2017 MLB Season: The Big Storylines Going into All-Star Break

The 2017 MLB season has seen a lot of great individual performances, such as the show that Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger have been putting on as rookies, and also a lot of teams overachieving and underachieving their expectations, such as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs, respectively. Here are some big storylines to look out for going into the All-Star Break in about a week’s time:

Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger’s Rookie Ceilings

A lot of rookies hit the ‘rookie ceiling’, or the ‘rookie wall’, as some people like to call it. Aaron Judge (26 HRs) and Cody Bellinger (24 HRs) are on their way to breaking rookie records that have been almost impossible to break. Both are on pace to break Mark McGwire’s record of 48 HRs in a season, which has been standing since 1987, and the two have also excelled in other areas (batting average, on-base percentage, etc.). The challenge, however, is keeping this up. Both Bellinger and Judge have been invited to the Home Run Derby, however, Judge does not seem like he is as interested as Bellinger. In many ways, this is a smart move, as it keeps him healthier going throughout the rest of the season. I expect both of them to get 40+ HRs, but Judge breaks the record.

The Nationals’ Bullpen Struggles

The Washington Nationals seem to have some kind of a discombobulated and non-existent bullpen. As displayed yesterday evening in their 5-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs at home, the bullpen doesn’t know how to keep their composure. The Nationals were leading 4-2 with 1 out left when Blake Treinen decides to sleep-pitch his way to get the last out. Treinen let Javier Baez get a single after Jeimer Candelario got a base-hit with 1 out, and then Tommy La Stella’s RBI single brough both Baez and Candelario in to score, and that’s how the game ended. Now, that being said, the Nats’ big time bullpen players like Sammy Solis and Francisco Rodriguez are returning from injury and being signed to the team, respectively, so if those two can provide sparks for this team. The Nats can gain my full confidence as the favorites in the NL as their offense is extremely impressive.

Houston Doesn’t Have a Problem Anymore

The Houston Astros for the longest time were the laughing stock of the MLB, always having the worst record in the MLB, and just having a terrible roster and management, in general. Now, after years of tanking, the Houston Astros have found their way, and are the current holder of the MLB’s best record. They have the second-highest scoring offense (445 runs), and are 1st in batting average (.283), on-base percentage (.349), and slugging percentage (.485). On the pitching side, they are currently 3rd in earned-run average, or ERA (3.82). Houston is also expected to have 4 unanimously chosen All-Stars this year in Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Lance McCullers. Expect this dominance to continue throughout the year, and for the Astros to be the World Series favorites.

 

 

The MLB Season: The Season After 1 Month, and What More to Expect

The MLB season has been extremely exciting for the fans, as there is plenty of new talent taking over the league, and new rivalries that have emerged. Here is what I have seen this season, and what I expect throughout the rest of the season:

Boston-Baltimore is Must-Watch TV
Whether or not you are a fan of any of these team, you cannot miss when these teams play. The last 6 matchups have all had nasty endings and controversy. It all started April 23rd, when Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes hit Orioles 3B Manny Machado, and Barnes was ejected. The next series between these teams started on May 1st, and Adam Jones received racial taunts directed towards him. The next day, the Red Sox fans gave Jones a standing ovation, but in the end, the feud just will not stop. The Orioles are currently 2nd in the AL East and 2nd in the AL, overall, while the Red Sox are 3rd in the AL East, and 8th in the AL, overall. No matter what, this is must-see TV, with a lot of controversy, brawls, and scoring, this rivalry has it all. They next play Boston on June 1st, in Baltimore.

Aaron Judge is Not Just Your Average Rookie

Aaron Judge is an MLB player. Aaron Judge plays for the New York Yankees. Aaron Judge should not be an MLB player. Aaron Judge is a 6’7”, 282 lbs, and is the starting rightfielder for the New York Yankees. Aaron Judge is the MLB’s next big thing who defies all stereotypes of baseball players, particularly size-wise. As of the last study done on MLB players (2010), most MLB players are between 69 and 74 inches in height (Judge is 79), and weight between 167.3 and 190.9 lbs. Judge’s numbers have been phenomenal, batting .337, has 13 HRs and 27 RBIs. These are the numbers that have helped the ‘Bronx Bombers’ come back to Earth after the last few years and their disappointment throughout.

