The first half of the year has officially came to a close and we made it another year without a kid getting killed in the outfield during the home run derby. If you had the honor of watching of watching the MLB’s All-Star break this year you likely will not forget it. I have been watching these things for a looooong time and I can say I actually watched start to finish on both the Home Run Derby and the All-Star game.The swing off between Vlada Jr. and Joc was must watch entertainment and the way the MLB portrayed the players with having some of them mic’d up was kind of cool. Unless you were betting on the team that Joe Buck was spewing nonsense in their ear and couldn’t focus on their at bat. That wasn’t cool.
I have to say. Pete Alonso, in my opinion, is a very strange guy. His mannerisms and just how serious he was about the whole thing to me came off strange. It kept me wanting to keep watching because I was curious about what he was going to do next. Ithink goober is the right word for him. But people like him make the world go round and I am very happy for the man on winning the Home Run Derby. Congrats. Jeff McNeil, another strange cookie. Congrats to the American League team too who is now have won 17 of their last 23 meetings.
*Jessica Mendoza is very obnoxious to listen too and watch as she does things on the field and in the booth. Everything she says in the booth during a baseball games are obvious, predictable and plain as day. Couldn’t stand her during the home run derby making everyone feel hawkward. And that girl interviewing the Hispanic players on the field? Also, cringeworthy to watch as she sprinted at players after they were dead tired after they hit in the derby. Joe Buck to me is whatever but those two stole the night as the most cringeworthy.
**P.P.S- MLB really needs to cut out that hawkward shit they do to try and display the history or whatever of the city they’re in. Having the players fake play instruments and move around a room was seriously some of the weirdest shit they have done to date. I couldn’t believe how awkward that must’ve been. Like when you watch a music video actually get made and it’s just the singer lip singing the song and it’s quiet. I don’t know I was really rattled by the whole thing. It makes me think, am I the weird one for NOT thinking this is cool? I mean, I know I’m not 100% there all the time but it was just so sketch.
Let’s get to the other side of this blogger. Coming into the year it is always exciting to predict and just think about the season for an up and coming rookie. Two years ago it was Aaron Judge and he came out hot and made just about every guy who predicted him dropping bombs cum. Back in 2012 Bryce Harper came onto the scene and did not disappoint any of his lofty expectations given to him since being on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the vulnerable age of 16 as he won Rookie of the Year that same year. This year we have had some surprises, disappointments, and not so surprising things happen for these rookies. Let’s indulge.
Pete Alonso- As if you didn’t know this was coming. It would be a crime not to include this monster. Yes, he did hit 36 bombs last year in the minor leagues and looked as if he were ready. But to say anyone saw THIS coming, you have to be a genius or from the future because this is unbelievable what he is doing right now. Through 89 games so far (hasn’t missed one yet) Alonso is slashing .280/.372/.634– 1.006 OPS with 30 home runs, 21 doubles, 68 RBI, 57 runs, and chipped in a stolen base for good measure. Let’s put it into perspective of Alonso’s stats compared to every other rookie in baseball:
You get it. The man has already won the NL Rookie of the Year award and it’s not even August. The man has a legit shot of tying or topping Judge’s 52 home runs he hit in 2017. Oh ya, compared to the rest of the MLB regarding stats, Alonso is tied for 2nd in all of baseball with Cody Bellinger and only one behind the leader in some dude named Christian Yelich. Ever heard of em?
Brandon Lowe- Rays up, Sting em, Sting em, Rays up baby. Lowe came up last year with the Rays after a great year in the minor leagues that saw him hit 22 bombs, drive in 76 and slash .297/.391/.558. In order to be considered for Rookie of the Year, the threshold for batters is a player cannot have over 130 at bats and a pitcher cannot throw over 50 innings and or be on the active roster for more than 45 days. Last year, ironically (wink wink) the Rays kept Lowe at 129 at bats. No joke. Thus letting him give it a go at ROY this year. So far, not a bad plan. Along with being nominated to his first All-Star game in his first full season, Lowe has slashed .276/.339/.523 with 16 home runs, 49 RBI, 40 runs, 17 doubles and has chipped in five steals as well. Can’t forget about the Rays utilizing him as the Rays do with everyone as Lowe has played four different position so far this year equaling out to a 2.8 WAR which is fourth among rookies this year. Once Lowe can get 100% healthy again, he should play a big role for the Tampa Bay Rays in the remaining 2.5-3 months left in the season.
