Batter’s Box: Cruz’n USA
(Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire)
Nelson Cruz is like a fine wine getting better with age. Ok, so maybe that’s a stretch, but he’s at least maintaining excellence with age. That’s like a fine wine too, right? Sure. Nelson Cruz is just like a fine wine. Except, he’s that fine wine that you buy having all these expectations especially in the first few sips. If this bottle of Nelson Cruz doesn’t deliver what was promised over the whole
year bottle in the first one or two sips, you’re done and not drinking the rest of the bottle. Unacceptable. THAT’S what kind of wine Nelson Cruz is.
If you’re confused by that clunky metaphor, it’s ok. We all are, to be honest. But the point is this: too many people were freaking out by his ‘meh’ start to the season in the power department. It’s a long season, obviously, and last night’s 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB night just continued his spicy two weeks where he’s slashed .315/.406/.630 and hit 7 of his 15 bombs. That’s right…15 HR on the season! It’s never enough for you people. The wine is just now starting to show just what it can do. In fact, his BABIP of .259 is well under the career .307 mark, and I think it’s fair to say his .260 average will come up. His hard contact rate is above 40% for the second year in a row, and he’s seen an almost 8% increase in contact on pitches inside the zone. He may not cross the 40 HR threshold again, but I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed when you finish the bottle.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday:
Albert Almora Jr. (OF, Chicago Cubs) – 3-6, R, 2 RBI. Don’t look now, but he’s actually slashing a more-than-respectable .323/.374/.441 on the year through 204 plate appearances. His 36 runs scored are just 3 away from tying a career-high, and although he may not have a guaranteed, nightly spot in the Cubs’ lineup, he’s productive when he’s out there. In average and runs scored at least. Even with a 4-man rotation at Wrigley in the outfield, he’s worth an add in NL-only.
Brian Anderson (3B/OF, Miami Marlins) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI. When I was doing my research, I remember getting to Anderson and thinking…well THAT line doesn’t look like his. It’s not often we see something more than a few base knocks. Although this was just his 4th dong of the year, don’t be fooled. He’s providing fantasy relevance with his 36 runs scored, 32 RBI, and .310 average. He’s hitting .436 in the month of June so far, and he’s also doubled his homerun total in that time frame as well.
Lonnie Chisenhall (3B/OF, Cleveland Indians) – 3-4, R, 2B, RBI. Since returning from a lingering quad injury just last week, Chisenhall has hit the ground running hitting .375 and posting back-to-back 3-hit ballgames. He’s still got just 46 plate appearances on the year, so it’s tough to draw any rest of season conclusions, but…I feel we kind of know who he is by now. He’s got some upside, especially while he’s hot, but I’m not adding outside of AL-only at the moment.
Jason Heyward (OF, Chicago Cubs) – 3-6, 2B, 3 RBI. Is he red hot right now in the midst of a 6-game hit streak? Sure. Is he hitting .387 over the last two weeks? Definitely! Am I encouraged that he’s been hitting 2nd in the lineup since May 31st and producing since the change? Yep! Do I trust him the rest of the year? Nope.
Jose Martinez (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. This brings his season line up to 31 R/10 HR/42 RBI/.327, and he basically needs about 2 or 3 more productive weeks before he blows past his production from last year. That shouldn’t be hard to do as he’s come into June blazing so far. No, not that kind, Jay and Silent Bob. The kind where you come into last night’s game hitting .500 for the month so far…A number that went up after going 3-4.
J. T. Realmuto (C, Miami Marlins) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. #CatchersWhoSwipe hasn’t been a fitting (completely made-up-on-the-spot) hashtag for Realmuto so far as he just has 1 SB all year. Sure, this was his 7th dong of the year, but give us the steals, man! Although, earning the label “the catcher who steals” is a very low bar that requires about more than 5, so he’s still in good shape. He came into this one hitting just .194 this month, so as Franki Valli once said, “OH WHAT A NIGHT!”
Jean Segura (SS, Seattle Mariners) – 3-4, R. That makes it 50 runs scored on the year, which is good enough for 4th best in the American League. His remarkable season continues, but be aware there are signs of regression here. Lookin’ at you .377 BABIP and 6.4 Value Hit rate! Hey, you too .303 xAVG and .328 xOBP according to xStats! Ok, so it’s not .347, but .303 ain’t half bad!
Bikini Bottom line: he’s not THIS good, but he’s still pretty darn good.
