Tag:Batter of the Month
Posted on: September 1, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:36 pm
 

Players of the Month: Avila, Lee



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every year August is the month when some teams pull away in the playoff race and others fade -- it's one of the biggest months of the season, even if it doesn't have the drama of September or the stakes of October. By the time August is done, there are few surprises -- what you see is what you get.

August's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Ortiz Lee
Miller Granderson Lee
Brunell Avila Kershaw
Rosecrans Votto Lee
Snyder Avila Lee
Fantasy Avila Lee

While one surprise team (Pittsburgh) fizzled, another (Arizona) sizzled. The Diamondbacks started August two games back in the NL West and now lead the defending champion Giants by six games. The D-Backs finished August on a nine-game winning streak -- they also had a seven-game winning streak earlier in the month. Kirk Gibson's club did have a six-game losing streak in the past 31 days, but the Giants have struggled all month, allowing some breathing distance for the D-Backs. 

This August has seen Atlanta's Dan Uggla go from a disappointment to, well, Dan Uggla. His hitting streak ended at 33 games, but his average increased from .206 at the end of July to .232 at the end of August. In all, he hit in 22 of 26 August games and went .340/.405/.670 with 10 homers as the Braves solidified their hold on the NL wild-card spot. 

Uggla was one of three players with 10 homers in the month, along with the Yankees' Curtis Granderson and the Rays' Evan Lognoria.

But it's Detroit's Alex Avila who gains the nod as our Batter of the Month.

His value to the Tigers lineup sealed the deal. Avila hit .360 with seven homers, 19 runs, 18 RBI and a 1.169 OPS in the August. Getting that kind of production from anywhere is incredible, but from a catcher it's just gravy. Even better, Avila bounced back from an awful July in which he hit .197 with a .584 OPS. Some may have thought his breakthrough season was coming to an end, but August was his biggest month of the season.

Meanwhile nine different pitchers picked up five wins. Some of the names (Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander) aren't surprising, while some (Ivan Nova, Ian Kennedy, Ricky Romero) were young guns making their mark. Another was a pitcher (Hiroki Kuroda) finally getting run support and the last (Bruce Chen) was a total surprise.

But Lee was The Man. He started five games. He won five games. He only allowed two earned runs, which both came in the same game. He averaged nearly eight innings per start, saving the Phillies bullpen some extra work. He struck out nearly a batter per inning while allowing less than one baserunner per inning, meaning he kept the pressure off his defense. Basically, Lee did it all for the Phillies in August, and that's why he snags this Pitcher award for a second consecutive month.

