Jake McCarthy (ARI): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB.
This time of year usually brings us some unexpected fantasy heroes, and the D-Backs outfielder certainly looks like the latest. In the first inning of last night’s 13-10 barn burner, the lefty grooved a 94 MPH fastball from Germán Márquez and sent it 451 feet to right-center for his eighth longball of the year. With the bases juiced in the fifth, he slapped another fastball from Marquez the other way into left for a two-run single before also swiping his 16th bag of the year.
A Competitive Balance Round A pick in 2018 after three years at the University of Virginia, the D-Backs have to be thrilled with what he’s done this year. Since August 1st, shortly after turning 25, the Scranton, Pennsylvania native has swiped a league-leading 12 bases. And he’s been pretty darn good with the bat, too; he’s hitting .316 with a .886 OPS during that 34-game span, along with a trim 13.6% K rate. Compare that to last year when he made his debut and hit .220 with a 32.9% K rate across 24 games. What a difference a year makes.
The speed is absolutely legit, as he stole 11 bags in 36 games with Triple-A Reno while also hitting .369. There’s almost certainly at least a little good fortune involved considering his .358 wOBA is backed by a more modest .318 xwOBA. Sure, his batted ball data isn’t superlative, but that’s small potatoes. The speed and vast improvement in K rate since he made his debut last year are more than enough for me. And really, we’re at that point of the year where your best bet is riding the bats that are producing, and he’s certainly been a huge difference maker, especially over the last month or so.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Wander Franco (TB): 3-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI.
He’s back! And not a moment too soon as he ruined Derek Jeter night at Yankee Stadium. He burned Frankie Montas in his first at-bat with a double before scoring the first run of the night on a double off the bat of Randy Arozarena. In the fourth, the 21-year-old single-handedly crushed Aaron Hicks‘ soul; his fly ball down the line in left caromed off Hicks’ glove and the outfielder stood inert for what seemed like several decades before realizing that the ball was in fact fair. The end result was a two-run double. Let’s see if he can help catapult the Rays into first place and complete the Yankee collapse.
Corbin Carroll (ARI): 1-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.
Home run number two was an opposite-field shot off a slider from Márquez. You all know Carroll’s upside. But he could be a tricky gamble coming up as the D-Backs open the week against the Dodgers, so he’ll likely face Dustin May and two tough lefties.
TJ Friedl (CIN): 2-5, HR, 2 R, RBI.
The lefty tattooed
George’s Jason Alexander’s third pitch of the night for a home run to right-center. He’s hit leadoff for the Reds in four of the last five and is up to six dingers and six steals in 49 games this year. The 27-year-old debuted last year but didn’t do much in 14 games. This year though, he’s shown a little bit of power/speed and with an excellent 14.9% K rate, so he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on. Jonathan India also hit his tenth of the year and tripled to help the Reds in an 8-2 win over the Brewers.
Michael Harris II (ATL): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Harris II extended his hit streak to 15 games with a double to left off Robbie Ray in his second at-bat. And then, sure why not, he crushed homer number 16 the opposite way off righty reliever Matt Festa in the sixth. During his current 15-game hit streak, he’s slashing .455/ .508/ .800. Be still my beating heart.
Ryan McMahon (COL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
The Rockies and Snakes took turns playing tee-ball at Coors Field as they combined for 23 hits. McMahon led off with a home run to straightaway center on an 88 MPH meatball from Zach Davies. He tagged Davies again in his third at-bat, this time on a changeup to right. Lately, the Rockies have been rolling with McMahon in the leadoff spot, where he’s hit .224 with a .283 OBP across 12 games. Elias Díaz hit two dingers. Also of note for the Rockies was C.J. Cron’s mammoth 504-foot blast off former Angels reliever Keynan Middleton. The poor baseball, what did it do to deserve such a fate?
Alex Call (WSH): 3-4, HR, R, RBI.
That’s two home runs in a row for Call, who the Nats claimed off waivers in early August. The 27-year-old was impressive in 71 games with Triple-A Columbus as he posted a 16.1% walk rate and 16.4% K rate while hitting .280 with a .911 OPS.
Garrett Cooper (MIA): 3-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Cooper wrecked David Peterson’s night with his eighth round-tripper of the year. The perfect night brings his slash to .262/ .338/ .411. The 31-year-old righty is a very good hitter, but the lack of a supporting cast makes him a tough player to roster; Since August 1st, the Marlins are dead-last with a .264 team wOBA. The Pirates and Tigers are next at .283.
Eric Haase (DET): 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
If you need help at catcher, Haase is definitely worth a look. Last year, he banged out 22 home runs in 98 games, so he’s shown power before. He’s started in six of the Tigers’ eight games so far in September and has been hitting either cleanup or fifth. Spencer Torkelson also went three-for-five and has a modest four-game hit streak. He was called back up on 9/2.
Oneil Cruz (PIT): 3-5, 2B, 3B, R, 3 RBI.
Yes, he’s striking out at a sky-high 36.9% clip, but when he makes contact. Woah. The single in his last at-bat was hit at 117.7 MPH, and his max EV is 122.4; Giancarlo Stanton leads qualifiers at 119.8. Cruz also has a 98th percentile sprint speed too. His talent is just on another level; the only question is can he lower his K rate? On that note, he’s still piled up 11 K’s over his last eight games. He has a 59.3% whiff rate on breaking balls and a 54.7% whiff rate on offspeed pitches, so you know how pitchers are attacking him now. It’ll be very interesting to see if he can adjust. For now, he’s a total risk/reward play for the final weeks.
Bo Bichette (TOR): 2-4, 3B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
He’s really cruising right now. In 34 games since August 2nd, he’s hitting .329 with a .990 OPS. During that span, he has a .422 wOBA, tied for tenth with Shohei Ohtani.
Nico Hoerner (CHC): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB.
He’s up to 18 steals on the year and has three in his last six games. The 25-year-old doesn’t have much power as this was just his ninth of the year in 471 PA. But he’s a career .281 hitter with a Luis Arraez-like K rate of 10.8%.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter