The Dodgers picked up their MLB-best 31st victory on Saturday when catcher A.J. Ellis hit a walkoff three-run shot against the Astros’ Wesley Wright.
The heroics are nothing new this year for Ellis.
A 31-year-old former 18th-round pick, he’s batting .317/.442/.517 with five home runs, seven doubles and 23 RBI through 149 plate appearances. And here’s the current leaderboard for FanGraphs’ version of WAR (Wins Above Replacement):
A.J. Ellis – 2.5
Carlos Ruiz – 2.4
Yadier Molina – 1.9
Jonathan Lucroy – 1.9
A.J. Pierzynski – 1.8
Joe Mauer – 1.5
Matt Wieters – 1.4
Buster Posey – 1.2
Carlos Santana – 1.2
Brian McCann – 0.9
Ellis isn’t as consistently great on defense as Ruiz or Molina, but he’s thrown out 16 of 35 would-be base stealers and certainly seems deserving of his first National League All-Star nod. “This is the greatest moment of my personal baseball career,” Ellis told the Associated Press shortly after Saturday’s walkoff. “It’s really humbling, just to be a part of where this team is headed right now. It feels real special.”
Free agent left-hander Wade Miley is among several offseason targets for the Twins, according to a report from Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Miley’s $12 million option was declined by the Orioles back in November, and while he’s expected to attract another major league deal in 2018, he hasn’t exactly been highly sought after this offseason.
The 31-year-old lefty finished his second campaign with the Orioles in 2017, producing an 8-15 record in 32 starts and ranking second-to-last among all AL starters with a 5.61 ERA, 5.3 BB/9 and 8.1 SO/9 in 157 1/3 innings. Even taking Miley’s undeniable durability into account — he remained healthy for the bulk of the season and completed his sixth straight year with 30+ starts — his declining value and career-worst numbers may lower his price tag as the 2018 season approaches.
Wolfson notes that the Twins have engaged in “regular dialogue” with Miley’s agent this winter, but he’s far from the only starting pitcher they have their eye on. Right-handers Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Chris Tillman are still on their radar, among several others, and club owner Jim Pohlad said Saturday that he was “totally on board” with the idea of signing a big-name free agent like Darvish or another available starter. “There are some interesting names and some interesting opportunities there,” Pohlad told a crowd at TwinsFest. “I’m as intrigued by it as anybody and attracted to it as anybody.”