If you'll allow us one more look back at 2014 in the early hours of the new year, I wanted to revisit some of our favorite posts on TCB from the past season.
The 2014 season brought more wins, more controversy and more prospects. It was not an unqualified success, but it was still better than the doldrums of 2012 and 2013. These aren't necessarily the *best* things we've done in 2014; these are just my favorites.
Feel free to bring up any of your own favorites in the comments. Which posts did you enjoy most in 2014?
Behind the scenes edition
Our writer email thread gets pretty crazy sometimes. Apart from the usual emails covering potential trades, free agent fits and prospect talk, we mix in Peter Pan Live!, Texas A&M's defensive coordinator choices and more.
In other words, we're an eclectic group.
Earlier this season, Chris gave everyone a behind-the-scenes peek into that madness with this post, as it followed a TCB email chain down the rabbit hole, past dead presidents and into some new territory. I only wish this were the exception, instead of the norm.
Best GIF of 2014 edition
Oh, you poor, poor Astros intern. Having to watch Jose Altuve all day long can turn anyone into a pod person.
Reaching his ceiling edition, Part I
As with prospects, our writers have a ceiling. Sometimes, they attain that ceiling in spectacular fashion, not unlike George Springer doing Springer-ian things in the field.
Anthony bumped into his full potential with this fantastic profile on Teoscar Hernandez. It hit all the things you want out of a player feature. It used Anthony's extensive experience at Lancaster to get the opinions of coaches and scouts. It relied on first-hand accounts and a familiarity with that clubhouse.
In short, it was everything you could ask out of a minor league piece: illuminating and informative, well-written and well-researched.
Reaching his ceiling edition, Part II
Think of Chris a little like a non-maddening Jonathan Villar. He's got all those tools and a flash to go with it. He can make spectacular play after spectacular play. Chris also nails the routine stuff, which is where the Villar comparisons end.
But, when Chris is on, he's the most entertaining writer on this site.
He was on for this cartoon recap. I'll include one of the frames here, but do yourself a favor and go read the whole thing. It's worth your time once again.
Reaching his ceiling edition, Part III
Finally, we have another minor league writer hitting his ceiling. This time, it's a case of an actual, trained professional dropping some of his years of knowledge on us all.
Brooks knows his stuff. When he begins to write on pitching mechanics, we should all take notice. He did as much in this piece on Nick Tropeano. Though he's no longer in the Astros system, this is a great piece of explanatory writing, taking us all behind the scenes of both scouting and baseball.
I only hope we get more of this in the coming year, as Brooks uses that new-fangled, high-speed camera of his.
When I asked Tim if he had any favorite articles from the site this year, his response was perfect.
"Anything by clack," he said.
Every clack article means I learn two or three things. They're treats of baseball wisdom, making difficult concepts easily reachable for this liberal arts major. One of my favorites of his was this one on the shift, looking at the coverage of Houston's early-season shifting and whether it was truly effective.
Best movie/post mashup edition
Anthony and Ryan teamed up together for this epic post, taking our site-wide obsession with Framin' Hank Conger and Jennifer Lawrence to new heights.
/whispers "I'm sorry, what was that? No one else is obsessed with J-Law? Huh..."
At any rate, Ryan did the graphic. Anthony did the writing. It was beautiful.
Thank God it's finally over edition
One of the most bittersweet stories of the offseason involved CSN Houston. As happy a time as it was to see the TV deal finally get resolved with the creation of Root Sports Southwest, it was also a bummer for many hard-working employees.
That's what I tried to sum up in this article, talking about the doomed network and all the people who produced the best product no one got to watch. We don't know what Root Sports' Astros coverage will look like, but we can be assured the city of Houston lost out on some great general coverage with the dissolution of CSN Houston.
Best headline edition
Springer Dinger edition
Remember this guy? George Springer? Before he fell into that same pit on the outskirts of Springfield as Ozzie Smith, Springer became the most exciting Astros rookie to debut in years. He inspired George Springer Day, which my wife refused to celebrate.
He was also a sign that the best was yet to come for the Astros. His appearance turned around an awful April and jump-started the good feelings that this team would enjoy for its play on the field starting in May.
Ignore the part where I predicted the Astros and Springer would announce a contract in three months. I'm an idiot.
Mike Elias edition
It's even worth a read in retrospect, especially for the parts on the 2014 draft class.
J.D. Martinez edition
I held off on writing about J.D. Martinez' Tigers explosion for a while. When I finally did, it may have been my favorite thing I did for TCB in 2014.
It wasn't the best thing I wrote, but I wanted to not make it another article slamming the Astros, but to explore why Martinez took off, why the Astros may not have been wrong in their evaluation, but why they still made a mistake. More importantly, it took things a step further by suggesting the mistake itself wasn't costly, but that not learning from it would be.
2014 Draft edition
Our draft coverage is one of my favorite parts of this site. We have such a dedicated minor league team and when they dive into prospect analysis, it's so much fun.
Even with the Brady Aiken mess marring an otherwise exciting addition of some talented players, this year was a good one for our coverage. Here's a link to the hub collecting all our pre-draft profiles on prospects and then our post-draft profiles on the drafted players.
The only thing it's missing is more talk about that had A.J. Reed bought at his local Lids store.
I still can't believe it happened, but #AstrosTwitter was on the job and made sure it came to light. Good work, #AstrosTwitter. Don't steal Ryan's work, everyone else.
Personal favorite post edition
What was it?
Yep, the food hats. From my story Wednesday:
It was brilliant. It was brilliantly executed. It was funny. It was timely and just all-around awesome.
As I said last week, Ryan is a peerless graphic designer and we're lucky to have so many of his best work appear on his site.
It's also telling that I would absolutely purchase at least 10 of these hats. Sign me up for an Astros alternate cap that features sliced brisket. I'd wear that every day.
Also, the fact that San Francisco got kale still kills me to this day. Good work, Ryan. Good work.