Batter’s Box: Rebel Yelich
Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
Here, in the baseball season’s midnight hour, Christian Yelich keeps giving us more, more, more. With his 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB performance yesterday, Yelich has given himself a legitimate shot at the first National League Triple Crown in 81 years. He’ll need at least a home run and three RBI today in order to pull it off, and considering how his second half has gone to this point, I’d say it’s more likely than not that he gets there. Consider this: since the break Yelich has posted a .360 batting average and a .492 wOBA while popping 25 homers. That’s over the course of just 282 plate appearances. He’s also posted a 214 wRC+ during that span, and a 1,589 CD, which is a stat I made up to measure how many times better a hitter has been than Chris Davis. Oh, and by the way, Yelich is still just 26 years old. I’ve been harping on his still-high 51.7% groundball rate for awhile now, but his xStats don’t seem to mind it, pegging him for 30.6 xHR, and a .412 xOBA. And who am I to argue with an algorithm? All things considered, don’t bet on this season necessarily being an outlier. He should get serious first-round consideration next year.
Juan Soto (OF, Washington Nationals): 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, BB – Despite a sensational season, Soto seems destined to fall short of Ronald Acuna in the N.L. Rookie of the Year voting. If Acuna is “Ronald Thump,” I guess this makes Soto “Hilary Clint-Juan?” Go ahead and boo me, I can’t hear you from this side of the computer. I’m a little worried about regression from Soto next year just based on the 53% groundball rate and lackluster 34.3% hard contact, but then again I don’t think this guy is even old enough to buy a pack of smokes so he clearly has plenty of growth left in him.
Adalberto Mondesi (SS, Kansas City Royals): 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, SB – We need to start referring to Mondesi as “McDonald’s” because this dude serves up combo meals on the regular. In the past month he’s popped 10 homers and stolen 15 bases. He’s drawn just nine walks over 282 plate appearances, but who has time for walks when you’re busy crushing every pitch you see?
Trea Turner (SS, Washington Nationals): 3-6, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI – Turner upped his pull rate to 42.6% this season and the homers followed, as he’s wracked up 19 dongs on the year. He’s also improved his walk rate for the third straight season. I still see an argument for him as a top-5 hitter.
Ildemaro Vargas (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks): 2-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, SB – It just wouldn’t be baseball if guys I have never heard of in my life weren’t still popping up on the second-to-last day of the season and putting up big games. Ildemaro Vargas profiled in the minors as a Jorge Polanco-type, but we obviously won’t find out whether that skillset will transfer to the big leagues this year because BASEBALL IS ALMOST DEAD.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees): 3-4, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI – The contact gains Stanton made in 2017 have evaporated this year, as his strikeout rate has ballooned back up to 29.9% and his .266 average is being buoyed by a .333 BABIP. It’ll be interesting to see whether 2017 was a true outlier.
Amed Rosario (SS, New York Mets): 1-3, BB, 2 SB – Though Rosario’s second half seems much-improved compared to what he did early in the year, I would caution against totally buying in. He’s hit more line drives since the break, but his plate discipline has not improved at all, and his 27.8% hard contact rate is horrible. He’s posted negative pitch values against all breaking balls this year, and while the uptick in stolen bases over the past few months is nice, his approach and contact ability still have some maturing to do.
Whit Merrifield (2B, Kansas City Royals): 2-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, 2 SB – Let me be the first to introduce you to your major league stolen base leader: Whitney Chestarthur Bailey-Todd Merrifield III. With 16 stolen bases over his last 30 games, Merrifield was clearly doing all that he could to take home the crown, and it looks like he’ll get it barring a big final game from Trea Turner. With 56 HR+SB this year, Merrifield should get some serious early-round considering next season.
Yasiel Puig (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers): 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB – Puig has put up a 186 wRC+ in September, and continues to tease owners with the upside of a top outfielder. Considering his shaky health history and the Dodgers’ customary glut of outfielders, I can understand being wary of buying in for next year, but he clearly has the upside of a 25/25 player.
Austin Meadows (OF, Tampa Bay Rays): 1-2, R, HR, RBI, BB – Yo chill brah, my dude Austin Meadows is having a hella gnarly season and y’all just need to vibe it, kay? It’s a shame Meadows didn’t more of an audition after getting shipped to Tampa Bay, but the 7.9% whiff rate, 37% hard contact rate, and nice blend of power and speed we’ve seen this year hint at the makings of a really exciting player. He’s definitely a guy I’ll have on my radar in 2019.
Khris Davis (OF, Oakland Athletics): 1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB – That’s now five homers this week for Davis, who is posting the highest value hit percentage of his career this season with a 13.4% rate. His .554 xSLG and .374 xOBA are above his actual numbers, meaning he may have actually gotten a bit unlucky this season.
Niko Goodrum (1B/2B/3B/OF, Detroit Tigers): 2-3, 3B, 3 RBI, BB – It’s been a strong finish to the season for Goodrum, who has slashed .279/.355/.450 over the past month with four homers and three steals. He’ll retain eligibility around the infield in most formats next season, and has proved himself to be a solid bench option in deeper leagues.
Before I close out my final Batter’s Box of the 2018 season, I just want to thank everyone for reading and commenting this year. It’s been an incredible privilege to be a part of this site and the community that supports it, and it was a lot of fun meeting and interacting with all of you. Thank you for navigating all my dumb jokes in your attempts to glean actual information from these posts–I know it wasn’t easy. I wish you all a lovely offseason and a life of happiness and fulfillment.