Beast of the Week: When you hit the longest home run of the entire decade, post a .600 OBP for the week, and score 10 runs, you’d be hard pressed to find someone more deserving of the Beast of the Week Award – all rise, judgment day is officially upon us.
On Sunday, Aaron Judge hit a 495-foot moonshot to left center that actually cleared the bleachers and hit a fan who was basically standing in Connecticut. It didn’t seem humanly possible for the Yankees right fielder to get any better, but maybe he’s not really human after all…Judge possesses the demeanor of former Yankee Captain and future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter, the plate discipline of hulking Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas, the defensive agility of an NFL linebacker, and the unsurpassed raw power of, well, only “The Judge” himself. Oh, and by the way, in addition to currently leading the AL in Walks, Runs, and WAR, he’s also leading the league in all Triple Crown categories. Not bad, for just a rookie.
Honorable Mentioned: Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett, who like Judge, had six XBH on the week, and also added four homers and 13 RBI. What was truly remarkable, is that the 5’10 singles hitter hit all four homers in the same game, while also knocking in 10 runs with a 5-5 effort. This incredibly historical day, and the first time anyone had hit four dingers in the same game since Josh Hamilton in 2012, is absolutely noteworthy. Hamilton, however, ended up hitting 43 that year. Gennett has 42 for his entire career…
Things to Know: Complete Games are at an all-time low as power bullpens can simply be more effective than starters on their third time through a lineup…Reigning NL CY Max Scherzer added another milestone to his exceptional career, reaching 2,000 strikeouts in the 3rd fewest innings ever. Scherzer threw 14 1/3 IP this week, allowed only two runs, and struck out 24 batters. His filthy 0.85 WHIP is tops across both leagues, and he’s slightly improved in almost every statistical category since last year. Scherzer can dominate on-par with Kershaw, strikes out more batters, and seems to be closing the gap between him and the best pitcher in baseball…another strikeout machine is Diamondback’s lefty Robbie Ray, who over his last 37 IP has allowed one measly run. That’s right, one run. During this five-start stretch, the 25-year old has lowered his era from 4.57 to 2.62, placing him third behind Kershaw and Scherzer. Opponents are hitting a microscopic .183 off him, and his development this season is a big reason the Diamondbacks are 13 games over .500…another team at least 13 games over .500 is the Yankees, who finished the week on a dominating five-game winning streak, and now lead the majors in run differential at +115. In addition to winning the important series against rival Red Sox and sweeping the division foe Orioles, the Yanks mashed their opponents 55-9 and lead the majors with 21 games of 8+ runs scored… pacing the NL with a league best 41-24 record, the Colorado Rockies finally had their seven-game winning streak snapped on Sunday. This past week the Rockies outscored opponents 44-14, and received some serious offensive production from centerfielder Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon posted a .535 OBP, hit six XBH, and scored 11 run – 25% of the team’s total runs. Interesting to note, the Rockies, notorious for playing better in the mile high air, are only 17-13 at home, but 24-11 on the road – could this finally be their year?…Heating up this past week, Reds first baseman Joey Votto is on pace to score, knock in, and walk 115 or more times in all three categories. He also leads the NL with 18 long-balls, quietly putting up an MVP caliber season…Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger has three multi-homer games now and is a solid candidate to win the NL Rookie of the Year… if it wasn’t for Aaron Judge’s prolific start, rookie lefty Jordan Montgomery would be getting buzz for AL Rookie of the Year. On Friday night Montgomery had his best outing of the season, going seven strong while striking out eight for the victory. He currently leads all MLB rookie pitchers in strikeouts… bringing heat out of the bullpen, Red Sox righty Joe Kelly threw the fastest pitch of the season at a blazing 103.5 MPH…his bullpen counterpart, Craig Kimbrel, is currently having the most dominant season a reliever has ever had, and that’s not an exaggeration. He’s got the highest SO/9 rate at 17.9 in MLB history, has an 0.47 WHIP which would be the lowest ever for a reliever, and opponents are hitting .086 off him – let’s see what these stats look like at the end of September…interesting statistically for a different reason, Giants righty Jeff Samardzija has walked two batters in his last eight starts. He leads the league in a stat normally reserved for CY Young contenders, SO/BB ratio, at 8.33, and also leads the league in losses with eight. Somewhere in the mid-point between these extremes, his 4.31 ERA places him slightly below league average. Currently, he’s on pace to throw 215 IP, strike out 253 batters, post a 1.12 WHIP with a 4.31 ERA, and go a miserable 5-20. These numbers are reminiscent of Rays starter Chris Archer’s 2016 season, but highly unusual…the Rays suffered a big loss when Gold Glove centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier fractured his right hip sliding into first base. Kiermaier can go shag fly balls with the best of them, so hopefully this doesn’t permanently damage his defensive abilities…also hitting the shelf and for the second time this year, Astros ace Dallas Keuchel had a reoccurrence of the pinched nerve in his neck which will sideline him for at least another start.
MLB AARP Club: There’s something enjoyable about following the handful of players still suiting up in their 40’s, but unfortunately it appears father time might soon claim a couple members of this venerable club. Bartolo Colon, “Big Sexy”, has the worst ERA of all qualifying major league starters at 7.78. He’s been blasted for seven or more runs in three straight starts, before hitting the shelf with an oblique strain. Hopefully his current DL stint gives the 44-year old plenty of time to recharge…Marlins ageless wonder, Ichiro Suzuki, has largely been relegated to pinch hitting this season, and went 4-11 this past week raising his average to .198. He wants to play until he’s 50, but the career .312 hitter might not find any takers if his average continues to hover around .200…42-year old Cubs reliever, Koji Uehara, has fared much better than his older counterparts. In 23 games, the right is striking out 11.1/9 and has an 0.98 WHIP. He has a remarkable 0.87 career WHIP, so while he’s not the same pitcher who closed out the 2013 World Series, he’s still highly serviceable. The other 42-year old, knuckleballer R. A. Dickey, is 4-4 with a 4.73 ERA on the Braves. Dickey signed a 1yr/$8mm deal to eat some innings, which is what his knuckleball has been doing. The spring chicken of the group, 40-year old outfielder Carlos Beltran, is arguably having the worst season of his career while posting a .289 OBP. Providing veteran leadership may be his biggest contribution down the stretch for the young and AL West leading Astros. As you can see, being successful in your 40’s in a rarity in baseball, only supporting the idea that 10-year contracts that take players into the early 40’s are bad investments. Just look at A-Rod; the Yankees are paying him $21 million this year specifically not to play.