A.J. Ellis hit just .191 this season and would likely get a raise to at least $5 million via the arbitration process, so there’s been some speculation that the Dodgers could part ways with the 33-year-old catcher.
Clayton Kershaw thinks that would be a mistake, telling Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
I don’t know what I’m going to do if he’s not back. I think we’d be losing a lot if we let him go. I know A.J. will land on his feet, but we need him here a lot. … “Just the tireless work that he does, it’s so selfless. It’s invaluable to know that what he’s putting down, there’s so much thought, so much work behind it. It gives me confidence to throw it.
That’s a very positive review of Ellis’ defensive value by the world’s best pitcher, but the Dodgers are no doubt wondering if he’s still capable of being the on-base machine he was from 2010-2012. He had a huge NLDS versus the Cardinals, but during the past two regular seasons seasons Ellis has hit .218 with a .638 OPS. Combined with his age, knee problems, and rising salary that could make it a tough call.
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has launched what appears to be the beginning of an auspicious career, made all the more notable by the 50 home runs he’s produced for the Mets so far this season. The All-Star slugger pushed his home run streak to four straight games on Friday, collecting no. 50 on an eighth-inning fastball from the Reds’ Sal Romano.
It’s just the latest of a long line of accomplishments for the 24-year-old infielder. Entering Friday’s series opener against Cincinnati, the first-time All-Star carried a .266/.366/.590 batting line with a league-leading 49 homers, 113 RBI, a .956 OPS and 4.9 fWAR through 648 plate appearances. Among those who are still rounding out their rookie seasons in 2019, he ranks first in home runs and fWAR by a long shot: the White Sox’ Eloy Jiménez is second in home runs with 28 dingers, while the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez plays second fiddle in fWAR with 3.7 Wins Above Replacement.
Even more remarkable: Alonso is the second rookie in MLB history to deliver at least 50 home runs in a single season. The first? Aaron Judge, who clubbed a jaw-dropping 52 homers for the Yankees in 2017.