Inside Baseball MLB Notes: Cashman has scouts 'advancing' his own team to catch flaws

Taking our weekly trip around MLB as the playoffs take shape.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks

— No surprise, the D-Backs plan to extend the qualifying offer to Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock and surely also expect them to decline to seek much longer deals, likely elsewhere …

— With two big free agents not all that likely to be retained, and franchise player Paul Goldschmidt one year from free agency, some may wonder whether the D-Backs would consider entertaining trades for Goldschmidt. That still doesn’t seem especially likely from here, as a one-year rental for a first baseman — even a great one — may not bring back the haul expected …

— Torey Lovullo spoke to Rockies manager Bud Black to let him know that while they may rest a player or two they will try their best. There’s little doubt about that. The question is whether the D-Backs are close to spent: they have seemed that way …

— One of their big goals this week was not to let the Dodgers celebrate at Chase Field again, and they accomplished that with a 4-3 win Tuesday. They do not like the Dodgers …

— The Diamondbacks deserve plenty of praise for beating the Dodgers twice to throw the NL West back into the balance heading into the final weekend. They've been eliminated from the playoffs, but they haven't stopped fighting ...

—Their bullpen plan, which seemed sound, went awry. “They just ran out of gas,” said a rival …

— The bigger disappointment may have been the inconsistent offense, which was just plain lousy late …

— The D-Backs signed Shumpei Yoshikawa following the success of Yoshihisa Hirano (though things could get confusing). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic says it was for $650,000.

 

Atlanta Braves

— Anibal Sanchez was a nice story for the Braves this year after his release from the Twins …

— Sanchez broke a 0-for-54 streak at bat (h.t Mark Bowman, MLB.com) …

— Jeff Schultz of The Athletic wrote a nice story on Brian Snitker who may be Manager of the Year. He is deserving of strong consideration …

— The Braves are making several changes in the player development ranks. One expected to be let go is Luis Salazar, the former major leaguer who lost an eye when nailed by a foul liner in spring training a few years back.


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Baltimore Orioles

— Buck Showalter is expected to be let go after the year, as it was suggested here, and then later by Bob Nightengale of USA Today. There isn’t expected to be official word until ownership meets after the year …

— There also is expected to be no official word on GM Dan Duquette, too, though things are starting to look more positive for him, with some around the game suggesting they believe he will be retained, as Bob Nightengale suggested. Throughout the first half he was presumed by many to be a likely casualty, but word is that Orioles higher-ups were impressed by Duquette’s haul at the trade deadline: 15 players, more international money than anyone and an estimated $62 million in savings …

— The hiring of Doug Witt as a scout was interesting in that his nephew Bobby Witt Jr. is one of the top prospects for next year’s draft. It could be an early tip off which way they are leaning …

— The Orioles have three starters who started 20 games each that ended in defeats — Alex Cobb, Dylan Bundy and Andrew Cashner ….

— Hard to believe, Chris Davis is actually getting worse. He was in a 1-for-38 streak, with 20 strikeouts. Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated had a piece on him that shows the torment he is going through. One thing you can definitely say: He cares…

— The 111 defeats tied the franchise record of the 1939 St. Louis Browns.

 

Boston Red Sox

— The bullpen remains the issue, at least the couple innings before star closer Craig Kimbrel. Nathan Eovaldi is an option, though he’s likely to get a start against the Yankees due to past dominance. Other options appear to be Matt Barnes and Steven Wright …

— Meanwhile, during Chris Sale's final regular season start his average fastball velocity was down to 90.1 miles-per-hour Wednesday night, the lowest of his career. That would seem to be a concern nine days before he is scheduled to take the mound in Game 1 of the ALDS ...

— Andrew Benintendi has a streak of 60 homerless at-bats and only two home runs since the All-Star streak …

— Mookie Betts has a 10.6 WAR, the same as Ted Williams in his famous year of 1941, says David Schoenfeld of ESPN …

— As to who’s the MVP, David Price may have put it best: Betts is the MVP of the league, J.D. Martinez the MVP of the team …

— The Red Sox are only the fifth team since 1975 to win 106 games, joining the 2001 Mariners, the 1998 Yankees and Braves, the 1986 Mets and ’75 Reds (h/t Pete Abraham, Boston Globe). Those last two teams both defeated the Red Sox in the World Series. The Mariners and Braves teams were the only ones not to win the World Series, though Atlanta obviously lost to the Yankees.

