Wood Work | Can J.P. Crawford’s Power Surge Last?

Wood Work | Can J.P. Crawford’s Power Surge Last?

J.P. Crawford’s vibes at the plate have been immaculate as he is posting the best hitting numbers of his career through the first few months of the season.  He’s especially been a killer at the plate to begin the month of June, showing he can be as effective in the batter’s box as he is on defense with his Gold Glove.

 

In a season that has been filled with injuries and multiple lineup shuffles for the Seattle Mariners, there has been one constant. Crawford, the starting shortstop, has been a mainstay in Seattle’s lineup appearing in all but one game this season.  He has batted leadoff, fifth and seventh, but has not waivered at the plate.  

He entered Sunday’s game batting .257 with 19 RBI and three home runs, which have all come within the last month; two of which came last week in games against the Texa Rangers and Los Angeles Angels.

Friday night’s blast against the Angels goes down as the longest home run of Crawford’s short career.  On just the second pitch of the game, he sent Angels’ two-way player Shohei Ohtani’s 92mph fastball 430 feet to the right field bleachers.  

Crawford came into this season with a few more pounds to help improve his power, although it didn’t show much during the first part of the season.  Another improvement he made is seen in his numbers when facing left-handed pitching.

This season, Crawford is batting .328 with six doubles against lefties.  To put that into perspective, in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, he hit .242 and in 2019 he only had an average of .160.

 

The month of June is looking like it will be a prosperous one for Crawford.  Entering Sunday, he had a .368 batting average, three doubles, three runs, three RBI and a home run through the first five games.

His defense hasn’t faltered much this year despite the improvements seen on offense.  He leads all Major Leaguers in double plays turned with 38 and his Range Factor has him tied for second.

There is still no timetable on when last season’s American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis will be back after his meniscus injury. Hence, Crawford needs to continue to be a consistent part of a young Mariners team that is growing each day.  

Seattle will travel to Detroit this week for a three-game series against Baddoo Mania and the Tigers.

#HIGHFIVE | Top 5 Black & Brown MLB Players (Week 9)

#HIGHFIVE | Top 5 Black & Brown MLB Players (Week 9)

Marcus Semien was a man possessed throughout the entire month of May. He was in a zone that landed him the American League Player of the Month award after leading all of baseball in hits, OBP, and WAR. 

That earns him the top spot on Week 9 of our #High Five list.

 

1. Marcus Semien 

Semien made a strong case to be the American League starter at 2nd base in next month’s Summer Classic All-Star Game in Denver.  He launched eight home runs, tied for 3rd in the league with 23 runs scored, and led all of baseball with 42 hits, a 1.130 OPS. and a 2.3 WAR.

He made sure to close out the month on a high note by hitting .417 with seven runs and six walks in his last seven games.  He even extended his hit streak to 10 games after recording a hit and two runs in Wednesday’s game against Jazz Chisholm and the Miami Marlins.

 

 

The Blue Jays are migrating out of Florida and have begun playing games in Buffalo; bringing them a little closer to the Toronto faithful.  Semien will look to keep the party going a little higher up on the east coast.

 

2. Billy Hamilton

Billy Hamilton has helped bring some much-needed sauce and energy to the South Side of Chicago.  Injuries have riddled their outfield yet Hamilton’s play has been exemplary and a key reason why Chicago is holding fort atop the American League Central.

 

 

Hamilton is known for being one of the greatest base stealers of our generation but flexed his power this past weekend by hitting his first two home runs of the season in back-to-back games against Cedric Mullins and the Baltimore Orioles. He’s come a long way since his minor-league base saga.

READ NOW: Billy Hamilton Is Keepin’ It 100

Tuesday Hamilton gave us one of the most exciting plays of the year when he hit a little league home run against the Indians.  It was ultimately scored a double with a few errors, but at the end of the day, he made it around the bases with one swing.  

He crushed a ball to the right center field wall and dashed around the bases.  After a throw to the catcher was misplayed, Billy charged into home plate and scored after diving headfirst.  He earned a bloody lip and swollen face for his efforts but he needed every ounce of speed in order to get in safely.

Hamilton and MLBbro teammate Tim Anderson will lead the White as they look to dominate the Tigers during their upcoming weekend series at home.

 

3. Taijuan Walker Mets 

Taijuan Walker ranks 4th in MLB with a .184 ERA.  He’s surrendered just one run in his last 22 innings entering Thursday night against San Diego and MLBbros Trent Grisham and Tommy Pham. Fly Tai has been a consistent force almost every time out, allowing just 10 runs in 49 innings entering Thursday. If the Mets said they knew they were getting a potential Cy Young candidate when they picked up Walker to be a solid piece in the rotation, they’d be lying.

 

 

But that’s exactly how the melanated mound marauder is dealing. 

4. Tommy Pham 

Speaking of Tommy Pham, after a slow start he’s really found a groove and his veteran presence has been a big part in the San Diego Padres fight for the National League West crown early on this year.  

In his last seven games, Pham’s recorded nine hits and four RBI while posting a .321 batting average.

