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MLB’s claim that A-Rod sent money to Bosch’s attorney to silence him looks really shaky

Jan 17, 2014, 2:28 PM EDT

Rob Manfred

On “60 Minutes” last Sunday Rob Manfred claimed that a large payment from Alex Rodriguez to Tony Bosch’s attorney — $49,901.51 — was intended as a payoff for Bosch’s silence. When asked point blank if he thought the payment was a bribe, Rob Manfred said he did.

But go read Steve Fishman’s latest at New York Magazine. He provides pretty compelling evidence that it was nothing of the sort. Rather, it was a misdirected payment intended for A-Rod’s lawyers. Indeed, A-Rod had just been billed that exact amount by his legal team. It was misdirected to Bosch’s attorney — with whom A-Rod had been dealing with previously — and when the mistake was discovered it was promptly returned. Despite this, MLB stands by its contention that it was a bribe.

At this point this is technically academic. The suspension has been leveled and the arbitrator didn’t cite that as evidence of A-Rod’s obstruction, suggesting he didn’t buy MLB’s claim either. But it certainly stands as evidence that MLB was willing to make every possible negative inference available to it regarding Rodriguez, even if the inference wasn’t plausible. And, of course, it was a pile of such inferences that motivated MLB to suspend A-Rod for 211 games in the first place.

  1. umrguy42 - Jan 17, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Aww, and here I thought maybe we were going to enter a nice A-Rod-story-free period. I *knew* it was too good to last for long….

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      so why do you comment?

      • vivabear - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:32 PM

        Now that I’ve read the Fishman article, my reaction is; the billing from Black Srbenick Korspan Stumpf doesn’t mean much to me on it’s own. It predates the money transfer to Bosch’s lawyer, but the billing could have been have been created afterwards with a ficticious date that predates the money transfer. Maybe there’s other internal documenation to prove the authenticity of the billing date – but we don’t have that and neither did the MLB I presume.

    • pjmarn6 - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:43 PM

      It was misdirected to Bosch’s attorney — with whom A-Rod had been dealing with previously — and when the mistake was discovered it was promptly returned.
      This all sounds very reasonable and convincing. However I do have one troubling question why was Rodriguez dealing with Bosch’s attorney previously?

      It would seem like they would now be on contrary sides. That seems to me to be at the very least a breech of ethics. The attorney was working with Rodriguez in favor of Rodriguez gained knowledge from Rodriguez and then goes for work for Bosch?????

      When you look at it from that side………..then one and one don’t make two. Definitely Rodriguez didn;t make out the check……………or did he? Who made out the check and who sent it out? Who signed the check? Were there more than one check for that amount made out and was the second check sent to the right person or law firm?

      • mmeyer3387 - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:21 PM

        Just because A-Rod is the poster boy for bad guys, that does not mean that he is the only one with a moral issues. Heck, we may even find out that there are more lies waiting to be uncovered.

  2. chip56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    As you said, at this point it really doesn’t matter. The 12 games Alex got for impeding the investigation (which would cover bribing witnesses) is minimal.

    Do you believe he tried to prevent MLB from linking him to PED use? If so, the how doesn’t really matter any more. Had he been suspended 300 games for interfering with the investigation, then the specific ways he did it and the veracity of those claims would be worth looking into.

    • js20011041 - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      Really? MLB using a blatant lie to publicly smear one of the best players in baseball history doesn’t matter? Since MLB apparently wants play law enforcement agency, shouldn’t we start holding them to a higher standard?

      • chip56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:20 PM

        You’re correct. It doesn’t matter. In the end Alex’s penalty for obstructing the investigation was minimal. If you would like MLB to write him a note saying “oops, in this one area we made a boo boo” ok, but it’s hardly relevant.

      • anxovies - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:23 PM

        I think I would rather hear a rationale for buying stolen property that makes it seem lawful and ethical.

      • jeffbbf - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:07 PM

        Where, exactly, did you read anything that described,or proved that MLB’s suggestion that the errant payment was a “blatant lie”?

      • js20011041 - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:04 PM

        Jeff, are you inferring that A-Rod would not have explained the payment to MLB and have been able to show them documentation confirming it? MLB either knew Rodriguez didn’t attempt to bribe Bosch or they had ample reason to at least doubt that claim. It’s incredibly unethical to accuse another person of bribery without the evidence to support it.

    • peymax1693 - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      I don’t know about you, but I am troubled by the ease with which MLB has rationalized all the questionable actions it took to punish A-Rod. I seem to recall MLB leaking this information to the press before the arbitration hearing in an effort to make A-Rod look bad. Now it turns out it wasn’t true and that MLB probably knew it at the time. Pretty shameless, if you ask me.

