Goldeneye

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

Many major league hitters have a good eye, but you could argue that Paul Goldschmidt’s eye is golden. Golden Goldy. Last night’s 1-1, 2R, RBI, 4BB, SB performance needs to be highlighted for the superior patience. Of course, when we talk about hitting, we tend to pull out the moments when the bat struck the ball and something good happened.

I’ve heard writers like Roger Angell say a walk and a home run are the same things. This kind of advice might not make sense outside of baseball, but anyone close to the game knows that patience leads to favorable counts where a hitter can do more damage.

Goldschmidt’s career OBP is .390, and in 2021, he had a down season. It was only .365, which was good enough to be in the top 25. He walked at a 9.9% clip, but he’s usually near 13-14%.

If we add the fact that he slugged .514 last year, but Fangraphs has his xSLG at .574, St. Louis fans are going to have fun watching Goldy’s golden eye in 2022.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday:

 

Tyler O’Neill (STL): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.

O’Neill was drafted by the Mariners all the way back in 2013, and his sporadic playing time in the majors goes back to 2018. Not a lot has stood out, but you’ll hear it said in this column again and again, hitters often need more time to develop. Many will point to 800-1,000 at-bats as the marker. Others will say this is a figment. O’Neill was remarkable last season, hitting 39 homers at .286/.352/.560. He’s at 987 at-bats after all that. Let’s assume he could get even better.

Steven Kwan (CLE): 1-2, RBI, 2 BB.

The spry-looking 24-year-old got his first major league hit yesterday. Other than Myles Straw, he was the only other Guardian to reach base several times. In 827 at-bats in the minors, he hit .301/.380/.438. And now in 2 at-bats in Cleveland, he’s .500/.750/.500. He’s a highly regarded prospect in Cleveland, and it must be nice for the fans to see him contributing right away.

Bobby Witt Jr. (KC): 1-4, 2B, R, RBI.

In addition to Kwan, top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. got his first major league RBI last night when he lashed a high pitch from Triston McKenzie to left-field, scoring the go-ahead run in the 8th inning. It was a great moment. Witt is only 21 years old and was drafted 2nd overall in 2019. It will be worth seeing how his .283/.350/.520 minor league line transfers to the major leagues this year.

Rowdy Tellez (MIL): 2-4, R, 2 RBI.

I’ll try not to make an 80’s reference to the old WWF star, Rowdy Roddy Piper, here. Tellez has been a bench player for Toronto for years. The last time he had more than 400 at-bats was 2019, when he hit 21 HR and slugged .449. He was batting fifth last night, between Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe. It’s worth keeping an eye on his playing time, but it’s safe to say that he could be a force in Milwaukee if he’s offered regular at-bats. See the point above (under O’Neill) about the number of at-bats it can take to thrive because Tellez is at 934.

Tommy Edman (STL): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

I must put another player from the St. Louis lineup in here for no other reason than the pre-season concerns over playing time and where he would bat in the lineup. He struggled in the spring, and while we shouldn’t necessarily read too much into spring stats, some people think that St. Louis took it seriously. He was moved to the end of the batting order last night, and instead of languishing, he popped one out. If he can move up in the lineup again, he can provide that Whit Merrifield speed. And that Whit Merrifield power.

Ian Happ (CHC): 3-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI.

Perhaps shaking off the rust from 2020, Ian Happ got off to a slow start last year. He hit .186 in his first 251 plate appearances and amassed 9 HR, 23 R, and 21 RBI in those at-bats. In the second half, he hit .260, which saw him pummel 16 HR. After last night’s strong showing, the rust may be gone for good.

Austin Riley (ATL): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Was it just a good year? How many articles can we read about Austin Riley and regression? Well, this is only one game, but it seems to continue last year’s theme. One big difference-maker for Riley has been the improved ability against right-handed pitching. This helped him breakout last year to the tune of 32 HR. His patience was starting to improve as early as the shortened 2020 season, as he went from a BB% of 5.4% in 2019 to 7.8% in 2020, and he sustained that rate in 2021.

Alex Bregman (HOU): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

There is some skepticism about Bregman returning to his glory days because of the leg injuries. But we should point out that he’s only 28, he’s on a good ball club, and he had a decent spring, though it might be worth pointing out he didn’t hit for any power. Perhaps he was saving it for Opening Day. Bregman hit 41 homers as recently as 2019, and he hit 31 in 2018.

Seth Beer (ARI): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Beer left the Padres standing in the field last night with a walk-off homer. A first-round pick in the 2018 Amateur Draft, in 435 plate appearances in Triple-A, he hit .287/.398/.511. He was even better in 280 plate appearances in Double-A. He’s not as touted as some other prospects, and he had shoulder surgery in September. There was some concern he might not be ready for the year, but here he is, hitting them out.

 

Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Josh Thusat

Joshua is a professor of English, but he's also an avid baseball fan who puts his research skills to work for fantasy baseball gamers. In addition to Pitcher List, Josh writes for FantasyPros. He teaches in the Chicagoland area.

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