Behind the Seams with Blake: 2020 MLB Season Wrap-Up/Breakout Players

Dodgers Capture First World Series Win Since 1988, Controversial Undertones Ensue.

Greetings readers, it truly is a crazy time right now politically, but you can count (pun intended) on me to bring you some insight about the latest baseball news. First and foremost, congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers for securing their first title in over 30 years. Teammates are happy for Kerton Clayshaw (Clayton Kershaw, but an MLB analyst called him that instead by mistake prior to a game in a recent postseason, and no one noticed) who finally got his first World Series win in his magnificent career. Dodgers fans haven’t felt this great since a hobbled Kirk Gibson did the impossible and hit a walk off homer off of Oakland A’s dominant closer Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series. Unlike Gibson’s famous fist-pumping celebration, this season’s world series champions likely won’t be remembered for plays they made during the game, but events that occurred after the conclusion of the game.

Unfortunately, this long-awaited win comes with an extra side of controversy. Dodgers 3B Justin Turner left Game 6 due to a positive test for COVID-19, only to come mask-less onto the field and celebrate the win with his teammates after the game. Lucky for Turner, the league announced Friday that he will not face any discipline for his unsafe actions. Nothing like this has happened in recent memory, where something unrelated to the game itself was the biggest topic of discussion in the days following a World Series win. It was only fitting that in a season where it was such an added struggle to keep players healthy, that something would happen in the biggest game of the season and the virus would steal the show instead of the actual plays on the field.

Looking back on the season, some will say that it was less than stellar, but all things considered, we as fans are pretty lucky that we still got to watch a MLB season happen, even if it was just 60 games. We knew we wouldn’t see Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton race for 70 homers, but we still did get to see some great stat lines put up. We learned that it’s possible for players to experience breakout seasons even in less than half the length of a regular baseball season. I will now discuss some of the players who I believe fit into this category.

Breakout Players: 

Cleveland Indians RHP Shane Bieber – Bieber was largely considered the top starting pitcher in all of baseball in 2020, as he dominated batters from day 1 of the season. Bieber had the gaudy strikeout numbers in 2019, but 2020 was when he really stepped into the spotlight and solidified his case as a consensus top 3 pitcher. He was still quite unknown by most baseball fans at the start of 2020, as he was buried behind Corey Kluber in Cleveland’s starting rotation for his first few years in the major leagues, but now it’s safe to say the MLB and fans are aware of his presence at the top of the Indian’s rotation, where he will hope to remain their ace for years to come.

San Diego Padres SS Fernando Tatis Jr. – Tatis started his rookie season in 2019 with a bang, as his gifted physical tools were on full display for the Padres for the first half of the season. Unfortunately for the team and himself, he was injured on an awkward over-extension covering 2nd base, and he missed the remainder of the season as the Padres dropped out of contention. This year was a different story, as he lit up the league and led in most offensive categories through the first months of the season and looked like the obvious MVP of the National League. The final month of the regular season wasn’t the same though, as Tatis endured a lengthy slump, and it ended up allowing other top NL players like Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and even his infield buddy Manny Machado to match his level of offensive performance, and those three ultimately pushed Tatis out of the MVP running. Tatis and Padre Faithful will hope that he can carry his fantastic production through the entire season in 2021.

New York Yankees 1B Luke Voit – Voit came to the Yankees in a 2018 trade with the Cardinals in exchange for Relief Pitcher Giovanny Gallegos, a rare example of a trade that has worked out for both teams. Voit had shown his great raw power in prior seasons with the Yankees, but 2020 was a step above his previous production. He led the league with 22 home runs in just 56 games, which is equivalent to around 60 home runs in a full 162 game season. The fact he plays for the Yankees makes the thought of him continuing to produce at that rate in 2021 simply incredible. The Bronx Bombers already have 2 players (Judge and Stanton) capable of hitting 50+ home runs in any full season, so the addition of Voit to the annual 50+ homer threat list makes the Yankees even more of a horrifying offense to face, and should further prove that their 2021 offense will be a must-watch for all home run loving fans in the MLB.

Written by: Blake Koziel @thek0zy1 on Instagram

Photo Source: Niles West News

Behind the Seams with Blake: 2020 MLB World Series

World Series in full swing as Rays and Dodgers battle to 1-1 tie in series.

Hello again readers! A lot has happened since my last post, so allow me to quickly catch you up! The Rays defeated the Yankees in the deciding game 5 of the ALDS, then went on to defeat the Astros in the ALCS in a full 7 game series to advance to the World Series. On the National League side, the Dodgers defeated the Braves in another 7 game championship series to take the remaining spot for the World Series. Thus set up what is guaranteed to be a great matchup between the two teams with the most regular season wins. 

As of Thursday, 2 games have been played in this 2020 World Series. In this post, I will be recapping each game, while also sharing my own thoughts about things I found most interesting.

