T.J. Rivera Looks Like the Real Deal

-The K Zone-

July 16th, 2017

Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Mets

T.J. Rivera Looks Like the Real Deal by Mojo Hill

T.J. Rivera has had a remarkably unlikely path to the Majors, going from an undrafted free agent to now the Mets’ starting third baseman. He has always had his doubters, and still does, but he got to the Majors by consistently putting up around a .300 average in the Minors with an above-average OPS despite his lack of walks and power. In 2016, a hitter-friendly park helped him enjoy a career year in Triple-A, winning the PCL batting title with a .353 average, a .909 OPS, a 142 wRC+ and a promotion to the Majors for the first time in his career at the age of 27. He continued his success into the Majors, where he was a key piece in the Mets’ 2016 Wild Card run. He was able to replicate the numbers he had put up during his entire Minors career, batting .333/.345/.443 with a 119 wRC+ in 113 plate appearances.

Rivera’s impressive and somewhat surprising debut stint in the Majors eased some of the concerns scouts had with his game, but plenty of people still had their doubts. The expectation was that Rivera would not be able to hit for a .300+ batting average in the Majors like he did in the Minors due to the tougher competition and better defenses. Rivera proved them wrong by hitting .333, although he was admittedly helped out by an unsustainable but certainly not outrageous .360 BABIP. Rivera posted BABIPs comfortably over .300 in the Minors, so while some regression seemed to be in store for his future, it was certainly not crazy to predict that Rivera would still be able to hold a .300 average in the Majors. If he had any chance of becoming a full-time starter at the highest level, he was going to need to keep that batting average in the vicinity of .300 to make up for his lack of other skills, such as walking, power and defensive ability.

Rivera has always been known as a line drive hitter with an aggressive approach at the plate. He likes to swing early in counts, and as a result he doesn’t walk much, but at the same time he is a contact hitter and doesn’t let his aggressive approach negatively affect his strikeouts. He doesn’t have much natural power, so for him to be successful, he just has to continue focusing on trying to hit line drives to the gaps and swinging at the right pitches.

In his first sample of Major League pitching, he was able to hit line drives at an above-average rate of 23.9%, compared to the MLB average rate of about 21%. It’s worth mentioning that this rate was higher than his typical LD% in the Minors, showing that he was actually hitting more line drives vs. Major League pitching than Minor League pitching. He hit ground balls at a rate of 42.4%, which was also lower than he generally hit in the Minors, and of course, preventing the amount of ground balls you hit leads to more success at the highest level, especially when you’re hitting them to the best infielders in the world. This GB% was slightly lower than the MLB average of about 45%, showing that some work could still be done on his GB% but that it wasn’t a serious problem. He also may have been helped about by a bit of luck on some of these ground balls, as he had a .360 BABIP that was sure to regress a little. Rather than hitting ground balls, the thing he needed to work on was hitting fly balls, which he did at a slightly below average rate of 33.7%. For someone with not a lot of raw power, hitting more fly balls would be beneficial to making the most of whatever power he did have.

Overall, Rivera’s results in the Majors had been a very pleasant surprise, don’t get me wrong. The key thing he showed in his 2016 debut is that he was not over-matched by Major League pitching, continuing to do the same things that made him successful in the Minors. But in 113 plate appearances, he drew a grand total of three walks, which won’t quite cut it if you want to be an everyday starter. In addition to that, he was only making hard contact (according to Fangraphs) 27.2% of the time, below the MLB average of about 31%. Being the line drive hitter that he was, he had the ability to hit the ball harder, and the thing he needed to do was to focus on hitting more fly balls and improving his launch angle by just a tick. This doesn’t mean that he needed to become a completely different hitter, but hitting the ball a little higher in the air more rather than on the ground or in a straight line would benefit him in not only his average but his isolated power, and also help him hit for a BABIP that would be less likely to regress.

