RISP-ect! Cardinals shatter the all-time clutch hitting record

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Incredible hitting with runners in scoring position has carried the Cardinals all season and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch notes that they finished the year with the highest RISP batting average of all time:

The highest average since 1974, the first year of reliable RISP stats, by a team with runners in scoring position was .311 by Detroit in 2007. The Cardinals shattered that number by going 447 for 1,355, or .330. They did this in a season when averages across baseball with runners in scoring position were at a low for the past decade.

Breaking their incredible team totals down even further, the Cardinals had 10 different players get at least 50 at-bats with runners in scoring position and all but one of them hit at least .297:

Allen Craig       .454
Matt Holliday     .390
Matt Carpenter    .388
Carlos Beltran    .374
Yadier Molina     .373
Daniel Descalso   .361
Matt Adams        .329
Pete Kozma        .322
Jon Jay           .297
David Freese      .238

That’s amazing, especially considering that no other team hit above .282 with runners in scoring position this season. And seriously though, what was David Freese’s problem?

(Incidentally, last year with mostly the same group of hitters the Cardinals hit .264 with runners in scoring position. Which helps explain why many people don’t consider “clutch” a sustainable, year-to-year skill.)

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.