MLB Team of the Week: Martinez, Cruz, Hernandez and Sandoval Star

Matthew SmithCorrespondent IIIMay 30, 2014

MLB Team of the Week: Martinez, Cruz, Hernandez and Sandoval Star

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    Nelson Cruz has been on a tear for some time.
    Nelson Cruz has been on a tear for some time.Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Another week of the MLB season has come and gone. And during it, there were incredible pitching performances, walk-off home runs and an injury scare concerning one of the brightest youngsters in the game, Yordano Ventura.

    Man, oh man.

    So who were the MLB regulars that stood out among their peers over the last seven days? That’s what we’re about to find out.

    As always, this will be to the point. One player will represent each fielding position and the designated hitter, while one hurler will get the call for the lot of them. It’s true, this list won’t always mesh with your list, but statistics are rarely misleading.

    Let’s examine who the stars of the week were across the game of baseball.

Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    2014 Stats: .268/.342/.606, 18 HR, 48 RBI, 37 R, 14 2B, 159 wRC+

     

    Overview

    After compiling a .280/.357/.880 slash line and hitting five home runs during the week that ended May 22, Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion did it again. Well, almost.

    The numbers were even more electric, making Encarnacion the most productive at his position.

    Two games in particular stood out. On Memorial Day, he went 3-for-5 with a home run, double and two runs scored. Then on Thursday night, Encarnacion did what he does best—he hit two more home runs and drove in four runs.

    True, his overall batting average isn’t where it should be, but Encarnacion did a better job this week getting on base and is making his hits count.

    Michael Morse (.474/.500/1.000) and Brayan Pena (.476/.478/.619) put up fantastic numbers as well, but Encarnacion held the edge in ISO, runs and RBI.

     

    Last Week’s Stats: .346/.393/.962, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R, 271 wRC+

Gordon Beckham, 2B, Chicago White Sox

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    2014 Stats: .297/.338/.445, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 7 2B, 19 R, 116 wRC+

     

    Overview

    Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham had a few hits that mattered last week. None more so than the solo home run he hit leading off the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday. Not only did it account for the winning run in a 2-1 White Sox victory, but it set the table for a series sweep the next night.

    All told, Beckham had a hit in each game last week and appears to be at ease at the plate. And that is a departure from years past when it seemed he was constantly pressing to make something happen.

    Now whether or not Beckham is playing his way onto the 25-man roster next season or increasing his trade value is a question for general manager Rick Hahn, but his team appreciates the increased productivity since moving toward the top of the order.

    It must be noted that Astros second baseman Jose Altuve played very well last week, posting a .419/.471/.484 slash line. Beckham’s wRC+, ISO and slugging percentage are better than Altuve’s, though, giving him the edge.

     

    Last Week’s Stats: .421/.476/.632, HR, 2B, 4 R, 210 wRC+

Erick Aybar, SS, Los Angeles Angels

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    2014 Stats: .274/.307/.423, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 27 R, 12 2B, 104 wRC+

     

    Overview

    Los Angeles Angels shortstop Erick Aybar was at the top of his game last week.

    What stood out about Aybar’s performance was his consistency. He collected hits in six out of seven contests and had three multi-hit games. And he also drove in at least two runs twice.

    True, three of Aybar’s RBI came on one swing Thursday night against the Seattle Mariners, but he was steady throughout the week.

    To be sure, Everth Cabrera (.360/.407/.560) and J.J. Hardy (.360/.429/.440) were excellent, but Aybar struck out less and was more productive driving in runs.

     

    Last Week’s Stats: .357/.379/.643, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R, 190 wRC+

Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants

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    George Nikitin/Associated Press

    2014 Stats: .247/.300/.428, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 26 R, 9 2B, 102 wRC+

     

    Overview

    The race for this week’s star at third base was a three-man competition. The fact is that Josh Donaldson, Martin Prado and Pablo Sandoval all did enough to earn the title, but Sandoval gets the nod because of his ISO and RBI total.

    Now the story goes that Madison Bumgarner’s boots are the cause of his recent success at the plate, per the San Francisco Chronicle’s Ann Killion. If only it were that simple. The truth is that Sandoval is staying in the hitting zone longer and the results are evident.

    Sandoval ended his week on a high note, hitting a home run Thursday evening against the St. Louis Cardinals.

     

    Last Week’s Stats: .400/.429/.880, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 7 R, 251 wRC+

Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    2014 Stats: .326/.397/.481, 2 HR, 22 RBI, 21 2B, 20 R, 144 wRC+

     

    Overview

    Perhaps not so quietly, Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is turning into one of the best at his position in the National League. Nothing against Buster Posey or Yadier Molina, of course, it’s just that Lucroy’s numbers are hard to miss.

    While he was consistent throughout the week—reaching base in all six games—he did have one defining game. Against the Miami Marlins last Sunday, Lucroy went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI and a triple.

    If a surging Mark Reynolds and Lucroy can continue producing at a high level, the Brewers will be in good shape as they try to fend off the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

    A.J. Pierzynski kept it close, but Lucroy put up a better slugging percentage and had a higher wRC+.

