MLB news & views @ MLBRT 8/31

 

1) Last season Trevor Story hit 7 HRs in his first 6 games no one had ever done that in MLB history, then he hit 10 HRs in his first 21 games which tied George Scott for the fastest ever to attain that feat. Later in the year, Gary Sanchez of the NY Yankees was the 3rd fastest to ever hit 10 HRs, when he did it in 22 games. Then in his 23rd game he became the fastest ever to hit 11 HRs. And in his 50th game, he tied Wally Berger (Boston Braves 1930) as the fastest to ever hit 20 HRs.  

This season, Aaron Judge’s HR production first half of the season was practical legendary and among his many feats was he became the youngest player to hit 13 home runs when he did it in the first 26 games of the season. 

And, Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie Cody Bellinger became the fastest player in Major League history to 21 career home runs, doing it in 51 games. It was previously held by… yes, Wally Berger of the Boston Braves… who did it in 55 games in 1930. 

Now on Saturday, Philadelphia Phillies rookie outfielder Rhys Hoskins became the fastest player ever to 10 HRs when he reached that number in his 17th game. And on Sunday he hit his 11th HR in his 18th game… another record. 

It is probably fair to say never has there ever been such a display of power by rookie players in MLB history. 

The question… what is your theory for why this record rookie power display has/is happening now, and why are there so many rookies… within less than two seasons… slugging HRs in record numbers?  

Archie: I think it is twofold.

First, players have access to more and more strength conditioning while maintaining flexibility type training and equipment now more than any time in history.

Second, I think MLB pitching is watered down and while pitching has changed to where almost all teams have fire ball throwers, hitters are just sitting on them. The pitchers are still conditioned to “challenge” young guys with little to no MLB experience and they are getting killed.

Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins makes history with 10th HR in just 17th game

And, it is NOT just the rookies doing this, the veterans are taking advantage of it as well, it’s just like all other Media crap these days, they tend to glorify the “hot topic” more than the traditional story. Just look, when all the rage and talk was Judge and Bellinger, prior to the break I said that Stanton was not through this season and look where he is now. And, look how much Judge and Bellinger have cooled off. And BTW, where is the great sensational, “let’e make him an All Star the first season ever” Puig? His numbers are up this year but if you look, MLB pitchers found the hole in his swing and they adjusted. They WILL adjust to Hoskins, Judge and Bellinger as well. They always do. About the only hitter in my lifetime that they could not adjust to was Barry Bonds.

Joe: My theory is this… with all the advanced training methods there today… such as weight training and emphasis on muscle and strength… and the importance many MLB teams place upon hitting for power, these kids are being groomed to do exactly what  is described in the question. Especially, if their goal is to be a big time player in the majors and get paid the big bucks.

Steve: Drugs.. next question.

Okay for real. I just think these kids are being groomed at a younger age to hit the long ball. These kids are stronger, faster, have quicker bats, and the technology is there for them to hit home runs on a consistent basis. It makes it fun to watch, and exciting to see what they do moving on in their careers.

2) This past weekend MLB held its inaugural… as in first ever… Players Weekend which ESPN.com said the players “(were)… decked out in Little League-like pullover jerseys featuring their nicknames, (and the) players were free to strut their stuff and show some personality on the field (as they could wear) personal shoulder patches to offer thanks as well as custom cleats, bats, batting gloves and mitts. 

In your opinion, was Players Weekend a success or failure or did not care one way or the other? Should MLB continue having Players Weekend every season?

Archie: Did not watch a single game. I was personally getting ready for hunting season and had more to do than I could get done.

Did not have time to watch so I will just keep quiet on this one.

Joe: It was cutesy and kinda interesting but overall.. meh. I especially didn’t like the fact some of the uniform more than a few teams wore looked like something from some Sunday morning beer keg league.

Wouldn’t bother me in the least if I never saw it happen again.

Steve: I don’t care either way.

I mean it was fun to see, and get to kind of know the players from a clubhouse perspective, but honestly I could care less on it happening again.

3) Clayton Kershaw who has been sidelined since July 24th will be returning to the Dodgers’ rotation on Friday. After spotting the rest of the NL a little over a month, he is tied for the NL lead in wins (15); leads the NL in ERA (2.04) and K/BB ratio (7.00); is 2nd in WHIP (0.88) and 8th in strikeouts (168.) 

If, he comes back and is anywhere near his usual old self… or vintage Kershaw… to close out he season is he the odds favorite to win his 4th Cy Young Award? Why or why not? 

Clayton Kershaw

Archie: Yes.

