Japan’s Babe Ruth Looks To Cause Damage In the MLB

By Ben Klau ’18

As the MLB season gets underway, a star could be born. Shohei Ohtani, the newest member of the Los Angeles Angels, made a big splash by going three of four on Apr. 3rd against the Cleveland Indians. Headlines read “Real or Not? Dial Ohtani-mania up a notch after his first home run” the day after on ESPN. After a more than rocky start to spring training there had been question if the two way player was going to be able to make it. Having the ability to pitch well is very hard, but being able to hit well on top of pitching is remarkable. According to Fox Sports, Ohtani hit just 12.5 percent of the pitches thrown his way.

Shohei Otani was born in Oshu, Japan in 1994 making him a very young player in the MLB. While in Japan, Ohtani was apart of a team called Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. The Fighters play in the Nippon Professional Baseball. According to Big Reads, this league is “Japan’s top league and the second highest level of competition in the world after the MLB.” Ohtani played in the Nippon league from 2013-2016. During his time in the league he was able to hit 40 home runs and hit 135 RBIs. Not only was he Japan’s best hitter he was also Japan’s best pitcher featuring high 90s fastballs among other pitches. It was no surprise that Ohtani would be making a switch to the MLB. “I kind of heard of him before he came to America as a very good two way player”, Andrew Moy ’19 said.

Ohtani made his debut in the MLB on March 29, 2018 against the Oakland Athletics in what was a shaky pitching performance to start his MLB career. In his second game he proved to all the doubters that he could be a dominant batter in the league. He was able to notch a home run and three RBIs.

His ability to be able to be a consistent batter along with being a dominant pitcher has led for him to be called a modern day Babe Ruth. Buster Olney of ESPN writes “even Babe Ruth really couldn’t maintain what the Babe Ruth of Japan, Shohei Ohtani, will attempt for some major league team in the seasons ahead — to serve regularly as both a position player and pitcher.”

It is unheard of a player to be able to pitch and hit very well in today’s MLB. “I think it’ll be tough for him to be successful both ways. I think it’s more likely for him to find success as a pitcher rather than hitter,” Brian Rabacs ’20 said.

One thing is for sure, Ohtani is enjoying every minute of playing in the MLB. He capped off his batting debut with a curtain call. According to the NY Post,  “players broke character and jumped around Ohtani to celebrate, Mike Trout pointed to the field and instructed Ohtani to take a curtain call.”

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2018 American League Preview

By Alex Massoud ’20

The 2017-2018 MLB offseason has been one of the most strange offseasons in recent memory. Struggling teams around the league have become contenders, while other teams have begun getting ready for a rebuilding period.

The offseason began with the sweepstakes for Shohei Ohtani, a 23-year old Japanese rookie who is expected to be both a pitcher and a hitter. Despite becoming a superstar with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan, he decided to leave to compete in the MLB. There were rumors he would sign with the New York Yankees, but Ohtani shocked the baseball world and signed with the Los Angeles Angels, instantly improving a team who many have said are “wasting” two time MVP Mike Trout’s prime.

MLB free agency stretched into the beginning of spring training, and marquee names such as J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer remained off of teams until just a few weeks ago.

A lack of free agent signings stormed the league. A pair of Royals, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, remained unsigned into March. Carlos Gonzalez continues that list of unsigned stars, unwilling to convince teams to pay up for their services.

Along with the Yankees and Angels, the American League possesses the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, teams with beyond real pitching staffs. Lastly, the Houston Astros, the reigning World Series champions, got perhaps even better. Justin Verlander, Chris Mccullers and Dallas Keuchel headline the Astros rotation, while superstars Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa are complimented by the likes of Alex Bregman and George Springer.

However, as loaded as the elites of the American league are, there are teams that seem to be close to sinking into baseball irrelevancy.

The Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals are three teams with the lowest playoff chances in the AL. The Rays traded away longtime leader Evan Longoria, and ace Alex Cobb left Tampa for Baltimore this offseason, citing the Orioles future as a key reason he left.

Saying this, baseball remains the most unpredictable of the United States’ four major sports, and this season poses to be a special and exciting year for the American League.

 

With the addition of Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees have the best offense in baseball

By Shane Rabacs ’18

The evil empire is back.

After approximately four months of being likeable, the New York Yankees are hated again, as things are back to normal.

