Player’s Weekend Begins In San Diego

As the Red Sox begin their road trip, their first stop is Petco Park in San Diego. This weekend is also the annual Player’s Weekend, in which the players will be wearing special uniforms with a nickname on the back. Instead of the usual Little League uniform style, MLB introduced a new style for this weekend. Players will either wear black on black, or white on white jerseys.

In the past, the Red Sox haven’t done so well during the Player’s Weekend. They’replayer's weekend looking to turn it around this weekend, as they begin a three game series against the NL East San Diego Padres. This will be their first trip to Petco Park since September 2016, when they went 2-1 against the Padres.

The Baltimore Sweep

After taking the last two games in Cleveland, the Red Sox felt pretty confident heading back to Fenway Park to face the Baltimore Orioles. The first game was just what Red Sox Nation needed. The offense brought in nine runs, and Rick Porcello pitched six solid innings, earning his eleventh win of the season. Both Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland tripled, and Mookie Betts hit his 21st home run of the season.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the ball in game 2 of the series. Rodriguez went 7.1 innings, allowing only four hits and striking out four. Both Brock Holt and Rafael Devers homered, and the Red Sox took the second game, 4-0.

Game three proved to be a challenge for the Red Sox. After taking the first two from the Orioles, and riding a four game winning streak, Alex Cora sent Nathan Eovaldi to the mound to start the game. After allowing six runs in three innings, the Red Sox offense went to work. Devers hit a grounder to the second baseman, which scored Chris Owings. Sam Travis hit a solo home run, and Devers hit a two run home run in the game. The final was 13-7, and allowed Boston to ride a five game win streak.

The Philadelphia Invasion

The Red Sox welcomed the Phillies for their annual matchup at Fenway Park. This two game set didn’t go as planned for Boston, as they lost both games. Pitching in place of the injured Chris Sale, Brian Johnson got the ball in game one against Aaron Nola. Despite a home run by Jackie Bradley Jr, the Red Sox couldn’t come back from the 3-0 deficit with a final score of 3-2.

Game two of two didn’t go so well for Boston either. The Red Sox sent Rick Porcello to the mound against former Tampa Bay Ray, Drew Smyly. Boston started off the scoring, carrying a 2-0 lead into the top of the fifth. From there, the Phillies, led by a Bryce Harper two-run home run, scored three runs in the fifth. From there, the Phillies added on two more runs. The final score was 5-2.

Brockstar Walks It Off

After a two week wait, the Red Sox finally finished off the Royals. For those who don’t remember, the Red Sox had the lead in the last game against the Royals, until Darwinzon Hernandez and Nathan Eovaldi allowed a run each to score. The rain, of course, was another factor in the delay. As the ninth inning started, the rain slowly came down. Rain eventually delayed the game, which was postponed to August 22nd.

Anyways, in a game that wasn’t deemed to last long, the Red Sox walked it off in about 12 minutes. With one out, Christian Vazquez doubled to center field. Chris Owings came in to replace Vazquez as a pinch runner. Sam Travis was intentionally walked, leaving Richard Lovelady to face Brock “Brockstar” Holt. Sure enough, Holt hit a single to left field, allowing Owings to score. The Red Sox finally won, 5-4.

Player’s Weekend – San Diego Edition

Eduardo Rodriguez has the ball in game one against rookie Chris Paddack. Game two will have Nathan Eovaldi going up against Donelson Lamet. Cora has yet to name a starter for the final game, but the Padres will be sending Joey Lucchesi to the mound.

The Red Sox will be seeing some familiar faces in San Diego this weekend. The most notable is Manny Machado. Lucky for him, Machado will not be facing Chris Sale this weekend. Another is former Royal Eric Hosmer. During the 2017 off season, Hosmer signed an eight year deal with San Diego. Former Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot is also with the Padres. Margot was acquired by San Diego in the 2015 off season that saw Craig Kimbrel come to Boston.

2019 MLB Top Five First Basemen

Historically, the best first basemen around the league bat in the middle of the lineup. In the past two decades, players such as Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira have not only been the best hitters on their respective teams, but the best hitters in baseball. In Pujols’s eleven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, he made the All-Star team nine times, averaged 40 home runs, 120 RBI, a .328 batting average and a 1.037 OPS. He also won Rookie of the Year, three MVPs, and two World Series titles. Though Teixeira’s first seven seasons were split between four teams (TEX, ATL, LAA, NYY), he remained a pitcher’s nightmare, averaging 34 homers, 114 RBI, and a .921 OPS. Both Pujols and Teixeira were, at one point in their prime, Top Five First Basemen.

