Studs and duds: September 3 – September 9

A Met draws my mighty opprobrium.

Offensive stud: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays). Semien continues his hot hitting and defends his Stud status with a .357/.471/.929 line with 5 home runs, 12 RBI and 6 runs scored over the past seven days.

He is something of a rabbit’s foot, with Toronto  winning each of the last 8 games he’s played and 11 of the past 12. Or, perhaps rabbit’s foot is the wrong term—they’re not just getting lucky with him in the lineup. Rather, he’s leading the charge. Since September 1, he’s averaged 1.6 RBI and about a run scored per game.

It is very premature to turn on the Hall of Fame watch for the 30-year-old Semien, but he is the sort of player that should everything go right over the next eight-to-ten seasons, he could build a case. Only in his 9th season, he already has 27.9 WAR—just a handful of players his age or younger have at least that many.

Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; 8-for-26, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 6 R).

Bryant strikes out with the best of ’em, averaging 167 Ks per 162 games. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Kris Bryant (3B/OF, Giants). Even the best struggle sometimes.

Having gone 4-for-20 with 9 strikeouts over the past week, the 2016 MVP continues a campaign that is a bit off from his stellar 2015 to 2017 run, when he averaged 31 home runs, 91 RBI and 106 runs scored per year, while posting a 141 OPS+.

This season, he is hitting .265/.351/.499 with 24 dingers and 65 RBI in 124 games split between the Cubs and Giants. Though still good enough to earn him his fourth All-Star selection, his slash line is depressed relative to his career .279/.376/.507 mark.

Dishonorable mention: Daniel Johnson (OF, Indians; 1-for-11, 4 K).

Pitching stud: Sean Manaea (SP, Athletics). Manaea had a rough August, allowing 31 hits, including 8 home runs, in 20 innings for a 9.90 ERA.

Well, September’s a whole new month. Over his past two starts, Manaea has tossed 14 innings and allowed just a single walk, 10 hits and 3 earned runs, while K-ing 18 batters, for a 1.93 ERA. The hurler began the season with a solid 2.91 ERA through June, but saw his mark rise to 3.97 after his August swoon. It’s back down to 3.79.

He’s again looking like the Manaea of 2018 and 2019, when he went a combined 16-9 with a 3.22 ERA and 130 ERA+ in 32 starts; he missed most of 2019 due to shoulder surgery and returned with a 4-3, 4.50 line in 2020.

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

Pitching dud: JT Chargois (RP, Rays). Because of his recent abominable run in which he allowed 4 hits, 3 walks, a homer, 2 earned runs, blew a save and took a loss—that’s, like, the hexafecta of futility—Chargois is the Dud again. Technically.

Pre-Mets Edwin Diaz: 2.64 ERA, 156 ERA+. Mets Edwin Diaz: 4.20 ERA, 98 ERA+. (Wikipedia).

Closer Edwin Diaz, who blew a couple saves over the past week, is the runner up. But Diaz, let me tell you something about that guy. As a Mets fan, nothing is more irksome and disenchanting than having such a steaming pile of mediocrity take the mound every night, because I know there is a good chance any lead the Mets have, any chance at victory they might possess, is at risk of disappearing in an instant. New York traded two top prospects, outfielder Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Justin Dunn, for him and the currently suspended Robinson Cano. What a load of hokum and balderdash.

The Mets have a history of picking up disappointing closers, including Armando Benitez, Francisco Rodriguez and Frank Francisco. Even Billy Wagner, despite his outwardly excellent numbers, gave fans headaches.

Anyway, Chargois had a bad week, but his season’s been fine. A 2.54 ERA is nothing to sneeze at.

Dishonorable mention: Edwin Diaz (RP, Mets; 2 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 4 ER, 2 BSV, 2 L).

Studs and duds: September 2 – September 8

Semien has slugged .511 since 2019. Before then, his mark was .403. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays). Semien had an All-Star-quality 2019 campaign, when he hit .285 with 33 home runs and 92 RBI, but he wasn’t selected to the elite roster.

