Meet the AL leader in OPS … Ben Zobrist?!

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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.

Tigers agree to deal with starter Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.

Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.

Video: Statcast’s 10 longest home runs from 2015

Giancarlo Stanton
AP Photo/Joe Skipper

Here’s a pretty good way to finally break out of that turkey-induced Thanksgiving tryptophan coma.

It’s a compilation of the 10 longest home runs from the 2015 season, with’s Statcast technology providing data along the path of each blast …

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.