Andrew Vaughn (CWS): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
Sometimes these article titles write themselves. The Andrew in question in this case is White Sox’ Andrew Vaughn, who was a focal point in the Chicago’s 11-0 slaughtering of the Twins on Sunday. Vaughn ended the day with three hits and a walk through five plate appearances, adding his 17th double and 10th home run of the year while bumping his slash line up to .301/.350/.470 heading into the All-Star Break. Sunday marked he fourth time in his short career Vaughn has finished the game just a triple away from the cycle, but considering he has yet to record a triple through 775 major league level plate appearances shouldn’t leave you too surprised.
Most hitters welcome the All-Star Break as a time to rest, reset, and look ahead toward the “second half”. Vaughn may very well be ready to enjoy the days off, but not many hitters had been enjoying a better “hot streak” that will abruptly be broken up due to the time off, recording 10 RBI in his last five games, perhaps partially thanks to moving around in the White Sox line up. Vaughn had earned a regular spot in the two hole for most of the season, but has seen Tony LaRussa experiment with Vaughn closer to the middle of the line up in recent days, fluctuating between third and sixth, which expectedly have created more RBI opportunity for Vaughn to take advantage.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday
Tim Locastro (NYY): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 SB.
Tim Locastro knocked out his seventh home run of
the year his career on Sunday, while recording his second combo meal along the way. Sunday also marked Locastro’s third career game with three or more hits, but to be fair it’s difficult to rack up those sort of games when it has taken Locastro 226 games to rack up 525 plate appearances. Regardless of playing time, Locastro is good to provide stolen base relief to fantasy teams desperate for the stat through the rest of July, just don’t expect full lines like we saw on Sunday to go with them.
Yoán Moncada (CWS): 2-6, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Look who decided to join the party. Moncada enjoyed a resurgence of the White Sox’ offense in the past few days, scoring twice in each of the past four days and recording ten runs since moving to the second spot in the line up seven games ago. The 437 foot blast in the seventh inning was just Moncada’s fifth of the season, capping off a surprisingly productive run leading to the All-Star Break. Despite the .213/.263/.337 season-line slash, Moncada has put up a .304/.345/.481 line through his last 84 plate appearances, prompting the move [back] to the two hole, where LaRussa started Moncada’s season, which albeit didn’t begin until May 9th.
Brett Phillips (TB): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
It’s been a whole 13 games since we’ve seen Brett Phillips take the mound, and say what you will about positional players pitching, but that is a travesty. To be fair, Phillips may very well be more productive on the mound than he has been at the plate, considering Sunday’s home run was just his second hit in his last 17 starts (44 plate appearances). In that time he’s collected 19 strike outs and just three walks.
Marcus Semien (TEX): 2-4, HR, R, RBI, BB, SB.
Marcus Semien recorded his fourth combo meal of the season on Sunday, knocking out his 13th home run and 17th stolen base. Semien had already set a career high in stolen bases when he swiped two this past Wednesday, filling in at short stop for the 8th game of the season (for those counting at home for that added positional flexibility), so any more may just be considered gravy for the rest of the season. The Rangers have a history of aggressiveness on the basepaths and Semien has logged his “fastest” season to date, being found in the 87th percentile for sprint speed this year so far, the same grouping he ended the 2021 season, so the stars may very well align to see the Texas second baseman chase down a 30-30 season by year’s end.
Jeter Downs (BOS): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Jeter Downs cleared the fence for the first time, accounting for the only two runs the Red Sox could muster on Sunday. They say you never forget your first, but when your first comes while your team is being massacred for 13 runs and the rest of your offense seems powerless to do anything, it seems easy to get lost in the shuffle.
Brandon Belt (SF): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Perhaps Brandon Belt is officially in a strong side platoon or maybe it’s simply an effort to keep the man healthy – either way, it’s a travesty to see the San Francisco “captain” starting on average every other day. Granted, his season-long stat line doesn’t look too impressive (.243/.355/.426), but Belt has collected 11 hits in his last 23 plate appearances, knocking the ball out of the park three times in the process. If you have the ability to move your line ups around each day, you could do worse than stashing Belt on your bench for the days he gets a start.
Kevin Newman (PIT): 3-6, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
They say Coors Field can do wonders for visiting hitters and Kevin Newman took full advantage on Sunday. Though that’s not to say the Pittsburgh middle infielder hasn’t been holding his own in limited play this season, putting up a healthy .273 batting average through 94 plate appearances. Since rejoining the Pirates active roster earlier this month, Newman has slashed .300/.333/.375 and has consistently moved to the Pirates’ lead off position of the line up. Though he won’t be adding any power, he very well may be doing his best Adam Frazier circa 2021 impersonation, making him a strong trade candidate at the end of the month.
DJ LeMahieu (NYY): 3-4, 2B, 3 R, RBI, BB.
It may not be MVP level success, but DJ LeMahieu has certainly returned to form in many ways this season. Sunday capped off a “first half” that saw LeMahieu cross the plate 56 times, fourth most in the American league, which was of course aided by the fact that he regularly leads off for one of the strongest offenses in baseball this year. It also doesn’t hurt that he puts himself in position to score with a .383 OBP, powered by a 13.4% walk rate and just a 12.6% strikeout rate.