(Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire)
Each player’s career path has its own quirks, its own ups and downs. Sometimes guys burst onto the scene and take the entire league by storm for the entirety of their careers. Sometimes they struggle for years and years before finally breaking through. Sometimes they fail miserably and are never heard from again.
And sometimes they’re Matt Adams, a guy who has been perfectly fine for a very long time but who never seems to be able to find a full-time gig. Adams has been around for what feels like forever, and is now playing in his seventh major league season. But did you know he’s amassed more than 370 at-bats just once in that time? Pretty surprising for someone who has been a perfectly useful .271/.317/.469 hitter for his career. Maybe it’s because he plays defense like a semi-sentient ball of cheese, or because he’s hit just .203 against lefties throughout his career. Okay, let’s be honest, those are probably the reasons. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a beautiful ballplayer hiding within this flawed cocoon, just waiting to spread its wings. Maybe offensive outbursts like last night’s 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI display don’t have to be nice little surprises that crop up only when Adams sneaks his way into the lineup. Maybe we can dare to dream… of something more.
Kendrys Morales (DH, Toronto Blue Jays): 3-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, SB – Kendrys Morales became the first man born without kneecaps to steal a base last night. No, but seriously, that’s almost more of an accomplishment than the two homers for Morales. Kendrys had gone 0-for-19 prior to this performance, and is going to need to keep it up to justify taking up a roster spot later in the year when more of Toronto’s prospects are knocking at the door.
Michael Brantley (OF, Cleveland Indians): 1-6, R, HR, 4 RBI – Brantley is quietly having himself a good year. How? By whispering, mostly. Oh, excuse me, I’m having my dad joke license revoked right now. Brantley’s running a .329/.342/.881 triple slash so far, with three homers and a stolen base. He’s drawn just one walk in over 70 at-bats so far though, which is very uncharacteristic for Brantley.
Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Reds): 1-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB – Suarez always makes the most out of what he’s given; just look at how he turned his first name into a five-syllable word. Ay-yu-hen-ee-oh Suarez has been on fire since returning from the DL last week, as these RBIs gave him 10 over his last six games.
Gary Sanchez (C, Yankees): 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI – Sometimes I dream about having the strength and professional competence that Gary Sanchez has, and it pleases me greatly. This was Sanchez’s third homer this week, and his 18 degree launch angle indicate more weeks like this lie ahead, especially once his .194 BABIP undergoes some correction.
Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins): 2-4, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI – The free-swingin’ Eddie Rosario is now pulling the ball nearly half the time, while also increasing his flyball rate to 44% and hitting the ball hard 34% of the time, which would be a career high. That bodes well for his power output, but his 16.6% whiff rate might torpedo his ability to hit for average or get on base and steal.
Jurickson Profar (SS/OF, Texas Rangers): 2-6, R, 2 2B, 3 RBI – Jurickson Profar, Lord Admiral of the Glardok Intergalactic Army, flashed a little power in yesterday’s game, doubling twice. Profar has always paired below-average contact with high groundball rates, but he recently pulled his hard contact up to around 32%, which is about league average. It will be interesting to see if this is a permanent change.
Jose Peraza (SS, Cincinnati Reds): 2-4, 2 R, BB, 2 SB – There isn’t much of a difference between Peraza’s peripherals this year compared to last year, except that he’s swinging way more, even at pitches out of the strike zone. That’s not usually a recipe for success, but Peraza has parlayed it into a .296/.320/.720 slash line so far. The lack of stolen base attempts last year was disconcerting, but he now has five steals on the year and may get more of a green light now that he’s occasionally batting leadoff.
Wilmer Difo (SS/3B, Washington Nationals): 2-2, 3 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB – Not only was Difo excellent in Boondock Saints and Spider-Man, but he has been just what the doctor ordered for a Nationals team that has needed depth all around the infield this year. Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy are expected back soon, but fortunately Difo has a successful acting career to fall back on.
Delino Deshields (OF, Texas Rangers): 2-6, R, HR, RBI, SB – Delino Deshields desteals debases. Deshields now has four steals since returning from the DL a little over a week ago, and is hitting .300 over the past week.
Bryce Harper (OF, Washington Nationals): 1-3, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB – More like Bryce Walker, am I right? Harper has now walked 39 times this year. The record for most walks in a season is 232, a record held by Barry Bonds. The record for second-most is 198, held by some other guy named Barry Bonds; what a coincidence. Harper is currently pacing towards being only the second player to break that 200 walk plateau.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (2B, Texas Rangers): 4-6, R, HR, 2B, RBI – Nope, you didn’t just have a mind-sneeze, that’s actually this player’s name. I make fun of Kiner-Falefa a lot because, let’s be honest, there’s a lot to make fun of. But truthfully he’s held down the second base job admirably in Rougned Odor’s absence, slashing .294/.333/.775 this season with two homers and two steals.
Yoenis Cespedes (OF, New York Mets): 3-4, R, HR, RBI – Cespedes has been scorching hot over the past week, hitting .440 with three homers and two stolen bases. His 38% strikeout rate this year is still a major concern, but he tends to run hot and cold, and right now he’s white hot.