MLBbro.com reporter Rachel Hill has some words for Dodgers analyst David Vassegh of 570 AM, who blamed the fact that LA isn’t totally obliterating the rest of the NL West — and actually has some competition — on the supposed “failures” of former MVP and two-time World Series champion Mookie Betts.
Barry Larkin wanted to be a shortstop ever since he was a kid watching his idol, Ozzie Smith, on television. Growing up in the Cincinnati suburbs, Larkin wanted to play for the legendary Cincinnati Reds and replace Dave Concepcion at short.
He says his dream was to replace Concepcion and then become the greatest shortstop in Reds history.
“Born April 28, 1964, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Larkin was an honor student and athletic star at Cincinnati’s Moeller High School and enrolled at the University of Michigan with the idea of playing both baseball and football.
But when legendary UM football coach Bo Schembechler advised Larkin to redshirt his freshman year, Larkin’s path to Cooperstown began.”
June 2, 1985: With the fourth overall pick in the MLB Draft, the Cincinnati Reds select shortstop Barry Larkin from the University of Michigan. #RedsVault
After college, Larkin played on the 1984 US Olympic Team. When he got to the Reds, he eventually replaced Concepcion.
Larkin also wanted to wear No.1 to honor his idol Ozzie, but the equipment manager told Larkin the number was retired and permanently reserved for Fred Hutchinson.
Larkin had no idea who Hutchinson was, but he asked for No.11 to reinforce how much he admired and idolized “The Wizard of Ozzie”
Barry eventually wrestled the Gold Glove away from Ozzie, won an MVP Award, and had his number retired by the Reds also.
Of the great shortstops, Larkin possibly has the best compilation of skills: He could run as fast as teammate Eric Davis, he possessed the strongest arm among the shortstops of his generation — and only Ozzie was better with the web.
A multi-faceted batter, Larkin concentrated on hitting for average, stealing bases and setting the table. But he was capable of going deep when the situation called for it. He stole 51 bases in 141 games, while winning the NL MVP in 1995, but for some reason was criticized for not driving in enough runs, so he came back the following season and banged all his critics in the head with 33 home run and 36 steals at the age of 32.
The Injury Bug
It’s hard to discuss Larkin without mentioning his injury-riddled history. He was placed on the disabled list fourteen times in his career. He only had 6 seasons where he didn’t spend time on the DL.
Those injuries (legs, thumbs, knee, shoulders, and even his toe), sidelined him for 450 career games. That alone probably cost him another 450-500 hits with his batting prowess. The talent was always evident, but despite his HOF swag, and championship pedigree, he always faced criticism, and was even referred to as “Mr. Glass.”
He had to continuously prove himself and relied on a strong will to overcome setbacks.
Larkin was a 12-time All-Star, including his final season when he was still a valuable player. Despite his frequent absence from the lineup, Larkin was always a great teammate and team leader.
He was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012, following a career also garnered him an MVP (1995), World Series Title (1990), three Gold Glove Awards and nine Silver Slugger Awards.
He was simply a stud up the middle and one of the finest examples of MLBbro excellence at the shortstop position.
All Betts Are Off For LA Outfielder As Slump Continues
Mookie Betts’ numbers do not resemble those from years past, and his struggles are becoming more noticeable. This season through 45 games, Betts is batting .247 with 44 hits, 18 RBIs, and 27 runs.
Seems like good numbers, right?
Well not if you are familiar with the back of this former MVP’s baseball card.
Betts led the Dodgers to their first World Series Championship in 32 years during the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, where he batted .292 with 64 hits, 47 runs, and 39 RBIs in only 55 games.
His success garnered him a second-place finish in the National League MVP race, while also earning him a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award. Don’t forget his elite performance against the Tampa Bay Rays, where he homered to open the series in Game 1 and to close the series in Game 6.
It’s still early in the season, but Betts is moving past the slow start zone into “down year” territory.
Fans point to his new vegan diet as the culprit to his struggles.
For those clamoring for an explanation, blame it on father time.
Betts appeared in 145 or more games in four of his previous five seasons. That’s called wear and tear on the body. Adding insult to injury is just that, injuries!
In April, he missed four games due to back discomfort. Then he took an upper 90s mile per hour fastball to the inside of his elbow, which left him writhing in pain.
Don’t forget about the unfortunate two-ball tag that left men cringing across the globe.
