With 26 stolen bases, he is a homer shy of becoming the ChiSox’s fifth 20-20 man. “I’m excited to be able to chase that,” he told mlb.com. Anderson is hitting .248 with 62 RBIs and 73 runs in 141 games. Unlike Renfroe and Anderson, former State standout Moreland plays for a playoff-bound team, the 100-win Boston Red Sox. An All-Star in July, he has scuffled of late but is still hitting .250 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs and playing a good first base. Meridian CC product Dickerson also has faded recently but is batting .291 with 11 homers, 49 RBIs, 57 runs and eight steals for Pittsburgh. That’s a productive year. Former Southern Miss star Dozier, winner of the last two Cool Papas, has slumped since moving from Minnesota to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are chasing a division title. Playing on a troublesome knee, he is hitting .219. Can he possibly muster a finishing kick? It’s going to be fun final couple of weeks.

27 Nov

the envelope please …

This was a close call. Drew Pomeranz went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA last season and was a key player in Boston’s drive to a division title. But Brian Dozier, who also had sparkling numbers, was arguably THE key player in unheralded Minnesota’s drive to a wild card berth. On that basis, the former Southern Miss star is a repeat winner of the Cool Papa Bell Award, given here for the best performance by a Mississippian in the majors. Dozier, who also won the 2016 award, batted a career-high .271 (.359 on-base) with 34 homers, 93 RBIs, 106 runs and 16 steals in his fifth full season with the Twins. He was a regular on the highlight shows for his defense at second base. What’s more, he led off the American League wild card game against New York with a home run, though the Twins couldn’t hold the lead. No disrespect to Pomeranz — or for that matter Zack Cozart, Corey Dickerson, Jarrod Dyson, Lance Lynn and Adam Frazier, each of whom had a very good season – but Dozier was simply a cut above. … The award honors Negro Leagues legend Cool Papa Bell, the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Previous honorees include Mitch Moreland, Corey Dickerson, Desmond Jennings, Lance Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan.

12 Nov

the winner is …

Brian Dozier. Hands down. The former Southern Miss star is the winner of the 2016 Cool Papa Bell Award, given here to the Mississippian (native or college alum) who had the best season in the big leagues. The 29-year-old Dozier, in his fifth MLB campaign with Minnesota, hit .268 with 42 homers, 99 RBIs, 104 runs and 18 steals in 155 games. He also played a solid second base (eight errors, .989 fielding percentage). Several Mississippians had nice years – see Drew Pomeranz, Kendall Graveman, Tim Anderson, Billy Hamilton, Seth Smith — but none approached Dozier’s numbers or impact. The Twins announced on Oct. 19 the winners of their annual Diamond Awards, and Dozier took three of them, including the Calvin R. Griffith Award as the Most Valuable Twin. He was also the recipient of the Charles O. Johnson Award for Most Improved Twin and the Bob Allison Award given to the Twins player who exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership both on and off the field. … Dozier follows Mitch Moreland, Corey Dickerson, Desmond Jennings, Lance Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan as Cool Papa Bell Award winners. The award honors Negro Leagues legend Cool Papa Bell, the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

30 May

first things first

For a hitter, this number isn’t good: .222. “You can’t really focus on the numbers,” Mitch Moreland told The Associated Press after Sunday’s game in Arlington, Texas. OK, but there are a few worth mentioning. Ex-Mississippi State star Moreland’s sixth home run of the season, which sailed an estimated 440 feet into the upper deck at Globe Life Park, helped spark Texas to a 6-2 win against Pittsburgh and moved the Rangers into first place in the American League West. Watch out for this team, especially if Moreland is heating up. The lefty-hitting first baseman snapped a 1-for-27 slump with a home run on Saturday. He now has 21 RBIs and 18 runs in 45 games. Moreland is coming off a season in which he hit .278 with 23 homers and 85 RBIs (and earned AMB’s Cool Papa Bell Award). Here’s another number of note: $5.7M, which is the contract Moreland agreed to for 2016; he’s a free agent after this year. … Also bolting into first place on Sunday was Ned Yost’s Kansas City Royals, who now lead the AL Central. The defending world champs, who’ve won 12 of 17, rallied to top the Chicago White Sox 5-4, with McComb’s Jarrod Dyson scoring the go-ahead run in a three-run eighth. Dyson, coming back from a spring training injury, is batting .264 with 12 runs, eight steals, seven RBIs and five outfield assists in 30 games. He does a lot of little things you gotta love.

16 Nov

the envelope, please

This was largely a two-horse race. Brian Dozier bolted to an early lead. Mitch Moreland started slow and was briefly sidetracked by an injury. But Dozier began to fade, as did his team. Moreland kept getting big hits, and his team surged to a division title. In the end, it was Moreland by a nose, winner of the Cool Papa Bell Award, given here to the Mississippian (native or college alum) who has the best season in the big leagues. Moreland, the former Mississippi State star from Amory, hit .278 (.330 on-base percentage) with 23 homers and 85 RBIs for Texas, which went 88-74. Moreland had five homers and 18 RBIs in September and October as the Rangers fended off Houston and Los Angeles in the American League West. Dozier, the Southern Mississippi product from Fulton, was a first-half sensation and made the All-Star Game. For the year, he scored 101 runs, belted 28 homers and drove in 77 runs. But he batted just .210 after the All-Star break and .197 in September/October as Minnesota faded from the AL wild card battle. Moreland joins a group of Cool Papa Bell honorees that includes Corey Dickerson, Desmond Jennings, Lance Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan. The award honors Negro Leagues legend Cool Papa Bell, the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

20 Jul

on the move

Corey Dickerson has taken another step on the path to returning to the Colorado Rockies’ lineup. The former Brookhaven Academy and Meridian Community College star played left field and went 1-for-3 on Sunday in the first game of his rehab assignment. He is with Class A Modesto in the California League. Dickerson, dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, has only 127 MLB at-bats this season and is hitting .299 with five home runs and 16 RBIs. He last played a game for the Rockies on June 16. Colorado manager Walt Weiss told the Denver Post that Dickerson would get about 25 rehab at-bats and should be back with the Rockies “real soon.” Dickerson had a breakout year in 2014, when he batted .312 with 24 homers, 76 RBIs and 74 runs in 131 games. He was All Mississippi Baseball’s Cool Papa Bell Award winner, given for the best season by a Mississippian in the majors. … Ole Miss product Alex Presley, designated for assignment by Houston on Saturday, may soon land with another MLB club, according to various reports. Presley, a lefty-hitting outfielder who had just 12 ABs with the Astros this season, is a .259 career hitter who can do a lot of little things well.

03 Nov

the envelope please …

It’s not always about numbers in baseball. But sometimes, the numbers are just so good, they have to be celebrated. Corey Dickerson had just such numbers in 2014. In his first full season with the Colorado Rockies, the McComb native and ex-Meridian Community College standout batted .312 with 24 home runs, 76 RBIs and 74 runs in 131 games. He slugged .567. He had 27 doubles, six triples and eight stolen bases. Even though the Rockies had a rough year, Dickerson’s numbers make him an easy choice for the 2014 Cool Papa Bell Award, given here for the best season by a Mississippian (native or college alum) in the major leagues. Dickerson, 25, a left-handed hitting outfielder, was projected (by Rotowire.com) to hit .275 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in a backup role in 2014. He far exceeded those numbers and appears poised now for even bigger and better things. … Dickerson gets the nod for the award this year over Billy Hamilton (.250, 72 runs, 56 steals in 152 games as a rookie for Cincinnati); Brian Dozier (23 homers, 71 RBIs, 112 runs, 21 steals for Minnesota); and Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.74 ERA, 203 2/3 innings for division-winning St. Louis). … Previous winners of the Cool Papa Bell Award, named for the first Mississippi native to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, are Desmond Jennings, Lynn, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Chris Coghlan.

13 Aug

rising above it

While the Colorado Rockies are sinking like a stone in the standings, Corey Dickerson’s star continues to rise. The Meridian Community College alum from McComb extended his hitting streak to seven games in the Rockies’ 4-1 loss at San Diego on Tuesday. (Colorado is an MLB-worst 46-73.) Dickerson, who homered for the third straight game, is 12-for-28 (.429) with the three bombs, 10 RBIs and seven runs during his hit streak, which began with a 4-for-4 effort on Aug. 6. His season numbers are outstanding: .321, 16 homers, 50 RBIs, 51 runs, 19 doubles and four triples. That’s 101 runs accounted for in 94 games. Yes, Coors Field is a hitter’s dream, but Dickerson’s road numbers are also good: .271, eight homers, 20 RBIs. The 25-year-old lefty-hitting outfielder has emerged as a leading candidate for allmississippibaseball’s Cool Papa Bell Award. P.S. There was nothing lucky about T.J. House’s 13th big league appearance. The former Picayune High star threw three shutout innings for Cleveland against Arizona on Tuesday before the game was washed out. The rookie left-hander, who can’t seem to catch a break, is 1-3 with a 4.13 ERA in 12 games, 11 starts.

30 Oct

the envelope please …

Evan Longoria is Tampa Bay’s star position player. Ben Zobrist does a lot of things well for the Rays, and Yunel Escobar — the former Mississippi Braves shortstop — James Loney and rookie Wil Myers had solid 2013 seasons, as well. But let’s give Desmond Jennings his due. The former Itawamba Community College standout took on B.J. Upton’s role — center fielder and sometime leadoff batter — in just his second full MLB season and wore it well. Jennings, in 139 games, batted .252 with 14 home runs, 54 RBIs, 82 runs, 31 doubles, six triples and 20 stolen bases. Over the last half of September, while battling a hamstring problem, Jennings hit .393 in his last 10 games with seven RBIs, four runs and five walks. The Rays were feverishly pursuing a playoff berth at the time, and they grabbed it, beating Texas in a one-game showdown for the second American League wild card (Jennings was 1-for-3) and then winning the Wild Card Game against Cleveland. For his efforts, Jennings, who turned 27 today, is the winner of the 2013 Cool Papa Bell Award, given here for the top performance by a Mississippian (native or college alum) in the majors. Consideration was also given to Meridian CC product Cliff Lee (14-8, 2.87 ERA), Ole Miss alum Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97) and ex-Mississippi State star Mitch Moreland (23 homers, 60 RBIs). P.S. Congratulations go out to M-Braves product Andrelton Simmons on receiving a Gold Glove after his first full year in Atlanta. Simmons had an Ultimate Zone Rating (a defensive metric of some sort) that was reportedly nearly triple his nearest competitor at shortstop. (And he hit a little bit, too, which never hurts in the Gold Glove voting.)