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.
For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.
In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal. The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.
Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.
Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.
Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing. Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.
Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:
Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.
Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.
Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.
At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.
Think of how many bad ceremonial first pitches you’ve seen. From the worm burners from local business owners and pillars of the community at minor league games to ex-big leaguers who obviously haven’t picked up a ball since they retired to the famous celebrity ones that go viral the next day, there are probably a lot more bad first pitches out there than good ones.
But when the good ones come, they’re really enjoyable. And few are more enjoyable than the one which preceded yesterday’s Padres-Mariners game in Seattle. The pitcher: Burke Waldron, a 92-year-old veteran of World War II. He did it in his dress whites. He ran out onto the field beforehand. And though his catcher didn’t set up the full 60 feet, six inches away from where Waldron threw it, it was still a spiffy pitch. Way better than most: