Miguel Cabrera

The best and worst from MLB lineups in 2013

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This is a quick look at the very best and worst each major league lineup spot has to offer this year. Posted along with each line is the player most responsible. We’ll start out with the good before moving on to the bad.

1. Reds: .292/.442/.517, 9 HR, 37 R, 20 RBI, 5 SB (Shin-Soo Choo)
2. Brewers: .348/.394/.572, 9 HR, 33 R, 23 RBI, 14 SB (Jean Segura)
3. Tigers: .385/.460/.690, 14 HR, 39 R, 55 RBI, 1 SB (Miguel Cabrera)
4. Rockies: .346/.396/.622, 12 HR, 32 R, 50 RBI, 3 SB (Troy Tulowitzki)
5. Orioles: .314/.397/.686, 16 HR, 31 R, 45 RBI, 0 SB (Chris Davis)
6. Mets: .247/.361/.494, 10 HR, 23 R, 20 RBI, 1 SB (Lucas Duda)
7. Rangers: .274/.346/.500, 10 HR, 25 R, 18 RBI, 1 SB (A.J. Pierzynski)
8. Braves: .321/.384/.497, 6 HR, 16 R, 27 RBI, 2 SB (Ramiro Pena)
9. Tigers: .291/.315/.451, 4 HR, 26 R, 23 RBI, 1 SB (Omar Infante)

– I decided to go strictly by OPS here. Taking ballparks into account, Rays cleanup hitters (Evan Longoria) have been better than Colorado’s.

– The Rangers’ 7 hole is a true group effort. One might guess that Mitch Moreland was most responsible, but he’s actually struggled in his seven starts there, posting a .579 OPS. Jeff Baker has an 1.134 OPS in 17 AB there, Pierzynski is at 1.053 in 33 AB, Geovany Soto is at .845 in 31 AB and David Murphy has a .794 OPS in 56 AB.

– Incredibly, Braves No. 8 hitters have been better than any other team’s No. 6 or No. 7 hitters. And they’ve managed an .881 OPS while the Braves’ No. 1 and No. 2 hitters have come in at .665 and .551, respectively. Again, it’s been a group effort: six different players have put in at least five starts there.

Here’s are the worsts of the bunch:

1. Twins: .200/.242/.246, 1 HR, 24 R, 12 RBI, 4 SB (Aaron Hicks)
2. Marlins: .225/.267/.272, 1 HR, 15 R, 9 RBI, 4 SB (Placido Polanco)
3. Athletics: .204/.293/.342, 6 HR, 27 R, 26 RBI, 3 SB (Josh Reddick)
4. Mets: .192/.255/.337, 6 HR, 19 R, 20 RBI, 0 SB (Ike Davis)
5. Twins: .198/.271/.281, 1 HR, 17 R, 16 RBI, 1 SB (Ryan Doumit)
6. Rays: .199/.283/.313, 4 HR, 15 R, 22 RBI, 1 SB (Yunel Escobar)
7. Dodgers: .163/.246/.213, 1 HR, 11 R, 15 RBI, 1 SB (Luis Cruz)
8. Mets: .177/.233/.280, 3 HR, 14 R, 19 RBI, 1 SB (Ruben Tejada)
9. Mariners: .168/.235/.206, 1 HR, 10 R, 11 RBI, 3 SB (Brendan Ryan)

– I excluded NL teams from the No. 9 spot. The Mariners are actually 23rd in the majors, so eight NL teams are beating them in OPS from the nine hole. The Phillies (.571) and Cubs (.567) are tops there among NL teams, and those two are also beating the White Sox and Orioles from the AL. The Pirates are the true No. 30 team for OPS from the ninth spot; they’re hitting .113/.173/.127.

– Braves No. 2 hitters are batting just .171, but at least that’s come with 12 extra-base hits and 20 walks, giving them 11 points of OPS on the Marlins. Astros, White Sox and Nationals No. 2 hitters have all been similarly dreadful, with OPSs in the mid-500s.

– Of course, the Marlins are near the bottom in a lot of spots here. Only from the sixth hole, where Rob Brantly has been pretty good, do they even rate average. They’re getting sub-.600 OPS from the first, second, fifth, seventh and ninth spots in the order.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.