MLB Draft 2021

The Major League Baseball Draft of 2021 occurred on July 11-13th and took place at the Bellco Theater in Denver, Colorado. The draft started with the first picks on Sunday, two through ten on Monday and 11 through 20 on Tuesday to end the draft. Prospects have been heavily graded by pitching/batting stats and highs throughout their baseball careers whether that be from a credited university or high school.

Included in the rounds were compensation picks and competitive balance rounds. Compensation Picks are compensatory draft picks that are granted to teams based upon the players’ yearly salary. These picks are determined by a team losing more free agents than it had taken in, in previous years and these are awarded between rounds three and seven. Competitive Balance Picks are 10 teams with the lowest revenue coming in, as well as the 10 smallest markets who will receive extra picks in a single round.

The number one draft pick for the 2021 draft was Henry Davis, he was selected by the Pittsburg Pirates. Coming in second was Jack Leiter, the right-handed pitcher who was selected by the Texas Rangers. The third pick in the draft went to Jackson Jobe who was selected by the Detroit Tigers. Recent high school graduate, Marcelo Mayer was the fourth pick in the draft and was selected by the Boston Red Sox. To finish the top five picks, Colton Cowser of Sam Houston State University was drafted to play for the Baltimore Orioles.

Round one: July 11th

  1. Henry Davis- Pittsburg Pirates
  2. Jack Leiter- Texas Rangers
  3. Jackson Jobe- Detroit Tigers
  4. Marcelo Mayer- Boston Red Sox
  5. Colton Cowser- Baltimore Orioles
  6. Jordan Lawlar- Arizona Diamondbacks
  7. Frank Mozzicato- Kansas City Royals
  8. Benny Montgomery- Colorado Rockies
  9. Sam Bachman- Los Angeles Angels
  10. Kumar Rocker- New York Mets
  11. Brady House- Washington Nationals
  12. Harry Ford- Seattle Mariners
  13. Andrew Painter- Philadelphia Phillies
  14. Will Bednar- San Francisco Giants
  15. Sal Frelick- Milwaukee Brewers
  16. Kahlil Watson- Miami Marlins
  17. Matt McLain- Cincinnati Reds
  18. Michael McGreevy- St. Louis Cardinals
  19. Gunnar Hoglund- Toronto Blue Jays
  20. Trey Sweeney- New York Yankees
  21. Jordan Wicks- Chicago Cubs
  22. Colson Montgomery- Chicago White Sox
  23. Gavin Williams- Cleveland Indians
  24. Ryan Cusick- Atlanta Braves
  25. Max Muncy- Oakland Athletics
  26. Chase Petty- Minnesota Twins
  27. Jackson Merrill- San Diego Pirates
  28. Carson Williams- Tampa Bay Rays
  29. Maddux Bruns- Los Angeles Dodgers

Compensation Picks 

  1. Jay Allen- Cincinnati Reds

Competitive Balance Round A

  1. Joe Mack- Miami Marlins
  2. Ty Madden- Detroit Tigers
  3. Tyler Black- Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Coo[er Kinney- Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Matheu Nelson- Cincinnati Reds
  6. Noah Miller- Minnesota Twins

Second Round- July 13th

  1. Anthony Solometo- Pittsburgh Pirates
  2. Aaron Zavala- Texas Rangers
  3. Izaac Pacheo- Detroit Tigers
  4. Jud Fabian- Boston Red Sox
  5. Connor Norby- Baltimore Orioles
  6. Ryan Bliss- Arizona Diamondbacks
  7. Ben Kurdna- Kansas City Royals
  8. Jaden Hill- Colorado Rockies
  9. Ky Bush- Los Angeles Angels
  10. Calvin Ziegler- New York Mets
  11. Daylen Lile- Washington Nationals
  12. Edwin Arroyo- Seattle Mariners
  13. Ethan Wilson- Philadelphia Phillies
  14. Matt Mikulski- San Fransisco Giants
  15. Russell Smith- Milwaukee Brewers
  16. Cody Morissette- Miami Marlins
  17. Andrew Abbott- Cincinnati Reds
  18. Joshua Baez- St. Louis Cardinals
  19. Brendan Beck- New York Yankees
  20. James Triantos- Chicago Cubs
  21. Wes Kath- Chicago White Sox
  22. Doug Nikhazy- Cleveland Indians
  23. Spencer Schwellenbach- Atlanta Braves
  24. Zack Gelof- Oakland Athletics
  25. Steven Hajjar- Minnesota Twins
  26. James Wood- San Diego Padres
  27. Kyle Manzardo- Tampa Bay Rays

Competitive Balance Round B

  1. Lonnie White Jr.- Pittsburgh Pirates
  2. Reed Trimble- Baltimore Orioles
  3. Peyton Wilson- Kansas City Royals
  4. Adrian Del Castillo- Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. Joe Rocks- Colorado Rockies
  6. Tommy Mace- Cleveland Indians
  7. Ryan Holgate- St. Louis Cardinals
  8. Robert Gasser- San Diego Padres

