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.

MLB managers weigh in on anthem protests

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No other Major League Baseball player has taken a knee during the National Anthem since Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest on Saturday night. The demonstration was sparked by President Donald Trump’s call for the boycott of the National Football League and the firing of any player who chose not to stand during the anthem. The comments drew harsh criticism from many NFL players, coaches and owners and more than a few in MLB have also lended their support. There is still one game left to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether any of Maxwell’s league-mates will show their solidarity by refusing to stand as well.

Given a baseball culture that tends toward conformity more often than not, it seems unlikely. But it’s something league managers are prepared for — even if they don’t all agree with the demonstrations themselves.

White Sox’ skipper Rick Renteria specifically addressed Maxwell’s protest on Sunday, speaking to the league’s policy of inclusivity:

None of the White Sox knelt prior to their series finale against the Royals. Neither did members of the Pirates or the Cardinals, though St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington both weighed in on the situation.

Matheny called the president’s comments “hurtful” and, like the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, appeared content to leave the decision to protest up to each player.

The Pirates, meanwhile, took a firmer tone. “We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Just what the Pirates consider “appropriate and proper” protocol was left up in the air, and club president Frank Coonelly offered no further insights in a separate statement to the press. Setting strict parameters for players to voice their opinions kind of puts them in a gray area, one they’ll have to clear up should someone elect to protest in the days to come, either with a bent knee and a hand over their heart or in some other fashion.

Equally ambiguous were comments from Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who claimed to oppose the movement for personal, if misguided reasons, but also respected the right of his players to make an “educated” statement in protest.

The Indians’ Terry Francona took what was perhaps the most balanced approach of the entire group:

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say, ‘Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,’ because I do,” Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “But, I also haven’t walked in other people’s shoes. So, until I think, not just our country, but our world, until we realize that, hey, people are actually equal — it shouldn’t be a revelation — and the different doesn’t mean less. It’s just different. We’ve got work to do.”

These may all be moot points. Maxwell may be the only player to formally protest Trump’s comments, despite the good intentions of his teammates and fellow players around the league. Others may feel too ambivalent, threatened or uncomfortable to protest what the A’s catcher referred to as a “racial divide,” especially in a way that is routinely perceived as unpatriotic.

Even if the protests made by NFL players and Bruce Maxwell fail to gain momentum, however, the underlying issues they speak to are not going away anytime soon. Here, then, is where MLB managers can help foster a more inclusive environment throughout the league, not only by showing respect for a player’s decision to stand against racism but by actively partnering with those who do so. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.

Nationals plan to activate Bryce Harper on Monday

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The Nationals are planning to activate Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Janes adds that Harper has been taking his knee injury on a day-to-day basis, so if he experiences pain ahead of tomorrow’s series opener in Philadelphia, then the Nationals won’t activate him.

Harper, 24, suffered a knee injury running out a grounder last month against the Giants. The Nationals hope to get him into some game action before the end of the regular season just so he can get acclimated in time for the playoffs.

When Harper returns, he’ll look to improve on his .326/.419/.614 slash line with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances.