Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
It’s pretty funny sometimes to look back on which players were blocking future superstars from getting called up to the majors. For Mike Trout, the debate was whether he’d be an improvement over a 37-year-old Bobby Abreu. For David Wright, it was Ty Wiggington. And coming out of spring training, Neil Walker and Brandon Drury were thought to be better options for the Yankees’ second base job than Gleyber Torres.
Well if there were any lingering doubts about whether Torres is the man for the job, yesterday’s 1-3, R, HR, RBI, BB should have put them to bed. His 10 homers on the season exceed his minor league high of 9, and he’s the first Yankee since Mickey Mantle to homer 10 times before his 22nd birthday. Seven of his homers have come over his last 15 games, during which time he’s hitting .278. His 41% hard contact rate and 28% line drive rate are both elite, and point to a very bright future, and his xStats triple slash of .283/.340/.498 back it all up. Unfortunately he’ll never be able to replace all the warm memories we have of the Drury/Walker tandem, but we’ll find a way to gather the pieces and carry on.
Jefry Marte (1B, Los Angeles Angels): 4-4, 2 R, HR, RBI – How can you really trust a guy who spells “Jeffrey” like that? Marte has actually managed a solid .278/.329/.468 triple slash this year in 85 plate appearances. The upside is likely high-teens power with an average around .260, but he’ll struggle to get in the lineup as long as Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani are occupying first base and DH.
Jon Jay (OF, Kansas City Royals): 3-5, R, RBI – True story, I was buying a pair of shoes the other day and the cashier asked me for my personal information for their rewards program. Not wanting to give them my real identity, I said my name was “Jon Jay.” It’s a name so simple, it practically screams alias, and I can’t help but wonder who Jon Jay really is. I think going forward we should always write Jon Jay’s name in quotations to indicate that we’re onto him. Anyway, aside from his .311 average on the year, “Jon Jay” is having a season that’s about as vanilla as his name, though if you need an average boost he’s a solid add, and is hitting .433 over the past week.
Raffy Lopez (C, San Diego Padres): 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – Raffy is not only a solid backup catcher, but he plays killer versions of “Wheels on the Bus” and “Apples and Bananas” to sold-out crowds of restless toddlers in his free time. Even after yesterday’s performance, Lopez is hitting just .191 on the year, and just biding his time while the Padres wait for the return of Austin Hedges.
Pablo Sandoval (1B/3B, San Francisco Giants): 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – Sandoval is now slashing a vintage Sandoval-like .277/.330/.426 with three homers in just over 100 plate appearances. He’s hitting .444 over the past week and has been filling in at first base for Brandon Belt. He’s not a bad option in deeper leagues or if you need a corner infield fill-in.
Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels): 3-4, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB – This Mike Trout guy is pretty good. He’s hitting .337 with eight homers and eight steals over the past month. I’ll go out on a limb and recommend picking him up if he’s available on your waiver wire.
Justin Upton (OF, Los Angeles Angels): 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB – Hopefully this performance portends the start of a patented Justin Upton hot streak, because he’s hitting just .189 over his last 15 games. Still, his 43% hard contact rate is up for the fourth consecutive year, and all his other peripherals are right in line with his career averages, so no need to panic.
Franmil Reyes (OF, San Diego Padres): 1-4, R, HR, RBI, BB – Franmil had gotten off to a dreadful start with the Fran Diego Padres, but he has now homered four times over the past week while hitting .320 during that span. He’s currently cycling into San Diego’s lineup with Travis Frankowski, Franuel Margot, and Hunter Franfroe, and it will be interesting to see how things shake out once Franchy Cordero and Wil Myers make their way back.
Cory Spangenberg (2B/3B, San Diego Padres): 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2 RBI – Spangenberg flashed an intriguing power/speed combination last season when he popped 13 homers and stole 11 bags in 486 plate appearances. Unfortunately things haven’t gone so well this year, as he’s hitting just .188 and has been relegated to a bench role. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Unless he changes his name to Cory Frangenberg, then maybe Fran Diego could find room for him…
Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants): 2-2, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB – Crawford is hitting .429 with five homers over his last 30 (!!!) games. He’s hitting a career-high 30% line drives and making more hard contact than ever, though his .380 BABIP is still sure to regress. Still, his 13-degree launch angle is above-average, and makes me think he could challenge high-teens homers this season.
Eric Hosmer (1B, San Diego Padres): 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB – Anybody remember the old Animorphs books? Their covers always had a picture of a human slowly transitioning into an animal, and I think Eric Hosmer missed out on a great opportunity to model for the human-wolf hybrid photo. Anyway, Hosmer’s up to seven home runs already with a .293 average, but his 57% groundball rate is absurd and should scare any owners expecting another 25-homer season from him.
