Studs and duds: September 16 – September 22

Okay, we’re back after a couple days’ break.

Correa has made two All-Star Games and owns 33.8 WAR. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Carlos Correa (SS, Astros). Correa went 0-for-6 last night, yet his week’s performance still trounces all others. Having gone 10-for-29 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 8 runs scored, the shortstop raised his season mark to .282 and illustrated, yet again, why he is one of the best shortstops in the league. With a few games left in the season, Correa has already tied his career high in home runs with 24 and has far surpassed his previous high of 82 runs scored with 100. 2021 has been Correa’s first full campaign since 2016, when he played 153 games, and shows his potential when he’s completely healthy. This factoid does, too: He averages 29 home runs, 105 RBI and 94 runs scored per 162 games.

Honorable mention: Tyler O’Neill (OF, Cardinals; .300/.400/.800, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 9 R, 4 BB).

Offensive dud: Mike Moustakas (3B, Reds). Moustakas has been an All-Star three times. As recently as 2019, he had 35 home runs and 87 RBI. In 2015, he earned a little MVP support. What an inglorious decline it has been, then, for the 2007 #2 overall pick, who was selected after David Price and ahead of the likes of Josh Donaldson. Over the past week, Moustakas is 1-for-13 with 4 strikeouts and 2 errors—a rough patch in what has been nothing less than a horrid past couple seasons for the slugger who owns 196 career home runs. In 2020, he hit .230 in 44 games; this year, his slash line is .208/282/.372 with 6 home runs and 22 RBI in 62 games. He has missed much of the season due to multiple maladies and is currently on the injured list again. He was not a good investment for the Reds, who signed him prior to the 2020 campaign and who own him through 2023 with a 2024 option … at a cost of $16 million next year.

Dishonorable mention: Jonathan Villar (IF, Mets; 1-for-15, 6 K, 1 E).

Pitching stud: Ian Anderson (SP, Braves). Anderson debuted with a bang last season, going 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA in six starts for Atlanta. This year, he hasn’t quite matched that performance, but his numbers impress, nevertheless: In 23 starts, he is 8-5 with a 3.60 ERA, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning. Over the past week, he’s added a win and struck out 13 batters to just 3 walks in 12 2/3 innings, while hitters slashed just .163/.217/.442 against him.  Though he’s an excellent pitcher, Anderson is the sort of batsman that proponents of a National League designated hitter point to when making their argument—in 34 at-bats this season, he has two hits and 26 strikeouts.

Honorable mention: Zack Wheeler (SP, Phillies; 11 IP, 15 K, 1.64 ERA).

Anderson was drafted behind only outfielder Mickey Moniak and third baseman Nick Senzel in 2016. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Brandyn Sittinger (RP, Diamondbacks). The 27-year-old rookie had a rough go of it in his first taste of the majors, allowing 4 runs in 4 2/3 innings overall and 3 runs in 1 2/3 frames over the past week. The hurler isn’t much of a prospect, having flunked out of the Tigers chain before ever reaching Triple-A and spending time in independent baseball in 2019. Even this season, his WHIP at Triple-A was 1.409. Though he strikes batters out with some proficiency—he averaged 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings in the minor leagues this season—I can’t imagine he is long for the majors. He’s just another hurler the pitching-thin 48-104 Diamondbacks threw at the wall to tie them over for the rest of the year.

Dishonorable mention: Jace Fry (RP, White Sox; 3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 L).

Studs and duds: September 13 – September 19

O’Neill’s hair looks like the brush I use to shine my nice shoes. (Wikipedia).

Alas, it was a busy day today; one only has time for the Studs and Duds. No fun facts, no autographs, no notes and musings, no random articles (which I haven’t written in a while, come to think of it). What a letdown.

Offensive stud: Tyler O’Neill (OF, Cardinals). The 26-year-old O’Neill isn’t a superstar yet, but he’s working on it. Over the past week, he’s hit .391/.481/.826 with 3 home runs, 10 RBI, 9 runs scored and a couple stolen bases to bring his September line to .333/.405/.712.

