McMahon-key

Jim Chatterton covers all of Thursday's most interesting hitters.

Sometimes you have to give them what they want. And what they want are moon shots at Coors Field on a Thursday evening. Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B, Colorado Rockies) took care of two of those as he blasted a 427 foot and 433 foot home run (one to right center and the other to left center). He wrapped up the game with an overall line of 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB. McMahon is part of a slew of younger Rockies players that have been struggling to find a spot in the lineup for the past few years. This list includes David DahlGarrett HampsonRaimel TapiaBrendan Rodgers, and Sam Hilliard. There never seems to be room and when there’s a tiny opening, a Matt Kemp or Ian Desmond is shoved in there for a nice snug fit. I’m no player development expert but it seems to me that this plan Colorado has devised is not helpful in the slightest for these potential starters. Be it not playing every day or moving positions every other game, that does not look to be a solid foundation for continued confidence.

McMahon won a spot in the lineup nearly every day in 2019, playing in 141 games and racking up 539 plate appearances. He did wallop 24 home runs but it was a bit messy striking out nearly 30% of the time while sitting at an 88 wRC+. As a prospect, his power was intriguing and at Coors that can be even more appealing. A full season in 2019 was not a showcase of that, yet he did hit the ball hard (48% hard hit rate and nearly 92 MPH EV). But after a full year, you may expect some growth from a young player into the next season. McMahon seems to have taken a step back. He is seeing more pitches out of the zone and is making less contact on those. This has led to a spike in strikeouts (35.1%). Despite that, the contact he is making is still solid. His barrel rate has improved a tad and he’s hitting more fly balls. This can be promising for that power we are looking for. And over the past week we are starting to see that. He has four home runs in his last eight games, with an improved walk and strikeout rate and a BABIP of .214 with a .269 average. This could be the turning point for him in this odd little season.

Let’s see how the rest of the Thursday’s hitters fared:

Yandy Díaz (1B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Yandy has always been one of the strongest guys in the majors but didn’t figure out how to hit home runs until last year. His fly ball rate was down near 10% until last year when it bumped up to 17.2%. With his decent 44.8% hard hit rate (which was consistent with his earlier seasons) he finally hit 14 over the 79 games played. Yet in 2020 it looks like he’s gone backwards. A 7.2% fly ball rate (and 68.1% ground ball rate) coupled with a 27.5% hard hit rate has led to a poor season so far. Additionally, this first homer for him only went 344 feet.

Joey Wendle (2B/3B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-4, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI. Wendle seemed poised for a breakout in 2019 after a solid performance the year before. He never was one to show power but he could get on base and swipe a few bags here and there. With some injuries and a lackluster performance in 2019, Wendle has bounced back. He still has limited power (.175 ISO) but his BB/K has improved and is the kind of guy to just get the ball in play. He’ll then surprise with an occasional steal. He has position eligibility so if you are strapped in the infield he could help as a replacement but not full time.

Luke Voit (1B, New York Yankees) – 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. With the rest of the team falling to the IL around him, Voit has decided to carry the Yankees. This was his fifth home run in four games which included eight RBIs. He has scored a run in six straight, while getting a hit in his last 10. The K rate is always a tad worrisome but he’s slashing .311/.386/.730 with a .325 BABIP (lower than his usual). You can tell that he’s healthy by the way he’s hitting the ball. So now that he is healthy, we’ve got one of the better power hitters out there.

Andrew McCutchen (OF, Philadelphia Phillies) – 4-8, 2B, R, 4 RBI. McCutchen had two games yesterday and he took advantage of that. Two hits in each (only one extra base hit) adding four RBIs. He has picked it up after a rocky start. It didn’t help that the Phillies were on the shelf for a week right as the season began. But this past week has been McCutchen’s. He is slashing .357/.379/.536 in his last seven games. Only three of the ten hits were for extra bases. People seem to have been dropping him as he was a later round pick but as a player on less than 50% of fantasy teams (according to Yahoo) as the leadoff man in a potent Phillies offense, he could be coming around.

