The Pittsburgh Pirates finished the first half of the 2012 season in first place in the NL Central, one game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. At eleven games over .500, the Pirates are poised to end their streak of losing seasons at 19 years.
The turnaround in Pittsburgh can be attributed to solid pitching, and the emergence of NL batting average leader Andrew McCutchen. The 25 year old former first round pick is on pace to set career highs in home runs, batting average, runs, and RBI’s, and is a front runner to win the 2012 MVP Award.
The biggest surprise in the American League is the AL Central leading White Sox, as the off-season signing of first year manager Robin Ventura received poor reviews from sports writers across the country. The emergence of Chris Sale and bounce-back seasons from Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have the White Sox poised to make a playoff run in 2012.
Offensive Player of the Week: Andrew McCutchen
.517, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R, 0 SB
Andrew McCutchen was a one man wrecking crew for the Pirates in week 13, posting a .517 average, with 11 runs and 9 runs batted in. McCutchen displayed excellent patience and balance at the plate, leading the Bucs to a 6-1 record against the visiting Giants and Padres.
The former star at Fort Meade High School in Florida ranks in the top five in batting average, home runs and runs batted in, and is on pace to be the first Pirate to win the NL MVP since Barry Bonds in 1992.
- Honorable Mention: Ian Desmond, Mike Trout and Tyler Colvin
Pitcher of the Week: Jered Weaver
15.0 IP, 2 wins, 7 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA, 0.80 WHIP
Two shutout wins against the Orioles and Indians earned Angel Ace Jered Weaver his second player of the week award for 2012. Weaver bounced back well from his back injury in May, and finished the first half of the season with a 10-1 record and an AL best 1.96 ERA.
- Honorable Mention: Kenley Jansen, James McDonald and Bronson Arroyo
Working the Wire
Top player honorable mention Tyler Colvin is the top free agent target of week 14. Colvin has been on a tear as of late, with five home runs and ten RBI’s for the struggling Rockies. His solid play has forced manager Jim Tracy to rethink his lineup, possibly forcing Rockie great Todd Helton to the bench.
Other Players to Target
1) Neil Walker (PIT 2b)
2) Trevor Bauer (SP ARZ)
3) Jose Quintana (CWS SP)
4) Delmon Young (DET OF)
Giancarlo Stanton’s troublesome knee injury resulted in the power hitting right fielder needing knee surgery to remove loose particles. Stanton will miss between four and six weeks due to the injury.
Dustin Pedroria suffered a new injury to his previously ailing thumb on Tuesday, and was placed on the 15-day DL by the Boston front office. Pedrioa is having a down year over the first half of the season, with a .266 batting average and just six home runs.
Other Notable Injuries:
- Dee Gordon (Thumb – 15 Day DL)
- Andre Ethier (Side – 15 Day DL)
As first reported by Gregory Hutchinson in our weekly closer carousel piece, Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told reporters that he plans on keeping Alfredo Aceves in the closer role even after Andrew Bailey returns from injury. While I believe Valentine will in fact change his tune on the subject, the fact that it is even a possibility should be a concern for those holding on to Bailey.
Fantasy Dud: Dan Uggla
.050 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 0 SB
2012 All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla did not give fantasy owners an All-Star quality performance last week. Although he did manage to launch a two-run home run against the Phillies on Sunday, that hit proved to be his only hit of the week.
- Honorable Mention: Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Santana and Tim Lincecum