Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Yanks HR In 28th Straight For All-Time MLB Mark reports:
The Major League record for consecutive games with a home run now belongs to the 2019 Yankees, and their juggernaut offense shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.
DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge led off the bottom of the first inning on Tuesday with back-to-back home runs off Blue Jays left-hander Clayton Richard, marking the Yankees' 28th consecutive game with at least one homer.
That broke the previous big league record, held by the Texas Rangers, who homered in 27 straight contests from Aug. 11 to Sept. 9, 2002.
"That's kind of an obscure one, but now that it's happened with our group, it doesn't surprise me," manager Aaron Boone said after Monday's 10-8 win over Toronto. "We have a lot of guys capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark. I think they help strengthen each other because collectively they're able to wear down pitchers. That eventually leads to more and more mistakes at different points in the night."
A total of 14 Yankees have combined to hit 49 home runs during the streak, with Judge joining the fun late -- his homer was the slugger's first hit since returning from the injured list Friday.
Since May 26, when the streak began in an 8-7 loss to the Royals at Kansas City, Gary Sanchez has paced the club with eight homers. LeMahieu is second with seven, and Gleyber Torres has slugged six.
The previous franchise record was held by Joe DiMaggio's 1941 Yankees, who homered in 25 consecutive games from June 1-29 of that season. DiMaggio hit 10 homers over that span.
New York has hit multiple homers in 14 of 28 games during the streak, and in eight of its last nine games, including Tuesday. Remarkably, sluggers Judge, Edwin Encarnacion and Giancarlo Stanton have combined for just four of the homers.
"It's kind of what we do. We hit home runs here," said Aaron Hicks, who has hit four homers during the streak. "That's kind of how we score runs."

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Pete Alonso Ties Mets Rookie Home Run Record

CBS Sports reports:

Mets rookie phenom Pete Alonso has already made history. In the first inning Saturday, he took Cubs starter Jose Quintana deep for home run number 26 on the year.
That wasn't even a bad pitch from Quintana's point of view. It was a hook low and away. Pretty impressive stuff by Alonso. 
Then again, no one is really surprised. He's been impressing all season. As noted in that tweet, he has already tied the Mets rookie record for home runs in a season before we even have gotten to July. 
Darryl Strawberry hit 26 in 1983. No other rookie in Mets history has even hit 20 homers in a season. Alonso's on pace to get past 50, with 26 home runs in the team's first 77 games.
Speaking of which, there's likely much more than this on the horizon for the young Mets' first baseman. 
Only 40 players have ever hit at least 30 home runs before the All-Star break. Alonso has 13 more games after Saturday in order to hit four homers and join that exclusive club. None of those players are rookies. 
In fact, Alonso's 26th homer here was also a rookie record. The previous record for home runs before the All-Star break by a rookie was 25 (Cody Bellinger, 2017). 
Further, Alonso isn't even that far off the NL rookie record for home runs. Bellinger set it in 2017 with 39. Barring injury, it feels pretty likely he gets there, and then he can set eyes on the all-time rookie record, which is 52 (Aaron Judge, 2017). The only other rookie to top 40 was Mark McGwire with 49 in 1987. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mike Trout Racks Up Seven Runs Batted In Against The Blue Jays reports:
Mike Trout has been on fire at the plate in recent weeks and kept it up against the Blue Jays on Wednesday, absolutely crushing two home runs, including a grand slam off right-hander Aaron Sanchez in the fourth inning to lead the Angels to an 11-6 win at Rogers Centre.
Trout, who went 3-for-6 to improve his slash line to .299/.462/.651 on the year, also added an RBI single with the bases loaded in the ninth, giving him a career-high seven RBIs. It was the first seven-RBI performance by an Angels player since Torii Hunter on July 4, 2010, against the Royals.
“It was a good night," Trout said with a smile. "Obviously, feel pretty good up there right now. This is the best I’ve felt all season, just getting a pitch to hit and not missing it. Just barreling the ball.”
Notably, it also helped the Angels to a 38-37 record, marking the first time they’ve been above .500 since April 13, when they were 8-7. They’ve yet to reach two games above .500 this year.
"It means a lot," Trout said. "Obviously got a long way to go for the season to end. Anything can happen. We just have to take it one game at a time. But getting Justin Upton back was huge and I think [Andrelton Simmons] is getting back soon one of these days on this trip to St. Louis. To have the Opening Day roster back, that’s big."
Trout credited not overanalyzing video for his recent surge at the plate, as he felt like he was getting in his own head while tweaking his mechanics and watching too much video early in the year.
"I looked into stuff way too much," Trout said. "When I go up there and think mechanics and try to do all this stuff, I get in trouble. Just being up there comfortable, relaxed.”
Trout’s first homer came in the second on a 3-2 fastball from Sanchez and was hammered a projected 420 feet, per Statcast. The two-run shot had an exit velocity of 111.3 mph and clanked off the fa├žade of the third-deck suites in left field.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Consecutive Cycles: Jake Bauers Hits For The Cycle!

