Studs and Duds, a weekly series, is difficult to write. There are so many fantastic performances that deserve recognition. There are also so many flops, it’s difficult to choose just one. But that’s the beauty of baseball isn’t it? The game gives us choices. It gives us options and debates. That is, of course, until someone does something so rare, no level of production from anyone else in the game could possible top the performance. The Stud of the Week is clear.
Those garnering attention (runners up if you will) for Stud of the Week include Matt Kemp (again), Mike Napoli, and Chris Young (who is now out of commission). Kemp’s dominance of this early season is almost unparalleled. His .474 batting average is tops in the league. So are his 9 home runs. If that wasn’t enough, Kemp’s 22 RBI lead the league as well. But he’s not getting Stud of the Week honors two weeks in a row. Mike Napoli managed 10 hits in 23 at-bats (a ridiculous .435 average) with six home runs over the course of this week. But he takes a back seat. Chris Young, prior to injuring his shoulder, was off to a hot start. He was 6 for 10 during the week with two home runs. But no amount of home runs or hits can top the performance of our stud of the week.
The Dud of the Week is a bigger toss up. Unlike dominating performances, bad outings are more plentiful. In baseball, players fail more than they succeed. Duds are easier to find.
Stud of the Week
Philip Humber is hands down the Stud of the Week. Yesterday afternoon, Humber tossed just the 21st perfect game in Major League history. To put this accomplishment in perspective, there have been over 200,000 games in Major League Baseball history. Of those games, 0.01% of them have resulted in a perfect game. Humber became a member of elite company when he pitched himself into the record books yesterday. He joined players like Roy Halladay, Cy Young, and Sandy Koufax. He joined lesser know players like Len Barker, Mike Witt, and Dallas Braden.
Humber used just 96 pitches to complete perfection. He reached a three ball count just three times in the game, and two of those times came in the ninth inning. The final batter struck out on a ball in the dirt and was thrown out at first base. Humber, as the moment sunk in, fell to his knees. It was a moment that resonates with baseball fans and casual observers alike.
Humber had another start in the week. And this is a weekly series. On Monday, Humber went just 5 1/3 innings in a no decision. He just one run on six hits and struck out seven. So, his start earlier in the week actually boosts his case. But the fact is, no amount of success or failure outside of yesterday’s game would have mattered. A perfect game earns you Stud of the Week honors instantly.
Dud of the Week
Sometimes legends fail. In the most famous of poems about baseball, Casey at the Bat, the hero and great slugger of the story strikes out when his team needed him most. It’s part of the game, and yet we are are so often surprised when our heroes struggle. Such is the case for Albert Pujols.
Pujols has yet to hit a home run this season. He is batting just .276, has just 4 RBI, and has walked only four times. He’s off to a slow start, but his last week has earned him the dubious title of Dud of the Week. In the last week, Pujols is just 8 for 29, a .275 average – right in line with his season pace. In that time, the Angels have gone just 3-4 and find themselves in last place in the National League West.
The Angels went out this offseason and spent a lot of money in hopes of competing with the Rangers. Art Moreno, the Angels GM, does not like losing. He does not like the fact that the Rangers have won the division in back-to-back seasons and marched on to the World Series. The addition of Albert Pujols was a calculated move to help improve the team’s slumping offense. So far, the plan has not quite worked. The season is young though. And Albert Pujols is Albert Pujols. He will heat up. He will hit 30 or so home runs. The Angels will win games. But for this week, Albert Pujols is the Dud of the Week.
Who are your studs and duds for the this past week? Who’d I forget?