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.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.