Following yesterday's news that Tony La Russa has been hired by the White Sox to be the club's new manager, another AL Central team has selected its new skipper. The Detroit Tigers announced this afternoon that AJ Hinch will be the team's manager going forward.
Hinch, who won the 2017 World Series with the Houston Astros, has been out of baseball for a year since the Astros' sign-stealing scandal came to light last offseason. Hinch was handed a one-year suspension by Major League Baseball, although many suspected, rightfully so, that he would be back in the game after serving that suspension.
As the manager of a team that conducted one of the most egregious cheating scandals in baseball history, Hinch has said that he should have ended the scheme before it went as far as it did. Multiple reports say that Hinch smashed the monitors that were being used for the sign-stealing, but did not talk with the team afterwards and allowed the cheating to continue.
As the manager of the Astros, Hinch took the team to the playoff four times in five years, including two World Series appearances. The team won three straight AL West titles from 2017-2019 and won over 100 games in each of those three seasons.
Hinch's hiring will obviously draw lots of controversy and ire among baseball fans, but I believe it's a good move by the Tigers. Despite the cheating that went on in Houston, Hinch is a good manager and the kind of coach that today's game relies on. This article from 2014 outlines how Hinch is a firm believer in analytics, and is the perfect fit for any front office that is heavily reliant on data and numbers in their decisions.
That analytical approach led to success in Houston, regardless of what you think about their sign-stealing. Now we'll get to see how it translate to the Tigers' franchise, which has been struggling in recent seasons.
The Tigers started off the 2010 decade with four-straight division titles from 2011-2014, and even made a World Series appearance in 2012. But their play has spiraled downward recently. Since their last first-place finish in 2014, the Tigers have finished in last place in the AL Central in four of the past six seasons.
An aging Miguel Cabrera is not the player he once was, and the team has suffered from a lack of quality pitching. Despite their struggles, though, the Tigers have some great prospects waiting to make a breakthrough. Detroits' farm system ranks second in all of Major League Baseball, with players like Spencer Torkelson, Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Riley Greene all expected to contribute at a high level in the coming years. Maybe a guy like AJ Hinch at the helm is exactly what the Tigers need to see these players through to the next level.
Following weeks of speculation and rumors, the Chicago White Sox made it official - they will be hiring Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa as their new skipper for the 2021 season.
La Russa, 76, previously managed the White Sox from 1979-1986. In that time, the Sox made one playoff appearance, winning the AL West in 1983. La Russa also won Manager of the Year that season.
While his initial tenure with Chicago wasn't very successful, La Russa turned in one of the best managerial careers after leaving the White Sox. He went on to manager theOakland Athletics from 1986-1995, winning four division titles, three American League pennants and a World Series championship in that span.
After his years with Oakland, La Russa became the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996, winning two more World Series championships and seven division titles.
Since retiring from managing after the 2011 season, La Russa has held multiple different positions, including one involving Major League Baseball's on-field discipline matters. He most recently served as a senior adviser for baseball operations with the Los Angeles Angels.
While La Russa obviously has one of the best managerial resumes of all-time, I don't think he's the right man for the job. For one thing, he's 76 years old. The game has changed a lot, especially in the last decade, and even though he's still been around as an executive, I'm not sure he's the right fit for today's game.
I also don't think the White Sox even needed to make a manager change this offseason. Rick Renteria took them to their first postseason appearance since 2008, and the team rewarded him by firing him. Now the White Sox did play bad down the stretch this season, and it cost them in terms of playoff seeding, but I still don't think you should dismiss the manager who has finally brought your team back to relevance.
We'll have to wait and see how La Russa fares in his first season with the White Sox, but at least this move gets the Hot Stove season started with a bang.
The first day of the 2020 Major League Baseball postseason is here, which means it's time to make our picks and predictions for each round. I can't speak for Trey, but I put a lot of thought and research into my picks. I definitely didn't just pick each one on gut feeling.
Let's take a look at who each of us picked to win it all in 2020.
Let's break this down a little. First off, the Braves finally win a postseason series, so that's good. Something they haven't done since 2001. However, I honestly don't think they have the pitching to go any further. The Cubs take care of business in the NLDS.
While I'd like to pick the White Sox and the Padres to go further, I don't think either of them have good matchups in their brackets. The Sox get a tough one facing the A's in the first round and the Padres have the bad luck of meeting up with the Dodgers should they advance to the NLDS. I want to root for these teams, but I can't justify picking them.
