Week That Was: But First, Let Me Take a Selfie

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This week, we saw a veteran making a slight change of scenery: the Dodgers announced on Saturday that they signed future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols to a one-year, major league contract. The 41-year-old was designated for assignment by the Angels on May 6, and cleared waivers on Thursday.

This move by the Dodgers was a bit of a head-scratcher as Pujols’ defense and production have fallen off in the last few years. They certainly won’t be replacing top hitter and defender Max Muncy at first base, but a number of injuries have befallen their position players, straining their depth. Pujols could be a useful option for the Dodgers against left-handed pitchers, at the very least.

Before we get into this week’s fantastic performances, we kick off this Week That Was with some notable home runs from some of Major League Baseball’s established -- and emerging stars.

But First, Let Me Take a Selfie

Marcell Ozuna launched back-to-back home runs with Ozzie Albies on Friday night, off Brewers starter Eric Lauer. The Braves busted a three-game skid versus the Brewers, winning 6-3 in Milwaukee. Ozuna rounded third base during this homer, extending an arm to take a pretend selfie, which was met with resounding disapproval from Brewers fans. Going back to last year’s Wild Card Series against the Reds, Ozuna has stopped during each of his home run trots to mimic taking a selfie. “That’s my thing,” Ozuna said, later commenting on the celebration. “Everyone has their own style.”

Jarred Kelenic made a loud entrance in his MLB debut on Friday, announcing his presence with a scalding 403-foot home run that left the bat at 109.3 miles per hour -- his first major league hit. The 21-year-old turned an Aaron Civale splitter right around in an advantageous 0-1 count. Kelenic wasn’t finished there; he finished the evening with two more doubles, going 3-for-4. At 21 years & 302 days old, Kelenic is the 2nd-youngest player in Mariners history with a home run out of the leadoff spot, trailing only Ken Griffey, Jr. who was 21 years, 224 days old on July 3, 1991.

Also on Friday, Shohei Ohtani slammed his first Fenway home run in style -- by going opposite field over the Green Monster, with a one-handed follow through swing. Ohtani went 2-for-4 on the evening, including two RBI. With 11 home runs going into Sunday, Ohtani is tied with Jose Ramirez of Cleveland and Aaron Judge of the Yankees for the AL lead in that category; he’s also one homer behind Atlanta's Ronald Acuña Jr. and Seattle’s Mitch Haniger for the Major League lead.

Notable Performances

Tyler Naquin had a heck of a day on Monday: one of his two hits was a monster of a three-run homer. Naquin was responsible for driving in four of the Reds’ 14 runs scored, in a blowout win over the Pirates. Naquin also homered the day prior; he now has eight home runs in 114 plate appearances going into Saturday. Naquin had just one extra-base hit, a double, in 14 games from April 20 to May 7.

Vince Velasquez has been hitting velocities he hasn’t seen in a while; on Friday he touched 96 miles per hour, when his year average on the fastball clocks in at 93. Last night he forced the Blue Jays through 13 swings-and-misses, maintaining an incredible 40% CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) on the fastball, and a 33% CSW overall. It’s the first time in his career he’s had three straight starts of 5+ innings and one run or fewer. Velasquez has been very good since taking Matt Moore’s spot in the rotation, posting a very impressive line: 25.1 IP, 19 H, 8 ER, 28 SO, 11 BB, 2.87 ERA.

Jack Flaherty’s been on fire as of late! Though pitcher wins may be more indicative of luck rather than ability, Flaherty has yet to pick up a loss through seven starts. Historically, the 25-year-old righty has not done well in Milwaukee as the current roster bats a career .736 OPS when he’s pitching, but perhaps the tables have turned. On Thursday, his line against the Brewers was stellar: 6 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Flaherty also did not allow any runs on his start on May 7; that’s back-to-back starts with no runs allowed. Through 47 innings pitched through eight starts, he’s 7-0, with an ever-lowering 2.47 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 48 strikeouts - just one fewer than his 2020 total of 49 strikeouts.

Adolis Garcia is making waves as a rookie, going 4-for-4 on Sunday, including a homer, a double, and a walk; he drove in two runs, and also stole a base. The 28-year-old has been terrorizing American League pitching over the first month-plus of the season, slashing a robust .297/.339/.604 with nine homers, 26 RBI and two stolen bases. Though he might have dipped offensively in the second half of April where he went 7-for-33 (.233), his power evident in five homers in 11 games is still making sure his OPS hovers around .923.