Things got off to a bit of a slow start in 2017 due to lack of playing time and a short stint in Triple-A, but as injuries have befuddled the Mets he has received more and more playing time and at this point has basically hit himself into a starting role at third base.

As of July 15th, Rivera has hit .304/.350/.464. A chunk of this production has come in his last ten games where he’s hit nearly .500 en route to a ten-game hitting streak. Still, that batting line is “classic T.J.” At first glance it might seem like a small drop-off from last year, but if you look a little deeper, Rivera has actually improved in quite a few areas compared to last year.

First off, he has slightly decreased his soft contact% since last year by 2% while increasing his hard contact% by 4.2%. Immediately this looks like a recipe for success; hitting the ball harder more often and softer less often cannot be a bad thing.

While hitting the ball harder compared to last year, he’s also hit more fly balls, improving from a slightly below average 33.7% last year to an above average 40.1% this year, while also decreasing his GB% by 6.9%. So he’s hitting the ball harder, he’s hitting more fly balls, and he’s hitting less ground balls. These were all little things that I mentioned earlier that he could tweak to become a more polished hitter, and he has improved slowly but surely in these minor aspects of his game.

But at heart, Rivera is still the same hitter, just a better version of himself. He’s still a line-drive machine, with an LD% just a tiny bit higher this year compared to last year (24.3 vs.23.9). This shows that he has improved on hitting the ball harder and in the air while still playing his usual game. And, as it should, hitting the ball harder has caused his ISOP to increase from .143 to .160, meaning that he’s taking better advantage of the power he has.

While he is still aggressive and still likes to swing early in counts, he’s also improved his walk rate slightly, from a measly 2.7% to a still below average 4.5%, as Rivera’s plate discipline has slightly improved this year. Here’s a graph of his amount of pitches swung at outside the zone (blue), inside the zone (red), and overall (yellow).


He’s become slightly more patient and selective, swinging at more pitches in the zone and less pitches out of the zone. The data also shows that he’s swinging at the right pitches, as here’s a graph of his contact% outside the zone (blue), inside the zone (red), and overall (yellow).


As you can see, he’s making contact at about the same rate on pitches in the zone, while the pitches he’s going after that are outside the zone have generally been better pitches to hit, as you can see by his increased O-Contact%. Even more importantly, he’s swinging and missing less, as last year he swung and missed an above-average 12.1% of the time while this year he’s swinging and missing at a slightly below average rate of 10.2%. Rivera will always be a contact-first type hitter, but he’s tweaked some minor flaws in his game and is actually molding into more of an all-around hitter than people may think.

So why is his batting line appear slightly worse than last year, if he’s doing so many things better? Well, it’s really only his batting average that has declined, and that’s mostly due to a BABIP .024 lower than last year. In the Minors Rivera has always been able to keep a BABIP in the mid-.300s, so with a BABIP of .336 this year and the fact that he’s hitting the ball harder and in the air, there shouldn’t be any regression this year; in fact, his batting average is more likely to go slightly up than down. He’s improved his on-base skill and power to the point where they are still below average skills, but they are respectable enough that his excellence in hitting for average and hitting line drives outweighs them.

So T.J. Rivera really seems like a Major League starter this year, proving that his amazingly consistent Minor League numbers and impressive MLB debut were not flukes. His defense is admittedly mediocre, as he’s accumulated -2.0 defensive WAR in his career according to Fangraphs. But there really is no doubt that he can hit. This guy now has a .322/.367/.439 batting line in 3,225 professional plate appearances, so I think it’s time to stop doubting what he can do and let him play every day, because with the improvements he’s made in his game and the way he’s been able to adjust to Major League pitching, he absolutely deserves it.

We hope you enjoyed this analysis! If you want to read more from us, you can check out my analysis of Kershaw’s postseason numbers, Ian’s look at luck, or any of Mike’s many player interviews. Follows on  Twitter and Instagram are greatly appreciated, and you’ll be the first to know when new content comes out!