Thrice a Baseball America top 100 prospect, the slugger showed big power in the minors, but hadn’t yet shown it on the major league stage—until this season. He slugged at least 25 home runs three times on the farm, with another campaign of 24; in just 64 games at Triple-A in 2018, he had 26 dingers. From his major league debut in 2018 to 2020, he slugged just .422 in 410 at-bats. This season, he has 28 home runs and a .536 mark in 429 ABs—plus, he’s shown respectable speed, tacking on 13 steals.

In terms of performance, his rank on the team is right up there with (potential) future Hall of Famers Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Goldschmidt’s WAR and home run totals are 5.5 and 26, respectively; O’Neill’s are 5.3 and 28, while Arenado’s are 4.1 and 32.

Honorable mention: Jose Ramirez (3B, Indians; .500/.560/.900, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 10 R).

Offensive dud: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds). Aquino hasn’t improved upon his 0-for-7, 6 strikeout performance over the past week, so here he remains. His position is hard to shed mostly due to his showing on September 14 against Pittsburgh, when he went 0-for-4 with 3 Ks; prior to that game, he hadn’t whiffed in 10 at-bats (quite impressive, as he has averaged one every 2.4 ABs this season), but of course, that was the exception rather than the rule. From August 20 to August 30, he struck out in seven straight games, with two in four of them.

Dishonorable mention: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks; 1-for-9, 4 Ks, 1 E).

Gilbert’s signing bonus was nearly $4 million. I think the Mariners got a steal. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Logan Gilbert (SP, Mariners). Seattle’s long awaited-return to the playoffs probably won’t be this season, but if the likes of Gilbert and fellow former first rounder Jarred Kelenic continue to blossom, the trip might happen sooner than we think. Gilbert was 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA, 14 Ks and just two walks allowed in 13 innings over his past two starts, bringing the rookie’s season ERA down to 4.74; it was 5.44 less than a month ago.

The 14th overall pick of the 2018 draft, Gilbert rose through the minor leagues swiftly, playing just a single game at Triple-A this year and splitting 2019 between three levels. His totals in his brief minor league career are promising—11-5 W-L, 2.12 ERA, 140 IP, 99 H, 170 K—and that bodes well for the Mariners’ future playoff aspirations. They haven’t reached the postseason since 2001, when that 116-46 club was vanquished by the eventual-pennant winning Yankees.

Honorable mention: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins; 2-0 W-L, 14 IP, 11 K, 1 BB, 0.64 ERA).

Pitching dud: Kyle Finnegan (RP, Nationals). It just hasn’t been Finnegan’s week. On September 15, he gave up 4 hits and 4 earned runs against Miami—the Marlins of all teams!—to blow a save and take a loss. A couple days later, on September 17, he surrendered 3 hits and 2 earned runs against Colorado, again blowing a save, again taking a loss. Despite tossing an inning, K-ing a batter, allowing no runs and earning a save last night, also against the Rockies, he still owns a 16.20 ERA these past seven days and is the Dud, again. C’est la vie.

Dishonorable mention: Brandyn Sittinger (RP, Diamondbacks; 1 L, 2 BSV, 13.50 ERA, 2 IP, 3 H, 2 HR).

Studs and duds: September 12 – September 18

The Offensive Stud is a revolving door of Blue Jays at this point.

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). After a few days away, Hernandez is back on top.

The outfielder has continued his electric September by hitting .409/.480/.727 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 7 runs scored over the past week. He is slashing .371/.473/.726 with 6 home runs and 20 RBI this month and .304/.355/.527 with 28 dingers and 104 RBI on the year.

The Blue Jays are so stacked that his 4.0 WAR ranks just 5th on the club, though he paces the team in RBI and his OPS+ (138) is second behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s 176. Since 2018, Hernandez has averaged 34 home runs, 97 RBI and 90 runs scored per 162 games.

Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; .994 OPS, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB).

Offensive dud: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds). Aquino remains the week’s worst with his 0-for-7, 4 K, one error performance.