Going back to back in hitting for the Cycle does not happen very often in MLB, so this is truly a great moment in the history of the game. reports:
The way Cleveland’s No. 6 prospect, Bobby Bradley, is hitting in Triple-A has put Jake Bauers, who has struggled so far offensively this season, on the hot seat. But on Friday, Bauers silenced the naysayers.
Bauers hit for the cycle in the series opener against the Tigers, capping it off with a two-run homer in the eighth off Blaine Hardy. Bauers hit an RBI double in his first at-bat in the second and an infield single in the fourth before his team batted around, allowing him to record an RBI triple later that inning. The Indians rolled to a 13-4 victory.
“That’s something I never even thought about, hitting for the cycle,” Bauers said. “So to do it ... I don’t know. I don’t know what to say about it. Pretty speechless. Just happy, excited.”
The 23-year-old is the first Indians hitter to accomplish the feat since Rajai Davis on July 2, 2016. Bauers followed the Angels' Shohei Ohtani, who hit for the cycle on Thursday, becoming the first pair to do so on consecutive days since Tris Speaker and Chief Meyers on June 9-10, 1912.
“I mean everybody was thrilled for him, myself included,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It certainly helped lead us to a win, but just to see him swing kind of free and easy and to use the opposite field ... That was really good to see.”
The homer
When Bauers dove into third after serving his triple into left-center field, his mind immediately focused on the cycle. But in his final at-bat, he tried to ignore it. That was, until Shane Bieber stepped in.
“I was talking to him before I went up there and I told him, ‘I don’t know man, I think I’m just going to try and stay left-center and get a base hit where the shortstop should be,’” Bauers said. “And he’s like, ‘Dude, you've got to try to hit a homer.’”

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Shohei Ohtani Is First Japanese Born Player To Hit For The Cycle

L.A. Times reports:

Six years had passed since the Angels last had a player hit for the cycle. It finally came from one of the most likely sources Thursday, a stormy night in the Tampa Bay area that featured both a power delay and power display. Shohei Ohtani, last year’s American League rookie of the year, collected a single, double, triple and homer in a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. No other MLB player born in Japan had hit one until the Rays shifted their infield to the right, leaving the left side of the field exposed, and Ohtani beat them anyway with a seventh-inning single into shallow right-center field.
Ohtani began the night with a three-run homer in the Angels’ five-run first inning off Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough. He added a double third.
A fire at a nearby electrical substation caused a brief, complete loss of power and delayed the game 36 minutes with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. That didn’t stop Ohtani. He came to bat in the fifth after Angels starter Tyler Skaggs, who stayed in the game long enough to qualify for his first victory since May 13, finished retiring the Rays in order, and Ohtani hit a ball into the right-field corner. He beat the throw from Avisail Garcia easily for his first triple of the season.
Ohtani worked an eight-pitch at-bat in the seventh inning. With a 3-and-2 count, he fouled back two straight fastballs. Then right-handed reliever Hunter Wood dropped a slider into the inner third of the zone. Ohtani bounced it into right field for a single.
Angels in the dugout raised their hands, gesturing for the ball to be taken out of play. Ohtani had made history. Again.

