No Ordinary Joe

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday's games.

Connor Joe (COL): 2-4, 2B, 3B, R, RBI, BB.

After languishing in the Minors for most of his career, Connor Joe made his Major League debut in 2019 with the San Francisco Giants. Joe was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Cincinnati Reds and promptly traded to the Giants. The Joe acquisition was one of the first major moves by new Giants top executive Farhan Zaidi, who knew Joe from his time in the Dodgers organization.

And yet, despite Joe’s gaudy Minor League numbers, he fell flat in his MLB debut.

He posted a triple slash of .067/.125/.067 in eight games and 16 plate appearances, which included eight strikeouts. Even though the Giants were in rebuilding mode in 2019, they designated Joe for assignment, and he was promptly returned to the Dodgers organization. For the remainder of the 2019 season, he posted a triple slash of .300/.426/.503 and hit 15 home runs in 446 plate appearances in Triple-A Oklahoma City.

If the disappointment of 2019 wasn’t enough, things became even more difficult personally in 2020.

During the COVID-affected season, Joe opted out after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Joe was able to battle the illness successfully, but he lost a year of playing time and became a free agent after the 2020 season. The Colorado Rockies took a flier on Joe. Clearly rebuilding, the Rockies gave him a Minor League deal prior to Spring Training, probably believing he would help with depth in their Triple-A team.

Instead, the Rockies gained a polished, surprisingly effective MLB hitter who could play multiple positions.

In 63 games and 211 plate appearances, Joe posted a triple slash of .285/.379/.469 with eight home runs and 35 RBI. It was a sensational rebound from his disappointing “Cup of Coffee” with the Giants in 2019.

However, with the signing of Kris Bryant and acquisition of Randal Grichuk this offseason, as well as the presence of Garrett Hampson, Rockies fans and fantasy managers wondered if Joe would get a serious shot for playing time in 2022, even with the newly added DH rule.

So far, Joe has continued to thrive in year two with the Rockies. He is not only hitting .344 with two home runs and four RBI in 38 plate appearances, but he is becoming a fan favorite in Denver.

On Saturday, Joe led all players in win probability added (WPA), which was fueled by a double that he hit off of Cubs starter Mark Leiter Jr., and a triple off of Cubs reliever Rowan Wick.

There’s still a lot of baseball remaining this season. However, the 29-year-old Rockie is proving that he is not only a dark horse All-Star candidate but that he is no “Ordinary Joe” as well.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

C.J. Cron (COL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Joe was not the only standout for the Rockies in their 9-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Cron went 2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI. After hitting 28 home runs and driving in 95 runs while producing an OPS of .905 in his Rockies debut a year ago, Cron has continued right where he left off in 2022. He leads the team with five home runs and 10 RBI and is posting a 1.232 OPS in 34 plate appearances. The former first-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels has obviously benefited from Coors Field’s hitter-friendly confines the past couple of seasons, and fantasy managers who picked him up in respective drafts have to be feeling happy with his hot start to the year.

Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 2-5, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, SB.

After a bit of a slow start to the 2022 season offensively, Angels fans and fantasy baseball managers are starting to see Ohtani come into form at the plate. On Saturday night, Ohtani went 2-for-5, which included a two-run home run hit with an exit velocity of 108 MPH off of Rangers reliever Greg Holland. Also, Ohtani drove in and scored three runs, and stole a base, his second of the year. Going into the Rangers series, Ohtani was hitting .160 with a .360 OPS. After the last five games against Texas, he has accumulated five hits and boosted his average to .231 and OPS to .763.

Hunter Dozier (KC): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

It has been a tough start to 2022 for the Royals offense as a collective. They currently rank 28th in the league in wRC+ with a mark of 65, and their .263 OBP is the second-worst mark in the league as well. That being said, Dozier has been a nice bright spot for the Royals in the middle of the lineup so far. The 30-year-old 1B/DH struggled immensely in 2021, as he posted a triple slash of .216/.285/.394 with 16 home runs in 543 plate appearances. However, this year, his line is .296/.321/.481, and in addition to hitting the game-winning home run on Saturday afternoon, he has accumulated five hits in his last three games.

Matt Olson (ATL): 3-4, HR, R, RBI, BB.

Freddie Freeman cast a big shadow at first base in Atlanta after helping lead Atlanta to a World Series title in 2021. And yet, the former Oakland Athletics first baseman has been as good as advertised in his first season with the reigning World Series champs.

Olson went 3-for-4 yesterday in Atlanta’s 5-2 win at Petco Park over the Padres, which included a solo home run to deep center field off of Nick Martinez. For the season, Olson is posting a triple slash of .412/.556/.676 with two home runs and seven runs scored in 45 plate appearances. Safe to say, it seems like Atlanta is happy with their move to replace Freeman with Olson thus far in 2022.

Patrick Wisdom (CHC): 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI.

The Cubs’ third baseman had a breakout season last year, as he hit 28 home runs in 106 games for the Cubs in 2021. However, he hit .231 while striking out 153 times and only walking 32 times. That kind of plate discipline doesn’t bode well for long-term success and Wisdom seemed to suffer at the beginning of 2022 due to his lackluster batting eye.

After April 14th, Wisdom was hitting .048 with a .135 OPS, which included 11 strikeouts to one walk in 23 plate appearances. However, over the past two games, the 30-year-old corner infielder has accumulated five hits, which included a three-for-four line against the Rockies on Saturday. Will Wisdom suddenly turn things around? Or is this just a flash in the pan, fueled by the hitter-friendly environment of Coors Field?

Zack Collins (TOR): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

After a long, up-and-down tenure with the White Sox as a backup catcher, Chicago traded Collins this offseason to the Blue Jays in what was essentially a swap of backup catchers. Collins had drawn the ire the past couple of years from impatient White Sox fans as he not only struggled offensively, but his framing left a lot to be desired as well (not easy when one is paired with Yasmani Grandal, who’s one of the league’s best).

Since moving North of the Border, Collins has thrived, as his framing has not only improved (54.3 percent strike rate), but he is hitting .385 with 1.077 OPS in 13 plate appearances. As a DH yesterday, Collins accumulated three hits, which included a first-pitch home run off of A’s reliever Domingo Acevedo (Matt Chapman had hit a home run in the previous at-bat). It’s a limited sample size, but Collins may prove to the White Sox that he was worth keeping in 2022.

Sean Murphy (OAK): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Murphy has become more widely known this season for the viral meme created after getting hit by a pitch in the backside on April 11th. And yet, the 27-year-old catcher is emerging as the Athletic’s most productive power hitter.

That was evidenced by his 2-for-4 performance against the Blue Jays which included a two-run home run off of Toronto starter Hyun Jin Ryu. For the year, Murphy is posting a .891 OPS and seems to be slotted in the cleanup spot in the Athletics batting order, which is good for fantasy managers who have stock in Murphy this season. Granted, he is still striking out a lot (33.3 percent K rate), and he won’t hit for a high average (.250), but for power and run production, there may not be a lot better options out there at catcher other than Murphy.

Juan Soto (WSH): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB.

The Nationals are struggling at 4-6, dropping their most recent game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, Soto continues to carry the Washington lineup, as he is hitting .314 with an OPS of 1.067. Soto has three home runs this year, and he was able to get his most recent on Saturday, which was a solo blast off of Pirates starter Bryse Wilson. Soto has four hits in his last two games against Pittsburgh after going hitless against them on Thursday night. The Nationals finish off the series against the Pirates this afternoon, which means that Soto has one more game to feast on Pirates pitching.

Alec Bohm (PHI): 2-3, R, 3 RBI.

Like Murphy, Bohm was in the news more for a “viral” moment rather than his play on the field early in the season. After a frustrating day defensively, and some sarcastic applause from Phillies fans, Bohm was caught on camera saying some “unsavory” things about the city of Philadelphia.

Since then, Phillies fans have endeared to Bohm, and Bohm, who was in danger of not making the Opening Day roster after a tough Spring, has parlayed that affection into his play. Bohm has accumulated four hits in the last three games, which included a 2-for-3, three-RBI performance against the Marlins on Saturday. Manager Joe Girardi has used Bohm sparingly, as he only has 16 plate appearances and made three starts so far in 2022.

His defense has been an adventure for sure and is a primary reason why he has found the pine after starting the first two games of 2022. That being said, if he can keep producing more multi-hit performances like Saturday, he may find himself more often in the Phillies starting lineup, even if it may be in the DH spot.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien is a high school educator and baseball blogger based in the Kansas City metro area. In addition to writing for Pitcher List, he writes about the Kansas City Royals at his own blog, the Royals Reporter, which can be found at royalsreporter.com.

2 responses to “No Ordinary Joe”

  1. Stephen Lidbetter says:

    Love your column. It would be nice to include each player’s position along with their team and stats (as per Yahoo and perhaps % rostered?) Just a thought. Thanks!

    • Thank you Stephen for the feedback! We typically have not done that, but I think that’s something we could suggest for our BB team! I know I will try to mention that in my weekly posts, especially for hitters who may still be widely available in leagues!

      Thanks for reading!

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