When he’s on, he’s on, but the 27-year-old has been plagued by too many cold streaks this season. In one seventeen at-bat stretch in late July and early August, he had just one hit for a .059 batting average; from August 20 to September 3, he had a single hit in 27 ABs for a .037 mark.

While his power potential cannot be denied—he averages 32 home runs per 162 games—his inconsistency cannot be, either. How much of a leash does Cincinnati give him? His defense is middling, his speed is negligible (one steal this year) and his on-base percentage is paltry (.305 for his career). They’re in the thick of the playoff race. It’s amazing they’ve stuck with him so long.

Dishonorable mention: Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, Brewers; 0-for-9, 6 K).

Pitching stud: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers). Welcome back Max, we haven’t seen you in what, a couple days?

The 37-year-old Scherzer is pitching like he is in the middle of his prime—he is 2-0 in his past two starts, allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 16 batters, in 15 innings of work. He didn’t surrender an earned run, but that’s nothing new—Scherzer hasn’t given one up in five straight starts, meaning he is riding a 37 inning scoreless streak.

It’s a little soon to say, watch out, Orel,” but this run shows just how much the righty has aged like fine wine. He now stands at 15-4 with a league-leading 2.08 ERA in 29 starts this year; he’s tossed 169 innings, but just surrendered his 100th hit on September 12.

With an ERA+ of 195, he is on pace to have the highest full-season mark of any pitcher since 2018 and the highest among pitchers his age or older since 2005, when 42-year-old Roger Clemens had a 226 mark.

Honorable mention: Aaron Nola (SP, Phillies; 11 IP, 19 K, 1 BB, 1 W).

Finnegan debuted with a 2.92 ERA in 25 appearances last year. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Kyle Finnegan (RP, Nationals). Well, Finnegan was having an excellent season before this hiccup.

Prior to September 15, he had a 2.61 ERA in 59 appearances; that number is up to 3.39 now, thanks to a two-game stretch in which he allowed 7 hits, a couple home runs and two walks in 2 1/3 innings of work. He blew two saves and took the same number of losses, bringing his record to 5-8.

Though his campaign has had its ups and downs, he was on the right track until this blip—from August 15 to September 12, he had an 0.68 ERA and .174 OBA in 13 appearances. In just a couple innings, all that progress was undone.

Dishonorable mention: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles; 1/3 IP, 1 L, 1 BSV, 2 ER).

Studs and duds: September 11 – September 17

Offensive stud: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays). With another hit and a run last night, Toronto’s hot hitting Gurriel stays the stud for one more day.

In the past week, the outfielder has hit .391/.481/.826 with 3 home runs, 12 RBI and 8 runs scored. In the week ending September 10, he hit .346/.419/.692. This is an extended run of excellence for the slugger, who is one of six Blue Jays with at least 80 RBI and who is third on the club in doubles with 26, behind Marcus Semien (37) and Teoscar Hernandez (27).

Gurriel was signed by the Blue Jays in November 2016 and by 2018, was in the majors. Little minor league conditioning was necessary—he hit .281 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 65 games his rookie season and has only gotten better each year. 2021 has been his first full campaign, as he has never played more than 84 games in a big league season before this.

Honorable mention: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays; .500/.552/.846, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R).

Offensive dud: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds). Aquino has been the dud before, and here he is again, this time with a 0-for-7, 4 strikeout, one error showing since August 11.

This whole season has been a struggle for the outfielder, who hasn’t hit over .200 since August 21 and who has batted .111 with 24 strikeouts in his past 63 at-bats. In his past 42 ABs, he has hit .095 with 17 Ks. Though he doesn’t hit well anywhere, being away from Great American Ball Park, the Reds home turf, really hurts him. In 86 at-bats on the road, he has slashed .140/.232/.291; at home, his line is 233/.364/.534 in 73 ABs.

Aquino excited Reds fans with 19 home runs and 47 RBI in 56 games as rookie in 2019. The excitement has faded: Since 2020, he has batted .180 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI in 97 games.

