Axe Bat leading hitting technology

Axe Bat leading hitting technology into the future

There’s a new bat poised to take Major League Baseball by storm. The Axe Bat, developed by Baden Sports, is proof that what’s old can become new again. If you aren’t familiar, the latest development in hitting technology is the Axe-handled baseball bat.

Axe Bat leading hitting technology

A lineup of Victus’ Axe-handle bats before being shipped to Miami Marlins slugger, Giancarlo Stanton.
(Photo courtesy of: whatproswear.com)

The early results by those that have swung them competitively at the game’s top level are remarkable. Axe Bat’s Director of Communications, Matt Peterson, spoke about this revolutionary new bat design in greater detail.

In 2017, at least 35 different big-leaguers swung the Axe-handled bat. Peterson said that together, those players totaled nearly 4,800 plate appearances and more than 1,100 hits.

All time, at least 57 players have used an Axe-handled bat during an official MLB game. It’s this type of growth that is turning more and more hitters onto this innovative design.

It also doesn’t hurt when you compare the hitting lines of those using it, to those still using traditional round-knobbed bats. Over the past two seasons, players swinging the Axe-handled bat design hit a collective slash line of (.273/.463/.805). In comparison, hitters using the traditional round-knobbed bat design put together a collective (.255/.422/.745).

Rookie Hitters

The early returns on performance seem to be paying huge dividends for players who decide to incorporate this new tool into their game. Take San Diego Padres rookie center fielder Manny Margot for instance. He converted to the Axe-handled bat for the majority of the season’s second half in 2017.

“The week he switched, he won the NL

Axe Bat leading hitting technology

San Diego rookie, Manny Margot, before he started realizing the benefits of the Axe-handled bat. (Photo courtesy of: Sporting News)

Player of the Week award,” Peterson said.

What a week it was for the young rookie with stars in his eyes too. Margot slapped Mets and Pirates pitching around the park all week (July 30), going 12-24 at the dish. But wait, there’s more to it than that.

In the first half of 2017 from Opening Day to July 23, before Margot switched bats, he hit (.258/.373/.677) with five homers and nine doubles in 281 plate appearances. After the switch to an Axe-handled bat, however, the difference is amazing.

From July 24 through the final game of the season, the young Margot posted a much improved (.269/.449/.772) over 248 plate appearances. During the final few months of the season, Margot matched his first half output in doubles with nine and hit eight home runs. If you’re keeping score, that’s three more homers in 33 fewer plate appearances. Margot loves hitting with the Axe-handled design it would appear.

Margot isn’t the only Padres youngster swinging an Axe-handled bat though.

“His teammate, Allen Cordoba, another rookie, also swung the bat most of this season,” Peterson said.

Established Professional Hitters

The rookies, however, aren’t the only players in MLB that have had their head turned by the Axe Bat. Established pro hitters are also getting in on the action as well.

Several of this year’s hitters in MLB’s postseason are among those switching from the classic round-knobbed handle to the Axe-handle. In 2017’s playoff field, George Springer, Jake Lamb, David Peralta, Chris Owings, Lonnie Chisenhall, Greg Allen and Mookie Betts all swung the Axe Bat 100 percent of the time in 2017 Peterson said.

Axe Bat leading hitting technology

Dustin Pedrioa steps into the batter’s box brandishing his Axe-handle bat. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

There were also several other players on the rosters of playoff teams who used the Axe-handled bat in 2017.

“Other players on playoff teams who used it in a significant number of at-bats included Dustin Pedroia, Joc Pederson and Matt Wieters,” Peterson said.

Growth within the game is happening rapidly as more players are encountering the Axe Bat.

“Several others experimented with it for a handful of at-bats this year and might be candidates for Spring Training 2018,” Peterson said.

“We anticipate the growth trend to continue as Axe-handled bats become more available, as more performance benefits of the handle are confirmed,” Peterson said. “And we begin showing players some of the new designs and customization options that will soon be available to them.”

One significant performance benefit of an Axe-handled bat is an increase in bat speed. It has been studied by Baseball Prospectus. They confirmed that Axe Bat’s claim to improve bat speed does, in fact, hold water.

Read Baseball Prospectus’ study on the Axe Bat here.

