Charlie Blackmon resembled the Charlie of old, while Jose Berrios looked like the pitcher baseball fans were expecting as he came up through the Twins system.
Offensive stud: Charlie Blackmon (OF, Rockies). Blackmon is proof a player doesn’t need a high batting average to be productive.
Since August 29, he’s gone 6-for-26 at the dish to give him a .231 mark and a middling .300 on-base percentage. But those only tell part of the story. Of his 6 knocks, 3 were home runs, including a grand slam on September 2 against Atlanta. He’s scored 8 runs and driven 9 in, while drawing 3 walks and stealing a base—quite a feat for the outfielder, who has just 3 on the year.
Blackmon hammered out an excellent run from 2016 to 2019, slashing .315/.376/.558 with 127 home runs and 342 RBI and though his 2021 has been a down campaign, shades of the Charlie of old show through from time to time.
Honorable mention: Mark Canha (OF, Athletics; .348/.444/.913, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R).
Offensive dud: Charlie Culberson (3B, Rangers). Before playing in a game on September 1, Culberson hadn’t appeared in one since August 19—and his recent performance might keep him out of them in the future.
He went 1-for-6 with 2 strikeouts and 3 errors to extend what has already been a mediocre campaign. But that’s really not saying much, since his whole career has been subpar—he has been around 9 years, played 506 games and owns -0.3 WAR. In terms of OPS+, the season has actually been his second best, with his 88 mark bettered only by the 111 he posted with Atlanta in 2018.
He is a career .248/.296/.388 hitter whose primary calling card is his defensive versatility: He’s played every position except catcher—he even owns a 2.08 ERA in 5 games on the mound.
Dishonorable mention: Ryan McKenna (OF, Orioles; 0-for-11, 8 K, 1 E).
Pitching stud: Jose Berrios (SP, Blue Jays). For a couple years, Jose Berrios was ranked one of the top prospects in the game, but he never lived up to that billing.
Perhaps now, finally, he has arrived. In his past two starts, Berrios pitched 13 2/3 innings and walked nary a soul—while striking 18 of them out. Posting a 1.98 ERA, he won both his appearances, including his 10th victory of the year. He now leads the American League in starts (27), innings pitched (159 2/3) and batters faced (655); his 3.55 ERA ranks 5th.
Though twice an All-Star, he owns an okay-but-not-great 4.07 career mark and 107 OPS+—not quite what was expected of Baseball America’s 28th-best prospect going into 2016.
Honorable mention: Julio Urias (SP, Dodgers; 2-0, 11 2/3 IP, 15 K, 2.31 ERA).
Pitching dud: Dillon Tate (RP, Orioles). Tate retains his title for another day after going 0-3 with 5 hits and 4 earned runs allowed in 1 1/3 innings over the past week.
It hasn’t been an easy go of it thus far in the former #4 overall draft pick’s major league career, as he owns a 4.82 ERA in 79 games—but there is hope. In 2020 with Baltimore, he managed a 149 ERA+ and 3.24 ERA in 12 appearances and as recently as 2019, his minor league mark was 3.25 in 44 1/3 innings between three clubs.
Going into 2016, Baseball America rated him the 69th-best prospect in all the land and though his numbers on the farm have been okay (22-13 W-L, 0.8 HR/9) they’re a far cry of what was expected of him—he was drafted ahead of guys like Walker Buehler, Brandon Lowe, Paul DeJong and David Fletcher.
Dishonorable mention: Joe Smith (RP, Mariners; 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BS, L).