Dishonorable mention: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks; 2-for-13, 5 K, 2 E).

Castillo owns a career 9.8 K/9 IP ratio. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Luis Castillo (SP, Reds). It hasn’t been an optimal year for Castillo, who leads the National League with 15 losses and carries a 4.08 ERA through 31 starts.

However, it is never too late to right the ship, and that’s what he has done his past two appearances: In 13 1/3 innings, he allowed just 3 walks and 4 runs, while striking out 15 batters. His 2.70 ERA brought his season mark down a little further—it was 4.53 as recently as August 9.

The 28-year-old was an All-Star in 2019 and has been bubbling under superstardom his whole career. In his rookie season, 2017, he finished 8th in Rookie of the Year voting after posting a 3.12 ERA, 144 ERA+ and 9.9 K/9 IP ratio in 89 1/3 innings. In 2019, he was 15-8, 3.40 with 226 strikeouts in 190 2/3 frames and last year, he had a 3.12 mark, 154 ERA+ and 89 Ks in 70 innings. To fully blossom, he needs a shift to a consistently winning team. The Reds are not it.

Honorable mention: Zack Wheeler (SP, Phillies; 2-0 W-L, 11 2/3 IP, 3 BB, 14 K, 1.54 ERA).

Pitching dud: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles). Nothing’s changed for Wells. He’s still the dud. His past week (0-2 W-L, 6 ER, 2 BSV, 1 2/3 IP) still stunk. He hasn’t pitched since the 15th. I wonder why.

Dishonorable mention: Kyle Finnegan (RP, Nationals; 4 IP, 7 H, 2 HR, 6 ER, 0-2 W-L, 2 BSV).

Studs and duds: September 10 – September 16

Teoscar Hernandez’s reign ends, but he was just replaced by another Blue Jay.

Offensive stud: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays). Oh my Lourde, I cannot get over how well the Blue Jays are doing.

And Gurriel is a big part of it—in the past week, he’s slashed .435/.536/.870 with 3 home runs, 12 RBI and 5 walks in 23 at-bats. The Cuban defector has been a steady, consistent performer since joining Toronto at 24 years old in 2018, hitting .283 with 19 home runs and 80 RBI this year and .285 with 61 home runs and 198 RBI for his career.

The slugger has really ratcheted it up over the past couple months, however, batting .361/.431/.639 with 7 home runs and 36 RBI in 33 games since August 10; the excellent on-base percentage is incredible, as he owns a mediocre .327 mark on the year and for his career. His average is .385 this month and .321 in the second half.

Not bad, not bad. Also not too shabby: His brother. The elder Yuli, of the Astros, is hitting .315 this season after clobbering 31 home runs with 104 RBI in 2019.

Honorable mention: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays; .481/.533/.815, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R)

Anderson has batted .319 in 282 games since 2019. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Tim Anderson (SS, White Sox). Uh, this is the same Tim Anderson that was an All-Star this year, right? And the one who won a batting crown in 2019? And a Silver Slugger in 2020? Like Gio Urshela before him, the return from the injured list hasn’t been pleasant for Anderson, who in two games has committed 3 errors, while going 2-for-10 with 5 strikeouts at the plate.

Unlike previous duds, this poor sampling is just a blip—Anderson is still batting .300 on the year—and he’ll likely return to his usual self soon. Last month, he hit .315 with a .543 slugging mark.

Dishonorable mention: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks; 2-for-16, 6 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). Ray stays on top after striking out 21 batters to just 2 walks in 11 1/3 innings over his past two starts.

I’ve gone on about Ray plenty in the past, but I have to be cautious. He has all the makings of a one-year wonder: 6.8 of his 15.2 career WAR have come this season alone, while before 2021, he was 49-51 with a 4.26 ERA and 103 ERA+.; this year, he is 12-5 with a 2.64 ERA and 167 ERA+. He’s always been a master of the strikeout, however, as prior to this campaign he averaged 11.1 per nine innings, while his number is 11.8 this year.

