Better Call Paul

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday’s games.

In the film Mad Max, the main character drives a car with a special engine that he can kick into overdrive. Like a video game, when he’s in hot pursuit, Max will thump the button and the car gets a burst of speed. The car was already fast, but now it’s a rocket ship.

That is also a description of Paul Goldschmidt. He’s pushed some button. He’s getting better and better. He owns the Thunderdome.

Yesterday, he went 3-5 with 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, and a BB. The first home run came off Sean Newcomb in the sixth inning. The second one came off Kerwin Castro in the eighth inning. His OPS for the entire season is 1.057, but get this: In the last two weeks, his OPS is 1.262.

That’s other-worldly.

Goldschmidt has clobbered six homers in his last 51 at-bats. That’s one home run for every 8.5 at-bats. This means that if you went to a St. Louis game and he didn’t hit a home run, you should go the next night…because he will.

If the season were to end today (and it is late August), Goldschmidt would finish with a career-high average (.339), SLG (.637), wOBA (.448), and wRC+ (195). His BB% has increased from 2021, going from 9.9% to 12%, so this supports the idea that patience leads to good things (though see my Schwarber blurb below before you conclude anything on this subject).

Of course, I like to search through the numbers to find glaring differences in his approach. The thing is that Goldschmidt is a perennial All-Star caliber player. Most of his underlying stats don’t look that different from other amazing seasons. However, it might be worth noting that he also has the highest BABIP (.382) of his career.

Well, okay, it was exactly the same way back in 2017.

That was the second-best season of his career. So perhaps we’re seeing some good fortune, but that could also just mean he’s consistently putting himself in good situations.

Here’s to several more weeks of fun in the sun watching Paul Goldschmidt lead St. Louis.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday.

Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

I will admit that I started watching this game last night (Phillies vs. Reds) and switched over to the Boston game after the first inning. I’m no scout, but I was frustrated to watch Schwarber being too patient. In that at-bat, Schwarber saw six pitches and didn’t take the bat off his shoulder once. I get it. He’s a power-hitter, so we should deal with this approach (I suppose). But he’s quickly turning into the new Joey Gallo (of yore). The last pitch he saw in that first frame was a fastball right in his wheelhouse. You could see him want to punish it, but some Jimmy-the-Cricket conscience told him in a soft-whisper: chicks dig walks. Then of course after I turned the game off, I got a notification: Schwarber hit a home run. So in his very next at-bat, he understood what Justin Dunn was doing and made him pay. So what do I know?! He was just studying the guy! His line is now .213/.314/.493. That 35th homer is great, but man that .213 hurts.

Josh Donaldson (NYY): 3-5, 2 2B, 4 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Batting cleanup for the Yankees, the 36-year-old third baseman charged the offense last night, contributing to seven of their thirteen runs. The power numbers are disappearing at this point in his career, and his .224/.307/.389 will likely be the lowest mark of his career. Donaldson is starting to pull the ball a little more; he’s slicing considerably fewer pitches to the opposite field. Still, he can be a menace in the middle of the lineup.

Manuel Margot (TB): 4-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Margot is now hitting .305/.365/.433 on the season. Those are standout numbers, and in fact, they’re career-best numbers. Plus, he bats second in the lineup, so if he stays healthy, he could offer plenty of opportunities if you’re looking for a solid average. Margot is only owned in 19% of Yahoo leagues, but he can contribute in all categories. One important number is his line-drive rate. He owned an 18.2% LD% last year, but this year that number is nearly 24%. Those ropes show that he is driving the ball with authority.

Mitch Haniger (SEA): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

It was a walk, a bloop, and a blast to start the Seattle/Cleveland game yesterday afternoon. That’s all they would score for the whole game, but it’s also all the Mariners would need to secure a victory. That’s Haniger’s fourth home run in 67 at-bats. He has 21 hits in that same time frame, giving him an outstanding .313 BA. It was a Triston McKenzie slider, but it was center-cut. McKenzie had just checked the runner at second (Julio Rodríguez) before he threw the pitch, so it’s possible that the runners changed the game (which they so often do). But hey, you still need a hitter at the plate who can take advantage, and Haniger did just that.

Shea Langeliers (OAK): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

The young catcher was batting in the fifth spot last night. In the past week, he has batted 5th, 7th, and 2nd in the Oakland lineup. Jameson Taillon was the victim here. He hurled a slider that ended up middle-in, and Langeliers tattooed it. Yup, it went 418 feet. It was a bomb. In his brief time in the majors, the 24-year-old catcher is hitting .294/.306/.647. Langeliers was a Round 1 pick by the Braves in 2019, and I’m sure Oakland is excited to have him. He was part of the package that sent Olson to Atlanta back in March. In that trade, Oakland received Shea Langeliers, Cristian Pache, Ryan Cusick, and Joey Estes.

Anthony Santander (BAL): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

It was easy to forget Santander started yesterday’s game by not letting Lance Lynn get settled in. He hit a two-run homer off Lynn during the first inning. Why might we forget this? Well because Santander would finish the game with a walk-off single in the 11th inning, handing Jake Diekman the loss. So he was a force yesterday, helping to score most of the Baltimore runs. He’s now batting .260/.337/.457. In the last month, Santander has been heating up, managing a .315 BA and a solid .898 OPS.

Ian Happ (CHC): 3-4, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI.

The Cubs may have lost 3-8 against the Cardinals yesterday, but Happ was a bright spot (as he often is). He was batting out of the cleanup spot, and his two doubles helped to score most of the Chicago runs. Happ is now batting .278/.351/.449. It’s hard to believe he’s only 28 years old, especially if you’re a Cubs fan (because it feels like Happ has been around for ages). It’s likely that Happ will end the season with career-high runs and RBI numbers. But his approach shows a nearly 6% decrease in strikeouts. He’s really turning in a solid effort.

Trey Mancini (HOU): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Mancini is owned in 73% of Yahoo leagues, so if he happens to be available in your league and you need power and RBI out of 1B/OF, then he might be worth picking up. If you’ve forgotten, Mancini is now playing for Houston, and in last night’s 6-3 victory against Minnesota, he took Chris Archer deep in the first inning. The 30-year-old is batting .263/.334/.428 on the season, and he’s hit homers in back-to-back games. He’s hit three homers in the last six games that he’s played.

Pete Alonso (NYM): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Ryan Feltner surely felt that one…har har. The Rockies pitcher gave up a two-run blast to Alonso in the third inning of yesterday’s 3-1 victory for the Mets. It was his 31st homer of the season. In the last two weeks, Alonso has been slumping a little. In 52 at-bats, he’s got two long balls and a .609 OPS. But on the season, his BA is .272 with an .870 OPS. That’s some impressive production. Hopefully, tonight’s homer will see him powering up for the stretch run.

Jorge Polanco (MIN): 1-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.

Polanco hit a homer last night! Excellent. Okay, so I traded him in most of my leagues. I was just feeling like I had plenty of replacement players to choose from. To be fair, yesterday’s homer was only his second since the break. In the last month, he’s batting .214. On the season, he’s batting .238. This seems like a far cry from his 2021 BA of .269. Something is up here. But last night he got the Twins on the board in the first inning with the solo shot.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Josh Thusat

Joshua is a professor of English, but he's also an avid baseball fan who puts his research skills to work for fantasy baseball gamers. In addition to Pitcher List, Josh writes for FantasyPros. He teaches in the Chicagoland area.

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