As for the Twins, they have great pitching and hitting. Their toughest matchup will be the Rays in the ALCS. Well, except for the Dodgers in the World Series that is. But as long as Minnesota ends up avoiding the Yankees, I don't see a series they can't win on their way to an AL pennant.
The Dodgers are by far the favorite to win it all, and as much as I want to pick against the favorite, it just doesn't make sense. No one even comes close to their talent on the field, and they haven't showed any signs of weakness all year, so I feel very confident picking them as my World Series champion.
Hey, I like Trey's picks. While I don't think the Braves have what it takes to go all the way this season, I sure would be happy if they did.
Looking a little deeper at Trey's picks, they're not too different than mine. We both have the Twins in the World Series. We both have a Padres-Dodgers NLDS, which, again, would be very exciting.
One big difference is that Trey has the Yankees beating the Rays in the ALDS. I just don't see that happening given how the Yankees played against the Rays throughout the regular season, but it is the playoffs, and anything could happen at any given time.
I like Trey's bracket overall, and it's certainly possible the postseason could shake out that way. We'll just have to wait and see.
The 2020 MLB postseason begins this afternoon when the Astros face the Twins at 2 p.m. ET on ABC.
It's finally time. The 2020 Major League Baseball postseason is upon us, beginning with four AL games tonight followed by the NL series starting tomorrow night.
This year's postseason is going to be among the weirdest in history, but also one of the most exciting. The expanded playoff format means that eight teams from each league made the postseason, beginning with the best-of-three Wild Card round.
All three games in this round will be played at the home stadium of the team with the higher seed, on three consecutive days. While I don't necessarily like the idea of a team's season coming down to a three-game series, especially for the one seeds, it will provide plenty of entertainment over the next few days.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the most exciting Wild Card round matchups coming up.
Indians vs. Yankees
The Yankees have been a streaky team all season, and they didn't exactly end on a high note. They earned the five seed in the American League playoffs, setting up a matchup against the four seed, the Cleveland Indians.
This matchup is exciting for plenty of reasons, but first and foremost is the Game 1 pitching matchup. Tonight we will be blessed with watching Gerrit Cole pitch against presumptive AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber.
Bieber's stellar season saw him win the triple crown, finishing the year with an 8-1 record, 122 strikeouts and a 1.63 ERA.
Cole was no slacker this season, although he did struggle at times. The Yankees' ace finished the season 7-3 with 94 strikeouts and a 2.84 ERA.
But after the aces go in Game 1, the Indians might have the advantage. Cleveland led the AL with a 3.29 team ERA this season and a 1.11 WHIP. Bieber will be followed in the rotation by Carlos Carrasco and Zach Plesac, both of whom had productive seasons this year. The Yankees might want to get a win in Game 1, because it looks dicey for them after that.
A's vs. White Sox
The White Sox have been one of the most exciting young teams in baseball this season, anchored by stars Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu.
Abreu has played at an MVP level this season, batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs. Anderson just missed out on a second consecutive batting title, finishing the season hitting .322.
Those stars, paired with the White Sox pitching staff, have led the South Siders to their first playoff appearance since 2008, and although they missed out on winning the AL Central, this team is ready to prove that they want more than just an appearance.
Waiting for them in the Wild Card round, though, is a team that is making its third consecutive playoff appearance. The Oakland A's have finally broken past the Houston Astros in the AL West, winning the division for the first time since 2013.
Oakland finished the season with a .713 team OPS, but the pitching is where they shine. The A's pitchers finished the year with a 3.77 ERA, fifth in the league. While their starters weren't fantastic (only one of five finished the season with an ERA below 3.00) their bullpen is rock solid. In fact, they had the best bullpen ERA and third-best bullpen FIP this season.
Pitching is what wins championships, so the A's should be set to make a run, but it all starts against this young White Sox squad.
Rays vs. Blue Jays
Speaking of exciting young teams, how about the team that has Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr? The Blue Jays earned the eight seed in the AL playoffs and they are rewarded by taking on division rival Tampa Bay.
The Rays were the best team in the American League this season, and a large part of that was due to their pitching, which featured the third-best ERA in all of MLB. While the Blue Jays don't quite have the pitching they might need to really contend for a title, they can hit the ball with the best of them.
Toronto posted a .766 team OPS in 2020, good for 11th in MLB. The Blue Jays knew they would get to the postseason with the core group of young players that they have right now, they just didn't know it would be this soon. Now they have to show that they're ready for more, and give the Rays the best they've got over the next three days.
