The American League's best left fielder?

A position-by-position OPS breakdown

2 Comments

A.k.a.: American League left fielders really stink this year.

Earlier this month, I looked at what positions were producing worst on a team-by-team basis (here’s the AL and the NL).  This time, I’m going through the positions for each league as a whole and breaking them down by OPS:

NL RF: .796
AL 1B: .786
AL RF: .783
NL LF: .769
NL 1B: .768
AL DH: .744
AL CF: .733
NL CF: .730
NL C: .725
AL SS: .702
NL 3B: .691
NL 2B: .689
AL 2B: .681
NL SS: .677
AL 3B: .676
AL C: .670
AL LF: .648
NL P: .337

What really stands out is just how terrible American League left fielders have been. The Royals, using Alex Gordon, are the only AL team getting even a .750 OPS out of their left fielders. They’re at .817. The Yankees, with Brett Gardner, are second at .747. The A’s, with Josh Willingham, are third at .713. After that, it drops all of the way to Baltimore at .668. The Twins, with Delmon Young, are getting a .503 OPS. The Mariners are at .570. The Red Sox were down there too until Carl Crawford suddenly got hot last week.

Last year, AL left fielders had a .768 OPS.

Some other points of interest:

– AL shortstop had largely been a black hole of late, but it’s actually besting the NL with Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes and Stephen Drew right now. The Indians and Asdrubal Cabrera lead the way there with an .897 OPS, but the Angels, Tigers and Blue Jays are also getting fine performances.

– The shortstops are also beating the second basemen and third basemen in the AL. AL third basemen are getting dragged down by horrible performances from the Mariners (.483) and Blue Jays (.495).

– When I did the aforementioned NL team-by-position list earlier this month, I noted that NL catchers had matched first basemen almost exactly for five weeks. There’s a significant split now, but it’s still not nearly what one would expect. That’s because there are still four NL teams out there getting sub-.650 OPSs from first basemen: the Nationals, Padres, Giants and Dodgers.

Of course, it should increase further as time goes on, especially with Buster Posey down. One would always expect catcher OPS to decrease as the season progresses, given that catchers deal with more injuries than other positions and tend to wear down anyway.

– One more oddity: AL pinch-hitters are actually hitting better than the league as a whole, coming in with a .730 OPS. Last year, they had a .631 OPS, and in 2009, it was .622. NL pinch-hitters have a .572 OPS this year, down from .641 last year.

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
2 Comments

Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.

The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.

For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dodgers clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
6 Comments

Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.

The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.

Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.

It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.