Cleat Geeks

Bryce Harper Is Still Bryce Harper, Nats Come Back To beat Phillies

“It’s GOTTA be the hair Cotton. It’s beautiful! Feathered AND lethal, you just don’t see it nowadays!”

Bryce Harper might be back tonight. Coming into this game, Bryce Harper has been hitting .212, which is absolutely brutal. He is still leading the National League in home runs, but the Harper we know was not present to start the season. It seemed as though the pressure of impending free agency was weighing down on the young superstar. The weight of half a billion dollars, along with the pressure of living up to the hype he had been given since he was a kid. The weight of seeing players like Mike Trout and Mookie Betts steal the spotlight right from under him.

Tonight changed everything. Bryce raked against Philly, hitting three doubles in a row. THREE. One of which gave the Nationals the opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth.

In comes Daniel Murphy. Murphy had been dealing with injuries for the beginning of the season. Coming back, he has been ice cold, hitting .135 with absolutely 0 power. Murphy hasn’t looked like himself, swinging at pitches he never has before. That was erased tonight. Murphy went 3/4, looking like vintage Daniel Murphy.

The best hit came on a beautiful slider by Seranthony Dominguez which Murphy took a half cut at that went right over the second baseman’s head. That brought in two runs, giving the Nationals the lead. The Nationals have been battling the Braves, who look like World Series Contenders, to lead the NL East. If what I predict is correct (I was right on Giancarlo Stanton) this might be what Harper and Murphy need to get hot. When those two are hot, the Nationals are virtually unstoppable.

 

AL All-Star Position Preview: Shortstop

You all know the common saying: “Another day, another All-Star game position preview” right? Maybe that’s just me. Alas, whether people are reading these or not, I have truly enjoyed writing this series. You get a good perspective of just how disrespected some guys are and how they must feel.

However, the shortstop position in the AL is different. I mean the position is absolutely STACKED. I am actually upset I can’t talk about at least five of these guys (I might pull an audible and do it anyway). A lot of these players are appointment television like Manny Machado, who is certainly the only reason people are watching the Orioles right now (certainly not Chris Davis, SHEESH).

Current NL Fan Vote:

Manny Machado

Carlos Correa

Francisco Lindor

Didi Gregorius

Jean Segura

Starter: Francisco Lindor

The fact that Lindor is third in fan voting right now is criminal. Lindor is slashing .290/.362/.529 with an .891 OPS. He ranks 10th in home runs and OPS with 16 and .891 respectively. He is third in runs, fifth in total bases, and 6th in both total bases and runs created.

To me, these things don’t put Lindor over the top for the clear AL starter. Having been a previous Gold Glove recipient, Lindor’s defense is elite, especially at such an important position. Being poor defensively can sometimes be masked in the outfield. At shortstop, however, sheer volume exposes any defensive weaknesses. Lindor has very few. With a reliability on offense and defense while also having an MVP caliber season makes him the best shortstop in the American League. The question is, who falls behind him?

Bench Spot 1: Jean Segura

I’d like to say Segura is having a breakout season, but the Mariners finally being good might just be why people are starting to pay attention. Segura is currently on his third season in a row hitting over .300, this year being the highest batting average of his career at .336. Segura is also slashing an impressive .336/.358.483 so although his home run numbers are down he is still hitting the ball hard. His ability to get on base has also turned into him scoring the second most runs (52) at the position behind Francisco Lindor (54).

I think he loses in fan voting due to his lack of home runs (4). Despite his low home run numbers, he has the most doubles per at-bat of his career, while only trailing only Machado in Correa in RBIs. Both of those guys have double-digit home runs, so what Segura is doing is impressive. He is putting the ball in play and bringing his guys. It helps that he has Dee Gordon, one of the fastest players in the majors, leading off in front of him.

Bench Spot 2: Manny Machado

We all knew how good Machado could be. When you talked about the future free agent, everyone was trying to put a number on how much his talent was worth. He has earned Gold Glove and All-Star game honors years ago. You knew that wasn’t his full potential. Now you are seeing it.

Machado is on quite honestly the worst team baseball has seen in a long time. Yet the slugger is having career highs in almost every statistical category. He hit 18 home runs (leads the position), brought in 53 runs (also leads the position), and is slashing a monstrous .305/.373/.559, all career highs.