Past players of the month: April | May | June | July


Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
David Ortiz David Ortiz, Red Sox
Picking a player of the month wasn't easy, but David Ortiz's big two-run home run on Aug. 31 against the Yankees clinched it. Not exactly, but it helped. Even before that, Ortiz had a 1.308 August OPS that was the best by any major-league regular. In a month where no one player really stood out, he was definitely in the mix. And then he homered against the Yankees. So it's him.
Curtis Granderson Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Granderson's August catapulted him squarely into the AL MVP running. I love the symmetry, too: 29 RBI in August, and 29 runs scored. The runs led the majors and ribbies ranked second. Texas' Mike Napoli had a higher OPS (1.094-1.016) and deserves consideration, but if I picked one player to start a team with right now, it's Curtis G.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila has really come into his own in 2011. In August, he hit .372/.481/.721 with seven homers in 25 games. Did I mention he's a catcher? Avila's grip on the starting spot is so strong, he caught 18 consecutive games at one point during August. "He's been absolutely unbelievable," manager Jim Leyland told  MLive.com. "He's been tremendous. There's no question about it. Pretty impressive. Pretty darn impressive." Indeed.
Joey VottoJoey Votto, Reds 
Votto's August was much like Votto himself -- quiet and excellent. The Reds first baseman hit .347/.483/.716 with nine homers and 19 RBI in August. The Reds aren't in the postseason race, so it's unlikely Votto will get much consideration for MVP, but he may have had a better season than he did a year ago when he won the award.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Have you seen his average and slugging percentage in the month? That's just sick, especially for a catcher tasked with scouting opposing hitters and working with his pitching staff day in and day out. The young backstop just keeps getting better for the Tigers, who meanwhile keep winning games and appear headed for the postseason.
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila wasn't the most productive hitter in Fantasy formats, but he was probably the most productive relative to his position. He lapped the field of catchers, hitting .360 with seven homers and 18 RBI. He also helped owners in formats that reward walks by drawing 19 free passes in his 109 plate appearances. While he didn't have the overall production of Granderson or Carlos Gonzalez, Avila helped his Fantasy owners immensely by providing elite-level production at a thin position.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
In June, Cliff Lee went 5-0 and allowed just one run. In August, he went 5-0 and allowed two. That means he was slightly better in June than in August. It also means he's had two incredible months, and that he's my pitcher of the month -- again.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
This is why Philadelphia re-signed this guy. No, not to pitch in August. But to pitch in October LIKE he's pitched in August. Yeah, the 5-0 record in five starts grabs your attention, but that's just the beginning of the dominance. The 0.45 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the 39 strikeouts against just eight walks, the 0.78 WHIP ... until Wednesday night, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was my guy, but Lee's WHIP and strikeouts/walks ratio even tops Kershaw's (0.95, 39/10).
Brunell Rosecrans
Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw has been bandied about as one of the next great pitchers, but he's great right now, with a 5-1 August catapulting him into the Cy Young Award chase. Don't look now, but Kershaw has a better record (17-5 to 16-5) than Halladay, thrown more innings (198 2/3; 196 2/3) and has a lower ERA, with a 2.45 mark compared to 2.47 on the year. That's thanks to a month in which the lefty hurled 46 1/3 innings, checking in with a 1.55 ERA.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee, Phillies
Only three times in baseball history has a pitcher had two months in one season with five wins, no losses and an ERA under 1.00 -- Walter Johnson in 1913, Bob Gibson in 1968 and Lee in 2011. Lee threw 551 pitches in the month and just one resulted in runs -- a two-run homer by Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt on Aug. 17 in 9-2 Philadelphia victory.

Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
August was the second month this season where Lee's just been lights-out. This time around, he went 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in his five starts. His worst outing in the month came when Lee gave up three hits and two earned runs in a win against the first-place D-Backs.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies 
Lee made five starts in August and allowed zero runs in four of them, accomplishing the feat for the second time in three months. He won each of those five starts, averaging eight innings. He'll have his bouts with inconsistency, as was the case during an uneven July, but when he's on, he's arguably the best pitcher in Fantasy Baseball. He showed it again in August.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: May 1, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 1:03 pm
 

Players of the Month: Bautista, Weaver



By Matt Snyder


April was a month chock full of big individual performances in the ultimate team sport.

April's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Bautista Weaver
Miller Bautista Weaver
Brunell Bautista Garza
Rosecrans Bautista Johnson
Snyder Bautista Weaver
Fantasy Bautista Weaver
It was a month when we saw Andre Ethier put together a 26-game hitting streak en route to a .380 batting average. We saw his teammate Matt Kemp storm out of the gate as hot as anyone and slug a few walk-off home runs. Lance Berkman and Alfonso Soriano have apparently discovered the fountain of youth, while Alex Gordon had a breakout month four years in the making. Ryan Braun and Joey Votto have hit the ball as consistently well as anyone in the game. Matt Holliday returned in less than two weeks from an appendectomy and continued to mash. In the Big Apple, veteran Alex Rodriguez and youngster Ike Davis have been raking. Carlos Quentin and Troy Tulowitzki had stretches where they were hitting everything in sight. Ben Zobrist had one incredible double-dip and young Brett Wallace is finally making good on his promise.

April was also a time where Josh Johnson dominated the entire NL. Dan Haren showed he can still be a staff ace, while Michael Pineda showed glimpses of his ace potential. Matt Garza learned how to strike guys out at a much higher rate than ever before, while Roy Halladay just continued to do what he's done for his entire career. Alexi Ogando and Justin Masterson have surprised in a good way, while Jaime Garcia and Trevor Cahill prove last year was no fluke. Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang and Josh Beckett turned back the clock, while Zach Britton showed up a bit early. And what has gotten into James Shields?

