Studs and duds, September 8 – September 14

I believe this is the first time all the Studs and Duds from the day previous return. As all have been covered before—multiple times—there is not too much to say this time around.

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). Hernandez is unstoppable. Over the past week, he has hit .533/.611/.867 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 12 runs scored, powering the Blue Jays in this most important stretch of the season. An All-Star this year and a Silver Slugger in 2020, the outfielder is hitting .307/.357/.529 with 27 home runs and 102 RBI in 126 games on the year; he ranks fifth in the American League in RBI. Since 2017, he has averaged 35 home runs, 98 RBI and 90 runs scored per 162 games. Hmm, a late-blooming power hitting outfielder in Toronto. Shades of Jose Bautista, anyone?

Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; .429/.529/.857, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 10 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela is on fire! With two hits yesterday, he is now 4-for-18 with 8 strikeouts over the past seven days. His September batting average was raised to .192, while his mark since rejoining the Yankees in late August is up to .149. That still sounds pretty rough. And Urshela is still the Dud.

Dishonorable mention: Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, 0-for-10, 5 K).

Alcantara began his career with the Cardinals, but was traded to Miami, with others, for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins). Alcantara was so awesome lately, no one dared usurp him. And with his recent resume including a complete game, a win, 21 strikeouts, just one walk and 5 hits allowed, a 0.53 ERA and a .091 opponents’ batting average, that would’ve been hard to do. Though his record is just 9-13 this season, he owns a 133 ERA+ and a 137 mark over the past two years. That makes Alcantara a pitcher to watch. If he can ever get out of Miami and join a winning club, he could blossom into a superstar.

Honorable mention: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays; 11 IP, 18 K, 2.45 ERA, 1 W).

Pitching dud: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals).Baldonado pitched a scoreless inning for Washington last night, earning a hold, but it wasn’t enough for the hurler to redeem himself. It’s tough for a relief pitcher to unbury himself from a blown save, a loss, a couple walks, a couple earned runs allowed and a 10.80 ERA in the span of a week. His ERA on the year, however, is still a solid 2.84.

Dishonorable mention: Jeurys Familia (RP, Mets; 2 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 3 HR, 1 BSV, 1 L).

Studs and duds: September 7 – September 13

It was a tight battle for the Offensive Stud, but Gurriel won out.

Offensive stud: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays). The outfielder is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak, adding three more knocks last night. That gives him a .444/.543/.889 line with 3 home runs (including a grand slam), 13 RBI and 10 runs scored over the past week.

Despite a weak start to 2021, Gurriel has been steady nearly all season—but he has really cranked it up since late August. In 22 games since August 22, he has hit .395/.472/.697 with 5 home runs, 28 RBI, 15 runs scored and 12 walks, while striking out only 12 times.

Could we see the first Blue Jays World Series appearance since 1993? With Gurriel, Teoscar Hernandez, Marcus Semien and all the club’s hot hitters killing it right now, there is a good possibility.

Honorable mention: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, .548/.622/.871, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 13 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela is the Dud again. With another 0-fer and a strikeout last night, he is 2-for-19 with 10 Ks over the past seven days and is batting .114 since his return from the injured list in late August. He has struck out in each of the past six games. Last night, New York started DJ LeMahieu in his place—at this point, bringing Charlie Hayes back to man the position would be a better option than Urshela.

Dishonorable mention: Amed Rosario (SS, Indians; 2-for-17, 5 K, 2 E).

Alcantara holds a 122 ERA+ thus far in his career. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins). Alcantara is pitching like a future Cy Young Award winner.

In 17 innings over his past two starts, he has allowed just one earned run on a single walk and five hits, while striking out 21 batters. His September 8 performance against the Mets was a complete game, 14 K showing, and last night, he tossed 8 innings of 1 hit, no walk, no run ball against Washington.

In his past seven starts, the 26-year-old righthander has a 1.55 mark and 64 Ks in 52 1/3 innings. And he has not yet even entered his prime. What the future holds for Alcantara is exciting.

Honorable mention: Eric Lauer (SP, Brewers; 2-0 W-L, 12 1/3 IP, 13 K, 2 BB, 0.73 OBA).

Pitching dud: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals). Baldonado’s position remains unchanged. Though he tossed just 1 1/3 innings over the past week, it was enough for opposing teams to inflict plenty of damage: He blew a save, took a loss, surrendered three walks and posted a 10.80 ERA in that brief run. The 28-year-old rookie’s ascension to the majors was rocky, as just as recently as 2018, he had a 4.88 ERA at Triple-A.

Dishonorable mention: Jose Cisnero (RP, Brewers; 2 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 2 BSV). His saving grace was in all that mess, he scratched out a win.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, September 9, 2021.

Another late-night edition. The vagaries of real life get in the way sometimes.

Estrada’s power surge might be short-lived, as he owns a career slugging mark of .406. (Wikipedia).

Gotta love Estrada: Giants utilityman Thairo Estrada is making his presence known, slugging .727 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI over the past week. On September 6 at Colorado, he went 3-for-5 with a couple dingers and 3 RBI. He was a .214 career hitter before this season; he’s hitting .277 this year.

Yoshi’s cranking: The Pirates’ Yoshi Tsutsugo was a slugger in Japan, smashing 45 homers for the Yokohama Bay Stars in 2016 and 38 in 2018. His time stateside hasn’t worked out so well, as he owns a .199/.301/.396 slash line in 111 games over two years here. He started 2021 with a .120 average in 25 at-bats for the Dodgers, who released him August 14. Perhaps a change of scenery is all he needed—since joining Pittsburgh on August 16, he has 7 home runs, 15 RBI and a .286/.349/.768 line.

 A.J. is A-OK: Diamondbacks rookie hurler A.J. Alexy has started off on the right foot, allowing just two hits and no runs in 11 frames over two starts so far. His 5 walks are a little disconcerting, but not unexpected—he averaged 4.4 per 9 frames in the minor leagues.

Effross is a winner: Relief pitchers usually don’t rack up too many decisions, but that didn’t stop Cubs rookie Scott Effross from winning 2 of his first 4 outings with Chicago. In 5 2/3 frames in his short career, he has 7 strikeouts and no walks allowed.

The ballad of Matt Harvey: It astonishes me how far current Orioles pitcher Matt Harvey has fallen. He was nicknamed “The Dark Knight of Gotham” and (most gallingly) “the Real Deal.” In his first full season, 2013, he had a 2.27 ERA and 157 ERA+, while averaging 9.6 strikeouts per 9 innings. After missing 2014 to injury, he returned in 2015 and posted a 2.71 mark in 29 starts. Ahh, his glory years with the Mets. Look at him now: In 28 starts this year, he is 6-14 with a 6.27 ERA; he averages about 4 2/3 innings per outing. Since 2017, he is 21-38 with a 6.15 ERA.

Keuchel has underwhelmed: The rise of current White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel was swift, and so was his decline. In the three years prior to his Cy Young Award-winning 2015 campaign, when he went 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA in 33 starts for Houston, he was 21-27 with a 4.16 ERA. Since that excellent season, he’s posted a 3.74 ERA and this year, he’s 8-9 with a mark of 5.33.

Losing All-Star: The last time a pitcher made the All-Star team the same year he led his league in losses was 2019. That season, the Marlins Sandy Alcantara lost 14 games for that 57-105 club. On the bright side, he led the league in complete games and shutouts, with 2 each.

Mikolas spent 2014 to 2017 in Japan, going 31-16 with a 2.34 ERA in the Land of the Rising Sun. (Wikipedia).

Winner, loser: And the last hurler to lead the league in wins one year then losses the next? Miles Mikolas. After pacing the NL with 18 victories in 2018, he went the opposite direction and led the loop with 14 losses the next year. It wasn’t a horrible season, as he walked less than 2 batters per 9 innings, on average, and posted a higher strikeout rate than the previous campaign, but it was no 2018. That year, he finished 6th in Cy Young voting.

