I wondered yesterday whether the Rangers runners would continue to test Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
For most of Game 2 they avoided Molina, attempting zero steals, but that all changed in the ninth inning.
Ian Kinsler was gunned down by Molina in the first inning of Game 1, at which point the Rangers put on the breaks, but last night Kinsler led off the ninth inning with a single, stole second base off Jason Motte despite a great throw from Molina, and came around to score the game-tying run on Josh Hamilton’s sacrifice fly.
Molina is one of the best-throwing catchers of all time, erasing 44 percent of attempted steals for his career, so the Rangers were smart to keep the running to a minimum until they really needed it. For many teams it would make sense to completely shut down their running game against Molina, but the Rangers had the league’s fourth-most steals during the regular season and manager Ron Washington has remained aggressive on the bases throughout the playoffs.
And it also helps that Kinsler is one of the best, most efficient basestealers in the league, swiping 30 bags in 34 attempts during the regular season to improve his career success rate to 86 percent. Of course, if Rafael Furcal somehow gets that tag down a split-second sooner Washington and Kinsler would probably be getting criticized all over the place today.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.
Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.
Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.
Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.
If you’ve happened to catch any of the coverage of the 2016 postseason on Fox and FS1, you’ve heard former Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez as part of an analyst panel with host Kevin Burkhardt and former major leaguers Pete Rose and Frank Thomas. Rodriguez has drawn rave reviews not just for passing a rather low bar we set for former athletes-turned-commentators, but because he’s adding real insight drawn both from his playing days and from doing research.
Indeed, Rodriguez is taking his new job as an analyst quite seriously, Newsday’s Neil Best reports. Bardia Shah-Rais, the VP of production for Fox, said of Rodriguez, “This is not a hobby for him. It’s not a parachute in. He’s invested. If we have a noon meeting, he’s there at 11:30 a.m. He’s emailing story ideas in the morning. He wants research. He’s almost all-in to the point where it’s annoying.”
Rose also praised Rodriguez, saying, “You’ve never been around a guy who prepares more than Alex does. Alex does his homework. He knows the game. He understands players. He’s into the deal . . . Frank does a great job in preparation, too. I’m the only one that don’t prepare as much as these two guys. I don’t know if that’s because I can’t write or what it is. But these guys do their homework and they ask questions and they ask the right questions and then you put that in with our experience, all the things we’ve been through and how good we get along with each other, that’s why it shows up on the TV.”
Rodriguez, who hasn’t officially retired despite not having played since the Yankees released him in mid-August, wouldn’t commit to more TV work beyond this year’s postseason.