 

 

Last Saturday night he went 2 for 4 with two walks, a home run, two RBI, two runs scored, and got to take home the biggest gold chain in baseball, the Padres swag chain which is earned after players go deep.

5. Cedric Mullins

The Baltimore center fielder has been one of the most consistent players in baseball through the first two months.  He has hits in nine of his last 10 games with a .333 batting average during his current run.  

 

Mullins was a huge factor in the Orioles’ two-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins.  He began their game Wednesday with a leadoff triple on his way to going 2-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base.  This week he reached 100 total bases in a season for the first time in his career and he still has a long way to go.

Demarcus Evans & Jason Martin Are Blacking Out on The Texas Rangers

Demarcus Evans & Jason Martin Are Blacking Out on The Texas Rangers

Demarcus Evans and Jason Martin forced their way onto the Texas Rangers’ big league roster after dominating during their first few weeks of the minor league season. 

Now, they’ll look to prove they belong after a few injuries will give them a chance at earning major playing time.

These two MLBbros will have to answer to high expectations from Rangers’ fans.  Both were called up from Triple-A last week after the team lost pitcher Kyle Gibson and outfielder David Dahl.

 

Black Arm On The Rise

Evans literally started his career off with a bang in September of 2020. He gave up home run number 662 to the great Albert Pujols and then beaned fellow MLBbro Justin Upton in the head before retiring the sides. He didn’t give up another run that season in four total innings pitched.

 

 

So far this season, he’s duplicated his 2020 stats, allowing one run in his four innings of work, while his strikeouts have increased. And he will have many more innings pitched this season if he continues to deal. 

Evans has been schooling his opponents since being drafted out of Petal High School in Petal, Mississippi in the 25th round of the 2015 draft.  

He was named the Rangers 2018 minor league Reliever of the Year after going 4-1 with a 1.77 ERA while striking out 103 batters in just 56 innings for the Hickory Crawdads in Class A South Atlantic League. 

In 2019, he was called up to Double-A to play for the Frisco Roughriders.  There, he went 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA and 60 strikeouts in just under 38 innings.  That earned him the 2019 MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year award as well as winning the Rangers minor league Reliever of the Year award for the second season in a row.

Evans is an MLBbro that’s on the verge of breaking out.

 

Jason Martin Is Up Next

To keep it simple, if Jason Martin can hit, Rangers’ manager Chris Woodward will have no problem keeping him in the lineup.  And really, Martin’s been mashing since Spring Training.  

 

 

He continued to punish baseballs in the 15 games he spent in Triple-A Round Rock. Martin hit seven home runs and drove in 16 runs while having a  .755 slugging percentage and.413 on base percentage.

Martin originally was drafted by the Rangers’ Silver Boot Rival Houston Astros in the 8th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.  During the 2018 offseason, he was involved in the trade package that sent him and a few others to Pittsburgh in exchange for Gerrit Cole.  

Jason made his Major League debut for the Pirates on April 5, 2019.  He singled in his first career at-bat and with his performance in that game joined Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata as the only Pirates since 1948 to record a hit, a run and steal a base in their Major League debut.

 

 

After shoulder surgery held him to only appearing in seven games in 2020, Martin became a free agent and signed with the Rangers on December 14th, 2020. He recorded his first hit and stolen base of the season while pinch-hitting in the 8th inning of Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Mariners.

With Dahl out for the foreseeable future and Kris “Krush” Davis struggling early, Martin can earn a spot on a Rangers’ roster that is full of young yet unestablished talent.

Evans and Martin join California-born left fielder Willie Calhoun, flame-throwing reliever Taylor Hearn and Davis as MLBbros on the active roster for Texas.  

You can watch them this week play a three-game set against interleague rivals, the Colorado Rockies. 

Justin Dunn Is A Masterful Pitcher | His 15 Straight Quality Starts Leads The American League

Justin Dunn Is A Masterful Pitcher | His 15 Straight Quality Starts Leads The American League

Always remember that in many instances — pitching, for example — quality trumps quantity.  Justin Dunn’s pitching performance for the Seattle Mariners this season is a prime example of such an instance. 

With his victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night, Dunn extended his American League-leading streak of 15 straight starts of allowing three or fewer runs.

Pitching is just different in 2021. Black in the day, pitchers were expected to throw longer into games than we see now.  Rarely do we see a complete game thrown, let alone a starter even reach the seven or eight-inning mark.  

With managers having the option of going to four or more guys in their bullpen who can throw 95 mph and above with dirty movement, the role of the starting pitcher now is to keep his team in a position to win, rather than go deep into games.

Throughout this season, and even extending into last, Dunn has been one of the best in baseball at getting this done.  

 

Since August 23, 2020, Dunn has been stingy, allowing three or fewer runs in his last 15 starts. Particularly, he has been heating up over his last three starts, and this could be the best stretch of his young career. 

Dunn, from Queens New York, has never been the biggest, hardest-throwing, or most intimidating pitcher, so he’d dealt with people doubting him and knocking him for not measuring up to the metrics. Those funny numbers that, falsely determine who has the goods, while overlooking things such as natural talent and heart.

In his last start this past weekend, Dunn went 5.2 innings, striking out eight and allowing one run in a 3-2 victory aided by MLBbro shortstop J.P. Crawford’s second home run of the season. Dunn’s stat line was very similar just two starts ago when he struck out a career-high nine in a loss to the Detroit Tigers.  In his last three games, Dunn has an ERA of 2.20 and a WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) of 0.92.

Dunn’s beginning to find his All-Star stride on the mound. He was drafted by the New York Mets in the first round of the 2016 draft after posting a 2.06 ERA in his junior season at Boston College.

Going into the 2018 season, Dunn was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Mets farm system.  

Later that year,  he was involved in a trade that sent him to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for one of the best second baseman of our generation in Robinson Cano (who was aging at the time) and closer Edwin Diaz.  Justin made his MLB debut on September 12, 2019, against the Cincinnati Reds.

Dunn recorded a 4.34 ERA in 10 starts during the Covid l9-shortened 2020 season. 

 

The kid they used to count out is currently putting together a quality resume for 2021. He has a 3.18 ERA and has struck out 45 batters this year.  

Opponents have not been able to make solid contact on him either. His .168 batting average against is good for the second-lowest in the American League behind the White Sox’s Carlos Rodon. 

Dunn and MLBbro rotation partner Justus Sheffield are one of two rotations in baseball that feature two black starters.  The other rotation resides in Flushing, Queens and consists of  Black Knights Marcus Stroman and Taijun Walker. 

Sheffield got the job done for the Mariners Friday night as he was awarded the win after going five innings allowing just two runs on six hits.

 

 

Dunn’s current streak of 15 straight starts, allowing three or fewer runs is good for the fourth-longest such streak in Mariners’ history trailing Seattle legend Felix Hernandez, Roenis Elías and Erik Bedard.

Dunn’s next start is Friday in Los Angeles as he and High Five member Kyle Lewis take on Justin Upton and the Angels.

#HIGHFIVE | Top 5 Black & Brown MLB Players Week 8

#HIGHFIVE | Top 5 Black & Brown MLB Players Week 8

Two MLB bros from the Nation’s capital have been making headlines with their plate and field performances. 

Washington Nationals‘ first baseman Josh Bell takes the top spot in this week’s #HighFive list that also features his longtime teammate Josh Harrison.

 

1. Josh Bell

The former Pittsburgh Pirate has seen his numbers rise after a slow start to the 2021 season.  In his last seven games, Bell is batting .385 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI while slugging .654.  Just this past Monday, Bell was featured on our “Home Boi Highlights” segment for his performance last week, when he batted .429. 

 

 

The former All-Star was traded to the Nationals in December with hopes of him helping to get them back to the World Series.  He has worked his way into the three-hole spot in the lineup and in a competitive National League East could be the difference in whether or not they make the playoffs.

 

2. Marcus Semien

I do not think anyone had a better month of May than Marcus Semien.  He leads all of baseball with 35 hits this month after hitting back-to-back home runs with his double play partner Bo Bichette in game 1 of the Blue Jays doubleheader Thursday.  

In the last seven games, Semien has hit three home runs, slugged 742, and almost hit for the cycle in last Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

 

This season Semien is making the statement that he is the best 2nd baseman in baseball.  His 13 home runs and 31 RBI lead all second baseman by a wide margin.

 

 

3. Josh Harrison

One of the most exciting bros in baseball makes his well-deserved first appearance on our #Hig Five list this season.  Josh Harrison hit a huge grand slam last Saturday that had the DMV going crazy.  He has 7 hits in his last 21 at-bats while driving in five runs. 

 

 

Harrison owned the Orioles in their three-game winning series batting .500 to power a clean sweep of their Beltway Series rival.

 

4. Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge is probably going yard as I write this list because he’s been on fire. As a matter of fact, there it goes, a two-run homer against the Toronto Blue Jays to tie Thursday night’s game at 3-3 and help propel the Yankees to a crucial 5-3 win. Judge executed his role as a stopper to perfection, helping the Yankees salvage the last game of a three-game series. 

 

 

During his recent hot streak Judge has been more than a home run hitter, even walking off for a win, via the base on ball. 

In his last seven games entering Thursday, the Fresno State alum was batting .348 and walked four times, which is always good to see from a power hitter. His contact-first philosophy has fueled his elevation towards the Top 10 in American League batting leaders. He doesn’t have any room for regression, especially with Twin Tower and MLB bro teammate Giancarlo Stanton still on the shelf.

 

5. Kyle Lewis

After missing the beginning of the 2021 season with a leg injury, it has taken last year’s American League Rookie of the Year a few weeks to find his groove. But he’s getting ready to start dancing like Mike soon.  

 

 

He had both a .400+ OBP and slugging percentage in his last seven games and recorded at least one hit in six of them.  

He’s shown flashes of power this season including the bomb he hit on Monday in Oakland. His bat flip only warrants a 7/10 rating and will be looking for him to impress us a little more when he connects on his next one.