Jon, but not forgotten
Jon Singleton (HOU): 3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, BB.
It has been a long, long time coming for Jon Singleton. First drafted in the eighth round by the Phillies back in 2009, Singleton was later shipped to the Astros in exchange for Hunter Pence. Shortly after signing a guaranteed contract worth $10M, he debuted on June 3rd, 2014, and hit a home run. He then became the first Astro in franchise history to hit a grand slam within the first six games of his career. Coincidentally, the previous record-holder at seven games was the aforementioned Hunter Pence, the man he was traded for.
He hit 13 home runs across 95 games with a .620 OPS in 2014. And then, after just 19 games the following year, that was it. Before his very brief stint with the Brewers this past June, he hadn’t appeared in a major league game since the Astros’ 21-5 win over the D-Backs on October 2nd, 2015.
Chandler Rome of The Athletic recently wrote about his redemption story. It’s unique and well worth the read. Singleton struggled to shake an addiction to marijuana and was suspended on three separate occasions, which eventually culminated in his release from the Astros five years ago.
His odyssey included a stop playing for the Diablos Rojos in the Mexican league in 2021. Last year, he played in 134 games for the Nashville Sound, the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate, and proceeded to lead the minor leagues in walks while hitting .219 with 24 home runs and a .809 OPS. The Brewers invited him to spring training, called him up in June, and then DFA’d him two weeks later. Three days afterward, the Astros signed him to a minor league deal.
Looking at Singleton’s minor league totals this year reveals his game: Dingers and walks. And we saw that last night in what was a riveting display a pair of home runs both coming at the expense of Reid Detmers, which is neat seeing that Singleton is a lefty. How can you not be impressed? Even the single was hit a ton (103.8 EV).
Where does he fit in for fantasy purposes? It’s hard to say he’s more than just a really speculative add since I’m not certain about his playing time. He’ll of course get an opportunity but it could be more as a pinch hitter/platoon player. However, it’s interesting that the Astros started him last night against Reid Detmers, a lefty; Yainer Díaz was the DH. José Abreu has been a disappointment and is now dealing with a back injury, so perhaps there’s a window here for him to at the very least prove himself. You have to be at least a little interested, no?
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Kerry Carpenter (DET): 1-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.
Chris Sale made his first start since June 1st after dealing with a shoulder injury and cruised retiring the first 14 batters he faced. That is until he ran into Carpenter, who crushed his belt-high slider 434 feet to right-center. His .824 OPS trails Riley Greene (.840) for the best in Detroit. Sure, maybe that’s not saying a whole lot. Still, Carpenter’s power is legit (60 via PLV). Carpenter hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity to hit against left-handers (41 PA), so this was good to see.
Nelson Velázquez (KC): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.
The Royals and Cardinals combined for 20 runs last night in a good ol’ fashioned slugfest. The Cubs dealt Velázquez, an outfielder, to the Royals in exchange for Jose Cuas. Not exactly a blockbuster, so there’s a decent chance you might’ve missed it. Velázquez popped 16 home runs with a .803 OPS in 74 games with Triple-A before being traded, so he’s got some power. Although, he also ran a 29.4% K rate in Triple-A, leaving him as just a dart in the deepest of leagues.
Willson Contreras (STL): 3-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB.
The other side of this game was fun, too. Willson is slashing .259/.353/.446 all pretty close to his career marks. He really leaned into his shot in the ninth and took an extra moment to admire it as it flew over the fountains at Kauffman Stadium. He hit it 461 feet; that’s the 15th-longest home run this season.
Tyler O’Neill also hit his sixth home run of the year for the Cards.
Johan Rojas (PHI): 1-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
The Dallas Keuchel revival tour stopped in Philly last night and it didn’t end well. It went so poorly that the Twins sent Jordan Luplow to the mound in the eighth. That’s when Johan Rojas blasted an eephus for his first career home run. Five years after signing as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic, Rojas has emerged as the Phillies starting center fielder thanks to an injury to Brandon Marsh. Power isn’t really a part of Rojas’ game at the moment; he hit nine home runs across 76 games in Double-A this year. However, he also stole 30 bases during that span, so that’s a trick he does well.
