In the fourth inning of Chicago’s 12-2 rout of Minnesota last night, Luis Robert nonchalantly thumped a slider from Sonny Gray for a grand slam. He had a huge night, going 3-5 with two doubles, a HR, a Run, and 5 RBI.
On the season, he’s hitting .301/.332/.461.
In the last month, he’s hitting .333/.361/.540. Robert has a .913 OPS in that span of time. The 24-year-old is in the second year of a 6 year/$50 million contract, and given his mere 845 plate appearances, we still might be waiting to see his ceiling. In his brief major league career, he’s hitting .296/.340/.492 with 36 home runs alongside 26 stolen bases. Also consider that he’s having a down year (if that’s what you can call it), and everything is pointing to positive regression, with six home runs in his last 112 at-bats.
Here’s what I mean by a down year: In 2021 his Barrel% was 12.5%, but this year it’s 8.8%. His career Barrel% is 11%. Moreover, Robert is hitting the ball on the ground a lot more, going from a GB% of 36.6% in 2021 to 47.1% in 2022.
Even though he’s really good, he’s just now turning a corner (possibly). Since the beginning of July, he has cut that GB% back down to 35%. His FB% has been higher than it has ever been in his major league career in that same time period (45%).
His .445 SLG is accompanied by a .483 xSLG as well. I’m thinking this guy is gearing up for a big second half.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday.
Brandon Nimmo (NYM): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Nimmo showed some awesome power by hitting a 434-foot homer off Chicago’s Mark Leiter Jr. in the sixth inning. The Mets’ high-average leadoff hitter is in a slump, slashing .222/.311/.426 in July. But this is baseball, folks. It’s best to give a hitter his body of work. From June 14th, Nimmo is batting .279/.331/.468. His Barrel% is 7.9%, and if we look at his career Barrel% of 5.8%, we might see a glimmer of improvement here, particularly because his xSLG is .451 and Nimmo has jumped 24% to the 72 percentile in average exit velocity (he was in the 48th percentile last year). If I need a decent average without sacrificing power in the stretch run, I might consider Nimmo in my lineup.
Seby Zavala (CWS): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Zavala crushed a Nick Gordon slider in the top of the ninth. This gave Chicago a commanding 12-1 lead. Zavala only has 181 at-bats in the major leagues. He was drafted in Round 12 in 2015, and while his power is no joke (he hit 20 home runs in 331 PA in Triple-A in 2019), he does have contact issues (that same year saw him bat .222). You might not think so now, with that .296/.346/.437 slash line. But in 79 PA, his BABIP is .435. There will be some regression in the near future.
Andrés Giménez (CLE): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
Coming into last night’s game, Gimenez was batting .176 in the month of July, so it was encouraging to see him smack his 10th home run of the year. His season stats are still robust, with a .294 BA. His Hard Hit% is up nearly 10% this year, and this is accompanied by a 10% increase in LD%. That’s a significant change, indicating that he’s driving the ball more. Fangraphs says the BA is sustainable. Last night’s home run came off Tyler Alexander’s slider in the eighth inning.
Trent Grisham (SD): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB, SB.
Grisham may have hit a home run off Kyle Freeland in the fifth inning, but it was in Colorado. And it is important to point out just how frustrating his year has been. Grisham is batting .192/.295/.334. The 25-year-old does have some back luck in that .237 BABIP, but his 36.5% Hard Hit% from 2021 is now 28.4%. He’s now batting at the bottom of the Padres lineup and owns a .629 OPS compared to last year’s .740 OPS and the brief 2020 .808 OPS.
Andrew Vaughn (CWS): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Vaughn got a hold of his ninth home run yesterday against Jharel Cotton in the seventh inning. The 24-year-old is showing improvement in 2022 with a solid .288/.338/.446 on the season. He’s in the 93rd percentile for Hard Hit%, which plants him in the top-20 on Baseball Savant.
Gavin Lux (LAD): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
Lux is only rostered in 57% of Yahoo leagues, and I have to imagine that number will begin to increase as the season progresses. He has multi-position eligibility (2B,SS,OF) and he’s young enough to tap into some of the power he showed in the minor leagues (26 HR across two levels in 2019). Lux is just now reaching that magical threshold of 800-1,000 at-bats in the major leagues, and even though he consistently bats at the bottom of the Dodgers lineup, he has 44 Runs on the season (much like a leadoff hitter) and has two home runs in his last 35 at-bats. Lux hit his home run last night in the seventh inning off Dakota Hudson.
