By Ben Verlander
FOX Sports MLB Analyst
The Houston Astros have officially clinched a playoff spot.
They are the first team in the American League to do so and the second overall behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A big reason for the Astros’ success this year has been the offensive output of left-handed slugger Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez was on a tear in the first half of the season and was leading many offensive categories for much of the year. It didn’t last the whole season, however, as Yordan struggled both at the plate and with injuries.
After hitting 30 home runs through July, Alvarez hit just one in August, put up a .234 average and spent time on the injured list with a hand injury.
September has been a different story for the slugger, however. So far, Yordan is batting .378 in the month with six home runs.
Welcome to my Team of the Week, where I go position by position choosing who played best at each position. This week, the team is virtually captained by Alvarez, who led all of baseball by a wide margin with 32 total bases, leading to an OPS over 2.000. He hit six home runs in the week, including three in consecutive at-bats.
Houston Astros’ Yordan Álvarez and Kyle Tucker lead off Ben’s team of the week!
Ben Verlander picks his new team of the week, headlined by the Houston Astros’ Yordan Álvarez and Kyle Tucker, NY Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Seattle Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez.
Let’s check out the rest of the squad.
Nido was one of just three catchers to hit multiple home runs last week and his 13 total bases led them all. He wound up hitting .600 in the week.
1B: Pete Alonso – New York Mets
Pete Alonso joined Albert Pujols as the only players to record at least 35 home runs and 25 doubles in three of their first four seasons. He added six RBI to his NL-leading total.
Gleyber led all MLB second basemen with eight RBIs over the last week. He was also the only second baseman to have multiple steals (two) and at least five extra-base hits (five). On the week, he hit .391 with two home runs.
3B: Justin Turner – Los Angeles Dodgers
Justin Turner is the only third baseman last week to hit at least .450 (.450) and have multiple home runs (two). It may not have started out like a typical Justin Turner season, but he’s hitting .350 in the second half and added to it by hitting .450 with a 1.400 OPS last week.
Adames entered the Brewers’ record books last week. He hit his 30th home run of the season, which passed Robin Yount for most homers in a single season by a shortstop. Adames hit .444 on the week, which led all MLB shortstops, and his 1.639 OPS was over .500 points higher than the next-best OPS among SS in that span.
Julio Rodríguez has five home runs with a .447/.533/.895 slash line over his last 10 games, one of three AL players aged 21 or younger to do that along with Ted Williams (1939) and Al Kaline (1955-56). He’s also one of just two outfielders to have an OPS over 1.500 (1.822) and hit multiple home runs (four). The JRod show put on another show last week.
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OF: Aaron Judge – New York Yankees
Aaron Judge continues to march towards history, and did so this past week by hitting four home runs, taking his total up to 59. Judge now is just two away from tying Roger Maris’ American League home run record. He is just one home run away from being the first player to hit 60 home runs in a season since 2001 when Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa did it.
OF: Kyle Tucker – Houston Astros
Tucker’s 24 total bases were second-most in MLB over the last week. He’s been killing it since the beginning of August and this past week was no different. Tucker hit .345 with four home runs and 11 RBI. I would say a few more nice things about him, but he tried to pull a fast one on me with a fantasy-football trade last week, so let’s just move on.
DH: Yordan Alvarez – Houston Astros
SP: Brandon Woodruff – Milwaukee Brewers
A dominant week for Brandon Woodruff, whose 21 strikeouts are the most in MLB over the last week with no other pitcher accumulating more than 15. He made two starts on the mound and won both while giving up three runs in 14 innings.
Clase was one of three closers in MLB to get three saves last week, and is the only one to do so while not giving up a single run. Clase continues to be one of the most dominant closers in the game and this past week was no different. The Guardians are playing great baseball and have been giving him plenty of chances to come through in the 9th inning. He has been doing just that.
Ben Verlander is an MLB analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the “Flippin’ Bats” podcast. Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @BenVerlander.
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