Round 3

  1. Bubba Chandler- Pittsburgh Pirates
  2. Cameron Cauley- Texas Rangers
  3. Dylan Smith- Detroit Tigers
  4. Tyler McDonough- Boston Red Sox
  5. John Rhodes- Baltimore Orioles
  6. Jacob Steinmetz- Arizona Diamondbacks
  7. Carter Jenson- Kansas City Royals
  8. McCade Brown- Colorado Rockies
  9. Landon Marceaux- Los Angeles Angels
  10. Dominic Hamel- New York Mets
  11. Branden Boissiere- Washington Nationals
  12. Michael Morales- Seattle Mariners
  13. Jordan Viars- Philadelphia Phillies
  14. Mason Black- San Fransico Giants
  15. Alex Binelas- Milwaukee Brewers
  16. Tyler Whitaker- Houston Astros
  17. Jordan McCants- Miami Marlins
  18. Jose Torres- Cincinnati Reds
  19. Austin love- St. Louis Cardinals
  20. Ricky Tiedeman- Toronto Blue Jays
  21. Brock Selvidge- New York Yankees
  22. Drew Gray- Chicago Cubs
  23. Sean Burke- Chicago White Sox
  24. Jake Fox- Cleveland Indians
  25. Dylan Dodd- Atlanta Braves
  26. Mason Miller- Oakland Athletics
  27. Cade Povich- Minnesota Twins
  28. Kevin Kopps- San Diego Padres
  29. Ryan Spikes- Tampa Bay Rays
  30. Peter Heubeck- Los Angeles Dodgers

For the continued list of the draft check out https://www.mlb.com/draft/tracker.

The July of Drafts – MLB, NBA, and NHL 2021 Draft day breakdown

Professional sports drafts consist of teams choosing athletes that they think are the best fit for their team. All drafts look different based upon the sports that are hosting them. The National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball conduct their drafts differently than others.

National Football League

The National Football league held its draft on April 29th and ended on May 1st, 2021. The selection of players is conducted by college athletes, players from other teams previously in the NFL, and free agents. The draft itself consists of seven rounds, the rounds are split between three days. The first day is only for the first-round draft picks, Friday is selected for second and third rounds and Saturday is for rounds four through seven.

 Each round has 32 picks and each round has a time limit for each team selecting players. On the first day, teams get ten minutes to pick their players, seven minutes in the second round, five minutes through rounds three through six, and four minutes for round seven. The order in which teams select players is based on the team’s success in the previous season. Whichever team did the worst in the season gets the first pick in every round and the Superbowl champions picks last. Slots 1-20 are assigned to teams how didn’t make the playoffs and the Superbowl champions have slot 32 and the last pick in each round.

Players coming out of high school are required to have completed three years and have used their college eligibility before the beginning of the upcoming college football season. Recent college graduates are eligible for the draft within the year of their last collegiate game.

For more information about the NFL Draft, click the link below to stay up to date with all news and schedules following the 2021 draft.

https://www.nfl.com/draft/

Major League Baseball

The Major League Baseball draft will be held on July 11th-13th 2021 in Denver, Colorado. This year’s draft will last 20 rounds as compared to the 2020 draft that was shortened due to COVID with five rounds. Recent high school graduates and or high school graduates who have completed one year of junior college are eligible for the draft. Athletes attending four-year colleges are eligible by their junior year or when they turn 21 years old.

The draft rounds are structured similarly to the NFL’s draft that being in reverse order by each team’s prior season standing. This year’s order will start with the Pittsburgh Pirates and will end with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the previous World Series Champions from the 2020 season. The Houston Astros were denied their first and second-round picks in 2020 and now in 2021 as punishment for sign stealing. The league also assigns value to each pick in the first ten rounds. The overall total of the salaries can’t go over the total amount for the slot values in the first 10 rounds.

Less than a week until the MLB 2021 draft and the top 100 prospects are being showcased.

The National Basketball Association

The NBA Draft 2021 takes place on July 29, 2021, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. There are two total rounds in the draft and within the 30 teams in the NBA each team gets a pick in each round, therefore 60 players get drafted each year. The NBA conducts the draft by having a Draft lottery, the purpose is so that the team that wins the lottery gets the first pick in the draft instead of the worst team choosing first. This means the first 14 picks are structured by the lottery and the remaining teams are picked similar to other professional sports leagues, by previous team standings in reverse order.

Teams can also trade draft picks before and during the draft process. Eligibility for the draft includes athletes being at least 19 years old and has been graduated from high school for at least one year. Player Eligibility is also guaranteed if the athlete has completed four years at a college/university. Teams have five minutes to choose their desired athlete in each round of the draft.

The top 14 picks for from the NBA draft lottery.

The National Hockey League

The National Hockey League’s 2021 draft begins July 23 and ends on July 24th and is set to be in Secaucus, New Jersey but the players will enter the draft through zoom. Since the draft will be held virtually, day one of the draft will only consist of round one, the following day will hold rounds two through seven. The NHL’s draft process is similar to other professional sports drafts by having draft picks based upon the lottery, previous season standings, and playoff results. Athletes entering the draft are considered if they are 18-20 years old when the draft begins.

The draft consists of 7 rounds and 31 picks are allowed throughout each round. In total players are coming from three different types of organizations to be considered for the draft which includes junior hockey leagues in the US and Canada, European junior and senior hockey leagues, and NCAA teams. Although the age requirements are between 18-20 years old, if players are over 20 years old they can join a team they choose as free agents. This year the draft will start with the Buffalo Sabres with the first pick and the second pick will go to the Seattle Kraken.

A quick guide that includes the top 2021 NHL Draft Prospects along with scouting reports and information about the upcoming draft.

MLB Draft 2021 – Top Ten Prospects

1. Marcelo Mayer

Marcelo Mayer,18, is a shortstop from Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, CA. Mayer is committed to Southern California and is the MLB’s No. 1 prospect for the 2021 draft. Mayer’s career stats include a.383 batting average, 53 RBI and 55 runs overall.

