High and Riley
Austin Riley (ATL): 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 7 RBI.
12 teams scored 10 or more runs during Tuesday’s games. 12. Twelve. That’s a lot of teams and I’m sure it’s some kind of record. The term “slugfest” I’m sure was used frequently by announcers tonight, and for good reason. There were what I would classify as four slugfests Tuesday, which, even though there is no literal definition for what constitutes a slugfest or when something technically becomes a slugfest, seems like a lot of slugfests.
Austin Riley was the main slugger in the slugfest between the Braves and the Dbacks, and I am going to retire the word slugfest here. Two home runs, a double, three runs, and seven RBIs, not a bad day for the Braves’ third baseman.
Riley hasn’t put up fantastic numbers for the 2023 season, at least compared to his last two years. He is by no means having a bad season, but following 2021 and 2022, his numbers, by his standards, are a bit down. However, games like this remind us why he is one of the best young hitters in the game and how flush with young talent the Braves are. So much so that it’s kind of unfair. He’s basically what, their 4th best player? Maybe 5th? Insane.
A massive second half may be on the horizon for Riley. He’s shown glimpses of being a bonafide superstar so let’s see if he can go on a run.
It was a historic night of slug… games, on Tuesday so instead of gushing too much about Riley, let’s get into the offense.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday
Christian Walker (ARI): 3-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, BB, SB.
The featured player was almost Christian Walker who was on the other end of the dogfight in Atlanta. The Diamondbacks got a much-needed win in this contest by going up late and winning 16-13. Walker has become so much more of a rounded player over the last 2 years. When first breaking into the league the power was of course there. However, the man would strike out 3/4 times a night consistently. Whatever he has done to improve his discipline at the plate is really paying off because he is in the middle of a great season. His .848 OPS is the highest of his career as the season stands right now. He will need to keep it up for the Diamondbacks to continue their ride into the playoffs.
Spencer Torkelson (DET): 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
I played against Torkelson in fantasy tonight. It felt, in a word, not good. I’ve written about Tork in the past, it seems like he is one adjustment away from finally taking off. The batted ball data is there, and the profile and pedigree are there, he’s just got to put it all together. two home runs and a double unfortunately were not enough for his Tigers against the Royals. I am still a big believer in Torkelson and his young teammate Riley Greene. The Tigers are an enigma, at least for now. Colt Keith approaches, Kerry Carpenter can mash, and they have reinforcements coming to their rotation with Tarik Skubal coming back. Not to mention young cats in Reese Olson and Matt Manning with Wilmer Flores (not that Wilmer Flores, Tigers Wilmer Flores), waiting in AAA. Torkelson seems like the player who takes them to the second level.
Wilmer Flores (SF): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, BB.
A perfect segue into another human named Wilmer Flores who is good, Wilmer Flores of the San Francisco Giants also hit two home runs in an all-out fracas between the Giants and the Reds. Not known for his power, Flores can still hit it out if given a cookie. He has what, with the amount of Bud Black post-games I’ve watched it’s cemented in my brain, his favorite term, sneaky pull pop. The first time he used that was to describe Alexi Amarista, a nice low-percentage name for your grid to store away. Flores isn’t going to bring much fantasy value to the table year in and year out, but he is still a capable hitter. He’s the perfect Giant isn’t he? That just hit me. He’s going to go down with other names like Angel Pagan, Gregory Blanco, Aaron Rowand, and that half-a-season of Marco Scutaro. They love those underwhelming, but still really solid players. Any team is better with Flores on it.
Francisco Alvarez (NYM): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB.
Let me check my notes, but, yes, Francisco Alvarez also hit two home runs tonight for his New York Mets. He’s a player that’s made this list more than a few times this year which shows his future promise. The Mets did not Mets and pulled off the win against the White Sox, in a game that could be described as a total brawl. I’m unsure what Alvarez’s ceiling could be. He’s checking all the boxes offensively and all reports point to him being good to stellar behind the dish. He may creep into 30 home runs this year if he keeps up this pace. Definitely a boon to the catcher position.
Josh Naylor (CLE): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI.