Well, he finally got that All-Star call this season and has been playing like a veritable MVP over the past week. In 24 at-bats, he slashed .375/.483/1.042 with 5 home runs, 12 RBI and 6 runs scored; he now has 33 dingers, 90 RBI and 99 runs scored on the year as a whole.

The defensively adept 30-year-old has developed into one of the league’s premier middle infielders, with his slugging prowess reminiscent of Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada and — now that he is at second base — Jeff Kent and Alfonso Soriano.

If you believe Baseball-Reference, Semien is basically a carbon copy of the Phillies’ Didi Gregorius statistically, per their similarity scores. But, hey, Gregorius has never been an Offensive Stud.

Honorable mention: Frank Schwindel (1B, Cubs; .414/.469/.724, 3 HR, 9 RBI).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela was 2-for-9 with 2 errors and 2 Ks over the past week. I have written a poem:

Gio, oh Gio
Your offense makes me ill
I hope each day you won’t mess up
But my heart knows that you will.

A major leaguer, so you’re called;
It’s with New York you play
Though you strikeout and make us shout,
You’re in the lineup every day.

Your fielding is a letdown
Too many errors you commit
So the Yankees won’t release you,
Perhaps then you’ll just quit

Okay, I’m being too harsh
But let’s be honest, bud
Your play leaves me no option—
You’re today’s Offensive Dud.

Dishonorable mention: Daniel Johnson (OF, Indians; 1-for-11, 4 K, 1 E).

Pitching stud: Logan Webb (SP, Giants). Webb is back on top, again, with another week of marvelous pitching performances. This has become a common refrain with the wonderful Mr. Webb, who over his past two starts tossed 14 innings, struck out 16 batters and walked just one. His 2.57 mark over these past couple outings lowered his ERA—yet again—from 3.33 on August 1 to 2.64 now.

The Giants are in a tight race with the Dodgers for dominance in the National League West. Anchored by a pitching staff without any major superstars, it’s Logan Webb and other lesser known names—well, lesser known before 2021—that have elevated San Francisco to such successful heights. The entire staff is a unit, but since Webb’s leading the charge, I guess that makes him the Big Unit. Wait, I think that’s been taking.

Honorable mention: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins; 15 1/3 IP, 20 K, 1 BB, 2.93 ERA).

Chargois had a 4.53 ERA and 89 ERA+ in 60 games with the Dodgers. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: J.T. Chargois (RP, Rays). Dang it, J.T., I just said something nice about you the other day, too. In the past week, the Louisiana-native has tossed 2 2/3 innings, surrendered 4 hits, 3 walks, a homer, a couple earned runs, taken a loss and blown a save. It’s not an attractive line, but his campaign has been impressive overall. In 46 innings over 47 appearances, he has a 2.54 ERA and 161 ERA+. Not bad for a hurler who didn’t pitch in the majors in 2020 and had a 6.33 mark the year before. It has taken a while—he is now 30 years old—but perhaps Chargois is finally living up to his second-round draft status.

Dishonorable mention: Andres Machado (RP, Nationals; 0-2 W-L, 3 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5.40 ERA, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: September 1 – September 7

Frank is putting the “win” in Schwindel, amirite, guys? (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Frank Schwindel (1B, Cubs). Though he had an 0-for-4 performance last night, the Cubs first baseman’s hot hitting keeps him in the top spot.

Over the past week, he is still carrying a .433/.469/.833 line with 4 home runs, 12 RBI and 7 runs scored. His career marks, despite starting off with a .067 average with Kansas City in 2019 and a .150 mark with Oakland this year, have been elevated to .309/.349/.580 due to his surge with Chicago. His 162-game averages are 37 home runs, 111 RBI and 84 runs scored and, though those numbers are likely unsustainable, they sure look pretty.

He developed his power stroke a little later in his career, having never hit more than 5 home runs in a college season.

Honorable mention: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays; .333/.429/1.125, 6 HR, 11 RBI).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). After a short time away, Urshela returns to his Dud post after a 1-for-8, 2 strikeout, 2 error showing over the past week. That makes him 3-for-29 (.103 BA) since rejoining the Yankees last month and gives him a .245 mark since late May. It has been an off year for the infielder as a whole—his strikeout percentage (25.1) is the highest it’s ever been, while his home run percentage (3.1) is his worst since 2018.

