Shohei Ohtani’s continued dominance lands him atop Ben Verlander’s July team of the month


Another month in the 2023 MLB season has passed. That means it’s time for me to name my July team of the month!

The first full month of summer brought us many more exciting moments following the All-Star Game and ahead of the trade deadline, helping shape up what should be an exciting final two months of the regular season. A few mainstays made their way onto the list while a few young players made debut appearances.

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani & Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman headline Team of the Month

Ben Verlander gives his Team of the Month for July and Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani and Los Angeles Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman headline the squad.

Catcher: Francisco Alvarez, New York Mets — .275 batting average, eight home runs, 16 RBIs, .974 OPS

It was just an unbelievable month for him. Say what you want about the Mets this season and make fun of them for the year they’ve had, but they’ve found their catcher of the future for a long, long time. He was also recently named as the National League Rookie of the Month, so the honors are pouring in!

First base: Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers — .359 batting average, seven home runs, 20 RBIs, 1.123 OPS

You talk about having a great month, Freeman certainly had one in July. I said on “Flippin’ Bats” the other day that I believe Ronald Acuña Jr. is the clear MVP frontrunner. But I also added that I think Freeman is at least making it a conversation. 

That isn’t to say that I’d vote for Freeman if I had a vote or that it’s a close race at this point. However, Freeman’s gotten to the point that we can at least have a conversation about this being a possible two-man race entering the home stretch. He’s just been unbelievable as of late.

Second base: Edouard Julien, Minnesota Twins — .369 batting average, six home runs, nine RBIs, 1.184 OPS

I love this guy. I started loving him during the World Baseball Classic when he was tearing it up for Team Canada. In the month of July, he hit like he was back in the World Baseball Classic. 

Julien’s just a stud. He’s doing this all as a rookie, too. If you don’t know the name by now, you should. He’s a huge reason why the Twins lead the AL Central even as players like Carlos Correa have struggled this year. 

Third base: Manny Machado, San Diego Padres — .309 batting average, 11 home runs, 29 RBIs, 1.092 OPS

Machado led baseball in home runs in July, hitting 11. That’s obviously a big part of the reason why the Padres began a recent turnaround — at least enough of a turnaround that they weren’t sellers at the deadline. 

Prior to Sunday’s loss against the Dodgers, the Padres had won seven of their last 10. Their offense is rolling and their run differential (+69) is one of the best in baseball. They’re still on the outside looking in at the playoffs, but Machado’s helped them show signs of life as of late. 

Manny Machado smashes a solo home run to left field as the Padres pull within one against the Dodgers

If I were a betting man, I’d bet on them to make the playoffs. Machado is a big reason for that. 

Shortstop: Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals — .327 batting average, six home runs, 21 RBIs, .979 OPS

What a month for Witt! One of those homers and four of those RBIs came from a walk-off grand slam with an electric bat flip. 

As we’re already a week into August, Witt has carried his strong play in the first week of the new month. He’s hitting .381 with two homers and a 1.149 OPS through the first five games.

It wasn’t a very positive year for the young shortstop and his team up until recently as his play helped the Royals go on a seven-game winning streak.

Outfield: Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs — .400 batting average, eight home runs, 24 RBIs, 1.122 OPS

Belli is back! 

You look at Bellinger’s average numbers and power numbers for the season and they aren’t quite as there compared to his MVP year in 2019, but in July they certainly were. Hitting .400 with eight home runs will get you a spot on my team. And Bellinger has his team rolling with the Cubbies still in the playoff hunt.

Outfield: Chas McCormick, Houston Astros — .351 batting average, six home runs, 23 RBIs, 1.128 OPS

Outfield: Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros — .359 batting average, seven home runs, 23 RBIs, 1.119 OPS

Chazzy Fizz had a jazzy month at the plate along with one of his teammates in the outfield.

Both players are just rolling right now, and really, the whole Astros outfield is. I didn’t even include Yordan Alvarez, who just came back from an injury in late July. 

Tucker, in particular, has stood out to me recently, making the top five of my “BVP” (Ben’s Valuable Players) last week after I anointed him the most underrated player in the game. He’s really just having a great year. 

Shohei Ohtani leads the MVP Race, but Astros’ Kyle Tucker joins the Top-5

Ben Verlander gives his MVP Race update with Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani in the lead, but Houston Astros’ Kyle Tucker & Atlanta Braves’ Matt Olson join the conversation.

Designated Hitter: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels — .282 batting average, nine home runs, 14 RBIs, 1.152 OPS

This was easily Ohtani. He had another remarkable month in July, as he reached the 40-home run mark on the season recently. He’s also been doing it all while dealing with cramps on a regular basis.

He also earned back-to-back American League Player of the Month awards, making him the first to do that since Josh Hamilton and Chase Headley in 2012. 

Starting pitcher: Blake Snell, San Diego Padres — 4-1, 42 strikeouts, 32 innings pitched, .196 batting average against, 0.56 ERA

Just take a look at Snell’s strikeout numbers. He averaged well more than one strikeout per inning in July (1.31) and had 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. He also didn’t give up a single home run. 

That’s about as dominant of a month as you could find.

Relief pitcher: Felix Bautista, Baltimore Orioles — Eight saves, 25 strikeouts, 14 innings pitched, zero earned runs, four walks, three hits

Perfection. Well, just about. 

If you were impressed by Snell’s strikeout numbers, Bautista’s are even more outstanding. He nearly reached two strikeouts per inning pitched in July. And he only gave up three hits!

Player of the month: Shohei Ohtani

Ohtani gets this honor from me for the second straight month. 

We just went through his offensive numbers. But on the pitching side of things, he tossed his first-ever complete-game shutout, which was also a one-hitter It was so close to a no-hitter and perfect game. And in the second game of that doubleheader, he hit two home runs. 

Fans have found the real-life unicorn: Shohei Ohtani

That was just another all-time day for him in what’s been an all-time season. 

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