Giancarlo Stanton, one of the most criticized athletes in New York, is looking like an All-Star once again.
In the Yankees’ 10-4 victory over the White Sox Friday night, Stanton went 2-for-4 with a homerun and two RBI. It was his 10th HR of the season and his third in the last three games.
Before Friday, in Stanton’s previous seven games, he batted .308, with five home runs, 14 RBI, and an .885 slugging percentage with an on-base percentage of .385. For the season, he’s hitting .277, with nine homers, 28 RBI, a .311 OBP, and a slugging percentage of .527.
Stanton made his MLB debut back in 2010 with the then-Florida Marlins and it was a complete success. During his eight years with the Marlins, he batted .268, with an on-base percentage of .360, and a slugging percentage of .554. Giancarlo, who went by Mike back then, was a four-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger winner, a two-time recipient of the Hank Aaron Award, and was named NL MVP after hitting 59 home runs and knocking in 132 RBI in 2017 — his final year with the team.
Stanton was traded to the Yankees in December of 2017 for Starling Castro, Jorge Guzman, and Jose Devers. This was the second time in MLB history that a player who hit at least 50 home runs would be traded the following offseason and it came just three years after he had signed a 13-year, $325 million extension.
Stanton’s first season with the Yankees was not awful by any means. He played in 158 games with a .266 average, 38 home runs, 100 RBI, a .343 OBP and a slugging percentage of .509. However, he drew a lot of criticism due to his 211 strikeouts — the most by a single player in Yankees history.
The 2019 and shortened 2020 season were not successful campaigns in any way. Stanton only played 41 games total due to several injuries. The fans were at the height of discontent with him at that point.
In 2021, Stanton missed some games due to injury, but not to the extent of 2019. In 2021, he played 139 games, he had 35 home runs and 97 RBI, but ended up striking out 157 times — again averaging more than one strikeout in every game he played in. Stanton has not earned a single honor during his four years in the Bronx.
Thes biggest criticism of Stanton has been his strikeouts. In every season he has played with the Yankees, he averaged more than one strikeout per game.
Yankees fans and media are arguing that his play has not matched the money the team is paying him but what they fail to realize is that this is not just a Stanton problem…
This is a baseball problem.
Baseball has been increasingly valuing the home run, and while home runs have been going up, so have strikeouts. Players around the Majors are essentially going all-or-nothing when up to bat. Expect strikeouts to be more and more common for everyone as long as this trend continues.
The Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball this season. Stanton is a big part of their success and he is definitely off to a great start.
The question is whether or not he can be consistent throughout the entire season, stay healthy, and be one of the best players in baseball… which is what Yankees fans and media were expecting when they traded for him.
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles is starting to get that Mookie magic once again.
Over Mookie Betts’s last seven games, he has a batting average of .346, with two home runs, and three RBI, with a .357 OBP and a .577 SLG. He has also scored seven runs for the Dodgers and not struck out a single time.
Before this stretch, Betts was off to a very slow start. In the first 15 games of the season, he was batting .203, with just two home runs and five RBI along with a .347 OBP, and a .339 SLG.
While Betts’ stats are definitely not up to his standards, one bright spot was that he was able to score 16 runs, meaning that while he has not been producing hits and driving people in, his on-base percentage has stayed relatively the same, as he was able to produce 12 walks during those 15 games.
The role of a leadoff man is to get on base, and for the power hitters to drive them in. While Mookie is an exception and is expected to do a lot more for the team, he still has done enough to help the Dodgers be one of the best teams in the early stages of this season.
Betts is currently in his third year with the Dodgers, and in the second of his 12-year, $365 million contract, which he signed back in 2020. His first year with the team was a complete success, as he was able to bat .292, with 16 home runs and 39 RBI in the shortened season, while earning All-MLB First Team honors, a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, and a championship to top it off.
Betts’s second season took a bit of a dip, as he only played 122 games due to a couple of stints on the injured list. He batted .264, with just 23 home runs, and 58 RBI, and his only accolade was an All-Star appearance, which is still very impressive, but not Mookie standards.
He was able to pick it up during last year’s NLDS, hitting 9-for-20, with one home run, but his struggles came back in the NLCS, as he went 4-for-23, with no home runs.
Many fans have been worried that Betts’ overall subpar beginning is a carry-over of last season. Over this entire season, Betts has batted .247, with an OBP of .350 and a total SLG of .412.
While the team’s success in its’ first 15 games has been more reliant on teammates like Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner, the Dodgers five wins in their last seven games can be directly-related to their typical leadoff man.
The Dodgers are the favorites in a lot of people’s eyes to win the World Series, and Betts will play a crucial role in trying to make that happen. Mookie will have to give the Dodgers the production that matches the back of his baseball card. If Mookie can be the same old Mookie that everyone knows, then that optimism can easily turn into a reality.
LOS ANGELES – It is already rare to have a pair of siblings both play a professional sport, but to play on the same team? Well, that is like finding a needle in a haystack. Enter the Naylor brothers.
Josh and Bo Naylor are players for the Cleveland Guardians organization. Josh is a first baseman, currently in the majors, while Bo is a catcher, currently on the Guardians AA affiliate, the Akron RubberDucks.
At 24 years-old, Josh is the older of the two and was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2015 draft by the Miami Marlins. He was then traded to the San Diego Padres in 2016, and ended up making his debut with the team in 2019. In 2020, he was traded again, this time to the Guardians, where he has batted .255, with eight home runs, and 28 RBI during his time with the team. Josh ended up making history in the 2020 playoffs, when he was the first player to go five for his first five career postseason plate appearances. In 2021, his season was cut short in late June when he suffered multiple fractures and ligament tearing in his right leg and ankle in a collision with teammate Ernie Clement.
