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For Whom the Bells Toll

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday's games.

 

Cody Bellinger (LAD): 2-4, HR, R, RBI, SB.

I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who’s been more of an enigma six years into his career than Cody Bellinger. A baseball odyssey in three parts, or maybe more, if you want to consider his moment in the LLWS. In 2017, he broke the Dodger single-season rookie record of 35 home runs, previously held by Mike Piazza. He drilled 10 home runs in the span of 10 games, another rookie record. Two years later, he had one of the best seasons we’ve seen from a Dodger and wins the NL MVP, Silver Slugger, and a Gold Glove for good measure.

Then 2020 happened. OK, sure it was two months. And, in 2021, he posted .542 OPS,  the second-worst in baseball (min 350 PA). It’s puzzling, for me at least, to imagine a 26-year-old going from one of the best to one of the worst in such a short span. But you have to consider that injuries may have played a role; he had shoulder surgery in the 2020 offseason, and he sustained a hairline fracture in his leg on a fluke play at first base in April of 2021. Cleared of last year’s injuries, there was, of course, plenty of talk about him being a bounceback candidate this spring.

Last night he hit his eighth home run, on a middle-in fastball from Zach Plesac in what ended up being the Dodger’s only run. And it seemed almost as if it were a microcosm of his perplexing career; the vaunted Dodgers lineup gets shut out against, of all pitchers, Zach Plesac, and, yet, there’s Bellinger as the lone contributor (and also the lone combo meal from last night). In the aftermath, he’s left to stare intently onto the field undoubtedly pondering life’s greatest mysteries. He’s played 58 games this year and is up to eight home runs and eight steals. It’s at least a step up from last year. But for those hoping for the massive comeback, it’s so far been a disappointment. He’s striking out at a career-worst rate of 30.0% and his OPS of .683 is not terribly exciting either. So what can we expect from Bellinger? I guess it all leaves the cop-out reply: “Somewhere in the middle.” But as time goes by, his 2017 and 2019 seasons seem more like the outlier.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:

Francisco Lindor (NYM): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

He needed this one; from May 1st through June 16th, Lindor posted an OPS of .658. Batting lefty against Pablo López, he connected on an 0-1 changeup down middle and crushed it 440 feet near the apple in straightaway center. His mom was visiting Citi Field for the first time, and you could tell that there was something extra behind that swing, as he was amped rounding the bases. Hopefully, this gets him going. Pete Alonso’s grand slam in the sixth helped seal a 10-4 win over the Marlins.

It looks like Eduardo Escobar should be returning to the lineup today, but keep an eye on J.D. Davis. He didn’t do anything exciting last night and his playing time is uncertain, but he’s been hitting the ball really well, with a .395 xwOBA, a hard-hit rate of 63.2%, and an absurd AEV on FB/LD of 99.8 that’s third among qualifiers between Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Giancarlo Stanton.

Gabriel Moreno (TOR): 3-4, 2 RBI.

Called up last Saturday, Moreno slashed .324/ .380/ .404 across 36 games with Triple-A Buffalo. The 22-year-old backstop doesn’t have much game power right now (.081 ISO in Triple-A) but he’s shown an affinity for contact and has some speed too. Last night was his second three-hit game. He’s started at catcher in three of the last four, meanwhile, Alejandro Kirk, who hit one out last night, should continue to see time as the DH.

Kyle Tucker (HOU): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Well, I hope you didn’t start Lucas Giolito in any of your leagues. Tucker actually hit his home run in garbage time, a 379-foot shot to right off left-handed reliever Tanner Banks in the sixth. He’s now riding a 15-game hitting streak during which he’s slashing .346/ .429/ .673. It was a huge night for the Astros with dingers from Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel, and Michael Brantley, who hit his with the bases loaded off righty reliever Matt Foster.

Jarren Duran (BOS): 1-2, 3B, R, BB.

He’s led off in three straight games now for Boston since his call-up. Strikeouts remain a concern; 32% K rate in 25 PA this year. But, he swiped 11 bags in 43 games with the Woo Sox in Triple-A.

C.J. Cron (COL): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.

Another slugfest at Coors Field. In the first, Cron went oppo on a heater from MacKenzie Gore before victimizing him again in the 5th, when he crushed a curveball 486 feet to left. In the 4th, Randal Grichuk also hit a three-run shot down the line in left. And Charlie Blackmon made history by slashing his 54th career triple for the most in Rockies franchise history.

Josh Bell (WSH): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.

Speaking of Bell, he’s now hit four home runs in his last three games raising his OPS from .801 to .865. He hit all three of his home runs in yesterday’s doubleheader as a righty; the first off Ranger Suárez in Game 1 and two off Bailey Falter in the nightcap.

Matt Vierling (PHI): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

This is probably an indictment on the Nationals’ pitching staff rather than anything else. Although Vierling might be a little interesting in deep leagues if he gets regular playing time (he’s splitting CF with Odúbel Herrera) considering that he stole eight bases in 21 games with the Iron Pigs this year. He did start to show a little more power last year with 11 home runs across 79 games in Double and Triple-A last year.

Anthony Rizzo (NYY): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.

The grand slam, a 435-foot no-doubter to right, came off a hanging curveball from Trevor Richards as part of an eight-run outburst in the fifth. The former Cub has a .968 OPS over his last ten games. 63 games into the season and Rizzo has 17 home runs, more than halfway to his high watermark of 32. The Yankees feasted on the Jays’ middle relief last night with home runs from Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo, and D.J. LeMahieu.

Byron Buxton (MIN): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, RBI.

Of course, he did. The dinger came courtesy of a 92 MPH meatball from Madison Bumgarner, his second pitch of the night. With 19 home runs, Buxton is now tied for 2nd with Pete Alonso but he’s gotten there in 15 fewer games.

Nolan Arenado (STL): 2-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.

Facing Michael Wacha in his first at-bat, he tied the game on a towering shot over the Monster. Since May 1st, the former Rockie is slashing .231/ .306/ .406 with seven home runs so he’s been in an extended lull lately. But for the season, his .363 wOBA is in line with his career mark of .375.

Brandon Drury (CIN): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

Drury continues to be one of the biggest surprises of the year. That’s three in his last four games and he’s now two away from matching his career-high of 16 in 2015 which came in 499 PA. Jonathan India is back as the Reds’ leadoff man and that should help solidify their lineup. Tommy Pham also hit one out. It’ll be interesting to see if the Reds try to capitalize on Drury’s career year and move him at the deadline.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Ryan Amore

Writer for PL, artist, DFS enthusiast, and occasional Yankee fan. Once won a GPP with Henderson Alvarez. A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club. Appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

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