It’s the first day of September. You can hear the doors closing slowly on some teams looking to crash the postseason, while others creep towards securing their spot for baseball in October. One month from now, the hype will be centered around postseason baseball and the drama that comes attached to it. As a baseball fanatic, I understand how people can get so bored watching regular season baseball, but playoff baseball is a different animal. No lead is safe, anything can happen, and I mean anything! Everything that these 10 teams did throughout the regular season goes out the window. Nobody will remember the 100 win team that got bounced in the divisional series, but everybody will remember the 86 win wildcard squad who made an epic run to win the pennant. That’s baseball for you. And one more thing before we go into the August column, let the damn kids play!
This is the final edition of the 9th Inning Column for the 2019 baseball season, as I’ll be working on playoff previews and predictions at the end of next month. Nonetheless, welcome back to the 9th Inning. This is the fifth edition of this in the 2019 MLB season. This is a monthly column in which I roundup the month’s biggest happenings in the baseball realm. I’ll discuss what teams are hot and what teams are not. I will also give my personal thoughts on a few notable baseball-related events as well as giving out monthly awards for team of the month, players of the month, and rookies of the month. It’s basically a baseball podcast squeezed into an article that happens near the end of every month. I continue to push for immense success with this column. If you’d like, be sure to share with your friends, social media, and family! I’d love my column to reach as big a global outreach as possible.
With not many storylines outside of the playoff race, I’m going to start the 9th Inning Column for August with the “who’s hot, who’s not” section.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?
When the All-Star break concluded, the St. Louis Cardinals sat in third place in the tight NL Central behind the Brewers and Cubs. Now, on September 1st? The Cards have opened up a three game advantage over the Cubbies and lead the division. Not to mention the fact that they’ve been clicking on all cylinders as of late, having gone 17-6 since suffering a sweep to the Dodgers on August 7th. The starting pitching was utterly phenomenal in August, compiling a staff wide 3.39 ERA in 151.1 innings of work. As an added bonus, the bullpen was very effective as well, working 83.1 innings to the tune of a 3.02 ERA.
The Atlanta Braves look to be a dangerous playoff team in October, but they’ve still not run away with the NL East, as the Nationals sit a mere 5.5 games back. Despite this, they did not lose a series throughout the month of August and they’ve played some very good baseball down the stretch. In the month, high profile sluggers Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman both clubbed 11 homers and notched 27 RBIs. Josh Donaldson looked like the old Bringer of Rain in August too, slugging 8 homers with a .418 OBP and 152 wRC+.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have won six of their last seven games and only sit 3.5 games back of the second NL Wildcard spot. One of the biggest surprise teams in 2019, Arizona just won a series against the Dodgers and they aren’t quite ready to remove themselves from the race. Ketel Marte has been a big reason why, as the NL All-Star starter continued his big season with a fabulous August in which he hit 5 home runs, had a .356 batting average, and 167 wRC+. Wilmer Flores was unbelievable in August too, connecting on 5 homers and having a .451 batting average in 55 plate appearances.
The San Francisco Giants incredible summer stretch looks to have lost its magic as we turn the calendar to September. The Giants have lost 7 of their last 10 games, have fallen to four games below .500, and now sit 7 games back in the NL Wildcard race. Starter Tyler Beede really struggled in August, pitching 5 starts with a 7.25 earned run average and gave up about 2.82 home runs per 9 innings. The offense didn’t get much help from guys like Scooter Gennett and Brandon Crawford, both of whom had negative WAR in the month.
The Cleveland Indians endured a tough end to the month of August, losing third baseman Jose Ramirez and outfielder Tyler Naquin to injuries and then struggling to overtake the Twins atop the AL Central. In the final two weeks of August, the Indians lost ground in the division while being swept by the Mets and Rays. Roberto Perez struggled to help his club in the month, batting a mere .139 with a negative WAR. The Tribe is now embroiled in a thick battle for the AL Wildcard spots with a couple other squads, and September will be crucial to their standing in October.
