LOS ANGELES — There’s something going on with Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant that is bigger than the National League MVP race. Few teammates — and certainly not Bryant himself — want to go there yet, but those observing him can: Bryant is a Hall of Fame player in the making.
This isn’t about a bold prediction or being able to say “I told you so” years later. This is about appreciating and understanding what we’re seeing develop in front of our eyes. And that’s knowing how extremely tough the daily struggle in baseball is and how long and how good — and healthy — you actually have to be to make the Hall of Fame.
But Daniels has also hired managers, Ron Washington and Banister, who excel as communicators and set expectations.
Neither has a bunch of rules, and they don’t mind players with personality as long as they play hard.
Still, baseball is a game built around the discipline required to play 162 games in 183 days.
“We don’t expect you to change anything, but we do expect you to embrace our organizational concepts of accountability of work and having a certain responsibility to yourself and teammates,” said former Ranger Michael Young, who was recently inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame and now serves as an assistant to Daniels.
“If they embrace those things, they have all the freedom in the world to be themselves, but there’s a certain conduct that’s expected. There’s an unwritten code of what a Ranger is supposed to look like, so either fall in line or get of town. It’s simple.”
Anyway, Gomez hit a three-run jack off Josh Tomlin in the second inning, and Cole Hamels made another Cy Young statement with just two hits allowed over eight scoreless in a 9-0 shutout of the Indians. Cleveland’s lead over Detroit is down to 4 1/2 games. The Cleveland rotation, so good most of the season, ranks 26th in the majors in August, with a 6.13 ERA.
Two pitches later, Gomez hit his first homer as a Ranger, a three-run blast that led Texas to a 9-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.
“I feel so blessed,” Gomez said after the game. “To come from not having a job to a team in first place and to start like this right away is a gift from God.”
And just like that, the Rangers’ latest reclamation project made an impact on the team with the American League’s best record.
This is a team that’s been known to take chances on players.
General manage Jon Daniels has done it with players with off-field concerns such as Josh Hamilton (twice), Milton Bradley and Matt Bush, and now Jeremy Jeffress, who was suspended twice in the minors for violating the league’s drug policy and was jailed at 5:13 a.m. Friday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Daniels has also done it with players that have more on-field concerns, such as Manny Ramirez (who never made it out of Triple-A), Ian Desmond coming off a down year in Washington and now Gomez.
Houston released Gomez because he didn’t produce on the field — a .210 average with five homers and 29 RBIs this season — and because the Astros grew weary of his over-the-top antics, whether it was swinging so hard his batting helmet fell off or making too many mental mistakes in the field for a former Gold Glove outfielder.