The overall OPS leaderboard is filled with familiar names as Jose Bautista, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, Prince Fielder, and Miguel Cabrera hold the top five spots, but the OPS leaderboard since the All-Star break has a few more surprises:
Mike Napoli 1.329
Hideki Matsui 1.214
Troy Tulowitzki 1.139
Omar Infante 1.099
Dan Uggla 1.070
Michael Morse 1.057
Jesus Guzman 1.047
Shane Victorino 1.025
Edwin Encarnacion 1.023
Dustin Pedroia 1.022
Mike Napoli has been fantastic all season for the Rangers, hitting .299 with 18 homers and a 1.009 OPS in 71 games while the catcher the Angels always preferred over him, Jeff Mathis, is batting .181.
Hideki Matsui has come alive after a terrible first half, showing that he still has some gas left in the tank at age 37, while Omar Infante’s turnaround is on hold thanks to a broken finger.
To get a feel for just how awful Dan Uggla was early on this season, consider that he’s currently riding a 29-game hitting streak and ranks fifth among all MLB hitters with a 1.070 OPS since the All-Star break, yet is batting just .220 with a .716 OPS overall.
Michael Morse has quietly emerged as one of the best hitters in the National League dating back to beginning of last season, batting .309 with 34 homers and a .904 OPS in 688 plate appearances for the Nationals during that time.
Jesus Guzman might be the most unlikely name on the second-half leaderboard, because he’s a 27-year-old journeyman and career minor leaguer … and he’s doing all that damage while calling Petco Park home.
The Brewers offloaded outfielder Michael Choice’s contract to the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a team announcement on Friday. Choice signed a minor league deal with the Brewers in early May, but did not earn a major league stint in 11 weeks with the team.
It’s been two full years since the 27-year-old outfielder snagged a big league opportunity of any kind. He last appeared with the Rangers in 2015 and played in just one game, striking out in his only at-bat. His production rate sagged through three consecutive minor league assignments with the Indians, Orioles and Brewers and peaked in 2016 after slashing .246/.304/.456 with 14 home runs for the Indians’ Triple-A Columbus. He was off to a decent start this season for the Brewers’ Double-A Biloxi, working a .272/.349/.503 batting line with nine home runs and an .852 OPS through his first 195 PA.
Choice is poised to join several other ex-major leaguers on the Heroes’ roster, including left-hander Andy Van Hekken, right-hander Jake Brigham and infielder/outfielder Danny Dorn.
6:43 PM: Danny Dorn no longer plays for the Nexen Heroes, as he was released to clear roster space for Choice.
Our old friend Joe Posnanski tackles a venerable topic over at MLB.com: guys you totally forgot played for a given team. Mostly superstars who had brief stops at non-signature stations at the end of their careers. Or guys, like Mike Piazza and Reggie Jackson, who were with a team for a blink of an eye in between more famous way stations.
We’ve all had this conversation before: remember Willie Mays with the Mets? Doc Gooden with the Astros? John Smoltz with the Cardinals? Heck, I had forgotten about Smoltz with the Cardinals and he was a star on my favorite team once upon a time.
Posnanski calls them “Irony Jerseys.” That’s pretty appropriate, as one can totally imagine someone buying, say, that Dale Murphy Rockies jersey in the name of obscurity. Whatever you call it, it’s a good read.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get my Ted Simmons Braves jersey for a party at some place uptown that you’ve probably never heard of.