Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire
In their critically acclaimed hit single “Mmmbop,” the musical wunderkinds/philosophers known as Hanson sang: Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose//You can plant any one of those//Keep planting to find out which one grows//It’s a secret no one knows. Deep stuff from a group of crooning grade schoolers that many consider to be the voices of my generation. They truly were taken from this earth too soon, as all the great ones are. Oh, the Hanson brothers are still alive? Well that’s awkward.
Anyway, the point they were trying to make in “Mmmbop” was, gardening is hard. But also, life is unpredictable. San Francisco Giants infielder (and potential long lost Hanson brother?) Alen Hanson knows this all too well. A former top prospect, Hanson showed flashes of brilliance in the minors, stealing over 35 bases on three separate occasions while flashing double-digit power. He never quite managed to put it all together at the major league level, but with Evan Longoria going down with a broken finger yesterday, he might get another chance this year. He’s certainly looked the part of a useful regular so far, slashing .338/.377/.690 in 77 plate appearances, including a 3-5, R performance yesterday after stepping in for Longoria. To be sure, it’s a small sample, but the early returns are encouraging, including an xStats triple slash of .285/.330/.543 and a 37.5% hard contact rate. He’ll likely be competing with Pablo Sandoval for third base at-bats once Brandon Belt returns, but there’s potentially some decent multi-category upside here, and he already has second base and outfield eligibility in most leagues. Will he become a star? As those golden-haired angels say, it’s a secret no one knows.
Andrew McCutchen (OF, San Francisco Giants): 3-7, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – I’ve been peeping that 47% hard contact rate and 27.3% line drive rate all year and just waiting for McCutchen to start busting out. With a .354 average and five homers over his last 15 games, well…
J.B. Shuck (OF, Miami Marlins): 4-7, R – I’ll be pretty disappointed if J.B. Shuck doesn’t have a book of family photos titled, “Aww, Shucks.” Shuck may see more at-bats if they decide to move Brian Anderson back to third base and bench the struggling Miguel Rojas, but I don’t care either way and neither should you.
Rhys Hoskins (OF, Philadelphia Phillies): 3-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI – The 27.2% strikeout rate, 50% flyball rate, and just 32% hard contact are all slightly concerning. That said, Hoskins has looked a bit better since returning from the DL, going 6-for-17 with two homers thus far.
Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, Cleveland Indians): 1-5, R, HR, 2 RBI – That’s now 20 homers on the year for the baseball player formerly known as Jobu. Skills-wise not a ton seems to have changed aside from a jump in HR/FB%, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up for a 40 homer campaign. Unless you bring Jobu more rum. Then anything may be possible.
Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians): 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI – Lindor is now doing that thing where he hits for a high average (.295), and combining it with that other thing where he hits for an absurd amount of power (15 homers). Before I typed it out correctly, I wrote “Francisco Lindor (SS, New York Mets)” and just stared at it for longer than I’d like to admit. I imagined how different things might be. How much lighter I’d feel, how much better food would taste. I wrote it again on a piece of paper that I plan on carrying with me everywhere. I think I’ll look at it whenever I feel sad, to cheer me up. Sometimes we need delusions to maintain our sanity.
Gleyber Torres (SS, New York Yankees): 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI – More like “Gleyber Torrid,” am I right? That’s now 11 homers for Torres over his last 30 games. Between the 25.6% strikeout rate and the .337 BABIP, I’m not sure the average hovers around .300 for much longer, but when you’re making hard contact 40% of the time and hitting tons of line drives anything can happen.
David Peralta (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI – Peralta is now up to 14 homers on the season, which matches his 2017 total in 313 fewer plate appearances. What’s his secret? An absurd 48.9% hard contact rate and a ton of luck (he’s posting a 24% HR/FB despite a 51.4% groundball rate). Also a corked bat, probably. Just kidding David, please don’t sue me, I have nothing.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks): 1-4, R, HR, RBI – Gold is supposed to have a fairly stable value, but Goldy’s season has had more ups and downs than bitcoin so far. That said, we seem to be in the midst of a bull run, and if you bought low on him a few weeks back or were simpling HODLing, you’ve been reaping the rewards lately, as he’s hitting .426 with seven homers over his last 15 games. I still don’t think we’re quite out of the woods yet though, as he struck out three times in this game and his 28.2% strikeout rate is still significantly higher than normal. He’s also only 2-for-4 in stolen base attempts this year. Still, his season could be headed to the moon any day now.
Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves): 2-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – Inciarte’s .272 BABIP should start to rise closer to his .322 rate sooner or later, and by year’s end we’ll likely be looking at a career-year for the 27-year-old. Not Alen Hanson good, but solid.
Jose Altuve (2B, Houston Astros): 2-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB – He’s hitting .358 over his last 30 games, but perhaps even more encouraging are the eight stolen bases over that timeframe, as he hardly ran in the early going.
Brandon Nimmo (OF, New York Mets): 1-4, R, HR, RBI – There’s a lot to like about Nimmo. He’s got a 42.7% hard contact rate. He’s upped his launch angle from 9.6 degrees to 15.7 degrees. He’s got an excellent 10.7% value hit rate and .370 xBACON. His smile can light up a room and instill hope in your heart. But he’s a Met, so he’ll likely spontaneously combust or be inexplicably demoted within the month. Sell before a horrible fate befalls him.
Mac Williamson (OF, San Francisco Giants): 1-3, R, HR, RBI – A concussion derailed what had been a very promising start to the year for Williamson, and he hasn’t seemed the same since he returned. He’s hitting the ball on the ground half the time, whiffing on 14.8% of his swings, and his hard contact rate has plummeted to just 27.1%. This Mac is looking wack, and unless his lack of a knack for smack comes back, you should pack… up your bags and move on.
Tony Kemp (OF, Houston Astros): 2-4, R, 2B – What kind of monster are you, Kemp? Forcing a sweet, innocent 21-year-old boy like Kyle Tucker to languish in the waking hell that is the minor leagues. You think it’s funny to slash .301/.381/.425 with a 9.8% strikeout rate? Huh? Is that funny to you? Because I’m a Kyle Tucker owner and it’s NOT FUNNY TO ME ANYMORE, OKAY?