Jewish Major Leaguers: a midseason report
The All-Star break marks the unofficial — if not statistically accurate — midway point of the baseball season, so this seems like a good time to evaluate how the fellows have done so far.
Eleven Jewish Major Leaguers have appeared in 2012, although not all remain on big league rosters. A few have started off slowly and, to be honest, haven’t performed up to expectations. As a group, JML batters are hitting .243, with 70 doubles, seven triples, 54 home runs, and 195 RBIs. JML pitchers have won only seven of 23 decisions, striking out 144 while walking 62 in 189.2 innings (5.03 ERA; statistics as of July 8.)
Ike Davis spent most of the season with a batting average under .200 for the NY Mets. He batted just .170 for the first two months, with a mere five home runs and 21 runs batted in and there were murmurings of sending him to the minors. But Davis turned things around dramatically in June, practically doubling his April and May output with six homers and 24 RBIs while batting .264.
Kevin Youkilis never really hit it off with new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who questioned his dedication to the game, even as the popular ballplayer battled injuries. Like Davis, Youkilis struggled from the outset, missing 22 games. His replacement performed so well that Youkilis turned into a man without a position and was a constant subject of trade rumors. Fortunately, he has found new life with the Chicago White Sox: Since coming over in a June 24 trade, Youkilis has batted .347 (17-49) with two doubles, three home runs, and 14 RBIs in just 13 games.
Ryan Braun has certainly shut up a lot of people by showing that his talent is pure. His stats are even better than those at a similar point last year: he leads the NL in home runs and is second in RBIs and in the top 10 in five other categories. That his Milwaukee Brewers are not performing well is attributable to pitching woes and the loss of Prince Fielder to free agency, which makes Braun’s accomplishments even more remarkable.
Ian Kinsler is having a typical season for the Texas Rangers, who lead the AL West. The feisty second baseman — who like Braun was named to his league’s All-Star team — is batting .279 with 26 doubles, three triples, nine home runs, 15 stolen bases, 41 RBIs, and 63 runs scored, which leads the AL.
Kinsler’s teammate Scott Feldman was given the chance to start but didn’t make the most of it. When the Rangers brought up Roy Oswalt, Feldman was sent to the bullpen. He’s appeared in 16 games, 10 as a starter, with a 3-6 record and a 5.89 earned run average.
Philadelphia Phillies reliever Michael Schwimer is riding high after some troubles earlier in the year. In his first stint with the team, he was horrid: 6.1 innings and an 8.57 ERA in five games in April and May, which earned him a demotion. Since his return at the beginning of June, however, Schwimer has appeared in 15 games and allowed just two runs in 13.2 innings.
Craig Breslow has done a good job for the Ariz. Diamondbacks. He’s 2-0 with four holds, striking out 34 batters in 37 innings over 34 relief appearances (2.92 ERA).
Jason Marquis got a late start with the Minn. Twins because of a family health crisis. He was out of sync when he finally joined the team after an extended spring training and never had a chance to work out of his difficulties. He was 2-4 with an 8.47 ERA in seven starts before the Twins released him on May 28. He signed with the San Diego Padres and is 1-5 with a respectable 3.71 ERA since making his debut with them on June 7. With 104 career victories, he’s just three behind Steve Stone for third place among Jewish pitchers.
The Red Sox called up outfielder Ryan Kalish in mid-June. He appeared in 18 games, batting .271 (13-60) with no home runs and five RBIs. Kalish was returned to AAA on Saturday.
Unlike Davis and Youkilis, Danny Valencia couldn’t quite come around and the Twins evidently lost patience with their third baseman, sending him to the minors in early May after he hit just .190 with one home run and 11 RBIs, striking out 23 times in 100 at bats.
Josh Satin was up for a cup of coffee with the Mets, striking out in his only appearance with the team.