.

Hot Stove: 1/18

The Nats made a $28 million signing, as well as a three team, five player trade.

Stat of the Day: Slugging Percentage

Abbreviation: SLG or SLG%.  Leaders: All Time: Babe Ruth (.690).  Single Season: Barry Bonds (.863 in 2001).  Active: Albert Pujols (.608).  2012: Miguel Cabrera (.606).

Slugging percentage is the ultimate measurement of power.  It divides total bases (1 for single, 2 for double, ect.) by at bats in a similar fashion to batting average.  An average player will post a slugging percentage between .370 and .400, while the big power hitters move over .500 and reach towards .600 or .620.  Like many stats, slugging percentage skyrocketed with the end of the Dead Ball Era, and in 1920, Babe Ruth reached an astounding .847.  The '20s ended up being the golden age of the slugging percentage, where high averages were combined with an influx of power hitting, as nine of the top fifteen slugging percentage seasons for a player occurred between 1920 and 1932, six of which were posted by Babe Ruth.  The Steroid Era of the late '90s and early 2000's also yielded high slugging percentages, as the other six of the top fifteen slugging percentage seasons were posted between 1994 and 2004, meaning each of the top fifteen were either in the '20s/early '30s power surge or the Steroid Era.  Ted Williams breaks this chain with his .735 mark in 1941, ranked at number 17 all time.  Back to Babe Ruth.  While his power numbers and average numbers were both extremely high, his slugging percentage was able to skyrocket by the advent of all the singles.  From 1919-1932, he failed only once to slug at least .657, reaching .700 nine times and .800 twice.  From 1920-1921, he combined to slug .847.  Nowadays, slugging percentages are dropping slightly with stronger pitching and a renewed need for singles hitters.  The league leader has posted a lower slugging percentage every year since 2009 (.658, .633, .608, .606 chronologically).  No one has slugged .650 in a season since Albert Pujols in 2009, .670 hasn't been reached since Pujols slugged .671 in 2006, and the last time any player reached .700 was in 2004.  That year, Barry Bonds posted his second and final .800 season, finishing at .812.  The other one?  He slugged .863 in 2001, the highest mark ever, by hitting 73 home runs (combined with 32 doubles and a pair of triples) to total 411 total bases in 476 at bats.  He was also walked 177 times, hence the low number of at bats.  Ruth and Bonds are the only players ever to slug .800 in a season, doing so twice apiece.  Lou Gehrig, at number seven, is the first player not named Ruth or Bonds, slugging .765 in 1927.  Last year, with his triple crown season, Miguel Cabrera was the only player to reach .600, checking in at .606.  Mike Trout's sensational season wound up yielding a mark of just .564, still good for fourth in the majors behind Cabrera, Ryan Braun (.595), and Josh Hamilton (.577).  Ian Desmond led the Nationals at .511 and finished 19th in the majors.

News

The World Baseball Classic rosters are coming together, with such names as Giancarlo Stanton (USA), Ryan Braun (USA), Adam Jones (USA), David Wright (USA), Brandon Phillips (USA), Craig Kimbrel (USA), Mark Teixeira (USA), Justin Morneau (Canada), John Axford (Canada), Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela), Felix Hernandez (Venezuela), Pablo Sandoval (Venezuela), Robinson Cano (Dominican), Albert Pujols (Dominican), Starlin Castro (Dominican), Jose Reyes (Dominican), Adrian Gonzalez (Mexico), Yovani Gallardo (Mexico), and many more committing to play.

Nationals that have committed to play include Roger Bernadina (Netherlands) and Danny Espinosa (Mexico), and prospects Randolph Oduber (Netherlands), Spencer Kieboom (Netherlands), Adrian Nieto (Spain), Jimmy Van Ostrand (Canada), and Matt Torra (Italy) will also be touting their countries' colors.

The A's signed manager Bob Melvin to a two year extension that will keep him in Oakland through 2016.

The Diamondbacks signed J.J. Putz to a one year, $7 million extension that will keep him in Arizona through 2014.

Longtime Astro/journeyman Geoff Blum retired after 14 years in the major leagues, having hit 99 home runs and batted .250.  He is 39.

Free Agent Signings

Nationals signed Rafael Soriano (2-1, 2.26 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 42 saves, 2013 age: 33) to a two year, $28 million deal ($14 million per season).

Rays signed Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona, 0-3, 7.53 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 2013 age: 32) to a one year, $3.25 million deal.

Cubs signed Brent Lillibridge (3 HR, 10 RBI, .195 AVG, 13 SB, 2013 age: 29) to a minor league deal.

