Stat of the Day: Triple-A OPS leaders

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PCL Top 10
1. John Bowker (Giants) – 1047
2. Sean Rodriguez (Angels) – 1017
3. Mitch Jones (Dodgers) – 1015
4. Randy Ruiz (Blue Jays) – 976
5. Allen Craig (Cardinals) – 921
6. Brandon Wood (Angels) – 910
7. Chris Shelton (Mariners) – 905
8. Dee Brown (Dodgers) – 905
9. Adam Heether (Brewers) – 902
10. Prentice Redman (Mariners) – 900
– Bowker’s season was truly exceptonal, as he finished with a 64/74 K/BB ratio to go along with his 21 homers and 83 RBI in 366 at-bats. Also, he wasn’t helped by his home park quite as much as some of the others here (he had a 1080 road OPS). For the Giants, though, he hit .205/.238/.385 with a 12/1 K/BB ratio in 39 at-bats. He was more impressive as a 24-year-old rookie in 2008, hitting .255/.300/.408 in 326 at-bats. There’s little doubt that he’s one of the Giants’ best hitters, though that’s not saying much. He deserves a real crack at the starting job in left field or at first base next year.
– They couldn’t crack the top 10 because of mediocre power numbers, but infielders Ruben Gotay (429), Esteban German (419) and Mike McCoy (.405) finished second, third and fourth in the league in OBP behind Bowker. Gotay worked a remarkable 102 walks in 371 at-bats and finished at .272/.429/.450. The Diamondbacks didn’t call him up, though. He’ll be a minor league free agent this winter, and one of the teams more focused on OBP could look at him as a potential backup. He’d make a lot of sense in Oakland. German is currently helping the Rangers at third with Michael Young out, and McCoy was also rewarded for his fine performance, though there’s little for him to do with the Rockies.
– Other notables: Jesus Guzman (Giants) – 885, Jeff Clement (Mariners-Pirates) – 871, Eric Patterson (Athletics) – 870, Jai Miller (Marlins) – 870, Kila Ka’aihue (Royals) – 825, Mike Carp (Mariners) – 818, Eric Young Jr. (Rockies) – 817, Brett Wallace (Cardinals-Athletics) – 815, Blake DeWitt (Dodgers) – 775, Alcides Escobar (Brewers) – 762, Julio Borbon (Rangers) – 753, Brian Bogusevic (Astros) 707, John Raynor (Marlins) – 687
International League Top 10
1. Kevin Barker (Reds) – 927
2. Matt LaPorta (Indians) – 917
3. Shelley Duncan (Yankees) – 916
4. Brian Myrow (Pirates) – 915
5. Jordan Brown (Indians) – 913
6. Jeff Fiorentino (Orioles) – 896
7. Chris Richard (Rays) – 885
8. Jon Weber (Rays) – 879
9. Michael Restovich (White Sox) – 871
10. Don Kelly (Tigers) – 869
– LaPorta is the only player here currently up and playing regularly in the majors. Fiorentino, though, has a chance to audition for a bench spot in Baltimore with Adam Jones out and now Felix Pie sidelined as well.
– That Brown, the league batting average leader at .336, was passed over for a callup had a lot to do with the Indians wanting a look at Andy Marte at first base. Still, the 25-year-old deserved better. He was the Carolina League MVP in 2006 and the Eastern League MVP in 2007. He’s not nearly a top prospect, but he should be able to hold his own against right-handers in the majors.
– Next on the list were the Yankees’ Juan Miranda, at 866, and the Rays’ Matt Joyce, at 855. It was stunning to see the Rays decline to give Joyce a September callup. He hit .252/.339/.492 in 242 at-bats for the Tigers last season, causing Tampa Bay to trade Edwin Jackson for him, yet the Rays have given him just 32 major league at-bats this season.
– Other notables: Jeff Frazier (Reds) – 792, Neil Walker (Pirates) – 791, Austin Jackson (Yankees) – 759, Reid Brignac (Rays) – 744, Drew Stubbs (Reds) – 713, Michael Brantley (Indians) – 711, Chris Valaika Reds – (615)

Reds sign Ryan Raburn to minor league deal

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 10:  Ryan Raburn #6 of the Colorado Rockies rounds the bases on his solo home run off of James Shields #33 of the San Diego Padres to take a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning on April 10, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Veteran infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn has a minor league contract with the Reds, the club announced on Sunday. The deal was reported last week, but had been pending a physical. It includes an invitation to spring training, where Raburn is expected to compete against Desmond Jennings for a major league utility role. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, there’s a $900,000 base salary waiting for him if he makes the big league roster by Opening Day.

Raburn, 35, is coming off of a down year with the Rockies in 2016. He slashed .220/.309/.404 for the team last season, clubbing nine home runs as he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line. Raburn was stationed in left field for much of the season, but also saw some time at DH, first base and right field toward the end of the year. Assuming he can turn out a production rate that skews closer to the .301 average and .936 OPS he put up with the Indians in 2015, however, the Reds should have little trouble finding a place for him off the bench or as a platoon option with Scott Schebler in right field.

Dexter Fowler unhappy with President Trump’s attempts to institute a travel ban

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs looks on during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Mark Saxon reports that new Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler isn’t a fan of President Trump’s ongoing effort to institute a travel ban. Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27, 2017, which limited incoming travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. However, a temporary restraining order was placed by Judge James L. Robart following Washington v. Trump.

Fowler’s wife was born in Iran. Fowler said that her sister delayed her return from a business trip to Qatar to avoid potentially being detained. Fowler and his wife have also delayed traveling to visit her relatives in Iran.

Fowler said, “It’s huge. Especially any time you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”

The response by Cardinals fans was predictably terrible. Via the BestFansStLouis Twitter account:

One of the commenters wrote, “He signed a contract with the Cardinals so that makes him property of stl cardinals and mlb so he needs to keep his mouth shut. His personal opinions, problems, beliefs and political views should be kept to himself as long as he’s under a mlb contract…” He continued, “It’s not our fault he married someone from another country.”

Fowler caught wind of this and other responses to his statement, so he tweeted:

Fowler, of course, is one thousand percent correct.

These same “stick to sports,” “keep your politics out of my sports” people either said nothing or cheered when athletes and coaches espoused political views from the other side of the spectrum. Like when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hung a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Or when reliever Jonathan Papelbon played a pro-Trump song in the clubhouse. Or when former NFL head coach and ESPN commentator Mike Ditka said last year, “Obama’s the worst president we’ve ever had.”

Even Saxon and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have received myriad “stick to sports” comments simply for acknowledging that Fowler made a comment on the matter.

As we’ve pointed out here countless times, it is impossible to separate sports from politics. It is irresponsible to pretend like it’s even possible. Sports and politics intersect in so many ways, including race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. This particular situation with Trump’s executive order impacts baseball quite a bit as Fowler’s individual situation shows. He’s certainly not the only player to have a loved one who came from one of the seven aforementioned countries. Non-white players are also much more likely to have a bad experience at the airport — consider how often players are at the airport during the season — and their family and friends may be subject to one of the many ugly ICE raids that have taken place over the last three weeks.

Kudos to Fowler for speaking up and kudos for Saxon and others for reporting on it. This is certainly not a time during which we should pretend we can keep sports and politics separate.