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.”

Minnesota Twins’ Slugger Nelson Cruz Hits Three Homers Against Chicago White Sox

Nelson Cruz is three times the star…

The 39-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, a slugger for the Minnesota Twins, homered three times in the first five innings against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night, leading the Twins to a 10-3 victory.

Nelson Cruz

Cruz hit a solo drive in the first, a two-run shot in the third and another two-run homer in the fifth. It’s the first career three-homer game for the six-time All-Star, who has 385 home runs in his career.

Cruz batted again with a runner on first in the sixth and struck out swinging against Jimmy Cordero, ending the inning. He flied out to right leading off the ninth, ending the day 3-for-5 with five RBIs.

“It’s not easy,” Cruz said. “To be able to hit three is a blessing.

“The most important thing is we won and the way [Jose] Berrios pitched. At the end of the day, it’s pitching.”

Cruz went deep against All-Star Lucas Giolito on different pitches — fastball, curveball and changeup.

“He’s a good hitter,” Giolito said. “He was seeing me well.”

Cruz’s outburst followed three-homer games by New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano on Tuesday night and St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong on Wednesday. 

According to Elias Sports Bureau research, it’s the first time in major league history there’s been a three-homer game on three consecutive days.

Cruz, who signed a $14.3 million, one-year contract with Minnesota in January, has six homers in his past four games and 25 overall this season. According to Stats LLC, he is the oldest player in major league history to hit six-plus homers in a four-game span, surpassing Barry Bonds, who hit seven in four games at age 36 in 2001.

Cruz also became the 10th player in big league history with a three-homer game after turning 39, according to Baseball Prospectus data, joining a list that includes Babe RuthStan MusialReggie Jackson, Dave WinfieldFrank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez.

“You just assume he’s done things like that,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Those kind of nights are pretty unique and special, and when you get a chance to see them live, we all kind of enjoy them and appreciate them.”

Cruz is the only player with multiple four-game homer streaks this season. He also hit a homer in four consecutive games June 5-9, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He is the oldest player with a three-homer game since Rodriguez did it four years ago against the Twins.

At 39 years and 24 days old, Cruz is the second-oldest player in the modern era (since 1900) with seven homers in a six-game span. Graig Nettleswas 40 years and 4 days old for the sixth game of his streak in August 1984.

Edwin Encarnacion Traded to the Seattle Mariners

Edwin Encarnacion is headed to the Emerald City…

The 35-year-old Dominican professional baseball player has been acquired by the Seattle Mariners from the Cleveland Indians, sending Carlos Santana back to Ohio as part of a three-team trade that also includes the Tampa Bay Rays.

Edwin Encarnacion

The Indians will receive first baseman Jake Bauers from the Rays, while Tampa Bay will get third baseman Yandy Diaz from Cleveland. The Indians also are sending minor league pitcher Cole Sulserto the Rays and the 77th pick in the 2019 competitive balance draft to the Mariners.

Tampa Bay will send $5 million to Seattle, and the Mariners will pay $6 million to Cleveland.

Encarnacion hit .246 with 32 home runs for the Indians last season. He was third in the American Leaguewith 107 RBIs. His streak of seven consecutive seasons with at least 30 home runs leads all active players.

“We’re excited to add a proven offensive performer in Edwin Encarnacion,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “In addition, by adding another draft pick for 2019, we have another opportunity to add to the talent in our minor league system.”

However, with the Mariners having made a flurry of moves — recently trading star second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz — the team wouldn’t tip its hand if Encarnacion would be staying.

“We’ll see how it goes with Edwin, whether he stays with us or he moves on to another destination,” Seattle assistant general manager Justin Hollander said.

Santana returns to the Indians, where he started his career in 2010 before signing with the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency prior to last season. He was traded to the Mariners on December 3.

Encarnacion mostly served as the Indians’ designated hitter in 2018 but also started 23 games at first base. Cleveland ranked 23rd in the majors last season with a .312 on-base percentage from their first basemen. Santana provides an immediate upgrade in that department, as he had a .365 OBP during his eight seasons with the Indians and a .352 OBP with the Phillies.

Overall, Encarnacion has 380 career home runs with 1,156 RBIs and a .264 batting average.

He is guaranteed $25 million: $20 million next season and a $5 million buyout of a $25 million club option for 2020.

Santana signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies last offseason and has a base salary of $17 million in 2019 and $17.5 million in 2020. His contract has a club option for the 2021 season worth $17.5 million with a $500,000 buyout.

He hit .229 with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs in 2018.

Coming off their third straight AL Central, the Indians had been expected to make a move at the meetings, presumably with ace Corey Kluber or pitcher Trevor Bauer.

“Not sure how to feel,” Indians star Jose Ramirez tweeted.

Yonder Alonso hit 23 homers with 83 RBI last season as the Indians’ first baseman. He’s signed for 2019 with an option for 2020 — with the additions of Santana and Bauers, perhaps Alonso could end up in a trade along with one of Cleveland’s star pitchers.

Tampa Bay was eager to get Diaz, who hit .283 with 28 RBIs in 88 games for Cleveland in the last two seasons. Highly regarded at 27, his opportunities were limited with the Indians because they already had a talented infield.

“The key to this deal for us is how we feel about Yandy Diaz,” Rays vice president Chaim Bloomsaid. “We really like his bat. He hasn’t gotten an opportunity to show it regularly at the major league level just being blocked by some of the players that the Indians have had.”

Bauers made his major league debut last season and hit .201 with 11 homers and 48 RBI in 96 games for Tampa Bay.

Sulser spent last season in Triple-A and Double-A, going a combined 8-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 47 relief appearances.

Tampa Bay will send the Mariners $2.5 million in two installments by May 1 and Aug. 1 next year. Seattle will send Cleveland a pair of $1 payments on or before May 1 and Aug. 1 next year, and $2 million on or before each of those dates in 2020.

The Seattle Mariners Trade Edwin Diaz to the New York Mets

Edwin Diaz has Metshis match…

The Seattle Mariners have officially completed a blockbuster trade that will send the 24-year-old Puerto Rican MLB All-Star closer and former All-Star Robinson Cano to the New York Mets.

Edwin Diaz

In exchange, the Mariners will receive outfielder Jay Bruce, reliever Anthony Swarzak, right-hander Gerson Bautista and prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn.

“This trade bolsters our player development system with the additions of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, while also providing immediate impact to our major league club in Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “We view Kelenic as a true 5-tool player with a very high ceiling. Dunn is another former first-round draft pick, who we think has a bright future on our pitching staff. Bruce and Swarzak both bring proven production in the field and a veteran presence in our clubhouse. Bautista has demonstrated an impressive high-velocity pitch mix.”

The Mariners are also sending cash to the Mets to offset the money remaining on Cano’s contract, but they didn’t reveal the exact amount.

Diaz is considered the prize in the deal. Armed with a 100-mph fastball, he had a 1.96 ERA and led the majors with 57 saves last season — tied with Bobby Thigpen (1990) for the second-most in a single season in Major League Baseball history, trailing only Francisco Rodriguez‘s 62 in 2008.

Diaz also comes to New York cheaply.

He made just $571,000 in 2018, isn’t eligible for arbitration until 2020 and won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season.

Cano, 36, has five years, $120 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed with Seattle in December 2013, when current Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen served as his agent, along with Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation.

Cano was suspended for 80 games last season for violating baseball’s joint drug policy. He hit .303 with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs in 80 games.

An eight-time All-Star at second base who starred for the New York Yankees from 2005 to 2013, Cano reportedly was happy to return to New York and waived his no-trade clause for the deal to be completed.

“I want to thank the Seattle Mariners organization, the city of Seattle, & the fans who are some of the best in our game. 5 years ago, you welcomed me to your city and embraced me from day one. Playing for you was a privilege, & I’m grateful for your support throughout the years,” tweeted Cano.

Seattle, which finished 89-73 this past season, has since decided to go into rebuilding mode. The Mariners have already traded ace James Paxton to the New York Yankees, catcher Mike Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays and reliever Alex Colome to the Chicago White Sox, and Monday they sent All-Star infielder Jean Segura to thePhiladelphia Phillies.

