By: Noah Wright
As the we near the end of the season, many people start predicting awards such as MVP, Rookie Of The Year, and Cy Young, and The AL MVP this season is a tight race between 3 players, Mike Trout, Jose Ramirez, and Mookie Betts. Each are providing their team with value both with the bat, on the basepaths, and with the glove. Let's take a look at these 3 superstars, and see which player deserves MVP The most.
This race is going to be close. If you ask me, Betts is the best fielder, Ramirez has the most power, and Trout is the most well rounded. After looking at all the stats, and ratings among the three stars, I think I have to give it to Mookie Betts, with Mike Trout coming in at #2, and Jose Ramirez at the third spot. Betts and Trout are similar in many ways; both have power, speed, a good glove, and have good base running instincts, but the thing that gives Betts the edge over Trout is his outfield arm. Don’t get me wrong, Trout can throw out base runners pretty good, but Betts is just better. His arm rating has been given a 4.6, way above average, while Trout sits at -.5 which sits right around average (if not, just below average). That gives Betts the small edge in this race, and gives him The AL MVP Title for the 2018 season.
By: Noah Wright
Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports
“King” Felix Hernandez was one of the top 5 starters in all of MLB when he was in his prime, but he’s far from that anymore. And unlike most starters once they start to put more wear on their arm and decline slowly, Hernandez has seemed to fall off a cliff, to the point where he is on the cusp of being a low pressure situation bullpen guy. It’s one of the steepest declines in recent MLB memory. Let's take a look at how it happened, because it’s one of the ones that seemed to be too sudden to blame on just injury.
Felix Hernandez was born on April 8th, 1986 in Valencia Venezuela. After High School, Hernandez signed with The Seattle Mariners in 2002, the team he is still with. Throughout the minors, Felix was a consensus top 30 prospect in 2004 and 2005 according to Baseball America (#30 in 2004, #2 in 2005), and it was well deserved. In his first professional season (low-A, and mid-A ball), Hernandez carried a 2.22 ERA, 2.60 FIP, and 1.145 WHIP in 69 innings. He also showed a good fastball that sat in the high 90’s with ok control (3.5), and good strikeout numbers (91, 11.9 K/9 rate). His second professional season was even better. In 149.1 innings between high-A and double-A ball, Hernandez had a 2.95 ERA, 2.73 FIP, and 1.199 WHIP. He maintained the high strikeout rate (172, 10.4 K/9), but also really improved his control (2.8 walks/9). After a short and impressive showing in Triple-A in 2005, Felix Hernandez would start his Major League career, with a call-up as a 19 year old. He showed great potential in his debut game on August 4th, 2005. Felix pitched 5 innings against The Detroit Tigers, only giving up 1 run, struck out 4, and walked 2, but received the loss. His overall rookie season was pretty impressive. A 19 year old King Felix pitched to a 2.67 ERA, 2.85 FIP, .996 WHIP in 84.1 innings, along with a 2.5 walk’s/9 and 8.2 K’s/9.
While he showed potential throughout his next 3 seasons, he wouldn’t have a true ace season until 2009, but it was one hell of a season. At 23 years old, Felix pitched to a 2.49 ERA, 3.09 FIP, and 1.135 WHIP in 238.2 innings. His perferials were pretty similar to his rookie season, with a 2.7 BB/9 rate, 8.2 K’s/9 rate, and .6 HR’s/9 rate. He also finished second in Cy Young voting. His 2010 season is one of his best seasons, but not his best. King Hernandez had a 2.27 ERA, 3.04 FIP, and 1.057 WHIP in 249.2 innings. Plus he struck out 232 batters. Felix was very consistent throughout his early years, posting another 2.5 BB/9, and 8.4 K’s/9 rate. Felix took took the next step in his career, winning The Cy Young that season to add on to his king-like season. Hernandez’s next 3 seasons would also present him as an ace level pitcher with a plus fastball, but his 2014 season has so far been the best of his career. In his age 28 season, Felix Hernandez finished the season with a 2.14 ERA (league leading), 2.56 FIP, and a league leading .915 WHIP in 236 innings. He also struck out a career high 248 K’s, and walked a tie-career low with 46 free passes. It was also his second 50 or less walk seasons with 200+ innings pitched, and 6th straight season with 200+ strikeout seasons. Hernandez’s last full productive season was 2015. That season was the start of a decline for Hernandez, but it would be extremely hard to predict what would come in the following seasons. Felix still produced a quality 3.59 ERA, 3.72 FIP, and 1.180 WHIP in 201.2 innings. However his Walk/9 and K/9 rate were almost the same to what they were to previous seasons (2.6, 8.5). Hernandez also reached 191 strikeouts.
The beginning of 2016 is probably the last time Seattle fans saw a consistently decent King Felix. For the first half of 2016, Hernandez had a 2.86 ERA, 4.04 FIP, and kept batters to just a .217/.306/.336 line in 63 innings. However, his first half was cut a bit short after he suffered a right calf strain, which would prove to hurt him further on in the season. The second half of 2016 looks more like the Felix Hernandez we watch today. He recorded a 4.47 ERA, 4.70 FIP, and gave up 13 home runs in 90 and a third innings. Overall however, Hernandez finished 2016 with a 3.82 ERA, 4.63 FIP, and 1.324, and his perferials dropped as well, to a 3.8 walks/9 and 7.2 K’s/9 rate. He also reached a high in HR/9 with 1.1, but it’s not his career high anymore. 2017 looked similar to the end of 2016. Hernandez greatly struggled, as he recorded a 4.37 ERA, 5.02 FIP (career high), and 1.292 WHIP. While his control and strikeout numbers returned to normal (2.7 BB/9, 8.1 K/9), his home run rate ballooned to 1.8, and gave up 17 home runs in only 86.2 innings. Felix also struggled with injuries again, only making 16 starts, and missing 2 months over a shoulder injury. 2018 has easily been the worst season of Hernandez’s professional career. So far on the season, Hernandez has a 5.55 ERA, 4.97 FIP, and 1.381 WHIP. He’s also given up a career high number of home runs at 24, and has walked 3.3 batters/9, the highest it’s been since 2008.
It’s easy to blame injuries for Felix’s downfall, but such a decline that started when he was just 30 years old seems too swift to blame on just injury. As time goes on, pitchers usually lose fastball velocity, and Hernandez is no exception. It went from a pitch that averaged around 95 MPH, to a pitch that averaged around 93 MPH, to a pitch that barely reaches above 91 MPH. The same can be said about his sinker, another pitch that he would rely on a lot in the prime of his career, but still relies on now. According to fangraphs, even though his sinker has fallen to sit around 90 MPH (and even that is being a bit generous), he has still used the pitch 32% of the time, compared to 5 seasons ago (2013) when he used the pitch 36% of the time at round 92.3 MPH. Another pitch that Felix still uses like he did in 2014 is his change-up, even though it has lost nearly 5 MPH since then. Hernandez also uses his curveball about 27% of the time, but throws it below 80 MPH. Plus it’s his most used pitch. I think that if Hernandez changes his pitching repertoire, and reworks some of his off-speed and breaking pitches, Hernandez can have a late career renaissance, something similar that CC Sabathia has had the last 2 seasons.
In the end, Felix Hernandez’s decline has been one of the fastest in recent memory. He went from a reliable veteran starter to a guy who can’t be relied on in high leverage situations in less than 3 seasons. However, he could make some adjustments, and maybe we will see a new and rejuvenated King Felix Hernandez, but only time will tell.
By: Ted Rivera
Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
It’s no secret Javier Baez is one of the most exciting players in Major League Baseball. Clearly he puts one-hundred percent effort on the field every single night, and at the young age of 25 he has a very bright future. In addition to hitting exceptionally this year Javier Baez seems to make a highlight play in the field every night.
Baez is hitting .299 on the year with an on-base percentage of .330 and is slugging .578. Javí has 30 Homers, 100 Runs batted in, and 35 Doubles on the season which are exceptional numbers and all career highs. His biggest competition, Freddie Freeman have a .306 average , an on-base of .388 but a lower slugging percentage than Javí with a .502 slugging. On top of all of these stats Freddie only has 20 Homers, and 82 RBI. This shows that Javier Baez produces more runs for his offense.
Some may argue Javier is a shortstop, some will say a second baseman, others will say a third baseman. Javier Baez is a utility player, he can cover many positions on the field and he does it extremely well. He dazzles his fans night in and night out with dives, tags and running down fly balls that have instantly impressed the baseball world.
Baez made his first all star team this year which was extremely well deserved after the first half of the year that he had. On the year at all 3 positions he’s played (2B , SS , 3B) he has only 11 errors over 1075.1 innings of field work , in which he has 219 putouts. To say the least , Javier Baez rarely makes mistakes in the field.
At six feet , 190 Lbs. He is one of the most powerful middle infielders in the league. Javier also is helping the Cubs make a potentially serious run to get to the playoffs just 2 years after winning the 2016 World Series. Although there are other serious candidates for this award, Javier Baez should be the 2018 N.L. MVP.
By: Noah Wright
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
The deadline is always when the most trading happens. This season was no different, and many trades really helped contenders give them that extra boost they needed. Now that it’s been a little over a month since the deadline I’m here today to attempt to analyze the best deadline/near deadline trades.
By: Noah Wright
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Edwin Diaz and Blake Treinen are probably the best performing closers this season. The AL West rivals and all-stars may even get some Cy Young consideration too. Coming down the final stretch, Diaz and Treinen are going to be heavily relied on to hold leads that could help their team make The Playoffs. Lets compare the two right handers, and make a decision on which closer is the better of the two.
Edwin Diaz was a former 2012 third round pick, and top prospect by The Mariners. He was a closer in the minors, and there were even talks about they might utilize Diaz in a starter/swingman role rather than a late inning guy. Diaz has shown plenty of promise in seasons prior, but he’s cemented himself at the team’s closer with his amazing 2018 season. Diaz currently has a 1.97 ERA, 1.49 FIP, and .0781 WHIP in 64 innings. Edwin has also reached the 100 strikeout mark this season as well, with 108. Diaz’s preferials are also very impressive. He’s not a hard thrower that would be considered ‘effectively wild’, but effective and not wild. Diaz’s fastball can easily reach into the 100’s, but keeps walks to just 2.1 per 9, and has kept his strikeout rate above 10, at 15.2 K’s/9. Keeping balls in the park is another thing Diaz is good at, only givin up 4. Opponents are also not able to hit off of him, as his opponents only get a hard hit ball off of him 28.8% of the time. While he performs better against lefties, Edwin has kept right handers to a .164/.201/.242 line. Against left handed batters, he has kept them to a .149/.252/.213. Diaz is good at his job too. When it comes time to lock the opponent down when they’re threatening, he holds batters to a .173/.244/.253 line when runners on base, and a .156/.270/.281 with RISP. His most impressive feat this season may be that he has a shot to break Francisco Rodriguez all time single record, which currently sits at 62. Diaz has 50 and with a little over a month of the season left to go, it’s possible Diaz could reach above 62.
