There has been some buzz around Tim Tebow of late. After a slow start, he went 2-for-4 on Thursday, raising his average for Double-A Binghamton to .318 in June and .261/.335/.398 with five home runs on the season.
"Tim Tebow suddenly looking like a pro baseball player," was the headline in Wednesday's New York Post. "I saw him last year at Columbia," Hartford manager Warren Schaeffer told the Post. "He's a tough out right now. We had a really tough time against Tim Tebow. He hits fastballs well. He's a strong kid. His approach has gotten a lot better."
"Sorry, haters, Tim Tebow's 'starting to thrive' in Double-A," read the headline Thursday at MLive.com, which quotes Harrisburg manager Matt Lecroy from the same story in the Post saying, "We've got guys who've been playing five, six, seven years not having the success he's had at Double-A. A lot of people thought he could not do that and now he's starting to thrive in Double-A."
The headline at The Big Lead was more in your face: "Tim Tebow Update: Just Call Him Up Already." The author's reasoning: "Get Tebow to The Show whether he's earned it or not. This may be the closest he comes to earning it. If it's going to happen soon, why not now?"
The whole Tim Tebow act might not interest you, die-hard baseball fan and protector of purity, but the casual sports fan is very interested. Tebow is popular. He's likable. He's a big name.
Is he a major league baseball player? Not really. Even in his 22-game hot streak this month, he has just one home run with 21 strikeouts and just three walks. That ratio isn't going to work over the long term. He's also hitting .318 this month thanks to a .455 average on balls in play, and even if all those hits have been rockets, he's not going to keep up a .455 BABIP.
On top of that, the rest of his game is limited. The report on his outfield play has never been positive, and he has seen all his action in left field. If you've seen highlights, you'll see he's not very fast, despite his history as a running quarterback back in the day at Florida. So if viewed through the lens of a traditional prospect, his hitting would have to carry him to the majors, and that tool is still mediocre.
Compare Tebow to former Binghamton teammate Peter Alonso, who was promoted to Triple-A after hitting .314/.440/.573 with 15 home runs in 65 games. That's a hitting prospect. Jeff McNeil is a 26-year-old infielder also just promoted to Las Vegas after hitting .327/.402/.626 for Binghamton. He wasn't even viewed as one of the Mets' top 30 prospects entering the season.
Does Tebow deserve a call-up to the majors ahead of one of those two?
Of course, Tebow isn't a traditional prospect, and you do have to acknowledge he has done better than expected given his lack of baseball experience. Still, he turns 31 in August, and if his name was Jim Jebow, he wouldn't be on a Double-A roster at his age with his tools. That doesn't mean the hapless Mets won't consider a September cameo if there's a space open on the 40-man roster. Given everything else that has happened with the Mets this season, I guess you can view that possibility as either an embarrassment to the franchise or the best thing that will happen to it all year.
Does Tebow deserve call up to the majors?
Jalen Rose doesn't see a downside for the Mets giving Tim Tebow a shot in the big leagues.
The Nationals need to find some offense: Aaron Nola continued his monster first half, as he held the Nationals to one run over 7 2/3 innings in a 4-3 win for the Phillies. (The Nationals made it interesting with two runs in the ninth before Seranthony Dominguez came on to get the final two outs.) My favorite part of the game was that Gabe Kapler left Nola in for 114 pitches, a season high, and to -- heaven forbid -- actually face the top of the order a fourth time.
Wilmer Difo led off the eighth inning with a base hit, but Kapler left Nola in to face leadoff hitter Bryce Harper and No. 2 hitter Anthony Rendon. He struck out Harper and got Rendon to fly out, then left after walking Juan Soto, with Adam Morgan getting Daniel Murphy to escape the inning.
Is it time to worry about the Washington offense? The Nationals have gone 8-15 in June while hitting .228/.296/.334 and averaging just 3.52 runs per game. The Royals have had one of the worst offensive months you'll ever see, averaging just 2.21 runs per game, and they've actually outhomered the Nats 13 to 12.
Obviously, Harper has struggled big time, hitting .188/.305/.313 with one home run, seven runs and six RBIs. Difo has played nearly every game and hit .220/.226/.305. Murphy's return from the DL has been a struggle, with a .184/.216/.204 line in 51 plate appearances. Soto has been amazing, but you're in trouble if you're looking for a 19-year-old to carry the offense. If Harper and Murphy don't hit, the Nationals will miss the playoffs.
Jesus Aguilar makes All-Star bid: The Brewers started the season with three first-base options in Eric Thames, Ryan Braun and Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar was the third choice. He started just two of the team's first 13 games. He didn't start consecutive games at first base until May 1 and 2. The Brewers could have traded him, but they knew he could hit lefties, and the fact they didn't trade him shows there was always some doubt about the Braun-to-first base experiment.
Now Aguilar is the best hitter on the team. He went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in a 6-4 win over the Reds and is up to .313/.373/.645 with 19 bombs and 54 RBIs:
There has been a lot of talk of getting Jesus Aguilar to the All-Star Game but if he keeps this up, he's going to be firmly in the discussion for NL MVP. Has put this team on his broad shoulders and carried it.— Tom (@Haudricourt) June 27, 2018
"In this house, we revere the name of Jesus Aguilar. The greatest athlete to walk this earth."— Sam Dekker (@dekker) June 29, 2018
Aguilar leads the majors with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs with two strikes, but first things first. Freddie Freeman will win the fan vote and deservedly so. Does Aguilar win the player vote as the backup? Given his late surge and lack of pedigree before this season, it seems that vote probably will go to Brandon Belt or Joey Votto or Anthony Rizzo or Paul Goldschmidt (although Votto, Rizzo and Goldschmidt all got off to slow starts and the player voting seems to done by mid-June or so). It's possible Aguilar makes it as a third first baseman, although that depends on how the roster fills out once you make sure every team has a rep and so on.
In terms of WAR, Aguilar is quite a ways down the list, at 2.0 entering Thursday, ranking seventh among NL first basemen, but some of that is because he doesn't have as much playing time. Among NL players with at least 150 PAs, he's second in OPS only to Max Muncy, another big surprise.
The MVP case would rely more on "carrying the team" than a WAR argument. Considering the Milwaukee offense is only middle of the pack, Aguilar has been huge. His Win Probability Added doesn't rank among the league leaders, so there doesn't appear to be evidence he has been extra-special in high-leverage situations. Still, he has turned into one of the best stories of the season, and a trip to D.C. would be a nice reward.
Red Sox acquire Steve Pearce: Looking for some help against left-handers, the Red Sox picked up Pearce from the Blue Jays late Thursday. It will be interesting to see where they deploy him. The obvious platoon is with Jackie Bradley Jr., with Andrew Benintendi sliding over to center and Pearce or J.D. Martinez playing left. He also could platoon at first with Mitch Moreland, although the Red Sox love Moreland's defense at first. It will be interesting to see if they try Pearce at second base. He hasn't played there the past two seasons but did start 27 games there in 2015-16. He has also played 70 innings at third base, so he could be a platoon partner for Rafael Devers.