Seattle Mariners’ Robinson Cano Headed to the MLB All-Star Game

Robinson Cano will be reporting for MLB All-Star duty…

The 34-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, a second basemen for the Seattle Mariners, is among seven replacement players selected for Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Miami.

Robinson Cano

Cano, who has the world’s fifth-largest sports contract at $240 million, is an 8-time All-Star.

Other replacement players to the American League roster include Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer and Toronto Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros reliever Chris Devenski, Minnesota Twins reliever Brandon Kintzler and Detroit Tigers outfielder Justin Upton.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood was added to the National League All-Stars.

Three of the original All-Stars are on the disabled list and won’t be active for the game: Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, New York Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro and Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel.

Four pitchers on the All-Star rosters won’t be active because they are scheduled to start Sunday: the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, Texas RangersYu Darvish, Cleveland IndiansCorey Kluber and Detroit’s Michael Fulmer.

Detroit Tigers Designated Hitter Victor Martinez Registers 2,000th Career Hit

And the hits just keep coming for Victor Martinez

The 38-year-old Venezuelan baseball player, a designated hitter and first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, reached 2,000 career hits on Friday night.

Victor Martinez

Martinez, heard the crowd roar and felt his heart swell, as he picked up the milestone hit on the same field where he began his MLB career, against the franchise that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela.

Detroit’s switch-hitter singled in the second inning off Cleveland IndiansCarlos Carrasco to reach the plateau. After reaching first base, Martinez received a lengthy standing ovation from the large Cleveland crowd, fans that adored him during his eight seasons with the Indians from 2002-09.

Martinez hugged Detroit first-base coach Omar Vizquel, his teammate in Cleveland and a fellow Venezuelan, before tipping his cap to the crowd. Players on both benches applauded and the game was briefly halted to acknowledge the feat.

“It’s special to have it done here,” Martinez said following the Tigers’ 11-2 loss. “For me, it was even better. Nothing against the Indians, I feel like it’s where everything started for me. I will always remember this day, until I die. What the fans did to me with that ovation. It made me feel so proud and so good that they stand up for me. I just want to let them know too that I will always have the Indians in my heart, always.”

Martinez is the ninth active player to reach 2,000 hits, joining Ichiro Suzuki, Adrian Beltre, Albert Pujols, Carlos Beltran, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Matt Holliday and Jose Reyes.

To attain the milestone in Cleveland and with Vizquel, the career hits leader among Venezuelan-born players, at his side made it even more meaningful for Martinez.

“He congratulated me and told me it was awesome, and at the same time, I wasn’t hearing and stuff,” Martinez said. “It was a pretty cool moment.”

Martinez was a three-time All-Star with the Indians, who signed him in 1996. He broke down in tears when Cleveland traded him to the Boston Red Sox at the deadline in 2009 for three pitchers.

And although he’s had a long run with the Tigers, Cleveland will remain dear to Martinez.

“This is my seventh year in Detroit, but this was a place that I called home, and I’m always going to have Cleveland in my heart,” he said. “It was the team that gave me a chance to be a professional baseball player, gave me a chance to become a major leaguer. It’s a pretty special place.”

Martinez, too, is a pretty special hitter.

He entered the season with a .301 career average and the five-time All-Star has been one of the game’s toughest outs from the day he broke into the big leagues.

“There aren’t a lot of people who can say they got 2,000 major league hits,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “He probably grinded out every single one of those at-bats to get those hits. It’s something he should be proud of.”

Stanton Hits Record 61 Homers to Win All-Star Home Run Derby

Giancarlo Stanton is this year’s Home Run King…

The 26-year-old part-Puerto Rican baseball star put on a record display of power at Petco Park during the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night, peppering every landmark from the left field corner to center field.

Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton hit 20 homers in the final round to beat out defending champion Todd Frazier of the Chicago White Sox. Overall, the Miami Marlins slugger hit a record 61, shattering the single-night mark of 41 by Bobby Abreu in 2005.

Stanton’s impressive shots hit the top level of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in the left-field corner and the top of the batter’s eye in center field.

