Jose Abreu Named MLB’s American League MVP

Jose Abreu is this season’s American League star…

The 33-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, a first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, has won the American League MVP award after helping power the team to its first playoff berth in 12 years.

Jose Abreu

Abreu received 21 of 30 first-place votes and 374 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez was second with eight first-place votes and 303 points, and New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who won the AL batting crown, followed with one first-place vote and 230 points. 

Voting by the BBWAA was completed by the start of the playoffs. It has voted for the award since 1931.

Abreu led the majors with 60 RBIs and 148 total bases, and topped the AL with 76 hits and a .617 slugging percentage. He played in all 60 games during the virus-shortened season as Chicago claimed a wild-card spot.

Surrounded by family members, Abreu put his head down for a minute after hearing he’d won and teared up.

“That was a very special moment,” he said through an interpreter.

Abreu batted .317 with 19 home runs, connecting six times in a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs in late August. That barrage of long balls at Wrigley Field was part of his 22-game hitting streak, the longest in the majors this year.

Abreu gave credit to manager Rick Renteria, who left the team after the season in what was described as a mutual decision. Recently hired Hall of Fame skipper Tony La Russa is now facing charges in a drunken driving arrest; Abreu said he was eager to play for La Russa.

“Keep pushing forward, keep moving forward,” Abreu said.

Abreu was the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year and is a three-time MLB All-Star. He became the fourth White Sox player to win the AL MVP, joining Frank Thomas (1993-94), Dick Allen (1972) and Nellie Fox (1959).

Abreu was the third Cuban-born player to be an MVP, along with Jose Canseco and Zoilo Versalles.

Dereck Rodriguez Agrees to Minor League Deal with Colorado Rockies 

Dereck Rodriguez has a new deal…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican baseball pitcher, the son of MLB Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, has signed a minor league contract with the Colorado Rockies that includes an invitation to spring training.

Dereck Rodriguez

Rodriguez appeared in 51 games over three seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He compiled a 12-15 record with a 4.27 ERA before being designated for assignment by the Giants on August 26. He was claimed five days later off waivers by the Detroit Tigers before recently becoming a free agent.

Rodriguez made his major league debut at Coors Field on May 29, 2018. He allowed four runs, one earned, over 3⅓ innings. He also had an RBI double off Kyle Freeland.

Rodriguez was originally a sixth-round pick by the Minnesota Twins in 2011.

Boston Red Sox Rehire Alex Cora as the Team’s Manager

Alex Cora is back in Boston…

The Boston Red Sox have rehired the team’s 45-year-old Puerto Rican former manager,.

Alex Cora

Cora led the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series title but mutually agreed to part with the club amid the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. He was suspended for one season by Major League Baseball for his role in the scandal.

Boston, which ended the 60-game shortened season with a 24-36 record, decided not to retain manager Ron Roenicke, who replaced Cora in January after serving on his coaching staff.

The Red Sox were not allowed to speak to Cora until after the World Series, which ended October 27. The lack of activity before then was a sign that they were focused on Cora.

Cora agreed to a two-year contract that has a two-year team option for 2023 and ’24, the team said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to manage once again and return to the game I have loved my entire life,” Cora said in a statement released by the team. “This past year, I have had time to reflect and evaluate many things, and I recognize how fortunate I am to lead this team once again. Not being a part of the game of baseball, and the pain of bringing negative attention to my family and this organization was extremely difficult. I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organization and its fans proud. …

“Boston is where I have always wanted to be and I could not be more excited to help the Red Sox achieve our ultimate goal of winning in October.”

The team he returns to bears little resemblance to the one he last managed.

Chaim Bloom is running the baseball side now, taking over last offseason just in time to part ways with Cora. He welcomed Cora back in a team statement Friday.

“Alex Cora is an outstanding manager, and the right person to lead our club into 2021 and beyond,” Bloom said. “The way he leads, inspires, and connects with everyone around him is almost unmatched, and he has incredible baseball acumen and feel for the game. …

“Because of all that had happened, I knew that I wanted to speak with Alex once his suspension ended, but I didn’t yet know if it made sense to consider him for the job as well. Our conversations were lengthy, intense, and emotional. Alex knows that what he did was wrong, and he regrets it. … He loves the Red Sox and the game of baseball, and because of that we believe he will make good on this second chance.”

Bloom’s other big move last offseason was to trade 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with David Price as part of an effort to get the Red Sox under the threshold for baseball’s competitive balance tax.

With Betts and Price gone, Chris Sale out with Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez recovering from a COVID-19-related heart problem, the Red Sox finished in last place in the AL East.

But Cora also has hope for improvement in the 2021 season.

Sale is expected to return in the first half. J.D. Martinez, an MLB All-Star his first two years in Boston before struggling in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, is also under contract for at least one more year.

And the Red Sox have plenty of salary flexibility gained in the deal that sent Betts and Price to Los Angeles.

