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Good to Seiya Again

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

Seiya Suzuki (CHC): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

Among the countless fireworks across the country last night, one of the brightest came in Milwaukee as the Cubs’ can’t-miss rookie Seiya Suzuki returned from over a month-long stint on the IL due to a lingering left ring finger sprain.

Suzuki was ready to get back to work, finishing the day with a 2-4, HR, R, RBI batting line including three hard hits and an electrifying ninth-inning go-ahead inside the park home run off of ace reliever Josh Hader. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a storybook ending as the Brewers answered the Cubs’ late rally with a run of their own in the ninth before Victor Caratini hit a walk-off three-run blast in the 10th.

It doesn’t look like there are going to be a lot of bright spots in Wrigleyville this summer, but Suzuki’s return to the lineup and continual adjustment to MLB pitching should certainly be one thing for Cubs fans to enjoy. Prior to his finger sprain, Suzuki was hitting .245/.344/.432 with four home runs and three stolen bases over his first 163 career MLB plate appearances.

Suzuki’s impressive debut came largely on the back of a red-hot April when he hit .279/.405/.529 for a 154 wRC+ and looked like one of MLB’s next stars. Things cratered for the 27-year-old rookie in May, however, as his production fell dramatically. He finished the month with just a 71 wRC+, no home runs, and a walk rate of only half his April mark.

Which Suzuki the Cubs will welcome back to their lineup is anyone’s guess, but I think he’ll perform a lot closer to his impressive April numbers than his disappointing ones from May. Suzuki still has less than 200 career plate appearances under his belt, and as he continues to acclimate to the league, he should continue to improve.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:

MJ Melendez (KC): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Melendez hit two nearly identical home runs against the Astros yesterday. The first was a third-inning 385-foot big fly hit at 107 mph and a 33-degree launch angle. The second homer was a 388-foot home run hit at 108.6 mph and a 38-degree launch angle. If you watched both highlights back-to-back it would be reasonable to think you just saw the same play twice. The two home runs are hopefully a sign that Melendez is breaking out of a huge slump – he’d posted just a 26 wRC+ since June 12th. Although Melendez has struggled recently, he still offers a higher ceiling than most catchers you’ll find on the fantasy waiver wire.

Marcus Semien (TEX): 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB.

The Rangers and Orioles game was filled with drama on Monday afternoon, with one of the biggest hits of the day coming from Semien. He knocked a Jorge López sinker over the leftfield fence, giving the Rangers a late lead that they’d later cough up. Although Semien’s late-game heroics didn’t lead his team to a win, it’s been great to see him snap out of his prolonged dry spell to start the year. Since May 28th, he’s hitting .293/.348/.543 with 10 home runs and nine stolen bases.

Brandon Nimmo (NYM): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.

The Mets took down the Reds on the road 7-4 yesterday, and Nimmo knocked in or scored over half the team’s runs. It’s been an interesting campaign for the Mets’ centerfielder. Throughout his career, he’s notably been a patient hitter, but this year he’s upped his swing rate to a near career-high 46%. That’s caused both his strikeout and walk rates to reach new career lows – 16.2% and 9.2%, respectively. All in all, the more aggressive approach hasn’t led to new results for Nimmo. His .782 OPS and 343 wOBA are just a tad lower than what we’ve come to expect from Nimmo over the past two seasons.

Dansby Swanson (ATL): 2-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI.

It seems like I’m including Swanson in more Batter’s Box articles than not these days. His campaign to be the starting shortstop for the NL All-Star team continued on Monday, as he collected two doubles off of Cardinals’ starter Dakota Hudson in the Braves’ 6-3 win. Swanson leads all qualified NL shortstops in OPS (.868), wOBA (.375), and fWAR (3.8).

Yordan Alvarez (HOU): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB.

The Astros completed a five-run comeback against the Royals yesterday with Alvarez delivering the deciding blow. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Alvarez deposited a 3-1 slider from Scott Barlow 444 feet into the right-center field stands at Minute Maid Park – it was the second furthest hit ball of the day. Alvarez’s .310/.410/.653 slash line gives him a 201 wRC+, the highest mark in baseball.

Cedric Mullins (BAL): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Mullins got in on the high-scoring affair in Baltimore yesterday, hitting his seventh home run of the season as the Orioles would go on to win 7-6 over the Rangers. After breaking out with a 30/30 campaign last year, it’s been disappointing to see Mullins not be able to repeat his success in 2022. Through 79 games, Mullins is slashing .260/.317/.397 with seven home runs and 16 steals. His drop in power has certainly hurt his fantasy value, but he’s still on pace to finish with another 30 stolen bases.

Daulton Varsho (ARI): 3-4, R, 3 RBI, SB.

The Diamondbacks downed the Giants on Monday 8-4, and their catcher/outfielder extraordinaire was involved in half of the team’s runs. Varsho’s big day brought his season slash line to .242/.301/.416 with 11 home runs and five stolen bases. That line doesn’t jump off the page, but you’ll happily take it – especially the handful of steals – from your catcher spot. Varsho’s raised both his barrel and pull rates this year, but hasn’t seen a bump to his slugging percentage. If he keeps that profile, it’s likely we see his power production increase as we get further into the summer.

Victor Caratini (MIL): 1-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Caratini picked the perfect time to launch his seventh home run of the season, knocking it out of the park in the bottom of the 10th to walk off the Cubs, his division rival and former team. Caratini’s quietly putting together the best offensive season of his career, hitting .245/.368/.464. He’d be a great addition to a fantasy team, but he only cracks the lineup about three times a week. In really deep two-catcher leagues he may be worth a look, but nowhere else until he starts seeing more playing time.

Carlos Santana (SEA): 2-2, 2 R, 3 BB.

Yesterday was Santana’s best game of his short Mariners career and is a great representation of who he’s become in the late stages of his career. No extra-base hits, no RBIs, but yet a perfect day in the box, reaching base in all five of his plate appearances. Santana’s started the past seven games with his new team, all while hitting right in the middle of the lineup. If your fantasy team needs OBP help and can handle reduced power production, Santana is worth a look.

Jonathan Schoop (DET): 6-8, 2B, 3 R, RBI, SB.

Six hits!? In one day? That’s not a stat line you see all too often, but it did take Schoop two games to get it done. Regardless, six hits across a double-header are still impressive and they helped the Tigers to sweep the twin bill against the Guardians. Schoop’s had a rough go of it this season, so perhaps Monday’s big showing will be a turning point. He entered yesterday’s games with a 48 wRC+, the lowest mark among all qualified MLB hitters.

Adley Rutschman (BAL): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB.

Monday may have provided Rutschman with the biggest hit of his young career. Down to their final out, Baltimore’s young catching phenom rocked a Joe Barlow fastball to deep right field, doubling home the tying run. The Orioles would go on to win the game in the next inning. Rutschman’s big day at the plate snapped him out of a four-game hitless streak and raised his season batting line to .215/.282/.392.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from fantasy leagues to the legitimate defensive prowess of Kyle Schwarber as a left fielder. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

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