Some of the moves made at this year’s trade deadline will turn out to mean nothing, while others may be the difference between winning a division crown or scrapping for a wild card spot. It’s still too early to determine winners/losers, but let’s take a look at who on paper made the best moves.
San Diego Padres
No team in the major leagues made more noise at the deadline than the San Diego Padres, something that has rang true the last several trade deadlines. The Padres understand that in order to knock off a juggernaut like the Los Angeles Dodgers, you have to stockpile talent in a similar fashion.
Acquiring a generational talent like Juan Soto along with a lights out closer in Josh Hader would be enough for most squads, but the Padres wanted more. Along with Soto, San Diego scooped up switch hitting first baseman Josh Bell. On Tuesday we spoke about how Bell could find himself on a playoff contender after the break, and here we are.
Two of our young MLB bros were a part of this deal, as shortstop C.J. Abrams and outfielder James Wood will make their way to Washington to join starting pitcher Josiah Gray as a part of the Nationals core of young talent.
The Padres welcome Juan Soto and Josh Bell to San Diego.
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have done the bulk of the heavy lifting for the Bronx Bombers this year, even with Stanton’s recent trip to the IL. Brian Cashman may have slipped up this offseason when he didn’t extend Judge, but he was on point at the deadline.
The Yankees acquired starter Frankie Montas, relievers Lou Trivino and Scott Efforts along with former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi from KC and look poised to make a World Series Run. Every pitcher the Yanks traded for is under team control, which means that if they can resign Judge in the offseason there will be plenty of help in every aspect already with the team.
It’s officially the World Series or bust in the Bronx, a feeling they haven’t had in awhile.
The Twins are trying to hold off both Cleveland and Chicago, so standing pat simply wasn’t an option for Byron Buxton’s squad. The Twins acquired one of the best closers in the game this season when they plucked Jorge Lopez from the Orioles, and then added even more pitching by acquiring Cincinnati starter Tyler Mahle before the deadline passed.
Buxton and the Twins will have their hands full down to close the season, but the fact that Minnesota was the most active team in the division should give them plenty of confidence headed into the home stretch.
After losing the World Series AND superstar shortstop Carlos Correa, there were some around baseball who wondered just what Dusty Baker’s ballclub would look like going forward. Fast forward to the midpoint of the season and Baker’s boys look poised at another World Series run.
Like most great front offices, the Astros braintrust saw this and decided to stockpile more weapons as we head into the playoff push. They acquired Trey Mancini from the forever rebuilding Baltimore Orioles and Christian Vazquez from the Red Sox, two players who project to contribute immediately for the Stros.
High Five Top 10 MLBbros of the first half of the season
Aaron Judge is earning one of the biggest bags in all of baseball with his 2022 season
His league-leading 33 home runs before the All-Star Break is tied for the most in franchise history and he has his Yankees on top of baseball with 64 wins.
Judge started in his fourth career All-Star Game, leading all players with 3,726,498 votes.
The American League MVP race will most likely come down to Judge and the Angels Unicorn Shohei Ohtani, who won the award last year.
Considering Vlad Jr. nearly won the Triple Crown and still lost the race to Ohtani last year, Judge will need to hit at least 60 home runs and have the Yankees with the best record in baseball in order to gain a leg up.
“We need more Black people in the stadium,” was the message on Dodgers superstar outfielder’s shirt during All-Star Game batting practice.
Today in the Lead Off: When asked about his shirt by https://t.co/DG3CFND3cB reporter @_teammill, Betts’ response was, “there’s not a lot of Blacks in baseball, so I’m trying to change it.”
Those who have seen Betts at ballparks across the nation this year have been treated to a show on a nightly basis.
He’s having one of the best years of his career as he is on pace for a career-high number of homers with 20 already, and an RBI total that’s right in line with what he did in his MVP season in 2018.
Betts is batting .265 with an .863 OPS this season. His Dodgers lead the National League with 60 wins, which is important considering the team with the best record in each league gets a bye in round one of the playoffs.
Stanton has been Aaron Judge’s right-hand man this season with 24 home runs, just two behind Astros’ Yordan Alvarez for second in the American League.
Stanton showed off his home run power in his hometown of Los Angeles during his fifth career All-Star Game, hitting a two-run home run into the same left field bleachers he sat at as a kid.
There is no player you know it’s a home run quicker than Stanton ☄️
The American League Central race will be one of the more interesting coming down the stretch, and Anderson’s play will be a huge factor for which team goes on an early vacation.
Devin Williams has not given up a run since May 10th and is making his case to be the best reliever in baseball. The 2020 National League Rookie of the Year was a last-minute addition to the All-Star team but worked a clean inning in Tuesday night’s game.
Williams is leading the Majors in holds with a 1.77 ERA with 59 strikeouts this year.
In June, batters hit only .032 against him, and in July that number stands at 1.43.
Getting to watch Byron Buxton in a pennant race is going to be something special.
The five-tool outfielder is one of the biggest playmakers with the bat and glove in the Majors and he proved it on the biggest stage when he went back-to-back with Giancarlo Stanton in this year’s All-Star Game.
Buxton’s homer turned out to be the decisive blow in the 3-2 win for the American League. Although he did not win the MVP award, he did win a fan a season’s supply of beer.
His 23 home runs rank fifth in the American League, but he will need to get his .216 average up if he wants to get his Minnesota Twins into the playoffs and over the hump of the Wild Card Game.
Jazz Chisholm Jr.
On the back of a solid first full season in the Majors, Jazz Chisholm Jr. is putting up better numbers in almost every offensive category.
In addition to his personal highs, Chisholm also leads Miami in most hitting statistics and became the first ever Bahamian player to be named an All-Star and would have been the first starter had it not been for a back injury he suffered a few weeks before the break.
