News and notes from around the league

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, September 13th, 2019

Image result for nick solak                                                                                                                                 BY DIC HUMPHREY

Texas Rangers News and Notes:
• Ranger batters have already set a new team record for strikeouts
in a season.  They go into the weekend with 1,454 and are neck and
neck with Detroit (at 1,459) for the Major League lead. Seattle isn’t
far behind with 1,443. (Stats through games played Thursday,
September 12, 2019.)
• When the Rangers hosted Tampa Bay this week, there were five
players on the active roster that have been in the Tampa Bay system:
Logan Forsythe, Brock Burke, Nick Solak, Taylor Guerrieri, and Ian
Gibaut. Kyle Bird has also been in the Rays’ organization, but was
not on the Rangers’ active roster.
• Solak looks like a real find for Texas.  He is hitting .360 with
four home runs and 15 RBIs since joining the Rangers on August 20.
Against the Rays this week, he was 6-11 (.545) with two home runs and
four RBIs. One of the home runs was hit off Peter Fairbanks, the
pitcher that the Rays received when they traded Solak to Texas.
• The Rangers won two of three games this week against the Rays.
It was their first series win over a team with a winning record since
taking two of three with the St. Louis Cardinals May 15-17.  After
taking the series against the Rays, Texas’ record is an even .500 at
74-74 with 14 games remaining.
• Reliever Shawn Kelley said this week that he either wants to play
for the Rangers next year or retire.  The Rangers hold an option on
Kelley for the 2019 season at $2.5 million. He is hoping the Rangers
will pick up the option, but flatly told’s T. R. Sullivan,
“I’ll either play here or retire”.
• Former Ranger middle infielder Hanser Alberto is solidly in the
race to win this year’s American League batting championship.  He was
waived by the Rangers last off season, and was waived three more times
before finally landing in Baltimore.  The teams that waived him
included the Orioles, which claimed him for a second time.  Going into
the weekend, Alberto was hitting .318, good enough for fourth place in
the A. L. behind Chicago’s Tim Anderson (.333), New York’s D. J.
LeMahieu (.325), and Houston’s Michael Brantley (.321).
• Willie Calhoun had his first career two home run game on Friday
of last weekend in Baltimore.  The only question is why did it take
Calhoun so long to do it?  Earlier this week, there were 409 games
with a player hitting at least two home runs.  The previous record was
396 in 2017.  At one point this season, there was at least one player
hitting two home runs in a game for 37 straight days.
• The new Globe Life Field scheduled to open next spring is now
estimated to be 75% complete.  The Oakland Athletics are in town this
weekend, and after that series, just six games remain to be played in
Globe Life Ballpark.
MLB News and Notes:
• The Orioles’ Jonathan Villar homered Wednesday night against the
Dodgers to set a new Major League record for home runs in a season.
It was the 6,105th hit this year, and there are still more than two
weeks left in the season to advance the total.  At this point, there
are 108 players with at least 20 home runs on the season, another
number that is sure to increase by season’s end.  Saturday by the way
is the day of the week that the most home runs have been hit.  The
proliferation of home runs extended down to AAA, which used the Major
League baseball this season.  2,097 more home runs were hit this year
in triple-A than in 2018.
• As for the American League post-season races, the Astros and
Yankees are virtually in as champions of the West and East divisions.
In the Central Division, Cleveland still has a chance to catch
Minnesota as they go into the weekend 3.5 games (four in the loss
column) behind the Twins.  The Wild Card race is essentially three
teams for two spots. Oakland is in the top Wild Card slot one-half
game ahead of Tampa Bay (one in the loss column).  Cleveland is
one-half game behind the Rays, but is tied with Tampa in the loss
column.  Boston and Texas are the only other A. L. teams that have not
been mathematically eliminated from being a Wild Card team.
• In the National League, Los Angeles became the first team to
clinch their division championship this week.  Atlanta is all but
assured to win the East. They lead second place Washington by 8.5
games with 14 games to play.  St. Louis is in the driver’s seat in the
Central with a four game lead over the Cubs and Brewers.  Washington
is in the top Wild Card slot 3.5 games ahead of the Cubs and Brewers.
The Mets and Phillies are two games behind Chicago and Milwaukee.
Arizona is still in the picture.  They are 3.5 games out of the second
Wild Card berth.
• There is likely to be a huge turnover of Major League managers
this winter.  San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy is retiring.  Miami’s
Don Mattingly, Chicago’s Joe Madden, and Colorado’s Bud Black are on
contracts that expire at the end of this season, and all three could
be let go.  Incumbents are on the hot seat for at least four teams:
Philadelphia (Gabe Kapler), New York Mets (Mickey Calloway), Seattle
(Scott Servais), and Pittsburgh (Clint Hurdle).  Head of Baseball
Operations Dave Dombrowski has already been relieved of his duties in
Boston, and a number of other executives effectively functioning as
the General Manager are likely to be replaced too.
• Houston’s Yordan Alvarez is the likely American League Rookie of
the Year.  The 6’-5” slugging outfielder/designated hitter from Cuba
is hitting .315 in 273 at-bats since joining the Astros on June 9.  He
is remindful of the late Willie McCovey right down to his uniform
number 44.  Alvarez has hit 24 home runs and has an OPS of 1.069.
McCovey was the National League’s 1959 Rookie of the Year amazingly
because he didn’t get called up to the Giants until after the All-Star
• Shohei Ohtani, the pitching/hitting sensation from Japan two
winters ago, has again had his season cut short due to injury.  Last
year, Tommy John surgery halted his pitching career.  This year, he
has been a designated hitter, but he now needs knee surgery.  The
surgery to his left knee patella will require eight to 12 weeks
recovery time.


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