Topps Chrome AARON JUDGE 30th Anniversary Rookie Card (MINT)

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Pro-baseball player Aaron James Judge was born on April 26, 1992 in Linden, California. He is the second adopted son of Patty and Wayne Judge, who were both teachers. The couple’s older son, John, also attended Linden High School. Aaron Judge showed brilliant baseball skills at an early age. He was a three-sport star in high school. Now,  Judge is a professional baseball outfielder in the MLB for the New York Yankees.

Justin Verlander Strikes Out 15 Brewers - All Swinging! reports:

On a night the Astros set a club record by striking out 24 batters, including a career-high 15 in seven innings by ace Justin Verlander, the Brewers made the most of their contact by slugging four homers, including a two-run shot by Mike Moustakas in the 14th inning for a 6-3 win on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park.
Moustakas crushed the first pitch he saw from lefty reliever Cionel Perez -- the Astros’ seventh pitcher of the game -- to break a 3-3 tie and score Christian Yelich, who led off the inning with a single. The Astros managed only five hits in 14 innings.
“You go back to opportunities missed or you go back to things they did well, but the bottom line is I’m proud of my guys for just kind of sticking through this,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “You battle and do all that and it’s a tough game. It’s a pretty remarkable game on the front end of it, and a pretty quiet game on the back end. They came up with a couple of big swings.”
The 24 strikeouts surpassed by one the club record set against the Cubs in Chicago on May 31, 2003. Houston relievers Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna followed Verlander’s brilliance by striking out two apiece in their innings. Josh James struck out the side in the 11th before leaving with lat tightness, and Perez fanned two, recording the record-breaking strikeout in the 14th by getting Travis Shaw looking. The first 23 strikeouts were swinging.
“I think it would feel a lot better if we won,” Verlander said. “Yeah, cool, great. But we didn’t win the baseball game.”

Monday, June 10, 2019

Former Slugger David Ortiz Rushed To Hospital After Being Shot In The Back reports:
Retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was shot and wounded at an amusement center in his hometown of Santo Domingo on Sunday.
The Red Sox released the following statement:
"Late last night we were made aware of an incident involving David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic. David’s family has confirmed that he sustained a gunshot wound to the lower back/abdominal region. David is being treated at Clinica Abel Gonzalez in Santo Domingo where he is recovering after surgery.
We have offered David’s family all available resources to aid in his recovery and will continue to keep them in our hearts."
Originally signed by the Mariners in 1992, Ortiz was traded to the Twins in 1996 and played parts of six seasons with Minnesota. Ortiz was released by the Twins and signed with the Red Sox in 2003.
The 43-year-old Ortiz belted 541 home runs overall in his career and led the Red Sox to World Series championships in 2004, 2007 and 2013 before retiring after the 2016 season. Ortiz was named MVP of the 2013 Fall Classic. During his 14 seasons with the Red Sox, he was a 10-time All-Star and a seven-time Silver Slugger winner. Ortiz also holds the Red Sox single-season record for home runs with 54, which he set in 2006.
Among designated hitters, Ortiz is the all-time leader in MLB history for homers (485), RBIs (1,569), and hits (2,192). He is eligible to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2022.
Ortiz currently serves as an MLB studio analyst for FOX Sports. He contributes to the network’s regular season, All-Star Game, postseason and World Series coverage.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Brett Gardner Gives Himself A Busted Lip After Throwing Helmet