The Washington Nationals are the NL’s Best Team

The Nationals have the most complete roster in all of baseball right now, as Bryce Harper is no longer alone, it seems. The pitching has finally been worked out evenly by Manager Dusty Baker, the infielders (Trea Turner, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, and Anthony Rendon) have all become reliable hitters game-in and game-out, and the outfielders (Harper, Michael Taylor, and Jayson Werth). At 20-9, they hold the MLB’s best record, and that will continue. They were the team I predicted to be better than the Chicago Cubs, and be the favorites for the World Series, and that has held true so far. As long as the team stays healthy and resilient, as it has been all year long, they will be World Series champions.

MLB 2017 Week 1: The Usual and The Surprises

The beginning of April in the sports world means the long 7-month baseball season is just around the corner, and the first week provided us with some cheers, new faces, and the end of misery in Chicago Cubs baseball. Here are some storylines to watch out for throughout the season:

The Diamondbacks Do Not Look Like a Waste of Money

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been a team who over the last few years have spent a lot of money on trying to keep their team relevant in the NL, but it hasn’t worked until now. Starting Pitchers Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin, and Shelby Miller, and Relievers Taijuan Walker and Fernando Rodney have all started playing at their potential. The batting of Jake Lamb, Paul Goldschmidt, and Chris Owings has all come into fruition for this team as well. So far, they are 6-2, with 3 wins each over the San Fran Giants, and the defending AL Champion Cleveland Indians.

The Orioles Are Playing Like a Complete Team

For years and years, I have thought of the Orioles as a World Series threat, but never as a potential World Series champion, until now. Their offense has never been a problem, with guys like Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, and Chris Davis. Their pitching was inconsistent last year, to say the least. Starters Kevin Gausman and Ubaldo Jimenez both finished last year with losing records (9-12 and 8-12, respectively), and Dylan Bundy, while he had a winning record, was shaky at times. This year, they all look very solid, and Closer Zach Britton is at the top of his game. Expect this team to be a serious threat to win the AL, and possibly even the World Series this year.

The Nationals Will Be Better Than the Cubs

This is the boldest prediction anyone in the MLB can make at this point, but I believe this will hold true. The MLB hasn’t seen repeat champs since the NY Yankees 3-peated from ’98-’00, and the Cubs won for the first time in 108 years. While that was great, the Cubs will be a huge threat, but the Nationals have the roster to beat Chicago. Led by the great Bryce Harper, a supporting cast of Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman, and Trea Turner, and pitchers Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez, this could be the Nats year. An Orioles-Nationals Beltway World Series would be fun to watch, for sure.

MLB Trade Deadline: With a Few Days Away, Who Should We See Traded?

Another one of these posts, but now, the trades get even more intense. Now, with all of the intensity coming on with August 1st right around the corner, I go over who should be traded, and what teams should offer.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Baltimore Orioles

Jimenez isn’t the greatest ever as we know, but besides his subpar record this year, he can still play as a pitcher at a high level. Unfortunately for Baltimore, they missed out big time on trading Jimenez, as they were beat by the Toronto Blue Jays to get Melvin Upton, Jr., putting them in a position with not too many options. Their options are Edinson Volquez from the Kansas City Royals, but they may have to give up Mark Trumbo because the Royals are also looking to trade an outfielder. This will also have to involve Dan Duquette, their reliever. This trade has already been discussed between the team, but the question is what else do the Royals have to give the Orioles. The second option for them is SP Wade Miley of the Seattle Mariners. Miley is a pitcher who has won games against solid teams throughout the course of the year, especially when Felix Hernandez went down with an injury earlier this year. The Orioles are in very serious talks to try and get Miley from Seattle.

Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

The best way for the New York Yankees to plan for their future and try to get superstar OF Bryce Harper when he becomes a free agent is to surround him with fellow, young, superstar outfielders. Braun, the 2011 MVP, has been on the trade block for what feels like forever, and the best offer on the table would be to trade him for Carlos Beltran of the Yankees. Beltran, like Braun, is another excellent outfielder, but the Brewers need veteran leadership. While trading Braun will be a hard pill to swallow, considering the current situation of Milwaukee, it’ll all be worth it.

Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

Now, the first thought that comes to mind is to trade him for Jimenez in Baltimore, but I just do not think that the Orioles would want to add a player who doesn’t bring a winning mentality to their team. I think their best bet is to trade him for fellow SP Jeremy Hellickson of the Philadelphia Phillies. This is a perfect trade because these are two of the utmost worst team with absolutely nothing left to fight for. This trade should happen NOW!

Johnathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers

This would be a good offer to make the Yankees along with Ryan Braun, if only Yankees C Brian McCann was older. McCann is EXTREMELY solid, but he isn’t the best veteran catcher out there. The other offer is the offer by the New York Mets for C Travis d’Arnaud and OF prospect Brandon Nimmo. The offer from the Mets is the offer the Brewers are most comfortable with, as it seems though as if the Yankees wanna roll with McCann as their catcher.

Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds

Bruce is definitely the hottest name on the market because it is shocking to many teams that he is even on the market in the first place. The best trade on the board will be the most compelling and game-changing trades for both teams, if the trade does indeed happen. The LA Dodgers will give OF Yasiel Puig to the Reds for Bruce. This trade would be huge because both of these players seemed like they would be untradeable at one point due to their utter dominance in the game. However, their similar qualities throughout this year has propelled this trade to possibly become a reality for both teams. This could change the whole outlook of the NL because while the Dodgers are fighting to be in the Top 4 of the NL, the Reds, although they are 14.5 games back of the first Wild Card spot St. Louis Cardinals, they could make the NL Central (their division) very interesting, and climb their way up the Wild Card standings.

MLB Trade Deadline: What Needs to Happen?

Now that the MLB is in full swing after the rather boring All-Star Game, the focus of the MLB will turn towards the MLB trade deadline. August 1st will be here before we know it, and many teams could use trades to get themselves back in the playoff picture, or even just make themselves look better, perhaps. Here are some trades which I think should happen:

LA Dodgers Trade SP Clayton Kershaw and 2B Howie Kendrick to Tampa Bay Rays SP Chris Archer and 3B Evan Longoria

I completely understand that Kershaw leads the NL in WAR despite missing over a month of play, but the Dodgers offense is inconsistent. Howie Kendrick has been good at times, and Longoria just has been on the Rays for too long. I think this trade can power LA into a possible division champion contention. As for the Rays, it can only get better from here. Tampa has been in a state of flux for many years now, and the ‘Rays’ of the sun don’t seem to be helping at all. Now, LA is going to lose one of the best pitchers in the game, but I think that Longoria will thrive under the leadership of manager Dave Roberts, who is all about high-powered offenses.

Colorado Rockies Trade OF Carlos Gonzalez to Oakland Athletics for OF Josh Reddick

This trade is a golden one for both teams because these are two great outfielders looking to change teams in order for contracts to be fulfilled. These are two of the best power-hitters in their respective leagues, and these teams are already having downfalls which will force them to have to settle for sitting on the couch in October, so why not try to improve the team going into next season. This will also possibly force these players to restructure a contract, and not have to walk away from their respective teams.

Milwaukee Brewers Trade OF Ryan Braun to NY Yankees for LF Carlos Beltran and CP Aroldis Chapman

The Yankees want to make their team as young as possible, and Milwaukee needs veteran leadership in all facets of the game, and so Beltran and Chapman are excellent position fillers. Braun on the other hand will always be an MVP candidate (even if he is on PEDs), and New York needs a guy who is a blend of power hitting and skilled fielding, and Braun brings that to the table immediately. The Yankees have some work to do in the AL East if they want to be in the Wild Card, though. They are 4.5 games behind the Wild Card leader, the Toronto Blue Jays, who are also in the AL East. Now, with Boston flailing a bit, New York could be in good hands, but if the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers continue their hot streak, New York ain’t seeing the playoffs this year.

