Tag: Aaron Judge

Predicting the 2017 Home Run Derby Winner

Predicting the 2017 Home Run Derby Winner

With a field including Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Miguel Sano, and reigning Home Run Derby Champion Giancarlo Stanton, this year’s competition is shaping up to be one of the best in years.  The bracket was released early today based on the seeding selection.

The 2017 T-Mobile Home Run Derby Bracket

Each round is five minutes, with each batter having the right to a 45 second timeout whenever they choose.  Any home runs hit in the final minute stop the clock until the batter fails to hit a home run, so hot streaks late in the round are rewarded.  Bonus time can be earned for hitting two home runs over 420 feet, and one home run over 475 feet.  Any ties will be broken via a 90-second swing-off, with no timeouts or bonuses.  Another factor to keep in mind are the expansive dimensions of Marlins Park.

(1) Giancarlo Stanton vs. (8) Gary Sanchez

This one should be a slam-dunk for Stanton.  Playing in his home ballpark, Stanton will obviously be ready to go, and his unsightly power should help him hit both bonuses for an additional 90 seconds of time.  Gary Sanchez may put up a solid round, but he is no match for Stanton.

Stanton Advances

(2) Aaron Judge vs. (7) Justin Bour

The second Marlins-Yankees showdown may also seem like it has an obvious winner, but in reality, this could go either way.  Judge may have the strength to hit both bonuses and some balls over the statue in center, but he tends to hit a lot of his home runs to the middle of the field.  In the past, sluggers who don’t pull the ball in the Derby have been less successful than players like Todd Frazier and Stanton, who hit nearly all of their home runs to left field.  Bour also has the advantage of knowing Marlins Park better, but Judge should still find a way to win given his monsterous strength.

Judge Advances

(3) Cody Bellinger vs. (6) Charlie Blackmon

With all due respect to Charlie Blackmon, the National League’s best lead-off hitter, Bellinger is going to run away with this match-up.  Bellinger’s long, lofty swing is catered to the Home Run Derby, and his tendency to pull the ball out to right field should benefit him throughout the night.

Bellinger Advances 

(4) Mike Moustakas vs. (5) Miguel Sano

If Miguel Sano played in Yankee Stadium instead of Target Field, this guy would be getting Judge-like praise.  He might have more power than anyone else in this field, and his home run into the Fountain Bar in Kansas City is proof of it.  Moustakas will keep it close, but Sano’s ability to hit some tape-measure shots will allow him to move on.

Sano Advances 

SEMIFINALS: (1) Giancarlo Stanton vs. (5) Miguel Sano

If Sano instead was facing Bellinger or Judge here, I’d have him advancing to the finals.  His power is legitimate, but with Stanton being well-rested at this point in the tournament and trying to impress his home fans, Sano has slim-to-none odds of moving on to the finals.

Stanton Advances

SEMIFINALS: (2) Aaron Judge vs. (3) Cody Bellinger

Assuming my predictions come true, this should be the most anticipated showdown of the Home Run Derby.  On one hand, you have Yankees’ superstar Aaron Judge, who has been the biggest story in baseball this year.  On the other hand, you have the second-biggest sensation in the game, Cody Bellinger, who has hit 24 home runs since his call-up on April 25th.  Both have insane power and potency.  I predict this will go to a swing-off, which will also end in a tie, leading to a second swing-off.  Bellinger will finally beat Judge in that tiebreaker, making for an exhilarating finish to the semifinals.

Bellinger Advances

FINALS: (1) Giancarlo Stanton vs. (3) Cody Bellinger

Beating Judge should take everything Bellinger has, and his long swing could tire him out, especially if he makes it this far.  Stanton should easily make his way to the finals, which gives him a considerable advantage.  Just as Todd Frazier did in 2015, Giancarlo Stanton will win the Home Run Derby in front of his home crowd, and become the first player to win back-to-back Home Run Derbies since Yoenis Cespedes.


