TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT! BASEBALL IS BACK!
The MLB and MLBPA *finally* reached an agreement on a 60 game season, which means there will be baseball in 2020. Personally, baseball is my favorite sport, and I’m glad there’s something to look forward to in this crazy year. Sports being able to resume play in 2020 is truly a blessing for everyone. Aside from seeing my Yankees play with their new ACE, Gerrit Cole, I am most excited to see some of the games best young talent breakout this year. I’ve decided to keep my first baseball article brief. The next generation of talent has arrived in baseball and its taking the game by storm. Let’s take a look at some players I look forward to seeing this year.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
The first player I am excited to see play is Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres’ shortstop put up a stellar rookie campaign before going down with an injury after playing just 84 games in 2019. Before his injury, his average was a white-hot .317, coupled with 22 homers and an OPS of .969, while also flaunting a wOBA of .398. Tatis Jr. was on his way to possibly being the National League Rookie of the Year (yes fans of the New York Mets, he was giving Pete Alonso a run for his money), if he was able to play a full season. Tatis Jr. playing alongside Manny Machado in the infield is a sight to see, as both of them are capable of flashing the leather while also putting up gaudy numbers at the plate. The fielding ability is there, but his strong arm from short can lead to some sloppy throws to first. Obviously, the sample size for Tatis Jr. is small, but hitting over .300 and being on pace for a 35-40 home run season is nothing to scoff at, and it’s what makes me so excited to see what he can do at full health in 2020.
Ronald Acuna Jr.
This is probably the player I am most excited to watch this season. He took the MLB by storm last season, emerging as a young star outfielder in the league. Ronald Acuna Jr. is the perfect example of what a dual threat hitter is, power and speed personified. In 2018, he hit 26 homers, while also stealing 45 bases to win the Rookie of the Year, and even finished top 10 in MVP voting. In 2019, he broke out – an all star season, slugging 41 homers, driving in 100 runs and continuing to show off his speed with 62 stolen bases. He was top 5 in MVP voting this time, and won a prestigious silver slugger award. I believe his talent can put him up in the games upper echelon, with names like Yelich, Trout and Betts. One knock on Acuna Jr. is the amount of strikeouts he’s had in his first two years (its um .. a lot), but with his numbers and potential there’s no doubt he will mature and be more disciplined at the plate. The Braves’ star is on pace to be one of only four players to hit 80 home-runs and steal 70 bases at the age of 22, even with a shortened season on the horizon. The other three players, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Trout, and Andruw Jones, are pretty good company. With that being said, he’s my early frontrunner for NL MVP.
Finally, we’ve come to Blue Jays short-stop, Bo Bichette. Whats there not to like about this guy? The leg kick, ability to flash the leather, and of course, the hair flow. Toronto found a young gem in Bichette, and despite only playing 46 games in 2019 he displayed a lot of potential for fans to look forward to. In his short season, Bichette hit .311, with 11 long balls and 21 RBIs, going along with an OPS of .930. Along with Fernando Tatis Jr., Bichette is another example of the next generation of young infield talent. In the AL, you have guys like Tim Anderson, Gleyber Torres, and now Bichette earning full time gigs at SS. He shown he can hit consistently and that he doesn’t shy away from facing the games best pitching talent. In a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he squared up against Clayton Kershaw, and sure enough Bichette took him DEEEEP….. TWICE! Only 22 years old and he’s already taking Cy Young pitchers yard, a true young talent to look out for.
Some honorable mentions were Gleyber Torres, Dustin May, and Tim Anderson, who will still be on my watch list. Torres has proven to be a consistent threat at the plate for the Yankees, and can sneak his way to being an MVP this year. Tim Anderson, the bat flip king, has flashed some power and swagger in a White Sox lineup that has been missing it for quite some time. Dustin May didn’t secure a rotation spot with the Dodgers, but the young righty is going to be a great arm for LA, and can possibly be a great 6th man for the team.
It’a great to see these young talents able to play this year. Losing a year of play would’ve sucked for any player, and these guys have money to make and positions to be secured. I think MLB has so much new, young talent in the game right now that hopefully their entertaining play helps us forget about the mess the MLB and MLBPA created throughout June. Anyways, baseball is back, so enjoy it! Oh, and if you want to make sure we make it through the season, here is a tip … WEAR A DAMN MASK!