Batter’s Box: Viva Carlos Santana
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire
Sure, I could’ve devoted today’s spotlight to Freddie Freeman and his five-hit performance last night. That would’ve been easy. But if I wanted my life to be easy, I wouldn’t have majored in Liberal Arts, or moved to New York City, or become a Mets fan. My life to this point has always been about choosing the path of most resistance. Some people call that dumb. I call it bold. Because I’m dumb.
All this to say that Carlos Santana and his 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI line from yesterday might not be flashy, but they are worth your attention. Yes, yesterday’s performance pulled his average up to just .191 on the season. But his .249 xAVG indicates he’s well overdue for some positive correction, and over the past week that correction has begun to manifest itself. In his last seven games he’s slashing .333/.333/.900 with four homers and 15 RBI. Yes, 15 RBI. So far this year he’s walking (13.9%) and striking out (15.2%) at his customarily elite rates, and his groundball rate has dropped for the fourth consecutive season and now sits at an ideal 36.4%. He’s also hitting the ball harder than he has since his rookie season (37.8% hard contact). If the opportunity to buy low hasn’t already passed, take advantage now.
Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves): 5-5, R, HR, 2 RBI – Yeah, yeah. Five hits, big whoop. Freddie Freeman might have an excellent 9.4% value hit rate this season and be a legit frontrunner for MVP, but can he change a flat tire? I mean, he probably can. It’s not that hard. Damnit Jon, changing a flat tire was the most difficult task you could think of? Anyway, Freeman now has five homers on the year, which is less than his 8.1 xHR. So he’s actually been underperforming to this point, if you can believe it.
Jean Segura (SS, Seattle Mariners): 4-6, 2 R, 2B – Segura hasn’t provided any homers or steals over the past week, but he’s keeping the hits coming with a .344 average in his last seven games.
Trey Mancini (1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles): 3-5, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI – Trey Mancini: baseball player or pasta dish? I mean, he’s clearly a baseball player, but don’t act like you wouldn’t be enticed if somebody offered you a plate of Trey Mancini with gorgonzola and a side of garlic bread. Mancini’s peripherals match up almost identically with what they were last season when he broke out, except that he’s now walking nearly twice as much as he was in 2017.
Ian Kinsler (2B, Los Angeles Angels): 3-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – So far this year Kinsler has an embarassingly bad 1% value hit rate and a super inflated 39% poor hit rate. His xAVG is .202. That’s… very bad. On the bright side he got a bunch of hits yesterday, and one of those hits went over the outfield wall, which I’m told is good.
Adam Jones (OF, Baltimore Orioles): 3-5, 3 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI – Jones has been heating up lately, batting .286 with three homers over the past two weeks. Between him, Matt Kemp, and Hanley Ramirez playing well, and Rafael Palmeiro attempting a comeback, I’m starting to think time has become stuck.
Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves): 3-5, R, 2 2B, RBI, SB – That’s now 16 stolen bases on the season after Inciarte stole just 22 all of last year. Those 11 homers he hit in 2017 are likely never coming back, but at least he’s making up for it with his wheels.
Scooter Gennett (2B, Cincinnati Reds): 3-4, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI – Honk honk, here comes Scooter. That’s how I imagine someone named Scooter announces themselves. By honking. Gennett hit 27 homers last year, and most of his peripherals look the same or better so far this season, including his hard contact rate which has risen from 34.4% to 41.9%. Sure, he likely won’t have the benefit of last year’s 20.8% HR/FB again, but that extra hard contact and good flyball rates should help him easily clear 20 homers again, and he’s now spraying the ball more to the opposite field, which bodes well for his average.
Brian Dozier (2B, Minnesota Twins): 4-4, R, HR, 3 RBI – The Bull Dozier has been more of a dump truck the past few weeks, hitting just .129 over his past 15 games. He’s actually making more contact and whiffing less than he has in seasons past though, and aside from a dip in hard contact he doesn’t have many red flags in his peripherals. Hopefully yesterday is a sign of things to come.
Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, BB, SB – Yesterday Mookie Betts apparently remembered that, like any deity, he is completely free to do whatever he likes, and so he decided to steal some bases just for giggles. That’s now four steals to go with his 13 home runs and casual 1.244 OPS.
Kyle Seager (3B, Seattle Mariners): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI – Seager has been pretty underwhelming this season. It’s almost like his bat weighs 21 Grams. Maybe he’s not drinking enough Milk, or maybe he spends his at-bats daydreaming about kayaking down Mystic River. Whatever it is, there’s a Thin Red Line between success and failure, and he’s walking it right now. Also he looks exactly like Sean Penn.
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves): 2-6, R, HR, 5 RBI – On the one hand, I don’t see how this power outburst can continue for Albies, who is now up to 11 homers on the season. His league average hard contact and 18% HR/FB tell me some regression must be coming. However, he does have an excellent 17 degree average launch angle, and his xHR is currently 9.2. So maybe baseball, like life, is a chaotic stew of random events that’s impossible to predict.
Hanley Ramirez (1B, Boston Red Sox): 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI – Hanley has fallen off the pace for the 30/30 season he promised us, but he’s looking to at least accomplish the home run portion of that milestone, as he’s now homered in back-to-back games.
Odubel Herrera (OF, Philadelphia Phillies): 3-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI – Odubel Herrera may look like he’s part goat, but lately he’s been playing like he’s full GOAT. He’s now slashing .440/.533/.800 over the past week and cannot be stopped. Unless maybe you offer him a nice patch of grass to graze on.