Licensing Axe-handle technology

There’s a good reason many fans haven’t realized this bat has found its way into several big leaguer’s hands. That reason is licensing.

Axe Bat’s patented Axe-handle technology has been licensed to Major League Baseball’s approved wood bat makers. The first of these companies to purchase the right to use the Axe-handled design is Victus Sports.

“That’s why you see Victus’ logo on the barrel of Axe-handled bats.” Peterson said. “Victus Sports was our first licensee. They make a great bat and were instrumental in getting the Axe-handle in players’ hands around the league.”

As more players realize the benefits of this revolutionary bat handle design, more bat makers are sure to be purchasing the rights to make this bat for their customers. Couple this with high profile players like Dustin Pedrioa and Mookie Betts, and swinging an Axe-handled bat and it is sure to find its way into other players’ hands too.

Baseball players are some of the most superstitious people in the universe. One solid hit during a slump and a player can get hooked forever. As more research is done (like the study by Baseball Prospectus) on the Axe Bat, more players are sure to start incorporating it into their game.

Final Thoughts

Since the moment it was created, Axe-handle design has seen significant growth in MLB. The idea for the Axe Bat was conceptualized in 2009 by Bruce Leinert. As a result, by 2017 there were already 35 players who tested it in live competition. Some, like Mookie Betts, have even made it their primary bat. That’s darn impressive growth in the span of eight years.

From a fan’s perspective, is will be interesting to see what impact this bat will have on the game. It’ll be interesting to see the statistical comparison between both Axe and traditional bat designs going forward, especially as more players incorporate the Axe-handle bat into their game.

This should make for some fascinating conversations in the future, no doubts about it!

 

(Feature image: Sports Illustrated)

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The 2017 Boston Red Sox are hitting their stride

Preview:

This 2017 Boston Red Sox team has been an absolute roller coaster. One series they are giving their pitching staff zero run support and losing low scoring one-run games, and the next they are walking off at home two out of three nights.

It’s hard to figure this team out, but for the immediate future, they look very hard to beat.

Currently:

Boston Red Sox

Craig Kimbrel, Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.

The Red Sox are currently on a six game winning streak, have won eight of their last ten and have given up three runs or less in their last three games.

They have a 3.68 ERA, good enough for third in the MLB. Their starting pitchers have turned in 64 quality starts, which is enough for second.

The problem has been that consistent bat in the lineup that can impact the game in a big way and what seemed like no offensive production from third base.

The Sox continued to struggle as the platoon of third basemen hit under .250, but then, enters Rafael Devers.

Then comes the trade deadline and many Sox fans being upset about the lack of a deal for current Yankee third baseman, Todd Frazier. Instead, a third baseman from the San Francisco Giants named Eduardo Nunez finds his way to Boston.

Nunez and Devers:

Boston Red Sox

Nunez, Photo Courtesy of Yawkeywayreport.com.

Boston Red Sox

Devers, Photo Courtesy of Masslive.

I don’t think it’s possible to put into words what these two have done from the moment they stepped onto Yawkey way.

In Nunez’s 40 at bats (9 games) as a member of the Red Sox he has 16 hits, eight of them extra bases, 12 runs batted in, four homeruns and three stolen bases. To put that into perspective, Pablo Sandoval had 99 Red Sox at bats and had four homeruns and 12 runs batted in.

Quite a few people thought bringing Rafael Devers to the Majors was a bad idea. He has continued to prove he’s more than ready.

In 43 at bats (11 games), Devers has 15 hits, five of them extra bases, three homeruns and six runs batted in. They have also played incredible defense to combine with great offense.

It’s no secret that since Devers has been on the team the Sox are 8-3 and since both Devers and Nunez have been on the team they are 7-2. These two bats have been a surge to a Red Sox lineup that has been much needed.

Putting it Together:

If the offense continues to pick up, this team should be very hard to beat. The pitching staff has been very solid all year and Addison Reed helps nail down an eighth inning that has been a problem for the bullpen.

The bullpen has been relatively consistent from top to bottom. Fernando Abad as a primarily lefty specialist, Heath Hembree and Brian Boyer constantly being thrown into tough situations but finding a way to prevail.

