While perhaps the story of the day should be how Bartolo Colon hasn’t allowed a run in 20.2 innings, dating back to July 22, center stage again belongs to everyone’s favorite rookie, Mike Trout. Turns out that when Trout homered off of A’s reliever Travis Blackley, he became the youngest player in MLB history to hit 20 home runs and steal 30 bases in a single season. Even better is that he did it on his 21st birthday! That’s right, for the first time in his fledgling career, Trout could actually celebrate one of these milestones with a legal alcoholic beverage. No more getting drenched with non-alcoholic sparkling cider, no more guys buying him root beers and Diet Cokes after the game. When they say it’s Miller time, it’s actually Miller time.
Not that it’s been like that, but it certainly emphasized the point as to how young he is and how amazing it is, what he’s doing on the field right now. He joined Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Alex Rodriguez, and Jason Heyward as the only men to hit a home run on their 21st birthday and…ok, maybe not Heyward just yet, but that’s some pretty awesome company to keep. He also continues to lead the American League in batting average (.346), runs scored (87), and stolen bases (36) which again, at his age and level of experience is pretty amazing as well.
And if those little statistical tidbits weren’t enough to show you how awesome Trout is, how about when he was asked about the milestone after the game? "Right now it means nothing," Trout said. "That's the kind of stuff that pops up at the end of the season." There was no celebrating for him as the Angels lost 10-4, falling into third in the AL West behind Oakland by a half game and behind both Oakland and Baltimore by a half game in the wild card race and that’s the type of guy he is. Team first, individual accolades later. It may sound cliché, but there’s even a genuine sincerity you feel when you listen to him speak about it. Sure, he’s probably doing cartwheels on the inside and giggling to himself about how he’s taken MLB by storm, but you never see it unless the Angels are winning.
As a fantasy owner of Trout in my primary keeper league, I’m absolutely over the moon. Sure, there’s a slight hint of trepidation when I think about a potential sophomore slump, but every time that creeps into my mind, I pop open my live scoring, see either a home run or a stolen base next to his name and get washed with a sense of calm that everything’s going to be all right. He is a true talent. A rare gift. And without question, a first round draft choice in every fantasy league in 2013.
Now before I go and get all teary-eyed and go sit and stare at the Trout Fathead hanging on the wall in my office, let’s just hit the highlights…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|Cole Hamels, PHI||9.0||5||0||0||0||6||0||0.00||0.56|
On top of the fact that Cole Hamels was a top rated pitcher coming into the season, the demand for him on draft day was even greater as he was entering a contract year. He had just dropped his ERA for two consecutive seasons, upped his K/9 in 2010, and while it dipped back down again in 2011, so did his walk rate which actually gave him an improved K/BB ratio. Obviously his owners were looking for additional improvement, and by the end of May, they were getting their wish as he finished the month with a 2.43 ERA and a 5.14 K/BB ratio (9.21 K/9). But then Hamels hit a bit of a wall in June and July. He wasn’t atrocious, but he struggled enough that some fantasy owners were concerned. But then Hamels signed his contract extension and after two starts since signing, he posted a 1.69 ERA with a 15/1 K/BB which includes Tuesday’s complete game shutout of the division rival Braves. With the Marlins up next, will we be doing this very same thing in five days? Probably.
|Chris Johnson, 3B ARI||2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI|
|Matt Wieters, C BAL||3-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|Allen Craig, OF STL||2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB|
|Michael Fiers, SP MIL||W, 1.13 ERA, 0.38 WHIP, 7 K|
|James Shields, SP TB
||W, 1.13 ERA, 0.38 WHIP, 6 K|
Looks like someone is pretty darn happy about being in Arizona as opposed to Houston, huh? In eight games since being traded to the Diamondbacks, Chris Johnson is batting .345 with five home runs and 15 RBI. The D-Backs have gone 5-3 since his arrival and while they may sit 6.5 games out of the wild card, they are only four games out of first in the always tepid NL West.
Somebody finally nudged Matt Wieters and told him to wake up on Tuesday it seems. After hitting just one home run over his last 23 games, Wieters finally powered up on Tuesday and smacked a pair of long balls to help keep the game within reach en route to a 14-inning Orioles win. He’s still only hitting .244 on the season, but he’s hit safely in seven of his last nine, so maybe another late-season surge is coming.
With two home runs of his own, Allen Craig upped his hit streak to five games and is now batting .298 on the season with 17 home runs and 58 RBI. So long as he stays healthy (because Berkman isn’t) he’s going to be a fixture in that lineup and with Matt Holliday raking the two of them form quite the tandem.
Save for Trout, has there been a better free agent pick-up than Michael Fiers? People were concerned that Tuesday was the first time he was seeing a team for the second time and wondered if the hitters would have a better read on him now. Apparently not, or at least not in Cincinnati as Fiers was absolutely dominant, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning, and then leaving after eight having thrown 113 pitches. The guy has just been tremendous. He’s got 10 quality starts in 12 outings, owns a 1.80 ERA, has a 9.00 K/9 and a 5.00 K/BB ratio. Tough test with a start in Colorado next time out, but he’s just too good to bench because of a fear of Coors Field.
After a very bumpy July, “Big Game” James Shields appears to be back on track. With last night’s eight-inning masterpiece, he’s 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA, a miniscule 0.35 WHIP and a 17/1 K/BB ratio. He takes on the Twins in pitcher-friendly Target Field next, so I’m guessing that the momentum here carries over.
|Michael Saunders, OF SEA||0-7, 4 K|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 3B WAS||0-5, 4 K|
|Chris Davis, 1B BAL||0-6, BB, 3 K|
|Brooks Raley, SP CHC||L, 15.75 ERA, 2.75 WHIP, 4 K|
|Chris Perez, RP CLE||L, BS, 13.50 ERA, 7.50 WHIP, K|
The only thing worse than seeing your guy go hitless in a game is when your guy goes hitless in a 14 inning game. Way to go Michael Saunders and Chris Davis. Thanks for the doughnuts.
And tough break for those who took a shot on Brooks Raley his first time around. Seven runs to the Padres? In pitcher-friendly Petco? Gross.
But not as gross as watching Chris Perez blow saves on back to back nights and allow six runs over just an inning and a third. Someone get me Tony Sipp or Vinnie Pestano on the phone. Stat!
Ryan Flaherty, 3B BAL – illness (doubtful)
Alfonso Soriano, OF CHC – hand (questionable)
Alejandro De Aza, OF CHW – back (questionable)
Francisco Liriano, SP CHW -- quad (questionable for August 11 start)
Kevin Youkilis, 3B CHW – knee (questionable)
Travis Hafner, DH CLE – back (out)
Jose Reyes, SS MIA – hand (questionable)
Yonder Alonso, 1B SD – hamstring (questionable)
Santiago Casilla, RP SF – blister (questionable)
Brendan Ryan, SS SEA – elbow (questionable)
Mike Napoli, C TEX – quad (out)
Brett Lawrie, 3B TOR – rib (questionable)
Jayson Werth, OF WAS – legs (questionable)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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