It was only fitting that on the day we were presenting our All-Breakout team on the podcast, Vladimir Guerrero blasted a 468-foot home run during the All-Star game. After two years of down production, Guerrero got himself in shape last offseason and started to take the game more seriously. Well, at the break he's batting .332 with 28 home runs and showing no signs of regression. We begged for him to stop hitting so many ground balls and he's done just that. Assuming he keeps up a similar pace in the second half, he'll be a top-five pick next season.
While there have been many breakouts at starting pitcher this season, nobody has impressed me more than Robbie Ray. That's not a slight on Kevin Gausman or Carlos Rodon who've been equally fantastic. What Ray has done with his control is nothing short of remarkable. He entered this season averaging 4.3 BB/9 in his career. All he's done this year is lower that number to a career-best 2.2 while maintaining a great strikeout rate. I guess what I'm really trying to say is… go Blue Jays?
Key takeaways from the All-Star game
The All-Star game wasn't quite as exciting as its Derby counterpart, but it had its moments. For those who missed it entirely, the American League won 5-2. It was the eighth win in a row for the AL and they have taken 20 of the past 24. I have one thing to say about all that -- take that Scott! Haha! That's right -- American League pride.
The best moment from the game had to be when Blue Jays 1B Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit an absolute moonrocket off Corbin Burnes (who maybe not-so-coincidentally is the player Scott is most worried about in the second half}. Brewers SP/RP Freddy Peralta was unhittable and struck out the side -- Adolis Garcia, J.D. Martinez and Matt Olson. Phillies C J.T. Realmuto also sent one deep.
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More news and notes
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn't expect SP Corey Kluber to return from his shoulder injury until September.
- Brian Anderson's injured left shoulder has responded well to baseball activities, but the Marlins have yet to set a date for him to begin a rehab assignment.
- According to Jon Heyman, the Mets and Phillies will be in attendance at Cole Hamels' free agent showcase on Friday. Other reports indicate the Yankees and Red Sox will be there as well.
- Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters that the runner on second extra innings rule and seven-inning doubleheaders are "much less likely to be a part of our permanent landscape" than other recent changes.
- Marlins SP Edward Cabrera was promoted to Triple-A. In 7 starts between A-ball and Double-A: 2.25 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 44 K to just 6 BB over 32 IP.
- After just seven games, the Yankees promoted Jasson Dominguez from the Florida Complex League to Low-A Tampa on Tuesday. He'll be one of the league's youngest players. I asked The Welsh about it and he said it's slightly aggressive but makes sense with MLB draftees coming in.
- Scott's guy, Anthony Volpe, a Yankees shortstop prospect, was promoted to High-A, and is still only 20 years old.
The first half 'All Breakout' team
My pick: Royals C Salvador Perez and Tigers C Eric Haase in a tie. Haase is batting .244 with 13 homers in 44 games and an .830 OPS, which ranks sixth-best among catchers with at least 38 games played. He may have subpar plate discipline, but he's crushing the ball this season and he even gets some extra playing time with 12 games in the OF. He's still just 52% rostered and probably doesn't need to be on one-catcher teams but has been very valuable in two-catcher formats. Perez is the No. 1 catcher in both formats, and it hasn't been particularly close. In 126 games since the start of 2020, Perez has been smoking the ball to the tune of a: .293 batting average with 32 homers, 85 RBI, and an .857 OPS.
Scott's pick: Angels C Max Stassi. Since coming back from the IL, he has emerged as a must-start catcher. He was awesome last year with a small sample size and he has picked up right where he's left off this year. Also considered: Reds C Tyler Stephenson.
My pick: Angels 1B Jared Walsh had a 218.8 ADP coming into the season and is currently top-five 1B in both formats and the 27th overall player in Roto with a .278 average, 22 homers and 65 RBI through the break.
Scott's pick: Blue Jays 1B Vlad Guerrero Jr. is batting .332 with 28 HR, 1.089 OPS -- he is the No. 1 first baseman in both formats and third overall player in Roto despite just stealing two bags. He's 95th percentile or better in every batted ball metrics on Statcast and his groundball rate has been 42% or lower in three of four months thus far
My pick: Padres 2B Jake Cronenworth who had a 190.4 ADP, and is currently top-10 2B.
Scott's pick: Marlins 2B Jazz Chisolm despite slowing down since April. The power/speed combo is for real. This is definitely a weak point on my All Breakout team though.
My pick: Braves 3B Austin Riley. He has been a top-12 3B in both formats despite being drafted as the 31st 3B by ADP. I actually wrote him up as a breakout -- got at least one right! He's had a .276 average with 14 homers and an .826 OPS.
Scott's pick: Also Riley! This probably says more about the position than anything else. There haven't been many 3B breakouts.
My pick: Blue Jays SS Bo Bichette has been the No. 3
Scott's pick: Giants SS Brandon Crawford despite being 34 years old. He's elevating the ball better this year than ever before. Crawford talked at the All-Star break about working with a new hitting coach who got him to put the ball into the air more. And it's working. He has also grabbed seven steals.
My pick: Reds OF Nick Castellanos. The breakout finally happened!
Scott's picks: Reds OF Jesse Winker and Orioles OF Cedric Mullins
My pick: Blue Jays SP Robbie Ray
Scott's picks: Giants SP Kevin Gausman, Phillies SP Zach Wheeler, White Sox SP Carlos Rodon, Brewers SP Corbin Burnes, Brewers SP Freddy Peralta
My pick: Cardinals RP (a Chris Towers favorite) Alex Reyes
Scott's pick: Astros RP Ryan Pressley and Red Sox RP Matt Barnes