Is Urshela bad luck? New York has lost each of the last seven games in which he’s played.

Dishonorable mention: Charlie Culberson (3B, Rangers; 2-for-10, 3 K, 3 E).

Pitching stud: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers). Riding high on a stellar 13-strikeout performance against St. Louis on Monday, the future Hall of Famer retains his position atop the heap.

Should Scherzer win the Cy Young Award—and its looking like he might—it will be his fourth such honor, making him the fifth hurler with at least that many. It’s an illustrious group, counting Roger Clemens (7 CYAs), Randy Johnson (5), Steve Carlton (4) and Greg Maddux (4) among its number.

The other pitchers with three? Well, they’re pretty great, too: Clayton Kershaw, Sandy Koufax, Jim Palmer, Pedro Martinez and Tom Seaver.

Honorable mention: Logan Webb (SP, Giants; 14 IP, 16 K, 1 BB, 2.57 ERA).

Puk had a 3.18 ERA in 10 relief appearances with Oakland in 2019, his first big league season. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: A.J. Puk (RP, Athletics). This past week has not been ideal for the former first rounder, who holds a 33.75 ERA with 8 hits and 5 earned runs allowed in 1 1/3 frames. On September 1 and 7, he took the loss, blowing a save the former game and allowing 5 hits in 1/3 of an inning the latter.

This performance brings his season line to 0-3, 6.08 in 12 appearances—not quite what was expected of the top prospect, who was ranked the 83rd, 30th, 18th and 21st-best by Baseball America each year from 2017 to 2020, respectively. The clock is ticking on the lefthander, who, at 26, is no spring chicken. If all else fails, perhaps he can move to the field—he played some first base in college with Florida.

Dishonorable mention: Andres Machado (RP, Nationals; 2 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 0-2, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: August 31 – September 6

Offensive stud: Frank Schwindel (1B, Cubs). Schwindel continued his hot hitting last night, extending his hitting streak to 7 games by going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. That brings his line to .467/.500/.967 with 5 home runs and 13 RBI over the past week and .374/.421/.699 since joining Chicago in July.

It has been a longtime coming for the 29-year-old, who began his professional career in the Royals system back in 2013. Despite clobbering 20-plus home runs four times in the minors—including a 23 dinger, 97 RBI, .329 BA season spent mostly at Triple-A in 2017—Schwindel never found a home. The Royals cut him loose partway through the 2019 campaign, then Detroit signed him, but he was only a temporary lodger.

He began 2021 in the Athletics system, but was claimed off waivers by Chicago. That’s the best thing that ever happened to him.

Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. (OF Blue Jays; .381/.458/.857, 2 HR, 13 RBI 1 GS).

Charlie Culberson had an OPS+ of -22 with San Francisco in 2012. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Charlie Culberson (3B, Rangers). Welcome back, Charlie, I’m getting Gavin Lux vibes from you. You sure love to stick around these parts, don’t ya? It’s hard to redeem yourself when your play is so poor your club doesn’t want to put you on the field, but that’s what is happening here. Gotta get that shaky glovework (3 errors in the past week) under control.

Dishonorable mention: Paul DeJong (SS, Cardinals; 0-for-4, 2 K, 1 E).

Pitching stud: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers). The Stud seems to be a revolving door of Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Robbie Ray and Logan Webb. This time, it’s Scherzer’s turn.

Last night, he struck out 13 hapless Cardinals in 8 innings, bringing his season total to 210 Ks and his career total to 2,994—just 6 away from the magical 3,000 mark. Having not surrendered a run since August 21, the hurler is 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA in 7 starts since joining the Dodgers in a July 30 trade with Washington that also netted Los Angeles star second baseman Trea Turner.

He has led the league in strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio three times in his career and is doing so again this season, with a mark of 12.3—especially impressive since he averaged just 8.7 K/9 through his first four campaigns.

Not just in strikeouts, Scherzer ranks among the elites overall—per’s similarity scores, three of the hurlers most statistically similar to him through age 36 are Hall of Famers Randy Johnson, Roy Halladay and Pedro Martinez.

Honorable mention: Kevin Gausman (SP, Giants; 1-0, 12 IP, 16 K, 2 BB).

Better days: Machado had a 2.89 ERA in 44 relief appearances at Triple-A in 2019. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Andres Machado (RP, Nationals). Supplanting Baltimore’s Dillon Tate is Machado, who most assuredly did not have an enjoyable time these past seven days. In 1 2/3 frames over 4 appearances, the righthander took 2 losses, blew a save and allowed 4 earned runs on 7 hits and a walk for a 21.60 ERA.

His performance eviscerated what had been a decent campaign, raising his season mark from 2.35 to 3.65 in the span of a week. Prior to 2021, Machado last pitched in the major leagues with Kansas City in 2017, with whom he surrendered 9 earned runs in 3 2/3 frames—we see why teams hesitated in bringing him back to the majors.

Dishonorable mention: Andrew Heaney (P, Yankees; 0-1, 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: August 30 – September 5

Frank Schwindel is a feel good story. Let’s enjoy his excellent play while he’s on top. Also, Robbie Ray is back.

Two thumbs up to you, too, Frank. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Frank Schwindel (1B, Cubs). Schwindel is certainly the least likely Stud we’ve had so far. The 29-year-old rookie, who debuted two years ago with a 1-for-15 showing for Kansas City, has hit an incredible .462/.500/1.038 with 5 home runs, 12 RBI and 7 runs scored over the past week. And he’s not swinging randomly and getting lucky—in 26 at-bats, he has just 3 strikeouts.

With three 3-hit games in a row, he is riding a seven-game hitting streak and hasn’t gone more than one game without a knock since August 21. Since being selected off waivers by Chicago from Pittsburgh on July 18, he has hit .370/.409/.706 with 10 home runs, 8 doubles, 29 RBI and 22 runs scored. His season average has gone from .143 to .338 in a little more than a month.

Honorable mention: Lourdes Gourriel (OF, Blue Jays; .389/.450/.944, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 1 GS).

Offensive dud: Charlie Culberson (3B, Rangers). Culberson’s shoddy performance over the past seven days (1-for-6, 2 K, 3 E) keeps him in this inglorious position. Depressed offensive statistics are the norm for the utilityman, who last year had an OPS+ of 2 in 9 games with Atlanta and who, in 95 games with Colorado in 2014, slashed just .195/.253/.290 with 62 strikeouts in 210 at-bats. Though his defensive versatility is a plus, his defense as a whole is middling, as his career dWAR is -1.5. On the bright side, he ranks sixth in the American League in sacrifice hits this season, with 4.

Dishonorable mention: Ryan McKenna (OF, Orioles; 1-for-11, 8 K, 1 E).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). Another week, another incredible run by Robbie Ray. In 13 2/3 frames over his past two starts, both of which he won, Ray Ked 20 men and walked just 4; batters hit .111 against him and scored just 2 earned runs. That brings his ERA since June 1 to 2.05 in 114 innings.

While Toronto has pitched well this season—their 3.89 team ERA is fifth-best in the American League—Ray and his league-leading 2.60 ERA and 172 ERA+ stand head and shoulders above the rest of the staff. No other starter has an mark under 3.63 (Alek Manoah).

If I was a betting man, I would say the Cy Young race will be between Ray and Gerrit Cole, who is 14-6 with a 2.73 ERA and league-leading 215 strikeouts. For his part, Ray is also pacing the loop in innings pitched (166), batters faced (657) and H/9 IP ratio (6.7).

Honorable mention: Julio Urias (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 11 2/3 IP, 15 K, 2.31 ERA).

Pitching dud: Dillon Tate (RP, Orioles). Tate won’t go away for another day; because of his poor play, he’s here to stay. Three losses in three appearances will do that to you, especially when your job is to, uh, maintain the lead. Andres Machado (2 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 2 L, 1 BSV) and Joe Smith (1/3 IP, 2 ER, 1 L, 1 BSV) were close on his tail, but his futility keeps him here yet again. I’d say, “send him packing, Baltimore!” but who, really, can replace him?

Dishonorable mention: Andres Machado (RP, Nationals; 2 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 2 L, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: August 29 – September 4

Blackmon has been an All-Star four times. (Wikipedia).

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).

In 2018, Berrios tied for the league lead with 2 complete games and 1 shutout. (Wikipedia).

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).

Studs and duds: August 28 – September 3

Garcia has 9 stolen bases and 21 doubles this year, as well. (Wikipedia).

Some new faces this time around.

Offensive stud: Adolis Garcia (OF, Rangers). Over the past week, Garcia has put together a tidy line of .333/.462/.667 with 2 home runs (including a grand slam), 6 RBI, 7 runs and 5 walks.

Talk about coming out of nowhere. The 28-year-old outfielder debuted with the Cardinals in 2018, hitting .118 in 17 at-bats. He didn’t play in 2019 and went hitless in a cup of coffee with Texas last year. Then—KABLAM! He burst onto the scene in 2021, leading the Rangers by far in home runs (29) and RBI (77), earning an All-Star selection and being a bright spot on that disappointing 47-87 club.

In 2019, he hit 32 dingers at Triple-A Memphis, so the power has always been there, but to see it show up on the big league stage so suddenly was a surprise.

Honorable mention: Juan Soto (OF, Nationals; .381/.519/.857, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 6 BB).

DeJong’s career average is .242. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Paul DeJong (SS, Cardinals). This just hasn’t been DeJong’s year.

After making the All-Star team in 2019, he’s hit just .198/.289/.383 in 95 games this season, and these past seven days haven’t helped his numbers none. In 5 at-bats, he struck out 3 times; in the field he committed an error. It’s been an unpleasant fall for the slugger who averaged 31 home runs and 89 RBI per 162 games from 2017 to 2019 and just 22 and 75, respectively, since.

Though he’s always been a low-average guy—even in his All-Star campaign, he batted just .233—his mark has dipped to almost intolerable levels. And what’s worse—he’s 28 and supposed to be in his prime.

Dishonorable mention: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees; 1-for-13, 4 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Logan Webb (SP,Giants). If anyone suggested Logan Webb would one day be pitching like a Cy Young Award candidate, I would’ve said they were crazy. But that’s exactly what he’s been doing of late.

In his past two starts, he tossed 14 innings and had 16 strikeouts, while allowing just 1 earned run on 9 hits and 2 walks. The Giants’ lead in the NL West is tenuous, but Webb is doing all he can to keep it from slipping away. Since his ERA peaked at 5.87 on April 20, it has been 2.04; since the beginning of August, it’s been 1.39.

2021 is a crazy year and Webb’s stunning line is part of the craziness.

Honorable mention: Frankie Montas (SP, Athletics; 2-0, 13 2/3 IP, 4 BB, 7 H, 1.98 ERA).

Pitching dud: Dillon Tate (RP, Orioles). It might be hard to believe, but Tate was the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 draft and Major League Baseball once ranked him the 36th-best prospect in baseball.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. In the past week, He has made four appearances and lost his last three; in 2 innings, he’s allowed 4 runs on 6 hits and a walk for an 18.00 ERA. This run makes him 0-6 on the year and 1-9 for his career; his season ERA has risen half a point in this short stretch alone. Perhaps there is a reason he was traded twice before making his major league debut.

Despite his middling 2021 performance, he has been one of the Orioles’ most oft-used relievers, appearing in 51 games.

Dishonorable mention: Andres Machado (RP, Nationals; 2 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 ER, 0-1, 1 BSV, 13.50 ERA).

Studs and duds: August 27 – September 2

Twice an All-Star, Grandal has 167 career home runs. (Wikipedia).

Yasmani Grandal is on a run that would make any catcher jealous … even Salvador Perez.

Offensive stud: Yasmani Grandal (C, White Sox). Grandal missed the better part of two months with knee surgery, and upon his return showed the White Sox how much they missed him.

In 5 games since coming back, the backstop has slashed .529/.636/1.353 with 4 home runs, 11 RBI, 6 runs scored and 4 walks. He’s managed to put up solid numbers despite a weak .217 batting mark overall, as he’s averaged nearly a walk per game with 64 in 68 appearances, giving him a .408 OBP on the year. The last time a player averaged a BB in more than 95 percent of his games was Barry Bonds in 2007, when he drew 132 in 126 matches.