Gregory Bird (1B, New York Yankees): 1-3, R, HR, RBI, BB – This was Bird’s second homer in 29 at-bats since he returned from the DL, though he’s only walked once and he’s struck out 10 times already. It will be interesting to see what kind of player he’ll be this year, assuming he can stay on the field.
Leonys Martin (OF, Detroit Tigers): 2-3, 2 R, 2B, BB – Martin has battled hamstring issues for most of the year, and had fluid drained from it as recently as three days ago. Sorry, I hope you weren’t eating lunch while reading this. Anyway, all this to say that he’s still managed to be an incredibly productive player despite being hampered by the ailment. His 37% hard contact rate is much-improved over his previous high of 29.5%, and makes me think the seven home runs he’s hit so far aren’t a complete fluke. His 34 runs this year also put him on pace for a 100-run season. If he ever gets healthy enough to start running again, he could be a very solid player in 12-team leagues and deeper.
Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees): 0-9, 8 K, BB – Eight strikeouts in a single day. That’s enough to make even Chris Davis blush, though I’m sure Davis is looking at the statline and going, “What’s up with the walk and the groundout? I would’ve struck out all 10 times, you amateur.” There’s some debate over what this performance should be called exactly. Diamond sombrero? Double-gold sombrero? Embarrassing?
What is going on with these prospects that aren’t supposed to have that much power and don’t showcase it in the minors coming up the Bigs and mashing bombs? (Gleyber and Ozzie Albies) Same thing happened with Francisco Lindor. He had never hit more than 11 in the minor leagues and scouts graded his power out at 45-50. Now he’s hitting 35 bombs a year in the MLB. It’s crazy! What’s the explanation here. Most people say the balls in the majors are different and meant to hit more bombs than the ones used in the Minors
Juiced balls partner. Its a crazy new world. It reminds me a bit of the NFL where the entire game has been modified around qb/wr which inflates passing stats beyond any reason. Have a look at the all time passing leaders for a good laugh. MLB is doing the same thing to hr right now. We haven’t gotten savvy enough yet collectively, but 20 hr doesn’t mean anything in this day and age and double digit pop is an insult! I think you wanted a real answer, not my rant. Check out nate silvers work – he deserves all the credit for unearthing juiced balls. Everyone else is just taking credit for his work. He is the guy who predicted every state right for the election a fee years back… Yes, the balls are a joke relatively speaking.
It’s just crazy these guys show no pop whatsoever (relatively speaking) in the minors then all of the sudden they are now Barry Bonds when they get to the bigs? It’s supposed to be HARDER not easier. Crazy!
Totally agree. I think the ball has a lot to do with it, and the major league ball has actually been shown to travel further than the minor league ball. I’m sure pitch velocities, swing adjustments, and natural maturation probably play a big part too. Seeing guys like Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Altuve, and Torres turn themselves into power hitters has been crazy.
It kills me. I traded Albies because I didn’t think he’d show enough pop to be the star fantasy player another owner valued him as. At least he’s come back to earth with just a .670 OPS (and 4 dingers) over the last month.
Although, keep in mind what Brady Anderson once said about his 50 HR season: “Just one more home run per week, just one more good swing … the small difference between greatness and mediocrity.”
Nate Silver also predicted Brexit failing and Hillary winning the election so he’s not quite the Nostradamus you paint him out to be.
That’s not how Nate Silver and 538 projections work. They’re still just probabilities and even if an event was projected to occur 99.9% of the time, an instance of it not occurring would not invalidate the projection.
Haniger or Markakis rest of season?
Mitch Haniger ….not close!
Yeah, I think I’d go Haniger there.
Wait, did Eric Hosmer get traded to Kansas City?!?!
I have no earthly idea what you’re talking about, it clearly says “San Diego Padres” and always did say that and was never changed.
Hmmm… I really need to stop adding LSD to my morning coffee!
9-team mixed OBP redraft – which two of these similar bats ROS at CI/UT: Carlos Santana, Smoak, Todd Frazier?
I’d go Smoak and Santana there.
I believe you meant to type Franwil Meyers.
Hard to believe that this was all foreseen 23 years ago by Gavin Rossdale in Bush’s 1995 hit “Everything Fran”. Simply amazing.
That Animorphs comment was absolute gold!
“He’s currently cycling into San Diego’s lineup with Travis Frankowski, Franuel Margot, and Hunter Franfroe, and it will be interesting to see how things shake out once Franchy Cordero and Wil Myers make their way back.”
Don’t you mean French Fraudero and Wil Powers? Haha. I’d like to go cycling into a lineup too, sounds like fun! Franmil, Y Alonso or Aguilar, pick 2 of 3?