The former National relief pitcher and minor league starting pitcher was actually drafted by The A’s in 2011, but eventually was traded to The Nationals in a 3 team trade in the 2013-2014 off season. However Treinen eventually found his way back to The A’s in a Treinen+prospects for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson swap nearing the 2017 deadline. Treinen has an ERA below 1 (.95) , with a 1.76 FIP, and .939 WHIP in 66 innings. Like Diaz, Treinen’s fastball can easily reach 100+ mph, and also like Diaz, he’s not really ‘effectively wild’. Treinen has a 2.7 Walk’s/9 rate, and could reach 100+ K’s on the season, and currently has 89, and a 12.1 K/9 rate. Treinen has also just given up 2 home runs all season too. Blake has also kept opposing batters to a hard hit rate of 31%. Right handed batters only bat .119/.213/.167, and left handers bat a worse but still very very useful .231/.262/.282. In total, Treinen holds opponents in an overall .173/.236/.222 line. When it comes time to hold the opponent where they are, Treinen is also very very good at that. With runners on base, Treinen has held batters to a .181/.239/.248 line, and he’s even better when the opponent is threatening with RISP, and keeping them to a .094/.156/.316 line.
This was hard to decide. Each have their strengths, and weaknesses to the point where it seemed that it balanced each other out, and in other factors they were very similar. However I think I have to give the edge to Treinen. The big thing that gives him the edge in this argument to me is that ERA below 1. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish. Another thing that gives Treinen the edge is his clutch edge, which he’s just better than Diaz, especially with RISP. In the end, Blake Treinen gets the edge in a Treinen vs Diaz closer duel.
By: Marc Lam
Jeff Nycz/Mid-South Images
As a Padres fan, my team has gone through a lot. From wasted talent to horrible management to big free agency flops, my team has made tons of mistakes in just the last few years. However, the Padres’ fortunes could all change as soon as next season. While it may seem grim at the moment, the future is most definitely bright. General Manager A.J. Preller has done a great job spotting and developing talent and has rebounded from the disastrous 2015 off-season. Just how jam packed with talent is the Padres farm system? Let’s find out.
Prospect #1: SS, Fernando Tatis Jr.
Tatis is the crown jewel of the Padres farm system. He was acquired in the James Shields trade, which is panning out better for the Padres as time goes on. He is currently the no. 2 prospect in the MLB according to mlb.com. In AA San Antonio Tatis has been raking with a 286. AVG and 16 HR and a stellar .862 OPS. Tatis would likely be playing for the Padres right now had it not been for a thumb injury that was season ending.
Prospect #2: LHP, Mackenzie Gore
Gore is the best pitcher in the Padres farm system and sits at no. 13 among the top 100 prospects. He has drawn comparisons to other big lefty’s like Madison Bumgarner. He throws in the mid 90s and has a nasty curveball to go along with it. He’s probably not gonna be ready until 2020 or 2021, but his upside is huge.
Prospect #3: C, Francisco Mejia
Mejia was acquired in the Brad Hand trade with the Indians, and the Padres landed the top catching prospect in baseball with Mejia. Mejia’s defensive abilities have improved immensely from just a few years ago. Offensively, Mejia is even more gifted. He has a 283. AVG and a 777. OPS while also hitting 12 HRs.
Prospect #4: 2B, Luis Urias
Urias was just called up to the show, and for good reason. The no. 22 prospect has already flashed great defensive abilities while being a great hitter for contact. His 398. OBP really shows how well he can get on base. Along with great speed, Urias looks to anchor the Padres infield along with Fernando Tatis Jr.
Prospect #5: RHP, Michael Baez
In 2016, the Padres went on a massive spending spree in the international bonus pool. That year they landed the then-unknown Michael Baez. Baez possesses great size, standing at 6 foot 8 and 220 lbs. He has great athleticism along with great velocity that can hit up to 98 MPH. He also throws a curve and a changeup and could be called up as soon as next year.
While the Padres do have other great prospects such as Chris Paddock, Adrian Morejon, and Logan Allen, these were the 5 prospects that were most intriguing to me. Not all prospects pan out, but the Padres’ farm system is so deep that at least 1 player will develop into an all-star caliber player, and considering the talent it could 5 or more all-stars. But, only time will tell.
By: Ethan Cushman
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
The Yankees made a waiver wire splash acquiring former MVP Andrew Mccutchen from the San Francisco Giants for 2 prospects Abiatal Avelino (23rd in Yankees system) and Juan de Paula (26th in Yankees system). Now This article isn't going to be about the nitty gritty statistics about the trade. this article will be about why this trade was perfect for the Yankees.
Ever since the Judge injury right field has been a big hole. With both Frazier and Ellsbury out with injuries and with the inclusion of Billy Mckinney in the J.A Happ deal our best 2 options were Neil Walker who was not a good defensive outfielder and Shane Robinson who can barley bat .100. And I know what your thinking yes Mccutchen isn't a stud anymore but he provides on thing that can’t be denied “Consistency”. Lately the Yankees have been anything but consistent. For example the Yankees after sweeping the Orioles were only 6 games back of the division but then after losing two of three against the White Sox and and losing yesterday in heartbreaker to the Tigers the Yankees are now a full 8.5 back. Also not to mention Stanton has played 84 consecutive games well nursing a hamstring injury. So adding a bat was needed. And now with Gary Sanchez coming back Saturday This could be a spark plug we need to get on a hot streak.
Now what happens when everyone comes back. This allows The Yankees to give many players more days off along with Platooning Gardner and Cutch. It gives a potent Yankees lineup just that much more depth. Assuming Judge and Didi comes back fully healthy and Sanchez comes even close to his former form, the Yankees could be serious world series contenders.
By: Jaden Taylor
The Miami Marlins this past year have been a team seemingly spiraling out of control. Although partnering owner Derek Jeter exclaims he has a plan for the future many fans feel like it’s just another failing fire sale. The Marlins this year have met that expectation with so far the second worst record in the National League at 53-79 and don’t look to be coming out of the basement anytime soon. With these struggles, the team is on pace for not only the worst attendance ratings in the MLB but the worst attendance rating in franchise history, even with more home games than any other team to this point(68). Currently, the Marlins get an average paid attendance, including the fans who paid and didn’t show up, of 10,054 people. The average attendance at Marlins Park this season is over four thousand worse than Tropicana Field(14,957 per game) the next lowest attended park and over four times as less as the top 3 attended parks in Dodger Stadium(46,825 per game), Yankee Stadium(43,348 per game) and Busch Stadium(42,261 per game). In as large of a town that Miami is if the Marlins aren’t winning the fans don’t have any interest much like the other teams, even when they finished second in the National League East and only three spots out of the wild card. In fact, all three of the Dolphins, Heat, and Panthers have dropped drastically in attendance in recent years in sight of somewhat mediocre play. Now with these low attendance rates, the team is barely able to sustain itself and it’s core values, showing with the third lowest payroll in baseball. With the team's many fire sales, horrible contracts, bad trades and some unexpected tragedies the team has put themselves into a far, far whole. But here we would like to see the what if of the Marlins team and how well It could do as a financially stable team and the truly stacked lineup the team would have. For this what if we’re gonna keep in the restraints of transactions and players after the 2008 season. Sorry, all of the Miguel Cabrera fans out there but the Marlins didn’t just star talent in the All-Star 1st and 3rd baseman but also lost multiple talents in who they received.
2. Dan Straily
Dan Straily is a strong piece to the Marlins that they picked up from the Reds to keep some kind of rotation depth. So far Straily has done very well for the Marlins even if his W-L record doesn’t show it. Straily has kept an even point of letting up around 8 hits per nine and striking out just around 8 batters per nine. Although the Marlins keep Straily they did let go of possible future star in Luis Castillo in the trade, a non abundant home grown pitcher who could soon become an ace for the Reds.
3. Wade Leblanc
Leblanc is currently having an amazing year with the Seattle Mariners as their number 3 starter and has kept his hit rating down to 8.0 per game. Leblanc played a year and a half with the Marlins and was later in June of 2013 picked off of waivers by the Houston Astros for money expenses. Leblanc is a consistent lefty who had his two best years of his career so far with the Marlins stats wise with a 3.67 ERA and 1.70 FIP. Leblanc if not traded would be a large help for the Marlins pitching staff.
4. Anibal Sanchez
Anibal Sanchez the underrated righty was with the Marlins for a long stint with the solid Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Dontrelle Willis surrounding him. In 2012 he was traded to the Detroit as the Marlins needed to cut payroll from the money they had wasted on José Reyes and a new stadium. Anibal the next year had the best ERA in the American League at 2.57, has lowered his hits per 9 to 8.1 and grown his strikeouts per nine to 8.5 after leaving the Marlins. He is currently the #4 starter on the Braves roster and an excellent year.
5. Henderson Alvarez
Alvarez was traded to the Marlins along Adeiny Hechavarria, Anthony Descalfani, Jeff Mathis and 3 other minor league prospects for Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and cash to be able to open up space with the large contract of failing Jose Reyes. Over three years Alvarez stayed as the number 2 starter behind Jose Fernandez and was solid throughout his time and was an All Star in 2014. Through his time with the Marlins he had a FIP of 3.47 and a WHIP of 1.22. Sense being let go into Free Agency in 2015 hasn’t been as solid as he was with the Marlins he has had his issues with shoulder injuries which have put him away from the game. If the Marlins hadn’t let Alvarez go he would easily would’ve been able to pick up a 5 spot in the rotation and be consistent.
Other notable pickups
Wei-Yin Chen- With or without Jose Fernandez’s death the Marlins needed to pick up some starting pitching help and Chen was a notable option who was affordable. As long as he gets the number of long balls down he would easily be able to stay in the main rotation or get a #1 or #2 spot n AAA New Orleans.
