Michael Brantley (HOU): 3-3, 3 2B, 4 R, 1 BB.
Kent Emanuel is the story of the day out of Houston, and rightfully so, but he doesn’t get the chance to go eight and two-thirds innings without a 16-run explosion from the Astros offense, who seemingly sucked all the offense out of the league on a night where almost a third of the games had three runs or less. Houston became the first team of the year to have eight players pick up multiple hits, which happened twice in 2020 and six times in 2019.
Perhaps the most impressive all-around night belonged to Michael Brantley, who reached base in all four of his plate appearances before being pulled for Abraham Toro. He also scored every time he reached base. After drawing a walk in his first plate appearance, he doubled in three consecutive innings against three different pitchers, first yanking a 102 mph laser into the right field corner against Griffin Canning. He did the opposite against Junior Guerra in the fourth, slicing a low fastball to the opposite field just inside the foul line, a beautifully executed piece of hitting that deserves better than its .160 expected batting average:
His third hit was indeed a bit of a cheapie, but it speaks to how quietly excellent Brantley continues to be as a hitter. He’s chasing out of the zone at a career-high 35% clip so far this year, but his bat-to-ball skills haven’t diminished at all, ranking in the league’s 98th percentile in whiff rate, and 80th percentile in expected wOBA. When you put the ball in play a ton and mostly hit it hard, you make your own luck sometimes, as he did there.
With those three doubles, Brantley now vaults into the MLB lead with nine on the season. He’s now one of four players with 100 doubles and a .300 batting average since the start of 2018. Everyone else on the list has a nine-figure contract, MVP awards, or some combination thereof.
Even with a weird chase uptick and a 12% K-BB rate moving in the wrong direction, Brantley seems like a sure bet for 40 doubles and an OPS in the 125-130 range. The sudden downturn in plate discipline could be intentional; maybe it’s a consequence of being more consciously aggressive with those bat-to-ball skills. Regardless, he’s looking as good as ever, with an even .600 slugging percentage that he won’t maintain but gives him a decent shot at a career-high nonetheless.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday
Carlos Correa (HOU): 3-6, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI.
Yordan Alvarez (HOU): 2-4, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 1 BB.
Correa set the tone with a majestic leadoff home run to wreck Canning’s night and reached base three other times in the blowout win. He recorded three of the team’s four hardest-hit batted balls on the night, all greater than 107 MPH. Ironically, he didn’t too too much else in the box score, with an additional run being his only other statistical contribution to the run-fest.
Alvarez, meanwhile, continued to look healthy once again, recording two hard-hit balls and legging out a triple. His four RBIs on the night were the second-most around the league.
Alex Bregman (HOU): 2-3, 1 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB.
Bregman had a very solid argument to go in the featured section, homering, doubling, walking, driving in three, and also scoring each time he reached base, though he got a little help from a fielder’s choice and some POSITION PLAYER PITCHING luck, as Anthony Bemboom came in to clean up the 8th inning and was kind enough to help Houston with some stat-padding:
Rhys Hoskins (PHI): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, 1 BB.
The night’s first multi-homer performance came from the same source as its only five-RBI performance. Hoskins started by posting Coors Field’s highest exit velocity of the night, a 110 MPH laser beam off Antonio Senzatela that flew comfortably out of the deepest part of the park. His sixth-inning shot against Jhoulys Chacin was a game-breaker, though the tie-breaking opposite-field fly ball might have been slightly stadium-aided, as similar batted balls typically land for hits just 44% of the time. All in all, it made for a 44% win probability added on the night, the highest total around the league.
Fernando Tatís Jr. (SD): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
And then there was the second multi-homer performance of the night. Get this man some more help! It wasn’t enough to overcome the Dodgers, but Tatís continued his hot weekend on Saturday, twice taking Trevor Bauer deep, and on neither occasion did he fail to give the league’s most annoying pitcher a taste of his own celebratory medicine. With exit velocities of 104 and 105 MPH on a moderately chilly evening in Chavez Ravine, neither of them wears cheap. Los Angeles might be in first place like usual, but the growing space Tatís occupies in the head of Dodger nation is going to be a problem sooner or later.
Michael Perez (PIT): 3-3, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB.
Entering Saturday, Pittsburgh’s second catcher had reached base just four times in 21 plate appearances on the season, with just a single hit and not an RBI in sight. That was remedied in his dismantling of the Twins, first reaching 106 MPH on a screaming double, then launching a 408-foot no-doubter in the fifth inning to hasten Michael Pineda’s departure and cement the Pirates’ 6-2 win. To cap off his big day, Perez also drew a walk, giving him a perfect 1.000 OBP on the night that has his statline looking a whole lot prettier than it did 24 hours ago.
Kyle Seager (SEA): 3-5, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Seager helped put Boston out of the game early on Saturday, coming up a homer short of the cycle and driving in three runs, all of which was good for a 30% cumulative win probability added, tops among all AL hitters who didn’t have ninth-inning hits in the Rangers-White Sox game. Though Seager has slumped badly recently, he’s already up to 19 RBI on the season, nearly halfway to last year’s total (40) and putting him on pace to break 100 for the first time in his career. Despite the slump, his quality of contact metrics is some of the best of his career, even with the new ball weirdness (.465 xwOBACON). With some other stats holding strong from his resurgence last season, he could still be poised to bounce back if his plate discipline numbers start trending back to normal from the career-worst 17% K-BB he’s running at the moment.
Willie Calhoun (TEX): 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI
Nick Madrigal (CWS): 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Neither Calhoun nor Madrigal had exceptional nights, but they did come up with two of the most exceptionally important hits of the night. First, Calhoun somehow homered on a four-foot-tall 97 MPH fastball from Liam Hendriks to tie the game at one with one out in the ninth, a 35% swing in win probability that was the biggest swing of the entire night—until an inning later, when Madrigal’s two-out, two-strike double in the gap took Chicago’s win probability from 61% to 100% for his first career walk-off.