If the Orioles don’t trade Machado by the deadline the entire front office should be fired. His value is not getting any higher and teams are only willing to pay so much to a guy who will be a free agent at the end of this season. Machado is a lock to make the All-Star game and I am not even mad about it. You can argue any of these guys at any one of these spots and I wouldn’t be upset. Machado gets a slight dip from me is because his defense has suffered, and that is one of his best assets.

Honorable Mentions:

Due to the fact that there are so many exceptional shortstops this season, I will briefly mention two players that deserve it.

Carlos Correa:

Correa certainly deserves to be in the All-Star game. He is slashing .270/.354/.492 with a 2.8 WAR. He is one of the premier players at the position and name value propels him over these other guys in fan voting. If you thought Correa deserves to be in the All-Star game I would not argue.

Didi Gregorius:

Didi has been hot and cold all year and I think that there are more deserving shortstops, but Gregorius certainly deserves mention. His defense has been reliable and his bat has been powerful at times, with his 14 home runs trailing only Machado and Lindor. Gregorius is on a hot streak as we speak but I do not expect him to make his first All-Star appearance due to the abundance of talent at the position.

 

The Call to the Majors, Week Ending June 20

June 14, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Chris Bassitt Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Carlos Ramirez Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Nick Rumbelow Pitcher Tacoma (AAA) Seattle (MLB)
Robert Whalen Pitcher Tacoma (AAA) Seattle (MLB)

 

Image result for tyler white astros

June 15, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Corban Joseph Infielder Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Tanner Scott Pitcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Tyler White 1st Basemen Fresno (AAA) Houston (MLB)
Brandon Maurer Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Kyle Farmer C/Infielder Oklahoma (AAA) Los Angeles (NL) (MLB)
Jake Jewell Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Felix Pena Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Eduardo Paredes Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Merandy Gonzalez Pitcher Jacksonville (AA) Miami (MLB)
Taylor Motter INF/OF Rochester (AAA) Minnesota (MLB)
Jonathan Loaisiga Pitcher Trenton (AA) New York (AL) (MLB)
Luke Voit 1st Basemen Springfield (AA) St. Louis (MLB)
Jose Trevino Catcher Frisco (AA) Texas (MLB)
Brandon Mann Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)
Yohander Mendez Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)

 

 

June 16, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
John Lamb Pitcher Salt Lake (AAA) Los Angeles (AL) (MLB)
Franklin Barreto Infielder Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Yacksel Rios Pitcher Lehigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Jack Thompson Pitcher Lehigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Pierce Johnson Pitcher Sacramento (AAA) San Francisco (MLB)
Ryan Rua Outfielder Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB

 

Image result for ryan rua texas rangers

Photo by; FanRag Sports

June 17, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Luke Jackson Pitcher Gwinnett (AAA) Atlanta (MLB)
Shane Bieber Pitcher Columbus (AAA) Cleveland (MLB)
Evan Marshall Pitcher Columbus (AAA) Cleveland (MLB)
Wily Peralta Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Rosell Herrera Outfielder Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Adalberto Mondesi Infielder Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Scott Barlow Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Adrian Houser Pitcher Colorado Springs (AAA) Milwaukee (MLB)
Josh Lucas Pitcher Nashville (AAA) Oakland (MLB)
Yovani Gallardo Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)

 

 

June 18, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Rob Zastryzny Pitcher Iowa (AAA) Chicago (NL) (MLB)
Clint Frazier Outfielder Scranton/Wilkes Barre(AAA) New York (AL) (MLB)
Austin Davis Pitcher Lehigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Jose Osuna Outfielder Indianapolis (AAA) Pittsburg (MLB)
Kelby Tomlinson 2nd Basemen Sacramento (AAA) San Francisco (MLB)
Ricardo Rodriguez Pitcher Round Rock (AAA) Texas (MLB)

 

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Photo by; McCovey Chronicle

June 19, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Caleb Joseph Catcher Norfolk (AAA) Baltimore (MLB)
Robby Scott Pitcher Pawtucket (AAA) Boston (MLB)
Jackson Stephens Pitcher Louisville (AAA) Cincinnati (MLB)
Heath Filmyer Pitcher Omaha (AAA) Kansas City (MLB)
Freddy Peralta Pitcher Colorado Springs (AAA) Milwaukee (MLB)
Tim Peterson Pitcher Las Vegas (AAA) New York (NL) (MLB)
Pierce Johnson Pitcher Sacramento (AAA) San Francisco (MLB)
Lourdes Gurriel 2nd Basemen Buffalo (AAA) Toronto (MLB)
Jefry Rodriguez Pitcher Syracuse (AAA) Washington (MLB)

