- Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks is not only back — he’s BACK! Two home runs, three doubles, nine hits in 19 at-bats… The Cult of Xander Bogaerts is praying for Middlebrooks’ demise (again), but with a slow first half (bogged down by a .260ish BAbip) behind him, this could foretell a productive last two months.
- I can’t wait until Colorado Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson earns a full-time job. He’s batting .315/.370/.517 in 89 major-league at-bats, and his minor league numbers were impressive — mouthwatering, even, when you consider he gets to call Coors Field home — batting .371 this year in Triple-A with 11 home runs in 75 games. Better yet, He hit a combined 54 home runs in 2011 and ’12. Playing time may limit his contributions this year, but I love Dickerson as a breakout candidate next year.
- Is the Bruce Chen I’m seeing the real Bruce Chen, or is it simply a mirage? It’s hard to argue with the Kansas City Royals starting pitcher’s sparkling 2.20 ERA and 1.08 WHIP through seven starts. But then something like this happens and I remember why I hated him so much last year: He’s 36 years old, he has a career 1.37 WHIP… and this is not a rebirth. The six earned runs in his latest start is vintage Chen. In short: it’s a mirage.
- St. Louis Cardinals Kolten Wong isn’t playing much, but he does have three stolen bases and has only struck out three times in 18 at-bats. It’s an incredibly small sample size, but it’s good to see him not being overmatched at the plate. He struck out only one in eight plate appearances through three minor-league seasons. I share the same sentiment about Wong as I do Dickerson; Wong will hit for less power but better average.
- Oakland Athletics starter Sonny Gray continues to not only impress, he dazzles. I understand why owners are scrambling to pick him up, but I’m hesitant: he sported an ugly 1.36 WHIP in almost 300 minor-league innings. He’s walking fewer guys in the majors than the minors, but not by a large margin. Gray was simply hittable in the minors, and here lies my hesitance as I wait for him to start to get hit around once major league hitters adjust to him. In the meantime, I can’t fault anyone for riding the hot hand. Perhaps it will be me who kicks himself when Gray proves he has made a turnaround, but his AAA results weren’t promising — not enough for me, at least. The strikeouts are nice, though.