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Beware of La Pantera

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

Luis Robert (CWS): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Injuries have held back Luis Robert so far. Last year, a torn hip flexor de-railed his season after he had gotten off to a fantastic start. He missed some time last week with a tweaked groin, but, thankfully, he looks to have dodged anything too concerning. Last night, he swatted a 2-2 curveball from Nathan Eovaldi and sent it soaring over the Monster for a two-run shot that ended up being the difference.

Much like Byron Buxton, who hit his ninth last night, we can all hope and wonder what a full season from Robert looks like. So far, he’s slashing .265/.296/.485 through 68 PA. And that’s with five steals, so his production on the surface has been decent but not great. Not yet, at least.

But taking a look at what lies beneath is where things really get exciting. His 14.1% K rate is the first thing that catches my eye as that’s a noticeable bump down from last year’s 20.6%. And then there’s his 15.5% Barrels/PA%, which is fifth in baseball (50 BBE minimum), trailing only Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, and a couple of early-season heroes in Joc Pederson and Rowdy Tellez. His xBA of .361 is in the 99th percentile, and his .343 wOBA is juxtaposed by a 98th percentile .473 xwOBA. Brace yourselves.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:

 

Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

As far as baseball goes, nothing brings me more joy than seeing players come back from injuries and dominate. Last year we were treated to the brilliance of a fully healthy Shohei Ohtani. We are seeing it this year with Byron Buxton. And last night, we saw the Venezuelan star Ronald Acuña Jr. crush a 1-1 curveball from Eric Lauer and sent it into orbit to dead-center, a 450-foot blast. He swung so hard, he fell down too. Welcome back, Ronnie! How we’ve missed you. 

Edward Olivares (KC): PPD

Six rainouts last night, Woah! The Royals/Orioles game was one of them, but I just want to mention Olivares as he was penciled into the lineup as the Royals leadoff man for the fourth consecutive game, and it was also against a righty in Jordan Lyles, so it seems like he might get a chance to show what he can do it. Then again, if you’ve played in deep leagues the past couple of seasons, chances are you’re aware of the well-traveled Olivares. He slashed an underwhelming .238/.291/.406 last year in 39 games with the Royals but did swipe 12 bags and hit 15 home runs in 66 games with Triple-A Omaha last year, highlighting his intriguing potential. He could be worth an add if you’re in a 5 OF league.

Randy Arozarena (TB): 4-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI

This ended up being the game of the night, as both sides, including the Rays, who really made Logan Gilbert work last night, combined to bang out 24 hits. Arozarena’s four hits last night brought his average up to .233; however, he is surprisingly still empty in the home run column.

Jarren Duran (BOS): 1-4, 3B, R.

The Red Sox have really struggled offensively with a .279 team wOBA, 26th. Yikes. Anyways, Duran got the call-up and hit leadoff last night. The 25-year-old left-handed hitting Duran has been off to the races with a silly .397/.478/.638 slash in 15 games with the Woo Sox this year—with 7 steals too! The Red Sox could certainly use the offensive versatility. I think you have to be very interested in Duran given his speed and the start he was off to in Triple-A.

Taylor Ward (LAA): 0-1, R, 3 BB.

This guy. Again!? Three more walks for the amazing Mr. Ward as he is now rocking a .488 OBP. Not bad, considering your league leader among qualifiers in OBP is Manny Machado at .458. Sure, he’s unheralded, but then again, so was Max Muncy, and yes, I’m aware he’s hitting .151, but you get the point. Hitting leadoff in front of Trout and Ohtani, it’s awfully hard not to love Ward’s outlook the rest of the way.

Eugenio Suárez (SEA): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.

The Seattle third baseman was a one-man wrecking crew last night. His first shot came in the first, a two-run bullet down the line that landed in the second deck just below the ‘Edgar’s’ sign in left. And he hit his second in the ninth, a solo job the opposite way to right-center to bring the Mariners within a run. The big night brings his slash to .219/.318/.490. While the average isn’t going to help, his walk rate is up a bit to 12.7% this year. Do you think he’s happy to be out of Cincinnati?