 

June 20, 2018

Player Position From Team To Team
Johnny Barbato Pitcher Toldedo (AAA) Detroit (MLB)
Mitchell Walding Pitcher Leigh Valley (AAA) Philadelphia (MLB)
Jake Barrett Pitcher Reno (AAA) Arizona (MLB)
Adam Frazier 2nd Basemen Indianapolis (AAA) Pittsburg (MLB)

As you can see by the list, most of the players that were called up to the Major Leagues in the past week have been pitchers. A lot of the time, these are just one or two day call up’s because someone in the bullpen was overworked. There were no players called up this week that were in the top 50 prospects to begin the year.

 

Notable Performances:

Jonathan Loaisiga was called up to the major leagues on June 15th for the New York Yankees. Before he was called up, he pitched in six games in AA and four games in A ball this season. In Single-A Tampa, Loaisiga had a 3-0 record posting a dominate 1.35 ERA. Loaisiga performed just as well in AA for Trenton, posting a 3-1 record with a 4.32 ERA. Loaisiga made is MLB debut on the day he was called up, and he pitched a gem of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched 5 shutout innings allowing three hits, four walks, and struck out six. In Loaisiga’s second start on June 20 against the Seattle Mariners, he pitched 3.2 innings and he allowed 3 runs, on six hits while striking out four and walking two. His season ERA sits at 3.12, in the two games that he pitched.

Image result for jonathan loaisiga yankees

Photo by; New York Post

Lourdes Gurriel was called up again to the major leagues on June 19th for the Toronto Blue Jays. During his time in the minor leagues this season, both in Triple A Buffalo and Double A New Hampshire, Gurriel played in 39 games with a triple slash line of .307/.333/.490 with an OPS of .824 and six home runs. Playing up in the majors has not fared for the young Gurriel so far. He is posting a triple slash line of .206/.229/.309 in 20 games while also posting a .537 OPS and two home runs. Gurriel has shown that he can compete in the minors, now he is trying to show that he deserves to be up in the majors, and will hopefully be a part of the Toronto Blue Jays for years to come.

Image result for lourdes gurriel toronto blue jays

Photo by SportsNet

A final notable call up for this week is another New York Yankee, and if you follow baseball you’ve heard his name before, outfielder Clint Frazier. There are rumors surrounding Frazier that he will either be a cornerstone of the Yankees outfield for years to come, or he is only being called up so he can audition for other MLB teams come the trade deadline. In 42 games in the minors this year, most of which at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Frazier has played in 42 games posting a triple slash line of .302/.387/.550 with an OPS of .937. Frazier has also added eight home runs to those eye opening numbers. With the call to the Majors, Frazier has played in 5 games this year with a triple slash line of .364/.533/.455 with an OPS of .988. Frazier has been playing well no matter where he goes. This doesn’t seem like a permanent move to Frazier, not yet at least, but sooner rather than later he will be off this list, and in the Majors for good.

Image result for clint frazier new york yankees

Photo by FanRag Sports

So that’s the Call to the Majors for this week fans. I hope you’ve enjoyed this segment, and hope you aren’t sitting by the phone waiting for your Call to the Majors, it may be a little farther out than some of the players in the Minors.

AL All-Star Position Preview: Second Base

Finally, an exciting position! Welcome back to my position preview article series. This piece is set to focus on the second base position in the American League, which is absolutely loaded with talent. It upsets me to only be able to pick three guys but talking about all of them would defeat the purpose of the article.

Current All-Star Fan Vote:

Jose Altuve

Gleybar Torres

Dee Gordon

Jed Lowrie

Jason Kipnis (????)

Starter: Jose Altuve

Did you expect anyone else? The reigning AL MVP has been an absolute MACHINE for his entire career, including this season. Altuve is slashing .337/.393/.493 with a dominant WAR of 3.3. Altuve leads MLB in hits and singles while placing top-ten in offensive WAR (3.1), batting average (.337), and OBP (.393).

