Mlbbro.com’s Mark Gray brings Gen Z and Gen X baseball minds together to discuss the Black players who are leading the resurgence of African-American talent into the game of pro baseball.
Cedric Mullins used to be known for bunting and speed. Now he’s just known for mashing. The Orioles centerfielder smacked two homers against the struggling New York Yankees on Monday night to raise his batting average to .365, good for seventh in the league. He’s also 14th in OPS, joining (.996) joining Michael Brantley (.966) of the Astros as the only two Black Knights in the Top 20 in OPS.
Mullins went 3-for-4 with two bombs, two runs scored and two RBI.
— Baltimore Orioles 😷 (@Orioles) April 27, 2021
He did everything but cut the grass and sell the hot dogs in leading the surprising (10-13) Orioles to a 4-2 win over the last-place Yankee in the AL East.
The 26-year-old rising star has been a Yankees killer this season. He hit a bomb off the pinstripes on April 7th to help lift Baltimore to a 4-3 11-inning win. That was a game that set the tone and the AL East rivals know they weren’t going to lay down for anybody this season.
I think the rest of the league is finally starting to take Mullins seriously. At first, Mullins’ success was a nice little story about a guy who started the season on a hot streak.
The Beast Of The East continues to feast on Yankees pitching and is still turning up and showing out. Pitchers are going to stop challenging Mullins like he’s still that young guy trying to find his way because he’s making them pay like the IRS. Taking lunch money like The Gooch. What we’re seeing is the emergence of a superstar and an MLBbro who is not only fun to watch but impacting the game in a major way.
The Major League Baseball season has completed a week’s worth of games and several MLB Bros are already making major noise. From seemingly earning the keys to the city to being atop the leaderboards in major statistical categories, their impact has been felt.
Here are my #HighFive players through the first week of the 20201 MLB season.
“BADDOO, BADDOO, BADDOO and one more by BADDOO.”
Akil Baddoo of the Detroit Tigers takes the top spot after one of the best opening weeks we have seen in a long time. It began Sunday, as he hit a home run on the first MLB pitch ever thrown in his direction. The blast did much to relax his mother in the stands, who said she could “finally eat a pretzel” after.
On Monday he hit a grand slam. On Tuesday he came off the pine to smoke a walk-off single to beat the rival Twins. Wednesday, he completed his magical week with an RBI triple and an outfield assist.
Real Deal Akil is the first Tiger’s player with an RBI in each of his first four career games since Ron Cash in 1973. Baddoo has been all over the highlight tapes this season and is giving his entire city life.
“They used to call me Sacrifice Ced…But now they call me Bat Man Mullins”
Cedric Mullins went from being a utility bunt master to a legit all-around hitter and starting centerfielder at the top of the O’s lineup this season.
His .480 batting average places him second in the league. He’s also tied for 2nd in hits with 12, five of which came in a perfect 5-knock day against the Red Sox.
Mullins continued his newfound power stroke, blasting a home run on Wednesday night against the Yankees.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 8, 2021
The Baltimore leadoff hitter smashed his first home run of the season in Wednesday’s 4-3 extra-innings game against the Bronx Bombers. Mullins is a huge part of this young team on the rise. Don’t look now, but at 4-2 the Orioles are in sole possession of first place in the AL East
“Big Drip In The Big Apple”
The only pitcher in my #HighFive is Marcus Stroman. Stroman’s Mets had an odd beginning to the season as their first series against the rival Nationals was canceled due to a Washington Covid outbreak.
He made his first start of the year Tuesday night against the Phillies and was electrifying as usual, baffling the Phillies with an array of pitches and arm angles and a unique savvy that few pitchers possess.
This #MLBbro has some of the most swag in the league from his pregame outfits to his cleats. Tonight Marcus Stroman @STR0 rocks the Do Rag in his first start of the season LIVE Now on ESPN #LGM #MLBbros pic.twitter.com/GwcfxQYLKZ
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 6, 2021
He threw six innings of three-hit ball, striking out three and giving up only one run on a Didi Gregoris homer. He did this, all the while keeping his swag and his mound strut on 100. Must watch TV.
