Who is the best young player in the MLB to build around?

Who is the best young player in the MLB to build around?

Who is the top young talent to build around for the next 10 years? There are many choices throughout the major and minor leagues as baseball has become a young man’s game. In 2019 we witnessed Juan Soto win the World Series in his second year, Ronald Acuna Jr nearly join the 40/40 club in his sophomore year and we watched as Pete Alonso slug 53 homeruns in his inaugural season. Fernando Tatis Jr. became an overnight sensation when he slugged 22 homeruns and stole 16 bases in just over half a season of play. Vladimir Guerrero Jr was the top prospect in baseball heading into last season and Jo Adell, Eloy Jimmenez, Luis Robert Gavin Lux, Rafael Devers and Bo Bichete are all sensational young players with prospect pedigree galore.
So, who is the best? Ronald Acuna Jr. is a 5-tool centerfielder who has a bit of a strikeout problem. His strikeout percentage was 25.3 his rookie year and went up to 26.3 last year. However, he also was three steals away from a 40-home run 40 stolen base season. He should continue putting up close to 40/40 numbers until he loses some speed due to age. If he cuts his strikeout rate down to below 20% nothing will stop him. Juan Soto has posted two seasons of a .400 OBP in his year 19 and 20 season. That is almost unheard of. He has the discipline of a 10-year veteran and increased his power from 22 homeruns his rookie year to 34 last year and helped the Nationals win the world series. He even added 12 steals last year despite speed not being a big part of his game. He is limited to left field defensively and was only average out there after being even worse his rookie season. If Soto can be above average defensively and keep the double-digit steals and Acuna doesn’t get better plate discipline he will be the best choice. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. came in with more hype than anyone since Bryce Harper. Many people consider his rookie season a big disappointment as he was just above average offensively using OPS+ and his negative 9 defensive runs saved was even worse. He did put on s how in the homerun derby where he showed off his lightning quick bat speed. If he improves like many expect him to in his second season and moving forward he could be the best hitter in this draft. No matter what position he plays he will probably never be more than an e=average fielder and that’s assuming he doesn’t get too big. While he will never provide the all-around value of Acuna it is his bat that will tell his story. Luis Robert hasn’t even taken an at bat at the big-league level and the white sox have already inked him to a 50-million-dollar contract that runs through2025. This is because he is a 5-tool outfielder who hit .328 with a 1.001 OPS. With no MLB experience and a minor league strikeout rate that has some people concerned we cannot crown him the best player in baseball just yet. A better question might be, is he better than Jo Adell right now? Jo Adell battled injuries in 2019but still posted a respectable .289 average and .834 OPS with 10 homeruns in only 76 games played. He is another 5-tool outfielder with a very similar skill set to Robert. I believe he has even more potential as I was watching him in the futures game and he made baseball look easy the way Robinson Cano des. They look like they can go 85% and still get better results than everyone else going 100%. Now he also has not played an MLB game and when that will change is unknown but him and Robert could be battling for the top outfield spot once Trout’s reign is over (if it ever is). Eloy Jimenez is Luis Robert’s teammate and was the top White Sox prospect heading into 2019. He didn’t have the greatest rookie year but did slug .513 with 31 home runs. If he can improve n his .315 on base he could be one of the most dangerous hitter for the next ten years but unless he cleans up his defense he will not join the top tier of young players. Bo Bichete came up at the end of 2019 to play 46 games and posted a .930 OPS. The future shortstop of the blue jays hit 11 home runs and with a 70-grade hit tool has a high offensive ceiling. Should he be able to stick at short if he is able to contribute positively on the base paths he will be competing for the top player on this list. He could already be the best young shortstop in this game if the ability to stay on the field is included (pointing at you Tatis Jr.). Gavin Lux had one of the biggest jumps on prospect lists in 2019 after a banner year that saw him tear up the higher levels of the minor leagues to the tune of a .347 average with 26 homeruns and a 1.028 OPS. While he only has a.705 OPS in the majors last year he is the favorite to win the NL rookie of the year in 2020. While he improved last season at shortstop and has quieted some critics who worry about his throwing accuracy it remains to be seen if Lux ultimately ends up at shortstop or second base long term. If he can be a solid defensive shortstop with his potential to hit .300 and 25+ homeruns a season he could be near the top of this list. We end on two major leaguers one who could be competing for batting titles for years to come at Fenway park and one who could be competing for homeruns crowns in Flushing. Rafael Devers had a great 58 game debut in 2017 but then struggled mightily in 2018. He seemed to make positive adjustments in 2019 and hit .311 and led the American League with 54 doubles. While Devers struggles a lot on defense he still managed to put up a 5.9 War season in 2019. While defense may always hold him back from being elite he could be battling his division rival Guerrero Jr for years to see who the best third base bat is for the next ten years. My money is on Vlad Jr. however, but Devers should not be slept on. Lastly, we have the National league rookie of the year for 2019 Pete Alonso. If he wasn’t already 25 and didn’t play only first base he might have had a shot at the top spot. As it is he is the best power hitter on this list and the best future first baseman by miles.
So, my final analysis of the players are as follows Acuna will follow Mike Trout as the next number one baseball player in the MLBSoto may end up being a better hitter than Acuna but not a better overall playerPete Alonso will one day be the best first baseman in the majors and maybe even the best slugger overall.
Fernando Tatis Jr. needs more time and to stay healthy but if he can do that while playing shortstop could be better than Soto but will probably end up being slightly below his level.Vlad Jr. may be the best hitter overall of this group and should bring Toronto to its feet every at bat, but he is not a complete enough player to be number one with this group of players comingJo Adell or Luis Robert could be the next Acuna but will have to prove it in the majors first.Gavin lux could be the best second baseman in baseball but if he moved to short could have even more value overall. He probably will not top Tatis but could be secondBo Bichette could be number two at shortstop if Lux isn’t.Rafael Devers will fight Vlad Jr. for top third base honors for the next decade but topping him will be tough if they both stay at third.
Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park

Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park

When baseball fans think of game day promotions, free shirts and bobbleheads are probably the first items to come to mind. Neither of those were given out at Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979 as the White Sox were set to host the Tigers for a doubleheader. This time, the fans brought the promotional item. Disco records.
The promotion was to allow fans to come to the games for 98 cents per person if they brought an old disco record. Why would you need old disco records at a baseball game? To blow them up of course. Between games of the doubleheader, a box with the disco records would be blown up in Comiskey’s outfield.
Local disk jockey Steve Dahl, who was running the promotion, expected at most 5,000 people. Instead, the White Sox saw one of their largest crowds ever, with a reported attendance of 47,795. White Sox’s owner Bill Veeck estimated there were actually anywhere between 50,000 and 55,000 people in the ballpark. Veeck’s estimate accounted for people who got in by leaping over the turnstiles and sneaking through the portholes by left field.
Not all the disco records were even collected. Before the first game started, fans were using their disco records as frisbees flinging them all over the place. White Sox outfielder Rusty Torres was nearly hit in the head by a flying disco record.
After Detroit won the first game, the stage for demolition was set. The box of disco records was brought to the outfield and demolished. That was supposed to be the end of it. Little did the White Sox know this was the beginning of a disastrous evening.
As White Sox starting pitcher Ken Kravec was warming up for the second game, fans stormed the field in an uncontrollable mob. Fans ripped the field apart, set it afire, dug up home plate, destroyed the batting cage, and even slid down the foul poles to join the circus. Some fans even appeared to be playing simulated baseball games on the field.
Veeck along with White Sox broadcasters Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall attempted to tame the crazed crowd, urging them to get back in their seats. Their efforts, which included a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” were all for naught. The frenzied crowd kept going bananas on Comiskey’s field.
After 40 minutes, police charged the field on horseback, scaring fans away. Dahl’s idea had destroyed disco and Comiskey’s field. Grounds crew workers attempted to repair the ravaged field to no avail. The field was deemed unplayable, forcing the White Sox to forfeit the second game of the doubleheader.
What did the White Sox learn from this? That blowing up disco records may not be the best way to attract fans to the ballpark. Maybe try blowing up opposing pitchers’ ERAs instead.
MLB PLAYERS VS. OWNERS: WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