 

Chicago Cubs

— They are at a steep bullpen deficit without Brandon Morrow or very likely Pedro Strop …

— Have heard word that Bob Melvin was runner-up for the job when then GM Jim Hendry hired Lou Piniella …

— Mark Gonzales reports that Cole Hamels’ start Monday gave the Cubs 90 starts by left-handers to break their record set by the 1966 Cubs, the first year of Leo the Lip …

— If the Mets have any interest in GM Jed Hoyer — and why wouldn’t they? — no one around the team seems to think he has any great interest in leaving the Cubs.

 

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Chicago White Sox

— He gone. Hawk Harrelson has announced his last game. And what a fun ride it was. Given to hyperbole, he was true to himself until the very end. In his last game, he noted that the Cubs-ChiSox game featured “two of the very best managers in the game.” …

— Matt Davidson said he will inquire as to whether he might become a “legit” pitching option next year. He was the most successful of the pitching position players this year, with three shutout innings, and some evidence of decent secondary stuff …

— Nick Madrigal says he plans to spend his time in the weight room after failing to homer in 155 at-bats in his first year. The No. 4 overall pick is going to be a star, according to scouts, and he hit .303 with eight stolen bases and only five strikeouts. He came and did a press conference. One of the questions: How tall are you? Answer: 5-foot-7. 


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Cincinnati Reds

— Interim manager Jim Riggleman has only been promised an interview. It is believed John Farrell is among others who will also be interviewed. Riggleman is extremely well-liked in the organization, but it doesn’t help that the Reds have only 13 runs in their last nine game, including five shutouts …

— The Reds will be looking for pitching. No kidding …

— It appears they have two near-certainties in the rotation for next year: Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani. Then they have a lot of maybes …

— They’d love to keep Matt Harvey, and will make a run at him as a free agent. Though he came with a rep as a bit difficult, GM Nick Krall said Harvey has been great, great with teammates, coaches and everyone …

— Harvey told Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic, “There’s only one team out there that I will not sign with.” That team isn’t hard to guess, and the feeling is mutual …

— Michael Lorenzen should become the first reliever to win the Silver Slugger award as the best hitting pitcher in the league …

— Joey Votto is on pace to lead the NL in on-bae percentage for the seventh time. If he does, he’d join Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Rogers Hornsby and Ty Cobb, via the Reds notes.


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Cleveland Indians

— The Indians have made history by becoming the first team with four pitchers who have posted 200 strikeouts (Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger). They certainly do have some great strengths even if their overall performance has been somewhat disappointing …

— Ace Kluber had his 46th 10-strikeout game (via Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer) …

— How much can Josh Donaldson help? Hoynes has the story

— Oliver Perez has become a surprise key contributor, as Zack Meisel wrote in The Athletic.

 

Colorado Rockies

— Trevor Story’s return is big, and he made extra-base history upon it, as Thomas Harding of MLB.com writes

— Charlie Blackmon is quietly having another productive season, and has a 16-game hitting streak …

— Nolan Arenado is looking for a big finish after a slow start to September, Harding writes

— The Rockies run differential finally looks a bit better (positive-31) after outscoring the Phillies 34-4 in their recent series ...

— Kyle Freeland has dominated this year, and Tyler Kepner of the failing New York Times has a nice story on him (among other fine notes) …

— This is only the third time the Rockies had four pitchers with 30 starts (also via Harding).

 

Detroit Tigers

— The Tigers have seven pitching prospects who have a chance to be great, including Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Beau Burrows and Casey Mize …

— Daniel Norris will try to win his first game Saturday. If he doesn’t get a win, h becomes the first Tigers pitcher since Scott Aldred in 1996 to start at least eight games and not register a win (h/t Jason Beck, MLB.com) …

— Beck observes that the Tigers also miss Miguel Cabrera’s defense at first base …

— Congrats to Victor Martinez, a terrific player and great professional who is hanging ‘em up.


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Houston Astros

— Justin Verlander turned in yet another brilliant year, and now has a career best 270 strikeouts …

— Josh James gives the Astros yet another great arm …

— They have about 15 great ones to choose from for the playoffs. They’ll have to leave one or two of them off, even if they deem Lance McCullers ready. The only weakness: one lefty (Tony Sipp) …

— Charlie Morton had to leave a game with shoulder discomfort …

— The two Guerriel brothers combined to hit four home runs one day, becoming first brother pair to post multi homer games. 