Cora replaced John Farrell as Boston’s manager after the team twice finished last under Farrell, despite winning the 2013 World Series with him. With Cora at the helm in 2018, the Red Sox raced to a 108-54 regular-season record and an easy win in the AL East. They led the majors with a .268 team batting average and 876 runs scored.

Boston then dominated the postseason with an 11-3 mark, posting wins over the Yankees and Astros in the AL division and championship series, respectively, before defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.

The Red Sox couldn’t sustain 2018’s success in Cora’s second season, finishing 84-78 and third in the division, 19 games behind the Yankees.

Cora, who worked as an ESPN analyst before leaving for the Astros, played 14 MLB seasons, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox, winning the 2007 World Series with Boston. He also played for the Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Texas Rangers before finishing his career with the Washington Nationals in 2011.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Manny Machado Named National League MVP Finalist

Manny Machado has proven his most valuable status…

The 28-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and San Diego Padres third baseman and shortstop has been named a finalist in the MLB’s National League MVP race.

Manny Machado

Machado, who hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres this season, is nominated alongside Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman, after balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Meanwhile, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going for his third consecutive National League Cy Young Award. He’s facing off Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish for the honor.

The top three finishers for each BBWAA award were revealed Monday. The winners will be announced next week.

Balloting for the BBWAA awards was completed before the start of the postseason.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez and New York Yankees leadoff man DJ LeMahieu are the top three finishers in voting for the American League MVP award.

LeMahieu, who hit a big league-best .364, and Bauer are free agents after starring during the pandemic-shortened season.

Indian’ pitcher Shane Bieber joined Minnesota Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as finalists for the American League Cy Young Award.

The top finishers in voting for American League Manager of the Year are Tampa Bay RaysKevin Cash, Toronto OriolesCharlie Montoyo and Rick Renteria, who was let go by the Chicago White Sox after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Miami’s Don Mattingly, San Diego’s Jayce Tingler and the Cubs’ David Ross are the finalists for NL Manager of the Year. Tingler and Ross just completed their first seasons as big league skippers.

The finalists for AL Rookie of the Year are Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier and center fielders Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners and Luis Robert of the White Sox. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm, Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams are the top finishers for the National League rookie award.

Giancarlo Stanton Opts to Stay with the New York Yankees

Giancarlo Stanton is still in a New York state of mind…

The 30-year-old part-Puerto Rican professional baseball player will keep the remaining $218 million and seven guaranteed years in his New York Yankees contract rather than opt out after a pair of injury-decimated seasons.

Giancarlo Stanton,

Stanton, a designated hitter, hit .266 with 38 homers and 100 RBIs in his first season with the Yankees in 2018. He batted .288 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 2019, when he was limited to 18 games by a left biceps strain that sidelined him from April 1 to June 18 and a right knee strain that kept him out from June 26 to September 18. He hit .250 with four homers and 11 RBIs in the coronavirus pandemic-shortened 2020 season, limited to 23 games by a strained left hamstring that sidelined him from August 9 to September 15.

Stanton rebounded to become the Yankees’ best offensive player in the playoffs, hitting .308 (8-for -26) with six homers and 13 RBIs in seven games.

A four-time MLB All-Star with the Miami Marlins, Stanton agreed to a $325 million, 13-year contract with the Marlins in November 2014. He hit .281 in 2017 and led the major leagues with 59 homers and 132 RBIs, then was traded to the Yankees in December 2017 for second baseman Starlin Castro, right-hander Jorge Guzman and minor league infielder Jose Devers.

Stanton is due $29 million in each of the next two seasons, $32 million annually from 2023 to ’25, $29 million in 2026 and $25 million in 2027. The deal includes a $25 million club option for 2028 with a $10 million buyout.

As part of terms of the trade, because Stanton did not opt out, the Marlins will send the Yankees $30 million to offset part of what remains in his contract: $5 million each on July 1 and October 1 in 2026, 2027 and 2028.

Wonderfilm Media Developing Biopic About Tampa Bay Rays’ Breakout Star Randy Arozarena

Randy Arozarena’s life story is headed to the big screen…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie, who broke the MLB record for most home runs and hits in a single postseason, will be the focus of a biopic from Wonderfilm Media.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena, the Rays’ breakout star, came from Cuba and fueled his team’s run to the World Series, which eventually went to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

Brad Gann, the screenwriter of the Mark Wahlberg-led Invincible and a co-writer of pro surfer Bethany Hamilton biopic Soul Surfer, will write the screenplay.

Arozarena’s story is inspiring. He escaped Cuba on a makeshift boat, landed in Mexico, and started a new life there before making his way to the U.S. and eventually, his Major League Baseball debut in 2017.

Arozarena currently holds the MLB record for most home runs in a single postseason with 10. In his rookie postseason, Arozarena broke Barry Bonds’ record for most home runs as well as Derek Jeter’s record for most hits by a rookie. He was also named MVP of the ALCS.

