By: Cory Vest
Baseball has entered its fourth month and is rumbling towards its October finish. Some viewers were never excited about the season, others’ excitement has fell by the wayside only to be picked up again come fall, and others haven’t lost a step in their high excitement level. No matter which tier you fall under, may you find entertainment in these fun facts, colorful commentary, and recap of the season’s occurrences.
Welcome to the MLB rookie. What better way to begin a recap than at the beginning. I give to you the rookies of the 2017 MLB season. Whether it be impressive debuts or a season filled with success, these rooks made the adjustment to big league ball. Two names itching to leave the gates are Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees. Bellinger has blasted home runs at an incredible rate, with 30 bombs in 87 games, Bellinger is averaging about one every three games. Bellinger has provided the Dodgers with a reliable bat that can pop off at any moment. In a game against the Marlins, the Dodger became the franchise’s first rookie to hit for the cycle. Impressive hu? Not to downgrade the spectacle that is Bellinger’s cycle, but the cycle has been hit for 6 times this season; that is the third most since 1920 (ESPN stats and info).
Onto Aaron Judge, the one who currently presides over the league in home runs with 34. Judge has put on a show in more ways than one and the fans are enjoying the entertainment. With a section in Yankee’s stadium deemed the Judge’s Chambers, Judge sports a .299 average and 75 RBIs to compliment his 34 dingers. The 34 blasts are a rookie record for the Yankees, as Joe Dimaggio’s 30 have long been surpassed. When Judge hits home runs by the way, he damn near knocks the cover off. Judge has practically hit it to the moon as his 495-footer is the longest of the season. Judge also leads the league in average exit velocity, clocking in at 96.4 mph. The fastest of the shots came in at the speed of 121.1 mph. Fun fact courtesy of ESPN stats and info, Cody Bellinger and Judge have both recorded 30 dingers on the season, the first rookie duo to do so in the last ten years (Ryan Braun and Chris Young in 2007).
Ok enough about the big shots. Lightening round. Quick facts and rookies that deserve a mention for the debuts and/or their feats. On the 24th of June, the Oakland A’s featured three rookies in their starting line-up. In the first inning, Matt Olson stepped to the plate and crushed his first career home run. Anything you can do, I can do better; I’m sure this was the thought of rookie Jaycob Brugman seeking his first career home run as well. Second inning, Brugman steps up and launches numero uno into the stands. Franklin Barreto would then make his MLB batting debut in the third inning. With it being his first MLB at bat, Barreto had yet to record a big-league dinger. What better time than now? Yes, Olson, Brugman, and Barreto all recorded their first career home runs in the same game; in three consecutive innings, nonetheless. Olson would go onto record his second home run as he hit one in the 7th.
Speaking of first at bats. Let’s revisit the boys in blue and highlight rookie Kyle Farmer. It’s the bottom of the 11th at the Chavez Ravine and long hated, division rivals, the San Francisco Giants hold a 2-1 lead. Draw the curtain, center the spotlight, and let Farmer shine. Farmer came through with a walk off, two-run double. Welcome to the MLB.
Such as the MLB season may be drawn out, the rookie section of this article is starting to trend toward the same critique. Honorable mention time as we rattle off debuts. Rafael Devers for the Boston Red Sox has begun his career by reaching base in seven straight games. Devers is 12 for 28, good for a .429 average. Rookies Paul Dejong, St. Louis, and Jacoby Jones, Detroit, enjoyed home runs in their first at bats in the majors. Changing sides of the field, pitchers Eric Skoglund (KC), 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, and a win; Kyle Freeland (COL), 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 6 K, and a win; Paul Blackburn (OAK), 6 IP, 0 ER, 3 H; and Ben Lively (PHI), 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, and a win, all enjoyed their debut in the bigs.
Now back to something pitchers hate, the long ball. Nicknames and monikers for the home run should be on the ready as balls are flying out of parks at a record rate. Steve Pearce, Toronto Blue Jays, upped the home run anti during the final week of July. Pearce hit two grand slams in the same week; the kicker, both grand slams were walk offs. Such an occurrence has only happened twice before, in 1926 and again in 1986. Have a week Steve Pearce. Matt Davidson of the Chicago White Sox decided to attempt to one up Pearce. Davidson had back-to-back nights playing the hero, as he got the game winning hit in both games.
Back to something pitchers love, strikeouts and perfection. Dellin Betances pulled off a perfect inning in a recent matchup against the Tigers; he threw 9 pitches and tallied 3 strikeouts.
Have we mentioned the Dodgers yet? They recently strung together 53 straight victories after leading a game at any point (ESPN stats and info with the fun fact). The Dodgers have been a regular season powerhouse. Since June 7th the Dodgers have a record of 40-7. They have reached 75 wins this season, quicker than any other season in the franchise’s storied history. Win streaks of ten games or more have occurred multiple times this season with a third ten game win streak falling one game shy. The best part of it all for Dodger fans though, the boys in blue currently sit 35 games ahead of the hated, and bottom dwelling, San Francisco Giants.
We began with rookies, so let us end with acknowledgement of a couple of veterans. Adrian Beltre reached a career milestone this season as he joined the 3,000-hit club. The Texas Ranger continues to add to his hit list. C.C. Sabathia, sporting the Yankee pinstripes, recently pitched in his 500th game of his career. The unique part of the 500th game lies in the fact that it was his 500th start; the only other player to start all 500 games was Tom Glavine. Tip of the cap to Beltre and Sabathia.
More could be said, more names could be mentioned, and plenty of other stats and facts could be dug up and scattered throughout a 10-page paper. I am sure many readers would lose interest rather quickly. So here is to the rest of the MLB season. Whether your intrigue and attention to baseball has been renewed, revived, or revamped, may you enjoy the rest of the season. On the contrary, if I further engraved your boredom of baseball and enhanced its negative stigma, here’s to you still sticking around to the end of the article.