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).

Article from the archives—Former top prospect Chris Lubanski: Forgotten first rounder now toiling in indy ball

Chris Lubanski hasn’t played professionally since 2011. This piece is from that year.

***

Eight years ago, in 2003, the Kansas City Royals drafted a highly-touted outfielder out of Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic High School in Norristown, Pennsylvania named Chris Lubanski.

Nearly a decade later, that once top-prospect is still toiling in the minor leagues, though he is no longer on any affiliated team—rather, he is exhibiting his craft with the Chico Outlaws of the independent North American League.

It would be unfair to say that Lubanski fizzled in the minors like so many prospects do. In his first professional season, 2003, he hit .326 and in 2005, he slugged 28 home runs while driving 116 runners home. As recently as 2007, he was named the fourth-best prospect in the Royals farm system by Baseball America.

In 2007, he hit .259 with 15 home runs for two teams—not awful as a whole, but he hit just .208 in 49 games for the Royals Triple-A club in Omaha.

The following season, his struggles continued at the highest level of minor league baseball, as he hit only .242. In 2009, he hit .272 overall … but only .227 at Omaha.

But you said he didn’t fizzle, you’re thinking. Well, he really didn’t.

In fact, in 2010 he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and spent the entire season with their Triple-A team, the Las Vegas 51s. That year, he hit .293 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI in only 100 games. He finished third on the team in home runs, behind Brett Wallace’s 18 and J.P. Arencibia’s 32.

2010 was a career renaissance for Lubanski, who had, from 2007 to 2009, seemingly lost his way. But, unfortunately, bad news and bad luck followed Lubanski after his comeback year.

He became a free agent following the season, was signed to a minor league contract by the Florida Marlins and—despite his resurgent 2010—was released before the 2011 season began. And no new major league team came knocking.

Lubanski was never a bad player. He showed plus speed and plus power at all minor league levels and, as proven by his 2010 season, showed that he could bounce back well from extended struggles.

And yet, that call from the big league club never came. He fell victim to a curse that befalls too many minor leaguers: Though he performed well at the lower levels, he faded when it really, really counted. And when he got his career back on track, it was too little, too late.

So today, Lubanski no longer plays in any major league organization. Today, he plays for an independent team, the Chico Outlaws, with whom he is hitting .284 with two home runs in 24 games.

And that call to the majors that this former top prospect was sure to receive at some point, eventually, one year, becomes more and more distant, and more and more of just a dream.

***

Lubanski was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in August 2011 and spent 19 games with their Double-A club. He hit .189 to end his professional career.

Fly-by-nighters: Relievers who had one great season, part two—Eddie Yuhas.

Eddie Yuhas began his professional career in the Yankees system in 1942, a 17-year-old youngster clearly overmatched that first campaign.

Pitching for the Fond du Lac Panthers of the Wisconsin State League, he made 19 appearances, going 5-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 134 innings. He didn’t give up many hits – just 104 – but walks were his downfall, as he surrendered 123, or about one per frame, on average.

His nation called upon him in 1943 to serve in World War II, and he remained in the Army until 1946. Returning to the ballfield as a Cardinals farmhand in 1947, he spent most of 1948 and all of 1949 to 1951 in Triple A, as a starter.

The Redbirds finally gave him his chance at the big league level in 1952, using the 27-year-old rookie as part of a dominant bullpen duo alongside Al Brazle. Brazle, for his part, won 12 games and led the league with 16 saves, but he was a 38-year-old veteran, so success was expected.

Yuhas, fresh from the farm, went 12-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 54 games; his six saves were seventh in the National League, and his 54 appearances ranked third. He even made two starts, allowing just two runs in 7 1/3 innings for the win against Pittsburgh in his first try. Take two was much worse: He lasted just 1/3 of an inning against the Boston Braves, surrendering six earned runs.

But from that point on, he was the pinnacle of dominance – over his next 75 innings, he was 10-0 with a 1.68 ERA, with opponents batting just .227 against him. So great was his performance, he received Most Valuable Player support, sparse as it was (he finished 31st in the voting).

