Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sporting News: Carlos Correa's meteoric rise is hardly a surprise

At just 22 years old, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is at the top of his game and has quickly become one of baseball’s brightest stars.

Before Correa went down with a torn ligament in his left thumb on July 17, he was cruising toward the finest statistical season of his young career. Not only was Correa putting up career numbers, he sat near the top of the American League and MLB leaderboards in many offensive categories.

Correa, who ranks near the top on Sporting News' 2017 list of MLB's top young players, was dismantling pitching this season, batting .320 with a .400 on-base percentage, .566 slugging percentage, 20 home runs and 66 RBIs in just 375 plate appearances. Correa’s 157 wRC+ was good for seventh in the majors (fourth in the American League) among players with at least 300 plate appearances at the time of his injury.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Sporting News: Opt-out clauses in baseball are no longer reserved for game's elite

It once took plenty of hubris to request an opt-out clause in an MLB contract.

In 2001, Alex Rodriguez, then one of the best hitters in the game, began a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Rangers which stipulated he could walk away from the deal 70 percent of the way through its term. It was a monstrous salary guarantee coupled with a contingency to pursue even more, while seemingly leaving the signing club high and dry.

But A-Rod was a superstar, his reputation having enough pull to make an opt-out possible. Times have changed.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sporting News: MLB leadoff hitters have evolved into reliable power source

Leadoff hitters have been the spark plugs for baseball teams since the game began, but these days there isn’t a solitary mold for hitters who sit atop the batting order.

Some of today’s table-setters ignite their club’s offense in a different way, hitting for more power and running less than ever before. In speaking with a few of the more prolific leadoff hitters in terms of slugging from the No. 1 hole this season, Sporting News found there is little difference in how they approach the role.

While the players do not believe they make wholesale changes to their game when leading off, there is clear evidence that the performance of leadoff hitters has been completely transformed in the past few seasons.

Teams are more willing than ever to sacrifice speed for power at the top of the order, and lineups across the game reflect the shift. Here's a look at how it's playing out.

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