Brandon Workman has proved that he has improved almost all of his stuff, Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes throwing hard but mixing in great off speed pitches and Kimbrel slamming the door. The bullpen can throw a little bit of everything at you.

The Red Sox do have a good problem however, Dustin Pedroia, David Price and Joe Kelly are all hurt currently. Players that are playing everyday would have to give way to three very important pieces in the near future.

Fitting Pedroia in the lineup might mean that a guy like Mitch Moreland, Hanley Ramirez or Rafael Devers might be on the outside looking in depending on John Farrell’s managing. Obviously this is a good problem to have but something to be on the lookout as Pedroia is close to making his return.

Moving Forward:

Well first off Red Sox fans should thank the Yankees for trading for Todd Frazier. If he were a member of the Red Sox, Devers would probably be playing Triple-A ball and would have never had this opportunity.

This Red Sox team was seemingly in a tailspin when they fell out of first place at the end of July. Now they sit comfortably atop the A.L. East and are playing some of their best baseball in the last two weeks.

If this is a sign of things to come for the Boston Red Sox, they will be a tough out come playoff time.

Featured Photo Courtesy of TheBostonHerald.com.

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The curious case of David Price and Dennis Eckersley

Just when you thought the Red Sox were set to be in first place until October, something to had to mess it up. As we know, Boston is notorious for their championship caliber teams. However, when Boston is in the media, its hard to get out of it.

For those who aren’t aware, the media has been blowing up this past week regarding David Price and Dennis Eckesley. Now that this situation is completely stirred up, the Red Sox’ front office has found themselves to be in a uncomfortable position.

What Happened?

About a month ago, just like any other ordinary day, The Red Sox boarded a team plane. However, things spun out of control. Earlier that day, Hall-Of-Famer and NESN reporter Dennis Eckersley made a rude remark regarding Eduardo Rodriguez, a pitcher on the Red Sox staff.

Rodriguez’ pitching statistics were brought up on live television, which led to Eckersley saying “yuck” regarding the poor statistics after his rehab start in Pawtucket.

This is where it all began. Price found out, and waited to corner Dennis Eckersley on the team flight. As Eckersley boarded the plane, Price stood up and shouted.

“Here he is-the greatest pitcher who ever lived. The game is too easy for him,” Price said according to Jared Carrabis of Barstool Sports.

After Price shouted this, applauds occurred, making this flight longer than expected.

A Month Later…

The unfortunate part about this altercation is the fact that this story was just released to the media over a week ago. What does that mean?

That means that the Red Sox did not act in this situation, inevitably until it found its place in the media. It has made guys like Dave Dombrowski and John Henry look bad, for not taking any action and punishing Price. They are completely embarrassed of this situation.

David Price Dennis Eckersley

Price with the media (CSNNE.com)

So what happens now?

After this story was released, Price was scheduled to start this past Friday, against the Kansas City Royals. Hours before the game’s first pitch, Boston ruled Price on a 10-Day DL due to elbow inflammation.

It’s obvious that Price has been dealing with his elbow since the start of the season, but we all know this was not the reason he was elected to not take the ball on Friday night. He was coming off his best start on the year, against the Yankees, a little over 10 games ago.

We are still yet to know if this was his choice, or the Red Sox choice.

The Media

Like always, the media will be broadcasting each story, simply because that’s their job. You can use the media to your advantage, or they can use it to your disadvantage.

In this case, the media has used it to Boston’s disadvantage.

Not only has the media made Dombrowski and Henry look bad, but it has find its way to the team captain, Dustin Pedroia.

David Price Dennis Eckersley

Photo Courtesy of (youtube.com)

Pedroia was involved in the names of the ones who applauded due to Price’s actions. Although we do not have the honest answer, the media continues to act as in fact this is correct.

The story was reportedly released on July 23 and Pedroia finally made his statement to the media on July 28. The five-day period has made it look worse than what it is for Pedroia. His job is to lead this team, and the media has made him look like he cannot handle this task.

Like Pedroia, Price took his time to take a stand with the media.

Red Sox legend, David Ortiz, who retired after last season and has reportedly had troubles with David Price in the past, has spoken on the issue.

