Mike Trout is now qualified for the batting title, ranks second

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Not only did Mike Trout go 6-for-9 with two doubles and four runs in back-to-back wins over the Giants the past two nights, in doing so he logged enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title (and other leaderboards).

Trout, who spent the first three weeks of the season at Triple-A, now ranks second in the league with a .338 batting average, trailing only Paul Konerko at .354, and he also ranks third in on-base percentage (.397) and fifth in OPS (.925) while leading the league with 19 steals.

Toss in his excellent outfield defense and even with missing the Angels’ first 20 games Trout ranks third among AL position players in Wins Above Replacement behind only Josh Hamilton and Adam Jones. He’s very much a legitimate early MVP candidate despite playing around two-thirds of the schedule.

Not bad for a guy who doesn’t turn 21 years old for another six weeks.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.

Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.

Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.