Spoiler alert: Gavin Lux is back.
Offensive stud: Tyler Naquin (OF, Reds). Tyler, Tyler, Tyler. We’ve been waiting for you to show up. Naquin was hitting in the low-.240s as recently as early August, but is currently riding a 12-game hitting streak and batting .500/.552/1.154 over the past week. In 26 at-bats, he has 4 home runs, 3 doubles, a triple, 9 runs scored and 9 RBI. He’s a free swinger, averaging over 130 strikeouts per 162 games, but he’s whiffed just twice during his hot streak. It’s about time. Naquin was the 15th overall pick in 2012, but didn’t arrive in the major leagues until 2016, when he was 25. Since then, he’s been merely average with a career 101 OPS+ and a ho-hum .326 on-base percentage. But this has been a breakout campaign for the 30-year-old outfielder, as he’s slugged 18 home runs with 66 RBI. Better late than never.
Honorable mention: Brandon Lowe (2B, Rays; .346/.452/.846, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 9 R, 4 BB).
Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). After a day’s reprieve, Gavin Lux is back on top (er—at the bottom?) as the Dud of the Week. Nothing’s changed for him—he’s still riding an 0-for-6 line with 2 errors over the past seven days—but that performance was so lackluster, no one has yet to match it. When calculating my complex mathematical formulae in determining offensive studs and duds, I take defensive output into account and errors hurt. (Offensive refers to the fact that a player’s primary contribution is offensive, as opposed to pitching; it’s less clunky than saying “non-pitching stud”),
Dishonorable mention: Johneshwy Fargas (OF, Cubs; 0-for-3, 3 Ks).
Dishonorable mention #2: Jarred Kelenic (OF, Mariners: 0-for-16, 7 K). But hey, at least he managed 14 putouts. That’s … uh … something.
Pitching stud: Gerrit Cole (SP, Yankees). After a rough July in which he had a 4.71 ERA in 5 starts, Cole is back on track. In his past 11 2/3 innings, he allowed just 1 run on 9 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 15 batters. Winning both his starts, he held hitters to an anemic .256 slugging percentage. The Cy Young Award has been elusive for Cole, as his best performance in voting was second place in 2019, but he’s in the running again this year. He leads the league in strikeouts, wins, complete games and WHIP, and he has the best K/9 and K/BB ratios. One of the most adept strikeout artists in the game, he had 276 in 2018 and a league-leading 326 the next year.
Honorable mention: Logan Webb (SP, Giants; 2-0 W-L, 2.03 ERA, 13 1/3 IP, 15 K, 2 BB).
Pitching dud: Brad Hand (RP, Blue Jays). Gotta hand it to you, Brotato, your best skill at this point might be handing games to your opponents, and you do it quite handily. In two appearances over the past week, Hand blew a save, took a loss and allowed 3 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. With an ERA of 3.99, this whole season has been a rough go of it for the reliever. Last year’s saves leader in that stunted campaign, he had a 2.70 mark in 306 games from 2016 to 2020—since his late July trade to the Blue Jays, his ERA has been 6.43.
Dishonorable mention: Alex Colome (RP, Twins; 2 G, 1 BSV, 2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 9.00 ERA).