Tuesday Takes: Joe’s Gone Maddon

Tuesday Takes: Joe’s Gone Maddon

First off, I apologize to my few readers that this didn’t go up yesterday; I had a busy day that was capped off by watching the Chicago Cubs slaughter the New York Mets live from Citi Field.  Although the game was a complete blowout, it brought a hot take regarding the Cubs to my mind.  Aaron Judge hasn’t slowed down a bit, and after his mammoth home run Sunday at Yankee Stadium, where does he rank among the best hitters in baseball today?  The MLB Draft took place Monday evening, and the Twins surprised everyone by selecting Royce Lewis with the first overall pick.  Did they find a future all-star or make a big mistake?

The Cubs Should Fire Joe Maddon If They Fail to Make the Playoffs

Would this ever happen?  Probably not.  Maddon is a three-time Manager of the Year with two World Series appearances, the most recent one snapping a 108-year championship drought for the Cubs.  But with the team struggling this late into the season, Maddon shouldn’t be as safe as you’d expect.  The Cubs are still the popular choice to win the National League Central due to the underwhelming competition, but the Brewers, Cardinals, and Pirates could all pose as major threats to steal the division if the Cubs don’t pull away soon.  Joe Maddon’s lineup creativity is interesting, but flawed.  His use of Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot failed miserably, and while Anthony Rizzo was great as the leadoff man on Tuesday against the Mets, why would anyone put one of their best two power-hitters at the top of the lineup?  Rizzo’s on-base percentage gives the move some potential to succeed, but the offense as a whole will suffer without his bat in the cleanup spot.

Judging the Best

Aaron Judge is no fluke.  The man can seriously hit, which he has proven by leading the American League in basically every offensive category through June now that Mike Trout does not qualify due to his thumb injury.  If Judge didn’t have the world’s attention yet, he certainly grabbed it Sunday when he blasted a baseball over the left field bleachers in Yankee Stadium.  The surefire American League Rookie of the Year may be second to only Mike Trout now as a hitter, possibly better than the likes of Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, and Kris Bryant despite his extremely short track record.

Lewis a Twin Bust

Royce Lewis was projected to be a top-five selection in this year’s draft, which was perfectly reasonable.  Lewis has undeniable upside for his elite speed and defensive prowess.  He also has a bat that could produce at the big league level with some improvement.  But the Twins taking Lewis at number one was a mistake.  With Hunter Greene and Brendan McKay available, the Twins could have easily grabbed one of the best two-way players in recent history.  Greene has the most upside out of anyone in this year’s draft, while McKay may be the biggest sure thing as a pitcher or a hitter.  Instead, the Twins gambled on Lewis because he was willing to cut a deal and sign for less money.  Lewis resembles former Twins’ first-rounder Byron Buxton, and while the former 2nd overall pick has time to right the ship, Buxton has been a huge bust to this point.  Lewis profiles similarly to Buxton, which should’ve prompted Minnesota to make a different selection.  That being said, Lewis’ character and incredible maturity could help him be successful.  The high school star is an extemely humble young man who already talks and acts like a professional.

Most Impactful Draft Moves in the Past 5 Years

Most Impactful Draft Moves in the Past 5 Years

When you go back throughout history and look over the first round of each MLB Draft, there are some players that immediately stand out for their greatness.  There are others that are total head-scratchers, making you wonder what could’ve been if an organization had made a different selection.  The first round of the MLB Draft is where the future of the sport is shaped, determining eventual champions and perennial losers.  I look back at the most impactful moves in the past five drafts, showing how just one pick can change a franchise.


Houston Takes Carlos Correa, Not Byron Buxton

In the days before the draft, Byron Buxton looked like a near-lock to go first overall to the Houston Astros.  Buxton was one of the top prep-stars in the past decade, displaying legendary speed and defense while providing evidence that he could develop into a plus-hitter as well.  On draft day, though, Houston settled on Puerto Rice Baseball Academy shortstop Carlos Correa because he was willing to sign for less money.  Correa has become a star and is in the midst of a tremendous year, leading the Astros to the best record in baseball.  Signing Correa at a discount also allowed Houston to spend more money on Lance McCullers Jr., who has developed into their number two starter.  The Twins have also had success in 2017, but not because of Buxton.  The 23 year-old holds a career .216 average with 227 strikeouts in just 194 games.

Pirates Take Mark Appel at 8

Mark Appel had a chance to go in the top five leading up to the 2012 MLB Draft, and was even considered the likely number one pick at one point, but he ultimately slid down due to signability concerns.  Pittsburgh would draft Appel eighth overall, but the Stanford ace didn’t sign.  So how did this benefit the Pirates?  By not signing Appel, the Pirates received the ninth overall pick in 2013 as compensation, where they selected Austin Meadows.  Meadows, a top prep-star at the time, has become one of the top five prospects in the game.  Appel was the first overall pick in 2013, but his struggles led to him being traded to Philadelphia, where he has yet to live up to his high draft status.


Cubs Surprise Everyone, End Up With a Future MVP

Based on their lack of pitching depth in their farm system, many mock drafts predicted that the Cubs would select either Mark Appel or Jon Gray with the second overall selection.  Appel went first overall, making Gray seem like the obvious choice.  However, the Cubs instead selected San Diego standout Kris Bryant.  The Cubs’ superstar was the best power bat in the draft class and has carried that power over to Wrigley Field.  Bryant would go on to win the 2016 National League MVP Award and lead the Cubs to their first World Series since 1908.

Great Judgement

Despite his toolsy makeup, Aaron Judge was very raw coming out of Fresno State.  He had crazy power, but he couldn’t consistently put it to use.  The Yankees decided to gamble on Judge with the 32nd overall pick, and they’ve won big so far.  Judge currently leads the American League in all three Triple Crown categories, and has led the Yankees to first place in a loaded A.L. East division.


Chicago Reaches at Four

The Cubs made another shocking choice in 2014, selecting Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall selection.  Schwarber was projected to be a first-round pick, but he was expected to go in the middle of the round.  Many teams had concerns over his ability to stick defensively as a catcher.  Chicago saw through his flaws and recognized an impact bat.  Schwarber certainly made a huge impact last fall after returning from season-ending surgery.  Schwarber went 7 for 20 with a .971 OPS in five World Series games, helping the Cubs break their 108 year drought.

Trading Places

2014 featured some highly-talented prospects going in the first round, but nobody could’ve guessed how many would eventually be traded before reaching the big leagues.  Alex Jackson, Jeff Hoffman, Trea Turner, Sean Newcomb, Touki Toussaint, Brandon Finnegan, Grant Holmes, Justus Sheffield, and Michael Kopech have all been traded in the past three years.  Some of the players involved in those deals- Wil Myers, Troy Tulowitzki, Johnny Cueto, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, and Chris Sale- made major impacts for their new clubs at the time.


Shelby Miller?!

Dansby Swanson was the first overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, but just one year later, he wouldn’t be on the team who drafted him.  Swanson was traded by the Diamondbacks in a multi-player deal for Shelby Miller of the Atlanta Braves.  The trade was immediately scrutinized, and for good reason.  Miller had put together one solid season, whereas Swanson had serious potential to be a franchise cornerstone.  Miller has become irrelevant since joining Arizona.  Swanson has struggled in his rookie year, but he has shown flashes of his amazing potential and still has plenty of time to make this trade a big win for Atlanta.


No Bo in the First

Players from the 2016 draft class haven’t had the time to make a difference for their respective big league clubs yet, but one second round choice is making a ton of noise in the minors.  Bo Bichette, son of Dante Bichette, has torn up A-ball in 2017.  At just 19 years of age, Bichette is batting .388 with a 1.088 OPS.  Looking back, it’s shocking that Bichette fell out of the first round considering his offensive prowess.


Tuesday Takes: All Rise for the MVP Front-Runner

Tuesday Takes: All Rise for the MVP Front-Runner

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.