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 Baseball-Reference.com’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).