Yankees signed Bobby Wilson (3 HR, 13 RBI, .211 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 30) to a minor league deal.

Reds signed Cesar Izturis (2 HR, 11 RBI, .241 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 33) to a minor league deal.

Cubs also signed Darnell McDonald (2 HR, 9 RBI, .205 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 34) to a minor league deal.

Rangers signed Kyle McClellan (0-1, 5.30 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 2013 age: 29) to a minor league deal.

Blue Jays signed Henry Blanco (1 HR, 7 RBI, .188 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 41) to a one year, $750,000 deal.

Phillies signed Rodrigo Lopez (0-1, 5.68 ERA, 2.05 WHIP, 2013 age: 37) to a minor league deal.

Signing Rafael Soriano was a very interesting move to me.  The Nationals already have two closers, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, and their need is for a left handed pitcher, not a righty like Soriano.  To me, this means one thing.  Rizzo has a trade in place or nearly in place.  It is my belief that he will trade either Clippard or Storen– probably Clippard –in a package with Michael Morse for a left hander such as Jake McGee of the Rays or Charlie Furbush of the Mariners, plus a very good prospect, such as James Paxton, Chris Archer, or Stephen Pryor.  Back in DC, Soriano should take over as closer, pushing what's left of the Storen/Clippard tandem to the set-up position.  It is evident that Soriano himself will not be the set-up man, as he has been in the past for the Mariners and Braves, because there is a clause in his contract where if he finishes 120 games over the next two years then a third year priced at $14 million (on par with his current contract) will be added.  Of course, having Soriano as closer is nothing to be unhappy about.  He does have 132 saves under his belt, 116 of which have come in the last four years, two 40+ save seasons in the past three years, and a 2.78 career ERA.  His best year was 2010, when he was 3-2 with a 1.73 ERA and 45 saves in 64 appearances.  His WHIP was 0.80, as opponents batted just .163.  When Mariano Rivera went down early in 2012, Soriano stepped up and had another incredible year, posting a 2.26 ERA and 42 saves in 69 appearances.

Trades

The Nationals traded Michael Morse (18 HR, 62 RBI, .291 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 31) to the Mariners, who sent John Jaso (10 HR, 50 RBI, .276 AVG, 5 SB, 2013 age: 29) to the A's, who then sent minor leaguers A.J. Cole (6-10, 3.70 ERA, .267 BAA at Class A and High Class A, 2013 age: 21), Blake Treinen (7-7, 4.37 ERA, .278 BAA at High Class A, 2013 age: 24-25), and a player to be named later to the Nationals.

After signing Adam LaRoche, everyone knew that Michael Morse was going.  It turns out he is returning to his former team, the Mariners, in this trade.  Seattle gets the big right handed bat they were looking for, and all they had to give up was a catcher in John Jaso, who is expendable with Jesus Montero behind the plate.  Morse, who was traded from Seattle to Washington in 2008 for Ryan Langerhans, broke out while with the Nats.  In 2011, he had his best year, hitting 31 home runs and batting .303 with 95 RBI in 146 games.  Last year, he was limited to 102 games because of a lat injury, but still managed to hit 18 home runs and bat .291.

The Nationals got a pair of good pitching prospects and a player to be named later from the A's.  A.J. Cole is actually a former National, having appeared in one game for the Short Season Vermont Lake Monsters and in 20 games for the Class A Hagerstown Suns.  After going 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA for Hagerstown in 2011 at just 19 years old, the Nationals sent him to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez trade.  He was put to work at High Class A Stockton, but struggled, going 0-7 with a 7.82 ERA in eight starts.  They demoted him to Class A Burlington, where he found his groove and went 6-3 with a 2.07 ERA over 19 starts.  He now rejoins the Nationals and will probably start at High Class A Potomac.  Blake Treinen is a Kansas native who went to South Dakota State University.  Drafted into the A's organization in 2011, he has gone 8-8 with a 4.13 ERA over 45 games (15 starts) for the AZL, Class A Burlington, and High Class A Stockton.  The majority of his time was spent at Stockton, where the 6'4" righty went 7-7 with a 4.37 ERA over 24 games (15 starts).

Lastly, the A's got catcher John Jaso from the Mariners.  Jaso, a California native, experienced a breakout year in 2012, hitting ten home runs and batting .276 with five stolen bases in 108 games.  He also posted a .394 on-base percentage, which GM Billy Beane likes.  The A's suddenly have too many catchers, with George Kottaras, Derek Norris, and Luke Montz also expecting to vie for time.  Jaso has 20 career home runs and a .255 average through 311 games.

-- 

Zack Silverman

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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