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Inside MLB: Who’s hot and who’s not this week

Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun celebrates in the dugout with teammates after hitting a home run against the Orioles on Sept. 6.
Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun celebrates in the dugout with teammates after hitting a home run against the Orioles on Sept. 6.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

A look at who’s hot and who’s not in the major leagues:

3 UP

1) Texas appears to be the spot for former Dodgers prospects to flourish. The headlines have gone to Astros DH/left fielder Yordan Alvarez, obtained for reliever Josh Fields. Alvarez is batting .306 with a 1.055 OPS, and 22 home runs in 68 games. But, up Interstate 45, Rangers left fielder Willie Calhoun has 18 home runs in 64 games. Calhoun, who was miscast with the Dodgers as a second baseman, was traded for pitcher Yu Darvish. No harm: The Dodgers’ eight left fielders have combined for 36 home runs.

2) With the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani limited to batting this season, the “first player since Babe Ruth to ... ” lines this year belong to the Reds’ Michael Lorenzen. On Wednesday, Lorenzen became the first player to hit a home run, be the winning pitcher and play the field since Ruth did so June 13, 1921. Ruth finished that game in center field, replacing the delightfully named Chicken Hawks. The opposing center fielder that day: Ty Cobb.

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3) Ned Colletti, who ran the Dodgers’ baseball operations before Andrew Friedman, was hired Friday to scout for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. Colletti’s predecessor, Paul DePodesta, is the chief strategy officer for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. What could Friedman’s next sports challenge be? The United States never has won an Olympic medal in table tennis. Given the Dodgers’ intense ping-pong sessions during spring training, he could go from Dodger blue to red, white and blue, and go get the U.S. that elusive medal. But: World Series parade first, please.

3 DOWN

1) The Phillies didn’t spend $330 million on Bryce Harper to finish third in the NL East again, but that’s where they stood Saturday, amid another second-half swoon under manager Gabe Kapler. He could be on the hot seat. The hometown favorite to replace him: Mike Scioscia, who grew up in Philly. Complication: Phillies general manager Matt Klentak was the assistant in Anaheim to GM Jerry Dipoto, who famously clashed with Scioscia. Would owner John Middleton and old-school president Andy MacPhail make the hire themselves?

2) The Red Sox had 17 relief pitchers available Wednesday, and 21 pitchers in all. “We’re going winter ball-style,” manager Alex Cora said. “The games, instead of four hours, are going to be five hours.” The Red Sox won’t be able to try that next year, when September rosters will be limited to 28 players, down from 40 this year. “Our starters are not giving enough,” Cora said. On the day he said that, the Red Sox starters had a 5.03 ERA — ranking them in the top half of the American League. Yikes.

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3) With MLB attendance down for the fourth consecutive season, Baseball Prospectus ran some analytics and attributed about 35% of the decline to tanking teams. The Cubs won in 2016 and the Astros in 2017, both after blowing up their rosters in the hope of building a winner, but the first part does not guarantee the second. In related news, the Padres are headed for their ninth consecutive losing season. In their last playoff game, in 2006, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was their left fielder.


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