Tyler O’Neill (STL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Tyler O’Neill had a stellar breakout 2021 campaign, vaulting him up the draft board for the 2022 season. He could crush the ball and had a bit of speed. Many people were worried about his high strikeout rate and the volatility that may bring to the future. But he had a hard hit rate over 50%, and that is tough to complain about.
Flash forward to 120 games into the 2022 season. O’Neill has only 302 plate appearances, eight home runs, nine steals, and an 89 wRC+. Back in May, he went on the IL with a shoulder impingement on his throwing side and then in June after playing only 13 games went back on the IL with a hamstring injury. That kept him out of the lineup until just before the All-Star break. He has been back since but has taken some days here and there as needed.
Now that those injuries are behind him, not much has changed in his performance. He still has a sub-100 wRC+ with similar rate stats across the board to his prior play this season.
What’s made such a huge difference to last year? His hard hit rate has dropped 10 percentage points to 42%. That is still great but couple that with a six-point drop in flyball rate and a 14-point drop in HR/FB rate and there’s little effectiveness there. His BABIP is below .300 while it has always been above .360 except for 2020 where is was under .200, despite a similar or even higher line drive rate to last season.
There is a good sign though. Yesterday he belted a 108 MPH homer (and a 108 MPH deep fly out), finishing the day 2-4 with a home run, two runs scored, two RBI, and a walk. This has been a trend as O’Neill’s rolling hard hit rate of his last 50 batted balls has steadily inclined since the end of April. It started at 30% and now has reached over 50% which is where he consistently was last year. If this stays in place, he could wrap up this season nicely and set himself up for a healthy and productive 2023.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
Trayce Thompson (LAD): 2-3, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB.
Thompson ripped a couple of hits including a homer for 423 feet. He got on base three times and scored each time. Thompson has hopped around a few clubs this season but found a home in LA. Since arriving in LA, he’s slashed .288/.378/.542 for a 159 wRC+ in 135 plate appearances. He is striking out almost 35% of the time and sporting a .424 BABIP. He also mostly rotates in off of the bench.
Marcus Semien (TEX): 2-5, 3B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Coming off of his best season and signing a big contract in Texas, Semien has been a bit of a disappointment. But I wanted to break it down a bit more. Despite the 100 wRC+ and the sub-.300 OBP, his counting stats have been excellent: 20 homers and 19 steals with 134 combined runs and RBI (top four for second basemen in each category). He’s not hitting the ball nearly as hard as last year, but he’s still putting the ball in the air just as often and he’s putting the ball in play much more often. He’s seeing more pitches out of the zone and swinging more often in general. Making contact on worse pitches means a poorer quality of contact. But more contact is better than no contact too.
Tommy Edman (STL): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Speaking of top second basemen, Edman fell off quite a bit in July, slashing .216/.262/.314 since July 1st. He has also only stolen five bases in that time span which is where his main value has been this season. Yesterday was a nice surprise, with his ninth homer of the season (second since July 1), a 394-foot dinger. He also added a 100 MPH fly out which you don’t see often from him. He at least has been scoring plenty of runs.
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC): 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Witt annihilated a couple of baseballs yesterday, a 112.7 MPH 429-foot dinger and a 105.4 MPH 393-foot triple. After a promising few months, Witt has been struggling in August. His rolling hard hit rate over his last 50 batted balls has been hovering around MLB average of 36% since July 5 after being around 50% for most of June. It is currently at 30%. He’s been striking out less while also almost never walking. A bit more plate discipline should be helpful, but with Witt’s speed, getting the bat on the ball at all is not an awful idea.
Elias Díaz (COL): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Díaz was a sleeper catcher for me this year. 18 home runs last year with Colorado in about 100 games played. That’s some power. And he’s still got the starting job with the Rockies so I was expecting something similar. This has not happened as yesterday’s home run was only the seventh on the season while he’s sporting a 78 wRC+. This also comes after being sidelined for only a couple of weeks with ligament damage in his hand. Only a couple weeks and he’s able to come back and pop a homer? That’s impressive.
Christian Bethancourt (TB): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Back at the beginning of July, the Rays acquired Bethancourt to primarily be their backup catcher. He has done that job, but over his last three games, he has hit a home run. Yesterday he hit two balls 105 MPH, one was a line out and the other scaled the fence. Since coming to the Rays, he has a 93 wRC+ and this is after this fantastic three-game stretch. And since he’s in a strictly backup role, there is not much room for him on a fantasy team.
Corey Dickerson (STL): 4-5, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI.
Dickerson was just hitting the ball yesterday. Two doubles, two singles, four hard-hit balls (including a 101.4 MPH flyout). Dickerson has mostly played the bat off the bench role and the platoon against righties. He has had a nagging calf injury keeping his playing time somewhat limited as well, missing most of June and some of July on the IL and then missing games here and there needing the extra rest for it. He’s not the underrated bat he used to be about five years ago.
Aaron Judge (NYY): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.
Who doesn’t love a good home run chase? Judge crushed his 48th of the year 116 MPH, traveling 453 feet. He also added a 108 MPH single and a 106 MPH fly out. He also stole his 14th bag of the season with six steals now in the past month (since July 23). A 50/20 year from Judge would be incredible.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)