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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Soulful Seasons (Week 3)

Russell Martin - C - Los Angeles Dodgers

After outpeforming monsters like Joe Mauer and Brian McCann in the first two weeks, including 8 RBI, 9 R, and 4 SB during his 9-game hitting streak, Martin began to see a steady diet of breaking balls in week 3, inducing a modest 10 AB slump. Of course, there's possibly no better way to get the monkey off your back like a 10th inning walk-off grand salami. Just ask A-Rod.

Josh Hamilton - CF - Cincinnati Reds

Hamilton responded to winning a starting job in Cincinnati by hitting 3 HR in 4 games, driving in 6, and scoring 6.

Mike Lowell - 3B - Boston Red Sox

He hit a pair of bombs in the Sunday night game against the Yankees, batted .417 with 5 R and 5 RBI for the series, extended his hit streak to 9 games, and continued to grey his own beard with a litany of game-changing web gems. Because the league is so deep with superb talent at 3B, Lowell's solid play since joining Boston in 2006 as nothing more than a contract dump in the Josh Beckett deal has gone largely unnoticed. Last year he finished tied with Gold Glove winner, Eric Chavez, in fielding percentage, while finishing with a better Range Factor and Zone Rating in over 100 more innings and over 70 more chances. He made only 6 errors all year. He also finished in the top 10 among three baggers in OPS, slugging, average, hits, and doubles. He's already got 14 RBIs in 2007. And, perhaps especially important for somebody who bats behind on-base machines Big Papi, Manny, and J. D. Drew, Lowell has struck out only two times in 70 plate appearances.

Barry & Barry - San Francisco Giants
The much-maligned Barry "Baked" Zito had some hard luck in his first two starts of the year, fueling the inevitable $100 million dollar man publicity backlash. This week he (and the other Barry) headlined a 7-1 run by the Giants to get back above .500 for the season, after many pundits had them drawing dead after their poor start. Zito went 2-0 over 13 1/3 IP, allowing only 7 hits and no runs. Bonds had a hit in every game this week, including 3 HR, one of which provided the only scoring in Zito's 1-0 win over the D-Backs. For those who spurned Bonds' resigning in the offseason and predicted that he would struggle to pass Aaron this year, I would like to draw your attention to his 1270 OPS, second only to A-Rod, and his 6 HR, tied for 4th in the league. Now if only the Giants could trade Pedro Feliz for, say, Ryan Howard.

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