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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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MLB June in review: Madness ensues

MLB June in review: Madness ensues

 

EAST LANSING- With our third full calendar month of the 2024 MLB season in the books, further chaos has begun to brew across the league. In June, many players and teams alike started to catch their stride, while others suffered major regressions in multiple areas. 

With the trade deadline and All-Star Break continuing to inch closer, teams are starting to think about the direction of their franchises, setting up July for a captivating 31 days of action as buyers and sellers will reveal themselves. (All statistics and records are as of before the start of games on July 1, 2024)

 

The Luck of the Grimace:  

 

After a disastrous month of May which saw the Mets go 9-19, the tides began to turn in Queens with the calendar changed to June.  By mid-June, the fourth-place Mets held a 28-37 record and were on the outside looking in in the competitive National League Wild Card race. 

The Mets found their groove from an unlikely source; iconic McDonald’s mascot Grimace, who threw out the first pitch before the Mets’ June 12 game with the Miami Marlins. The Mets took down their division rivals, 10-4, as this victory kickstarted a seven-game win streak for Carlos Mendoza’s squad. 

After Grimace threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field, the Mets went on to win 12 of their next 16 contests, including a sweep over their in-state rival Yankees, who are among the best teams in all of baseball.

The Mets strong play as of late has been because of the bats heating up, which is in large part due to two of their youngsters, Francisco Alvarez and Mark Vientos, who have dazzled at the dish in an everyday role. 

Alvarez, who missed the last two months due to a torn ligament in his thumb, quickly made his presence felt upon his return to the lineup on June 11.  

The 22-year-old catcher showed in June why he was one of the most highly-touted Mets prospects in recent memory upon his return, hitting .375 since his activation and hitting three home runs across his last seven games. 

The Mets have also been better when Alvarez is in the lineup, racking up an impressive 23-9 record with the second-year phenom behind the plate. 

As for Vientos, he has made the most of his first extended stay in the big leagues, establishing himself as the Mets third baseman of the future in 2024 after stealing the gig from Brett Baty. 

Vientos continued his dominant campaign into June, in which the 24-year-old racked up a .910 on-base plus slugging and homered seven times in June. Vientos’ sensational season (and month) was capped off on Saturday with a 2-4 performance against Astros ace Framber Valdez where Vientos left the yard for his seventh time in June. 

The Mets’ veteran bats have also been masterful in the last month, with a .290/.351/.520 June slash line for Francisco Lindor and a combined nine home runs and 39 RBIs from J.D. Martinez and Pete Alonso. 

Sitting at 40-41, the Mets are just two games back of the Cardinals for the final NL Wild Card bid, and ace Kodai Senga is just weeks away from his return to the bump after missing the entire season to date due to a shoulder injury. 

The Mets will be faced with a true dilemma once the trade deadline hits, but last month’s performance provided the Mets faithful with a glimmer of hope.

 

Rookie Round-Up: 

 

With a new month of baseball now in the rearview, new prospects have been called up and some rookies have found themselves acclimating to the faster-paced game at the MLB level.  In the case of many, it takes time to get adjusted to facing MLB pitchers, which is the case with these three promising rookies. 

Rookie phenom Paul Skenes is not the only 2023 first-round draft pick that is creating shockwaves in his short tenure in the majors. 

No. 4 overall pick Wyatt Langford has faced his fair share of struggles early in his major league career, hitting a feeble .143 in May, but showed off his potential in a crucial manner once June hit for the defending World Series Champion Rangers. 

In June, the 22-year-old outfielder slashed .309/.368/.526, while Langford racked up 22 of his 35 RBIs in June. The former first-rounder was hitting .222 after May 31, but his batting average jumped to a stellar .260 after the most impressive month of the youngster’s career to date. 

The Florida product is no stranger to the bright lights from his collegiate days in Gainesville but showed what he is capable of on Sunday Night Baseball against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday. 

Langford concluded his marvelous month by hitting for his first career cycle and the first cycle in Sunday Night Baseball history in an 11-2 victory over the AL East-leading O’s. 

