- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney notched his 46th save Thursday, and lowered his microscopic ERA to 0.62, an inning away from Dennis Eckersley's record of 0.61 for the 1990 Athletics. It is Rodney, and not Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman, leading all relievers on the Player Rater. It's easy to be pessimistic about Rodney, but he should remain a solid closer, albeit with an ERA three times higher in 2013.
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie finally hit his 10th home run Thursday, and raised his batting average to .271. It's been a disappointing campaign for Lawrie, who emerged in 2011 with nine home runs and a .953 OPS in 43 games. His current OPS is .717 and he's barely a top-20 third baseman. Expect better in 2013, as Lawrie has an attractive power/speed combo.
Similarly, Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer has struggled in his sophomore season. Hosmer injured his right shoulder Thursday and might be done for the season. Hosmer is hitting only .232 with 14 home runs, though he helped fantasy owners with 16 steals. Like Lawrie, there's reason to invest, but it's tough to call Hosmer a top-10 first baseman for 2013.
Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley singled and scored a run in four at-bats Thursday, and stole the 10th base of his abbreviated season. This is the third consecutive season Utley missed considerable playing time, but in each of those seasons he managed double digits in home runs and steals. It's made Utley a top-5 second baseman for the past month, and intriguing for 2013.
Atlanta Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson beat the Miami Marlins Thursday, his first win since July. It wasn't the prettiest outing, with six hits, two walks and two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings, and Hanson hasn't reached six innings in any of his past seven outings, and 11 of 12, but based on his track record it's reasonable to expect considerable improvement in 2013.
Detroit Tigers right-hander Doug Fister allowed three runs (two earned) in 7 2/3 innings Friday, and fanned nine consecutive Royals during one stretch, breaking the AL record. Fister, who shut out Minnesota Saturday, has been terrific since the All-Star break (8-3, 2.51 ERA), just as he was in 2011. With his raised strikeout rate, he'll be a draft-day bargain in 2013.