Jarlin Garcia- Garcia has been on and off with the Marlins so far but looks to be improving and could also be put into the main rotation when needed. He just needs a year or two to developed.
Jose Ureña- Jose even with his confrontations with Ronald Acuña is a stellar young right handed pitcher with lots of potential. He keeps the number of home runs down and a has lowered his WHIP within the past year. At 26 he has lots of potential to become a solid right handed starter.
CL Andrew Miller- Miller was a pickup in the Miguel Cabrera trade from the Tigers and was originally slotted as a Starter which was a desperate need for the Marlins who were getting rid of their high contracted players. With the Marlins he had a 5.89 ERA over three years and after being traded away became one of the scariest relievers in the game. If only the Marlins put him in the bullpen sooner.
SU Brad Hand- Hand was a strong force in the bullpen but couldn’t seem to ever pull off a save. Through his 5 years in Miami he kept a FIP of 4.54 and only completed 1 single save. In April of 2016 Brad Hand was picked up by the Padres and sense has become a strong reliever and has made multiple all star game appearances.
SU Steve Cishek- Cishek was the Marlins dominant closer over a six year period. With his submarine type throwing motion he was easily able to deceive hitters and get them to swing at god-awful pitches. Through his time with the Marlins he kept a FIP of 2.69 had a WHIP at 1.22 and racked up 94 saves. However in 2015 his stats blundered a little bit and the Marlins couldn’t keep up with his contract and traded him away for Kyle Barraclough who is another reliever but hasn’t done his deserved work with the Marlins. After being traded back and forth Cishek now resides in Chicago where he has helped the Cubs rise up to the best record in the National League.
MR AJ Ramos- Ramos was another solid bullpen piece the Marlins surrounded by Hand and Cishek. Before being traded away in 2017 to the Mets for small prospects Ramos a FIP of 3.24 and had earned himself 92 saves over 6 years, Ramos if not been traded would’ve helped the Marlins keep a solid fastball pitcher.
MR Carter Capps- Capps along with Cishek was a pickup to deceive. With his hop step motion hitters weren’t able to pick up the ball, no matter what pitch came at them. Capps was acquired via trade from the Mariners for a 3rd round draft pick. In his 2 years Capps had the best stint of his career keeping a FIP of 1.59 had a WHIP of 0.95 and struck out an average of 14.6 batters per nine innings. In 2015 the Marlins needed to get rid of Jarred Coast and his contact and ended up trading Capps along with Coast and two minor league prospects to the Padres fro cheaper paid Andrew Cashier, Tyron Guerrero, Colin Rea and cash. He would jump around from the minor league and major league clubs in the Padres organization but at only 26 years old he has loads of potential.
MR Nick Wittgren- Wittgren is another homegrown talent drafted in 2012 by the Marlins. He is a working ground-ball pitcher who can work his way out of a jam. With a FIP of 3.11 he isn’t near a closer but still can help with depth on the Marlins roster.
MR Drew Steckenrider- Steckenrider is another middle reliever who is homegrown being drafted in the 8th round in 2012. He’s a lot like Wittgren as he’s able to work out of jams in necessary times. He’s kept a FIP of 3.28 and strikes out and average of 11.8 batters per nine innings. He is still currently apart of the Marlins and a violent force for the Marlins bullpen.
LR Adam Conley- Conley like Miller was originally a starter who moved to the bullpen. The Marlins like most teams would easily need an 8 man bullpen to keep in need of later injuries and just overall pitching depth. Conley has been in the Marlins organization sense the start of his career and as a starter did decent yet still had some difficulty in stamina. Sense being put into his bullpen his WHIP has dropped almost 400 points and has already scored two saves so far this year even with being the teams long reliever.
C JT Realmuto- A young all star Catcher who can only get better. Realmuto is a young Catching star which is hard to come by in the majors. At 27 he is a very valuable piece who can hit for average and still consistently hit for power. This year he is hitting .282/.344/.486 which is only behind behind veteran all star Buster Posey.
1B Justin Bour- Bour is a consistent power-hitting first baseman who in 2017 made the Home Run Derby. Your was picked up in the Rule 5 draft from the Cubs in 2013 and although struggling this season he has multiple years with .270+ average with 20+ home runs. At 30 years old he’s a current veteran who can mash balls into the right field bleachers yet still consistently get on base. On August 10th Bour was traded away with cash to the Philadelphia Phillies to free up space on the minimal amount of money the Marlins could spend on him.
2B Dee Gordon- Gordon was traded away in last offseason trade spree to free up cash to the Mariners for a few minor league prospects after having a solid three years with the Marlins winning the batting title in 2015 and stealing the most bases in the National League in both 2015(58) and 2017(60). His defensive skill adds to the value he put on the Marlins with a Fielding Percentage of .984 over his few years with the Marlins. Although when acquiring Gordon the Marlins did lose valuable players in Austin Barnes, Andrew Heaney and Kike Hernandez the all around presence of Gordon out at second and at the plate surpasses the presence of those three players and could easily have caused a loss in other tar talent including JT Realmuto.
3B Brian Anderson- Anderson so far this year has become a rookie sensation for the Marlins. He’s played both 3B and RF this year and has played stellar defense all around not to mention the bat he holds in his hands. Anderson is currently third in National League Rookie of the Year behind Ronald Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto. Brian Anderson hitting .276/.357/.402 and only at 25 has lots of potential for the future.
SS Adeiny Hechavarria- Hechavarria while not a consistent star like many of the other players on this list Hech is a solid defensive Shortstop with range out of his mind. He was picked up in the trade with Henderson Alvarez from the Toronto Blue Jays was immediately a defensive presence out at shortstop and once Dee Gordon joined the club the connections seemed to be unreal. In his time with the Marlins he turned 351 double plays placing in the top 5 three straight years as a Marlins in turning two. With that he has kept a .984 and was third in the least amount of errors committed at SS in 2013 with the Marlins. Although not always the most consistent at the plate he batted .255/.292/.336 throughout his 5 years with the Marlins before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for a solid prospect in Braxton Lee who has been in s controversial state of if he’ll become a bust.
LF Marcell Ozuna- Although starting his career with the Marlins in center Ozuna has an explosive offensive piece to the Marlins in combining in what was and could’ve still been the most explosive outfield in the majors if the Marlins had not gutted the team in the teams recent fire sale. In 2017 Ozuna although in the shadows of Giancarlo Stanton’s mashing of balls was having the best year of his career hitting .312 and hitting a massive 37 home runs, third best among National League batters. Ozuna if not been traded arguable could’ve had an even better year in 2018 than 2017 although he hasn’t shown as much pop with the Cardinals as he did with the Marlins. Ozuna although being traded for needed pitching prospects has been paid over 2 and half times as much money and hasn’t produced nowhere near as much as he did with the Marlins organization.
CF Christian Yelich- Baby face Yelich has become an even bigger star with the Brewers than with the Marlins. Yelich was another piece of the huge fire sale of last offseason and was sent away for struggling prospects Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison and Lewis Brinson who haven’t shown as much progress as predicted. Yelich currently hitting .309/.372/.533 this year is having the best year of his career while still only being 26. In my opinion Yelich was the most all around valuable piece of last years fire sale as he hasn’t had a single year under .280 and had a WAR of 10.1 over 5 years with the Marlins while still progressing. Yelich as well as being a force behind the plate has consistently seemed to come in clutch when needed out in the outfield. Yelich in his time with the Marlins had .991 fielding percentage and had 19 outfield assists. Yelich was a consistent all around OF who can only get better at the age of 26.
RF Giancarlo Stanton- Stanton had an MVP 2017 season and can also be arguably the most valuable piece in the fire sale last offseason. Stanton has been able to hit bombs his entire career as long as he doesn’t fall for a slider. Stanton was first in Home Runs in the National League both in 2014 and 2017 and led in slugging percentage in 2012, 2014 and 2017. In his 8 years with the Marlins Stanton batted .268/.360/.554 shoeing he still can get on base through walks and hits. Stanton although not not having as great if a year as he did in last years demolishment of pitchers is still having a decent year with the stacked Yankees but if you believe that he isn’t doing as well cause he “is actually surrounded by talent,” you are absolutely wrong. Stanton was surrounded by stars of Ozuna, Yelich, Realmuto, Gordon and Bour not to mention the star bullpen to add onto it and while his contract was very high he put a value on the Marlins that didn’t just mean winning ballgames. It put people in seats and put more money into the organization. Fernandez and many others had a passion and expression of fun that brought people into the park and watch the team play, no matter the score of the game. He brought people to the games and if not been traded for scraps would’ve kept it that way.
C Jeff Mathis- Mathis was also picked up in the trade with Hechavarria and Alvarez and in his 4 years kept the backup role behind AJ Ellis and then JT Realmuto. He hit .195/.252/.292 and was never anything more than a backup but could play the role very well when Realmuto or Ellis needed a day or two off. The Marlins don’t have a long line of star catchers, Pudge not included, in their 25 years as an organization but Mathis is one who could consistently work behind the plate and could fill in for other players.
IF Miguel Rojas- Rojas was added in the trade from the Dodgers with Dee Gordon and can play any spot in the infield. Rojas like Hech is a strong defensive player who still can get some pop off the bat. Rojas more than likely would not quite platoon with Hech but play a consistent 25 or so games there. With his current 4 years with the Marlins Rojas has hit .267/.320/.357 and has had a surprisingly WAR of 3.1 this season. Rojas is another underrated player who can be consistent in the batters box and in the field.
OF Cameron Maybin- Maybin was that other piece in the Miguel Cabrera trade. Although Jake Marisnick came up many times as a Marlin he was traded away to the Dodgers in a deal that included Dee Gordon and Miguel Rojas. Maybin however has been apart of the Marlins two separate times and both times were traded away for cash. Over his four year time span Maybin was went back and forth in platoon roles out in right field and never stated a claim as a starter. Although never truly being a starter with the Marlins Maybin hit .255/.328/.375 with a 3.2 WAR which is solid for a platoon right fielder. After the 2010 season Maybin was traded to the San Diego Padres for Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb which would both be on different teams within a three year time span. Maybin would be mover around a lot and would come back this season after granting for free agency. Right before the deadline he was traded to the Mariners for a small prospect and much needed cash and is currently their backup LF.
