The Athletics have been mighty busy so far this offseason, but general manager Billy Beane is still on a mission to find a power bat for a team that finished second from the bottom in the league in home runs and slugging percentage this past season. With that in mind, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com hears that the A’s have interest in free agent Lance Berkman as a potential designated hitter.
Berkman, who turns 35 in February, batted .248/.368/.413 with 14 homers and 58 RBI in 404 at-bats between the Astros and Yankees this past season. He has traditionally been better against right-handed pitching in the past, but the disparity was never more apparent than in 2010, as he batted just .171 with one home run and a 517 OPS against left-handed pitching.
There’s countless examples of players like Berkman, who have “old man skills” and fade into their late-30s. The game isn’t especially kind to such players right now. As a result, he’s probably going to have accept a one-year deal with a low guarantee this winter. Fortunately for teams like the A’s, this makes him a potential bargain should he bounce back.
The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.
Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.
The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.
After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.
Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:
The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.