Honorable Mentions- John Means, Bryan Reynolds, Christian Walker, Alex Verdugo, Kevin Newman
Eloy Jimenez- Jimenez was ready last year to contribute for the White Sox. The White Sox treated him like shit and played the time card and let him dominate and marinate in the minors. This year there were HUGE expectations for the former Chicago Cub to come out swinging a dominate Major League pitching as he did in the Minsies (minors). Unfortunately, the Major League baseball Gods want him to earn it before they can grant him the sweet love they possess. So far, and after a stint on the IL that cost him a little more than three weeks, Jimenez is slashing .241/.303/.482 with 16 home runs, 38 RBI, and 34 runs through 62 games. Not the numbers we expected at this point but Jimenez had started to swing the bat a little better towards the end of the first half. The power is real and that evident to his 16 home runs after missing almost three and half weeks. It’s the K/BB ratio that needs to improve for him to really start to shine. Right now, Jimenez has 72 strikeouts compared to 19 walks. Those 72 strikeouts are more than he had in a combined 108 games in the minsies last year (69). It’s obvious there’s a huge difference between major and minor league pitching but in time I expect Jimenez to figure it out. He is too good of a hitter to stay down.
Vlad Guerrero Jr.- Arguably one of the most anticipated debuts for a prospect since Bryce Harper, in his first taste of the big leagues, Vlad has not shown the baseball world how he can impact a game with his bat every time he steps up to the plate. Yeah, the Home Run Derby reminded everyone why this kid, just turned 20, was so highly touted because he has some of the fastest hands and some of the rarest power we have seen in some time. Except, he just hasn’t turned his immense talent into production. Through 61 games so far, Vlad has slashed .249/.328/.413 with eight home runs, 25 RBI, and solid 47/26 K/BB ratio. So he is seeing the ball decent it’s not like he’s flailing at everything he sees at the plate. Another aspect of Guerrero’s game that seems to haunt him is his fielding at third. Guerrero has made 8 errors in 125 chances which equals out to a fielding percentage of .936 and a .-1 dWAR. Fielding has never been his calling, but the Blue Jays seem to be letting him figure out the kinks. Guerrero is too good of a hitter to not get hot with the bat soon. And when he does, look out.
Not So Surprising
Fernando Tatis Jr.- It’s hard to find something not great about this kids game (20 years old). He really can do it all and has displayed his elite skill set when he has been on the field. Besides an IL stint that had him on the shelf for more than a month, Tatis has slashed .327/.393/.620– 1.013 OPS with 14 home runs, 33 RBI, 46 runs, nine doubles, five triples, and 13 stolen bases. If he had the qualified at bats, Tatis would be leading all rookies in OPS and is already leading in stolen bases. There isn’t much flaw to Tatis’ game really. We can nit pick and say he is striking out too much but that wouldn’t do any justice considering he is only 20 still and will figure it out at some point in the very near future. His fielding is a beautiful thing to watch as he has the range, his range factor per 9 innings and range factor per game are both above average is should only get higher as the year goes on. He can fly around the bases. Hit for power when needed. It’s tough not to say he’s got the whole package the more I type and think about it. Us baseball fans are very lucky to be able to watch this kid grow up right before our eyes and should be fun to watch the rest of his career.
What a first half of baseball we have been lucky enough to witness. We are in a very great time for baseball will all these up an coming rookies displaying their skill set right before our eyes as the game continues to get younger. I have said up and coming a lot in this blog.