Atlanta Braves Trade RF Nick Markakis to Kansas City Royals for OF Alex Gordon

Unfortunately for the Atlanta Braves, Markakis’ glory days are behind him. His days in Baltimore were great, and they just didn’t seem to last very long. Alex Gordon had his glory days last year in Kansas City. Now, he is an outfielder, like Markakis, looking to find his ‘fountain of youth’. This trade makes a lot of sense because these are two outfielders who have a lot of potential and can still be productive if put on the right team. Markakis has a contract which pays him $11 million per year all the way through the year 2018. This allows for trades for him to become much easier than expected. This trade will give Atlanta fans a chance of hope, as they are the worst team in the big leagues.

*I would like to thank everyone for their support of my blog, as my last post was featured last week on the MLB.com Blog.

The Best MLB Storylines After All-Star Break

The MLB has been the center of attention in terms of sports to watch now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have brought an NBA championship to The Land, and with All-Star Break over and the season back in swing, here are my predictions for what will happen after the break.

How Legit Are the Orioles?

Let’s get serious now about something, their pitching stinks outside of Chris Tillman. I mean SPs Kevin Gausman and Ubaldo Jimenez were supposed to be huge this year, but it hasn’t happened. However, they are one of the best hitting teams in the MLB, led by 3B Manny Machado and RF Mark Trumbo, and their fielding has been bailing out their pitchers quite a bit. I will be very concerned in the playoffs if the pitching does not improve by then, but they can light up the scoreboard for sure, and that can make them a threat to teams like the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians (the top 2 seeds in the AL).  Also, if they can get a high seed, they could coast their way to the World Series (33 wins at home).

The Case for Texas and Cleveland

Yes, I am talking about the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians. If the Indians were to win the World Series, then Cleveland may as well just become the new Paris (except unlike the 2016 France Soccer team, Cleveland has a championship). The Rangers were off to a hot start to the year, but in their last 10 games, they have gone 3-7 overall, and only have a +16 run differential. Cleveland has a +81 run differential, and Baltimore, whom we mentioned earlier as a threat to these teams, had a +41 run differential. Texas hasn’t produced much, scoring 41 runs in their last 10 games, and allowing 94. If this keeps up, Baltimore and Cleveland will fight ‘til the end for the top seed in the AL.

What About Dem Cubbies?

The Chicago Cubs just could not seem to find their mark in June. Their pitching, including SP Jake Arrieta, who was supposed to be the best in the biz, has been on a downfall lately, and the team is starting to get a bit overconfident. Manager Joe Maddon has to do a better job of mixing it up and keeping the team intact. They do not want to turn out like the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors in the NBA, blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Cavaliers, and losing in 7. If they get to the World Series, they better not perform like that.

Do the Washington Nationals Have a Clear Path to the World Series?

The Washington Nationals seem to be having a very clear path in the NL right now because no team is overly good right now besides the Nats. The Cubs are disappearing, the Giants are inconsistent, the Mets look like the best team in the league, and then the worst. I mean the NL has turned into a roller-coaster with too many twists, turns, and drops, and it is making baseball fans sick. The Nationals have been so good across the board, with guys like infielder Daniel Murphy, C Wilson Ramos, OFs Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, and SPs Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer playing on top of their game, that they seem so dominant, and yet their record doesn’t say so. If they keep playing like they have, though, it’ll be smooth sailing for the Nats.

Who Will Be the Wild Card Teams for Each League?

Right now, in the AL, the Wild Card spots belong to the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. In the NL, the spots belong to the LA Dodgers and NY Mets (Mets hold tiebreaker over Miami Marlins). I think that the Dodgers will make it in as a Wild Card team for the NL. As far as the 2nd Wild Card spot in the NL, I think that the Marlins have been so good of late, and OF Giancarlo Stanton’s confidence is through the roof after his historic All-Star Break (he hit 61 HRs in the Home Run Derby to be crowned Derby champion), and that will propel Miami to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years (they won the World Series in ’03). For the AL, I don’t think any teams are going competitive enough to prevent either Boston or Toronto from being Wild Card teams.

