This is a new feature we’re going to be rolling out at TOC, recapping the past week of events across the league. I figure it might be a nice companion for the players of the month/weekly highlights features we regularly roll out here, and might add some more context to what’s been going on across baseball.
Most impressive team of the week: Detroit Tigers. With all due respect to the Oakland Athletics, who stomped the White Sox and Indians this week, the Tigers were just on another level. They went 6-0, sweeping both the Orioles and Red Sox on the road and outscoring the two AL East teams by a total of 18 runs. That’s a nice rebound from losing three out of four last weekend, but before that stretch, the Tigers had won eight in a row against the White Sox, Royals, and Astros. They’re seven games up on the second place Royals on May 19th, and are incredibly better on the road (14-4) than at home (13-8). This week, the Tigers will face off with the struggling Indians and the injury-ravaged Rangers, meaning that you could see them here again next week.
Honorable mentions: Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels, St. Louis Cardinals
Least impressive team of the week: Boston Red Sox. The defending champs aren’t in trouble…yet, but that’s only because no other team in the AL East has staked a claim to the division like the Tigers and A’s have in the other AL divisions. But Boston is now three games under .500, a culture shock for a team that didn’t spend a day under .500 last season. But while the Red Sox did go a pathetic 1-5 last week, it was *how* they lost that made the week worse. In Minnesota, they lost two games in walk off fashion after rallying from behind to tie both games. Then, the Tigers swept them at Fenway in a series that saw the Sox score just three runs all series. Despite that ugly week, they’re still just three games behind the first place Yankees in the division. What a world we live in.
Dishonorable mentions: Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles
Most impressive hitter of the week: Brandon Moss. Moss has gone from a guy that was a nice story that seemed destined for a bad ending to a guy that is legitimately one of the most dominant middle of the lineup hitters in the game. Last week, he blasted three homers for the A’s in six games, walked more than he struck out, and had nine extra base hits to just one single. For the season, he’s hitting .301/.391/.582 in 43 games with nine homers. He’s slightly increased his walk rate from last year, and slashed his strikeout rate by a third to 18.3%, which is below the league average. I’m getting Jose Bautista flashbacks here.
Honorable mentions: Josh Donaldson, David Ortiz, Yasiel Puig
Least impressive hitter of the week: Eric Hosmer. Hosmer’s still a young guy at 24, but when are we going to finally admit that maybe he’s just not going to live up to the hype that was generated during his minor league career? His career line in the majors over 482 games is a pedestrian .278/.331/.422, barely above average, especially for a first baseman. He’s homered just one time this year, and his only saving grace is a high batting average bolstered by plenty of singles. This past week, he went just 2/24 with one walk, but the Royals went 4-2 thanks to some great pitching and solid offensive contributions from Alex Gordon and Sal Perez. Hosmer has entered his arbitration years, and *still* hasn’t taken the leap for Kansas City – that’s gotta be concerning.
Dishonorable mentions: Mark Reynolds, Brad Miller, Nolan Arenado
Most impressive pitcher of the week: Jesse Chavez. As far as I’m concerned, Billy Beane can do whatever he wants. Yeah, Chavez had a solid but not spectacular 2.77 ERA in his two starts this week, but the man struck out 13 in 13 innings, and all four runs he allowed came via the solo homer. But let’s remember what exactly Beane gave up to get Chavez in 2012 – nothing but some cash. He pitched in the majors with four teams before coming to Oakland, and looked like he was just organizational fodder. In nine starts this year, he has a 2.54 ERA, has struck out a batter per inning, and has walked nearly four times as few hitters as he’s struck out. His solid week is really the culmination of another reclamation project by Beane that has struck gold, just like Brandon Moss.
Honorable mentions: Cole Hamels, Masahiro Tanaka, Edwin Jackson
Least impressive pitcher of the week: Justin Masterson. Masterson is itching for a contract extension from the Indians, or a huge contract from another team this coming winter, but weeks like this won’t do a lot to bolster confidence in him. In two starts, Masterson got slaughtered, allowing 12 runs in 9 2/3 innings while striking out five and walking eight. Needless to say, the Indians lost both of those games. For the season, his ERA is over 5.00 and his walk rate is a career worst. His only saving graces are a still solid strikeout rate and a ground ball rate that ranks among the best in all of baseball, but do you really want to give a player this erratic a five-year deal worth at least $12 million per?
Dishonorable mentions: Jake Peavy, Zack Wheeler, Vidal Nuno
This week in Tommy John surgeries: Jose Fernandez, Martin Perez
Notable newly disabled players: Jose Fernandez, Sergio Santos, Aramis Ramirez, Omar Infante, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, Dillon Gee, Nyjer Morgan, Travis d’Arnaud, Carlos Beltran, Ben Zobrist, Colby Rasmus, Will Middlebrooks, Jose Abreu, Gio Gonzalez
Notable newly healthy players: Ryan Braun, Carlos Quentin, A,J. Ellis, Adam Eaton, Anibal Sanchez, Tony Cingrani, Wilin Rosario, Jaime Garcia
Notable transactions: White Sox DFA Jeff Keppinger, Marlins sign Randy Wolf, Mets release Kyle Farnsworth, Athletics acquire Kyle Blanks from Padres, Indians demote Danny Salazar to AAA, Royals DFA Justin Maxwell, Phillies demote Darin Ruf to AAA, Astros sign Kyle Farnsworth, Diamondbacks name Tony La Russa chief baseball officer, Orioles sign Heath Bell, Athletics demote Daric Barton to AAA
Major league debuts: Anthony DeSclafani, Rafael Montero, Chase Whitley, Jesus Aguilar, Jacob deGrom, Kyle Crockett, Cole Figueroa, T.J. House
Enjoy your week of baseball, everyone.