MLB Team of the Week: Jose Abreu, Ryan Braun, Kyle Seager and Zack Greinke Star
With the 2014 MLB first-year player draft in the rearview mirror, much of the nation's attention has been on the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, which is less than four weeks away.
Names such as David Price, Jeff Samardzija, Chase Headley and Jason Hammel dominate the discussion almost everywhere you turn—and rightfully so, as where they land will have a large impact on the postseason picture.
Let’s shift the focus to the best performances in MLB last week and identify the stars at each position.
As always, this will be to the point. One player will represent each fielding position, while one hurler will get the call for the lot of them. The only caveat is that each player must have appeared in at least four games at the position for which he is being considered.
One more thing: The designated hitter will not be included this week. There were simply no standout performers who started at least four games over the past seven days.
Let's get started.
Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has adjusted well to major league pitching in his first season. Look no further for proof than the fact that he was recently named the American League Rookie of the Month for the second time and is tied for first in home runs and for third in RBI in MLB.
The last seven days have been more of the same. In the final three games of a four-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays, for example, he hit two home runs, scored three times, drove in three runs and hit a double as the White Sox won each contest.
He cooled off considerably in his last two games against the Los Angeles Angels but still finished the week with a hit in each game and an absurd .476 ISO. His emergence has been magical.
Last Week’s Stats: .333/.417/.810, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, 228 wRC+
Logan Forsythe, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays
2014 Season Stats: .253/.301/.346, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 18 R, 7 2B, 85 wRC+
In six games, he had at least two hits five times, collected a RBI in four straight and scored five runs. His biggest hit of the week came against the New York Yankees on Monday night when he broke a 3-3 tie in the 12th inning with a run-scoring single.
Along with Matt Joyce and Kevin Kiermaier, Forsythe has been at the offensive front of the Rays' improved play. And with Ben Zobrist playing shortstop on a regular basis, he will continue to get the chance to prove he belongs in the everyday lineup.
To be sure, Jose Altuve from the Houston Astros (.483/.500/.586) and Ian Kinsler (.357/.379/.607) from the Detroit Tigers did everything they could to walk away with the honor. Forsythe's on-base percentage, slugging and wRC+ were too much for either of them to overcome, however.
Last Week’s Stats: .458/.519/.750, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R, 261 wRC+
Alcides Escobar, SS, Kansas City Royals
2014 Season Stats: .295/.335/.410, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 39 R, 24 2B, 2 3B, 20 SB, 106 wRC+
Not only did he have a hit in each game, but he also had two knocks in three contests and drove in four runs against the Minnesota Twins on Monday. Escobar also added to an already impressive number of doubles by hitting four more and ended the week with a .200 ISO.
All told, if the Royals can continue to get this type of production from the position, manager Ned Yost will be in good shape as his team drives toward the postseason.
Alexei Ramirez (.300/.333/.550) from the Chicago White Sox also put up nice numbers, but Escobar held a statistical edge in almost every area and had him beat in wRC+ by a wide margin.
Last Week’s Stats: .450/.500/.650, 4 RBI, 4 2B, 3 R, 2 SB, 223 wRC+
Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners
2014 Season Stats: .283/.355/.500, 13 HR, 59 RBI, 36 R, 21 2B, 3 3B, 139 wRC+
All he did in the last seven days was reach base safely in each game, collect at least two hits in four tilts and finish with a .217 ISO. He was also one of the best defensive third basemen last week, per splits over at FanGraphs.
There simply isn't much Seager isn't doing right now. The left-handed hitter has become the perfect offensive complement to second baseman Robinson Cano and is quickly playing himself into a contract extension.
Matt Carpenter (.478/.520/.739) from the St. Louis Cardinals and David Freese (.409/.435/.727) from the Los Angeles Angels did their best to take the title, but Seager's overall consistency proved to be the deciding factor.
Last Week’s Stats: .478/.538/.696, HR, 5 RBI, 3 R, 2 2B, 249 wRC+
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals
2014 Season Stats: .287/.340/.409, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 29 R, 14 2B, 111 wRC+
All in all, it was a dismal week for catchers across MLB, but thanks to a three-hit performance Thursday night versus the San Francisco Giants, Yadier Molina from the St. Louis Cardinals gets the nod.
Throughout the rest of the week, Molina was good, collecting a hit in five out of six games, but he only drove in one run, and that was on a solo shot he hit against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. The fact is that he has been struggling at the plate recently.
Salvador Perez (.304/.360/.435) from the Kansas City Royals, Jonathan Lucroy (.389/.400/.556) from the Milwaukee Brewers and Brian McCann (.240/.296/.480) from the New York Yankees were in the running here, but the breadth of their production was not up to their standards.
Last Week’s Stats: .350/.409/.550, HR, RBI, 2 R, 2B, 176 wRC+
Ryan Braun, RF, Milwaukee Brewers
2014 Season Stats: .293/.342/.515, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 45 R, 17 2B, 5 3B, 8 SB, 136 wRC+
His best showing of the week came Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, when he went 2-for-4 with two RBI, a triple and a run scored. That isn't why he earned the recognition, though.
Braun had at least two hits and drove in two runs in the same game twice and had an RBI in each game he played in. He also compiled a .450 ISO over the last seven days thanks to five extra-base hits and drove in the winning run in the ninth inning Friday night against the Colorado Rockies.
Kole Calhoun (.368/.455/.737) from the Los Angeles Angels and Kevin Kiermaier (.265/.265/.529) from the Tampa Bay Rays played quite well last week, but Braun was better in a majority of the metrics that matter.
Last Week’s Stats: .400/.429/.850, HR, 8 RBI, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 254 wRC+
Adam Jones, CF, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Season Stats: .308/.332/.510, 16 HR, 53 RBI, 50 R, 18 2B, 2 3B, 129 wRC+
During the second game of a doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night, he went 4-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored. He followed that performance up by going 6-for-12 with two home runs, five RBI and a double during the series versus the Texas Rangers.
Of course, Jones has been raking at the dish all season. Going into action Thursday, he ranked ninth in MLB with a 3.6 fWAR (FanGraphs WAR) and had a .307/.330/.510 slash line. The bottom line is that he continues to power the Orioles regardless of who else is in the lineup.
Last Week's Stats: .444/.452/.778, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, 3 2B, 227 wRC+
Steve Pearce, LF, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Season Stats: .338/.397/.618, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 22 R, 14 2B, 179 wRC+
Baltimore Orioles left fielder Steve Pearce is making the most of his opportunity. Since he started getting regular playing time in the outfield on May 29, he has put up a .344/.415/.645 slash line with six home runs and 18 RBI in 106 plate appearances. Sure, he's also started at first base and been the designated hitter during this time, but overall he has solidified what was a problem spot on the Orioles roster.
This past week was no different.
Most impressive was his performance against the Texas Rangers on Monday, when he hit two home runs and had four RBI. As if that wasn't enough, he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two more RBI on Thursday versus those same Rangers.
Those two games aren't the only reasons Pearce earned the recognition, however. All told, he reached base safely in each contest and collected at least one hit five times.
Matt Joyce (.360/.407/.800) from the Tampa Bay Rays is worth mentioning. He had a fantastic week, hitting three home runs with seven RBI and seven runs scored, but he did not play enough games in left to qualify.
Last Week's Stats: .370/.419/.852, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 6 R, 4 2B, 238 wRC+
Zack Greinke, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Season Stats: 11-4, 2.66 ERA, 111.2 IP, 3.02 FIP, 119 K, 22 BB
Unlike weeks past, there weren't any historic pitching performances over the past seven days.
Sure, right-hander Tyson Ross (1-1, 1.13 ERA) from the San Diego Padres threw a complete-game shutout Friday, and Julio Teheran (2-0, 1.29 ERA) from the Atlanta Braves was on point in his two starts, but they didn't do enough to separate themselves from the pack.
In two starts covering 15.0 innings pitched, he compiled a 1.20 ERA and struck out 18 batters. True, Greinke issued two walks in his last outing, but he minimized the damage. He also stranded over 88 percent of runners who reached base last week and generally kept hitters off balance by dominating the strike zone and changing speeds.
Last Week’s Stats: 2-0, 1.20 ERA, 15 IP, 1.97 FIP, 18 K, 2 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, July 3. Transaction, injury and game information courtesy of MLB.com.