Ultimate Rookie Book Gets Rave Review
PLUS! FEARLESS FORECAST OF FINISHES IN ALL SIX DIVISIONS
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Did you know…
Reggie Jackson’s first hitting coach in Oakland was Joe DiMaggio . . .
Shortstop prospect Vaughn Grissom was hitting .371 this spring when the Braves surprisingly sent him to Triple-A Gwinnett . . .
If the Mets succeed at acquiring Alexis Diaz from the Reds, would he borrow older brother Edwin’s Narco entrance song? . . .
The ever-hopeful Phillies won’t put Bryce Harper on the 60-day injured list because they hope he can return from elbow surgery sooner than that . . .
Team Israel pitcher Jacob Steinmetz, an Arizona prospect and the first Orthodox Jew ever chosen in the MLB amateur draft (third round, 2021), fanned three in his WBC start against the powerful Dominican Republic . . .
Fenway South, officially called jetBlue Park, is such a miniature version of the real thing that it even has a single red seat, representing the spot where a 502-foot home run by Ted Williams (longest in Boston history) landed.
‘Major League Debuts’ Book Review
By Ray Kuhn
There are few things better than the excitement of a rookie taking the field for the first time. Once a player is drafted or signed as an amateur free agent into your team’s system, the speculation and forecasting begin.
Every move of top prospects is watched and obsessed about throughout their journey through the organizational system and why wouldn’t that be the case? After all, that prospect, regardless of any other details, is going to end their career with a Hall of Fame induction after winning multiple championships.
That optimism is what being a fan is all about and it is certainly exciting to look into the future. The same can be said for fantasy baseball players we are always looking forward to find the next big thing that will make you look like a genius to your league mates and lead you to a title.
But then what happens after they debut? In some cases, by the first time they step on a major-league field, they have already peaked and living up to what was once lofty expectations turns out to be an impossible endeavor.
Let’s be honest, though: not every draft choice, prospect, or major-league debut is created equal. And there are far too many of them that take place under the cover of darkness. For every top prospect who sets off a celebration when he joins the big-league team, there are two for whom a ripple is barely felt.
While that certainly is not fair, it is realistic though. By no means are we looking to take anything away form a ballplayer making his major-league debut as it certainly as special and rare as it is a culmination of years of hard work. But it is natural human behavior.
Even with that disclaimer, the focus is always going to be on a select few. I’m pretty sure that even the most die-hard and passionate observer of MLB would be hard- pressed to guess that 303 players debuted in the major leagues in 2022. I would also challenge anyone to name more than half, at best of those players, as it is simply impossible to be aware of each one.
The problem though, is that it is simply not fair. Players such as Nate Fisher (look him up) and Jose Butto have a great story that should be celebrated, but instead they were rendered anonymous as Mets fans focused very strongly on Brent Baty and Francisco Alvarez.
One of the great things about James Bailey’s book Major League Debuts – 2023 edition is that he treats Baty and Butto equally. This is the case even if just about everyone reading this, and most baseball fans know who Baty is but few are going to be aware of Butto.
Bailey painstakingly, and quite well, breaks down each of the record major-league debuts in 2023. It is a very exciting time in the game with such a plethora of young players reaching the big leagues, and that makes Bailey’s work that much more valuable.
Since each player gets his due here, and at a high level, it is very interesting to dig a little deeper at each of these players, both known and unknown. Bailey does a great job not only of introducing you to each player, but also breaking down their background, 2022 season, and the circumstances surrounding their debut. Statistics are provided, and maybe most importantly for fantasy players, an outlook for the future.
You truly have everything here, not just to get ready for the season, but to catch up on the 2022 season and to prepare for your fantasy drafts. As the year goes on, that can also prove to be a strong resource while enjoying the 2023 season.
For every Michael Harris II, there are five outfielders no one has heard of who reached the majors in 2023. In a small way, each one reminds us what is so great about this wonderful game and of being a baseball fan.