Scouting Grades

  1. HIT- 60
  2. RUN- 50
  3. FIELD- 50
  4. POWER-50
  5. ARM- 50
  6. OVERALL- 60
2. Jordan Lawlar

Jordan Lawlar, 18, is the No. 2 prospect from the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas. Lawlar is committed to Vanderbilt University and is a five-tool shortstop with an overall scouting grade of 60. Lawlar has a batting average of .397, 26 RBI and 21 runs in his baseball career.

Scouting Grades

  1. HIT- 60
  2. RUN- 60
  3. FIELD- 55
  4. POWER- 55
  5. ARM- 60
  6. OVERALL- 60

3. Jack Leiter

Jack Leiter, 21, a right-handed pitcher at Vanderbilt University sits at No. 3 in the prospect standings for the 2021 MLB draft. Leiter has a fielding percentage of .923, an earned run average of 2.05 and 42 walks/base on balls. Jack Leiter is also the son of Al Leiter, the left-handed starting pitcher who pitched for the Yankees, Blue Jays, Marlins and the Mets.


Scouting Grades

  • FASTBALL- 70
  • SLIDER- 55
  • CONTROL- 50
  • CURVEBALL- 60
  • CHANGEUP- 55
  • OVERALL- 60
4. Henry Davis

Henry Davis, 21, a catcher from the University of Lousiville comes in No.4 in the top five draft prospects for the 2021 draft. Davis has a slugging percentage of .545, a fielding percentage of .995 and 358 putouts this season. In 2020 Davis set the single-game record with 22 put-outs, led the team with a slugging percentage of .689 and had an on-base slugging percentage of 1.179.



Scouting Grades

  • HIT- 55
  • RUN- 40
  • FIELD- 45
  • POWER- 55
  • ARM- 70
  • OVERALL- 60
5. Kumar Rocker

Kumar Rocker, 21, a right-handed pitcher coming from Vanderbilt University is coming in at the No.5 spot in the top five prospects for the draft. Rocker has an earned run average of 2.80, 55 walks/bases on balls (walks allowed) and 63 earned runs. In 2020 Rocker was No. 3 among Baseball America’s Top 150 Overall Players for 2020, he was also included in the First Team Preseason All-America by Collegiate Baseball.

Scouting Grades

  1. FASTBALL- 65
  2. SLIDER- 65
  3. CONTROL- 50
  4. CURVEBALL- 60
  5. CHANGEUP- 50
  6. OVERALL- 60

6. Brady House

Brady House, 18, a shortstop coming from Winder-Barrow high school in Georgia. House has a .524 batting average, 117 career hits and 61 RBI. House is committed to the University of Tennessee and sits at the No.6 spot in the MLB draft prospects.

Scouting Grades:

  1. HIT- 50
  2. RUN- 50
  3. FIELD- 50
  4. POWER- 60
  5. ARM- 60
  6. OVERALL- 60

7. Jackson Jobe

Jackson Jobe, 18, a right handed pitcher from Heritage Hall high school in Oklahoma, sits at No.7 in the top 10 prospect list. Jobe is committed to the University of Mississippi and while pitching averages 92-94 mph.

Scouting Grades:

  1. FASTBALL- 60
  2. SLIDER- 65
  3. CONTROL- 50
  4. CURVEBALL- 55
  5. CHANGEUP- 60
  6. OVERALL- 55

8. Kahlil Watson

Kahlil Watson, 18, a shortstop from Wake Forest High School in North Caroline is No.8 on the MLB top prospects list. Watson is committed to North Carolina State, in his high school career he averaged 101 hits, 64 RBI and a batting average of .476. Watson was named the Perfect Game USA player of the year in 2020.

Scouting Grades

  1. HIT- 50
  2. RUN- 60
  3. FIELD- 55
  4. POWER- 50
  5. ARM- 55
  6. OVERALL- 55

9. Ty Madden

Ty Madden, 21, a right-handed pitcher coming from The University of Texas and is coming in at No.9 on the MLB prospect list. In his pitching career at Texas, he has an earned run average of 2.81, 48 base on balls (walks) and 118 strikeouts.

10. Colton Cowser

Colton Cowser, 21, an outfielder from Sam Houston State University who is originally from Cypress, Texas sits at No.10. Cowser has a fielding percentage of .976, 113 put-outs and seven assists in his baseball career at Sam Houston. In the 2021 season, Cowser was named All America first team by Baseball America, preseason All-SLC’s first team, and he was on the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award preseason watch list.

Scouting Grades

  1. HIT- 60
  2. RUN- 60
  3. FIELD- 55
  4. POWER- 50
  5. ARM- 50
  6. OVERALL- 55

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The Ten Podcast: Classic Sports’ Video Games

A brand new podcast? You bet!

Cody Guinn of Baseline Times is joining guests from around the world to rank different sports’ talking points from ten to one in the newest Baseline podcast titled, “The Ten.”

Episode one features Brad Bell, who is a Tecmo Bowl expert and host of a classic gaming tournament in Omaha, Nebraska.

Brad and Cody discuss Bell’s gaming background and his top ten classic sports’ video game list!

Check out The Baseline Bet$ for daily expert picks!



