It’s been another fun week of baseball around the league. The Yankees finally look like the team everyone expected entering 2017. Their early success has certainly been admirable, but does Aaron Judge deserve all of the credit? The National League West’s best continue to run rampant on the rest of the league, but is there a pretender among the Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks? Also, All-Star voting is picking up, and it seems like there’s been a significant change in how fans vote.
Castro a HOFer?
The Yankees have been a revelation this year. The Bronx Bombers were expected to finish around .500. Instead, they have powered ahead to a 38-29 start, with six of those losses coming in the past week while out west. The Yankees success is a largely a product of Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks, neither of whom were expected to start prior to Spring Training. Both players have put together all-star caliber campaigns, but the true Yankees star resides in the infield.
Starlin Castro has fallen into the background since being traded to New York, but he has quietly become a star in the process. Castro has been a model of consistency on offense since 2011, obtaining at least 145 hits each year. Don’t look now, but Castro already has 1,235 hits, and is on pace to finish this year with about 1,350. He’s batting .324 this year, and now that he recently turned 27, he should just be entering his prime. If that’s the case, Castro will have a shot at 3,000 hits assuming he can stay healthy and continue being productive. Paul Molitor, who joined the 3,000 hit club in 1996, only had 1,203 hits through his first eight seasons, so Castro has a legitimate chance to join the elite group in the 2020’s.
Who’s Acting Out West?
Who would have thought that on June 20th, the Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks would hold the three best records in the National League? All three teams seem destined to make the postseason since the Chicago Cubs are nine games back of the second Wild Card. Despite their success, surely one of these teams is a fluke, right?
Wrong. All three teams have incredibly impressive run differentials, as well as winning records both at home and on the road. Many baseball analysts have claimed that the Rockies may be the least legitimate team of the three, but that’s up for debate. Colorado has a much better road record than both Los Angeles and Arizona. The Rockies have also been considerably better against teams that are over .500. Their 22-13 record against winning teams is the best in Major League Baseball, while the Diamondbacks are just 14-12 and the Dodgers have fared 16-15. The Dodgers have also been inconsistent in one run games, going 8-9 in comparison to the Diamondbacks who are 15-6 and the Rockies who are 10-2. This shows the relative inferiority of the Los Angeles’ bullpen, a factor that could play large in October.
Fans Are All-Stars This Year
After years of ballot-stuffing and inexplicable players winning the fan vote, the All-Star voting has reflected performance more than fanfare this year. Players like Omar Infante aren’t leading voting at second base as they were in 2015. Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist aren’t benefiting from playing on the Cubs this year. For the most part, the voting has been acceptable. Should Jason Heyward be a starting outfielder? Of course not, but that’s pretty much the only problem I have with the current National League voting update. Nolan Arenado should be leading at third, but I’m not going to complain about Kris Bryant leading the pack. Voting love for Charlie Blackmon, Zack Cozart, and Ryan Zimmerman is great to see considering how well they’ve played this season.
In the American League, the voting has been just as fair. An outfield of Judge, Trout, and Springer is totally reasonable. Altuve and Correa up-the-middle is the right choice, and so is Miguel Sano at third base. Yonder Alonso has put together a great year and it shows as he leads A.L. first basemen. I’d like to see a little more love for Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison, but they should both receive plenty of consideration as reserves from manager Terry Francona.