UTL Derek Dietrich- Derek Dietrich is an amazing utility player who can be spotted anywhere on the diamond and still be solid offensively and defensively. Derek in 6 years has played every position accept Shortstop, which was the position he was drafted as, Center Fielder, Catcher and Pitcher. He was grabbed from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012 for Yunel Escobar and has stayed on the Marlins ever sense. He has hit .255/336/.424. Him slugging .424 isn’t just extraordinary among utility players but among most batters in baseball. Dietrich also has been in the top 10 three different years in the National League in Hit by pitches and even was at the top of the leaderboard in 2016. With his high slugging and extreme ability to get hit by pitches and play different positions he is also a superb defense player who had the 3rd best fielding percentage among National League Left Fielders. With his many attributes Dietrich is easily a stable guy on a 25 man roster whether it’s in the field everyday or filling in in times of need.
This team could easily stay consistent throughout the year and put themselves in a spot to at least make the wild card if not push for the franchises first division championship. With the star power at the plate, the underrated yet consistent rotation who have multiple guys behind them in times of injury including Wei Yin Chen, Jarlin Garcia and Jose Ureña added to the star young bullpen and the solid bench this team has the ability to win games and finish out games when needed. The Marlins also do still have multiple home grown prospects including Trevor Rogers, Braxton Garrett, Dillon Peters, Garrett Cooper, Caleb Smith and Trevor Richards who weren’t apart of the multiple fire sales this team had went through. Now with the random luck of baseball many teams with good solid squads may not end up as well as projected and sometimes teams with not as solid squads be better than projected. All of these players within the list have connected to play within the same organization as one another and most players who were traded away were in need of cash to be able to sustain the growth of the ball club yet truly stepping back from the original maturity. Fundamentally stable teams easily have the money to spend on good caliber players and are consistently able to be in contention for the playoffs while most low market teams pick up the scraps of what they can afford and try to put the best team together they could. Now with the Marlins becoming a fundamentally stable team how do you think they would do?
By: Noah Wright
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
Hanley Ramirez was once one of the best shortstops in the mid-2000’s and early 2010’s with The Marlins and Dodgers, and one year with The Red Sox. He was a rare combination of power and speed. To go along with that, he was also getting good contact on the ball. While he’s never officially retired yet, it’s clear that he’s coming toward the end of his career. Wherever his name does appear on The HOF ballot, he will definitely be an interesting to see what happens. With that being said, let's look at Hanley Ramirez’s Hall Of Fame Case.
To start, let's see where Hanley’s career started. Hanley originally was signed by The Boston Red Sox as an amature international free agent in 2000, and made his debut with The Sox in 2005, but only saw 2 plate appearances. Then he was dealt to the then Florida Marlins in the 2005-2006 off season in the blockbuster trade that sent him along with Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia, and Anibal Sanchez in exchange for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota. In his first season with The Marlins, Ramirez impressed with a .292/.353/.480 batting line with 17 home runs, 51 stolen bases, and 59 RBI’s along with 116 wRC+. His efforts were awarded with a Rookie Of The Year, and he is one of the few ROY winners to steal 50 bases.
Now that we have seen how Ramirez got to the majors, let's look at some reasons why he could make The Hall Of Fame. To start, Ramirez is one of 5 shortstops with 200+ stolen bases and home runs. He is in company with Robin Yount, and Derek Jeter. Another thing is that he has a nearly 1000 RBI’s at 909, which ranks 28th among all time shortstops. His slugging % of .487 is the third best of all time shortstops as well. Only Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra rank higher than him in slugging %. In terms of OPS, Hanley is also one of the best in that department at his position too with a .848 OPS. And ranks 6th all time, higher than Barry Larkin’s, and the all time great Cal Ripken Jr. While Ramirez didn’t get on base at an extremely high rate, Ramirez still has a .361 OBP. Ramirez has also been decent once the playoffs hit. In his 80 plate appearances in October, Ramirez has a .380/.450/.577. During his prime, Hanley was one of the best in the game. Between 2006 and 2014, Ramirez owned a .300/.373/.500 batting line, with 191 home runs, 654 RBI’s, and 261 stolen bases. Over his career, it’s hard to kind of pinpoint an exact career season. It’s arguable his 2009 season is his best, because that was his best WAR and OPS season. But out of overall offensive value, his 2008 season could be his best because that was one and only 30/30 season. You could argue that his 2013 season with The Dodgers was his best season because he reached an OPS over .1000, but he only played in 86 games. Another thing that might help Hanley is late career productivity. In 2016, Ramirez batted .286/.361/.505 with 31 home runs, and a career high 111 RBI’s after his move to first base. The following year saw his offense take another dip, but he still had 23 home runs. To sum it all up, Ramirez has a career .290/.361/.487 in 7070 career plate appearances with 269 home runs, 909 RBI’s, and 281 stolen bases. Award wise, Ramirez has appeared in 3 all-star games, has won a batting title, holds 2 Silver Slugger awards, and The 2006 Rookie Of The year.
Next, let's look at reasons why Hanley won’t make The Hall. Ramirez only has a 38 overall career WAR. That ranks just 38th among all shortstops, and 368th all time. Speaking of all-time, none of his overall numbers are super great all time. Neither his OPS, home runs, and RBI’s rank within the 150 overall. Over his career, Hanley has never necessarily been a great defender, both at shortstop, third base, first base, and especially left field. At short, Ramirez has -137 DRS. His worst defensive showing was his short lived attempt at left field where he had -19 DRS in just 92 games played. At third base, HanRam played 99 games, and had -11 DRS. First base was probably his best defensive position, for he had -6 DRS in 175 games. His career defensive WAR is also pretty unimpressive at -8 defensive WAR, with only 4 positive defensive seasons (not including his 2 game showing in 2005).
In the end, I do not see Hanley Ramirez making The Hall Of Fame. At the very least, if he has some very unlikely robust comeback, then maybe, but even then, I still think it goes from highly unlikely to an outside shot. Hanley is one of the better shortstops to play in The Majors, but overall isn’t super impressive. When everything is said and done, Hanley is a good player, but not Hall Of Fame worthy. I predict that he lasts on the ballot for more than half of the time he can stay on it.
By: Daniel Wilkins
Kirby Lee/USA TodaySports
Back on July 15, when the St. Louis Cardinals were struggling to keep up with the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, they fired long-time manager Mike Matheny, to straighten things out. Now, the Cardinals have been on a hot streak as of late, and have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games. They've truly turned around since the firing, and now pushing for a playoff spot with Chicago and Milwaukee.
Since the Cardinals are only four and a half games back behind Chicago, the Cardinals decided to make things a little bit more official today. Their manager, Mike Shildt, has been officially made the team’s manager, as opposed to a temporary, interim manager. It has not been confirmed, but it has been reported that the Cardinals have offered Shildt a three year extension as manager.
With their former manager, Matheny, the Cardinals were 47-46 (only one game above .500), but, now are 73-58, fifteen games above the even line. Shildt has been in the Cardinals organization for a long time, first becoming manager for the club’s short-season A-ball team back in 2009. Along with other coaching positions, including being the Triple-A manager just last year, the bench coach has turned into a very valuable asset, now as manager, for the St Louis Cardinals, over his 15-year tenure with the club.
With the new man in the managerial seat, we definitely have seen some changes for the Cardinals. Outfielder Harrison Bader and Hawaiian infielder Kolten Wong have now become regulars in the lineup. Players like Jose Martinez, Matt Carpenter, and Paul DeJong, who were already regulars in the lineup, have gotten even better.
Since it's only been a month or two since the Cardinals have found their new manager, it is still uncertain how the team will perform with Shildt as the manager. But, with how good this team has been as of late, and on the verge of a playoff spot, it seems like the salsa has been working pretty well, and this success in St Louis, may not be over anytime soon.
By: Yaakov Grunsfeld
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Just three days ago, after a humiliating defeat at the hands of the abysmal Marlins, the Yankees sat 9.5 games out of the division. The Red Sox had just won two straight games against the Indians and with just a bit more than 30 games left in the season, all hope of winning a division title seemed lost. However, the Yankees now sit just six games back and only five in the loss coloumn. Now, what seemed like an insurmountable lead suddenly looks within reach.
Before sunday night the race was out of their control. Now, with six games remaining against the Sox the Yankees now control their own destiny. Aside from that, the Yankees have a major advantage when it comes to upcoming schedule. Although the Yankees still have to head to Oakland to take on the A’s, the Red Sox have to play three more series against division leaders.
The Yankees managed to pull within striking distance by doing what they’ve struggled to do all year, beat up on bad teams. Although the Yankees had many chances to make up ground against some pretty bad teams, they didn’t take advantage. However, over the weekend the Yankees came into Baltimore and played like a better team. Although the Yankees are on pace to win over 100 games, they haven’t had that energetic dominant look to them that the Red Sox have had for most of the season and the Yankees had earlier in year. They seemed apathetic and in need of spark. The Yankees had this same problem last year. Who was the spark plug who sent the Yankees on their run last year? A guy named Gary Dunaier. Who you might ask, you know who. Once again, this year, the Yankees got a spark from where they least expected it: Luke Voit. Like Todd Frazier last year, Voit plays with the energy and excitement of a little leaguer which is exactly what the Yankees needed to pick them up out of this rut.
When Voit rounded the bases, the first of three times that series, it lit a spark under the Yankees that carried the Yankees through the weekend in which they finally played like a team that expects to win and will settle for nothing less. When all was said and done, Voit nearly doubled his OPS from a paltry .592 to a robust 1.025.
However, the most important development over the weekend was perhaps what could have been a turnaround in Luis Severino’s current funk. After loading the bases with one out in the third, Severino struck out Trey Mancini, who had been giving the Yankees fits all series long, then jammed Adam Jones to get a weak flyout to end the threat. The next inning Sevy came out with that confidence he has when he’s dominating a lineup. He struck out the side all swinging with two of them coming on nasty sliders. Although he gave up a couple of runs the next two innings, in that fourth inning Severino had his classic confident strut that showed he just might of turned the corner. And if he did, the Red Sox just might have to watch their back.
By: Noah Wright
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Each season, players find ways onto The MLB roster, and sometimes they can be the biggest cogs in their line-up. But they may not even enter the season with expectations. These breakout players could even impact the team’s future plans. With that being said, let's look at some of The 2018 season’s biggest breakout players. I tried to make this list based on their past performances, and the amount of playing time before this season.
