B.J. Upton

2013 leads the way in spectacularly bad offensive performances

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By OPS, the 2013 season boasts three of the six worst offensive seasons since 2000:

.545 – Cesar Izturis (2010 Orioles)
.559 – Alcides Escobar (2013 Royals)
.562 – Nick Punto (2007 Twins)
.564 – Neifi Perez (2002 Royals)
.565 – Adeiny Hechavarria (2013 Marlins)
.569 – Darwin Barney (2013 Cubs)
.576 – Ramon Santiago (2003 Tigers)
.588 – Michael Bourn (2008 Astros)
.592 – Angel Berroa (2006 Royals)
.593 – Brad Ausmus (2006 Astros)

Yes, the Royals have had some shortstop troubles through the years.

Now, those are just the guys that qualified for the batting title. It doesn’t count Pete Kozma’s .548 mark in 410 at-bats or B.J. Upton’s .556 in 391 at-bats. Upton, though, does have the very worst OPS for an outfielder minimum 400 plate appearances since 2000.

.557 – B.J. Upton (2013 Braves)
.559 – Willy Taveras (2009 Reds)
.560 – Peter Bergeron (2001 Expos)

And how about Blue Jays J.P. Arencibia? He finished six plate appearances shy of qualifying for the batting title or his .595 OPS would have put him 12th on the first list. What’s amazing is that he managed the sub-.600 OPS while hitting 21 homers. That’s far and away the worst OPS ever for a 20-homer guy:

.595 – J.P. Arencibia (2013 Blue Jays)
.649 – Willie Kirkland (1962 Indians)
.654 – Marquis Grissom (2001 Dodgers)
.660 – Vernon Wells (2011 Angels)
.663 – Tony Batista (2003 Orioles)

And what’s a “spectacularly bad offensive performances” article without a Yuniesky Betancourt cameo. With his .595 OPS, Betancourt didn’t rank among the very worst hitters this year, but he was spectacularly bad for a guy who played first base half of the time.

Here are the worst OPSs for first baseman (min. 400 plate appearances) during the expansion era (1961-present):

.566 – Ed Kranepool (1968 Mets)
.591 – Dan Meyer (1978 Mariners)
.595 – Yuniesky Betancourt (2013 Brewers)
.600 – Enos Cabell (1981 Astros)
.602 – Pete Rose (1983 Phillies)

 

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.