Robinson Cano

Where have all the superstar left-handed hitters gone?

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Last night’s Home Run Derby included just one left-handed hitter (Justin Morneau) among the eight contestants and tonight’s All-Star game will feature only two left-handed hitters (Chase Utley, Robinson Cano) among the 18 starters.

So where did all of the star-caliber left-handed and switch-hitters go, exactly?

Looking back to last year, the All-Star game starting lineups featured left-handed bats Cano, Chris Davis, David Ortiz, Joe Mauer, Carlos Beltran, Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, and Bryce Harper. Injuries knocked most of those guys out of consideration this season.

Going back two years, the All-Star game starting lineups in 2012 featured left-handed hitters Cano, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Votto, Beltran, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Pablo Sandoval, Melky Cabrera, Rafael Furcal, and Curtis Granderson.

In other words, yeah, this season is a whole lot different.

Of course, it’s worth noting that this year’s All-Star game reserves include quite a few left-handed bats in Victor Martinez, Charlie Blackmon, Matt Carpenter, Freddie Freeman, Dee Gordon, Miguel Montero, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rizzo, Erick Aybar, Michael Brantley, Brandon Moss, Kyle Seager. And switch-hitting Orioles catcher Matt Wieters was chosen as a starter, but won’t be playing due to an injury.

So there are plenty of left-handed-hitting All-Stars, just not many left-handed-hitting superstars, or at least not many left-handed-hitting superstars who’ve been both healthy and at the top of their respective games this season.

Who are some young left-handed and switch-hitters capable of emerging as perennial All-Star starters? Bryce Harper stands out, certainly, but beyond that there aren’t many 25-and-under left-handed hitters currently in the big leagues who strike me as sure-fire future superstars. Guys like Dickerson, Freeman, Rizzo, Lonnie Chisenhall, Matt Adams, Billy Hamilton, Christian Yelich, Jason Heyward, Kolten Wong, Eric Hosmer, Rougned Odor, Oswaldo Arcia, Jon Singleton, and Jackie Bradley Jr. certainly have big-time potential, but who knows?

It really does seem like we’re in a bit of a lull in terms of superstar left-handed hitters and that might continue for a while until a few prospects like Oscar Taveras, Gregory Polanco, Francisco Lindor, and Joey Gallo start taking over and/or former MVPs and MVP candidates like Votto, Mauer, Gonzalez, and Fielder get back on track.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.