On a day with four seven-inning games and four shutouts, there were fewer than usual standout hitting performances. Thankfully for the Batter’s Box, the late games had plenty of scoring.
It is a nice surprise that one of the biggest breakout games was in Arizona. Entering yesterday’s game, the Diamondbacks, as a team, had slashed an anemic .194/.273/.266. They had just two home runs (Ketel Marte and Kole Calhoun) on the season in 392 plate appearances, posting a 54 wRC+. With that production, the team had 29 runs scored with 60 runs allowed, combining for a 3-8 start.
Wednesday, however, might have been the game that Arizona needed. Putting up 16 hits and taking four walks, every player in the game reached base. Nick Ahmed (1-for-4, R, HR, 2 RBI), David Peralta (2-for-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB), and Eduardo Escobar (1-for-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB) each hit their first home runs of the year, with Kole Calhoun (2-for-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI) hitting his second of the year and his second in as many nights. His HR yesterday was a 104.9 MPH line drive that rattled off the right-field fence away from Springer for an inside-the-parker.
It isn’t as though the Diamondback hitters weren’t deserving of their early-season results. Looking at their Statcast results heading into Wednesday, we see far too much blue:
There are some decent looking max exit velocities there, but they haven’t translated into barrels. For context, the MLB leader in Brls/BBE is David Bote with 30.8% and Corey Seager leads the Brls/PA% category with 18.9%.
These numbers, of course, are victims of a small sample size. We certainly don’t expect David Peralta’s launch angle to remain at 0.6. In last night’s game, his four batted ball events saw an average EV of 99.2 mph (Max EV: 109.9 mph) and an average launch angle of 11.5 degrees.
In last night’s game, the Diamondbacks had seven barrels. Entering yesterday’s game, they had just four, as a team.
As fantasy managers, this season has already been a challenging one. We don’t have the luxury of waiting two or three weeks for a player to start seeing the ball. There is a good chance that David Peralta was drafted and dropped in shallow leagues and replaced with a hot starter like Mike Yastrzemski or Kyle Lewis. This may be the correct move in a nine-week season, but it is important to keep tabs on those healthy, drafted players who are now deep in the free-agent pool. These are players we thought were good enough to draft, but weren’t performing and dropped by impatient managers. They may be players who can still be excellent fantasy contributors.
The Diamondbacks’ game yesterday was their twelfth of the year. That’s one-fifth of their season. It was a rough 20% for most of the teams’ hitters. When a team hits four barrels in their first 11 games, we need to take notice of a seven-barrel outburst. As they take on a pitcher today making his first MLB start, look for continued signs that Arizona is back on track. If the barrels continue to roll, look to re-roster any dropped Diamondbacks.
Here are the highlights of the other hitting performances from Wednesday:
Michael Chavis (1B/2B, Boston Red Sox)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. Chavis had a big game against the Rays, smashing his second homer of the year. It was just his second barrel of the season and his seventh hard-hit ball. He has just 15 batted balls this year in 26 plate appearances, and it is clear that he is swinging and missing too much. With ten strikeouts and just one walk, his 38.5 K% needs to drop. To put this into context, however, the three hits in the game bumped his batting average up 97 points.
Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates)—3-4, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. A three-for-four game on Wednesday was enough to bump Bell’s average up from .171 to .222. It’s so shocking to see that and reminds us that the season is still young. With just a few at-bats, it’s easy to panic, but a productive week can have a big impact on the stat line. Bell muscled out a pitch above the strike zone for a 422-foot bomb to deep center to account for all of Pittsburgh’s runs. As one of the Pirates’ rare bright spots, Bell will hit in the meat of the lineup but doesn’t have much help around him.
Matt Olson (1B, Oakland Athletics)—2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Olson has been one of the frostiest players to start the 2020 season slashing just .139/.340/.222 before Wednesday’s game. Two home runs were a good start to try to remedy this situation. He was working with a beard on Tuesday but experimented with just a mustache yesterday and it seemed to work. I would expect the mustache to return for today’s game, but it will be difficult to prove the mustache’s causation. Monitor closely! At the very least, it’s nice to see Olson hitting the ball well.
Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. Ho-hum. Just like all the other new fathers smashing home runs. Trout hit a three-run blast and his solo homer was part of back-to-back jacks with David Fletcher.
Brandon Belt (1B, San Francisco Giants)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2B. Belt’s 100.3 exit velocity was just enough to counter the 46-degree launch angle for a 373-foot home run. It was Belt’s first home run of the season, and the three-run blast put the Giants ahead for good. Before rushing out to pick him up, note that it was in Coors Field, where Belt is a career .313 hitter, and was hit off of Jon Gray, against whom he has hit .417 in his career.
Nolan Arenado (3B, Colorado Rockies)—1-4, R, HR, RBI. Like many fantasy first-rounders, Arenado has started slowly in 2020, slashing .244/.319/.463. He has just one multi-hit game of the 11 he has played, but last night’s home run was his third consecutive game with a home run. No one will be benching him, but maybe this is an indication that he is rounding into form.
Wil Myers (1B/OF, San Diego Padres)—2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI. We know that he has it in him to justify his 1.109 OPS. Myers is one of those players who can get hot for a few weeks and could stay hot for a short season. Popping his fourth home run of the year, Myers has 10 RBI, and has added one stolen base. Myers sits seventh in MLB’s leaderboard in both Brls/BBE% and Brls/PA% with 23.1% and 12.2%, respectively. We don’t need this to last forever, just seven more weeks.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, San Diego Padres)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB. Tatis has topped the lineup in all 14 games this season and leads the team in RBI and is tied for the team lead in runs scored and home runs. This was all part of the plan when we drafted him in the top 25.
Joc Pederson (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB. It really is a shame that Pederson doesn’t hit lefties. Still, as the strong-side platoon, Pederson consistently puts up numbers that are better than most player’s full-time results. In daily leagues, Pederson should be a staple against RHPs and has far more value in daily lineups than in weekly leagues just for the ease of getting him into the active lineup when he plays.
Kyle Seager (3B, Seattle Mariners)—2-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, SB. Seager entered the history books last night, becoming the fourth player to hit 200 career home runs as a Mariner. There is a very good chance that he was ignored on your draft day. He is about as dull a pick as there is in fantasy, but the numbers he has put up to start 2020 are technicolor. The veteran is slashing .326/.407/.565 with two home runs and 14 RBI. Seager will consistently hit in the heart of the M’s lineup and will be the beneficiary when J.P. Crawford and Kyle Lewis get on base ahead of him. Their early-season success has been a surprise, but they are both pedigreed prospects who give Seager the opportunity to knock in runs. If you are looking for an RBI source, you could do a lot worse than Corey’s Brother.
Dylan Moore (OF, Seattle Mariners)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. Who? If you don’t follow the Mariners, you might not know that the 28-year-old sophomore is out to a .367/.367/.700 slash with two home runs and two stolen bases. The utility player has already played at RF, LF, SS, and 3B (he is eligible at all four on Yahoo) and can steal bases and pop the occasional homer (he had 11 SBs and 9 HR in 282 PAs in 2019). He is off to a hot start and started yesterday’s game second in the batting order. That’s a nice place to be and he is an option in deep leagues to fill in for any MI, CI, or OF draftees who may be on the IL.
Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire.