Oscar Gonzalez (CLE): 2-4.
It wasn’t a huge night from Oscar Gonzalez, but two more hits brought his average up to an even .300 on the nose. Who doesn’t love arbitrary samples? On that note, since September 1st, the righty has a 1.043 OPS, good for 14th. And, of course, someone forgot to tell Elvis Andrus it’s not 2011; He’s 13th in that span and had three more hits last night and a stolen base.
Anyway, back to González; We saw his power percolate last year as he posted a career-best .272 ISO in 49 games with Double-A Akron. He followed that up with a .234 ISO in 72 games with Triple-A Columbus.
Fast forward to this season, and the 24-year-old not only kept hitting for power, but he also trimmed his K rate from 24.9% to 14.3% before getting called up. In 296 PA with the Guardians, he’s got a 20.3% K rate along with nine home runs and a decent .182 ISO.
There’s bound to be flukiness whenever you dice up an already small sample size, but so far this year, he’s hit six home runs against breaking pitches along with a reasonable 30.9% whiff rate. At the very least, it might give us an indication that he can cover breaking pitches, which would bode well for his ability to stick in the majors. The one clear drawback is OBP, as he’s very much a free swinger. Otherwise, he has the makings of a very interesting late-round pick for drafts next season.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Yordan Alvarez (HOU): 4-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.
The big fella had been quiet in the second half supposedly due to a hand injury. But, yeah, wow. So much for that. A perfect night for the left-handed slugger has his OPS up to 1.033 trailing only Aaron Judge, and he also needs just four more longballs to reach 40 for the first time in his career. But seriously, no one could get on base for the man!?! A thoroughly useless piece of trivia that I’m curious to know is how many four-hit, three home run games have netted three RBI. After the game, the 25-year-old indicated he was merely looking to make solid contact on the last home run, which happened to travel 464 feet. Indeed. Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far. And baseballs will, too.
Luis Rengifo (LAA): 3-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.
His first of the night came off Robbie Ray in the third, and the second one came as a lefty against the reliever Matthew Festa in the seventh, pushing the Angels’ lead to 8-4. The 25-year-old switch hitter hasn’t shown much power; He has just 27 home runs in 1132 career PA, so this performance, the first multi-home run game of his career, seems even more unexpected. He’s now up to 13 on the year, just one shy of doubling his previous career-high of seven from his rookie 2019 season. He’s been one of the few bright spots for the Angels this year; the only blemish is the .305 OBP.
Matt Chapman (TOR): 3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.
Chapman was in the middle of a power drought and hadn’t hit one out since August 20th against the Yankees. But thankfully, Jordan Lyles was up to the task and served up a 3-2 meatball right down broadway for Chapman’s 25th of the year. The Blue Jay third baseman added a two-run dinger in the sixth and is now four away from his second career 30 home run season.
Christian Walker (ARI): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Walker was the entire D-Backs offense last night. That sounds a little familiar. He hit his 33rd of the year off Blake Snell before adding another against Craig Stammen in the ninth with the game far out of reach. He’s tied for eighth on the home run leaderboard with Shohei Ohtani and Mookie Betts.
Brandon Drury (SD): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
He got the better of Madison Bumgarner twice in the Padres’ 12-3 blowout win over the D-Backs. The second one was a 468-foot bomb to left center. The righty’s big night pushed his OPS to .838, and he’s now just three home runs away from reaching thirty for the first time in his career. Ha-Seong Kim also had a loud night for the Padres, but his home run came in garbage time courtesy of a 51 MPH heater from Carson Kelly in the ninth.
Joey Meneses (WSH): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
The 30-year-old righty showed some power with Triple-A Rochester, banging out 20 home runs in 96 games, and he also held a trimmed K rate of 21.5%. So far, his power has translated as he holds a .913 OPS across 38 games. The home run was an inside-the-park job to deep center off Jesús Luzardo in the seventh; J.J. Bleday tried to catch it against the wall, but the ball caromed away from him and onto the warning track in right, giving Meneses enough time to scamper home.
Oneil Cruz (PIT): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Well, Taijuan Walker nearly made it through eight but was blown to bits by a Cruz missile. Seriously, this man has it in for baseballs; his 412-foot no-doubter just to the right of the big apple in center field had an EV of 112.4. That’s what Walker gets for thinking he could sneak a 1-2 fastball past the rookie shortstop. His bat is electric, but right now, the one glaring weakness is his ability to cover offspeed and breaking pitches.
Gunnar Henderson (BAL): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.
The Orioles have faded a little and are 4-6 over the last ten. Still, this team is all about the future, and their fans should be giddy. Henderson’s second career home run came in the ninth on a 0-2 high and away fastball from Yimi García that he slashed 370 feet the other way to left. Through 58 PA, he has a .953 OPS with a 20.7% K rate. And, of course, Adley Rutschman also hit one out from the right side against the southpaw Yusei Kikuchi.
Willy Adames (MIL): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.
Adames has really made a home for himself in Milwaukee. The home run last night tied the Brewers’ single-season franchise record for home runs from a shortstop with 29. And he did it on Robin Yount’s birthday too.
Cody Bellinger (LAD): 1-3, R, RBI, BB, 2 SB.
I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a player whose career arc has been more bewildering. From RoY to NL MVP to a .640 OPS at 27. But, hey, at least the hit brings him over the Mendoza line, and the two steals give him 14 on the year.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)