Ben Zobrist became eligible for the league leaderboards after batting five times last night and immediately took over the AL lead in both slugging percentage and OPS. Seriously. Ben Zobrist. No, really.
He’s hitting .307/.415/.665 with 14 homers, 14 doubles, 33 walks, 39
runs, and 41 RBIs in 212 plate appearances, which is basically a
50-homer, 100-walk, 125-RBI pace over the course of a full season of
everyday playing time.
Zobrist was an on-base machine in the minors, hitting .318 with a
fantastic .418 OBP thanks to averaging 90 walks per 600 plate
appearances, but had a grand total of 23 homers in 364 games and never
went deep even 10 times in a season. That is until last year, when he
homered 12 times in just 227 plate appearances for the Rays
Many people wrote Zobrist off as a long-term utility man when he hit
just .200/.234/.275 with three homers in 83 games during his first few
stints in the majors and no one could have possibly imagined him
developing into anything resembling a slugger. Yet here he is leading
the league in slugging percentage and OPS while sporting a
.279/.376/.581 line with 26 homers in 439 plate appearances since the
beginning of last season.
Unfortunately for Zobrist his reign atop the AL leaderboards will be
short lived regardless of whether he keeps up his current pace, because
Joe Mauer is close to accumulating enough plate appearances
to qualify for the batting title himself and … well, he scoffs at a
measly .615 slugging percentage and puny 1.080 OPS (although not for the same reasons as Harold Reynolds). Mauer is slugging .750 and OPSing at 1.245.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”