Studs and duds: August 19 – August 25

Whit Merrifield leads the American League in stolen bases since he debuted in 2016. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals). Merrifield has been cranking this past week, hitting .364 with 7 runs scored, 8 RBI and 3 stolen bases in 33 at-bats. Though he’s not much of slugger, he clobbered a grand slam last night against the Astros and is slugging .576 since August 19. An All-Star for the second time this season, Merrifield has compiled his share of black ink in a short, six-year career. He’s leading the league in games, at-bats and stolen bases this year and led each category twice before. He has also led the league in hits twice and triples once—not bad for a guy who didn’t debut until he was 27.

Honorable mention: Ty France (3B Mariners; .423 BA, .923 SLG, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R).

Offensive dud: Jose Barrero (SS, Reds). Having jumped from Single A to the majors in 2020, Barrero struggled in his first big league go-round by batting .194 in 24 games. Take two hasn’t been much better, as the 23-year-old has just 2 hits in 9 at-bats this year. Over the past week, he’s gone 0-for-5 with 2 strikeouts and an error, but there is good news: He batted .303/.378/.532 in the minors this year, including a .305/.389/.584 line in 40 games at Triple A. Barrero was formerly Jose Garcia, but changed his name in May in honor of his mother, who passed away.

Dishonorable mention: Isan Diaz (2B, Marlins; 1-for-14, 8 K).

Robbie Ray averaged 209 strikeouts per year from 2016 to 2019, with a high of 235 in 2019. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). Ray is leading the American League with 192 strikeouts this season, and is second in the majors behind Zack Wheeler’s 204. And if his last two starts are any indication, it is easy to see why. On August 20, he Ked 11 Tigers in 8 innings, then, on August 25, he added 14 more strikeouts to his ledger in 7 innings against the White Sox. That’s 25 Ks in 15 innings, to go along with a 1.20 ERA and just 1 walk allowed over the past week. After starting his season with a 3.81 mark through May, Ray has been lights-out since—from June 1 on, he is 7-3 with a 2.15 ERA in 16 starts. In 100 1/3 innings, he has 132 Ks to just 25 walks and 73 hits allowed. He’s in the running for the Cy Young Award according to ESPN’s Cy Predictor. It’ll be hard to ignore him if he keeps pitching like this.

Honorable mention: Walker Buehler (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 14 1/3 IP, 16 K, 1 BB, 1.26 ERA, .173 OBA).

Pitching dud: Noe Ramirez (RP, Diamondbacks). The issue with guys who are struggling is teams find it difficult to play them, so it is hard for them to recover and pull themselves away from this inglorious dishonor. And so it goes for Noe Ramirez, who—for the third straight day—is the Pitching Dud. Nothing has changed about his line from days past, but, at the same time, no one has performed any worse. Upon seeing he was named Dud of the Week yet again, I can only assume he responded with one thing: Oh noe.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 ER, 1 BSV, 54.00 ERA).

Studs and duds: August 18 – August 24

Offensive stud: Ty France (3B, Mariners). France retains his title after adding another hit to his ledger yesterday and extending what is now a seven-game hitting streak. During the past week, he’s hit .400 with 4 home runs, 7 RBI and 7 runs scored, while slugging .833. He hammered out two 3 hit performances in a row, on August 19 and August 20 against Houston and Texas, respectively. He’s had 3-plus hits 11 times this season.

Honorable mention: Tyler Naquin (CF, Reds; .500/.542/1.273, 4 HR, 4 RBI, 9 R). He’s riding a 13-game hitting streak.

Palacios batted .330 his first pro season. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Jahmai Jones (2B, Orioles). After hitting .429 in a 3-game cup of coffee last season, Jones returned to the big leagues with a thud this year to the tune of an 0-for-4 performance with 3 strikeouts and an error his first game back. The middle infielder, the Angels’ second round pick in 2015, is in his first season in the Orioles system after being traded to Baltimore in February for pitcher Alex Cobb. Though he has speed on the basepaths, he’s not much of hitter, sporting a .257 average over six minor league campaigns.

Dishonorable mention: Josh Palacios (OF, Blue Jays; 0-for-4, 4 K).

Pitching stud: Charlie Morton (SP, Braves). Morton’s line has been pretty middling his past couple starts—in 11 innings, he has a 4.91 ERA, and he took a loss. But he also struck out 18 batters, close to two per frame, on average, allowed just one walk and batters hit .214 against him. And despite his recent elevated ERA, his mark is still just 3.17 since the start of June. Morton, who leads the National League in games started, has struck out 173 batters and surrendered just 112 hits in 145 innings this year.

Flexen had an 8.07 ERA from 2017 to 2019. After a year in Korea, it’s down to 3.54 this year. (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Chris Flexen (SP; Mariners; 2-0, 13 2/3 IP, 1.32 ERA, .204 OBA). A few more Ks and he would’ve been the stud.

Dishonorable mention: Noe Ramirez (RP, Diamondbacks). Ramirez retains his title after allowing 3 earned runs on 4 walks and 2 hits over his past three appearances. Opposing hitters managed a .462 on-base percentage, .556 slugging and 1.017 OPS against him; Garrett Hampson, hitting .240 with a .384 slugging mark, clobbered a home run off him. In his most recent showing, he threw less than half his pitches for strikes. Arizona lost each of the games in which he pitched—no surprise.

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

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).