Batter’s Box: Aguilar You Kidding Me?
Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire
If you’re a transaction-hound like I am, every year there are going to be a handful of players that you pick up from waivers for a couple of days, drop, and then watch in abject horror as they set the world on fire for the rest of the season. Last year it was Rhys Hoskins. This year, I’m very sad to report, it is Jesus Aguilar. I just didn’t see how the guy was going to get everyday at-bats with Eric Thames and Ryan Braun in the picture, and after a 1-for-10 showing over two games, I moved on.
Well after last night’s 3-4, HR, 2 RBI performance, he’s up to 19 homers on the year with a .313/.373/.645 slash line and 54 RBI in just 211 (!!!) at-bats. And, well, I’m just about ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. Because the xStats back all of it up, including a totally bananas 12% Value Hit rate, .401 xBACON, and 17 xHR. The 19-degree average launch angle is so perfect it should be framed and hung in the Louvre. And he’s posting the 14th-best hard contact rate in baseball (46.4%). I just… can’t handle this. Somebody once said it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. But that person never dropped Jesus Aguilar.
Max Muncy (1B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers): 2-3, HR, RBI, 2 BB – Guys, I’ve got a bad case of the Muncys. And the only thing that will satisfy me is a big ol’ bowl of taters. I think I’m in luck though, because Muncy has gone yard four times this past week and 10 times in June to bring his season total up to 17 in just 169 at-bats. Like with Aguilar, the xStats back all of it up, and his plate discipline has been absolutely elite so far, as he has an 18.8% walk rate to this point. With four games at second base and six games in the outfield under his belt, he may be on the cusp of gaining additional eligibility too. What’s not to like?
Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs): 4-5, R, 2 2B, 3 RBI – Rizzo’s year has been a bit of a disappointment to this point, as he has just 12 home runs and a .243 average, though there aren’t many red flags in his peripherals to explain why. For now I think it’s safe to assume the .227 BABIP is the culprit, and I expect a big hot streak to help him turn things around in the coming weeks.
Trevor Story (SS, Colorado Rockies): 3-4, R – Everyone loves magical Trevor. The early-2000’s internet was a weird place, wasn’t it? The most surprising thing about Story’s performance yesterday was that he racked up three hits on the road, where he’s batting just .225 with three homers this year in 43 games. Here’s hoping he never, ever gets traded.
DJ LeMahieu (2B, Colorado Rockies): 3-4, HR, 5 RBI, BB – A guy with a name like “DJ LeMahieu: should be spinning top-40’s pop remixes in a trendy Marseilles nightclub, not playing baseball for the Rockies. But alas, here he is. LeMahieu’s eight homers this year now match his season total from 2017, but in nearly 100 fewer games. This is thanks in large part to the fact that he has FINALLY lowered his groundball rate below 50%. As a result, expect mid-teens power going forward, but nothing more.
Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies): 3-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI – I watched the Phillies game yesterday, and it struck me how much Hoskins looks like Sloth from The Goonies. Fortunately the similarities don’t end there; both seem to possess freakish strength too. Hoskins has been showing it off over the past month, swatting eight homers over his last 30 games, and is now hitting .344 over his last 15 games.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks): 3-5, R, 2B, RBI – Goldschmidt is now slashing .364/.454/.744 over the past month with 11 homers, and appears to be back to his old tricks in every way but one: stolen bases. Goldschmidt has just two steals this year in four attempts. That’s as many stolen bases as Zack Greinke, who has been on base all of 12 (!) times this year. It’s worth noting that Goldy’s stolen base total dropped from 32 in 2016 to just 18 last year, and that this may the beginning of the end for that element of his game.
Javier Baez (SS/2B, Chicago Cubs): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI – The plate discipline and contact rates are as bad as ever, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. To be sure, the homers, steals, and counting stats will all be there at year’s end, but there will be stretches where Baez can’t buy a hit to save his life. You take the good with the bad.
Nelson Cruz (DH, Seattle Mariners): 3-5, HR, 3 RBI – Nelson Cruz, the ageless wonder, is now up to 20 homers on the season and is posting the third-highest wRC+ of his entire career at almost 38 years old. Had he not fallen one homer shy last season, he’d be vying for his fifth-straight 40 home run campaign this year. And this is after he missed several games earlier in the season with ankle injuries. To quote Owen Wilson, “Woooow.”
Jose Peraza (SS/2B, Cinncinati Reds): 2-4, HR, RBI, BB – Another day, another bomb for Jose Peraza. Somehow Peraza, a guy who needs stadium staff to carry his bat to the batter’s box for him because it’s too heavy, has homered in two straight games and now has four homers on the year. I wouldn’t be totally shocked if this was the last home run he hits all year, but that’s okay because he’s chipping in elsewhere, hitting .308 over his last 30 games with six steals over that timeframe. He’s hitting the ball harder this year, and has upped his line drive rate and cut his strikeout rate to just 10%. Now batting leadoff on occasion, there’s plenty of potential value here.
Addison Russell (SS, Chicago Cubs): 2-4, HR, 4 RBI – Russell is hitting an impressive 27% line drives this season, and has gotten a little unlucky with his 4.8% HR/FB, but overall I’m not seeing enough changes in his peripherals to think there’s anything worth owning here.
Eric Thames (1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers): 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI – With Christian Yelich leaving yesterday’s game with a back injury, and Lorenzo Cain already on the DL, everyday at-bats are up for grabs for Thames. He seems to be going with an extreme pulled-flyball approach this year, and already has 10 homers to show for it in just 126 plate appearances. If you need power I’d take a shot on Thames, as I think there’s 40-homer upside here.
Chris Davis (1B, Baltimore Orioles): 1-3, HR, RBI, BB – Are you feeling bold? Bold enough to take a flier on Chris Davis, who has now homered three times in seven games since returning from his week-long benching? No, I didn’t think so. Chicken.
Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds): 2-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB – I mentioned a few days ago to keep an eye on Winker and see if his launch angle, which has doubled this year, would result in more homers over the coming weeks. Well, this is his second home run this week, and I think I’m reading to buy in. If he can add 20-homer power to his already elite walk and contact rates, he’ll be a very useful outfielder in all formats.
Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox): 2-4, 2 SB – I don’t know if it’s just me, but nobody seems to be acknowledging that Tim Anderson is having an absolutely insane season so far this year. He’s hitting .444 over the past week, lifting his average to .251 which he’s pairing with 13 homers and 17 steals. The man has a legitimate shot at a 30/30 season as a shortstop, and he’s owned in less than 70% of leagues on Yahoo and ESPN. SHAME ON YOU PEOPLE.
Jake Marisnick (OF, Houston Astros): 2-2, HR, RBI, BB – As founder, chairman, treasurer, and party planner of the #FreeKyleTucker movement, I’d just like to say that Jake Marisnick could not have picked a more inappropriate time to remember that he’s capable of hand-eye coordination. He’s now hitting .435 with three homers over his last 15 games, and may actually keep Tucker in AAA despite the opening created by Carlos Correa’s injury. Thanks a lot, Jake.