Rejoice, baseball fans: The 2019 season is underway. With a new season comes new hopes, new expectations and new UConn in the MLB articles. Though the season is only a few weeks old, these four former Huskies are constant presences in their respective team’s lineups.
Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox
Barnes may actually be the only good thing the Red Sox have going for them right now. He’s pitched 4.1 innings in three games and has given up just one hit and no runs. Barnes is coming off the best year of his career, a 3.65 ERA season in 61.2 innings for the world champions. After Craig Kimbrel departed in free agency, many Sox fans called on Cora to make Barnes the closer, but the Sox skipper said there won’t be a specific closer this season. Nevertheless, Barnes remains an essential part of the Red Sox bullpen that always has its doubters.
Nick Ahmed, Arizona Diamondbacks
Though the Diamondbacks aren’t projected to win more than 75 games this season, Ahmed remains a constant presence in the seven hole. He ranks fourth in the NL in runs (10) and second in stolen bases (two) and has a .308 batting average with six RBIs. Ahmed, of course, is coming off a gold glove season at shortstop, cementing himself as one of the best defenders in the game. While defensive metrics are finnicky and typically hard to measure for a player’s worth, the eye test does Ahmed just fine. He’ll continue to be one of the DBacks’ more solid performers in an otherwise forgettable year in Arizona.
George Springer, Houston Astros
It’s still hard to talk about Springer without bringing up his World Series MVP honors from two years ago. And he’s coming off a 2018 season where he further cemented his postseason legacy, becoming the all-time Astros leader in postseason home runs with 10. At the beginning of the 2019 campaign, he homered on opening day for the third year in a row, tying Khris Davis for the longest active streak of opening day homers in the majors. He drove in three runs on opening day against the Rays in a 5-1 win and has driven in four runs since then. He’s gotten at least one hit in all but one game so far and has three homers in 11 games.
Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies
Oberg didn’t give up a single run in spring training in 10.1 innings pitched, but he wasn’t pitching at Coors then. He’s only appeared in two games this season, pitching 2.2 innings with three hits and one earned run on a homer. Oberg has walked three batters so far, which is 25 percent of his walk total from last year (12 walks in 58.2 IP). Oberg is coming off what was undoubtedly his best year—a career-best 2.45 ERA in a career-high 58.2 innings pitched with a career-best 57 strikeouts. He was an integral part of a team that made its first postseason appearance past the wild card game since 2009. It’s going to be a tough battle for the NL West with the Dodgers atop most power rankings, but it’ll be fun to watch those two teams battle it out in 2019.