Ray Kuhn can be found writing on Fantasy Alarm and podcasting at Friends With Fantasy Benefits after previously covering the Houston Astros as part of the FanSided network at Climbing Tal’s Hill. Reach him at @ray_kuhn_28 or email@example.com as he is always interested in talking or writing about our great game.
Here’s How the Teams Will Finish in 2023
By Dan Schlossberg
Nothing is more ridiculous than making baseball predictions before the season starts.
A lot can happen over 162 games — especially with the advent of the pitch clock, bigger bases, shorter distances between them, fewer pickoffs, and no more shifts.
In addition, no one knows who will get hot, who will get hurt, what rookies will become instant stars, what veterans will lose it, and what comeback candidates will succeed or fail.
All that being said, here’s how the races look with less than a week before Opening Day:
NL East: Braves, *Phillies, *Mets, Marlins, Nationals
Despite biggest payroll of all time, Mets have too much age and too many serious injuries (Diaz, Quintana). Younger Braves are stronger with Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, Jr. healthy again, Michael Harris II around for full season, and arrival of Sean Murphy. Phils will use Big Three starters to compensate for loss of Harper (two months) and Hoskins (full season).
NL Central: Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Reds, Pirates
Cards will miss Yadi Molina and Albert Pujols and the playoffs, while Cubs will love Dansby Swanson.
NL West: Padres, *Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rockies
With Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, and the returning Fernando Tatis, Jr., San Diego has a quartet of All-Stars — plus enough pitching to dethrone the Dodgers. Rising Arizona has a hot rookie prospect is Corbin Carroll.
AL East: Yankees, *Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, Red Sox
Even with pitching injuries, the slugging Yankees are the division’s best team. The Jays are solid too and the youth-powered Orioles are moving up.
AL Central: Twins, Guardians, White Sox, Royals, Tigers
Keeping Carlos Correa helps the Twins return to the top, though the Guardians will try to keep their crown with a combination of pitching, speed, and strong defense.
AL West: Astros, *Rangers, *Angels, Mariners, Athletics
After losing Justin Verlander and a pair of catchers, Houston could be hard-pressed to stay on top. Much depends on the health of new Rangers starters Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi. Texas also has a terrific new manager in Bruce Bochy.
(*) wild-card winner
NL Wild Card Series: Dodgers over Cubs; Mets over Phillies (Braves, Padres byes)
NL Division Series: Padres over Mets; Braves over Dodgers
NL Championship Series: Braves over Padres
AL Wild Card Series: Blue Jays over Twins; Rangers over Angels; (Yanks, Astros byes)
AL Division Series: Astros over Rangers; Yankees over Blue Jays
AL Championship Series: Yankees over Astros
World Series: Braves over Yankees
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has been covering baseball since 1969. He became a fan in 1957. E.mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vin Mazzaro would be totally forgotten if not for his horrendous pitching performance on May 16, 2011 for Kansas City against Cleveland: 14 runs and 11 hits in 2 1/3 innings . . .
The only other pitchers who yielded 14 runs in a game since 1947 were Bill Travers (Brewers) in 1977 and Mike Oquist (A’s) in 1998, according to STATS . . .
New York Post columnist Jon Heyman says the Mets’ payroll is $382 million and its luxury tax is $109 million (total $491 million) with an expected financial loss of $200 million . . .
Had Carlos Correa signed with the Giants or Mets, the total cost of last winter’s Big Four shortstops would have topped $1 billion (with a “b”) . . .
Veteran Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw has used he same black Wilson 2000A-CK22 glove since his second season in the majors . . .
Pitcher Kodai Senga, signed by the Mets out of the Japanese majors, was a corner infielder in high school . . .
The Manhattan birthplace of Lou Gehrig will be the site of a medical rtesearch facility appropriated named “Iron Horse Labs,” with a plaque to the legendary Yankees slugger in its lobby.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [email@example.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [firstname.lastname@example.org] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [email@example.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.