Here’s something I thought would be quick and fun on a slow news day: each team’s best record versus a league opponent since 2000. I’m not including the small-sample interleague results.
Arizona: 46-32 vs. Pittsburgh (.590 winning pct.)
Atlanta: 52-31 vs. San Diego (.627)
Chicago: 107-82 vs. Pittsburgh (.566)
Cincinnati: 43-33 vs. Florida (.566)
Colorado: 52-32 vs. Wash/Mon (.619)
Florida: 128-80 vs. Wash/Mon (.615)
Houston: 43-28 vs. Colorado (.606)
Los Angeles: 57-27 vs. Pittsburgh (.679)
Milwaukee: 45-35 vs. Arizona (.563)
New York: 48-35 vs. Colorado (.578)
Philadelphia: 51-29 vs. San Diego (.638)
Pittsburgh: 43-46 vs. Colorado (.483)
St. Louis: 55-25 vs. San Diego (.688)
San Diego: 50-28 vs. Washington (.641)
San Francisco: 49-26 vs. Houston (.653)
Wash/Mon: 44-34 vs. Pittsburgh (.564)
Baltimore: 56-34 vs. Kansas City (.622)
Boston: 61-34 vs. Detroit (.642)
Chicago: 124-81 vs. Kansas City (.605)
Cleveland: 57-35 vs. Tampa Bay (.620)
Detroit: 59-46 vs. Texas (.562)
Kansas City: 105-104 vs. Detroit (.502)
Los Angeles: 68-39 vs. Kansas City (.636)
Minnesota: 131-80 vs. Kansas City (.621)
New York: 62-24 vs. Kansas City (.721)
Oakland: 68-29 vs. Baltimore (.701)
Seattle: 59-44 vs. Kansas City (.573)
Tampa Bay: 51-38 vs. Kansas City (.573)
Texas: 59-44 vs. Kansas City (.573)
Toronto: 127-84 vs. Baltimore (.602)
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a lot of clubs are beating up on the Royals and Pirates. Seven of the 13 AL clubs have their best records against Kansas City, which is pretty amazing even if somewhat expected. Only four of the 15 NL possibilities have their top marks against the Pirates, but the Pirates have the singular distinction of not being above .500 against any leaguemates. Even in interleague play, the best they can boast is 5-4 records against the Orioles and Rays.
Of course, the Royals are only above .500 against the one team (Detroit). Their next best mark is .455, coming against the Indians (95-114).
We can see here that it’s easier to compile a big winning percentage over 70-90 games, rather than 200+. That’s why most of the clubs above have a non-division rival listed as their top opponent. The best mark for any club against a division rival is the Yankees’ .670 winning percentage against the Orioles (138-68). The Red Sox have also feasted on Baltimore, coming in at .633 (131-76).
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.