Three Up, Three Down: Indians Ride Jose Ramirez To Brink Of History
Each week, BA will take a look at the trends in major league baseball.
Jose Ramirez | 3B/2B | Indians: No one player is responsible for the Indians’19-game winning streak. At the same time, none have been as prolific as Ramirez. The burgeoning MVP candidate has hit .383/.415/.950 during the Tribe’s win streak, with eight doubles, eight home runs, 14 RBIs and as many walks as strikeouts (three). He’s done that while shifting over the second base to cover for Jason Kipnis’ injury and performing ably at his secondary position. The only thing that can hold Ramirez back is injury, which is now a concern after he left Monday’s game with a bruised forearm after a foul ball caromed off his bat and redirected toward him in a fluke play.
Carlos Gonzalez | OF | Rockies: The Rockies were circling the drain not long ago, to the point they saw their wild-card lead trimmed to just a half-game over the Brewers on Sept. 3. They’ve won seven of eight since, with Gonzalez awakening from his season-long slumber. The three-time All-Star is in the midst of his worst season as a professional (his .720 OPS is a career low for a full season), but he is turning it on when his team needs him in crunch time. Gonzalez has hit .429 with seven doubles and two home runs in nine games this month, helping get the Rockies back on the winning track and possibly save their season.
Stephen Strasburg | RHP | Nationals: Speaking of stepping up at crunch time, no pitcher has been as dominant as Strasburg down the stretch. The 29-year-old righthander has thrown 29 consecutive scoreless innings with just 17 hits allowed, three walks and 33 strikeouts. It’s a stretch that has made this season arguably the best of the long-heralded Strasburg’s career. Strasburg is on pace to surpass his career-high of 15 wins, his 2.64 ERA is the lowest of his career, and his 1.028 WHIP is his lowest as well.
Chris Taylor | SS/OF | Dodgers: The Dodgers' stunning 1-16 collapse has been a total team effort, with the offense hitting .199 and the pitching staff posting a 5.81 ERA. Taylor has been especially symbolic however, as a player who could do no wrong earlier and now can’t get right. Taylor has hit .222/.234/.349 during the Dodgers’ nightmarish 17-game stretch, with 19 strikeouts in 64 plate appearances (29.7 percent). The slump has dropped his OPS 45 points, from .922 to .877, and taken some of the luster off his surprise NL MVP candidacy.
Jeremy Hellickson | RHP | Orioles: The Orioles acquired Hellickson at the trade deadline to fortify their sagging rotation. Instead of helping, Hellickson has just added to their struggles. Hellickson has a 6.54 ERA in eight starts with the Orioles, including 10 home runs allowed in just 42.2 innings. His starts have been getting progressively worse as well. Hellickson has failed to complete five innings in three of his past five starts, hamstringing the O’s as they try to contend for a wild-card spot.
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Mike Napoli | 1B | Rangers: The Rangers are desperately trying to hang in the wild-card race as well, but season-long struggles from Napoli haven’t helped and are getting worse down the stretch. The veteran slugger is hitting .161 with a .306 slugging percentage in his past 20 games, and the Rangers have found themselves unable to get beyond hovering around .500. Overall Napoli is hitting .194 with a .717 OPS this season, the lowest marks of his career.