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Team of the Week (Week 9: May 24-30)

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Previous Weeks:
Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3 / Week 4 / Week 5 / Week 6 / Week 7 / Week 8

We are officially two months into the MLB season, and we’re starting to settle down into the long stretch for many teams. The Cubs, White Sox, Rays, Mariners, and other teams had great weeks, but let’s take a look at the best individual performances this week. As always, I’ll pick the best player from each position, as well as a DH, three starting pitchers, and a reliever, making up the MLB Team of the week for May 24th through May 30th.

Team of the Week: Lineup

Catcher – Mitch Garver, MIN

5-13, 4 2B, HR, 5 R, .923 SLG, .580 wOBA, 281 wRC+, 0.4 WAR

Mitch Garver was downright terrible in 2020 after having an elite 2019 season, and another slow to 2021 led many to wonder if 2019 was a fluke, especially as the Twins struggled to win games. Through April 27th, Garver’s wRC+ was 41, through May 16th, it was 87, now, he’s up to 134 on the year, which ties for fifth among catchers with at least 100 PAs. This week, Garver made five appearances, and only had five hits, but each of those hits went for extra bases. He walked four times, had five hard-hit balls, and finished the week with the highest wRC+ among catchers.

1st Base – Pavin Smith, ARI

13-22, 3 2B, 3B, .625 OBP, .818 SLG, .613 wOBA, 293 wRC+, 0.6 WAR

Pavin Smith isn’t a guy I expected to be on a team of the week, but his insane week has made his season stats look great. He’s now up to a 113 wRC+, .443 SLG, and .359 xwOBA on the year, as he’s turning himself into a solid first baseman for Arizona. He tied for the lead among all position players in fWAR this week, despite never homering this week. He did it with consistency, as he had a hit in each game he played, including a pinch-hit appearance of Sunday. In each of his starts, he had at least two hits and finished the week with four extra-base hits, and eight hard-hit balls.

2nd Base – Marcus Semien, TOR

10-27, 3 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB, .704 SLG, .487 wOBA, 216 wRC+, 0.6 WAR
https://twitter.com/BlueJays/status/1399121974740279296?s=20

Marcus Semien is the team of the week’s second baseman, for the third time in four weeks. Semien now has a 152 wRC+ on the year, and 190 since April 20th, as he had a slow first couple weeks to the season. He’s also now tied for fourth among position players in fWAR on the year, as he’s returned to the second half of 2019 form despite concerns that his 2019 MVP-caliber year was a fluke. This week, the Jays bounced back, winning four of their last six games following a six-game losing streak. Semien was a major part of their hot week, as he had a hit in each Jays’ game, many of them in clutch situations. He finished the week with 11 hard-hit balls, three barrels, and hit a ball with a 107.2 MPH exit velocity.

3rd Base – Evan Longoria, SFG

9-23, 2 2B, 3 HR, .870 SLG, .539 wOBA, 248 wRC+, 0.5 WAR

The fourth Giants’ infielder to make an appearance, Evan Longoria is having a resurgence in 2021, as his team continues to win games. The 35-year-old three-time All-Star has a 139 wRC+ on the year, his best since 2012, as he’s having his best season as a Giant despite underperforming his xwOBA by 35 points. Longo also had a hit in each Giants’ game and finished the week with three home runs. This week, he barreled four balls, and had 10 hard-hit balls, as he averaged 93.9 MPH off the bat. He’s been one of many pleasant surprises for San Francisco this year, and nothing about his performance (other than age) points to any decline.

Shortstop – Carlos Correa, HOU

6-15, 8 BB, 2B, 2 HR, .609 OBP, .867 SLG, .580 wOBA, 286 wRC+, 0.6 WAR

Carlos Correa is making his first team of the week appearance since week two, but following a cold stretch, Correa’s season numbers are back to par. Correa now has a 138 wRC+ and 1.8 fWAR, which both lead the upcoming free-agent class if Semien is excluded. He’s been as inconsistent as they come throughout his career, as he had huge years in 2016, 2017, and 2019, but struggled in 2018 and 2020. 2021 is shaping up to be one of the big years, which is great for Correa entering free agency. This week, Correa had two multi-hit games, a .867 SLG, and a 286 wRC+, although the Statcast data isn’t amazing (four hard-hit balls, one barrel).

Left Field – Tyler O’Neill, STL

7-18, 3 HR, 3 2B, 1.056 SLG, .602 wOBA, 290 wRC+, 0.5 WAR

Tyler O’Neill was activated off the IL on Thursday, and immediately made an impact for St. Louis in their four-game set in Phoenix. He homered in each of the first three games, had a hit in each game, and finished the week slugging 1.056. O’Neill has always had elite speed and defense, but he’s finally putting it together at the plate in 2021 and turning himself into one of baseball’s better left fielders. His .352 ISO this year is a testament to his power, despite his small frame. This week, he hit half of his batted balls hard, and four of those were barreled, maxing out at 113.1 MPH off the bat.