“If he (Price) has to apologize to Eckersley, let’s do it and let’s move on,” Ortiz said according to the Boston Herald.

Price went to the media a week after this story was released. After many claimed Price should apologize, Price proclaimed wanted Eckersley to show his face according to ESPN. Instead of saying a simple sorry, Price had to stir up more click bait for the media.

Price is now claiming that Dennis Eckersley does not show his face enough in the clubhouse.

State of Regret

Since this happened, the Red Sox have lost 14 out of the last 22 games. They have been replaced by the rival New York Yankees in first place.

It’s obvious that Boston is not playing its best baseball right now.

They are distracted. This powerful team is falling apart right now. The players are involved in the media more than they should be, while the front office is being depicted as terrible managers.

David Price Dennis Eckersley

President Dave Dombrowski (Boston Herald)

However, none of this would have blown up if the front office announced this situation immediately, following with punishment for David Price. Instead, they chose to let it go, and for that, the media have ate them up completely.

Of course, the Red Sox’ Dombrowski and Henry wish they have handled this differently.

For David Price, Boston is writing him a check for $31 million a year, due to his record-setting contract. Price handled this position very poorly. Due to respect to the team, he should have talked to Eckersley alone, instead of letting the whole Red Sox team hear.

However, he did what he did, and was given a chance to make this better. Regardless of that, he waits over a week to talk to the media, skips his start against a strong Royal’s lineup and tells them that Eckersley needs to show his face more.

That’s where Boston stands in the news for today. They have lost their first place spot to the Yanks, and need to find themselves again. If not, this team could turn into a complete let-down.

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of (si.com)

MLB Rookies

The Rookie’s Rise to Stardom

In a game with one of the biggest learning curves in sports, rookies have surprisingly been doing well. Baseball has had a number of young players develop into stars in recent seasons.

To fully comprehend this shift in the game, we must first examine how players make it from being a prospect in the minor leagues to making it to the show.

From Prospect to Pro

MLB Rookies

Even top picks like Colorado’s Brendan Rodgers must pay their dues in the minors (GJ Sentinel).

Major League Baseball is vastly different from the NFL and NBA when it comes to rookies. While there is no limit to how long a player must wait to be signed professionally, baseball still averages the oldest rookies of all three of the major sports.

That is due to the way the game is played. To be successful in the majors, most players need to be at their peak of maturation, normally around 24 to 25 years old. Being fully developed allows baseball players to utilize their bodies to the fullest.

Unlike the NFL or NBA where players can rely on physical talent alone, baseball requires a honed set of skills. It doesn’t matter if you can hit a fastball 450 feet. If you can’t handle a breaking ball, you will fail in the majors.

That is why baseball has such an advanced minor league system. The combination of developing a player’s physical and mental capabilities to be successful in the majors takes time. The average rookie last year was 24 years old, giving credence to the time it takes to develop. However, what happens when players start breaking the mold, and advance beyond our wildest dreams?

2012: just the beginning

MLB Rookies

Mike Trout and Bryce Harper transformed the way rookies played in 2012 (nbcsports.com).

The Rookie of the Year award has always been the bar that rookies strive for. However, not all ROY winners are made the same.

From 2007-2011, ROY winners averaged 3.1 wins above replacement (WAR). Baseball Reference rates that as better than an average starter in the majors, proving that the ROY winners were truly something special.

Many have noted the increase of rookie production in the past few years, and the numbers certainly support that. From 2012-2016, ROY winners have averaged 5.4 WAR. That is a staggering jump in production, and evidence of a new age dawning in baseball.

This trend really began in 2012 with a pair of ROY winners: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Both players had been premium draft picks for their respective teams, but it was Harper that was seen as the next big thing in baseball.

Some players fold under such lofty expectations, but Harper flourished. He put up 5.2 WAR in his rookie year, topping all NL ROY winners since 2007 by at least 1.3 WAR. If Harper signaled a shift in the way rookies played, Trout was the zenith of their potential.

No one saw what Trout had in store. At 20 years old in his rookie season, he blew away the competition with a staggering 10.8 WAR. That is MVP type production, and earned him a second place finish in the 2012 AL MVP voting. While it may be unfair to compare Trout to other rookies due to his Hall of Fame trajectory, his fast start should not be diminished. Even so, Trout and Harper were only the beginning, setting the stage for other acts to follow.

continued success

MLB Rookies

Even Nolan Arenado, one of the games best young players, couldn’t take home the ROY award. (The Denver Post).

