Fantasy Forward: Happy 26th Birthday Mike!

Not too long ago, this column mused about why Major League Baseball does not promote its stars enough. Kudos on celebrating Mike Trout’s 26th last night with a couple of tweets. Trout not only reached 1,000 hits in this game with a double, but homered for the fourth time in six games on his birthday. He’s the first player ever with at least 150 home runs and stolen bases before his 26th birthday.

Trout’s also the only player with at least 400 extra-base hits and at least 150 stolen bases in this same time frame. Becoming the 10th American League player with 1,000 hits before his Age-26 season along with being the fourth with 1,000 hits, 500 or more runs and 500 or more walks – Trout’s pretty good at baseball.

By the way, since returning from the disabled list, ahead of schedule, Trout is 29-for-80 (.363) with 17 runs, three doubles, seven home runs and 16 RBI in 20 games.

  • Tied to Trout, Bryce Harper

In a strange coincidence, Bryce Harper recorded his 150th home run at the same exact age Mike Trout did down to the day (24 years and 295 days). Trout accomplished this feat last year. Harper finished the game 2-for-4 with his 29th home run of the season. He leads the National League in slugging percentage (.621) and OPS (1.044). Harper is second in runs (90), fourth in average (.327) and home runs along with fifth in RBI (82). Not too shabby.

  • Votto extends his hit streak to 12

After a mini-slump to start the second half, Joey Votto is once again heating up. Votto’s been hitting the ball well in the first inning and moved his hit streak to 12 with an RBI single during his first at-bat last night. He then homered to the opposite field for his 30th of the year putting his career high of 37 during his MVP season of 2010 well within reach.

Another player buying into the fly ball revolution, here’s an article detailing the change in his approach this year. During his hit streak, Votto is 18-for-36 with two doubles, four home runs, 12 RBI, 12 walks and two hit-by-pitches to reach base a total of 32 time in it. Real question will be, can Votto reach 40 homers this year?

  • Bundy bounces back in August

After cratering to an 8.41 ERA in July allowing hitters a .282 average against in four starts spanning 20.1 innings, Dylan Bundy is surging to start August. Last night, Bundy finished off his 11th win of the season allowing five hits and two earned runs in seven innings against the Angels. Both runs scored by the aforementioned Mike Trout; he’s pretty good. Bundy also struck out 10 generating 16 swinging strikes, eight by his slider, en route to the win.

Through 15 innings this month, Bundy’s yielded eight hits, two earned runs, and one walk with 15 strikeouts for a 1.20 ERA and 0.60 WHIP. His fantasy worth in drafts next year could be determined by how he finishes the season.

  • Manny powers up

If one read yesterday’s column, a feature on Manny Machado suggested everything’s in line for his strong start to the second half to continue with growth potential in the power department. Manny agrees and hit his 21st home run last night, a grand slam to spark the Orioles to the win and move within one and a half games within the last Wild Card spot in the standings. His rise in isolated power in August is supported by the hard contact rate which could make Machado a very interesting player to track the rest of the month. Positive migration of his statistics will benefit his owners.

  • Carpenter’s off the snide

Part of the popular revolution of increasing power by pulling the ball more and putting it in the air, Matt Carpenter slumped through a 34-game homerless stretch which ended last night in Kansas City. Carpenter went 2-for-4 with a run, double, his 15th home run, and three RBI. For the season he’s hitting .249/.381/.455 with his walk percentage up and strikeout percentage down. But the drop in isolated power has hurt his overall power numbers despite his hard contact rate remaining stable. This translates into a potential power surge on tap for Carpenter. Like a hitter in a slump, a Texas league hit can spark a streak, and this home run could signal a sigh of relief and Carpenter going on a run. Over 22 games in the second half, Carpenter’s slashing .295/.402/.510 with a .252 isolated power rating.

  • Closer notes

The law firm of Kintzler, Madson and Doolittle only needed two-thirds of the unit but closed out the win again for the Nationals. Kintzler took the eight inning and Doolittle notched his ninth save of the year but sixth with Washington. Combined, the group’s worked 20 innings with a 1.80 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 21:7 K:BB rate and blown zero leads.

Minnesota’s Matt Belisle saved his first game since 2012 on Sunday, and recorded his second in a row on Monday giving up a hit with a strikeout. Taylor Rogers did work the two days prior, but with Belisle now throwing two days in a row, it will be interesting to see if it will be Rogers tonight if the Twins get a chance. Paul Molitor maintains this will be a match-up based bullpen, but Belisle owns both post-Kintzler saves.

While many focus on the new additions to the Cubs bullpen along with the struggles of Carl Edwards Jr., Brian Duensing has turned in 16.1 straight scoreless innings. Also, Wade Davis stayed perfect converting his 25th save in as many chances.

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Greg Jewett

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I am a father, PE teacher & fantasy baseball writer. Using saber metrics & information to evaluate players & trends is exciting to me."Passion is the oxygen of the soul." Bill Butler