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 Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.