Matty Alou: 1938-2011

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Sad news: Matty Alou has died. He was 72. No cause of death was given. An overdose of being a really awesome and underrated contact hitter is being investigated.

Alou, as most folks know, was part of what — with a nod to the DiMaggios — was arguably the most successful trio of brothers in baseball history. The Alous had more hits, actually, for what that’s worth.  In 1966 Matty won the batting title and his brother Felipe came in second. NL pitchers of the 1960s probably had Alou nightmares on a regular basis.

In 1969 he led the NL in at bats, hits and doubles, but Alou’s best season may have actually been 1968. He didn’t win the batting crown or lead the league in anything that year, but he posted an OPS+ of 130 and hit .332 in the worst overall offensive season since the dead ball era.  A lot of guys were amazing that year without anyone really knowing it due to the extreme pitcher-friendly context.

Adios Matty. Hopefully your passing inspires some people who don’t know much about the very good players of the 1960s to read up.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.