Each week, Kyle Glaser will take a look at the trends in major league baseball
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
It's a good thing the Pirates didn't sell low on McCutchen last winter. The rejuvenated 30-year-old has returned to top form and is hitting .292/.381/.518 with 17 home runs, 51 RBIs and seven stolen bases. He's done that while serving as the Pirates primary center fielder after the Starling Marte suspension forced an outfield realignment. Increasingly McCutchen's 2016 is looking like a blip rather than the start of a downward trend, and the Pirates look increasingly prescient in their decision to hold onto the face of their franchise.
Sonny Gray, RHP, Athletics
Speaking of resurgences, Gray is pitching better and better as the trade deadline approaches, much to the Athletics' delight. In his last four starts Gray is 3-1, 1.33 with only 11 hits allowed in 27 innings. Most importantly he has held up, making every start as scheduled since his May return from a strained lat.
Paul DeJong, SS, Cardinals
The lost year for the Cardinals hasn't come without some positive. DeJong has exceeded all expectations and quietly been one of the game's top rookies since his May 28 debut. The 2015 fourth-rounder out of Illinois State has 11 doubles and 10 home runs in 40 games and has seized the Cardinals’ starting shortstop spot. Among rookies with at least 40 games played, DeJong's .899 OPS trails only Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger.
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Rays
The first major trade of the summer hasn't brought positive early returns. Since July 1 Hechavarria is hitting .132 with one extra-base hit, no walks and nine strikeouts for the Rays. He is playing a strong shortstop in a small sample size, per Baseball-Reference's Defensive Runs Saved, but his performance at the plate has been a drag on the Rays offense.
Dan Altavilla, RHP, Mariners
Altavilla looked like the Mariners’ setup man of the future for Edwin Diaz after a dynamite debut last year. Instead he has been part of the Mariners bullpen problem and found himself demoted. Altavilla went 1-1, 5.46 with 30 hits allowed in 29.2 innings and was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma on July 3. Even though his fastball sits 97-100 mph, the pitch got turned around for a .279 batting average and .512 slugging percentage by opponents this season, according to Brooks Baseball.
Mike Montgomery, LHP, Cubs
One hidden benefit of the Jose Quintana trade is it likely pushes Montgomery back to the bullpen as soon as the rest of the rotation gets healthy. The talented lefthander posted a 2.50 ERA in 19 relief appearances but was 1-3, 5.77 in seven starts and was progressively getting worse. In his most recent four starts, the last coming July 14, Montgomery posted an 8.48 ERA.