In early February, the Reds traded Willy Taveras to the A’s. Within a week of that going down, the A’s released him. Then the Nats signed him, but as of today they have joined the growing fraternity of teams who have realized that being fast is not the same thing as knowing how to play baseball, and now they too have given Willy Taveras his unconditional release.
It’s rare to find a player as poor as Willy Taveras is who have gotten as many chances as Willy Taveras has. Three different teams have installed him at the top of their order and given him over 400 plate appearances at various times. With the Nats washing their hands of him, perhaps we’ve finally come to a point where people realize that there is nothing less valuable in the world than a guy with no power who can’t get on base.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: