Studs and duds: September 12 – September 18

The Offensive Stud is a revolving door of Blue Jays at this point.

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). After a few days away, Hernandez is back on top.

The outfielder has continued his electric September by hitting .409/.480/.727 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 7 runs scored over the past week. He is slashing .371/.473/.726 with 6 home runs and 20 RBI this month and .304/.355/.527 with 28 dingers and 104 RBI on the year.

The Blue Jays are so stacked that his 4.0 WAR ranks just 5th on the club, though he paces the team in RBI and his OPS+ (138) is second behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s 176. Since 2018, Hernandez has averaged 34 home runs, 97 RBI and 90 runs scored per 162 games.

Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; .994 OPS, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB).

Offensive dud: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds). Aquino remains the week’s worst with his 0-for-7, 4 K, one error performance.

When he’s on, he’s on, but the 27-year-old has been plagued by too many cold streaks this season. In one seventeen at-bat stretch in late July and early August, he had just one hit for a .059 batting average; from August 20 to September 3, he had a single hit in 27 ABs for a .037 mark.

While his power potential cannot be denied—he averages 32 home runs per 162 games—his inconsistency cannot be, either. How much of a leash does Cincinnati give him? His defense is middling, his speed is negligible (one steal this year) and his on-base percentage is paltry (.305 for his career). They’re in the thick of the playoff race. It’s amazing they’ve stuck with him so long.

Dishonorable mention: Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, Brewers; 0-for-9, 6 K).

Pitching stud: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers). Welcome back Max, we haven’t seen you in what, a couple days?

The 37-year-old Scherzer is pitching like he is in the middle of his prime—he is 2-0 in his past two starts, allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 16 batters, in 15 innings of work. He didn’t surrender an earned run, but that’s nothing new—Scherzer hasn’t given one up in five straight starts, meaning he is riding a 37 inning scoreless streak.

It’s a little soon to say, watch out, Orel,” but this run shows just how much the righty has aged like fine wine. He now stands at 15-4 with a league-leading 2.08 ERA in 29 starts this year; he’s tossed 169 innings, but just surrendered his 100th hit on September 12.

With an ERA+ of 195, he is on pace to have the highest full-season mark of any pitcher since 2018 and the highest among pitchers his age or older since 2005, when 42-year-old Roger Clemens had a 226 mark.

Honorable mention: Aaron Nola (SP, Phillies; 11 IP, 19 K, 1 BB, 1 W).

Finnegan debuted with a 2.92 ERA in 25 appearances last year. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Kyle Finnegan (RP, Nationals). Well, Finnegan was having an excellent season before this hiccup.

Prior to September 15, he had a 2.61 ERA in 59 appearances; that number is up to 3.39 now, thanks to a two-game stretch in which he allowed 7 hits, a couple home runs and two walks in 2 1/3 innings of work. He blew two saves and took the same number of losses, bringing his record to 5-8.

Though his campaign has had its ups and downs, he was on the right track until this blip—from August 15 to September 12, he had an 0.68 ERA and .174 OBA in 13 appearances. In just a couple innings, all that progress was undone.

Dishonorable mention: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles; 1/3 IP, 1 L, 1 BSV, 2 ER).

Studs and duds: September 9 – September 15

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). Tally another hit and RBI for Hernandez last night. Since September 9, he’s slashed .516/.571/.839 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 12 runs scored, meaning that he hasn’t had an average under .500 in any given seven-day span since that ending September 12.

Granted, his week’s performance is heavily weighted by a 5-for-5 game against Tampa Bay on the 13th, as well as a 5 RBI showing against Baltimore the day before. I’ve made the point recently, but it’s worth reiterating: Hernandez’s hot hitting could not have come at a better time. The slugger is a huge reason Toronto is in the thick of the wild card race.

 Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; .393/.485/.750, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 9 R).

Despite his anemic career line, Young still owns a decent 109 OPS+. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Andrew Young (2B, Diamondbacks). It hasn’t been a pleasant week … or season … or career … for Young, who over the past seven days went 2-for-16 with 6 strikeouts and a couple errors. The infielder has struck out 45 times in 91 at-bats this season and carries a line of .209/.298/.484. His slugging mark is solid as 7 or his 19 hits were doubles, while 6 went over the fence.

Last year, he batted .192 in 26 at-bats; for his career, he’s hitting .205 with 55 Ks in 117 at-bats. Uninspiring though his performance might be, Young is lucky to be in the major leagues at all as he was a 37th round pick in 2016. Such high rounds don’t produce too many big leaguers (he’s the only one from 2016 to reach the majors so far).

 Dishonorable mention: Josh VanMeter (IF, Diamondbacks; 1-for-13, 5 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). So far I’ve counted three Toronto players in this piece that are either studs or honorable mentions. It makes sense the Blue Jays are doing so well right now.

Ray won his 12th game last night, striking out 13 batters and allowing just one run in 7 innings; over the past week, he’s tossed 11 1/3 frames and struck out 21 batters. Even on the 10th, when he lasted less than 5 innings and surrendered 8 hits, 2 walks and 3 earned runs against Baltimore, he still managed 8 Ks.

He has developed into one of the game’s premier strikeout pitchers and now leads the American League in that category with 233; he’s also pacing the loop in ERA (2.64), starts (29), innings pitched (177 1/3), ERA+ (167) and H/9 (6.9). His career 11.3 K/9 ratio is most all-time, but it is trailed closely by Chris Sale and Yu Darvish.

Honorable mention: Nestor Cortes Jr. (SP, Yankees; 12 1/3 IP, 16 K, 2.19 ERA).

Wells debuted with a scoreless inning against Boston on April 4. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Tyler Wells (RP, Orioles). Most struggling teams usually have at least one bright spot. For the Orioles, Wells isn’t it.

The rookie blew both his save opportunities and earned two losses this past week, surrendering 6 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in 1 1/3 innings of work. It sullies what was a decent campaign: Prior to imploding, he hadn’t allowed a run in 11 straight appearances and had brought his season mark down to 3.27.

But with relievers, all it takes is a couple bad outings to ruin a good thing, and that is exactly what happened. Wells’ mark is now up to 4.17, though his K/9 IP ratio is still a solid 10.7. If he can get the long ball under control, he could be a solid pitcher. He’s surrendered 9 home runs in 54 innings this season.

Dishonorable mention: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals; 2 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 BSV, 1 L).

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 6 – September 12

We haven’t seen Teoscar Hernandez in a while; we welcome back a familiar one as the Pitching Stud.

What a difference a few years makes: In his time with Houston, Hernandez hit just .230. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). It was a nice run for Marcus Semien, but a new face has taken his place.

Hernandez has hit .448/.556/.862 with 3 home runs, including a grand slam, 10 RBI, 13 runs scored, 2 stolen bases and 5 walks in the past week—but let’s not kid ourselves, he’s been one of the game’s hottest hitters since August. In 33 games since August 8, Hernandez has hit .323/.389/.608 with 10 home runs, 33 RBI and 31 runs scored.

And his performance couldn’t have come at a better time. With Hernandez and Semien surging, the Blue Jays currently lead in the American League wild card race, barely, and need all their cylinders firing right now. Hernandez is doing his best to make that happen.

Honorable mention: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays; .364/.462/.818, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 8 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Despite going 1-for-4 at the plate, Urshela continued his struggles yesterday by striking out two more times and committing an error in the field. He has had two strikeouts in four of the past five games—and a single K in the fifth one—making him 3-for-21 with nine strikeouts over the past week. Since his return to the Yankees lineup in late August, he is 5-for-43 (.116) with 15 Ks and no walks.

Dishonorable mention: Amed Rosario (SS, Indians; 3-for-21, 7 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers). Scherzer seems to be getting better. In 16 innings over his past two starts, he has amassed 22 strikeouts—including the 3,000th of his career—without walking a single batter. Just seven of batsmen have even managed hits off him.

