It was a thrilling week in baseball as teams are beginning to show their identity and make statements about their strengths and vulnerabilities. We saw the first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies franchise history thanks to Ubaldo Jimenez and a nearly 7-hour, 20-inning affair in St. Louis between the Mets and the Cardinals. There were so many personal and team highlights in the past seven days, it inspired me to add a hot and cold team section, focusing on the overall statistics and feel of a team. Enjoy!
RP David Aardsma, SEA
In his first year with Seattle in 2009, David Aardsma became the regular closer and compiled 38 saves in 41 opportunities. Aardsma has picked up where he left off in 2009 and already has 5 saves on 5 attempts without allowing a run or hit in 5 innings. With 6 Ks and just 2 BBs, Aardsma has been impressive for the 7-7 Mariners. Once they get starter Cliff Lee back, the Mariners will be a solid team with a strong pitching staff. Aardsma has found a home in Seattle and will continue to succeed in the northwest barring an injury.
RP Fernando Rodney, LAA
The long-time Detroit Tiger, Fernando Rodney, had a rocky start in his first few appearances in southern California, but has turned it around this past week. In the past 7 days, Rodney was 4 for 4 in save opportunities without allowing a single hit or run in place of injured closer Brian Fuentes. Rodney collected 3 Ks with no walks, which is a great sign for the 33-year old flame thrower. With lefty Fuentes expected to return this week, Rodney may once again be placed in the set-up role for the Angels, but has proven to management that he can step into that closer role if Fuentes struggles or gets injured again.
SP Ubaldo Jimenez, COL
Ubaldo Jimenez only had one start this past week, but boy was it memorable. The 26-year old pitched the game of his life on April 17th, throwing the first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies history. Jimenez walked a whopping 6 batters, but struck out seven en route to a feat that has only been accomplished 264 times since 1875. Jimenez threw 128-pitches in the domination of the Atlanta Braves. One of the most impressive things about this young talent is his ability to celebrate, but then jump right back into the swing of things and begin prepping for his next start.
RF Shin-Soo Choo, CLE
No one has been hotter this past week than outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Over the past 7 days (5 games), Choo has hit a robust .500 with a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .619 on-base percentage. Out of Choo’s 8 hits this week, 4 were for extra bases (2 doubles and 2 home runs) and he drove in an impressive 10 RBIs. Choo was also patient at the plate, drawing 5 BBs while only striking out once. The Indians are only 5-5 in their past ten games, but have won 4 straight, thanks in part to Choo’s incredible stretch of hitting. If Cleveland is going to stay near or above the .500 mark, Choo will have to be a monster hitter, continuing his recent trend.
SS Derek Jeter, NYY
3B Casey McGehee, MIL
Team of the Week
Tampa Bay Rays
There is no hotter team in the American League than the Tampa Bay Rays right now. After sweeping their division rival Boston Red Sox in a 4-game series Friday-Monday, the Rays have won 7 straight games and 8 of the past 10. Their offense has been decent this past week, but their pitching has been excellent. They are tied for the second best ERA in baseball (2.17) over the past 7 days and are tied for 6th in ERs allowed with 16. There were many question marks about the Rays after a poor 2009 campaign, but right now, they are as strong as any other club in baseball.
New York Yankees
RF Nick Swisher, NYY
Despite the Yankees 4-game win streak, Nick Swisher struggled to find his way in the batter’s box this past week. Swisher played in 6 games and had just 1 hit (a triple) in 19 ABs and struck out 5 times and collected 5 walks. With this recent slump, Swisher’s average on the season has dropped to .200 with 8 total hits, 4 going for extra bases (2 doubles, triple and home run) and he has a slugging percentage of .375, nearly .100 percentage points below his career average. The good thing for Yankees fans out there is that they are still winning despite a few of their big hitters in tough slumps.
CF Dexter Fowler, COL
This past week, Dexter Fowler has gotten a ton of media attention, but not for his slumping offensive numbers. Fowler made a highlight-reel diving catch to save a hit during Ubaldo Jimenez’s no-no, but has not pulled his weight in the batter’s box. Fowler has just 2 hits in 7 games this past week. In his 26 ABs, Fowler has struck out 4 times and walked 3 times, while having a .077 batting average. Fowler hit .266 last season in his first full season in the league (135 games), so the expectation is that he will match or exceed those numbers this season. So far, his .156 batting average is not getting the job done.
RF J.D. Drew, BOS
The Boston Red Sox offense has been terrible this year and despite all the attention on David Ortiz’s slump (a cold player award winner last week), fellow lefty J.D. Drew has been even worse. Over the past 7 days, Drew has had 2 hits in 19 ABs, while watching his average drop to .146 on the season. The most troubling stat for Sox fans has been the number of Ks for Drew. This past week, he had 9 Ks and 5 walks compared to just 1 extra base hit. If the Red Sox want to get back into the AL East race, Drew needs to dig his slugging percentage out of the .238 basement it is in and start hitting the ball for power.
SS Jose Reyes, NYM
It may be a bit unfair to judge Jose Reyes this early in 2010, because he missed the first week of the season recovering from hamstring and thyroid issues, but he is as cold as ice since returning to the Met’s lineup. This past week, in 32 ABs, Reyes had 4 hits, 1 extra base hit and 7 Ks compared to just 1 BB. Reyes’ .125 batting average, .171 on-base percentage and .156 slugging percentage are rock bottom in the league. The Met’s are sitting in the cellar of the NL East and are in need of Reyes to return to his 2008 form when he hit 16 home runs and had a .297 average in 159 games.
SP Carl Pavano, MIN
1B Kevin Youkilis, BOS
Team of the Week
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have been terrible this season as a whole, but the past week has been even worse. Losers of 5 straight games, and 6 of the last 7, the Sox faced a brutal 4-game sweep at the hands of AL East foe Tampa Bay Rays after dropping 2 of 3 to the Minnesota Twins. The Sox have hit an American League worst .211 and are second to the bottom with just 15 RBIs and 15 runs this past week. Their pitching staff hasn’t been much better than the offense allowing 53 hits and 7 home runs in just 56 innings. They have an era of 4.50 and have allowed 35 runs, 7 of which were unearned thanks to the Sox shaky defense.
Topics: AL East, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Brian Fuentes, Carl Pavano, Casey McGehee, Cleveland Indians, Cliff Lee, Colorado Rockies, David Aardsma, Derek Jeter, Detroit Tigers, Dexter Fowler, Fernando Rodney, J.D. Drew, Jose Reyes, Kevin Youkilis, LA Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Nick Swisher, NL East, Seattle Mariners, Shin-Soo Choo, St Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Ubaldo Jimenez