Here’s a look at the production all 30 teams are getting from their top two hitters to date, ranked by OPS.
Yankees – 1.074
Cardinals – .931
Rangers – .851
Mets – .835
Rays – .823
Red Sox – .823
Astros – .789
Braves – .768
Nationals – .751
Giants – .745
Cubs – .738
Orioles – .724
Twins – .709
Tigers – .707
Diamondbacks – .700
Marlins – .687
Blue Jays – .685
Indians – .663
White Sox – .646
Brewers – .642
Reds – .632
Angels – .626
Padres – .624
Royals – .613
Mariners – .607
Dodgers – .605
Rockies – .587
Athletics – .580
Phillies – .550
Pirates – .524
The Yankees, incredibly enough, are getting a 1.080 OPS from Derek Jeter and company in the leadoff spot and a 1.071 OPS from Curtis Granderson and company in the two hole. Likewise, the Cardinals have both the best OPS from No. 1 and No. 2 hitters in the NL, though neither mark quite competes’ with the Yankees.
There are some nice surprises there on the list, as well. The Mets are at .835 despite losing their leadoff hitter to the disabled list. Well, actually, they’re at .835 largely because they lost their leadoff hitter to the DL. Andres Torres was only going to bring that mark down. The Astros are at .789 thanks to Jordan Schafer’s strong start. The Nationals are at .751 despite the struggles of Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa early in the spring.
As you might have guessed, this ranking matches up pretty well with run scoring as a whole. The Yankees, Cardinals and Rangers rank second, fourth and first, respectively, in runs scored to date. The bottom three on the list are also the bottom three in runs scored: the A’s have scored 52 runs, the Phillies 48 and the Pirates 30.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, are an outlier. Needless to say, they’d be leading the way if we were looking at No. 3 and No. 4 hitters instead. They rank ninth in runs scored despite the modest production from Dee Gordon and Mark Ellis to date.
With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.
“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.
“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”
Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.
Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.
It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.
The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.
Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.
As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.
Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.
Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.
The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.
Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.
Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.
The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.
This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.