According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel spontaneously decided to address his team’s leadoff situation on Monday afternoon.
“A month ago when we’re talking about getting [Michael] Bourn for a leadoff hitter, [Jimmy] Rollins got more production,” Manuel said. “Bourn might have a little higher average, but Rollins has more production. So which one would you rather have in your leadoff hole?”
Well, let’s see. Bourn is hitting .276/.348/.394 with 40 steals in 52 attempts this season. Rollins is hitting .250/.316/.427 with 30 steals in 35 attempts.
Personally, I think I’d choose Bourn despite the extra outs on the basepaths. But Manuel is right; Rollins has been about as effective in the leadoff spot this year. Largely because he has 23 homers to Bourn’s nine. But it also helps that he’s topped his previous career high with 62 walks.
Also, for what it’s worth, Rollins has scored 102 of the Phillies’ 679 runs this year. Bourn has scored 96 of the Braves’ 694 runs.
But the real question here is why does it need to be either/or? The Phillies might not be better off with Bourn instead of Rollins, but they’d certainly be better off with Bourn and Rollins. Rollins is still a great basestealer, but the rest of his line screams No. 5 or No. 6 hitter. He could still be pretty valuable batting behind Ryan Howard in the Phillies’ order.
I’ve already gone on record as saying Bourn shouldn’t be the Phillies’ top target in free agency this winter. But already having a leadoff man shouldn’t be a justification for not pursuing him.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.