Author: Aaron Gleeman

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Trevor Plouffe’s season ends with a fractured forearm


Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe suffered a fractured left forearm this afternoon in the team’s final home game, ending his season.

Plouffe has had a solid year, hitting .258 with 14 homers, 40 doubles, and a .751 OPS in 136 games while playing improved defense at third base.

Heading into spring training it seemed likely that Plouffe would keep the position warm until stud prospect Miguel Sano was ready to be called up, but Sano underwent Tommy John elbow surgery and missed the entire year.

Plouffe figures to be in a similar spot next year, entering the season as the starter while the Twins hope Sano will be ready by midyear.

Cuban star Hector Olivera defects to sign with MLB team

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He won’t get the same type of massive payday that Cuban slugger Yosmani Tomas seems headed for, but Cuban infielder Hector Olivera has defected with an eye toward signing with an MLB team.

Ben Badler of Baseball America rates Olivera as the sixth-best player still in Cuba, but says “that evaluation comes with a huge level of uncertainty given Olivera’s recent health history”

He missed an entire season with thrombosis in his left biceps and hasn’t played in international competition since then, but Olivera hit .316 with an .886 OPS and more walks than strikeouts this season. And he has some monster numbers in previous seasons.

However, he spent a lot of time at designated hitter and turns 30 years old soon, so it’s unclear if MLB teams will view him as a viable middle infielder or not at this point.

Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner has four home runs this season, including two grand slams

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Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who came into this year as a career .138 hitter, smacked his fourth homer of the season last night against the Dodgers.

He’s now hitting .258 with four homers (including two grand slams) and a .755 OPS in 78 plate appearances this season, which is a higher OPS than, among others: Yoenis Cespedes, Bryce Harper, Chase Utley, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton, Pablo Sandoval, Joe Mauer, Jose Reyes, Evan Longoria, Carlos Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Dustin Pedroia.

Anyway, you get the idea.

Bumgarner is also tied for the most home runs by a pitcher since 2006, when Carlos Zambrano went deep six times. Here are all the pitchers with four or more homers in the past 10 seasons:

Madison Bumgarner    2014     4
Yovani Gallardo      2010     4
Carlos Zambrano      2009     4
Carlos Zambrano      2008     4
Micah Owings         2007     4
Carlos Zambrano      2006     6

Carlos Zambrano hit 24 home runs in 693 at-bats, including at least one homer every season from 2003 to 2012 and multiple homers in five of those years.

Matt Kemp is playing like a superstar again

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Things were going so badly for Matt Kemp a few months ago that the Dodgers moved him from center field and then outright benched him, leading to lots of annoyed quotes and trade speculation.

And now he’s playing like the superstar who finished runner-up for the MVP in 2011.

Kemp was hitting just .268 with eight homers and a .755 OPS in 92 games through July 24, which along with his sub par, injury filled 2013 season had people wondering if he was in a full-on decline phase.

In the 55 games since then Kemp has hit .309 with 16 homers and a .979 OPS, including homering last night on his 30th birthday. Oh, and the Dodgers are 34-21 in those 55 games.

Overall this season Kemp has hit .284 with an .842 OPS in 147 games. His career marks? .292 batting average and .843 OPS. Factor in offense being down across baseball this season and Kemp is out-performing his career norms. And the Dodgers have an MVP-caliber hitter in the middle of the lineup at exactly the right time.

Angel Pagan to undergo back surgery, out three months

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Whatever playoff run the Giants have in them this season will have to be without center fielder Angel Pagan, who will undergo back surgery Thursday and need at least three months of recovery time.

Pagan has been hurt for much of the season, playing just 96 games, although when healthy enough to be in the lineup he had one of his best years by hitting .300 with a .731 OPS.

Gregor Blanco will be the Giants’ starting center fielder and leadoff man in Pagan’s absence, leaving manager Bruce Bochy to mix and match various options in left field.

Pagan, who turned 33 years old in July, is under contract for $9 million in 2015 and $10 million in 2016.