Jake Burger (CWS): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
White Sox rookie Jake Burger went 2-4 with a pair of extra-base hits, runs, and runs driven in on Saturday, mashing his first big league homer in Chicago’s 10-1 demolition of Houston. Running an exit velo of nearly 116 MPH, his first ding dong was a 456 moonshot against Austin Pruitt that raised his batting average to an even .400 through nine games since being recalled from Triple-A Charlotte. One of the year’s best and quietest feel-good stories, Burger was the 11th overall pick in the 2017 first-year draft but was nearly driven to retirement due to numerous injuries and rehab setbacks. He’s now posted an OPS of over 1.000 In 51 games between Chicago and Charlotte this season despite entering this season having not played a single game of affiliated ball since 2017.
With injured utility man Jake Lamb on the mend, Burger may ultimately wind up back in Charlotte sooner rather than later, but it’s hard to consider his first stint in the majors anything but a rousing success, and a reminder that he was once considered possibly the best power hitter in what turned out to be a somewhat disappointing top of the 2017 draft. He hit nearly .350 with 43 home runs and 114 driven in over his final two seasons at Missouri State, and with the White Sox seemingly dealing with a logjam at the corner infield spots, he may find himself as an unexpectedly attractive trade chip for an organization that will look to an already-depleted farm system to help them make additions at the forthcoming deadline.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday
Freddie Freeman (ATL): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
The 2020 NL MVP is finally starting to heat up after a sluggish first couple of months to the season, slashing .390/.458/.650 over his last 32 games. Saturday’s chip-in to Atlanta’s 9-0 shutout of Tampa Bay brings him to 34 HR, 107 RBI, and an even 100 walks since the start of last season, setting himself up for yet another hefty payday as he plays out the last year of the contract extension he signed nearly a decade ago.
Max Muncy (LAD): 4-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
Muncy and the Dodgers offense did not mess around on Saturday, with the not-so-recently-drafted version of Muncy popping a season-high five runs batted and his first multi-homer game of 2021, the fifth of his career. Muncy has already been racking up counting stats this year, but with a barrel rate in the top 5% of the league and career-bests in exit velocity and most other batted ball metrics, his .278 batting average almost feels a bit low; as one of three players (Soto, Santana) sill with more walks than strikeouts, a bit more batted-ball luck could see this season blossom into an MVP-caliber campaign.
Mookie Betts (LAD): 4-4, 3 2B, HR, 3 R, RBI.
All those RBI have to come from somewhere, and Betts did his part on Saturday, stroking four hits from the leadoff spot, all for extra bases. It’s the thirteenth time since his debut in 2014 that Betts has posted 10+ total bases in a single game. Nelson Cruz is the only other player to reach double-digits, followed by Nolan Arenado in third. After an inexplicably cold open to the season, we’re finally catching some snatches of the old Mookie lately, smoking six doubles, five homers, and a triple since June 25th.
Jacob Stallings (PIT): 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.
Stallings’ flair for the dramatic picked up in a big way on Saturday, hitting his second walk-off homer of the season, this one a wall-scraping grand slam against Edwin Díaz to stun the Mets and turn a six-run deficit into a 9-7 victory. The towering fly ball traveled just 346 feet and had a minuscule 3% hit probably, with only six home runs hit all season checking in any lower. The 31-year old has already earned the most playing time of his career in 2021, and a career-best 105 wRC+ combined with stellar defense already has him at 1.8 fWAR, eighth among all catchers.
J.D. Davis (NYM): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
Stallings ruined what otherwise would have been a triumphant return to the field for J.D. Davis, who celebrated his first full-game action since April with a 3-for-4 night that included his third and fourth homers of the season. Immediately slotted into the three-hole for a perpetually beat-up Mets offense, Davis will be counted on to be a major run-producer in the middle of the order for the remainder of the season, particularly with Francisco Lindor seemingly set to miss significant time with an oblique strain.
Tim Anderson (CWS): 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Though he’s still displaying reduced power this season—Saturday’s opposite-field home run was just his seventh of the season after hitting 28 combined between 2019 and 2020—Anderson has quietly climbed back up to what’s become his usual spot near the top of the batting average leaderboard, raising it to .316 after his most recent three-hit performance. He’s now got a career-high 14-game hitting streak in which he’s hit .375 and slugged .550 while recording three or more hits in four of his last eight games. Saturday was the 32nd such game of his since the start of the 2019 season, one behind Charlie Blackmon for the most in baseball during that span.
Willson Contreras (CHC): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
One of the few Cubs not seemingly on the trading block, Contreras was the difference-maker in Chicago’s 4-2 win in the desert last night, with his 400-foot blast against Joakim Soria in the ninth inning setting the Cubs up for their 46th win of the season. The 29-year old’s home run stroke has returned after last season’s mysterious power outage. Though his .431 slugging is still low by his standards, he remains well-above-average with the stick given the hellishly low offensive bar at the catcher position.
Paul Goldschmidt (STL): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
The subject of a recent Going Deep from our own Carlos Marcano, Goldschmidt took another step towards righting his early-season struggles on Saturday, hitting what turned out to be a game-winning two-run homer against Anthony DeSclafani and raising his own hitting streak to 12 games in the process, a span in which he’s hitting over .400 with five home runs and 15 driven in. The 33-year old has once again been more above-average than great in 2021 after a bounceback 2020, but he’s still one of the league’s most dangerous hitters when hot, and is worth keeping an eye on the rest of the year.
Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)