Studs and duds: August 17 – August 23

Ty France began his career with San Diego in 2019. (Wikipedia).

This is one of the few times France is a winner.

Offensive stud: Ty France (IF, Mariners). Just a couple days after ending a five-game hitting streak, France started another. This one, so far, is up to six games, giving the slugger a .393 batting average over the past week. Among his 11 hits, he’s tallied 4 home runs and a double; he’s driven 8 runs home and scored 7 himself. In recent months, France has been surging, batting .361 in August, .319 in July and .319 since his season reached its low-point on May 13, when his batting mark dropped to .213. He didn’t make the All-Star team, but it’s been an All-Star recovery for the 26-year-old who was drafted by the Padres way down in the 34th round in 2015. By 2019, he was hitting .399 with 27 home runs at Triple A.

Honorable mention: Christian Yelich (OF, Brewers; .360 BA, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 5 R, 1 grand slam).

Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). This is getting boring, Gavin. Can’t you do anything to get yourself out of here? I’m trying to find a reason not to do this to you, but why shouldn’t I put you here when the Dodgers think you’re so bad, they can’t even find a reason to put you on the field?

Dishonorable mention: Rodolfo Castro (IF, Pirates; 1-for-9, 3 K, 1 E).

Pitching stud: Logan Webb (SP, Giant). Webb is back on top again. The 24-year-old tossed 13 1/3 innings over the past seven days, allowing just 3 earned runs for a 2.03 ERA. He had 15 strikeouts to just 2 walks and held batters to a middling .280 on-base percentage. Through his seventh start on May 5, he was 1-3 with a 5.34 ERA; since then, he’s gone 6-0 with a 1.63 ERA. In 66 1/3 frames, he’s Ked 72 batters and they’ve hit just .198 against him. Typically, the script is flipped for Webb—he usually gets off to hot starts before eventually slumping. In 2019, he had a 3.52 ERA in his first three starts, but posted a 6.29 mark the rest of the way. In 2020, he had a 2.81 ERA in his first four appearances and a 6.57 mark over his final nine.

Honorable mention: Vladimir Gutierrez (SP, Reds; 1 W, 2.03 ERA, 15 K, 2 BB, 13 1/3 IP) … a near-identical line to Webb, but Gutierrez also took a loss.

Ramirez was selected off waivers by the Diamondbacks on May 22. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Noe Ramirez (RP, Diamondbacks). On August 20, Ramirez returned to the majors after nearly a month away and it hasn’t been pretty. In 2 1/3 innings over 3 appearances, he’s allowed 4 walks, 2 hits and 3 earned runs for an 11.57 ERA. On August 21, he blew a save. It sullies what once was a decent season, as his ERA was 2.95 as late as July 20. Not anymore—it’s up to 3.92, which is more in line with his career mark of 4.16. Prior to 2021, the Angels traded Ramirez to the Reds for closer Raisel Iglesias, who this year has 27 saves, a league-leading 46 games finished and a K/9 ratio of nearly 14. Cincinnati released Ramirez before the season even began. You can tell who got the better of that deal (especially since Los Angeles later re-signed Ramirez!).

Dishonorable mention: Alex Colome (RP, Twins; 1 G, 1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 18.00 ERA, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: August 16 – August 22

Spoiler alert: Gavin Lux is back.

Naquin was originally drafted by the Indians. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Tyler Naquin (OF, Reds). Tyler, Tyler, Tyler. We’ve been waiting for you to show up. Naquin was hitting in the low-.240s as recently as early August, but is currently riding a 12-game hitting streak and batting .500/.552/1.154 over the past week. In 26 at-bats, he has 4 home runs, 3 doubles, a triple, 9 runs scored and 9 RBI. He’s a free swinger, averaging over 130 strikeouts per 162 games, but he’s whiffed just twice during his hot streak. It’s about time. Naquin was the 15th overall pick in 2012, but didn’t arrive in the major leagues until 2016, when he was 25. Since then, he’s been merely average with a  career 101 OPS+ and a ho-hum .326 on-base percentage. But this has been a breakout campaign for the 30-year-old outfielder, as he’s slugged 18 home runs with 66 RBI. Better late than never.

Honorable mention: Brandon Lowe (2B, Rays; .346/.452/.846, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 9 R, 4 BB).

Gavin, after seeing he’s the dud again. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). After a day’s reprieve, Gavin Lux is back on top (er—at the bottom?) as the Dud of the Week. Nothing’s changed for him—he’s still riding an 0-for-6 line with 2 errors over the past seven days—but that performance was so lackluster, no one has yet to match it. When calculating my complex mathematical formulae in determining offensive studs and duds, I take defensive output into account and errors hurt. (Offensive refers to the fact that a player’s primary contribution is offensive, as opposed to pitching; it’s less clunky than saying “non-pitching stud”),

Dishonorable mention: Johneshwy Fargas (OF, Cubs; 0-for-3, 3 Ks).

