Chris Johnson sets Braves record with eighth consecutive multi-hit game

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Braves third baseman Chris Johnson went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run in the Braves’ 6-4 victory over the Phillies tonight, marking the eighth consecutive game in which he has had two or more hits. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman confirms that it is a team record since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966. Johnson entered the night leading the National League in batting average at .346. Tonight’s performance bumped it up to .347.

An obscenely high batting average on balls in play has been the backbone of his offensive success this season. It stands at .430, 38 points above the next-highest BABIP (Joe Mauer, .392) and 65 points above his career average. Per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, if the .430 BABIP holds, it would be the highest mark since Ty Cobb and Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1911. According to Baseball Reference, there have been 27 instances of a .400+ BABIP among hitters that had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. The most recent was accomplished by Jose Hernandez in 2002, but he struck out so often (a league-leading 188 times) he didn’t put the ball in play all that often — his overall batting average was .288.

The full list (bolded averages indicate a league-leader):

Player Year BAbip Age Tm BA
Chris Johnson 2013 .430 28 ATL .346
Jose Hernandez 2002 .404 32 MIL .288
Manny Ramirez 2000 .403 28 CLE .351
Rod Carew 1977 .408 31 MIN .388
Roberto Clemente 1967 .403 32 PIT .357
Luke Appling 1936 .400 29 CHW .388
Bill Terry 1930 .400 31 NYG .401
Rogers Hornsby 1924 .422 28 STL .424
Babe Ruth 1923 .423 28 NYY .393
Harry Heilmann 1923 .414 28 DET .403
George Sisler 1922 .422 29 SLB .420
Ty Cobb 1922 .416 35 DET .401
Rogers Hornsby 1921 .409 25 STL .397
George Sisler 1920 .401 27 SLB .407
Ty Cobb 1919 .401 32 DET .384
Ty Cobb 1917 .400 30 DET .383
Benny Kauff 1914 .400 24 IND .370
Ty Cobb 1913 .415 26 DET .390
Ty Cobb 1912 .424 25 DET .409
Shoeless Joe Jackson 1912 .405 24 CLE .395
Heinie Zimmerman 1912 .400 25 CHC .372
Shoeless Joe Jackson 1911 .434 23 CLE .408
Ty Cobb 1911 .444 24 DET .420
Ty Cobb 1910 .412 23 DET .383
George Stone 1906 .416 29 SLB .358
Nap Lajoie 1901 .418 26 PHA .426
Jesse Burkett 1901 .415 32 STL .376
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/2/2013.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.