Every Sunday, The Trailing Runner recaps the past week’s biggest headlines and most exciting performances. On Mondays, keep an eye out for The Leadoff, which breaks down the week ahead.
There was some real drama this week — on the field and off. Catch up on that and more in this week’s edition of The Trailing Runner!
Eruption in Anaheim
Last Sunday, June 26, tensions exploded in Anaheim as the Angels took on the visiting Seattle Mariners. Andrew Wantz hit Jesse Winker with a pitch in the top of the second inning. What followed was one of the largest brawls we’ve seen on a baseball field in recent memory.
The tensions started on June 17, when Justin Upton took a Michael Lorenzen fastball to the helmet. A week later, on June 25, Mike Trout had a scare in the ninth inning as an Erik Swanson fastball narrowly missed up-and-in. Inherently, there will be varying narratives on if those pitches were accidental or on purpose, but the players were taking notes.
Mike Trout was pretty upset about a pitch that buzzed by his helmet in the 9th inning. “If you can’t pitch inside, don’t pitch inside. And if you’re going to hit me, hit me in the ribs. Don’t hit me in the head.”
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) June 26, 2022
Those tensions came to fruition on June 26 when Andrew Wantz first threw behind Julio Rodríguez in the first inning and then hit Winker with the aforementioned fastball in the second. Then, this occurred:
Benches clear!!! 👊@Angels | #GoHalos pic.twitter.com/EUnTTcjW1D
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) June 26, 2022
As expected, the baseball world exploded over this news. The issue of hitting batters as retaliation or as “teaching a lesson” has been a controversial topic all season and this event continues to add to the discussion. The list of suspensions is equally insane:
Suspensions from Angels-Mariners brawl:
– Phil Nevin: 10 games
– Jesse Winker: 7 games
– J.P Crawford, Anthony Rendon, Dom Chiti: 5 games
– Andrew Wantz, Ryan Tepera: 3 games
– Julio Rodriguez, Raisel Iglesias, Ray Montgomery, Manny Del Campo: 2 games
– Bill Haselman: 1 game
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 28, 2022
No one ever wants to see injuries to players, and you hope that any potential bad blood from this AL West matchup will be erased soon. The Angels will visit the Mariners in Seattle on August 5th, and many will be tuning in to see how the two teams react.
Freeman Parts With Agent
Freddie Freeman‘s free agency was one of the top stories this past offseason. The superstar first basemen, coming off a 2021 World Series victory with Atlanta, was already regarded as an Atlanta legend and many expected a reunion between the two. However, Atlanta shocked the baseball world with a trade to acquire Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics, and let Freeman walk in free agency.
Olson is no chump, of course, and Atlanta fans accepted their new first basemen even if it was a little bittersweet. The Dodgers’ faithful were able to celebrate shortly after as Freeman inked a six-year deal to head to one of the best offenses in the league. Though many still wondered how Atlanta and Freeman parted ways, both fanbases seemed to accept the reality and be fairly happy with it. Then, on June 28, this tweet hit the timeline:
Sources: Freddie Freeman, who has told friends he's angry with how his free-agent negotiations played out, is changing representation, away from Excel. He is currently listed as being self-represented.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 28, 2022
While this news seemingly came out of nowhere, many wondered if the anger between Freeman and his agent was revived after Freeman returned to Atlanta for the first-time since leaving the team. The next day on June 29, Doug Gottlieb reported the apparent reason behind the parting.
Casey Close never told Freddie Freeman about the Braves final offer, that is why Freeman fired him. He found out in Atlanta this weekend. It isn’t that rare to have happen in MLB, but it happened – Close knew Freddie would have taken the ATL deal
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) June 29, 2022
Casey Close soon after put out a statement that this claim was false and he never hid any offer from Freeman. Nevertheless, Freeman will represent himself for any future free agency negotiations.
Freeman has still been excellent, batting .307 with 10 HR, 52 R, and 49 RBI in his first season as a Dodger, so it’s difficult to say that his move has impacted his playing. However, this story is an intriguing addition to the behind-the-scenes of the free agent market and one of the most shocking events of the offseason.
Dodgers Distancing the NL West
Speaking of the Dodgers, the expected National League favorites are finally getting a little breathing room in the NL West. The team has held first place in the NL West for a majority of the season, but seemed to be constantly fighting off the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants, who remained a game or two behind them. With their latest streak, the Dodgers may finally be solidifying their spot on top.
The Dodgers are 7-3 in their last 10 games and currently ride a 4 game win streak. The streak has come against the Rockies and Padres, and has been led by offensive performances from Freddie Freeman (.345 AVG, 1.045 OPS, 2 HR, 4 RBI) and Justin Turner (.316 AVG, 1.180 OPS, 3 HR, 6 RBI) and pitching from Tony Gonsolin (13.1 IP, 13 K, 1.35 ERA).
They now hold a 4.5 game lead over the Padres and a 8.5 game lead over the Giants. And for a division that was decided by one game last year, the Dodgers will certainly take that.
Players of the Week
The top offensive performances from the week:
- Rowdy Tellez: 6 R, 5 HR, 12 RBI, .240 AVG, 1.201 OPS
- Christopher Morel: 7 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .385 AVG, 1.215 OPS
- Luis Urías: 6 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .333 AVG, 1.162 OPS
- Paul Goldschmidt (Again): 7 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .435 AVG, 1.326 OPS
And their counterparts on the mound:
- Shane McClanahan: 14 IP, 20 K, 1.29 ERA
- Spencer Strider: 12 IP, 18 K, .75 ERA
- Cristian Javier: 7 IP, 14 K (!!), 1.29 ERA
Around the League
- The Yankees sit atop the AL East and hold the best American League record at 58-21. The Twins are the best team in the Central at 45-36. The Astros lead the West at 50-27.
- The Mets pace the NL East at 48-30. The Brewers have taken back the Central with a 45-35 record, but the Cardinals are only 1 game back. In the West, the Dodgers lead and have the best record in the NL at 49-28.
- Manny Machado, third baseman for the Padres, leads hitters with 4.3 fWAR.
- Kevin Gausman of the Blue Jays continues to lead all pitchers with 3.7 fWAR.
Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)