There’s still another month of baseball to be played before 2016 is officially put in the books, but the cold winter months are feeling closer than ever. The mornings feel brisk, leaves are falling from trees and 20 of MLB’s 30 teams will soon be forced to watch the postseason from their respective couches.
Instead of focusing more on young players who took a huge step back this season, we’ll shift to those who used 2016 to show the tremendous progress in their development. The following five ballplayers put together the type of performance that will make their respective teams depend on them heavily to either repeat or continue growing in 2017.
DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Colorado Rockies
It’s been amazing to watch this transformation over the past three seasons. In 2014, LeMahieu won a Gold Glove award, but his offense mostly revolved around hitting singles. His average jumped in 2015 along with a slight bump in power, but he’s come into his own as a 27-year-old this season.
Now, he’s in command of the National League batting race with a few games to go and is slugging nearly .500. Check out the three-year progression in his triple slash:
As the 2016 season comes to a close, a number of players will hang up their cleats and put their playing days behind them. This week I’m rewinding 40 years to the late career and retirement of one of baseball’s greatest players.
Hank Aaron played his final major league baseball game on Sunday, October 3, 1976. At age 42 and after 23 years of baseball, Aaron held 11 major league records. His career had come full circle as the home run king ended up in Milwaukee where he started out back in 1954 in a Braves uniform. While some things remained the same with Hammerin’ Hank, much had changed in his final seasons.
As the Atlanta Braves continued selling off MLB talent to rebuild for the future last winter, general manager John Coppolella was adamant about one thing: first baseman Freddie Freeman wasn’t going anywhere.
Fast-forward to a few months later as the left-handed hitter wraps up a career year and everyone can see why he’s worth every penny of that $135 million contract. Enjoying such a performance was probably the furthest thing from Freeman’s mind after a rough first two months, though.
By the end of May, he was just hoping to get hot and dig himself out of a slow start. While Atlanta’s offense as a whole was historically bad, Freeman also struggled to a .251/.338/.419 triple slash with eight home runs and 15 RBI.
Then, the first baseman caught fire – he’s hitting .335/.435/.654 with 25 homers and 73 RBI since June 1, including a ridiculous 1.249 OPS through 82 at-bats in September.
The biggest sign of growth in Freeman’s game has been his power. His 33 homers and .980 OPS are currently career highs, while his 43 doubles are tied for a career high. This has produced a 6.2 fWAR, which ranks within the top 10 in all of baseball.
So, how did he do it? Not exactly the same way as most young sluggers tap into their power potential.
Yes you are reading it well. The European Confederation of Baseball (CEB) and the Royal Dutch Baseball and Softball Federation (KNBSB) should review their regulations.
Why? Well, let me explain.
The International Skating Union (ISU) tried to prohibit speed skaters to participate in a lucrative speed skating event in Dubai (yes it sounds strange: Speed skating in de desert).
The ISU threatened that whoever would participate in this event, would face a livelong ban.
A few Dutch speed skaters that wanted to participate, put this issue on the agenda of the ISU. A year later, the European Commission started an investigation after the abuse of power of the ISU.
The European Commission is worried about the sanctions that the ISU is imposing on athletes. These sanctions are not created to maintain higher standards in the sport of speed skating but the main purpose is to keep a grip on speedskating.
The MLB foul ball week in review shows that Major League Baseball ended the week of September 19 – September 25, 2016 with about 164 Foul Ball Facials in 168 days of games. These are only those fans hit in the head area at Major League Baseball games as self-reported on Twitter. That equates to one fan per day of play. It seems like a lot, and it is, but it could be fewer because just over 40% of these tweets indicate the fan wasn’t paying attention. To put that into perspective, it means roughly 45 fans (conservative estimate) would have avoided foul balls to the face had they not been buried in their phones.
But that’s not the only thing going on with foul balls this week. Here’s the rundown of the best and worst foul ball and fan-related actions from the past week…it was also a very slow week:
FLASHING YOUNGSTER FLASHES GLOVE
So many people assert there’s no time to react to a baseball hit at them. Granted, this one did bounce, but it was still going at a good speed. This young man saved the fan next to him. And that guy covered his face with his arms. Plenty of reaction time since both were paying attention.
RUNNING THE MILE IN…
Did you catch this Eduardo Munez catch? The guy hauled it from 3B to snag a ball Buster Posey lost in the lights. Amazing.
READ THE REST AT FoulBallz.com
Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com) Follow @foulballz
tonight, on September 26, after beating the Detroit Tigers in Game #156, the Cleveland Indians clinched the American League Central Division and secured their spot in the 2016 postseason AL Division Series! this is their first AL Central Division title since 2007 and eighth title overall in club history.
who do you want to see the Indians face in the ALDS? how far in the playoffs do you think they’ll go? leave a comment with your preferences and predictions!
The week in review: The Milwaukee Brewers were at home this past week to face the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates went to work with wins by scores of 6-3 and 4-1. The Crew salvaged the series with a 3-1 win, and then took game one of the Reds series by a score of 5-4. Cincinnati won the two remaining games to close out the weekend. Going into Monday’s action the Brewers are still in fourth place in the NL Central with a 70-86 record, 29.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs. I predicted a 71-91 record this year. With six games left I hope they win a few more and prove me wrong!
The passing of Jose Fernandez has come as a great shock and a huge blow to the baseball community. Teammates, coaches, competitors, and fans have all been at a loss for words after the news broke yesterday.
I too have just been in a little bit of a daze. I never met Jose, never watched him play in person, but he was a part of the baseball community/family. Baseball brings strangers together, and when a talented player, and by all accounts amazing person, dies way to young it affects the entire baseball family.
Read the rest of What happens to the Marlins now via 9 Inning Know It All.
Ian Anderson is 6’3″ 170′ 18-year-old out of Shenendehowa High School in Rexford, New York. He was selected third overall by the Braves in the 2016 MLB Draft. He has a hard fastball with growing offspeed pitches. He currently can throw 90-94 with a potential to add more velocity. He has a big gap between the speed in his off-speed pitches and has room to create two pitches out of his curveball.
He has some red flags regarding injury potential and needs to clean up his mechanics and generate more energy up the chain in his lower half. He has lightning quick arm speed that helps compensate at the moment. When fully matured and refined he could be a real ace.
The Winter League helps players work on their weaknesses, their game plan and do so facing more advanced levels of competition. It also has the obvious benefit of helping stay in shape. For many these factors assist them to get to spring training with a more distinct advantage over those that stick to the gym and home based development work. The competitive level in these league don’t allow managers to treat this tournament as development leagues since they are there to win, we have seen times with four different managers in a season including switching managers in Playoffs, even in Finals!