Players who really produce in September
Now that Michael Phelps has left the pool and Usain Bolt is taking a well-deserved breather, we'll really see who has the best finishing kick.August might be the most demanding month for major leaguers because of the stifling heat, the accumulated injuries and the mental burden of knowing there are so many games left on the schedule. Now that we're on the verge of September, it means that the playoff picture is coming into focus, the postseason awards picture is about to crystallize and ...
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POOR SEPTEMBER NUMBERS
Not everyone rises to the occasion in September. Here are some key players whose September numbers aren't what you'd expect them to be:
How is it that Martinez has won 72 percent of his decisions in the months before September, but only 54 percent of his decisions within the month? Martinez has had his share of dominating Septembers, as he was 4-0 with sub-1.00 ERAs in 1999 and 2003, but he also has had a couple of clunkers. Red Sox fans easily forget that Martinez was 2-4 with a 4.95 ERA in September 2004 because of how Martinez pitched in that year's World Series. Mets fans rue the 0-3 record and 11.81 ERA during his injury-plagued close to the 2006 season. Dan Haren: 7-12, 4.27 ERA
Haren's effectiveness at season's end could be a cause for concern for the Diamondbacks. He's 3-7 with a 5.30 ERA in September the past two seasons. His 5.29 ERA in his five starts in August could foreshadow future difficulties. Casey Blake: .233 batting average, .394 slugging percentage
Blake had some big hits during his Indians tenure, but three seasons' worth of September struggles have kept his numbers down. He hit .202 with six RBIs in 94 at-bats in September 2003, a meager .196 with 12 RBIs in September 2005, and .219 with 16 RBIs in in September 2006. He redeemed himself with a strong showing in 2007, hitting .302 in September to help the Indians advance to the ALCS.
The sample size for Youkilis is small, and his postseason performance in 2007 would seem to offset any worries, but Youkilis hit just .216 in September 2006 as the Red Sox faltered down the stretch and failed to make the postseason. Adam Dunn: .219 batting average, 497 at-bats, 20 home runs
The Diamondbacks knew what they were getting when they got Dunn, but his September production is troublesome. The low batting average is offset by a high walk rate that has helped produce a .358 on-base percentage, but Dunn's power has historically dipped significantly in September. He's averaged just one home run every 24.9 at-bats in September, as compared with one every 13 at-bats the rest of the season. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Research