The 2018 MLB season has come to completion. And quite a few impressive things happened during this season’s campaign. So we will take a look at 18 of those storylines.
#1 Opening A New Day With Bullpenning
Over the course of the 2018 MLB season, the topics discussed by Mr. Brian Kenny of using an “Opener” became a reality. The Tampa Bay Rays would be the foremost users of this strategy deploying the Opener more than 50 times this season. It’s always been said that “Necessity is the mother of all creation.” And that was never more evident than this season. The Rays and Oaklands A’s would deploy the Opener more often due to their lack of depth in the starting pitching department. However, even big market clubs like the LA Dodgers and New York Yankees would use an opener as well. As a big believer in the opener, I enjoyed seeing this strategy get used this season. And also we discussed the topic in a piece earlier this season “Opener the Discussion.”
#2 Pujols Joins The 3000 Hit Club
One of the greatest MLB players of our generation achieved a milestone not many have achieved. Albert Pujols would notch his 3000th hit this season against the Seattle Mariners. When the history books close on Albert’s impressive “first ballot” hall of fame career this will be another worthwhile milestone that gets spoken of for Albert.
#3 Ichiro Suzuki and Chase Utley Call It A Career, Adrian Beltre and Joe Mauer Mulling Retirement
Both Chase Utley and Ichiro Suzuki would play their last games during this 2018 MLB season. Both men would have distinguished careers. And while Ichiro is a lock for the hall of fame, Chase Utley has a strong case as well. We discussed “Chase Utley’s Case For Cooperstown earlier this season. David Wright has had some very memorable moments in his career. However, injuries would derail his career. But for the final weekend of the 2018 season, David “Captain America” Wright would be activated and would play his final game as a New York Met. David was a player that regardless of who your team may be, Wright was someone you respected. This weekend also marked the potential final appearances for Adrian Beltre and Joe Mauer. While neither Beltre or Mauer has made the decision to retire, both men were greeted with cheers as the exited the field. And we here at the Laracuente Ledger wish all these men the best of luck in their future endeavors.
#4 Rookies of the Year
While we may have witnessed the end to many legendary careers this MLB season. We were also blessed with the birth of many others. This season we saw the debuts of many of the top prospects we have heard about over the past few seasons. Players like Ronald Acuña Jr, Shohei Ohtani, Gleyber Torres, Ozzie Albies, Juan Soto and Miguel Andújar all made their presences known this season. These young phenoms provided many stellar moments in just their first campaigns and we can expect many more to come.
#5 Brandon Belt’s Legendary At-Bat
One of the most incredible sights I have ever beheld on a baseball field was the at-bat that San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt put together against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s rookie pitcher Jaime Barria. A 21 pitch at-bat setting a record for most pitches in an at-bat in the modern era. Watching this at-bat is a must for any baseball fan.
Brandon Belt set the MLB record with a 21-pitch at-bat that lasted nearly 13 minutes. ⚾#SFGiants | #BrandonBelt | #MLB | #Giants pic.twitter.com/LE8ixpyI1i
— A2D Radio (@a2dradio_com) April 23, 2018
#6 Manager Movement
Many teams will begin searching for a new field general. As several managers have either been fired or not going to be resigned by their current MLB ballclub. Bryan Price was the first victim of a regime change. But he would not be the only manager fired this season. Jeff Bannister of the Texas Rangers and Mike Matheny of the Cardinals would be dismissed during the 2018 campaign. The Orioles Buck Showalter and Toronto Blue Jays’ Skipper John Gibbons would not have another contract extended to them by their teams. And as the season closed out longtime LA Angels manager Mike Scioscia would choose to walk away from the Angels as well. It will be interesting to watch the directions all of these teams go with their new managers.
This season saw the near no-hit bids skyrocket during this MLB campaign. As many games were taken into the 7th inning without a hit given up. But as far as completely the ultra-difficult task only two men and a combined effort were able to muster the strength and fortitude. Sean Manaea of the Oakland A’s would accomplish the task on the highest scoring team in the league this season. Manaea’s no-hitter would come at the expense of the Boston Red Sox. Native Candian James Paxton would achieve his no-hitter in his native Canada against the Toronto Blue Jays. And the Los Angeles Dodgers would combine for a no-hitter during a weekend trip to play the San Diego Padres in Mexico.
#8 Danny Farquhar Survives Scary Ailment
Welcome back, Danny. #BiggerThanBaseball pic.twitter.com/I7tz8eTIqb
— MLB (@MLB) June 2, 2018
Danny Farquhar suffered a serious injury but is doing well. And we here at the Laracuente Ledger are happy to see him doing well and continue wishing and praying for a full and speedy recovery.
After suffering a brain hemorrhage just six weeks ago, Danny Farquhar returned to the mound tonight and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. pic.twitter.com/LYTEmwlnmz
— MLB (@MLB) June 2, 2018
#9 Bryce Harper Put On A Show At Home Run Derby
In almost a storybook-like tale, Bryce Harper would have a serious pace to catch in order to win the MLB Home Run Derby in his home ballpark of Nationals Park. But in incredible fashion, Bryce would deliver a performance for the ages. And Harper would win the derby and Nationals Park would erupt with jubilation.
