Batter’s Box: Super Benintendo
Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire
It’s good to be young. Your whole life is ahead of you, your mom washes your laundry free of charge. It doesn’t get much better. Anything seems possible. And that sense of hope translates to young baseball players too. For guys like Andrew Benintendi, who put up a 20/20 season at just 22 years old, it seems like the sky is the limit.
Then old age sets in. At 23 years old, everything starts sliding downhill. Or at least that’s what Benintendi owners seemed to think after he got off to a slow start this year. Then he posted a 3-5, R, HR, 2B, RBI line yesterday, and all seemed right again in the world. He’s now hitting .355 over the past week with two homers and two steals, bringing his overall slash line up to .266/.350/.792. He’s also pulling the ball way more this year, which is usually a bad sign for left-handed hitters since they can lose hits more easily to defensive shifts. However, both this season and last year Benintendi excelled against the shift, batting over .300 against it. His contact and whiff rates are nearly identical to what they were last season, and it seems like things are trending upward again for Benintendi despite his advanced age.
Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants): 4-4, 2 R, 2B – Oooh, I love when a guy goes fofofo (or “four for four” if you speak proper, intelligible English). Here’s hoping for more nights like this from Crawford, if for no other reason than so I’ll have an excuse to say “fofofo” again.
Juan Lagares (OF, New York Mets): 4-5, 2 R, 3B, 3 RBI, SB – This was a nice little poke from Lagares, a gentle reminder that he still exists… AND THAT HE’S WATCHING YOUR EVERY MOVE. Just kidding about that last part, hopefully. There might be a mediocre player here if he ever found the playing time, but even with his incredible defense there isn’t a full-time spot for him on the current Mets roster.
Jean Segura (SS, Seattle Mariners): 3-5, 3 R, RBI, BB, 4 SB – In honor of Robinson Cano, Segura stole one base for every lame excuse Cano came up with to explain his PED suspension. That’s now 11 steals on the year for Segura, and six of those have come in the past week, during which time he’s hitting .424.
Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, Cleveland Indians): 3-5, 2 2B, RBI – If I told you that Ramirez had an 8.8% walk rate and 12.2% strikeout rate, you’d probably be amazed at how good that was. Now swap those two numbers. Yes, Ramirez is walking more than he’s striking out this year, and has already belted 13 homers to go with his six steals. The 21.7% HR/FB likely isn’t sustainable, but I say that with no degree of certainty considering how incredibly talented Ramirez has shown himself to be to this point.
Amed Rosario (SS, New York Mets): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI – I’m really hoping Amed Rosario becomes a star, if for no other reason than because I want his Abraham Lincoln-style beard to catch on with our nation’s youth. He’s going to have to start working on his 48% groundball rate if that’s ever going to happen though.
Robinson Chirinos (C, Texas Rangers): 3-4, 3 RBI, BB, SB – It’s hard for me not to like Robinson Chirinos, especially considering he’s named after one of my favorite carnival foods. Oh, that’s “churros,” nevermind. Chirinos was a sleeper entering the year after hitting 17 homers in just 309 plate appearances last year, but he’s been a disappointment to this point thanks in large part to his strikeout rate, which has ballooned from 25% to 42% this season. Here’s hoping yesterday was a sign of things to come.
Mitch Haniger (OF, Seattle Mariners): 3-5, R, 3B, 2 RBI, BB – Praise to the great Mitch Hanigod, all things prosper under his watch. Haniger’s power outburst has slowed down a bit, but he’s hitting .321 over the past week with two steals.
Rajai Davis (OF, Cleveland Indians): 3-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI, SB – That’s now eight steals for the 37-year-old Davis in just 69 at-bats. You’re only as old as you feel, and Davis apparently still feels like he’s 24.
Devin Mesoraco (C, New York Mets): 2-2, 4 R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB – If a player who is perpetually injured joins the Mets, an organization known for its neverending injury woes, does their bad luck cancel itself out and make the player completely invulnerable? As a Mets fan, I choose to believe it does. Mesoraco’s peripherals don’t look too far off from what they were during his amazing 2014 campaign, and the starting catcher job is his to take, but will his body stay in one piece long enough for him to be relevant?
Travis Jankowski (OF, San Diego Padres): 2-3, R, BB, SB – His first name doesn’t start with “Fran,” which puts him at a disadvantage on a Padres team that has called up Franchy Cordero and Franmil Reyes and seems committed to an all-Fran youth movement. However, he drew the start over the struggling Manuel Margot yesterday, and is batting .370 since his call-up with four steals in just 46 at-bats. Jankowski has elite speed, and he could play his way into semi-regular at-bats.
Jose Bautista (3B/OF, Atlanta Braves): 0-3, 3K – Jose Bautista? More like Jose B-out-ista, am I right? It’s too early to judge, I guess, and his .156 average is held down by a .158 BABIP at the moment, but a 29% strikeout rate and 4.7% line drive rate is not going to cut it.
Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves): 2-4, R, HR, RBI, SB – I don’t know what has possessed Inciarte this year, but it seems to be some sort of speed demon, and owners have no interest in having it exorcised. Inciarte is now up to 18 stolen bases this year after stealing just 22 last season over 718 plate appearances. My initial belief was that the 11 home runs he hit last season were a fluke, but he’s hitting the ball harder and in the air more than he did in 2017, and he’s already up to four homers, so his final line at the end of the year could very well be that of a top-25 outfielder.
Eric Hosmer (1B, San Diego Padres): 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, SB – Hosmer is striking out (21.6%) and walking (13.6) at career-high rates this year. The overall numbers look fine (.270 average, six homers, three steals), but the 55% groundball rate has essentially squashed all hope that he’s actually implemented a swing change to unlock more power.
Ryon Healy (1B, Seattle Mariners): 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB – Healy is now hitting .367 with seven homers over his last 15 games, and is showing no signs of slowing down. His 39.7% hard contact rate is a career high, as is his 23% line drive rate. I think I’m starting to come around on Healy, especially in non-OBP leagues.