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.

Pablo Sandoval Added to Atlanta Braves’ Roster for NL Wildcard Series Against the Cincinnati Reds

Pablo Sandoval is heading back to the field…

The 34-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball third baseman and former World Series MVP has been added to the Atlanta Braves‘ 28-player roster for the National League wildcard series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Pablo Sandoval

Sandoval joined the Braves after being released by the San Francisco Giants a couple of weeks ago.

 

He started at third base in the final game of the regular season, going 0 for 2 with two walks in a 9-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox. Sandoval played 33 games for the Giants, hitting .220 with one homer and six RBI.

Juan Soto Becomes MLB’s Youngest National League Batting Champion

Juan Soto has swung his way into the Major League Baseball history books…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and Washington Nationals outfielder, nicknamed ”Childish Bambino,“ has become the National League‘s youngest batting champion, as Washington closed out the season with a 15-5 victory over the New York Mets.

Soto walked and singled before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the third inning, elevating his average to .351 and sealing the NL lead in the category during this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser as the youngest ever to take a batting crown. Reiser was 22 when he ended the 1941 season hitting a league-leading .343.

“For me, it doesn’t matter the age,” Soto said with a smile when informed of the feat’s historical significance. “If you deserve it, you deserve it.”

Soto held off Atlanta Braves teammates Freddie Freeman (.341) and Marcell Ozuna (.338) and also finished 2020 with the MLB lead in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695).

Soto was also named Washington’s player of the year in voting by local media.

The Nationals finished 26-34 a year after winning their first World Series.

Miami Marlins Trade Jonathan Villar to the Toronto Blue Jays

Jonathan Villar is headed to the Great White North

The Miami Marlins have traded the 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jonathan Villar

Villar is hitting .272 with two home runs and nine RBIs. He also is tied for the National League lead with nine stolen bases.

Last season he hit a career-high 24 home runs while with the Baltimore Orioles.

Villar is scheduled to be a free agent in the offseason.

The Blue Jays (18-14) entered Monday’s games in third place in the AL East standings.

In addition to the Marlins and Orioles, Villar previously played in the MLB for the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers. Prior to 2017, Villar was primarily a shortstop. 

ESPN Films Orders Documentary Series on Keith Hernandez & His 1986 World Series-Winning New York Mets

Keith Hernandez is getting documented…

The 1986 World Series-winning run by the 66-year-old half-Spanish American former professional baseball player’s New York Mets will get the multi-part documentary treatment by ESPN in a project under the 30 for 30 banner, whose executive producers include Jimmy Kimmel.

Keith Hernandez

ESPN Films said the series will chronicle the team’s exploits on and off the field. 

In the World Series, the Boston Red Sox were one strike away from victory before a two-out rally and a ground ball hit by Mookie Wilson slipped through the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner

The comeback, ESPN said in a press release, “was merely the climax of an epic tale of ambition and swagger set in a city that was synonymous with excess.”

ESPN promises “hours of never-before-seen footage” of the team, a group of disparate, larger-than-life characters who made a big impression on and off the field. 

Keith Hernandez

Many members of the team went on to generate headlines long after 1986, among them Darryl StrawberryDwight Gooden, Hernandez, a five-time MLB All-Star, and Lenny Dykstra

The team already has been the subject of a dishy non-fiction book,The Bad Guys Won, written by Jeff Pearlman, whose L.A. Lakers book, Showtime, has been turned into a scripted drama on HBO.

Hernandez played the majority of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and Mets. He shared the 1979 National League MVP awardand won two World Seriestitles, one each with the Cardinals and Mets.

Hernandez retired as an active player after spending one year with the Cleveland Indians in 1990. Since 2006, he has served as a television broadcaster for Mets games on SportsNet New York and WPIX, as well as a studio analyst for MLB on Fox since 2017.

Ubaldo Jimenez to Appear at the Colorado Rockies’ Spring Training

Ubaldo Jimenez will be attending spring training…

The 36-year-old Dominican baseball player will return to the mound for the Colorado Rockies in spring training after being signed to a minor league contract with the team.

Ubaldo Jimenez 

The hard-throwing right-hander with the distinctive delivery was one of 21 players to receive a non-roster invitation to spring training from the Rockies on Wednesday. The list also includes catcher Drew Butera and infielder Chris Owings.

Jimenez hasn’t pitched in the majors since September 22, 2017, with the Baltimore Orioles. He was originally signed by Colorado as an amateur free agent while a teenager.

Jimenez became a fan favorite at Coors Fieldafter bursting on the scene in September 2006. The affable pitcher tossed Colorado’s only no-hitter on April 7, 2010, against the Atlanta Braves. He wound up 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA that season and finished third in the National League Cy Youngvoting.

