Alex Bregman, the Cardinals and MLB's Biggest Winners and Losers of August
This has been an important month in Major League Baseball as teams try to separate themselves after the trade deadline.
Only one month remains to make a final impression. What teams did in August determines how desperate they are in September.
There are also players either performing at their best or worst at this point in the season.
Here, we take a look at some of the biggest winners and losers of August, based on performance and record.
Winner: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals put on a show in August, boasting a dominant 21-6 record for the month.
Albert Pujols, at 42 years old, is playing some of the best baseball he's ever played. He inched closer to 700 career home runs Monday night, hitting his 694th homer.
It was hit off Cincinnati Reds left-hander Ross Detweiler, who became the 450th pitcher Pujols has homered against, passing Barry Bonds for the most number of pitchers blasted.
Pujols has a 1.374 OPS with eight home runs in August heading into Tuesday's action.
Then you have Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, who are second and third in WAR, respectively, behind only Aaron Judge. For as great as they've both been this season, August was Arenado's best month and Goldschmidt's best since May.
Goldschmidt led MLB with nine home runs in August heading into Tuesday, while Arenado and Pujols tied with three others with eight.
Loser: New York Yankees
Other than watching Aaron Judge chasing Roger Maris' home run record, and the fact that they are still likely to finish with a top-two record in the American League, it's been a miserable month for the Yankees.
They're 10-17 in August after Tuesday night's win against the Los Angeles Angels. It's by far their worst month of the season.
The Yankees' OPS in August is .651. They are slashing .222/.298/.353 through 26 games.
They lost three games in a row to the lowly Angels and Oakland Athletics, a pair of non-contenders in the AL West. To make matters worse, Aroldis Chapman's disappointing 2022 season is being punctuated with a stint on the 15-day injured list with "a pretty bad infection" on his leg, stemming from a new tattoo.
The Yankees have been toward the top of the standings for most of the season but are now 23-30 since the end of June.
Winner: Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
Betts was just named National League Player of the Week after hitting .346 with four home runs and seven RBI over six games.
Seven of his nine hits went for extra bases and on Friday against the Miami Marlins, Betts had four hits, two homers and four RBI.
Betts' ninth-inning homer tied the game, and his 10th-inning RBI double gave the Dodgers the lead. He then homered in the next two games.
It's been Betts' best month since May. Through 26 games, he hit .333 with a 1.074 OPS.
In part thanks to Betts, along with a host of stars in L.A., the Dodgers have only lost 10 games since the end of June.
Loser: San Diego Padres
By record, at least it's been a better month than July. But that's not saying much.
San Diego's trade for Josh Hader looks like a disaster about a month into it. First, he was demoted from the closer's role.
Now, Hader's ERA is 23.14 in just seven appearances for the Padres. He's given up 12 hits and 12 earned runs in just 4.2 innings of work.
It's astounding how bad he's been there. Trading for Juan Soto and Josh Bell was great. But they need more from Bell, who is slashing .193/.330/.307 with two home runs in his first 25 games for San Diego.
That's just the Padres' losing situation on the field.
Away from it, face of the franchise Fernando Tatis Jr. was suspended 80 games for a PED violation. He had already missed the entire season at that point with a fractured wrist.
The Padres are holding onto that final NL wild card spot, but for all they have invested, August can't feel too good.
Winner: Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles recently took two out of three against the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros in consecutive three-game series.
All three of those teams were in the playoffs last year. Now, it's just the Astros, and the Orioles are closer to a wild-card spot than Boston or Chicago.
The Astros scored only twice in their three-game series over the weekend.
After 25 games, Baltimore's pitching staff had its lowest ERA (3.49) and opponents' OPS (6.88) for any month this season.
Rookie catcher Adley Rutschman continues to impress with an OPS of .863 through 25 games in August, his highest of any month since joining the major league club.
Even if they are left out of the playoffs by the end of September, this month helped build a lot of confidence for a young but promising Orioles squad.
Loser: Milwaukee Brewers
It's easy to gloss over now since Josh Hader has been a disaster so far with the San Diego Padres. But the Brewers trading him was met with criticism, even from within the locker room.
They traded Hader in the thick of a race with the St. Louis Cardinal for the NL Central. The Brewers have seemingly done nothing but concede the race ever since.
While the Cardinals dominated, going 21-7, the Brewers went 11-15. As a team, the Brewers have not hit this poorly since April.
Milwaukee relies on its pitching, but even ace Corbin Burnes stumbled in his most recent start against the Pittsburgh Pirates, giving up five earned runs in six innings.
Winner: Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks
Gallen entered Tuesday night's start against the Philadelphia Phillies looking for his fifth straight scoreless effort.
He had allowed just one hit and a free pass through four innings, but no runs. That's 34.1 innings of scoreless work.
Gallen hasn't allowed a run since Aug. 2. He just happened to turn 27 the next day. A couple of weeks later, Gallen had a career-high 12 strikeouts against the San Francisco Giants.
His ERA and WHIP through the first five starts in August were both 0.82 with a .165 opponent's batting average.
Even last month, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo was praising Gallen for his stuff and setting the tone on the mound.
This is the first winning month Arizona's had since May, and it can largely thank Gallen for it.
Winner: Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
With the last two seasons Bregman has had, there were legitimate questions about if and when he would return to his 2019 AL MVP-level form. He was second in voting to Mike Trout that year, but ever since has dealt with soft tissue injuries limiting his availability and performance.
Bregman in August looks a lot more like the MVP-level player from 2019, when his OPS was 1.015 (.296/.423/.592 slash line).
Through the first 25 games in August, Bregman had a 1.173 OPS (.375/.457/.716). His eight home runs through that time tied with Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge, Albert Pujols and Eugenio Suarez for the second-most in August.
Between the loss of Carlos Correa, injury concerns with Yordan Alvarez (hands) and Justin Verlander (calf) and an obvious hole in center field, Houston really needs Bregman to be his best self.
In August, he filled the void of a struggling Alvarez, once an AL MVP candidate in his own right earlier this year.
Alvarez had just a .638 OPS and one home run through 23 games played this month.