MLB PLAYERS VS. OWNERS: WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Millionaires fighting billionaires. Most of us just roll our eyes as we’d all love to have those problems. When the haggling of money occurs in the arena of sports, we usually side with the billionaire owners and want the player to sign a deal quickly in order to get back on the field. The stakes, though, are very different in this feud. Players want a reasonable salary for 2020 while the owners are desperate to stop hemorrhaging cash. Baseball’s long-term future is very much in peril if a deal isn’t reached. While we normally side with ownership when contract disputes arise, there are a few reasons why it’s time we flip our allegiance to the players side and root for them to get properly compensated for the risk they are taking in resuming play.

In this pandemic, it’s not unreasonable and almost mandatory that sacrifices be made by everyone. Baseball is no different. The players have already done their share of sacrificing as back in March, the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to prorate their salary commensurate to the number of games played. Owners are now asking the players to take a second pay cut because of the fact that most likely, no fans will be allowed stadiums at all during this shortened season. It’s tough to criticize and fault the players for not wanting another salary reduction because the owners misjudged the climate in which games would be played and now are frantically trying to hold onto every dollar they have. Why should the players have to pay for a miscalculation by the owners?

The form of the pay cut is also very controversial because it would come in the form of a 50/50 split of the 2020 revenue between the owners and players, a practice never before enforced. The players association, as they should, strongly disagrees with this proposal because it would serve as a de facto salary cap, as baseball is the only of the four major sports without one. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark had some strong words when speaking to The Athletic last Monday about the idea of a 50/50 split.

“A system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period,” Clark said. “That the league is trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they’ve failed to achieve in the past – and to anonymously negotiate through the media for the last several days – suggests they know exactly how this will be received.”

Ryan Hickey breaks down why you should be favoring the players over the owners as negotiations about compensation for a shortened season without fans plays out publicly. Catch “The Morning Boys w/ Ryan Hickey” every Monday/Thursday from 9:00 am – 11:00 am ET.

From the players perspective, it’s tough to trust the owners to act in good faith. They’ve accused them in the past of colluding together to suppress wages and destroy the free agent market. Now with the CBA set to expire after the 2021 season, the players worry that their leverage could be lost if they cave and agree to a second pay reduction. This agreement could have devastating impacts that last a lot longer than just this season.

The risk the players are taking by stepping onto the field in the midst of a pandemic is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Without a vaccine available, there’s still a chance of infection despite the numerous precautions the league office is taking. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell’s viral rant brought to light how divisive this proposal is to the players. Snell was speaking on his personal Twitch stream last week when he let loose on why taking another pay cut was not an option.

“The risk is way the hell higher and the amount of money I’m making is way lower. Why would I think about doing that?” Snell said. “If I’m gonna play, I should be getting the money I signed to be getting paid. I should not be getting half of what I’m getting paid because the season’s cut in half, on top of a 33% cut of the half that’s already there — so I’m really getting, like, 25%.”

He’s right. After all, the owners aren’t the ones out on the field risking their health to play the game. It’s a matter of when a player will contract the virus, not if, so why should the players be exposed as well as have their pay significantly slashed? The risk versus reward debate right now is an easy one because the players are facing a health risk while getting compensated very poorly. The scales have to be tipped in favor of the reward far outweighing the risks involved, a balance that at the moment favors the risk being too high. There needs to be some sort of incentive because right now, all of the signs point to it not making a whole lot of sense for players to return to the field this season.

Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association Tony Clark says a 50/50 revenue split in 2020 is “a non-starter” (Photo by Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday via Getty Images)

Snell isn’t alone in this thinking, as some of baseball’s superstars came out to defends the Rays pitcher. Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper is glad those comments were put out in the open.

“He ain’t lying, he’s speaking the truth bro,” Harper told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Somebody’s gotta say it, at least he manned up and said it.”

Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado also chimed in and backed up Snell when talking with The Athletic.

“He made a lot of good points,” Arenado said. “A lot of it gets misperceived. Trying to get the public to understand us, it’s not going to work very well in our favor…”

Arenado brings up a very important point that can’t be lost in this entire battle. With the owners floating out the 50/50 revenue split idea, this public frustration from the labor is exactly what they wanted. Social media was buzzing with tons of “Just get out there and play” takes after Snell’s rant went viral. Let’s also not forget what the players are actually asking for. They aren’t demanding a pay raise, but instead just asking to keep their already halved salary. It’s easy for the public to get frustrated about millionaires complaining about salary, but you can’t overlook the billionaires selfishly trying to keep their pockets filled.

Looking at the landscape of the country right now, there’s a serious void that we are so used to sports filling. If the NBA and NHL can’t or choose not to return, baseball will be at the forefront of the nation. This is a unique opportunity that could allow baseball to jump back into national relevancy and with that increased attention, allow owners to make up for lost revenue in this pandemic stricken season. MLB has the chance to be the first and quite possibly the only league to return for a long time.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has focused a lot of his efforts on changing the game to make it more appealing to the younger audience. There’s no better way to bring new fans in than being the main sport played during an otherwise bleak time in history. The short-term losses could be made up down the line by tapping into a fanbase that baseball has never had access to before. The growth of the sport will increase stadium and television revenues, creating a new stable stream of money coming in. Considering the potential loss of four-billion-dollars if baseball isn’t played in 2020, it’s advantageous for the owners to cater to the needs of the players.

If anything, the coronavirus has put us all on the same playing field. No matter the job we have or the industry we work in, we’re all inconvenienced and more importantly, we’re all in this together. We’ve sacrificed and now hope springs eternal that the summer can bring about some semblance of normalcy. Part of that return to normalcy is watching baseball on the television every night. In a time when we’re all sacrificing for the greater good, baseball needs to do the same. The players have made their sacrifice. It’s time for the owners to make theirs.

Who Would win the Stanley Cup if the NHL didn’t stop play?

Who Would win the Stanley Cup if the NHL didn’t stop play?

(Pt 3: The 2nd round)

[Make sure to check the first and second parts of this series to see which four teams come out of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.]

Now that the dust has settled from the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs the semifinals are ready to get underway. Starting in the eastern conference the Atlantic, the top two seed face off as the (A1) Boston Bruins taking on the (A2) Tampa Bay Lightning. This rematch of the 2018 second round shows that history is bound to repeat itself. After six games Tampa moves on to the conference finals, just like the 2018 playoffs. The Bruins are the older team in this series and that plays a very large factor when on the road to the Stanley Cup. Tampa once again will be the faster team in this series and will slow down Boston enough to knock off the defending eastern conference champions.
Coming out of the Metropolitan division the (M1) Washington Capitals take on the (M2) Philadelphia Flyers, with the Capitals coming out on top to face Tampa Bay in the conference final. This series would go the distance, taking seven games, and would be a heavy-hitting series showing both teams shifting their games into a new gear. But in the end, the Broad Street Bullies take the knockout blow as the Caps move on. The Capitals have a better offensive core than the Flyers, and with a young Carter Hart in net for Philly. It is too much for the Flyers as they can’t keep up with the Caps production and fall in seven games.
Moving to the west you have the (P1) Vegas Golden Knights going up against the (P2) Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers put up a fight for five games but it would come down to the Knights taking it in the fortress to go to their second conference final in three years. Vegas has the depth advantage to put themselves over the Oilers. Even with a strong tandem upfront in Conner McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Vegas can roll with four lines of consistency while Edmonton can’t. They would have a hard time matching up against Vegas which would be too much for Edmonton giving the Vegas Golden Knights a win in game five and the win in the series.
The last matchup in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs would be the (C1) St. Louis Blues facing the (C2) Colorado Avalanche. This matchup does one thing for the Stanley Cup playoffs and that is the guarantee that there will be a new Stanley Cup champion. After 7 games the Colorado Avalanche defeat the Blues. A tough series to be sure, but Colorado would finally get back to the conference final for the first time since 2002. It would be a tough loss for St. Louis but this was a matter of time as it is not meant to be for the Blues to go back to back. The Blues rely on a tough style of play and against a younger faster team in the Avalanche, the old style of play did not match up well with the new style of play. In the end, Colorado’s speed would help them dethrone the champs sending them to the conference finals.
Next week it is the finally to the hypothetical 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs to see who moves on to Final and takes on the Stanley Cup.

