Stat of the day: 2009 relief ERA leaders

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Minimum 50 innings. Listed along with each pitcher’s ERA are saves+holds and blown saves.
1. George Sherrill – 1.75 – 32 – 5
2. Trevor Hoffman – 1.76 – 36 – 3
3. Mariano Rivera – 1.82 – 44 – 2
4. Jeremy Affeldt – 1.84 – 33 – 0
5. Kiko Calero – 1.86 – 12 – 4
6. Andrew Bailey – 1.88 – 28 – 4
7. Jonathan Papelbon – 1.91 – 37 – 3
8. Darren O’Day – 1.93 – 22 – 0
9. Ryan Franklin – 1.95 – 39 – 5
10. Jose Mijares – 2.07 – 27 – 1
11. Jose Valverde – 2.08 – 26 – 4
12. Ronald Belisario – 2.09 – 12 – 7
13. David Aardsma – 2.10 – 42 – 4
14. Francisco Cordero – 2.19 – 39 – 4
15. LaTroy Hawkins – 2.20 – 30 – 4
16. Joe Nathan – 2.25 – 45 – 5
16. Joakim Soria – 2.25 – 29 – 3
18. Matt Guerrier – 2.33 – 32 – 3
19. Mike Gonzalez – 2.45 – 27 – 7
19. Brian Sanches – 2.45 – 8 – 3
These aren’t baseball’s top 20 relievers this season, but the top 10 or so are all in the mix here.
So who has really been the best? I see three possibilities. Rivera absolutely has to be considered, given that he’s blown just two of his 46 chances. But how about Affeldt? He’s made 72 appearances this year and hasn’t blown a single lead.
And then there’s candidate No. 3: Bailey. The big plus in his corner is that he’s thrown 81 1/3 innings, compared to 64 1/3 for Rivera and 58 2/3 innings for Affeldt. Also, he hasn’t allowed an unearned run all season. Rivera has allowed one and Affeldt two, so Bailey has them beat when you drop the E from ERA. Bailey has blown four leads, but he actually allowed a total of two runs in 5 1/3 innings in those games. Plus, he has six wins, more than Rivera (three) and Affeldt (one) combined.
I’d say it really comes down to Rivera and Bailey, and while you can argue that Bailey’s performance was more valuable, there’s still no doubt that Rivera is the reliever everyone wants protecting that one-run lead in the ninth.

Alex Dickerson to miss 2017 season after undergoing back surgery

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Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson won’t see PETCO Park anytime soon — at least, not as its starting left fielder. The 27-year-old was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back prior to the start of the 2017 season, and hasn’t made any kind of substantial progress in the months since. According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he suffered a setback in his recovery process last week and is set to undergo a season-ending discectomy next Wednesday.

Over 285 plate appearances, Dickerson batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 home runs and a .788 OPS for the Padres in 2016. He missed several days with a right hip contusion last July, but hasn’t experienced any substantial health problems since undergoing surgery in 2014 to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle.

The expected recovery period for lower back surgery is 3-4 months, according to Lin, which puts Dickerson’s estimated return just a few days before the end of the regular season. The Padres aren’t scraping the bottom of the NL West, but their 29-44 record doesn’t bode well for a postseason run this year. Assuming Dickerson rehabs his back in a timely manner, he should be in fine form to enter the competition for left field next spring.

Video: Hanley Ramirez’s No. 250 career home run barely left the field

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Hanley Ramirez played a pivotal role during the Red Sox’ 9-4 win over the Angels on Friday night, crushing a two-run homer off of Alex Meyer to bring the Sox up to a four-run lead in the fourth inning.

Well, crushed might be the wrong word. The ball cleared the right field fence with a mere 350 feet, landing just beyond Pesky’s Pole to bring Ramirez’s career home run total to an even 250.

According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Ramirez’s milestone blast wasn’t the shortest home run of the year — not by a long shot. That distinction currently belongs to Rays’ outfielder Corey Dickerson, who skimmed the left field fence at Rogers Centre with a 326-foot homer back in April.