If Devin Mesoraco hadn’t missed a few weeks of the season, he would be right in the thick of things in the NL MVP discussion. The Reds’ catcher homered twice in Sunday’s 7-2 win over the Marlins, helping his club avoid a series sweep at home.
In the first inning, Mesoraco took lefty Brad Hand out to left field for a two-run home run, putting his team on top by a 2-1 score. In the fifth, he padded the Reds’ lead to 7-2 when he took Hand out again, skying a grand slam over the fence in left field.
Mesoraco, in 309 plate appearances, has a ridiculous .293/.366/.580 slash line with 20 home runs and 61 RBI. Most of the 15 players ahead of his 3.4 WAR (via FanGraphs) have between 450-500 total plate appearances. His HR and RBI totals come out to 42 and 128 over 650 plate appearances — a full season’s worth. Quietly, he has been among the game’s best at the plate.
The Reds, at 60-58, are still in the thick of things despite ranking fourth in the NL Central. They sit just five games behind the first-place Brewers and 2.5 games behind the Pirates for the second National League Wild Card slot.
Here are Sunday’s box scores and recaps…
Indians 4, Yankees 1
Reds 7, Marlins 2
Tigers 5, Blue Jays 6 (19 innings)
Mets 6, Phillies 7
Rangers 6, Astros 2
Padres 8, Pirates 2
Red Sox 3, Angels 1
Dodgers 5, Brewers 1
Twins 6, Athletics 1
Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 3 (10 innings)
White Sox 2, Mariners 4
Cardinals 8, Orioles 3
Giants 4, Royals 7
Rays 2, Cubs 3 (12 innings)
Nationals 1, Braves 3
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.