Santander is Coming to Town

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday's games.

Anthony Santander (BAL): 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.

One of the most surprising seasons of 2022 has to be the first truly full season of Anthony Santander’s career. After playing 93 games in 2019, the shortened 2020 season, and 110 games in 2021, he finally was healthy and ready for a full 2022 season putting behind his shoulder, lat, and ankle injuries that hampered him throughout his first few seasons. Each of those seasons had some promise and one could see how it was possible for him to put together a solid season given the chance.

And here we are at the end of 2022 with 619 plate appearances. He is slashing .250/.325/.473 with a 127 wRC+, 33 home runs, 76 runs, and 88 RBI. He has a career-high walk rate of 8.2% and a career-low strikeout rate of 18.4% (not counting 2020). He maintained his excellent 43% hard hit rate from last season and improved his barrel rate to nearly 12%.

He is making more contact in the zone (up to nearly 90% from the mid 80s) and has cut his O-Swing rate down to 35.5% which he started to do last season as well. This seems to have improved over the course of the season as his K rate was up over 20% in April and June but has been below 20% each month since June.

One criticism I do have of Santander is his decision to switch hit. This season he spent 447 plate appearances batting lefty with 152 plate appearances batting righty. As a lefty he had a 112 wRC+ which is fine. But as a righty he had a 165 wRC+. Such a drastic disparity makes me believe there should at least be an attempt to bat righty full time. His career splits are not as drastic, 102 wRC+ and 113 wRC+ as a lefty and righty respectively, but this season was different in so many ways it may be worth exploring in the off season. Maybe he should talk with teammate Cedric Mullins and see how that paid off for him.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday

Jose Altuve (HOU): 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Altuve has been HOT in the second half. Since the break he’s slashing .326/.411/.548, good for a 174 wRC+ with 11 homers and 10 steals. That’s only a bit better than the first half but it’s still been a great stretch. He added two more homers last night, crushing one 110 mph and another 97.7 mph. Interestingly, his hard hit rate over this second half span is under 30%, which I don’t comprehend. His hard hit rate on the season is 30% though so that isn’t much different (which also is around his career number just a tad lower). He has reestablished himself as a fantasy force this season by hunting down a 30/20 season (which would be the first of his career).

Josh Jung (TEX): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.

This Ranger rookie came up a bit ago and now has 68 major league plate appearances under his belt. He’s a free swinging power hitter and that has shown so far in this early stretch striking out over 40% of the time so far. He is just coming out of a 20 plate appearance hitless stretch, but in his last two games he has five hits and two dingers, both of which were from last night. He sent them 419 and 424 feet. I am curious how much time he’ll get in the minors next year or if he remains fully with the big league club after this rough start.

Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Acuña crushed two balls 111 and 112 mph last night, both around 400 feet. He’s shown limited power this season after returning from his injury with only 15 home runs in over 500 plate appearances. Both his fly ball rate and his HR/FB rate are down drastically. The former is 34.3% while the latter is 13.4%, both about 11% down from last season. His hard hit rate is still a mammoth 50%, but he just hasn’t gotten the ball off the ground. In September, he’s hitting many more line drives and a few more fly balls so there is hope for change for next season.

Triston Casas (BOS): 3-4, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Casas crushed a 110-mph, 421-foot bomb last night and added a couple other hard hits (including a double play). Casas has had a weird start to his career. With 70 plate appearances so far, he’s walked and struck out about 20% of the time but he’s hitting .179. He has a solid 123 wRC+ with five homers but with his .143 BABIP that batting average is suffering. His incredible walk rate has his OBP up to a solid .343 despite all that. The 5% line drive rate, 62% ground ball rate and 33% fly ball rate will certainly keep that BABIP down. Hopefully he overcomes that and we can see some more hitting production.

Joc Pederson (SF): 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Surprising to me, Pederson is having his best season by wRC+ with a 139. He has 23 homers, which is only his fifth-best season, but he’s slashing .269/.343/.515. His hard hit rate is 52.8%, the highest of his career with an excellent 45.5% fly ball rate to pair with that. He’s exclusively hitting against right handed pitchers with 352 plate appearances with only 56 plate appearances against lefties. He hit well (107 wRC+) against lefties but he’s still excellent against righties (144 wRC+) and it will stay that way.

Ramón Urías (BAL): 3-3, 3B, HR, R, RBI.

Urías only had three at-bats but he ripped a triple and homer, which went 421 feet. He has had a solid season with a 46.5% hard hit rate, slashing .248/.305/.414 with a 104 wRC+. There is not much fantasy value for most standard leagues though, with limited homers and no steals. The positional flexibility may provide some deeper league value but there’s nothing special to hold on to.

JJ Bleday (MIA): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.

Bleday is a young fun Marlins rookie who has struggled to hit since coming up with only a 82 wRC+. He knocked in a homer last night just sneaking it over the wall down the line for his fifth of the year in 58 games. He does have a 13.9% walk rate but the .175 average stings, especially when he has a 24.4% line drive rate and 50% fly ball rate. He’s still young but low average with some pop seems to be his future.

Pete Alonso (NYM): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Since it is the end of the year, I want to throw in some fun facts on top of good performances. Alonso’s home run last night was his 40th of the season. This is his second season with over 40 home runs and the first time a Met has ever had two 40 home runs seasons. Incredibly Mets.

J.D. Davis (SF): 3-4, HR, R, RBI.

As a Mets fan, my favorite thing to do right now is compare J.D. Davis to Darin Ruf. Since the trade, Davis is slashing .288/.383/.550 good for a 161 wRC+ with seven homers. Two of those homers came in the last two games. Sunday’s went 409 feet and yesterday’s a good 434 feet. Seems like those homers are longer than all the balls that Ruf has hit as a Met so far. I miss you J.D.

Wander Franco (TB): 1-4, 2B, 2 R, BB, SB.

I had no clue Franco had been back for a little over two weeks now. He’s been on the IL since July 9th and had missed almost all of June as well. Since his return, he’s been playing up to Wander Franco’s standard. He is slashing .324/.365/.426 with a 132 wRC+. He has yet to hit a homer and he picked up his first steal since his return last night. He’s striking out 6.8% of the time which is as often as he’s walking. He’s also on a 13-game hit streak with five doubles in his last eight games. I’m looking forward to a full season of Wander in 2023.

Aaron Judge (NYY): 0-1, 2 R, 4 BB.

Throwing in Judge watch at the end here. I won’t say he was walked four times but that he walked four times. Literally each of his at bats went to a full count. He’ll get it. Patience.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Jim Chatterton

Jim has written for Razzball and now is a part of the Pitcher List staff. He is a Villanova alum and an eternally optimistic Mets fan. He once struck out Rick Porcello in Little League.

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