1.) Mike Foltynewicz
Mike Foltynewicz was a prospect The Braves had acquired in exchange for Evan Gattis and James Hoyt. Since coming to The Braves, Folty never really looked like an ace. His first 364 innings in Atlanta resulted in a 4.85 ERA, 4.47 FIP, and 1.453 WHIP. But this season has been a nice surprise for The Braves. The now 26 year old has pitched in 145 innings, and has a 2.67 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 1.131 FIP and 1.131 WHIP, which are all career lows. Folty has also had career bests in K’s/9 (10.5), and homeruns/9 (.9).
2.) Eugenio Suarez
Reds’ third baseman Eugenio Suarez had some productive seasons before this year, but nothing close to this season. Between 2015 and 2017 (not including the 2014 season where he saw 277 PA’s with The Detroit Tigers), Suarez batted .260/.336/.438 in 1657 plate appearances, and averaged about 22 home runs, and 79 RBI’s too. This season however has been one of the best seasons by all players this year. Suarez is batting .293/.373/.554 with 29 homeruns, and 93 RBI’s. Plus sabermetrics have put him at 144 wRC+, and .389 wOBA. His wRC+ is higher than Nolan Arenado's who sits at 142. Defensively, he’s been just about average with 1 DRS, -3.3 UZR, and worth .3 defensive WAR.
3.) Blake Treinen
Treinen entered the season as The A’s closer, and has slowly became one of the best in the league. After the 2017 season, Treinen had a good 3.21 ERA, 3.43 FIP, and 1.345 WHIP in 65 innings, but this season has been nothing but excellent. The all-star closer has an ERA below 1 (.97) a 1.77 FIP and .954 WHIP. To add on to his success, Treinen has reached a 12.2 K/9 rate, and 2.8 walks/9 rate.
4.) Trevor Bauer
Throughout his major league career, Bauer has shown the potential to be an ace but never showed it consistently. Between 2014 and 2017, Bauer had a 4.30 ERA, 4.06 FIP, and 1.340 WHIP, and had times when he would do really good one half of the season, but then do bad in the other half. This season however, it seems that he’s gotten it all together. The right hander currently has a 2.22 ERA, 2.38 FIP, and 1.090 WHIP in 166 innings. He’s also just given up 8 home runs this season, and has a career high 11.6 K’s/9 rate.
5.) Jesus Aguilar
The Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar has been one of the best breakout stories of the season. Aguilar originally started out as the third string first baseman with Eric Thames and Ryan Braun ahead of him on the depth chart, but injuries happened, and that’s when Aguilar came into play. He’s cooled off a bit since The ASG Break, but he’s still been really good. Aguilar currently has a .276/.359/.555 batting line in 446 plate appearances. He’s hit the ball out of the park 29 times, and driven in 91 RBI’s. Aguilar has also been posted a 139 wRC+, and .382 wOBA. While Aguilar may not be a Paul Goldschmidt with the glove, he’s been pretty above average. He currently has 6 DRS, 1.7 UZR, and worth 0 defensive WAR at first base.
6.) Max Muncy
Muncy had no expectations entering the 2018 season, but here we are looking at an MLB All Star. Muncy has a .259/.382/.594 line with 30 home runs and 59 RBI’s in 387 plate appearances. Plus he has a wRC+ of 160, which is higher than Paul Goldschmidt (152), and has a .406 wOBA. Muncy has also played first base, third base, second base, and a bit in left field, and has overall provided -.7 defensive WAR.
7.) Javier Baez
Baez seems kind of a weird name to place on this list, but he’s never been this good. He always showed the power speed he could reach, but he has a chance for a 30/30 season. Between 2016 and 2017, Baez had a .273/.315/.453 line with 37 home runs and 134 RBI’s in 958 plate appearances. This season: Baez has a .296/.328/.575, 29 home runs, 21 stolen bases, and leads the league in 97 RBI’s. Along with good base numbers, sabermetrics pegs him at 134 wRC+, and .374 wOBA. Baez has seen time at shortstop, third base and second base and has been worth 1.3 defensive WAR. but his defense has always been good, so that isn’t some breakout surprise.
8.) Aaron Nola
The former top prospect has finally become the ace The Phillies were hoping for. Between 2015 and 2017, Nola had a 3.94 ERA, 3.38 FIP, and 1.236 WHIP. Aaron looks like a Cy Young winner this season with a 2.13 ERA 2.66 FIP, and .970 WHIP. Nola has only given up 8 home runs this season, 10 less than last season, and has a 9 K’s/9 rate, and 2.4 BB/9 rate. His breakout season makes him quite possibly a top 3 NL Pitcher, and top 10 in all of The MLB.
By: Ted Rivera
David Banks/Associated Press
My pick and many other people's pick for American League Rookie of the year is Miguel Andújar. One thing about Miguel Is that the man can hit , and hit consistently at the major league level. He leads American League Rookies with 21 HRs , 72 RBI and a .303 batting. He also is posting a .333 OBP(On Base Percentage) and a .529 Slugging Percentage.
Andujar is only 23 so this seems like a very promising situation along with his rookie teammate Gleyber Torres. Andujar brings a lot of power with serious bat control to the plate and clearly he can produce on the offensive side. Andujar also carries 37 Doubles this year which is 4th in the American League. He was June AL rookie of the month in which he played 25 games With .264 Average, .302 On Base %, and .560 Slugging %. When playing Third Base on the field Miguel has a Fielding percentage of 94% and is accountable for 13 errors on the year , which isn't too bad although I'm sure he would like to see improvement on that in the future.
Andujar seems like the real deal and the future for the Yankees at Third Base. The Yankee seem like they have their eyes set on the Division still and once Judge comes back that will be the boost they need. Let see if Miguel Andujar can help the Yankees grasp a playoff berth , and show more evidence why He's the American League rookie of the year. As well as possibly showing us in the future what he can do to help win a Championship.
By: Noah Wright
Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images
The season is coming into the final stretch. Some teams could be considered a lock for a playoff spot, while others are clearly out of it. I’m here today to try and accurately list each team into 5 categories: locked in, borderline, outside chance, chances on life support, and out of it. With that being said, let's get started.
1.) Locked in:
3.) Outside chance:
4.) Chances on life support:
5.) Out of it
By: Noah Wright
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
The Milwaukee Brewers looked to be a good rival for The Chicago Cubs entering the season. After all, they did have a very successful off-season where they acquired Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain to add 2 good bats to their outfield. Now all they needed is some more reliable starting pitching, and they’d be set. However when deadline time came around, The Brewers didn’t add to their starting 5, and it could cost them the season. Let's look at how The Brewers could have completely turned their season around, and mistakes they’ve made that have helped them fall from grace.
The first thing they needed to do is add starting pitching. So far this season, their starters have provided a total 3.86 ERA, which sits 12th overall in The MLB, and 6th in The NL. While that sits middle of the pack, they don’t necessarily have that ace starter. Their best starter this season has arguably been Jhoulys Chacin, who has a 3.58 ERA, 4.02 FIP, and a 1.172 WHIP in 151 innings. The Brewers had plenty of options to go after. One I thought that they would look at is Danny Duffy, and trade some prospects along with some of their pieces from a now crowded outfield. Some other names that I could have seen The Brewers interested in was Cole Hamels since he was available at the deadline, and has performed very well away from Texas before the trade to The Cubs, former Brewer Mike Fires, since he was also available at the deadline, and was pitching well, and all-star J.A. Happ. I think The Brewers were going with a plan like The A’s. OK starting pitching, really good bullpen. Another thing that has been a weakness is their middle infield. At the start of the season, Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Villar lined-up at shortstop and second base, but that hasn’t gone as planned. Before the deadline, neither Villar or Arcia had an OPS over .700, or batting average above .270. The only thing that they were carrying worth of value was their fielding abilities, and Villar’s base running agility.
Now this is where The Brewers messed up. The first thing they didn’t do is add to their starting pitching. Starting pitching for them has been a bit questionable all year, and they could have used that rotation anchor to help carry them to the playoffs. Their next problem has to do on how they handled pitching. Like I said earlier, I feel The Brewers went for a deep bullpen, shallow rotation approach, but it hasn’t worked as well as they thought of. Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Dan Jennings have all had really good seasons, but now optioned closer Corey Knebel had very many struggles this season. The biggest issues is that he missed time with injury, and the second issue is that he had a 5.08 ERA, 4.28 FIP, and 1.333 WHIP in 39 innings. But unlike The A’s, they didn’t really make their bullpen much better. They added Joakim Soria in July, but then he was placed on The DL, and that was their only major bullpen addition this regular season. Another piece they were relying on was Matt Albers, who’s struggled very much (6.23 ERA, 6.25 FIP, 1.484 WHIP in 30 and a third innings). However I think The Brewers biggest mistake has been their solution to the infield. Instead of solving a problem a conventional way, the front office added Mike Moustakas, and move Travis shaw to second base. Moustakas hasn’t been the player The Brewers thought they were going to get. He’s only batted .247/.326/.383 with 2 home runs, and 12 RBI’s in 92 plate appearances since the trade. The next unconventional decision The Brewers have made is acquiring Jonathan Schoop to put at shortstop, a position he hasn’t played at least semi-regularly since 2012, and 19 innings in the big leagues, all coming from last season. The 2017 all-star struggled greatly with The Orioles this season but his performance only got worse since getting to Milwaukee. In 58 at bats, Schoop has batted .179/.207/.268 with just 1 home run and 4 RBI’s.
The Brewers have been 16/15 since the all-star break, 3 and a half out of the division they once led, and tied for a wild card spot. If they don’t make a good move quickly, they might not even get that wild card spot. And it's a real shame too if you ask me. This team entering the season looked to be a piece to two from being a team that could go to at least The NLCS.
By: Ryan miller
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
On Thursday morning, the Colorado Rockies announced that they have selected the contract of Matt Holliday from the Albuquerque Isotopes. Holliday batted fifth and started in left field in yesterday’s game against the San Diego Padres. In late July, the Rockies signed Holliday to a minor league contract and he was assigned to Triple-A. In the minors, Holliday hit .345 with three home runs and fifteen runs batted in. The Rockies, who have moved players around on the bench this season, decided to call Holliday up to provide an extra bat and solid defense. Holliday was drafted by the Rockies in the seventh round of the 1998 draft and spent ten years with the organization before signing with the Oakland Athletics in 2009. After spending half of a season with the A’s, Holliday was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals to go on and play seven and a half seasons in the midwest. In the offseason of 2016, Holliday signed a major league contract with the New York Yankees and went on to hit .231 in 105 games helping the Yankees get to the postseason.