Wore two legendary numbers: Babe Ruth wore number 3, Mickey Mantle wore number 7. Which Yankee wore both? Outfielder Cliff Mapes. He wore the Bambino’s number in 1948 and the Mick’s number from 1949 to 1951.

That’s a lot of ejections: You think umpires eject too many players nowadays? On July 19, 1946, the White Sox were playing Boston at Fenway Park when umpire Red Jones kicked all fourteen Chicago players and coaches from the bench. Jones was known for having a short fuse, leading American League umpires in ejections in both 1946 and 1948.

Studs and duds: August 22 – August 28

Salvador Perez has already topped his previous high of 27 home runs. (Wikipedia).

Salvador Perez’s power barrage continues and Sandy Alcantara shows he might be breaking out as one of the game’s top young stars.

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). Perez keeps cranking in what has been a historic season for the star catcher, as he hit another home run last night to bring him to 5 in the past week, 11 in August and 37 on the year. The slugger—more a slugger now than any time in his career—also has 12 RBI and 5 walks, giving him a .382 on-base percentage over the past seven days.

This power surge has been accompanied by a rise in production in other departments, as well.  He has already set career highs in runs scored (62, previous high: 57) and RBI (92, 80), and is on pace to best his previous mark in walks (not a great accomplishment, as he still might not break 30 for the year). His career slugging mark has jumped 11 points because of this season alone.

Honorable mention: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals; .387 BA, 4 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI).

Offensive dud: Jose Barrero (IF, Reds). Barrero reclaims his title, going 0-for-6 with 4 strikeouts and an error in a rough showing. The speedy middle infielder is young and still working out the kinks, but his future might be brighter than his recent performance suggests: Baseball America ranked him the number 79 prospect going into 2021, and the 23-year-old has hit over .300 in the minors this year. And that’s where the Reds just sent him, back to Triple A to get him some more conditioning.

Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-11, 7 K).

Shows how bad the Marlins are: In his All-Star 2019 season, Sandy Alcantara led the league with 14 losses. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins). If the Marlins have any reason to believe brighter days are ahead, Alcantara is it. The hurler tossed 14 innings his past two starts, posting a 1.93 ERA while allowing just 3 runs and 3 walks, and striking out 23 batters.  There’s something about that number 3. Outside of a terrible 10 run game on August 6, he hasn’t allowed more than 2 runs in an appearance since July 27, and has a 1.24 mark since that rough outing.

Still only 25 years old, Alcantara already has an All-Star selection under his belt and owns a career 118 ERA+—and he has yet to reach his prime. The Marlins acquired him with three other decent names in a deal with St. Louis, surrendering only outfielder Marcell Ozuna to get them. Ozuna had two ho-hum seasons with the Cardinals; Alcantara is making the transaction look like a steal for Miami.

Honorable mention: Adam Wainwright (SP, Cardinals; 2-0 W-L, 15 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB).

Pitching dud: Daniel Bard (RP, Rockies). Bard returned to the majors last year after not pitching there since 2013, and in that stunted campaign with Colorado, he did pretty well. In 23 appearances, he posted a 3.65 ERA and 143 ERA+—shades of his glory days with Boston, when he had a 2.88 mark in 192 games from 2009 to 2011. He had an All-Star worthy 2010, posting a 1.93 ERA and 227 ERA+ in 73 games.

Well, this year, things have not been so sunny. His season-long struggles, which saw his ERA hover into the mid-4s as recently as August 16, culminated in an atrocious line of 1 2/3 innings pitched and 8 earned runs allowed—that’s an ERA of 43.20—over the past week. He blew a save, lost two games and saw his season ERA rise nearly a point, to 5.61. Over his last four appearances, he surrendered less than 2 earned runs just once and didn’t manage a single out in his last go-round against the Dodgers on August 28. It was nice having you back, Daniel, I hope you enjoyed your stay—because it won’t be too much longer.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 1 IP, 5 ER, 1 L, 1 BSV, 45.00 ERA).