Author: Aaron Gleeman

Toronto Blue Jays' Kawasaki celebrates his RBI single against Baltimore Orioles during their MLB game in Toronto

Munenori Kawasaki and his .288 career slugging percentage are batting fifth for the Blue Jays


There are a lot of ways in which I could describe how bad the Blue Jays’ lineup is for tonight’s game, but here’s the easiest one: Munenori Kawasaki, a light-hitting utility infielder with one home run and a .288 slugging percentage in 234 career games, is batting fifth.

Toronto’s lineup starts out really well: Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind. That’s a helluva first four hitters.

Then comes Kawasaki batting fifth, followed by Dalton Pompey, Anthony Gose, Josh Thole, Ryan Goins.

Oh, and here’s the kicker: They’re facing Felix Hernandez. Good luck, boys!

Jason Heyward rejoins the Braves’ lineup after thumb injury

Jason Heyward
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Out since last Wednesday when he was hit on the left thumb by a pitch, Jason Heyward is back in the Braves’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Pirates.

Heyward’s power output has been disappointing with just 11 homers and a .387 slugging percentage, but he’s hit .272 with a .351 on-base percentage for his highest marks in both categories since 2010 when he was a 20-year-old rookie.

Heyward also rates extremely well as a right fielder in advanced defensive metrics, which is why Wins Above Replacement sees him as one of the most valuable all-around players in the league despite being just slightly above-average as a hitter.

Mets will skip Rookie of the Year candidate Jacob deGrom’s final turn in the rotation

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Jacob deGrom’s final turn in the Mets’ rotation will be skipped in order to limit his workload, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

deGrom missed some time with a shoulder injury last month and has thrown 179 innings between the minors and majors, including 140 innings with a 2.63 ERA and 144/43 K/BB ratio for the Mets as a 26-year-old rookie.

Reds speedster Billy Hamilton is the more-hyped National League Rookie of the Year candidate and he’s also had a good season–making up for poor hitting with speed and defense–but deGrom would probably get my (hypothetical) vote.

Last week deGrom tied the MLB record by striking out the first eight batters he faced against the Marlins and overall since mid-June he has a 1.90 ERA in 15 starts.

What’s it like to try to pitch-frame a 100-mph fastball?

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Pitch-framing is becoming increasingly studied as analysts (and teams) try to determine how much defensive value can be gained by a catcher that goes beyond throwing out runners and calling a good game.

Dan Anderson, who’s one half of the “No Juice Podcast” along with Parker Hageman of Twins Daily, put on some catcher’s gear and attempted to pitch frame a 100-mph fastball.

It did not go well:

There’s apparently another video coming soon of Hageman trying to hit a 100-mph fastball, which I’m sure goes equally poorly.

J.J. Hardy likes playing for the Orioles, but “whatever happens, happens” in free agency

JJ Hardy Getty

J.J. Hardy cut off contract extension talks with the Orioles when the two sides were unable to come to an agreement in April, so now the impending free agent shortstop is on the verge of hitting the open market.

Hardy told Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun that he’d like to re-sign with the Orioles, but noted that “everything changes” once free agency enters the picture. “If I make it to free agency, it’s whatever happens, happens.”

Hardy is finishing up a three-year, $22.5 million contract, during which he’s hit .257 with 56 homers and a .700 OPS while playing 454 of a possible 480 games following lots of previous questions about his durability.

He’s also remained an excellent defensive shortstop into his 30s and Fan Graphs pegs his offensive and defensive contributions as being worth $48 million during the three-year contract based on Wins Above Replacement. In other words, Hardy has given the Orioles a lot more value than they paid for.

Now the question is will teams–including the division rival Yankees, who need a Derek Jeter replacement–be willing to make a big multi-year commitment to a 32-year-old shortstop.