Welcome to this week’s edition of the Triple Play. This week, we turn our attention to an infielder reaching his potential, a former infielder who is not, a couple of no-name pitchers and more. Off we go:
Who’s Hot ?
Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers
Heading into the season, Dee Gordon wasn’t even being considered for an everyday job with the Dodgers. The team was intent on using Hanley Ramirez at shortstop instead of third base, leaving second base as the only option for the 26-year-old Gordon. Based on Gordon’s struggles at the plate in 2013, many folks expected Alex Guerrero to get the bulk of the playing time there. Even journeyman Justin Turner seemed to be in line for more playing time than Gordon. Meanwhile, all he has done is hit. And run. And run some more. In Saturday’s 11-inning win over the Marlins, Gordon was an absolute terror, rapping five hit and stealing three bases. That gives him 19 thefts in 117 plate appearances. He has been more than a one-dimensional player too, hitting .353/.387/.457 with a home run, eight RBI, and 15 runs scored on the season. The hitting success has resulted in him being moved to the leadoff spot for the Dodgers, ahead of hitters like Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig. Gordon could stand to take a few more walks and improve his OBP, but he’s on pace to steal over 90 bases and score more than 80 runs. It would be foolish to expect him to continue to hit over .350, but he’s in an ideal spot in that lineup. The best part for fantasy owners? Gordon most likely came at a fraction of the cost of a more hyped speedster like Billy Hamilton. Realistically, if he can keep his batting average in the .300-.320 range, he should be a lock for over 50 steals and the runs scored will only go up if he thrives in the top spot in the order.
Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
Ackley’s season started off like gangbusters, going 12 for 39 with six extra-base hits, six RBI and seven runs scored in his first 10 games. It sure seemed like moving from second base to the outfield was a magic elixir for the one-time top prospect. Through April 17, Ackley racked up five multi-hit games and was hitting .294/.333/.471. The Mariners (and fantasy owners) would have gladly taken those numbers. Something, however, happened during Seattle’s trip to Miami in mid-April. From that point on, Ackley has simply nosedived, hitting just .176/.237/.176. In his past 38 plate appearances (entering Sunday), he has whiffed 13 times, with no extra-base hits. Consequently, he has found himself on the bench as Seattle goes with Stefen Romero (who isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, either). The Mariners also have begun using Corey Hart in the outfield, possibly in anticipation of Logan Morrison’s return from the disabled list. Once that happens, Ackley might find himself permanently rooted to the bench, or sent back down to the minors. Right now, the only thing keeping him viable for fantasy owners is his multi-position versatility. When that is your best asset, you know you aren’t having a good season.
Playing the Name Game
These pitchers have provided big-time results. Who are they?
Player A – 6 starts, 38 IP, 2-0, 1.89 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 41 K
Player B – 2 starts, 13 1/3 IP, 1-1, 0.67 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 11 K
Player A is another example of a journeyman who finds himself thrust into a team’s rotation due to injuries and exceeds all expectations. He is 30, far past the prospect stage. Nearly all of his major-league appearances (for the Pirates, Braves, Royals, Blue Jays and his current team) have been as a reliever. He always has shown strikeout stuff (242 Ks in 272 2/3 career innings), but the results have been mediocre (career ERA+ of 81). His current team saw something in him, though, and 2013 was his best season by far (2.64 FIP, 0.947 WHIP). Due to his team’s multiple injuries, he started the season in his team’s rotation and has been a key reason why the team is in first place. He has pitched fewer than six innings just once and allowed more than one earned run only one time (both came in the same start against Houston).
Player B is a year younger than Player A, but just made his major-league debut in April after toiling in the minors since 2007. After his first two starts, he certainly seems to have earned a longer stay in his team’s rotation. He’s pitched at least six innings in each start. He was off to a good start this season, winning International League Pitcher of the Week honors prior to his call-up, but the success still seems like a surprise, given his minor-league numbers the past two years: 4.74 ERA in 2012, 4.32 in 2013. With the pitcher he replaced not due back until at least mid-May, he should get a few more starts to establish whether these first two starts are a fluke, or if he really has found a home in his team’s rotation.
Player A is Oakland’s Jesse Chavez. Player B is White Sox pitcher Scott Carroll.
- Adam Wainwright in his two starts against the Cubs this season: 12 IP, 17 hits, 10 ER, 2 BB, 12 K, 7.50 ERA
- Wainwright in his other five starts this season: 38 IP, 17 hits, 2 ER, 11 BB, 34 K, 0.47 ERA.
- David Freese probably isn’t his enjoying his first season in Anaheim very much. Before getting hit in the hand by a Colby Lewis pitch Friday night, he was hitting just .202/.266/.286 with only two home runs in 24 games.
- In his place, the Angels turn to Ian Stewart, who is hitting .220/.278/.460 in 18 games. Woof.
- Facts That Can’t Possibly Be True, Part I: Mets pitchers have gone 0-for-51 at the plate to start the season, marking the worst such stretch since at least 1900 (hat tip to the Elias Sports Bureau).
- Facts That Can’t Possibly Be True, Part II: Sunday marked the first time this season that the Astros scored a run in the ninth inning.
- Another week, another highlight for White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu. This time, it was flipping his glove to first base when the ball got stuck in the webbing (that happened Saturday). Oh, and after his latest dinger Sunday, he leads the majors with 12.
- News: Toronto’s Brett Lawrie complained publicly about having to play second base Friday night, then found himself back there again Sunday. Views: Hey Brett, your team won with you at second and Juan Francisco at third. I’m just being crazy here, but maybe just shut up and play ball?
- Rays outfielder Wil Myers is hitting .375 with four home runs and 14 RBI against the Yankees. He is hitting .202 with no long balls and just four RBI against everyone else.
- Am I the only one who thinks that those hideous camouflage uniforms the Padres wear for Sunday home games are partially to blame for their difficult start? If not, they should be.
- On the other hand, those pullover duds the Pirates are wearing on Sunday home games are just classic.
- Unfortunately, they had to send Edinson Volquez out there yesterday (5 IP, 10 baserunners, 6 ER) and ruin the day.
- Long as we’re talking about uniforms, how about the circa-1929 throwbacks the Cardinals and Cubs sported Sunday night?
- In the interest of fairness, I should point out that the Cubs took two of three from the Cardinals over the weekend, which is not only the first series they’ve won this season, but the first one they’ve won since late July 2013. Congratulations.
- Mark Trumbo leads the Diamondbacks in home runs this season with seven. I mention that because he hasn’t played since April 22. Paul Goldschmidt is doing what he can (.310/.333/.476), but he’s getting nothing to hit. But hey, at least they’re gritty.
- If you need further evidence that Yadier Molina is one of the toughest guys in baseball (or anywhere), do yourself a favor and check out that video of the foul-tip third strike he caught Saturday against the Cubs. He didn’t catch it with his glove. He caught it with his upper thigh. Um, ouch.
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