Views from the Baseline – Episode 24: Sports as of the Week of June 22, 2020 and the return of MLB

Chevall Kanhai gives his insight on the latest sports news coming into the week of June 22, 2020. Chevall recaps NBA Players on the fence about returning to action in Orlando, Bubba Wallace’s support from NASCAR, and how you can participate in Baseline Times first giveaway contest. Later in the show, Greg Huss from CubsInsider.com joins Chevall to talk about the MLB’s plan to return for a full preview of what to expect for most major sports to return to action by the end of July.

Follow Greg Huss on Twitter: @OutoftheVines
See more of Greg’s work on Cubs Insider at www.cubsinsider.com
Subscribe to: Growing Cubs: A Chicago Prospect Podcast

The Quarantined Anniversary of Baseline Times

What do we accomplish at three years of age as humans? Talking, walking, and maybe a whole lot of normal interaction?

Well, it’s hard to say what that translates to for a start-up digital media group three years in. As the overall creator of Baseline Times, this has been one of the great feelings but the biggest challenges to progress a dream.

The pandemic of 2020 has given me the opportunity of more time and patience to admire the work. It is year three since the initial launch of the website on May 5th, 2017. I created the brand, printed t-shirts, started a few social media accounts, and recruited genuine souls to assist in the process of launching this bad boy.

I can ever so often give credit to a handful of people who took time out of their lives to contribute to my project without asking for anything out of me. Sometimes I feel like I can never give back enough to these same folks as some have come and gone.

What do we do in a pandemic that has kept us locked in? What do we do without sports to turn to as we always do here at Baseline Times?

I’m sure millions of sports fan across the world have pondered as I right?

The pause in the world has personally given me an opportunity to admire sports moments that might have flew over the top of my head as a highlight during a time in my life something else had my attention.

Of course, as one season ends another begins. Super Bowl crowns a new champion and now we are off to fill out brackets before June hits and the NBA crowns their champion.

Baseball takes over a summer unless the Olympics are in session. August comes fast and here we are counting down the days to where weekends are no longer without football for a while.

The Fall hits and we admire the abundance of major sports all happening at once. MLB Playoffs, NBA Opening Week, NHL Opening Week, and NFL kicking off their season.

Sprinkle in the PGA tournaments, NASCAR season, and major Tennis tournaments and it’s almost an overwhelming feeling of how can I keep up?

To keep this short and sweet, I will always admire what sports can do for not only a nation but the world.

For once, we can identify with a team based on location, loyalty, or just being casual.

For once, we can bond together regardless of race, sex, size, weight, and political views.

Thank you to anyone and everyone who has held a part of Baseline Times in their lives. My incredible team of former guys and gals who are currently somewhere else in life I appreciate you.

My current team of small contributors I appreciate you. Thank you for sticking with the game plan and seeing the dream of media presence.

Whether you’re reading this as fan, follower, contributor, former Baseline Times college, I can’t express enough gratitude for the love.

Please continue to support us in a great manner. Subscribe to the podcasts, social media, and please join us one day to share your own thoughts!

Sincerely,

Chevall Kanhai



Views from the Baseline – Episode 8: MLB Cheaters & 2020 NBA All-Star Recap

Chevy brings in Greg Huss from Cubs Insider and Growing Cubs: A Chicago Prospect Podcast to discuss the latest MLB scandal between the Houston Astros and the rest of the MLB. Greg provides his insight as to what impact this scandal has on the league and what the next steps the MLB should take. Later on the show, Markus joins in to recap the 2020 NBA All-Star weekend and preview the rest of the remaining NBA season with further predictions.

00:00 – 27:00
Greg Huss discusses the Houston Astros 2017 Championship and cheating scandal. Greg gives his insight on the overall impact on the game of baseball and what should be done at this point in the MLB.

Follow Greg Huss on Twitter: @OutoftheVines
See more of Greg’s work on Cubs Insider at www.cubsinsider.com
Subscribe to: Growing Cubs: A Chicago Prospect Podcast

27:00 – 59:00
Markus Murden joins Chevy to discuss a few hot takes on the NFL’s Owners approving a new CBA, Kyrie Irving injury, and Klay Thompson ruled out for the season. The 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend is reviewed and future expectations for the rest of the NBA season are discussed.

Kershaw vs Sale: A Battle of Lefty Monsters

Tonight at 5:09 PM, the Los Angeles Dodgers are set to take on the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 World Series. Despite both teams having made the playoffs dozens of times in their respective franchise histories, this will be their first World Series matchup between the pair going back 102 years to 1916.

At the time, the Dodgers weren’t in Los Angeles, and they were not even named the Dodgers, being called the Robins back then. The Red Sox rotation featured a great young pitcher who would end up known for his thunderous bat rather than his electric arm, the great Babe Ruth. In that series, Ruth pitched just once, starting game 2 of the series, throwing an unbelievable 14 inning complete game effort allowing just 1 run on 6 hits. The Red Sox won the game 2-1.

In the opening game of the series, the matchup featured Rube Marquard for the Robins facing off against Ernie Shore of the Red Sox. While both of these pitchers were good in their day, neither one was a Hall of Fame talent. Marquard did win 26 games for the New York Giants in 1912, while Shore had a 1.64 ERA for the Red Sox in 1915, but it wasn’t exactly a historic matchup before or after game 1. Meanwhile, in the current day, fans of baseball everywhere are getting a treat with the announce game 1 matchup:

The Two Best Pitchers of This Generation

Kershaw vs Sale is a regular season matchup that baseball fans drool over. It’s a matchup that you go out of your way to make it to the game, or at least watch live. Taking the greatness of both pitchers and putting it on the biggest stage in baseball in game 1 of the World Series has the potential to be mind-blowing.