Now I know I didn't include any National League series in my list, but that doesn't mean I'm not excited for them. The Braves are back in the playoffs, so obviously I'm excited to see my team finally win a playoff series. Plus, the Padres are in the postseason for the first time in over a decade, and they might just be the most exciting young team in baseball. So I'm ready to watch all the playoff baseball this week, but the three games listed here are the best ones to keep an eye on.
It's Monday August 31, which means today is the trade deadline for the 2020 MLB season. It's a strange one, as is everything this year. With the shortened season, teams have only played about 30 games, which makes it a little tougher to decide if you're going to be a buyer or a seller.
Throw in the expanded playoffs for the 2020 season, and there are few teams that are very clearly out of contention at this point, which means there are fewer sellers than there would be in a normal baseball season.
But even with all of that, we've still had some notable trades go down already.
4:16 p.m. ET: We're not done yet!
The Mets have acquired third baseman Todd Frazier from the Texas Rangers. Frazier previously played for the Mets from 2018-2019. He is currently batting .241 with 2 home runs and 7 RBIs on the season.
4 p.m. ET: Cubs acquire Cameron Maybin
We've got some last-minute moves as we hit the 4 p.m. deadline.
ESPN's Jeff Passan reports that the Chicago Cubs have acquired outfielder Cameron Maybin from the Detroit Tigers. Maybin is batting .244 with a .311 OBP this season.
Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Cincinnati Reds have acquired relief pitcher Archie Bradley from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bradley is 1-0 this season with a 4.22 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 10.2 innings pitched.
The Diamondbacks have now traded away pitchers Bradley and Robbie Ray, in addition to outfielder Starling Marte.
Rosenthal also reported that the Blue Jays have acquired outfielder Jonathan Villar from the Marlins. Villar is batting .259 with a .315 OBP, 2 home runs and 9 RBIs this season.
2:58 p.m. ET: Marlins acquire Starling Marte
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Marlins were close to a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks to acquire Starling Marte. The 31-year-old outfielder is hitting .311 this season with 2 home runs, 14 RBIs and an .827 OPS.
1:50 p.m. ET: Blue Jays acquire Robby Ray
Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun is reporting that the Toronto Blue Jays have acquired pitcher Robbie Ray from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ray has made seven starts this season for Arizona, striking out 43 batters in 31 innings pitched, but racking up a 7.84 ERA in that timeframe as well.
The Blue Jays starters rank 15th in MLB with a 4.41 rotation ERA.
12:30 p.m. ET: A's acquire Mike Minor
The second big trade on this year's trade deadline involves another quality starter named Mike.
The Oakland A's have reportedly acquired starting pitcher Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers, according to Jeff Passan. Minor is 0-5 this season with a 5.60 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 35.1 IP. That ERA and win-loss record looks a little rough, but he is coming off a solid season that saw him post a 3.59 ERA with 200 strikeouts.
The A's certainly haven't been struggling this year, but their starting pitching ERA is 4.84, 16th in MLB.
11:12 a.m. ET: Padres acquire Mike Clevinger
The San Diego Padres have been the team to watch at this year's trade deadline already, making four trades before Monday morning. They had already acquired reliever Trevor Rosenthal, DH Mitch Moreland, and catchers Jason Castro and Austin Nola over the weekend.
Clevinger adds to a San Diego rotation that has already looked pretty good. With starting pitchers Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, Zach Davies and now Clevinger, the Padre should be in good shape come playoff time.
Clevinger is 1-1 this season with a 3.18 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 22.1 innings pitched. He was optioned to the team's alternate training site earlier in the season after breaking COVID-19 protocol, but was reinstated and made his fourth start of the year on Aug. 26.
We launched our Foul Ball Fest beer giveaway this morning, so I figured we should take some time and actually talk about Oktoberfest beers. To me, Oktoberfest lagers (the actual style is called MÚÚarzen) are some of the best beers you can drink. I really got into them last fall, and now it's my most checked-in style of beer on Untappd.
While the real Munich Oktoberfest celebration isn't happening this year, you can still celebrate at home with some of these beers.
1. Legend Brewing Company Oktoberfest
I've spent a lot of time in Richmond over the past few years, and one of the best things to do in town is visit the local breweries. Legend is one of the first craft breweries in Richmond, and their Oktoberfest is among the best.
This beer is brewed on a base of Vienna malt, with generous helpings of Munich and Caramel malts as well, giving it a rich malty, and smooth flavor.
Untappd Rating: 4.25 out of 5
2. Devils Backbone O'Fest
Devils Backbone is one of my top two breweries, and while they're known for their Vienna Lager, this Oktoberfest beer my be my favorite of theirs. Inspired by old school Oktoberfest beers, it has a deep amber color, with caramel and toasted bread flavors.
