Studs and duds: August 20 – August 26

Salvador Perez was cranking this past week, but it wasn’t good enough to make him the Offensive stud. 

Offensive stud: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals). After a 1-for-3 performance yesterday, which included a double, run and RBI, Merrifield maintains his title for one more day. His most recent showing puts him at .387/.412/.645 with 9 RBI, 7 runs and 2 stolen bases over the past week. Having not gone more than one game without a hit since August 6, Merrifield is batting .306 on the month, after hitting just .229 in July. August is usually his best month and he should cool off soon—though even his career September numbers (.296 BA, 35 SB) are still pretty solid.

Aristides Aquino has 125 home runs in 10 minor league seasons (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Salvador Perez (C, Royals; 6 H, 5 HR, 8 RBI).

Offensive dud: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds). Aquino was a pleasant surprise for the Reds in 2019, slugging .576 with 19 home runs in only 56 games. Fast forward to 2021 and those good feelings are gone. Hitting just .189 on the year, Aquino was 0-for-15 with 8 strikeouts over the past seven days and his average is just .141 in 71 at-bats since July 25. Perhaps the slumping slugger is lucky to be in the majors at all—he began his professional career with two sub .200 seasons and as recently as 2017, hit .216 at Double A. Though he has great power, thrice crushing 20 or more home runs in the minors, whatever skill he has hasn’t translated consistently on the big stage. But all hope isn’t lost—he’s from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and there’s something about sluggers from that city putting it all together later in their careers. David Ortiz didn’t get going until he was 27, Nelson Cruz until he was 28 and Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista until they were 29.

Dishonorable mention: Jose Barrero (SS, Reds; 0-for-7, 4 K, 1 E).

Quite a turnaround: Robbie Ray had an 8.16 ERA his rookie year with the Tigers. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). The Cy Young Award is becoming more and more of a reality. Over his past two starts, Ray has pitched 15 innings and Ked 25 batters—while walking just 1. With 2 earned runs allowed, his ERA was 1.20, helping bring his August mark down to 1.59 and his number from the beginning of July—that’s 10 starts—to 1.78. His 14 strikeouts his last time out left him just 8 away from 200 on the season. Should he get there, and it’s all but a given he will, Ray will have four 200 K campaigns under his belt. Toronto received the hurler in a steal of a trade from Arizona, surrendering only pitcher Travis Bergen, who’s made just 39 appearances in his career, to get him. What’s more—the Blue Jays bought Bergen back from the Diamondbacks earlier this year.

Honorable mention: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 12 2/3 IP, 18 K, 2 BB, 0.71 ERA).

Pitching dud: Genesis Cabrera (RP, Cardinals). Having blown two saves and taken a couple losses, this past week might be the genesis of his departure from the majors. Cabrera made 3 appearances, surrendering 3 earned runs in the first one and 6 earned runs in the last, to give him a 40.50 ERA. He allowed 10 hits, including back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back knocks against Pittsburgh yesterday. Because of that performance, his season ERA went from 2.96 on August 19 to 4.29 and his career mark went from 3.23 to 3.99. On the bright side, he strikes out a lot of batters, averaging 10.2 K/9 IP this year.

Dishonorable mention: Lou Trivino (RP, Athletics; 4 G, 0-3 W-L, 3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BSV).

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