This past week, I asked you all a very difficult question. I wanted you to put aside your Red Sox fan bias, and tell me about players in the division, that play for division rivals... that you liked!
This is a difficult task, so I’m not surprised we had two responses. Let’s dive right in.
Bosoxsince89 chose Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and it is very hard to argue with him on Vladdy’s likability. Vlad Jr. is 100% the type of player we wish we had in the organization, because his talent it’s off the charts, limitless, and the future is coming fast. But more important than all that, he exudes all the things about baseball that make baseball fun. His passion, drive, and determination to have fun playing the most beautiful sport in the world are unmatched.
As Bosox points out, this is very similar to our own third baseman, Rafael Devers! There could be a strong rivalry between the two over the coming decade, as both will be competing for serious hardware over their respective careers. And since (for the time being) they play the same position, the competition will only be more fierce as they contend for the same MVP, the same Silver Slugger, and perhaps, if they are able to improve enough, the same Gold Glove award.
The Blue Jays as a whole are becoming really exciting. While Vlad leads the way for the youth movement, there’s another player on the Blue Jays that I put in the same category of exciting to watch, Bo Bichette.
Outside of being extremely good at baseball, and packing a lot more power and bat speed than his frame would otherwise indicate, Bichette also brings to the table a world class personality.
Bo Bichette mic'd up with the kids in the Bahamas.— MLB (@MLB) January 6, 2020
This is great. pic.twitter.com/DZumWbycNv
The future is bright for the Toronto Blue Jays, with kids like those. And we’re fortunate enough to see them play as often as we’ll get to (even though I hope we beat them constantly).
Phantom cheated a little bit, but it’s fine, he just picked up the slack for everyone who didn’t participate. In order, he listed Tyler Glasnow, Aaron Judge, Austin Meadows, Vlad Jr., and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
All of these players are very good, but the one that stood out to me was Ryu. When I was drafting my own list of who I liked, I didn’t for a single second consider Ryu. But the explanation for why he was picked by Phantom made total sense.
Hyun-jin Ryu’s conditioning was questioned in his first Dodgers spring, in 2013. His response:— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) December 23, 2019
"The other players don't listen to what the trainers are saying. The trainers told us to run it in 35 seconds; why are they running it in 26 seconds? I ran it in 35 seconds”
You have to respect a guy who does exactly what he is asked. Especially when that guy is also an all-star caliber pitcher when healthy! Over 740.1 big league innings, he’s mustered a sub 3.00 ERA. Since Ryu came into the league in 2013, only 5 pitchers have pitched at least 700 innings, with a sub 3.00 ERA. Those names are Ryu, Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and Jacob deGrom. All of those names are Cy Young caliber arms. Ryu has just never been healthy enough to show it. The Blue Jays got a steal.
My own personal favorite is a player Phantom mentioned: Austin Meadows.
Allow me to take you back to a simpler time. It’s the 2013 MLB draft, and I’m doing a lot of research, because for the first time in a long time, the Red Sox have a high draft pick. As such, we have a chance at drafting a legitimate stud. This is really exciting to me as a prospect fan.
I narrow down my hopes to Austin Meadows, Clint Frazier, and the long shot (IE no chance) of Kris Bryant. Kris Bryant obviously went second and had a very good career. The seventh pick (ours) comes up, and it feels perfectly lined up. Clint Frazier had fallen off the board at number five, and all that was left on my board was Austin Meadows. Better yet, there was chatter that we liked him!
Then we drafted Trey Ball, and I shouted every obscenity in the book.
This was less an indictment on Ball, and more my frustration that we passed on a player that I felt had as high a ceiling as well as a significantly higher floor. After the emotional tirade past, I came around to the pick, which was a big mistake, because Trey Ball ended up being a bust. He’s presently a free agent, and I don’t know who really wants to take a chance on a player who posted a 7.58 ERA, 13.4 H/9, 3.6 BB/9, and 7.7 K/9 in his second go around in AA. It was particularly bad because he had been transitioned to the bullpen, and struggled even more there. (Ed. Note: Ball transitioned to the outfield last year, but only played five games in the GCL.)
In total he put up one good season, by ERA standards (and none by peripheral standards) in his second go around in High-A at age 22.
Austin Meadows on the other hand has developed into an all-star talent, who will now torture us several times per year, because he ended up with the Rays. And I’m not rooting against him.
Last season, Meadows hit .291/.364/.558, with 33 HR, and 12 SB (7 CS). He hits for contact, power, and can run the base paths. He is a player capable of a 4-5 fWAR season. With Jackie Bradley Jr beginning to get expensive, and Mookie Betts possibly on the way out soon... it would be awful nice to have him in our back pocket right now.
Thanks for participating!