Over the past few days, we’ve been privy to some pretty enthralling baseball. As the final days of the season come to an end, the Sox, Rays, Cardinals, and Braves having taken center stage as they desperately fight for October admittance. With all of this added mania, I’ve found myself watching even more baseball than usual so I thought it’d be fun to take a few moments to jot down some observations.
1) Bizzaro Jesus
We are all well aware by now know of Jesus Montero. As it turns out though, the Sox have a “wicked good” hitting prospect of their own (who also happens to be a backstop), Ryan Lavarnway. His two monster homeruns yesterday couldn’t have been better timed as the Sox find themselves muddling through the final days of what has otherwise been an awful September. While Lavarnway doesn’t have quite the hype surrounding him that Jesus does, he certainly has caught some attention nevertheless. His power stroke is legitimate (.317 ISO in AAA), and he’s put together a very solid season in the minors (.295/.390/.612). Should the Sox reach the playoffs, and Lavarnway continues to carry a hot hand, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see his name in the lineup — particularly with the recent injuries and ineffectiveness plaguing Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia respectively.
2) Albert “Freakin” Pujols
I don’t watch the Cardinals nearly as often as I should. That’s not to say that I have a particularly affinity for National League baseball or St. Louis for that matter, but rather, I’d like to have more opportunities to see a generational talent at work. While the Braves have been diligently cementing a monumental collapse of their own, the Cards have quietly snuck their way back into the postseason discussion. At the center of this comeback is none other than Albert Pujols. In the month of September, Pujols has hit .375/.415/.604 (with an OPS of 1.019). He’s shown excellent power (.229 ISO) in addition to a quality .432 wOBA. Yeah, Albert’s always been an awesome player, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less impressive. Also, get this; Albert is been valued at 5.3 fWAR which marks an all time low. He’ll also be a free agent this winter.
3) The kids are alright
Think where you were in your career by age 30. Or if you haven’t reached that point in your life yet, imagine where you may wind up. Now consider the Rays starting rotation, beginning with David Price. And then James Shields. Jeremy Hellickson. Jeff Niemann. Wade Davis. And now, of course, Matt Moore. With the exception of Shields (who’s only 30), the rest of the Rays rotation is comprised of all 20-something year old kids. I realize this has been the case for several years now, but it’s really pretty ridiculous how well they’ve managed. Even with top prospects, the transition to a quality professional player is not a certainty. Even though they’ll enter the postseason as a wildcard (should they make it), they aren’t your typical underdogs with so much talent resting on so many young shoulders. Unfortunately for the Yankees, this group of hurlers probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon either.
4) These aren’t your Yankee-dynasty-years Braves
What the hell is wrong with the Braves? Is it the pitching? Is it the hitting? Is it a combination of everything? (It is probably.) Well, whatever the case, the Braves have watched a 10.5 game lead wilt away over the past month. While Atlanta has lost 19 of it’s past 29 games, Chipper Jones chimed, “It’s like we’re living out a bad dream.” Brian McCann — who was looking like a real MVP candidate for much of the first half of the season — has struggled mightily of late. In August, the Braves catcher hit .146/.241/.417 (0.88 BABIP) over 54 plate appearances. One would think that that kind of production was bound to improve in September. Well, it has, but not by much. This month, he’s hit .182/.315/.286 which is good for an wRC+ of 75 (.282 wOBA). With guys like McCann, Uggla, Heyward, Prado, Freeman, and Bourne all struggling simultaneously, it’s no wonder sad times have settled in Georgia.
5) The end is near, and so is the beginning
With great baseball comes great conclusion. Only during this time of the year can we as Yankee fans find ourselves in the strange predicament of wanting to cheer on our team while also hoping for success from our opposition. By the end of this week, the regular season will be officially over. Of course, the postseason will have begun which basically equates to all but eight teams being rendered essentially irrelevant. Now, more than ever, am I happy to be cheering for the Yankees. No team is garanteed a ring, but the Yankees are equipped with the firepower and experience necessary to make a deep run into the playoffs.
If you have any thoughts regarding these final few days of the regular season, please share them. We’d love to hear what you have to say.
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