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Jeff Luhnow: “We will outperform the expectations”

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Danny Knobler spoke with Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow about the outlook for his rebuilding team:

Everyone is talking about the Astros, and the only topic is how bad everyone is convinced they’re going to be. “We will outperform the expectations,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said with some confidence, and also with a smile.

I’ve done a dozen or so radio spots in the past couple of weeks and the Astros have come up in five of them. Each time the host asks me “so, how bad are these Astros gonna be?” with his suggested answer being something like “historically awful, or rift-in-the-space-time-continuum awful?” I’ve had people suggest to me with a straight face that this could be a 120-loss team.

I don’t think the Astros are going to be good. Not even a little bit. But there’s no way on Earth they’re going to be as bad as a lot of people think they are because people are thinking they’re going to be one of the two or three worst teams of all time.

Just playing the odds here and suggesting that I’d take the under if you put the over/under on their losses at “1962 Mets” because that kind of thing just doesn’t happen very often.

 

Curtis Granderson is close to making history

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22:  Curtis Granderson #3 of the New York Mets connects on a three-run home run in the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on September 22, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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With a fourth-inning solo home run off of Phillies starter Jake Thompson, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson reached the 30-homer plateau for the fourth time in his 13-year career. It’s a moment worth celebrating, only there’s one problem: he has just 56 RBI on the season.

There are many reasons for the low RBI total. 24 of Granderson’s 30 homers have come with the bases empty. He came into Sunday’s action hitting just .140 in 124 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and .197 with runners on base. He has hit leadoff for most of the season, meaning he’s had the Mets’ pitchers hitting “ahead” of him in the No. 9 slot as well as the Mets’ catchers typically hitting eighth. Mets catchers, collectively, have a .296 on-base percentage, the second-worst mark in the National League.

Since the end of August, Granderson has hit cleanup with Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes hitting in front of him. That change hasn’t been for naught, as he has 17 RBI in 21 games since.

Still, Granderson is on pace for the fewest RBI in a 30-homer season. Rob Deer and Felix Mantilla are tied for the record with 64 RBI. Deer (32 HR) accomplished the feat in 1992 with the Tigers and Mantilla (30 HR) in 1964 with the Red Sox. Only eight players have had 70 or fewer homers in a 30-homer season. Evan Gattis is currently sitting on 30 homers with 68 RBI.

MLB teams pay tribute to José Fernández’s memory

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Following the announcement of the 24-year-old’s death, Major League Baseball observed a moment of silence for José Fernández before each of today’s games. While this afternoon’s Marlins-Braves game was cancelled out of respect for the organization, Miami painted Fernández’s jersey number on the mound in honor of their former pitcher.

Other teams, like the Mets, Mariners, and Dodgers, chose to honor Fernández by hanging his No. 16 jersey in their dugout:

Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that David Ortiz‘s pregame retirement ceremony at Tropicana Field was canceled at the player’s request:

The Astros and Diamondbacks each displayed a personal tribute to Fernández, writing the number 16 on their caps and etching his number and initials in the bullpen:

Rest in peace, Fernández.