Combined with his slugging mark of .515, which is backed mostly by his 18 dingers (he has only 5 doubles), his OPS and OPS+ are .923 and 154, respectively.

Honorable mention: Salvador Perez (C, Royals; .292/.370/.667, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1 GS). Sorry Salvador, you’ve been demoted.

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Despite not playing since August 31, Urshela is back on top of the dud pile with a 1-for-17, 5 strikeout, 2 error showing over the past week. It’s difficult to glean anything positive from his run, but look at the bright side: His sole hit was a double and he managed 5 putouts and 8 assists. This Urshela is a far cry from the April and May edition—from April 18 to May 15, he hit .338/.385/.563 with 3 home runs and 13 RBI in 20 games. He’s slashed .241/.275/.387 since.

Dishonorable mention: Jose Iglesias (SS, Angels; 0-for-3, 1 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Gerrit Cole (SP, Yankees). Despite an excellent showing by Logan Webb (7 IP, 1 ER, 10 K) last night, Cole keeps his title after striking out 24 batters in 13 innings over the past week.

It’s crazy to think he is pitching worse now than earlier in the season—since July, his ERA is 2.87 in 53 1/3 innings. Over the first couple months of the year, it was 1.78 in 70 2/3 frames. In June and July, the hurler swooned big time, posting a 4.68 ERA in 59 2/3 innings—it wasn’t all bad, however, as he still Ked 79 batters and men hit just .225 against him. Too many of those hits left the yard, however, as he surrendered 12 of the 18 homers he’s allowed this year in that ten-start stretch. Hoping that’s all in the past, he’ll be carrying a 0.69 ERA over his past two games into his next one.

Honorable mention: Logan Webb (SP, Giants; 14 IP, 16 K, 2 BB, 0.64 ERA).

Karinchak has averaged 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings for his career. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: James Karinchak (RP, Indians). One appearance. One horrid appearance in which he didn’t even manage an out is all it took to land Karinchak here.

Pitching in relief against the Red Sox on August 27, the hurler surrendered 3 earned runs on 2 hits, a walk and a home run for the loss. It further sullied what had otherwise been a great first full campaign. He did not allow a single earned run through his first 13 appearances, striking out 25 batters in 11 2/3 innings. He carried a 2.78 mark and 13.9 K/9 ratio into late July, but allowed 11 earned runs in 9 innings over his last 12 appearances.

Karinchak is a strikeout ace, whiffing 12.8 per nine frames this year and an astounding 17.7/9 in 27 appearances last year. But even the best strikeout relievers falter eventually—his numbers remind me vaguely of Kyle Barraclough and Dellin Betances.

Dishonorable mention: Dillon Tate (RP, Orioles; 1 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 0-2 W-L).

Studs and duds: August 26 – September 1

Salvador Perez is slipping, but maintains his title. Gerrit Cole had a week for the ages.

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). The Perez train might be grinding to a halt, as the catcher went 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts yesterday, but his performance in the early part of this one-week stretch still elevates him above all other players. Since August 26, he has 4 home runs, 12 RBI and 5 runs scored and is still riding high on those two grand slams he hit. Defensively, he had more putouts than anyone other than Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez. He’s just four shy of tying the single season record for home runs by a catcher, 42, currently held by former Braves backstop Javy Lopez.

Honorable mention: Tommy Edman (3B, Cardinals; .407/.452/.852, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R).

In 2013, Iglesias hit .357 in the ALCS. Ah, those were the days … (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Jose Iglesias (SS, Angels). It’s been a swift decline for the 2015 All-Star, who, after hitting .373 in 39 games last year, is down to .259 in 2021. He carried a mark over .280 into late July, but since July 27, he’s hit just .178 in 101 at-bats. His August 27 performance against the Padres was especially bad—going 0-for-3 with a strikeout at the dish, he also committed 2 errors, bringing his season total to 16. When he was on, he was on, hammering out a couple four hit games earlier in the year. But Iglesias’ swift slide into mediocrity mirrors his career descent as a whole—after hitting .300 in his lone All-Star season, he’s batted just .272 with an 85 OPS+ since.