I’m not confident Ray will ever duplicate this season. His trajectory is looking a bit like Dallas Keuchel’s—an underwhelming first few years, a Cy Young season in his prime, then a slide into good-very good territory.

Honorable mention: Julio Urias (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 12 IP, 12 K, 3 BB, 1.50 ERA).

Pitching dud: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles). It is going to be a while before anyone worsts this hurler’s 2 blown saves, 2 losses, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 home run and 6 runs allowed in 1 2/3 innings over the past week.

Despite his recent cold streak, Wells, a 2020 Rule V Draft pick taken from the Twins, has been one of the Orioles’ most-used relievers this season. Appearing in 40 games (fifth-most on the club), he has—despite his 4.17 ERA—been one of its best pitchers, as well. His 112 ERA+ is second among active relief pitchers on the club, behind only Cole Sulser’s 157.

He’s not what I would call a bright spot, but at least he doesn’t make Baltimore fans groan in agony every time he takes the field … unlike the majority of the team.

Dishonorable mention: Alberto Baldonado (RP, 2 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 BSV, 1 L).

Studs and duds: September 9 – September 15

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). Tally another hit and RBI for Hernandez last night. Since September 9, he’s slashed .516/.571/.839 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 12 runs scored, meaning that he hasn’t had an average under .500 in any given seven-day span since that ending September 12.

Granted, his week’s performance is heavily weighted by a 5-for-5 game against Tampa Bay on the 13th, as well as a 5 RBI showing against Baltimore the day before. I’ve made the point recently, but it’s worth reiterating: Hernandez’s hot hitting could not have come at a better time. The slugger is a huge reason Toronto is in the thick of the wild card race.

 Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; .393/.485/.750, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 9 R).

Despite his anemic career line, Young still owns a decent 109 OPS+. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks). It hasn’t been a pleasant week … or season … or career … for Young, who over the past seven days went 2-for-16 with 6 strikeouts and a couple errors. The infielder has struck out 45 times in 91 at-bats this season and carries a line of .209/.298/.484. His slugging mark is solid as 7 or his 19 hits were doubles, while 6 went over the fence.

Last year, he batted .192 in 26 at-bats; for his career, he’s hitting .205 with 55 Ks in 117 at-bats. Uninspiring though his performance might be, Young is lucky to be in the major leagues at all as he was a 37th round pick in 2016. Such high rounds don’t produce too many big leaguers (he’s the only one from 2016 to reach the majors so far).

 Dishonorable mention: Josh VanMeter (IF, Diamondbacks; 1-for-13, 5 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). So far I’ve counted three Toronto players in this piece that are either studs or honorable mentions. It makes sense the Blue Jays are doing so well right now.

Ray won his 12th game last night, striking out 13 batters and allowing just one run in 7 innings; over the past week, he’s tossed 11 1/3 frames and struck out 21 batters. Even on the 10th, when he lasted less than 5 innings and surrendered 8 hits, 2 walks and 3 earned runs against Baltimore, he still managed 8 Ks.

He has developed into one of the game’s premier strikeout pitchers and now leads the American League in that category with 233; he’s also pacing the loop in ERA (2.64), starts (29), innings pitched (177 1/3), ERA+ (167) and H/9 (6.9). His career 11.3 K/9 ratio is most all-time, but it is trailed closely by Chris Sale and Yu Darvish.

Honorable mention: Nestor Cortes Jr. (SP, Yankees; 12 1/3 IP, 16 K, 2.19 ERA).

Wells debuted with a scoreless inning against Boston on April 4. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles). Most struggling teams usually have at least one bright spot. For the Orioles, Wells isn’t it.

The rookie blew both his save opportunities and earned two losses this past week, surrendering 6 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in 1 1/3 innings of work. It sullies what was a decent campaign: Prior to imploding, he hadn’t allowed a run in 11 straight appearances and had brought his season mark down to 3.27.

But with relievers, all it takes is a couple bad outings to ruin a good thing, and that is exactly what happened. Wells’ mark is now up to 4.17, though his K/9 IP ratio is still a solid 10.7. If he can get the long ball under control, he could be a solid pitcher. He’s surrendered 9 home runs in 54 innings this season.

