Roy Sievers, the first American League Rookie of the Year winner, has died at age 90.
The Rookie of the Year Award was established in 1947 as an all-MLB award. That year Jackie Robinson won it, of course, and in 1948 it was Alvin Dark of the Braves. In 1949 it was changed so there would be one winner in each league. That year Sievers debuted with the St. Louis Browns, hitting .306/.398/.471 with 16 homers and 91 RBI. He took home the hardware for the junior circuit while Don Newcombe won it in the National League.
Sievers went on to play 17 years in the bigs, but his career had a bit of a rocky start following his rookie year thanks to some nagging shoulder injuries. In 1954, as the Browns became the Baltimore Orioles, Sievers was traded to the Washington Senators. He regained his status as one of the game’s better hitters in DC, posting an .859 OPS (134 OPS+) and hitting 180 homers and making the All-Star team three times over the next six seasons. After Washington he made stops with the White Sox and Phillies before returning to the Senators — the expansion Senators, anyway, as his old Washington franchise had moved to Minnesota to become the Twins — for his final two years, retiring after the 1965 season.
Sievers may be one of the lesser-known stars of the so-called Golden Era these days, but that has less to do with his accomplishments than it does with the fact that the two teams for which he starred — the Browns and Senators — ceased to exist, changing cities and franchise identities decades ago. The current love for Montreal Expos history is an anomaly. Most of the time when a team leaves town, people tend to move on and forget. That’s probably especially true with the Browns and Senators, neither of whom had much success.
Sievers’ career was a pretty spiffy one, however. In all he hit 318 homers, drove in 1,147 runs and posted a batting line of .267/.354/.475. He was primarily a corner outfielder and first baseman, though he did play 160 games in center and 30 at third base. After adjusting for his parks and his era, he was roughly equivalent to a Bobby Bonilla or a Victor Martinez, offensively speaking. Oh, and he was Tab Hunter’s double in the 1958 movie version of “Damn Yankees.” That’s pretty spiffy too.
Rest in Peace, Rookie of the Year.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.