6 Biggest Storylines from This Week's MLB Action
As the MLB season quickly approaches the halfway mark, captivating storylines continue to surface with each passing week.
From MLB debuts to comeback kings, scintillating hot streaks to our first 10-game winner, these professional ballplayers sure know how to put on a show.
The week of June 14-20 supplied six wonders of the baseball world that added to an exciting 2013 season unfolding before us.
Without further ado, let's hop to and get them while they're hot!
1. Chris Davis, Yasiel Puig Remain Red Hot
The two hottest bats in baseball stand on opposite coasts: one from Baltimore, Md., the other from Los Angeles, Calif.
Chris Davis' breakout 2013 season is bound to break his personal home run, RBI and batting average totals, which he set last season with the Orioles (.270, 33 HR, 86 RBI). In his last seven games dating back to June 13 (the Orioles did not play Thursday), Davis is batting .333 with five home runs and 12 RBI. He has six home runs in his last eight games.
Battling Davis for the title of "most-feared batter" this past week was rookie sensation Yasiel Puig. His offensive numbers have been unworldly since his debut on June 3, and over the past week, Puig has maintained the torrid pace, batting .455 with one home run, one RBI and one double.
"Puigmania," as CBS Sports Baseball Insider Jon Heyman deemed it, dazzled Yankee Stadium in a three-game set. The rookie knocked a home run into the right-field bleachers, flashed his cannon of an arm and displayed his aggressive play by stretching a single into a double.
The two hitters owned mid-June and will likely continue up and through the All-Star break.
2. Blue Jays Riding Win Streak
After all the hype surrounding the new-look Toronto Blue Jays in 2013, it was nothing by dreary skies through the first two months of the season. At the end of May, the Jays stood at 23-32 and remained strangely complacent in last place of the AL East.
Since the start of June, however, the Blue Jays are 12-4 and have won eight straight games, their longest winning streak of the 2013 season. They haven't been cheap victories either. The streak began with a 7-5 extra-inning win against the Chicago White Sox and continued with a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers and a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
The team has been led by the scorching bat of Adam Lind, who is batting .321 with three home runs and 10 RBI over the past seven days.
More good news follows for the Jays, as Jose Reyes, who has been out with an ankle injury since April 13, is set to join Triple-A Buffalo today for the final stage of his rehab assignment. According to Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star, the All-Star shortstop could return as early as next week.
3. Max Scherzer Becomes First AL Pitcher to 10 Wins
Max Scherzer is doing what Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander has been unable to do in 2013: completely dominate AL hitters.
With Verlander pitching at an unexpectedly pedestrian level this season, Scherzer has stepped up to become one of the best pitchers in the first half of the season. The 28-year-old became the first AL starter to reach 10 wins with his commanding six-inning start against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday. Scherzer allowed just one run on seven hits while striking out 10, tying his season-high whiff total.
What's more impressive is that, according to Elias Sports Bureau (h/t Yahoo! Sports), Scherzer is the first Tigers pitcher in over 100 years to start a season 10-0 (the last was George Mullin, who began the 1909 season 11-0). He's also the first hurler since Roger Clemens in 1997 to reach the 10-0 mark.
In 96.1 innings (14 starts) the right-hander has tallied 116 strikeouts, compiled a 0.91 WHIP and has held batters to a .189 average.
4. Wil Myers Makes MLB Debut
What better way to make one's MLB debut than playing a doubleheader at Fenway Park, America's Most Beloved Ballpark, and following that series with play at the impressive new Yankee Stadium.
Wil Myers, Baseball America's reigning Minor League Player of the Year, made his first professional start against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. He was held hitless during the first game but smacked a single in his first at-bat of the nightcap.
During his first week at the MLB level, Myers has gone 3-for-17 with a double and two RBI. It's safe to bet we'll be seeing a lot more of the rookie in the starting lineup for the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 64 games for Triple-A Durham, Myers hit 14 home runs with an .876 OPS.
5. Rumors Swirling Around Ramirez Return
41-year-old Manny Ramirez has not played in the MLB since 2011, but one of the best hitters of the past two decades is still garnering interest from major league teams.
Everyone knows the baggage that accompanies the slugger—he's healthy then injured; he hustles but can be peevishly lazy—but no one can deny his 555 career home runs or .312 lifetime batting average.
After terminating his contract with the EDA Rhinos of the Taiwan professional league a week early, Ramirez is ready to hear offers from the United States or Japan. In 49 games for the struggling Taiwanese league, Manny hit .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBI. There is clearly productivity left in his game, but will it translate to the major league level?
Two teams that may be interested are the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals. The Yankees could use a power bat in the lineup after Mark Texeira and Kevin Youkilis returned to the disabled list. Plus, the Bombers have never been afraid to spend on a veteran bat to improve the team.
The Royals are another viable option, as they sit on the bubble between the Royals of years past and an actual playoff contender. It will be difficult for the organization to make any big deals at the trade deadline after sending Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi to the Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis. Why not sign Ramirez cheap?
Don't be surprised to see Manny being Manny in the MLB once more.
6. Astros Sign Mark Appel
The Houston Astros officially signed the No.1 overall draft pick, Mark Appel, on Wednesday. Appel went 12-4 with a 2.21 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 106.1 innings pitched during his senior collegiate season.
The Stanford pitcher signed for a bonus of $6.35 million, which may seem like a lot for a 21-year-old amateur, but it is less than the $8 million the Pirates gave Gerrit Cole in 2011 and the $7.5 million the Nationals gave Stephen Strasburg.
The new bonus pool system that went into effect with the new CBA agreement restricts the amount of money organizations can sign to draft picks. Prior to the new CBA, the MLB would suggest a given amount, but teams would either adhere or completely disregard the "advice." Now, teams can receive harsh penalties, including a monetary tax or the loss of future draft picks, if they don't adhere to the allotted bonus value (Jason Catania wrote an entire piece on this topic).
The good news for Houston, though, is they have locked up a bright future with Mark Appel and last year's top pick, shortstop Carlos Correa. It's only up from here.