Dishonorable mention: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals; 2 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 BSV, 1 L).

Studs and duds, September 8 – September 14

I believe this is the first time all the Studs and Duds from the day previous return. As all have been covered before—multiple times—there is not too much to say this time around.

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). Hernandez is unstoppable. Over the past week, he has hit .533/.611/.867 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 12 runs scored, powering the Blue Jays in this most important stretch of the season. An All-Star this year and a Silver Slugger in 2020, the outfielder is hitting .307/.357/.529 with 27 home runs and 102 RBI in 126 games on the year; he ranks fifth in the American League in RBI. Since 2017, he has averaged 35 home runs, 98 RBI and 90 runs scored per 162 games. Hmm, a late-blooming power hitting outfielder in Toronto. Shades of Jose Bautista, anyone?

Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; .429/.529/.857, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 10 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela is on fire! With two hits yesterday, he is now 4-for-18 with 8 strikeouts over the past seven days. His September batting average was raised to .192, while his mark since rejoining the Yankees in late August is up to .149. That still sounds pretty rough. And Urshela is still the Dud.

Dishonorable mention: Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, 0-for-10, 5 K).

Alcantara began his career with the Cardinals, but was traded to Miami, with others, for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins). Alcantara was so awesome lately, no one dared usurp him. And with his recent resume including a complete game, a win, 21 strikeouts, just one walk and 5 hits allowed, a 0.53 ERA and a .091 opponents’ batting average, that would’ve been hard to do. Though his record is just 9-13 this season, he owns a 133 ERA+ and a 137 mark over the past two years. That makes Alcantara a pitcher to watch. If he can ever get out of Miami and join a winning club, he could blossom into a superstar.

Honorable mention: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays; 11 IP, 18 K, 2.45 ERA, 1 W).

Pitching dud: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals).Baldonado pitched a scoreless inning for Washington last night, earning a hold, but it wasn’t enough for the hurler to redeem himself. It’s tough for a relief pitcher to unbury himself from a blown save, a loss, a couple walks, a couple earned runs allowed and a 10.80 ERA in the span of a week. His ERA on the year, however, is still a solid 2.84.

Dishonorable mention: Jeurys Familia (RP, Mets; 2 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 3 HR, 1 BSV, 1 L).

Studs and duds: September 6 – September 12

We haven’t seen Teoscar Hernandez in a while; we welcome back a familiar one as the Pitching Stud.

What a difference a few years makes: In his time with Houston, Hernandez hit just .230. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). It was a nice run for Marcus Semien, but a new face has taken his place.

Hernandez has hit .448/.556/.862 with 3 home runs, including a grand slam, 10 RBI, 13 runs scored, 2 stolen bases and 5 walks in the past week—but let’s not kid ourselves, he’s been one of the game’s hottest hitters since August. In 33 games since August 8, Hernandez has hit .323/.389/.608 with 10 home runs, 33 RBI and 31 runs scored.

And his performance couldn’t have come at a better time. With Hernandez and Semien surging, the Blue Jays currently lead in the American League wild card race, barely, and need all their cylinders firing right now. Hernandez is doing his best to make that happen.

Honorable mention: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays; .364/.462/.818, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 8 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Despite going 1-for-4 at the plate, Urshela continued his struggles yesterday by striking out two more times and committing an error in the field. He has had two strikeouts in four of the past five games—and a single K in the fifth one—making him 3-for-21 with nine strikeouts over the past week. Since his return to the Yankees lineup in late August, he is 5-for-43 (.116) with 15 Ks and no walks.

Dishonorable mention: Amed Rosario (SS, Indians; 3-for-21, 7 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers). Scherzer seems to be getting better. In 16 innings over his past two starts, he has amassed 22 strikeouts—including the 3,000th of his career—without walking a single batter. Just seven of batsmen have even managed hits off him.

Scherzer hasn’t allowed more than 200 hits in a season since 2011. (Wikipedia).

