The Dodgers picked up their MLB-best 31st victory on Saturday when catcher A.J. Ellis hit a walkoff three-run shot against the Astros’ Wesley Wright.
The heroics are nothing new this year for Ellis.
A 31-year-old former 18th-round pick, he’s batting .317/.442/.517 with five home runs, seven doubles and 23 RBI through 149 plate appearances. And here’s the current leaderboard for FanGraphs’ version of WAR (Wins Above Replacement):
A.J. Ellis – 2.5
Carlos Ruiz – 2.4
Yadier Molina – 1.9
Jonathan Lucroy – 1.9
A.J. Pierzynski – 1.8
Joe Mauer – 1.5
Matt Wieters – 1.4
Buster Posey – 1.2
Carlos Santana – 1.2
Brian McCann – 0.9
Ellis isn’t as consistently great on defense as Ruiz or Molina, but he’s thrown out 16 of 35 would-be base stealers and certainly seems deserving of his first National League All-Star nod. “This is the greatest moment of my personal baseball career,” Ellis told the Associated Press shortly after Saturday’s walkoff. “It’s really humbling, just to be a part of where this team is headed right now. It feels real special.”
Ichiro wore a fake mustache to sneak into the Mariners’ dugout
Ichiro Suzuki is now a Mariners employee and, as such, he’s not allowed to sit in the dugout during a game. That’s for coaches and players only.
He knows that, too. Indeed, on the day Ichiro announced his sorta-retirement, he talked about how it was going to be hard not to be down on the field with the other players. He even made a ridiculous joke about how, “[he] can’t say for certain that maybe [he] won’t put on a beard and glasses and be like Bobby Valentine and be in the dugout.”
In related news, this mysterious stranger was seen by an Associated Press photographer in the Mariners dugout during the first couple of innings of the M’s-Yankees game:
No beard, but I guess that joke was not very ridiculous after all. Either way, by the end of the second inning — poof — he was gone.
Obviously, when something interesting like this happens you mustache an expert for their opinion on the matter. To that end, the Associated Press reached Bobby Valentine, who famously did the same thing after an ejection way back in 1999, for comment:
“He was perfect. I never would have known it was him.”
Valentine was suspended for two games and fined $5,000. I’m assuming Ichiro won’t get hit quite as hard given that he wasn’t defying an umpire’s authority, but even if he does have to pay a fine, he’ll likely do so willingly.