Have the Rams bungled their Super Bowl window?

Have the Rams bungled their Super Bowl window?

A lot has changed for the Los Angeles Rams in a relatively short period of time. The team was loaded in 2018 and 2019, making the playoffs in those two years with new head coach Sean McVay. Quarterback Jared Goff went from struggling in his rookie year, to an MVP-level quarterback in years 2 and 3. Los Angeles went to the Super Bowl in 2019, losing to the New England Patriots 13-3. It seemed the Rams were going to get back at some point due to their talent and coaching, but that seems less likely just 15 months later.
The Rams lost guard Rodger Saffold, which significantly hurt their offensive line and running back Todd Gurley was never really at 100% all season in 2019. As a result, Goff had a rocky 4th season in the league as he threw 16 interceptions with a 86.5 passer rating. A drop off from his last two years where he threw 28 and 32 touchdown passes.
The Rams defense struggled as well after losing guys like Lamarcus Joyner and Ndamukong Suh and made their defense older with the signings of Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews. During the season, the team traded cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, and made a move that ended up not necessarily paying off in 2019. The Rams traded two first-round picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars for cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Ramsey struggled for the Rams, culminating in a gaffe on third-and-16 in a must win game against the San Francisco 49ers when Emmanuel Sanders caught a 46-yard reception and the 49ers won on a game-winning field goal, and eliminating the Rams from playoff contention as they finished 7-9 on the season. This offseason has seen more turnover for the Rams.
Matthews is still a free agent, Weddle retired, Ramsey is still in need of a contract extension after they dealt two first-round picks for him, Gurley was released and signed with the Atlanta Falcons, wide receiver Brandin Cooks was traded to the Houston Texans, linebacker Corey Littleton left in free agency for the Las Vegas Raiders, as did outside linebacker Dante Fowler as he signed with the Falcon. Kicker Greg Zurlein also departed in free agency for the Dallas Cowboys. They also have to pay receiver Cooper Kupp soon. In the NFC West, they are no longer the top team in the division. The 49ers and Seattle Seahawks have passed them and the Arizona Cardinals, while they aren’t there yet, are on their way and just acquired wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
The Rams sudden decline is an example of how quick things change in the NFL. 15 months ago, the Rams were in prime position to make the Super Bowl for a while, now, they are the third best team in their own division with the Cardinals quickly getting there. What Los Angeles does have going for them still is their coach and quarterback. McVay is still considered as one of the best minds in the game, and you figure Goff is not the quarterback we saw him as in 2019. It really is what’s going on around the Rams other than the coach and quarterback that is the concern. The offensive line and running game are a concern now and the defense is a question mark even with Aaron Donald who is one of the best players in the league. The window isn’t closed yet for the Rams, but it’s closer to closed than many expected it to be when they made a run to the Super Bowl.