Having not allowed an earned run since August 21, the hurler is now 6-0 with 72 strikeouts, 5 walks allowed and a 0.88 ERA in 51 innings since joining Los Angeles in July; he is 14-4 with 219 strikeouts, a league-leading 0.821 WHIP, a league-leading 2.17 ERA and a 186 ERA+ on the year. Baseball Reference’s similarity scores say the pitcher second-most similar to him through age 36 is Randy Johnson. Sounds about right.

Honorable mention: Kevin Gausman (SP, Giants; 2-0 W-L, 13 IP, 18 K, 1 BB, 2 QS).

Pitching dud: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals). It was a rough week for the 28-year-old rookie, who debuted on September 2.

On September 10, he gave up a hit and blew a save, then on the 11th, he walked 2 and allowed 2 earned runs in one-third of an inning for the loss. For those counting at home: He has a 10.80 ERA in 1 2/3 innings over the past seven days, spread over 3 appearances.

It was the first real rough patch of the hurler’s short career, as he allowed just one walk and a hit in 4 2/3 frames over 4 appearances initially. That he is in the majors at all is pretty amazing—he was signed by the Mets in 2009 and didn’t even reach Triple-A until 2017—and he had a 6.65 ERA in 39 appearances when he did.

Dishonorable mention: JT Chargois (RP, 0-1 W-L, 3 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: September 5 — September 11

Marcus Semien, Gio Urshela and Edwin Diaz appear for another day, but there is a new face here, as well.

Offensive stud: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays). Is there an echo in here? Marcus Semien is on the hottest of streaks and is, yet again, the Offensive Stud.

With another home run and 3 RBI yesterday, he is batting .387/.500/.968 with 5 dingers and 13 ribbies over the past week—that puts him at 39 home runs and 94 RBI on the year.

Should he reach 40 big flies, and it is unlikely that he won’t, he will be just the 5th second baseman to achieve that mark, with the others being Rogers Hornsby (42 in 1922), Davey Johnson (43, 1973), Ryne Sandberg (40, 1990) and Brian Dozier (42, 2016).

If he reaches 100 RBI—another strong possibility—he’ll be just the second second sacker to reach 40 homers and 100 RBI since Sandberg; he had exactly 100 ribbies in 1990. The 100 RBI mark itself is a rarity for second basemen, with the last to reach it being Jonathan Schoop, then of the Orioles, in 2017.  

Baez has 30 home runs and 17 stolen bases on the year. (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Javier Baez (IF, Mets; .519/.581/.926, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 10 R, 4 SB).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Oh my goodness, it’s a train wreck! 0-for-3 with 2 more strikeouts yesterday—that makes him 2-for-18 with 7 Ks since September 5! What in the world is going on!

Who knows, but the Yankees can’t be pleased. They’re in a tight race for second place in the American League East with Boston and Toronto and cannot afford any clunkers right now. Urshela’s WAR for the season is 0.6—a thoroughly mediocre number—and his line is now .255/.293/.404. That OBP is an eyesore, especially.

It will be interesting to see what the Yankees will do should they reach the playoffs with Urshela struggling. He owns a .205 postseason batting average, so one wonders if he’d be worth the risk of utilizing at all.

Dishonorable mention: Ryan Lavarnway (C, Indians; 0-for-6, 3 K, 2 E).

Prior to 2021, Gausman was 50-66 with a 4.26 ERA. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Kevin Gausman (SP, Giants). What an incredible season this has been for Gausman—especially so, since he had never even posted a winning record before this year (the best he did was .500 in 2014 and 2020).

He boosted his line further this past week, going 2-0 with 18 strikeouts and just one walk allowed in 13 innings. Though his ERA was an elevated 4.15, his season mark still stands at 2.65, good for 5th-best in the National League. He has even helped himself with the bat this season, with his .188 average the best among the team’s starters.

Though he has some stiff competition, ESPN’s Cy Young Predictor says he has the 3rd-best chance of winning the honor, behind only Walker Buehler and Julio Urias.

