The American League's best left fielder?

A position-by-position OPS breakdown

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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.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.

Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.

Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.

EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.