The following is Friday’s edition of the TMI column. For more columns, please visit Two On One Out.

Jason Heyward may be dominating the front page of the Rookie Times this year, but he’s not the only one worthy of mention.

Not by a long shot.

Strikeouts aside, you native Detroiters you know of whom I speak.

You see, baseball is a sport that is constantly seeking the next Albert Pujols, or at least another baseball god who has managed to keep his name clean to this point in his career.

Since that’s the case, the league shouldn’t be disappointed by the rookie crop of 2010.

Thanks to the last six years, we’ve seen players such as Joe Mauer, Ryan Braun, and Hanley Ramirez rise to the top of the sport, free and clear of all questions regarding steroids.

Well, we think so…

Whoops, sorry—didn’t mean to stick the needle so close to your bubble.

Since 2004, the year where steroid testing was officially mandated, the league has enjoyed the arrival of a number of talented young players who have shot through the minor league system unscathed and are squeaky clean.

Robinson Cano is turning into a star, Prince Fielder is every vegetarian’s delight, Pablo Sandoval has won over every Bay Area resident with his Kung Fu Panda moniker, Matt Garza has reclaimed a respect for really bad goatees, and Tim Lincecum has proved that even potheads find success (seriously though, this guy is dedicated—he just likes his leafy greens!).

Oh, and let’s not forget David Wright and his recent commercial with The Situation. Classic!

I’m not forgetting the others; I’m just trying to keep this list from growing like a really nasty ingrown hair.

Here’s the thing: With other sports still remaining clean (or, at least, out of the headlines) in the performance-enhancing drug department, and with certain major league players (Manny Ramirez and Edinson Volquez, to name two) still testing positive for ‘roids, Major League Baseball can’t continue to rely on the class of yesteryear to find continued success.

In order to keep the “clean train” moving forward, a new crop of young, clean sluggers and hurlers is expected to arrive at a furious clip.

So we can all thank the incumbent Jason Heyward, his parents, and the fact that baseball in the South is such a competitive sport for our newest Say Hey Kid.

But I have news for you. It’s not just him this year.

Enter Austin Jackson of Detroit.

The ex-Yankees farmhand, who was a member of the infamous Curtis Granderson trade, is two hits away from leading the league in that category.

That’s right. Not rookies—the entire league.

Only Cano, Ryan Theriot (who, at 30, continues to be a seriously underrated shortstop), and Braun have more than Jackson’s 31.

Heyward has his power, he has his charisma, he has his beautiful swing; he even has his own Hank Aaron to quip quotes that leave media members drooling in an unexpected delirium.

But Heyward bats seventh in a Braves lineup that is currently drowning in a nine-game losing streak. He may lead the team in home runs (five) and RBI (17), but he is batting .239 with 25 strikeouts in 21 games.

Jackson, on the other hand, is batting leadoff for a powerful American League team and has been doing so since day one of his own big league career, which began on the same day as Heyward’s did (Monday, April 5, 2010).

Jackson has struck out a remarkable 32 times in 22 games. He’s projected to strike out 234 times this year. (Remember the single season record is 223, set last year by Mark Reynolds of Arizona.)

So, he stinks.

Actually, no. Let’s not forget his .330 batting average, his .394 on-base percentage, 18 runs scored (third in the AL next to Cano and Evan Longoria), nine extra-base hits (which leads all rookies), and 80 percent stolen base rate (four out of five).

He’s also one of baseball’s most impressive-looking center fielders, not only because he makes his living chasing fly balls in the deep outfield of Comerica Park, but because he just looks so natural doing it.

Jason Heyward deserves his praise, rightly so, but let’s not forget Austin Jackson.


Free(se) Swinging

David Freese of St. Louis might not be your traditional rookie. At 27 he is finally getting an opportunity to play every day at third base. He just exploded Thursday afternoon, when he went 3-for-3 with his first big-league home run and six RBI. He’s hitting .328 on the year with 21 hits in 19 games. He’s struck out a mere 18 times.

How about Alcides Escobar, the 23-year-old Venezuelan shortstop who is hitting .274 with 20 hits and 11 runs scored?

Ian Desmond of Washington has a pair of triples to go with three stolen bases and 16 hits.

Gaby Sanchez of Florida is hitting .286 and sports a .400 OBP in 20 games.

Ike Davis, of the New York Metropolitans, will perhaps rise to the top of the rookie ranks before the season makes it into August. He went 2-for-4 in his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs on April 19th and since then has gone on to hit .355 and reach base in every single game, save for one, which was a rain-shortened six-inning affair against the Atlanta Braves.

Let’s not forget to mention that since he arrived in Citi Field and smacked a single to right field, the Mets have gone 9-1.

Keep him in mind because like the Jason Heyward/Hank Aaron tandem, Ike Davis has received big league support from another one-time New York superstar, Darryl Strawberry.

Finally, there is TMI’s personal favorite, Luke Hughes, who started his first game for the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday evening…


The youngster watched the first major league pitch against him go by for a ball and then took his first rip at the next one—foul into the stands. 

He waited for two more to go by—both balls. 

It was impressive patience from the latest Minnesota Twin farmhand, who, at 25 years of age, has posted an on-base percentage of only .333 in his eight years of minor league ball. 

Hughes, who is currently on the big league roster only until Nick Punto returns from the disabled list, then witnessed Delmon Young’s attempt to steal third in which he was thrown out, ending the inning. 

He walked back to the bench without registering an official “first at-bat” but took it in stride. 

He was four pitches into his big league career, and none of it had counted. That’s four pitches more than any other rookie had when they would “officially” come up to the plate for the first time, which would be the next inning.

Up in the batter’s box again, he watched two more pitches go by for balls. 

Six pitches, one swing. 

He decided to swing at the seventh—foul. Then the eighth—also foul. 

He drove the ninth pitch into the first section of the right field bleachers. 

Sometimes, patience is all anyone really needs. Because patience is what makes good players great. 

Just ask Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez.

Or even Adam Dunn, who has survived in the big leagues on his mammoth power and insane on-base percentage. He certainly doesn’t get by with his career .249 batting average, but with an OBP of .383, which is simply remarkable.

That’s what Hughes will hopefully realize, at least for himself, in his short time with the Twins. 

If he does, he will exponentially increase his chance to return to the Twins and find success in the league. 

If not, it’s just another one who bites the dust.


Joshua David Worn is an editor, journalist, and sportswriter who spends way too much of his time studying Major League Baseball box scores. He has been published or linked on the San Francisco Chronicle and CBS Sports, among others. He publishes The Most Interesting Column in Sports on his website, Contact him at

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