I have to confess the title is misleading in that Harold Ramírez‘s barrel rate is actually low at 4.9%. Regardless, he’s been a hit machine and his bat has a barrel, so why not? The righty was at it again last night with another two knocks for the Rays as they battered the Yankees 9-0. Suddenly, things are getting close in the AL East with the Rays only four games back in the loss column.
Ramírez missed just about a month with a right thumb fracture on July 16th. Since returning, he’s hitting .338 with 13 RBI in 15 games while emerging as the Rays’ cleanup man. And if he qualified, his .332 average on the year would just edge out Paul Goldschmidt for the best in baseball.
The Rays seem to have an uncanny knack for finding productive players off the proverbial scrap heap. And Ramírez really fits that bill. He first debuted for the Marlins two years ago and then was claimed off waivers by Cleveland just before the 2021 season. Last November, he was DFA’d and traded to the Cubs for cash considerations. Fast forward to about two weeks before opening day, and the Rays acquired their cleanup hitter in exchange for a thirty-year-old middle infielder named Esteban Quiroz. Meanwhile, on the other side of last night’s contest, you’ll find the Yankees paying Josh Donaldson a comparatively exorbitant fee to hit .220 with a .685 OPS.
The 27-year-old righty isn’t a good bet for home run power as he hits the ball on the ground too often; he’s a little similar to Yandy Díaz but without the walks, as he’s a very aggressive hitter. However, his tidy 14.5% K rate should make him a strong batting average contributor, and hitting in the middle of the Rays lineup he should continue to be a steady source of RBI.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Joc Pederson (SF): 2-2, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB.
Hopefully, you didn’t have to start Kyle Gibson. Yikes. A splash hit for the Jocness Monster as he tattooed a first-pitch slider from Gibson 415 feet into McCovey Cove in his second at-bat. The single in his first at-bat wasn’t too bad either—a 360-foot RBI single to left off the base of the wall. The perfect night brings his OPS to .871, his highest since ’19 with the Dodgers when he hit 36 home runs. He’s been a force this year, especially for daily leagues when you can play him against right-handers. This year’s 15.3% barrel rate is easily a career-best.
Bo Bichette (TOR): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Bichette’s first home run since August 9th came in the ninth with two away on a high fly off Yohan Ramirez that just cleared the wall in left-center. The 24-year-old’s K rate has come up this year to 24.3% after 19.9% last season, and he’s also produced just a .308 wOBA against fastballs compared to last year’s .361 wOBA. On the bases, he’s been caught seven times this year, equal to the number of times he had been caught from 2019-21 combined.
Cal Raleigh (SEA): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
The first homer came on a liner to right off Cody Morris hit at a sweltering 113.9 EV. He later tagged Brian Shaw on a hanging breaker for his second career multi-home run game. Just like that, in about 130 less PA, Raleigh has tied Willson Contreras with 21 home runs for the most among catchers.
Gunnar Henderson (BAL): 2-4, 2 2B, R.
Not a bad Camden Yards debut for the top prospect. Facing the former Yankee left-hander JP Sears in his first at-bat, he turned on a 2-2 slider and hit a groundball double down the line in right. The second double came on a groundball to left off of lefty reliever Kirby Snead. The 21-year-old has five hits, including a home run, and a stolen base through his first three games. In 65 games with Triple-A Norfolk, he posted a .894 OPS while hitting .288 along with 10 steals.
Travis d’Arnaud (ATL): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.
The former Met hit his first of the night on a hanging slider from Sandy Alcantara in the fourth before blasting another off Cole Sulser in the seventh. He’s up to 16 dingers and a .347 wOBA, which puts him fourth among catchers (300 PA min) just behind Will Smith.
Atlanta’s whipper snappers were at it again too; Michael Harris II hits his 15th off Sandy Alcantara as his stock continues to skyrocket. Not to be outdone, Vaughn Grissom also tagged Alcantara for his fourth of the year.
Bubba Thompson (TEX): 1-2, R, BB, SB.
Did you know Thompson played high school football with Jalen Tolbert, who was drafted by the Cowboys this past April? He then received offers to play football for the University of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi among others before the Texas Rangers drafted him 26th overall in 2017. Anyway, he’s up to ten steals since his call-up on August 4th. He’s been hitting ninth mostly, so outside of the steals, it’s probably best not to expect much help in the other categories.
Rafael Devers (BOS): 2-2, 2B, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB.
The Red Sox were one of the chalk stacks of the night in DFS as they were facing Dallas Keuchel. And they didn’t disappoint as they pelted the former Cy-Young award winner for seven earned runs. In the fifth, Devers just missed his 26th of the year on an RBI double that banged off the Monster in left-center. Enrique Hernández also hit a pair of doubles and is hitting .283 since his return from the IL on August 16th.
Connor Wong hit his first major league home run of the year and might be someone to keep an eye on if you’re looking for a new backstop in a two-catcher league. He hit 15 home runs in 81 games with the Woo Sox in Triple-A so he has some pop. Maybe the Red Sox give him a chance to see what he can do; it’s not as if the Reese McGuire/Kevin Plawecki tandem was destined to set the world aflame.
Tommy Edman (STL): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Edman’s three-run jack came in the eighth off southpaw Sean Newcomb and produced the game’s final score of 8-0. With his third round-tripper in the last five games, the switch-hitter is now up to a career-best 12 dingers. His .258 average is maybe a little disappointing but considering the 26 steals it’s hard to complain as he’s certainly been one of the most productive ninth-place hitters in fantasy. Leadoff man Lars Nootbaar continued his second-half surge with a longball to left-center also off Newcomb.
Riley Greene (DET): 1-4, R, BB.
Nothing huge from Greene last night. But, he has quietly put together an 11-game hit streak while batting .422 during that span. The Tigers have a three-game set against the Angels next week and he should miss Shohei Ohtani so that’s a plus. After that, the Tigers’ road trip continues in KC.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)