Studs and duds: August 23 – August 29

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). There’s no stopping Salvy. After clobbering another home run last night—that’s five games in a row now, if anyone’s counting—Perez is up to 6 in the past week and 38 on the year. But dingers aren’t all he’s hitting. He’s hitting, period, with a .357/.455/1.000 line, 14 RBI and 6 runs scored over his last seven games. He even has 5 walks, accounting for one-quarter of his season’s total. At this point, all we can do is sit back and watch. If this train ever stops remains to be seen—and it doesn’t look like it will.

Honorable mention: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals; .323/.382/.710, 4 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI).

Urshela in the minor leagues—where his performance might one day land him again. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Looks like he’s still getting back into the groove of things. Urshela, who missed most of the past month with a hamstring strain, went 1-for-13 with 3 strikeouts and 2 errors in four games since his return.

In terms of production, the slump brings the infielder closer to the Urshela of old—this season, he has 11 home runs, 41 RBI, a .266 average and a 99 OPS+; from 2015 to 2018, he hit 8 dingers with 39 RBI, a .225 mark and a 57 OPS+.

If his downward trend continues, Urshela’s 2019-2020 run will prove to be an aberration, as his offense spiked to a combined .310/.358/.523 line with 27 home runs and 104 RBI over that stretch. Even in the minor leagues, he was never much of a hitter, holding a .275/.306/.400 line in 12 seasons there.

Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-14, 8 K).

Pitching stud: Dylan Cease (SP, White Sox). Dylan is back.

After cranking to the tune of a 2.41 ERA through his first 8 starts, then falling to a 4.82 mark over his next 17, the hurler has killed it of late. Over his past 13 innings, he allowed just 8 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 18 batters. His performance resulted in a 1.38 ERA, his best two-game mark of the year, and brings his 2021 line to 11-7 with a 3.82 ERA in a league-leading 27 starts. In 143 2/3 innings, he has 188 strikeouts, which is third in the American League.

Cease was acquired—with Eloy Jimenez, no less—in a 2017 deal with the Cubs for pitcher Jose Quintana. Quintana spent a few years with the Cubs, posting a 4.24 ERA in 439 2/3 frames. If Cease keeps pitching like this, he’ll give the Sox something they can rub in their crosstown rivals’ faces for a long time.

Daniel Bard‘s best years were with the Red Sox … a decade ago. (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Jose Berrios (SP, Blue Jays; 10 IP, 17 K, 1 W).

Pitching dud: Daniel Bard (RP, Rockies). Bard retains his crown from yesterday, as no pitcher has done worse than his 0-2, 43.20 line over the past week. Jake Petricka (1 IP, 5 ER), Lou Trivino (1 1/3 IP, 4 ER, 0-2 W-L) and Edgar Garcia (1 2/3 IP, 7 ER) were close, but none matched Daniel’s futility. The Bard had a mastery over the written word; this Bard, well, batters have a mastery over him.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 0-1, 1 BSV, 1 IP, 5 ER, 2 BB).

Studs and duds: August 22 – August 28

Salvador Perez has already topped his previous high of 27 home runs. (Wikipedia).

Salvador Perez’s power barrage continues and Sandy Alcantara shows he might be breaking out as one of the game’s top young stars.

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). Perez keeps cranking in what has been a historic season for the star catcher, as he hit another home run last night to bring him to 5 in the past week, 11 in August and 37 on the year. The slugger—more a slugger now than any time in his career—also has 12 RBI and 5 walks, giving him a .382 on-base percentage over the past seven days.

This power surge has been accompanied by a rise in production in other departments, as well.  He has already set career highs in runs scored (62, previous high: 57) and RBI (92, 80), and is on pace to best his previous mark in walks (not a great accomplishment, as he still might not break 30 for the year). His career slugging mark has jumped 11 points because of this season alone.

Honorable mention: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals; .387 BA, 4 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI).

Offensive dud: Jose Barrero (IF, Reds). Barrero reclaims his title, going 0-for-6 with 4 strikeouts and an error in a rough showing. The speedy middle infielder is young and still working out the kinks, but his future might be brighter than his recent performance suggests: Baseball America ranked him the number 79 prospect going into 2021, and the 23-year-old has hit over .300 in the minors this year. And that’s where the Reds just sent him, back to Triple A to get him some more conditioning.

Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-11, 7 K).

Shows how bad the Marlins are: In his All-Star 2019 season, Sandy Alcantara led the league with 14 losses. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins). If the Marlins have any reason to believe brighter days are ahead, Alcantara is it. The hurler tossed 14 innings his past two starts, posting a 1.93 ERA while allowing just 3 runs and 3 walks, and striking out 23 batters.  There’s something about that number 3. Outside of a terrible 10 run game on August 6, he hasn’t allowed more than 2 runs in an appearance since July 27, and has a 1.24 mark since that rough outing.

Still only 25 years old, Alcantara already has an All-Star selection under his belt and owns a career 118 ERA+—and he has yet to reach his prime. The Marlins acquired him with three other decent names in a deal with St. Louis, surrendering only outfielder Marcell Ozuna to get them. Ozuna had two ho-hum seasons with the Cardinals; Alcantara is making the transaction look like a steal for Miami.

Honorable mention: Adam Wainwright (SP, Cardinals; 2-0 W-L, 15 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB).

Pitching dud: Daniel Bard (RP, Rockies). Bard returned to the majors last year after not pitching there since 2013, and in that stunted campaign with Colorado, he did pretty well. In 23 appearances, he posted a 3.65 ERA and 143 ERA+—shades of his glory days with Boston, when he had a 2.88 mark in 192 games from 2009 to 2011. He had an All-Star worthy 2010, posting a 1.93 ERA and 227 ERA+ in 73 games.

Well, this year, things have not been so sunny. His season-long struggles, which saw his ERA hover into the mid-4s as recently as August 16, culminated in an atrocious line of 1 2/3 innings pitched and 8 earned runs allowed—that’s an ERA of 43.20—over the past week. He blew a save, lost two games and saw his season ERA rise nearly a point, to 5.61. Over his last four appearances, he surrendered less than 2 earned runs just once and didn’t manage a single out in his last go-round against the Dodgers on August 28. It was nice having you back, Daniel, I hope you enjoyed your stay—because it won’t be too much longer.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 1 IP, 5 ER, 1 L, 1 BSV, 45.00 ERA).