Batter’s Box: Wilson, a Trey Anastasio Tale
Wilson Ramos has been walking up to bat to the tune of Wilson by Phish for quite a while now. The chords are strummed and the crowd screams Wilson, announcing time for one of the more feared hitting catchers to come to the plate. Sadly, that has not been the case this year. I’ve been told my celebrity doppelganger is Trey Anastasio, lead singer and guitarist for Phish, and I would be a spitting image if only I grew my hair out a few more inches and aged a good 20 years. I feel it only fitting for me to sing you the tale of Wilson’s 2019 season.
It has been a rough start to the 2019 season for Ramos. Before May 24th he had been hitting .250 with two home runs and a 78 wRC+. The New York Mets added him in the offseason as a much needed righty power bat in the middle of the lineup. Ramos has been nothing close to that. He’s getting on base some and hitting a few singles here and there, but his OBP up to the 24th had been higher than his slugging. That is not what you want from any hitter, let alone a middle of the order bat. Ramos has been topping the ball at an alarming 50%, generating 61.3% ground balls, which leads the league. Having a middle-order guy to hit only 20% fly balls will lead to many missed opportunities. However, the last two games have been different and maybe an omen for things to come. Yesterday, Ramos produced the following: 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB. The night before, he had another home run. He also has had a multi-hit game in his last four starts behind the plate. Many fantasy owners drafted him for his average and power, which is a rare commodity at catcher. If someone was too quick to drop him in your league, go ahead and scoop him back up.
Let’s head over to the rest of the games and go fishing for some good hitters.
Whit Merrifield (1B/2B/OF, Kansas City Royals)—Game 1: 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. Game 2: 1-3, R, BB. We are seeing more of 2018 Whit Merrifield in 2019 which is a great thing. That is 30% line drive Whit Merrifield, hitting to each zone of the field 33% of the time. He’s stealing bases too, but he’s also hitting a few more home runs. His HR/FB is almost double last year’s. He has a much better shot at his first 20/20 season, or even 30/30.
CJ Cron (1B, Minnesota Twins)—2-3, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. Cron is at it again, but this time without a home run. Check back for a Going Deep by Ben Palmer this afternoon for a deep dive into Cron’s early season success and why the Angels made a grave mistake letting him go.
Tucker Barnhart (C/1B, Cincinnati Reds)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Coming into the year, Barnhart was an interesting later-round catcher pick if you missed on the “good” catchers. He put up okay catcher numbers last season and was in a decent offense, while getting north of 500 PAs (astronomical for a catcher). He’s on pace for about the same, if not better, counting stats; however, he can’t seem to get a hit—currently batting under .200. He is swinging and missing more resulting in more strikeouts, especially against non-fastballs.
Addison Russell (2B/SS, Chicago Cubs)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. Russell found his way back to the Cubs lineup early in May and has played okay—pretty similar to what we have seen in the past. He has been hitting the ball decently hard, but has been hitting them into the ground almost 60% of the time. His playing time will all depend on if Ben Zobrist returns.
Hunter Renfroe (OF, San Diego Padres)—4-6, 4 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, SB. Renfroe followed up Friday’s homer with a couple more yesterday, reaching 14 on the year. His batted-ball profile matches last year’s to a T. The major difference is his HR/FB ratio, which has spiked over 11 percentage points. He has 40 home run power, but it just depends on playing time with that crowded outfield. With how he’s hitting the ball, it’s hard to say no. Be wary though, that spike in HR/FB can drop down closer to where it was last year. And he’s significantly outperforming his expected stats.
Wil Myers (3B/OF, San Diego Padres)—2-2, 4 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB. Myers also homered twice in the Padres’ romp of the Blue Jays. It has been an interesting May for Myers, as his strikeout rate is nearly 36% and his batting average is .204, but his OPS is still .800 with a 120 wRC+. The strikeout rate is worrisome, as he is making a ton less contact in and out of the zone.
Ketel Marte (2B/SS/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, RBI, BB. Marte kept the hot streak going with his fourth multi-hit game in the past five contests, including his second homer in as many days. He looks to be turning it back on again, so if you need to fill in one of his many positions and he is out on the wire, he can be picked up.
Domingo Santana (OF, Seattle Mariners)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Just when I was contemplating dropping him for another outfielder in my league, he pulled me back in with a two homer night—both over 400 feet. Before last night, he had pretty mediocre stat line for May, with only two home runs and a .341 BABIP supporting a low .239 batting average. He’s still meeting is expected stats for the season, so you may not want to be as hasty as me in thinking of dropping him yet.
Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, SB. Hoskins looks to be breaking out of a strong two-week slump where he hit .137 but still managed to walk almost 20% of the time. He’s now popped a couple homers in the last couple games and snagged his first stolen base of the year. For the season, he has outperformed his expected stats by quite a bit, and has been getting under the ball too much. Don’t be surprised if some more trouble spots arise for Hoskins this year. Even so, he’s still a great hitter.
Jonathan Villar (2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Villar isn’t being as prolific on the base paths this season, as some were hoping for a return to his 2016 form. He is not getting on base as much as you may want for more stolen base opportunities either. Despite this, he is still putting up great counting stat totals overall, especially in the run category.
Nolan Arenado (3B, Colorado Rockies)—3-4, R, HR, 2B, 5 RBI. Arenado hit another ding-dong doodle with his bing-bong bat for his 200th of his career. There’s not much else to say about Arenado. He’s pretty good.
Kole Calhoun (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—3-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Calhoun is in that club of players that is playing decently well to start the year, but I look at them and all I can do is shrug. He’s hitting the ball hard and isn’t hitting as many grounders as last year. His HR/FB looks to be a bit inflated though. He still performing in line with his expected stats. I wouldn’t consider him until he turns it up one more notch.
(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)