Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The best and worst MLB players of July 2014

It’s that time again, folks – your traditional monthly breakdown of the best and worst players of the past month of action. This month, several new players ended up breaking through, while others…well, you’ve seen them here before.

AL Best Hitter of the Month: Jose Abreu. The White Sox rookie continues to just kill the baseball, with no signs of letting up. In July, Abreu hit .374/.432/.667 with six homers, a number surpassed by only three American League players in the month. There haven’t been many reasons to watch the White Sox this year, but Abreu is one of the only reasons fans tune in every night.

Honorable mentions: Chris Carter, Yan Gomes, Torii Hunter, Carlos Santana

April winner: Jose Bautista
May winner: Edwin Encarnacion
June winner: Mike Trout
Midseason winner: Mike Trout

AL Worst Hitter of the Month: Gordon Beckham. Beckham’s tumultous tenure in Chicago looks like it’ll be coming to an end following this season, and he’s given the White Sox no reason to keep him in the fold. In July, Beckham hit just .128/.149/.202. That .351 OPS is less than his teammate Abreu’s batting average for the month. I know we should probably keep our expectations low given the struggles in his career, but this is just ridiculous.

Dishonorable mentions: Alcides Escobar, Ian Kinsler, Kendrys Morales, Logan Morrison

April “winner”: Billy Butler
May “winner”: Alejandro de Aza
June “winner”: Shin-Soo Choo
Midseason “winner”: Jose Molina

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NL Best Hitter of the Month: Jayson Werth. The extra 20 points of on-base percentage gives Werth the edge in my book over a nearly as good Yasiel Puig. For the month, Werth hit .337/.446/.687, and like Mr. Abreu above, hit six homers. The success of Werth will be critical as to whether or not the Nationals are able to pull away from the Braves at the top of the NL East standings.

Honorable mentions: Chris Coghlan, Lucas Duda, Paul Goldschmidt, Yasiel Puig,

April winner: Troy Tulowitzki
May winner: Yasiel Puig
June winner: Andrew McCutchen
Midseason winner: Troy Tulowitzki

NL Worst Hitter of the Month: Adam LaRoche. It really is just a coincidence that in both the AL and NL, the best and worst hitter in the league belonged to the same team. It must be distressing for Nationals fans to see LaRoche here, especially given his reputation as a great second half hitter. In July, Washington’s first baseman hit .159/.238/.227 with just one home run. Thanks to Ryan Zimmerman’s possibly season ending hamstring injury, the Nationals have no wiggle room in regards to their offense, even after the acquisition of Asdrubal Cabrera. LaRoche needs to play better for them to reach the playoffs.

Dishonorable mentions: Jay Bruce, Zack Cozart, A.J. Ellis, Jean Segura

April “winner”: Danny Espinosa
May “winner”: Yonder Alonso
June “winner”: Everth Cabrera
Midseason “winner”: Jedd Gyorko

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AL Best Pitcher of the Month: Corey Kluber. As much as I want to bow down at the altar of Chris Sale, Kluber made five starts compared to Sale’s four, and was nearly as good. Over his five starts, Kluber totaled 41 innings, struck out 43, walked only four, and had a 1.54 ERA. In four of his five starts, he pitched into the ninth inning. There’s so much that Kluber does to help his team win games, and it’s tough to find all of those qualities in just one pitcher…unless this is your guy, of course.

Honorable mentions: Jon Lester, Sonny Gray, Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale

April winner: Felix Hernandez
May winner: Corey Kluber
July winner: Felix Hernandez
Midseason winner: Felix Hernandez

AL Worst Pitcher of the Month: Jason Hammel. Calling Oakland’s new hurler a disappointment may be an understatement. Hammel has turned back into an egg moving to the American League, totaling just 17 innings over four starts while striking out 12, walking ten, giving up five homers, and pitching to an unsightly 9.53 ERA. The A’s lost all four of the games he started, and went 15-6 in their other 21 contests in July. I wonder if his struggles helped push Billy Beane to acquire Jon Lester from the Red Sox.

Dishonorable mentions: Jarred Cosart, Scott Feldman, Jeremy Guthrie, Colby Lewis

April “winner”: Ubaldo Jimenez
May “winner”: Brandon Maurer
June “winner”: Joe Saunders
Midseason “winner” Ricky Nolasco

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

NL Best Pitcher of the Month: Clayton Kershaw. While Adam Wainwright is still a really good pitcher, Kershaw continued to show that he’s in another league. In July, Kershaw made five starts, finished three of them, struck out 43, walked four, and allowed a total of five runs. On the season, only two of his 17 starts weren’t quality starts – and one of those two had a rain delay cut his evening short. I’m running out of ways to say “Clayton Kershaw is really awesome”.

Honorable mentions: Jacob deGrom, Cole Hamels, Tanner Roark, Tyson Ross

April winner: Jose Fernandez
May winner: Jeff Samardzija
June winner: Clayton Kershaw
Midseason “winner”: Clayton Kershaw

NL Worst Pitcher of the Month: Mike Minor. It’s been a lost season for Minor, who started the season on the disabled list followed offseason urethra surgery caused soreness in Minor’s shoulder. In July, he made five starts and allowed 21 runs in 27 innings. He also struck out 21 hitters, and while Minor did only walk seven hitters, he did allow five homers over the course of the month. Amazingly, the Braves did win three of his starts.

Dishonorable mentions: Nate Eovaldi, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Kendrick, Travis Wood

April “winner”: Bronson Arroyo
May “winner”: Franklin Morales
June “winner”: Juan Nicasio
Midseason “winner”: Marco Estrada

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

AL Best Rookie of the Month: Jose Abreu. Oh come on, who else were you expecting? No AL rookie had more homers than Abreu, and the only one who had a higher batting average or on-base percentage was Jake Smolinski of the Rangers…who received just 36 at bats in the month. With Masahiro Tanaka out of the picture, it would be a legitimate surprise if Abreu didn’t win the AL Rookie of the Year award this season.

Honorable mentions: Kevin Kiermaier, Jake Odorizzi, Danny Santana, Marcus Stroman

April winner: Jose Abreu
May winner: George Springer
June winner: Jose Abreu
Midseason winner: Jose Abreu

NL Best Rookie of the Month: Jacob deGrom. Hey, Billy Hamilton…you’ve got company. Mets rookie Jacob deGrom has been putting it together lately, and struck out 38 while walking just seven in 32 1/3 innings in July while pitching to a 1.39 ERA. For as solid as Hamilton has been this season, deGrom now has a 2.79 ERA for the season in 87 innings, and has struck out nearly a batter per inning. Tack on another ten or twelve starts of performance like this, and he’s got a strong case for the NL award at the end of the year.

Honorable mentions: Arismandy Alcantara, Travis d’Arnaud, David Peralta, Kolten Wong

April winner: Chris Owings
May winner: Kolten Wong
June winner: Billy Hamilton
Midseason winner: Billy Hamilton

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and an associate editor at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is smack dab in the middle of some of the best (and worst) sports fans in the country.

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