His 19 wins remain a single-season Rockies record.

Jimenez was dealt to the Cleveland Indiansin July 2011, where he spent two more seasons before signing a free-agent deal with Baltimore prior to 2014.

He’s 114-117 over his career with a 4.34 ERA. Jimenez has struck out 1,720 in 1,870 innings.

Colorado’s pitchers and catchers are scheduled to have their first workout February 12. The first full-squad workout is set for February 17.

Anthony Rendon Considered the MLB’s Top Mega-Dollar Free Agent

It looks like all bets are on Anthony Rendonto be the first of the mega-dollar free agents to come off the board this winter…

The 29-year-old Latino third baseman has already had meetings with teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers, according to ESPN. And before Rendon reached the open market, the Washington Nationals made an offer in an effort to keep him.

Anthony Rendon

Rendon helped lead the Nationals to the World Seriestitle and finished third in the National League MVPballoting last month.

As reported in September, friends of Rendon believe he’s not going to take the conventional path through free agency. Rather than look for a long-term deal that lasts into his late 30s, they think he’s more interested in a deal in the range of five years, presumably for a higher average annual salary. In fact, some executives believe that Rendon’s forthcoming contract could establish a record for highest annual value.

The Rangers will move into a new ballpark next spring, and Rendon, a Texas native, could be the big marquee name on the revamped team.

The Dodgers have coveted Rendon because of his perfect fit with their hitting approach and their financial strategy. Under baseball operations chief Andrew Friedman, they have shied away from doling out deals of more than three-to-five years. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner has one more year left on his contract, but he has told reporters that he’d be willing to change position. 

The Dallas Morning Newswas the first to report Rendon’s meeting with the Rangers.

New York Mets’ Slugger Pete Alonso Named National League Rookie of the Year

Pete Alonso is living proof that persistence pays off…

The 24-year-old part-Spanish American Major League Baseball player began the 2019 season fighting just to make the New York Mets‘ Opening Day roster. But he ends it as the National League Rookie of the Year after slugging a rookie record 53 home runs, driving in 120 runs and becoming a cult hero for Mets fans for his energy and enthusiasm and one memorable bare-chested postgame interview.

Pete Alonso

Alonso was a near unanimous selection of the award’s 30 voters, getting 29 first-place votes. Atlanta Braves starter Mike Soroka received the other first-place vote and finished second, with San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jrfinishing third.

Soroka posted a 2.68 ERA and won 13 games as the ace of the division-winning Braves. Tatis slashed .317/.379/.590 and dazzled fans with his defensive plays in the infield, but an injury ended his season at 84 games.

“To just win the award, doesn’t matter if it’s unanimous or not,” Alonso said on Monday night. “It’s still such a blessing.”

Alonso’s 53 home runs broke Aaron Judge‘s rookie record of 52 set in 2017, as Alonso became the sixth Rookie of the Year in Mets history, the first since Jacob deGrom in 2014. 

He joins Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Davis as the only active players with 50 home runs in a season and he’s just the 30th player in MLB history to reach that mark. 

His 120 RBIs are the seventh most for a rookie in major league history and the most since Albert Pujols had 130 in 2001.

Alonso’s storybook season was no sure thing back in spring training, however. Although he led the minors with 39 home runs in 2018, the Mets had a glut of infielders with Robinson CanoJed LowrieTodd Frazier and Dominic Smith all in the mix at first, second and third base along with Alonso. There were also concerns about Alonso’s defense, and many teams start their top prospects in Triple-A for a couple of weeks to manipulate the player’s service time.

Alonso, however, earned a roster spot after hitting .352 with four home runs in spring training. It also helped that Lowrie and Frazier began the season on the injured list.

Alonso, a second-round pick in 2016 out of the University of Florida, ran with the opportunity, hitting .378 with six home runs in his first 12 games. He said he was challenged by first-year general manager Brodie Van Wagenento “show up in shape and earn your spot.”

“I felt like I answered the bell,” Alonso said.

He finished April with nine home runs, bashed 10 more in May and entered the All-Starbreak with 30 home runs. In Cleveland, he took home the $1 million prize for winning the Home Run Derby, upstaging fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr.in the final round with a 23-22 victory after Guerrero had bashed 40 home runs in the semifinals.

“It’s survive and advance,” Alonso said after his win. “You’ve got to go in with kind of a killer instinct. It doesn’t matter how many you hit; you just need to have one more than the guy you’re facing.”

