Tommy Pham Is Winning Games For The Rays (Three Up, Three Down)
Tommy Pham, OF, Rays
The Rays bought low on Pham in a trade with the Cardinals last summer, betting the physical outfielder could rediscover the form that made him an MVP contender in 2017. As usual, the Rays were right. Pham has been a central figure in the Rays’ early season success, posting a .401 on-base percentage that ranks third in the American League with a .294 batting average and .875 OPS, both of which rank in the top 20 in the AL as well. Pham is in striking distance of a 20-home run, 20-stolen base season, has 46 walks against just 57 strikeouts and also leads all AL left fielders with five outfield assists. While the players he was traded for—Genesis Cabrera, Justin Williams and Roel Ramirez—all have promise, Pham is winning games now for the Rays.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies
Devastating back-to-back-to-back walk-off losses aside, the Rockies have more or less found their footing in recent weeks and surged back into playoff position. A healthy and resurgent Blackmon is one reason why. The veteran outfielder has hit .371/.410/.781 since the start of May with 11 doubles, three triples and 15 home runs in 34 games. He missed two weeks with a calf strain, and he still ranks in the top five in the majors in runs and total bases in that time frame. With Blackmon on his tear, the Rockies have gone 28-20 since May 1 and moved into the National League’s second wild card spot.
Mike Minor, LHP, Rangers
The Rangers keep chugging along and hanging in the playoff race despite expectations they’ll fall out. Minor has been the primary party responsible on the pitching side. The veteran lefty is 7-4, 2.52 despite pitching in treacherous Globe Life Park, with a 197 ERA+ that ranks No. 1 in MLB. Batters aren’t doing much of anything against his fastball (.221 opponent average, .351 opponent slugging percentage), changeup (.186 AVG, .271 SLG) or slider (.247, .351), giving him three weapons he can effectively deploy at any time. It's the type of potential performance people saw in Minor when he was made the No. 7 overall pick in 2009 and ranked as the No. 37 prospect in baseball two years later.
Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins
Sano hit five home runs in his first seven games after re-joining the Twins on May 16, but things have not gone well since. Sano has hit .195 and struck out 39 times in 87 plate appearances (a 44.8 percent strikeout rate) since that initial burst, with five errors in 68 defensive chances at third base as well. Sano is still only 26, but his All-Star days feel long ago and the question is starting to be asked whether it’s time for the Twins to move on from their expected franchise third baseman.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays
Sanchez looked like one of baseball’s brightest young pitchers when he made his first All-Star Game at age 23 in 2016, but things haven’t gone according to plan. After battling injuries the last two seasons, Sanchez is 3-10, 5.89 with an AL-high 48 walks so far this season. It’s been particularly bad recently, with 37 hits and 30 earned runs allowed in 24 innings over five starts this month. Sanchez is struggling to throw strikes, and when he does his hard offerings are getting hit. Opponents are batting .301 with a .602 slugging percentage against his four-seam fastball and .376 with a .591 slugging percentage against his sinker, according to Baseball Savant. With the trade deadline coming up and the Blue Jays preparing to sell, Sanchez’s struggles could not have come at a worse time for the club.
Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Reds
After following a slow April with a red-hot May, Suarez has hit a wall in June. The 27-year-old third baseman is batting .160 with a .462 OPS this month, the fifth-lowest batting average and second-lowest OPS in the majors. The Reds successfully fixed their pitching staff in the offseason and reasonably expected their offense to be dangerous coming into the year, but Suarez and many other expected performers have faltered to the point that the Reds rank 24th in the majors in runs scored.