The addition of Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins makes the Yankees World Series contenders, and the chance to be one of the best offenses in history.

New York already had Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius; and with the addition of Stanton, the projected 2-5 spots are held by players that hit a combined 169 home runs.

Stanton in Yankee Stadium is going to be a problem for opposing pitchers. Stanton’s adjusted stats for Yankee Stadium are ridiculous, 62 home runs. Yankee Stadium is the second most favorable home run parks for right handed hitters, Marlins Park is the seventh most difficult.

A lineup of Brett Gardner, Judge, Sanchez, Stanton, Gregorius, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks, Todd Frazier and Gleyber Torres has the potential to score 1,000 runs with 250 home runs.

Don’t forget that the Yankees have one of the best bullpens in the league, a unit that carried a below average starting rotation to wins.

The rotation this year doesn’t look terrible, either. With Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia; it looks like it will be a more than just serviceable rotation.

The big key for the Yankees championship aspirations is staying healthy. This was a big problem for them last year, many of their keys guys went down with injuries.

Don’t forget, New York is managed by Aaron Boone, who has no managerial experience in the major leagues. How he leads this unit will be an interesting storyline to look out for this year.

It is officially championship or bust season in New York.

Tragic Plane Crash kills Roy Halladay

By Teddy Dienst ’20

Former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay died in a fatal plane crash on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Halladay, who was just 40 years old, was doing stunts in his single passenger aircraft  just before he lost control and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.

“It’s a terrible and an unlucky thing that happened to him; he was one of the best,” Staples baseball player Adam Petro ’20 said.

Halladay always wanted to have his pilot’s license because his dad, Harry Halladay Jr., was a colonial pilot. Halladay purchased a $269,000 plane and shocked the Major League Baseball World after this crash occurred.  

The eight time MLB all star has two kids, Ryan and Braden. His wife, Brandy Halladay, did not support the purchasing of the aircraft Halladay ultimately crashed. “I fought hard. I was very against it,” she said in a video posted by ICON.

Halladay achieved a lot throughout his 15 year career. In 2012 Halladay became the 67th pitcher in MLB history to record 2000 strikeouts. He is also one of six pitchers to have won the Cy Young award in both the National and American League.  

“It’s a tragic incident,” Staples Baseball player Harry Azadian ’19 said. “Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. A great person and player who will be truly missed.”

The Game That Hasn’t Changed-Or Has It?

By Alex Massoud ’20

Baseball is as American as, well….baseball. America’s pastime, as it is known, is played by boys starting at the age of four and has numerous players in the MLB in their 40’s. Unlike many other professional sports, like football, basketball, and hockey, many people argue that the rules of baseball have remained the same over time.

This statement is certainly a controversial one, as, although there have been no structural changes to the game of baseball, many people would say that the type of game that is played has changed drastically.  Rob Neyer of ESPN.com writes that the fastest pitcher of the 1920’s and 30’s was Bob Feller, a pitcher who topped off around 90 miles per hour. Nowadays, the average pitcher reaches top speeds of 92 miles per hour, not just the fastball pitchers.

Undoubtedly, pitch speeds have changed and have also changed the game of baseball. Faster pitches are harder to hit, yet easier to crush. This year, according to MLB.com, there were the most home runs in the history of the MLB, which can be attributed to the faster pitch speeds as well as the increased training by major league players.

Besides the pitch speeds, baseball players believe that there are several other changes in recent years. Dylan Hruskar ’20 thinks that several changes have impacted the game of baseball, especially in the majors. “Instant replay in the MLB gives a more accurate reading of certain calls, which makes for a more competitive game, as well as the increased safety measures such as how it is a requirement to wear helmets now,” Hruskar said.

While some players such as Hruskar find the changes to help benefit the game, many people find that the new rules and aspects of baseball hurt a game so rooted in its traditions. Bob Levey of Fox Sports, after the introducement of instant replay, wrote in response to the rule, “You might think, baseball has thought of everything. There’s no gray area, not when 8,500 words [that describe instant replay] are involved. Except that it’s all gray area. Those 8,500 words are just a long way of giving off the appearance of saying something consequential while knowing the meaning is completely hollow.”

While some people might think that baseball has remained the same, changes to both the rules and the style of the game are continuing to come into effect more and more every year.