MLB Team of the Week: Encarnacion, Ozuna, Bautista, Strasburg and Gattis Star
It's fitting that as the MLB first-year player draft enters its second day, we take a look back at the stars of the past week.
After all, each of the players featured here was just getting their start in professional baseball at one point. As a matter of fact, one of them was the first pick in the 2009 MLB draft.
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.
The only caveat is that each position player must have appeared in at least four games at the position for which he is being considered. The one exception is at designated hitter, where the minimum threshold is three games thanks to interleague play limiting the number of starts certain players get.
Let’s examine who the stars of the week were across MLB.
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 Stats: .273/.363/.612, 19 HR, 50 RBI, 41 R, 16 2B, 167 wRC+
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion took it to another level in the month of May. En route to the American League Player of the Month award, he “led the league in home runs (16), slugging percentage (.763) and extra-base hits (22),” per MLB.com's Joey Nowak.
Last week was no different. Well, it was a little. Encarnacion didn’t hit five home runs as he did the week prior, but he was no less effective creating runs and otherwise being an offensive giant.
To be sure, Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera and Michael Morse from the San Francisco Giants put up a fight here, but Encarnacion had a higher walk rate, slugging percentage and wRC+. So as good as their numbers were, Encarnacion’s were that much better.
Last Week’s Stats: .357/.591/.714, HR, 2 RBI, 4 R, 2 2B, .357 ISO, 250 wRC+
DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats: .283/.340/.367, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 27 R, 7 2B, 78 wRC+
Don’t look now, but Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu is making some noise. He collected an RBI in three out of six games, hit safely in every contest and finished with an unexpected .650 slugging percentage.
And coming off his performance two weeks ago (.105/.105/.263), he needed to show the fanbase something. Not like the Rockies’ offense is in dire need of another basher, of course, but they certainly need some consistency from the keystone position. LeMahieu is simply playing good baseball at the moment.
Last Week’s Stats: .400/.455/.650, HR, 3 RBI, 5 R, .250 ISO, 188 wRC+
Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
2014 Stats: .285/.323/.462, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 21 R, 12 2B, 3 3B, 112 wRC+
Owings can thank the series versus the Colorado Rockies for getting the recognition here. He went 7-for-12 with two home runs, two doubles, seven RBI, four runs scored and had a staggering 1.545 slugging percentage. It was simply an incredible performance.
It must be noted that Xander Bogaerts from the Boston Red Sox has been better than all three, but he didn’t play enough games at shortstop to qualify. That will likely not change moving forward, either, as Bogaerts should see more time at third.
Last Week’s Stats: .368/.350/.895, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R, .526 ISO, 226 wRC+
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals
2014 Stats: .271/.328/.459, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 39 R, 11 2B, 4 3B, 116 wRC+
For the week that ended May 29, Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon put up a .167/.348/.278 slash line. Now for as bad as those numbers were good, the past seven days were that much better for the right-handed hitter.
While Rendon had a hit in five out of six contests, two games stood out in particular. On Saturday versus the Texas Rangers, he went 4-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored. He followed that performance up by going 3-for-5 with another home run and three RBI three days later against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Now the reason Rendon gets the nod here isn’t just because of those two games, though. He was consistent throughout the week and is a big reason manager Matt Williams' team has won three games in a row.
Last Week’s Stats: .423/.464/.769, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R, .346 ISO, 246 wRC+
Evan Gattis, C, Atlanta Braves
2014 Stats: .260/.313/.540, 12 HR, 27 RBI, 18 R, 4 2B, 135 wRC+
After putting together a .222/.296/.460 slash line from May 1 through May 29, Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis came alive. That’s an understatement, actually, since he put together one of the best stat lines in all of baseball.
It’s not like the success was limited to one game, either. He had at least one hit in each contest and hit two home runs to go with five RBI. If he can continue to produce the way he has over the past week, the Braves will be in a much better spot offensively.
Last Week’s Stats: .385/.500/.846, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, .462 ISO, 270 wRC+
Jose Bautista, RF, Toronto Blue Jays
2014 Stats: .320/.445/.557, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 47 R, 10 2B, 178 wRC+
Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista continues to prove to everyone involved that he is one of the best at his position in the MLB. Consider that going into this past week, he had a .320/.400/.440 slash line with a 128 wRC+ over his previous seven games.
His past six games? Even better.
In the three game set versus the Kansas City Royals, for example, Bautista went 5-for-12 with a 1.667 OPS, two RBI and three runs scored. Against the Detroit Tigers the following series, he finished with a .462/.500/.538 slash line. He was dominant.
Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Josh Harrison (.462/.462/.769) also had a stellar showing last week. Bautista was better in almost every metric, though.
Last Week’s Stats: .500/.577/.727, HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, .227 ISO, 266 wRC+
Marcell Ozuna, CF, Miami Marlins
2014 Stats: .274/.319/.466, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 29 R, 7 2B, 116 wRC+
Against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, he went 3-for-5 with a home run, four RBI and scored three times. Versus the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, he went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run. All told, he is on a six-game hitting streak and is playing remarkable defense.
Last Week’s Stats: .375/.423/.708, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R, .333 ISO, 214 wRC+
Josh Willingham, LF, Minnesota Twins
2014 Stats: .320/.493/.600, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 12 R, 2 2B, 204 wRC+
What was most impressive about Willingham’s production over the past seven days was his balance. He reached base in each game, collected at least one RBI in six out of seven contests and scored at least one run five times. His return has been huge for the Twins who are desperately trying to stay in the race in the AL Central.
Last Week’s Stats: .381/.552/.857, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 7 R, .476 ISO, 280 wRC+
Nelson Cruz, DH, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Stats: .313/.382/.664, 21 HR, 55 RBI, 42 R, 13 2B, 182 wRC+
After putting up a 480/.552/1.240 slash line two weeks ago and being recognized here for his excellence in left field, Baltimore Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz gets the nod at designated hitter this time around.
As a designated hitter, two games stood out. On Sunday versus the Houston Astros, Cruz went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBI. Three days later against the Texas Rangers, he was 3-for-5 with two runs scored.
All told, Cruz is having one heck of a season, and he is playing his way into a multiyear deal when he hits free agency after this season.
Toronto Blue Jays slugger Adam Lind (.381/.409/.571) pushed Cruz here a bit, but he didn’t measure up in either ISO or wRC+.
Last Week’s Stats: .350/.417/.700, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, .350 ISO, 200 wRC+
Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals
2014 Stats: 5-4, 3.10 ERA, 2.39 FIP, 101 K, 19 BB, 81.1 IP, 13 GS
It was next to impossible to select a pitcher who stood out among his peers this past week. Just consider that Henderson Alvarez, Roenis Elias and Kyle Lohse all pitched complete-game shutouts. If that weren’t enough, Yu Darvish and Mark Buehrle were just two of the many pitchers who went eight innings without giving up a run.
So in lieu of the singular performance that stood out, let’s go with Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg. All he did was hurl 13.0 innings and strike out 20 while having a FIP lower than his ERA.
The numbers could have been better, too. The fact of the matter is that his defense failed him in each of the games he started, but he found a way to minimize the damage as much as possible and ended up walking away a winner in both.
It also didn’t hurt that Strasburg drove in his first run of the season versus the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.
Last Week’s Stats: 2-0, 1.38 ERA, 1.22 FIP, 20 K, BB, 13.0 IP, 2 GS
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, June 5. Transaction, injury and game information are courtesy of MLB.com.