Another week brings another session of studs and duds. This week had its normal share of accomplishments as well as disappointments. We'll start off with the AL offensive studs and duds.
Travis Hafner almost earned my vote as the AL masher of the week. He has been solid so far this season and is one of the reasons the Tribe has had such an impressive early showing. However, I was not able to crown Hafner after taking a look at the damage Curtis Granderson had done this week. The Yankee OF had a batting average of .435 to go along with a ridiculous 1.130 slugging %. His 1.565 OPS jumped out at me as I reviewed the stats and upon spotting it I knew I had found my stud. Granderson had 7 extra base hits this week; 4 homeruns, 2 doubles and a triple. During this offensive surge Granderson has seen his average rise from .156 to .273.
After a slow start, Granderson has taken off
This week was not very kind to several big name hitters in the American League. Nick Markakis, Alex Rios and Bobby Abreu all hit around the .100 mark over the last 7 days. These veterans were all able to at least take advantage of the base on balls. This week's AL dud did not, and his numbers suffered. Gordon Beckham of the Chicago White Sox managed 2 hits in 23 plate appearances, striking out 4 times last week. His average, OBP and slugging are all an identical .087 because he was unable to hit for extra bases or take a walk. Beckham emerged in 2009 to much fanfare and performed fairly well early. Last season, he was not able to replicate his early success, and is now off to a slow start in 2011. The White Sox hope their second baseman can again capture that success he found early in his career.
Beckham looks to rebound after a slow start
Look for the AL's best and worst pitching performances of the week later on today.
There was a little reshuffling in my top 5 this week, with one team dropping off the list. The 4 that remain from last week change slots, and the World Series champs make the cut for this week's top 5. It's still very early and there are some other teams with solid records, but it's hard to compare wins and losses when teams are still rounding into regular season form. With that I felt like I had a little explaining to do with my choices.
The Cleveland Indians share the best record in baseball with the Colorado Rockies, but the Indians did not make the cut. They only have played in one full series against a team playing at least .500 baseball and they lost that series to the Angels. Their pitching has been lights out but it's still too early for me to tell if this streak is due to scheduling or a legitimate turnaround. Two other teams that I seriously looked at for spots on the list were the LA Angels and Cincinnati Reds; maybe next week guys.
The Phils look forward to Utley's return
The top team was not as clear this week as last, but I have to choose one and I'm going with the one that has four aces. The Phillies finished up their NL East tour with the Marlins this weekend, splitting a rain shortened set against Florida. They took the tough loss Monday in extras against Milwaukee; the Brewers taking advantage of the Phillies starting someone not named Cliff, Roy or Cole. There have been positive Chase Utley sightings and people are getting more optimistic about his return. The big question mark going forward for the Phillies will be their bullpen.
The Rockies are currently sharing the best record in baseball with the Cleveland Indians. They are 8-2 over their last 10 games and had a great week last week. They went into New York and swept the Mets and then took 2 of three from the Cubs. Monday night they ran into the wall that is Tim Lincecum. The Rockies have been lead by their bats, but their pitching looks to get a boost Tuesday night with the return of Ubaldo Jimenez. Colorado will look to get back on the winning track against San Fran before heading to Florida and Chicago next week for three game sets against the Marlins and Cubbies.
The Rangers have been reeling since Hamilton's injury
The Rangers were my number 1 team last week after a 9-1 start. Last Tuesday Texas was faced with the unfortunate news that MVP Josh Hamilton would be missing considerable time due to a broken arm. The Rangers have been on a slide since that game Hamilton went down, going 2-4 over their last 6. They ended up losing series to the Tigers and Yankees last week. CJ Wilson was able to right the ship for a night against the Ranger's AL West foes the Angels. Hamilton is not someone that is replaced, but I think the Rangers have the depth to work around his injury for the time being. They play their best ball at home (7-0) and welcome the Angels, Royals and Blue Jays in over the next week.
New York Yankees
The Yankees just made my list last week and were able to move up a spot after a 2 game sweep of the Orioles and series win versus the Rangers. New York found out that it is losing Phil Hughes for some time, but that may be more of a blessing with Hughes' 13.94 ERA. Nonetheless, he was slotting in as their 3rd starter, so the questions marks are still following this Yankee rotation. The hitting has been there, but if this team looks to improve they are going to need more consistency from their starters.
San Francisco Giants
Cain and Lincecum lead the Giants
The Champs are here. San Francisco comes in at number 5 for me this week. They had a solid past week, taking series from the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. They started off this week on a good note, with their ace almost no-hitting the leaders of their division. Cain and Lincecum have started the year pitching lights out and Jonathan Sanchez has had a good early showing. While their pitching has been the story, the bats are also carrying their weight. The Giants have a bit of a tough stretch coming up as they finish their series against the Rockies and then head home and welcome in the Atlanta Braves. With Lincecum and Cain sitting at the top of the rotation, the Giants should hang around the top all season.