      • chip56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:23 PM

        This is a fair argument. However there are two things to keep in mind, MLB is not a government law enforcement agency. They’re not held to the same standards as the police or FBI would be and they don’t have the same powers that the police or the FBI have. That means that to get information they have to make deals, in drug cases that means making deals with drug dealers and drug users. I don’t like it, but I understand it.

        As to the leaks. They’re inevitable. There are too many reporters who are covering this from all angles who are willing to pay for any tidbit of information to expect things are going to stay quiet. It is what it is.

      • paperlions - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        …but MLB is held to the same standard as anyone else when it comes to public accusations. If they were reckless with the truth or knowingly spread things they knew were untrue to smear a public figure, they they broke the law. Any entity that is willing to break federal laws in its attempt to punish an employee is that should have its leadership and motives questioned.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:52 PM

        However there are two things to keep in mind, MLB is not a government law enforcement agency. They’re not held to the same standards as the police or FBI would be and they don’t have the same powers that the police or the FBI have.

        I won’t put words in other people’s mouths, but I’m not pissed at MLB b/c they tried to introduce evidence that was false. I’m pissed because this makes them look really really shady. MLB’s credibility already took a hit with the awful tactics they took in the investigation, it looks a lot lose when you resort to creating falsehoods about one of your own employees.

      • chip56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:04 PM

        Church,

        I don’t think it’s a question of knowingly trying to introduce false information. Again, I think it comes down to the fact that, while MLB has a startlingly large amount of resources, they don’t have the resources that the NYPD has. So when they get information (presumably from Bosch) that indicates a payment made to him from Alex that he says was intended as hush money, they take it at face value.

      • chip56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        Paperlions,

        I hope MLB is punished for the illegal activities that the engaged in to prosecute Alex. I really do.

        That said, I also understand why MLB went to such lengths and if they did so knowing what the cost would be, then OK. Is the juice worth the squeeze? Is the statement you make to players who are doing steroids in the league and using anti-aging clinics like BALCO and Biogenesis by showing how far you’re willing to go to punish those offenders worth the penalty that the government is going to hand down for your transgressions? If you’re Selig and Manfred and you believe it is, then you do what Selig and Manfred did.

        It’s like the pitcher who intentionally drills the batter who keeps leaning out over the plate, he knows he could start a brawl, get run, get suspended…but if he believes that by hitting that player he’s going to get more guys out in the future by being able to pitch outside, then the juice was worth the squeeze.

      • paperlions - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:48 PM

        I have no problem with MLB going to extraordinary lengths to nail those associated with biogenesis, but what they are willing to do should be confined in some ways. They shouldn’t do anything that would embarrass them if it became public (which they did), and they should be honest.

        There is no virtue in lying about people you think cheated. No one is on the high ground here…they are all wallowing around in the stink.

      • anxovies - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:31 PM

        Chip: “That means that to get information they have to make deals, in drug cases that means making deals with drug dealers and drug users.”

        Try that excuse if you ever get busted: “but officer, I was trying to get information on the dealer, I was taking the stuff straight to the police station when you stopped me.” Even the cops have to have a warrant to get evidence from somebody. When a private person buys stolen evidence it’s called receiving stolen property.

      • bigharold - Jan 17, 2014 at 7:28 PM

        Chip..

        “I don’t think it’s a question of knowingly trying to introduce false information.”

        If that were the only instance I might agree. But, MLB’s actions taken in totality, … the heavy handed “investigation”, the civil suit to coerce cooperation of hostile witnesses, the leaks, and just the concerted effort to get A-Rod and from my vantage point ALL MLB has is plausible deniability. Even as I was listening to the “60 Minutes” episode I couldn’t believe hat MLB was trying to convince people that A-Rod was not only trying to bribe a witness but was using a lawyer to do it, with a paper trail .. because apparently there wasn’t enough evidence against him already.

        The ends Do Not justify the means and I’m scratching my head wondering why people think it’s OK that MLB continue on with this vendetta. Had they just suspended him for 50 games this would have been long over with and A-Rod’s reputation would be in taters but no. MLB just had to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They’re turning A-Rod into a sympathetic figure thanks to their heavy hand BS.

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:32 PM

      Mr. Chips the incident speaks to MLB’s feelings about Rodriguez. He made the claim they had a personal vendetta against him and thus went after him and would do anything and say anything to get him. This little factoid certainly backs that up. Why an arbitrator, who is supposedly neutral, would ignore something that is clearly supportive to Rodriguez’s contention of malice on the part of MLB, I have no idea.

