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This week’s questions…

1) The Yankees have Aaron Judge; the Red Sox have Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers; the Dodgers… Cody Bellinger; Pirates… Josh Bell; Orioles… Trey Mancicni; Astros… Yuli Gurriel; Phillies… Rhys Hoskins and the list goes on for the MLB rookies who have debuted in 2017 and are performing and contributing in major ways on the major league level. 

The question… Is this the best rookie class you have ever seen? Is there one that you think may have been better than, or at least to the equal of, this class? 

Archie: I guess I can honestly say this is the most “hyped” rookie class I can remember. Don’t believe me? Here we are discussing rookies. And, to be quite honest I know nothing about Bell, Mancini, Devers and Gurriel. All I have been bombarded with this season is Judge, Bellinger and Benintendi and recently Hoskins.

I dropped my subscription to MLB Extra Innings when my beloved Braves tore their team apart and began the “rebuilding” process and I don’t really track all the teams in the league. We will have to let history and these young guys careers play out to see IF they are truly the best rookie class ever. I mean, just look at 2015, that class was being regarded in the same fashion and now only two of that class is really “killing” the ball still, and the ace pitcher from that class is DL’ed for most of the year.

So, IF by saying what the class has done in their opening year, then maybe yes, this might be one of the best. But, I hold judgement until their sophomore and junior seasons to see where this class really lies in the rankings. 

Joe: Just about two years ago (9/21/2015), Sporting  News was declaring  that class as maybe one of the, if not the, best ever. That year saw the debut of  the following players: Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, Michael Conforto, Carlos Correa, Joey Gallo, Jon Gray, Raisel Iglesias, Francisco Lindor, Steven Matz, Lance McCullers, Carlos Rodon, Addison Russell, Miguel Sano, Kyle Schwarber, Corey Seager, Luis Severino and Noah Syndergaard. And to be fair, in my opinion, Sporting News may have a valid point when you see the names of Kris Bryant (ROY & MVP awards), Luis Severino, Joey Gallo, Carlos Correa and Noah Syndergaard et. al.

Sporting News: 2015 rookie class rivals best ever

Now, this year many people are buzzing that maybe this is one of the, if not the, best ever. The reason, I believe this rookie class has caught everyone’s attention more than many other rookie classes is due to one word… that word is “power.’  I don’t think I have ever seen any rookie class in my lifetime debut a slew of players who has exhibited the ability to hit for power and hit for power in frequently big and record numbers. Whether this year’s class continues powering the baseball out of MLB ballparks going forward remains to be seen but if they do we might see come around 2037 a hell of a lot of players with at least 550 to 650-plus career HR totals being eligible for the Hall of Fame. Then gain… maybe not. Maybe all these sluggers will all fall by the wayside and they will but be a footnote in the history of the game… with people saying years from now… “Remember that guy the Yankees had in 2017? The rookie? Whats his name?”

Steve: Not even a question, this is a fact. I have never in my lifetime at least seen so many rookies having this much success where we are talking MVP candidates in both leagues and Rookie of the Year.

I’ll start with Judge, he is going to hit well over 40 HR, despite his recent struggles; not since Mark McGwire in 1988 have we seen this much power from a rookie. Bellinger, probably along side Corey Seager, is the future of the Los Angeles Dodgers, he is having a season to remember. Then, I will close with Rhys Hoskins. This kid is something special, and the Phillies have a future they can build around him. We saw him play last week against the Cubs, and he just has a calmness about the way he approaches every at-bat. He has the power, the skill, and he can even play the field. I look forward to big things from him, and the rest of these rookie sensations.

2) It was bound to happen… The Dodgers have cooled off a tad. In fact, they have won only 1 of their last 10 games. But, now the Indians seemed to have caught fire as they are presently on a 12-game win streak. And, the Arizona D’backs are also hot having won 11 straight. 

Are the Indians… and the D’backs… now the teams no one wants to face when the playoffs finally begin? 

Archie: We know that it is all about timing when it comes time for the playoffs. Getting hot at the right time means more than winning 100 games during the season. However, there is still a whole month to go and it is just as easy to go into a slump the last month as it is to catch fire.

Ask this same question around the 21st of September and we may all have a different answer.

