JJ Bleday (OAK): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, RBI.
JJ Bleday was shipped over to Oakland from Miami this offseason in a trade involving A.J. Puk. An interesting trade with two unfortunate teams. Bleday was drafted by the Marlins in 2019 with the fourth overall pick and hadn’t quite lived up to expectations. And now in his age 25 season, something has clicked.
A few days ago, Kevin O’Brien wrote up JJ Bleday in a brief Batter’s Box blurb detailing the excellent first 17 plate appearances in the bigs this season. But since then he’s hit safely in all four games in which he’s played adding five hits across 14 more plate appearances. In the still short 31 PAs, he is slashing .379/.419/.793 striking out only 16.1% of the time.
Outside of the time up with the A’s, he was called up due to his blistering start back in Triple-A. Across the 25 games in the minors, he slashed .316/.429/.643 walking 16.8% and striking out 12.6%. This is no short blip on the radar now with 150 excellent plate appearances across both levels. In last night’s game, he added another home run, a double, and a hard-hit batted ball that ended in a flyout.
Bleday is definitely worth a look and of course he could cool down but this could certainly be the breakthrough we have been waiting for.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Wednesday
Jesús Sánchez (MIA): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
I wrote about Sánchez a week ago after another game with a home run. Despite the performance, he did not start again until May 7th. He has played and hit well in each game since, with five games in a row with an extra-base hit, and three in a row with two extra-base hits. And this home run was a 441-foot blast too. Unfortunately, he was pulled after his double in the ninth inning with an apparent leg injury. Hopefully, it does not keep him sidelined with this hot streak going.
Andrew McCutchen (PIT): 3-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
I feel like McCutchen just keeps forcing himself onto these recaps almost every single day. Three hits, including a 400-foot homer, and a walk. And yet it didn’t push the Pirates over the Rockies this time. And speaking of, the Pirates have had a rough go of it lately and so has McCutchen. His hot start has cooled significantly between his last week plus only three hits in 33 plate appearances prior to this game, including a 36.4% strikeout rate.
Hunter Renfroe (LAA): 2-2, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.
Renfroe added his third home run in four games with a 392-foot dinger in his first at-bat. He added another hit with a smoked 109.8 mph single in the ninth after walking twice in between. All in all, he’s having a pretty Renfroe year, comparable to his solid 2021 and 2022. Looking past the slash line and homers, he is hitting the ball a bit harder, but on the ground much more often than normal. Change that to be a bit closer to his career norms and I can see even a bit more success.
Ildemaro Vargas (WSH): 3-5, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI.
This is a name that I haven’t seen before. And I thought well he’s on the 2023 Nationals so he must be a rookie call-up, but this is his seventh season in the big leagues. He has only played in 248 games in those seven seasons but he’s been around. He started a few games the first week of the season, yet went to the IL with a shoulder strain. This was his third game back and he’s hit safely in each. He is not much of a power or speed threat and being on the Nats I have a hard time imagining much fantasy value.
Anthony Volpe (NYY): 1-5, HR, R, 4 RBI.
Volpe clocked a 419-foot grand slam in the fifth inning helping the Yankees to an easy win over the A’s. This homer was his hardest hit of the season at 107.4 mph. Despite a difficult stretch, specifically since April 28 with a 30 wRC+, he has a 56.3% hard-hit rate, five barrels, and eight games with a batted ball over 102 mph. There has been plenty of rough luck in this stretch for Volpe. And better times should be ahead.
Max Kepler (MIN): 2-5, 2B, HR, 3 R, RBI.
Kepler started off this game hot with a 415-foot home run in the first and a 103.3 mog= double in the third. Later in the game, he hit a 102.4 mph double play ground ball. After an early injury, he has settled in nicely with a 53.3% hard-hit rate since returning alongside a 131 wRC+. He is spending a good chunk of his starts leading off for the Twins. After a couple of slow seasons in the last two years, he may be back on track.
Freddie Freeman (LAD): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Freeman laced a couple of hits including a near 400-foot bomb, and added a hard hit line out. A quick look at Freeman’s stat line doesn’t scream a classic Freeman year. He is hitting under .300 with only a .463 SLG (usually over .500). His walks are a tad down and Ks a bit up. He is making a bit less contact but his plate discipline seems in line with prior years. Additionally, he’s hitting more line drives than ever (over 30%) and yet his BABIP is down too. Regardless, he already has 30 runs scored which he’ll keep doing plenty more of hitting second for the Dodgers.
Lane Thomas (WSH): 2-5, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Thomas may have only knocked in one of the Nats’ 11 runs but he crushed the ball. He ripped a 98.9 mph single, a 102 mph 392-foot homer, and then flew out on a 391-foot bomb to center. He has now hit safely in eight straight with three dingers in that stretch. His hard-hit rate is a solid 52% in that span as well, far over the 35% on the season. He’s still hitting the ball on the ground far too much (51% on the season), but he has turned it around nicely this past week plus.
Yan Gomes (CHC): 3-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
Is Yan Gomes the catcher to roster now? He’s off to a white-hot start slashing .324/.347/.592 with a 151 wRC+ in 75 plate appearances. He added his sixth dinger of the season in his first game back after sustaining a concussion a bit over a week ago. Now that he is back he may be worth grabbing if available and you are struggling with your current catcher which isn’t too difficult.
Nick Pratto (KC): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Pratto ripped a couple of hits including a 105.6 mph dinger to help crush the White Sox 9-1. Pratto had a brief stint earlier on this season but was called back up on April 28th. Since the call-up, he has been raking, with a .400/.478/.625 slash with three doubles, two home runs, nine runs, and twelve RBI in 46 plate appearances. This 24-year-old former first-round pick has some solid pop and had a rough go in his first big league stretch last year. But after this blast off to his 2023, he may finally be breaking through.
Juan Soto (SD): 1-3, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB.
Soto was back in the hitting recap again yesterday with his four-hit game and back again with this combo meal. He had a 417-foot bomb and added two steals (only his second and third of the season). He had such an odd start but he certainly seems back on track with a 24.5% walk rate, 13.2% K rate and a 234 wRC+ in his last 11 games.
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Saportswire | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)
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