Center Field – Randal Grichuk, TOR

10-26, 4 2B, HR, .654 SLG, .452 wOBA, 0.4 WAR

Randal Grichuk has filled in very well for the Jays’ injured superstar George Springer, but he isn’t just a fourth outfielder. Grichuk has a 125 wRC+ and 1.2 fWAR on the season, helped by a great week this week. He’s been consistently solid out of the five-spot in the order for Charlie Montoyo‘s Jays, as he has contributed to one of the best offenses in baseball. This week, he had a hit in each game, had five extra-base hits, 10 hard-hit balls, and three barrels.

Right Field – Hunter Renfroe, BOS

7-12, 4 2B, HR, .615 OBP, 1.167 SLG, .735 wOBA, 383 wRC+, 0.5 WAR

Like O’Neill, Hunter Renfroe only appeared in four games this week. That didn’t stop him from leaving his handprint on the Red Sox’s success, as he collected two or more hits in three of those four games. On the year, Renfroe is now slugging .464 and has a 104 wRC+ and 0.9 WAR despite his .292 OBP. As always, Renfroe smashed the ball, finishing the week averaging 98.4 MPH, while collecting six hard-hit balls.

Designated Hitter – Rowdy Tellez, TOR

5-11, 3B, HR, .571 OBP, .909 SLG, .599 wOBA, 292 wRC+, 0.3 WAR

The final Blue Jays’ hitter to make an appearance is Rowdy Tellez, who had a great week despite limited plate appearances. His full-season numbers still look terrible, as he’s still been a below replacement level designated hitter/first baseman, but give him credit for his great week. He tripled in a pinch-hit appearance on Monday, then got a hit in each of his starts on Tuesday and Thursday. He pinch-hit once again in the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader and then again on Friday.

Normally, in order for a player to qualify for a position for the team of the week, they have to play the majority of their games there, but I made an exception due to Tellez’s pinch-hit appearances.

Team of the Week: Pitching Staff

Starting Pitcher – Brandon Woodruff, MIL

14.0 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 18 K, 2 BB, 0.98 FIP, 2.17 SIERA, 0.7 WAR

Brandon Woodruff would be my Cy Young Award pick if the season ended today, and this week only did more to solidify that. Woody threw two starts of seven shutout innings, finishing the week with a 0.98 FIP and 2.17 SIERA. On the year, he has a 2.92 SIERA, 25.7% K-BB%, and 32.5% CSW%.

On Monday, Woodruff threw seven shutout innings in the Brewers’ win against San Diego, as he struck out eight, walked none, and finished with exactly 100 pitches thrown. He had 23 called strikes and 12 whiffs, leading to an even 35.0% CSW%, and maxed out at 98.9 MPH.

On Sunday, Woodruff wasn’t quite as good, but he still threw seven shutout innings against the Nationals, while striking out ten, walking two, and finishing the night with a 33% CSW% (also 12 whiffs and 23 called strikes). Woodruff is turning himself into one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, though his start to the season has been overshadowed by Corbin Burnes, who he has outperformed.

Starting Pitcher – Kevin Gausman, SFG

11.0 IP, 0 R, 7 H, 16 K, 2 BB, 0.76 FIP, 2.38 SIERA, 0.6 WAR

It seems that every time Kevin Gausman starts, he gives the Giants an extraordinary outing. This week was no different, as he had two more great performances. He only threw five innings on Tuesday, but he struck out nine, walked just two, and had 21 whiffs. His splitter is one of the best pitches in baseball and pairing it with 94.0 MPH fastballs gives Gausman a devastating duo of pitches. He had a 38% CSW% while throwing 63 of his 97 pitches for strikes. Gausman threw six shutout innings on Sunday but left his start due to hip tightness. He struck out seven Dodgers, walked none, and left his outing with a 1.40 ERA on the year, which is just 0.84 if his blow-up start against Cincinnati on April 13th is omitted.

Starting Pitcher – Tyler Glasnow, TBR

8.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 11 K, 2 BB, 1.12 FIP, 2.35 SIERA, 0.4 WAR

Tyler Glasnow only made one start this week, but he was absolutely dominant in it, throwing eight innings of shutout baseball against the Kansas City Royals. He struck out 11, walked two, and threw 65 of his 102 pitches for strikes in a massive bounce-back start from his terrible outing against Toronto on May 21. He allowed zero barrels, and 20 of the 29 batters he faced ended in a strikeout or ground ball. Glasnow only threw his signature curveball 10 times, but he had a 86% Whiff% on the pitch and finished the night with a 38% CSW%.

Relief Pitcher – Liam Hendriks, CHW

4.0 IP, 4 SV, 8 K, 0 BB, 0 H, -0.88 FIP, -0.13 SIERA, 0.3 WAR

This final team of the week spot was up for grabs, between the past two teams of the week relievers, Liam Hendriks and Ryan Tepera. Hendriks edges Tepera out due to his saves and efficiency, although Tepera did appear in higher leverage situations. Hendriks faced 12 batters, retired all 12, eight via strikeouts. He had a negative FIP, xFIP, SIERA, and a 0.00 ERA, which is as close to a perfect week as possible.

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