There will be plenty of eyes on the Mets this season and Stroman, a Long Island product welcomes the bright lights. He is a part of one of the strongest rotations in baseball and will be a key in what will be a tough NL East race.
Remaining healthy, of course, is the key for Stroman and if he can get 30 starts his performance is sure to be at an All-Star level.
“If it’s up then it’s up then it’s up then it’s Buck”
Byron Buxton missed one game this week due to a non-Covid related illness, but that did not keep him down long as he hit a pinch-hit game-tying home run in the late innings on Tuesday.
He’s batting .357, tied for second in MLB with 3 bombs, and has a hit in every game he has played in.
Injuries have been a problem in the past for Buxton. He’s one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game and is starting to find power at the plate after hitting 13 home runs last season in 39 games. If he can put it all together, Buxton is a dark horse MVP candidate.
“Only God Can Judge Me”
Aaron Judge rounds out this list and if he can stay healthy I believe he will be at the top of it in no time. Entering last night’s game against the O’s, the New York slugger was batting .364 batting average and 5 RBI’s.
He hit home runs in back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday including a three-run 8th-inning homer to break open the game against Baltimore.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 7, 2021
The power is there, and as he gets comfortable in the new year expect big things from Judge. #ALLRISE
Stay Tuned for the next High Five list highlighting the best Black and brown baseball players of the week.
Just when you thought it was safe to turn away from the TV, Real Deal Akil Baddoo comes through on Tuesday with his first career walk-off hit.
Real Deal @AkilBaddoo comes through in walk-off fashion.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 6, 2021
It’s the bottom of the 10th inning with runners on first and third. Real deal Akil Baddoo faces a 2-1 pitch count and rips an RBI single to right field to give the Detroit Tigers a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
This has been a week of firsts for the Class A baller who seemed to come out of nowhere, hitting an Easter Sunday homer on the first pitch he saw in his MLB career. The feat landed him in the Tigers history books as the ninth player to go yard in his first career at-bat.
He followed that performance with a two-out Grand Slam against the Twins on Monday afternoon, making Real Deal the only player in franchise history to homer in his first two career games.
After being showered by the team with a Gatorade ice bath, Baddoo, during his post-game press conference, said:
“Always stay ready. Be ready for your shot, be ready to shine and take advantage of it, and that’s what I did.” He added, “I was looking for something off-speed, I got it, and we ended up getting the dub.”
Real Deal Akil entered Tuesdays’ matinee as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the eighth inning. (Don’t ask us why he was on the bench, to begin with) which ultimately landed him in rightfield, where he later ended the game with one swift flick of the wrist.
“He’s been looking forward to these moments for his entire life, and he’s taking the opportunity and running with it,” said A.J. Hinch during the post-game press conference.
Hinch goes on to say, “One of the things we’ve talked about since day one is his maturity, his calmness, and demeanor. There’s so much to like about him in those moments, and clearly, early in his career, he’s showing he can step up pretty big for us.”
After Tuesdays’ heroics, he is the only player with two home runs and a walk-off hit in his first three career games since Clevelands Josh Bard in 2002. He’s also the first Tigers player with a walk-off hit within his first three career games since Gabe Alvarez did it in 1998.
Akil Baddoo hit the ground running with two homers in his first two career starts, including a grand slam on Monday. The unknown prospect has become an overnight sensation for the Detroit Tigers. @carrpediem21 is in the Three Spot today with A Bro You Need To Know. pic.twitter.com/wvxYGkLltT
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 6, 2021
Baddoo was an unknown prospect that never played above Class A until this season. He spent most of 2020 recovering from Tommy John’s surgery on his left (throwing) elbow, which derailed his 2019 campaign.
While formulating his comeback, Baddoo sought inspiration on film from some of the game’s most notable names, like Ken Griffey Jr, Barry Bonds, and Willie Mays, who are his three favorite players.
If he keeps raking like this, he too could be mentioned amongst the greats one day.
Next for the Tigers is the series finale against the Twins, with the first pitch scheduled for Wednesday at 1:10 p.m.
Akil Baddoo hit the ground running with two homers in his first two career starts, including a grand salami on Monday. The unknown prospect, who never played above Class A Ball, has become an overnight sensation for the Detroit Tigers.