This season, there were four clear-cut players that made the list. Finding number-five wasTop Five First Basemen difficult. One may have favored Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, who has averaged a .869 OPS in five seasons since being signed as an international free agent out of Cuba. Other candidates were Eric Hosmer (San Diego Padres) and Carlos Santana (Cleveland Indians). The selection, however, goes to up-and-coming star Rhys Hoskins, who slugged an .850 OPS in his first full season in 2018.

Top Five First Basemen – 5 – Rhys Hoskins (Philadelphia Phillies)

Hoskins’s 38 doubles and 34 home runs last season were no fluke. He made his MLB debut in August 2017, and in 50 games, hit 18 home runs, knocked in 48 runs, and posted an OPS of 1.014. Back in 2016, Hoskins spent a full season playing at Double-A Reading. He hit 38 homers and 116 RBI. In 2017, at Triple-A, he played 115 games and set the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs franchise-record in HRs with 29. After eclipsing the 30 home-run-mark in 2018, look for Hoskins to hit closer to 40 this season, if not more.

Top Five First Basemen – 4 – Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis Cardinals)

Goldschmidt has been an All-Star in each of the past six seasons. His most notable strength is that he is a master at reaching base, averaging a .406 clip since 2013. He is one of the very few at his position to add speed on the base paths (17 per season). Goldy has finished top-3 in the MVP voting three times. He joins a new team in the Cardinals this year after spending his entire career with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Cardinals rewarded him with a 5-year contract extension on March 21st. The D-Backs never won a division title in the Goldschmidt era.

Top Five First Basemen – 3 – Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)

The 2010 NL MVP turns 36 in September and has put together a spectacular career. Besides Pujols and Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, JV is the only other active 1B to win a MVP award. In terms of reaching base, no one else comes close. His career OBP clip is an astounding .427. He has led the league in walks five times and OBP seven times. His slugging percentage, however, took a big dip last year (.419). The three years prior he had averaged .556. That decline, combined with the fact the Reds have won just 2 games in Votto’s career, puts him at 2019 first baseman number-three.

Top Five First Basemen – 2 – Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs)

The only first baseman to put together four straight 100 RBI seasons is Rizzo. He won his second Gold Glove in the past three years in 2018 and was a major contributor to the Cubs 2016 World Series championship. Rizzo is extremely durable, at least 616 plate appearances in each season, and has led Chicago to four straight playoff appearances.

Top Five First Basemen – 1 – Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)

Freeman led all first basemen in hits, doubles, and batting average last year. In his last three seasons he has averaged a slash line of .306/.397/.949. Freeman’s Braves won the NL East in 2018. He won his first Gold Glove last year and enters 2019 as the most feared first baseman.

The Underappreciated Mitch Moreland

Mitch Moreland is an all-star. Yep, that is right. Whether that says more about the lack of first-base production in the A.L., or not, you can’t discredit what Mitch has done for the Red Sox thus far. Moreland’s numbers aren’t ungodly by any means, but he is incredibly consistent. Moreland currently sits at a very respectable .282, with 11 home runs and 45 runs batted in. Looking around the league, he more than deserves to be wearing that American League jersey next week.

Time and time again, when Boston needs a clutch hit, its often “Mitchy 2bags” thatMoreland delivers. While batting 4th, Alex Cora can count on him to drive in runs routinely and expect him to have game-altering at-bats. Moreland also is a great team leader, very durable and plays gold-glove defense, somewhat anchoring the infield with his almost non-existent errors.

Players and coaches acknowledge Moreland’s humble, yet steady baseball approach and awarded him with his first appearance. Around the league, Moreland has always been just a decent hitter with a stellar gold-glove. Now playing every day, he is putting up the numbers he is capable of. He will back up White Sox first-baseball Jose Abreu for the American League next week in the summer classic.

Mitch Moreland Is More Than Earning His Paycheck

This winter, Moreland became a free agent. Many thought that Dave Dombrowski would stay away from offering him a contract considering Hanley Ramirez was slated for first-base. Additionally, the inevitable mega J.D. Martinez contract was looming. Dombrowski acted quickly, however, and signed Mitch to a two-year 13 million dollar contract. Considering the lack of first base production around the league, the fact that Hanley was cut from Boston and his ability to be an underrated cleanup hitter for this potent offensive club, that contract is an absolute steal.

Moreland is making 6.5 million a year. When 2017 free agency opened, it seemed nobody had him in the same upper echelon of free agents in the likes of say Eric Hosmer or Carlos Santana. San Diego shelled out an immense 144 million dollar contract to Hosmer. Hosmer is hitting .253 this year, that seems underwhelming for that deal. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has to pay Santana 20 million annually for the next 3 years. Santana is currently hitting .214  I would have to say that the Red Sox like their underappreciated first-baseman just fine.