MLBits: Just One Spot Left for the HR Derby, Nearly 40% of the Royals Can't Go to Toronto, Walk-Off Wild Pitches, Ohtani, Lindor, More

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MLBits: Just One Spot Left for the HR Derby, Nearly 40% of the Royals Can’t Go to Toronto, Walk-Off Wild Pitches, Ohtani, Lindor, More

Chicago Cubs

The Royals will be short-handed (like severely shorthanded) for their trip to Toronto that begins tonight due to a bunch of players not being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Royals Without Nearly Half of Their Roster for Toronto Trip

In one of the wilder stories of the season, the Kansas City Royals will be without nearly 40 percent of their roster when they head to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays in a four-game series starting tonight.

The vaccine requirement for the border crossing into Canada will sideline Andrew Benintendi, Whit Merrifield, M.J. Melendez, Hunter Dozier, Brad Keller, Brady Singer, Michael A. Taylor, Kyle Isbel, Dylan Coleman, and Cam Gallagher.

Here’s what Royals’ President of Baseball Operations Dayton Moore had to say about the 10 players missing the four-game trip to Toronto:

“At the end of the day, it’s their choice. It’s what they decide to do. And we’ve always been an organization that promotes and encourages individual choices. Unfortunately, some of this affects the team. We’re disappointed in some of that, but we realize it’s part of the game and part of the world we live in. We’re just really looking forward to providing these players an opportunity who are getting a chance to play in Toronto.”

Moore referenced the opportunity that the replacement players will get this week in Toronto, but around here, we’re more concerned with who isn’t playing and how it will impact the trade market with the deadline less than a month away.

Brett touched on those implications last night:

Jose Ramirez, Julio Rodríguez Join HRD Field

With just a few days separating us from Monday’s Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles the field of contestants is growing to near capacity with two more additions made on Wednesday. Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez and Seattle outfielder Julio Rodríguez will join Pete Alonso, Ronald Acuña Jr., Albert Pujols, Juan Soto, and Kyle Schwarber

Rodríguez will become the 14th rookie to compete in the Home Run Derby, with Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Pete Alonso as the most recent rookies (2019).

Rodríguez has 15 home runs in his first 87 MLB games with the M’s this season and owns a .807 OPS and 133 wRC+. The rookie has been red-hot since about the time the Mariners and Angels had a dust-up in Anaheim on June 26. Since then, Rodríguez has been hitting .288, with five of his 15 home runs coming in that span.

Joining J-Rod in the Home Run Derby is Guardians third baseman, Jose Ramirez. Ramirez is playing like an American League MVP candidate this season with 17 home runs, 68 RBI, a .931 OPS, and 155 wRC+ for Cleveland.

The addition of Ramirez and Rodríguez to the field means there’s only one more spot to fill between now and Monday. (No, Michael, it will not be Patrick Wisdom!)

Shifting Things Up

We know that MLB has long been looking into ways to eradicate the shift in baseball, and we’re getting a glimpse into how they might look to do it. Double-A baseball has had to play under rules that ensured there would be at least one infielder on each side of second base and no infielders hanging out in the outfield grass, but now the Florida State League (Low-A) will be rolling out MLB’s latest experiment.

The Florida State League is considered to be baseball’s rule experiment lab as Jayson Start put so well in his latest column at The Athletic, and there’s a new one coming to the league starting July 22.

“In an attempt to create more space in the middle of the field, baseball is about to draw a giant, pie-slice-shaped chalk line in the infield dirt. It will run diagonally in each direction, from the far tip of the second-base bag to the edge of the outfield grass where shortstops and second basemen traditionally stand.”

Stark does a great job of explaining the experiment and creating a visualization for us in his story, which you can check out to learn more about the shift:

Odds and Ends …

  • This bomb by Francisco Lindor helped the New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves to take two-of-three from Atlanta in a big series for the two teams. The Mets moved back to two-and-a-half games ahead of the Braves.
  • The Dodgers rallied from six runs down in the late innings to beat the Cardinals in St. Louis!
  • One night after the Reds’ come-from-behind victory over the Yankees, The Bronx Bombers returned the favor and logged their 11th such victory of the season.
  • The walk-offs weren’t done in New York. Brandon Crawford walked off for the Giants in a win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco.
  • Like the Yankees, the Marlins walked off their way to a victory on a wild pitch!
  • The Marlins and Yankees became the fourth set of teams since 1920 to win on a walk-off wild pitch on the same day. Bonkers stuff here:
  • We’ll wrap things up today with some more Shohei Ohtani love, because why not? Ohtani struck out 12 Astros hitters last night and delivered a big two-out, two-run triple for the Angels.

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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.