    • righthandofjustice - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      We are talking about REAL court of law now and this Judge Ramos was a veteran specializing in combating police corruption.

      Even an error of 1 inning is not only worth, but necessitate correcting. A fair judge should at least look at the transcript of the hearing and see if such evidence has been submitted to Horowitz but got willfully ignored among other alleged disregard of law.

      • anxovies - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        Never try to write your own appellate brief.

  3. peymax1693 - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    As if paying $125,000 for stolen documents and bribeing Tony Bosch into testifying didn’t make MLB look bad enough, now it comes out that A-Rod might not have tried to pay off Bosch after all. I would say that Bud Selig should be ashamed of the depths he and MLB had to sink in order to find evidence to punish A-Rod, but it would be a futile gesture because the man obviously has no shame.

    • stercuilus65 - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      Boo-hoo that evil Bud!

  4. vivabear - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    Most people would have brought this up during the arbirtation hearing. I suppose it was immaterial when looking at the entiretity of the situation though. And had he actually not taken PEDs, maybe he would have tried to provide evidenct to the contrary at the arbitration.

    • chip56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      This is the only salient point. Alex should have brought this up during his hearing. He should have gotten up there and testified about everything he is claiming, his innocence, the ways in which he claims to have been persecuted, all of it.

      The fact is that he didn’t. He blew his shot to, under oath, refute the claims being made against him. We all know the reason why he didn’t want to take that road. He is trying like hell to get out of this without ever having to answer questions under oath about his drug use; and that’s the problem Alex has.

      His fight should never have been “I’m innocent” it should have been, “yes I did steroids, but as a first time offender under the JDA I am being punished far too severely.”

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        It either was brought up by A-Rod or the issue of bribery was never brought up by MLB. The arbitrator did not cite this at all in the obstruction section of his opinion, meaning he either didn’t believe MLB or they never offered it.

        The significance, though, is that MLB suspended A-Rod for 211 games. They no doubt based the 211 on their belief — or the belief that they could make the public believe — that A-Rod acted deplorably, including bribing Bosch.

        If they were more reasonable in their assessment of his heinousness, they maybe suspend him for fewer games and then the arbitrator on appeal reduces it below that.

        Looking at this a different way, do you honestly believe that A-Rod’s drug use was more than four times worse than anyone else in the Biogenesis thing?

      • chip56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:12 PM

        Honestly I don’t know if Alex’s drug use was four times worse. None of us do because those facts are sealed.

        According to Horowitz’s finding Alex’s drug use was pretty awful and the other comments you hear (and heard) from MLB on the subject make it sound like he’s a cross between Lance Armstrong and Pablo Escobar, so maybe his use was that bad.

        On the other hand, if Nelson Cruz or Jhonny Peralta or Ryan Braun hadn’t accepted deals then maybe they would be staring at similar penalties?

        I do think that this is sort of about Alex, but I don’t think that this was ever always about Alex. Do you know what I mean?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        His fight should never have been “I’m innocent” it should have been, “yes I did steroids, but as a first time offender under the JDA I am being punished far too severely.”

        This x1000. He probably would have received a lot more sympathy as well.

      • chip56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:23 PM

        Of course he would have.

        There are always going to be people who hate Alex for being Alex. But when you’re caught like this and MLB slams you with 211 you get up there and you say, “Yes, I did this. I’m an idiot. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I did it anyway. I know I’ve said I’m sorry before, I know I’ve let a lot of people down. All I can do is say I’m sorry again and try to win back your trust. That said, while this is not the first time I’ve been revealed to have used PEDs it is the first time I have been caught under the current JDA and as such the penalty that I’ve been given is extremely over the line. As such, I am going to work with my union to fight this penalty in hopes of having it reduced to one more in line with my actual violation.”

        Boom, done. No sleazy Joe Tacopina threatening to throw down with lawyers in court rooms or throwing David Ortiz under the bus. Working with the Union instead of alienating them. No bribing of Hispanic leaders to get protests set up outside the MLB offices, no theatrics. Just man up. We’re a forgiving society, we can forgive a lot of things, treating us like we’re idiots by telling us your innocent when we know you’re not isn’t one of those things.

      • righthandofjustice - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        According to Horowitz’s comments, he didn’t include all the evidence in his report.