Rays’ Randy Arozarena Breaks Record for Most Hits in Single Postseason

Randy Arozarena is breaking records like theyre going out of style

 

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie, who had already set the MLB record for most home runs in a postseason, now owns the record for most hits in a single postseason after his third-inning base hit off Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw in Sunday’s Game 5 of the World Series.

Randy Arozarena

 

Arozarena hit a 1-2 slider to left field for his 27th hit this postseason. He was tied with Pablo Sandoval, who had 26 hits in the 2014 postseason. The single brought home Yandy Diaz, who had tripled.

 

It was the first of Arozarena’s 27 hits with a runner in scoring position. Arozarena was previously 0-for-6 in that category.

 

“Pretty special. Pretty special,” manager Kevin Cash said after the Rays’ 4-2 loss to the Dodgers that left Tampa Bay in a 3-2 series deficit. “He wanted the ball, too. I noticed that. He asked for the ball. Congrats to Randy.”

 

After reaching first base, he signaled for someone to get the ball for him as a keepsake. Arozarena also has a record nine home runs in his first playoff experience, while Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is right behind him with eight.

Game 6 is Tuesday at Globe Life Field.

Randy Arozarena Becomes First MLB Player to Hit Nine Home Runs in Single Postseason

Randy Arozarena is still making history…

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie has become the first player to hit nine home runs in a single postseason after taking Los Angeles Dodgers starter Julio Urias deep to right field in the fourth inning of Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night.

Randy Arozarena

Arozarena already holds the rookie hit record for a single postseason, set in Game 3, while breaking a four-way tie for most home runs.

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager also homered in Game 4 and has eight this postseason.

Arozarena later scored the winning run on Brett Phillips‘ walk-off single, as the Rays beat the Dodgers 8-7 in Game 4 to even the World Series at two games apiece.

Arozarena actually fell down rounding third base, but after Dodgers catcher Will Smith couldn’t handle the relay throw, the Rays’ rookie was able to make it home with the winning run.

Randy Arozarena

“All I was thinking about was just running hard,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “Running hard as I could. Once I got to a certain spot, I saw that the ball got bobbled. I got sent home. I tripped. … I was actually trying to get back to third base because I knew we had already tied the game so, if anything, I was just trying to get in a rundown. Then, I saw the ball get past him, so I turned around and scored.”

Arozarena also holds the record for total bases in a single postseason. He singled to lead off the sixth inning Saturday night, tying Pablo Sandoval for most hits by any player in one postseason.

The 2020 playoffs featured an extra round, meaning Arozarena is playing in his 18th playoff game already.

Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran and Barry Bonds are the three other players — along with Seager — to hit eight home runs in a single postseason.

Julio Urías Makes MLB History as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game 7 Closer Against the Atlanta Braves

Julio Urías has etched his name into the annals of Major League Baseball history…

On Sunday night, the 24-year-old Mexican professional baseball player, a former child prodigy, pitched the Los Angeles Dodgers into the 2020 World Series.

Julio Urías

“It was his moment,” manager Dave Roberts said.

Urías entered the seventh inning of a tied game and retired the next nine Atlanta Braves batters in order, requiring only 39 pitches to do so. He blanked the over the final three innings of a 4-3 victory in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series in Arlington, Texas.

With that, the left-hander became only the second reliever to close out a winner-take-all game with at least three no-hit innings. The other: Pedro Martinez in his famous six-inning performance in Game 5 of the 1999 American League Division Series for the Boston Red Sox against the Cleveland Indians.

It was Urias’ second win of the series, the first coming only four days earlier, when he threw 101 pitches in a Game 3 start.

His fastball touching 96 mph, he recorded his first three outs on only 10 pitches.

The quick seventh inning positioned Urías to earn the victory when Cody Bellinger launched a 94-mph sinker by Chris Martin into the right-field stands in the bottom of the inning.

Urías responded by navigating through the middle of the Braves’ order in the eighth inning. Their best hitter, Freddie Freeman, worked a nine-pitch at-bat, but Urías ultimately made him line out weakly to center field.

In Roberts’ mind, there was little question about who would pitch the ninth inning.

Kenley Jansen had pitched in each of the two previous games. This was Urías’ game to finish.

“I trust him,” Roberts said.

Urías forced Ozzie Albies to ground out. He made Dansby Swanson do the same. And when his changeup was lazily golfed to center field by Austin Riley, Urías raised his arms skyward.

Bellinger caught the fly ball, prompting Will Smith to approach the mound in celebration. Urías slapped Smith’s chest protector and embraced the catcher.

In the immediate aftermath of the victory, NLCS most valuable player Corey Seager marveled at Urías’ composure.

“That was his moment right there,” Seager said. “That was his game to win, and he went out and did it.”