Game 1 took place on Tuesday night, and the Dodgers ended up beating the Rays 8 – 3, thanks to some big nights at the plate from outfielders Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger. Betts went 2 for 4 with a homer, walk, and 2 stolen bases. I must include that with that first stolen base, Betts completed the absolutely-necessary Steal a Base, Steal a Taco agreement that gives everyone in America a free taco from Taco Bell once someone steals a base in the World Series. Betts had an all around great game, putting on a show both at the plate and playing his usual outstanding defense in right field. Cody Bellinger also had a standout game, breaking the scoreless game with a two-run homer in the 4th inning, (while making sure not to injure his shoulder again in a post-homer celebration like he did in game 7 of the NLCS), and then making a great play in center field to rob Rays OF Austin Meadows of a possible homer in the 9th inning. The Dodgers hoped to bring that momentum into game 2 on Wednesday.

Game 2 ended up being a closer game than game 1, as the Rays beat the Dodgers 6 – 4. The win was very important for the Rays, as they needed to make sure they did not start the series down 0-2. The Dodgers decided to make this a “bullpen game” meaning that they would have several pitchers in the game, with most pitching 1 inning max. This plan ultimately failed, as they used 7 pitchers who gave up 6 earned runs, while Rays’ lefty Blake Snell provided his typical dominance over a short outing, striking out 9 over 4 ⅔ innings before getting removed following a Chris Taylor two-run homer. The biggest performance of this game at the plate belonged to Rays 2nd baseman Brandon Lowe, who finally broke out of his postseason slump, hitting 2 opposite-field shots in the first 5 innings of the game. His power resurgence helped the Rays even the series at 1 game to 1, and the Rays hope that they now have the momentum in the 2020 Fall Pandemic Classic.

This series is sure to come to a fantastic conclusion based on how the first 2 games have gone, and the winner will be decided prior to my next post, so I encourage you all to take some time to relax and watch the remaining games of this World Series, and be sure to stay healthy and keep your head up in these crazy times!

The following is the schedule for games 3 through 7, catch them all on Fox at 5pm PST:

Game 3: Friday. October 23rd

Game 4: Saturday, October 24th

Game 5: Sunday, October 25th

Game 6: Tuesday, October 27th (If Needed)

Game 7: Wednesday, October 28th (If Needed)

Written by: Blake Koziel, @thek0zy1 on Instagram

Photo source: Overtime Heroics

Breven’s Blog: MLB Trade Deadline Recap

MLB Team Logos

The July 31 trade deadline for all 30 Major League Baseball teams has come and gone, but this year was different from the years past.

Before 2019, teams had the opportunity to make trades in August, but it was eliminated before the start of the season. Now teams have to decide two months in advance what piece(s) they need to progress in the playoffs and have a chance to win the World Series. Teams also use this deadline to improve the depth of the franchise, whether it is at the major league level or in their minor league farm system.

Today we are going to recap this year’s trades. 

The San Diego Padres were involved in two trades. 

The Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, and Padres combined on a three-team trade. The big names of this trade included Yasiel Puig going to the Indians, Trevor Bauer going to the Reds, and the Padres got the Reds’ top prospect Taylor Trammell (No. 30 overall, according to In addition, Padres’ outfielder Franmil Reyes and pitcher Logan Allen were sent to Cleveland.

In the other deal, the Padres received Carl Edwards Jr. and cash from the Chicago Cubs for Brad Wieck. So, it was a bullpen switch for both clubs.

On July 31st alone, there were almost 30 trades and close to 70 players went to another team.

Things started to heat up in the final hour as teams were looking to upgrade any needs they have. From starting pitching to adding bullpen depth, every type of move was made ranging from minor moves to blockbuster deals.

Before the Wednesday deadline, the big names going to new teams included Marcus Stroman going to the Mets from the Blue Jays and the Padres-Indians-Reds trade.

Then, there were some players that were projected to help a team make a playoff push but in the end, didn’t get traded. Both Giants’ pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith didn’t go; New York Mets’ starting rotation trio of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom and Zach Wheeler stayed together.

Two teams make big moves.

The major blockbuster move on Wednesday was the Houston Astros getting Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitcher Zack Greinke.

In return, the D-Backs got the Astros’ 3, 4 and 5 top prospects in the Astros’ farm system. The move gives the Astros not one, not two, but three reliable starting pitchers for the rest of the season and into the playoffs (Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Greinke). The Astros also got Aaron Sanchez and reacquired catcher Martin Maldonaldo. These transactions pushed them into favorites to win the World Series. 

Another winner from the trade deadline was the Atlanta Braves. They filled the hole of the lack of bullpen depth. They got three relievers including Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Shane Greene. Green has converted 22 out of 25 saves chances and will help out the Braves bullpen. 

While two teams made none.

Two teams that were looking to make big moves that didn’t were the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Many analysts said each team needed to add to their bullpen depth, but decided to stay with what they have. 