Honorable mention: Corbin Burnes (SP, Brewers; 13 IP, 21 K, 3 BB, 6 H, 2.08 ERA). I guess he should be the stud due to recent events, but I think I’m jaded against no-hitters now.

Pitching dud: Edwin Diaz (RP, Mets). The hurler has lost 2 games, blown a save and owns a WHIP of 5 over the past week. As one of Diaz’s primary skills is blowing saves, here is a compilation of him ruining games. And here’s one of his “2019 lowlights”.

Diaz owns a career .318 winning percentage, the 3rd-worst among active pitchers with at least 300 innings pitched. If any player is proof teams should not be wooed by one amazing standout campaign, Diaz is that man.

Dishonorable mention: JT Chargois (RP, Rays; 2 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 2 ER, 1 L, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: September 4 – September 10

Edwin Diaz draws my ire again, while Marcus Semien is putting together an MVP argument.

Offensive stud: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays). After a 2-for-4 showing last night, Semien is now 11-for-27 over the past week for a .407/.529/.926 line. He has 4 home runs, 10 RBI, 6 runs scored and 6 walks, which are especially impressive since his season on-base percentage is .344 and his career mark is .325.

Semien is in Most Valuable Player territory, as he leads the American League in Wins Above Replacement (6.5), is second in total bases (307), third in doubles (36) and fourth in home runs (38). Don’t forget the accolades: An All-Star, he was also the May Player of the Month, after he hit .368 with 8 home runs and 22 RBI.

2021 has been an excellent rebound campaign for the former shortstop, who hit just .223/.305/.374 in 53 games last season.

Honorable mention: Nelson Cruz (DH, Rays; .429 BA, .929 SLG, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R).

I don’t know the result of this play, but Urshela was probably out. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela continued his reign of futility with an 0-for-3 performance with a strike out yesterday, making him 2-for-15 with 5 Ks and 2 errors over the past week and 4-for-36 with 11 strikeouts since his return to the field in late August. Since his batting average peaked at .303 on May 16, he’s hit just .233/.266/.370 with 64 Ks and 9 walks in 227 at-bats. Urshela is signed through 2021; with the way he’s performing, I’m not sure New York will bring him back.

Dishonorable mention: Daniel Johnson (OF, Indians; 1-for-11, 5 Ks).  

Of course it is: Houser’s nickname is “Doogy.” (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Adrian Houser (SP, Brewers). It’s good to see a fresh—and unexpected—face in this position every once in a while.

After pitching a complete game shutout against St. Louis on September 4, the righthander followed up with a 6-inning, 1-hit, 0-earned run performance against Cleveland yesterday. Though the latter wasn’t a perfect showing—he walked 5 batters—it elevated him to this heralded title.

Between the two appearances, he tossed 15 innings and allowed just 4 hits, while striking out 12 batters. It has been a great season for the hurler, who is 9-6 with a 3.25 mark in 25 games (23 starts) after going 1-6, 5.30 in 2020.

The former 2nd round pick was acquired from Houston with reliever Josh Hader and outfielders Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips for pitcher Mike Fiers and outfielder Carlos Gomez in 2015. Milwaukee got the better of that deal.

Honorable mention: Jose Berrios (SP, Blue Jays; 2-0 W-L, 13 1/3 IP, 15 K, 2 BB).

Pitching dud: Edwin Diaz (RP, Mets). I just got done railing against Diaz yesterday and wouldn’t you know, here he is again. After blowing a save and taking 2 losses over the past week, Diaz has proven he cannot close in New York and that his stunning 2018 with Seattle (1.96 ERA, 57 saves, 15.2 K/9) was the exception and not the norm.

Though he still strikes batters out with great frequency (12.9 K/9 this year, 17.5 K/9 last season), that ability has become nothing more than a novelty since he flunks at every other facet of his job—most importantly, saving games and ensuring victories. He’s signed through the end of 2021. It might be time to say goodbye.

Pitching dud: JT Chargois (RP, Rays; 2 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 1 L, 1 BSV).