Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel

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

Emmanuel Rivera (ARI): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

When the Kansas City Royals traded Emmanuel Rivera to the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher Luke Weaver, it was a deal that did not get much fanfare.

On one end, the Royals were trading a bench infielder who had just recently been demoted to Triple-A Omaha. As for the Diamondbacks, they were shedding an arm who just recently moved to the bullpen this season, but didn’t seem to be a guy who could handle high-leverage situations.

The Royals at the time needed relievers. As for the Diamondbacks, they needed infield help. Thus, the trade made sense on paper for both teams, even if it didn’t involve “superstar” talent.

However, since moving to Arizona, Rivera has been on an absolute tear to begin his Diamondbacks tenure.

In seven games and 26 plate appearances, Rivera has nine hits, with four of those hits home runs. His slash with the Diamondbacks is currently .391/.462/1.043, and he has demonstrated good plate discipline as well. Rivera has only struck out five times while drawing three walks, which is an improvement from the 46-strikeout, 11-walk line he produced in 63 games with the Royals this season.

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican native has been a bit of a lefty-masher this year. He hit .288 with a .892 OPS against a left-handed pitcher this year when he was a member of the Royals. One would think that Kansas City would value that kind of skill set, especially with an active roster that has so many left-handed hitters.

But Kansas City’s loss is Arizona’s gain.

Rivera most likely will not continue this tear, even in the midst of a transition to a more hitter-friendly home ballpark.

Eventually, the walk-to-strikeout numbers will start to look a lot more similar to his Kansas City lines as he gets more plate appearances in Arizona. In addition, his defense has always been a question mark, as he ranks in the 20th percentile in Outs Above Average, according to Baseball Savant. If his bat starts to turn south, it will be harder to justify everyday plate appearances, which eventually was the case in Kansas City.

Nonetheless, the Diamondbacks got a platoon bat at the hot corner at the very least, and he seems to be thriving in his new surroundings (playing some games at Coors Field doesn’t hurt either). On a fantasy end, in deep leagues, Rivera could be a worthy FAAB pickup, as long as one has some backup at the third base position.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

Max Muncy (LAD): 4-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

The Dodgers absolutely trounced the Kansas City Royals 13-3 on “Salute to the Negro Leagues” day at Kauffman Stadium, as the Dodgers donned the Brooklyn uniform that Jackie Robinson wore 75 years ago. While many Dodgers hitters had sterling performances, Muncy rose to the top with a four-hit, four-RBI performance. It’s been a rough year for Muncy as he is only hitting .189 with a .703 OPS. However, his barrel rate ranks in the 95th percentile, and his hard-hit rate ranks in the 77th percentile, so perhaps a surge is coming soon for the Dodgers’ first baseman.

 

Carlos Correa (MIN): 2-2, HR, R, 2 RBI, 3 BB.

Correa has battled injuries this year, which is a big reason why his .268 average and .784 OPS aren’t that impressive in his first season in Minnesota. Also, his July was rough, as he hit .175 with a .612 OPS in 91 plate appearances that month. August has been much better, as he is hitting .270 with a .782 OPS. That is a sign that Correa may be at or very close to full health, which could mean a solid finish for him and fantasy managers who roster him.

 

Ian Happ (CHC): 2-5, HR, R, 4 RBI.

Happ surprisingly is still in Chicago, as the Cubs opted to not trade him at the Trade Deadline. It has proven to be a smart move, at least temporarily, as Happ is hitting .282 with an .804 OPS in August, with the latter being 120 points higher than his July OPS. Against the Reds, Happ hit his first home run in the month of August, and also produce four RBI to boot. Happ may not be with the Cubs in 2023, as an offseason trade feels likely. That being said, with the “trade chatter” behind him for now, it seems like Happ can focus just on producing on the field, which has seemed to have a positive effect on him so far this month.

