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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Photo of the Day: Colby Rasmus just wants to love on everybody

Colby Rasmus

Colby Rasmus hit a big home run last night to set off the scoring and to set the tone for the Astros.

After the game he spoke to Jeff Passan of Yahoo and voiced some nice perspective and maturity as well, acknowledging that his time and St. Louis and Toronto left him with a reputation that he’d rather not have follow him around forever, saying “I don’t want them to say Colby Rasmus was a piece of crap because he had all of this time and just wanted to be a douche. I just try to love on everybody.”

Fair. By the way, this is what Rasmus looked like either just before or just after telling reporters that he “just tries to love on everybody.”


Ready for some lovin’?

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.