From broomsticks to humerus bones, here is your week 3 recap:
10. Baltimore Orioles
After losing two to the Yankees, the Orioles were happy to be leaving New York. Unlike a certain basketball player, they were actually thrilled to be going to Cleveland. Then they started playing baseball. Cleveland took it to the Orioles all weekend long, outscoring Baltimore 20-7 over the course of the series. Baltimore never had so much as a lead in any of the games. As a matter of fact, the only time the Orioles had a lead this week, they blew a 5 run shutout, and lost the game in extra innings.
But things could always be worse, right? Baltimore may have gone 0-5 this week, but if Tuesday’s game in New York didn’t get rained out, they could very well be 0-6.
Baltimore won’t be catching a break anytime soon, either. On Monday, they begin a home stand with the Twins, Yankees, and Red Sox coming to town.
9. The Milwaukee Brewers Defensive Alignment
On Friday night, the Milwaukee Brewers entered the 10th inning tied at 3 with the Washington Nationals. After an error and a wild pitch, they were left with Jayson Werth on 3rd and just 1 out.
When Ron Roenicke took over as manager, he said he was going to play the percentages. He also hinted that there would be a focus on defensive positioning. Nobody realized, however, just how innovative it would get.
Instead of walking Adam LaRoche to set up the double play, Ryan Braun was brought in to play shortstop, leaving the team with 5 infielders and 2 outfielders. The play can be seen here, just click on “VIDEO.” In the end, the run scored, so the alignment still needs some work, but the Brewers did induce a ground ball directly to Prince Fielder.
This should be interesting to watch, as we don’t know what Roenicke will try next. I’ve always wanted to see if Carlos Gomez could patrol the entire outfield by himself.
8. The Big Money Free Agent Outfielders
While plenty of drama is being made about Carl Crawford’s slow start in Boston, he’s hitting just .127/.172/.145, Jayson Werth is quietly having a rough start in Washington. Werth is hitting .200/.302/.382. These numbers aren’t abysmal, but they’re far from his career pace, and certainly not the type of numbers that will help him live up to his contract.
A closer look shows that his BABIP is .225, 90 points below his career average. Crawford’s BABIP is just .156, down from his career .273 BABIP. Both of these players are simply too good to allow this to continue, but the fans, especially in Boston, are getting antsy.
7. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Pitching
Arizona Diamondback home stands must really play host to a bipolar locker room. On one hand, you have the hitters who can’t wait to take the field. On the other hand, you have the pitchers. They know that when bats make contact at Chase Field, things don’t end up very well. This week, the DBacks hosted the Cardinals and Giants, allowing scores of 8, 8, 15, 5, 5, and 5.
Luckily, Justin Upton and the rest of the Arizona offense get to hit in the same park, because they were able to salvage 2 victories. In all, 76 runs were scored in 6 games in Arizona this week, but only 30 for the home team.
5. Dan Haren – SP – Los Angeles Angels
Do you think Dan Haren misses playing at Chase Field? So far, he’s been pitching like he’s on a mission from God. This week, he threw a complete game shutout, and followed it up with 6 1/3 innings of 2-run, no-walk baseball. On the week, his K:BB ratio is 14:2. And actually, those 2 walks he gave up in the complete game are his only 2 walks on the season.
In 2011, he is 4-0 with an ERA of 0.73, and a WHIP of 0.53. That is 1 run every 12 innings, and 1 hit or walk every other inning. The last time someone started a season this well, Zack Greinke was beginning his Cy Young campaign in 2009. That’s an awfully great comparison. Haren has been a huge factor, so far, as the Angels lead the West.
6. The St Louis Cardinals’ Offense
The Cardinals exploded for 61 runs in 7 games this week. That’s an average of 8.7 runs per game! I’ll discuss Lance Berkman’s huge week further down, but more importantly for the Cardinals long-term success was Albert Pujols finding his stroke. He hit his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th home runs this week in cavernous Dodger Field. He also had multiple hits in 4 of the 7 games.
It’s not just the hitting that looked fantastic for the Cardinals. The pitching allowed only 2 runs in 4 of the 7 games this week. After going 5-2, the Cardinals sit just 1.5 games back of the Reds, and look like they could be contenders, even without Adam Wainwright.
4. Lance Berkman
Berkman was once part of the “Killer B’s” in Houston, with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. Now he might find himself as part of a killer threesome in St Louis, with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Or, more likely, this is a classic case of teaching an old dog to hit 6 home runs in 6 games before realizing that he needs to take a nap. Or, you know, however that saying goes.
4. Cleveland Indians
If you’re trying to move up my top ten list (and really, what else would you play for?), it helps if you finish the week strong. That is exactly what the Cleveland Indians did. After dropping two of three to the Angels, the Indians came back home to sweep the Orioles. As I noted above, the Indians didn’t allow the Orioles to take a single lead throughout the weekend.
Solid pitching and continued hitting from Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner carried the Indians to a 4-2 record on the week. They now sit atop the American League at 11-4. They are a game ahead of the Angels and, you guessed it, the Royals.
3. Troy Tulowitzki – SS – Colorado Rockies
Tulowitzki has been having a monster season, and this week was truly incredible. I’ll just let the stats do the talking: 7 G, 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 6 BB, 1 K, .519 AVG.
2. Colorado Rockies
Tulowitzki led the Rockies to, not only the best record of the week (6-1), but to the best record in all of MLB. Sure, they’ve been playing teams like the Mets and Cubs, but they’ve also been doing it without their ace, Ubaldo Jiminez. Now that Jiminez is back, The Rockies will look to continue rolling over opponents on their way to the NL West pennant. Hell, by the time they get to a difficult stretch of their schedule, they could already have the division locked up.
1. Josh Hamilton – OF – Texas Rangers
The Rangers were trying to be aggressive on the base paths, but it backfired when Josh Hamilton fractured his humerus bone trying to avoid a tag at the plate. With the slugger out for 2 months, the Rangers have been playing David Murphy in left, with Mike Napoli at 1B. Murphy has been playing well this season, but even if he keeps up his .323/.382/.452 line, he doesn’t have the speed or the power to adequately replace last year’s AL MVP.
The Rangers may be finding themselves in the market for a new outfielder. Perhaps the newly returned Grady Sizemore is a target. Then again, The Indians probably aren’t looking to trade the former All-Star while they are on top of the AL. By the time the Indians are out of contention, Hamilton will be close to returning.
Since offense really isn’t the problem in Texas, their best bet is probably to continue to fill the position internally, or possibly acquire some a defensive-minded player for depth. Two months is a long time to be without your top hitter, but if there is an team that can survive without Josh Hamilton, it’s the Rangers.