With no August trades in 2019, July 31 was the last day for teams to get a player that could be the difference-maker in the playoffs.

Written by: Breven Honda

Breven’s Blog: Reflecting on the Life of Tony Gwynn

Tony Gwynn swinging a bat

Sunday was not just Father’s Day for Tony Gwynn Jr. That day marked five years since the passing of his Dad, Anthony Keith Gwynn, a legend in San Diego.

Gwynn came to SDSU on an unpredictable basketball scholarship, but once his basketball coach let him play baseball, he would be lights out both on the hardwood and on the diamond. The Long Beach native was a star point guard and still hold the records for most assists in a season (221), assists per game (8.2) and in a career (590). In Gwynn’s final game as an Aztec basketball player, he would have a career game, posting 16 points and 16 assists against New Mexico in 1981.

Although he came to SDSU as a basketball player at Montezuma Mesa, he still wanted to contribute to the Aztec baseball team. When he got the OK to play baseball from former SDSU basketball head coach Tim Vezie in his sophomore year, he became a two-time All-American. He would go on to play with teammates that would go on to play or partake some role in Major League Baseball (MLB), including MLB umpire Kerwin Danley (Gwynn’s roommate at SDSU), former pitcher and Colorado Rockies Manager Bud Black, former player and coach Bobby Meacham, and former player and two-time World Series Champion Al Newman. Gwynn received Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors in both basketball and baseball, making him the only athlete in WAC history to accomplish that feat.

Before professional sports were a televised event, Gwynn was able to accomplish things that only few people have ever achieved.

In June of 1981, Gwynn would get drafted by the then-San Diego Clippers (now Los Angeles Clippers) and the San Diego Padres on the same day. Gwynn would choose to stay in San Diego and play for the Padres. He would make his debut one year later in July of 1982 and from that moment on, he would wear the brown and gold, the blue and orange and the pinstripes up until his final season in 2001.

For 20 seasons, Gwynn was known for his hitting, but during his first slump he started a trend – video. In 1983, he was in a slump and asked his wife to get a camera to film his at-bats. From then on, he would never have a slump like what he went through and it was the beginning of video in the game of baseball. With Gwynn initiating the aspect of film in the sport (in terms of looking back and studying the video), people would call him “Captain Video.” Gwynn would finish his 1983 season with a batting average .309 and for the next 18 years of his career, he would never hit below .300. In 1984, it was a great year for the Padres and Gwynn himself. He would go to his first All-Star Game, win his first batting title and go to his first World Series.

As Gwynn would continue to go to All-Star Games, he would also win batting titles, Silver Sluggers and receive Gold Gloves.

When the 1990s came around, he would continue to get better by talking to retired players, such as Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Ted Williams. After his conversations with both of them, his best year were on the horizon. From 1994 to 1997, he led the National League in hits three times, won four batting titles, went to four All-Star games and only struck out 79 times in those four years. And in those four years, he had a slash line of .371 (batting average)/.415 (on base percentage)/.511 (slugging percentage), an ideal spot for hitters, the iconic .300/.400/.500 line. His batting average would also include getting a chance at hitting .400 in 1994, the closest anyone has accomplished that feat since Williams hit .406 in 1941. Gwynn would finish with a .394 batting average in a shortened-season due to a strike.

In 1998, Gwynn and Padres would have another magical run in the postseason, like what they through in 1984.

They would win 98 games and the division, beat future Hall of Famers like Randy Johnson from the Houston Astros, who won 102 games in the NL Division Series. Then, they outlasted the Hall of Fame trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz from the Atlanta Braves, who won 106 games to get to the World Series and face a New York Yankees team that won 114 games during the regular season. At the end of the 2001 season, Gwynn would call it a career as he would finish with a .338 lifetime batting average, record 3,141 hits, go to 15 All-Star games, win five Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, and eight batting titles. Another thing he also won was respect; respect from players, coaches, fans and the media from around Major League Baseball because of the humbleness and person that he was, more than a baseball player.

Gwynn’s favorite memory came from the postseason and that was hitting a home run at (old) Yankee Stadium in Game One of the World Series. He cared about his family; he wanted to stay in America’s Finest City and not be traded or take a new contract in a different city. He spent his career in one town for an entire career, was a part of two World Series teams and will forever known as “Mr. Padre.” After Gwynn finished his baseball career, he would continue being on the field by coming back to Montezuma Mesa to be the head coach of the Aztec baseball team beginning in 2002.

In 2007, he would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. by getting 97.6% of the ballot.

Gwynn will forever be known as “Mr. Padre” and an Aztec For Life. Ever since he came to San Diego in 1977, he never wanted to leave the city and the fans never wanted him to leave. It was the bond that he was able to create with players, coaches, fans and the media that made him stand out. June 16 has been a day to never forget Tony Gwynn for Padre fans, Aztec fans, and MLB fans that admired him.

Written by: Breven Honda