Jose Miranda (MIN): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
After connecting for his first two home runs of the year Wednesday against the Yankees, Miranda went yard again, this one a 363-foot laser beam down the left field line on a hanging slider from lefty reliever Josh Taylor. Before the three home runs, Miranda was slugging .247 with two doubles through his first 24 games of the season.
In a way, it was similar to his minor-league career. Drafted by the Twins in the second round back in 2016, Miranda always showed low K rates but never flashed any sort of power until two years ago, when he banged out 13 home runs across 57 games with Double-A Wichita, good for a .588 SLG. The gains stuck when he ended 2021 by slugging .563 in 80 games with Triple-A St. Paul. It all ended in him being named the Twins’ Minor League Player of the Year.
Miranda debuted last year with 15 home runs while hitting .268 with a .751 OPS across 125 games. Maybe not the most eye-catching totals, but he certainly held his own. Considering how he progressed through the minors, he made sense as a potential breakout candidate in year two.
He’s hitting just .240 so far, but I think he should hit for a significantly better average considering his K rate and what he’s done so far both last year and in the minors. Most projections have him pegged around .260-.270. The question is does he have the power to stick in standard leagues? I have no idea, I wish I did but I don’t.
Batted ball data is a little noisy right now given the still-too-small sample size, but so far Miranda’s power hasn’t shown up yet with an xwoBACON of .342 (33rd percentile). That’s down a little from last year. But again, it’s really early and that doesn’t really mean a whole lot as far as what to expect, it’s only a description of what we’ve seen so far. Miranda’s power could suddenly show up, maybe we’re starting to see that now.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Robbie Grossman (TEX): 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
The veteran switch-hitter has shown significantly better splits against lefties for his career. But he did his damage against the righty Clarke Schmidt tonight when he roasted a 2-1 cutter and sent it 368 feet over the right field fence (100.2 EV). As a 33-year-old with a career .724 OPS, he doesn’t have much upside, but to his credit, he is in the middle of a nine-game hit streak.
Isaac Paredes (TB): 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Paredes’ first hit of the night came in the third with an opposite-field double on an 0-1 fastball from Lucas Giolito. With the game tied in the sixth, he hit another double to left, also off Giolito. The big blow, however, came in the seventh when he led off with a towering flyball that cleared the left fence at 375 feet (102.7 EV). The home run off Kendall Graveman proved the difference in the Rays’ 3-2 win in Chicago. He’s up to 18 RBI, tied with Brandon Lowe for the second-most on the Rays.
Edward Olivares (KC): 3-4, 2 2B, 3B, 2 R.
The 27-year-old righty is now hitting .276 and is in the middle of a seven-game hitting streak. It’s early, so batted ball data is still flimsy, but Olivares’ xwoBACON of .496 is in the 91st percentile.
Cal Raleigh (SEA): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
The hard-hitting catcher scored the first run of the game by taking Alek Manoah deep on a 3-2 slider in the second, his third of the year. He also put the Mariners back ahead with a one-out single to right in the third that scored Jarred Kelenic from second. He’s now hitting .231 with a .746 OPS.
Andrew Vaughn (CWS): 2-4, HR, R, RBI, BB.
Billed as one of the best collegiate hitters of the 2019 draft when he was selected by the White Sox third overall behind Adley Rutschman and Bobby Witt Jr., Vaughn has since been a little underwhelming with a .731 OPS through 287 games. So far this year, he’s dropped his swing rate by nearly seven points which has pushed his walk rate to over 10%. But other than that, I feel as if we’re still waiting for his power to rise in order to reach the next level so to speak.
He has shown a below-average pull rate, and I wonder if that might be a way he could unlock more power. We shall see. Last night’s home run came on a cutter from Eflin that he pulled 426 feet to left-center.
Miguel Vargas (LAD): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Hey, there it is! Vargas’ first dinger of the year came on a hanging curveball from Chris Stratton, a 377-foot flyball to left (100.4 EV). His batted-ball data so far isn’t great, but he’s making really good swings and takes as evidenced by a 75-grade DV. I think we should see better results coming.
Lars Nootbaar (STL): 1-2, R, RBI, 3 BB, SB.
Since being installed as the Cards’ leadoff man on the 22nd, he’s gotten on base at a .400 clip. Overall, he leads the team with a .448 OBP so there’s a good chance he sticks at that spot. A popular breakout candidate this past offseason, the next thing we’re waiting for is the power, but that might require him to swing a little more. His -11.6% Swing Aggression% is right there with the likes of Juan Soto (-12.6%) as one of the more passive/patient hitters in the league.
Jake Burger (CWS): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.
Burger’s seventh of the year came on a hanging curveball from Zach Eflin that he lifted 375 feet to left (104.8 EV). He almost hit another one, if not for a great catch by Randy Arozarena. Having overcome two Achilles injuries, Burger’s surge has been a lot of fun to watch. The power is legit, and although Yoán Moncada (back) should return at some point, you have to figure the man has earned a role on this team.
Jarren Duran (BOS): 3-4, 3 2B.
While writing about potential sleepers for Boston this past offseason, Duran was someone I admittedly wanted to ignore given his struggles last season. But I have to give him credit, he’s done nothing but hit since being called up on the 17th.
That’s an understatement. He’s hitting .436 with a 1.173 OPS and two steals. Small sample caveat, but he also has an xwoBACON of .553, identical to the next hitter.
Jarred Kelenic (SEA): 2-4, R, 2 SB.
Full steam ahead. Kelenic’s two steals gives him five on the year. PLV rates him really well across the board, with a 45-grade contact being the low point. But his 27.2% K rate will certainly play with the sort of power he’s toting right now, a .553 xwoBACON (97th percentile).
Nick Senzel (CIN): 2-3, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.
After all these years, is it finally happening? Don’t look now, but that’s three-straight multi-hit games for the former top prospect. He’s hitting .250 with a .675 OPS, not great, but he might be worth keeping an eye on in deep formats. He’s started nine of the Reds’ last 11 games.
Andrew Benintendi (CWS): 1-4, 2 SB.
I kind of liked Benintendi’s landing spot with the White Sox as I thought playing at Guaranteed Rate Field might help his marginal power. But that has not been the case. Anything but actually. He’s still getting on base at a decent .337 clip, however, the lack of any power has made him a really rough player to roster.
Hey, at least he’s got four steals now, that helps, right? Meh.