He may not be having the MVP-type season he was last year, but Altuve continues to produce at an elite-level with what looks like the best team in baseball again. Altuve could go hitless from now until the All-Star break and would still be a lock to get voted in.

Bench Spot 1: Jed Lowrie

The veteran has had himself a resurgence this season. Lowrie is slashing .284/.345/.460, all numbers besides batting average being better than his best season. He is also on pace to hit twenty home runs, which would beat his previous career high of 16.

Lowrie, Davis, and Lucroy have been a group of veterans that have helped keep a weaker A’s roster at 2 games over .500 as I write this. Lowrie has been reliable on defense while improving many of his offensive statistics. The A’s are not making a playoff run in my estimation but they have been in a rebuild for the past couple of years and Lowrie has been there the last five years.

The A’s could potentially trade him since he is due to become a free agent after this season at the age of 34. He could be a depth player and could contribute considering he is a switch hitter. Lowrie could make an impact on a contending team.

Bench Spot 2: Whitt Merrifield

If you read my previous posts you know my issues with the All-Star game voting. I think the game is a popularity contest and players like JASON KIPNIS are somehow fifth on the voting list. Yes, you hear me, the same Kipnis that is currently batting .207 with a WAR of -.3. He is currently a liability every time the Indians put him in the lineup. People like Kipnis take the shine away from some truly exceptional seasons.

In comes Whitt Merrifield. Merrifield is slashing .293/.335/.433 with a WAR of 2.0. Merrifield hasn’t got the recognition he deserves because he is on the second worst team in baseball, the Kansas City Royals. Absolutely NOBODY is tuning in to watch those games, including Royals fans. His home runs per game played has essentially been cut in half but other than that are you going to blame him for not batting a ton of runners in this season? His team STINKS. They have 50 losses in JUNE. That would be amazing if the Orioles didn’t also have 50 losses. My goodness, there are some bad teams in baseball right now.

It should be an even bigger accomplishment that he is performing so well. Nobody would blame him if he wasn’t having a great season on that horrendous Royals team. On behalf of baseball fans who realize how good of a season you are actually having we apologize for the geniuses writing in Jason Kipnis’s name.

 

 

Gary & Giancarlo Mash, Yankees Walk-Off To Beat Mariners 7-5

The bats are coming alive. The Yankees come back after being down 5-0 to beat the Mariners in the bottom of the 9th. This season the Yankees have proved that they are truly never out of a game, as home runs can come off almost any bat in the line-up.Image result for johnny lasagna baseball

Johnny Lasagna struggled tonight. His second Major League start saw his command struggles continue, and without his slider, he struggled to finish off batters like he did in his previous start. Loaisiga went 3.2 innings, gave up six hits, three earned runs, walked two batters, and struck out four. Shreve came in for two innings and gave up another two runs on four hits and walked one batter.

The real gem of the game was Jonathan Holder. Questionably the most important piece to the bullpen, Holder hasn’t given up a run in almost a MONTH in his ten appearances. He gives the Yankees flexibility with his ability to go multiple innings and being dominant while doing it. Holder went two innings while striking out two, walking none, and striking out two. His confidence must be sky high and it should be, Holder is an integral part of why this team has been so successful.

Now to the hitters. My goodness is this team fun to watch when these bats are hot. Since 6/9 in 37 at-bats, Didi has been batting .351 with 4 RBIs and 3 home runs. Didi brought in another run tonight to continue his hot streak. Aaron Judge also had himself a night, going 3 for 5 while bringing in a run. Clint Frazier also bought himself a run. Man, I wish there was room on this roster.

Frazier belongs in the big leagues and would be an everyday starter on almost any other team. Instead, he is stuck behind Aaron Hicks (a Brian Cashman favorite) and the old but reliable Brett Gardner. I hope these appearances we are getting from Frazier force the team’s hand in keeping him up and don’t serve as a tryout as the Yankees try and acquire another starting pitcher.

Now to the heroes. El Gary came to the plate after a very important Gleyber Torres walk. Gary had been struggling before this week but had been making good contact and started to heat up. Tonight, Gary may have erased all memories of his slow start to the season.

Gary absolutely CRUSHES this one, tying the game with another inning to spare. Gary gaining confidence will improve his offense and defense, something this team desperately needs (as they sit atop the standings).

