Jesse Winker (CIN): 4-4, 3 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB.
New rule: If Jesse Winker is leading off an inning, just don’t pitch to him. Milwaukee pitchers would have faired a bit better if they had employed that simple strategy last night as Winker found himself leading off four of the five innings he made a trip to the plate, scorching a ball over 100 mph off the bat in each. Winker led off the bottom of the 3rd, 5th, and 8th innings with solo blasts, setting the stage for the Reds’ 9-4 victory over the Brewers on Friday.
Sure, it’s not even Memorial Day, but Winker is making a case for NL MVP honors with his performance thus far, leading the league with a 188 wRC+, .356 AVG, and a .664 SLG, while putting up the fourth-most runs (31), now third-most home runs (11), and third-best OBP (.416). Sure, he’s doing all this with the league’s second-highest BABIP (.394), but his 53% hard-hit rate is earning him much of that. Let’s see if the ride continues as the season progresses and the weather starts warming up at Great American Small Park.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday
Brandon Lowe (TB): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB.
Brandon Lowe is back! Ok, let’s dial that back a little bit. Brandon Lowe is doing better. Ok, that’s better. Lowe has been one of the bigger disappointments this season but has started to see a bit of a turnaround in the past two weeks, capping it off with this two home run performance Friday. In his last 11 games (9 starts), Lowe is slashing .270/.404/.622 to go with a 17% walk rate and four home runs.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB.
Turns out, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is good at baseball. Who knew? The single walk of the game evens out with his strikeouts on the season, with both rates sitting at 14.9% on the season and he second in baseball with a 197 wRC+ on the season, behind only Mike Trout‘s 198.
Marcus Semien (TOR): 3-6, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB.
Marcus Semien continues his recent tear with a three-hit performance for the Jays. After ending April with a slash of .211/.290/.368, Semien has collected 30 hits through 86 trips to the plate in the month of May thus far, with over half of those hits going for extra bases, raising his season-long slash to .287/.352/.540 in the process. Semien has now batted leadoff for the Jays in every game since May 4th and should continue to perform there for the foreseeable future, especially with George Springer still not close to returning.
Chad Pinder (OAK): 3-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Chad Pinder has now started for the Athletics in six of their last seven games and has seen time at four different positions in that time, switching between left field, second base, shortstop, and third base. Pinder has taken full advantage of the added playing time, collecting six hits in his last 20 plate appearances, including three doubles and a home run. The versatile Pinder should continue to see time all around the diamond for Oakland, giving him the ability to build upon his 22% barrel rate and 77% hard-hit rate in his so far limited run on the season.
Jake Cronenworth (SD): 3-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
Cronenworth started the game off slow but made up for it later in the game as he joined the Padres’ hit parade Friday night with three hard-hit balls, each coming off the bat over 107 mph and all coming after his third trip to the plate, capping it off with his 408 foot shot in the seventh inning, the longest hit ball in the game. Cronenworth now owns a modest eight-game hitting streak as he splits time between second base and first base for San Diego, consistently sitting in the 3-spot of the Padres’ lineup through the past seven games.
Ramón Laureano (OAK): 4-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB.
What a difference a game can have for a hitter in May. The four-hit performance raised Laureano’s season-long wRC+ 15 points while bringing his slash up from .237/.310/.487 to a more respectable .256/.330/.525. It may be worth noting that even with eight stolen bases on the season, Laureano hasn’t successfully added to that total in over a month, with all eight coming in the first two weeks of the season.
Miguel Cabrera (DET): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Miguel Cabrera has now started more games at first base (16) than he has at DH (12) for the Tigers and he’s still standing. Sort of. Sure, he missed some time in mid/late April, but since returning he’s only missed two games. That’s not to say his time on the field has been productive per se, as these two home runs hit on Friday represent half of 2021 total thus far and his three hits raise his season-long slash line to just .204/.287/.330. With the Tigers not worried about competing for a playoff spot, let’s hope they don’t do to Miggy what the Angels did to Albert Pujols at the end of his contract.
Austin Riley (ATL): 3-4, 1 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Add another name on the long list of multi-home run performances Friday. Austin Riley extends his on-base streak to eight and hit streak to six, with half of his last eight games ending with lines that included multiple hits on the day. Riley has a gorgeous 3-4-5 slash line through the season thus far and should be able to add to his somewhat disappointing 15 RBI total as he continues to perform in the middle portion of the Atlanta lineup.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD): 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB.
Yes, Fernando Tatis Jr. is also very good at this game. The combo meal was his third of the season and second in as many games.