Over the weekend, Betts missed two of three games due to discomfort in his left shoulder, which he later confirmed after telling the media that the injury has been bothering him throughout the month of May, but that is not the reason for his poor performance as sometimes you do not play well.
He told the Los Angeles Times, “I have shown that I can play at those high expectations and live by them. I am not mad at it by any means, as I do not mind expectations. It does not scare me at all.”
Billy Hamilton Showing That His Wheels & Wood Are Still Active
Billy The Slid put on a show this past weekend as he hit home runs in consecutive games to help his Chicago White Sox sweep the Baltimore Orioles.
After flexing his newfound power, the grizzled young veteran displayed his wheels in childlike fashion Tuesday night, with an inside-the-park home run.
However, you word the play, it was still impressive.
The guy has always been the prototypical centerfielder whose speed can cover all sorts of range while also going from base to base in a millisecond. Problem is, he couldn’t reach base.
Baseball insiders have always created the narrative that if Hamilton could figure it out at the plate and get on base more, he would take his current team to the next level and his performance is proving everyone right as the Chicago White Sox are leading the American League Central Division at 33-22.
Hamilton’s resurgence has contributed to his changed persona as he is going from “Billy the blur” to “Billy bats” through two months of play. If he can keep this production up, then those dreams of bringing another World Series Championship to the Southside of Chicago will soon come to fruition.
Roman Quinn Out For The Season With Ruptured Achilles
Philadelphia Phillies Outfielder Roman Quinn will undergo surgery this week on his left Achilles tendon. His expected recovery time ranges from nine to 12 months per source.
It seems the 28-year-old suffered the apparent injury as he was rounding third base. After falling to the ground, he showed the heart of a champion by hopping on one leg to score the tying run on May 29 vs. the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
With a skillset predicated on speed and agility, seeing him go down in that manner is heartbreaking as this is the second time he has suffered an Achilles tear, with the first tear taking place on his right side back in 2013.
His injury history, including both Achilles, reads like a laundry list.
He had a torn quad, a torn ligament in his middle finger, a finger contusion, a strained ligament in his elbow, an oblique strain, a groin strain, a broken toe, and a concussion, to name a few.
The speedy switch hitter through 28 games was averaging .173 with four stolen bases and two RBIs. In 512 career plate appearances, he is batting.228/,306/.355.
While wishing you a speedy recovery, we at MLBbro.com look forward to seeing Quinn back on the diamond in no time.
Through nine games this season, Wade Jr. has been on a tear. He’s batting .350 while slugging .550.
He missed some time during the season due to an oblique strain, but he returned in full force. Giants manager Gabe Kapler did not waste any time putting Wade Jr. in the lineup when he returned from his injury.
“We’re going to give Wade a chance to play and see how he looks,” Kapler said in an article from the San Francisco Chronicle. “He was swinging the bat very well when he went on the IL, and we want to give him an opportunity to show us what he can do.”
This guy has some versatility as well. Not only can he play the outfield, but he can also play first base. He’s already made it known that he knows how to hit. His debut with the Giants was one to remember.
MLBbro went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in his first game against the Colorado Rockies. Now that’s how you make an appearance to your new team right there.
When Wade Jr. has heard his name called, he’s stepped up so far this season. He’s on a five-game hitting streak and though he’s not an everyday player, he’s making a name for himself.
The Giants will have no choice but to find a place for Wade Jr. in the lineup if he continues to have this kind of success at the plate.
The Giants won their first game of the season against the Dodgers!
LaMonte Wade Jr. delivered the go-ahead hit in extras.
In 2019, Wade Jr. made his MLB debut. The Twins promoted him to the big league roster and he appeared in his first game on June 28 against the Chicago White Sox. He played in 26 games, finishing with a .196 batting average.
The next season he saw his batting average increase during the shortened season. He finished with a .231 batting average through 16 games.
The Twins selected Wade Jr. in the ninth round of the 2015 draft. Our MLBbro put together an impressive performance during his time in the minors. In 2016, he started in the Midwest League All-Star Game. That season he finished the season batting .293 and hit eight home runs.
The years later he was named a Southern League mid-season All-Star and was promoted to the Rochester Red Wings of the Class AAA International League in June of 2018.
This man was one of the top prospects in the Twins’ organization and he put the work in to get that recognition.
The Twins traded Wade Jr. to the Giants earlier this year and right now it’s certainly looking like the Giants are benefitting from that trade.
Don’t be surprised to see more of Wade Jr. in the lineup for the Giants as he continues to swing a hot stick.