Javier Baez (2B/SS, Chicago Cubs) – 2-4, 2 R, BB, 2 SB. He’s experienced a major cool-off since his blazing hot start as he came into this one hitting just .080 for the month of June. That’s just 2 hits all month before last night. As bad as he’s been this month, he already has 4 SB, which brings his total to 11 for the year. That means he needs just two more to set a career-best mark…Are swipers gonna swipe?
Jake Bauers (1B, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-3, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB. Did you guys know he spells his full name ‘Jakob’ and not with a ‘C’ like the rest of us Jacobs not from Germany? Is he actually from Germany? *Checks the internet* He’s from Newport Beach, CA. Interesting. Moving on. Anyways, Brad Miller skipped town, so there was room with the big boys for Bauers. He’s gotten to work quickly recording 4 extra base hits in his first 21 career plate appearances, and last night was his first career dong. Congrats, bud! Hope they didn’t play that lame ball trick on you where they pretend to toss your ball into the stands.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox) – 2-3, 2 BB, SB. Benny Biceps just continues to put together a great season, and his swipe last night gives him 11 SB on the year…which also happens to match his HR total thus far. Benintendi was extra juiced last night as his Razorbacks punched their ticket to Omaha, and although I have no proof he even pays attention to them anymore, I do know that his 4 times on base last night raised his OBP to .382. This is his 4th multi-hit game in the month of June alone, and don’t say I didn’t warn you when he finishes as a top 20 OF.
Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox) – 2-4, R, BB. He’s hitting a spectacular .286 over the last week, and although he’s not doing anything flashy on the stat line, he’s put together a season slash of .281/.339/.503. Although he hit just 10 bombs all of last year, he’s been looking like the guy who clobbered 21 just two years ago. He’s seen a 9% increase in HR/FB rate, an increase in hard contact rate, and he already has 9 HR on the year. Could another 20 HR season be in the works?
Daniel Descalso (2B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 2-5, 2 R, 3B, 3 RBI. He’s off to a great start in June thus far hitting a cool .304 for the month with a line of 6 R/1 HR/10 RBI. He needs just 4 more HR to set a new career-high, and I’m into him continuing to hit in that 4 spot as he’s been doing more often lately. However, he’s not an add in anything outside of a deep mixed or NL-only.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. This brings his surprisingly good line to 31 R/11 HR/31 RBI/.265 on the year, and it’s his 4th multi-hit effort in his last 5 games. He’s been hitting .323 over the last week, and owners are hoping this signals production closer to his productive April rather than a slow May where he batted just .212.
Starling Marte (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) – 2-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI. He’s been quite cold as of late hitting just .189 over the last two week. xStats makes me think this was just some due regression as his xSlash is .247/.308/.413 with a 6% VH rate. There’s obviously been some luck involved here so far. Despite the recent struggles, he’s still on pace for similar numbers to his 2015 line of 84 R/19 HR/81 RBI/30 SB.
Andrew McCutchen (OF, San Francisco Giants) – 2-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI. He’s been crushing the month of June so far hitting .333 with 4 doubles and 3 HR, and last night was his 10th RBI of the month as well. He’s hitting .356 over the last two weeks as he just continues to be Mr. Reliable even on the West Coast.
Marcell Ozuna (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. This was his 7th jacked dong of the year, and last night’s line was good enough to bring his batting average up to .282 on the year. He’s come into June like a neanderthal who’s just spotted a woolly mammoth hitting .383 for the month. He’s posted a line of 6 R/4 HR/11 RBI in June, and that’s impressive considering he ended May with a line of 6 R/1 HR/12 RBI.
Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB. Taters gonna Tate! This brings his silly, video game worthy line to 54 R/21 HR/41 RBI/.304, and he’s on pace to post his first 10 WAR season since 2013. Yes, we’re talking about a guy who’s had multiple 10 WAR seasons already.
Jose Miguel Fernandez (1B, Los Angeles Angels) – 1-3. What is this? A single gets you written up in Batter’s Box these days? Back in my day, you needed AT LEAST 2 hits to even be thought of. Anyways, I write about him here just to tell you to monitor this situation. Ohtani should be out awhile, and with Pujols moving back to DH, there’s an opportunity here at 1st for Fernandez. He’s a 30-year-old Cuban defector, so there isn’t a ton of future upside, but he was hitting well in AAA with 10 HR and a .345 average. Keep him on your radar to see if the power translates to the show.
Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs) – 1-4, R, HR, RBI, BB. He hit his 11th dong of the year last night in an extra-inning affair with the Brew Crew, but he’s still hitting just .246 on the season. However, he looks to be heating up hitting .300 in the month of June so far with a line of 5 R/3 HR/9 RBI. I doubt anyone in their right mind would sell low here, but just in case…