Now on to the man who needed a moment like this as badly as anyone. If you saw the look on his face, you could tell how much hitting that walk-off home run meant to him. Giancarlo Stanton was a man on a mission tonight.

He got served up a meatball and sent that ball into orbit. Hopefully, this home run gets him relaxed and looking like the Stanton the Yankees traded for. The Yankees have a day game with Seattle to close out the series before playing the Rays this weekend. They look to secure the sweep against a potential playoff team in the Mariners.

More Than Just An Unsung Hero

With “ace” Zack Greinke having an ERA hovering around four, Goldy having a 2-month slump for the ages to start the season, Corbin currently sitting at his highest ERA of the season, Pollock being hurt for over a month now, Peralta having a month of May where he had only 4 XBH, 5 RBI to go along with a .211 average, it’s been the much less touted, super-utility specialist, Daniel Descalso –  team leader in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS – who’s been the first half team MVP for the 2018 Arizona Diamondbacks.

In 2017, his first with the team, Descalso set career highs in HR (10) and RBI (51). With 8 long balls and 39 runs driven in this season (roughly 90 games remaining), Daniel is currently on pace to shatter those numbers. If the season ended today he would set career highs in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. The 5’10, 195-pound Descalso has at least 11 RBI in each month this season and is on the verge of posting at least three home runs in three straight months, both career first’s at the ripe ol’ age of 31.

Image result for daniel descalso diamondbacks

The former standout pitcher at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, California, has seen a spike in offensive production with each passing month. While the D’backs as a team hit a putrid .193/.264/.316 in the month of May, Daniel was just starting to heat up coming off an April where the former 3rd-round pick from UC-Davis .229/.318/.443 with 3 HR and 13 RBI in his first 70 at-bats of the season as the calendar flipped to May. In 69 May at-bats, the former Cardinal and Rockie hit .290/.388/.565 while adding another 3 bombs and 11 RBI.  So far in only 30 June at-bats (prior to Mondays game), Daniel already has 15 RBI to go with a .379 average while getting on base nearly 50% of the time (.474) to go with an OPS of 1.198 and 2 HRs.

Daniel’s currently making his hay against righties now more than ever, as he’s slashing .292/.407/.562 against them so far this year compared to his .245/.324/.378 career mark against them. D.D’s also one of the only hitters on the team who hasn’t felt any ill-effects from the newly installed humidor at Chase Field consider he’s hitting a shiny .326 with an OPS over 1.000, with 5 HR & 22 RBI in 92 home at-bats.

One key to his new found success lies with Daniel being ultra-opportunistic when pitchers fall behind in the count to him. In hitters counts (1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1), Descalso has a career average of .330. In 2018, he’s bumped that baby all the way up to .420. Another area this season that pops off the map compared to previous ones is how he’s producing when the stakes get turned up a notch. While he’s hitting a mere .208 this season, in what Baseball-reference defines as low-leverage situations, Daniel’s hitting a sweet .337 combined during medium and high-leverage situations, compared to .258 in his career when the pressure rises. That’s what clutch hitters do.

Image result for daniel descalso diamondbacks

While Daniel has been the most consistent offensive force for the first place Diamondbacks, his flexibility in the field shouldn’t be overlooked, as he’s played 1B, 2B, 3B and LF this season. He also was basically Jake Lamb’s everyday replacement at third while the slugger was on the shelf for over a month.

The current team MVP has never been in the running for MVP, nor ever been an All-Star or even in the debate for that matter, he’ll, he’s even making exactly half the salary that Alex Avila is this year, but one thing is for certain and that is the 2018 Arizona Diamondbacks wouldn’t be where they are today without the player that they call “Scals.”

 

 

AL All-Star Position Preview: 1st Base

Welcome back! After reading about my preview for who deserved to be in the All-Star game at the catcher position, I’m sure you were itching for my next piece. Well, I’m back, and this article is going to look at who is most deserving of being awarded All-Star honors at first base in the AL.

First base has been a pretty weak position in the AL this season. A lot of contenders could use help and a few of the guys on my list could be dealt. There were also quite a few players I had pegged for the All-Star Game that has underperformed. Greg Bird has been injured and slumping, Edwin Encarnacion has underperformed, and Miguel Sano has actually hurt his team when he has been in the lineup (-.2 WAR). With that being said, let’s get a preview of who we might be seeing in this year’s All-Star game.

