Studs and duds: August 20 – August 26

Salvador Perez was cranking this past week, but it wasn’t good enough to make him the Offensive stud. 

Offensive stud: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals). After a 1-for-3 performance yesterday, which included a double, run and RBI, Merrifield maintains his title for one more day. His most recent showing puts him at .387/.412/.645 with 9 RBI, 7 runs and 2 stolen bases over the past week. Having not gone more than one game without a hit since August 6, Merrifield is batting .306 on the month, after hitting just .229 in July. August is usually his best month and he should cool off soon—though even his career September numbers (.296 BA, 35 SB) are still pretty solid.

Aristides Aquino has 125 home runs in 10 minor league seasons (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Salvador Perez (C, Royals; 6 H, 5 HR, 8 RBI).

Offensive dud: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds). Aquino was a pleasant surprise for the Reds in 2019, slugging .576 with 19 home runs in only 56 games. Fast forward to 2021 and those good feelings are gone. Hitting just .189 on the year, Aquino was 0-for-15 with 8 strikeouts over the past seven days and his average is just .141 in 71 at-bats since July 25. Perhaps the slumping slugger is lucky to be in the majors at all—he began his professional career with two sub .200 seasons and as recently as 2017, hit .216 at Double A. Though he has great power, thrice crushing 20 or more home runs in the minors, whatever skill he has hasn’t translated consistently on the big stage. But all hope isn’t lost—he’s from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and there’s something about sluggers from that city putting it all together later in their careers. David Ortiz didn’t get going until he was 27, Nelson Cruz until he was 28 and Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista until they were 29.

Dishonorable mention: Jose Barrero (SS, Reds; 0-for-7, 4 K, 1 E).

Quite a turnaround: Robbie Ray had an 8.16 ERA his rookie year with the Tigers. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). The Cy Young Award is becoming more and more of a reality. Over his past two starts, Ray has pitched 15 innings and Ked 25 batters—while walking just 1. With 2 earned runs allowed, his ERA was 1.20, helping bring his August mark down to 1.59 and his number from the beginning of July—that’s 10 starts—to 1.78. His 14 strikeouts his last time out left him just 8 away from 200 on the season. Should he get there, and it’s all but a given he will, Ray will have four 200 K campaigns under his belt. Toronto received the hurler in a steal of a trade from Arizona, surrendering only pitcher Travis Bergen, who’s made just 39 appearances in his career, to get him. What’s more—the Blue Jays bought Bergen back from the Diamondbacks earlier this year.

Honorable mention: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers; 2-0 W-L, 12 2/3 IP, 18 K, 2 BB, 0.71 ERA).

Pitching dud: Genesis Cabrera (RP, Cardinals). Having blown two saves and taken a couple losses, this past week might be the genesis of his departure from the majors. Cabrera made 3 appearances, surrendering 3 earned runs in the first one and 6 earned runs in the last, to give him a 40.50 ERA. He allowed 10 hits, including back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back knocks against Pittsburgh yesterday. Because of that performance, his season ERA went from 2.96 on August 19 to 4.29 and his career mark went from 3.23 to 3.99. On the bright side, he strikes out a lot of batters, averaging 10.2 K/9 IP this year.

Dishonorable mention: Lou Trivino (RP, Athletics; 4 G, 0-3 W-L, 3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BSV).

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).