Graphs courtesy of Fangraphs.com


Is Kershaw Really a Postseason Choker?

-The K Zone-

July 13th, 2017


Is Kershaw Really a Postseason Choker? by Mojo Hill

Dodgers’ superstar ace Clayton Kershaw has already cemented himself as the greatest starting pitcher of this generation and could go down as one of the best of all time. Despite all his tremendous regular season success, an ongoing narrative has haunted him throughout most of his career, a well-known theory that Kershaw chokes in the postseason and can’t pitch in big games.

But in reality, this actually hasn’t been the case, and the fact that so many people consider Kershaw to be a choke artist speaks more to his amazing regular season dominance than any struggles he’s had in the playoffs. Through 282 starts in the regular season, Kershaw has an outstanding 2.35 ERA and 0.998 WHIP, so anything worse than that in the postseason is going to feel like a disappointment.

The main argument defending Kershaw’s postseason woes for awhile now has been lack of sample size. As Kershaw has reached the playoffs more and more this argument has weakened a little bit but is still relevant, as his 89 total postseason innings pitched is less than half of what Kershaw pitches in a typical regular season. It’s a large enough sample size that we can make some conclusions about how Kershaw has pitched in the playoffs, but not enough that we can judge his true talent level. We have 1892.1 innings of regular season data to judge his true talent level.

Let’s start with the basic statistics. In 18 games (14 starts), Kershaw is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. At first glance these numbers seem not horrific but very underwhelming for what we’ve come to expect from Kershaw. This ERA is a mix of some very good starts and some not so good ones that evens out to a mediocre 4.55.

But as we start delving into the advanced statistics, Kershaw doesn’t look so bad. His FIP is a very good 3.13, with his xFIP about the same at 3.17. These stats take into account the things the pitcher can mostly control, strikeouts, walks and home runs, in an attempt to gauge a pitcher’s true talent level in the sample size given, and are on the same scale as ERA. So in a sense, Kershaw has had some bad luck in the playoffs, and while the results still haven’t been as great as his regular season results, he has still mostly pitched like himself.


But where does this FIP come from, and why is it so much lower than his ERA? FIP takes into account strikeouts, an area in which Kershaw has actually performed better in the postseason than in the regular season. In the regular season, he has averaged 9.88 K/9, while in the postseason, he has averaged 10.72 K/9. He has also kept his walks down in the playoffs, averaging 2.73 BB/9, which is only a little bit worse than his regular season 2.37. As a result, his 21.5 K-BB% in the postseason is nearly identical to his 21.2 regular season K-BB%. So the problems he’s had in the postseason haven’t had to do with walking too many hitters or not striking out any batters. In that regard, he’s still pitched like the Clayton Kershaw we know and love. So where have his issues come from?

The answer to that is a higher average on balls in play, a higher HR/FB%, and a bad bullpen coming in to relieve him. FIP also takes into account home runs, and he has allowed more home runs in the postseason, averaging 1.01 HR/9 (which is still good, just not Kershaw good) versus an outstanding 0.58 HR/9 in the regular season. It’s really not fair to criticize him too much for this since his postseason sample size is still less than half of a regular season. In fact, that 1.01 HR/9 is actually better than his 2017 regular season HR/9 so far, which is a very uncharacteristic 1.22 in a year where he’s been neck-and-neck with Max Scherzer for the Cy Young award. Kershaw has allowed more home runs in the postseason as a result of not only a slightly higher flyball% but also a higher HR/FB%, 10.9 versus 7.7 in the regular season. While this doesn’t mean that he’s been unlucky, it does mean that his HR/FB% is likely to regress closer to his career norms. xFIP takes this into account and the number ends up being virtually the same as his FIP.

