Of the former Michigan Wolverines baseball players who are currently in the Majors, one has consistently stolen headlines all season long — San Diego Padres utility infielder Jake Cronenworth.
The 26-year old rookie has been one of the biggest keys to the Padres’ success this year (they are tied with the Chicago Cubs for the second-best record in the National League), coming up with big hits on a consistent basis for what is arguably the game’s best offense (San Diego leads the Majors with 205 runs scored).
Cronenworth continued his tear during all three games against the Colorado Rockies this past weekend, registering four hits and batting in five runs throughout the series victory.
His best performance came in San Diego’s 13-2 win on Sunday, however, with the former Wolverine going 3-for-5 at the plate with a home run and two RBI, raising his batting average to .361 in the process.
Cronenworth doesn’t yet have enough at-bats to qualify in the National League’s batting race, but if he did, would own the best average in all of Major League Baseball. He is very close to qualifying, however; players need 3.1 plate appearances per team game to qualify in the batting race, and Cronenworth is currently averaging three.
He is now viewed by many as the NL Rookie of the Year leader, owning by far the best statistics of any other rookie hitter in the league. He’ll have some stiff competition for the award from the pitching side of things, however, most notably in the forms of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Dustin May (2.83 ERA in 35 innings), the New York Mets’ David Peterson (3.51 ERA in 25.2 innings) and the Cincinnati Reds’ Tejay Antone (2.66 ERA in 20.1 innings).
RP James Bourque, Washington Nationals (Played at U-M from 2012-14)
Made the 12-19 Nationals’ Opening Day roster and proceeded to make two appearances out of the bullpen, pitching 1.1 innings and not giving up an earned run … He was sent to the team’s alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va., on Aug. 6, however, and has not rejoined the big league club since.
INF Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres (2013-15)
Has played in 30 of the 21-15 Padres’ 36 games, owning a .361 batting average, four homers, 17 RBI, a .417 on-base percentage and a 1.035 OPS … He leads San Diego in batting average and on-base percentage, and is tied for the team lead in doubles (nine) and triples (two).
“As an infielder with solid hitting ability and speed, not to mention a fastball that reached the mid-90s when he dabbled on the mound, Cronenworth was an intriguing if not highly touted talent when the Padres acquired him and Tommy Pham from the Rays for Hunter Renfroe and Top 100 Prospect Xavier Edwards in December,” Jim Callis of MLB.com wrote today, after ranking Cronenworth as the game’s second-best rookie (behind Seattle outfielder Kyle Lewis).
“If he weren’t a few plate appearances shy of qualifying, he’d be leading the National League in hitting. His batting line (.361/.417/.619) compares favorably to that of double-play partner and potential NL MVP, Fernando Tatis Jr.“
SP Rich Hill, Minnesota Twins (2000-02)
Is in the midst of a stellar year for the 20-15 Twins, owning a 3.55 ERA in three starts and 12.2 innings … Also spent time on the injured list with shoulder fatigue, which is the reason for his low innings total and minimal number of starts … Threw five innings and only gave up one earned run in his most recent Aug. 25 start against the Indians, arguably out-dueling Cleveland ace Shane Bieber in the process.
“Hill rebounded from a tough second outing by throwing five solid innings against the Indians,” Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote after the game. “Though he ran into some trouble in the first inning and gave up a run, he seemingly got tougher as the night wore on, striking out the last four batters he saw in his 78-pitch effort.
“Hill made his case to keep pitching after that. His manager said he asked ‘seven or eight times,’ but [Minnesota manager Rocco] Baldelli said they felt good removing the 40-year-old starter at that point in the game.
“‘I thought the ball came out well,’ said Hill, who said he added a cutter to his repertoire Tuesday. ‘If I threw 78 pitches, 70 came out the way I wanted (them) to.’
“The veteran certainly pitched well enough to keep the Twins close while Bieber was dealing.”
Rich Hill is better than Shane Bieber
— Ryan T. Donkers (@ryantdonkers) August 25, 2020
OF Ryan LaMarre, Chicago Cubs (2008-11)
Signed to a minor league contract by the 20-14 Cubs on July 24, but has yet to appear in the Majors this season … LaMarre played in 14 games last year with the Minnesota Twins, but only hit .217 with two homers and three RBI in 23 at-bats.
SP Clayton Richard, Chicago White Sox (2005)
Signed to a minor league deal by the 21-13 White Sox on Aug. 4, but has yet to receive a call-up to the team’s big league roster … Richard is 36 years old and spent last season with the Toronto Blue Jays, but struggled mightily to the tune of a 5.96 ERA in 45.1 innings pitched and 10 starts.
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