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.

The Nationals sign Kevin Jepsen

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Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports the Nationals have agreed to terms with free agent reliever Kevin Jepsen.

Think of this as the latest in what will likely be a series of no-risk bullpen additions. The Nats, basically, collecting as many almost free arms they can find in an effort to fix their bullpen woes without having to give up anything valuable at the trade deadline. Just like the K-Rod signing earlier this week or the Edwin Jackson signing two weeks ago.

Jepsen pitched for Tampa Bay and Minnesota last year, posting a 5.68 ERA with the Rays and a 6.16 ERA with the Twins, appearing in 58 games in all. He went unsigned this past offseason.

Eh, it might work. It probably won’t, but it might.

Rival Executives Expect Justin Verlander To Hit The Trading Block

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About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.

As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.

The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.

On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.

The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.

If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.