Aaron Judge (NYY): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
When one has a chance to pull some low hanging fruit like this Arrested Development quote, there’s not much reason to hesitate. If you don’t get the reference, just continue reading anyway, I swear that will be the last one, unlike Aaron Judge’s home run in the first inning of Sunday’s contest against the Royals. As just the second batter of the game, Judge set the standard by which all other hit balls would be judged by crushing a Daniel Lynch 4-seamer 113 mph and 453 feet, easily the longest and hardest hit ball of the game. After following up that plate appearance with a couple of strike-outs and a ground-out, Judge ended his night the same way it began, this time take a Josh Staumont sinker yard, this time hitting just 395 feet at 106.8 mph.
Judge ended his day going 2-3 with two home runs, two runs, and three RBI. And no, this wasn’t the most impressive line from Sunday, but again, it’s the low hanging fruit for a title that I wasn’t going to pass up. The same low hanging fruit that Judge picked when given a 93 mph fastball down the heart of the plate by Daniel Lynch or a 98 mph sinker in the same spot by Josh Staumont. When pitchers are going to give it to a hitter like Judge, you best believe he’s going to pick it.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday
Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Kyle Schwarber wasn’t about to let the events of last Sunday soil his primetime appearance this week. The Phillies’ left fielder wasted no time putting his name in lights by crushing home runs in each of his first two plate appearances on Sunday. Schwarber would end the day with a game leading three hard hit balls, giving him his second straight three hard hit game and first game with multiple barrels.
Jeff McNeil (NYM): 4-5, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI.
Turns out, Jeff McNeil might still be good at hitting a baseball. He may not hit it as hard as some, racking up a 19.5% hard contact rate compared to the 25.6% MLB average, but he surely will make contact more often than most as shown in his current 86.8% overall contact rate compared to the 73.5% MLB average. Sunday marked McNeil’s eighth multi-hit game of the young season, with nine of his 26 total hits going for extra bases.
Dominic Smith (NYM): 4-4, 2B, R, 3 RBI.
What a difference a day can make. After going 0-4 with a strikeout and a walk on Saturday, Dominic Smith followed up on Sunday with easily his best performance at the plate this season. Perhaps Smith was just in the zone on Sunday, or perhaps the variety pitches the Phillies threw at him played a role. On Saturday, 63% of the pitches thrown to Smith were sinkers and 21% were splitters, resulting in a 37% CSW on the day. Sunday saw much more of a mix with Smith seeing seven different pitches throughout the day and whiffing at just one of the 21 pitches he saw.
Jordan Luplow (ARI): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Judge and Schwarber weren’t the only two-homer hitters on the day. Jordan Luplow put himself on the leaderboard in similar fashion to Judge, bookending his night with a shot in his first and final plate appearance of the evening. Luplow was nothing if not consistent, with all three of his hard hit balls being registered between 104.5 and 104.7 mph, including his fifth inning infield blast that may or may not have caused shortstop Paul DeJong to rush his throw, giving Luplow the additional time on base. Both shots were of the solo variety, but when your team ranks third from the bottom in OBP at .273, that shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.
Jorge Polanco (MIN): 2-5, 2 2B, R, 4 RBI.
Back in the clean up spot, Twins’ second baseman Jorge Polanco tied his season-high RBI mark with four on the day, thanks to a well-placed 108 mph double in the first inning, scoring two and then his second double in the seventh inning, placed almost 100 feet shallower in the same direction, giving two more runners ample opportunity to score. Polanco is going to need more games like these in short order to bring his fantasy value back up to where managers were expecting when he was drafted, as his .195 batting average surly isn’t helping. His 13% walk rate should provide him with more opportunities to steal bases when second base is open, but if he’s not successful in those attempts, those opportunities may start to dwindle if he continues to spend more time in the clean up spot of the line up, where he’s spent eight of his 21 games thus far.
Julio Rodríguez (SEA): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
There was a non-zero chance that Julio Rodríguez could have been a causality of the contracting May rosters, especially after starting his first three weeks of big league action with a .194/.270/.254 triple slash and a 37.8% strikeout rate. The Mariners (rightfully so) decided to stick with J-Rod and he rewarded their faith with this three-hit performance, including his first career home run and first three-hit game of his young major league career. Sunday marked Julio’s third game without recording a strikeout. Though Rodríguez is swinging as much as the MLB average (48.3% compared to 47.6% average), he’ll need to improve his below average 68.9% contact rate if he’s to put up more games like Sunday.
J.P. Crawford (SEA): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Missing out on his perfect day at the plate with a 101 mph shot in the dirt, J.P. Crawford still made contact with the best of them on Sunday, crushing three hard hit balls on the day, including a 383 foot shot in the second inning, his fourth homerun of the year. Crawford is now slashing .372/.462/.628 as the season turns over into May, fueled in part by a .379 BABIP, but also justified by increased discipline, measured by an impressive 9.7% strikeout rate. Consistently hitting in the five-spot of the Mariners’ order should continue to give the shortstop ample opportunity to build on his counting stat totals to match his impressive, if not unsustainable, batting average.
Adolis García (TEX): 3-5, 3B, R, 4 RBI, SB.
After finishing 2021 with a strikeout rate over 30%, one typically gets a certain stigma attached to them headed into 2022 as one who probably strikes out too much to justify their potential. Adolis García is doing what he can to squash those concerns, and though it would have been near impossible to replicate his start to 2021, his start to the current season hasn’t been littered with the same issues we saw in the final three months of the last. Sunday marked García’s first three-hit performance of the young season, but he’s recorded hits in 14 of his first 22 games and regardless of his .220 batting average, he’s striking out a bit less (25%) than what we may have been accustomed to. He may be able to turn that batting average up with a bit more luck and continued adjustment to bring up that current .250 BABIP.
Yadiel Hernandez (WSH): 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB.
Though Yadiel Hernandez hasn’t seen every day playing time in Washington, he’s taking full advantage of the match ups he’s been put into, slashing .340/.368/.509 through his first 57 plate appearances of 2022. Sunday marked Hernandez’ second three-hit performance of the season, but his first three hard-hit game, as he ended the game with a double in each of his last two trips to the plate at 99.7 and 100.5 mph, respectively. Though that gives him 17 hard-hit balls on the season, six of them were considered barrels.
Kyle Tucker (HOU): 3-4, 2B, R, 2 SB.
Yes, Kyle Tucker is still good, regardless of where he hits in the line up. Reports of his demise were grossly exaggerated.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)