Not only did Zack Greinke take a shutout into the ninth inning against the Cubs last night to improve to 13-3 with a 2.86 ERA, he also went 1-for-2 with an RBI single and a walk at the plate to continue a remarkable season offensively.
Greinke is hitting .340 with a .426 on-base percentage in 59 plate appearances. For some context, Yadier Molina leads the league with a .332 batting average and Joey Votto leads the league with a .438 on-base percentage.
Greinke has an .809 OPS, which is higher than, among other NL hitters, Brandon Phillips, Chase Headley, Ryan Zimmerman, Starling Marte, Pedro Alvarez, Jason Heyward, Hunter Pence, Andre Ethier, Adam LaRoche, David Freese, and Pablo Sandoval. Dodgers teammate Adrian Gonzalez is also on that list and in fact Greinke has a higher OPS than every Dodgers hitter except Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, and Scott Van Slyke.
As for pitchers hitting, the last one to get at least 50 plate appearances and post an on-base percentage above Greinke’s current .426 mark was fellow Dodgers star Don Newcombe at .434 in 1958. That was the Dodgers’ first season in Los Angeles and they traded the former MVP and Cy Young winner to the Reds in June.
And here’s the really weird part: Prior to this season Greinke was a career .170 hitter with 23 strikeouts versus three walks in 123 plate appearances, although he did have three homers and five doubles. This year he has the same number of walks (6) as strikeouts (6) and zero homers.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.