The Major League Baseball playoffs are well underway, and sprinkled around the postseason rosters are 7 players who hail from our Commonwealth.
North of the Border, the BlueJays are attempting to capitalize on last year’s success, and joining Toronto this summer in a trade was OF Melvin Upton, Jr. (Chesapeake). Upton had 7 career postseason HRs-all with the 2008 Rays, so he will be counted on to contribute and help the Jays try and bring a championship to Canada for the first time since the 1992-1993 championships.
In the nation’s capital, the Washington Nationals are NL East champions for the 3rd time in 5 years. While each of the playoff teams have had some turnover, one constant remains, the last player left over from the very first Washington Nationals team-1B Ryan Zimmerman (Virginia Beach/UVA). Zimmerman has shifted to 1B in recent years, but still remains a key member of a team that is just a few hours from home.
In the City by the Bay, the San Francisco Giants will attempt to continue their even-year run of championships. They won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Since this 2016, an even year, they will try to win again. They have a solid lineup and decent starting pitching, and a bullpen that includes veteran LH Javier Lopez (Fairfax/UVA). Lopez is the only active major leaguer with 4 World Series rings, having won with the 2007 Red Sox as well as all of the Giants titles this decade.
In Beantown, the Boston Red Sox, the only other team besides SF to win 3 titles since the turn of the century, expect to be competitive in the final playoffs for their longtime franchise player, Big Papi, DH David Ortiz. All of the pieces are there for the Sox to make a run at this, and arguably their best weapon at their disposal is their starting outfield, which includes a guy who had a breakthrough year in 2016, OF Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Prince George). Bradley hit .267 with 26 HRs and 87 RBIs and even stole 9 bases-the last 3 items more than double his career high-so he will be counted on to continue his breakout year in the postseason.
In the Lone Star state, the Texas Rangers fortified themselves at the trading deadline with a couple of key deals and secured their 4th AL West title in this decade. One of the keys to the Rangers late push was Closer Jeremy Jeffress (South Boston). Acquired from the NL’s Brewers, Jeffress posted a 2.70 ERA in 13 games with Texas. While he did not pick up any saves, he will be a key part of the postseason bullpen.
The 2 longest active championship droughts in MLB both made the postseason, and have role players who hail from the Old Dominion. The Chicago Cubs have not won a title in over 100 years, and this year seem poised to break through, with a bullpen that includes RH Justin Grimm (Bristol). In Cleveland, the Indians have not won a title since 1948, and have not won a pennant since winning 2 of them in the 1990s. This year, OF Brandon Guyer (Herndon/UVA) is a key role player on their bench.
We will soon see if one of our Heroes of the Old Dominion can bring home a title.
The Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992 and 1993, one of only two teams to win consecutive titles since the 1980s, but have not even made the postseason since. They appear destined to return to the postseason in 2015, having gotten this far due to some shrewd moves by GM Alex Antholopous. Acquiring such stars as David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, and Josh Donaldson, the Blue Jays lead the Yankees by 1.5 games over the Yankees.
While a number of stars have come from other organizations to help the Blue Jays contend, the farm system is developing players to send north of the border for the future of this franchise. One key prospect that has emerged is 1B/DH Ryan McBroom (Fredericksburg). McBroom was drafted in the 15th round by the Blue Jays in 2014 out of WVU, and played in 70 games for short season Vancouver, batting .297 with 11 HR and 59 RBIs, and posted a .339 OB%.
The Blue Jays decided to move him up a level to Single-A Lansing.
He delivered BIG TIME!
McBroom has hit .320 with 11 HR and 83 RBIs, and posted a .392 OB%, and all this with a week to go in the season.
McBroom was rewarded for exploits this week when he was named Midwest League MVP and selected to the league’s postseason all-star team.
McBroom will be 24 around opening day 2016.
This blog, FROM VA TO THE SHOW, was started to focus on major league ballplayers who have come from Virginia and made it to the major leagues. I have decided to expand this blog a little bit and start including occasional news and notes on all of Virginia’s minor league baseball teams. Virginia has teams in 4 levels of pro baseball-the Appalachian League, the Carolina League, the Eastern League, and the International League. The teams are: The Norfolk Tides (Baltimore), The Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco), the Potomac Nationals (Washington), the Salem Red Sox (Boston), the Lynchburg Hillcats (Atlanta), Bristol Pirates (Pittsburgh), the Danville Braves (Atlanta), Pulaski Mariners (Seattle), and the Bluefield Blue Jays (Toronto).