Oh man…. Josh Naylor just had a nasty collision and is in incredible pain.
After last year’s unfortunate ending, Josh has been off to a very impressive start to the 2022 campaign. So far, he is batting .306, with one home run, and five RBI, to go with a .324 OBP, .444 SLG, and a .768 OPS.
The younger of the two brothers, Bo — currently 22 — was selected with the 29th pick in the 2018 MLB draft by the Guardians. In his 2022 campaign for the RubberDucks, Bo, whose first name is actually Noah, is batting .244, with one home run, and five RBI, with a .358 OBP, .422 SLG, and a .780 OPS.
Currently, there are no Black catchers in the Majors and there has not been an everyday Black catcher since Charles Johnson, who has been retired since 2005. Bo certainly has the potential to be the Guardians everyday catcher, and be the lone representative in the one position in baseball where Black players don’t get any shine.
Josh and Bo have some elite company, as there have been very few Black brother pairings in the history of the game. Some of the more notable Black brother pairings are Hank Aaron and his brother Tommie, who played together on the Braves in 1962-63, 1965, and 1968-1971, Chris and Tony Gwynn, who played together in 1996, and most-recently, Justin and B.J. Upton, who played together on the Braves and Padres from 2013 to 2015.
Josh and Bo have a third brother, Myles, who is currently in high school and has committed to play college baseball at Texas Tech. There have only been two trios in MLB history to play on the same team, and the Guardians clearly are fond of the Naylor family. Could the Naylor trio become the first Black trio to play together in MLB history? While unlikely, stranger things have happened.
LOS ANGELES – While several aspects of baseball are always changing, whether that is players changing teams or a rule change, some storylines just stay the same.
This is the case whenever Taylor Hearn of the Texas Rangers and J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners ended up battling it out. On Thursday, it was no different. Crawford went 1-for-2 against Hearn, hitting a three-run home run in the process. In his career against Hearn, Crawford is 8-for-14, with a pair of home runs, along with six RBI.
Along with that home run to Crawford, Hearn had a night in which he will try and forget. He only pitched three innings, giving up four hits, four walks, and five runs to go with only four strikeouts. Even with Hearn’s subpar outing, the Rangers came back and won, 8-6. Crawford has been off to a hot start this season, as he has a batting average of .310, an OPS of .934, and a SLG percentage of .500. Crawford has 5 RBI so far. His home run against Hearn was his first of the season.
On the other hand, Hearn has had a very shaky start to his season. He’s pitched a total of three games this season, never making it farther than the fourth inning. Hearn has no wins and one loss this year, with a 7.59 ERA, and with 18 hits and six walks to only 14 strikeouts. But we know the potential to have commanding stuff is there.
Both Crawford and Hearn had to battle in order to get to where they are today.
Crawford was drafted out of Lakewood High School in Southern California, getting drafted 16th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies back in 2013. He was a high prospect in their organization, but due to an injury-plagued campaign, he was never really able to get the ball rolling in Philly. In late 2018, when Crawford was dealt to the Mariners, he finally got his feet planted, and has never looked back. During his time with the Mariners, Crawford is batting .258, with 19 home runs, and 129 RBI.
Hearn was originally drafted three times, in the 22nd, 25th, and 36th rounds, respectively. He chose to play college baseball at San Jacinto College and Oklahoma Baptist University instead, and it paid off. He was drafted by and signed with the Washington Nationals in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. Hearn was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016. In 2018, Hearn was traded to the Rangers. He made his MLB debut in 2019. He was a reliever at first, eventually transitioning into a starter. Over his career, Hearn has six wins and eight losses, with a career 5.02 ERA.
The Rangers and Mariners don’t play again until early June, so it’s unlikely to see the pair again this season. If they do end up squaring off again this year, will history repeat itself, or will there be a change in fortune?
LOS ANGELES – While Nationals fans may not have much to look forward to this season, one bright spot is young right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray.
After a shaky first start against the Mets on April 8, Gray pitched a dominant five scoreless innings. He only allowed one hit, three walks and five strikeouts last Wednesday against the defending world champion Braves, earning his first win of the season.
This start shows Gray’s potential as a pitcher. Drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft by the Cincinnati Reds, Gray has played for three teams since his MLB debut. He was originally dealt from the Reds to the Dodgers in December of 2018, and then from the Dodgers to the Nationals near last season’s trading deadline.
Some critics argue that Gray isn’t an all-star player due to the frequency of his trades, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Gray has been a key piece in both of the blockbuster trades he was a part of.
He was traded to the Dodgers— along with Homer Bailey and Jeter Downs—for Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer. Gray was the main player that the Dodgers really wanted in that deal. The team released Bailey immediately, and Downs was traded away a year later.
When the Dodgers traded for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, Gray was the main asset that the Nationals wanted in return. A prospect who has the potential to help bolster that rotation, like Scherzer did for so many years.
Gray was terrific during his development in the minor leagues. His highest ERA in a season was 2.87.
He lost five games total, while winning 14 games. In addition, Gray has a four-pitch arsenal, averaging a solid 90 to 95 mph fastball, along with a good curveball, slider, and changeup.
Gray has all the attributes that a team wants in a star pitcher. The next step for Gray’s development is showing consistency.
In order to be the pitcher that the Nationals need him to be, and get the team back into playoff contention, Gray needs to consistently perform like his last start—showing that he can really hang and flourish in the big leagues, and that he is someone that they can very much count on.
Gray’s next start should be during the team’s upcoming series this week against the Diamondbacks in Washington D.C.
The Diamondbacks are projected to be one of the worst teams in all of baseball, so this will be a good chance for Gray to show how reliable and consistent of a pitcher he really is.