Triple Crown Watch

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The latest on Miguel Cabrera’s chase for the Triple Crown:

Batting Leaders

1. Miguel Cabrera   .329
2. Mike Trout   .325
3. Joe Mauer   .322
Home Run Leaders

1. Miguel Cabrera  44
2. Josh Hamilton  43
3. Edwin Encarnacion  42

RBI Leaders

1. Miguel Cabrera  137
2. Josh Hamilton  127

Among those leaders, the only player on a team with something left to play for is Hamilton, whose Rangers are trying to fend off the A’s for the AL West.  In light of that, one question worth asking is whether Jim Leyland give Cabrera a day off either today or tomorrow?

If the Triple Crown wasn’t on the line it would seem like a no-brainer — rest the horse you rode to get here — but with such a slim lead in the home run chase and Hamilton’s ability to hit them in bunches, who knows?  Of course a day off could theoretically help him in the batting average race. Though after a 4 for 5 day, he is kinda hot.

Oh well. Something to watch for if you don’t care about the A’s-Rangers or the Cardinals-Dodgers.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.