Move over Jim Rice, Michael Cuddyer on record-shattering double play pace

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One of the downsides to the first four hitters in the Twins’ batting order having on-base percentages of .365, .358, .410, and .477 is that their already double play-prone No. 5 hitter Michael Cuddyer has an incredible number of chances to make two outs at a time.
Cuddyer has grounded into an MLB-high 12 double plays in 41 games, which puts him on pace to finish with 48 or so double plays on the season and shatter Jim Rice’s all-time record of 36 in 1984. Rice also holds the No. 2 spot with 35 in 1985, and a player has hit into 30 or more DPs just 15 times in baseball history.
Cuddyer leads MLB in DPs and is on pace to break Rice’s record by 35 percent, yet his DP rate–how often he hits into a DP when given an opportunity–isn’t even among the 10 worst. Cuddyer has hit into a double play 24 percent of the time, which is a very high rate and well above his career norms, but Ivan Rodriguez leads MLB at 33 percent and Yadier Molina, Mark DeRosa, Carlos Lee, Orlando Cabrera, Aaron Rowand, Matt LaPorta, Billy Butler, Alberto Callaspo, Paul Konerko, and Garrett Atkins are all above 25 percent.
You’ll notice that, like Cuddyer, nearly all of those guys are right-handed batters without much speed, but unlike Cuddyer not all of them have had a gazillion chances to hit into a double play this year. On the flip side, Twins cleanup hitter Justin Morneau has yet to ground into a double play. In addition to being left-handed and not having his own .477 OBP constantly standing on first base, Morneau also has the lowest ground-ball rate in the entire league. Crushed fly balls are rarely DPs.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.