Now, Holliday is back in purple and white, and hopes to have the same success he did in the early 2000s. Matt Holliday has been an RBI machine since he broke into the league in 2004. Throughout his career, he has tallied 1,217 runs batted in ranking 145th on the all time list for RBIs. Some players under him in the rankings include Robinson Cano, a potential future hall of famer himself, Victor Martinez and Tony Gwynn. Holliday has slugged for 314 homeruns and totaled 466 doubles. Holliday has collected 2081 hits and has a career batting average of .299. Aside from stats, Matt Holliday has won many awards and has won a world series, something a lot of baseball legends can not say. In his 15 year career, Holliday has gotten four Silver Slugger awards, 2007 NLCS MVP, and also won the Batting Title in 2007. Keep in mind that these stats are still growing as his contract was selected from Triple-A on Thursday.
Matt Holliday has made a serious bid to be a Hall of Famer. Holliday was one of the best hitters in the early 2000s and had continued success in recent years. When a person thinks of Matt Holliday, do they think future Hall of Famer? This is a debate that will go on for years and years to come until his time on the ballot is here. Holliday, being one of the best hitters of a generation may still have a chance to prove people wrong and make it known that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Time will tell on the 38 year old veteran.
By: Marc Lam
STEPHEN BRASHEAR / GETTY IMAGES
Albert Pujols is one of the greatest hitters of all time, and that is not an understatement. He is also one of the most accomplished players of all time. But his decline has been a sharp and saddening one, rendering one of baseball’s icons into a shell of himself. How did it happen so suddenly?
Part 1: Injuries
Albert Pujols’ first injury issues occurred in 2011 when he was still with the Cardinals. He injured his wrist while colliding with Wilson Betemit. While not seen as a particularly serious injury at the time it would begin a long stretch of injuries that would derail Pujols’ hitting abilities. After signing his mega-deal with the Angels, Pujols got a knee surgery in his first off-season with the Angels. In 2013 Pujols partially tore his left plantar fascia. He would need to get another surgery, a sign of things to come. Though Pujols has been able to regularly play for the Angels it has been anything but smooth. In 2015 he needed to get surgery once again and after so many surgeries and injuries, Pujols has just not been the same and the numbers show.
Part 2: The Analytics
Pujols’ has also seen a steep decline in his statistics.
The most drastic difference between his peak form and now is that he is walking at a severely lower rate.
This chart shows how severely Pujols’ walk numbers have declined over time. While his traditional stats(home runs, RBIs, hits) look pretty good, they don’t tell the full story. Pujols only has an AVG. of 259 with the Angels. This season his war is a dismal 0.7, as his decline continues.
In conclusion, Albert Pujols’ decline has not been gradual but sharp. Pujols has 5 years left on his contract which he most likely will not play out fully. However, if he does he may have a chance at breaking Barry Bonds’ home run record, something that would surely look good on his hall of fame resume. Though I think it is much too late for a comeback, I’m rootin’ for ya Al.
By: Jeffery Romeu
Photo Credit: Harvey Valentine
The small group of Miami Marlins fans still left must have felt as if they had won the World Series last night after the Marlins defeated the New York Yankees 9 – 3. Obviously, it was a purely symbolic win for the Marlins who are over 25 games from being .500 and the Yankees are attempting to make a mad dash to the playoffs in a division where the Red Sox are on pace to win well over 100 games. However, lately the Marlins have been showcasing a few young talented players that could create a solid core for years to come. It is understandable to not want to watch the Marlins given their terrible record, but I believe the Marlins have a few young players that will make the last month of the year for the fish enjoyable.
After spending so much time in the minor leagues, it’s clear that Galloway has no intention of returning. In only 16 games so far, he has hit a strong .320 batting average, with a homerun, and slugging percentage of .520. Additionally, Galloway’s speed makes him a solid outfielder and with great arm strength, it is easy to see him in the majors with the Marlins for years to come. Of course, it is very early, but it doesn’t hurt to be optimist given that the experimental year for Lewis Brinson has been a struggle since the first game of the year. For 2019, keep Galloway, and option Brinson.
Talk about a free swinging, aggressive running, fast-paced moving player who from his first at bat in the majors swung at the first pitch. Ortega has been trying to prove that he deserves a spot on the Marlins Major League Roster since he stepped up to the plate. He has hit a strong .300 in 50 at-bats, along with 4 stolen bases. His intensity is a breath of fresh air for the Marlins and majors, because most players and teams play “boring baseball” nowadays. Again, it is too soon to tell if he will have long-term success, but for now, option Sierra and keep Ortega for 2019.
With three hits against the Yankees in only his 6th game of his Major League Career, Dean has had quite a start. In just under 17 at-bats, Dean has 2 home runs, which equals to some power for the Marlins who strongly lack in that department. Again, it is way too early to determine how his future will play out, but for now, I believe that Dean deserves the same experimental year that Brinson got this year.
In my opinion, the Marlins will not compete for a championship for at least the next 5 to 7 years and a playoff spot for 4 to 6 years, but these players do give the fans some hope that the team may be heading in the right direction. This year is effectively over, but these young players continue to try to prove that they deserve a spot in the 25-Man Roster and that, in it of itself, will be fun to watch until the Winter Meetings.
By: Noah Wright
Jason O. Watson / Getty Images
Oakland is now rivaling The Astros for The Division series, and I could even see them rocket themselves deep into the playoffs. But entering the season they were, like a few other teams, at least a season or two away from being that contender. But like the 2002, Oakland A’s, they didn’t exactly build a playoff contender in a conventional sense. With that being said, let's look at how The A’s have constructed a playoff roster.
Starting pitching hasn’t been as bad as some would think. Leading the way has been youngster Sean Manaea has been solid this season with a 3.70 ERA, 4.29 FIP, and 1.073 WHIP in 155 and two thirds innings. Plus he threw a no hitter earlier this season. However the most unlikely source of good production are some of their better rotation pieces. The first I want to point out is Trevor Cahill. Cahill signed a minor league deal with The A’s in later March, and he’s been arguably their best starter. Cahill has a 3.12 ERA, and similar 3.10 FIP. Plus his WHIP is lower than Manea’s at 1.038. He’s also been striking out batters at a near career high 8.8 K/9 ratio, and walking batters at a career low 2.5 BB/9 rate in 86 an a third innings. The next piece that looked like patch work in the rotation is Edwin Jackson who’s on his 13th MLB team. Like Cahill, Jackson signed a minor league deal, but at the beginning of summer in June, and it’s paid off. Jackson, in 59 innings of work, has a 2.58 ERA, 4.26 FIP, and 1.062 WHIP. But he’s kept batters to a .222 BABIP, and has kept free passes to a minimum at a 2.88 BB/9 ratio. The third minor league signing that’s worked out for The A’s is another player that has previously played with Oakland, Brett Anderson. Anderson has a 3.47 ERA, 4.32 FIP, and 1.187 WHIP. His FIP number is a bit high, but Anderson has tied his BB/9 rate with a career low 1.7 rate. The A’s added a solid rotation piece right after the deadline with a trade for Mike Fires. In his 18 and a third of an inning, Fires as given The A’s a 1.47 ERA, 2.61 FIP, and .655 WHIP. He has also greatly reduced his walk rate from 2 with The Tigers, to a .5 BB/9 rate, and increased his K/9 rate from 6.6 to 10.3. Overall their rotation’s ERA sits around average at 4.03.
The corner infield has probably been The A’s strongest suit. To start, let's look at first base. Matt Olson has followed up a very impressive rookie season, with a decent sophomore year. Olson is currently batting a strong .240/.324/.447 with 23 home runs, and 59 RBI’s in 518 plate appearances. Sabermetrics also show that he’s been valuable at 111 wRC+, and a .332 wOBA. Another thing that helps Olson’s value is the fact that he’s a good defender. He currently has 9 DRS, 5.1 UZR, and .4 WAR defensively. Overall, he’s been worth 3.1 WAR to The A’s this season. Their best player this season has probably been Matt Chapman. Chapman has brought plenty value with his bat. He currently holds a .275/.366/.505 line in 457 plate appearances, along with 17 home runs, 45 RBI’s, a 138 wRC+, and .371 wOBA. But that’s not the best part of his game. His defense is rivals that of Nolan Arenado’s. Chapman has 25 DRS, 12.5 UZR, and worth 3 WAR defensively. He also leads the team in overall WAR at 6.8. The A’s had acquired both through the draft, and were top prospects throughout their minor league careers.
Middle infield has been another strong suit for The A’s. After starting his career with The Red Sox, being traded to The Astros in 2012, then being sent to The A’s for 2013, after that he re-signed with Houston in the off season of 2014-2015, and finally making his way back to Oakland in a trade in the 2015-2016 Off-Season, Jed Lowrie is having his first all-star season in his second stint with the team. Lowrie has batted a good .272/.355/.465 along with a career high 19 home runs, and career high 77 home runs in 530 plate appearances. He’s also reached full season career highs in wRC+ (126) and wOBA (.354). Defensively, Lowrie has been around average with 1 DRS, 2.8 UZR, and worth .5 defensive WAR. At shortstop, The A’s are utilizing Marcus Semien, a player that they received when they sent Jeff Samardzija to The White Sox in 2014-2015 off season. Semien hasn’t done anything impressive with his bat, with just a batting line of .266/.325/.392 and 10 home runs, 46 RBI’s, and worth 98 wRC+, but he’s done well with his glove. Currently, the shortstop has racked up 6 DRS, 5.8 UZR, and worth an overall 1.3 defensive WAR.
