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.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.