With fellow rookie Stu Miller (6-3, 2.05 ERA) dominating in the rotation and Stan Musial the perpetual anchor of the offense, Yuhas was poised to be part of a team built for excellence. But it wasn’t to be. He developed tendonitis in his shoulder the next year, made just two more appearances (posting an ERA of 18.00) and was gone from professional baseball for good.

And the Cardinals – well, by 1954, they had a losing record and didn’t finish above .500 again until 1957.

Fun facts: Ted WilliamsJoe DiMaggio and Eddie Yuhas are the only three players to receive MVP votes in all but one of their big league seasons. He also holds the major league record for most consecutive wins to end a career, with 10.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, August 20, 2021.

Max Scherzer is a future Hall of Famer. (Wikipedia).

Scherzer 3000 K watch: It’s time to start the countdown to 3,000 Ks for Max Scherzer. He has 2,954 for his career and is just 46 away. Four great starts might get him there, which will all but lock in his Hall of Fame chances. Zack Greinke is getting close, too, but is still a year or two away.

Cabrera is aggravating: As we wait for Miguel Cabrera to finally mash home run number 500 (he’s been sitting at 499 since August 11), one must ask how much sooner he would have reached the mark, and where he would be now, if his offense—and health—hadn’t cratered in 2017. Same with 3,000 hits, he could have joined that pantheon of greats years ago, but he’s still nearly 50 away. He’s never fully recovered from his swoon and that’s aggravating. He’s becoming a what could have been player. Though he’s still going to be an all-time great, a Hall of Famer, he could have been a legend.

Watch DJ Peters: The rookie has struggled to a .175 average this year, but brighter days might be ahead. His average was unimpressive, but over the past week he’s slugged 3 home runs with 7 RBI. He hit as many as 29 homers in the minors.

Zavala watch: I mentioned White Sox catcher Seby Zavala yesterday and decided to check in again. He was 0-for-3 yesterday but has still been the club’s best catcher over the past month (4 HR, 13 RBI).

Mitch White earned the win in his most recent appearance. (Wikipedia).

White got the short end of the stick: To make roster space for pitcher Victor Gonzalez, the Dodgers demoted Mitch White to the minor leagues. Someone had to go, but it’s tough to see White—who’s posted a 3.06 ERA and averaged nearly a strikeout per inning this year—be the one … especially since he’s coming off a 2 hit, 6 strikeout, 7 1/3 inning performance.

Lopez is putting it all together: Reynaldo Lopez has been stellar for the White Sox this year, going 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA in 11 games (3 starts). In 25 innings he’s Ked 26 batters and allowed just 11 hits. Over the past month, his ERA is 0.90. It’s a small sample size, so it might not last, but still … not bad for a guy whose career mark was 4.77 before this year.

Betts—leadoff home run king? What are the odds of Mookie Betts eventually overtaking Rickey Henderson for most career leadoff home runs? He has 28 for his career and 6 this year. Henderson hit 81, so he’s still a bit off in the distance.

Todd Helton hit .316 with 369 home runs over 17 seasons. (Wikipedia).

Happy birthday Helton: It’s former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton’s birthday today. The greatest gift of all would be a belated one—an election to the Hall of Fame. It’s coming, Todd, just be patient.

Drake passes away: Outfielder Solly Drake, who spent two years in the majors in the 1950s, has died at 90 years old. He was a member of the World Series-winning 1959 Dodgers, which now has 11 surviving members. His brother, Sammy, played in the majors in the early ‘60s.

Yamamoto’s rehabbing: The Mets sent Jordan Yamamoto on a rehab assignment. Sorry, New York, Jordan’s not going to save your crashing season.

Sanit made it: Amaury Sanit, remember him? He pitched for the Yankees in 2011 and had to overcome all odds to get there. First, he defected from Cuba. Then he struggled his way through the Yankees farm system—and it was a struggle, as he posted a 6.35 ERA in 2010.  That year, he hurt his own cause by using performance enhancing drugs and earning a 50-game suspension. Such an event would be a career-ender for most minor leaguers his age. But he kept going, and in 2011, the 31-year-old reached the major leagues.

Ayce in the hole: Some parents are really big into using alternative spellings when naming their babies, and some love to use the letter y. Former Dodger Trayce Thompson’s brothers Klay and Mychel have NBA experience, as does their father, Mychal (note the slight difference in spelling). And remember brothers Laynce and Jayson Nix?

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.

Worst trades in Mets history, #3: Jeff Keppinger for Ruben Gotay

Ruben Gotay spent just one year in New York. (Wikipedia)

Not many players have been on both sides of bad trades in Mets history, but Jeff Keppinger was.

By July 19, 2006, New York was running away with the National League East. The team was firing on all cylinders, but anything can happen in the second half of the season. It was still necessary to bolster the ranks—and, to do so, Keppinger was found expendable. He was shipped to the Royals for 23-year-old prospect Ruben Gotay.

A 26-year-old utility infielder for a decent prospect. Sounded like a decent move.

Except Gotay didn’t play for New York at all in 2006, after spending 86 games with Kansas City the year before. He spent the whole season at Triple A, batting .265 with 12 home runs and 64 RBI.

And when he did arrive in New York, Gotay proved to be a temporary lodger. He was a serviceable utility player in 2007, and had the best year of his big league career, slashing .290/.351/.421.

But that was it. Whether the Mets should have brought him back for another campaign is up for debate—I, for one, think they should have—but they didn’t. He went to the Braves, struggled, and was out of the majors after 2008.

Jeff Keppinger forged a nine-year career in the majors. (Wikipedia)

As for Keppinger.

He didn’t have home run power or drive in many runs, but the defensively versatile utilityman hit for average, had decent extra base prowess (career high 34 doubles in 2010) and could play all over the field. He was one of the hardest batsmen to strike out, leading the National League in at-bats-per-strikeout ratio in 2008 and 2010.

While Gotay was one-and-done in New York, Keppinger forged a nine-year big league career. He earned significant starting time for much of it and batted as high as .332, with another season of .325. Though he never stuck with any one team for more than a couple seasons—he was traded three more times after 2006—Keppinger proved to be a valuable asset wherever he went.

But this deal wasn’t even the most egregious involving Keppinger and the Mets. A couple years earlier, on July 30, 2004, he was traded from Pittsburgh as part of the return package for future star outfielder Jose Bautista and 2010 All-Star Ty Wigginton.

His departure from the Mets was a bad one. But the conditions of his of arrival made that pretty horrid, too.

But that’s an article for another time.

Fly-by-nighters: Relievers who had one great season, part one—Lee Gardner.

Lee Gardner toiled long and hard in the minor leagues and earned his time in the spotlight – though it lasted only one season.

Never drafted, he was signed by the Devil Rays as a free agent in 1998 and began the slog through their system. He had an impressive debut his first professional campaign, striking out 57 batters to just five walks in 39 2/3 innings – but that’s what happens when you’re a year older than the average player in your league.

By 2000, he was in Triple A, and by 2002 he was in the major leagues. In 12 appearances, the 27-year-old went 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA. Certainly not a bad cup of coffee, but one not unlike hundreds and hundreds before him.

Back at Triple A in 2003 and 2004, the pitcher saw only middling success, averaging more than a hit allowed per inning, while losing 10 games and surrendering 17 home runs in just 133 1/3 frames.

He returned to the Devil Rays briefly in 2005 and had another ho-hum line of five appearances and a 4.91 ERA. His June 11 appearance was particularly notable. In a blowout against the Pirates that saw Pittsburgh win 18-2, Gardner tossed the last two frames and surrendered only one earned run. On its face a decent appearance, but looks can be deceiving.

In a disastrous bottom of the 8th inning, he allowed a single to catcher Humberto Cota, before batter Tike Redman reached on an error. That set into motion the follow series of events: Groundout, single, single, triple, single, walk, all in a row. Five runs scored, but none were earned, giving him the unsavory line of two innings pitched, seven hits, one walk and six runs allowed.