 

Kansas City Royals

— Adalberto (Don’t call me Raul Jr.) Mondesi is looking like a star. The Royals have some very good young players …

— They almost had Ronald Acuna Jr, too. They thought they had a deal with him before he wound up going to the Braves for just a few more dollars …

— The Royals are expected to rebuild, and their payroll could be slashed by $30 million, as was reported in this space last week. It’ll be interesting to see whether Ned Yost wants to come back for a year of rebuild …

— The draft from last year looks like a major winner. Danoe Lynch, pick No. 34 overall, was “the best arm I saw (in the minors) all summer,” one scout said. Jackson Kowar also looks very strong …

— Kyle Isbel, third rounder out of UNLV, also impressed …

— The Royals’ rebuild looks like it’s in better position that you’d think.


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Los Angeles Angels

— Mike Scioscia says he’d like to manage beyond this year, though it doesn’t appear like it will be with the Angels. He’d have to find just the right team, as he doesn’t fit the current prototype since he wants to do things his way (that’s the big one) and managers aren’t getting $6-million deals anymore (he might have to be flexible there) …

— J.P. Hoornstra of the Orange County Register has more on Scioscia, and other Angels notes

— The Angels, limping toward the finished, allowed double digits in runs four straight games …

— Mike Trout got his franchise record 117th walk …

— Some are speculating that Trout will wind up in Philadelphia or New York. But some believe Trout would like to play in one place his entire career. And as one rival pointed out, “He obviously likes it in California. He signed once with them already.” …

— As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News noted, the Angels press box is “in San Clemente.” It does feel that way. They went from having the best press box when I covered the team from 1987-89 and for years after to the worst. For the geographically curious, San Clemente is about 50 miles away.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

— Manny Machado is willing to play third base for a team that already has an outstanding shortstop, a friend said. (He apparently didn’t consider Tim Beckham to be established as a great shortstop) …

— Hyun-Jim Ryu has looked fantastic and is working his way into playoff plans …

— Chase Utley has a .351 batting average as a pinch hitter …

— The Dodgers have a plus-170 run differential to a plus-31 for the Rockies.


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Miami Marlins

— Nick Neidert, who came in the Dee Gordon trade, was their Minor League pitcher of the Year. Robert Dugger and Chris Torres also had nice years, so that was one of the better under-the-radar trades last winter …

— So the idea they got little for Gordon (beyond getting out from under the $38M of course) was wrong … 

— The Marlins will be the first team to draw fewer than 1 million fans since the 2004 Expos, based on announced attendance figures, Eric Fisher reported. Of course, last year’s Marlins team, using accurate figures, was very likely under 1 million, as well (around 800,000 according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald). Before the Expos, the last team to do so was the 2002 Marlins. And the last non-Expos/Marlins team was the 1990 Braves …

— Hard to believe stat: Wei-Yin Chen has the lowest home ERA among NL starters at 1.62 …

— Jose Urena has been brilliant his last six starts. So the Marlins may be in better shape than some for starters. Sandy Alcantara and Jorge Lopez are also being counted on as starters next year …

— Don Mattingly is expected back next year. But it is also expected he will enter the year as a lame duck, as there is no evidence of an extension in the works.

 

Milwaukee Brewers

— Their bullpen makes them a tough assignment in a Wild Card game. Conventional wisdom was that a great ace was the best weapon in a one-game playoff, and while that’s certainly a great asset, in this age of bullpenning, having a deep and talented back end like theirs may be just as good …

— Josh Hader recorded 16 straight outs via the strikeout. But he recently suffered one meltdown, as Milwaukee radio star Drew Olson put it. In eight batters, he allowed two home runs, a double and two walks …

— Hader's 136 K’s are the most ever by a lefty reliever …

— Wade Miley continues to come up big for the Brew Crew …

— Browns QB Baker Mayfield put in a good word for Christian Yelich for MVP at his press conference …

— Yelich leads the NL in hits, home runs, RBI, batting average and many other categories in the second half …

— Ryan Braun is heating up …

— The Brewers are in great shape with three games at home against the Tigers to wrap up the regular season ...

