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Good morning baseball fans!
The Rays lost Matt Duffy for the rest of the season, with his Achilles problem continuing to rear its ugly head.
More injury news, as Billy Hamilton is out with a strained left oblique. The Reds outfielder will be ‘reevaluated’ in a week.
Minnesota is considering Alex Anthopoulos as a potential candidate to replace Terry Ryan.
David Freese is having a good time crushing the ball to opposite field.
Aside from these areas, nothing major seems to have sparked the change. Back when he played for the Cardinals, Freese started to focus on his opposite-field stroke in batting practice; perhaps he's again devoted himself to that strategy. Whatever the cause, the effects are clear. Even if he does regress toward his career norm, he'll remain a prolific hitter to the opposite field. In the event that he does keep this up, he'll earn the title of best opposite-field hitter.
I don't think I'll cause much controversy when I say that, for the Pirates, 2016 has been a flop. They've already lost four more games than they did a year ago, an alarming numbers of the pitchers on staff have melted down (and one was traded away), and their MVP center fielder has shown his age (in a bad way). When slogging through mediocre campaigns like this one, fans try to focus on the positives that surface, be they the phenomenal play that a first baseman and pitcher pulled off, the remarkable turnaround of a recent addition, or the obscure split in which a hitter has dominated. Freese, long known for one opposite-field hit in particular, has now decided to rack up a whole lot more of them.
Oh, the National League Cy-Young race is shaping up to be a good one.
Here is a roundup of news from around the American League Central.
Making the case for Jose Altuve to be the American League MVP.
Altuve has the highest batting average in the American League by 20 points this season and is making a run at securing the most hits in the league for the third straight season. Is batting average the be all and end all? No, but it’s a great starting point and Altuve has the peripheral performance numbers to effectively supplement that base production level. This season he’s walking more than ever before — which has given him a .409 OBP (second only to Trout) — and he’s in the midst of a tremendously unexpected power surge which has led to him surpassing his previous career high in isolated power by nearly 50 points. His resulting .211 ISO ranks 28th of the 77 qualified hitters in the AL. While the power isn’t quite elite, it’s worked in combination with his high average and excellent on-base skills to give him a 159 wRC+ which ranks fourth in the league behind Trout (175), David Ortiz (164), andJosh Donaldson (161). Add in that he plays an up-the-middle position (even though defensive metrics aren’t terribly complimentary of his skills) and Altuve has amassed more WAR (6.7) this season than all other American Leaguers except Trout (8.3) and Donaldson (7.1). Not bad for the short guy. Not bad at all.
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Today in Baseball History: In 1998 Ken Griffey Jr hits his 50th home run of the season, giving baseball three players with 50 home runs in a season for the first time ever.