It seems like forever ago, but Chris Davis was the talk of the baseball community through the first few weeks of the season as he was still hitless. It took him 63 plate appearances to finally get a hit. However, during that time there was another player with a sad such streak, and on April 17, during his 40th plate appearance, Daniel Palka finally got his first hit of the season. Palka had a strong 2018 campaign, swatting 27 homers over 124 games. He had a hard-hit rate of 49% with a 14.4% barrel rate, both near the top of the league. He was a sleeper coming into the 2019 draft. After that April 17 game, the White Sox sent him down to Triple-A. Naturally, he excelled in Triple-A, crushing 27 homers in 106 games. It seemed like things were fixed.
He came up again briefly at the end of June, and in 10 plate appearances, he couldn’t get on base. Cue another demotion. September comes around, giving him another shot. On Sept. 12, he finally gets another hit. Two hits in 64 plate appearances. Both of them seeing-eye singles. During a long season, it can grow frustrating knowing you can hit like he did last year and in Triple-A this year but not see anything come of it. Now, in the final few games of the season, he is piecing it all together. Last night, he went 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB. Both of his homers traveled more than 400 feet, with one off the bat at 113.8 mph. Absolutely crushed. Something like that should shake those cobwebs off the bat. He now has seven hits in his past five games and looks ready to put this season behind him, adding a few exclamation points in the final games.
This is my final Batter’s Box of the season. I would like to thank you all for following me and Scott all season and putting up with our nonsense. It has been an incredibly fun season. I hope to see you all this off season and at the start of the 2020 season. But before you go, let’s look around the league at the players putting it all out there in Game 159.
Aristides Aquino (OF, Cincinnati Reds)—3-5, R, HR, RBI, SB. He has cooled off significantly in September, with the homer last night being only his fourth of the month. However, he picked up a combo meal, adding his second stolen base in as many days and his fifth of September. He only had two in August. I guess he’s had a bit more opportunity on the base paths as all his hits were over the fence in August.
Willians Astudillo (C/1B/3B, Minnesota Twins)—4-5, 4 R, HR, 2 RBI. The legend returned at the beginning of September after spending a couple of months on the IL with a strained oblique. He’s now batted in 52 plate appearances since his return and has struck out twice and walked three times. Yesterday, he was able to string together four hits including a home run and score on each of those times on base. A catcher-desperate team in the final days may get something out of him.
Jonathan Schoop (2B/SS, Minnesota Twins)—2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI. Despite missing a good chunk of games this season with various injuries, he was able to put together a more successful season than last year’s disappointment. He was not near the levels he at which played back in 2016 and 2017. But if he could put together a full season next year, there is a chance of redemption as his peripherals this year were much more in line with his excellent 2017.
Danny Santana (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Texas Rangers)—1-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, SB. Santana could be one of the greatest mysteries heading into the 2020 draft. In fewer than 500 plate appearances, he has 27 homers, 19 steals, and nearly 80 runs and RBI. He’s hitting close to .300 despite a nearly 30% strikeout rate. He’s basically Javy Baez Jr. But with plate discipline numbers as bad as he’s had his whole career, how could this be maintained? He’s greatly improved his batted-ball skills regardless of what he does when he misses. His hard-hit rate is at its best, as are his ground-ball and line-drive rates.
Mauricio Dubon (2B/SS, San Francisco Giants)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. Dubon was sent to the Giants from the Brewers for Drew Pomeranz at the deadline. He had made two pinch-hit appearances around the All-Star break for the Brew crew but ended up in the Giants’ everyday lineup at the end of August. He is known for his bat skills, hitting .343 in Triple-A in 2018 and over .300 in Triple-A this year. Since his time with the Giants, he is slashing .286/.323/.473 with a 12.5% strikeout rate. He’s added four homers and three steals in 96 plate appearances. It’s a respectable start to a career, and he’s been seeing some time in the leadoff spot the past week.
Asdrúbal Cabrera (2B/3B/SS, Washington Nationals)—2-2, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Cabrera has brought so much to the Nationals after they scooped him up from waivers in August. Since they added him, he is slashing .317/.397/.558 while walking more than he’s striking out. He’s been hitting fifth or sixth behind Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, so he has had ample opportunity to drive in runs. And he has, with 37 RBI in 36 games.
Pablo Reyes (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)—3-4, 2 R, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, BB. Reyes started the year with the team but struggled quite a bit, resulting in the Pirates optioning him to Triple-A at the beginning of May. They brought him back up in August and he had been fine, but since September rolled around, he’s been putting it together. Through a mix of pinch-hit appearances and starts, he is slashing .283/.377/.478 while walking more than 13% of the time and striking out 18.9% of the time. His plate discipline has been improving greatly, and he has the numbers to show for it.
James McCann (C, Chicago White Sox)—1-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. One of the biggest surprises this year was the White Sox backup catcher overtaking a top-10 ranked catcher in Welington Castillo. Castillo struggled all season with various injuries, and to the White Sox’s luck, McCann was able to step into the role well. He slugged 18 homers in 117 games while hitting .274. His hitting improved drastically as he barreled the ball much more, stopped popping up the ball, and stopped making any weak contact.
Josh Reddick (OF, Houston Astros)—5-6, 2B, SB. Reddick found a way to get on base five separate times in the Astros lineup and not score once. He even stole a base, making it easier to knock him in. Despite not scoring, stringing together five hits in a game is impressive, and it was his second five-hit game in six starts. The second half has been interesting for him as he’s displayed nearly no power, hitting no homers in July or August despite 170 plate appearances.
(Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)