Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts headline Ben Verlander’s Team of the Week

We’ve had a lot of surprise names make this list the past few weeks. While we still have a couple of those this week, a handful of superstars grabbed the spotlight.

That was especially true in the American League. And on the right side of my infield, two familiar faces from the National League make their first teams of the week in 2024 after recovering from slow starts.

Without further ado, here’s my latest Team of the Week!

Editor’s note: Stats and nominations for Ben Verlander’s Team of the Week are taken from the previous Sunday through Saturday.

Catcher: Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles
.333 BA, 4 HR, 6 RBIs, 1.316 OPS

We don’t talk enough about how dramatically the entire Orioles organization transformed once Rustchman arrived in 2022. Baltimore has not been swept in a regular-season series in the two years since his MLB debut. If you had to single out one player who bears the most responsibility for the Orioles going from 100 losses in 2021 to 100 wins last season, Rustchman is that player, and the Orioles are pushing for the top spot in the American League again because of him.

First baseman: Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves
.471 BA, HR, 5 RBIs, 1.216 OPS

Olson rebounded nicely this past week after a slow start to the season. More importantly, I feel obligated to highlight that he played in his 500th consecutive game Sunday night. That’s an incredible accomplishment, especially in this current era of baseball and professional sports as a whole.

Second baseman: Xander Bogaerts, San Diego Padres
.350 BA, 2 HR, 2 RBIs, 1.000 OPS

Bogaerts is also heating up after an uncharacteristically rough start to the year. The Padres’ offense has been a bit disjointed thus far, but the addition of Luis Arráez plus Bogaerts starting to return to form should help that.

Third baseman: José Ramírez, Cleveland Guardians
.371 BA, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 1.177 OPS

Ramirez makes my list for the second straight week, and I’ll repeat what I said last week — he is one of the most criminally underrated superstars in the entire sport.

Shortstop: Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
.375 BA, 2 HR, 2 RBIs, 1.194 OPS

I just happened to go to the one Dodgers game this season where Betts was pulled from the starting lineup and given an off day (of course). Betts slumped a bit the week prior, but returned to form in a big way this past week with two leadoff home runs. he has more than 50 of those in his storied career.

Outfield: Luis Matos, San Francisco Giants
.455 BA, 2 HR, 16 RBIs, 1.318 OPS

Matos is one of several young Giants getting a big-league opportunity due to a rash of injuries, and he’s really made the most of it. His 16 RBIs led all of MLB this week — the next closest RBI total was 10.

Outfield: Jake Meyers, Houston Astros
.474 BA, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 1.407 OPS

He’s not the Astros outfielder you would expect to see this week, but “Jake the Rake” lived up to his nickname by absolutely raking this week.

Outfield: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
.550 BA, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1.929 OPS

All rise, because the 2022 AL MVP is officially back. Judge started to heat up over the past couple weeks and then went white-hot this past week like only he can do. This is Judge at his best, and when he is at his best, he might be the best hitter in the entire game

Designated hitter: Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees
.450 BA, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 1.476 OPS

Aaron Judge being back might not be all that surprising. But Giancarlo Stanton being back, given his wear and tear and how his 2023 season and offseason went? I’m not saying Stanton will become the 59-home run MVP he was back with the Miami Marlins, but he is putting some great at-bats together in a way we did not see at all last year. That could be massive for the Yankees’ hopes of returning to the top of the AL East.

Starting pitcher: Luis Gil, New York Yankees
2-0, 12 IP, 1 earned run, 17 strikeouts, 8 hits, 3 walks

It was a no-brainer to make Gil my third consecutive Yankee on this list given the week he just had. Gil set a Yankees rookie record with 14 strikeouts against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, breaking a mark previously held by Orlando Hernandez — who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game. What are the odds?

Relief Pitcher: Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland Guardians
3 IP, 2 saves, 3 strikeouts, 0 earned runs, 0 hits, 1 walk

The other underrated Guardians star, Clase, was once again his usual nasty self this week. Clase is a closer in the vein of Mariano Rivera and Kenley Jansen: Hitters know his cutter is coming, and they still cannot hit it. That’s especially true when said cutter is 100 mph, as it is in Clase’s case.

Player of the Week: Luis Matos

Matos’ performance stands out on this list given his age — he just turned 22 years old — and relative lack of MLB experience. He is the youngest player with consecutive games of five-plus RBIs since the stat became official. Matos’ 15 RBIs in his first six games of a season are the most by any rookie in Giants history. Matos not only set several other rookie RBI records over the past week but also robbed a would-be home run from the Dodgers’ Teoscar Hernández, which will no doubt endear him to Giants fans.

Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the “Flippin’ Bats” podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him at @BenVerlander.

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