The Monthly Awards:
Team of the Month is…
The New York Yankees (21-9)
The New York Yankees were the first team to win 90 games in 2019, and they’ve also just broke the record for most players on the injured list in a single season. Not many people would connect those two things to each other, but yet here we are. A fabulous month of August, in which the offense hit 74 home runs, led by Gleyber Torres’ 13 homers, has come to an end. DJ LeMahieu (.336 AVG and 9 HRs), Aaron Judge (.371 OBP and 8 HRs), and Gio Urshela (.385 AVG and 181 wRC+) all put together quality production at the plate in August. James Paxton looks to be back into a groove on the mound, having gone 6-0 in the month with a 3.57 ERA. The Bronx Bombers look to be running away in the AL East, and now they’re setting their sights on battling the Houston Astros for the right to home field advantage in the postseason.
Hitter of the Month is…
Houston Astros 3B Alex Bregman
The Houston Astros have been a phenomenal team in 2019 as expected, but none of it would’ve been easy without the big production of third baseman Alex Bregman. His month of August was truly insane, as he hit six home runs with 31 RBIs in 26 games. He also had a better walk rate (12.8%) than strikeout rate (9.4%). He batted .404 with a .487 on-base percentage and a .747 slugging percentage. He also had 224 wRC+ and added a league-leading 2.2 wins above replacement to his total just in August. The 25 year old former top prospect is one of the best players in all of baseball, and this video game-like month proves just that.
Starter of the Month is…
St. Louis Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty
23 year old starting pitcher Jack Flaherty has emerged as the unquestioned ace of the St. Louis Cardinals staff. Following up a great 2018 campaign, Flaherty flashed some of his best stuff in a terrific month of August here in 2019. He pitched 38 innings to the tune of a 0.71 ERA and opponents were hitting just .145 against him. He had a phenomenal 5.22 K/BB ratio in the month and only gave up about 0.47 home runs per 9 innings. He had an impressive 0.74 WHIP and 2.38 FIP in August as well. He’s a big reason why the Cardinals had such a great month of August.
Reliever of the Month is…
New York Yankees LHP Aroldis Chapman
Following up a tough month of July in which he gave up 8 earned runs in 8.2 innings, Aroldis Chapman has used his flame-throwing powers to reel back into form in a dominant month of August. Pitching 11 innings as the Yankees closer, the All-Star did not allow a single run in August and only surrendered 3 hits, meaning opponents struggled to a .083 average against him. With a 0.73 WHIP, 0.95 FIP, and 4.0 K/BB ratio, Chapman continued his excellent 2019 campaign that figures to result in his winning of the AL Delivery Man of the Year award,
Rookie Hitter of the Month is…
Cincinnati Reds OF Aristides Aquino
Many people may not have heard of Aristides Aquino prior to his call-up to the Reds in early August, but they do now. The Reds former 7th best prospect has made an impact on baseball throughout his first full month in the big leagues, hitting 14 home runs and driving in 33 RBIs. With a .320 average, a whopping .767 slugging percentage, and 184 wRC+, Aquino has made his case to be a huge part of the Reds roster for many years to come. It’s unquestionable that Aquino has lived up to his nickname of the Punisher thus far.
Rookie Pitcher of the Month is…
Cleveland Indians RHP Aaron Civale
The Indians’ rookie was ranked as their 25th best prospect prior to being called up in June, but Civale’s August performance was one to remember. He compiled a 2.35 ERA in 30.2 innings on the bump while holding opposing hitters to .227 average with 24 strikeouts and only 3 walks. He finished the month with an impressive 0.91 WHIP and a 2.47 FIP. The impressive thing about the young starter is the fact that three of his August starts were against the Yankees, Mets, and Twins, respectively. If he continues to pitch like this, Civale could find himself as a piece in the Indians postseason rotation.
Featured Photo: Brett Davis – USA TODAY Sports
Thanks for reading the August edition of the 9th Inning column! I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to share with your friends, family, and on social media! Feel free to contact me on my Twitter @TBeckmann24 if you have any questions! Peace!