Josh Bell (WSH): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
So what if Josh Bell lost a majority of his teammates at the deadline? He was the new guy on the block himself just a few months ago after being traded from Pittsburgh in the off-season. Suddenly, he finds himself as a core piece of the offense that obviously revolves around Juan Soto, with Bell himself now closely in orbit. Thursday’s three-hit performance (his third such game of the season), including his 19th home run of the season, along with the three RBI and two runs scored, helped soften the blow made by the front office this past weekend.
Bell is surely making up for his slow start to the season that saw him slash .207/.268/.400 through the end of May. Since the calendar flipped to June, Bell has been slashing .285/.344/.542 with 12 long balls, seven of which have come as recently as the All-Star break. The mass exit of the rest of the mainstays in the Nationals’ lineup at the trade deadline has not affected Bell, who continues to hit clean up and has found ways to continue to knock in runs even without the added support, collecting nine RBI in his last seven games, dating back to the trade deadline itself. As Bell enters his final year of arbitration, one could expect him to continue to build upon this second-half surge as we finish out the final two months of the season.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday
Joey Gallo (NYY): 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Joey Gallo hit his first home run wearing pinstripes on Thursday, knocking a three-run shot that took advantage of the short right-field porch, and just barely made its way over the wall at 331 feet. The three-hit performance was surely welcome to Yankees’ fans and fantasy managers alike, as the single-game output more than doubled Gallo’s total hits joining the team at the end of July. The multi-hit performances should not be expected to be the norm for Gallo, but this could spark the start of a nice power surge for the slugger through the weekend.
Jarred Kelenic (SEA): 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Don’t look now but Jarred Kelenic might be good after all. On Seattle’s current road trip, which started July 3oth, Kelenic is now slashing .269/.367/.615 while striking out and walking at the same 13.5% clip. Small sample? Sure. But the three bombs in that time helps to show that something is clicking, which some are attributing to a batting stance change (or reversion).
Bo Bichette (TOR): 2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Bo Bichette’s fourth-inning home run marked his 20th of the season and now sits just three stolen bases away from the first 20-20 season of his career. There’s little doubt at this point that he’ll reach the mark and more of a question how far long he can carry his .334 BABIP through the final two months. The 49% hard-hit rate and the 20% strikeout rate combined with the natural speed Bichette has should provide a cushion and allow him to take advantage of that “luck” he’s seen most of the year.
Austin Riley (ATL): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Another day, another Austin Riley home run. After stringing together his best Kyle Schwarber and Joey Votto impression at the end of the month, Riley took some time off from hitting long balls and focused on other things, until the eighth inning of Thursday’s contest when he decided to crack one over the fence for his 23rd of the season. Few are seeing the ball as well as the Atlanta third baseman as of late. In the past 14 games, Riley is slashing .393/.443/.875 with eight home runs through 61 plate appearances.
José Abreu (CWS): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.
After ending July on a slow note to the tune of two hits through 26 plate appearances, José Abreu is turning it on in the early goings of August, collecting four hits in his last 12 trips to the plate, including a pair of solo shots. With back-to-back games with homers, Abreu has added to his power counting stats total as expected from the reigning MVP. He now sits second to just Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in total RBI with 82 on the season.
Rob Refsnyder (MIN): 2-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 BB.
Welcome back Rob Refsnyder? After rejoining the major league team from a rehab trip in Triple-A, the Minnesota outfielder gave his team little reason not to keep him around as he showed both patience (two walks) and power (107 mph double in the eighth) batting out of the fifth spot in the Twins’ line up. Unfortunately, Refsnyder very well may be limited to a short side of a platoon with Max Kepler, but if any current Minnesota outfielder starts to struggle Refsnyder may be the one they turn to fill in down the stretch.
Victor Reyes (DET): 2-4, 2 3B, R, 3 RBI.
Well, this was fun to see. Leave it to Victor Reyes to tally six total bases off two hits without hitting a home run. About every two weeks or so Reyes will put together a game like this and quickly revert to his .194/.221/.343 slashing self. Everyone knows the speed is there with Reyes, but it’s difficult to steal bases when you only reach first base 16 times on the entire season (four walks and 12 singles).
Rafael Ortega (CHC): 2-4, R, RBI, BB, SB.
In case anyone was unaware, the Cubs have a new lead-off hitter and despite the loss of their three most well-known hitters, he is finding ways to score plenty of runs. Rafael Ortega has scored 11 runs since permanently moving to the leadoff spot on July 27th. Of course, getting on base at a .462 clip in that time will help anyone’s chances of scoring runs. Since the All-Star Break Ortega is slashing .403/.448/.694 with a 46.7% hard-hit rate. Obviously fueled (at least a little bit) by the .512 BABIP, Ortega shows little reason to be pulled from the top of the Cubs’ lineup, and with the final stretch of fantasy baseball in front of us, one should be considering these types of streaks over struggling superstars who have not shown much beyond name recognition.
Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)