Dishonorable mention: Nick Gordon (SS, Twins; 0-for-9, 3 K, 1 E).

Gerrit Cole is statistically similar to Roy Halladay through age 30, per Baseball Reference. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Gerrit Cole (SP, Yankees). With an unbelievable, 15 strikeout performance last night, Cole has reclaimed the American League strikeout lead from Robbie Ray and now sits at 215 on the season. Over his past two starts, he is 2-0 with 24 strikeouts in 13 innings; he’s allowed just 2 walks and 1 earned run for a 0.69 ERA. The star hurler also leads the AL in wins (14), WHIP (0.968), H/9 IP (6.9), K/9 IP (12.5) and K/BB (6.72). Though it might be a bit premature to start making Hall of Fame proclamations, if he continues pitching as he has the past four seasons through his prime and experiences a standard decline, then he might one day have case. After nine seasons, he already has 31.5 WAR—he’s the youngest active pitcher with at least 30.

Honorable mention: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers; 13.2 IP, 19 K, 1 BB, 0 R).

Pitching dud: Joe Smith (RP, Mariners). Smith couldn’t shake the ghost of his past week (2 1/3 IP, 3 ER, 0-2 W-L, 2 BSV), so he holds onto his title. Close on his tail were James Karinchak (0 IP, 3 ER, 1 BSV) and Dillon Tate (1 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 0-2 W-L), but Smith edges them out with the worst performance over the last seven days.

Dishonorable mention: James Karinchak (RP, Indians; 1 G, 0 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 ER, 0-1 W-L, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: August 25 – August 31

Salvy and Ray appear here to stay.

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). Hunker down, Perez might own this title for a while. Though he went hitless yesterday, he helped his team by getting on base with a hit by pitch and scoring a run.

It’s not a great single-game performance, but still, over the past week, his line is .333/.429/.958 with 5 home runs, 13 RBI and 6 runs scored. And slugging dingers is almost all he’s done: He’s managed no other extra base hits since August 13, smashing 9 dingers since that date.

He might be insulted if you call him this, but Perez is a ball magnet—with 10 HBPs on the year, he currently ranks seventh in the American League in that category.

Honorable mention: Bryce Harper (OF, Phillies; .519/.576/1.074, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 6 2B).

Odor stinks! (Get it?) (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Rougned Odor (IF, Yankees). Once upon a time, going on a decade ago, Odor was a top prospect in the Rangers system. He hammered out three 30-plus home run seasons and played all 162 games in 2017.

Ahh, reminiscing. Since 2019, he’s hit .201/.276/.423 with an OPS+ of 81.

For his career, he’s been in the top five in errors committed by a second baseman each year since 2015 and has led the league five times.

In the past week, he added another error and went 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts at the plate; on the year, he’s batting just .211 with 90 Ks in 299 at-bats.

The only Odor here is a stinky one.

Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-15, 7 K).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). No pitcher matched Ray’s recent performance (14 IP, 24 K, 1.93 ERA)—and that will be difficult to do—so he’s the Stud for another day.

With modern batters swinging wildly and Ray the best at getting them to do it, he now ranks #1 all-time in career strikeouts per nine innings ratio at 11.18. The next-closest hurler is the Red Sox Chris Sale at 11.10. In fact, the top five in that category are all active (as are seven of the top ten), so leadership might fluctuate day to day and month to month.

Honorable mention: Blake Snell (SP, Padres; 14.2 IP, 20 K, 2 BB, 0.61 ERA).

Smith is one of only a handful of players who debuted in 2007 that are still playing. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Joe Smith (RP, Mariners). Smith also retains his title, having taken two losses, blown two saves and posted an 11.57 ERA over his last few games. It is a rough tumble for the hurler who, despite his misstep, still ranks among the best non-closing relief pitchers ever. He leads active hurlers with 823 career appearances and is 48th all-time in that category, one spot ahead of a starter, Nolan Ryan.

Dishonorable mention: Edgar Garcia (RP, Twins; 1 2/3 IP, 7 ER, 3 BB. 4 H, 1 WP).