Rowdy Tellez (1B, Toronto Blue Jays) – 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. I know it’s only been 66 plate appearances for Rowdy but something has changed. His K rate is 15 percentage points below last year’s. He is swinging at pitches in the zone way more frequently (65% to 74.4%) and he’s making more contact on pitches out of the zone (59.8% to 64.8%). However, he is barreling the ball less. The home run last night though was certainly a barrel. He still shows he can crush a pitch as this ball travelled 429 feet at 117 MPH. He added another 109 MPH single. He’s a first baseman to keep an eye on.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (2B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – 3-6, HR, R, 4 RBI. Gurriel’s bat has started to heat up over the past few games with hits in his last six including yesterday’s home run. I was a big fan of what he put together in his injury shortened season last year with 20 homers in 84 games and a 124 wRC+. His great 45.3% hard hit rate and 11.2% barrel rate certainly caught my eye as a young Blue Jay. I was excited what he could do fitting in to the rest of the young Blue Jay lineup in 2020. So far it hasn’t been as I’d hoped. He only has one barrel on the year and his hard hit rate as dropped seven percentage points. He dealt with left-side discomfort at the start of the year so it is possible that is still hampering him at the plate.

Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox) – 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB. Anderson is a BABIP king. Last season he finished with a .399 BABIP and has kept that rolling into 2020. It never seems sustainable (and a rate this high shouldn’t be) but he’s still producing. Notably, at the top of the Sox lineup, in front of some great hitters, he is scoring runs constantly. He is now at 22 on the year in only 16 games played. He’s also started swiping some bags with his three on the season all coming within the last five games.

Eloy Jiménez (OF, Chicago White Sox) – 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB. In his second season, Eloy continues to show himself as a threat at the plate. But there’s some interesting behind the scenes stats that stand out to me. He’s barreling the ball at a 17.2% rate (impressive) with a 53.1% hard hit rate. However, that all comes with a 10.9% fly ball rate. He hasn’t been hitting the ball in the air but still is barreling so many. Last season his fly ball rate was in the mid-twenties and with the way he’s hitting now, if he gets the ball off the ground he’ll be even more dangerous.

Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox) – 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB. Moreland had a good game. I guess I’ll write a nice blurb. Wait… is this the right player? Is he really slashing .360/.448/.840? He has seven homers in 17 games. He’s barreling the ball at an absurd 26.5% rate. He’s still maintaining his underlying stats from previous seasons, but this year all of his contact has been near perfect. I can’t imagine this continuing for much longer but if you need a first baseman he’s probably available (28% rostered on Yahoo).

Eric Hosmer (1B, San Diego Padres) – 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB, SB. Hosmer hit a grand slam last night. It was the fourth consecutive game where the Padres hit a grand slam, a major league record! Overall, Hosmer is having a bit of a renaissance. He’s shown more patience (14.8% K rate). He’s getting the ball off the ground (40.4% ground ball rate, at least 15 percentage points lower than the last four seasons). And last, he’s pulling fly balls. That should help with his power. Hosmer also swiped a bag along side his grand slam for good measure.

Wilmer Flores (1B/2B, San Francisco Giants) – 3-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB. Flores is known for crushing lefties and that is what he did against Suarez with his 400 foot dinger. His other remarkable trait is his contact. The 10.9% K rate is being carried over from his time in Arizona last year, and with that has come his overall success at the plate. So far in 2020, he is slashing .322/.348/.552 with six dingers. There seems to be a pattern with Mets role players leaving and finding more success. He’s having quite a year so far and at 16% rostered, he’s a decent scoop if you are looking for a first or second baseman.

Matt Chapman (3B, Oakland Athletics) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Last night was Chapman’s second two homer game of the season and this one was special. Both were absolute bombs. 428 and 434 feet at 110.9 and 110.0 MPH respectively. He seems to be performing nearly identically to his overall last season. He hitting the ball hard (16.2% barrels, 93 MPH EV) and with a .250-ish average and high 120s wRC+. However, Chapman is struggling with his eye a bit. His walk rate has dropped from a consistent 10% to 5.4%. His K rate has spiked from 21.9% to 30.4%. He’s swinging and missing a whole bunch more. His swinging strike is up to 13.6% from 9%. It’s nothing to be too concerned about as it is abnormal and he’s still smoking the ball when he does make contact.

(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

Jim Chatterton

Jim has written for Razzball and now is a part of the Pitcher List staff. He is a Villanova alum and an eternally optimistic Mets fan. He once struck out Rick Porcello in Little League.

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