He sent several balls just below the giant scoreboard high atop the left-field stands and several over the bullpens in left-center.

“For sure, being on the West Coast and taking the flight out here just for this, you know. I figure it’s a waste if I don’t bring this bad boy home,” Stanton said, hoisting the trophy.

The three-time All-Star is not on the National League roster for Tuesday night’s game after batting .233 with 20 homers and 50 RBIs before the break.

“I had a great time. I had a blast.”

His longest shot was estimated at 497 feet. He hit the eight longest homers of the competition and 20 of the 21 deepest drives.

“When I get a few in a row I would kind of bump it up 5 to 10 percent,” he said. “But most the time I stuck at 80-90 percent. I knew I could do it endurance-wise. I was just hoping my swing didn’t fall about.”

Stanton can defend his title at home next year when the Marlins host the All-Star Game.

“That is where I got my childhood memories, watching the Home Run Derby as a kid,” said Stanton, who’s from Los Angeles.

“Maybe some kids are watching me. I would like to return that.”

Stanton is baseball’s highest-paid player with a $325 million, 13-year deal. His new hitting coach is home run king Barry Bonds.

Stanton hit 24 homers in the first round to eliminate the Seattle MarinersRobinson Cano (seven) and 17 in the semifinals to knock out Mark Trumbo (14) of the Baltimore Orioles.

Frazier hit 13 in the first round to beat Carlos Gonzalez (12) of the Colorado Rockies, and 16 in the semifinals to eliminate Adam Duvall (15) of the Reds.

Ortiz Earns Sixth Silver Slugger Award of His MLB Career

Forget golden… David Ortiz is a silver sensation…

The 37-year-old Dominican-American Boston Red Sox star, this year’s World Series MVP, has won the sixth Silver Slugger award of his illustrious career as the top designated hitter in voting by Major League Baseball managers and coaches.

David Ortiz

In what turned out to be a showcase of Latino baseball stars, New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera were selected for the fifth time each.

Silver Slugger awards are given to the top offensive player at each position in the American and National Leagues. They were handed out Wednesday night on the MLB Network.

First-time selectee Pedro Alvarez (third base) was joined by Pirates teammate Andrew McCutchen. The star outfielder won his second prize.

St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina (catcher) received his first Silver Sluggers.

Several players earned bonuses or salary escalators for winning the award:

Cabrera and Ortiz each get $100,000 bonuses, while Molina earns $50,000.

Beltre Among This Year’s MLB Gold Glove Award Winners

Adrian Beltre is one of Major League Baseball’s golden boys…

The 33-year-old Dominican-born Texas Rangers third baseman has been presented with a Gold Glove, an award given annually to MLB players judged to have exhibited superior individual fielding performances at each fielding position in both the National League and American League, as voted by the managers and coaches in each league.

Adrian Beltre

“It is nice to be recognized for what you’ve done defensively for your team,” said Beltre, who has won four of the past six gold gloves. “This one was more tough because I went through more of a physical challenge. It is special and I’m happy to be recognized for this.”

Beltre, who was rewarded for his Gold Glove honor with a $100,000 bonus, wasn’t the only Latino baseball pro to be recognized with the coveted prize.

This year’s other Latino Gold Glove recipients include: Robinson Cano, the 30-year-old Dominican player for the New York Yankees; Carlos Gonzalez, the 27-year-old Venezuelan-born baseball player for the Colorado Rockies; and Yadier Molina, the 30-year-old Puerto Rican player for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Molina received a $50,000 bonus; Gonzalez earned a $25,000 bonus.

Here’s a full list of the 2012 recipients of the Gold Glove, baseball’s highest honor for defensive play:

American League

National League

P  Jake Peavy/
Jeremy Hellickson
 Mark Buehrle
C  Matt Wieters  Yadier Molina
1B  Mark Teixeira  Adam LaRoche
2B  Robinson Cano  Darwin Barney
3B  Adrian Beltre  Chase Headley
SS  J.J. Hardy  Jimmy Rollins
LF  Alex Gordon  Carlos Gonzalez
CF  Adam Jones  Andrew McCutchen
RF  Josh Reddick  Jason Heyward