Baseball's August Studs and Duds: Who Performed Well—and Who Didn't
Sure, the month of August hasn’t yet come to a close—but we are close enough!
August was a hot month for a bunch of players, though for others it was certainly a time to forget. Here’s a rundown of some of the best—and worst—players of the past 30 days. Statistics range from August 1 to August 30.
Let’s start off with the position players.
Studdiest stud: Joey Votto
Here are some eye-popping, jaw-dropping numbers for you: Since August 1, Votto has hit .352 with nine home runs and 19 RBI. His superhuman OPS of 1.217 is made possible by his .491 on-base percentage and .725 slugging percentage. To his credit, he has 25 walks against only 18 strikeouts.
If he were to extend those numbers out over a 162-game season, he would hit 54 home runs, drive 114 runs home and whack 42 doubles. Pitchers, clearly afraid of him, would give him a free pass 150 times.
Duddiest dud: Pedro Alvarez
Well, he did pretty well—last year.
Alvarez has hit only .200 in the past 30 days, performing so poorly that the Pirates—the talent-starved, perpetually-losing Pirates, for crying out loud—optioned him to the minor leagues on August 16.
And for good reason. Since August 1, he has drawn only one walk and has struck out 12 times, leading to a .220 on-base percentage and an absolutely putrid .445 OPS.
This is what they are talking about when you hear the phrase “Sophomore Slump.”
Stud #2: Robinson Cano
Cano isn’t the only Yankee you’ll see on this list, but his month of August has been the best.
In the past month, he has hit .349 with seven home runs and 28 RBI in 109 at-bats. His on-base percentage of .381 and slugging percentage of .642 give him an OPS of 1.024. Not quite Vottoian, but pretty close.
In total, he had 18 extra base hits—including nine doubles, a triple and the aforementioned seven home runs—and 21 runs scored. Not bad for a second baseman.
He has been just slightly better than a surging, power-hitting teammate…
Dud #2: Adam Dunn
Is Adam “Dunn” for? If his 2011 season is any indication, then he might be.
For a while there, it seemed like each week sports analysts were saying that, eventually, Dunn would break out of his season-long super slump. Weeks turned into months, and this month was just like all the rest—really, really bad.
Dunn managed only 57 at-bats in August and he posted a mark of .386—that is, he struck out 38.6 percent of the time. He only managed a hit 15.8 percent of the time and a walk only 9.5 percent of the time.
The former power-hitter, who the White Sox signed to bolster their lineup and drive runs in, has hit only one home run and collected only two RBI since August 1.
But hey, he may still turn it around. Next year.
Stud #3: Curtis Granderson
If this was 2002, then whispers of “steroids” would surely be abounding. But, in this new era of clean talent, we just have to hand it to Curtis Granderson; he is having a career-year, and his incredible August made it even better.
His .294 average isn’t as impressive as the marks put forth by Votto and Cano, but his 10 home runs and 29 RBI should impress anyone. He has scored a run for nearly every hit he has collected—he has 29 runs and 30 hits in the past 30 days—indicating he has a solid knowledge of the base paths (and lots of teammates to knock him in).
Perhaps most impressively, Granderson is a power-hitter with speed. On the season, he has 24 stolen bases and in the past month, he has swiped five bags, being caught only once.
There’s a reason why he is at the forefront of the MVP discussion.
Dud #3: Aaron Rowand
One thing I have noticed about all the duds on this list is they have not only been duds for the past month, but for the entirety of the season, as well.
Aaron Rowand is no exception.
On the year, Rowand is hitting .233 with only four home runs and 21 RBI, which is a far cry from the 27 home runs and 89 RBI he accrued in 2007.
In the past 30 days, he has hit only .157 with exactly zero home runs, zero RBI and zero walks. He has 16 strikeouts and an OPS of only .333. On the bright side, he has scored a run.
Perhaps I should have named Rowand the “duddiest dud.” The only thing keeping him from that distinction is the fact that, somehow, he is still on the Giants’ active roster.
Honorable stud mentions: Ryan Braun (.364 AVG/4 HR/17 RBI), Aramis Ramirez (.392 AVG/5 HR/20 RBI), Juan Pierre (.313 AVG/18 R/6 SB)
Dishonorable dud mentions: Eli Whiteside (.205 AVG/2 R/.220 OBP), Josh Bell (.171 AVG/.171 SLG/.428 OPS), Drew Stubbs (.214 AVG/39 K/.274 OBP)
Players who have potential to be studs in the near future: J.J. Hardy (.308 AVG/8 HR/.906 OPS), Kyle Blanks (7 HR/.583 SLG/.910 OPS), J.D. Martinez (28 RBI/.296 AVG/.846 OPS)
Players who will likely have a real dud September: Carlos Corporan (.217 AVG/0 HR/3 RBI), Travis Hafner (.239 AVG/24 K/.292 OBP), Jeff Mathis (.148 AVG/0 HR/0 R)
Now let’s do some pitchers.
