Yanks threaten record for balance of power

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jeter_090903.jpgThe New York Yankees pretty much have everything going for them this season – aside from some minor complaints about bullpen depth, but whatever.

One impressive piece of information in relation to the Yankees’ title hopes is their balance and depth, as illustrated nicely by this handy-dandy wins-over-replacement pie chart (thanks UmpBump).

No matter where you look, someone can beat you. Andy Pettite, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes are all making significant contributions on the mound. And in the lineup, it’s a minefield from top to bottom. Shut down Mark Teixeira, there’s Alex Rodriguez, or Derek Jeter, or Robinson Cano to beat you.

And when it comes to power, the Yankees’ offense is closing in on a historic achievement. With one more home run by Jorge Posada (Posada reached both marks tonight) and three more by Derek Jeter, and a handful of RBIs by each, the Yankees will have eight players with 20+ home runs and 70+ RBIs.

No team has had eight players reach those marks in the same season, and only the 1996 Orioles had more than six (Cal Ripken, Rafael Palmeiro, Bobby Bonilla, Robert Alomar, Brady Anderson, B.J. Surhoff and Chris Hoiles.)

Those Orioles didn’t win a championship, of course. But then again, that Orioles team also had a horribly suspect pitching staff, with only one regular starter possessing an ERA below 5.00 (Mike Mussina, 19-11, 4.81).

I know the 1996 Orioles, and these Yankees are not the 1996 Orioles. They’re far better equipped with arms to survive a dip in offensive production in a postseason series. Then again, can you really see A-Rod jinx coming to an end?

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Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.