Javier Báez (DET): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Detroit may have 92 regular season losses, but they brought the thunder last night. Additionally, a primary source of power came off the bat of Javier Báez. Up by seven runs late, Báez was replaced by teammate Eric Haase after finishing the night with a 2-4, HR, 2 R, and 2 RBI performance.
Although, only 16 HRs on the season is nearly half as 2021. But that’s not what I’m finding the most interesting. His drop in K-rate and increase in swings outside the zone are tingling my brain.
For instance, how does a player swing out of the zone more and strike out so much less? There are obvious answers like he’s swinging aggressively early and then protecting the plate with two strikes. Perhaps, he’s pitch-hunting for certain types of pitching, in certain kinds of counts. Either way, Báez should make for an exciting off-season case study, as it appears he’s trying out a new approach.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday.
Wander Franco (TB): 2-3, 2B, R, BB, 2 SB.
Tampa’s lone run came on the back of a 1st inning double by Franco. However, he wasn’t finished getting on base and tried to be a disruption once aboard. The pair of stolen bases bumps his total up to eight, six more than his previous season. Although, many of us expected more production from Franco, who, unfortunately, missed loads of time due to injury. Still, at only 21 years old, he’s an immense talent capable of growing into the next big thing.
Jarred Kelenic (SEA): 2-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.
Kelenic might only be showcasing a 64 wRC+, but he had a night that’ll turn heads. Smacking HRs in the 4th and 6th inning helped keep pace with the Ranger’s offense. Indeed, the elite prospect shine has started to fade from the former number one but if he can find a way to decrease the swings out of the zone, and curb the K-rate, skies the limits. Am I undoubtedly back on him next season? Indeed, but at the appropriate discounts.
Marcus Semien (TEX): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
Speaking of having a double-dong night, Semien put his 25th and 26th over the fence. And when you stop and really examine his season, it’s likely better than the criticism has been. Yes, he’s 19 bombs short from his previous season, but adding in nine more stolen bases should help. Semien is part of an uber-elite group of seven individuals with 20 HRs and 20 SB. If you drafted him, don’t get greedy, he’s been terrific.
Avisaíl García (MIA): 1-4, HR, R, 4 RBI.
Avi was a dud at the plate as he started o-for-3, and Miami couldn’t get anything going against his former team. And then…with the bases loaded in the top of the 8th inning, Avi took a 1-2 four-seam fastball on a ride. The journey was completed after 364 feet, with the Marlins on top by two runs. Unfortunately, García’s season hasn’t been as productive as his previous one. The ISO is under .100, and the ground ball rate is over 55%-yikes!
J.D. Martinez (BOS): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
In the bottom of the 8th inning, Martinez broke the 3-to-3 tied game by sending his 14th HR into the stands, scoring two. Additionally, his 4th inning double put him into the scoring position as he flew around third base for Boston’s first run. What isn’t so spectacular is that JDM has exactly half as many HRs as in 2021. The power has eroded, and he’s started putting the ball on the ground more, which is not a good recipe for success.
Kyle Stowers (BAL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.
After getting sporadic playing time since his debut in mid-June, Stowers is enjoying a steady increase. In fact, he’s muscled his way into the starting lineup for four of the team’s last five games. But at the moment, he’s basically a replacement-level bat due to a 30% strikeout rate. While I can get behind his 48% hard-hit rate, there’s a little work to do with his plate discipline and overall contact rates.
Seiya Suzuki (CHC): 2-3, 3B, 2 R, BB.
Suzuki was the only Chicago Cub to cross home plate on Thursday night. Furthermore, he’s been a solid player when on the field. Except he’s had issues staying on the field and barely topped 400 plate appearances. But don’t fret, Cubs fans; there is a ton in his profile to adore. For instance, an 88% zone contact with an 11% barrel rate means he’s making good contact and punishing baseballs. Also, don’t forget his nine stolen bases and good sneaky speed.
Taylor Ward (LAA): 3-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.
Ward was a menage for Oakland pitching that simply couldn’t keep him off the basepaths. He’s been a pleasant surprise for the Angels as he enjoys career highs in nearly every category. Furthermore, the 23 HRs are the most unexpected addition to his game. But the Statcast metrics back it up: 11.7% barrel rate and 42% hard-hit rate combined with an impressive 80% contact rate. His 137 wRC+ looks justified, and many signs suggest a repeat in 2023.
Triston Casas (BOS): 2-3, 2B, R, RBI, BB.
Boston’s season hasn’t gone as expected, but on the bright side, Triston Casas finally arrived. The first base prospect came into the big with a 60-grade power and an affinity for the long ball. While he didn’t go deep last night, he’s put five baseballs into the stands in only 58 ABs. The biggest question we tend to ask ourselves about younger players is, will they be able to handle MLB-level pitching? Well, Casas sports a 17:17 K/BB ratio and .259 ISO. Yeah, he looks like everything we hoped.
Mark Payton (CWS): 2-4, 2 R, RBI.
Payton played a significant role for the White Sox in his second start at the big league level this season. His 3rd inning single helped tie the ballgame up before his 6th inning leadoff single put them on top of the division rivals. And even after Minnesota tied things up, Payton reached base via a fielding error to put himself in position to be the go-ahead run in the 8th inning. Unfortunately, it’s too late for Chicago, but nice to see a 30-year-old career minor leaguer get some September swings after paying many dues.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)