Untappd Rating: 4 out of 5
Something new that Devils Backbone is trying this year is an Oktoberfest-themed IPA called Munchen on Hops. I'm not a big IPA guy, but this one intrigues me, so I might have to try it at some point this fall.
3. Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest
If you're ever in Asheville, North Carolina, you have to make the trip to Sierra Nevada. It's one of the best breweries I've ever been to, not just for the beer, but for the entire experience.
The beer adds to the experience, obviously, and their Oktoberfest is definitely one to try. Brewed with toasty malts and German hops, this beer has notes of fresh bread and a floral, fruity character. Men's Journal described it as "the world's best Oktoberfest."
Untappd Rating: 4 out of 5
4. 13.Five Oktoberfest
I've never actually been to the Blue Mountain Brewery in Nelson County, Va., but I have tried a lot of their beer. The 13.Five Oktoberfest is my favorite of theirs, and it's got a cool reasoning for the name.
At the Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, only beer which is brewed within the city limits and with an original gravity of 13.5 can be served.
Untappd Rating: 3.75 out of 5
5. Highland Brewing Clawhammer Oktoberfest
New York Yankees' slugger Aaron Judge has gotten off to a torrid start in the 2020 Major League Baseball season. Judge currently leads the league with nine home runs, 20 RBIs and a .758 slugging percentage. He is seventh in MLB with a 1.101 OPS.
Judge plays for the biggest and most notable team in baseball, and he is one of the hottest players in the league right now. Is that enough to make him the face of Major League Baseball?
Trey Lyle and I discussed this question on today's episode of the Foul Ball Area podcast, and we disagreed.
Yes, Judge is having a great season, and he has the benefit of playing for the most marketable and recognizable team in the country, but he still falls short of becoming the face of baseball.
That honor belongs to Mike Trout.
We've just all gotten so used to how good Mike Trout is, that we sometimes forget how good he is. Trout is currently one spot behind Judge with a 1.064 OPS. He has seven home runs and14 RBIs on the season.
Trout is the active leader and eighth all-time in OPS, with a career 1.0008 OPS. He's not the flashy, in-your-face celebrity that some other baseball players tend to be, but he doesn't have to be. His consistency and his talent are what keep him as the face of America's pastime.
To hear our full discussion on this topic listen to today's episode of the podcast at the 27:42 mark.
This year has thrown lots of curveballs our way, and thrown a wrench in a lot of our plans. Concerts, sporting events and festivals have been canceled, including the world-famous Oktoberfest in Munich.
While we can't celebrate in Germany, our favorite craft breweries are still putting out their Oktoberfest lagers, which means it's a great time of year in the craft beer world.
To celebrate that, we're launching Foul Ball Fest. One lucky follower will have their next six-pack on us. (For legal purposes, we're just giving you money, you can use it for whatever you want.) Here's how to enter:
1. Like and retweet our pinned tweet announcing Foul Ball Fest
2. Follow @FoulBallArea on Twitter
It's that simple. Your next six-pack of an Oktoberfest beer (or whatever beer you like) could be on us. Here are some more rules:
1. No purchase necessary to enter
2. Must be 21 years or older to win
3. Must be following Foul Ball Area on Twitter.
4. Contest will end Aug. 25, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET
5. Winner will be chosen at random and notified the next day.
6. Prize will consist of a Venmo or Paypal payment up to $20 USD to be used for whatever the winner decides (but we encourage it to be used to buy a six-pack. Especially a six-pack of Oktoberfest lager from your favorite brewery.)
Man, this is a tough week for Power Rankings. The teams at the top didn't do much, but they didn't do anything that should cause them to lose any spots. The lower teams were pretty impressive, but I'm not sure if they were impressive enough to overtake the teams ahead of them.
One thing is for sure as we continue on in this strange MLB season: you never know who's gonna get hot each week and make a run at a spot in the Power Rankings.
1. New York Yankees (10-6)
The Yankees went just 2-5 this past week, which isn't great. But they're still 10-6 on the season and in first place in the AL East. As a team, they're second in the league with a .789 OPS, and Aaron Judge looks like he's a lock for AL MVP this season.
2. Atlanta Braves (11-6)
The Braves have been improving bit by bit each week. This past week, they went 4-3, getting blowout wins over the Blue Jays and the Phillies. They have one of the best run differentials in baseball at +27, an although they lost Mike Soroka for the season with a torn achilles, the rest of the rotation has stepped up so far.