Dishonorable mention #2: Jarred Kelenic (OF, Mariners: 0-for-16, 7 K). But hey, at least he managed 14 putouts. That’s … uh … something.

Pitching stud: Gerrit Cole (SP, Yankees). After a rough July in which he had a 4.71 ERA in 5 starts, Cole is back on track. In his past 11 2/3 innings, he allowed just 1 run on 9 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 15 batters. Winning both his starts, he held hitters to an anemic .256 slugging percentage. The Cy Young Award has been elusive for Cole, as his best performance in voting was second place in 2019, but he’s in the running again this year. He leads the league in strikeouts, wins, complete games and WHIP, and he has the best K/9 and K/BB ratios. One of the most adept strikeout artists in the game, he had 276 in 2018 and a league-leading 326 the next year.

Honorable mention: Logan Webb (SP, Giants; 2-0 W-L, 2.03 ERA, 13 1/3 IP, 15 K, 2 BB).

Pitching dud: Brad Hand (RP, Blue Jays). Gotta hand it to you, Brotato, your best skill at this point might be handing games to your opponents, and you do it quite handily. In two appearances over the past week, Hand blew a save, took a loss and allowed 3 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. With an ERA of 3.99, this whole season has been a rough go of it for the reliever. Last year’s saves leader in that stunted campaign, he had a 2.70 mark in 306 games from 2016 to 2020—since his late July trade to the Blue Jays, his ERA has been 6.43.

Dishonorable mention: Alex Colome (RP, Twins; 2 G, 1 BSV, 2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 9.00 ERA).

Studs and duds: August 14 – August 20

The week of August 14 to August 20 saw many hot performances from the likes of Freddie Freeman, Luke Voit, Max Fried and Nestor Cortes. Were any of them good enough to earn their man the title of Stud? Let’s see …

Freddie Freeman is leading the league with 90 runs and 235 total bases. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Freddie Freeman (1B, Braves). Freeman narrowly edges Max Muncy, going 14-for-26 with 3 home runs, 7 RBI and 8 runs scored in the past week. His slash line of .538/.600/1.038 and OPS of 1.638 are a big reason the Braves are surging right now—they’re now 10 games over .500 and 4 games up in the National League East. For Freeman’s part, his run brings his season average to .300—not too shabby, considering it was in the .220s in June.

Honorable mention: Max Muncy (IF, Dodgers; .318/.423/1.045 BA/OBP/SLG, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 8 R).

Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). Now we’re just piling on. He’s held this title for four straight days. It doesn’t help that Los Angeles isn’t playing him, but that’s part of the reason he’s still here. His performance (0-for-6, 2 E) was so anemic, the Dodgers are afraid to put him on the field.

Dishonorable mention: Anthony Santander (OF, Orioles; 1-for-20, 10 K).

Pitching stud: Max Fried (SP, Braves). All the Braves stars are cranking right now. Like Freeman above, Fried started out the season poorly, posting a 6.55 ERA through his first five starts and into July, his ERA was 4.71. But that’s all in the past now: Last night, Fried tossed a complete game shutout and has allowed just 1 run and no walks over his past 15 innings. When Fried pitches, the Braves win—since 2019, he’s 35-13, a .729 winning percentage. Last year, he didn’t lose a single start, going 7-0 and finishing 5th in Cy Young voting.

Jorge Lopez should get used to wearing that minor league uniform again. (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Walker Buehler (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 14 2/3 IP, 18 K, 3 BB).

Pitching dud: Jorge Lopez (SP, Orioles). Lopez holds an 18.56 ERA over the past week, so it’ll be difficult for him to shed this title. In 5 2/3 innings, he surrendered 11 runs on 13 hits and 4 walks—but on the bright side (?) only two of those hits were home runs. Since late July, his ERA is 8.84.

Dishonorable mention: Adam Ottavino (RP, Red Sox; 1 1/3 IP, 3 BB, 2 WP, 1 HBP, 6.75 ERA).

Studs and duds: August 13 – August 19

It’s graduation day for yesterday’s Offensive Honorable Mention, Max Muncy—now he’s the Stud for the week of August 13 to August 19. Let’s see who else took baseball by storm, and who totally flopped, this past week.

