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.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
AP Photo

Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
AP Photo
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.