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?