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.)
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.