Joe Mauer leads Home Run Derby voting despite 3 homers

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In addition to the usual All-Star game balloting MLB is also running a vote for fans to select the Home Run Derby participants. Albert Pujols is leading the National League and Joe Mauer is leading the American League.
Mauer and Pujols both hit five homers in the opening round of the Home Run Derby last year before Pujols prevailed in a “swing-off” that knocked Mauer out. However, last year Mauer showed by far the most power of his career with 28 homers, including 15 at the All-Star break. This year? Mauer has just three homers, which ranks tied for 196th in MLB.
Paul Konerko, Miguel Cabrera, and Jose Bautista are tied for the MLB lead with 20 long balls and 84 different guys are already in double-digits, so Mauer’s single-digit total is going to look awfully weird as an on-screen graphic when he’s swinging for the fences alongside the actual power hitters.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan adds that Saunders will make $1.5 million upon reaching the majors, with a potential $500,000 in bonuses.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.