Dustin Pedroia, Ichiro Suzuki, Rafael Furcal among worst hitters since May 15

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I wrote yesterday about how Albert Pujols has recovered from his awful start to lead the entire American League in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage, and OPS since May 15.

Based off that I thought it would also be interesting to look at the least productive hitters during that same span, which accounts for about 70 games.

Braves second baseman Dan Uggla has baseball’s lowest batting average since May 15 at .161, but because he’s hit seven homers and drawn a ton of walks his .647 OPS is only the 26th-worst mark during that period.

Here are the “trailers” in OPS among hitters with at least 200 plate appearances since May 15:

Tony Gwynn Jr.    .549
Clint Barmes      .550
Rafael Furcal     .561
Justin Smoak      .566
Jordan Schafer    .589
Cameron Maybin    .596
Ichiro Suzuki     .596
Dustin Pedroia    .597

Tony Gwynn Jr., Clint Barmes, and Jordan Schafer aren’t surprises, as they’ve never really hit. Justin Smoak has been such a big disappointment that the Mariners demoted him to Triple-A last month.

More noteworthy is the inclusion of former MVPs Dustin Pedroia and Ichiro Suzuki, although Pedroia hasn’t been at full strength health-wise for seemingly the entire season and Suzuki has been unproductive since last year. And while not a former MVP, Rafael Furcal started the All-Star game for the NL less than a month ago.

The standard “small sample size” and “arbitrary endpoints” caveats apply, of course.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.