The Bryce is Right

Reviewing last night's best batted balls.

Bryce Harper (PHI): 1-4, 2 RBI.

A blessed sight for any and all Phillies fans as Harper, after missing 60 days thanks to an errant fastball from Blake Snell, returned last night. With the bases juiced in his first at-bat, he won the highly anticipated battle of Bryce vs. Bryse with a two-run single into right to put his team out in front. Not to be outdone, Bryson Stott also hit an RBI single.

Before his season was suddenly derailed, Harper was hitting a lusty .318 with a .985 OPS. His batted ball profile is right in line with last year’s MVP season, including a .320 xBA, 10% barrel/PA, and a .420 xwOBA, all of which are in the top 1% in baseball. Interestingly, his walk rate is down to a career-low of 9.3%; his career mark is 16.5%. On that note, his chase rate is also a career-high at 35.3%. Maybe that’s simply a blip, but it could be something to look at in the last month-plus of the season.

The Phillies, who currently have the second NL Wild Card thanks to a 22-12 record in the second half, are in the thick of things right now; They just lost Zack Wheeler to forearm tendinitis and their bullpen ace, Seranthony Domínguez, is also out, so the added punch could prove vital. Offseason additions Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos haven’t been as productive as the team had hoped. But as the cliché says, a rising tide lifts all boats. And in that case, the Phillies will hope to ride Harper’s ferry into a postseason berth.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:

 

Ha-Seong Kim (SD): 3-6, 2B, HR, R, 5 RBI.

This was only Kim’s fifth game batting leadoff as he drew the assignment with the Royals starting a lefty in Kris Bubic. He didn’t do much until late in the game; his first hit came in his fourth at-bat of the night against Brad Keller. Then, his two-run double came off lefty reliever Amir Garrett. But, he saved his best for last: a two-run, 426-foot dinger in the ninth. But, that came off Hunter Dozier in garbage time, so this line is definitely a bit misleading. Wil Myers and Jake Cronenworth also went yard for the Padres.

Yandy Díaz (TB): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB, SB.

Díaz is a great bat for OBP leagues, with a 14.1% BB rate and a career-low 10.4% K rate this year. Otherwise, he’s a bit underwhelming, with just a 3% barrel/PA with a batted ball profile that skews heavily in favor of groundballs, limiting his power upside. And to that extent, this was just his eighth dinger of the year in 393 PA. The stolen base was the seventh of his career, so this feels very much like a fluke performance. Jose Siri also belted his fourth home run for the Rays and is quickly approaching the Mendoza line.

Jo Adell (LAA): 4-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.

The Angels came into Toronto and embarrassed the Blue Jays. After going yard against Yusei Kikuchi to make it 8-0 in the 7th, Adell’s second dinger came on a 61 MPH… checks notes… curveball from Whit Merrifield in the ninth. And that was after swinging and missing through what Baseball Savant called a 61 MPH heater from Merrifield. The 23-year-old has a ton of power and speed but a 37.3% K rate makes him an awfully tough bat to roster. David Fletcher also had a three-hit game out of the leadoff spot with his first SB of the year. Andrew Velazquez and Mike Trout, of course, also hit home runs for the Angels.

Mark Mathias (TEX): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

He was acquired by the Rangers in the deal that sent Matt Bush to Milwaukee. In 50 games with Triple-A Nashville, he slashed .318/ .421/ .518 with eight steals and 8 home runs. He has covered all three outfield spots, as well as second and third base, so he could be a useful utility player for the Rangers. For now, he’s just an AL-only bat to keep an eye on.

Mookie Betts (LAD): 4-6, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, SB.

The Dodgers needed some Mookie Magic to pull out a win yesterday in Miami; Trailing 2-1 in the seventh, he blasted a go-ahead, two-run home run to left off Dylan Floro. Trailing 4-3 in the ninth, he did it again this time off Tanner Scott. And then in the tenth with the game tied 5-5, he drilled a go-ahead double to left off Andrew Nardi that plated Chris Taylor. The 2018 AL MVP now has his OPS up to .895.

Aaron Judge (NYY): 1-2, HR, R, 3 RBI, 3 BB.

He continues to be the pulse of the Yankees and gave the club all their runs on one swing. The Fresno State Bulldog hit number 49 off former teammate JP Sears in the fifth, a 427-foot clout to straightaway center. He has 36 games to tie Roger Maris at 61 for the Yankee record.

Brett Baty (NYM): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

Baty’s second home run of his career came courtesy in his first at-bat of the night against Chad Kuhl, he tanked a 92 MPH sinker 389 feet to right-center. The results haven’t been there yet for the 22-year-old but a positive sign is that his K rate is only 20.5%. His 63% groundball rate will be something to keep an eye on as we get a better sample size.

Bubba Thompson (TEX): 2-3, SB.

That’s steal number seven for Bubba in 19 games and he’s started 8 of their last 10. He’s there if you’re really desperate for steals in deep formats. Just be sure to not glance at his batted ball profile; Ignorance is bliss in this case.

J.D. Martinez (BOS): 1-5, R.

I feel like the batty, old lady from Titanic when I try to remember the last time Martinez went yard. Has it been 84 games? Checks notes. Not quite, but close. July 10th! He’s in the middle of a six-game hit streak so there’s that I suppose, but this is all sorts of brutal right now.

Daulton Varsho (ARI): 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.

Johnny Cueto’s house of cards collapsed last night in a blowout loss to the D-Backs. Varsho’s 18th was the final tally that put the D-Backs up a touchdown in the fifth. He also homered Wednesday and now has his OPS up to .737. Emmanuel Rivera also hit his eleventh and since being traded from the Royals on August 1st, he’s posted a .987 OPS in 17 games with the D-Backs.

Riley Greene (DET): 3-5, 3B, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.

After an RBI single to left in the third, Greene got to Glenn Otto again by smoking a liner into the right-center field gap past a diving Adolis García and scored on the play thanks to a relay throw gone awry. The longball was a 411-foot, 110.3 EV no-doubter to right off José Leclerc in the ninth. The 21-year-old has struggled overall in his rookie season with a .679 OPS and a 29.3% K rate but now finds himself riding a modest five-game hitting streak.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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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