As we’re heading down the stretch, several players rose to the occasion and helped out their teams’ playoff causes. A lot of these names won’t come as a surprise to you, but without further ado, here are the best and worst MLB players for August 2014.
AL Best Hitter of the Month: Victor Martinez. Martinez is doing a fantastic job at carrying the bulk of the Tigers’ offensive load with Miguel Cabrera struggling this year, and August was no different. In 31 games this month (thanks, doubleheaders), Martinez hit .350/.442/.547, homering six times, walking 19 times, and striking out in just seven plate appearances. Martinez has only played 215 innings in the field this season, and that renewed healthy has led to a career-high in home runs and what will end up being his best offensive season ever as he heads into free agency this winter. Talk about a career year…
Honorable mentions: Jose Abreu, Chris Carter, Alex Gordon, David Ortiz
April winner: Jose Bautista
May winner: Edwin Encarnacion
June winner: Mike Trout
Midseason winner: Mike Trout
July winner: Jose Abreu
AL Worst Hitter of the Month: Xander Bogaerts. The Red Sox rookie shortstop, who was my preseason pick for AL Rookie of the Year, has been a horror show as of late. In August, Bogaerts hit a paltry .123/.195/.164. After he hit a double on August 7th, he fell into a 4/55 stretch that also included a week on the seven-day concussion DL. Maybe the 21-year old is turning the corner, because he’s hit doubles in each of his last two games since returning.
Dishonorable mentions: J.P. Arencibia, Juan Francisco (sigh), Derek Jeter, Alex Rios
April “winner”: Billy Butler
May “winner”: Alejandro de Aza
June “winner”: Shin-Soo Choo
Midseason “winner”: Jose Molina
July “winner”: Gordon Beckham
NL Best Hitter of the Month: Josh Harrison. Harrison has incredibly kept up his All-Star form for the Pirates in the second half, hitting .347/.374/.602 with four homers and four steals in August. What this guy has done for the Pirates this season has been incredible, playing five positions (and playing them pretty well, I might add) while hitting .310/.345/.510 with 13 homers and 17 steals. Andrew McCutchen is pretty clearly the best Pirates player, but Harrison is making his case as the second-best player on the squad. Speaking of which – the Pirates have five regulars with a wRC+ of 120 or better. This is a legitimately great offense.
Honorable mentions: Jon Jay, Starling Marte, Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton
April winner: Troy Tulowitzki
May winner: Yasiel Puig
June winner: Andrew McCutchen
Midseason winner: Troy Tulowitzki
July winner: Jayson Werth
NL Worst Hitter of the Month: Curtis Granderson. It’s been a nightmare debut season with the Mets for Granderson. In August, he doubled only once and homered just one time to go along with a .147/.231/.183 line. He hasn’t even reached one win above replacement on the season, and is having a worse year than he did last season with the Yankees, when he homered just seven times in 61 games. Only three years and $47 million left, Mets fans!
Dishonorable mentions: Brandon Crawford, Didi Gregorius, D.J. LeMahieu, Josh Rutledge,
April “winner”: Danny Espinosa
May “winner”: Yonder Alonso
June “winner”: Everth Cabrera
Midseason “winner”: Jedd Gyorko
July “winner”: Adam LaRoche
AL Best Pitcher of the Month: Matt Shoemaker. Who in the hell is Matt Shoemaker?! He’s very quietly been the best Angels pitcher not named Garrett Richards this season, and was a big reason for their success in August. In six starts and a relief appearance, Shoemaker went 6-1 (if you care about wins and losses), had an AL-best 1.31 ERA, struck out 38, and walked six. He’s crossed the 170 inning mark in each of the last three seasons, so an innings limit might not be much of a factor for him down the stretch, and that’ll be huge for the Angels.
Honorable mentions: Corey Kluber, Collin McHugh, Max Scherzer, Drew Smyly
April winner: Felix Hernandez
May winner: Corey Kluber
July winner: Felix Hernandez
Midseason winner: Felix Hernandez
July winner: Corey Kluber
AL Worst Pitcher of the Month: Trevor May. The Twins rookie’s career did not get off to a good start this August. In four starts and a relief appearance, May only pitched 19 innings, allowing 23 runs (22 earned), striking out 15, walking 14, and hitting two batters just for good measure. Even when May isn’t walking batters by the truckload, he’s getting bombed – in his final two starts, May walked just one hitter over ten innings…and still allowed 13 runs.
Dishonorable mentions: Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Tommy Milone, Robbie Ray
April “winner”: Ubaldo Jimenez
May “winner”: Brandon Maurer
June “winner”: Joe Saunders
Midseason “winner” Ricky Nolasco
July “winner”: Jason Hammel
NL Best Pitcher of the Month: Madison Bumgarner. It takes a lot to knock Clayton Kershaw off his perch at the top of the NL pitching charts. Bumgarner somehow did that, posting a 1.57 ERA in 46 innings over six starts (yes, that’s nearly eight innings averaged per start) while striking out 56 and walking…three. Is this real life? Apparently so. With Matt Cain banged up and Tim Lincecum struggling, Bumgarner has firmly taken grasp of the “ace” role on this Giants staff – and he’s just 25.
Honorable mentions: Jarred Cosart, Mike Fiers, Clayton Kershaw, Jordan Zimmermann
April winner: Jose Fernandez
May winner: Jeff Samardzija
June winner: Clayton Kershaw
Midseason winner: Clayton Kershaw
July winner: Clayton Kershaw
NL Worst Pitcher of the Month: Kyle Lohse. In five starts, Lohse only threw 24 2/3 inning, allowed 20 runs, struck out 15, and walked 12. Yeah, that’s not good for a Brewers team that is trying to hang on to a playoff spot. The strange part about Lohse’s August is that of his five starts, two were quality efforts that the Brewers won, and the other three were absolute dumpster fires. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde…
Dishonorable mentions: Randall Delgado, Edwin Jackson, Tim Lincecum, Justin Masterson
April “winner”: Bronson Arroyo
May “winner”: Franklin Morales
June “winner”: Juan Nicasio
Midseason “winner”: Marco Estrada
July “winner”: Mike Minor
AL Best Rookie of the Month: Jose Abreu. Abreu’s season has been incredible. Even though he only hit two home runs in August, he still hit .376/.466/.475. That batting average led all American League hitters, and Abreu has already crossed the five-win threshold this season for the White Sox. Even when the guy is “struggling” he’s doing great – despite that low power output in August, he posted his best batting average, on-base percentage, walk, and strikeout rates of any month of the year. I feel bad for the rest of the American League’s rookie crop – Abreu is just too damn good.
Honorable mentions: Dellin Betances, Danny Santana, Matt Shoemaker Kennys Vargas
April winner: Jose Abreu
May winner: George Springer
June winner: Jose Abreu
Midseason winner: Jose Abreu
July winner: Jose Abreu
NL Best Rookie of the Month: Joe Panik. Panik was head and shoulders above the other members of a weak National League rookie class in August, hitting .379/.416/.484 for the Giants while taking over as their every day second baseman. Yes, a lot of that line was inflated by a .427 BABIP, but hey, the guy played well and helped the Giants stay in contention. I doubt he’ll have enough juice over the final month of the season to win the NL Rookie of the Year award, which seems to be destined to go to either Billy Hamilton or Jacob deGrom.
Honorable mentions: Kyle Hendricks, Ender Inciarte, David Peralta, Tsuyoshi Wada
April winner: Chris Owings
May winner: Kolten Wong
June winner: Billy Hamilton
Midseason winner: Billy Hamilton
July winner: Jacob deGrom