Roger over and out
Anthony Santander (BAL): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
It feels like we’ve been playing fantasy baseball for a while but last night was a reminder that a couple of good nights can make everything look a lot better. Heading into Thursday’s series finale with the Royals, Anthony Santander was slashing .233/ .299/ .369 with two home runs and 11 RBI. He kicked off the O’s 13-10 victory with a two-run shot in the first on a 3-0 meatball courtesy of his former teammate Jordan Lyles.
And then last night, he went 2-for-5 with two dingers and five RBI. With the game tied 1-1 in the fourth, Santander turned on a 95 mph fastball from Max Fried and sent it 401 feet just over the wall in left (103.9 EV). With the bases juiced in the seventh, Santander, batting left-handed, belted the first pitch from Joe Jiménez and sent it 397 feet over the right field fence (102.5 mph). After his first career grand slam, he’s now slashing .248/ .307/ .451 with five home runs and 18 RBI. All of a sudden, he’s pretty darn close to his career slash of .245/ .301/ .454.
But while it’s good to see him have a big game, I don’t think I feel too great about him repeating last season’s production.
Santander has never really been a disciplined hitter but he’s always had a low K rate. This year, though, things have gone sideways as his strikeout rate has climbed to 27.9% compared to his career mark of 20.7%. His chase rate has climbed almost nine points to 42.4%, the bottom sixth percentile.
He’s also shown wide splits this year: a .382 wOBA as a righty hitter and .264 as a lefty hitter. It’s a slight exaggeration of his career splits: a .336 wOBA as a righty and .312 as a lefty. His K rate as a lefty has spiked this year to 26.3%. (17.6% for his career). His SZ Judgment (35) and Decision Value (40) PLV grades are down relative to last year too. I have no idea what the mechanism is behind all of this. Maybe pitchers are attacking him differently after his career-high 33 home runs last year. To that note, he is seeing noticeably more pitches on the inside part of the plate compared to last season: his iLoc% of 42.2% is in the 97th percentile. Regardless, there’s enough weirdness in his profile right now for me to feel a little uneasy about his outlook.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
He victimized Clayton Kershaw twice. His second home run came in the fifth on a 1-2 slider down and in, a screaming line drive down the left field line (110.8 EV) that gave the Padres a 3-1 lead. The big night pushes his OPS to .802.
Elvis Andrus (CWS): 1-1, HR, R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, SB.
Seeing Andrus with a combo meal reminds me of that Jumanji scene, What year is it? Anyways, his first of the year came against Hunter Greene and tied the game at 3-3. As you probably figured, this one was the definition of a wall scraper at 355 feet to left. Funny enough the ball left Greene’s hand (99.2) faster than off Andrus’ bat (99.1). But, hey they all count. He’s now hitting .204 and we can all pretend it’s 2010.
Nick Pratto (KC): 2-3, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB.
The 14th overall pick from the 2017 draft, Nick Pratto debuted late last year and banged out seven home runs in 49 games. But he also struck out a ton (36.4%). Last night in the fourth, the lefty deposited a 1-2 pitch from Kyle Muller, also left-handed, 421 feet over the wall in left-center. In nine games since being recalled, he’s hitting .353 but the strikeouts are still an issue (36.8%).
This game was all sorts of wild last night as both teams combined for 20 runs on 27 hits. Hunter Dozier also had a big night with a pair of walks and doubles but he’s still under the Mendoza line. Meanwhile, Bobby Witt Jr. sat on the bench.
Sean Murphy (ATL): 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI.
Baseball’s leader in OPS (1.543) over the past week, the Good Doctor tried his best to breathe late life to Atlanta last night but his three-run shot in the eighth off Mike Baumann, despite being absolutely hammered at 112.4 EV, wasn’t quite enough. He now leads all catchers with a 1.092 OPS.
Ryan Noda (OAK): 3-3, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.
A 15th-round pick by the Blue Jays back in 2017, the lefty-hitting first baseman reached base five times last night. In just under 100 PA, what we’re seeing is a ton of walks (21.4%) backed by a chase rate in the 94th percentile but also a ton of strikeouts (34.7%). And power as he’s got an xwoBACON of .517 (97th percentile). For now, it looks like he’s in a platoon as he sat this past Sunday against Nick Lodolo. He could be an interesting bat to keep an eye on considering the damage he did in Triple-A last year with the Dodgers: a .870 OPS with 25 home runs and 20 steals in 135 games.
Brent Rooker also continued his no holds barred assault on major league pitching with three more hits including home run number ten. He’s up to a 1.168 OPS. If you missed it, check out Andrew Abramo’s Going Deep on the former Twin.
Whit Merrifield (TOR): 2-4, 2B, R, 3 SB.
Hard to get excited about Whit Merrifield these days other than the fact that he’s hitting in the same lineup as Vladdy, Matt Chapman, and Bo Bichette every night. The three steals last night brings him to seven so there’s that at least. He is hitting .301 (.281 xAVG) so I can’t discount that either but I just don’t know if it’s quite enough to overcome the lack of power to be a long-term option in standard leagues.
Luis Robert Jr. (CWS): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
He was recently dropped in the order (sixth last night) after going into a long slump. He’s since gone on a modest four-game hit streak with a couple of home runs. Last night’s home run was a beautiful blast off Hunter Greene, a 100 mph heater that he sent 417 feet the other way to right-center (109.5 EV). It also ended up being the game-winner lifting the Sox to a 5-4 victory. Robert Jr. has struggled overall this season with a career-low .288 OBP and he’s also striking out a lot more this year at 27.8% (19.2% last year).
Harrison Bader (NYY): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Calvin Coolidge is in office and the Roaring Twenties are alive and well because we’re all just wild about Harry. Well actually, Coolidge was the VP when the song was originally written. Silence, nobody cares about Warren G. Harding. Anyway, Harrison Bader’s first home run of the year was off a tough reliever, lefty Garret Cleavinger, and tied the game at 4-4. Bader has shown better splits against LHP (.340 woBA, 116 wRC+ versus .301 wOBA, 90 wRC+) for his career, and that played out last night. However, he’s shown better splits over RHP the past two seasons so perhaps he’s on to something. The Yankees will certainly hope so. After last night’s four-run explosion, they’re up to a .299 team wOBA, only two points behind the Miami Marlins.
Yandy Díaz (TB): 1-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Lollipops and gumdrops galore, this year’s edition of Yandy Land continues to be more thrilling than the last. We’re 30 games into the season and he’s now tied last year’s total. Last night’s dinger came on a letter-high heater from Jhony Brito and was hit 416 feet to straightaway center (102.9 EV). PLV has the 31-year-old tracked with a 70-grade Decision Value and Hitter Performance, that is to say, full steam ahead.
Esteury Ruiz (OAK): 2-5, 2 R, SB.
He’s now tied with Ronald Acuña Jr. at 15 for the lead in steals. The power has been non-existent and his batted-ball numbers don’t provide us much hope either (.254 xwOBACON, 4th percentile). But that’s kind of what you were expecting really. This feels a lot like Mallex Smith.
J.D. Davis (SF): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
His seventh home run of the year came on a cutter from Corbin Burnes, an opposite-field shot to right (364 feet, 103.2 EV) that tied the game 2-2 in the first. He’s now fourth among qualified third basemen with a .879 OPS. I know it’s stupidly easy to say this in hindsight, but I still can’t believe the Mets just gave him away last year for Darin Ruf.