Joe: As I write this the Indians have just won their 14th game in a row. During that stretch these two stats stand out: their offense has averaged 7 runs per game and their pitching has posted a 1.86 ERA. They continue that pace, then forget about it, n one… maybe not even the 60’s Dodger, when they had Koufax and Drysdale, would want to play them in the playoffs. I expect they will come down to earth a tad before the season is over but, I think, they have put the rest of MLB on notice that they are a dangerous team who can beat you with their bats and with their arms.

As for the D’backs… they just swept the Dodgers for the second time in a week for their 13th win in a row, which is also a franchise record. It is also a big reason why the big bad Dodgers won’t set a single season record for team wins and why they have only won 1 of their last 12 games.  The scores of those six games against the Dodgers were 7-6, 6-4, 8-1, 13-0, 3-1 and 3-1 again on Wednesday. See my point about the Indians? Same goes here for the D’backs: They can beat you with their bats and their arms.

The point is this, both teams have sent notice to other potential playoff teams that  if you play us in the playoffs be very careful, because we can beat you in many ways. Does this mean we are destined to see an Indian-D’back World Series. NO. But… I wouldn’t bet against it either.

Steve: Absolutely! If I am in the American League, the Indians scare me to death, and I think right now they are in fact the best team in the American League, if not all of baseball. The Astros and Red Sox have faltered a little down the stretch, while the Indians are coming off one of their longest winning streaks in their long history. (I wont say a number because I am typing this up on Tuesday, and it stands at 12 games now.)

As far as the Diamondbacks go. If, I am the Dodgers, I am starting to panic a bit, the Snakes have owned the Dodgers over the past month, sweeping them in Arizona and Monday night shutting them down in LA. Yes, the Diamondbacks are in a great position to make a nasty run in the playoffs. I would not want to be the Dodgers, Cubs, or Nationals right now.

3) Is this season’s post trade deadline activity of players… Justin Upton, Justine Verlander, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce… one the biggest movement of so-called impact players ever seen in MLB after the trade deadline? And, is this just an aberration that is most likely not going to occur again very soon in seasons to come, or is it maybe… considering some of the salaries involved with certain “star” players… a sign of another change in how MLB clubs do business?

Justin Upton, Brandon Phillips & Justin Verlander moved after MLB trade deadline

Archie: I don’t think this is, or will become, the norm for trade deadline moves. There were a number of teams in the playoff races this year and it seemed that some moves were made to keep other teams away from some players. I sometimes wondered IF Houston signed Verlander just to keep some other teams from acquiring him. I mean, they already had three starters that actually had better numbers that Justin and they could have set themselves up for a 5 or 7 game series with them. Now, the expectation will be that Verlander will be the anchor to that group and sometimes that just does not work out well with a new guy coming in late.

Joe: Just searching my memory banks of all the baseball I can remember since I first began watching the game way back when… nope… I never ever seen such movement of what could be called impact players after the trade deadline.

And, yes, I think it is a sign of the way MLB may conduct the business part of the game.

Steve: It was proven this year when Giancarlo Stanton was essentially available from the Marlins. No one wanted to pick up that contract of his, and he is still Marlin. People pay way to much now a days for players, and then live to regret it years later. So yes, the salaries will change the way baseball teams do business.

4) Is Giancarlo Stanton a lock for the NL MVP? Or, is the NL MVP race still an open discussion, and, if you think it is, then which player(s) are still arguably in the race for the award?

Paul Goldschmidt, MVP?

Archie: I don’t think he is a lock. I see where Goldschmidt and Blackmon are legitimate contenders IF not the odds on favorites over Stanton. While Stanton is hitting historic bombs , Goldschmidt and Blackmon have their respective teams in contention for the playoffs and I think that weighs more in the eyes of the voters.

Joe: Before I answer this question I want to say once more… MLB needs an award for the best offensive player of the year as well as an MVP award. Why? Because while Stanton may be the most valuable player on his team, in one way or the other, is he really the most valuable player in all of the league if his team doesn’t make the playoffs? Fair or not that is generally one of… if not a major… criteria for how the BBWAA pick the MVP each year.

Giancarlo Stanton already has hit 53 HRs… now the front runner for NL MVP?

Having said this… if I had a vote, this is my top three in the NL… Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.  All of these guys have statistics that merit winning the MVP but Stanton is far and above the leader in the field for the award in my mind.

But what about being on a playoff contender?

(1) I am not  a person who sees that as a major criteria for my MVP vote and (2) if Stanton was not on the Marlins they would probably not even be any near where they are… which is within sniffing distance of the playoffs (5th place; 7 games out)… they won’t make it but they are within having a chance.
right now I give Giancarlo Stanton my MVP vote in the NL.

My heart wants to give it to Paul Goldschmidt but my mind says Stanton.

Steve: He is having a season to remember, and is by far the favorite to lock up the MVP, as this is one of his first seasons he has been healthy all year. I think it is his to lose, with Goldschmidt and Bellinger second and third.

It is still a race, but Stanton should win it.

5) The D’backs J. D. Martinez became just the 18th player in major league history to hit 4 home runs in one game. This is a feat that is rarer than even a perfect game being thrown… 23 times in MLB history, 21 times since the modern era began in 1900. No player has ever hit 5 HRs in a game. There have been players who had the chance to accomplish the feat… for example: Joe Adcock who had a double in his 5th AB in 1954, and Shawn Green who had 4 HRs among his 6 hits in 6 ABs in 2002. 

Considering it has never been done in over 200,000 games that have been played in the last 100 years or so, achieving the feat is effectively zero, or statistically a number so large that it can’t be printed here… but… it is obviously a possibility. In your opinion, will it ever happen? Or is 5 HRs in a game one of MLB’s “impossible to achieve” records?

Bam! Arizona’s JD Martinez hits 4 home runs; is the 18th to tie the MLB single game record

Archie: Impossible? Never say Never.

Likely? Not a snowball’s chance in hell.

The clichés here are endless. But most PITCHERS would rather hit the batter his fifth time around than even give him the opportunity. I know I would.  I would NOT be the only pitcher in MLB history to give up the 5th dinger by a player in one game.

Joe: If, I am the pitcher that a player is facing who has already hit 4 HRs in a game… you will not even see anything decent to hit. I will be pitching you inside, then further inside and then even further inside.

If I walk you. Fine. If I hit you? Too bad. You are not hitting  HR #5.

Nuff said.

Steve: I would not say that this is “impossible,” but I don’t ever see it happening.

Hitting four home runs in one game has only happened eighteen times, three is a rare feat at that. While I don’t see this ever happening in my lifetime, I am not going to say it won’t ever happen.

Extra Innings…

Four home runs in a game

Only 18 players have hit four home runs in a game in Major League history…

American League 

 Player, Team Date Result
Josh Hamilton, Texas 05-08-2012 Texas 10, Baltimore 3 MLB.com coverage >
Carlos Delgado, Toronto 09-25-2003 Toronto 10, Tampa Bay 8  MLB.com coverage > 
Mike Cameron, Seattle 05-02-2002 Seattle 15, Chicago 4  MLB.com coverage > 
Rocky Colavito, Cleveland 06-10-1959 Cleveland 11, Baltimore 8
Pat Seerey, Chicago 07-18-1948 Chicago 12, Philadelphia A’s 11
Lou Gehrig, New York 06-03-1932 New York 20, Philadelphia 13

National League

 Player, Team Date Result
J.D. Martinez, Arizona 09-04-2017 Arizona 13, Los Angeles 0 MLB.com coverage>
Scooter Gennett, Cincinnati 06-06-2017 Cincinnati 13, St. Louis 1  MLB.com coverage>
Shawn Green, Los Angeles 05-23-2002 LA 16, Milwaukee 3 MLB.com coverage >  | 
Mark Whiten, St. Louis 09-07-1993 St. Louis 15, Cincinnati 2  
Bob Horner, Atlanta 07-06-1986 Montreal 11, Atlanta 8
Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia 04-17-1976 Philadelphia 18, Chicago 16 (10 inn.) 
Willie Mays, San Francisco 04-30-1961 San Francisco 14, Milwaukee 4
Joe Adcock, Milwaukee 07-31-1954 Milwaukee 15, Brooklyn 7
Gil Hodges, Brooklyn 08-31-1950 Brooklyn 15, Boston 3
Chuck Klein, Philadelphia 07-10-1936 Philadelphia 9, Pittsburgh 6 (10 inn.)
Ed Delahanty, Philadelphia 07-13-1896 Chicago 9, Philadelphia 8
Bobby Lowe, Boston 05-30-1894 Boston 12, Cincinnati 11

Stats and graphics from MLB.com

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