— Mike Moustakas deserves a lot of credit for not letting the rough winter get to him. He is ready for free agency again, and this time he won’t be handicapped by having a draft pick attached to him. As was written in this space, he could have helped the Giants, and for that matter, the Angels …

— Travis Shaw, who was replaced by Moustakas, had a “4 win” season by WAR, not bad for someone who, in effect, lost his job …

— Erik Kratz has done a very nice job for such an inexpensive pickup.


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Minnesota Twins

— Trevor Hildenberger has quite an amazing story on his rise to the majors, as Dan Hayes of The Athletic writes

— The Twins have had 15 walk-off losses, one off the MLB record, Hayes notes. Teams that had 16 walk-off losses were the 1975 Astros, 1969 Giants, 1966 Red Sox, 1943 Browns and 1924 Phillies. They already hold the record by allowing 10 walk-off homers …

— Logan Forsythe has had a rough season, and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press talked about what free agency may be like for him …

— Joe Mauer is two hits shy of The Duke (h/t Berardino) …

— Congrats to Berardino, who is taking a job as the Notre Dame writer for the Indianapolis Star. 


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New York Mets

— Mickey Callaway’s strong finish has reaffirmed Mets’ people’s call to keep the rookie manager next year. But he probably needs a strong start in 2019 …

— The Mets are considering some “outside the box” candidates. So the idea they are married to an old scout for the job does not appear to be correct (although today, an older scout might be considered outside the box) …

— Jacob deGrom's final masterpiece — a two-hit outing with eight shutout innings — all but locked up the Cy Young award for the Mets ace. The vote could even be unanimous now ...

— The Mets have some competition for GM with the firing of Bobby Evans as Giants GM …

— Jay Bruce looks like himself since coming off the DL in late August. He has a .523 slugging percentage in that period, Tim Britton of The Athletic noted …

— Congrats to David Wright on a great career, and also on making it back. He is a true mensch.



New York Yankees

— GM Brian Cashman is trying something different by having two scouts “advance” his own team. The idea is to pick up flaws other teams may see. Seems like a worthwhile idea …  

— As the Yankees pick a Wild Card starter, assuming they are the home team, perhaps they should consider that J.A. Happ is 8-1 lifetime at Yankee Stadium. The one issue would be that the A’s are righty heavy, and Happ was the last pitcher to “carve them up,” in the words of one scout. Masahiro Tanaka would be a second choice. Luis Severino has been better lately, but as one scout said, “He’s had trouble putting people away.” …

— The Yankees have 20-plus home runs from every spot except the No. 9 spot, which has 19 home runs (via YES Network) …

— The Yankees seem to have committed to Gary Sanchez behind the plate despite concerns about the defense …

— Andrew McCutchen has had some ups and downs in recent years but he made it eight straight years with 20 home runs (via MLB Network) …

— McCutchen is said to have loved his time in New York, and he has clearly performed …

— Didi Gregorius is a huge part of this team, so if he can’t return that hurts quite a bit …

— Zach Britton has risen to close games for the Yankees, which should only enhance his free agency …

— Luke Voit wasn’t just a fluke pickup. Michael Fishman and the other numbers gurus with the Yankees were after him for months, and it’s paid off with a huge September performance reminiscent of Shane Spencer in 1998. Greg Bird might not even make the postseason roster …

— When someone listed Voit’s at-bats in a game against the Red Sox, and they read: Single, Homer, Homer, Single, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston noted in the Tweet of the Month (my call) that it sounded like a press-box seating chart …

— Chuck Bartlett, the longtime Indians area scout in the Panhandle of Florida, has made the move to the Yankees …

— Here’s why ex-Yankee Mike Stanton (not the current Giancarlo Stanton, who also used to be called Mike) is the Forrest Gump of the game, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com.

 

Oakland Athletics

— Everything’s on the table for their Wild Card games, likely at New York, from the opener to a bullpen game to one of a few starters from a rotation that’s comprised of Mike Fiers, Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson …

— The A’s clinched a playoff spot with the Yankees’ win over the Rays. Though, that wasn’t really completely good news for Oakland, as they are hoping to beat the Yankees for home field in the Wild Card game …

— They became the first team to make the playoffs with the lowest Opening Day payroll since 1988 …

— Khris Davis continues to be consistently brilliant. He’s followed up years with 42 and then 43 home runs with a 47-homer year and looks like he will prevent J.D. Martinez from a Triple Crown …

— The A’s missed a chance to lock him up earlier when negotiations didn’t result in a multiyear deal. It’s an unusual case since he’s a young DH, but he has been a consistent force …

— Liam Hendricks hired Dan Lozano to represent him …

— Though his offensive numbers have gone down the last couple years, Jonathan Lucroy threw out an MLB-high 28 would-be base stealers this year, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out …

— Lucroy also recently hit his career home run No. 100.



