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Week That Was

Week That Was: Didi Delivers

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Move over DJ. The record for most home runs by a Yankees shortstop now belongs to DG.

With a three-run blast against the Twins on Wednesday afternoon, Didi Gregorius surpassed Derek Jeter's record of 24, set nearly two decades ago in 1999. Last weekend, the 27-year-old had moved into a tie with Jeter by homering in three straight games against Baltimore.

This comes on the heels of a 20-HR season in 2016 for Gregorius, who previously had only 22 home runs in 346 major-league games and 26 in 512 minor-leagues games. It's certainly not the first time we've seen a guy fill out and realize his power potential in his mid-to-late 20s. His 45 bombs dating back to the start of last year rank third among all shortstops behind Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager.

Let's run through the rest of the league's biggest storylines as we head into the final week of games...

Editor’s Note: Win a FREE trip to the World Series plus cash prizes!

 

* Gregorius wasn't the only player putting his name in the record books this week. Corey Bellinger set a record for most homers by a National League rookie when he went deep for a 39th time on Friday. Elsewhere, Scooter Gennett launched his fourth grand slam of the season, joining Lou Gehrig as the only hitters ever to accomplish that feat while also having a four-homer game on the résumé (Gennett is the only one to do both in the same season).

Both are incredible stories, for very different reasons. And both breakout stars will be drafted very highly next spring.

* It's not quite as gaudy a distinction, but on Wednesday, Hunter Renfroe became the first Padres rookie to hit three home runs in a game, and the first San Diego player to do it since 2001. He had also homered in his first game back with the big-league club on Monday. Available in 80% of Yahoo leagues, Renfroe makes an excellent add for fantasy finals in deeper leagues.

* When the Brewers announced that Jimmy Nelson would be undergoing shoulder surgery on Tuesday, the indication was that they wouldn't "know the severity of the procedure until they get in there." As it turns out, the news wasn't good.

On Wednesday, Milwaukee GM David Stearns informed reporters that Nelson ended up needing labrum repair, and will miss at least a portion of 2018. The history of such procedures suggests that if Nelson returns next year, he won't be very effective, and his career outlook is now much murkier.

It's a truly unfortunate turn of events because Nelson was enjoying a real breakout season, with a career-high 12 wins to go along with a 3.49 ERA and phenomenal 10.2 K/9 rate. His velocity was registering at career highs this summer. Now, the righty will have a long road back ahead of him.

* There was a time when three-hit games like the one Joe Mauer enjoyed on Thursday night in Detroit were simply the norm. This is a guy who led the league in batting average three times, and hit .365 when he won AL MVP in 2009.

But since a concussion forced him away from catcher, Mauer hasn't been the same hitter. From 2014 through 2016, he slashed .267/.353/.380 and averaged eight home runs as a first baseman. Not great.

Here in his age 34 season, he stumbled out of the gates, finishing April with a .546 OPS, but since then he has looked very much like the Mauer of old. After putting up three multi-hit games this week, he's batting .323 with a .405 on-base percentage since the beginning of May. While his lack of power (7 HR and 68 RBI on the season) limits his fantasy appeal, it's nice to see the veteran with his average over .300 again. Maybe this is the beginning of a late successful chapter in his career.

Mauer's $184 million contract with the Twins expires at the end of 2018. It's now worth wondering if he might be kept around beyond next year.

* Not too much has gone right this year for the Athletics, mired at the bottom of the AL West. But it looks like they've found themselves a player in Matt Olson.

Handed the everyday first base job after Yonder Alonso was traded to Seattle in early August, Olson has since put on a power-hitting clinic, launching 20 home runs with a .750 slugging percentage in 39 games. He has put one over the fence in eight of his last 11 games.

We knew the 23-year-old had power, but his outburst this year – 47 jacks between Triple-A and the majors – has been stunning. Given that his 24 total home runs for Oakland have come along with only two doubles, we're certainly expecting things to balance out a little next year, so 25 is probably a more realistic expectation than 50.

Still, it's another amazing power-hitting achievement in a year that's been full of them.

* Could Bryce Harper make it back before the season is through? It's beginning to look that way. The Nationals outfielder ran bases, shagged flies, and took BP on Friday, expediting a timeline that already had him playing a few playoff tuneup games before the regular scheduled expired.

At this rate, he's poised to start seeing action early next week. I'd feel fairly comfortable placing him in the lineup. The Nats will feast on the Phillies and Pirates in the final week as they gear up for October.

* Out since the first week of September, Jake Arrieta made his return to the Cubs rotation on Thursday, allowing one run over five innings against Milwaukee. It was a mostly encouraging start, although his two strikeouts were a season-low.

Arrieta is slated to get one more regular-season start at St. Louis next week. Headed for free agency, he has plenty of incentive to bring it in that game and into the postseason.

* On Sunday, Matt Boyd came within one out of the year's most random no-hitter. Tim Anderson dashed his dream by doubling with two outs in the ninth, but Boyd did end up with a complete game shutout.

Entering the contest, Boyd was 5-10 with a 5.75 ERA and opponents were hitting .311 against him. Baseball's a weird game sometimes.

* The Cardinals activated Adam Wainwright from the DL, but he'll work out of the bullpen the rest of the way.

* The Reds announced a four-year contract extension for Tucker Barnhart. He has had a very nice season both at the plate and behind it. Devin Mesoraco may be on the trade block this winter.

Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.