Studs and duds: August 19 – August 25

Whit Merrifield leads the American League in stolen bases since he debuted in 2016. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals). Merrifield has been cranking this past week, hitting .364 with 7 runs scored, 8 RBI and 3 stolen bases in 33 at-bats. Though he’s not much of slugger, he clobbered a grand slam last night against the Astros and is slugging .576 since August 19. An All-Star for the second time this season, Merrifield has compiled his share of black ink in a short, six-year career. He’s leading the league in games, at-bats and stolen bases this year and led each category twice before. He has also led the league in hits twice and triples once—not bad for a guy who didn’t debut until he was 27.

Honorable mention: Ty France (3B Mariners; .423 BA, .923 SLG, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R).

Offensive dud: Jose Barrero (SS, Reds). Having jumped from Single A to the majors in 2020, Barrero struggled in his first big league go-round by batting .194 in 24 games. Take two hasn’t been much better, as the 23-year-old has just 2 hits in 9 at-bats this year. Over the past week, he’s gone 0-for-5 with 2 strikeouts and an error, but there is good news: He batted .303/.378/.532 in the minors this year, including a .305/.389/.584 line in 40 games at Triple A. Barrero was formerly Jose Garcia, but changed his name in May in honor of his mother, who passed away.

Dishonorable mention: Isan Diaz (2B, Marlins; 1-for-14, 8 K).

Robbie Ray averaged 209 strikeouts per year from 2016 to 2019, with a high of 235 in 2019. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). Ray is leading the American League with 192 strikeouts this season, and is second in the majors behind Zack Wheeler’s 204. And if his last two starts are any indication, it is easy to see why. On August 20, he Ked 11 Tigers in 8 innings, then, on August 25, he added 14 more strikeouts to his ledger in 7 innings against the White Sox. That’s 25 Ks in 15 innings, to go along with a 1.20 ERA and just 1 walk allowed over the past week. After starting his season with a 3.81 mark through May, Ray has been lights-out since—from June 1 on, he is 7-3 with a 2.15 ERA in 16 starts. In 100 1/3 innings, he has 132 Ks to just 25 walks and 73 hits allowed. He’s in the running for the Cy Young Award according to ESPN’s Cy Predictor. It’ll be hard to ignore him if he keeps pitching like this.

Honorable mention: Walker Buehler (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 14 1/3 IP, 16 K, 1 BB, 1.26 ERA, .173 OBA).

Pitching dud: Noe Ramirez (RP, Diamondbacks). The issue with guys who are struggling is teams find it difficult to play them, so it is hard for them to recover and pull themselves away from this inglorious dishonor. And so it goes for Noe Ramirez, who—for the third straight day—is the Pitching Dud. Nothing has changed about his line from days past, but, at the same time, no one has performed any worse. Upon seeing he was named Dud of the Week yet again, I can only assume he responded with one thing: Oh noe.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 ER, 1 BSV, 54.00 ERA).

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