In addition to the extra home runs, Kershaw hasn’t been as lucky on balls in play as he has in his career. In the regular season, he’s held a .269 BABIP, which for most pitchers would be thought to be unsustainable, but Kershaw’s pitched for so long now that it’s become clear that he’s just that good. He hasn’t been quite as lucky in the postseason, where he’s allowed a .295 BABIP. And it’s not like Kershaw has allowed way more hard-hit balls in the playoffs than in the regular season, although he has allowed slightly more. He has a 20.1 line drive% in the playoffs, which is just slightly higher but very similar to his 19.8% in the regular season. Pitchers obviously try to prevent line drives, as they often result in hits, and Kershaw has prevented line drives from being hit about as well in the playoffs as in the regular season. So that’s not the problem.

Kershaw has allowed slightly more fly balls, 40.2 FB% versus 34.3%, and this paired with the higher HR/FB% makes for a bad combination and more home runs. He’s still allowed ground balls at a similar rate, only slightly less at 39.7% versus 45.9%. So has Kershaw allowed more well-hit balls in the postseason than in the regular season? Yes, but only slightly, and not enough that he should be considered a choker. The only slight increase in line drives shouldn’t result in as big a gap in BABIP as it actually does, meaning that luck has not quite been on Kershaw’s side the way it has been in the regular season. He’s struck people out like regular season Kershaw, he’s prevented walks like regular season Kershaw, and he’s prevented balls from being well hit only slightly less than regular season Kershaw. That in addition to slightly more fly balls leaving the ballpark has resulted in a really good pitcher that maybe is not quite as good as regular season Kershaw, but still very good and it certainly doesn’t warrant calling him a “choke artist.”


It can also be argued that Kershaw has been overused and over-pressured to do well. He’s been so ridiculously good in the regular season that the expectations are for him to be just as good in the playoffs and to do it practically every three or four days against the best teams in baseball. Anything less and he seem like a disappointment. People often overlook the great moments he’s had in the playoffs, like when he came out of the bullpen against the Nationals to save a tight game or when he dominated the eventual World Champion Cubs in game 2 of the 2016 NLCS. As a result of high expectations and trust in Kershaw, he has perhaps been left in games slightly longer than he maybe should have.

An occurrence that has plagued Kershaw in the postseason a few teams is going deep into games and then getting hit around before his exit from the game. He’s often left with men on base, and the relievers coming in after him haven’t exactly been kind to him, allowing nine of the fourteen runners he’s left on base to score. Let’s say the bullpen comes in and dominates, stranding all fourteen of those runners, and his postseason ERA jumps from 4.55 all the way down to 3.64.

Also remember that in the playoffs, teams are in their full strength and effort, doing everything they possibly can to try and win. These are the best teams in baseball, the teams that had everything working well enough for 162 games to make it past all the other teams and into the playoffs. The offenses Kershaw has to face in the playoffs are going to generally be better than the average offense he might face throughout the season. It is not uncommon for great pitchers to have slightly worse results in the playoffs. Madison Bumgarner, a famous “postseason hero” for the Giants, has a postseason FIP only 0.02 better than Kershaw’s and an xFIP 0.43 worse than Kershaw’s. Luck can go in very different directions for some pitchers in small sample sizes, and this is a perfect example.

Look at Pedro Martinez. In more postseason innings pitched than Kershaw, he has a significantly worse FIP/xFIP (3.75/4.31) despite an unsustainable low BABIP of .257, lower than his regular season .279. And no one thinks of him as a postseason “choker.” Greg Maddux, another all-time great, also has a worse FIP/xFIP (3.66/4.45) than Kershaw in even more innings pitched (198). And nobody considers him a postseason choker. Roger Clemens is the same deal. 3.52 FIP, 3.91 xFIP in 199 innings pitched. These pitchers are still considered all-time greats despite having postseason numbers that are arguably worse than Kershaw’s.

This really goes to show just how good Kershaw has been in the regular season. He puts up godlike numbers and then when he puts up “only” good numbers in the playoffs, it seems like he’s bad in comparison. When you look at the aforementioned fellow all-time greats, it’s clear that Kershaw is not the first great pitcher to have a little trouble in the playoffs.

So has Kershaw been as utterly dominant in the playoffs as in the regular season? No. But has he been a choke artist who gives up eight runs every time he’s put under pressure? No, not at all. He has had some rough outings in the postseason, particularly against the Cardinals, where he hasn’t been able to dominate and take control of the game quite like normal, but he has also had plenty of good moments of great pitching and when he’s left with runners on base, his bullpen has mostly let him down. All he really needs is one great World Series run to erase this ongoing narrative once and for all. No matter what, these small hiccups in the playoffs shouldn’t diminish the legendary career that Clayton Kershaw is in the midst of.


Ty Kelly; Utilizing his role on the Phillies

The K Zone

July 12th 2017

Ty Kelly

Interviewed By Mike Duffy



Mike Duffy: I was wondering  when you go from high school, minor leagues, to the majors, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Ty Kelly: The biggest challenge at each stage is dealing with the new surroundings. You want to fit in and help the team at first and then work up to standing out and being a key player on the team.


Mike Duffy: What have you done best this season?

Ty Kelly: My best moment this season was getting a go-ahead pinch hit double against Chris Sale.

Mike Duffy: What is your favorite thing about being a Philly?

Ty Kelly: My favorite thing about Philly is all the history here and getting to explore the museums.



Mike Duffy: Do you miss anything from the mets?

Ty Kelly: I miss the guys with the team and the city itself. It’s an amazing place to play every day.

Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Ty Kelly: I have a lot of hobbies. I enjoy making music, writing, and outdoor activities during the offseason in San Diego.


Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Ty Kelly: My favorite player growing up was Chipper Jones. He was a switch-hitting infielder like me.


Mike Duffy: Who has been the hardest pitcher you have faced?

Ty Kelly: The toughest pitcher I’ve ever faced was probably Yordano Ventura in the minor leagues.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite stadium?

Ty Kelly: My favorite stadium to play in is AT&T Park in San Francisco. I grew up close to it and it is beautiful.


Mike Duffy: What are your favorite movies and tv shows?

Ty Kelly: My favorite movie is “Inglourious Basterds” and favorite show is “Seinfeld.”



Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Ty Kelly: If I’m struggling I try to step back and look at the bigger picture.

Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Ty Kelly: I didn’t know how good I was at baseball until my sophomore year of college when I transferred to UC Davis and had a lot of success.


Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite thing about being a utility guy?

Ty Kelly: My favorite thing about being a utility guy being used in a bunch of different facets. It never gets boring!

Mike Duffy: Whats the hardest thing about being a utility guy?

Ty Kelly: The hardest thing is not knowing when or where you’ll go into the game every day.

Mike Duffy: What are your hopes for the Phillies?

Ty Kelly: My hopes for the Phillies are that I get to stick around and help out a team of young guys as they grow into successful big leaguers.


For more Interviews Click Here

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Thanks for reading!


Scott Braun; Becoming a Broadcaster

The K Zone

July 4th 2017

Scott Braun

Interviewed By Mike Duffy



Mike Duffy: What was your favorite team growing up?
Scott Braun: I was a Mets fan growing up.


Mike Duffy: Did you play baseball growing up? When did you know you wanted to become a broadcaster instead?
Scott Braun: I played little league but at age 10 I figured out that my chances of becoming a pro athlete were slim. I needed a plan B and I loved talking sports. That’s when I started digging in to broadcasting.

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 2.44.18 PM

Mike Duffy: How did you first start on the path if broadcasting?
Scott Braun: I went to broadcast camps and programs. I practiced all the time in front of the TV.

Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite part of your job?
Scott Braun: The best part of my job is entertaining people and providing a great escape for them from some of the tough real-life stuff going on everyday.


