(Photo By Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire)
We’ve seen a pair of hitters swat three HRs in one game during the first week of the season and I felt the need to scrutinize each longball. Maybe there is some sustainability here, maybe it was just one of those days. Let’s find out.
Matt Davidson– 03/29 vs Kansas City
It’s worth noting that Davidson flew out to the track in his first at-bat. He came THIIIIIIIS close to a four-homer game.
Home Run #1 – Top of the Fourth, Nobody on, 2-1 fastball. EV 115.1 MPH, 435 ft.
This was a flat out mistake from Danny Duffy. Duffy set Davidson up with 2 fastballs to start Davidson out 1-1. He tried and failed to get Davidson to chase a slider, then Butera called for a fastball middle low. Duffy elevated the pitch and it ended up right down the pipe. Davidson did what power hitters do and launched it. That’s as easy as it gets for hitters.
Home Run #2 – Top of the Fifth, Nobody on, 1-0 slider. EV 114 MPH, 426 ft.
Blaine Boyer really loves that slider. He tried to hit the outside corner on the first pitch and missed low. No harm, no foul. But then he tried it again and left it in the same place Duffy left that fastball and Davidson uncorked another no-doubter. Wham bam, thank you, ma’am.
Home Run #3 – Top of the eighth, Two on, 1-0 slider. EV 113.9 MPH, 376 ft.
After a 6 pitch walk and a missed 89 mph fastball from Brian Flynn, Davidson took advantage of another mistake. Flynn was supposed to get this slider down and in riding down towards Davidson’s back foot. Instead, Flynn left it up and a bit over the plate- Davidson got around on it and yanked it down the line. This one shows off Davidson’s skill the most.
Davidson is an interesting high upside play. His power is nothing new as he knocked out 26 homers in 118 games last year- now at age 27, he could be primed for a massive breakout. The biggest thing holding him back is his average and accompanying strikeout rate. If he can cut down his swings and misses without sacrificing power, he could be a very intriguing option. He’s got the potential to hit .265/.270 with 30-35 HRs and that’ll really help your lineup. If he’s still out there in 12 teamers, give him a look.
Christian Villanueva– 04/03 vs Colorado
Villanueva also had a career night. Now let’s look at each of his homers and then assess the sustainability.
Home Run #1 – Top of the First, Nobody on, 3-2 slider. EV 105.2 MPH, 403 ft
Kyle Freeland was missing his spots badly throughout the entire at-bat. After the umps gifted him a strike from his slider on the outer half, Freeland peppered Villanueva with fastballs. After four fastballs in six pitches, Villanueva was waiting for an off-speed pitch and got one. It was supposed to be on the outside corner, but Freeland left it right over the heart of the plate and Villanueva knew exactly what to do with it.
Home Run #2 – Bottom of the Fourth, Nobody on, 2-2 changeup. EV 105.6 MPH, 404 ft
Freeland’s got a big problem with his changeup. His fastball sits 91-92, but his changeup sits 87-88. There’s not a large difference there, and I think he could get more deception by slowing down his change. This could be a contributing factor in it’s -3.7 pVAL in 2017. After throwing 4 straight fastballs, Freeland thought he’d catch Villanueva off guard and this actually wasn’t a bad pitch. Iannetta called for it down and away and that’s where it was; it’s not easy to pull the changeup down and away for a home run but Villanueva did it. His career heat map looks fairly good in that spot against changeups so it could’ve just been a failure in the scouting report. Either way, nice blast.
Home Run #3 – Bottom of the Seventh, Two on, 0-1 fastball. EV 107.1 MPH, 391 ft
Senzatela already has a low-velocity fastball. If you’re pumping 91, you’ve gotta locate it right, and Senzatela flat out didn’t. The pitch was supposed to be inside but this is simply left right over the heart of the plate. Kudos to Villanueva for taking advantage.
Anyone who hits 3 homers in one game deserves a pat on the back, and it can hardly be taken from him. This will likely go down as the best day in Villanueva’s career, however. He’s a relatively moderate power guy, capping out at 20 HRs in 454 AAA PAs in 2017 with a .296 AVG. I don’t see him surpassing 20 HRs in 2018, nor surpassing .250-.260. His batted ball profile just doesn’t seem to support much higher.