MLB Standings Watch: Brock Holt helps Boston Red Sox stop slide


The past week has not been kind to the Boston Red Sox. After stumbling through a 7-game losing streak that dropped them to 8 games back in the division race, the Red Sox now find themselves with a mere half game edge over the Oakland A’s for the worst record in the American League.

Thankfully that season-high losing streak came to an end on Tuesday when the Red Sox managed to split a two-game series at Fenway Park with the Atlanta Braves. Brock Holt played a key role in stopping the team’s slide, becoming the first Red Sox player to hit for the cycle since John Valentin in 1996.

Holt has been one of the team’s hottest hitters this past week. Over his last 7 games he is 10-for-28 at the plate (.357) with four extra-base hits. Manager John Farrell has been forced to tinker with his lineup as he desperately searches for the right combination, but one of the few constants in recent games has been Holt planted in one of the top two spots in the order.

AL East Standings

(American League team gaining momentum)

Baltimore Orioles: The AL East has become a tight race between every team in the division except Boston, with the other four teams all within 2 games of each other. Baltimore has won 8 of their last 10 to push their record above .500 and rejoin the race for the division crown they hope to defend.

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The O’s are second in the league this month in runs scored (81) and OPS (.799). Baltimore’s best hitter this month has been Manny Machado. The third baseman is hitting .350 over his last 15 games, with 5 home runs and 11 RBI. This hot streak, combined with his elite defense, has pushed him into the top-5 in the league with a 3.3 WAR this season.

The lineup has also gotten a boost from the return of Matt Wieters, who had been sidelined since undergoing Tommy John surgery last June. The Orioles catcher hasn’t missed a beat, despite the lengthy time off, hitting .333 with a pair of home runs in his first 9 games. Teams have yet to test his surgically repaired elbow on the base paths, but Weiters has looked good behind the plate so far. This type of surgery is rare for non-pitchers, but his successful recovery provides some optimism for fellow catcher Christian Vazquez.

(American League team that is struggling)

Minnesota Twins: It was quite a ride while it lasted, but the Twins seem to be crashing back down to Earth. They have lost 8 of their last 10 games and the 267 runs they have scored this season now matches the number they have given up.

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The Twins rank only 13th in the league in runs scored this month with 42 and next to last with a .610 OPS. Veteran outfielder Torii Hunter had looked like a sneaky good free agent signing over the first couple months of the season, but he’s hitting only .208/.296/.271 in June. At this stage in his career, there are no assurances that the 39-year old is merely scuffling through a rough patch.

Former perennial batting title contender Joe Mauer is slumping even worse, dragging his season average down to a career-worst .253. Mauer’s bat doesn’t have enough power to make a smooth transition to full-time first baseman, so now that he’s not hitting for average or playing behind the dish, his value has dipped below replacement level.

Minnesota still clings to the final Wild Card spot by virtue of a tie-breaker over the Yankees, but they have several teams breathing down their necks to take it from them.

Playoff Outlook
(Division leaders and teams holding a Wild Card spot in the American League)

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays
AL Central: Kansas City Royals
AL West: Houston Astros
Wild Card: Texas Rangers
Wild Card: Minnesota Twins