Miguel Cabrera ties Hank Greenberg with 331st career homer

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With a three-run home run to right-center in the third inning and a solo shot to straightaway center in the fifth — his ninth and tenth of the season, respectively — against Rangers starter Derek Holland, Miguel Cabrera put himself in a tie with Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg with 331 career home runs.

Cabrera, the defending AL MVP and the first player in 45 years to win a Triple Crown, bumped his league-leading average up to .384 and league-leading RBI total to 46, putting himself in prime position to win another Triple Crown. You know, if he feels like it. Only two players have won multiple Triple Crowns: Rogers Hornsby in 1922 and ’25, and Ted Williams in 1942 and ’47.

Cabrera is one of 15 players all-time to have 330 or more career home runs before his 31st birthday. Assuming he hits at least another 30, he’ll move up to #12 on the list at least.

The list (as of this writing):

Rk Player HR From To Age PA
1 Alex Rodriguez 464 1994 2006 18-30 7774
2 Ken Griffey 438 1989 2000 19-30 7319
3 Jimmie Foxx 429 1925 1938 17-30 7293
4 Albert Pujols 408 2001 2010 21-30 6782
5 Mickey Mantle 404 1951 1962 19-30 7199
6 Eddie Mathews 399 1952 1962 20-30 7124
7 Frank Robinson 373 1956 1966 20-30 7088
8 Mel Ott 369 1926 1939 17-30 7808
9 Andruw Jones 368 1996 2007 19-30 7276
10 Hank Aaron 366 1954 1964 20-30 7216
11 Juan Gonzalez 362 1989 2000 19-30 5779
12 Adam Dunn 354 2001 2010 21-30 6065
13 Sammy Sosa 336 1989 1999 20-30 5808
14 Harmon Killebrew 336 1954 1966 18-30 5202
15 Miguel Cabrera 331 2003 2013 20-30 6669
16 Ralph Kiner 329 1946 1953 23-30 5223
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/19/2013.

Update (11:35 PM): Miguel Cabrera hit his third home run of the night, a solo shot to center off of Tanner Scheppers. So he’s up to 332.

The Nats are going to sign Francisco Rodriguez for some reason

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The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.

K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.

So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.

The Giants chemistry is suffering because a guy they all hated is gone

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I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.

Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.

All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?

Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.

Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.

Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.