Without even making a dent in the schedule, MLB has rebounded strongly from the challenges of last year’s COVID season. After already seeing two no-hitters, a bench-clearing brawl, and what feels like daily game-winning hits from new and established MLB talent — these first two weeks only make fans crave for more.
As far as MLB Bros go, there are 69 Black and Brown (125 including Alternate Site) players in a league of 906 players. Believe us when we tell you, that 7.6 percent is making a tremendous impact on the league.
This week’s #HighFive features a new player at the top:
1. Byron Buxton
Buxton makes the jump to the top of the list after continuing his solid start to the season. He has a .469 Batting average with 5 Home Runs and 9 RBI’s while having a hit in all 9 games he has played in.
The work he put in during the offseason is paying off as he gained around 15 pounds of muscle and changed his approach to more of a power swing. Defensively he has always been one of the best in the game and it’s good to see him putting it together on both sides. Health has been the major factor in Buxton reaching his full potential and it’s worth noting he has missed the last few games, including Jackie Robinson Day, with hamstring tightness.
2. Akil Baddoo
Real Deal Akil “BADDOO, BADDOO, BADDOO” was walked down by Buxton and fell from the top spot he owned last week. However, it’s no knock on the impact he has had on the Tigers.
The rising rookie is hitting .370 with four home runs, including a two-run shot to left against the Astros in Houston. Baddoo has been a spark plug for a surprising Tiger’s team, currently tied for first in a wide-open American League Central.
3. Cedric Mullins (Baltimore Orioles)
Cedric Mullins has been one of the hottest hitters on the planet as he has a 15-game hitting streak dating back to last season. Entering Thursday’s games, Mullins was 5th in the league in batting average and 2nd in hits with 19.
Mullins has become more of a complete player. Last year he was known for his bunting and defense in centerfield. His ability to be a table-setter at the top of the Oriole lineup will be key in helping this Baltimore team gel fast.
4. Marcus Stroman/ Taijuan Walker
New York’s Black & Brown aces share cleanup in this week’s #High5. Both have come into the season on fire as they have gotten back-to-back wins twice already, the most recent coming in a doubleheader sweep of the Phillies on Tuesday.
The melanated mound marauders have combined to pitch 22.1 innings posting a 1.61 ERA with a 2-0 record. Both hurlers have been key in the Mets’ starting rotation having the 5th-best soft contact rate in the majors.
5. Joe Ross
Joe Ross is the only new member of this week’s High 5 as he mowed down two of the best lineups in baseball. He has not given up a run in 11 innings of work on the mound. He has a 1-0 record and 9 strikeouts as he allowed only 6 hits combined to the Dodgers and Cardinals.
Ross and the Nationals had a bumpy start to the season as it began with a COVID outbreak throughout their locker room. With the team in chaos early in the season, Ross’ dominance has been a stabilizing force on the field and in the locker room.
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.
“Real Deal” Akil Baddoo (Tigers)
“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.
Cedric Mullins (Orioles)
“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.
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
Marcus “HDMH” Stroman (Mets)
“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.
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.
Byron Buxton (Twins)
“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.
Aaron “ALL RISE” Judge
“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.
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
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.