Bob Nightengale got this one from Elias:
Meanwhile, the Yankees and the Orioles have been winning and losing practically in tandem. They haven’t been separated by more than one game in the standings since Sept. 3. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the longest such streak in September or later since 1889 .
That’s cool, and I like that two teams are in a fight for the division title and that it matters.
There are other factoids in that piece, mostly surrounding the scramble for the wild card. I think that’s all fun, but in reality, most of the these sorts of things — team comes from the farthest back! — are the product of expanded playoffs and the notion that it is now the case that even the mildly-above-average will have a legit shot until the final week almost every year.
It’s excitement of a type, but it’s a function of the process, not a function of baseball teams doing anything different than they ever have before.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.