B.J. Upton's recent excellent play could not have come at a better time for the Rays, or for him. Upton is a free agent after the year, and his recent hot streak is so torrid that he's turned his walk year into a very good one after a very slow start. (He made an early Bear Market.) He has a slugging percentage just above 1.000 in September, and after a three-home run outing against the Rangers on Sunday, he has five homers in six games.
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Upton now leads the Rays in HRs (21), stolen bases (29) and RBI (66), with the RBI lead especially impressive since he's the team's leadoff hitter. He also is ahead of his better-regarded younger brother Justin in all three categories as he threatens to become the first Ray ever to lead the team in all three of those categories. What's more, Justin Upton is expecting to be traded somewhere from Arizona (could be almost anywhere, as he has a no-trade to only four teams) while B.J. never was traded after years of rumors, and now will have the chance to win a big free-agent contract. But first, he endeavors to get the Rays back to the World Series.
For most of the season, it's a wonder he kept his job. But over the past couple weeks, he's made the Orioles patience pay off as he's become the biggest power threat in baseball, especially against the Yankees. Reynolds produced his third multi-homer game against the Yankees, becoming the first to do so since Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg did it in 1938, according to Elias.
Though seven of his 21 home runs have come against the Yankees, Reynolds, who's in the process of resurrecting his career as he aids the Orioles' wonderful playoff run, isn't only terrorizing the Yankees. In his last nine games against all opponents, he has nine home runs, and he has a 1.143 slugging percentage in that period. Heading into his hot streak, Reynolds had only 12 home runs in 335 at-bats.
Headley now has 18 RBI over the last eight days as he's forged a surprise lead in the RBI race in the National League. It's not just that he's surpassed superstar Ryan Braun and now has 102 RBI. It's that he leads the league in RBI while hitting in a Padres lineup that isn't exactly filled with household names. He's also doing it while playing home games in Petco Park, which might as well have been named Pitchers Park.
Headley spent most of July being talked about in trades, and the Indians, Pirates, Phillies, Orioles (as a Reynolds replacement), Diamondbacks and Dodgers were among teams to show interest. San Diego considered moving Headley not because they didn't like him but because one of their best prospects is Jedd Gyorko, who's close to being ready to playing third base in the majors. But no one met the Padres' price, so they held into him. Now it'll be interesting to see how high the asking price goes, and whether the Padres might instead try to sign him long-term.
Swisher seems to be sliding ever since it came out (OK, it came out here) that he was expected to invoke Jayson Werth's $126-million, seven-year contract in his free agent pursuits this winter. But he has really struggled lately. Swisher is now zero for his last 28 as the Yankees try to fend off the Orioles and Rays.
And with Mark Teixeira now out with recurring calf trouble, it's not like Swisher can get a day off. He has become the first baseman on days Teixeira can't play. But no matter what position he's played, he's struggled at bat lately. His nice start means he's going to receive a very good payday in free agency. And of course, it only takes one to see him as Werth-like. However, the Dodgers adding Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez seems to leave no room for the Dodgers -- a natural landing spot for him, as Swisher now lives in L.A. where his wife is an actress -- to add Swisher.
Kemp was 2-for-22 when he finally went for an MRI on his ailing shoulder. For days he stoically wasn't admitting anything was wrong. But when Kemp, a player who plays every day, was out of the lineup vs. the rival Giants on Sunday, the jig was up. Kemp clearly is hurt. Between two stays on the DL for hamstring trouble and now this, it's been a painful year for Kemp, who now is finally surrounded by accomplished hitters in the Dodgers' lineup, or at least he will be again when he's able to play.
He made one of the first Bull Markets of the year with his perfect game out of nowhere. But he's gone back to nowhere since. In fact, worse than nowhere. His ERA was 216.00 for the week.
That's not a misprint.
Humber's season ERA was 0.63 after his perfecto at Safeco in Seattle, but as Tyler Kepner of the New York Times pointed out, it's not 7.21 since. Overall, he has a 6.50 ERA, and is threatening to have the worst mark for any pitcher who threw a perfect game in that season.