Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins: Run Producer
Morneau finished last night's game 1-for-4, but his only hit netted two RBI en route to Minnesota's 8-4 victory over the White Sox yesterday. It has been an odd year for the Twins first baseman, as he has a great average (.289) and is producing runs (42 RBI), but he's hit just three home runs all season. While no one was expecting him to be the player who won MVP in 2006, but they couldn't have anticipated him to be on pace for just seven or eight dingers. Considering his average is high, he's driving in runs consistently, and he's stayed healthy so far, it's definitely a plus, but the .289/.330/.391 line shows that the pop just hasn't been there for him. Nonetheless, most people who drafted him didn't draft him for his incredible power, they drafted him in hopes that he could do what he is doing, maintain a high average and be that run producer in the middle of an otherwise extremely underwhelming lineup.
Joe Nathan, RP, Texas Rangers: Hot Pitcher
Nathan nailed down his 22nd save of the season, but in controversial fashion as the game was won on an outfield assist, nabbing Josh Donaldson at the plate after Donaldson tried to score from first on a single to CF. He has blown only one save all year and lowered his ERA to a 1.84 on the season. The Ballpark at Arlington is a tough place for any pitcher, but Nathan has always been a rock in the ninth inning. And even at age 38, when most guys lose their velocity and ability to mow batters down, Nathan is still sporting more K's than innings pitched, as well as an impressive 30/9 K/BB ratio. He remains one of the most reliable closers in the game today.
Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays: Stats
Longoria blasted two home runs yesterday's win over the Yankees, both solo shots, giving him 16 on the season. When healthy Longoria is an elite fantasy weapon. His ability to hit for average, drive in runs and hit for power make him a widely coveted commodity. His .307/.366/.562 line with 46 runs batted in speaks for itself, but it is just nice to see him healthy and playing everyday because the Rays will be right in the mix for a playoff shot, and even a division title with him in the lineup. Before he was injured in 2012, he was on pace for a career season with 17 HR and 55 RBI in just 73 games. 74 games through 2013 and his numbers aren't quite as big, but he has scored 11 more runs and his average is 18 points higher at the moment, so his approach at the plate has turned a little more disciplined and with his numbers through almost half a season being on pace for 30+ HR, 100+ RBI, owners surely will enjoy seeing his name on their roster.
David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox: Quietly in the MVP Mix
Big Papi hit his 15th homer of the season, a solo shot to open the scoring, but to no avail as Jhonny Peralta's homer won it in the ninth. In just 56 games played, Ortiz now has 54 RBI to go along with a .310/.386/.610 line. If he was healthy the first portion of the season, we would be talking about him in the same category as Miggy Cabrera and Chris Davis, who are both completely dominating baseball right now. But one thing Papi has that the other two don't, is age. The guy is 37 years old, his career was deemed on the decline four years ago, and here he is now, making his own bid for MVP votes in his 17th season in the league. Always a fan favorite amongst baseball enthusiasts (aside from Yankee fans, of course), David Ortiz continues to be one of the best hitters and run producers of our era.
Andrew Bailey, RP, Boston Red Sox: Struggles Continue
Bailey blew another one last night, his third blown save in his last five tries. He has allowed runs in four of his last five games, and his ERA has ballooned from a 2.21 to a 4.03 in the process. After Joel Hanrahan went down with an injury, the job was Bailey's to lose, and still is at this point. Red Sox Manager John Farrell indicated that Bailey will remain his closer and they will work with him to right the ship in the coming weeks. Just like starters, closers hit walls during the season too, and considering how delicate a closer's mind is, it's important as a coach to keep them confident in their ability, especially guys like Bailey who have had success in the ninth over their careers. Nonetheless, seven earned over his last five outings (4+ IP) is unacceptable. Owners need not panic, though, as Bailey was as brilliant the entirety of the season as he has been bad over the last week or so. If he has a couple more rough outings, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara both would have the opportunity to steal some save chances and make their own bid for the position.