When the standouts don’t stand out

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Obviously, offense in the year 2013 isn’t what it used to be.

Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt led the National League this year with a .954 OPS and was tied with Pedro Alvarez for first with 36 homers. It’s hardly a knock against him to say that those aren’t the totals we’re used to seeing leading the league.

Goldschmidt’s OPS was the lowest for a first-place finisher in either circuit since 1991, when Barry Bonds topped the NL at .924. The 36 homers is the lowest total to lead a league since the Padres’ Fred McGriff hit 35 in 1992.

Miguel Cabrera led the AL with 37 homers in 2008 and there were a couple other sub-40 leaders since, so it’s not completely shocking to see the 36 homers pacing the NL. Still, it is pretty stunning that just three got to 30 in all. Jay Bruce was third with exactly 30. Domonic Brown, Hunter Pence and Justin Upton all tied for fourth at 27.

Compare that to 2001. The homer totals from Goldschmidt and Alvarez would have tied for 14th in the NL that year.  When Moises Alou, J.D. Drew and Pat Burrell hit 27 homers that year, they tied for 27th in the league, a far cry from fourth.

The AL did quite a bit better in the power department, with Chris Davis’s 53 homers leading the way. Nine American Leaguers hit 30 homers. Only eight got to 100 RBI, though, and a mere four scored 100 runs, led by Mike Trout’s 109. In 1999, 30 American Leaguers drove in 100 runs and 28 scored 100 runs. Trout’s run total was the lowest to lead the AL in a non-strike year since 1976.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).