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A Drury of His Peers

Josh Thusat breaks down last night's hitting performances.

Brandon Drury leads his teammates in almost every significant hitting category this year. After 46 games and 188 plate appearances so far in 2022, he is first in Runs (34), Hits (45), and Home Runs (10). He is second in RBI (28). His OPS of .821 is nearly sixty points higher than the next hitter, and it’s tied for 16 in the National League with Trea Turner.

In terms of his so-called “expected stats,” everything shows it is sustainable. And the thing is, Drury was consistently improving as a hitter from 2015-2017, but then he switched teams and things seemed to falter. Any explanation would be speculation at this point, but by 2019 he was chasing out of the zone as much as he had been three years earlier. And now, in 2022, he’s chasing pitches out of the zone less than ever before.

Drury has returned to his peak 2017 results, and he’s even surpassed them, particularly in the area of power. Take a look at what he’s accomplished below. This is the definition of a breakout season.

 

 

To top it off, in a small five-game slate yesterday, Drury didn’t waste any time taking Madison Bumgarner deep to the opposite field on a center-cut changeup. He finished the day going 2-4, with a HR, 2 Runs, and an RBI. I thought maybe he was slowing down because when I checked the waiver wire last night in my home league, there he sat. But in the last two weeks, he’s batting .298 with 15 runs and 3 home runs. My own peers haven’t found a spot for him on their teams, even with the multi-position eligibility in Yahoo leagues (2B/3B/OF). Maybe it’s time. With his .263/.324/.497 slash line, I claimed him, and since he’s only 66% rostered, maybe you should claim him too.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday

Eduardo Escobar (NYM): 4-5, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 R, 6 RBI

Escobar hit for the cycle last night in San Diego, getting the triple as the last piece to accomplish the feat in the ninth inning. He also hit his fifth home run of the season in the 8th inning off Craig Stammen. The 33-year-old signed a 2 year/$20 million contract with the Mets in the offseason after swatting 28 home runs in 2021 with a slash line of .253/.314/.472. He’s hitting .241/.311/.414 so far in 2022, so the power does seem to be down, but maybe warmer weather will help (he was playing in Arizona before this, after all, with a brief stop in Milwaukee’s roofed stadium). Congratulations to Eduardo Escobar.

Cal Raleigh (SEA): 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI.

Raleigh has a .169 AVG on the season, but has been improving recently, hitting .286 in his last 21 at-bats. The young catcher only has 239 plate appearances at the major league level. In Triple-A in 2021, he hit .324/.377/.608. Last night he showcased some of that power with a three-run home run in the 2nd inning. It was a knuckle-curveball from Crisitian Javier. He golfed it 364-feet. He would end the night driving in four runs.

Jose Altuve (HOU): 3-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Seattle started the scoring with a run in the top of the 1st inning, but the lead didn’t last long. In the bottom of the frame, Altuve cranked a leadoff homer to left field to tie the game. It was his 11th home run of the season, and he would go on to have three hits on the night. Altuve is picking up right where he left off last year, at .280/.354/.535. It’s the power surge that is notably higher than before, and while it will come down some, he’s put himself on pace to at least reach the same home-run totals as 2021, though he could glide right past that number in 2022.

Kyle Tucker (HOU): 3-4, HR, R, RBI, SB.

Tucker is the first player to combine for 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases on the season after last night’s contest. He’s hitting .259/.356/.477, and the early season slump has long since been forgotten. He hit his home run in the second inning off Robbie Ray’s slider.

Julio Rodríguez (SEA): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

It was an emotional game last night between Seattle and Houston with the benches clearing in the top of the ninth after Ty France was hit by a pitch from Hector Neris. Once things cooled down, Julio Rodríguez stepped in and promptly deposited a home run into the opposite field seats, giving the Mariners a 7-4 lead. He’s now batting .277/.332/.432 on the year, and he leads the league in stolen bases with 17.

Santiago Espinal (TOR): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Espinal came into the season viewed, most likely, as a utility infielder who would provide a little help at the bottom of the order. But he’s been at the heart of Toronto’s recent resurgence (as they’re the third-highest run-producing team in the last two weeks, and they’re in first place in the last week). He’s moved around in the lineup, but he often bats as low as second or even first. He’s hit three home runs in his last 47 at-bats, and he’s batting .283/.341/.446. It was a blow out win last night for Toronto in Kansas City, and Espinal helped by hitting a home run off Daniel Lynch.

Luke Voit (SD): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Voit is hitting out of the cleanup spot in San Diego, and in the last month he seems to be hitting like many of us remember in New York, smashing 5 home runs to the tune of a .276 AVG. However, he’s still striking out a lot and his BABIP is .338. His expected average and slugging stand at .211/.379, so some of this may be pointing to a hot streak more than a return to his 2018-2019 numbers.

Bo Bichette (TOR): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Bichette got the scoring started last night against Daniel Lynch with a two-run home run in the top of the 4th inning. It was a changeup on the outer half of the plate, and Bichette took it the other way. Bichette is hitting .252 on the season, but like his teammate Guerrero, his xBA is higher, according to Fangraphs, at .295. The homer last night was his ninth of the season.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR): 1-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.

Many fantasy baseball managers are frustrated that Guerrero isn’t reaching the lofty heights of his 2021 season, but let’s give the 23-year-old some breathing room. He’s hit six home runs in his last 45 at-bats. He hit one of those home runs (a 423 foot bomb) off Daniel Lynch last night in the 6th inning, which would give a the Blue Jays a 4-0 lead. His BABIP is .250 on the season, and according to Fangraphs, his xBA is .290. Hang with him.

Chas McCormick (HOU): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

It was already tied 3-3 in the second inning last night in Houston when McCormick hit a solo shot off Robbie Ray’s fastball. He’s been struggling to a .232 AVG this year, but with a BABIP of .268, so there may be some room for improvement. And indeed, some of this improvement can already be seen, as McCormick is hitting .269 in his previous 26 at-bats, and .375 in the previous 16 at-bats. His ISO is the same as last year (even slightly higher at .196) and his K% is 23.8%, down from 32.5% in 2021.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Josh Thusat

Joshua is a professor of English, but he's also an avid baseball fan who puts his research skills to work for fantasy baseball gamers. In addition to Pitcher List, Josh writes for FantasyPros. He teaches in the Chicagoland area.

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