The last full week of July is officially in the books, and as always it made for exciting play on the diamond. As the season is winding down, it will be interesting to see how all these division leads will play out; mainly in the National League; and if the Detroit Tigers can hold onto the biggest division lead as we speak. With that being said, here are the MLB standout players of the week.
AL Standout – Carlos Santana
Cleveland Indians first/third baseman Carlos Santana had quite a week for himself at the plate and it could be a sign of things to come. What I mean by that is over the last few years, Santana has been only a guy with a powerful bat and that’s it. We have all been waiting for this guy to break through because talent-wise Santana can put of an MVP-type season. However, so far that has not been the case. While he has shown light, he has shown more of being another Brandon Inge-type player. Although this week finally looks like that won’t be the case anymore. With a .556 batting average, .636 OBP, 1.333 SLG, 1.4 WAR and six home runs as well as 10 RBI, Carlos Santana is this week’s AL standout player of the week.
NL Standout – Adrian Gonzalez
Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez had a nice week at the plate for the first place Dodgers. While Clayton Kershaw is getting all the headlines (rightly so), and Yasel Puig made some history this week, Gonzalez is quietly returning to the player we all know he can be. While his current batting average of .262 is well below his career average of .292, his OBP% and SLG% is all about the same for his career. You can’t really say it’s a down year for Gonzalez and this week proves that. With a .435 batting average, .500 OBP, .739 SLG, and one home run as well as 7 RBI, Adrian Gonzalez is this week’s NL standout player of the week.
Surprise – Tampa Bay Rays Back in Contention
While this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that watches baseball, for me it was a bit of a surprise on how bad this season has been for the Tampa Bay Rays and just how far they were under .500 and in dead last. Now it’s July 28th and the Rays are in playoff contention and should be a threat as the season winds down.
This season is just adding to the legend that is Joe Maddon, who should be treated as the best manager in baseball right now. If you don’t believe that, just look at what he has done through his entire tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Over the last 30 days, no team has been hotter at the plate than the Rays, and the offense was the missing link this year because pitching can only get you so far with little run support. Ovet the last month, the Rays stat line of .277/.358/.427 and overall team WAR of 6.7 has put Tampa Bay back in playoff contention to at least secure a wild card spot if they can keep this up.
Now that the bats are alive and well, Rays pitching has been on point as well. Over the last month, Rays pitching has put together an 18-5 record, 2.97 ERA, .241 batting average, 1.21 WHIP, and a 209/59 strikeout walk ratio. To make a long story short, pitching has been on point for the Rays, and going along with the hot bats, the Tampa Bay Rays are back from the cellar and I look forward to them making a run at a wild card spot or even another division title.
The story of the Tampa Bay Rays is why I love the game of baseball and goes to show you never count out a good team no matter what. While the Rays are shining, Carlos Santana is showing that he can be an elite player and Adrian Gonzalez has shown to never count him out nor tell him it’s a down year. The last two months of baseball are going to be exciting to watch, and maybe history will be written with the Rays come seasons end.
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