Here is a look at this week’s “three stars” – according to X Marks the Sport.
1. Jordan Spieth (PGA Tour – United States)
It would be easy to classify last week’s U.S. Open as a collapse or come-from-ahead loss by Dustin Johnson (United States), but we’ll stay positive and keep the focus on the winner. Jordan Spieth had to overcome some adversity of his own, giving up a 3-stroke lead on the 17th hole with a double-bogey, to pick up the win. Credit him for being able to recompose himself and pick up a birdie on 18 when he needed it most to put himself in position to win. Spieth came into the final round tied with the aforementioned Johnson and Branden Grace (South Africa) and bested them on Sunday by 1 and 2 strokes respectively. So this win was more than “just a guy blowing it” – Spieth earned it. With the win, Spieth became the youngest player (age 21) win the U.S. Open in 92 years. He joined some of golf’s royalty (Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Craig Wood, Tiger Woods) by winning the U.S. Open and Masters in the same year. He is the youngest player to win both majors in the same year, and the first player in 13 years to pull off the feat. For several reasons, Spieth’s win on Sunday was historic.
2. Nolan Arenado (3B – Colorado Rockies)
If Nolan Arenado were on a better team, he would be at the forefront of National League MVP discussions halfway through the season. This week was just another sampling of how good he has been in 2015. Arenado recording at least one hit in all six games he played this week, pushing his overall hitting streak to 14 games. He had two multi-home run games this week and scored at least one run in every game this week – often batting himself in via the long ball. He also had at least one RBI in every game, including a pair of 4-RBI games. His overall stat line for the last week was a .391 batting average with 6 home runs, 12 runs batted in, and 9 runs scored while slugging an impressive 1.217. Usually more power leads to more strikeouts, but Arenado only struck out once in 23 at bats. At just 24 years old, a superstar is being born in Colorado.
3. Washington Nationals Starting Pitching Rotation
When the Washington Nationals signed Max Scherzer in the offseason, their rotation on paper was one of the best Major League Baseball had ever seen. Outfielder Bryce Harper indicated as much when he (in)famously quipped “Where’s my ring?” in response to learning about the final piece to the loaded rotation. The performance by the rotation this week is what Harper had to be envisioning when he made that remark. Gio González kicked things off by firing 7 scoreless innings on Sunday to clinch a series sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stephen Strasburg (5 innings), Jordan Zimmermann (8 innings), and Doug Fister (7 innings) took turns pitching nothing but shutout innings in a series sweep of the Atlanta Braves. Max Scherzer closed out the weather-shortened week by holding the Philadelphia Phillies to 2 runs (the first runs surrendered by the starting rotation all week) in another Washington win. For the week, Washington’s starting pitchers combined for 4 wins (would have been 5 had Jordan Zimmermann not received a no-decision after a Drew Storen blown save). 35 innings, 0.51 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, and a sparkling 24:4 K/BB ratio. If they keep performing at this level, they will end up fulfilling Harper’s brazen prophecy.