Tigers manager Jim Leyland offered high praise for Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano before Game 2 of the ALDS Sunday in New York:
“My staff think he’s one of the top five players in all of baseball without question,” Leyland said. “He’s a great player. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen. He came up on the big stage last night. We have the utmost respect for him obviously, as we do the Yankee team.”
(Quote comes via ESPN’s Andrew Marchand)
Cano hit a grand slam and tallied six total RBI in Saturday’s 9-3 Game 1 defeat of Detroit. He also had a monstrous regular season, posting a .302/.349/.533 batting line with 28 home runs and 118 RBI in 681 plate appearances. But is he really one of the top five players in the league right now? To the numbers:
According to FanGraphs’ calculation of WAR (Wins Above Replacement), the top 10 players in baseball this season were (in order): Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, Jose Bautista, Dustin Pedroia, Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Alex Gordon and Joey Votto. Cano ranked 22nd.
But, hey, maybe Leyland’s staff has better metrics. Or maybe October really is hyperbole’s favorite month.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.