Bases Loaded: Mid-Season Report

Credit: © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Ah yes! Bases Loaded is back!

Welcome in to the premier baseball blog on ESPNUpstate.com!

For those who aren’t familiar, Bases Loaded was originally a baseball podcast I did in Orlando. I then created this segmented blog to accompany the show.  So, now that the blog is back stay tuned for more baseball content on the ESPN Upstate Digital Network in podcast form as well!

Now, let’s get into this mid-season report!

The Braves are back, baby!

I don’t like to toot my own horn often, but I did tell Greg McKinney that the Braves were a playoff team last season (they were) and that they could be a legitimate contender in 2019 (they are).

This Braves squad is bursting onto the MLB scene and were on full display in Cleveland at the All-Star Game with Ronald Acuna Jr hitting moon shots in the HR Derby on Monday night and then starting the game itself along with teammate Freddie Freeman.  Manager Brian Snitker was even a part of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ coaching staff and Atlanta’s young pitching phenom Mike Soroka threw a scoreless 6th inning for the National League.

With where this team was just a few years ago, it’s amazing to see their resurgence come so quickly.

The Braves front office should be the gold standard, along with Houston, on how to rebuild a franchise in Major League Baseball.  They started with the Minor League system, then as the talent developed signed the right veteran players to fill out this Major League roster perfectly.

With Mr. Consistency Freddie Freeman already in the mix, adding vets like Nick Markakis (in 2018), Josh Donaldson and Brain McCann brought a level of experience that this team needed.

The Braves do have their weakness, as most teams do, and it’s unquestionably the pitching.  That can be corrected, but it’s going to take some maneuvering. Now that the All-Star Game is in the books, you’re going to see a lot of teams around the league ready to unload salary. With the new singular trade-deadline, we’re going to see a lot of trades happen over the next couple of weeks.

The Braves will be involved and need to be chasing both an experienced starter and some reliable bullpen help. If they do that, I fully expect to see them battling it out with the Dodgers again this October, this time for the National League Pennant.


Yankees vs Dodgers isn’t a guarantee.

As we stand today in Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are far and away the best teams in the league and favored to meet in the World Series, but that’s far from guaranteed.

Obviously, in baseball, there are a lot of crazy things that happen…especially in October. Some other things can be explained and maybe even expected.

The Yankees are undoubtedly the most powerful offense in baseball. They are the new “Murderer’s Row” the resurgence of the “Bronx Bombers” and everything else. The Yankees also boast a pretty stout bullpen, but like most teams in baseball the Yankees still have a weakness.

The Yankees pitching staff as a whole is ranked 10th in the league in Team ERA (4.15), just edging out the Braves (4.18) whose pitching woes have been discussed at length. The good news, so far, is that the Yankees have scored more runs (503) than anybody but the Red Sox and Twins (509), but we saw this in 2018.

The 2018 Bronx Bombers set the new Major League Baseball record for most team home runs with 267. They won 100-games, scored 851-runs and had a +182 run differential. Their offense was insane all season long.

Then they lost to the Red Sox in the ALDS.

This year, I highly doubt that it will be the Red Sox that can stop a Yankees/Dodgers World Series from happening, but I wouldn’t overlook the Astros or Twins.

The Minnesota Twins lead the league in home runs and runs scored and are 6th in the league in Team ERA (3.97). Houston is 4th in Team ERA (3.86). Either of these teams could pull off an upset in a 7-game series against the Yankees.

Do I think it will happen, no, but don’t surprised if it does.

On the National League side, you may laugh and that’s fine, but the Dodgers biggest challenger could be the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves have scored the most runs in the National League and have really settled into a groove over the last month, overcoming their pitching woes. With some pitching help, the Braves could be the only team with the means to upset the Dodgers.

Wouldn’t that be fun?


All-Star Week was PERFECT!

Baseball was on full display this week in Cleveland and it couldn’t have gone any better for MLB.

The youth movement of the league showed out on Monday Night at the Home Run Derby with rookies Vlad Guerrero Jr and Pete Alonso facing off in the final round, and other young players like Joc Pederson and Ronald Acuna Jr putting on a show.

It was an awesome display of power on Monday night and was perfectly accompanied by the exact opposite on Tuesday night.

The All-Star Game itself was a beautiful showcase of pitching.

The game still featured some offense, with Pete Alonso continuing his great weekend in Cleveland and the baseball world receiving a reminder that Joey Gallo is still a beast, but it was the pitching that had the night.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber was a walk on at UC Santa Barbara, he was a late addition to the 2019 All Star roster, and he struck out the side in the 5th inning for the American League and won the game’s MVP.

The pitching in Cleveland on Tuesday night was downright filthy and I absolutely loved it.

On Monday night I saw some folks on Twitter wondering why there wasn’t a pitching competition to go with the HR Derby, well, that’s easy…because the game itself is the best pitching challenge available.


HOMER TIME!!!!!

If you’re unfamiliar with me or this blog, let me quickly explain.

Homer time is fun, playful and not to be taken very seriously. It’s just me being buffoonish to get out my fandom, because I won’t like…I am a fan. I love my Boston Red Sox and always will. I am also a professional journalist and broadcaster, so I have to stay sane and remain objective…most of the time. Just not in homer time.

So, you’ve been warned and here we go!

THE RED SOX ARE COMING!

Oh yeah, that’s right. Don’t count the champs out just yet!

The Sox are starting to win some games and get things together offensively. After the All-Star break, I expect the pitching staff to come back rested and ready to bounce back. Especially Chris Sale.

Sale has been abysmal, that will not continue.

Once Sale returns to form, Price keeps rolling, Porcello keeps getting bailed out by the offense and soon to be added Zack Wheeler realizes his potential…the rotation is back in working order.

Dombo will get some bullpen help too and the Champs will be back to doing Champion things! So watch out Yankees and Rays! We ain’t heard no bell!


Thanks for reading the return of the Bases Loaded blog! Stay tuned for more Inside the Mind of Ditti and Bases Loaded blogs and podcasts, coming soon!

-Ditti

Find me on Twitter (@Ditti33), Facebook (/InsideTheMindOfDitti) and Instagram (@Dittius33).

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