        Without looking into the transcript, nobody knows exactly what evidence was submitted and what questions were raised but deemed “not important” or “troubling” and got excluded in the report by Horowitz. For instance, from a statement of the law suit, A-Rod’s lawyers insisted Selig must testify because when asked how MLB came up with the 211 game suspension among other questions, Manfred declined to answer citing Selig was the sole decision maker. Note that if the sole decision maker refused to testify should it be at least a side note or asterisk in the arbitrator’s report? But I didn’t see Horowitz mention it.

    • anxovies - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:41 PM

      Since ARod had one of the better trial attorneys in the country I assume it was brought up at the hearing if MLB tried to use it. If the hearing transcript is entered in the federal appeal (or more likely, when it is leaked to a major media outlet), it will be interesting to see if the league used the allegation.

  5. bgrillz - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Just hate it when I send $50,000 checks to the wrong person. Happens all the time.

    • raysfan1 - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      The amount of money for Rodriguez isn’t that much, even though it’s pretty close to the average annual income for the rest of us.

      I’ve accidentally sent payments to the wrong party before (in the $100-200 range).

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:20 PM

        It reminds me of my absolute favorite part of the Barry Bonds proceedings.

        Q: And thats — and understanding that $15,000, depending on one’s salary, may not be itself a lot of money, but that’s a lot of cash to have on hand at any given time, like, $15,000? I mean–
        A: I make 17 million.

        One of my favorite moments of perspective.

  6. The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    Such a specific amount of money certainly sounds more like a negotiated payment than a bribe anyway. If I’m going to try to bribe someone, I’d probably offer them a round amount.

    Then again, I don’t know a hell of a lot about bribing people with tens of thousands of dollars.

    • bigharold - Jan 17, 2014 at 7:37 PM

      “Then again, I don’t know a hell of a lot about bribing people with tens of thousands of dollars.”

      Me too. But, if I did need to, I wouldn’t wire it so it could be easily traced and I certainly would wire it to a lawyer because I don’t know a lawyer worth speaking to that would risk being disbarred so his client could be brought off for less than $50K.

  7. happytwinsfan - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    i presume if one willfully provides false information to a court in an official pleading to the court that constitutes some form perjury. anybody know if this is also true when providing sworn testimony / documents to an arbitrator – who has been granted the power to hand down legally binding rulings?

    • raysfan1 - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      If Manfred, et al, said they thought it was a bribery attempt, then I think it would be very hard to prove they did not think that.

      I am certain it would not be worth tax payer money to try to prove it in court.

      • happytwinsfan - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        i suppose you’re right, but the point is this ain’t just lowdown dirty behavior, it’s unlawful behavior, albeit un prosecutable.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        Agreed

      • anxovies - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:50 PM

        Since the arbitration was not a legal proceeding it cannot be bribery unless there is something in the federal statues about paying off a witness in a labor dispute. In that case MLB might be guilty of bribery or coercion of a witness by filing a meritless lawsuit to induce Bosch to provide testimony for them.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:16 PM

        Think you might have misunderstood. The issue isn’t so much bribery, per se, but MLB’s accusation of Rodriguez. If they accused Rodriguez of that while under sworn testimony before the arbitrator, and if they in fact knew $49k was not a bribery attempt, then that would be perjury. It would be virtually impossible to prove, and it would not be worth chasing that rabbit down the hole, however.

    • chip56 - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      If Bosch tells Manfred, “Alex tried to bribe me, here’s a copy of the deposit he tried to make to my account as hush money” and then doesn’t provide Manfred with the subsequent statements to show that the deposit attempt was canceled then all Manfred has to go on is Bosch’s word.

  8. Old Gator - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    The more we learn about all of this, the more A-Roid and MLB seem to deserve each other.

    • bigharold - Jan 17, 2014 at 7:46 PM

      “… the more A-Roid and MLB seem to deserve each other.”

      I can’t agree. a-Rods’ actions reflect on him only. MLB’s version of the Spanish Inquisition makes all of baseball look foolish. Moreover, if they had enough to suspend him anyway, why not just do it and spare us all the drama.

      Assuming the wost about A-Rod, .. he cheated and tried not to get caught. Wrong but understandable, ..NOT excusable. MLB, .. just one poor decision after another. Assuming the best from their stand point, they had the goods on A-Rod and couldn’t have screwed it up more I can’t wait for Bud to take a long walk off a short peer.

  9. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    They let’s make the bride look like a payment to a lawyer!

    • anxovies - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:52 PM

      Bosh’s lawyer can have any one of my brides.

    • clemente2 - Jan 17, 2014 at 7:17 PM

      Hmmm….bride payments to lawyers…I like it.

