Eddie Joost: 1916-2011

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Eddie Joost, an All-Star shortstop who starred for the Philadelphia A’s in the 1940s and 1950s, died yesterday at age 94.

Joost played 17 seasons in the majors but didn’t find consistent success until age 31, when he drew 100 or more walks in six consecutive seasons while posting a .391 on-base percentage with an average of 18 homers and 97 runs per year.

He’s a prime example of how focusing on batting average can significantly undersell a player’s value, as Joost’s excellent defense, strong power for a shortstop, and spectacular plate discipline more than made up for a lowly .239 career batting average.

Consider that Joost had six consecutive 100-walk seasons and the rest of the shortstops in the history of baseball have combined for 21 total 100-walk seasons. And from 1947-1952 he ranked tied for seventh with Yogi Berra among all American League players in Wins Above Replacement behind Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, Phil Rizzuto, Vern Stephens, and Lou Boudreau.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.