José It Ain’t So
José Abreu (HOU): 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 7 RBI.
José Abreu has been coming off of one of the weirdest stretches of his seasoned career. In the second half of his 2022 campaign, Abreu slashed a fine .305/.366/.414 but swatted only four home runs, after hitting 11 in the first half. This stretch continued into 2023 but the rest of his hitting took a plunge. Through April and May of 2023, he was slashing .211/.276/.260 with one homer and a 49 wRC+. He wasn’t hitting the ball hard anymore (career 45.7% hard-hit rate dropped to 37.4%). It was also his first time out of a White Sox uniform since 2013.
Since the end of May, things have looked much brighter for him but he wasn’t back to his expected self. He has slashed .256/.310/.447 from the start of June with 13 home runs in 287 plate appearances. That’s about 29 home runs for a full Abreu season which is right in line with his pretty successful 2021 season. He came back to his mid-40s hard-hit rate and started getting the ball in the air again. He still needs to pull the ball in the air a bit more especially in Houston to take advantage of the short porch there.
Last night, he put on a show to make sure everyone knows he’s back. He ripped a 102 mph flyout in his first at-bat, followed by a 425-foot shot in the third. He added a 107 mph double in the fifth and then another home run in the ninth at 113 mph.
My gut says to throw out these first two months especially with it being a new team. Abreu has been pretty much Abreu since the start of June and has continued to rake despite his age.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Wednesday
Marcus Semien (TEX): 4-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB.
A combo meal and an extra home run was not the only thing Semien pulled out of his hat yesterday. He had four hits nearly all over 100 mph. He ripped a 104 mph homer, followed by 109 mph and 104 mph singles, and capped things off with a 99.9 mph 402-foot bomb. He continues to be the solid bat at the top of one of the best offensive lineups with his highest OBP since 2019.
Joey Wendle (MIA): 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.
Wendle kind of disappeared after joining Miami in 2022 both in games played but also in his performance. His 2023 slash is .228/.263/.332 and he has shown basically no power since his move to Miami. This was only his second home run this season. Before yesterday he had only eight hits since July 23rd and had a -28 wRC+! This excellent game did push it above 0 since July 23rd. He hasn’t hit the ball in the air (53% grounders) with a sub-40% hard hit rate.
Nolan Gorman (STL): 1-4, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.
Gorman pulled off quite a feat last night. He had a combo meal, and scored three runs, all with only one hit. To skip the guessing game, he made it to first in the first on a wild pitch on strike three. He struck out twice, walked, and grounded into a double play all before launching an eighth-inning 414-foot bomb. What a classic Gorman game. That was his 27th of the year after hitting two the night before. He has had one of the streakier seasons this year and he’s on a hot one now.
Will Benson (CIN): 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB.
Another combo meal, while ripping three hard hits, Benson had himself a game. He hasn’t had much consistent playing time in Cincy being a strong platoon split with only 35 bad plate appearances against lefties. He has faced righties in 244 plate appearances and has dominated to the tune of a 144 wRC+. With the glut of young talent in the Reds’ offense, the platoon will most likely stick for now but if you can play him when righties are on the bump you will not be disappointed.
Alek Thomas (ARI): 2-4, HR, R, 5 RBI, BB.
Thomas has not had the season many were hoping for to build off his rookie campaign in 2022. He is slashing .241/.284/.396 while also being sent back to Triple-A in mid-May. He had an excellent month in the minors and was called back up on June 19th. Since his return, he was much better than his initial stint, slashing .268/.303/.437 with only six homers and four steals. He is another lefty with big splits. This season he has a 105 wRC+ against righties and a -12 wRC+ against lefties, one of stronger ones I have ever seen. He still has plenty of work to do.
Tommy Pham (ARI): 3-4, 2 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.
Pham had been red hot with the Mets leading up to the trade deadline so he was inevitably dealt off to a contender in the Diamondbacks. Since the deal, he has had flashes of this season’s excellence but he is slashing .243/.290/.417 while batting third in the lineup. He is still drilling the ball. In Arizona, he has a 57.6% hard-hit rate but only a 7.1% barrel rate (a 55.3% ground ball rate). He is hitting more grounders in the desert but still ripping the ball.
Andrew Vaughn (CWS): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
I want Vaughn to be a thing and he’s struggled to fully break out. But yesterday was quite a day with three hard hits including a 108 mph line drive dinger. He is essentially having the same season as last year but has added a bit more power. Vaughn had sat out for a week shortly after the All-Star break with a foot issue. And since his return, he has raked. He has a .301/.321/.481 slash with seven dingers. He isn’t walking much though but he isn’t striking out much either.
Jesús Sánchez (MIA): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Sánchez has had a solid season this year with a 123 wRC+ and some power with 12 dingers in 332 plate appearances. However, this past week he has picked it up a notch to the tune of a 262 wRC+ and four extra-base hits as well as a 15.4% walk rate and a 19.2% K rate (both much better than the season’s numbers). His two hits yesterday were both over 108 mph. He has hit the ball hard all year (47%) but could do for fewer ground balls (49%).
Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Jazz has had a rocky season trying to stay on the field with hamstring and oblique issues. But when he’s been on the field he has been electric. He has 16 homers and 19 steals in 302 plate appearances. Since returning at the end of July from one IL stint, he has a 120 wRC+ with seven dingers and five steals. He has been red hot this past week with a 205 wRC+. As long as he is playing he’ll be a fantasy star.
Kevin Smith (OAK): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
This guy is coming in with one of the most generic names in the game and of course, he is on Oakland. He has been coming in to pinch run a lot and play some shortstop. He doesn’t play every day but it seems like when he does start he has a bit more success. Yesterday, he ripped a 398-foot homer for his fifth of the year in 106 plate appearances. He drilled 16 dingers in 183 Triple-A appearances, so he has some pop but hasn’t translated to the bigs just yet.
Austin Hays (BAL): 4-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.
Hays was seeing the ball well last night. He came to the dish five times, roped a double in the second inning at 105 mph, a 104 mph single in the third, a 101 mph single in the fifth, a 92.6 mph sac fly in the sixth, and he capped it all off with a 105 mph homer in the eighth. Hays has had a nice BABIP boost this year to help his average get up to .288 but despite the increased hard hit rate and stable fly ball rate, his power has dwindled. Curse you, new Camden Yards left field wall.
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire // Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddi10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)