Current Fan Vote Results:

Jose Abreu

Mitch Moreland

Miguel Cabrera

Albert Pujols

Yuli Gurriel

Admittedly, the first base position has been a bit shallow this season in the American League. However, there is still a disparity between the fan vote and my vote, which brings us to my vote for who deserves to be playing in the All-Star game for the 2018 season.

Starter: Jose Abreu

Undoubtedly, Abreu is the clear starter for this year’s All-Star game as of today. Slashing .288/.346/.515 while raking in 11 homers and 40 RBIs, there is no doubt Abreu deserves to start this season.

He has been one of the few bright spots on a clearly rebuilding White Sox team. Abreu is likely to be traded before the deadline, with the White Sox likely getting a haul for the veteran who has had a decent career but likely is not in the White Sox long-term plans. A team like the Rockies or Giants who have a need at first base could be potential landing spots as the White Sox are still a few years out and Abreu is not getting younger.

Bench 1: Mitch Moreland

After taking over for Hanley Ramirez’s duties, Mitch Moreland has been holding his own in a pretty weak Red Sox offense besides Mookie Betts. Moreland has been slashing .281/.354/.556, questionably better than Abreu this season. Moreland’s issue has been lack of at bat’s having only 171 to Abreu’s 260.

Moreland also posts the best WAR out if the group, 1.3 compared to 1.0 for the other two. This could be his lack of appearances, but by all accounts, he is helping his team more when he is on the field. If Moreland remains productive to finish the season he will surely be the Red Sox first baseman for what looks like a promising playoff run.

The veteran has been an improvement to Ramirez’s bat and contract and hopes to continue his hot streak past the All-Star break. Moreland won’t get enough plate appearances to surpass Abreu but has certainly earned himself the first bench spot.

Bench 2: Justin Smoak

(I do not promote this corny video title but Smoak absolutely crushes these two pitches)

Similarly to Abreu, Smoak has been a bright spot on a tough but ultimately losing Blue Jays team. I thought the Jays could contend for a wild-card spot but it looks like the team will fall short sitting at 31-38 as I write this article.

Although he doesn’t have the name recognition that Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera have (both on fan voting list), he leads them both in WAR 1.0 to .2 and .4 respectively. He also leads Miggy in RBIs and trails Pujols by 3. What differentiates him from the two is his defensive play, which has been superior to the other two (which fans sometimes forget in voting).

Ultimately, Smoak will most likely miss the All-Star game this season. His batting average is low and his numbers aren’t exceptionally above those two mentioned future Hall of Famers. He would be my pick for the second bench spot had I been chosen to pick (hint: I wasn’t).

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals had their worst week of the season losing all five of their games. They started the home stand against the Cincinnati Reds. On Tuesday the Royals were leading 1-0 until the 9th inning but lost in extra innings. Their weekend series was against the Houston Astros. The Royals pitching staff struggled in the series giving up an average of eight runs per game. The Royals are on a six-game losing streak and have lost 12 of their last 13 games. They have a record of 22-49, which is the second worst record in baseball.

The Royals are starting to fall into a distant fifth in the American League Central. The Chicago White Sox are now two and a half games ahead of the Royals in fourth place. The top three spots in the division are the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins. Only five games separate the first and third place teams. The Royals are 15.5 games behind the division leading Indians.

Image result for jorge bonifacio royals

Jorge Soler suffered a fractured foot and is expected to miss at least six weeks. Soler missed time earlier this month with a foot injury and it appears he re-aggravated the injury last week. Soler was having a breakout year with the Royals this season. He had a .265 batting average and nine home runs. He established himself as a consistent corner outfielder for the team. During his absence Jorge Bonifacio could see a lot of playing time. He will be eligible to return on June 27th from his 80-game PED suspension. Last season Bonifacio saw a lot of playing time and had a .255 batting average and 17 home runs. Bonifacio should be a reliable substitute for Soler while he is injured.

The Royals 2018 first round draft pick Brady Singer was named the Dick Howser Trophy winner. The award is given to the national college player of the year. Singer is a right-handed pitcher the Royals selected 18th overall. Notable pitchers who have won the award in the past are David Price and Stephen Strasburg. Alex Gordon won the award in 2005. This season Singer has a 2.30 ERA. Last season he was a big part of the Florida Gators National Championship run. Brady Singer should be one of the Royals top prospects and could move through their minor league system quickly.