 

Isiah Kiner-Falefa (NYY): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

It hasn’t been a great Yankees debut for Kiner-Falefa, as he has struggled on an offensive (.640 OPS) and defensive end (14th percentile in Outs Above Average). Thankfully for Kiner-Falefa, Joey Gallo was around and drew most of the ire from impatient Yankees fans. Now that Gallo is gone, the pressure has increased on Kiner-Falefa, and whether or not he can be a long-term option in the Bronx. On Saturday, he took a step in the right direction to end the 2022 season, as he hit his first home run of the year against the hated Red Sox. If the Yankees want to solidify another AL Pennant and World Series title, they will need to see more games like this from Kiner-Falefa.

 

Matt Olson (ATL): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Atlanta took two from the Marlins on Saturday, and in the second game, Olson led the way with a two-hit performance that included a home run and three RBI. It hasn’t been easy for Olson in his first season in Atlanta, especially considering he is replacing fan favorite Freddie Freeman who helped lead Atlanta to a World Series title in 2021. But, the power is starting to gain some steam for him after the All-Star break, as he has seven home runs and is producing a slugging of .519, which is 31 points higher than his pre-All-Star break mark.

 

AJ Pollock (CWS): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

The White Sox constantly go back and forth as a club, seemingly taking two steps back for every step forward they take in the Wild Card and AL Central standings. A large part of that is due to inconsistency from the bats in their lineup, with Pollock being a prime example. Pollock’s line isn’t great, as he is only hitting .240 with a .652 OPS. That being said, one has to wonder what he could do on a regular basis if he wasn’t splitting time with Gavin Sheets and Adam Engel in the outfield. The White Sox will need one of those three to emerge in the next month-and-a-half, especially if they want to keep those playoff hopes alive.

 

Trent Grisham (SD): 2-3, HR, R, RBI, BB, SB.

Grisham was pretty much a fantasy bust to begin the year, and one cannot blame fantasy managers for parting ways with him after his .190/.292/.330 line in 345 plate appearances before the All-Star break. Since the All-Star break though, Grisham has just been a force, as he has six home runs in 75 plate appearances (in comparison to nine total prior to the All-Star break) and is posting a .973 OPS as well (which is 294 points higher than his first-half mark). With the arrival of Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Brandon Drury, playing time won’t be plentiful in San Diego. On the other hand, Grisham is doing his part to stay in the lineup as of now.

 

Vaughn Grissom (ATL): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Grissom is the latest Atlanta prospect who has absolutely tantalized fantasy baseball fans with a sensational debut (the other being Michael Harris II). In 15 plate appearances, Grissom has five hits, with two of those hits being home runs. He hit his second home run against the Marlins in game two of the Saturday doubleheader, which helped lead Atlanta to a 6-2 win. Grissom is only 21 years old, and he is striking out in 33 percent of his plate appearances thus far, so a reality check could be on the way. That being said, the other options at second base are Orlando Arcia and Ehire Adrianza, who are both on the IL currently. Just like Atlanta found lightning in a bottle with Harris, perhaps they can see something similar with Grissom during this stretch run.

 

Franmil Reyes (CHC): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

It seemed shocking at first to see Cleveland give up on Reyes, who had been the Guardian’s primary slugger the past few seasons. However, Reyes was hitting .213 with the Guardians this year which also included a .604 OPS mark, a career-worst. Considering Reyes was going to be entering his last year of arbitration next year, Cleveland probably figured it would be better to get rid of him now rather than wait in the offseason (especially with the club still fighting for a playoff spot). The Cubs claimed Reyes, and so far he has made the Cubs’ decision worth it. He has five hits in 12 plate appearances, which included a home run against the Reds on Saturday. It’s early, but it’s looking like the change of scenery may benefit Reyes and the Cubs for the remainder of 2022.

 

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.

One response to “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel”

  1. What’s the Mening of this says:

    No coverage on Joey Meneses? For the past few articles??

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