Tim Anderson was on a ten-game hitting streak going into Sunday, the longest in his career. Five of those nine games were multi-hit efforts. On Thursday, he went 2-for-4 and hit his fifth homer -- a leadoff blast on Thursday against the Twins. Anderson is batting .316 and has 23 runs scored and 15 RBI through 28 games this season. He's also 6-for-8 stealing bases. His 136 wRC+ is evidence that he’s a reliable source of run production - and excitement - for the White Sox.

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Honor Roll

Gio Urshela (pinch hit 3-run HR on Friday), Aaron Judge (2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB on Saturday), Kevin Gausman (8 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 12 K on Saturday), Austin Meadows (3-for-5, HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI on Thursday, Hyun-Jin Ryu (7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K on Wednesday), Billy Hamilton (4-for-4, 2B, 3B, 3 R, RBI, SB on Wednesday), Lance McCullers (8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K on Tuesday), Shohei Ohtani (7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K on Tuesday), Jorge Soler (2-for-5, R, HR, 6 RBI on Tuesday), Luke Weaver (6 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K on Monday), Jared Walsh (4-for-4, HR, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, SB on Monday)

Injury Report

On Tuesday, Padres manager Jayce Tingler announced that Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for COVID-19. Tingler added that Tatis is asymptomatic and will be away from the club for at least 10 days as of Tuesday. Jurickson Profar and Jorge Mateo were also put on the IL on Tuesday due to contact tracing. The good news is they can return at any time but will have to continue to test negative to do so.

Bad news for fantasy managers and just anyone who likes to watch good baseball players: X-rays revealed that Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager has a fractured hand, after being hit on the top of the hand with a Ross Detwiler pitch on Saturday. Seager was pulled immediately after, and will be likely placed on the injured list. The Dodgers have yet to release a timetable for Seager’s return, but it’s apparent the former NLCS and World Series MVP will miss some time. Into Sunday, the 27-year-old was slashing .265/.361/.422 with four home runs and one steal over 169 plate appearances in 37 games.

On Saturday, the Diamondbacks placed catcher Carson Kelly on the 10-day injured list with a tuft fracture in his left big toe. Kelly was one of the more prolific hitters with a .338 average, and led baseball with a .491 on-base percentage. His wRC+ of 192 was certainly evident of a breakout season. He won't be eligible to return to the already injury-ridden Diamondbacks lineup until near the end of the month.

Anthony Rendon was activated from the injured list Friday after being sidelined for 10 days with a left knee contusion; He went 1-for-4 on Friday, and 0-for-4 on Saturday, including a walk.

Some bad news out of Minnesota: Jake Cave of the Twins was placed Cave on the 60-day IL on Saturday with a stress reaction in his lower back. Cave along with Byron Buxton, Alex Kirilloff are Twins outfielders sidelined with injuries. As for Kirilloff, he hit off a tee on Friday to test his sprained right wrist to see if he can potentially return to the field this season.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone revealed on Saturday that outfielder Aaron Hicks would be placed on the 10-day injured list for a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. Hicks has been taking anti-inflammatory medication to deal with the injury. As for surgery, Boone admitted that it’s still on the table, but also said that the Yankees are not thinking that far ahead, hoping it is still manageable so time sidelined would be days, opposed to weeks.

Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto of the Phillies both left Saturday’s game, Harper with right shoulder soreness, Realmuto with issues with his left wrist. Both players are considered day-to-day. Harper carries a 1.013 OPS over 32 games; he missed a handful of games early in the season, after being hit in the face with a pitch. Realmuto has the second highest OPS on the Phillies, at .886.

Batting Around

There’s nothing quite like an old-fashioned pregame standoff, and we saw one on Monday in Pittsburgh. Alex Blandino and Luis Oviedo stayed on the field, standing stoically moments after their respective teammates scattered away after the national anthem ended.

Blandino and Oviedo, caps still off, remained still to see who would retreat to the dugout first, even after the home plate umpire signaled -- twice -- that it was time to cut it out. It was Oviedo who obliged and obeyed the umpire’s orders eventually, making Blandino the “winner” of the post-anthem standoff, and the recipient of many high-fives from his Reds teammates.

And that’s yet another Week that Was! Join us next week as we recap some of the emerging performances and storylines from around Major League Baseball.