Hey, everyone. You may or may not know by now that one common usage of the BP Annual is to play a little game where you eliminate contextual information and have people try to guess who the player might be. This game has been around mostly in podcast (or in-person) form, but we thought with baseball on hiatus we’d bring it to our electronic pages. Feel free to make your guesses in the comments. We’ll update tomorrow (or later) with correct answers. You can order the Annual and play this game (or just plain enjoy it) in your home, your spouse’s home, or your gazebo here. Shouts to the now defunct Defensive Indifference podcast for introducing me to it.
1. _____ has long been a mercurial prospect, and at a glance, his numbers imply he made progress after a disappointing 2018 season. With _____ though, surprises lurk at every turn. In this era of PCL baseball, a .289/.330/.504 slash line is below par; his slugging percentage was actually one of the lowest marks on the team. That leaves _____ more or less where we found him this time last year. He’s still the fastest guy on the field, but he strikes out too often, probably won’t hit enough to make an impact and ultimately projects as a utility man.
2. _____ enters 2020 as the baseball version of the “Will Smith standing in an empty room at the end of Fresh Prince” meme, the last remaining player from the 40-man roster GM _____ inherited in September 2015. A relatively dismal 2018 prompted _____ to arrive to spring training in, you guessed it, the best shape of his life. Clichés aside, the veteran did report leaner and more flexible than ever before, to the point where some teammates hardly recognized him from a distance and his uniforms weren’t even fitting quite right. Hand surgery in March delayed the debut of his new physique until May, but after a slow start, _____’s bat started to look more familiar. A scorching hot August helped propel him to his eighth (!) consecutive 20-plus homer season, tied for the longest active streak in the majors alongside Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnación, and Mike Trout. He appears to have staved off baseball hitter mortality for now, but the Grim Reaper (the shift) still looms large.
3. Imagine being a kid and being told two things. First, you get to go to a candy store. Next, you get to do whatever you want in that candy store for a limited amount of time but then the grown-ups will have to come in and take care of you once your time is up. The kid probably wouldn’t care about anything that was said to them after “whatever you want in that candy store,” and they would just proceed to run as wild as humanly possible. That’s what _____ did for his first 30 games in the bigs, as he hit .298/.336/.628 with 11 home runs and a whopping 32 RBI. He was grabbing all of the sweets and tearing through each bag with little regard for himself or others in his path. Then the alarm went off. The grown-ups found out that he had trouble with anything other than a fastball and that was the end, for now. When he’s older and figures out how to hit breaking balls, the whole league will be his candy store.
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