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.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.