When looking at Fangraphs splits leaderboards going back to 2002, minimum 1000 innings pitched, here are Kershaw and Sales’ ranks:

ERA: Kershaw – 2.39 (1st), Sale – 2.89 (2nd)

FIP: Kershaw – 2.64 (1st), Sale – 2.84 (2nd)

WHIP: Kershaw – 1.00 (1st), Sale – 1.02 (2nd)

xFIP: Sale – 2.90 (1st), Kershaw – 2.94 (3rd)

K%: Sale – 30.2% (1st), Kershaw – 27.6% (4th)

BB%: Sale – 5.4% (T/13th), Kershaw – 6.5% (T/48th)

K-BB%: Sale – 24.9% (1st), Kershaw – 21.1% (5th)

K/BB: Sale – 5.6 (2nd), Kershaw – 4.3 (6th)

HR/9: Kershaw – 0.6 (T/1st), Sale – 0.9 (T/27th)

Batting Average Against: Kershaw – .204 (1st), Sale .217 (2nd)

wOBA: Kershaw – .254 (1st), Sale – .271 (2nd)

OBP Allowed: Kershaw – .262 (1st), Sale – .272 (2nd)

SLG Allowed: Kershaw – .311 (1st), Sale – .345 (2nd)

fWAR: Kershaw – 61.6 (3rd), Sale – 41.8 (16th)

Win Probablity Added: Kershaw – 39.89 (1st), Sale – 27.61 (6th)

Innings Pitched: Kershaw – 2096.1 (26th), Sale – 1482.1 (77th)

We have a lot of stats listed here, but things that keep coming up time after time in their ranks are “1st” and “2nd“. Kershaw and Sale rank first and second in seven categories: ERA, FIP, WHIP, BAA, wOBA, OBPA, and SLGA. These are essentially all of the most important things for a pitcher to need to do well to succeed.

Stacked Competition

One thing to remember with this time frame are the other pitchers who were around then. Yes, this was somewhat towards the end of the Maddux, Clemens, Johnson, and Pedro era, but it was the start of the Halladay, Johan, Lee, Sabathia, Verlander generation. The latter five mentioned here may not necessarily be inner-circle Hall of Fame types like Maddux, Clemens, Johson, and Pedro, but these are excellent Cy Young-winning pitchers who helped define this generation.

Add onto that pitchers such as Kershaw, Sale, Price, Greinke, and Scherzer who came a bit later. Then you’ve got guys like Oswalt, Felix, Hamels, Lester, Peavy, Haren, and some others who were Cy Young level talents in many seasons, but aren’t likely to end up in the Hall of Fame.

To see Kershaw and Sale dominate the leaderboards against so many other extremely talented pitchers says a lot about the pair and the immense talent they posses.

2018 Season

The 2018 season was a bit off for both Kershaw and Sale. Neither pitcher qualified for the ERA title, both barely missing with 161.1 and 158 innings pitched respectively.

For Sale, though in just 158 innings pitched, he was still an absolute force on the mount when he did pitch: 2.11 ERA 1.98 FIP 2.31 xFIP 13.50 K/9 1.94 BB/9 0.63 HR/9 and 6.5 fWAR. If not for the missed innings, it’s likely Sale would have easily won his first Cy Young award. Instead, he is likely to finish around the top five in voting, much like Kershaw in his excellent but injury-shortened 2016 season (1.69 ERA 1.80 FIP 6.5 fWAR in 149 IP).

On the flip-side, Kershaw may have just had the worst season of his career aside from his age 20 rookie season: 2.73 ERA 3.19 FIP 3.19 xFIP 8.65 K/9 1.62 BB/9 0.95 HR/9 and 3.5 fWAR. All of these numbers were Kershaw’s worst marks since his 2012 season. Part of this has been his decline in fastball velocity to around just 91 MPH, down from 93 even just a season ago. Even still, a 2.73 ERA and 3.19 FIP is something most starting pitchers dream of doing over a full season.

Postseason Struggles and Triumphs

Kershaw

As anyone who has been living on this planet the past five years likely knows, Clayton Kershaw has had some postseason struggles. The narrative for the uninformed, or just flat out trolls, is that Kershaw cannot handle pitching in the postseason and he chokes. The reality of it is more complex. For one, Kershaw hasn’t been exactly as good in the playoffs as the regular season, unlike what most people expect out of him. He’s also been leaned on too much in previous years thanks to thin bullpens. This has led him pitching deeper into games than necessary, and at times said bullpens have let him down in big ways once he’s left.

There, of course, have been some real meltdowns, such as 2013 NLCS Game 6 against the Cardinals, 2016 NLCS Game 6 against the Cubs, World Series Game 5 against the Astros, and 2014 NLDS Game 1 against the Cardinals. While the last 2014 NLDS Game 1 against the Cardinals started as a very nice start through 6 innings pitched, the rest went to hell early for Kershaw.

Otherwise, Kershaw’s playoff record is filled with mostly very good games, most times having very few blowups outside of a handful of games. Jon Weisman does a great job of showing this with his handy color-coded playoff game chart:

In the current postseason, Kershaw has been much better than years past. He does have a real stinker in NLCS Game 1 versus the Brewers, but that is sandwiched between two excellent starts, one against the Braves and the other against the Brewers. Add to that a scoreless 9th inning to cap off NLCS Game 7.