Scherzer hasn’t allowed more than 200 hits in a season since 2011. (Wikipedia).

Having not allowed an earned run since August 21, the hurler is now 6-0 with 72 strikeouts, 5 walks allowed and a 0.88 ERA in 51 innings since joining Los Angeles in July; he is 14-4 with 219 strikeouts, a league-leading 0.821 WHIP, a league-leading 2.17 ERA and a 186 ERA+ on the year. Baseball Reference’s similarity scores say the pitcher second-most similar to him through age 36 is Randy Johnson. Sounds about right.

Honorable mention: Kevin Gausman (SP, Giants; 2-0 W-L, 13 IP, 18 K, 1 BB, 2 QS).

Pitching dud: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals). It was a rough week for the 28-year-old rookie, who debuted on September 2.

On September 10, he gave up a hit and blew a save, then on the 11th, he walked 2 and allowed 2 earned runs in one-third of an inning for the loss. For those counting at home: He has a 10.80 ERA in 1 2/3 innings over the past seven days, spread over 3 appearances.

It was the first real rough patch of the hurler’s short career, as he allowed just one walk and a hit in 4 2/3 frames over 4 appearances initially. That he is in the majors at all is pretty amazing—he was signed by the Mets in 2009 and didn’t even reach Triple-A until 2017—and he had a 6.65 ERA in 39 appearances when he did.

Dishonorable mention: JT Chargois (RP, 0-1 W-L, 3 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds, August 11 – August 17

Amazing things can happen when given a sample size of just a few games, and so can total disasters. Let’s see who the studs and duds were from the week of August 11 to August 17.

Teoscar Hernandez, the stud.

Offensive stud:  Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). Hernandez has quietly been one of the game’s better sluggers since joining the league in 2016, with a career slugging percentage of .502. The past week shows he is firing on all cylinders in what has been a career year, as he’s collected 12 hits in 25 at-bats for a .480 batting mark. He’s hit 4 home runs – including a grand slam – and driven 10 runs in, while whiffing just 5 times. He has all the makings of a one-year wonder, but let’s enjoy his performance while we can.

Honorable mention: Ozzie Albies (2B, Braves; .344 BA, 4 HR, 2 SB, 11 RBI).

Offensive dud: Gavin Lux (IF, Dodgers). Welcome back from the Injured List, Gavin. Nice job in your return. Two errors, a strikeout and a 0-for-3 showing at the plate. You were a first round pick once, right?

Dishonorable mention: Greg Deichmann (OF, Cubs; .222 BA, 9 AB, 5 K, 1 E).

Pitching stud: Corbin Burnes (SP, Brewers). Corbin Burnes, you da man. Have you ever thought about becoming a Cy Young winner? This past week, Burnes won both his starts, allowing zero runs in each. In 14 innings, he struck out 18 batters and walked just 2, while allowing only 6 hits. It continues his run of dominance, as this season he is currently 8-4, 2.13 with league-leading K/9 IP, BB/9 IP, K/BB and HR/9 IP ratios of 12.4, 1.6, 7.6 and 0.4, respectively. He’s also leading the league in ERA+ (196) and he made the All-Star team. He finished 6th in Cy Young voting last year – let’s see how close he can get this year.

Honorable mention: Logan Webb (SP, Giants; 2-0 W-L, 1.37 ERA, 13.1 IP, 16 K, 3 BB, 2 QS).

Pitching dud: Jorge Lopez (SP, Orioles). Somehow Jorge Lopez has survived in the major leagues for six years with a career ERA over 6 and a paltry ERA+ of 75. He’s won 3 games this year, but lost a league-leading 13 – and the past week didn’t improve his line at all. In his lone start, he went just 3 1/3 innings and allowed 9 hits, 2 walks and 2 wild pitches, while surrendering 7 earned runs for the loss. Tick tock, tick tock, his time in the majors might almost be up.

Dishonorable mention: Nick Sandlin (RP, Indians; 1 G, 0 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 BSV, 1 L).