he almost always gives his team some value after turning 28.

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Roth had injury problems, and his big mouth (dude’s nickname was Braggo) kept teams away from him when he was released. Travis was never the same after World War II. Lindstrom and Daniels both had knee problems.

Jefferies and Murray each had their own maladies, and they drifted away, but neither of them were nearly as awful as Sandoval was with the Red Sox.

Which means that in baseball history, there hasn’t been a collapse like this that wasn’t directly attributable to injuries. When a player is solid-to-excellent multiple times in his early 20s, he almost always gives his team some value after turning 28.

Sandoval wasn’t an MVP candidate, and he wasn’t on a Hall of Fame path, but he was a two-time All-Star with a history of hitting better than his peers. That didn’t mean there wasn’t a chance for a disappointing contract, but it did mean that a complete and utter collapse into the bowels of the nightmare void was nearly impossible.

It happened. But the lesson isn’t that Sandoval wasn’t that good to begin with. He was fine. Better than fine. And his swing really was made for Fenway.
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While the Lakers, who won just 26 games last year, are the subject of an ongoing media frenzy stemming from the additions of team president Magic Johnson (who, coincidentally, is also involved in running the Dodgers) and their anointed rookie savior Ball, the Dodgers have quietly emerged as the best team in baseball, posting a 66-29 record thus far while opening up a 11-game lead on the second-place Rockies.

The Dodgers, led by Bellinger, have been one of the most important stories in baseball this season yet have fallen short of national hysteria. The contributing factors: the rise of Aaron Judge, the surprising struggles of the defending champion Cubs and at least partially, a national obsession with Ball, his summer league performances and his loud-mouth dad.

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