     

    Last Week’s Stats: .346/.393/.615, 5 2B, 4 RBI, 3 R, 176 wRC+

George Springer, RF, Houston Astros

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    2014 Stats: .268/.359/.523, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 23 R, 6 2B, 148 wRC+

     

    Overview

    Houston Astros right fielder George Springer is living up to the hype, and there were plenty of fireworks to go around this past week.

    Against the Seattle Mariners, for example, Springer went 3-for-9 with three home runs and seven RBI in two games. Then, during a three-game set versus the Kansas City Royals, he went 6-for-11 with two home runs, five RBI, two doubles and scored seven times. Finally, he hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday that proved to be the game-winner.

    Following a rather slow start after getting called up, some doubted whether or not Springer was ready for the big leagues. But as USA Today’s Ted Berg noted, “It’s always worth giving a guy some time before making any sweeping conclusions about his future as an MLB player.” Well said, Ted.

    The same goes for anointing him a perennial All-Star, though. Patience is key with Springer, but if this past week is the true measure of his abilities, Astros fans are in for a fun ride.

     

    Last Week’s Stats: .417/.517/1.250, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 11 R, 371 wRC+

Carlos Gomez, CF, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    2014 Stats: .323/.394/.594, 11 HR, 30 RBI, 35 R, 15 2B, 172 wRC+

     

    Overview

    The day after missing a game with back tightness, Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez took his performance to another level.

    He started by putting together a .615/.615/.923 slash line against the Miami Marlins during a weekend matchup. The next series versus the Baltimore Orioles was comparatively pedestrian, but he still went 4-for-11 with a home run, four RBI and three runs scored. All told, Gomez carried the Brewers to four victories and two series wins.

    While this has no impact on his status as the star of the week among MLB center fielders, it is a pretty cool story. On Tuesday night, Gomez invited a fan onto the field to throw out the first pitch, gave her an autographed baseball and a wave as he rounded the bases following a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, via B/R's Kyle Newport.

    Mike Trout (.440/.500/.720) made a run here, but Gomez held him off with a superior ISO and a better wRC+.

     

    Last Week’s Stats: .500/.538/.833, HR, 5 2B, 7 RBI, 6 R, 283 wRC+

Nelson Cruz, LF, Baltimore Orioles

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2014 Stats: .310/.378/.660, 19 HR, 49 RBI, 38 R, 12 2B, 180 wRC+

     

    Overview

    If it weren’t for Baltimore Orioles left fielder Nelson Cruz, Khris Davis from the Milwaukee Brewers would have run away with the honors here. Unfortunately for Davis—and everyone else—Cruz is showing no signs of slowing down since getting more playing time in left field.

    Three times last week, Cruz collected two hits and scored two runs in the same game. Against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, he went yard twice and walked once. He was simply dominant all week.

    A week removed from posting .348/.414/.652 slash line, Cruz is still delivering in a big way for the Orioles.

     

    Last Week’s Stats: .480/.552/1.240, 5 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R, 382 wRC+

Victor Martinez, DH, Detroit Tigers

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    2014 Stats: .344/.398/.603, 12 HR, 31 RBI, 24 R, 13 2B, 167 wRC+

     

    Overview

    Victor Martinez is once again delivering in a big way for the Detroit Tigers, posting a .458/.519/.583 line over the last seven days.

    He also saved his best for last. Versus the Oakland Athletics on Thursday afternoon, Martinez doubled in Miguel Cabrera and Don Kelly with what ended up being the deciding runs in a 5-4 Tigers victory. Considering the struggles the team has been experiencing recently, it was a bit hit.

    There isn't much more to say about Martinez. He is one of the best pure hitters in MLB.

     

    Last Week’s Stats: .458/.519/.583, 3 RBI, 3 2B, 207 wRC+

Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    2014 Stats: 7-1, 2.57 ERA, 2.22 FIP, 12 GS, 84.0 IP, 83 K, 16 BB, 1.024 WHIP

     

    Overview

    There isn’t much of a debate here. Felix Hernandez was about as destructive as one pitcher can be in seven calendar days.

    He was so effective, that each of his starts last week were almost identical. On May 23, he went 8.0 innings, struck out nine batters, walked one and gave up one earned run. On May 28, he went 8.2 innings, struck out nine batters, walked two and gave up one earned run.

    Yeah. Now his second outing of the week was against the potent lineup belonging to the Los Angeles Angels, but the Houston Astros, who he shut down during his first outing, have been hitting the ball quite well also.

    Either way, the man is a machine. While he may not throw as consistently hard as he used to, he is the best pitcher in the American League right now.

     

    Last Week’s Stats: 2-0, 1.08 ERA, 1.43 FIP, 2 GS, 16.2 IP, 18 K, 3 BB,

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs. Weekly statistics were taken from the "leaders" page at FanGraphs and are for the week ending Thursday, May 29. Transaction, injury, scouting reports and game information are courtesy of MLB.com.

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