The Greatest Comeback in Sports History.
Don't @ us. pic.twitter.com/5pbtXoCMSf
— Cut4 (@Cut4) July 17, 2018
#10 Shohei Shows Promise But Also Problems With 2-Way
Shohei Ohtani was the absolute talk of the baseball world all during the offseason and Spring Training. And it was questioned if he would be able to be successful on both sides of the field. But when the bright lights of the regular season turned on, so did Shohei. Ohtani was providing capable of handling both the duties as a starting pitcher and as a designated hitter. But then a small tear in his UCL morphed into something greater, thus requiring Tommy John Surgery. It’s rumored that Ohtani will not pitch again until 2020. Thus putting on hold the idea of a Cy Young and MVP award winner for both sides of the ball. So we must be cautious of the two-way player no matter how intriguing the concept. Because you lose two players if one goes down.
#11 Jacob deGrom’s Magical Season
Jacob deGrom had a season in 2018 that was one for the ages. deGrom would pick up his 1000th career strikeout, finally get some run support to get his win-loss record over the .500 plateau and end his season with an ERA of 1.70. This level of dominance but deGrom should land him directly in the heart of the NL MVP discussion with Javy Baez of the Chicago Cubs and Christian Yellich of the Milwaukee Brewers.
#12 Capitol Crumble
The Washington Nationals seemed like a lock for the National League playoffs prior to the 2018 season. But as the season unfolded it was clear that while the core remained the same this years team was different. And while they would battle all season it would not be enough. In Bryce Harper’s last contracted year with the team, the Nats would fail to make the playoffs. We would cover the struggles of the Nationals earlier this season, “Washington Nationals: The District of Confusion.”
#13 Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Way into Playoffs
The 2018 Atlanta Braves were not expected to be much more than an interesting young ballclub. The question before the season was not if they would make the playoffs, that was not a thought at all. The question was when would Ronald Acuña Jr get the call to the big leagues. Yet, the Braves would battle and fight and scrap all season and would find themselves in control of the tough National League East. And more importantly, they would find themselves in the playoffs. We compared this 2018 version of the Braves to the 2017 New York Yankees. And the Braves are looking to take their playoff run one step further than last season’s Yankees.
#14 Stephen Piscotty Delivers Big Blast For Mom
What a moment. #TeamGretchen pic.twitter.com/f80X5hqBax
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 16, 2018
Stephen Piscotty lost his mother to ALS better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease this season. On his first night back in an Oakland A’s uniform Stephen received a standing ovation. Later on in the game, he delivered the most impactful home run of his career. And in a fitting tribute, as he touched home plate, he placed his hand over his heart looking to the sky to his mother. #TeamGretchen
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) May 16, 2018
Stephen Piscotty postgame reaction on hitting a solo home run in his first at-bat and first game back after returning from the bereavement list. pic.twitter.com/pTmNSGfhkm
— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) May 16, 2018
#15 Breaking Records in the Bronx
The New York Yankees have had a remarkable season including many records breaking moments. The Home Run in MLB has risen exponentially and the Yankees took full advantage of that by hitting 267 home runs in a single season. Surpassing the record held by the 2001 Seattle Mariners at 264. Another record the Yankees broke was having at least ten players with ten or more home runs in a single season. And alongside that, the Yankees would have at least 20 home runs from every batting position in the lineup 1 through 9. Then part of the rookie phenom contingent for the Yankees, Miguel Andújar broke Joe Dimaggio’s rookie’s double record (44) with his 45th. Then in the final game, Miguel would tie Boston Red Sox’s legend Fred Lynn for the MLB record 46th double in a season by a rookie.
#16 First Time Ever Three 100 Win Team’s in the Same League
For the first time in MLB history, three teams from the same league would win 100 games. In this case, it would be the American League’s Boston Red Sox (108 wins), the Houston Astros (103), and the New York Yankees (100).
#17 Where Will They Go?
Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have been the most coveted free agents in a long time. And this offseason they will hit the open market. The dollar figures that both of these players will command will be unprecedented and unseen before. But the questions is where will they end up? We’ve made my case for both Bryce Harper to the Bronx. As well as Manny Machado choosing the Yankees. But the choice isn’t in my hands but theirs. And we will have to wait and see just where they will go.
#18 Two Game 163’s Baseball Entropy At It’s Best
Two games will go on tomorrow. And it’s just two games that will decide the final seating for the playoffs. Two games decide who must play a do or die game. And who gets to skip go and enters the National League Division Series right away. The Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers will play a one game play in. As will the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. The winners go onto the NLDS right away. The losers face a sudden death wildcard game. When the marathon that is the 162 game MLB season gets extended for game 163 baseball fans around the world are the true winners.