Can You Bring Me My Chapstick?

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

Matt Chapman (TOR): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

One of the hottest hitters in baseball kept on slugging last night, as Matt Chapman put up a 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB line in the Blue Jays’ 5-3 win over the Tigers. The 29-year-old third baseman homered in back-to-back at-bats, first in the fourth inning off of Tyler Alexander and then later in the sixth inning off of Angel De Jesus.

It was Toronto’s fifth win in six games since the All-Star break, and Chapman has been a big factor in the team’s hot start to the second half. He has a hit in each of those six games, including four multi-hit performances. Chapman’s current hot stretch has his batting line up to .245/.322/.466 with 18 home runs, 54 RBI, and a 119 wRC+ in his first season north of the border.

Toronto’s new third baseman has done a great job cutting down his strikeout rate as a Blue Jay. After two straight seasons in which he struck out over 30% of the time, he’s dropped the strikeout rate to 25.9%, fixing the biggest issue that led to back-to-back disappointing seasons at the plate.

While his offensive game has recovered, his defense has sharply declined. Statcast’s Outs Above Average had always rated Chapman as one of the best fielders in baseball – from 2017-2021, his 48 OAA was the second-most among third basemen, trailing only Nolan Arenado. This year, however, Chapman’s OAA is a lowly -1.

Defensive metrics are notoriously noisy, so putting too much stock into them – especially a small half-season sample – can be dangerous. The Blue Jays are surely happy that Chapman’s offensive game is back on track after two down seasons, and I’m sure they’re expecting those defensive metrics to follow suit.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday:

Jesús Aguilar (MIA): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI.

The Marlins took down the Reds 7-5 in Cincinnati on Thursday in large part due to Aguilar’s bat. The big-bopping designated hitter homered in the third inning on a Graham Ashcraft cutter and later collected a single and double against the Reds’ starter. In the final frame, Aguilar added an insurance run with a clutch sac fly to push the Marlins’ lead to two runs. Aguilar’s produced at a level that’s below league average according to his 98 wRC+ which is the lowest it’s been since 2019.

Xander Bogaerts (BOS): 1-2, HR, R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB.

Bogaerts stuffed the stat sheet in the Red Sox 4-2 win over the Guardians last night, reaching base three times, homering, collecting three RBI, and swiping two bags. There’s really nothing Bogaerts can’t do – he’s now hitting .318/.393/.463, good for a .373 wOBA. The Red Sox shortstop has already accumulated 4.1 fWAR and is on pace to break his career record of 5.9 from his stellar 2019 season.

Alex Bregman (HOU): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

In the first inning of an AL West matchup in Houston, Logan Gilbert left a slider right over the heart of the plate. That’s something you shouldn’t do when facing a hitter as good as Bregman. He deposited that pitch 384 feet into the left field stands giving the Astros an early lead in their eventual 4-2 victory. Bregman’s batting line is at .241/.349/.422 with 13 home runs. If you’re playing in a fantasy league with a manager that’s disappointed in the lack of power because they still think of Bregman as the 41-homer guy he was in 2019, he’d be great to target via trade if you need third base help. He’s especially valuable in points or OBP leagues.

Trea Turner (LAD): 3-4, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI, SB.

The Dodgers played in Coors Field last night and the Rockies started José Ureña. That’s probably all you need to know to understand how Turner and so many of his teammates put up impressive lines last night. Turner’s hitting .312/.356/.504, and has 15 home runs, 72 RBI, and 18 stolen bases. He’s setting himself up for a HUGE payday when he hits free agency this winter.

Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

The Phillies reigned supreme in last night’s battle for Pennsylvania, downing the Pirates 7-5. Schwarber got in on the action by hitting his 32nd home run of the season 406 feet off of Zach Thompson in the sixth inning, matching his longball total from last year. The Bryce Harper-less Phillies will certainly need him to keep up his breakneck pace to stay afloat in the NL Wild Card race.

Cal Mitchell (PIT): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Mitchell was one of the only Pirates that could touch Zack Wheeler last night. The Phillies’ ace only gave up three hits all night, and two of them came off the bat of Mitchell – a fifth-inning single and seventh-inning home run. In his first 118 MLB plate appearances, Mitchell’s slashing just .216/.254/.342. He never showed big power in the minor leagues, but he made up for it with strong plate discipline. In Triple-A this year, Mitchell struck out just 15% of the time. That number has jumped up to 24.6% at the big league level, so until he can start replicating those minor league strikeout numbers, he’s not worth a roster spot on your fantasy team.

Kevin Newman (PIT): 2-4, 3B, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.

Newman is pretty much the exact opposite of this era’s prototypical MLB player. In 116 plate appearances this year, he doesn’t have a single home run, let alone even one barrel. He did collect two hard hits last night, singling in the first and then tripling to the left-field gap in the Pirates’ 5-run ninth. A strong 2019 season brought Newman some fantasy intrigue when he hit .308 with 12 home runs and 16 steals, but that was a long time ago. In 221 games since then, he’s hitting just .229 with six home runs and nine steals.

Trey Mancini (BAL): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Amidst nonstop trade rumors, Mancini was able to quiet the noise and collect two hits yesterday, including an eighth-inning home run in what may very well have been his final at-bat as an Oriole at Camden Yards. The veteran slugger is hitting .271/.346/.411 this year, and although yesterday’s home run was just his 10th of the season, a lot of that may be due to Baltimore’s new outfield dimensions. Mancini’s player page on BaseballSavant estimates he’d have 20 or more home runs if he played his home games in seven other ballparks and 15 or more home runs in 21 other ballparks.

Aaron Judge (NYY): 1-3, HR, R, RBI, BB, SB.

You couldn’t script it any better. Yankee Stadium. Tie game. Bottom of the ninth. Aaron Judge at the plate. You already know how that’s going to play out. Judge put a Scott Barlow fastball into orbit, hitting it 431 feet. It was the longest homer of the night, and Judge’s 39th of the season. Thursday’s win was the Yankees’ 12th walk-off in 50 home games.

Tommy Pham (CIN): 3-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI.

Pham’s three-hit day yesterday marked his third multi-hit showing over his past four games. The 34-year-old left fielder’s batting line is at .245/.325/.385 to go along with 11 home runs and seven stolen bases. If you need an outfielder who can do a little bit of everything, he’s available in about 50% of both Yahoo! and ESPN leagues. Pham’s on a one-year deal with a team option for 2023, so he’s certainly a trade deadline target for a contender, as long as they’re ready for him to meticulously pour over his fantasy football rulebook with the new season quickly approaching.

Tyler Naquin (CIN): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Thursday was a great day for Naquin as he blasted his seventh home run of the season in the sixth inning of the Reds’ loss to the Marlins and then was traded to the Mets later in the evening. Homering AND being dealt from one of baseball’s worst teams to one the best on the same day? That’s tough to beat.

Corey Seager (TEX): 3-3, 2B, RBI.

Facing Shohei Ohtani is no easy feat right now, but Seager made it look easy last night. He collected all three of his hits against the Angels’ two-way superstar. Seager’s had an incredible month of July, hitting .318/.412/.647 with eight home runs. Unfortunately, Seager had to leave the game after fouling a ball off his right leg in the fifth inning. He was still able to finish the at-bat and hit a double, but he didn’t come back out for the sixth inning. Fingers crossed it’s a minor issue.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from fantasy leagues to the legitimate defensive prowess of Kyle Schwarber as a left fielder. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

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