Major League Baseball: Top 10 Highlights of 2017

For those of us who miss it already, the season was an unforgettable one — here are the standout moments that kept us enthralled

The Houston Astros capped off this year’s MLB season by claiming the World Series trophy recently (feels like just yesterday). No matter how one feels about that victory or the series overall, it means just one thing for every baseball fan — there will be no big-league games to watch on television for the rest of the fall and winter season.

Football has already taken over sports fans’ full attention — whether for athletic or political reasons — while baseball will be taking a back seat for a while.

It was quite a season of surprises and unforgettable moments, all of which ended with Monday night’s MLB Awards, where Cody Bellinger won Rookie of the Year for the National League, and Aaron Judge won the award for the American League — Judge even scored over 50 home runs this season, beating Mark McGwire’s previous rookie record for homers.

With the season now officially closed, here’s a look back at 10 of the top memories from 2017.

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1.) Giancarlo Stanton chases Roger Maris’ 61. After battling injuries for much of his career, Stanton was fully healed this season and played in a career-high 159 games. During the summer months, he was arguably the most feared hitter in the league. The Miami Marlins outfielder posted 30 home runs over a 54-game span in July and August as he tried to eclipse Maris’ record of 61 home runs. Maris has the most home runs in a Major League Baseball season for someone who was not caught using steroids.

Ultimately, Stanton’s mammoth pace came to a bit of a halt in September, but he still had some home runs left in him and finished the year with 59; it was the highest number in a single season since Barry Bonds (73) and Sammy Sosa (64) had monstrous years in 2001.

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2.) Rookies rise up. In the first half of the season, Aaron Judge’s power was the talk of the league. The New York Yankees right fielder had 30 home runs before the All-Star break. He also won the Home Run Derby and set the rookie record for home runs in a season (52) despite some second-half struggles prior to a red-hot September.

Judge was not the only rookie to produce in this manner, however. In the National League, both Cody Bellinger and Rhys Hoskins showed they, too, may have 50-home run power.

Bellinger snagged the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting first base job from Adrian Gonzalez early in the season and finished the year with 39 home runs in 132 games.

Although Hoskins was not called up until August 10, he is already one of the most well-known hitters in the big leagues. Early in his career, he displayed great power, as he posted 11 home runs in his first 18 big league games. It was the fastest any big leaguer ever hit that many home runs.

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3.) Adrian Beltre makes history. Even at 38 years old and battling injuries, Texas Rangers third baseman Beltre was still one of the best players over the season. He batted .312 in 94 games and hit 17 home runs.

He made history on July 30 by scoring his 3,000th career hit — making him the first Dominican-born player and 31st player in MLB history to achieve the feat.

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4.) Albert Pujols hits his 600th home run. The year 2017 was a terrible one to be Albert Pujols — except for one moment. The designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim launched a grand slam off 2017 All-Star Ervin Santana on June 3 for his 600th career home run. He is just the ninth player in MLB history to reach the mark.

Overall, however, the year was close to disastrous for him. The advanced stat WAR (wins above replacement level player) tries to gauge a player’s worth to a team — and Pujols had the worst WAR in the league on FanGraphs (-2.0) and Baseball Reference (-1.8).

The Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games to win the World Series on November 1 — and no one had more to do with it than center fielder George Springer. He had five home runs over those seven games.

5.) Can’t touch Edinson Volquez. Well-traveled starting pitcher Volquez has played for seven MLB teams over his 13-year big-league career; and for the most part, he’s been pretty average. But on June 3 — the same day Albert Pujols launched his previously mentioned 600th career home run — Volquez pitched the game of his life. The Miami Marlins starter tossed a no-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks, allowing just two walks in the game.

What made the no-hitter more unlikely was that Volquez appeared to hurt his ankle on a collision with the first batter, as he raced toward first base to record an out.

After the game, Volquez dedicated his performance to the late Jose Fernandez, a young Marlins pitcher who died in a boat crash in September of last year.

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6.) Cleveland Indians go streaking. For about three weeks, it looked like the Cleveland Indians were never going to lose a game again. From late August to mid-September, the Indians made history as they won 22 straight games. It was the longest winning streak for a big-league team in the past 100 seasons.

For much of the season, the Indians were favored to win the World Series — but the New York Yankees pulled off a major upset and knocked them out of the American League championship in five games.

However, even with that setback, the Indians’ streak was still history-making — and quite a thing to watch.

7.) Gennett and JD tie with four. For just the second time in MLB history, two players tied the single-game home run record (four) in a season. Of the two, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett reached the feat first. Gennett did so on June 7 against the St. Louis Cardinals and singlehandedly won his team the game as he posted 10 runs.

On September 3, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder JD Martinez achieved this feat as well, making him the 18th player in MLB history to do it.

Martinez finished the season with 45 home runs in just 119 games — and is a free agent this offseason.

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8.) Houston wins after Hurricane Harvey devastates the city. Tragedy struck the Houston area this year in the form of Hurricane Harvey. The tragedy was a major setback to the area, but the Houston Astros helped to slightly ease the pain as the team brought the city together amid their championship run.

The Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games to win the World Series on November 1 — and no one had more to do with it than center fielder George Springer. He had five home runs over those seven games.

The win also provided relief for Astros fans, as it was the team’s first World Series win in their 56th season as a franchise. The Astros endured three straight 100-loss seasons from 2011 to 2013 to reach this point.

It was a well-deserved win overall — and an emotional ending to the MLB season.

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9.) Derek Jeter group buys Miami Marlins. The former face of the New York Yankees is trying to build a franchise of his own. In May, he expressed interest in purchasing the Marlins and eventually went ahead and bought the team with businessman Bruce Sherman.

Jeter is now the CEO of the team — and while bringing in a five-time World Series champ might seem an instant pathway to success, that does not appear true in Miami. The Jeter ownership group is now looking to cut its payroll to undergo a rebuilding phase, according to the Miami Herald. It’s not a good sign, but if Jeter has half the success as an owner that he had as a player, he will be just fine.

10.) The Boston Red Sox go long. The Red Sox won 15 games in extra innings this past season, but none of those were longer than the team’s September 5 bout with the Toronto Blue Jays — the longest game of the season.

The game took an astonishing 19 innings to complete, but Hanley Ramirez hit a walk-off single in the 19th to give his team a 3-2 lead.

In all, the Red Sox used 12 different pitchers and got 13 scoreless innings out of their bullpen.