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Around the Diamond - Baseball Shorts 14th June 2024 

Around the diamond looks at a few thoughts around the MLB now

 

Paul Skenes - Baseballs No 1 draft pick in the 2023 has come up and looked electric. Having just turned 22 Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect has looked every bit the player we all thought he was going to be. It’s never easy being the golden boy and sometimes it just takes a while to settle. Ask the Baltimore Orioles who have already sent their top prospect Jackson Holliday back to the minors as he struggled to immediately adapt after being called up. Skenes came up on May 11th and he looks like he just belongs. He is already 3-0 in his 6 starts pitching to a 2.43 ERA and looks locked in to be the ace in the Pirates rotation for many years to come. He already has the celebrity girlfriend; all indications are Skenes will be baseballs next pitching superstar.

Video taken from MLB's YouTube channel

Atlanta Braves – At the start of the season the Braves were looking great and looking to push the Philadelphia Phillies all the way in the National League East division. Then the worst thing that could have possibly happened happened when Ronald Acuna Jr went down injured running the bases against the aforementioned Pittsburgh Pirates on May 26th. At the time the Braves had a record of 30-20 at a win percentage of .666 since then they have gone 6-10 and have fallen behind the Phillies and are currently sat 9 games behind in second place. The Braves are a team that have a lot of great players, but Acuna Jr is their best player and heartbeat. Now he is out for the season It will be interesting to see if they make a move before the trade deadline. With the Chicago White Sox having an awful season and out of playoff contention rumours have linked the Braves and a few other teams to Luis Robert Jr. who is not having the best of seasons. A move could suit all parties.

 

 

Juan Soto – In a sport where a hitter must wait 8 more turns to have another chance its amazing how Juan Soto has completely transformed the offence of the New York Yankees. Last year it was a case of if Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres isn’t hitting well where are the runs coming from. 2024 is the opposite Soto has woken the team up, his attitude, work rate and hustle seems to have infected the whole lineup 1-9. Antony Volpe who I may be a bit harsh on from last year his rookie season has been a revelation in the lead off spot and Aaron Judge is coming off one of the best months in Yankee history, but it all starts with Soto. The Yankees know they are going to have to break the bank to keep him for the future and every game seems to be adding value to that future contract at the end of the year.

 

 

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays – Both teams in the AL east are underperforming and it doesn’t look like its going to change anytime soon with the Orioles and the Yankees so far ahead already the best they can hope for is a wildcard spot and we are not even halfway through the season. It has been suggested that the Blue Jays could even entertain trade talks for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette (Bichette is only on 4 home runs so far this season having hit 20 plus the last 3 years) something that would have been unheard of just 12 months ago but neither player is having a great season and wont command as much on the market they previously would have. The Rays have been out preforming themselves for years now playing much better than their payroll suggests. Is this just a return to the mean or is it just an off season. If I had to pick one of the two, I would expect the rays to have a stronger finish to the season.

 

 

The Teams Under .500 – Out of the 30 major league teams only 12 are currently on a win percentage of over 50 percent and only 5 are winning over 60 percent. Could this be a concern meaning the gap between the best teams and the worst is widening. Its hard to say its always the case where there a few teams that get beat up on every season but when you see perennial good teams like the Houston Astros standing at .449 and last years 2 world series teams the Texas Rangers .485 and Arizona Diamondbacks .478 it is concerning. For the game to be at its best its good for the leagues to be as competitive as possible. At this rate some of the leagues could be decided within the next few months and that is not good for the average casual watcher looking for a competitive watch. As mentioned earlier the Phillies are already 9 games ahead in the NL West and the Yankees are Orioles are both 10 games ahead of the rest in the AL East. Let’s hope the second half of the season can bring a closer adjustment.

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