Stat of the day: Eastern League OPS & ERA leaders

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Top 10 OPS
1. Carlos Santana (Indians) – 943
2. Neil Sellers (Phillies) – 869
3. Brock Bond (Giants) – 838
4. Brian Stavisky (Phillies) – 831
5. Brett Pill (Giants) – 828
6. Brennan Boesch (Tigers) – 828
7. Brian Dinkelman (Twins) – 824
8. Deik Scram (Tigers) – 819
9. Josh Thole (Mets) – 816
10. Kevin Mahar (Phillies) – 815
– Obviously, many of the more interesting players didn’t qualify. Pedro Alvarez, the second overall pick in the 2008 draft, came in at 1009 in 60 games. Phillies outfielder Michael Taylor was at 977 in 86 games. The Orioles’ Brandon Snyder was promoted after posting a 1018 mark in 58 games.
– Santana never received a promotion, though he clearly deserved one for the work he did offensively. The problem is that the 23-year-old is still rather raw defensively behind the plate after beginning his pro career as an outfielder. He has the tools to make it as a starting catcher, but he’s likely going to need another full year in the minors in 2010.
– Bond’s 838 OPS was very impressive for a guy who played half of his games in one of the best parks for pitchers in the minors. Still, his league-leading 429 OBP would have counted for more if he wasn’t caught stealing on 15 of his 28 attempts.
– Other notables: Alex Avila (Tigers) – 814, Nick Weglarz (Indians) – 808, Ryan Kalish (Red Sox) – 781, Ruben Tejada (Mets) – 732, David Cooper (Blue Jays) – 729, Beau Mills (Indians) – 724, Brad Emaus (Blue Jays) – 712, Lars Anderson (Red Sox) – 673, Cale Iorg (Tigers) – 610
Top 10 ERA
1. Zach McAllister (Yankees) – 2.23
2. Felix Doubront (Red Sox) – 3.35
3. Jeanmar Gomez (Indians) – 3.43
4. Luis Perez (Blue Jays) – 3.55
5. Matt Fox (Twins) – 3.58
6. Randy Boone (Blue Jays) – 3.70
7. Danny Moskos (Pirates) – 3.74
8. Erik Arnesen (Nationals) – 3.87
9. Ryan Mullins (Twins) – 4.03
10. Jon Kibler (Tigers) – 4.06
– Non-qualifiers included Madison Bumgarner (1.93 ERA in 107 IP), Brad Lincoln (2.28 EREA in 75 IP), Ryan Edell (2.32 ERA in 89 1/3 IP), Brandon Erbe (2.34 ERA in 73 IP) and Junichi Tazawa (2.57 ERA in 98 IP).
– Also clearly deserving of mention was Yankees prospect Josh Schmidt, who had a 1.61 ERA in five starts and 41 relief appearances.
– McAllister was the league’s best pitcher, and he had the 1.08 WHIP to back up his ERA. Still, his season wasn’t quite as encouraging as the numbers suggest, if only because his previously strong groundball rate dwindled. He ended up as a modest flyball pitcher, and given that he’s probably not going to be a big strikeout guy in the majors, he’s going to have to induce grounders to thrive.
– Doubront’s ERA was more of a fluke, as he allowed 14 unearned runs and finished with a 1.41 WHIP, thanks to the 52 walks he surrendered in 121 innings. The 21-year-old lefty is a fine prospect without much of a platoon split, but he shouldn’t be counted on to be so effective in Triple-A next year.

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.