Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Best (and Worst) of July

Whoops.  Forgot to hand out the Walk-Off Walk awards for July on Thursday so this is a bit overdue.  It was a fairly successful month for the Braves as they went 15-11, though it ended a lot better than the record indicated as they started a lengthy win streak toward the end of the month.  The offense exploded with his best month of the season and while the pitching struggled at times, especially the rotation, it remained fairly solid with a 3.15 FIP for the month, good for third during July.  

Rookie of the Month

Alex Wood - Yes, he is hit-or-miss as a starter, but he still had a very nice month overall.  In seven games, two starts, he picked up his first major league victory and posted a 2.38 FIP in 19.2 ING.  He continued the string of young pitchers for the Braves who throw a lot of strikes with a 8.7 K/9 and a 1.8 BB/9.  The knuckle-curve he adopted this spring from Braves relievers like Jonny Venters is a true weapon, both in one-inning stints and long-runs as the Rockies realized a few days ago.  Matching that with a great change-of-pace gives Wood the look of someone who is going to be successful for years.

Honorable Mention: Joey Terdoslavich (.281/.343/.375, 35 PA)

Worst Position Player of the Month

Evan Gattis - Not to pile on with yesterday's column and this choice was a lot harder than other choices because so many people had a good month, but I'm giving Gattis this award over the other potential candidate based on his PA, which exceed the other contender by 13.  Gattis hit .263 for the month, which wasn't so bad.  However, he showed zero power, walked once, and is a zero in the field.  Might not be fair to blame him for his inability to play left because, well, he's a catcher, but I had to choose someone and Gattis was the closest "bad" player.

Dishonorable Mention: B.J. Upton (.176/.171/.176, 40% K%, 35 PA)

Worst Pitcher of the Month

Paul Maholm - Those three starts to begin the year are a distant memory for the lefthander, who was hurt right after the break.  He only picked up three starts last month with each start going worse than the one that preceded it.  After giving up four earned runs to the Phillies in six innings, he was charged with four runs and five walks in 4.1 ING in his second start.  Ten days later, he lasted just three innings before leaving with a wrist injury.  His line - 18 batters face, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 0 SO.  But no worries...he expects to throw a light bullpen session this weekend.  Tremendous.

Dishonorable Mention: Anthony Varvaro (10 ING, 3.6 K/9, 6.3 BB/9, 4.34 FIP)

Best Position Player of the Month

Brian McCann - It was a wonderful run for the catcher as he slashed his way to .337/.391/.627 with a 180 RC+ and 6 HR, more than doubling his WAR from 1.3 WAR when he entered July to 2.7 when the month ended.  He homered in three consecutive games starting on July 12 and ending after the All-Star Break on July 19.  He also reached safely in all but three of his 22 games played in July.  In a field of deserving candidates, McCann reigned supreme.

Honorable Mention: Andrelton Simmons (.287/.328/.509, 3.6 UZR), Freddie Freeman (.315/.396/.522), Chris Johnson (.381/.404/.476)

Best Pitcher of the Month

Mike Minor - The lefthander worked 41.1 innings of awesome, continuing his accession toward ace status with a 2.37 FIP for the month.  There is a sense of confidence with each start Minor puts up that I haven't felt since John Smoltz.  His K/BB rate remained absurdly ridiculous as he paired a 8.5 K/9 with a microscopic 1.7 BB/9.  He truly is becoming one of the best pitchers that nobody talks about in all of baseball.

Honorable Mention: Tim Hudson (2.25 FIP in 29 ING), Craig Kimbrel (17.1 K/9, 1.04 FIP), David Carpenter (11.8 K/9, 1.0 BB/9, 1.79 FIP).

Extra Notes for July

-Luis Ayala has been decent as a low-leverage option since returning.  He posted a 2.56 FIP in 8.1 ING during the month.

-After four consecutive months of doing it last year, July was the first month this season Kimbrel struck out at least half of all batters faced.

-In addition to Simmons' 3.6 UZR for the month, Jason Heyward posted a 2.4 UZR.  Heyward also got it going toward the end of the month and walked as many times as he struck out.

-Braves pitchers had nine hits for the month, led by Kris Medlen's 4-for-9 clip.  Not that RBI's count for a lot, but Minor had just two less RBI's than Gattis, who had six.

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