When the standouts don’t stand out

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Obviously, offense in the year 2013 isn’t what it used to be.

Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt led the National League this year with a .954 OPS and was tied with Pedro Alvarez for first with 36 homers. It’s hardly a knock against him to say that those aren’t the totals we’re used to seeing leading the league.

Goldschmidt’s OPS was the lowest for a first-place finisher in either circuit since 1991, when Barry Bonds topped the NL at .924. The 36 homers is the lowest total to lead a league since the Padres’ Fred McGriff hit 35 in 1992.

Miguel Cabrera led the AL with 37 homers in 2008 and there were a couple other sub-40 leaders since, so it’s not completely shocking to see the 36 homers pacing the NL. Still, it is pretty stunning that just three got to 30 in all. Jay Bruce was third with exactly 30. Domonic Brown, Hunter Pence and Justin Upton all tied for fourth at 27.

Compare that to 2001. The homer totals from Goldschmidt and Alvarez would have tied for 14th in the NL that year.  When Moises Alou, J.D. Drew and Pat Burrell hit 27 homers that year, they tied for 27th in the league, a far cry from fourth.

The AL did quite a bit better in the power department, with Chris Davis’s 53 homers leading the way. Nine American Leaguers hit 30 homers. Only eight got to 100 RBI, though, and a mere four scored 100 runs, led by Mike Trout’s 109. In 1999, 30 American Leaguers drove in 100 runs and 28 scored 100 runs. Trout’s run total was the lowest to lead the AL in a non-strike year since 1976.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.