Outfield has been on of the team’s weakest links this season. The first position I want to point out is centerfield, which they’ve been using a bit of an unconventional solution in Mark Canha. Drafted by The Marlins in 2010, selected by The Marlins in the 2014 rule 5 draft, and then traded to The A’s, Canha has done OK overall with a .247/.323/.434 batting line in 359 plate appearances with 14 home runs, 50 RBI’s, and has been worth 107 wRC+ and .325 wOBA. Since Canha has played every OF position, he’s worth exactly 0 outfield DRS, 1.8 UZR, and -.1 defensive WAR, so he’s not hurting his team defensively in the grass, but definitely not giving Matt Chapman value. In the corners, The A’s have used a Matt Joyce, and Stephen Piscotty. Lets first look at the right fielder, Matt Joyce. Joyce had a very nice season last year, but hasn’t done the same this year. The 2016-2017 off season FA signing has batted .203/.311/.359 with 7 home runs, 13 RBI’s, in an injury limited 226 plate appearances. In leftfield, the former St. Louis Cardinal prospect they acquired in trade through the offseason has done just fine in his first season in Oakland. Piscotty has batted .257/.316/.450 with 16 home runs, and 54 RBI’s in 465 plate appearances. Plus sabermetrics wise, he’s been worth just around average at 110 WRC+ and .329 wOBA. However, he’s been a burden with his glove, being worth -10 DRS, -3.8 UZR, and -1.3 defensive WAR. The A’s 4th outfielder, Nick Martini, has had a nice rookie season. In his first 93 plate appearances of his career, Martini has batted .299/.409/.429 with an impressive 138 wRC+ and .365 wOBA. Overall, Martini has only seen 175 innings in the grass, but has done ok. He currently has 0 DRS, .2 UZR and has only made one error. Before being signed, the former Cardinal farm hand didn’t see any infield time, but saw 41 games at first base in the minors this season in The A’s system. Another outfielder that The A’s acquired from The Astros for a minor leaguer.
The A’s have one of the top DH’s in The AL. Khris Davis is what I considered an All-Star Snub. The A’s acquired him back in the 2015-2016 off season from The Brewers for 2 prospects; catcher Jacob Nottingham, and pitcher Bubba Derby. Since coming to The A’s, he’s yet to have a season where he didn’t hit less than 40 home runs, and is on pace to do it again. Davis is currently hitting .263/.337/.578 with a league leading 38 home runs, and a third straight seasons of 100+ RBI’s (102 to be exact). Along with impressive base numbers, Davis currently has 148 wRC+ and .381 wOBA. In comparison, Nolan Arenado has 141 wRC+, and Giancarlo Stanton has a .895 OPS.
The team’s main utility man this season has been Chad Pinder. The 2013 A’s draftee has played a little bit of everywhere except for first base, catcher, and pitcher, but has mainly seen time in the outfield this season. Pinder has overall had an all around average season, batting .242/.325/.415 with 10 home runs, and 24 RBI’s in 267 plate appearances. He also has 105 wRC+, and .322 wOBA. While it’s hard to determine how good Pinder has been defensively overall, he has a .8 defensive WAR.
The A’s tried to solve their catching problem by bringing in Jonathan Lucroy over the off-season, but that didn’t work out as planned so far. Lucroy has batted a mere .242/.298/.324 with 2 home runs and 40 RBI’s in 360 plate appearances, a far cry from his hay-day with The Brewers. wRC+ also doesn’t paint a nice picture, pinning him at just 72 wRC+. However overall, Lucroy may just be running into bad luck, for he has a .275 BABIP. Defensively, Lucroy has held his own, at the very least. Behind the plate, Jonathan has -6 DRS, but has caught 30% of runners trying to take a base off of him. Their primary back-up guy, Josh Phegley, hasn’t been much better than Lucroy. In just 71 plate appearances, Phegley has batted .219/.267/.406, and has caught 43% of runners trying to steal.
The A’s next best asset has to be their bullpen. They already had one of the best closers in the league before July in Blake Treinen, who currently has .87 ERA, 1.56 FIP, and .984 WHIp in 62 innings pitched. Along with impressive numbers, Treinen has struck out 12.5 batters per 9, and showed off very very impressive control with 2.9 BB/9 rate, and and just .1 HR/9 rate (1 HR all season). However, then they further added on Jeurys Familia, Fernando Rodney, and Shawn Kelly, all who have done well since putting on an A’s uni, only giving up 6 earned runs between the 3 in 24 an a third innings, to a team that already had already a well performing Lou Trivino (1.62 ERA, 3.16 FIP), Yusmeiro Petit (3.46 ERA, 4.13 FIP), Emilio Pagan (3.71 ERA, 4.62 FIP), and Ryan Butcher (3.29 ERA, 4.18 FIP). Overall, their bullpen has a 3.35 ERA, which ranks 6th in all of baseball, and 4th in The AL.
Now that we’re in the final stretch of the season, The A’s are in prime position to make a final push for The AL West Division, and nearly have a WC spot on lockdown. Plus with good line-up backed by pieces in the rotation that’s been solid this season, and a bullpen that’s one of the deepest in The MLB, I’m going to be rooting for The A’s to make a deep playoff run.
By: Ted Rivera
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Davis was once a man who everyone was afraid to pitch to in 2013 because of his 53 home run year. Now Chris has never had a spectacular batting average , but in 2018 Chris Davis is hitting .163 with only 15 home runs. So what happened?
Let’s start by saying Chris’ career really blossomed in Baltimore. He did have 2 good first 2 seasons in Texas but after playing a combined 132 games in 3 seasons , he landed in Baltimore. His first year in Baltimore Chris only played 31 games but the next year 2012 , was the year flipped the switch. At age 26 he hit for a .270 average with 33 hr’s , 85 rbi and slugged 20 doubles. Which gave the impression of promising power and hitting ability.
The next year he was an all star with a tremendous 53 HR , 42 double , .286 average season. The year to follow in 2014 was not to par , but in 2015 Davis Struck again. Totally 47 HR , and 31 doubles with a .262 average, but since then Chris Davis seems to have disappeared. A player who once had an amazing impact on baseball now has almost none. What if Davis kept his play up. Would Manny Machado still be an Oriole? Would they be contenders for a wild card spot? Some may say that’s a stretch but who really knows , unfortunately no one ever will but Davis’ struggles brings up many questions.
With all that said a once potentially legendary player now is unsure of his future as a starter. But this isn’t the end for Chris Davis , he could rebound next year. For the Orioles this may have been one of the worst investments in MLB history of $161 Million through the 2022 season if Davis doesn’t find it. Once nicknamed Crush , it seems Chris Davis maybe Cursed.
By: Noah Wright
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post
Current Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo has been in hot water recently over some of the interactions he’s had with some players, mainly Shawn Kelly and Brandon Kintzler, before sending them off. The first that sprung up was over Brandon Kintzler. Kintzler was overall having a decent season with The Nationals, having a 3.59 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 6.5 K’s/9, and 2.7 walks/9. At the deadline, The Nationals dealt him to The Cubs for pitcher Jhon Romero. After he was dealt, a story arose that an anonymous source criticizing the team was Kintzler. Kintzler admitted to Dave Martinez’s use of the bullpen, but denied saying the clubhouse was a mess.
The next thing that landed Rizzo in some hot water was what just came out recently about what happened after Rizzo informed Shawn Kelly he had been DFA’ed. Kelly, like Kintzler, was also having an ok overall season. He had a 3.34 ERA, 4.55 FIP, 8.9 K/9 rate, and an impressive 1.4 walk rate in 32 and a third innings. Kelly had mostly been useful for The Nationals this season, but his DFA was after Kelly had an outburst on the mound, spiking his glove into the dirt after giving up a homerun in a game that ended 25-4 for The Nationals against The Mets. However Kelly had previously been frustrated with the umps a few pitches before over a potential balk call. This led to Shawn Kelly being DFA’ed, and then traded to The Oakland A’s. But this isn’t where this story ends. According to sources, Kelly and Mike Rizzo got into a heated argument, including raised voices, and it nearly ended with a fight. It got to the point where outfielder Adam Eaton had to step in between the two to prevent any sort of physical altercation.
After these 2 altercations, with the ladder becoming much more heated when Rizzo should have been the bigger man and not let it get to the point where another man had to step in, I wouldn’t be surprised Rizzo’s job could be in jeopardy after the season, even after his recent 2 year extension. He’s shown to be too aggressive, and immature, so in the end, I could definitely see The Nationals outright releasing him from his contract.
By: Noah Wright
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
The starting rotation has been a part of baseball for a long while now. But this season, you could make an argument that the rotation is fading out of baseball. Many teams are now relying on a very strong bullpen over a strong rotation to win games. Let's first look at why this is happening, what teams are using it, and if the rotation is truly losing relevance in baseball.
To start, I think one reason some teams are doing this because of the price of top tier starters. One of the biggest name on the free agent market in is going to be Clayton Kershaw, who could potentially get upwards $300 million contract if he opts out of his current contract. The next large pitching name that will likely be heavily sought after is Dallas Keuchel, who could reach $150-$200 million. Patrick Corbin, another higher tier pitcher will also be a commodity that multiple high spending teams will be bidding on. Even some mid-tier guys like Gio Gonzalez, Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, Trevor Cahill, Drew Pomeranz are likely going to be looked at by a handful of clubs. This makes it much harder for smaller budget clubs to acquire big name talent.
Now let’s look at some teams using this strategy. The team that is performing the best with it is The Oakland A’s. Their current rotation houses one guy that could be considered an ace in Sean Manena, but even then he may be a #2 or even #3 on other teams. Outside of Manena, The A’s don’t really have any ace level starters, but that’s where their bullpen comes into play. They currently have the 6th lowest bullpen ERA in all of baseball, and 4th lowest in The AL. Along with great bullpen performance, they also have plenty of depth. Behind all-star closer, and probably the best performing closer this year, Blake Treinen, The A’s have Lou Trivino, Yusmeiro Petit, Emilio Pagan, and Ryan Butcher. Then they added Jeurys Familia, Fernando Rodney, and Shawn Kelly in mid/late July/early August. Another team that is using a heavy bullpen strategy is The Rays. The Rays are most known this season to be using an opener, a guy who pitches an inning or two to start the game before passing it onto the ‘starter’ or long relief guy. And they have reason to use this. After trading away Chris Archer and Nathan Eovaldi, The Rays have one true and semi-proven starter in Blake Snell. The Rays just won bullpen of the week this week, and for good reason. Closer Sergio Romo has pitched like an all star since Mid-May, and he’s been accompanied with solid seasons from Chaz Roe, Jose Alvarado, Ryne Stanek, Diego Castillo, and Ryan Yarbrough.
However in the end, I don’t think starting rotations are becoming endangered. There are still plenty of teams like The Astros, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, and Cubs who have both a good rotation and reliable bullpen. Even some teams that aren’t necessarily big spenders like The Braves and Cardinals have a decent overall pitching staff. So overall; the rotation has nothing to worry about, it should still be a big part of baseball for many years to come.