Sometimes poor sportsmanship can come back and haunt a person when they least expect it! reports:
Brett Gardner was glad there were no cameras in the clubhouse on Saturday to capture the ugly state of his bottom lip, which had just received six stitches to close a wound.
Unfortunately for Gardner, a camera did capture the mishap that caused the split lip -- a batting helmet comebacker that struck Gardner square in the mouth after he had frustratedly thrown it at a dugout wall. By the time the Yankees’ 8-4 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field was complete, that video was all over social media.
“I just got done telling DJ [LeMahieu] last week that he shouldn’t throw his helmet in the dugout,” Gardner said. “Obviously, I was frustrated, came in and threw my helmet, and it came back and hit me in the face.”
The moment occurred in the sixth inning, after Indians right fielder Jordan Luplow made a terrific five-star catch of Gardner’s long fly ball in front of the wall in right-center field. For Gardner, who is now 1-for-his-last-23, getting robbed on that play, which Statcast gave just a 20 percent catch probability, was another frustrating moment in a week full of them.
And then injury was added to insult.
“It is frustration building up,” Gardner said. “We gave up the lead there and then I hit a ball like that and it’s an out. I told [manager Aaron] Boone if I hadn’t done it then, I would have done it after my next at-bat.”
Gardner was referring to his eighth-inning groundout, when he hit a ball with a 96.3 mph exit velocity that went right to the second baseman, Jason Kipnis.
“He’s just got to keep plugging away with it and making sure when you do get a pitch, a good fastball to hit, you take advantage of those situations,” Boone said. “It was good to see him get some good swings off.”
Alas, Gardner’s helmet toss was an all-too-perfect strike down the middle. Gardner said he’s guilty of injuring himself in such a way before, having once bopped himself in the head with a tossed helmet that bounded back and gave him a goose egg. But getting struck in the lip Saturday, he said, didn’t hurt that much.
“Not as bad as getting the stitches put in,” he said.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Craig Kimbrel Agrees To Deal With The Cubs

Kimbrel, for nearly a decade among baseball’s elite closers, reportedly agreed to terms with the Chicago Cubs, a source said Wednesday, concluding his seven-month free agency.

The deal was first reported by The Athletic.

A victim of the slow market, the chill of a qualifying offer and, perhaps, the more recent sight of him struggling in the postseason, Kimbrel seemed intent on challenging the market to come to him. He made $13 million last season, his third for the Boston Red Sox, then sat on the market into June. The largest free agent contract for a reliever this winter was $39 million over three seasons for Zack Britton, by the New York Yankees. Others free agent relievers -- among them Adam Ottavino, Andrew Miller, Jeurys Familia and David Robertson -- drew average annual salaries between $9-$12.5 million.
With the season a third gone, more than a handful of teams contending or hoping to contend had clear holes at or near the back ends of their bullpens. The Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays, among others, had reason to sign Kimbrel, whose preference, according to sources, was to close rather than serve as a setup man.
Kimbrel, 30, saved 42 games last season for the Red Sox, his third in Boston. He blew five opportunities. He wobbled some in the postseason, when in 10 2/3 innings over nine games he allowed nine hits, eight walks and seven runs. He also hit two batters. The resulting 5.91 ERA was three times his career ERA.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Cody Bellinger Is On Pace To Set All Time Single Season WAR Mark reports:
For the first two weeks of the baseball season, WAR goes dark. didn't roll out the first run of its all-encompassing stat until the morning of April 9, by which point the Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger was hitting .435, slugging .978 and on pace to hit 103 home runs and produce 20 wins above replacement.
All of those would be records, but, of course, paces like that never hold. Bellinger's home run pace fell behind 73 on the last day of April, his slugging percentage fell below .863 in early May, and his batting average dipped below .400 -- almost certainly for good -- last week. Yet one pace holds: More than a third of the way through the season, the third-year outfielder has 5.4 WAR, in 55 team games, on track for about 16.0. The single-season record is 14.1, by Babe Ruth in 1923.
This pace, too, likely cannot hold. But it's a rare occurrence when we can see, over such an extended period, what the greatest season of all time would even look like. This is what it looks like:
April 21: Bellinger entered play with 2.2 WAR, having hit .371/.477/.686 since April 9.

In his first at-bat against the Milwaukee Brewers, he fell behind 0-2 and then singled to drive in a run. In the second, he fell behind 1-2 and singled again, driving in another run. He then struck out looking and drew a walk, and in the eighth inning he robbed Christian Yelich of a home run. "Is there anything he can't do?" one of the game's broadcasters screamed.
Last year, there was. Bellinger struggled against lefties enough that he ended up in a platoon. (Most Dodgers were in platoons. It was a very deep roster.) But this year, he has hit .343/.438/.701 against lefties, the best left-on-left line in baseball, better than all but nine right-handed hitters. With the game on the line, he was facing Josh Hader, who has been tougher on lefties over the past couple of years than any other pitcher in baseball.
Hader got ahead and threw Bellinger a 1-2 slider. It was down the middle, and it's easy to say that Hader missed his location. But Bellinger used to swing and miss a lot, even on pitches down the middle. In his first two years, he whiffed on about 25 percent of middle-middle pitches. This year: 11 percent.