  10. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    “And, of course, it was a pile of such inferences that motivated MLB to suspend A-Rod for 211 games in the first place”

    Funny…I thought it was the fact he had gone on 60 Minutes in 2009 and swore he was clean, thus making MLB look like Jack-asses when an explosive report in the Miami New Times showed he was anything but clean.

    But what do I know

  11. kcroyal - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    I’m usually pretty carefull when I’m sending out 50k checks, but I don’t make 27 million a year.

  12. padraighansen - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    I’ll go back to my point about what a complete and utter a**hole Manfred is. He’s an egotistical jerk. People would tolerate him because he was a great labor lawyer.

    And get used to this, baseball fans – this ass clown is going to be the next MLB Commissioner. Pathetic.

  13. neelymessier - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Joe Tacopina, Arod’s lawyer is known as the most hated lawyer in NYC. Check out this article to see some of his other cases. Then you will better understand why Aroid hired him.

    http://nypost.com/2011/06/05/the-devils-advocate/

  14. disgracedfury - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    Did people forget that MLB gave cash money for stolen goods in a parking lot to a man only known as “Bobby” which is also illegal.Why no mention in the media of that?

    Shouldn’t MLB be going after the Drug Dealers like Bosch who was supplier of MLB stars and children.No matter how you slice it this was a “witch-Hunt”.Also how can the WADA agree with MLB tactics of breaking the law and shielding the big fish.

  15. djpostl - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    Because his legal team would NEVER set up an elaborate ruse to cover their clients ass byt submitting a phony bill that could then be “misdirected” to someone they intended to bribe?

    • bigharold - Jan 17, 2014 at 7:51 PM

      It’s more likely that his payment was misdirected then A-Rod tried to bribe a witness, .. with an extensive paper trail AND he involved this “hostile” witnesses lawyer.

      • tysonpunchinguterus - Jan 18, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        But Bosch was on A-Rod’s side at that time. He didn’t cooperate with MLB until later, so Bosch’s arbitration testimony has nothing to do with the payments sent to his attorney.

  16. righthandofjustice - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Don’t tell me this Rob Manfred is going to be the next commissioner. It will be a disaster for baseball to have a CEO who told the world in a national TV program he judged a convicted fake doctor’s honesty by looking into his eyes.

  17. jerrahsucks - Jan 17, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    Manfred is just Bud Light. Soon we will see that just like proud to be your Buddy, he will be controlled byJerry Reinsdorf who had his hand up Buds ass making all the calls. Do you really believe this broken down used car salesman was hired because of his intelligence? Did we suddenly forget that he was down on the field kissing McGuire and Sosas asses when they saved baseball after his brilliant strike call and that he almost killed the game? Nope by God he got Arod so he’s stopped PEDS in baseball. How utterly sad that the Arod haters can’t see the facts.

  18. bigdaddy44 - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    I feel so sorry for A-Rod and the way he has been treated by big, bad Major League Baseball. Craig, I hope you and all his other defenders keep up the push to have him treated fairly. He deserves every chance to clear his good name, and prove himself innocent, just like some other big time defendants have done. After all, weren’t O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony both found “innocent”? And if A-Rod could be found “innocent”, it will have about as much believability as the Simpson and Anthony verdicts do. ZERO.

  19. jt2663 - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    I will now write checks that match my mortgage amount when paying off people.

  20. jasonmichaelheller - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:37 PM

    so Arods legal team was smart enough to send a bribe in the same amount as a bill. Seems smart to me.

  21. braxtonrob - Jan 18, 2014 at 2:52 AM

    The moral of the story is that anytime you “accidentally” get a $50,000 check from Alex Rodriguez, don’t return it (’cause you’re not likely to get another opportunity like that ever again).

  22. aerorocket - Jan 18, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    I know that A Rod admitted to PED use early during his career but, MLB does not have any solid evidence of PED use as of recently; As a matter of fact, what intrigues me the most is that MLB obtained some accusatory documents right out of the streets from a known felon that stole these docs from the Clinic; The New Times Newspaper reported on this. I don’t know how stolen property would be admissible in court and I don’t know if MLB will be in hot water legally for purchasing these docs from a known convicted felon or if this serious infraction will get MLB a heavy penalty in Federal Court, clearly, at the Federal Court level A Rod’s attorney has all the cards.

  23. tysonpunchinguterus - Jan 18, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    Does it bother anyone else that the only excuse they have to show that the $49,000 was a mistake is the fact that the mistake was due to A-Rod having previously paid $25,000 to help cover Bosch’s legal fees. So his excuse is really, “I only bribed him a portion of what you’re alleging!”

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