Not only are Kris Bryant’s ridiculous numbers at Double-A leading to speculation about when the Cubs will call him up, the slugging third baseman won the Southern League’s annual Home Run Derby last night too.
Bryant hit .355 with 22 homers, 20 doubles, and a 1.160 OPS in 68 first-half games, posting a .458 on-base percentage and .702 slugging percentage. And then he smacked 16 more homers in the Derby to beat out Diamondbacks first base prospect Jon Griffin for the title.
It would be difficult for any prospect to dominate a league more thoroughly than Bryant did in the first half at Double-A, but general manager Jed Hoyer has insisted that the Cubs have no immediate plans to call him up to the majors or even to promote him to Triple-A. So last year’s No. 2 overall draft pick will continue making life miserable for Southern League pitchers.
Fresh off our “Manny Machado didn’t hustle” post, here’s one about him trying a little too hard. Machado was called for interference in the bottom of the fourth inning during Monday night’s NLCS Game 3 against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. It was actually Machado’s second attempt to interfere with Orlando Arcia during the game.
In the bottom of the second, Machado led off with a single. Cody Bellinger followed up by hitting a grounder to second baseman Travis Shaw, who fed to Arcia. Machado slid towards Arcia enough to disrupt the play, allowing Bellinger to reach first base safely. The Brewers didn’t challenge, in part because Arcia didn’t attempt a throw.
Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth. Machado again leads off and again reaches base, this time with a walk. Bellinger hits another grounder. First baseman Jesús Aguilar snags the ball and fires to Arcia covering the second base bag. Machado slides into second base and reaches out with his right hand to mess with Arcia’s throw to first base. It succeeds, as Arcia’s throw skips past first base towards the dugout. Brewers manager Craig Counsell challenged the call, alleging slide interference (the “Chase Utley rule”). The umpires reviewed the play and agreed that Machado did indeed interfere with Arcia, so Bellinger was called out. What made Machado’s effort even worse is that Bellinger would’ve reached easily regardless, so there was no need to interfere with Arcia.
The Dodgers trail the Brewers 1-0 through the first half of the game. The Brewers got their run early thanks to an RBI double by Ryan Braun off of Walker Buehler in the top of the first. Jhoulys Chacín has pitched excellently for the Brewers thus far.