lucky: Did Freddie Freeman's injury just cost the National League its MVP?

Did Freddie Freeman's injury just cost the National League its MVP?

Maj 19 2017 på 08:16
At the Yankees’ low-A affiliate, in Charleston, South Carolina, the RiverDogs play at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, otherwise known as The Joe. There, outfielder Blake Rutherford, the Yankees' No. 1 pick last year, shows off a sweet swing that some believe has him on a fast track to the bigs. The Yankees have yet another shortstop prospect, 21-year-old Hoy Jun Park, who's hitting well over .300. Then there's Estevan Florial, a left-handed hitting, 19-year-old Haitian outfielder, an under-the-radar prospect Yankees personnel rave about. These players, even ones as hyped as Torres, know they haven’t done anything yet. When Torres was growing up, he idolized fellow Venezuelans Jerry Rice Youth Jersey Omar Vizquel and Miguel Cabrera. “Vizquel was a great example for me,” Torres said. “Miggy is the best hitter in baseball. He hit beautifully to right field in a similar way that I can do. Before games, I watch a lot of video from Miggy.” Torres describes meeting Cabrera with the wide-eyed awe of a kid. But that belies the self-assuredness that many, if not most, of the young players in the Yankees’ system carry. Still, they aren’t living the life of luxury yet, taking eight-hour bus rides and playing some games with a.m. start times. For fans, it's about seeing these players before having to pay top dollar in the Bronx.
“To come here to the minor leagues and get that first taste and feel like you know something that other people don’t, it is just fun,” said Adam Giardino, the Thunder’s play-by-play man the past five years. “It is just fun to tell that story and say, 'I saw him when ...'" Mitchell, the Double-A manager, played 202 big league games over four seasons in the early '80s, and he can say that about a lot of players. He won't predict another Trout is on his way, but Mitchell thinks the Yankees will produce something special -- and he should know It's just a matter of time. “There is some growing that needs to be done because they are so young,” Mitchell said. There's no other to way put it: Freddie Freeman's injury sucks. He's going to miss eight to 12 weeks, according to Buster Olney, and while Freeman won't require surgery on his fractured left wrist, that's still two to three months without one of the best hitters in the game. When the Atlanta Braves' first baseman was injured with an inside fastball from Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup on Wednesday, Freeman was leading the majors in slugging percentage. The title of best hitter in the game was really between him, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Aaron Judge and Ryan Zimmerman are Norichika Aoki the others who also have a slugging percentage over .700 in 2017 (Eric Thames is just under), but they don't have the track record going back to last year. As I wrote just the other night, Freeman's been on a tear since the middle of last June, when he claims everything turned around for him after he changed his approach in batting practice to hitting more line drives to shortstop. Whatever the reason, he's been mashing ever since. The best hitters since June 13 of last year: The immediate impact for the Braves is that a mediocre offense -- eighth in the National League in runs per game -- takes a huge hit. Freeman and Matt Kemp had been one of the best one-two punches in the league. Outside of Nick Markakis (who has a .395 OBP but just one home run) and a fluke .473 OBP from Tyler Flowers, however, there isn't much else here, especially with Dansby Swanson off to a rough start. To replace Freeman, the Braves have reportedly signed journeyman James Loney, which won't do the lineup a ton of good. Not that the Braves were playoff contenders. Even with Freeman and Kemp hitting like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Atlanta is just 16-21. The Braves fancied themselves as sleeper contenders in the first year of their new stadium, but that was never going to happen with an offense that had too many OBP problems and a rotation counting on 40-somethings Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey. Colon has been awful (6.80 ERA) and Dickey not much better, so even the plan of using them as trade bait in July is unlikely to come to fruition. For Braves fans, much of the future remains in the minors, especially in the starting rotation at Double-A Mississippi, which features 19-year-old Kolby Allard, 19-year-old Mike Soroka, 20-year-old Luiz Gohara and 22-year-old Patrick Weigel, all premium prospects and throwing well. So while it may end up being another under-.500 season, there is plenty of talent coming to mix in alongside Freeman.

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