Home run, RBI stat leaders still to be decided

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With one week, the AL and NL batting titles and OPS crowns are no longer in doubt. Still, there are plenty of league leaders left to be decided.
AL Home Runs
1. Carlos Pena – 39
2. Mark Teixeira – 38
3. Jason Bay – 36
Pena has been done since Sept. 7, but he just might get the crown anyway. He homered once in every 12.1 at-bats this year, compared to one in every 15.7 for Teixeira so far.
NL Home Runs
1. Albert Pujols – 47
2. Mark Reynolds – 44
3. Prince Fielder – 43
3. Ryan Howard – 43
Pujols still has a shot to be the first player to get to 50 homers since Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder in 2007. Also up in the air is whether Adam Dunn will get the two homers he needs for a sixth straight 40-homer season. He’d join Babe Ruth (seven), Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa as the only players to pull that off.
AL RBI
1. Mark Teixieira – 120
2. Jason Bay -115
Teixiera could get two-thirds of the way to the Triple Crown. He’s also in a big fight for second place in the league in OPS. He’s at 952, barely ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Kevin Youkilis at 951. Bay is fifth at 930.
NL RBI
1. Prince Fielder – 137
1. Ryan Howard – 137
3. Albert Pujols – 132
Talk about a three-man race: Derrek Lee is in fourth place with 109.
MLB Bases on Balls
1. Albert Pujols – 112
2. Adam Dunn – 111
3. Adrian Gonzalez – 110
Shockingly, Chone Figgins is the AL leader at 98. No one would have guessed that at the start of the year.
MLB OBP
1. Albert Pujols – .446
2. Joe Mauer – .444
3. Nick Johnson – .420
We know Mauer will lead the majors in average and Pujols will lead both leagues in slugging and OPS. OBP remains up for grabs.
MLB GIDPs
1. Miguel Tejada – 29
2. Evan Longoria – 27
2. Yadier Molina – 27
Tejada needs just one more 6-4-3 to become the second player in baseball history to ground into 30 double plays in back-to-back years. Jim Rice did it three straight years from 1983-85.
NL ERA
1. Chris Carpenter – 2.30
2. Tim Lincecum – 2.47
3. Adam Wainwright – 2.58
The NL Cy Young race appears down to Wainwright and Lincecum, with Wainwright likely to clinch it if he can earn his 20th victory this week.
MLB Strikeouts
1. Justin Verlander – 256
2. Tim Lincecum – 254
They’ll both lead their leagues. On a per-inning basis, Lincecum has a clear lead. He fans 10.5 per nine, while Verlander is at 10.3. Jon Lester is third at 10.0.
MLB WHIP
1. Dan Haren – 0.99
2. Chris Carpenter – 1.01
3. Javier Vazquez – 1.02
Zack Greinke is the AL leader at 1.07.
MLB Home Runs Allowed
1. Braden Looper – 39
2. Jeremy Guthrie – 32
3. Bronson Arroyo – 31
No, this one isn’t in doubt. But we will get to see if Looper becomes the first pitcher to allow 40 homers since Eric Milton in 2005.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.