MLBbro Ballers Slugging It Out For AL Central Supremacy | Byron Buxton, Josh Naylor, Tim Anderson Will Decide Division

MLBbro Ballers Slugging It Out For AL Central Supremacy | Byron Buxton, Josh Naylor, Tim Anderson Will Decide Division

A few weeks back we spoke about how the American League Central division has gone from an expected landslide to a two-team race. Now most of us wrote off the Cleveland Guardians as an early season fluke and believed that the division would come down to Byron Buxton’s Minnesota Twins and Tim Anderson’s White Sox.

Wrong. With just under a month before All Star break, here’s a quick update on the AL Central race. 

Guardians Making Noise 

The word we heard most this year in regard to the Cleveland Guardians was “rebuild.” They traded the bulk of their best players away and seem to have placed a skeleton crew around remaining superstar Jose Ramirez. Fortunately for Guardians fans two young MLBbros have made sure that Cleveland is in the mix.

Triston McKenzie: Dr. Sticks Doing Work 

Starting pitcher Triston McKenzie has once again shown flashes of someone who possesses top of the rotation stuff. In 11 starts this season, Triston has maintained a 2.96 ERA while keeping his WHIP below one (0.93). So far, opposing hitters are hitting .184 against his fastball and an anemic .104 against his curveball.

 

 

Naylor Brother No. 1 

The other young bro doing work in Cleveland is first baseman Josh Naylor. Naylor was acquired from the San Diego Padres in 2020 and figures to be a major part of the Guardians’ future. Over his last seven games, Naylor is hitting .385 with an impressive .433 on base percentage.

 

 

The Guardians have won six consecutive series and are looking to put some space between them and the rest of the division.

Twins Trying To Stay Afloat 

The Minnesota Twins came out the gates firing and looked ready to run away with the division. Buxton was on fire and playing everyday, and they even had the addition of young MLBbro Royce Lewis send a spark through their lineup. Unfortunately for the Twins, things haven’t been as smooth lately. 

 

 

Minnesota lost Lewis for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, and Buxton has struggled at the plate. In his last seven games, Byron is hitting .179 with just two homers and three RBI. Minnesota is 5-5 in their last 10 games and have seen their early lead in the division evaporate. 

Buxton has been the key for any success in the Twin Cities, so a return to form will be necessary if they want to catch Naylor and the Guardians. 

White Sox Heating Up

The White Sox were 8-10 without their captain TA but had won four of their previous six games before Anderson was reinstated from the 10-day injured reserve list to start the Toronto series. Back for the first time in nearly a month, Anderson collected four hits in the first two games (both victories) like he never left. 

“His stroke is a thing of beauty,” said White Sox manager Tony La Russa. “I mean he can get to anything. He knows his stroke, and he stays within himself… He’s as good as anybody playing the position. Anybody. You pick the best, Tim Anderson is as good as there.”

 

 

Saying that TA can get to anything is no exaggeration. TA ranks in the bottom two percentile in chase rate, meaning he swings at more balls outside the strike zone than the majority of the league. But that doesn’t matter when you hit EVERYTHING. Anderson’s .358 average would be second in the league if not for his stint on IR.

Chicago is in the mix, but TA will need some support from his counterparts if they want to repeat as division champs. 

MLBbro Soul Patrol | Best Black Centerfielders In MLB

MLBbro Soul Patrol | Best Black Centerfielders In MLB

Over the weekend we lost another MLBbro from the major league ranks, as the Milwaukee Brewers decided to part ways with centerfielder Lorenzo Cain. Cain has yet to officially announce his retirement, but there are many around the game who believe this is it for LoCain.

With one less MLBbro manning the outfield and in memory of Willie Mays and Rickey Henderson — two of the greatest players to grace the diamond — let’s take a look at a few players who are still doing big things in centerfield. The position has always been one of supreme excellence and prestige and impact for Black and brown ballers. 

The Heavy Hitters 

The first two MLBbros on our list are the cream of the crop when it comes to Black centerfielders in today’s game. Elite centerfielders are not only the captain of the defense, but they are also elite at the plate. Names like the aforementioned Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and the OG Curt Flood are the standard when we speak on Black centerfielders who did it all, and these two young bros are working to carry that torch within this generation of ballplayers.

Byron Buxton 

Now if you’re a regular here at MLBbro.com, you know exactly where I’m going with this. When healthy, Buxton is the only centerfielder who consistently puts up numbers that mirror Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Mike Trout. Unfortunately, Buxton has played less than 100 games for three straight seasons. If he can stay on the field, Buxton can compete with any of the MLB’s elite.  

