MLBits: Judge Inches Closer to Maris, Ranking Upcoming Free Agents, Wright Wins MLB-Best 18th, Dodgers, La Russa, Alcántara, More

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MLBits: Judge Inches Closer to Maris, Ranking Upcoming Free Agents, Wright Wins MLB-Best 18th, Dodgers, La Russa, Alcántara, More

Chicago Cubs

Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols are flirting with history, playoff races are tightening up, and awards candidates are separating themselves. It’s one of the most exciting times of the MLB calendar year.

Passan’s Free Agency Tiers

It’s never too early to start talking about offseason rumors, right? Jeff Passan put together his early look at MLB free agency tiers over at The Athletic today. Passan’s top tier is short but star-studded, featuring Aaron Judge, Jacob deGrom, Nolan Arenado, and Trea Turner.

Stars like Carlos Correa, Justin Verlander, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson, and Carlos Rodón fall into the second tier of free agents. Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and White Sox first baseman find themselves in Passan’s third tier, and veterans like Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, and Mike Clevinger fall into the fourth tier.

Check out Passan’s complete list here:

Judge Belts a Pair of Home Runs

Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge is getting dangerously close to Roger Maris’ franchise record for home runs in a season after he hit not one but two home runs on Tuesday night.

Judge is now at 57 for the season, and just five home runs away from breaking Maris’ 1961 record. The Athletic has Judge on pace for 65 home runs and his two ahead of Maris’ pace through 142 team games. Judge is just three home runs shy of Barry Bonds’ 2001 pace, and if Judge can get hot and hit ’em in bunches for a week or so, he might have an outside shot at the MLB record.

Alcátara Eclipses 200 Innings Mark

Marlins’ ace Sandy Alcátara cracked 200 innings for the second consecutive season, making some Marlins history in the process. Alcátara became the seventh Marlins pitcher to log multiple 200-inning seasons in franchise history and just the fifth to do so in consecutive seasons. Alcátara joined Dontrelle Willis (2005-07), Carl Pavano (‘03-04), Ryan Dempster (‘00-01), and Kevin Brown (1996-97).

“Always feels good,” Alcantara said. “I’ve got to keep doing everything that I’ve been doing since I got here to the Marlins, because I’m going to be the No. 1 all the time. I’ve got to reach 200 innings every year. Just want to keep healthy, keep doing my job and keep being the best.”

A Letter to La Russa

“You’ve got a chance to take the high road here, to back up the team-first ethos you’ve always preached. It’s actually an easy way out, and I’m fairly certain it would be well-received, because it’s the right thing to do.

For those who knew you at your best, it’s difficult seeing you portrayed as a cartoon. Younger fans and players might never appreciate all you accomplished in Oakland and St. Louis. At least let them see you, in your final act, respect the game, your organization, the owner who made the controversial decision to hire you, the coach who succeeded you as manager.

There would be no shame in acknowledging that it didn’t work out the way you envisioned. Take the noble path. Show this is not all about you. Make the announcement that just might save the White Sox season: It’s Miggy’s team now.

Those were the words of one of baseball’s greatest wordsmiths this morning on White Sox skipper Tony La Russa. Rosenthal was direct, and matter of fact in his assessment of La Russa’s potential return to the White Sox, but classy and elegant as only writers of his caliber can be.

As a writer and a White Sox fan, it was equal parts satisfyingly accurate. It was really the best summation of the situation possible, and from an out-of-town writer at that.

Give it a read:

Odds and Ends

  • I will never get over the coolness of Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. playing together in Seattle. To me, it’s one of the coolest things in 90s baseball.
  • The Dodgers clinched the NL West again, and Clayton Kershaw twirled a gem in the process, firing a seven-inning shutout.
  • And clubhouse celebrations are back! October baseball is almost upon us.
  • The Braves have such an elite rotation this season. Kyle Wright allowed just one run over five and a third, and the Braves topped San Francisco 5-1 to secure Wright’s MLB-best 18th win of the season.
  • The kids just keep producing for the Orioles this season. Gunnar Henderson has a 135 wRC+ through his first 50 MLB plate appearances. Even if Baltimore misses the playoffs, their future prospects are incredibly bright.
  • Rob Thomson has done a heck of a job leading the Phillies back into the Postseason race since taking over for Joe Girardi.
  • Thomson and the Phils’ are on the verge of ending a decade-long postseason drought. More impressively, Seattle is on the verge of snapping a two-decade-long drought.
  • Here’s what the Postseason field looks like if things ended today:

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.