Going back another three years, Kershaw has a 3.50 ERA in 90 innings pitched since his last series against the Cardinals in 2014. In the 17 games he’s appeared in, the Dodgers have a 12-5 record in those games. Clearly, Kershaw is trending in the right direction.

Sale

Chris Sale had never seen the playoffs in his career until 2017, his first season with the Red Sox. This makes sense considering he was drafted by the White Sox and remained with them until he was traded, but his playoff inexperience showed in the 2017 playoffs against the Astros. In his first start, Sale was rocked for 7 runs, including 3 home runs, in just 5 innings of an 8-2 loss in ALDS Game 1. Things improved a bit in a 4.2 IP relief appearance in ALDS Game 4, but he still allowed a home run and 2 runs overall in a 5-4 loss for the Red Sox.

Sale was looking to do more for his club going into the ALDS in 2018 against the Yankees, and had a nice start with 8 strikeouts 2 walks and 2 runs allowed in 5.1 IP in ALDS Game 1, the Red Sox taking the game 5-4. Sale pitched a scoreless inning in ALDS Game 4 in another win for the Red Sox, taking the series in 4 games.

His next and only other playoff start was once again against the Astros. Sale pitched just 4 innings this time around. While he allowed just 1 hit, he walked 4 and allowed 2 runs to score. The Red Sox lost the game 7-2.

For his career, Sale has a 5.85 ERA with 26 K 7 BB 4 HR and 19 H allowed in 20 IP in the postseason. The sample size is so small that two or three good outings in the World Series against the Dodgers could change everything for him.

Game 1 Predictions

Normally when matchups like this come along, baseball, well, baseballs, and the score ends up an 8-6 slugfest. I think with legacy on the mind of both pitchers, we do end up with the pitching duel we are all craving:

Kershaw: 7 IP 5 H 2 R 8 K 1 BB

Sale: 7 IP 7 H 3 R 10 K 1 BB

I won’t pretend to know if the Dodgers bullpen can continue their great play against MLB’s best offense, so I can’t say which team would win, but I think we see two absolute monster lefties do their thing.

MLB 2018 Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

Winners

1. New York Yankees
The Yankees were incredibly active this week, as GM Brian Cashman put forth yet another example of why he’s one of the best in the business. New York would have loved to have landed a legitimate number one starter, like the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, but that was never really all that realistic. Instead, Cashman was able to add J.A. Happ from Toronto to bring stability to a rotation that is the weakest part of the Bombers roster, while also acquiring arguably the top relief arm available, Baltimore’s Zach Britton, to help shorten the game and take pressure off the starters. Right handed hitting first baseman Tyler Austin was traded to the Twins for Lance Lynn, who will bring a versatile veteran arm to the pitching staff, and while Austin was a valuable depth piece for this team, the Bombers traded for essentially the same player, St. Louis’ Luke Voit, to offset his departure. Most impressively, the Yankees were able to do all this without moving any of their highly touted minor league talents.

2. Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia enters the stretch run in a tooth and nail fight with Atlanta for the NL East lead, and while they were not expected to be in this position in March, you have to give their front office credit for trying to capitalize on their situation. The Phillies made a heck of a run at the crown jewel of trade season, Orioles’ infielder Manny Machado, and while their pursuit ultimately fell short, they quickly pivoted to plan B. Philly landed infielder Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets and catcher Wilson Ramos from Tampa Bay, two moves that will add length to an offensive attack which has struggled at times and also fortified their bullpen with southpaw Aaron Loup.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers would have been considered winners solely after acquiring Machado, whose presence alone makes them likely the favorites to repeat as National League champions. On deadline day though, LA further added to their depth, acquiring second baseman Brian Dozier from Minnesota and reliever John Axford from Toronto. Neither player represents a massive haul, but Dozier had been one of the better right handed before a down 2018, but Los Angeles hopes a change of scenery and being injected into a pennant race can help reignite him.

4. Atlanta Braves
I was intially critical of Atlanta’s inactivity in the days leading up to the deadline, particuarly with their competition for the division and wild card bulking up, but they changed that narrative with a flurry of late moves. The Braves first landed reliever Brad Brach from Baltimore, and while the righty has struggled for much of this season, he’s long been one of the better set-up men in the game, and getting out of the AL East and into a pennant race makes him a candidate for a turnaround. Atlanta then traded some of their peripheral depth, righties Lucas Sims and Matt Wisler, as well as outfielder Preston Tucker to Cincinnati for power, hitting outfielder Adam Duvall. While Duvall’s numbers in 2018 are quite a bit behind the pace that watched him blast 30 homeruns in each of the two prior seasons, he still boasts a plus glove and serious power, and he should end up starting every time Atlanta faces a southpaw. The Braves power move though was another swap with the Orioles, this time landing controllable starter Kevin Gausman (as well as injured reliever Darren O’Day.) In Gausman, the Braves are adding a right hander with a career 4.22 ERA, and while he isn’t a star he should slot into the middle of this rotation for the next few years.

5. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles are currently a woeful 32-75, easily the worst record in the game, and quite obviously needed to seriously tear this thing down in an attempt to rebuild. And boy did they ever do that. Baltimore traded Machado, Britton, Gausman, Brach, O’Day, and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, and by most accounts, they did pretty well in the transactions. Outfielder Yusniel Diaz was the main piece to come back in the Machado deal, and he quickly becomes the best prospect in this system. For Britton, Baltimore was able to add righty Dillon Tate from the rivals in the Bronx, who had checked in as the Yankees’ 6th best prospect prior to the swap. In exchange for Gausman and O’Day they were able to add four young players (Two of which checked in on the Braves’ top 30 list) but more importantly, the O’s shed significant salary, particuarly in the injured O’Day. The return from Milwaukee for Schoop was even more inspiring, as while second baseman Jonathan Villar has failed to back up his ’16 season that watched him hit .285 with 19 homers and 62 stolen bases, he is unquestionaly a talented Major League asset that is under contract next year. In almost every one of their trades, the Orioles were also able to add significant bonus pool money to spend in international free-agency, which is valuable for a rebuild that promises to take some time.

Losers

1. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies enter play today in a three-way tie for the final wild card spot, and only a half game behind Arizona in a heated three team NL West race, but they did next to nothing to add reinforcements to their roster. Colorado was linked to several of the bigger names that were traded, but the only meaningful deal they were able to close brought right handed reliever Seunghwan Oh to Denver. They did add veterans Santiago Casilla and Matt Holliday on free-agent pacts, and while Holliday, in particular, could become a nice story after spending most of his career with the Rockies, there was a reason the pair was previously unemployed.

2. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers were active, and thus is feels strange calling them losers here, but it just feels like a lot of the moves they made were like trying to fit square pegs in round holes. The biggest move Milwaukee made was trading for veteran third baseman Mike Moustakas, and while the former Royal is a legitimate Major League bat, this trade made little to no sense to me. The Brewers shipped outfielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez to KC, both of whom were once highly touted prospects and still possess great potential, and their departure makes this trade look like a drastic overpay. Particuarly since Moustakas was not really needed here. The left handed slugger is currently hitting .248 with 20 homers and 62 RBI’s. Milwaukee’s current third baseman, Travis Shaw, is currently hitting an identical .248, also with 20 home runs, and 61 RBI’s, all while getting on-base with much more regularity. Upon making the deal the Brew Crew expressed Shaw will be moving to second base, a position he had never played in the big leagues, but then went out and added Schoop from Baltimore to fortify position number four defensively. So what exactly is going on here? Bringing in Joakim Soria will definitely help their relief corps, but the Brewers desperately needed a starting pitcher, and despite being linked to every single available arm, they failed to land any.

3. Houston Astros
The defending champions may be the biggest loser of all, and it actually has very little to do with on the field developments. Houston did add valuable set-up man Ryan Pressly from Minnesota and catcher Martin Maldonado from their rivals in Anaheim, but their entire deadline was tained by the acquisition of controversial Blue Jays’ closer Roberto Osuna. The 23-year-old has been one of the better relievers in the game since making his debut in 2015, but he’s currently on the restricted list following serious domestic violence allegations, something that could ultimately result in jail time. The Astros had plenty of talent as constructed to win the whole thing again this October, and certainly did not need all of the drama and critisicm Osuna will bring.

4. Boston Red Sox
The best team in baseball had very few serious needs this July, and while they added depth starter Nathan Eovaldi and second baseman Ian Kinsler, they neglected to upgrade arguably their biggest weakness. Late inning relief. Closer Craig Kimbrel has once again been great, but he could have used some help, and I felt Pressly, Keone Kela, or Jeurys Familia would have been perfect fits.

5. Oakland Athletics
The A’s were not expected to seriously compete for a postseason berth this season, yet here they are just a game behind Seattle for the last wild card spot in the American League. Oakland was feverishly looking to add a starting pitcher to bolster their rotation, an effort that ultimately proved futile. The Athletics to possess a dominant bullpen that they further added to with their only significant acquisition, Familia, but I still maintain their starting staff could have used reinforcements if they hope to surpass the Mariners and wreck some havoc in what promises to be a tremendously competitive AL postseason.

Justin Mears
Baseline Times Contributor

Matt Kemp: A Star Once More?

2018’s Starpowered Season

Here we sit on the 3rd of July, just two weeks before Major League Baseball’s All-Star game. The league is littered with as many stars as many of us have ever seen. Elite players like Mike Trout and Max Scherzer continue to amaze and inexplicably get better and better. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor make a better case each and every day to the best left-side-infield combo of this generation. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are absolutely assaulting baseballs in Boston. Luis Severino may have emerged as the best pitcher in the American League, a league which features Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, and Corey Kluber.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg with Aaron Judge, Freddie Freeman, Jacob deGrom, Andrelton Simmons, Jose Altuve, Scooter Gennett, Manny Machado, Trevor Bauer, Aaron Nola, James Paxton, Patrick Corbin, Javier Baez, Brandon Crawford, and countless others all having spectacular seasons in 2018. The player that is one of the more interesting stories of the 2018 season, however, was someone not expected to make anyone’s opening day roster.

Not everyone expected the breakouts of Jose Ramirez, Eddie Rosario, or Trevor Bauer, but they were all expected to be important parts of their team. This was a player that nearly everyone thought would not be an important part of any MLB team in 2018. This same player that was traded for the third time in three years, some expected to be traded before opening day or even DFAed. He also has gone on to hit .323/.359/.565 with a 150 wRC+ and 2.0 fWAR in 281 PA this season. This player is Matt Kemp, and he has looked like the star he used to be.

