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No Smoking, YEPEZing Allowed

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday’s games

Juan Yepez (STL): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

In a week full of call ups, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle if a prospect wasn’t already on every mainstream prospect list. Enter Juan Yepez, the Cardinals’ designated hitter type who made his MLB debut a few days ago in right field and has not stopped to rest since. Since being recalled on May 4th, Yepez has found himself starting in the middle of the St. Louis lineup each of the five games he’s been on the roster and has collected multiple hits in four of the five games, including Sunday’s two for three night, including his first major league home run, two runs scored, two RBI, and a walk for good measure.

Yepez hasn’t given his new team much reason to give him a rest, collecting five hard hits in his first 20 plate appearances, good for four extra-base hits and a .474/.500/.750 slash. It’s not like this plate discipline and power have come out of nowhere. Just this season in AAA, Yepez was tearing the cover off the ball, forcing the Cardinals’ hand by launching nine home runs and slashing .279/.323/.651 in the first month of 2022, good for a 149 wRC+ through his first 22 games of the year.

Thus far Yepez has enjoyed feasting on major league pitchers who have fed him a heavy dose of fastballs, with 46% of all his pitches seen being of the variety. If he continues to struggle against the off-speed pitches he has seen, to the tune of a 62% whiff rate, he’s sure to start being challenged a bit more with high-end pitchers choosing to switch it up and forcing the 24-year-old slugger to adapt. For now, just enjoy the ride.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday

Colin Moran (CIN): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI.

Colin Moran ended his series against his old team in style, launching his first two homers of the season on Sunday as the Reds hosted the Pirates to cap off their three-game set. The two 400-plus foot bombs were also Moran’s first two barrels of the season, despite recording hard hits in seven of his last ten games before Sunday. The Reds’ big free-agent acquisition hasn’t done much to impress overall this season, but could use Sunday as a launching point to build off his sub 20% strikeout rate and nearly 10% walk rate, turning his somewhat unlikely .214 BABIP around in the coming days.

Pete Alonso (NYM): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.

After going 0-3 with a pair of strikeouts in the early game of their doubleheader, Mets’ slugger Pete Alonso turned things on in the second game, crushing his sixth homer of the season in the first inning, followed by his seventh in the fifth inning. The latter being Alonso’s third hardest-hit ball of the year at 111.4 mph and landing 426 feet away from home plate. Alonso has now recorded multi-hit performances in four of his last six games and sits with a 144 wRC+, good for sixth among National League first basemen.

William Contreras (ATL): 1-2, HR, R, 4 RBI, 2BB, SB.

After starting the season in Atlanta and launching two bombs in his second game, William Contreras was sent back to AAA to receive closer to everyday reps behind the plate. The injury to Manny Piña opened the door for his return and Contreras has been fine. He’s only played in three games since returning to Atlanta at the start of May, with Sunday’s performance easily being his best of the trio, as he launched his third homer of the season and even threw in his first stolen base, not only of the season but since Contreras found himself in A-ball in 2018. It was his fifth overall professional stolen base of his career, so maybe don’t go putting any prop bets on him to do it again in the future just yet.

Aledmys Díaz (HOU): 2-3, HR, R, 4 RBI.

Aledmys Díaz received his fourth start at shortstop this season and the Houston utility man put up his best day at the plate since his first game of the season, recording his second home run of the year and doubling his RBI total to eight. Díaz’s RBI accounted for four of the Astros’ five runs scored in their victory over the Tigers. Despite the emergence of Jeremy Peña as the heir apparent to Carlos Correa at shortstop, Díaz has found his way into the Houston lineup more often than not due to other injuries in the infield, allowing his versatility to force the issue and perhaps mask his overall production. Despite a sub-20% strikeouts rate and a respectable 7.4% walk rate, Dīaz is slashing just .210/.279/.323 through his first 68 plate appearances of the season.

Manuel Margot (TB): 2-3, HR, R, RBI, BB, SB.

Another day, another Manuel Margot bomb. That’s exactly what you expected right? Perhaps this is the breakout you’ve been looking for. The 27-year old is doing a little bit of everything this season, with equal parts speed (three stolen bases) and recent power (three home runs in the past three games), increasing his early-season slash to .325/.391/.494 and providing himself with ample opportunity to score runs, thanks in part to his current eight-game hit streak. Though even his 34.1% hard contact rate may not be able to sustain the .353 BABIP, you should be riding the hot hand while it continues.

Austin Hays (BAL): 4-4, 2 R, BB.

Austin Hays was itching to get back on the field after two straight rainouts over the weekend. Hays put up his second four-hit game of the season, tacking on a walk to cap off his 1.000 OBP game. After his one-for-three performance in the nightcap Sunday, Hays has now reached base safely in nine of his last 10 games but has just six runs scored to show for it, a product of hitting clean up for a Baltimore lineup that has yet to heat up beyond the top four. As a whole, the Orioles’ five through nine hitters have combined for a .214/.292/.326 slash line and a 28.4% strikeout rate, so not to provide Hays with a whole lot of support. If the weather warming up in Baltimore makes things any better for Hays’ teammates lower in the order, he could end up providing extra value to more fantasy teams.

Ryan Mountcastle (BAL): 4-5, 2B, R, RBI.

In perhaps an attempt to keep pace with his teammate, Ryan Mountcastle put up his first four-hit performance of the season. Mountcastle is consistently tearing the cover off the ball this season, recording a hard hit ball in 21 of his 26 games and averaging 2 MPH higher in his exit velocity on the whole compared to last season. Despite Hays and Mountcastle’s impressive day at the plate, the Baltimore bullpen would give this one away to Kansas City in the form of a 6-4 loss.

Dansby Swanson (ATL): 2-3, 3 R, BB, SB.

After starting the season going 10 for his first 58 and striking out over 40% of the time, Dansby Swanson sure has turned things around in a short time. In his last 12 games, Swanson is slashing .341/.404/.561 with a pair of bombs, two stolen bases, and 10 runs scored. If he had started off the year this hot he may have had a chance to force himself out of the bottom third of the line-up, but it very well may be too late for that.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Adam Howe

Adam resides in Indianapolis after spending the better part of a decade in Oakland, CA and growing up in Massachusetts. He co-hosts the On The Wire podcast with Kevin Hasting, analyzing your weekly FAAB options before your bid deadlines every Sunday.

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