He is Kershaw. His IS that good. His stats speak for themselves.

Joe: In my opinion. prior to being DLed, the the CYA was his t lose. Without going into a bunch of stats.. his and other pitchers… if, he comes back and is pitching at the same level he did before going on the DL…

… start engraving his name on CYA award number four.

Steve: Had Scherzer been healthy I would have said it was his to lose, but since he has missed several weeks due to injury, it is back to being wide open.

If, Kershaw returns to form as he was before he went down, he should lock up another Cy Young award.

4) The Red Sox Chris Sale has been the favorite to win the AL CYA all season… until he got rocked… twice… by the Cleveland Indians in the last month. 

That now allows a discussion to begin about whether the Indians’ own Corey Kluber might be able to upset the apple cart and sneak in and steal the CYA.  With the Yankees’ Luis Severino added in as a dark horse candidate if either Sale or Kluber should both falter badly as the season draws to a close. 

In your opinion, is the AL CYA still Sale’s to lose or is the AL CYA race now a wide open affair? 

Down to Corey Kluber (left) and Chris Sale for AL CYA?

Archie: Sale has pitched himself into getting Klubered….(clubbed).

This race will be down to the wire. He was early on dominating but Sale’s recent woes has opened up a can of opportunity for Kluber.

Joe: Right now it is a race between Kluber and Sale for who is the eventual winner of the AL CYA. And, truthfully? Depending on each pitchers last start, I keep going back and forth on who I think should win the AL award this year. Unless one or the other has a string of bad games… this is going to be one award winner that is too close to call.

Steve: At this point my vote goes to Corey Kluber. Kluber, since coming off the DL in June, has the most wins, lowest ERA, lowest WHIP, and most strikeouts. His domination in my opinion is superior to that of Chris Sale. Even though, I have always thought Sale has been the uncrowned CY Young winner in past seasons, but because of a crappy team he was on, never got the acknowledgement he so rightly deserved.

5) Giancarlo Stanton… if he continues his hot HR streak… might hit 62 or more HRs this season. Some people… both media and fans… are saying if he does hit 62 he will unofficially then own the real single season HR record. Others… notably CBS.com’s Matt Snyder… say “Sorry if it bothers you, but the record is 73 and it’s held by Barry Bonds.”

Which camp do you side with? Why?

Giancarlo Stanton

Archie: First off , Unofficially that is bullshit. Did anyone ever say “Unofficially Roger Maris did not hold the single season record because he played more games than Ruth?” Hell no.

I am tired of hearing all the MEDIA and FANS trying to meld the facts into what they WANT them to be.

Bonds was an active player and hit 73 in one season. That is the record. Period. Stop. Cease….

Joe: Before I answer this question let me say this… I have been very vocal and opinionated about PEDs in baseball and I think some of the existing records and statistics… hitting and pitching… of certain players were “artificially enhanced” …  including players like Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, et. al.

MLB allowed PEDs to happen, and, in a sense, PEDs may have saved MLB from becoming an afterthought in the general public’s mind to be only talked about on ESPN like they do about sports like Lacrosse.  Let’s face reality… a large number of “fans” dug the fact that baseballs were leaving ball parks in record fashion, and filled ball parks to over flowing to the owners/MLB’s great satisfaction.

Barry Bonds after hitting his 73rd home run of the 2001 season. That mark remains the major league record

Now… having said that I bring up one of my favorite sports sayings… “You are what your record says you are.” (Bill Parcells)

Guess what? The record for HRs in a season is what the record book says it is. The last time I looked, Barry Bonds had the most ever in one season. 73.  End of story.

Steve: The simple answer to this question is the answer to another question. Who’s name is in the record books? It is Barry Bonds.

Like it or not, Bonds holds the single season and the all time HR record despite whatever so called experts want to say. He hit 73 HR in one season, and belted more HR over the span of his career than any other player in the history of baseball.

I may not like the guy, but you cannot argue the fact that Barry Bonds is the sole record holder, and he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Extra Innings…

On this date in 1990…

Mariano Rivera, usually only used in relief, is allowed to start a game of a doubleheader on the final day of the season for the Gulf Coast Yankees.

The intention was to give a chance to throw enough innings to qualify for Gulf Coast League’s ERA title… an accomplishment, if achieved, which would give him a contractual bonus.

The Sandman responds by hurling a seven-inning no-hitter against Bradenton to finish the season with a 0.17 ERA, 0.46 WHIP, 58 strikeouts in 52 innings, and he was suddenly $500 dollars richer.

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