ST. LOUIS — Major League Baseball just announced the winners of the 2013 Hank Aaron Award. It’s Miguel Cabrera in the AL and Paul Goldschmidt in the National League.
The award is intended to honor the best offensive performers in each league. Which, given that the MVP Award has become almost exclusively the province of hitters and given that the MVP voters have had the habit of not including defense in proper proportion, it’s a defacto hitting award too, but let’s leave that for another day.
We’ll also leave advanced metrics at the door, as the Award is voted on by a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron, with a fan voting component added on for good measure. This is not the stuff of WAR leaders and the like.
If we are looking at offense and offense alone, and if we are looking at more traditional metrics, it’s hard to go wrong with Cabrera in the American League. He had another fantastic year, hitting .348/.442/.636 with 44 homers, 137 RBI and 90 walks. He led the league in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS and OPS+. Same with Goldschmidt in the NL. He hit .302/.401/.551 with 36 homers, 125 RBI and 99 walks. He led the NL in homers, RBI, slugging, extra-base hits, OPS and OPS+.
Each of these two will be contenders for the MVP Award, with Cabrera likely the favorite in the AL. Advanced metrics will matter there a bit more, but probably not enough to carry the day for those who look better under said metrics’ illumination.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.