Albert Pujols and Joey Votto must go through Omar Infante to win the Triple Crown

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Believe it or not, Omar Infante may determine whether Albert Pujols or Joey Votto can win the Triple Crown.
Pujols leads the NL in homers and RBIs while ranking third in batting average. Votto leads the league in batting average while ranking second in RBIs and third in homers. There’s still a lot of baseball left to be played, but the two best hitters in the league are set up to go hit-for-hit down the stretch in search of the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
That is, unless Infante gets enough playing time to qualify for the batting title.
Despite (controversially) making the All-Star team Infante spent the first half as merely a part-time player for the Braves, so right now he has just 338 plate appearances and his .350 batting average doesn’t appear on the official leaderboard. However, now that he’s playing every day Infante is rapidly closing in on the 502 plate appearances needed to qualify.
Plus, if he finishes a small number of plate appearances short there’s a rule in place that will give him hitless at-bats until he reaches 502. In other words, if he hits .350 in 490 plate appearances Infante will then be given an 0-for-12 for the purposes of determining the batting title.
Infante has averaged 4.5 plate appearances per start this season, so assuming he’s in the lineup for, say, 35 of the final 37 games he’d end up with around 495 plate appearances. It may prove to be a moot point if Infante slumps over the final six weeks, but right now he has a 27-point edge over Votto and is definitely a factor in the Triple Crown picture.

Dodgers, Reds discussing a Yasiel Puig trade

Yasiel Puig
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Here’s a rumor from yesterday afternoon that sort of fell through the cracks, but it’s fun enough to think about for a few moments: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers and Reds have had “multiple” trade discussions involving Yasiel Puig.

Puig is a potential trade candidate, either (a) because he’s “disgruntled,” according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times last week; or (b) because the Dodgers want to clear salary and roster spots in order to sign a big-name player, according to Rosenthal here. Many people suspect that the Dodgers are going to make a run at Bryce Harper, for example, and if that’s the case they’d no doubt want to open up right field for him.

It seems questionable that any Reds-Dodgers talks would get a ton of traction, especially given that Rosenthal reports that there’s a possibility of the Dodgers taking on Reds pitcher Homer Bailey and the $28 million he’s still owed in order to get some talent back from the Reds in a trade. That would seem to defeat the purpose of unloading Puig’s salary, but this is the sort of things we all talk about now given that the league has, more or less, a defacto salary cap imposed by the Competitive Balance Tax.