Since that fateful 2012 season, the way we view rookies has never been the same. That’s not just Trout and Harper’s doing either.

The rookies that have followed have helped carry their success into new seasons. Seemingly gone are the days when players like Dustin Pedroia could put up 3.9 WAR in 2007 and bring home the ROY award. Pedroia’s 2007 season would have been good enough for the third most WAR by a rookie in 2016. A new type of player is taking over the majors, and they are raising the bar of rookie performance.

Never before have we seen such young players perform so well so quickly. The NL has had two ROY winners in a row post seasons of 6.0 WAR or higher: Kris Bryant in 2015 (6.1 WAR) and Corey Seager in 2016 (6.0 WAR).

From 2007-2011, five of the 10 ROY winners posted WAR over 3.5 in their rookie years. From 2012-2016, eight of the 10 ROY winners have posted WAR over 3.5 in their rookie years. ROY of course is not the be all end all of the story of growing rookie dominance.

We saw 11 rookies post seasons of 2.5 WAR or higher last year, compared to the 2007 season in which only six rookies reached the 2.5 WAR milestone. Players like Nolan Arenado, Trea Turner, Francisco Lindor and Gary Sanchez all had rookie seasons of at least 3.0 WAR, and still weren’t able to bring home the ROY award. It will only become more difficult to bring home the ROY award with the rise in production of rookies.

The way the game is being played is changing. Younger, less-experienced players are taking over the game. Don’t let their lack of experience fool you. These young studs will dominate the game for years to come. The youth movement in baseball is upon us, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down soon.

 

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Injury Update

Crying Tiers of Joy: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Rankings

The Game Haus presents our 2017 fantasy baseball second base rankings.

In the past, the second base position is where one can find steals and average, although in 2016, 15 second base eligible players hit 20 or more home runs. The steals and average have remained constant as well, as 15 second basemen had double-digit steals and nine batted over .280 (Min. 500 AB’s). Second base remains one of the deeper positions in fantasy baseball in 2017.

With spring-training officially underway, it’s time to give our second base rankings for the 2017 season.

 

Players have been grouped into four tiers, with the top and bottom player of each profiled below.

Honorable mentions include: Brandon Drury (ARI), Jedd Gyorko (STL), Howie Kendrick (PHI), Brett Lawrie (CWS), and Ryan Schimpf (SD).

 

Tier 1

2017 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Rankings

Jose Altuve is pound for pound the most talented player in the MLB. (Courtesy of MLB.com)

  1. Jose Altuve HOU
  2. Robinson Cano SEA
  3. Daniel Murphy WAS
  4. Ian Kinsler DET
  5. Brian Dozier MIN
  6. Rougned Odor TEX
  7. Matt Carpenter STL

 

Jose Altuve is pound for pound the most talented player in the MLB. He offers above average contributions in all five categories, while offering elite levels of batting average and stolen bases. Altuve will have all of the opportunity in the world, as he will bat third behind budding stars George Springer and Alex Bregman, with All-star Carlos Correa batting clean-up.

The 26-year-old managed to set a career high marks across the board; in plate appearances, home runs, runs, and RBI’s. Even if the 5-foot-7 super-star regresses in all departments, he will remain an elite option in the first round of drafts.

 

The St. Louis Cardinals lifer, Matt Carpenter, is being severely over looked in 2017. Due to an oblique injury, he finished 2016 with only 566 plate appearances, whereas he had averaged 697 per season from 2013 to 2015. Carpenter was on a tear in the first half of 2016, batting .298 with 14 home runs and 53 RBI’s.

The 31-year-old will continue have the opportunity to produce as he will bat third in a very talented young Cardinal’s lineup. I expect Carpenter to severally outperform his current ADP of 68, as I believe he will bat around .290 with a possibility to produce both 100 runs and RBI’s.

