Something to Smile About

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

Francisco Lindor (NYM): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, SB.

It was a picture-perfect day at Citi Field yesterday as the Mets, replete with pride from the newly unveiled Tom Seaver statue, proceeded to wallop the lowly Diamondbacks 10-3 in their home opener on the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut. In the bottom of the fifth, with one on and one out and the Mets ahead 3-0, Lindor turned on an up and in 3-2 fastball from Zach Davies and yanked it high into the second deck in right field. For good measure, he added another home run in the eighth, this time from the right side, as he victimized Caleb Smith on an 0-2 fastball. Not to be outdone, his teammate Starling Marte also joined in the fun with a combo meal of his own, the home run being his first of the year.

After signing a massive contract extension last season, Lindor dropped a relatively disappointing .317 wOBA and 103 wRC+ across 125 games, the lowest marks of his career. But his 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, SB line from yesterday reminds us of what he’s capable of. Hindsight being 20/20, I do wonder if maybe those three 30 home run seasons with Cleveland may have unfairly inflated expectations and that there’s a more tenable middle ground of something like 24-26 home runs moving forward.

The other question with Lindor is, where does his batting average end up? After hitting .284 in 2019, his average declined precipitously to .258 in 2020 before bottoming out to .230. Last year’s results seem a bit harsh, considering it was backed by a .248 BABIP juxtaposed by a much more robust career BABIP of .292, although his FB% rate did come up a bit last year, so maybe that sheds some light on the drop to a degree. Most projections have him hitting around .255 this season, but who knows? If he beats that and hits closer to his career mark of .278, he could end up being one of the best bargains of the year.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:

 

Spencer Torkelson (DET): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Torkelson, the first overall pick from the 2020 draft, broke up a shutout from Brad Keller in the seventh by launching a ball deep into the left-field seats for his second career home run. After being held hitless in his first four games, he’s now strung together five hits in his last four games. Last night’s home run, which ended up being the game-winner, was a shot, too, traveling 432 feet with an EV of 111.5 MPH.

Cesár Hernández (WSH): 2-5, 2 R.

Nothing exciting about Hernández as he’s basically been a career average hitter with a .319 wOBA and 98 wRC+ across 4215 PA. However, if you’re looking for a stopgap MI in a deep league, this is a reminder that he’s hitting leadoff in front Juan Soto and company. Currently 7% rostered on Yahoo, he’s on a modest six-game hitting streak and could be a decent source of runs.

Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

After getting roughed up on the mound the previous night, Ohtani exacted revenge by pulverizing the first pitch he saw from Matt Bush, a 96-mile-per-hour fastball, into the bullpen in right for his first home run of the year. In the fifth, with the Angels trailing by three, he helped ignite a rally with a two-run shot, this time off the southpaw Kolby Allard. The reigning AL MVP was hitting just .172 before last night’s outburst.

Jesús Sánchez (MIA): 2-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI.

He also tripled on Thursday night, so the extra-base hits have been falling in lately. After posting a .449 wOBA across 251 PA for Triple-A Jacksonville, Sánchez belted 14 home runs in just 251 PA with the Marlins last season while showing some impressive batted ball numbers, including a 95.3 AEV on FB/LD and a max EV of 113.9, the latter of which was in the top 9%. This all hints at an intriguing power ceiling for the 24-year-old. His current K rate of 20% would be a huge improvement over last year’s 31.1%, so that will be worth keeping a close eye on to see if it sticks. Currently rostered 28% on Yahoo, that number seems too low considering the easy power he’s shown off.

Joc Pederson (SF): 2-3, HR, 1 R, 1 RBI

Pederson seems to have settled in as the Giants’ cleanup hitter against RHP. In the sixth, he drilled a solo home run to center on a 2-0 pitch from Zach Plesac to give the Giants a 2-0 lead. The former Dodger has hit righties well for his career with a .353 wOBA, and if he sticks in the cleanup spot, he can be a cheap source of power best suited for daily leagues. Quick shoutout for his teammate Darin Ruf; if you’re in a league that values walks, I would give him a long look.

Adam Frazier (SEA): 4-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Tossed salad and scrambled eggs. Frazier had himself a night with four hits as the Mariners piled up 11 runs against Jake Odorizzi and the Astros. His triple came in the fourth, on a flyball that split the gap in right-center and plated two. Four-hit night aside, it’s difficult to get too excited about Frazier; he has never hit more than 10 home runs in a season, and last year, his barrel/PA sat at a lowly 0.8%. He is, however, a career .279 hitter, so he can provide a bump in batting average. Similar to Hernández listed earlier, he’s an option more so for deep leagues whose value stems from compiling at-bats from the leadoff spot.

Nolan Arenado (STL): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.

The Cardinals pounced on Freddy Peralta early last night. Arenado drew a walk on five pitches in his first plate appearance, part of a four-run first inning outburst from the Red Birds. He hit an RBI single in his second at-bat but saved his best for last by driving a 2-1 pitch from Brent Suter over the wall in left, a two-run blast that produced the game’s final tally of 10-1 in favor of the visiting Cardinals. Now beginning his second year in St. Louis, the former Rockie is off to a blistering start and is slashing .435/ .500/ 1.087.

Jarred Kelenic (SEA): 0-3, RBI, BB.

From someone who is red hot to someone who is not, Kelenic went 0-for-3 last night, including another strikeout and a walk. The quiet game drops his slash to .136/ .231/ .273. For those who drafted the top prospect in hopes of him breaking out in year two, it hasn’t happened, yet, at least. It should certainly level off some as we get a better sample, but keep an eye on his strikeout rate, which right now sits at a bloated 38.5%.

Garrett Cooper (MIA): 2-3, 2B, R, BB.

Cooper is an interesting case. The thirty-one-year-old, who was originally drafted out of Auburn by the Brewers back in 2013, has never gotten a chance to show what he can do across a full season. However, across sporadic playing time beginning with his major league debut with the Yankees back in 2017, he’s slashed .282/ .355/ .453 in 916 PA. He’s a fixture in the Marlins lineup and has been hitting second or third every night. Just 2% rostered on Yahoo, I have a feeling that number comes up. He has the added bonus of being 1B/OF eligible too.

 

Ryan Amore

Writer for PL, artist, DFS enthusiast, and occasional Yankee fan. Once won a GPP with Henderson Alvarez. A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club. Appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

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