In the Aeroplane Over the Seager

Dylan Burris covers all of Friday's most interesting hitters.

It seems strange that we’d need to highlight Corey Seager (SS, Los Angeles Dodgers) in 2020. Rookie of the Year in 2016, twice awarded the Silver Slugger, two-time All Star—Seager is not new to the baseball world. But after a dominant 2016 and 2017, his 2018 season was marred by injuries. Last year, it was clear that he had not yet fully recovered.

But oh, has he recovered now. Seager has started off the 2020 season with a blistering 1.104 OPS, supplementing it last night with his third home run of the young season, a solo shot off Diamondback reliever Kevin Ginkel in the eighth inning. Laces out next time, Kevin. Through the first eight games of this bizarre 2020 season, Seager is slashing .344/.417/.688 with a wRC+ of 204, placing him at 22nd in the league (just ahead of fellow slugging shortstop Trevor Story). After two down seasons, anyone who drafted Seager this year got him at a hefty discount and is already reaping the rewards.

The Seager resurgence appears legitimate. One of the primary issues the shortstop had last season was health, after coming off a long offseason rehabbing Tommy John surgery along with a procedure on his left hip. It was evident that he hadn’t quite regained his former strength. His recovery was exacerbated by a hamstring injury that cost him about a month of the season, and his hard hit rate in 2019 was the lowest of his career. This year, he’s at the top of the Statcast leaderboards, with a Hard Hit % of 65.5 (he has 19 balls hit at 95+ MPH—second in the league is his new teammate Mookie Betts with 14), and his Barrels/PA % is a whopping 19.4%. In short, he’s absolutely crushing the ball right now, and it backs up what we always thought Seager was capable of. For those of you who drafted Seager somewhere in the 100-150 range, it could be the league-winning decision.

Let’s see how some other hitters did Friday:

Tommy Pham (OF, San Diego Padres)2-5, R, HR, 4 RBI, SB. One of the best examples of a power/speed combo in the league, Pham did what he does best, stealing a base in the fifth inning and following it up with a three-run bomb off closer Wade Davis in the ninth to put the Padres in the lead. Pham hasn’t wowed anyone with his hitting yet this season, posting a .267/.389/.400 slash-line, but he’s showing off his trademark baserunning, leading the league with five stolen bases already(next-highest total is teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. with three).

Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros)3-5, 2 R, 2B, 4 RBI, SB. The Kyle Tucker we’ve been dreaming about!  Tucker isn’t quite getting the playing time we’d like to see (only 22 plate appearances so far, thanks Dusty!) but he’s making them count, putting out a solid wRC+ of 111. He showed off his versatility last night with three hits, including a double, as well as a stolen base (his second on the season), amassing four RBI over the course of the night. Don’t get too excited though, as he’s still rocking a 4.5% walk rate while striking out 31.8% of the time.

Charlie Blackmon (OF, Colorado Rockies)3-6, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. Blackmon isn’t hitting leadoff for the Rockies this season (that honor goes to David Dahl), but he’s settled in nicely to the third spot, sandwiched between Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado. Despite contracting COVID-19 in the summer, he’s returned to form, slashing .308/.333/.462 through six games. He piled on three hits last night, including an early dinger in the first inning off Padres’ starter Garrett Richards.

Brian Goodwin (OF, Los Angeles Angels)2-3, R, HR, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB. Over a week into the season, and the league-leader in wRC+ is… Brian Goodwin, as we all predicted. The Angels’ outfielder is putting up a .450/.522/.950 slash-line through 23 plate appearances, putting him just ahead of slugger Giancarlo Stanton on the leaderboards. Not bad. Obviously this isn’t sustainable, as he’s rocking a .538 BABIP, but ride the hot start while you can—the now-Troutless Angels certainly will.

Travis d’Arnaud (C, Atlanta Braves)3-4, 2B, 5 RBI, BB, SB. In just his second game back, the longtime Mets’ catcher plated in five runs against his former team, helping the Braves edge out the Mets in a back-and-forth shootout. While the eyes have been on William Contreras and his MLB debut, d’Arnaud will be a crucial piece of the puzzle for Atlanta, and a night like this with three hits shows just what he can contribute. He even threw in a stolen base, just the second of his career.

Anthony Santander (OF, Baltimore Orioles)3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. We gotta give a little love to the Orioles, and in fact they’ve got several hitters who have gotten off to hot starts (and quite a few who very much haven’t). Santander is one of the former, smacking his second homer of the year last night, a two-run shot off of Rays’ starter Blake Snell. Santander had a positive COVID-19 test and was delayed arriving to summer camp, but has clearly settled in nicely, posting a .273/.333/.636 slash-line in the lovely confines of Camden Yards. He’s a sneaky-good play thanks to the home ballpark and his spot in the Orioles’ lineup, especially in this weird season we find ourselves in.

Mookie Betts (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—3-5, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. The man needs no introduction, but it’s hard not to highlight Mookie’s night, crushing a solo homer (his first of the year!) to kick off scoring in the fourth and adding an RBI single in the fifth. He even added a two-out double in the ninth in an attempt to spark a comeback for the Dodgers, but the team fell short. You don’t need us to tell you how good Mookie is, but he’s had a slow start to his first season in Dodger blue, with just one homer, one stolen base, and a .720 OPS. This might be the spark that gets him going.

Wilmer Flores (1B, San Francisco Giants)1-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Flores only had one hit in last night’s contest, but he made it count, smashing a three-run homer in the fifth inning to put the Giants into the lead for good. He also walked and scored another run. It was just his first walk of the season (not wholly unexpected for a guy with a career walk rate just over 5%) but has kept his strikeouts down, too, posting a solid .813 OPS for the Giants.  The Giants aren’t exactly a powerhouse in the NL West, but as long as he’s hitting in a comfortable spot in the lineup, he’ll continue to post solid counting stats.

Robinson Cano (2B, New York Mets)—3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. The Mets may have lost their shootout with Atlanta, but they have to be pleased with Cano’s performance last night. He piled on three hits, including his first homer of the year—a solo shot off Sean Newcomb—and adding a walk. The Mets’ lineup is scary on paper but hasn’t quite been able to lead their team to a winning record. The 37-year-old is doing his part, slashing .360/.429/.520 through the first eight games of the season.

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, San Diego Padres)—2-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, SB. The Padres could be scary this year, as we highlight another power/speed threat in Tatis. He stole his third base of the season, good for second-highest in the league, and added a homer—his second of the year. He’s hitting leadoff and excelling in all facets, with a shiny .313/.421/.625 slash-line through eight games.

 

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

Dylan Burris

Dylan has been a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan since 2015. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he devotes most of his non-baseball attention to college basketball.

  • Avatar Mike Honcho says:

    Would you take Goodwin over Lopes? J. Peraza over JP Crawford?

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      These are pretty interchangeable parts to me, Mike. Lopes could steal some bases that Goodwin won’t, but Goodwin’s bat is probably better/more stable. Sort of the same thing on the other side, with Peraza being faster and JP having a higher ceiling with the bat.

      Not loving any of these four as a starter in any but the deepest of leagues (16+ teams) but they’re streamable when hot and playing.

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