Legion Baseball alumni on the move as 2023 Major League Baseball season opens
In a season of changes in Major League Baseball, it’s somewhat fitting that last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, American Legion Baseball alumnus Justin Verlander, is in a new environment in 2023.
After helping the Houston Astros win the 2022 World Series, Verlander (Post 201/Powhatan, Va.) signed a two-year, $86.7 million contract with the New York Mets. The move brings Verlander to the National League for the first time; he spent six seasons with the Astros after beginning his career with the Detroit Tigers.
Also on the move: former Met Jacob deGrom (Post 3/Deland, Fla.), who signed a five-year, $185 million contract with the Texas Rangers in the offseason. DeGrom is aiming to bounce back from a 2022 season in which he made just 11 appearances in the regular season, with a 5-4 record and 3.08 ERA.
Meanwhile, last year’s National League champion Philadelphia Phillies have several Legion Baseball alumni returning, led by NLCS MVP Bryce Harper (Las Vegas) and catcher J.T. Realmuto (Post 170/Midwest City, Okla.), who hit .500 for Team USA in this spring’s World Baseball Classic.
The 2022 MLB season began with 11 of the 30 managers having played American Legion Baseball. That number is down to seven to begin 2023.
Leading the way is Dusty Baker (Post 412/Fair Oaks, Calif.), whose Astros are one of the favorites to win the World Series again.
Among the changes in Major League Baseball this season are a pitch clock aimed at speeding up games. Infield shifts will be restricted and bases are bigger as well.
Among the key dates this season:
· Lou Gehrig Day, June 2. The American Legion also recognizes Lou Gehrig Day through the Legion Baseball program and a 2021 resolution.
· All-Star Game, July 11 in Seattle.
· Playoffs begin, Oct. 3
Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (Post 115/Kannapolis, N.C.) has been selected as the 2023 American Legion Baseball Graduate of the Year.
Other still active Graduate of the Year honorees include deGrom, Verlander and Milwaukee pitcher Brandon Woodruff (Tupelo (Miss.) 49ers).