John Axford is the Brewers closer. Period. I know everyone got all nervous when Francisco Rodriguez was brought into town, but the Brew Crew has done the right thing and left Axford alone as the arm working the 9th. K-Rod has done very well in a setup role with a 2.45 ERA and 15 Ks in 11 innings since joining the club, but it’s Axford who deserves all the accolades. Not only is he 33 for 35 in saves, the last time he blew a chance was April 18th as he’s racked up 64 Ks in 54.1 innings. He’s as good as there is at shutting down an opponent.
Chris Davis is one of my favorite late round gambles each year. To this point, he’s done little at the big league level to warrant the love, but perhaps things will change now that he is in Baltimore. Apparently over a scare with his shoulder, Davis appears slated to see daily playing time in the Orioles’ lineup. Davis hit .368 with 24 homers and 66 RBI in just 48 games at Triple-A this year, and though he would be lucky to get within a hundred points of that batting average, the power is legit. After all, he has averaged 24 homers per 500 at-bats during his big league career (43 homers in 903 at-bats).
Conor Jackson’s career was at a crossroads coming into this season. A first round pick in 2003, his last couple of seasons had been ruined by ill health. He started out slowly this year, and with the A’s logjam at first and in the outfield he just wasn’t seeing regular playing time. He’s slowly started to come around though as he hit .292 in July and .309 over his last 21 games. He still isn’t flashing much power with only four homers in 299 at-bats, but the sweet stroke is finally back.
Rich Harden is always one pitch, heck one step, from the trainer’s table. It took him forever to get on the field this year, but once out there he has performed very well. Harden may have an elevated 4.07 ERA for the Athletics but he has 45 Ks in 42 innings, is sporting a 3.00 K/BB ratio, and his WHIP (1.17) is a rather impressive total for a hurler in the AL. He’s only lasted more than six innings twice in seven outings, but he’s looked pretty much like his old self when on the bump.
Yonder Alonso – The guy has no position, he recently embarrassed himself in the outfield, and he’s not going to supplant Joey Votto at first base any time soon. Still, the kid can hit and he’s gone 8-for-17 (.471) this year to up his career mark to .304 in 46 at-bats in the bigs.
Desmond Jennings – He’s looked every bit the Carl Crawford clone in 17 games hitting .328 with 11 RBI, 11 runs scored and eight steals. He has been marvelous.
Mike Moustakas – He’s hitting .193 with one homer through 171 at-bats, and his OPS is .497. The poor average is a head scratchier but one homer in 171 at-bats? That’s just vexing.
By Ray Flowers