If you read my Bold Predictions from a few months ago you would know that I am a big believer in Franmil Reyes (3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI). I mean what’s not to like? The man is the size of an oak tree with a smile about as bright as a theatre marquee and hits baseballs a country mile when he makes contact. In fact, I had predicted him to be this year’s Jorge Soler and lead the league in home runs—that’s how much I believed in him. Then the season began and it all fell apart. Over the seven games Reyes played in July, he hit an abysmal .231 with zero home runs and just one extra-base hit, good for a depressing 41 wRC+. That’s right—over that stretch, he was 59% worse than the average baseball player. Against my better judgment, I started to panic. I mean, a tenth of the season was already over and it wasn’t looking good. Then the calendar turned over to August and Reyes remembered that his job was to hit round white objects to the moon and man, oh man, has it been fun to watch. This month he has slashed .360/.418/.700 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 14 games, good for a 195 wRC+. Over that time period, he’s basically been one of the best hitters in baseball.
As always with this season we’re talking small sample sizes but what changed for Reyes? The first thing that jumps out at you is that he stopped trying to pull the ball as much. Normally that’s what we want to see but you know Reyes is feeling right when he’s blasting the ball out to dead center. 24 of his 56 career home runs are classified as being hit to the straightaway portion of the park. For his career, he’s a .364 hitter when he goes back up the middle with a .393 ISO. In those seven July games, Reyes pulled the ball 45.0% of the time which was almost 7% higher than the previous season totals and his Cent% was down to 30.0% from his career norm of about 38.0%. As we mentioned before, he stunk. What about in August? His Pull% plummets all the way down to 34.3% and his Cent% skyrockets to 42.9%. Again it’s hard to argue with the results. In fact, for further reinforcement, since August 8th Reyes has hit four home runs, two doubles, and seven singles in seven games. His Cent%? 40.9%. Two of those four home runs were to center field. If he can continue to hit the ball to center field with this kind of authority (he has a 95.7 MPH exit velocity in 2020 when hitting the ball straightaway) he might be to make up for lost time and make a run for the league lead in home runs after all.
Note: Reyes was hit in the hand on Sunday but X-Rays have ruled out any breaks and it’s being called a contusion. The Indians have the day off today which should help but he might miss a game or two. Otherwise, he should be fine.
Let’s see how all the other hitters did on Sunday:
Stephen Piscotty (OF, OAK) – 2-4, HR, 2B, R, 5 RBI, BB. Stephen Piscotty is absolutely on fire for the first-place Athletics as his HR Sunday was his third in four games. There are signs that he’s shifting to an extremely pull heavy approach and it might explain how he’s managed to double his HR/FB% from last year. He’s barely being rostered in the majority of leagues and you could do a lot worse than picking him and seeing if the adjustment is for real.
Anthony Santander (OF, BAL) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Anthony Santander went for double dongs on Sunday with his sixth and seventh home runs as he continues his remarkable breakout season for the Orioles. He’s cut way down on his strikeouts and is hitting to all fields effectively so far this season. Better yet, he is putting up elite Statcast numbers, all of which support his power. He’s still available in a ton of leagues, but you can’t afford to wait too much longer to pick him up.
Randal Grichuk (OF, TOR) – 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI. We’re seeing a very different Randal Grichuk this season as this was just his second home run. He is clearly seeing the ball better this year as he’s nearly doubled his walk rate from last year and is pushing his plate discipline numbers into the elite range. We probably shouldn’t expect his .320 average to hold up but his xStats suggest that it may be more legit than you’d think and we should expect the power to start showing up here soon.
Brian Goodwin (OF, LAA) – 2-4, HR, R, RBI, BB. Goodwin is making the most of his playing time this season as he hit his fourth home run on Sunday and is now hitting .288 on the season with a .957 OPS and 154 wRC+. He is barreling the ball at god-like levels (17.5%!) and is starting to creep his way up the Angels lineup. If he can secure himself that sixth spot in the lineup with Trout, Rendon, and Ohtani hitting in front of Goodwin, he could end up a sneaky source for RBI.
Orlando Arcia (SS, MIL) – 3-4, HR, 3B, 3 R, 2 RBI. We shouldn’t expect this kind of power output regularly from Arcia but it’s still nice to see a home run and a triple on a beautiful Sunday of baseball. Arcia is hitting .304 on the season (up from .233 in 2019) by shifting to a straight-away hitting approach and has cut his K% in half by making drastic improvements in his plate discipline numbers. If you’re hurting for AVG, Arcia could potentially help if this new approach and success hold up. Based on his track record, though, I’d wait a little longer to see if it holds up.
Marcus Semien (SS, OAK) – 1-5, HR, R, 2 RBI. Is he back? His home run Sunday was his second in as many days, he’s riding a five-game hitting streak and has hits in nine of his last eleven games. I think he’s starting to work his way back into things and before long we should start to see the Semien we fell in love with last season.
Francisco Lindor (SS, CLE) – 3-5, HR, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI. There’s the Frankie Lindor we know and love. Watching a lot of Indians games this year, Lindor has just been pressing a bit too much after the shift to the third spot in the order. Hopefully, this is a sign he’s getting settled in and feeling more comfortable in the role. Stick with Lindor—he’ll turn it around.
Eduardo Escobar (3B, ARI) – 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI. I was glad to see this one got out too. Escobar has been abysmal this season so far but hopefully getting to string a couple of hits together with a home run is exactly what the doctor ordered to get him going again.
Raimel Tapia (OF, COL) – 3-4, 3B, 2 R, RBI. Don’t look now but Tapia has seemingly played his way into an everyday role in the Rockies outfield. I wouldn’t expect any power from him but he’s hitting .303 and gets to play in Coors so in deep leagues he could be a good average and counting stats play that might steal you a couple of bases along the way.
Max Kepler (OF, MIN) – 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI. Kepler’s average is way down so far this year but as Sunday’s home run can attest the power certainly hasn’t gone anywhere. I expect we see a hot streak pretty soon from him to right the ship and this could be the beginning of that run.
Garrett Hampson (OF, COL) – 2-5, 2 R. I’m going to keep bringing him up until y’all start rostering him but Hampson has scored at least one run in nine of his last ten games and is hitting .321 on the season WHILE LEADING OFF FOR THE ROCKIES. He’s going be a run-scoring machine and has already stolen two bags since getting a full-time gig. Don’t let him sit out there on the wire.
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)