Hunter Dozier (KC): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
In 2019, Hunter Dozier leaped into the scene with a 26 HR season. However, since that breakout, the production has been diminishing. His 2019 123 wRC+ fell to 104 in 2020 and below replacement level in 2021 (82). This led many to conclude that he was a one-hit-wonder or benefactor of the juiced ball. Wherever you stood on Dozier, you might need to re-think your stance.
After last night’s 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, and BB performance, his wRC+ sits at a respectable 118. Furthermore, he’s cut the K-rate back to 22.6% and maintained a near 10% barrel rate. As a Dozier-truther, it’s refreshing to see him back and producing. While he’s always been a bit of a free swinger and the 35% O-Swing continues to push boundaries, the main reason to gush over Dozier is his zone contact. At 88.8%, it’s the highest it’s been since his 2019 breakout, and likely a big part of him getting back on track.
Since we’re nearly at the halfway point, it’s good to glance at where players could finish. The conglomerate of projection systems has Dozier somewhere around another ten HRs while chipping in a few SBs. If all falls right, that’ll make for a 20 HR and five-ish SB season with a .250 batting average. Yes, the counting stats are a bit slight because of the lack of offense in KC, but that’s a very flavorful player, in my opinion.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Wednesday.
Jorge Polanco (MIN): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
Have a night Jorge Polanco! Well, have two nights even! In his last seven ABs, he’s plated three dingers. Heck. Since July 1st, he’s notched four HRs and brought the season-long watermark to 12. While he’s not considered a power maven, the Twins’ infielder has an affinity for the long ball. Strip away the shortened 2020 season, and Polanco has 67 HRs over 1465 ABs. That’s impressive for a player you’re not necessarily drafting for power.
Aaron Judge (NYY): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB, SB.
Well, not much more we can say about Judge these days. His HR puts him three tallies ahead of second place on the leaderboard, and he even swiped a bag. He’s on pace to smash 50 HRs and swipe over ten bags. The only thing that appears to be stopping the Yankees’ slugger is a night off or rain because he’s laid waste to pitching. If he keeps up this production, at least there will be some fun debates on whom will take home the MVP award.
Jake Meyers (HOU): 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI.
Houston has needed an everyday centerfielder in the worst way, and they may have waited to fill that role with Meyers instead of a free agent for a reason. Due to injury, Meyers didn’t make an appearance this season until June 24th. Since then, he’s showing a .768 OPS with 12 hits in 30 ABs. More importantly, he’s starting nearly every day. The batting average will likely come down to Earth because he strikes out at a higher clip than most, but the power+speed combo with solid batted ball qualities will play. Lastly, practically no one is rostering him in Yahoo leagues. You know what to do if you’ve got deep benches or five-OF slots in deeper leagues.
Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
In last night’s 11 punchout gem, Josiah Gray had answers for every hitter…except Kyle Schwarber. After two breakers outside the zone in the fourth inning, his 2-0 changeup was blasted into right field. Then, Gray’s 2-1 offering in the sixth inning was pounded into the right-field bleachers. When all was said and done, Schwarber finished the night by raising his HR total to 27 – second-most in the MLB. The Phillies will need more nights like this one after the loss of slugger Bryce Harper.
Brandon Nimmo (NYM): 3-5, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.
We are inching closer to the mid-point of the season, and there is plenty of actionable takeaways for Nimmo’s success. For starters, he’s starting vs. left-handed pitchers every day. Since his return from injury on May 31st, Nimmo has leadoff for 31 games, with 15 started by southpaws. Why is that so significant? In the early years of Nimmo’s career, he struck out a bit too much and made lousy contact. However, in 2022, he’s touting a .358 wOBA and 137 wRC+ vs. LHP.
Randy Arozarena (TB): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Randy’s ninth-inning solo shot was the nail in the coffin as the Rays secured their 45th victory. However, he didn’t add to his beastly stolen base total (18) or his unsavory caught stealing total (7). He does a little bit of everything, including cutting his strike-out rate. Now, he draws a bit of fire for his wild style of play (cough cough, the seven times caught stealing), but he’s making excellent gains as the season progresses. As the K% shrinks (2020-28.9%, 2021-28.1%, 2022-25.6%), his production continues to increase. Furthermore, if you add in his rest of season projections, he’s on pace for a 20/30 season with 155 runs+RBI.
Kody Clemens (DET): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.
Lastly night, only two players hit a combo meal (HR+SB). One was Aaron Judge, and we know him, but the other was Kody Clemens? Wait, who is he? Actually, he’s been an active member of the Tigers’ MLB squad since the last day of May. Since joining the team, he’s still trying to get acclimated but showed promise in the minors. In 553 Triple-A ABs, Clemens hit 26 HR and seven stolen bases with an OK strikeout rate. Detroit is seeing what they’ve got in Clemens and moving him all over the field defensively, but, unfortunately, he’s not fantasy-relevant until he locks up an everyday playing time.
Eddie Rosario (ATL): 1-2, HR, R, RBI.
Atlanta doesn’t really need more offense, but after an injury to Ozzie Albies, they’ll surely take getting Rosario’s bat back in the lineup. Since his injury in late April, this is only Rosario’s third game back. However, he’s making up for the lost time as he’s collected a hit in each game. Atlanta is handling him with kiddie gloves, and he was pulled for a pinch-hitter (Adam Duvall). Furthermore, he’s available in nearly 80% of Yahoo leagues and will play in a very potent lineup almost any day. This could be a sneaky addition to your reserve bench, as he can do a little bit of everything.
Eloy Jiménez (CWS): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Speaking of coming back from injuries, we had an Eloy sighting last night. In his first game since mid-April, there didn’t appear to be any rust. If you’ve been managing a team with Eloy for the past two years, you know his track record. Although, no doubt, the price is worth the admission. The raw power is off the charts, and he’s capable of putting up gaudy HR totals in short bursts. But for Pete’s sake, he just needs to stay on the field.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter).