Christian Walker (ARI): 4-5, 2 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI.
In the midst of a career year, Christian Walker is, at least for some, making us forget he’s been in the majors in some capacity for the better park of a decade. A shortened 2020 made us forget a lot of things, one of which very well may have been Walker’s breakout 2019 season, where he found a way to play 152 games and knock out a career high 29 long balls. Walker is now on pace to eclipse that total and then some, though he’s doing it in a much different way. Simply put, the man is striking out less, walking more, and hitting the ball in the air at a career high clip. This has lead to the obvious career high slugging percentage of .469 and a career low BABIP of .206. Sunday’s four hit performance, Walker’s first four-hit game of the season and just his fifth such output of his career, was able to raise his season-long batting average from .211 to .218, so he has that going for him, which is nice.
Sunday saw Walker knock in four off a single, two doubles and a 460 foot blast in the 3rd inning, good for his 27th home run of the season. With seven plus weeks left in the season there’s little doubt that the Arizona first baseman will be setting new career highs in doubles, home runs, RBI, and walks while continuing to cut into his career batting average, despite the sub 20% strike out rate, for the first time in his career. Continuing to lift the ball over 46% of the time will continue to lead to plenty of fly outs, while the consistent 30% hard contact rate combined with a nicely placed 17 degree average launch angle will ensure that there will be at least a few more that find their way over the fence, perhaps helping fantasy managers look the other way on the batting average drain come playoff time.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday
Bryan Reynolds (PIT): 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, 5 RBI.
Hey, remember Bryan Reynolds? He’s pretty good at baseball. It’s easy to forget while he continues to wear a Pirates’ uniform and while he misses the better part of the month of July. Cherry picking dates is fun so let’s just look to see how Reynolds’ has produced from August 3rd through Sunday – oh, wow, pretty good. Shocking. Through his last 54 plate appearances, Reynolds has knocked out two home runs, stolen a pair of bases, and has slashed .333/.444/.533 god for a 177 wRC+ in that time. Batting 2nd every day, even in Pittsburgh, will undoubtedly provide Reynolds with plenty of opportunity to keep the counting stats at a competitive level; just imagine if he had actually been moved at the deadline. There’s always next year.
Albert Pujols (STL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
There’s very few who don’t see this season as Albert Pujols‘ farewell tour season, but man, it’s going to be difficult for him to hang up the cleats when he finishes this season just shy of 700 career home runs. After Sunday’s double shot, he now sits at a cool 689, giving him 10 on the season and as fun as it would be, no one is expecting him to more than double that amount in the next seven weeks, that is unless the Cardinals find themselves facing 25+ left handed starters over that time, which I guess could happen. They are expected to see three southpaws take the hill in the next six games, so they are on their way.
Amed Rosario (CLE): 3-4, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.
Amed Rosario has recorded a hit in 77 of the 108 games he’s played this season and in almost half of those games he left with a multi-hit performance, including Sunday where he put up his third three-hit box score in the month of August and ordered his second combo meal on the season and fifth of his career. Hitting second ahead of José Ramírez isn’t going to hurt matters the rest of the way, while maintaining a 52nd-best 31.4% hard contact rate will ensure Rosario sees plenty of opportunity to cross the plate from here on out.
Vinnie Pasquantino (KC): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Some (most) mid-season call ups can look lost at the plate when they finally get a taste of major league pitching. Vinnie Pasquantino is not one of those call ups. Through his first 170 major league plate appearances, Pasquantino has slashed .260/.341/.440 while walking 10% of the time and striking out 14% of the time. Knocking out four long balls in the past six games doesn’t hurt either. The new Royals’ clean up hitter is getting the opportunity and should continue to run with it, along with the rest of the Kansas City rookie class.
Alex Bregman (HOU): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Alex Bregman is still good at baseball, more breaking news at 11. The Houston third baseman collected his seventh multi-hit performance in the past three weeks, including his fourth home run in that time. There’s nothing actionable here, as Bregman has been as consistent as they come this season so if you roster him just enjoy the ride.
AJ Pollock (CWS): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Do the White Sox have themselves another new lead off hitter? AJ Pollock has now found himself at the top of the line up in each of his last six games and really seems to be enjoying it, collecting nine hits, six going for extra bases in that time frame. With Tim Anderson out for quite some time and Luis Robert hurt once again, this looks to be Pollock’s job to run with for the foreseeable future. Even the struggling White Sox should provide added run scoring opportunities to their lead off hitter, assuming he can continue to take advantage of the opportunity.
Thairo Estrada (SF): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.
Another combo meal on the day, this one being ordered by San Francisco’s Thairo Estrada. After missing the first week of the month, Estrada has jumped right back in with both feet, starting in the middle infield every day since his return and bookending his first seven games back with home runs and two RBI outputs. He has yet to take a walk since his return, but the nine hits and only two strikeouts (both coming on Sunday) have carried him on base plenty to not be bothered by that fact – yet.
Byron Buxton (MIN): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.
On Tuesday Byron Buxton was once again the Twins’ designated hitter and went 2-4 and a home run and two RBI. He returned to centerfield for the first two games of their series against the Angels and went a combined one for twelve with a walk. To end the series, Buxton returned to the DH slot in the line up and once again plugged in a two for four night with a long ball, two RBI, and threw in a stolen base for good measure. Coincidence? Almost certainly. But maybe….