April was about much more than everything above, but those are just a few of the players who have come through with exciting performances thus far in 2011 as we turn the calendar to May.  

But above and beyond all else, in terms of individual players, April was all about Jose Bautista and Jered Weaver -- just look at the CBSSports.com staff awards for April's top batter and pitcher.

Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
Jose Bautista Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
No top player in baseball had more to prove, because no other player had so many people asking whether he could repeat 2010. His major-league high 28 walks show the respect that comes with a 54-home run season, but his nine home runs and American League-leading .366 batting average show he's taking advantage when they pitch to him.
Jose Bautista Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Not only is Bautista leading the AL in both batting and homers, he's also leading in OPS and runs scored. Nobody matched his combination of average and production in the first month -- though Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist gave it his one-day best during the doubleheader in Minnesota last week!
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Jose Bautista Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Pitchers are rightfully terrified of Jose Bautista these days as he is delivering with a .366 average and nine home runs entering play Sunday. He's one of three qualified players with an OBP over .500. Overall, just a dominant month by someone who still had plenty of doubters. What are they thinking now?
Jose Bautista Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
As unbelievably good as Bautista's 2010 was, his April of 2011 was not only better -- but significantly better. Not only does he lead the majors in on-base percentage (.532), slugging (.780), OPS+ (235), walks (28) and runs (25), while leading the American League in homers (9) and batting average (.366) -- he hasn't even grounded into a double play so far this year.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Jose Bautista Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
His breakout season in 2010 was an incredible outlier as compared to his previous career numbers, but it most certainly wasn't a fluke. Bautista's numbers are showing he's one of the game's most feared sluggers, including an MLB-high 28 walks heading into Sunday. 
Jose Bautista Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Not only did Bautista lead all of baseball in both slugging percentage and on-base percentage, but he led all hitters in Fantasy points -- and he did it despite missing half a week for a personal matter. That's one way to quiet the skeptics coming off his out-of-nowhere 54-homer campaign.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Jered Weaver Jered Weaver, Angels
It's hard not to pick Josh Johnson, who had us thinking no-hitter in nearly every start. But as Scott Miller pointed out in his fine column last week, only seven pitchers since World War II have gone 6-0 in their team's first 23 games with a WHIP under 1.00. I can't think of much that Johnson did wrong. I can't think of anything Weaver did wrong.
Jered Weaver Jered Weaver, Angels
Weaver's WHIP (0.79) is ridiculous, and when a lineup as disciplined as the A's begin hacking at first pitches because they know they don't have a chance if Weaver gets ahead -- as the Athletics did last Monday night -- you know it's a special guy.
Brunell Rosecrans
Matt Garza Matt Garza, Cubs
Garza is 1-3, but that doesn't mean he's awful. His 1.98 xFIP leads baseball along with an 11.87 K/9; his peripherals suggest he's actually been unlucky so far, too. He's baseball's hottest pitcher hidden behind a won-loss record that does not reflect actual pitching performance.
Josh Johnson Josh Johnson, Marlins
It wasn't until his sixth and final start of April -- on the last day of the month, no less -- that Johnson had allowed a hit to any batter the first time through the order. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on opening day and took a no-no into the eighth in third start. His 3-0 record and 0.88 ERA are only the tip of the iceberg when describing how good he was this month.
Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Jered Weaver Jered Weaver, Angels
Very tough to pick someone other than Johnson here, but I give the nod to Weaver based upon his having thrown more innings, complete games and strikeouts with less walks in the same number of starts. Otherwise, they're basically identical and have been completely dominant.
Jered Weaver Jered Weaver, Angels
Josh Johnson may have a slightly lower ERA, and Roy Halladay may have a better strikeout-to-walk ratio, but nobody has been closer to perfection than Weaver. All six of his appearances have been quality starts, and he has allowed more than one run only once.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com