Image result for brady singer draft

Next week the Royals will face two American League West opponents. They start at home against the Texas Rangers. The Royals are 2-2 against the Rangers this season.Hunter Dozier will be a player to watch in the series. He has a .375 batting average against the Rangers this season. The weekend series will be on the road against the Houston Astros. The Royals were swept by the Astros this last weekend. Alex Bregman will be a player to watch in the series. He had a .375 batting average against the Royals including two home runs. Next week will be another tough test for the Royals.

AL All-Star Position Preview: Catcher

Baseball fans around the world have been waiting for this day, All-Star weekend. You get to see your favorite players compete against one another in a weekend filled with pageantry and excitement. The MLB allows fans to vote for the players they believe most deserving (sometimes giving popularity more value than in-season accomplishment) and when the voting is finished those players get chosen to compete.

Here at Cleat Geeks, however, there is no voting. I will be telling you who deserves to be in the All-Star game in a series of articles, looking at each position in the AL individually. I will list and discuss who deserves to be a starter, then give you two bench spots. This first article will be a dive into the top 3 catchers most deserving of All-Star honors. With that being said, let’s get to the catchers!

Current Fan Vote Results:

Gary Sanchez

Wilson Ramos

Brian McCann

Salvador Perez

Martin Maldonado

Starter: Wilson Ramos

Although the fans have Gary Sanchez slightly edging out Ramos in voting, I would take Ramos. With the most at-bats of the three (206), the highest batting average (.282), and highest OPS (.766) it was an easy decision to place him atop this list. Being on the Rays makes it difficult for him to edge out Sanchez (again, popularity contest) but Ramos should be the clear starter. Despite catching a multitude of pitchers while the Rays try a new rotation strategy, Ramos maintains a decent WAR (wins above replacement) of .9, falling in second on this list. Wilson is having a great season and is one of the main reasons why the Rays have managed to stay afloat this season, despite a very tough AL East.

Bench Spot 1: Salvador Perez:

Sorry Sal, you will most likely not extend your All-Star Game streak to five. The two other guys on this list are currently running away with the voting and unless Sal starts raking these next couple of weeks, he will, unfortunately, fall short of the All-Star Game. Posting an impressive 1.0 WAR, tying Ramos in RBIs (32), and a slash line of .230/.281/.449 would have earned him a trip to the All-Star Game in years past, but the young slugger Gary Sanchez has stolen fans hearts. The veteran catcher also suffers from being on an AL Central-worst Kansas City Royals team, which means fewer eyes are focused on him. Accompany that with the fact that he has about 20 less at bats than Sanchez and Ramos, and it is tough to make a case for him in the fans eyes. My eyes are not the fans eyes and I believe Sal deserves to be second in the voting.

Bench Spot 2: Gary Sanchez

Sanchez has had an extremely disappointing season thus far. He is currently having his worst season in BA, OBP, OPS, SLG, and WAR. He has fewer hits than both guys on this list. Yet what makes Sanchez so special is that he still leads both guys in both HR and RBI. He would fall further if there were more players who could even come close to his Abs, so his plate appearances certainly boost him up my list. I do not expect Gary to continue this poor streak, and the All-Star break will give him a much-needed break from the day-to-day grind of being the catcher for the New York Yankees. If you compare his stats to his almost Rookie of the Year winning 2016 season, he has 22 fewer hits but has only 7 fewer RBIs and 8 less HR’s. I fully expect a second-half resurgence.

Catcher may be a shallow competition in terms of All-Star voting, the other positions will have considerably more discrepancies *cough* outfield *cough*. Continue reading to find out who deserves to be a part of All-Star Weekend!

A Father’s Day MLB Plea

This is not my story. I know it says it is mine, and I am the author, but I caught wind of this story, and I fondly remember the fearless player that Ryan Freel was, especially his days with the Cincinnati Reds, my favorite MLB team, and had to share this story with all of our fans on Father’s Day weekend. I put parts of it in my own words and some words from Mike Oz of Yahoo sports. Hopefully some of our fans can help, or share this story with people who can.

Ryan Freel was never a star in the big leagues. He was always one of the players trying to fit in. He was scrappy and on the smaller side, but quick and carried no fear. He’d play where ever he was needed, zipping around the outfield or taking any infield position.

