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Mookie Betts, Julio Rodríguez highlight Ben Verlander's team of the month
Major League Baseball

Mookie Betts, Julio Rodríguez highlight Ben Verlander's team of the month

Updated Sep. 25, 2023 8:59 p.m. ET

August has come and gone, but it was unforgettable for many of the players below. 

Before we put a bow on the month, I examined each position and identified the best players. In an ordinary month, there would have been some strong candidates for the overall best player. But one former MVP put together one of the greatest multi-week stretches in years.

Without further ado, let's dive into the list!

Catcher: Mitch Garver, Texas Rangers — .302 batting average, eight home runs, 16 RBIs, 1.022 OPS


The stats speak for themselves. Even as the Rangers have struggled and lost ground in a suddenly extremely competitive American League West race, Garver has been great for them. He will need to keep that up, as the Astros look like they are back to form and the Mariners are absolutely surging right now. A wild-card-round bye and perhaps a playoff spot is on the line in this three-team dead heat.

First base: Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers — .374 batting average, four home runs, 16 RBIs, 1.051 OPS

Putting him back on this list for the second straight month is a no-brainer. The Dodgers had an incredible month, thanks in no small part to Freeman having one. There was a stretch during which it felt like he was never getting out when he came up to the plate. When you hit above .370 for the month with an OPS over 1.000, you belong on this list.

Second base: Mookie Betts, Dodgers — .455 batting average, 11 home runs, 30 RBIs, 1.355 OPS

What a month for Betts. He had a historic performance, one that somehow nearly pulled him even with Ronald Acuña Jr. in National League MVP betting odds despite Acuña still being amazing in his own right. But just look at Betts' numbers again. They're even more impressive when considering he's played more second base than he has at any other point in his career thanks to the Dodgers' lack of middle infield depth, and is still crushing it both there and at the plate.

Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr. & Dodgers' Mookie Betts lead Team of the Month

Third base: Alex Bregman, Houston Astros — .318 batting average, four home runs, 21 RBIs, .959 OPS

Breggy Bombs are back. He got back to the Bregman who Astros fans know and love so much, and just in time as Houston needs all the help it can get to keep pace with the Rangers and Mariners in that aforementioned bloodbath of an AL West race. Bregman was great in August when he had to be, and the Astros will likely need him to continue down the stretch.

Shortstop: Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals — .324 batting average, nine home runs, 22 RBIs, 1.015 OPS

Witt has emerged as a superstar, and it's unfortunate that his ascendance has coincided with the Royals being one of the worst teams in all of Major League Baseball. That's why he's not talked about more, but it doesn't change the fact that he has been the best shortstop in baseball over the past couple of months. This was a very close call for me because Corey Seager was spectacular once again for the Rangers, but Witt deserves all the praise for what a bright spot he has been in Kansas City.

Outfield: Kerry Carpenter, Detroit Tigers — .347 batting average, nine home runs, 20 RBIs, 1.059 OPS

The conversation for a while this season around Carpenter's performance was, "Is this real? Is he a cornerstone player for the Tigers?" I think we can confidently say that the answer is yes. His OPS is approaching .900 on the season — it's .874 through Sunday — and he's getting more and more consistent playing time given his performance.

Mariners, Rangers highlight the three biggest winners and losers of August

Outfield: Julio Rodríguez, Seattle Mariners — .429 batting average, seven home runs, 30 RBIs, 1.197 OPS

What a month for Rodríguez and the Mariners. Individually, over .400 with seven home runs and an OPS of nearly 1.200. Collectively, the Mariners have gone from the periphery of the wild-card race to first place in the AL West, the latest in the season they have led their division in 20 years. Just like Betts, Rodríguez had one of the best months that we have ever seen, including an MLB-record 17 hits in a four-game stretch. 

Read that again: 17 hits in a four-game stretch. I feel like I barely got that many in my entire professional baseball career. That many hits in an entire month is respectable, to notch that many in four days is just wild. Everything came together for the Mariners in August, and Rodríguez is the leader of that both on the field and in the clubhouse. 

Outfield: Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves — .352 batting average, six home runs, 22 RBIs, 1.005 OPS

Acuña actually needed another stellar month in a season full of them in order to fend off Betts in the MVP race — and he delivered. His season numbers remain ridiculous — they're essentially player-of-the-month stats spread out over five of them. He closed out August by smashing a grand slam to lead the Braves past the Dodgers in the opener of their huge series in L.A. this past weekend. That blast also made him the first 30-60 player in MLB history. Acuña, of course, then went on to hit a home run in each of the next two games and remains the current front-runner for NL MVP, which is a huge accomplishment.

[Related: In battle of NL’s best, Braves reassert their standing as MLB's team to beat]

Designated hitter: Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies — .361 batting average, 10 home runs, 24 RBIs, 1.236 OPS

He finally has his swing all the way back after Tommy John surgery last fall. Remember, he had a very short rehab stint from offseason surgery. Even when he first came back, he did not necessarily start slow; he just was not the Harper we're used to seeing. Now that Harper is back, he's mashing at the plate and looks more and more comfortable at first base. He has actually been excellent defensively at a position that he never played professionally until this season. I've been really impressed by him. 

But Harper's offense is what makes him most valuable, and offensively, he's back. That's bad news for whomever the Phillies face in the playoffs, especially after what he did to lead them on a World Series run last year.

Starting pitcher: Cole Ragans, Royals — 3-1, 53 strikeouts, 36.2 innings pitched, 1.72 ERA, .222 batting average against

I don't think a lot of people would know this name, but Ragans has earned this award. We all talk about how dominant and nasty Spencer Strider is and the sheer number of strikeouts he gets, and for good reason. Ragans had a better strikeout rate than Strider this past month. In five of his six starts, he pitched six-plus innings with fewer than three earned runs and at least eight strikeouts. Ragans is showing that he is going to be a force in this game. It has been a tough year for the Royals, but hopefully they can get back to relevance with Witt and Ragans leading the way.

The Rays traded a few months' worth of Aroldis Chapman to get Ragans, and that deal already looks incredible for them.

MLB Power Rankings: Braves cannot be stopped, Rangers struggle

Relief pitcher: Raisel Iglesias, Braves — Seven saves, 17 strikeouts, 13 innings pitched, zero earned runs, four walks, seven hits

Iglesias was pretty much perfect in August, surrendering zero earned runs with only four walks and seven hits. Just imagine if the Los Angeles Angels did not trade him to the Braves at last year's deadline. It's a deal that looks more and more lopsided as time goes on.

Player of the month: Mookie Betts

Betts had one of the best months in the history of baseball, leading the sport in just about every single offensive category. He forced himself into an NL MVP race that Acuña had seemingly locked up, and not because Acuña slowed down (after all, he made my team of the month, too), but because Betts was just so good. I feel bad for Rodríguez, too, because in any other month without this performance from Betts, he would be so deserving of this. But this award had to go to Betts after what he did.

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