Depending on who does what tonight, this could change, but at the moment, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout are #1 and #2 in Wins Above Replacement at the moment, according to FanGraphs. Cabrera is at 4.4 and Trout is at 4.3. Cabrera, who achieved baseball’s first Triple Crown in 45 years, beat out Trout for the award last year after a very heated series of debates among writers and fans, pitting traditional stats against Sabermetrics.
Thankfully, Chris Davis, Evan Longoria, and Manny Machado have also crossed the 4-WAR barrier thus far. If any one of the three can keep pace with Cabrera and Trout by season’s end, it may save us from having to relive last off-season’s undying debate.
Hilariously enough, though Cabrera once again leads the league in batting average and RBI, Davis leads Cabrera by seven home runs at the moment, meaning that Cabrera may not win another Triple Crown. If you compare Cabrera’s production thus far to last year, though, he is producing more this year, having improved 29 points in average, 57 points in on-base percentage, and 24 points in slugging percentage. In fact, his Triple Crown year may be the worst, statistically, of Cabrera’s last four seasons.
It’s way too early to think about the end-of-season awards, what with about 55 percent of the regular season left to play, but it’s interesting to ponder.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.