Front-Runners for MVPs?

For the AL, I would have to say it will be neck-and-neck between Mark Trumbo and Jose Altuve. Their stats are so similar, but I think that Altuve’s improvement from a fantastic 2015 campaign gives him the AL MVP. For the NL, it’s Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, and Giancarlo Stanton. I think that Harper gets the edge due to how he has played as of late.

MLB Division Races: Who’s Gonna Win Divisions?

 

The MLB season has had lots of surprising teams, such as the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, and Washington Nationals all turning up, and teams like the Houston Astros, LA Angels, and Pittsburgh Pirates all having somewhat of a downfall. Anyways, I will go division-by-division, and predict who wins the division.

The American League

AL East

Out East, The O’s, Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays have been exchanging places and are fighting like no other for the division title. The O’s recently won their series against Boston, yet lost 3 straight to Toronto before that. The Jays have a much better East record than the Sox, so they will fight closely with the O’s for the East, but I think Baltimore comes out on top, regaining their firepower they established in 2014. The only concern I have is that Baltimore is very weak against the AL West, which is showing up to be the weakest division so far, but star batting and defensive play from 3B Manny Machado, RF Mark Trumbo, and pitching from Chris Tillman has helped Baltimore get to where they are now, and they will continue to come up big this season. I think they are very legit in the AL, and should represent them in the World Series in late October.

AL Central

This has been an ugly division this year in the sense that their division leader (Cleveland Indians) only have 35 wins so far this year. Their pitching is okay, the batting is below expectations, but every team in the AL Central has played below their expectations this year. Cleveland isn’t very good after the All-Star Break, but the Kansas City Royals are. Expect the Royals to capitalize off of that and win the AL Central.

AL West

The Texas Rangers have 7 more wins this season than Seattle, the 2nd place team. The AL West, which should be the most stacked division in the AL, is turning out to be the most one-sided show in the AL. The Mariners will definitely be a team to look out for in the wild-card race, but the rest of the AL is under .500, which is a huge disappointment, considering how we all thought that the Houston Astros woke up from the dead. Unless Texas has a big downfall, they’ll win the division by sleeping through it.

The National League

NL East

This division is much like the AL West in the sense that the rosters are pretty stacked, and yet the Washington Nationals are 5 wins ahead of the New York Mets. The Nationals really seem to struggle against the NL Central, and that’s really their only weakness. The Mets can, and will fight until the very end, but Washington has proved to the Mets that letting star infielder Daniel Murphy go was a HUGE mistake by the Mets, and they are paying for it. Also, the Nationals have NL MVP candidates in Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, and a NL Cy Young winner and candidate in Max Scherzer. The Nationals only NL competition is the Chicago Cubs, who are the front-runners to win it all in October.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs win the NL Central. Nothing else can be said. They have the best roster in the NL, and maybe even in the major leagues. That’s all there is to be said.

NL West

On paper, it looks like you should give the San Francisco Giants the AL West right now, but I’m not so convinced. The LA Dodgers and Colorado Rockies, yes the Colorado Rockies, who sucked last year, all look like they could get back in it. The Dodgers have the pitching of guys like Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, and Kenley Jansen to help them out, and their batting order has guys like Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, and Joc Pederson, who are straight fire, even though they haven’t played like this year. Expect the Dodgers after the All-Star Break to wake themselves up. As for the Rockies, they are all about batting, as their pitching has been very lackluster. If their batting order, which has guys like Trevor Story (the NL Rookie of the Year front-runner), Carlos Gonzalez, and Nolan Arenado can all turn up, then it’s a 3-way race between them, the Giants, and the Dodgers. I think that San Francisco will hold on, but the batting of LA and Colorado could help cause havoc in the West.