Each Friday, BLS contributor Nick Friedell runs through the quad and into the gymnasium to look at five of the hottest players in baseball. He then assesses their chances of keeping it going.
Milton Bradley, Rangers
The Naked Truth: .337 average, 13 HR, 41 RBI
Having a nice little Saturday: Since June 1, Bradley is 9-for-18 with 5 HR and 10 RBI
You're my boy, Blue!: Bradley's torrid start has people in Texas and around baseball thinking that he might earn an All-Star berth. It's an honor that Bradley says he hasn't really thought about yet. "If I somehow miraculously made it to the All-Star Game, I would be floored," he said. "I'd really be totally humbled by that. I'm just happy right now to play, to produce and to be with a good group of guys." (Dallas Morning News)
Think KFC will still be open?: No question. Did you see Bradley after he hit another home run last night? He went old-school Michael Jordan on everyone, and held up his arms, like even he didn't know what was going on. He's in the zone.
Bradley has absolutely crushed the ball at home this season, hitting .386, with 11 HR, and 27 RBI. That's good news considering the Rangers open up a three-game set tonight against the Rays in Arlington.
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Todd Wellemeyer, Cardinals
The Naked Truth: 7-1, 2.93 ERA
Having a nice little Saturday: Wellemeyer has earned a win in five of his last seven starts. Over that time, he has pitched 43 innings, and given up just 9 earned runs.
You're my boy, Blue!: Wellemeyer has led the Cardinals pitching staff for the last couple of months, and that is something that manager Tony La Russa has noticed. ''He's a complete pitcher,'' La Russa said. ''I think he's as consistent as anyone we're sending out there.'' (AP)
Think KFC will still be open?: Nobody knows. Wellemeyer bounced around the majors for a few years, before landing in St. Louis. He only appeared in 20 games last year, but in that time compiled a 3.11 ERA, easily the lowest of his career. While it looks like he has figured everything out, only time will tell if he is the real deal.
In the meantime, he has been superb at home this season. Over six starts, he is 5-1 with a 2.43 ERA.
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Manny Ramirez, Red Sox
The Naked Truth: .301 average, 13 HR, 45 RBI
Having a nice little Saturday: Over the last week, Manny is 10-for-25 with 4 HR and 11 RBI
You're my boy, Blue!: Manny started streaking as soon as he hit his 500th career home run last Saturday. He is just the 24th major leaguer to join that club. "I'm happy, you know, about everything I accomplished in life," Ramirez said. "Not everybody has the chance to go and get to 500. I'm just proud to do it." (AP)
Think KFC will still be open?: Maybe. There is no doubt that if he's in the line-up Manny will hit, but will he be in the line-up? He had to leave last night's game early because of a recurring hamstring problem. On the way out he also got into an argument with teammate Kevin Youkilis.
None of that will stop Manny once he gets back to the plate though, especially away from Fenway. Ramirez is hitting .315 on the road this season with 10 HR and 27 RBI.
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Prince Fielder, Brewers
The Naked Truth: .280 10 HR, 32 RBI
Having a nice little Saturday: Since May 30, Fielder has hit 4 home runs, and has 7 RBI.
You're my boy, Blue!: Fielder seems to be trying to simplify his swing, and in the process get the Brewers back into the NL Central race. "I'm just trying to put the swing I like to take on it, and not really try to manipulate it," Fielder said. "Sometimes you try to create a base hit or try to do something different instead of putting a good swing on it." (MLB.com)
Think KFC will still be open?: Yes. Fielder has about the same name numbers as he did during the last two season, except for one glaring exception ... a lack home runs. He had 50 last year, and 28 in '06. Hopefully for Brewers fans, this hot streak will help get him turned around.
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Mike Mussina, Yankees
The Naked Truth: 9-4, 4.01 ERA
Having a nice little Saturday: Mussina has won eight of his last nine starts, including his last three.
You're my boy, Blue!: After struggling last season, Mussina has bounced back. "So far I'm having a pretty good year," he said. "A lot of people assumed my best stuff was behind me. Granted, I don't throw 90 miles per hour any more. But I still know how to pitch." (NY Times)
Think KFC will still be open?: Possibly. Mussina does still know how to pitch, and as the YES crew noted during his start the other night, he seems to have re-discovered the confidence that he had lost last season. Mussina is not going to get you deep into games anymore, but he will keep you in almost every one. He has given up four or more earned runs just three times this season.
He is scheduled to start again on Monday against the Royals. He has had a lot of luck in his career against Kansas City, going 17-7 with a 2.98 ERA.