Some fans particularly those in Cincinnati, where he played from 2003 to 2008 got an up close and personal appreciation of just how fearless he was on the field. But fearless Freel paid the price. He suffered multiple concussions through his career, either when he was diving around the basepaths or jumping around the outfield.

The price Freel paid, was with his life. Three days before Christmas in 2012 Patrick Freel lost his son to suicide. Patrick knows mortality all too well. Life, as he learned the hard way, can be gone in an instant. Freel not only played for the Reds but also the Royals, Blue Jays and a few short stints on a few other teams.

On this Father’s Day weekend, one of the toughest times of the year for a father who had to bury a son, the elder Freel has just one thing he wants.

Baseball cards with Ryan on them. “I’m getting older,” Patrick Freel told Yahoo Sports. “I’ve had a heart attack. I don’t know from one day to another if I’m going to get up in the morning until I see that blue sky.”

But, this is not a father who wants to relive his son’s life through baseball cards. This is a grandfather who wants his granddaughters to remember their father and his accomplishments through his baseball cards.  The idea is that he wants to create a binder of baseball cards for each of Ryan’s three daughters — who are now 9, 11 and 13 years old. He has enough cards to fill one binder. But Ryan had three daughters he is asking for the public’s help in making a binder for each of his daughters so they have fond memories of their father.

“I want to give them something to remember their daddy by,” he said. “I love those grandchildren to death. I just want to make sure that they’re taken care of before I go.” Patrick, 74, speaks with a subdued Southern drawl. He’s the type of man who calls someone he just met “pal” or “buddy.” He’s likable in that way. That helps explain how Freel started, inadvertently as it might have been, what’s turned into a nationwide search this week for his son’s cards. It started with one Facebook message, then a dozen more, soon it was getting shared thousands of time on Twitter and now the first batch of cards is rolling in from collectors across the country.

MLB and CTE

After Freel killed himself, his family and friends started counting how many concussions he’d had in the life. It was a lot. More than 10. That’s what led Boston University to ask if its doctors could study Freel’s brain. They diagnosed him with CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), the first baseball player to get such a diagnosis. That didn’t totally explain why he chose to take his own life, but it made sense. Ryan struggled with a number of issues during and after his playing days: Alcohol, a bipolar diagnosis, depression. He was 36 when he loaded his shotgun that December night.

It All Started With One Facebook Message

For all his demons, Ryan Freel was still a son and a father. That is what Patrick Freel holds onto these days. That’s what made him recently message a man named Matthew Christian on Facebook. They’d never met. Christian lived in Montana. Freel in Florida. There was no connection other than that Christian was a sports cards fan who runs The Sports Card Connection in his downtime and Freel thought that sounded like a place to turn for help. He was right. Once they talked and Christian understood what Freel was trying to do, he put the call out to card collectors in almost a dozen private Facebook groups he’s a part of.

“I can almost guarantee you we’re gonna get some cards for those granddaughters,” Christian told Freel.

Fact is, Ryan Freel cards aren’t worth much. He’s what people in the hobby call a common. If you ask a collector if they have a Ryan Freel card, they probably wouldn’t know off the top of their head. They’d have to dig through old stacks of cards. That’s just what Christian asked them to do, thinking once they heard the story, they’d happily part with their Freel cards. But then something surprising happened: That Facebook post got copied and pasted onto Twitter. That tweet got retweeted and retweeted — thousands of times.

“This is why I turned to this community,” Christian told Yahoo Sports.

On Thursday, the first cards started rolling in. There were rookie cards from his Blue Jays days, many cards from his Reds years. Even a Baltimore Orioles card from his final year in the big leagues.
Based on the social-media response, Christian expects more to arrive in the coming weeks.

“A guy sent me a message and said, ‘This is Ryan Freel’s actual glove from 2002 that he gave me,’” Christian said. “The floodgates are pretty much open at this point. I told Patrick we might get enough cards to fill a U-Haul. He just laughed and said, ‘We’ll figure it out, buddy.” They will. And they might fill more than two more binders before it’s all said and done.

Ryan’s dad is not a picky man, “Anything will work,” Patrick Freel says. “As long as his name is on them.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Freel family on this Father’s Day. And we hope this awareness makes a difference for the family and raises awareness for CTE in all sports.

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