“The Bahamian Blur” will continue to crush baseballs after coming into the stadium with more swag and style than anyone else in the locker room, despite the direction where his struggling Marlins go.
Josh Bell could end up being the biggest commodities when the Major League Baseball August 2nd trade deadline comes around. Bell leads all MLBbros with a .311 batting average and is in the top 5 for first baseman in multiple categories including hits, OPS, triples, hits and average.
This is the last year of Bell’s rookie deal, so he’ll be earning himself some cash if he gets the chance to play with a contender during the final part of the season.
“Dr. Sticks” is having a great sophomore season but has done his best work in July.
In three starts this month McKenzie has gone 21 innings without giving up a run. He has 23 strikeouts with just six walks and nine hits over that span as his Guardians sit just two games back of the Twins for the American League Central pennant.
This year McKenzie has a 3.20 ERA with 96 strikeouts and a 7-6 record.
His next start will come on the Southside of Chicago against Tim Anderson and the White Sox.
Michael Harris II
Michael Harris is the youngest player in baseball but has impacted his team maybe more than anyone on this list not named Aaron Judge or Mookie Betts.
The Atlanta native has proved to the Braves that the center fielder of their future is already patrolling their outfield ground.
He has already made some of the best defensive plays this season and will be fighting for both a Gold Glove and the National League Rookie of the Year award as this season comes to an end.
Marcus Semien – The 2021 MLBbro of the Year got off to a slow start in his first season of his seven-year, $175 Million deal, but he has heated up over the last month. Watch for him to find his way into the top 10 at season’s end.
Cedric Mullins– CM Storm is the leader on one of the most fun, young teams in baseball and the O’s will need big things out of him if they want to steal a playoff spot from one of the other American League East teams.
J.P. “The Claw” Crawford- Was on his way to making his first career All-Star Game before a suspension for fighting put an end to that. Despite that his Mariners won 14 straight to close out the first half.
Ke’Bryan Hayes – One of the best young defenders in baseball is going to be the best at the hot corner sooner rather than later.
Taijuan Walker – Walker is quietly having a better year than his 2021 All-Star season and will be a key member in the backend of the Mets rotation as they fight for the World Series.
Byron Buxton made a huge impact for the American League in his first All-Star Game.
With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning, Buxton stepped up to the plate and delivered a memorable hit. He smashed a fastball off Tony Gonsolin to left field to give the AL a 3-2 lead and that was all the team needed.
The AL went on to win 3-2. Buxton was one of the heroes in his All-Star debut. That’s how you make an impression in your first All-Star Game. It’s been an up and down season for Buxton as he got off to a slow start.
Going into All-Star break, Buxton hit .216 with 43 RBI and 23 home runs. While his average has been low, he’s shown the power he possesses at the plate. You got to see that on Tuesday.
Before leaving for All-Star break, Buxton talked about how important it is for him to stay healthy.
“I know what I’m capable of doing. Just staying on the field is the biggest situation,” he said in an article from USA Today.
It’s going to be really important for Buxton to remain healthy during the second half of the season. Rocco Baldelli, manager of the Twins, knows that Buxton wants to do his best to be an everyday player for his team.
“It’s been a strenuous, truly 24-hour-a-day job for him to take the field each day,” he said. “He’s not looking for any breaks right now. He’s trying to take the field.”
“Buck’s doing pretty well, but it’s still going to be something we’re going to have to pay attention to going forward,” Baldelli said. “If there’s 12 days, 14 days in a row? At this point, he’s going to play most of those games. I don’t think he’s playing all those days if there’s no days off built in.”
Going into the All-Star break, the Twins held a two-game lead over the Cleveland Guardians for first place in the AL Central Division.
It’s going to be a battle for the top of that division. For the Twins to be successful, Buxton will need to play in as many games as possible.
The Twins next game isn’t until Saturday against the Detroit Tigers, so Buxton and his teammates have a little bit of time to get some much-needed rest.
Buxton wants to go out there and help give his team a chance to win the pennant and he has the skillset to do just that.
“You just make sure you’re being smart and being the best person, you can be to give your best version that you can, day in and day out,” Buxton said. “Days are good, days are bad, but each and every day for me is a good opportunity to try and get a win for my teammates.”
For only the second time since 1996 there will be three MLBbros starting in the outfield for the American League at the All-Star Game.
Sunday afternoon it was announced that Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton would step into the American League starting lineup after Mike Trout pulled out of the game due to injury, making way for a historic moment.
The last time the AL started three Black outfielders was 2017; with Houston’s George Springer, Boston’s Mookie Betts, and Aaron Judge of the Yankees patrolling Marlins Park.
Judge is back, along with teammate Giancarlo Stanton to join Buxton among the starters as the American League looks to win the Midsummer Classic for the eighth straight time.
Before 2017, the AL hadn’t started three Black outfielders since 1995 when Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, and Kirby Puckett did so. From 1991-95, each time the American League filled out its lineup card, there were three Black outfielders leading the way.
They weren’t just stars of their day either, these were some of the greatest of all-time. A collection of MVPs and future Hall of Famers.
During that five-year stretch Ken Griffey Jr. and Puckett made the All-Star team four times each. Both are enshrined in Cooperstown. Two-time World Series champion Joe Carter was a part of three of those teams, with Rickey Henderson, Dave Henderson, Belle, and Lofton each appearing once over that span.
Two times in five years isn’t exactly bringing the game to the golden era of Black participation in Major League Baseball, but it is a major step forward and a testament to the increasing level of Black talent coming back to the game.
Perhaps another generation of stars will be inspired by what they see Tuesday night in Dodger Stadium when Judge, Buxton, and Stanton run out to take their positions.
And, perhaps one or more of the three will lay another brick on their path to the Hall of Fame themselves.