By: Noah Wright
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
After not trading Bryce Harper at The July 31st Trade Deadline, The Nationals have just placed him, along with second baseman Daniel Murphy on Revocable Trade Waivers. This shows that they are now willing to trade off start Bryce Harper, who after a very hot start to the second half of the season, could be much more heavily sought after. Let's look at a few teams that should be interested in Harper in the next coming days, and up until the deadline.
1.) NY Yankees
The Yankees had lost all-star outfielder Aaron Judge to a hit by pitch, which resulted in a DL placement on July 27th. Since then, The Yankees have been 11-9, including a brutal 4 game sweep by The Red Sox. It’s clear The Yankees are missing Judges bat, and The Yankees could use the current hot bat of Harper. But one question that will arise is what do you do once Judge returns? Do you put Harper, or Judge in the DH role, but then what do you do with Stanton? I highly doubt The Yankees would want to regulate any of the 3 to a bench role, and the only possible thing I could think of them doing is moving Stanton to first base. However that could solve one problem if Stanton does fine at first, or cause another if Stanton does horrible at first. In the end though, The Yankees do have the prospect talent to acquire The National corner outfielder.
2.) Cleveland Indians
The Indians outfield is currently very weak. The only guy in that OF that’s hitting is Michael Brantley, while Greg Allen, Brandon Guyer, Rajai Davis, and Melky Cabrera all struggle. Other options like Lonnie Chisenhall, Leonys Martin, and Tyler Naquin sit on The DL, while young Bradley Zimmer also struggled and was subsequently sent to Triple-A. While they could go with an unconventional option, and acquire an infielder and move Jason Kipnis or Jose Ramirez to the grass since both have seen time there before in their careers, I do not see them doing that, and keeping that as a last resort option. That makes Bryce Harper a great fit for The Indians. Another thing going for The Indians is the fact that they have some prospects. While I do not see them willing to give up a guy like Triston McKenzie for a Bryce Harper that struggled to get the year started, and is a one month rental+postseason, they should have enough higher rated guys in the farm to acquire Harper
3.) Houston Astros
The Astros look to be going deep into the playoffs again, but like The Indians, they also have a weak outfield. Newly extended George Springer is having an ok year, but nothing close to his elite-level season last year. The same can also be said for Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez. Jake Marisnick currently sits on The DL, but he’s always been best used as a late inning defensive replacement, pinch runner, or a bat off the bench. Plus The Astros have players that may not be top 100 guys, but have been performing well in the minors, or are almost MLB ready including Cionel Perez, Josh James, Corbin Martin, Garrett Stubbs, and Rogelio Armenteros.
4.) Oakland A’s
The A’s seem like a weird choice for a landing spot for Harper, but hear me out. The second weakest position that isn’t starting pitching The A’s need to fix is the outfield, and even then, they’ve helped their starters by having a deep bullpen. The A’s have mainly used Mark Canha in center field, with Stephen Piscotty and Matt Joyce making up the corner. Joyce is following 2 very solid seasons up with a down year, and Piscotty and Mark Canha are both having OK, but unimpressive seasons. Since The A’s look to be a potential big time contender this season, they could use that one truly big bat in their line-up. That’s where Harper comes in. Plus even after all the trades The A’s have made, even if they’ve been smaller ones, The A’s still have a good farmy system to trade from. Though they probably won’t give up a player like Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk, or Sean Murphy, I could see them making a trade that consists of Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, and/or a higher rated prospect that isn’t a top 100 guy like Kyler Murray, Austin Beck, or Lazaro Armenteros.
By: Noah Wright
The third player, who when the trade was made was just a PTBNL, in The Chris Archer-to-The Pirates swap was announced yesterday. Along with Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows, former 2017 first round draft pick Shane Baz will also head to Tampa’s farm-system. However I think that the trade went from pretty fair on both sides to overpay. Now that the trade is finalized, let's re-examine The Chris Archer swap
To start, let's look back at how this trade came to fruition. Former Tampa Bay Ray starter Chris Archer was in many trade talks for a while before The July Deadline. A handful of teams had shown interest, including The Padres, Yankees, along with The Braves, Brewers, and Dodgers. However around deadline time, The Pirates were fresh off an 11 game winning streak, and put themselves back into a contending position. This made them a buyer at the deadline, and another team to be added to the list of potential Chris Archer suitors. Just an hour and two minutes before The Deadline was over, The Pirates emerged as the team to acquire Chris Archer.
Now let's look at all the players that were originally involved in this swap. The obvious big piece in this deal was Chris Archer. Archer had shown promise early in his career with The Rays, but hasn’t recorded an ERA under 4 since 2015. However that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been somewhat useful. Between 2016 and 2017, Archer provided a 4.05 ERA, but a 3.60 FIP, 1.250 WHIP, and showed some decent control with 2.8 walks/9, and a high 10.8 K’s/9. His numbers with Tampa were pretty similar in 2018. Before being dealt to Pittsburgh, Archer ad a 4.31 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.285 WHIP, and a near identical BB/9 and K/9 rate (2.9/9.6). However I do see him doing better in the future with The Pirates. Archer is moving from a very hitter friendly environment (Hitter friendly park, plays in the same division as The Red Sox and Yankees) to a more pitcher friendly environment. The first player I want to look at that’s heading back to Tampa Bay is Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow was one of The Pirates former highly touted farm hands, ranking in the top 20 prospect range multiple times according to Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus. However when Glasnow eventually did make it to the majors, he greatly struggled with control problems. Last season Glasnow walked nearly 6.5 (6.4) batters per 9, and this season with The Bucs, he walked about 5.5 per 9. This season, Glasnow has mainly pitched out of the pen, and owns a 4.34 ERA, 3.62 FIP, and 1.446 WHIP. He also showed improvement in preventing the long ball, with just a .8 HR/9 rate. However I think one of Glasnow’s biggest downfalls was his confidence. If any Pirate fan has watched Glasnow pitched, you know that he never looks too confident when pitching, and maybe it was enough to mess up his performance. The second of three player The Pirates gave up was Austin Meadows. Meadows was another highly touted prospect in The Pirates farm system, and showed some promise once reaching The Bigs. For the two months of his career (Mid-May to June), Meadows was batting .314/.351/.529 with 5 home runs, 4 stolen bases and 13 RBI’s in just 131 plate appearances. But once Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco all started to hit well, Meadows fell as the odd man out, and only receiving playing time sparingly. Throughout July, Meadows only got 34 plate appearances, and batted a weak .212/.235/.242. Overall though before being traded, Meadows has a line of .292/.327/.468 with 5 home runs, 13 RBI’s, but was worth -1 defensive WAR.
But this is the part of the trade I don’t like. The Pirates can make good reasoning for trading both Meadows and Glasnow, but I can’t think of a truly good reason to trade Shane Baz. Baz was their 2017 first round draft pick, and was doing OK in rookie ball. He had a 3.97 ERA, 3.91 FIP. However he was struggling with control with a 4.6 BB/9 rate and just a 2.35 strikeouts/walk ratio. BaZ is ranked #95 among all prospects according to MLB.com, and his most dominant pitch, a fastball, can reach up to the higher 90’s. I do understand that you sometimes have to give something to get something, but if you have to give up a player that showed well when given regular playing time in the majors, and a First Round pick for a pitcher that never consistently showed ace potential, I don’t think you should make that trade.
Right now, it does look like an overpay for The Pirates. However you have to remember that most of the players Tampa Bay received were unproven at the major league level. Sure Meadows did good when given regular playing time, (I know that I used this as a reason this trade was an overpay, but hear me out), but how do we know if that was a fluke? How do we know that these two starts with Tampa Bay for Glasnow aren’t just flukes as well? Plus, Baz is 19, hasn’t even reached single-A yet. Who’s to say that in 3 or so years when Baz is supposed to be ready, Baz will still be the prospect he is now? In the end, I do think it’s an overpay for The Pirates, but I’m not ready to say The Pirates completely lost this trade, and I think the only way we find out if this was truly an overpay is in 2-3 years when each player has had a good amount of playing time with each of their new teams.
By: Noah Wright
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
JD Martinez has had an overall fantastic season. The DH/LF has batted .333/.401/.669 with 37 home runs, 104 RBI’s, and worth 186 wRC+. What’s more impressive is that he leads The AL in home runs, RBI’s, and isn’t that far behind teammate Mookie Betts for the batting title. If he takes over the batting title, JD could take home a triple-crown, but even if he does overtake Mookie in average and wins The Triple-Crown, will it even be enough for him to win MVP? I contest that even with a triple-crown season, JDM still won’t win MVP, and I’m here to explain why.
To start, there’s so much competition for The AL MVP. Teammate Mookie Betts looks to be one of the front runners for MVP. Even with Mike Trout on The DL, he’s always in contention for the MVP. On the pitching side, another one of JDM’s teammates may even get some consideration. Chris Sale is currently pitching for a 1.97 ERA, 1.95 FIP, .849 WHIP, and very impressive 13.5 K/9 rate, while only walking about 2 batters per 9. Sale also has the chance to reach 300+ strikeouts on the season for the second year in a row. Indians’ third baseman Jose Ramirez also looks to be a good contender for MVP as well. Ramirez is currently batting .298/.409/.624 with 34 home runs, 78 RBI’s, and 172 wRC+. Another thing worth noting that like Betts, Ramirez is on pace to reach a 30/30 season. It’s also not completely out of the question if he could reach 40/40. Something that hasn’t been done since Alfonso Soriano in 2006.
However I think the big underlying reasons JD Martinez could still not win MVP even if he gets a Triple-Crown is the position he plays. Martinez has mainly seen time at DH, and when he plays corner outfield every so often, he’s worth -1.1 in defensive WAR. Compared to previously mentioned players, Mookie has been worth .9 defensive WAR this season, Ramirez has been worth 1 defensive WAR, and Trout has been worth .8 defensive WAR this season. JDM also isn’t contributing much on the base paths either. The least amount of stolen bases among the trio I have mentioned, Trout has the least at 21. WAR also agrees that JDM isn’t as valuable as some other players. Baseball Reference pegs him at 5.6 WAR, but peg Ramirez, Betts, and Trout around 7-to-8 WAR
In the end, I do not see JD Martinez winning The MVP, even if he wins The Triple Crown. MVP is for the most valuable player in each league, and there are players who provide more value than JDM. JD may provide value in his bat, but there are players who are batting just as good as him, while also providing value with speed, and fielding ability, something that Martinez lacks.