Tier 2

2017 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Rankings

Trea Turner has a bright future, but what is his ceiling? (Courtesy of Federal Baseball)

  1. Trea Turner WAS
  2. Jean Segura SEA
  3. Jonathon Villar MIL
  4. Jason Kipnis CLE
  5. J. Lemaheiu COL

 

According to FantasyPros.com, Trea Turner is currently being drafted as the 11th player off the board, which is why he will not be on any of my teams in 2017. Turner was called up in June of 2016 and exploded, batted .342 with 13 home runs, 40 RBI’s, and 33 steals in only 73 games. I understand the hype, but let’s pump the breaks.  We are talking about a player who has never hit, or has never been on pace to hit, 20 home runs in a full 162 game season. He will bat at the top half of a stacked Washington Nationals lineup, giving him plenty of value in the runs department.

His career average of .329 and stolen base floor of around 30 should translate to a great fantasy season, although I do not believe he is worth a draft pick at his current ADP.

 

D.J. Lemahieu, is currently being drafted as the 88th overall player, and 13th second basemen off the board in 2017. Lemahieu was awarded the 2016 National League batting champion after having an astounding .348 average. The 6-foot-4 second basemen has only hit 26 career home runs in 672 games, although playing at his stature, as well as at Coors Field gives him a possibility to increase those totals in 2017.

The 28-year-old will bat second in one of the most prolific offenses in the MLB, with the Colorado Rockies. Lemahieu’s floor gives makes him well worth a top 50 pick, and he is being drafted in the top 100.

Tier 3

2017 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Rankings

The aging-veteran Dustin Pedroia will continue to dominate in 2017. (Courtsey of alchetron.com)

  1. Dustin Pedroia BOS
  2. Jonathon Schoop BAL
  3. Ben Zobrist CHC
  4. Devon Travis TOR
  5. Logan Forsythe LAD
  6. Neil Walker NYM
  7. Starlin Castro NYY
  8. Javier Baez CHC
  9. Brandon Phillips ATL

 

Dustin Pedroia remains a solid fantasy option once again in 2017. The 33-year-old’s 2016 was arguably his best season since his 2008 MVP year. Pedroia had 200 hits for the second time in his career, while hitting 15 home runs with 74 RBI’s atop the Boston Red Sox order.

Health concerns have always been an issue for the 5-foot-9 (more like 5-foot-6) veteran, although after completing a full season in 2016, there is no reason to assume he cannot repeat this once again in 2017.

 

Brandon Phillips will leave Ohio for the first time in his MLB career as he heads south for Atlanta. The 35-year-old hasn’t lost a step as he has batted over .290 in his last two seasons, while averaging about 10 home runs, 70 runs, 70 RBI’s, and 16 steals.

Phillips will bat in middle of a very underrated Atlanta Braves lineup, behind the likes of Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson. Phillips’ talent and lineup position give him a great floor for his current ADP of 321.

Tier 4

2017 Fantasy Baseball Second Base Rankings

Josh Harrison looks to complete his first full MLB season in 2017. (Courtesy of Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Spors)

  1. Josh Harrison PIT
  2. Danny Espinosa LAA
  3. Joe Panik SFG
  4. Cesar Hernandez PHI

 

Josh Harrison has yet to play in over 145 games in a season in his MLB career, although he has shown promise to become a great fantasy asset in 2017. Harrison’s finished 2016 with a .283 average, 57 runs, 59 RBI’s, and 19 stolen bases. If Harrison played a complete season, he would have been on pace for 72 RBI’s and 22 steals, which, along with his average, would have put him in the top 15 for second basemen in 2016.

The 29-year-old will bat atop a Pittsburgh Pirates lineup that looks to redeem itself from a poor 2016 campaign. Batting ahead of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, and Gregory Polanco will make him a great source of runs in 2017. His ADP of 322 makes him well worth a pick late in your draft.

 

Cesar Hernandez was quietly a top 20 second basemen in all formats in 2016. He offered a great source of speed and average as he stole 17 bases while batting .294. The 26-year-old also managed to lead the league in triples in 2016, which is always a good sign.

He will bat atop a young Phillies lineup, which will make him a great source of runs and steals, as the Phillies were a top 10 team in stolen bases attempted per game in 2016. Hernandez is a great low risk pick for the last rounds of your draft.

 

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