The 6th and final member of the July 19, 2023, 2-home run club, Josh Naylor clobbered his 14th and 15th home runs in a decisive victory over the scuffling Pirates. Naylor is one of the breakouts of the year so far and he shows no signs of slowing down. According to Zach Meisel who follows the Guardians for the Athletic, over the last 10 weeks, Naylor’s OPS is 1.064. The only player with a better OPS is Shohei Ohtani with a 1.184. Pretty good. The Guardians aren’t sure if they want to be good in 2023. With the way Naylor is playing, he could put the team on his back into October.
Dairon Blanco (KC): 4-4, 2 2B, 3B, 3 R, 3 RBI, SB.
The feel-good call-up of a few weeks ago (he’s 30, first time call up), Blanco has been a nice source of stolen bases with his time in Kansas City. Tonight was the first four-hit game of the young man’s (30 is still young how dare you) career. Upon his call-up, he was definitely seen as mostly just a player who can give KC some steals. If he continues to have more games like this, he may become an intriguing name for fantasy rosters. Keep an eye on Blanco. The Royals have nothing to play for so if he can get on base, maybe he runs wild.
Alex Kirilloff (MIN): 3-4, 3B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Who’s been holding onto Kirilloff all this time? I have him in one dynasty league and yes I never dropped him (14-teamer), games like this are very welcome. Only a double shy of the cycle, Kirilloff was a main part of the shellacking of the Mariners courtesy of the Twins. Don’t look now but Kirilloff is slashing .361/.429/.639 for the month of July. Only two home runs so far but he has shown a great deal of positivity lately. He’s another player to keep an eye on, a closer one than Blanco.
Juan Soto (SD): 2-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.
Our first true “what else is there to say” player of the night, Juan Soto helped the Padres dismantle the Blue Jays on Tuesday. His buddy Manny Machado also had a great game hitting a home run of his own; two studs who put up stud numbers. The Padres maybe got a gift in a poor Alex Manoah start (come back to us 2022 Manoah, please), but as many have said all season, there is too much talent on this team to falter. They are only five games under .500. I can’t take another Dodgers NL West crown, please Padres and Dbacks, help me.
Yasmani Grandal (CWS): 2-3, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.
Grandal was the main contributor for the south siders against the Mets in their, what did I describe that one as? Ah yes, a total brawl. Grandal almost helped the Mets meltdown from an 11-4 lead, but in the end the Mets pulled it off 11-10. Queens would’ve burned to the ground if they lost another wild one. Grandal seems to have dropped off a cliff since his monster 2019 season with the Brewers. As a White Sox, he just has not been himself besides playing pretty well in 2021. Catcher is thin but there may be better options than Grandal out there. Endy Rodríguez possibly?
Seiya Suzuki (CHC): 4-6, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
This was a very encouraging game from Seiya Suzuki, one many have been hoping to see. Many haven’t lost faith, including myself, that Suzuki will become a more than solid, all-star type for the north siders. The transition from Japan to America is a difficult one. I can only imagine how difficult moving abroad is with a normal job. I can’t imagine what it’s like as a baseball player. Stay patient with Suzuki and let’s see if he can string together some positive performances.
Corbin Carroll (ARI): 2-5, 3B, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 SB.
Carroll is creeping into the “what else is there to say” category day by day. The numbers he’s putting up as a rookie are insane. I added him here to show that maybe that shoulder is doing just fine. That was such an awkward swing last week on an already repaired shoulder so keeping an eye on his health is important. Besides his health, he’s one of the premier players in the MLB right now. And he has an underrated mullet, we need to talk about it more.
Mickey Moniak (LAA): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, SB.
Moniak has taken over Mike Trout’s job and so far so good. His July slash line sits at .378/.417/.600 after today’s game. He may not hit a ton of home runs, and he needs to cut down on the strikeouts, but Moniak is showing signs of life as an everyday player. The Angels may be sellers at the deadline, or at least they should be. It’ll be curious to see if he is a part of their future plans or not.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand (CIN): 2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI.
CES is in the majors and it did not take him long to hit his first career home run. At the time it put the Reds up 8-7 but the Giants were able to pull off the win. This man has a metric ton of power in his bat, even this first home run was a second-deck shot and it looked like he just flicked it. He’s improved his strikeout rate this year in AAA. Big league pitching is of course more difficult to hit, but the Reds look like they have another offensive stud to work with. Go get a pitcher please Reds. Let’s make things interesting in Cincy on the road to October.