A new institution on this blog will be Tuesday Takes, dedicated to my hot takes on the current news and events in the world of baseball. After Memorial Day Weekend, there are so many hot topics around the league, and here’s how I feel about them.
Aaron Judge Will Win the American League Most Valuable Player Award
Mike Trout’s unfortunate thumb injury has put him on the shelf for 6-8 weeks. Is it possible that he can return after the All-Star Game and put up monster numbers and still win the MVP award? Absolutely. But in the next 6-8 weeks, Aaron Judge will pull away from Trout and secure the hardware.
Judge currently leads the American League in runs and home runs. He ranks in the top ten in RBI’s and batting average, and is second to only Trout in OBP, slugging, and OPS. He has the second highest WAR among position players to- you guessed it- Mike Trout. Judge has his flaws and can be pitched to, but opposing pitchers can’t seem to consistently attack his weaknesses. For the time being, Judge has showed no signs of slowing down and is on track to become the youngest MVP winner since Mike Trout (Who Else?).
The Harper-Strickland Brawl is the Best in Years, and the Punishments will be Historic
When Hunter Strickland inexplicably plunked Bryce Harper with a 98 MPH fastball in the 8th inning on Memorial Day, Bryce Harper didn’t take exception. Harper’s charge to the mound, including his helmet throw, which was either pathetic or strategic depending on whether or not he meant to hit Strickland, was pure insanity. This is the best baseball brawl since the benches cleared in a Diamondbacks and Dodgers battle back in 2013.
While I have no problem with pitchers exacting revenge on hitters for pimping home runs, Strickland was completely in the wrong here. The home runs he surrendered to Harper occurred three years ago, and the Giants got the last laugh in 2014 when they captured their 3rd World Series trophy since 2010. To hit Harper where and when he did made it all the more obvious that this was completely intentional.
Harper likely will face a three game suspension for attacking Strickland. The Giants reliever should receive more than that; as little as five games but as many as 10.
The Cubs Might Not Be As Great As We Thought
If you had the Cubs going into June with a 25-25 record, hats off to you.
The defending champs have struggled much more than expected in 2017. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo haven’t been awful, but they were certainly expected to be better offensively. Bryant’s batting average has dipped to .276, while Rizzo’s is set to be his lowest since 2013 when he hit at a .233 clip. Fellow slugger Kyle Schwarber has been pitiful, hitting .173 with an OPS of .634 in 45 games. Addison Russell hasn’t taken the next step offensively, as he also has a sub-.700 OPS and a lowly .220 batting average.
The rotation has been horrendous relative to last season when they had the lowest team ERA in baseball. This year, they currently rank 10th, which is mainly due to their outstanding bullpen featuring Wade Davis, Carl Edwards Jr., and Mike Montgomery. The four aces of 2016 have all struggled this year. Jake Arrieta has a 4.92 ERA and has allowed ten home runs in ten starts. Arrieta’s command has been non-existent at times; the 2015 Cy Young Award recipient leads baseball with nine wild pitches. John Lackey has been the worst of the quartet, pitching to the tune of a 5.18 ERA. Lester and Hendricks have both regressed as well. Last season, the pitching staff had two of the top ten leaders in Fielding Independent Pitching, which essentially measures how well a pitcher performs without factoring in the defensive performance behind him. This season, none of the four aforementioned starters rank inside the top ten.
The Boston Red Sox Will Trade for Mike Moustakas in the Next Two Weeks
The Boston Red Sox offense is starting to click, but there is still one glaring spot in the lineup. Third base seems to offer no production for a loaded Red Sox team, and it doesn’t seem as though the solution will come from inside the organization. Deven Marrero is not a Major League hitter, and while calling up Sam Travis could lead to offensive improvement, the former Indiana star can’t defensively play at the hot corner. Boston could call up top prospect Rafael Devers from Double A Portland, but they seem hesitant to rush the 20 year-old stud.
Enter Mike Moustakas.
The Kansas City Royals will be sellers this summer, so why not start now? Mike Moustakas has been putting together a solid season in his walk year as he is set to hit free agency for the first time this winter. Moustakas presents a viable option at third for Boston, and he also can be the perfect bridge to Devers, who should receive the call to the Sox sometime in 2018. The Royals could expect a prospect like 2016 fourth-round draft pick Bobby Dalbec in return for their third baseman. Dalbec played third for the University of Arizona last year. The 21 year-old has a high offensive ceiling and should offer above-average defense at the hot corner. Boston has a deep farm system where they could afford to deal a different top-eight farmhand as well. The trade is a match made in heaven with Boston needing immediate production and the Royals looking to build for the future.