Alonso also won over fans when he pledged 5% of his winnings to the Wounded Warrior Projectand another 5% to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Along the way, Alonso became a fan favorite, not just for his prodigious home runs — he hit 15 of at least 430 feet — but also for his infectious joy and his ability to win over New Yorkers. When the Mets began surging back into the playoff race in early August, he issued a not-safe-for-work rallying cry playing off the “Let’s go Mets!” chant. After a walk-off bases-loaded walk beat the Philadephia Phillies on September 6, Mets teammates ripped off Alonso’s jersey and he conducted interviews on SNY and MLB Network bare-chested.

“I’m not taking my shirt off for this one,” Alonso joked on MLB Network’s broadcast while accepting the award.

He wore custom-made cleats on September 11 to honor the victims of 9/11, even ordering a pair for each of his teammates. “For me, I just come from a place where I want to show support, not just for the victims but their families as well, because no one really knows how deep those emotional scars can be,” Alonso said at the time.

He smashed his 42nd home run on August 27, breaking the Mets’ team record shared by Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley. With three games remaining in the regular season, Alonso was one homer away from tying Judge. He matched him with a home run at home against the Braves in Game 160 and then surpassed Judge in Game 161 with a third-inning home run off Mike Foltynewicz, a towering shot to right-center. Alonso raised both arms over his head in triumph, received hugs from teammates and a standing ovation from the crowd, and then he wiped tears from his eyes while playing first base the following inning.

“To me, it just means so much,” Alonso said after the game. “I didn’t know I was going to be overcome with all that emotion. At that point, I might as well just let it out.”

Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez Named American League Rookie of the Year

Yordan Alvarez has slugged his way to the top…

The 22-year-old Cuban Major League Baseball player and Houston Astros slugger has capped off his meteoric rise by becoming the franchise’s third Rookie of the Year winner and second since the club moved to the American League.

Yordan Alvarez

Alvarez was a unanimous selection of the award’s 30 voters. Baltimore Orioles pitcher John Means finished second, with Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe third, Chicago White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez fourth and Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Cavan Biggio fifth.

Alvarez began the past season with Triple-A Round Rock after entering the year ranked as the 34th-best prospect by Baseball America and Houston’s eighth-best prospect by ESPN‘s Keith Law. He provided an early glimpse of things to come by hitting three homers for Round Rock in his second game of the season. By the end of April, Alvarez had mashed 12 homers, hit .354 and driven in 30 runs in just 22 games, spurring calls for a promotion to the big league club.

That call finally came in early June. In his big league debut against the Baltimore Orioles on June 9, Alvarez homered off of Dylan Bundy. He never stopped hitting, finishing with 27 home runs in 87 games, tying the mark for most home runs by a rookie who played in 100 games or fewer. He served as Houston’s designated hitter in 74 of his 87 outings and helped the Astros win the ALpennant.

Across two levels this season, Alvarez hit .324 with a .690 slugging percentage, 50 home runs and 149 RBIs in 143 games. His 1.067 OPS in the MLB was the highest ever for a rookie with at least 350 plate appearances.

Alvarez’s consistency was remarkable: He had an OPS of 1.140 at home and .985 away, 1.083 against righties and 1.038 against lefties and at least .999 in each of the four months in which he appeared in the majors.

“The humility he has in handling success at this level, and the coverage that he’s getting and all the attention, he’s just been very humble,” Astros manager AJ Hinch told ESPN during the season. “He’s also hungry to learn. He’s a quiet man by nature, and his demeanor is very low-key. But he’s always in tune with other players and other people and the information.”

Hinch also tweeted congratulations to Alvarez after he was announced as the winner on Monday.

An imposing 6-foot-5, Alvarez hit a 474-foot homer off Texas Rangers‘ Mike Minor on July 19. In early September, he homered into the third deck at Minute Maid Park, a shot so prodigious that the Astros wrapped the seat in vinyl to commemorate it.

After going just 1-for-22 during Houston’s six-game win over the New York Yankeesin the AL Championship Series, Alvarez rebounded to hit .412 with a home run during the Astros’ seven-game loss to the Washington Nationals in the World Series.

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Alvarez out of Las Tunas, Cuba, on June 15, 2016. The Astros acquired him six weeks later in exchange for reliever Josh Fields. As Alvarez began to make his way through the Houston organization, his offensive reputation began to spread through one of baseball’s most bountiful farm systems.

“When he was brought over to the States, we started to hear some chatter from the backfields that, at one point, I think he hit a car with one of his home runs,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told ESPN this season. “It was one of those things where if you’re around and you have a half day to go watch the back field, find this guy and watch him hit. Because it’s pretty special. It snowballed from there.”

Shortstop Carlos Correa was the Astros’ last AL Rookie of the Year winner, taking the honors in 2015. The only other Rookie of the Year recipient in franchise history was Hall of Famefirst baseman Jeff Bagwell, who won the award in 1991, when the Astros were in the National League.