The Rangers have struggled to this point in 20204, but Langford has been one of the lone bright spots in Bruce Bochy’s lineup down in Arlington. Langford is only 22 and will be a staple of this Rangers lineup for years to come.

From one former top prospect to another, Padres rookie outfielder Jackson Merrill has been stellar in his first stint in the big leagues. Merrill has been great all season, leading all qualified rookies in batting average (.294), RBIs (42), and tied for first in home runs (12), but June was no exception for the rising star.

While Merrill’s contact ability had shown up all season, the 21-year-old finally flexed his power to the fans at Petco Park. 

Merrill’s exceptional season continued into the month of June, as Merrill hit nine of his 12 homers in the 30 days of June. The Baltimore native finished off his powerful performance in June with four-baggers in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday against the Red Sox. 

Merrill slashed .320/.346/.650 in June, with 16 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs in June alone.

In the Padres’ outfield, there were mammoth shoes to fill in the wake of Juan Soto being traded to the Yankees, and Merrill has admirably proved up to the task. 

The 46-42 Padres are sitting pretty in an NL Wild Card spot in large part due to Merrill and his standout rookie season.  Merrill and Fernando Tatís Jr should continue to make a fearsome duo in manager Mike Shildt’s lineup down in San Diego. 

From one Jackson to another, the NL Central-leading Brewers have a “Jackson” of their own who had a standout stretch in June. 

Former top prospect Jackson Chourio has shown glimpses of his sky-high potential throughout the season but has had a slow start to the year despite the lofty expectations set for him.

Chourio had a breakout month in June,  with a .315 batting average and a .897 OPS across the month of action, improving his season batting average from .210 to .243. 

With five home runs at the end of May, the 20-year-old rookie nearly doubled his home run total by going yard four times in June. 

Chourio culminated his stupendous June with blasts in back-to-back games against the Rangers and Cubs on Wednesday and Friday, with his Cubs big fly the first grand slam of his young career. 

With the Brewers firmly in playoff position, Chourio will continue to be a cog in the machine for a Brewers team that has seen their young talent develop fruitfully over the years and can very well add more talent soon at the trade deadline. 

There has been a laundry list of standout rookies thus far in 2024, and with the MLB’s No. 3 prospect, James Wood, having just been called up by the Nationals, the MLB will continue to see more promising talent across the coming weeks and months.

 

Quick Hits: 

 

  • Despite Gerrit Cole having returned from the IL, the New York Yankees have lost ten of their last 14 games and the Baltimore Orioles have taken over first place in the American League East. The Yanks rotation has faltered as of late, but they have a chance to rebound with three of the next four series for the Bronx Bombers against AL East opponents. 
  • Both Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber were placed on the ten-day injured list for the Philadelphia Phillies, joining J.T. Realmuto as the Phils all-stars who are out of commission. Will the NL-leading Phillies be able to stay afloat while missing so much impact talent?
  • Since being activated off the IL on June 4th, Minnesota Twins slugger Royce Lewis has been magnificent this season, hitting nine long balls since his activation. The 25-year-old former No. 1 pick is slashing .271/.337/.635 in June and has a 1.029 OPS this season for a Twins team that is only six games back of the Guardians for the AL Central throne. 
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr is enjoying one of the best stretches of his career where he was crowned American League Player of the Week for his .484 batting average, as well as five home runs, 19 RBIs, and 1.129 OPS across his last seven games. Guerrero Jr hit .318 with a .961 OPS in June, while raking for the last-place Blue Jays. 
  • Second-year Dodgers pitcher Gavin Stone enjoyed a breakout of his own in June for the first-place Dodgers. Stone boasted a 1.97 ERA with 29 strikeouts across 32 innings in the month of June, including a complete-game shutout against the Chicago White Sox.  Stone and Tyler Glasnow have been dangerous out of the Dodgers’  rotation, with Stone tied with Zack Wheeler for tenth in the MLB with a 2.73 ERA.
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