Studdiest stud: Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee has put together another very impressive season and his godlike August just makes it that much better.
Lee made four starts since August commenced and he won every single one of them, going 4-0 with a miniscule 0.58 ERA in 31 innings. He allowed only one home run, seven walks and 17 hits while striking out 32 batters—an average of more than one per inning.
Though it is unlikely he’ll win the Cy Young Award—he has to compete with his teammate, Roy Halladay and someone else on this list—he should still certainly get some attention.
After having an August like this, it would be a travesty if he didn’t.
Duddiest dud: Kevin Corriea
Not to be cruel, but perhaps it is best for the Giants that Kevin Correia is on the disabled list—that way, he won’t cause them any more harm.
He was, it could be said, the foil of Cliff Lee.
In four starts, he went 0-3 with an 8.41 ERA, allowing 30 hits and 19 runs in 20.1 innings. His batting average against was .349, and his OPS against was 1.067.
Still, he has had a sort of okay season, going 12-11 with a 4.79 ERA.
Stud #2: Clayton Kershaw
How Kershaw managed to lose a game is beyond me. In six August starts, he went 5-1 with two complete games a 1.55 ERA, allowing only 34 hits in 46.1 innings. He held hitters to a tiny .206 batting average.
During one stretch, he made two straight starts and went 17 innings without allowing a single run. In those two starts, he struck out 14 batters while walking only two.
Kershaw is a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate this season. In fact, the ESPN Cy Predictor says he currently has the second-best chance of winning the Award, behind only Halladay.
Dud #2: Brian Duensing
While it was puzzling that Kershaw managed to lose a game in August, it is perhaps even more puzzling that Duensing managed to win one.
Since August 1, Duensing has gone 1-5 with a 7.88 ERA. Batters must all look like Ty Cobb to this guy, as he has let them hit .380 against him by surrendering 52 hits in 32 innings.
Similarly, hitters must also look a lot like Babe Ruth, as they have slugged a whopping .723 against him.
But it’s not all bad—he has 23 strikeouts, averaging over six per nine innings.
Stud #3: James Shields
James Shields is really nowhere on the Cy Young radar, as he is overshadowed by the likes of Justin Verlander, C.C. Sabathia, Jered Weaver—you get the idea.
But man, his August has been awesome.
Sure, his 4-1 record and 2.66 ERA this month are impressive, but perhaps most incredible are his three complete games, one of which was a brilliantly-pitched six-hit, eight-strikeout shutout.
In 40.2 innings, he has allowed only 31 hits and nine walks, while striking out 39 batters.
His August numbers would be even better if he didn’t struggle mightily in his third game of the month, in which he allowed seven runs in 7.1 innings.
Dud #3: Jair Jurrjens
This is most peculiar because for most of the season, Jair Jurrjens has been a beast. To say he has hit a wall this month, however, is an understatement.
From April 16 to July 27, Jurrjens went 12-3 with a 2.38 ERA. His batting average against was .234 and he walked only 33 batters.
In August, his numbers, well, don’t look so good. He is 1-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing 31 hits in 23.1 innings, a .323 batting average against and 11 walks (against only six strikeouts).
During his peak, Jurrjens was in the running for Cy Young Award. Not so much anymore.
Honorable stud mentions: Craig Kimbrel (0.00 ERA/9 SV/16 K/9IP), Roy Halladay (3-1 W-L/2.62 ERA/39 K), Felix Hernandez (3 W/42 K/10.7 K/9IP)
Dishonorable dud mentions: Tim Stauffer (3 L/6.68 ERA/.546 SLGA), Jason Hammel (3 L/7.94 ERA/.931 OPSA), Paul Maholm (0-4 W-L/6.75 ERA/.337 BAA)
Pitchers who have potential to be studs in the near future: Phil Coke (20 K/0.00 ERA/15 K/9IP), Chris Capuano (2 W/34 K/.230 BAA), Randy Wells (4-0 W-L/3.32 ERA/.192 BAA)
Pitchers who will likely have a real dud September: A.J. Burnett (11.91 ERA/11.91 ERA/11.91 ERA!!!), Brian Matusz (0-3 W-L/9.56 ERA/.348 BAA)/Aaron Cook (3 L/45 H/7.02 ERA)
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