Suffice it to say, to that point, nothing suggested major league success was in the offing.

After moving to the Tigers system in 2006, he had a solid season at Triple A (30 saves, 2.92 ERA), but that wasn’t enough for Detroit to keep him around. And, for Gardner, at least, that was the best decision a big league club ever made.

Latching on with the Marlins for 2007, he spent only nine games on the farm – and 62 with the big club. Over the final three months of the season, he had a 0.79 ERA and batters managed a meager .216 mark against him; he posted a 1.94 mark for the year.

While the pitching staff crumbled around him – former star hurler Dontrelle Willis was 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA, Scott Olsen lost 15 games with a 5.81 mark, five pitchers had ERAs over 10 – Gardner was steady and reliable from beginning to end. And the end, overall, was unfortunately very near. After just 10 appearances and a 10.80 ERA with Florida in 2008, his professional career was over. He retired after the 2008 campaign.

Fun facts: Gardner was inducted into the International League Hall of Fame in 2017, alongside longtime Indianapolis Indians general manager Max Schumacher. He had 107 saves over part or all of six seasons in the league. He is also the only major leaguer born in Hartland, Michigan.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, August 19, 2021.

Clayton Kershaw hasn’t started more than 30 games since 2015. (Wikipedia)

Kershaw’s greatness is past: Clayton Kershaw remains one of the greatest pitchers of the past fifty years—but Kershaw the superhuman is no more. Granted, pound for pound he’s still among the best in the game, when he pitches. But he hasn’t tossed more than 180 innings in a season since 2015 and has averaged just 138 innings in the six succeeding campaigns. To be among the best, a player has to play. And Kershaw hasn’t done enough of that in recent years.

Chirinos is killing it: Catcher Robinson Chirinos, a career .232 batter, is hitting the cover off the ball. Over the past week, he’s slashed .471/.591/.824 with 3 doubles and a home run. On the year, he has a stellar 166 OPS+.

Giving Zavala some love, too: Catcher Seby Zavala isn’t a household name, and his 2021 season likely won’t make him one, but give credit where credit is due. Over the past month, he’s hit 4 home runs with 13 RBI and scored 12 runs on just 11 hits. The White Sox other catching options, Zack Collins and Yasmani Grandal, have disappointed—but Zavala is cranking along.

Littell is making a name for himself: Reliever Zack Littell is one of the reasons the Giants’ pitching staff is among the best in the league. He has a 2.74 ERA in 44 appearances this year, and didn’t allow a run, while striking out 10 batters, in a recent 6 game, 8 2/3 inning stretch. Two years ago, with Minnesota, he had a 2.68 ERA in 29 games.

Head-ing for greatness? Maybe not, but Rays reliever Louis Head has been an unsung hero on that first place club. In 19 appearances this year, he has a 2.49 ERA; this past month, he’s averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

Fargas designated for assignment: Johneshwy Fargas, who the Mets let walk earlier this year, has been DFA’d by the Cubs. Here’s hoping a return to New York is imminent—he hit .286 in his brief showing with the Mets and has stolen 50-plus bags in the minors twice. He could be an asset.

Parra reaches 1, 500 games played: While Joey Votto was stealing the spotlight with his 2,000th career hit, Nationals outfielder Gerardo Parra recently reached 1,500 games played. Cesar Hernandez passed 1,000 this past week, as well.

Milestones galore: Bryce Harper recently blasted his 250th home run, Jose Ramirez eclipsed 500 RBI, Marcus Semien knocked his 200th double, Elvis Andrus reached 50 triples, Freddie Freeman drew his 100th intentional walk (and J.D. Martinez reached 50), Nolan Arenado and Jean Segura passed 5,000 plate appearances and Yadier Molina reached 3,000 total bases.

Jumbo Diaz averaged more than a strikeout per inning for his career. (Wikipedia)

Jumbo earned the nickname: Remember Reds reliever Jumbo Diaz? At the end of 2013, he weighed an astonishing 348 pounds! He managed to drop nearly 70 pounds for 2014, quite an impressive feat. But still, during his time in the majors, he had a listed playing weight of 315.

