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.

Minor League Baseball established a political action committee to fight paying players more

DURHAM, NC - JULY 28:  The Chicago White Sox play the Most Valuable Prospects during the championship game of the 2011 Breakthrough Series at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on July 28, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina.  Most Valuable Prospects won 17-2 over the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
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Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.

You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.

The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.

So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.

Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”

Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.

Report: White Sox, Nationals making “strong progress” on a Chris Sale deal

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox deliivers the ball against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the White Sox and Nationals are making “strong progress” on a trade involving ace Chris Sale. Most reports coming out on Monday night suggest that a deal isn’t likely to be consummated until Tuesday at the earliest.

Sale, 27, has pitched in the majors over parts of seven seasons. He owns a career 74-50 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1,244/260 K/BB ratio in 1,110 innings. The lefty will earn $12 million in 2017, then has a club option for 2018 worth $12.5 million with a $1 million buyout as well as a 2019 club option worth $13.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Relative to what he would earn if he were a free agent today, Sale’s remaining salary is a bargain.

The Nationals would likely have to part with several of their top prospects. MLB Pipeline lists pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielder Victor Robles, and pitcher Reynoldo Lopez in the club’s top-three.

Adding Sale would arguably give the Nationals claim to the best starting rotation in baseball as he would join 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

There are other teams in the mix for Sale. The Red Sox and Astros have also talked with the White Sox about the lefty’s services.