As we enter the dog days of summer we see an old dog up to his old tricks, a greyhound reliever not only catching the rabbit but blowing by it, and a power streaking NL Central squad with its sights set on best in show.
Fielding percentage for Nomar Garciaparra since he assumed starting shortstop duties for the Dodgers on July 4. Manning a position he hadn't played since 2005 with the Cubs, the former All Star SS has flawlessly fielded all 44 chances that came his way and has a range factor during that span better than those of much slicker fielders like Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes and Orlando Cabrera. His success in the field has translated to the plate too. Since Independence Day, Garciaparra ranks second in slugging percentage, tied for third in home runs, and fifth in RBIs and batting average among major league shortstops.
Stolen base success rate for the Phillies this season. That's even higher than the alltime major league best 87.9% mark they set last season. Since Charlie Manuel became manager in 2005, the Phillies have been successful on an incredible 84% of their attempts. The only other team over that span over 80% is the Mets who have been safe on 80.6% of their theft tries, and are in a dogfight with the Phillies and Marlins in the NL East race. Among those who have attempted at least 50 steals, the Phillies have three of MLB's top 20 thieves percentage-wise over the last four seasons: Jimmy Rollins, 89.9%, second; Chase Utley, 86.2%, eighth; and Shane Victorino, 82.9, 19th.
Consecutive games in which the Brewers have hit at least one home run, entering Tuesday's contest against the Cardinals, with whom they pulled into a second-place tie in the NL Central and stand percentage points ahead of in the NL wild card race. Milwaukee's power surge ties the second longest in its powerful team history, bested only by the 19 straight contests with a clout set June 11 to June 30, 1996. Shortstop J.J. Hardy leads the way during the streak with seven home runs since July 1 while Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have each blasted four bombs in July.
It was a short week, but there was a long list of players worthy of weekly honors. Runner ups go to CC Sabathia, who shut down the Giants in a complete game victory, Baltimore's Melvin Mora and Luke Scott, who pecked away at the Tigers for three home runs each and a combined 13 RBIs, and the Mets' Carlos Delgado, who batted a very healthy .615 not long after dirt was being sprinkled on his baseball grave. However the player who needs recognition in this spot this week is Cardinals third baseman Troy Glaus who has been absolutely mashing the ball over the last few weeks. In the first four games following the All-Star break, Glaus slugged 1.125 with three home runs, five RBIs and a .438 average in helping the Cardinals to a sweep over the Padres in a series that they trailed in all four games. Glaus is riding a 10 game hitting streak during which he's hitting .525 and slugging 1.075 with five homers and 12 RBIs, and unlike his predecessor, Scott Rolen, hasn't had any problems meshing in Tony La Russa's clubhouse.
It wasn't too long ago that Seattle's Miguel Batista was one of baseball's most sought after and versatile pitchers. This year the versatility has been there but his effectiveness has been invisible. There's no better evidence of this than the flaky righthander's outing against the Indians on Saturday. Making his 16th start of the season after spending part of the year in the bullpen, Batista lasted only two innings against the Tribe, giving up eight earned runs on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter. Nine of the 15 batters he faced reached base and eight of those nine came across the plate before Batista was mercifully replaced. His ERA rose from an already inflated 6.22 entering the contest to 6.98 after the slaughter, thus removing him from many contenders' lists of useful players they'd want to acquire from the rebuilding M's.
On Sunday Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez recorded his 40th save of the season, easily becoming the quickest man ever to reach 40 saves in a year. Rodriguez saved 40 of L.A.'s 98 games this year, besting the previous mark of 40 saves through the season's first 108 games set by future Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who set the standard for the Braves in 2003. Rodriguez stands just 17 shy of tying the alltime major league mark of 57 saves set by Bobby Thigpen of the White Sox in 1990. In two of his three previous seasons as a closer, K-Rod has recorded at least 17 saves after August 1.