Behold: Your League Leaders

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I realize that one or two clicks can get you this information just about anywhere, but I used to dig the league-leader cards back in the day, and creating this post gave me a decent fraction of the kind of enjoyment I used to get perusing them, so what the hell?

Batting
AL: Josh Hamilton: .359
NL: Carlos Gonzalez: .336
Commentary: This is the seventh time a Rockies hitter has led the NL in average in the eighteen seasons the team has been in existence. Rockies hitters have never led the AL in average. That would be really somethin’, though, eh?

Home Runs
AL: Jose Bautista: 54
NL: Albert Pujols: 42
Commentary: Damn steroids. Just like George Foster in 1977 and Cecil Fielder in 1990!

RBI
AL: Miguel Cabrera: 126
NL: Albert Pujols: 118
Commentary: Each leader won their league’s RBI crown by a single RBI.

Stolen Bases
AL: Juan Pierre: 68
NL: Michael Bourn: 52
Commentary: Pierre was only 14th in success rate. Bourn was 5th. Coco Crisp and Carlos Gomez took the prize in those categories.

OPS
AL: Josh Hamilton: 1.043
NL: Joey Votto: 1.021
Commentary: I wonder if any of the voters who used to mindlessly give their first place MVP vote to the RBI champ have switched to mindlessly giving their vote to the OPS leader? Not a smart way to go about things, even if it would make for a pretty smart vote this year.

Wins
AL: CC Sabathia: 21
NL: Roy Halladay: 21
Commentary: I wonder if anyone made the argument that Dave Goltz should have won the Cy Young award in 1977 due to tying for the most wins in the league. I mean, hell, he had seven more wins than Sparky Lyle did that year. Sparky Lyle just didn’t know how to win I guess.

ERA
AL: Felix Hernandez: 2.27
NL: Josh Johnson: 2.30
Commentary: Jeremy Bonderman (5.53) and Paul Maholm (5.10) bring up the rear among qualifiers.

Strikeouts
AL: Jered Weaver: 233
NL: Tim Lincecum: 231
Commentary: Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are
boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s
more democratic.

Saves
AL: Rafael Soriano: 45
NL: Brian Wilson: 48
Commentary: Wilson also led the league in bad hair, ugly shoes, sloppy uniforms, Just For Men consumption and douchey looking beards.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

Braves 2
Associated Press
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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.