Tuesday, July 04, 2017
The All Star Break is just around the corner for Major league Baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays have had a dismal June, and July has been even worse. Players have an opportunity to heal some wounds, relieve aching muscles, and rethink their game during the break.
One of the Jays will not have much chance to relax during the break. That would be Justin Smoak, because he was selected, by the fans, to play first base for the American League All Stars. It is an honour, and well deserved, as he is in the midst of his finest season in baseball.
Smoak began his career in 2010 with the Texas Rangers. The following year he became a Seattle Mariner, and he played for the Mariners until 2015, when he joined the Jays. He was a part-time player for the Jays in his first year, but managed to hit 18 home runs in less than 300 at bats. This indicated that he had a power stroke, and he is a switch-hitter. On July 1st that year, he hit home runs from both sides of the plate!
He will be joined by the rest of the American League All Stars when they take the field in Miami.
Behind the plate, Salvador Perez, the lumbering receiver from the Kansas City Royals. At second base is the diminuitive Jose Altuve, from the Houston Astros. His batting average is currently .327, one of the highest in the league. At shortstop is his teammate Carlos Correa. Outfielder George Springer also plays for the Astros. It is no surprise, considering that they have three all stars on the squad, that the Astros are faring well this year. They currently lead the American League West division by 15 games over the Angels, a lead that they most likely will maintain for the rest of the season.
At third base is Jose Ramirez from the Cleveland Indians. Outfielders are Mike Trout, (currently on the disabled list), and the remarkable Aaron Judge from the Yankees. Judge is a giant, even among some very large baseball players. He stands 6' 7”, and weighs almost 300 pounds. He is a “shoe in” as Rookie of the Year, and may well be selected as the Most Valuable Player. Corey Dickerson of the Rays rounds out the AL All Stars as the Designated Hitter.
Buster Posey from the San Francisco Giants will start his fifth All Star game. The Washington Nationals have three starters who have been selected: Ryan Zimmerman at 1st base, Daniel Murphy at 2nd base, and Bryce Harper in the outfield.
Nolan Arenado has 27 doubles so far this year, and leads the league in that category. He represents the Colorado Rockies, playing 3rd base. The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon leads the NL with 104 hits, and 10 triples, and will play the outfield. The other outfielder is Marcel Ozuna, certainly a favourite as he represents the Marlins. The game will be played on his home field in Miami.
Starting at short stop for the Senior League is Zack Cozart from the Reds.
The Boston Red Sox lead the AL East, and the Jays trail by ten games. They are 5 games behind in the Wild Card chase. Perish those statistics, as it is far too soon to focus on them. Management of all teams will give them some consideration as they plan for the rest of the season. If the Jays front office fails to see much light at the end of the tunnel, you will likely see major changes in the next few weeks. You may have your heart broken.
The Washington Nationals, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers all lead their divisions in the National League. But the season is not yet half finished, with more than 80 games to play. No one is turning out the lights, not even here in Canada.
Happy 150th, by the way!!
July 4, 2017