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC): 2-4, HR, R, RBI, SB.
There is a reason Witt was considered the top prospect to start the season. He now has 13 homers to go along with 17 stolen bases. He could easily reach a 25/25 rookie season. In the last month, he’s batting .283 with 14 Runs and 14 RBI. Last night, Witt got to Kevin Gausman in the fifth inning for a solo shot. It was a 96 mph fastball at the inside edge of the zone, and Witt pulled it into the left field seats.
Aaron Judge (NYY): 1-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
I guess Judge heard that Kyle Schwarber might be matching him for home runs because last night he catapulted himself to a three home-run lead in that category with his 31st home run. Maybe you don’t need a report that Judge hit a homer. Maybe you can just assume he hit one (most likely). Judge has hit seven homers in his last 100 at-bats, so it’s simpler math. He hits one around every 14 at-bats. Every 2-3 games, he’ll cause a pitcher to hang his head in frustration. Relievers count how many batters until his spot in the lineup, so they can take a breath or get nervous. His .964 OPS is ridiculously good, and last night Jeff Hoffman was the reliever that took the brunt of this awesome power.
Pete Alonso (NYM): 1-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
The Mets enjoyed a considerable lead already when Alonso hit a two-run shot in the eighth inning off reliever Mark Leiter Jr. They would go on to beat the Cubs 8-0. The 27-year-old now has 24 home runs on the season with an astounding 74 RBI (1st in that category). I hope everyone sits down for the Home-Run Derby this Monday to see if he can win his third title in a row.
Gleyber Torres (NYY): 1-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Torres has slowed in the power category of late, only managing two in the last month. However, his season has been a bounce-back campaign by any measure. He has 14 home runs with a .273 BA. Last year hit 9 HR. That’s it. Last night, Torres mashed a game-tying home run in the eighth inning off Jeff Hoffman. Torres may not get back to the 38 HR season of 2019, but the 24 HR season of 2018 seems like a possible floor for this season (and hopefully the future).
Rafael Devers (BOS): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.
It’s clear that Devers has been playing through a lingering back issue. But it doesn’t seem to stop his power output. With a .978 OPS (3rd) on the season, he’s batting .313 in the last month with five homers. He has 20 HR on the season now. Even the 60 Runs is 5th for the category across the league.
Josh Bell (WSH): 2-5, HR, R, RBI.
In the first frame, Bell walloped Kyle Wright’s curveball 431 feet for a grandiose solo shot. Bell has a .300 BA, which plants him squarely in the top 25 for the category. His OPS is .868 (tied for 18th). He’s tied for 10th in Hits at 99. Bell hit 27 home runs last year, and he could manage that feat again (though it would be close). Still, last year he did all of that with a .261 BA and a .347 OBP. That means he’s quietly having a career year by possibly maintaining the power while increasing his BA and OBP.
Michael Harris II (ATL): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Harris is doing well to start his career in the majors, batting .284/.318/.506 so far in 2022. Harris hit his two-run home run against Aníbal Sánchez in the fifth inning to give the Braves a two-run lead.
Josh Naylor (CLE): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.
Elvin Rodriguez tried to sneak a fastball by Naylor in the bottom of the second inning, but it didn’t work. Naylor crushed it 401 feet for his 12th homer of the season. He’s now batting .273/.328/.500. His BB% is up and his K% is down (each about 2% from last year). He’s barreling the ball more, as is evidenced by nearly doubling his home run output in the same number of plate appearances from last season. The 25-year-old first-round pick in 2015 may be a sneaky add to your fantasy team down the stretch.
Matt Olson (ATL): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.
Matt Olson is hitting nearly as many home runs as Judge in the last month (see above). Judge has hit seven home-runs in 100 at-bats while Olson has hit eight home runs in 110 at-bats. The 28-year-old is striking out more this year with a 23.9% K% (which was 16.8% last year). This might be attributed to the change of scenery, which only means he could be figuring things out in the National League East. Even with that K%, his numbers on the year are in line with his career numbers of .252/.347/.506. Atlanta fans just have to get used to the significant difference between Freeman’s career BA of .297 with an OBP of .385.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)