Mike Duffy: Who is your favorite co-anchor on the MLB Network?
Scott Braun: My favorite (and only) co-anchor on  MLBN is Kelly Nash. Everyone else I work with on-air is an analyst (former player, writer, etc)


Mike Duffy: What was it like being at the draft?
Scott Braun: The best part of the draft is watching a kid get his named called. All of the hard work and dedication is recognized.

Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite kind on interview setting?
Scott Braun: My favorite part is interviewing the players in a casual setting in a separate studio on Facebook/Insta Live show. They can finally take a deep breath and have fun. I feel like Larry King on those interviews.


Follow Scott Braun on Instagram and Twitter @Scottbraun
For more Interviews Click Here

Corey Copping; Pitching his way through the lineup

The K Zone

July 3rd 2017

Corey Copping

Interviewed By Mike Duffy



Mike Duffy: I was wondering  when you go from high school, minor leagues, to the majors, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Corey Copping: Biggest challenge was everyone is good, the lineups are stacked from top to bottom.

Mike Duffy: What did you do best last season?

Corey Copping: Best thing last season was getting invited to the Arizona Fall League!


Mike Duffy: This offseason what did you work on the most to help you improve?

Corey Copping: This offseason I worked on getting bigger and stronger

Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite thing about being a Dodger?

Corey Copping: My favorite thing about being a Dodger is probably playing for the most well known sports organization and traditions.


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Corey Copping: Golfing & fishing.


Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Corey Copping: Barry bonds.


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite Stadium?

Corey Copping: Dodger stadium


Mitchell Hansen: Good Will Batting

The K Zone

June 28th 2017

Mitchell Hansen

Interviewed By Mike Duffy


Mike Duffy: I was wondering  when you go from high school, minor leagues, to the majors, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Mitchell Hansen: It might not be a challenge but always be in confident in yourself. No matter how big of stage.

Mike Duffy: What did you do best last season?

Mitchell Hansen: I think I did a great job at controlling what I can control and always being a good teammate.

Mike Duffy: This offseason what did you work on the most to help you improve?

Mitchell Hansen: Continuing on working on my swing and defense.


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite thing about being a Dodger?

Mitchell Hansen: Love all the Dodger history and culture.

Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Mitchell Hansen: Golfing.


Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Mitchell Hansen: Josh Hamilton.


Mike Duffy: What went through your mind when you were drafted?

Mitchell Hansen: Very blessed and honored to be drafted by a great organization.

Mike Duffy: Who is the hardest pitcher you faced last season?

Mitchell Hansen: I don’t have a specific one.

Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite stadium?

Mitchell Hansen: Globe Life Park in Arlington.


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite movie?

Mitchell Hansen: Good will hunting.


Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Mitchell Hansen: Always trust in God!

Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Mitchell Hansen: Since I can remember!

Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite thing about being an outfielder?

Mitchell Hansen: I love being able to making a great play and help out your pitcher and team.


For more interviews Click Here

Kole Enright; Becoming a Ranger!

The K Zone

June 26th 2017

Kole Enright

Interviewed By Mike Duffy


Kole Enright was on the path to college until the scout who recruited him resigned and Kole’s scholarship was unfortunately pulled. Luckily, that June he was drafted in the third round by the Texas Rangers with the 99th pick of the 2016 Draft. He is currently the #22 Prospect for the Texas Rangers and is rising rapidly.  Recently he was visited by Adrian Beltre and he shared with Kole the wisdom of making sure to always enjoy the game. He also told him to make sure to always have a better attitude than your talent level.


Mike Duffy: I was wondering  when you go from high school, minor leagues, to the majors, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Kole Enright: Not trying to do more than you are capable of doing with each jump.

Mike Duffy: What did you do best last season?

Kole Enright: Make adjustments from game to game and from at bat to at bat.

Mike Duffy: Favorite thing about being a Ranger?

Kole Enright: Being a part of a great developmental staff and a great fan base.


Mike Duffy: Favorite hobby besides baseball?

Kole Enright: Playing the guitar and learning card tricks.


Mike Duffy: Favorite baseball player growing up?

Kole Enright: Chipper Jones no doubt!


Mike Duffy: Hardest pitcher you faced last season?

Kole Enright: Henderson Alvarez or Daulton Jeffries who are both from Oakland.


Mike Duffy: Favorite stadium?

Kole Enright: Sloan park/ Chicago cubs.  I hit my first homer there.


Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Kole Enright: I had a great hitting coach who always had my back and helped me get through whatever I was going through on or off the field.


Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Kole Enright: Wanted to play professional baseball my whole life. Since I was born!

Mike Duffy: Favorite thing about being a third baseman?

Kole Enright: I play all over the infield now but at 3B I enjoy the reaction plays/slow rollers.



Jonathan Hernandez: Throwing Gas

-The K Zone-

May 21st 2017

Jonathan Hernandez

Interview By Mike Duffy


Currently the Texas Rangers 18th top prospect Jonathan Hernandez overcame multiple roadblocks in his career before ultimately being signed on Jan. 30, 2013  for $300,000 at the age of 16. Just like the cars in his favorite movies his fastball can reach the high 90s. As a kid and still to this day, people don’t expect him to throw lighting when weighing about 175 pounds. Baseball is in his blood like many other pro-ball players, as his Dad made it to the majors. Here is the story of a boy in the Dominican Republic who is living his dream, but is working harder than ever before to have a taste of MLB life.

Mike Duffy: Do you mind sharing your story about being singed in The Dominican Republic?

Jonathan Hernandez: So as you know I sign in the Dominican Republic in 2013 is a difficult and hard process. Everyday I pushed my mind  on the field everyday. I’m pitching you know and it was difficult you know, watching a lot of guys with a lot of talent playing with me. I would say  wow maybe they going to sing but I don’t have any chance with those guys here. But I always talk positive to myself that I can be better than everybody. I don’t care what the people say, I know that I can do it better and that what I do every time. I give a self evaluation, and  talk to myself a lot! I saw a lot of guy throwing 95MPH when I was 16 years old and I say wow I only throw 86-87 but few years later when I came a pro and I work in the right way I saw a lot of guys of those throwing 90 to 95 and I’m throwing 93 to 98. Some guys told me before  that I don’t look like I throw hard because they say you’re too skinny. I only say ok no problem , now I show to those guys what I can do you know!

Mike Duffy: So how did you transition from playing in the Dominican Republic to playing in the United States?

Jonathan Hernandez: I grew up mentally which was the best that I did last season!

Mike Duffy: This offseason what did you work on the most to help you improve?

Jonathan Hernandez: I worked all the time in the bullpen to get better throwing the ball in the spot that I wanted to place it.

Mike Duffy: What is your favorite thing about being a Ranger?

Jonathan Hernandez: Being a Ranger is very special! It is a pretty good organization! Well it is not a organization, it is a family. Everybody takes care of one another.


Mike Duffy: What is your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Jonathan Hernandez: It would have to be getting to watch Lebron James play.


Mike Duffy:  Favorite baseball player growing up?

Jonathan Hernandez: My favorite player growing up was my Father!!


Jonathan Hernandez: And when my Dad retired it was Alex Rodríguez!


Mike Duffy: Who was the hardest bater you faced last season?

Jonathan Hernandez: Josh Tobias one guy that was in the phillies organization now he is with the Red Sox.

(the phillies traded Josh Tobias to the Boston red Soxs for Clay Buchholz)


Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite stadium that you’ve  played in?

Jonathan Hernandez: My favorite stadium is the affiliate that I play called the blue claws. The  stadium is in Lakewood and it is  the affiliate of the Phillies.