Monday brought its share of dominant pitching performances. Yesterday alone, seven pitchers went at least 7 innings and gave up no more than 1 earned run. This stat isn't even including the Pirate's Kevin Correia who threw a complete game against the Reds, only surrendering 2 earned runs.
Red Sox find hope in Monday's outing
The Red Sox Daisuke Matsuzaka started off the day holding the Blue Jays to only one hit over seven innings. Matsuzaka only needed 89 pitches to get through his 7 innings of work, in which he struck out 3 and walked 1.
As the day turned into night, MLB's evening schedule began, and the strong pitching continued. David Price shut out the offensive force of the White Sox over 8 innings, giving up only 4 hits while striking out 9.
Price helps Rays continue hot streak
C.J. Wilson of the Rangers faced off against the team's AL West rival Angels. While his counterpart Ervin Santana did not add to the list of performances, Wilson had a good night. He was able to scatter 9 hits and limit the damage, only allowing 1 earned run and striking out 9.
In a West vs. East battle, Ted Lilly led the Dodgers to a victory over Tim Hudson and the Braves. The Dodgers gave Lilly an early 3 run lead and that's all that he needed, going 7 scoreless innings. Lilly allowed only 4 hits and punched out 6 Braves.
While most games offered one strong pitching performance, there was one match up where both pitchers wanted to get in on the action. The Cubs faced off against the Padres and both sides pitched so well that extra innings was needed to decide the outcome. Both starters were very solid, Tim Stauffer of the Padres going 7 scoreless, allowing only 4 hits. However, Stauffer was bested by Cub’s enigma Carlos Zambrano, who struck out 10 over 8 scoreless innings.
Lincecum has been dominant
While these were certainly some great match ups and performances, Monday saved its best show for last. The Freak Tim Lincecum faced off against the red hot Colorado Rockies. The Rockies and Coors Field were no match for the former Cy Young winner as Lincecum held the Rockies hitless over 6 innings. Colorado was able to get to Timmy in the 7th but they only managed one run. Lincecum finished the night going 7.2 innings; he allowed a single run and struck out 10.
On Monday, pitching was king. We will see what Tuesday brings, if the pitching continues or if the offense controls the night.
Ozzie Guillen is certainly no stranger to profanity-laced tirades. The manager regularly goes off on his team or others when he feels it necessary. You only have to go back to opening day of this year to find a classic Ozzie comment. While his players prepared for their opener against the Indians, Guillen was letting the MLB know his thoughts about their scheduling ability. Ozzie stated how it was "very stupid to play in Cleveland right now".
Ozzie is fed up with his bullpen
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Four big names made the headlines today for injury related issues. One had good news of a return while it appears the other three will be missing some time.
Adam Dunn will be in the starting tonight for the Chicago White Sox. Dunn missed the last few games after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. The White Sox were taking it slow with their slugger and have decided that tonight he is back to full go. The team welcomes the power hitter back to an already solid lineup
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If athletes could map out their careers they would include things such as Rookie of the Year Awards, MVP's and of course plenty of championship rings. Many would plan a storybook ending, perhaps a tearful sendoff by a stadium full of their devoted fans. No one, if given the choice, would choose Manny Ramirez's exit.
Manny carried the Dodgers in 08
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With week one in the books I'd like to take a second to see which individuals got to a quick start out of the gates and those who couldn't figure out how to open theirs. I'll start with the American League and then share those Studs and Duds in the National League later today.
We'll start on a positive note with the studs. While in their first two starts Dan Haren was exceptional and Edwin Jackson punched out a league leading 20 batters, my pick for AL stud pitcher of the week goes to Jered Weaver of the Angels. While he wasn't facing the beasts of the AL in the Rays and Royals, Weaver only allowed 5 hits and 1 ER over his first two starts. We will see if this 0.69 ERA holds up next week against a tougher opponent in the Blue Jays
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It has just been announced that Manny Ramirez will end his illustrious and always entertaining career. Only a week into the new baseball season, the Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter is calling it quits. It appears that Manny was dealing with the league on an issue regarding MLB's Joint Drug Prevention Treatment Program. I'm certain that more information will be coming out of this situation, but I for one am certainly surprised.
Though he has seen his numbers tail off in recent years, Manny ended last season with a combined .298 batting average playing for the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. It is certain that he did not have the start that he wanted this year
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