Nico Hoerner (CHC): 2-5, HR, R, RBI, SB.
Hoerner hit his ninth home run off José Berríos in his first at-bat, a 389-foot (98.1 EV) solo shot to left. He’s now just one shy of tying his career-high in home runs. And he’s also tied with Willi Castro for sixth in stolen bases (29).
The more interesting player here, though, might be Seiya Suzuki who has recently found himself in a dreaded short-side platoon thanks to his struggles against RHP. However, he drew the start last night, his first against a righty since July 29th. He went 1-for-4 with a two-run double in the fourth off Berríos. Suzuki’s K rate against RHP is 27.3% versus 20.3% against LHP and we saw a similar disparity last year. Oddly enough, he has a .322 wOBA vs. LHP versus .320 against RHP this year, so there’s that at least. I think Suzuki is better than what he has shown this year (.742 OPS), but at the same time, the strikeout disparity is definitely hard to figure out.
Triston Casas (BOS): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
Justin Turner missed last night’s game as he continues to nurse a heel injury, so Casas got the start against Tarik Skubal. Although he probably would’ve started anyway I think (Masataka Yoshida was the DH last night). Regardless, Casas hit what proved to be the game-winner, a three-run blast in the fourth on a hanging slider from Skubal that landed just over the bullpen wall in right (400 feet, 108.1 EV). He’s now eighth among qualified first basemen with a .841 OPS, which also leads all rookies.
The sample is a little wonky (69 PA) but his numbers against LHP are a little low: 34.8% K rate and a .320 wOBA / 98 wRC+. That’s the one spot where I’m looking for improvement and on that note, the home run against Skubal is a nice start.
Wander Franco (TB): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.
Franco came into last night’s game slashing .286 /.363/ .517 across 24 games since the All-Star break. His 17th dinger was a doozy, a walk-off shot in the ninth off reliever Nick Sandlin (410 feet, 107 EV). His .824 OPS is a few ticks above his rookie season (.810) and he’s now fifth (!!) in the majors with 30 steals. Not bad. The home run came as a left-handed hitter.
Franco’s splits indicate that he’s a bit better as a righty (.398 wOBA/163 wRC+ and 9.5% BB/8.4% K) versus (.340 wOBA/122 wRC+ and 8.4% BB/14.8% K) as a lefty.
Anthony Volpe (NYY): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.
Jesús Luzardo hit the catcher’s target on an inside fastball at 97 but Volpe’s bat beat him to the spot and put the Yankees on the board with a three-run shot to left (404 feet, 105.2 EV). I feel like we’re at the tipping point with Volpe. His rate stats aren’t pretty as he’s slashing .212/.294/.380 on the year. However, 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases are nothing to sneeze at either. I suppose it’s obvious but how he does from here on out will I think really paint how we feel about him heading into next season. And on that note, it’s good to see that his K rate has dropped every month since May. In 10 games in August, he’s at 16.2% with a 16.2% BB rate. Maybe the Yankees try him in the leadoff spot again.
Xander Bogaerts (SD): 4-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, SB.
Bogaerts came into last night’s contest slashing .265/.339/.388 all the lowest we’ve seen from him since 2017. Glancing at his PLV profile, he’s pretty close to where he was last year. Actually, his contact-ability is up from 55 to 60, so there’s that at least. Last night’s home run was hit 430 feet (105.5 EV) just over the angle in left-center and came courtesy of a fastball from Ryne Nelson. The silver lining for Bogaerts is that he’s now just two steals away from tying his career high of 15.
Keibert Ruiz (WSH): 2-3, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB.
A quick shoutout to Ruiz, who has a .403 wOBA in the second half (24 games) and is now ninth among qualified C’s with a .710 OPS. His splits are worth keeping an eye on though: .347 wOBA vs. LHP and just .295 vs. RHP.
Image courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis and Aaron Polcare