Jarred Kelenic did not start last night for the second game in a row. However, he did hit a pinch-hit, go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth. Kelenic has so far really struggled in year two with a 37% K rate and a .273 xwOBA. But at the very least, it’s nice to see him get on the board with what was a big home run at a critical point in last night’s game. It will be very interesting to see how the Mariners handle their outfield with Kyle Lewis nearing a return as he continues his rehab assignment. And for Julio Rodrígueztwo more hard hits. I know his K rate is at 34.6%. But, most projections have him right around 25% the rest of the way. Considering he’s already got nine steals and that his AEV on FB/LD is 99.7, which is third behind Aaron Judge and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., it’s not hard to see superstar potential once he gets more comfortable. Mariner fans could be in for a really fun summer.

Ha-Seong Kim (SD): 0-3, 1 BB.

We mentioned Kim here last week, and last night, while he didn’t show much in the box score, he did hit second for the Padres. And it was against a righty too in Sandy Alcantara, and it seems to have corresponded with a shift down in the lineup for Trent Grisham, who has slashed a dreadful .167/.292/.413. Kim is worth keeping an eye on, given his track record in the KBO, which included multiple 20/20 type seasons before his journey stateside last year.

Pavin Smith (ARI): 1-2, R, 2 BB.

OK, maybe not the most exciting profile in the world given the lack of speed and a .234 xBA. But if you’re in an OBP league, Smith, who was selected seventh overall by the D-Backs in 2017, could be worth keeping an eye on. Last night he hit second against the righty Chad Kuhl and continued to show a proficient eye at the plate with two walks. So far, he’s shown a 22.8% chase rate along with an 11% walk rate and a plenty reasonable 23.2% K rate, so the plate skills are there. Some legitimate power could really add some interest, but on that note, his 12.2% Barrel/PA might provide some hope.

Also of note for the D-Backs last night, Josh Rojas (1-3, R, BB) made his return to the lineup last night from an oblique injury that cost him the first month of the season and hit fifth. Traded from the Astros as part of the Zack Greinke deal, the versatile Rojas should play mostly at 3B and is also 2B, SS, and OF eligible on Yahoo. Most projection systems have the lefty hitter pegged for something along the lines of 10 SB and 10 HR the rest of the way, so he could certainly fit a need in deep leagues.

Rowdy Tellez (MIL): 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI.

Another two hits and another two RBI for the former Blue Jay. The big lefty has helped give the Brewers some much-needed middle-of-the-order pop. There’s a lot to like with Tellez right now, including a .282 average, .968 OPS, and an exceptional 14.8% barrel/PA. One of the potential concerns with Tellez may have been losing time to lefties, it’s a possibility for sure, but on that note, he actually hasn’t shown as wide of a platoon split for his career as you might’ve otherwise guessed; a .763 OPS against LHP and .794 OPS against RHP. 

José Miranda (MIN): 1-3, HR, R, RBI.

Miranda busted out last year with a .343/ .397/ .563 slash across 80 games with Triple-A St. Paul. He’s an aggressive hitter who has shown an exceptional ability to make contact. The righty’s first career home run came last night in the second on a 3-1 pitch from Zach Logue, a 404-foot blast to left. He should get an extended audition with Miguel Sanó on the shelf and is a potential CI option for deep leagues.

Royce Lewis, the Twins’ first overall pick from the 2017 Draft, made his debut last night and collected his first career hit in the eighth on a nice piece of hitting as he slashed an outside pitch from Kirby Snead for a solid, line-drive single the other way to right. Carlos Correa looks to have avoided a major injury, so this could be nothing more than a cup of coffee for Lewis.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

 

Ryan Amore

Writer for PL, artist, DFS enthusiast, and occasional Yankee fan. Once won a GPP with Henderson Alvarez. A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club. Appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

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