 

 

Cedric Mullins

Mullins put the league on notice last season. CM Storm stopped switch-hitting, taking all his AB’s exclusively from the left side of the plate and developing a more disciplined approach. His walk rate increased from 5.2 to 8.7 percent while his strikeout rate dropped from 24.2 to 18.5 percent. Mullins recorded the first 30-30 season in the 67-year history of Orioles baseball. 

 

 

Defensive Specialists 

While the bros mentioned above have the ability to affect the game in multiple ways, the next two centerfielders on my list are known specifically for their defense. They won’t blow you away with their offensive numbers, but if you’re a fan of intelligent defenders who make highlight reel catches, then you will love these next two MLBbros. Think Otis Nixon and Devon White. 

Michael Taylor 

The 2021 Gold glove winner, Michael A. Taylor used his elite speed to record an Outs Above Average of +15, which was second amongst all outfielders. As elite as he’s been defensively, his lack of impact at the plate will make it difficult for Taylor to move from defensive specialist to elite centerfielder.

 

 

Trent Grisham 

Grisham won the Gold Glove in the pandemic shortened 2020 season and has been a leader in advanced defensive metrics like Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average. The injury to Fernando Tatis Jr. has given Grisham an opportunity in the leadoff spot but he has struggled to find his rhythm at the plate. Grisham flashed 20/20 potential during his 2020 campaign, and a return to that form would make him an elite centerfielder.

 

 

Next Up?

Kyle Lewis

Following his 2020 ROTY campaign, Seattle Mariners Kyle Lewis was labeled by many as the next big thing in the Pacific Northwest. But unfortunately for Lewis and the Mariners, lower leg injuries and a recent concussion have turned excitement into indifference. If his fortunes turn, look for Lewis to reenter the conversation for best young centerfielder in the game.

 

Former NFL Wide Receiver Golden Tate Wants Two-Way Smoke With The Golden Sombrero

Former NFL Wide Receiver Golden Tate Wants Two-Way Smoke With The Golden Sombrero

Former NFL wide receiver Golden Tate may be done making plays on a football field, but he’s looking to extend his athletic career within our national pastime. Earlier this week, Golden signed a contract with the Port Angeles Lefties of the West Coast League.

Former MLB pitcher Jeff Samardzija is normally the name that people mention when referencing recent two-way athletes from the University of Notre Dame, but Tate was another member of the fighting Irish who made a name for himself on the diamond as well as the gridiron.

After only appearing in 18 games his freshman year, Golden racked up 73 hits in 55 games as a sophomore. He hit .329 with eight doubles and 4 triples while driving in 21 for Notre Dame and was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 50th round of the 2010 MLB draft, his second time coming off the draft board (He was taken in the 42nd round out of high school in 2007).

 

 

Tate will start in centerfield for the Lefties and is excited about the opportunity to revive his baseball career. 

“I am extremely thankful to the West Coast League and the Port Angeles Lefties for allowing me to join their league,” Tate said in a statement. “As some might know, I was drafted twice in baseball. As a child, my first love was baseball, so I’m excited about the opportunity to compete against some of the best young players in the league. I look forward to having a lot of fun and exploring baseball more.”

Tate is probably the most notable football player to take baseball seriously since Tim Tebow, and we all remember how that turned out. Only time will tell if Golden’s long-shot MLB dreams are legit, but if he’s able to dust off the cleats and eventually make it to The Show, he’ll join a special group of elite athletes who have played both professional football and baseball.

Tate is highly unlikely to join the ranks of Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders or Brian Jordan, but he’s already accomplished something special by being drafted in both leagues. Here are a few other recent Black NFL players who hold this distinction. Unfortunately, each player mentioned chose football over baseball, something that we’ve seen far too often over the past 30 years.

Russell Wilson

Russell was drafted in the 41st round out of high school in 2007 by Baltimore, and again in 2010 when the Colorado Rockies made him a 4th round selection.

 

Colin Kaepernick

Kap was selected in the 43rd round by the Chicago Cubs in 2009. 

Jameis Winston 

Winston was a 15th round pick out of high school by the Texas Rangers in 2012.

Shaq Thompson 

Shaq was drafted in the 18th round by the Boston Red Sox in 2012.

Kyler Murray 

Turned down $9M bonus from Oakland A’s to chase Heisman dreams at Oklahoma.