Even Hader's mistakes are difficult to hit, especially for lefties. As Bellinger swung, his hips cleared early and he hooked the ball deep and over the right-field wall for a home run, giving the Dodgers the lead and the win.
He finished the game with 2.7 WAR.
April 28: Bellinger entered play with 3.3 WAR, having hit .400/.500/.933 since the home run off Hader.
Bellinger hit a sacrifice fly in the first, then batted with one out and nobody on in the fourth. The Pirates' Trevor Williams got ahead 1-2, then threw a slider that was clearly below the bottom of the strike zone -- a called strike less than 1 percent of the time, according to ESPN Stats & Info. If you freeze the action a split-second before bat hits ball, Bellinger looks like he's just trying to make contact, a game of pepper, his back leg folding down:

Bellinger's ability to do damage this year can be traced to ... well, to almost everything. But one especially striking point is this:
On pitches out of the zone, he's hitting .320 and slugging .460. (This includes strikeouts.) It's even better to not swing at pitches out of the strike zone -- and he's chasing fewer of those this year than he ever has -- but nobody can avoid swinging at some wayward pitches, either because they're fooled or because they have to protect with two strikes, as Bellinger arguably did there. When he puts those pitches in play, he's slugging .639 and hitting .444.
Later in the game he would strike out and single. He finished the game with 3.5 WAR.
May 14: Bellinger entered play with 4.2 WAR, having hit .357/.449/.429 since the home run against Williams.
The Padres starter was rookie phenom Chris Paddack, who had a 1.55 ERA going into the game. Bellinger popped out in his first at-bat, then batted with a runner on first and two outs in the third.
Paddack fell behind 2-0, then got a foul (on a 2-0 changeup) and a called strike (on an inner fastball) to even the count. With two strikes, batters are hitting .110 against Paddack this year, nearly half of those at-bats ending in K's.
Paddack threw a 95 mph fastball in the upper half, and Bellinger fouled it off, and then came a curveball way low, which Bellinger managed to tap foul toward his first-base coach.

These two fouls don't seem like all that much in the moment, but Bellinger's ability to stay alive in two-strike counts has been dramatically better this year: In his first two seasons, he made contact with 72 percent of his two-strike swings. This year, it's 86 percent. This is how he has cut his strikeout rate from 24 percent (worse than league average) last year to 14 percent (among the league leaders) this year. And that's how he has been one of the league's half-dozen best two-strike hitters this year. He hit the seventh pitch from Paddack for an opposite-field home run.
Bellinger finished that game with 4.5 WAR.
May 27: Bellinger entered play with 4.9 WAR, having hit .286/.405/.629 since the home run off Paddack.
Bellinger popped out twice, drew an intentional walk, lined out and, against Jacob deGrom, homered. His game was more memorable for two defensive moments:
In the first inning, he threw out Michael Conforto at home with a perfectly placed throw.
And in the eighth, with the bases loaded and one out, he ended the inning by throwing out Carlos Gomez at third for a double play:
Those were Bellinger's sixth and seventh assists of the season, and they can be used to make the case for why Bellinger could break the all-time WAR record, or for why his early-season WAR is propped up by unsustainable defensive numbers.
The case for: WAR is the everything stat. It rewards (or penalizes) a player not just for his offense but his defense and his baserunning. Bellinger is one of the league's fastest runners and has one of its best arms. He can play center field well, and he's outrageously good in right. Now that he rarely strikes out and has improved his plate discipline, he is nearly flawless, perfectly built to help a team win in myriad ways (and pile up WAR).
Baseball Reference uses defensive runs saved for the defensive component of WAR. Bellinger, a third of the way through the season, has 16 DRS, on pace for nearly 50 runs saved. No right fielder has ever topped 40 DRS; Bellinger's 16 this year would have led the National League last year and nearly led in 2017. That's the case against: His WAR is built on too many defensive runs saved to take seriously.