Moye is a cautionary tale: I’m sure few people remember him, but Andy Moye is a cautionary tale for players drafted by big league clubs. The starting pitcher was taken by the New York Mets in the 11th round of the 2006 draft, but did not sign a contract. Bad choice. His stock fell so much that the next time he was drafted, 2009, it was in the 50th round — the very last round in the draft. He was the seventh to last player taken overall. Ouch. He forged a four-year pro career, but never advanced beyond Double-A.

Garritano dies: I don’t want this to become a death blog, but the baseball fraternity lost another member just a couple weeks ago.  Catcher Arnie Garritano never played professionally, but was drafted by the Tigers in 1983. He died August 8 at 57 years old.

Bill Freehan, who made 11 All-Star Games, has passed away

Bill Freehan, an 11-time All-Star catcher with the Detroit Tigers in the 1960s and 1970s, has passed away at 79.

He was the premier catcher of the Second Dead Ball Era, which ran from about 1964 to 1972, and was one of the best of his generation.

The 15-year veteran slugged 200 home runs, including 20 or more in a season three times, and ranked second behind only Johnny Bench among catchers of the 1960s and 1970s in that category.

Indeed, it is difficult to think of a better backstop not named Bench from that two-decade span. Ted Simmons was excellent and so was Gene Tenace. Tim McCarver could hold his own and even Jim Sundberg was beginning to make a name for himself.

But none of them, save for Bench, matched Freehan.

The voters knew it. They selected him to 11 All-Star Games, including 10 in a row, among the most of any player not in the Hall of Fame. And the writers, they were privy to his greatness. They awarded him five Gold Gloves for his defensive acumen—and they were well-earned. He led league catchers in putouts six times and fielding percentage thrice.

At the time of his retirement, he ranked among catching greats—legends, even—in almost all statistical categories. He was just two behind Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey in home runs and was a full ten ahead of Cooperstowner Ernie Lombardi. He ranked just behind Mickey Cochrane in total hits and just ahead of Roy Campanella in walks.

But he wasn’t just great in aggregate.

There was the 1968 World Series. Freehan didn’t contribute much in the actual Fall Classic—just 2 hits and 4 walks—but his regular season propelled them to that point.

Behind Willie Horton, he was the team’s superstar. His 25 dingers tied for second on the club, as did his 24 doubles. He had 84 RBI—good for second on the team—and his .366 on-base percentage finished behind only Al Kaline’s .392.  

A few years later, Freehan helped the Tigers to the American League Championship Series. Though the 30-year-old played just 111 games that year, his presence was felt in the postseason. It was a losing effort against the Yankees, but Number 11 did his part. He slugged a home run and knocked a double. He had 3 RBI.

As the seasons passed, wearing the tools of ignorance began to take its toll. Few did it as long as he did. His offense began to slip and, despite still showing flashes of his former greatness, he retired after the 1976 season.

Cooperstown awaited.

But the voters gave him hardly a look.

Perhaps they can be forgiven. In his only year on the ballot, 1982, he was competing with 14 future Hall of Famers for votes. They included Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew. Juan Marichal and Don Drysdale ranked among them, too. And don’t forget the players who never made the Hall, like Gil Hodges, who were garnering significant support, as well. It’s easy to be crowded out in such a field.

But what cannot be forgiven is the cold shoulder the writers gave Freehan. He didn’t earn a handful of votes and another look in 1983. Rather, he appeared on just a couple ballots, less than one percent of the total, and was swept into the dustbin of history.

This catcher who made more All-Star Games than Torre, Lombardi and Simmons, Hall of Famers all, this catcher who won more Gold Gloves than Carter and Piazza and Fisk was given a couple pity votes and then shooed away.

It’s an injustice.

But one, perhaps, that might soon be corrected. The Hall of Fame has a knack for inducting individuals only after they pass away. It happened to Ron Santo. It happened to Marvin Miller, Nellie Fox and Leo Durocher.

And for the sake of all that is holy,

It’d better happen to Bill Freehan, as well.

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!