Jorge Soler (KC): 2-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 6 RBI.
I have this specific set of outfielders in my head that I was targeting in each draft this offseason. My success rate varied, but these guys all had similar repertoires—barrel rates in the teens but K rates nearing 30%. These players all smoke the ball but are quintessential 21st-century baseball—high risk, high reward, basically. Swing hard and hope you make contact because the ball will go far. These outfielders are Franmil Reyes, Teoscar Hernandez, and Jorge Soler, who have all had differing levels of success this season. Franmil is proving me right while the other two are laughing at me. Again, high risk, high reward. But this isn’t about Franmil or Teoscar. It’s about the player that came out of nowhere in 2019 to hit nearly 50 homers—the player that hit 25 home runs in 71 games with a 173 wRC+ in the second half of 2019.
I loved what Soler did in 2019. He finally was healthy and had a chance to play every game for the Royals, and he delivered. He was living up to that power hype he built with the Cubs but could never take off. In 2020 he went back down to earth a bit but still paced out for over 30 homers if given the same amount of plate appearances as 2019. But this season, he has almost reached that plate appearance mark (38 to go), and he only has three homers to show for it. Where did he go? His max exit velocity is still over 114 MPH this season, with a 59% hard-hit rate and a 14.1% barrel rate. All of his xStats from Baseball Savant are much higher: .200 BA to .242 xBA, .374 SLG to .493 xSLG, and .286 wOBA to .348 xwOBA. He surprisingly is hitting more fly balls, yet his HR/FB rate is down to 8.6%. In the last two seasons, it was over 20%. This could be something relating to the change in the ball, or he could be unlucky. I lean towards luck, as this drastic difference is not what we see across the league.
I expect Soler to pick it up as the season continues since he keeps smoking the ball. Last night he did just that going 2-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 6 RBI. His double went 422 feet. That’s what you get when you hit it dead center in Comerica.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
Jesse Winker (CIN): 3-4, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI.
Winker has vaulted himself to being one of the top hitters in the league. He didn’t get a full season of play until last year, and that barely counts as a full season as is. So now, at 27, he finally can put it all together for 500 plus plate appearances. Since the start of 2020, he is barreling the ball nearly 14% of the time with over a 50% hard-hit rate. Couple that with cutting his ground ball rate by 12 percentage points from his last two seasons, and he’s become an extremely dangerous bat.
Adam Frazier (PIT): 2-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Frazier belted his first home run of the year at only 389 feet. He is much more a contact than power hitter as his K rate is around 10%, with a .130 ISO on the year. With that said, he extended his hit streak to 12 games with this two-hit performance last night. Fantasy-wise, Frazier is average first and is hitting leadoff for the Pirates. He may give you some runs as well, but that is pretty much it. Not many steals either.
Troy Stokes Jr. (PIT): 2-3, 1 2B, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB.
This young outfielder is known to steal a bit in the minors with a little pop, too. He was just called up to replace Colin Moran for his stint on the 10 day IL. I doubt Stokes sticks around, nor should you be inclined to pick him up at this point in time.
David Dahl (TEX): 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB.
Dahl is still acclimating to his new home in Texas. A .222/.252/.361 slash line was not what the Rangers were looking for. But a combo-meal is a nice pick me up if you somehow lucked into playing him yesterday. The 406-foot bomb was his third on the season. However, there’s nothing here indicating he is a worthwhile guy to roster.
Robbie Grossman (DET): 2-5, 1 3B, 5 RBI.
Grossman is still sticking around with his absurd 17.7% walk rate boosting his wRC+ to 118 despite the .233 average. He’s tried helping in the average department that last few days with an above-average five hits in two days. Adding five RBIs on top of the one from the day before isn’t too bad either. And when you are tied at seven steals with Trea Turner, you make the fantasy teams that drafted you happy.
Asdrúbal Cabrera (ARI): 4-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.
Cabrera is one of those ageless wonders. He’ll somehow always find a team to fit into and play well. He’s not just playing well in Arizona. He’s thriving. His sub-20% K rate and nearly 15% walk rate have contributed nicely to a 141 wRC+ which would be the highest in his career. He seems to have changed up his approach at the plate, hitting about eight percent fewer grounders but is hitting a ton of pop-ups. Interestingly, this hasn’t affected his K rate, which is a good sign. Definitely a waiver wire consideration here.
Mitch Haniger (SEA): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Haniger crushed a 390 foot and a 402-foot homer both against Walker Buehler, and he’s now at 10 dingers on the season. It’s like he never left and is back better than ever. After some rough injuries in 2019 that ended his season and his chance in 2020, he has fully recovered and is dominant. He has been barreling the ball more than his career average; however, his ground ball rate close to 50%.
Jesus Aguilar (MIA): 3-4, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI.
Aguilar roared back this season with a stretch of six home runs in eight games. It’s almost been two weeks since then, and he’s added a stretch of only three hits in six games. But he looks okay again after his second homer in as many nights. Last night’s homer was crushed, going 441 feet. He added a 105 MPH double as well. If you need a first base replacement, and Aguilar is still out there, he’s worth a grab.
Gavin Lux (LAD): 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
I don’t know if Lux is more frustrating or how the Dodgers handle Lux is more frustrating. He’s one of the top prospects in the game and saw MLB action at 21. He is still 23, but it seems like the Dodgers have been using him more as a bench guy than trying to improve his game. Lux knocked his first homer of the year last night, adding two runs and three RBIs to a lackluster start to his season. Since the start of May, though, he is slashing .294/.333/.412 with a 16.7% K rate almost 10 points below his season number. This could be a turning point for this young potential star.
Manny Machado (SD): 2-4, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, 1 BB.
Manny being Manny. Two extra-base hits contributed to extending the five-game hitting streak adding five RBIs on top. If you bat third for the Padres, you will see plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. Yet Manny only had 17 prior to this game. He’s been off to a tough start with a 106 wRC+. However, his K and BB rates are pretty in line with his career, while his hard-hit rate is 13 points higher than his last two seasons. More grounders and fewer line drives does that to you. Patience with Manny. He’s good.
Tyler O’Neill (STL): 1-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.
Is Tyler O’Neill good? His plate discipline is rough to look at. A minuscule walk rate and a K rate above 30%. His average is much better than last year sitting at .238, but his .488 slugging makes up for that a bit. He is barreling the ball at 16% this season which is more in line with what you want out of a 30% K player. Right now, I feel like he’s Gallo if Gallo didn’t walk. He’ll probably steal a few more bases too. Right now, though, I’m too scared to add him anywhere.
Yasmani Grandal (CWS): 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.
I want to use this as an opportunity to showcase Kyle Horton’s piece on Grandal from a week ago. A .121 batting average with a 108 wRC+. That’s fun! If he’s getting dropped in your league, I would pick him up.
Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)