Hunter Season

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday’s games

Hunter Renfroe (MIL): 4-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI.

The Brewers gained some valuable ground in the Wild Card race on Saturday night. Not only did the Brewers beat the Reds 10-2, but the Phillies lost to Atlanta 6-3. As a result, Milwaukee’s gap for the last Wild Card sport narrowed to 1.5 games with 10 games to go.

Hunter Renfroe is certainly doing his case to carry the Brew Crew on the offensive end.

Acquired from the Red Sox for Jackie Bradley, Jr. last winter, the 30-year-old has had a career renaissance the past two years, hitting 31 home runs in 2021 and 27 home runs thus far in 2022. He has also posted batting averages of .259 and .253 in 2021 and 2021, respectively. Prior to 2021, Renfroe had never posted a batting average in the .250 range, beyond his rookie debut, when he posted a .371 average in 11 games.

Renfroe will be entering his last year of arbitration this offseason, as he is eligible to be a free agent after 2023. The Brewers will have quite the dilemma with the former Mississippi State product since it is likely both sides will be discussing an extension this winter.

On one end, there have been few corner infielders who have been as producing on a power end as Renfroe. However, he ranks in the 27th percentile defensively, and he may be destined to be a full-time DH sooner rather than later. With Rowdy Tellez on this roster, the Brewers may be looking for an outfielder who can provide at least something defensively.

The Wild Card race will be fascinating to follow in the National League over the next 10 days. Renfroe could make the case that he deserves that extension with a big end to the 2022 season.

But if he cools off? Fails to make a difference?

Milwaukee may explore a trade instead, perhaps getting ahead of the hot stove game with Renfroe’s value at its highest.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

 

Conner Capel (OAK): 3-5, 3B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Capel has only played 13 games thus far this year, including nine with the Cardinals and four with the Athletics. With the A’s clearly rebuilding, Capel could be making his case that he deserves some consideration for a roster spot in 2023. He not only had three hits Saturday, but he’s currently batting .323 for the year with a .952 OPS.

 

Anthony Santander (BAL): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

It’s not looking good for the Orioles, who are four games out of the Wild Card race with 11 games to go. Santander hit two bombs against the Houston Astros, but it wasn’t enough, as Baltimore lost 11-10. Santander has hit 29 home runs this year and could be due for an extension this offseason. He will be a free agent after the 2024 season.

 

Bryan De La Cruz (MIA): 4-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

The Marlins have been a mess, mostly due to lackluster performances from “expected” stars and a plethora of injuries. De La Cruz could be lumped in the former category, as he is only hitting .232 with a .673 OPS in 312 plate appearances. In the second half though, he is hitting .275 with a .789 OPS. It’s possible De La Cruz could be a dark horse outfield candidate in fantasy drafts this winter.

 

Oscar Gonzalez (CLE): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Gonzalez has come on strong as of late, as he is hitting .303 with a .881 OPS and six home runs in September. In fact, his home run total this month is more than his May, June, and August numbers combined. He could be a keeper or dynasty league cornerstone candidate, especially since he is 24 years old.

 

Javier Báez (DET): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Báez has been a disappointment in his first season in Detroit, as he is hitting .243 with a .681 OPS. To Báez’s credit though, he knows how to step up at the right moment, as he was a target of the South Side boo birds on Saturday night, due to his lengthy tenure with the Cubs. Báez not only had three hits but also hit a mammoth home run that he made sure to admire longer than usual…much to the chagrin of White Sox fans in attendance.

 

Triston Casas (BOS): 1-2, HR, R, 3 RBI, 3 BB.

The Red Sox top prospect had only one hit, but boy, it was a big one. Casas hit a two-home run off of Domingo Germán in the top of the second, which gave Boston an early 2-1 lead over the hated Yankees. It wasn’t enough though, as the Red Sox lost 7-5, which has been the story of their season: a lot of promise, only to be followed with even more disappointment. Let’s hope the same thing doesn’t happen to Casas in 2023.

 

Whit Merrifield (TOR): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

After being the franchise icon of the Royals since 2016, Merrifield has been regulated to a bench role in Toronto. And it makes sense, as he is hitting .230 with a .689 OPS with the Jays this year. Though his role has not been as significant in Toronto as it was in Kansas City, Merrifield will be on a playoff team for the first time in his career. Whether or not he’ll have much impact though is to be determined.

 

Michael Harris II (ATL): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Harris continues to add to his legendary rookie year. He not only had three hits, including a home run, but he did so against division rival Philadelphia, which cost them a game in the Wild Card race. Harris is currently hitting .306 with a .882 OPS this season, which is a big reason why he received an extension, even though he hasn’t played a full season just yet. Could he help Atlanta add another postseason ring to their championship mantle? If so, that extension will look like more of a steal by Opening Day in 2023.

 

Cal Raleigh (SEA): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

The Mariners looked to be on the ropes on Saturday, as they were down 5-2 against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, even with Logan Gilbert on the mound. Thankfully for Seattle fans, Raleigh hit a game-tying two-run home run (coming off the bench) and then drove in the go-ahead run with a double in the top of the ninth. With Julio Rodríguez on the 10-Day IL (and return unknown), the Mariners will need performances like Raleigh’s down the stretch to not only clinch a spot in the postseason but to do some damage as well.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien is a high school educator and baseball blogger based in the Kansas City metro area. In addition to writing for Pitcher List, he writes about the Kansas City Royals at his own blog, the Royals Reporter, which can be found at royalsreporter.com.

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