We've all heard the recent turkey gobble about Gleyber Torres leading the Arizona Fall Instructional League in hitting. The 19-year-old SS - he turns 20 on December 13 - is hitting .392, odds on favorite to being named league MVP.
Of course, this has empowered the happy talkers into quickly declaring a Cashmanic victory in the great Chapman Trade of 2016 - gleefully ignoring that little bit of news about the Cubs winning somethingorother. And listen: I'm all for happy talk, wherever we can find it. But while were spraying ourselves with champagne, here's a list to chew on.
2006 Chip Cannon (24)
2007 Sam Fuld (25)
2008 Tommy Hanson (21)
2009 Grant Desme (23)
2010 Dustin Ackley (22)
2011 Nolan Arenado (20)
2012 Chris McGuiness (24)
2013 Kris Bryant (21)
2014 Greg Bird (21)
2015 Adam Engel (23)
Those are the Arizona league's last 10 MVPs, with their ages in parenthesis.
But before you slit a wrist, keep in mind that last year, some fellow named Gary Sanchez led the league in HRs (with 7) and batted .295. (Also, Clint Frazier - then an Indian prospect - hit .281 with 3 HR, and Tyler Austin - then a Yankee lost cause - reclaimed some status with .272 and 3.)
But here, HERE is the tidbit of true hope advertised in the headline. Yesterday, one of those former MVPs - our Greg Bird, recovering from shoulder surgery - went 2 for 3.
Bird's had a tough go of it. He can't yet play 1B. And his average - thanks to the two hits - has risen to .179. Ugh.
But listen: One of those hits yesterday was a bunt single against the over-shift.
Ah... a bunt single against an over-shift...
1) I don't recall Bird in 2015 being such a dead-pull hitter that defenses realigned against him. As he slowly returns to baseball, let's hope he doesn't go the Teixeira path - pulling everything he sees. If he does, the .179 average is a worse omen than we think.
2) Fuckit. He bunted. HOT DAMN! He simply laid one down and beat it out. That's a single, folks. That's a hit. Thank God, somebody in the desert has his ear. Because if defenses are going to adjust on Bird, he must learn to adjust on them. It's how the Royals won two years ago, how the Cubs won two weeks ago, and how the Indians almost made it.
In fact, nothing more irritated me than watching post-season cleanup hitters do what the Yankee superstars didn't do - hit to the opposite field. To the detriment of their teams - and in Tex's case, to the end of his once Hall of Fame career - they swung away.
Bird bunted. Sometimes, when a Phoenix rises in the desert, it only needs to fly 20 feet. And sometimes, it's the little things that justify big hopes.