Photo by Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire
If you told me before the season started that I’d be writing about Scooter Gennett twice before the end of May, I’m not sure I would have believed you. Unless maybe you told me he was going to change his last name to something like “Bing Bong.” Then I’m sure I would have plenty to say about him, regardless of his performance. There would be so many jokes to make about a guy named Scooter Bing Bong.
But alas, his name is still just Scooter Gennett. Or, legally, Ryan Gennett. Yeah, that’s right, he’s not actually named after a mode of transportation that only toddlers use. He chose to be called that. So maybe there’s hope of him becoming Scooter Bing Bong one day soon after all.
Anyway, Scooter has been a man possessed this season, and yesterday’s 5-5, R, HR, RBI performance capped off a two-week stretch where Gennett has hit .443 with six homers and 18 RBI. His .337 average is now the third-highest in baseball, and though his .390 BABIP should could down a bit, he’s made further improvements in his profile compared to last season. He’s raised his line drive rate to 25%, his launch angle is up to 15 degrees, he’s making a career-high 39% hard contact, and his whiff and contact rates are both above average. His high drive percentage (essentially the xStats equivalent of “barrels”) is the highest it has ever been, and while he has to cool down eventually, it’s time to accept that Gennett is one of the top second basemen in the game right now.
Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox): 4-4, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB – Jose Abreu is a lot like Taco Bell’s chicken quesadilla; it’s consistently hot, delicious, and will never let you down. Since he got to the majors in 2014 he’s hit at least .290 with 25 homers and 100 RBI every single year, and he’s well on his way towards doing that again this season. Not only that, but his strikeout rate has been steadily declining every year, and is now down to just 16.5%. He’s been particularly hot over the past two weeks, hitting .419.
Ronald Acuna (OF, Atlanta Braves): 3-5, R, HR, RBI – Ronald Thump was looking more like Ronald Slump over the past two weeks, hitting just .230 while striking out in over a third of his plate appearances. His overall slash line of .263/.320/.440 is solid considering his age, but probably hasn’t been as impressive as you hoped it would be if you paid a big price for him when he was called up. Here’s hoping he makes the adjustments he needs to truly become a star this season, because the poor guy isn’t even old enough to drown his sorrows in alcohol if he doesn’t.
Jesus Aguilar (1B, Milwaukee Brewers): 3-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB – Jesus is rising from the bench and making baseballs die for your wins. That comparison works, right? Didn’t Jesus Christ kill people for your sins? Aguilar is making 40% hard contact and pairing it with an insane 28% line drive rate. His eight homers have him on the same 30-homer full season pace he managed last year in 311 plate appearances, the question is if he’ll still see regular at-bats once Eric Thames and Ryan Braun are both healthy.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox): 3-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, 3 RBI – I’m really hoping the Yankees sign a player with a last name that sounds like “Sega” so we can relive the great Nintendo vs. Sega video game rivalry through two human beings who have no association with either company aside from their names sounding vaguely like each console maker’s name. The question with Benintendi early this year was whether the power was going to come around, and he’s answered that in a big way this past week, hitting three homers while batting .375. He’s continuing to whittle away at what had been a high groundball rate, getting it down to the 40% rate he posted last year, though his 24% hard contact rate is still well below average.
Lorenzo Cain (OF, Milwaukee Brewers): 3-4, 3 R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB – Cain is having himself a great first year in Milwaukee, batting .291 with six homers and 11 steals. It’s hard to know how tenable the power is though considering his horrible 7-degree launch angle and 49% groundball rate.
Jeimer Candelario (3B, Detroit Tigers): 2-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB – This candelabra is lit! That’s seven homers on the season for Jeimer, who looks like he could legitimately hit over 20 homers with a .280 average over the course of a season. That plays in any league.
Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox): 2-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB – Only three players in baseball have double-digit homers and steals this year: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Tim Anderson. Tim Anderson MVP confirmed. Anderson seems to have finally addressed the high groundball rates that have plagued him throughout his career, and his 8.3% walk rate is four times higher than it was last season. His .246 average is hard to stomach, but his .273 BABIP should rise closer to his .336 career level, at which point he’ll likely be a top fantasy shortstop.
Mark Reynolds (1B, Washington Nationals): 1-4, R, HR, RBI – That’s now five homers and a .444 average for Reynolds in just 27 at-bats on the season. First base will be quite a logjam for Washington as long as Matt Adams and Ryan Zimmerman are healthy, but Reynolds should at least soak up all the at-bats against lefties going forward.
Brandon Nimmo (OF, New York Mets): 1-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB – The hardest part about writing about Brandon Nimmo is not making a Finding Nemo-related pun. The low-hanging fruit always looks the most delicious. Anyway, since Nimmo started getting regular at-bats roughly two weeks ago, he’s hit .296 with three homers and two steals. As mentioned in an earlier Batter’s Box, there’s breakout potential here, at least until Tim Tebow gets recalled and takes over as the everyday right fielder.
Daniel Roberston (SS/2B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays): 3-4, 2B, RBI – Aside from an excellent 6.9% whiff rate and impressive 18.2% walk rate, everything else in Daniel Robertson‘s profile is about as boringly average as his name. By the end of the year he’ll likely have given you a .275 average and somewhere around 10 homers, which is… oops, sorry, I just fell asleep.
Starling Marte (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates): 2-4, R, HR, RBI – Marte homered in his first game back from the DL, and his seven homers this season match his total from last year, which he hit in 35 more games. It sounds like the Pirates intend on keeping Austin Meadows around for now though, which may mean Marte loses a start per week if they insist on finding ways to get Meadows in the lineup.
Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels): 5-5, 3 R, HR, 3 2B, 4 RBI – Knowing the Yankees, they won’t have to even wait until Trout is a free agent to add him to their team, they’ll just offer to take on his salary in two years and the Angels will give him away in exchange for a wax bust of Brian Cashman. Trout is hitting .476 with four homers and four steals over the past week. Yes, week, singular.
Jose Altuve (2B, Houston Astros): 4-4, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB – Are Jose Altuve‘s cute little baby legs working again? Four of his six steals on the year have come over the past week, during which time he’s hitting .400. The 20-homer power he flashed the past two years appears like it may not have been sustainable, so he’ll likely need to get back to the 30-steal plateau to recoup first-round value.
Edwin Encarnacion (1B/DH, Cleveland Indians): 3-3, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB – Encarnacion got off to a brutal start, but has been better over the past month, slashing .263/.331/.508 with eight homers. However, his 11.2% whiff rate, 75.1% contact rate, and 27.9% strikeout rate are all career-worsts and paint the picture of a man struggling with declining bat speed. I’d recommend selling while his value is fairly high.
J.T. Realmuto (C, Miami Marlins): 3-4, R, 2 2B – Day 190: The Marlins are still completely unaware that a tradeable resource like Realmuto exists on their roster. If they don’t catch on soon, they may miss their chance to trade him to the Brewers for Eric Sogard and some Burger King coupons. Realmuto is now hitting .325 on the season and his hard contact rate has shot up to a career-high 39.8% rate. There’s a decent chance he eclipses the 17 homers he hit last season and solidifies himself as a top-5 catcher.
Christian Villanueva (3B, San Diego Padres): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI – After a hot start, it’s been a tough month for Villanueva, who is hitting just .202 over his last 30 games. That said, he’s picked up steam lately, hitting .280 with four homers over the past week. There doesn’t seem to be any threats to his job in San Diego, especially since he already has 14 homers, but don’t expect much improvement on the .242 average.