Philadelphia Phillies

— Rumblings are being heard from veteran players that there's some disenchantment over rookie manager Gabe Kapler. However, Phillies management remains steadfast in their strong support of Kapler, believing that he has built strong relationships and proven to be an extremely hard worker, very good in-game manager, and perhaps most importantly, top execs don't believe the team was either 1) great or 2) underperformed (in fact, the Phillies matched or beat predictions/expectations). They understand the clubhouse is down following a brutal stretch to finish the season and aren't under any illusions that he's been perfect but tell people they had to expect some "growing pains" in what they believed all along was a transition year. The issue ultimately was the roster they built, Phillies execs admit. To this point there also haven't many a flood of complaint calls (or even one) to their offices over their manager ... 

— Some had Kapler as a possible Manager of the Year at midseason (including here) but obviously the story changed quite a bit by the end, as the Phillies faded badly (6-18 this month, including a three-game drubbing at Colorado where they were outscored 34-4).  …

— Fifteen over .500 at one point, they are now below .500 …

— Kapler is obviously a lightning rod, so — fair or not — there are folks gunning for him. With that in mind, scouts were saying the Phillies “looked like they didn’t want to be there” last weekend in Atlanta, where they got swept. (And they looked worse in Denver. ) …

— Scouts also said Kapler looked indecisive on pitching changes. That probably should be a surprise and almost understandable since they have an endless supply of pitchers available after promoting the entire 40-man roster …  

— Not that he’s in any jeopardy after one year. But one thing in Kapler’s favor: The Phillies are under no illusion that the Braves’ East Division championship was a fluke. They understand the Braves are better and that they have work to do …

— The Phillies will make everyone available except Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola, a source told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic …

— Trades or not, they are the team to watch this winter, thanks to their $2.5 billion TV deal and other reasons …

— The Phillies aren’t afraid to shake things up. One person suggested one of their problems is “having square pegs in round holes.” …

— Odubel Herrera did hit a ball 114.3 mph, as Manny Randhawa noted, but unfortunately it was foul. And it hit hero umpire John Tumpane (he’s the one who talked a suicide off the bridge in Pittsburgh a few years back.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

— In quite a shock the Pirates have a better winning percentage than the Phillies …

— Corey Dickerson is understandably proud of the work he’s done in left field, as Rob Biertempfel writes

— Jameson Taillon has posted 21 straight games with three runs or fewer (via Adam Berry), so he’s just a bit behind Jacob deGrom, who now has the all-time record, at 26 games …

— Chris Archer is putting together a very strong finish, making that oft-criticized trade look better.


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St. Louis Cardinals

— The Cardinals rallied to put themselves in great position, but have a tough road with a finishing series against the Cubs, who also need these wins …

— We’ve mentioned it here before, but the Miles Mikolas signing has to be one of the best of the winter. He leads the NL with 17 wins (if anyone’s counting those anymore) …

— Adam Wainwright, an all-time gamer, has worked his way back into the Cardinals rotation …

— Kolten Wong has been nothing short of fantastic on defense this year …

— Tyler O’Neill has been a nice power source.

 

San Diego Padres

— So sorry to hear about the passing of Don Welke, a great scout, wonderful guy and great kidder. He always used to remind me not to challenge him or his intellect because he’s a “Harvard man.” He was from Harvard, Ill., a small town north of Chicago. He was a right-hand man of Pat Gillick so — no surprise — he won a lot. His last job was with the Padres …

Dennis Lin of The Athletic has a nice story on all the adjustments Franmil Reyes has made.