3. Oakland Athletics (12-4)
The A's are the hottest team in baseball right now, winning nine straight games. They lead the second-place Texas Rangers in the AL West by five games. The offense needs a little bit of work, but their pitching is third in the league with a 2.66 ERA.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (11-5)
The Dodgers stay put this week after going 4-2 in series against the Padres and the Giants. They do trail the Rockies in the NL West, but they have the best run differential in the league at +41. Their pitching and hitting both rank in the top 4 in MLB. They're not gonna drop much further than fourth this season, if at all.
5. Chicago Cubs (10-3)
The Cubs got an extra few days off after their series with the Cardinals was postponed, but they probably didn't need it. They've been playing really well, a lot better than I expected, and they get to keep their spot at No. 5 in this week's rankings.
6. Minnesota Twins (10-6)
The fearsome lineup that we all heard about going into the season seems to have taken a step back. As a team, the Twins rank 16th in the league with a .713 OPS. Still, they're 10-6 and in first place in the AL Central.
7. Colorado Rockies (11-4)
The Rockies move up a spot this week after staying in first place in the NL West. They went 5-2 this week against the Giants and Mariners and currently rank in the top 10 in both ERA and OPS.
8. San Diego Padres (9-7)
The NL West is well-represented again this week, with the Padres moving up a spot from last week's rankings. Although they lost their series against the Dodgers, they took two of three from the Diamondbacks to round out the week. Fernando Tatis, Jr. is on fire, tying Aaron Judge for the league lead in home runs, and hecould end up being the NL MVP if he keeps it up.
9. Cleveland Indians (10-7)
Cleveland is back this week after winning three of four against the Reds and two of three against the White Sox. With a rotation headlined by Shane Bieber, the Indians lead the league with a 2.04 team ERA. Yet somehow they're still in third place in the AL Central.
10. Chicago White Sox (8-8)
This might be a controversial pick, especially since the White Sox are in fourth place in the AL Central and I left out the second-place team (seriously, how are the Tigers in second place?), but I have to go with the Sox again. This team is so full of talent that it's just a matter of time before they move on up in both the rankings and the standings.
Trey's Power Rankings
1. Yankees (10-6)
A rocky week for the Yankees that saw them go 5-5 in their last ten games. Granted, the Yankees had to play a lot of games this week to make up a series with the Phillies which, had a doubleheader and a series with the Rays that had a doubleheader. So the large number of games had to be taking even on a great bullpen. Have to see what happens to the Stanton injury
2. Dodgers (11-5)
Dodgers are looking the like the team we all expected to be the favorites coming into the season. With a plus 41 run differential, the team is starting to flex its muscles over the rest of the league.
3. A's (12-4)
The hottest team in baseball is the Oakland Athletics, winners of nine straight, including a sweep of the Houston Astros. The A’s have looked great so far with a plus 23 run differential. The A’s are creating a significant lead in the division now up to five games in the AL West. The A’s have to be favorite now to win the division.
4. Braves (11-6)
Braves have looked great all year and continued that this week 7-3 in their last ten games. A big plus for the Braves is Ronald Acuna Jr. is starting to get going, including a 3-hr performance in Sunday’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
5. Cubs (10-3)
Cubs have continued their winning ways this week, despite losing their series with the Cardinals this weekend. Winning eight of their last ten, the Cubs now have a four-game lead in baseball’s hardest division.
6. Rockies (11-4)
The Rockies are for real folks, another great week for them that included two series wins for the team that is currently in first place in the NL West. It will be interesting to see if they can keep this up, but I think the Rockies now have a real shot of making the postseason.
7. Twins (10-6)
Twins fall on this week rankings after losing four straight games, including a getting swept by the Royals. Despite that, the Twins are still in first place and will be looking to bounce this week.
8. Rays (8-8)
After a bad start to the season, the Rays have seemed to find their rhythm this week, getting back to .500. The Rays will still have some work to do but still seem to be well on their way to the playoffs this season.
9. Marlins (7-3)
So Im ranking the team that almost ended the baseball season, but they are in first place right now and had a great week, which included a four-game sweep on Orioles. Do I think this will last? Probably not.
10. Padres (9-7)
Matt had the Padres in his top 10 last week and, I welcome them in my ranking this week. Mainly because they have the hottest player in baseball in Fernado Tatis Jr., who has hit over .400 and six homers over this past week, the Padres could surprise some people and sneak into a wild card sport in what appears to be a loaded NL West.