Mid Terms Reports and All Star Snubs
It’s nearly July, it’s hot as Hades (or Maracaibo) in Gotham, and teams have passed the 81-game official midpoint of the season as we head into next week’s All Star break.
To me, the most obvious choice for the AL-NL showdown in Minnesota would be Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. (not only the most obvious Venezuelan choice, but perhaps the most obvious overall choice.) His weekend included a 4-for-5, on Friday, with 2 stolen bases, including a steal of home! (who does that any more?) And he turned a double play. To show they’re human, his compatriots Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez went a combined 0-for-9 in the same game. The 3-4 hitters for the Tigers also belong in the All-Star Game too, despite that.
On Saturday, little Jose “only” went 2-for-4, while Miggy and V-Mart did another oh-fer-9. Who’da thunk it? Baseball can be humbling, even for the greats. Meanwhile, Altuve reminds us of another great second baseman who began his career in Houston, with the Colt .45s—Joe Morgan, a small man with piston-like arms and a sweet, sweet swing.
Against the Venezuelan-heavy-Detroit lineup, Altuve went one better on Sunday, notching his average up to .347 with a 3-for-5 game, including his 25th double and two more stolen bases. Do you want to see what Venezuelan players do when they get together? Check out this hysterical video clip on MLB.com:
Houston is last in the AL Central, but it would be a huge oversight if Altuve is not in the Twin Cities next week. I know the All Star game is a popularity contest for the fans, but if they screw up (and they do), manager John Farrell of Boston should pick Altuve; each team, after all, is obliged to have at least one representative. The line in Jose’s last ten games: 20 for 42, .476.
On Friday, midwestern Royal-ty Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez bumped their numbers up to .288 each, while Omar Infante won the game with another clutch hit. He’s at .247 but is providing some true bedrock in the KC lineup; a veteran presence at age 33. It wouldn’t be a surprise, or injustice, to see either Escobar or Perez in the All Star Game.
As far as I can tell, there should be at least three VZ pitchers in the game too; Felix Hernandez, who one-hit the Indians on Sunday night for his 10th win; Frankie Rodriguez, who’s been responsible for more than half of the Brewers’ franchise-record-setting first-half victory total with 26 saves; and Henderson “Shutout” Alverez of the Marlins, who is untouchable at his home stadium and leads the Majors with 3 complete-game shutouts. (In his last 10 starts, he’s 4-1 with a 1.79 ERA; 5-3 on the season for a middling Miami team.) 2014 should be the coming-out party for the 24-year-old righty from Valencia.
Some of our early-season favorites are fading in the summer heat, a bit. For example, Eduardo Escobar of the Twins: E-squared is 5 for 35 in his last 10 games (.139) to drop to .279. It’s a long season, dude. But Oswaldo Arcia of Anaco is struggling more–3 for 35. He did OK in 97 games two seasons ago ((251) but lingers at the Mendoza line right now (.207). Goodbye for now, Wilmer Flores, whom the Mets sent back to their Las Vegas AAA affiliate. You can bet Wilmer wasn’t singing any Elvis tunes on the plane ride west. Yankees third baseman Yangervis Solarte, who one month ago was among the league leaders in average, has dropped to .264 due to a brutal 2-for-27 10-game stretch. The All-Star break is just that for many players—a break—and the rookie at the hot corner in the Bronx needs one; he’s still third among MLB debutantes with 30 RBI.
Meanwhile, a round of applause for an old dude—36-year-old Endy Freakin’ Chavez from Valencia Is tearing it up over the past 10 games at .361, raising his average to 277. Again, Seattle’s like KC,and a veteran presence like Chavez can calm a lot of nerves in a pennant race (should the Mariners get there). Hit his first homer Friday night. Meanwhile Jesus Alejandro Montero was briefly resurrected as a first baseman and hit decently in his return to The Show. But he lost out in the numbers game and went back down when Mike Saunders was activated from the DL.
We could make an All-Star team purely of Venezuelans, and one day I’ll share that list. But for now, enjoy the game, enjoy the break from relentless day-to-day baseball, and get ready for some great pennant and playoff races in the second half.