Joe vs. Ichiro: The plot thickens

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A couple weeks ago, with Joe Mauer set to debut atop the AL leaderboard
with a .389 batting average and Ichiro Suzuki hitting .360, I wrote that “it would be great to watch those two duke it out down the stretch to see who can capture their third batting title.”

Since then Mauer has slumped and Ichiro has kept chugging along, and yesterday they flip-flopped spots in the batting title race.
Ichiro leads the league at .363 with Mauer second at .358, and Jason
Bartlett is right there with them at .345 now that he has enough plate
appearances to qualify.

There are three lesssons to be learned here. One, be careful what you wish for. Two, maintaining a .390 batting average is really hard. And three, Ichiro is really good.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.