After an ugly, ugly 12-15 June, the Twins bounced back to a 15-11 mark in July - thanks mostly to winning seven in a row and nine of ten to end the month. With the season now four months old, it's easy for players both streaking and slumping to hide behind their season-long stats; with that in mind, a look at who burned up the basepaths in July, and who could use a friend.
Delmon Young - Obviously. Six home runs, 30 runs batted in, a line of .434/.455 /.736, which is frankly ridiculous. Delmon had a 1.191 OPS in July. Perspective on that: Remember last year, when Joe Mauer had a historically great year? Mauer had only one month last year where he had an OPS above 1.191.
Joe Mauer - Speaking of the catcher, he hit .344/.392 /.570 in July, with fifteen extra-base hits. Not too shabby.
J.J. Hardy - The shortstop finally heated up, batting .351/.377 /.486 in July and cracking five doubles. Really, it was his first half-decent month since May of 2009, and really only his second sustained stretch of good work since 2008.
Michael Cuddyer - After batting .263 through the first three months of the year, Cuddyer hit .317/.383/.500 in July.
Francisco Liriano - Liriano gave up five extra-base hits in THE ENTIRE MONTH OF JULY. He was 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA, the entire league had a .577 OPS against him, and counting yesterday's August start, he hasn't allowed a run in 21 innings. Nice.
Jesse Crain - One night on the broadcast, Bert said that Crain had received some advice from Jon Rauch about staying back in his delivery. It must have worked; Crain went twelve appearances in July without allowing a single run, striking out twelve in that span. Is dominant Jesse Crain back?
Ay dios mio!
Nick Punto - .226/.281/.264. No power, barely walked, and got caught stealing twice. Also hurt himself. I don't know why any of this surprises me.
Denard Span - Hit .245, and had just two extra-base hits - both doubles - in 109 plate appearances. This was good for a .580 OPS, which is awful. And let us note that July was the month when people started questioning Span's outfield defense, too.
Jason Kubel - .232/.290/.337 - this after he hit .316/.356/.537 in June and we all thought he was just heating up for the year. Also struck out 27 times in the month, a career high.
Jon Rauch - Why he's not the closer any more: .442 OBP against, 5.40 ERA, struck out fewer hitters (five) than he walked (six).
Matt Guerrier - We were scared of him in 2008. We thought he was fine last year and the first two and a half months this year. And now... 8.00 ERA in July, when he lost three games. The league had an .877 OPS against him, which is worse than the mark Rauch posted (.831). Gave up sixteen baserunners in nine innings of work. Ugh.