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).

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).