We’ll be taking a look at the most interesting takeaways every week this MLB season so check back every Sunday for our recap. Now, here’s what we learned from Week 14 in MLB:
Baez shows off versatility and power
Cubs‘ superstar shortstop Javier Baez was for the second straight year this past week. Baez, 26, was the NL’s starting second baseman last year, and his selection at shortstop makes him only the third player in major league history to start an All-Star Game at both shortstop and second base. He’s the first to do so in consecutive seasons.
Baez leads the Cubs in hits (92), triples (3), home runs (19), stolen bases (5), total bases (175) and has a team-best WAR at 3.3. As MLB Network’s Jon Morosi notes, Baez is on pace for a 30-home run, 100-RBI season as a shortstop. Last season, he accomplished the same feat (34 home runs, 111 RBI) while playing 104 games at second base. No other player in MLB history has done the same.
In Saturday’s Cubs-Reds game (CHC 6, CIN 0), Baez hit an opposite field, eighth inning grand slam. Baez entered that game with an MLB-leading 10 home runs to the opposite field, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian noted.
Scherzer on impressive run (even by his standards)
Scherzer looks like a lock for the Hall of Fame, and what’s even more impressive is that his success on the mound hasn’t showed any signs of deteriorating this year. In his last two starts (2-0 vs. Philadelphia, Miami), Scherzer has pitched 15 innings while only allowing one run and nine hits. He walked just two batters and struck out 20. It’s part of a larger stretch that’s seen him go 5-0 in his last seven starts with a 0.92 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 69 strikeouts over 49 innings.
There are only nine pitchers in history have ever produced more WAR than Scherzer for their age 30-34 seasons:
- Roy Halladay*
- Kevin Brown
- Bill Hutchinson
- Carl Hubbell*
- Gaylord Perry*
- Lefty Grove*
- Bob Gibson*
- Joe McGinnity*
- Cy Young*
*Hall of Famers
Entering Sunday, Scherzer is ranked second in the baseball, behind Rangers’ Mike Minor (5.7) for the highest WAR with 4.7. Scherzer has continued to prove that he’s one of the most dominant and reliable pitchers in baseball. He’s heading for his 11th straight season with 30-plus starts, his seventh straight season with 200 innings pitched and his fifth straight season where he finishes with a sub-3.00 ERA. He’s also on pace for his eighth straight season of 200 or more strikeouts.
In 2019, Scherzer is striking out 33.8 percent of the batters he faces, which ranks third in MLB among qualified starters, behind the Astros‘ Gerrit Cole (36.6 percent) and Boston’s Chris Sale (35.5 percent). Scherzer’s 4.8 percent walk rate is his lowest in four years.
Rangers looking like the real deal
The Texas Rangers, under first-year manager Chris Woodward, have managed to push themselves into playoff contention. This past week, Texas won six straight games for the team’s longest winning streak on the season. Entering Sunday, the Rangers are in the second American League Wild Card spot.
“I’m really proud of them,” Woodward said Thursday morning from his office, cluttered with balloons and streamers as part of a birthday celebration. “We wanted to create a culture of care here. These guys care. These guys have the desire to win. I’m proud of the level of buy-in. These guys want to be champions.
“They are acting and preparing accordingly. It allows us to continue to set the bar higher every day. I don’t think what we are doing is smoke and mirrors. We’re not here to trick anybody. We’re staring what we need to do in the face.”
Over the team’s lat eight games, the Rangers starters have been key to the team’s winning ways. Take a look:
Lance Lynn and Mike Minor have led the way for the team’s rotation.
With guys like Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus and Danny Santana, this Texas offense is deep. Even veteran offseason signings like Hunter Pence and Danny Santana have worked out for the team. With Pence’s , he could easily be a consideration for Comeback Player of the Year
Entering Sunday, the Rangers team offense ranks in the top five in a variety of important offensive statistics. They’ve scored 454 runs this season, ranked for sixth most in the league. The team ranks sixth in the American League in slugging percentage (.448), fifth in OPS (.779) and fifth in OBP (.331).