Franimal Collective

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

Franmil Reyes (CLE): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 5 RBI, SB.

I think Franmil Reyes is feeling better.

At least it’s hard to come to any other conclusion after witnessing last night’s performance, as Reyes went 3-5 with a double, a homer, and five RBI, even throwing a stolen base in for good measure. It’s just his third game back from injury, collecting three hits as well in his return on July 2nd and going an ugly 0-4 with three strikeouts on July 4th. Still, that’s a healthy 6-14 in his first three games back with Cleveland, a welcome sight for any fantasy managers concerned about possible lingering effects from the oblique injury.

The Franimal was on a torrid pace before going down in late May, slashing .257/.316/.576 through April and May. His first few return appearances have only built on that, as he’s now up to a crisp 140 wRC+ on the season. It would be a career high if the season ended today, but worth keeping in mind the small sample size—Reyes hasn’t hit his 200th plate appearance on the year, and there’s plenty of time for a cold streak. And indeed, a respectable .272 batting average on the season isn’t what’s creating that 140 wRC+—it’s the SLG just a few points shy of .600. It’s worked into a whopping .316 ISO, so high that if Reyes was a qualified hitter he’d be fifth in the league behind sluggers like Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

There are a few signs of concern, however. Reyes’ impressive wRC+ is largely propelled by his SLG, considering his OBP is right in line with his career norm. It’s due to a rather depressed 7.0% walk rate, the lowest of his (short) career. It’s also alongside a career-high 31.4% strikeout rate. Now both of those are fine if he keeps hitting the way he does (and while this level of power might be a tad high, I think a lot of his numbers are relatively sustainable), but it means whenever he does hit a slump, it might be a bit ugly.

Ultimately, Reyes is picking up right where he left off—and he left off two months into a career season. Even if he can’t quite keep this pace, I think Reyes is in for a monster second half. I wouldn’t count on a ton more stolen bases, though. Or any.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:

Alec Bohm (PHI): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

The offense was rolling for the Phillies as they knocked the Cubs below .500 on the season. Bohm had a big role, collecting two extra-base hits on the day and reaching an additional time on a walk. It’s a welcome sight for fantasy managers—after a breakout debut season in 2020, Bohm has struggled in 2021 with his wRC+ falling from a 139 in 2020 to a woeful 73 in 2021. It seems pitchers have adjusted and the question is whether Bohm can make an adjustment of his own. Right now, it’s hard to cut bait on his potential but brutal to stomach his (lack of) production. Keep in mind, he’s only 24 and doesn’t even have 500 major league plate appearances yet, so he’s got plenty of time to turn things around.

Andrew McCutchen (PHI): 3-5, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI.

Keeping with the Phillies theme, Cutch had a nice day of his own. It’s been a bounceback season for the 34-year-old after a down 2020, and he’s back to a respectable 117 wRC+. He’s not going to hit the heights of his prime with Pittsburgh, but he still produces as a solid fantasy player, especially for those in OBP leagues.

Max Kepler (MIN): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Kepler’s dramatic L/R splits will keep him from being an everyday player, but he’s got some nice potential when the platoon advantage is in his favor, as evidenced by the double dongs last night. Even with last night’s performance, Kepler has a mediocre 101 wRC+ on the season. While his walk rate is always nice, he’s looking at a career high in strikeouts. It’s feeling like his breakout 2019 was the outlier. Unless he can start seeing lefties better, he’s not really worth rostering unless you play in daily leagues and can work the matchups effectively.

Josh Bell (WSH): 3-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Another 2019 breakout star with a poor 2020, Bell also hasn’t been able to match his offensive production from 2019. His walk rate is at a career low and he’s striking out more than normal. It feels a bit like he’s swinging for the fences in hopes of replicating his 2019 success and it just isn’t quite working. A slow start is a big cause of the poor numbers, however—in the last month, Bell has slashed .314/.392/.557 and is looking much more like the Bell of 2019, including with his plate discipline metrics. If the buy window is still open, you should pounce, but it may be too late.

Jose Rojas (LAA): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Recently recalled from AAA to resume his debut MLB season, Rojas had a nice game but it only brought his batting average (through 136 plate appearances) up to .213, coupled with below-average walk and strikeout rates. There’s a little bit of power in his bat but he’ll need to prove himself in a few other areas before it becomes fantasy-relevant.

Rhys Hoskins (PHI): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Anyways, back to the Phillies. After his breakout debut in 2017 where he slugged 18 homers in just over 200 plate appearances, Hoskins has been incredibly frustrating to own, especially if you’re not in an OBP league. This year is no different, as he’s currently tied for a career low in wRC+ (which, to be fair, is an above-average 113) and rocking career worsts in walk rate and strikeout rate. After a nice—albeit short—2020, it’s a step backward for Hoskins, who even at his worst can be valuable. It’s not like you’re dropping him, and I think he’s due for some positive regression. In his last three games, he’s gone 5-13 with a pair of homers and a pair of doubles, so we could be on the front end of a hot streak.

Rafael Devers (BOS): 3-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

This guy is so good. Currently leading the Red Sox in OPS (yes, better than J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts), Devers is posting the best walk rate of his young career alongside the highest power numbers. At just 24 years old, it’s exciting to see someone so good continue to find ways to improve.

Brandon Lowe (TB): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.

It’s been a rough season for Lowe, who looked like he was truly breaking out last season as one of the top offensive 2B of the league. Instead, he’s been slashing a depressing .205/.314/.432 with a strikeout rate north of 30%, including a brutal platoon split, putting up a respectable 139 wRC+ against righties and a 39 wRC+ against lefties. It’s not all bad, though—today’s grand slam came at the hands of lefty Logan Allen, and Lowe has been legitimately heating up of late, slashing .226/.316/.571 over the last month with eight homers. Last season was a bit too good to be true, but Lowe is definitely working his way back into the conversation as a valuable fantasy contributor, especially at a position like 2B.

Ben Gamel (PIT): 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI.

Have a day, Ben Gamel. The Pirates’ offense exploded against Atlanta for 11 runs, in large part due to the double dingers from Gamel—a two-run shot in the fourth followed by a three-run shot in the seventh. He tacked on an RBI double in the sixth for good measure. There are some interesting elements of Gamel’s profile (which our own Michael Ajeto wrote about last year), but he’s never quite lived up to the hype. He’s having an okay season since being traded from Cleveland in April, though yesterday’s performance pushed him from an 89 wRC+ to an above-average 105 wRC+. He’s worth keeping an eye on, but not yet rostering.

Ke’Bryan Hayes (PIT): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.

After a dominant debut in 2020 where Hayes put up a 195 wRC+ in just under 100 plate appearances, it turns out that a BABIP of .450 isn’t exactly sustainable. He’s come back down to earth with the rest of us, slashing .252/.328/.423 (good for a 107 wRC+) through over 100 plate appearances this season. While not eye-popping numbers, he’s been able to improve his walk and strikeout rates, and the 24-year-old is well on his way to becoming a solid franchise player. As he gets more big league PA under his belt, he should continue to settle in nicely.

Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Dylan Burris

Dylan has been a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan since 2015. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he devotes most of his non-baseball attention to college basketball.

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