Todd Frazier took home the Derby crown, the American League will play host to this year’s World Series and Kyle Schwarber is back in the Friendly Confines. Week 13 gave an exciting look into the future, so let’s recap:
New Home Run Derby a Success
The new and improved Home Run Derby took place on Monday, with Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier defeating Dodgers’ center fielder Joc Pederson in the final round by a score of 15-14. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were first round outs, losing to Josh Donaldson and Albert Pujols. Pederson had the longest home run of the night, mashing a ball 487 feet. Now based on time instead of 10 outs, the competition seemed to exhaust certain players (Prince Fielder) and become much more about endurance and athleticism. The new features seemed to be well received, and made for a much more interesting finish. Frazier made a thrilling comeback that likely could not have happened in the old format.
Trout Takes Second Straight ASG MVP Award
Mike Trout lead the American League to victory over the National League in the All Star game, as the AL took home the win for the 10th time in the last 13 years. Trout won his second consecutive All Star Game Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first player in nearly 40 years to accomplish that feat. Rizzo began the game as the designated hitter and was hitless in two at bats, before being replaced by Rockies’ shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Bryant replaced Pederson and drew a walk. With the American League victory, the ALCS winner will play host to the 2015 World Series, a stakes that seems to be losing favor rapidly among fans. This might make finishing the October Classic in Wrigley slightly more difficult, but don’t give up hope.
Cueto a Hot Commodity as Deadline Nears
As the trade deadline nears, buyers and sellers will begin to emerge. Just around the corner, rumors are already spreading about where some of the game’s top arms will finish out the year. Reds’ ace Johnny Cueto is one of the stars expected to be dealt soon, and the winning suitor will likely have to pay an exceptionally steep price for the 29-year-old right-hander. Jon Morosi reported on Sunday that the Yankees had scouts in attendance to watch Cueto, and they figure to be one of several possible destinations. Cole Hamels and David Price will be watched similarly, as all three pitchers are unrestricted free agents in the upcoming offseason. The Cubs will be one of the interesting teams to watch at this year’s deadline, as they should be in the Wild Card race down to the wire. Whether they elect to add a piece on July 31st for a late season push or to wait until the offseason is anyone’s guess, but an argument can be made for either case.
Cubs Young Stars Represent Team Well
Following the All Star Game’s completion, the Cubs announced the decision to give top prospect Kyle Schwarber another shot with the big league club. The catcher is filling in for Miguel Montero, who is currently sitting out with a thumb injury. It has only been a few games, but Schwarber is reminding everyone why he is an elite youngster (as if anyone forgot). Still eight games out of the division lead, the Cubs still lead the race for the second and final Wild Card spot. Following this weekend’s series win in Atlanta, a four game road series against the scuffling Reds and a three game set versus the league worst Phillies should give the Cubs the chance to get hot and rattle off some more wins. The MLB Draft Amateur Draft signing deadline was Friday, but the Cubs were diligent with their draftees and managed to avoid deadline deals and signing drama.
The All Star festivities highlighted just how talented this year’s rookie class is, and the immediate impact that it is making. Pederson and Bryant may not have won the derby, but Pederson especially had a better than expected performance, losing in the final round to Frazier. Both leagues, American and National, are littered with young stars hitting near or above .300, regularly making dazzling plays with the glove and emerging as faces of their respective teams. The eventual champion of the National League Rookie of the Year race will leave one fan base, Los Angeles or Chicago, with a feeling of being slighted, but both players showed in Cincinnati that they are each deserving.
MVP of the Week: Mike Trout takes the hardware home this week after leading off the All Star game with a home run to right field and eventually winning the MVP of the game. Trout has now hit for the cycle in lead off at bats in All Star Games.
Cy Young of the Week: Only a few days into the second half, there have been several outstanding pitching performances. Clayton Kershaw struck out 14 Nationals over eight innings on Saturday. Jon Lester gets the runner up for his seven hitless innings against the Braves on the same day.