Cookie Monster, Wily Mo Pena, and J.D. Drew

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One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Sesame Street, “One of These Things”
A recent Sports Illustrated poll asked 380 major leaguers to name the player who “gets the least out of the most talent” and the results are pretty interesting:
1. Wily Mo Pena
2. Daniel Cabrera
3. Elijah Dukes
4. J.D. Drew
5. Mike MacDougal
Perhaps not surprisingly four of those five guys last played for the Nationals, with Dukes and MacDougal still on the team, and the only non-Nationals player on the list looks like the answer to one of those “which of these things is least like the other four?” test questions.
Pena is a career .257/.303/.443 hitter and at 26 years old is a free agent after being let go by three teams in two seasons. Cabrera owns a 46-64 record and 5.09 ERA in 881 innings and is currently pitching at Triple-A after being cut by the Nationals. Dukes is a former top prospect with off-field issues who’s hit .234/.337/.423 through 208 games in the majors. MacDougal is currently the Nationals’ closer and is in one of his “effectively wild” stages after being a mess in four seasons with the White Sox.
And then there’s Drew, who somehow gets lumped in with that foursome despite being an All-Star last year, finishing sixth in the MVP balloting in 2004, posting the 25th-best OPS among active hitters, and playing 1,316 games over 12 seasons in the majors. Drew has missed lots of time with injuries, rubs some people the wrong way with his laid-back demeanor and patient approach to hitting, and hasn’t become the superstar that many people expected when he was a top-five pick in back-to-back drafts.
However, at the end of the day he’s a .282 career hitter with a .391 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage who figures to end up with around 1,800 hits, 275 homers, and $100 million in earnings. To call Drew a disappointment is one thing, but equating him to complete busts like Pena and Cabrera while suggesting that a 12-year veteran with a .900 OPS “gets the least out of the most talent” is all kinds of silly. Drew has more career value than Pena, Cabrera, Dukes, and MacDougal combined, and it isn’t particularly close.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.