 

San Francisco Giants

— The ousting of GM Bobby Evans seems odd, even though it had been mentioned by Bob Nightengale in USA Today and here, as well, in that the Giants have won more World Series titles since the Yankees dynasty of 1996-2000 than anyone else, and Evans was a big part of that. But the Giants haven’t seemed satisfied in recent years, making changes galore on a coaching staff that had been very successful as well …

— Nightengale suggested that former Giants assistant GM Ned Colletti is a “strong” candidate. However, Giants managing partner Larry Baer said they are looking for a “next gen” GM, so that would probably be a surprise. Colletti was GM of the rival Dodgers for nine years, and wants to get back into the game as GM after serving as a Dodgers broadcaster the past few years …

— Hunter Pence wants to try to play next season, as Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has suggested. Though he hit only .224 with three home runs, he’s looked much better in the second half and has had some big moments.


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Seattle Mariners

— One Mariners insider said he doubted they’d re-sign Nelson Cruz, as he expected the team to try to get younger …  

— Triple-A manager Pat Listach has been informed he won’t be retained …

— Mike Micucci, the head of minor league operations, also will not be brought back.

 

Tampa Bay Rays

— With his huge finish, Blake Snell has surpassed Chris Sale as AL Cy Young favorite. According to Stats Inc., he was 9-0 with a 1.04 ERA over nine starts, a nine-game stretch matched only by Johan Santana in 2004 and Bob Gibson in 1968, both unanimous Cy Young choices. Snell’s ERA is the third lowest since the AL went to the DH, with only Pedro Martinez (2000, 1.74) and Ron Guidry (1978, 1.74) lower, via Dave Haller of the Rays. Thirteen of the last 14 pitchers to lead in wins and ERA have won the Cy Young, with only Mike Boddicker (1984) losing, to reliever Willie Hernandez …

— Joey Wendle has been overlooked in the Rookie of the Year competition. We espoused Shohei Ohtani here, while Miguel Andujar is probably the favorite. But Wendle leads all AL rookies with a 4.5 WAR and is hitting .301. It still feels like it’ll be Andujar or Ohtani but Wendle needs to be looked at more closely …

— They have finally been eliminated from playoff contention, but they still should take a bow.

 


Texas Rangers

— Jeff Banister is a terrific guy, but he was seen as a bit “rah, rah,” by some Rangers veterans, who seemed to think change was in order (or at least didn’t argue too hard against it) …

— Adrian Beltre got a well deserved, nice sendoff. He hit his 476th home run, passing Hall of Famers Willie Stargell and Stan Musial, who each had 475 …

— He has 1,700 RBIs, which is more than Chipper Jones, Mike Schmidt and George Brett. The other three all won MVPs. But Beltre’s numbers in many cases are better …

— Joey Gallo is one strikeout away from 40/200, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News notes. Grant also notes that Gallo is the 10th player to have two 40-homer seasons by age 25 …

— Bartolo Colon has allowed an astounding 32 home runs. But let’s give him credit. It’s still the best performance by a 45-year-old. And, despite a 5.78 ERA, he manages not to have a negative WAR (it’s 0.2).


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Toronto Blue Jays

— Ryan Borucki has a 1.98 ERA this month …

— It’s been a fun run by manager John Gibbons, who it was announced will not lead the team next year during their final home game Wednesday. He got a fitting ovation for his work north of the border.


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Washington Nationals

— Bryce Harper suggested in an interview with Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post that he very much likes the Nats. Most of us already knew that, but it was nice to see him say it aloud after staying quiet all year …

— He may not have won our poll of execs regarding who’d get the bigger deal between him and Manny Machado, but some of the knocks on Harper (“i.e “too much drama”) don’t seem especially on point or fair without balancing that with his positive personal attributes, like loyalty …

— Harper has built quite a great argument by posting a 1.004 OPS in the second half. He’s also had two seasons with a 1.000-plus OPS, which is two more than Manny Machado …

— Harper also reached 100 RBI for the first time …

— Harper became the second player to go 100-100-100, 100 in RBI, runs and walks ...

— Juan Soto is up to 21 home runs, one short of Bryce Harper as a 19-year-old. Soto is a better all-around hitter at this stage …

— Max Scherzer became a rare pitcher to reach 300 strikeouts. He has to be considered one of the best free agent signings ever at this point …

— Anthony Rendon has one of the most overlooked 32-game on-base streaks ever …

— Paul Faulk, longtime scout, was let go …

— Now it can be told: A source said the Nats were talking about a two-year extension with Dusty Baker last season when the Lerners halted talks. Baker had been told he can go ahead and renew his lease. But he knew better. He didn’t renew it. And ultimately, they (foolishly) didn’t renew him.

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.

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