Max Muncy hit 5 home runs in the past week. (Wikipedia)

Offensive stud: Max Muncy (IF, Dodgers). Since his breakout campaign in 2018, Muncy has been one of the hottest sluggers in the league, averaging 40 home runs and 102 RBI per 162 games. Fantasy enthusiasts love him for that reason, and because he knows how to draw a walk—his on-base percentage is .404 this year. This past week encapsulates just how great a player Muncy is. Even with an 0-for-4 showing yesterday, he still slashed .348/.444/1.043 with 5 home runs, 10 RBI and 9 runs scored (he has one more run than total hits!). His OPS is a deadly 1.488. Numbers like that make opposing pitchers quake in their cleats.

Honorable mention: Freddie Freeman (1B, Braves; .586 BA, 1.000 SLG, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R).

Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). Lux retains his title for the third straight day. It’s been so bad he sat last night, just a few days after coming off the Injured List. What really kills him is the couple errors he committed his first game back. Not a good showing.

Dishonorable mention: Anthony Santander (OF, Orioles; 2-for-23, 11 K) … but at least he’s managed a couple hits!

Charlie Morton has been one of the best pitchers in the game. (Wikipedia)

Pitching stud: Charlie Morton (SP, Braves). Morton graduated to Stud, as well, after being yesterday’s honorable mention. The hurler twirled two quality starts for Atlanta, striking out 16 batters while allowing just 9 hits and 3 walks. He won both games. Morton’s ascendance to greatness is truly stunning, as he was nothing more than middling through his age-32 season (45-71 W-L, 4.54 ERA). Since then, he’s gone 59-22 with a 3.37 ERA and 10.6 K/9 IP ratio—good enough to earn him a couple All-Star selections and a third place finish in the 2019 American League Cy Young vote.

Honorable mention: Jack Flaherty (SP, Cardinals; 2 G, 12 IP, 13 K, 1 BB, 6 H, 1 W).

Pitching dud: Jorge Lopez (SP, Orioles). Okay, Jorge. You had your chance. You tanked a couple starts ago and that really dragged you down. But yesterday was the time for redemption. You (miraculously) got another start! You could have shown the world that your past failings (all six years of them) were just a blip! So what do you do? Of course, you last just 2 innings this time, give up 4 runs and drill another batter. You know your ERA is 18.56 over your past two starts, right?

Dishonorable mention: Dan Winkler (RP, Cubs; 0.1 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 9 ER). He’s earned this spot two days in a row, but he had a very rough go of it.

Studs and duds: August 12 – August 18

In terms of performance, the top batters and pitchers cooled off a little bit since the last writing, but there were still some excellent showings in the week of August 12 to August 18.

Dansby Swanson is finally living up to his first round billing. (Wikipedia)

Offensive stud: Dansby Swanson (SS, Braves). It’s been a rocky road getting to this point for Swanson, as he was hitting below .250 as recently as August 3 … and for his career, prior to 2021. If this past week was any indication, however, it looks like the former number one overall pick is turning a corner. In 31 at-bats, he collected 13 hits for a .419 average, with 4 of his knocks going over the fence. Not much of a slugger prior to 2021, his slugging percentage of .806 in this recent hot streak was downright Ruthian. To this day, the Diamondbacks brass must be kicking themselves for trading him away (how’s Shelby Miller working out for ya?).

Honorable mention: Max Muncy (IF, Dodgers; .364 BA, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB).

Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). Lux retains his title as Dudliest Dud, making Los Angeles fans cringe with his 0-for-6 showing and 2 errors since coming off the Injured List a few days ago. His shuffling return reminds fans of how underwhelming the 2016 first round pick has been since joining the big club three years ago, as he’s hit just .218 in 126 games.

Dishonorable mention: Ramon Urias (IF, Orioles; 1-for-14, 6 K, 2 E). The only thing saving him from the title is a slightly more impressive defensive performance. 

Pitching stud: Logan Webb (SP, Giants). After earning the honorable mention yesterday, Webb ascends to this week’s pitching stud. Winning both of his starts, Webb tossed 13 1/3 innings, striking out 16 batters and walking just 3. He’s finally put it all together this year, maintaining a pitching line of 7-3, 2.92 after going just 5-9, 5.36 the prior two seasons. He’s among the best on a pitching staff that’s won 78 games and features Cy Young candidate Kevin Gausman.

Honorable mention: Charlie Morton (SP, Braves; 2-0 W-L, 12 IP, 16 K, 3 BB, 2 QS).

Pitching dud: Jorge Lopez (SP, Orioles). As with Lux above, Lopez retains his title, with his 3 1/3 inning, 7 run performance a few days ago so abhorrent no pitcher has stepped up to match it. He’s starting today — let’s see if he can twirl a gem and pull himself out of such mediocrity. I’m not hopeful. He’s never completed a game, but he’s allowed 5 or more runs 17 times — including 6 times this season.

Dishonorable mention: Dan Winkler (RP, Cubs; 0.1 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 9 ER). … and he didn’t even take the loss!