LakewoodBlueclaws FirstEnergy Park.jpg

Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite movie?

Jonathan Hernandez: My favorite movie is Fast and Furious 2.


Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Jonathan Hernandez: I always say in my mind that i can do it always no matter what is the result.

Mike Duffy: When did you know you wanted to play professional baseball?

Jonathan Hernandez: I knew that like when I was 15 years old and a half.

Top 20 Baseball Players

K Zone Master Ranking Mike’s Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking
 1) CF Mike Trout (LAA)  CF Mike Trout (LAA)  SP Clayton Kershaw (LAD)  SP Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
 2) SP Clayton Kershaw (LAD)  3B Kris Bryant (CHC)  CF Mike Trout (LAA)  CF Mike Trout (LAA)
 3) 3B Kris Bryant (CHC)  RF Mookie Betts (BOS)  RF Mookie Betts (BOS)  1B Joey Votto (CIN)
 4) RF Mookie Betts (BOS)  SP Clayton Kershaw (LAD)  3B Kris Bryant (CHC)  2B Daniel Murphy (WSH)
 5) 3B Nolan Arenado (COL)  3B Manny Machado (BAL)  3B Josh Donaldson (TOR)  3B Kris Bryant (CHC)
 6) SS Corey Seager (LAD)  3B Nolan Arenado (COL)  3B Nolan Arenado (COL)  SS Corey Seager (LAD)
 7) 3B Manny Machado (BAL)  SS Corey Seager (LAD)  2B Jose Altuve (HOU)  1B Miguel Cabrera (DET)
 8) 1B Joey Votto (CIN)  2B Robinson Cano (SEA)  1B Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)  RF Mookie Betts (BOS)
 9) 3B Josh Donaldson (TOR)  SS Francisco Lindor (CLE)  1B Miguel Cabrera (DET)  3B Nolan Arenado (COL)
 10) 2B Jose Altuve (HOU)  SS Carlos Correa (HOU) 1B Joey Votto (CIN)  CL Kenley Jansen (LAD)
 11) 2B Daniel Murphy (WSH) SP Chris Sale (BOS) 3B Manny Machado (BAL) 3B Josh Donaldson (TOR)
 12) 1B Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) SP Justin Verlander (DET) SS Corey Seager (LAD) 1B Paul Goldshmidt (ARI)
 13) 2B Robinson Cano (SEA)  2B Daniel Murphy (WSH) SS Trea Turner (WSH) CF Charlie Blackmon (COL)
 14) SS Trea Turner (WSH) 2B Jose Altuve (HOU) SP Max Scherzer (WSH) C Buster Posey (SF)
 15) SS Francisco Lindor (CLE) C Buster Posey (SF) LF Nelson Cruz (SEA) 1B Freddie Freeman (ATL)
 16) SS Carlos Correa (HOU) SS Trea Turner (WSH) 1B Anthony Rizzo (CHC) SP Kyle Hendricks (CHC)
 17) C Buster Posey (SF) SP Corey Kluber (CLE) 1B Freddie Freeman (ATL) RP Andrew Miller (CLE)
 18) CL Kenley Jansen (LAD) 1B Edwin Encarnacion (CLE) 2B Robinson Cano (SEA) CL Zach Britton (BAL)
 19) 1B Freddie Freeman (ATL) 1B Joey Votto (CIN) LF Ryan Braun (MIL) 2B Jose Altuve (HOU)
 20) SP Chris Sale (BOS)  3B Evan Longoria (TB) CF Charlie Blackmon (COL) 2B Robinson Cano (SEA)

Well, here it is. The top 20 Players in all of Baseball. For explanation on why each individual is so great, look at their individual lists here (I’m not going to write it all again). Our top 10 Series may be finished, but we still come out with great new content on a weekly basis. Be the first to see it all by following us on Twitter and Instagram. For now, you can see projections for division and award winners. Enjoy the season, hopefully accompanied with our writing!