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.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.