Brendan Donovan is not known for his power. He managed 12 home runs across three minor league teams in 2021. In fact, Donovan hit only 21 home runs in 867 at-bats in his entire minor league career. What’s most stunning about Donovan is his slash line in that time, which was .285/.386/.429.
He’s a hitter who makes contact and gets on base.
In fact, another minor league career that comes to mind (just as a point of comparison) is Jeff McNeil. His career line was .312/.380/.444. In twice as many at-bats, he hit 29 home runs.
This type of hitter, especially in the “three true-outcome world” is invaluable to an organization, which is why Donovan has found himself atop a playoff-bound St. Louis lineup for most of the season. Currently, Donovan has 100 hits in 358 at-bats. Let’s compare. Freddie Freeman leads the league with 190 hits in 579 at-bats.
I found my way through the leaderboards, searching for players underneath 400 at-bats. I wanted to identify players with similar ratios of hits and at-bats. It wasn’t until the 117th person on the list that I found some: Mike Trout and Luis Robert. Luis Robert has 108 hits in 380 at-bats, and that is tied with Mike Trout who has 108 hits in 396 at-bats. Donovan is 138th on the list, tied with Tim Anderson.
Among rookies with as many plate appearances, he is first in OBP at .390. Jeff McNeil is 15th in OBP in the entire league this year among qualified hitters, and we have to imagine that Donovan would be right there if he had more opportunities.
Last night, Donovan powered the Cardinals to victory, hitting the first grand slam of his career in the fifth inning off Nick Martinez. He has three home runs in just over two weeks, so maybe he’s trying to muscle the ball some more, or maybe it’s just a streak. In any case, if you’re in a deeper league, this is a player you want.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday.
Kolten Wong (MIL): 3-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI.
Wong had the game of his career last night, mashing three homers against the Reds in Cincinnati. It’s not like he had one pitcher’s number either. Wong homered off Hunter Greene in the second, Dauri Moreta in the sixth, and Joel Kuhnel in the eighth. Wong is batting .308 with a 1.034 OPS in the last month with two stolen bases. He may be worth your attention in the last week of baseball if he keeps this up, batting out of the fifth spot in Milwaukee. He has 15 homers on the season now.
Whit Merrifield (TOR): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Boy, that must’ve felt good. Merrifield has struggled mightily at the dish this season. Although he’s batting .235 in 2022, in the last month he is batting .175. But last night he was 2-for-4 with two home runs. Batting out of the eighth spot in the lineup, he took Ryan Yarbrough deep in the second inning. But then he said, “Why not do it again? I like the feeling of hitting a home run.” (That’s not a real quote.) So he took Dustin Knight deep in the ninth inning. Merrifield’s 8th and 9th homers would not be enough to win, unfortunately, as Tampa Bay would go on to beat Toronto 10-5. He’s batting .235/.288/.350 on the season.
Jarred Kelenic (SEA): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Well, the Mariners called him up again, and Kelenic delivered, smacking a 426-foot homer off Adrian Martinez’s sinker in the 4th inning. The 23-year-old has a minor league line of .295/.369/.540. He has managed 18 home runs in 352 at-bats in Triple-A this year.
Randy Arozarena (TB): 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.
We’re nearing a 20/30 season here. Arozarena swiped his 32nd bag of the year last night, so as long as he can get one more home run, that 20/30 dream will come true. That number of stolen bases is good enough for second in the league (Jon Berti is first). He’s batting .270/.334/.453. I’m hoping he and Yandy Diaz can bury the hatchet and finish the season strong.
Jonathan Aranda (TB): 2-4, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB.
Starting pitcher Jose Berrios struggled last night, hitting 70 pitches in two innings. Aranda might have been a big part of getting him out of his groove, as he walloped a first-inning homer from the leadoff spot. That’s his second homer in 54 at-bats so far in the big leagues. He’s slashing .278/.361/.463.
Bryan Reynolds (PIT): 3-3, 2 2B, RBI, 2 BB, SB.
Does anyone remember when Bryan Reynolds wasn’t Bryan Reynolds this season? If only he played for a better team, right? In the last month, he’s hitting .292 with an .806 OPS. He has four homers in that time. With a perfect game last night, I just want to put him here so that you don’t forget about him next year.
Giancarlo Stanton (NYY): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
So has he been forgiven now? I’m asking this of all the fantasy managers who have Stanton this year. He has hit two homers in the last three games, connecting against Michael Wacha in the sixth inning yesterday. He may have had a down season, but it’s entirely possible that he will still manage a 30-homer campaign. The .215 BA stings in comparison to last year’s .273 BA. He’s kind of like Schwarber this year, but with ten fewer long balls.
Manny Machado (SD): 1-2, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB, SB.
Congratulations, Manny! Thirty home runs in the books! More impressive to me is the .900 OPS. He has terrorized pitchers this year, and he did so again against Ryan Helsley’s slider in the 8th inning of yesterday’s affair. He’s now batting .296/.367/.533.
Jurickson Profar (SD): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Profar hit his 15th home run yesterday, a leadoff shot against Jack Flaherty. The 29-year-old outfielder is batting .237/.328/.393 on the season. He won’t reach his career high of 20 homers, but it is nice to see that it’s a possibility again.
Lars Nootbaar (STL): 1-2, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB.
Nootbaar hit his 13th homer of the season yesterday against Joe Musgrove in the fifth inning. Nootbaar has slowed considerably in the last month, hitting .167 with a .693 OPS. He seemed to be tearing the cover off the ball before, but this recent cold spell has relegated him to the ninth spot in the lineup.
Corey Seager (TEX): 1-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
In some fantasy baseball magazines that I read before the 2022 season, analysts told me to be very careful about drafting Corey Seager. Injuries. He’s not the top-50 hitter that we think he is. To be fair, many others said, please, go out and get him. Can we say that he’s put to rest all the doubts with a 32 home run season now? Many have also been concerned about how Globe Life Field suppresses power, but 22 of his homers were in Texas. Okay, so the batting average of .246 is not as good as last year’s .306. Still, we could give him a pass on a new team in a new league. I’m all in for 2023.
Triston Casas (BOS): 1-4, HR, R, RBI, BB.
That’s four home runs in 42 at-bats since joining the major league ball club in Boston. The power is there. But if it comes at his current average of .095, that will be a problem. Let’s give the 22-year-old first baseman time. His career minor league line is .269/.374/.485. He hit 46 homers in nearly 1,000 at-bats. He hit last night’s homer off Clarke Schmidt in the 7th inning.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)