Kemp’s 2018 Season

As everyone has known for years, Matt Kemp’s bread and butter has been his bat. From 2015-2017, Kemp hit slightly above average at .269/.310/.470 and a 107 wRC+. This would have been fine if he was an above average fielder. However, likely being the worst fielder in the MLB, Kemp’s value was minimal having combined for just 1.4 fWAR over those three seasons. He was also a very inconsistent hitter in that time, having produced nine months of 130 or high wRC+, while also having five dreadful months of 70 or lower wRC+.

For the 2018 season, Kemp has managed to avoid any overly long bad stretches en route to his excellent .323/.359/.565 150 wRC+ line. In April he hit .319/.359/.542 with a 145 wRC+ in 78 PA. In May he upped his game hitting .361/.379/.557 with a 154 wRC+ in 103 PA. Kemp even started off the first half of June on fire hitting .326/.396/.696 and a 188 wRC+ in 53 PA. What followed was 38 PA of pure torture hitting .083/.132/.167 with a -19 wRC+ in 38 PA, bringing his overall month to .220/.286/.463 with a 100 wRC+ in 91 PA. Overall his month of June was not bad, but could have been much more with how molten-lava-hot he started.

For July it’s only been two games, but Kemp has been a triple short of the cycle in the first game and followed that with a 5-5 effort the next night, rebounding quite nicely from his late June-swoon.

Leaderboards

While Kemp is nowhere near Trout or Betts atop the wRC+ leaderboards on Fangraphs, he sits comfortably in 12th with that shining 150 wRC+. This puts him around names like Manny Machado (151), Nelson Cruz (153), Freddie Freeman (150), Jose Altuve (148), and above many other established names.

Of course, this is not the first time Kemp has been one of the top hitters in the league heading into the summer. In fact, on June 1st of last year, Kemp was in the same exact 12th spot on the wRC+ leaderboard when I wrote an article advocating for some American League teams to trade for him. From 6/2 through the rest of the season, Kemp was one of the bottom hitters in all of the MLB hitting .232/.277/.371 with a 64 wRC+, good for 24th worst of 345 hitters with at least 140 PA. Which is to say, as good as things are looking, the bottom can always drop out.

However, that was at the start of June in 2017, rather than the start of July in 2018. Factors for Kemp were different in the middle of last season:

  • Kemp fought injuries during the middle of the 2017 season and put on a lot of weight
  • The Braves were an up and coming team, but not yet ready to contend. There was less to fight for with Kemp on the young Braves than Kemp on a team that won last year’s NL Pennant
  • Kemp had not seen that no team in baseball outside of the Dodgers were even willing to trade for him, and without good effort, his career could have been over

No one can know whether Kemp will continue to hit at this level, but he’s got more motivation now than in years.

Improved Defense

One of the most well-known things about Matt Kemp over the last few years is how terrible of a defender he is in the outfield. At one point, Kemp played a solid centerfield, even winning Gold Gloves in both 2009 and 2011. Of course, this was likely more for recognition for his bat than truly being a great defender.

Thanks to a glutton of injuries in 2012 and 2013, Kemp’s defense took a massive hit. From 2014-2017, no outfielder in Major League Baseball had a worse UZR. Kemp’s -46.4 was even so awful that Andrew McCutchen’s second-worst effort was miles ahead at -27.0. Although Kemp still ranked just 58 out of 61 qualified outfielders from 2008-2013, if you take out the outlier of his lost 2010 season of a startling -25.8 UZR, that brings him to a much more respectable -9.8 UZR and 46th overall, a bit below average. Kemp was never consistent enough to truly be a good fielding outfielder, but it was not until injury after injury that he became what he’s been known for recently.

Looking at 2018, something seems to have changed. Kemp is no longer at the bottom of the pile, currently sitting at -1.1 UZR scoring 44th out of 65 qualified outfielders. There are many factors that could be causing this, such as better positioning by Dodgers coaches, a better motivation to succeed, losing 40 pounds before the season, or perhaps just finally being overall healthy. Whatever it is, for the first time in years Kemp’s overall value is not being dragged down by his fielding, giving him an fWAR around 2.0, something he has not eclipsed since his last season with the Dodgers in 2014.

Matt Kemp 2018 All-Star

Although it may be hard to believe, Matt Kemp has not been an all-star since the 2012 season. Even harder to believe is that Kemp’s only other All-Star Game appearance was his prior season in 2011 where he finished second in MVP voting. Even considering his defense, with his overall career numbers (.287/.339/.491 274 HR 975 RBI 183 SB), it’s easy to think he could have snuck in another time here or there. That looks to be changing this season, however.

As of the last All-Star voting update, Kemp currently sits second in voting at 2,046,534 votes, around 400,000 behind first place Nick Markakis, 220,000 ahead of Bryce Harper, and nearly 700,000 above Charlie Blackmon. At this point, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Kemp will not only make the team, but that he will start the game in left field. Deservingly so, Dave Roberts choosing the lineup or not.

Before the start of the season, the idea of Matt Kemp making the All-Star team was non-existent, let alone starting the game. The idea of him even starting the season with the Dodgers was laughable to most people. Kemp was never going to regain the hitting ability that once made him a star. He was never going to stay healthy even if he did. Most certainly he was never going to be anything less than a punchline with his glove in the outfield.

Despite all of that, here we are. It is the beginning of July, over halfway through the 2018 MLB season, and Matt Kemp is playing like an MVP candidate and will be an All-Star. Of all of the brilliant stories in the 2018 season, very few of them may be better than the story of Matt Kemp’s redemption and return to star status.