By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Hear me out...The 2017 MLB season has been pretty, pretty, pretty crazy


September 16, 2017


Giancarlo Stanton

The MLB has quietly gone through one of its better seasons. The money-maker franchises (Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox) are all World Series contenders, new superstars are emerging and there have been incredible recorded-breaking streaks.

The ebbs and flows of the season seem to be more volatile than in recent seasons too. At the start of the season the Brewers' Eric Thames was on pace to hit a billion home runs, but along comes Aaron Judge who looks like he'll hit a billion and one HRs, but then Giancarlo Stanton decides he's going to top both guys with a billion and two HRs.

Both Thames and Judge were riding wild hot streaks that are above their norms. Thames hit 11 home runs in the month of April, six of which came during a five game stretch. He's played in more minor league seasons (five) or overseas (four) than he has in the MLB (three).

Judge is in his first full season in the MLB and as of writing he has 43 home runs on the year. Thirty of his 43 HRs came in the first half of the season. In the second half of the season he's fallen off only hitting 13 HRs. It would be unfair to say that because he has fewer HRs he's been worse, but his batting numbers across the board have been bad. He's hitting .197 in the second half of the season, compared to .329, his OBP (on-base percentage) compared to .448, SLG (slugging percentage) is down .691 to .430 and his OPS (OBP + SLG) has dropped from 1.139 to .789.

It's early in Judge's career and I believe he's a talented player, but I don't think he's the second coming of Babe Ruth as his first-half numbers were suggesting. His second half slump is a slump to a degree but I believe it's more a regression to his mean.

Stanton however, is an HR hitter and you knew at some point in his career he'd get on one of these wild streaks and flirt with 60-plus HRs. I just hope, no pray, that the increase in HRs this season isn't because of players juicing but balls new composition.

There have been studies done by "The Ringer" and "FiveThiryEight" that prove that the new baseballs compositions are more favorable to home runs. I'm not going to get go into detail on the studies because I was terrible at math and would screw something up, just Google the pieces they're great reads.

For the record I'm all for the juicing the baseballs. I'm sure the MLB would like it called something else, but the truth is baseball is more exciting for the common fan when there are home runs. So why not give the people what they want?

Moving on, the two highlights of the 2017 regular season are the L.A. Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians. Both teams hit dominate stretches of the season that were unthinkable. The Dodgers from June to July were 40-10, losing only three games during July. And if you add most of August, before their current troubles, they were 57-15. For over two and a half months the Dodgers were not only the best team in baseball but were looking like an all-time great team, there run differential during that stretch was an impressive plus-137.

Now the problem with the Dodgers is it seems like they peaked during that stretch. Which kind of doesn't help since the meaningful baseball is played in October and November. While I don't care for the Dodgers as a whole I do like Clayton Kershaw and it seems like he's doomed to be that all-time great who can't get his team over that playoff hump.

As impressive as the Dodgers were during their domination, Cleveland's dominance during their 22-game winning streak is more impressive. Usually I favor sustained dominance over short-term, but this Cleveland streak, when you see it by the numbers, is mind-blowing.

The streak started on Aug. 24 and since then they've outscored teams 142-37 for a run-differential of plus-105 in just three weeks, and there's absurd numbers all over during this streak. Normally during hot streaks a team's bats or bullpen will get hot, Cleveland has had both, the team ERA has been 1.77 over 132.2 innings, while they've been .306/.385/.522 at the plate.

Of all the professional sports, winning streaks in baseball are the more impressive. Even the crap teams still can turn out wins. Look at the San Francisco Giants, they're the MLB's worst team by record but they still have 57 wins to their name.

Cleveland at some point will have to come down to Earth, but will it be during the postseason leading to another letdown or after they've won the World Series? With the way this season has gone you'd say the former, but late winning streaks like this tend carry over into the postseason. But the thing is baseball is such a rhythm sport that any disruption to that rhythm results in losing that mojo.

Case in point, remember the 2007 Rockies they burned through August and September like gangbusters, swept the Phillies in the NLDS and the Diamondbacks in the NLCS. But then had to wait eight days for the Red Sox to finish off Cleveland in the ALCS and subsequently got swept in the World Series.

Then when you look at how random the MLB playoffs are in general, there is no guarantee that either Cleveland or L.A. will make it to the World Series. Sorry for being a Debbie-downer Cleveland and L.A. fans. Still, we should all enjoy this fantastic MLB season as it comes to a close.

But since I'm still on a prediction kick from last week, I'm calling it now it's going to be the Cubs (fingers-crossed) vs. Yankees in the World Series.

RIP the Cassini!


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