Sport10 biggest surprises of the MLB season
Checking in on last winter’s five biggest free-agent contracts (not pitchers)
Last winter’s free-agent market was debated for years in advance. Its slow pace led to a long period of tension that has extended into early CBA negotiations. There is much at stake that goes beyond the bounds of the individual contracts. © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports But those specific deals are also important standing alone — particularly those that involved significant, multi-year commitments. We’ll take a look at the 13 players who signed for $30M or more in total guaranteed money to see how those contracts look now that we’re more than two-thirds through their first seasons.
The 2019 MLB season has been full of surprise performances. These 10 players stand out above the rest.
Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets
Alonso wasn't supposed to break camp with the Mets, but he's well on his way to winning NL Rookie of the Year and possibly breaking Mark McGwire's rookie home run record. Through 126 games played, he's hit .67-40-97 and also won the All-Star Home Run Derby. With Alonso and Jeff McNeil, the Mets' future looks much brighter than it did one year ago.
Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates
Coming off a down year in which he hit only 12 home runs, Bell revamped his swing and became a star in 2019. He's hit .278-31-99 with a .939 OPS through Aug. 22, leading the NL in both RBI and doubles (37). Pittsburgh was expected to be offensively challenged entering the year, but Bell has helped immensely.
'Good Boys' Surprises Box Office With Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019
A great August for Universal continues this weekend with the release of "Good Boys," an R-Rated comedy that is surprising at the box office with an estimated $20.8 million opening from 3,204 screens. That will make the Seth Rogen-produced raunchfest the first R-Rated comedy to top the charts since "The Boss," another Universal release that hit theaters in April 2016. On Friday, "Good Boys" earned $8.3 million and did well with audiences, earning a B+ on CinemaScore to go with its 79% Rotten Tomatoes score from critics.
Shane Bieber, SP, Indians
If you told baseball fans before the season that Cleveland wouldn't have Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or Trevor Bauer on the active roster come August, they would have said the team wouldn't be anywhere near the playoffs. Bieber and the other young pitchers on Cleveland's staff have saved the team, which still has a chance to win the AL Central. Bieber has made himself a Cy Young candidate in his first full season, going 12-6 with a 3.26 ERA, league-high three complete games and 207 strikeouts in 168.1 innings.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox
It's not a shock that Devers, a former top prospect, has become a star. The surprise is that it's come so soon, at the age of 22. The Boston third baseman leads the AL in RBI (102), doubles (47) and hits (168) while also hitting .329 with 27 home runs. He'd be a top MVP candidate if not for Mike Trout.
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DJ LeMahieu, IF, Yankees
Where would the Yankees be without LeMahieu? Signed as a free agent from Colorado during the offseason, he's helped fans forget about the multitude of injuries in New York by hitting .331-21-86. LeMahieu is second in the AL in batting average and has a chance to become the first player in MLB to win a batting title in both leagues.
Lance Lynn, SP, Rangers
Lynn was coming off a down year when he signed a three-year, $30 million contract this offseason. In retrospect, that contract is looking like a huge bargain. The big right-hander is among the league leaders in WAR with a 3.05 FIP and 187/46 K/BB in 165 innings despite pitching his home games at hitter-friendly Arlington. Not only has Lynn rediscovered the ability that he showed early in his career with St. Louis, but he's also actually pitched even better.
Ketel Marte, CF/2B, Diamondbacks
Marte was coming off a good second half entering this season, but he's taken his game to another level. Shifting to center field, he's hit .319-27-75 as a legitimate middle of the order hitter for the Diamondbacks. He also leads the NL with 155 hits and should garner some NL MVP consideration. Marte's best performance to this point was 2018 when he hit .260-14-59.
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Mike Minor, SP, Rangers
Minor improved late last year, but he's taken his game to another level in 2019. The lefty is showing elite spin rate on his fastball and provoking soft contact, helping him post a 3.17 ERA despite pitching his home games at Arlington. He also has more than one strikeout per inning and earned his first All-Star appearance this year.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Dodgers
When Ryu posted a 1.97 ERA in 15 starts last year, most chalked it up to a fluke. The lefty has proved the skeptics wrong and is in line for a monumental payday as a free agent this offseason. He looks like the obvious NL Cy Young choice, currently 12-3 with a 1.64 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 148.1 innings.
Kirby Yates, RP, Padres
Yates was handed the closer role last year when the Padres traded Brad Hand. While he was great last year, Yates has been the league's best closer in 2019. He leads the league with 36 saves and has an amazing 1.24 ERA, 14.5 K/9, and 1.6 BB/9 as a basically unhittable force. Yates has been quite a story as a pitcher who didn't find his footing until his 30s.
Related slideshow: 2019 MLB season (provided by imagn)
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