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Ticket To Ride

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

Matt Carpenter (NYY): 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 7 RBI, BB.

Remember that time the St. Louis Cardinals released long time infielder Matt Carpenter? Listen, I get it. The magic eight ball can only spit out “all signs point to no” so many times before action must be taken. Fast forward to spring training where Carpenter gets a new life, this time with the Texas Rangers. He would immediately be assigned to AAA Round Rock upon his signing, but after getting warmed up there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel on the Rangers’ MLB roster. That light seemingly shone much brighter [for Carpenter] with prospect Josh Jung hitting the 60-day IL in early April, clearing out a more obvious opening at the hot corner for Texas, but it was not meant to be. Carpenter stayed in AAA for the Rangers, where he would hit .275/.379/.613 with six home runs through 80 plate appearances before being released on May 19th. Enter the New York Yankees, who signed Carpenter to their major league squad just one week after his release and the rest is history.

Carpenter added to his Yankees story on Sunday, going three for four with a pair of bombs, three runs scored, and seven RBI. The home runs were his fifth and sixth of the season at the major league level, matching his total from his stint in AAA earlier in the season in just 24 major league plate appearances. The return of Josh Donaldson to the active roster has pushed Carpenter to a bench option, but Sunday saw his first start at an actual position on the field since putting on pinstripes. The four hard hits more than doubled his total on the season and while his pair of home runs were the longest of the game (403 and 399 feet respectively), Carpenter still has Giancarlo Stanton as a teammate, so the 106.7 mph bomb in the 6th inning didn’t stand a chance at topping the game’s hardest hit balls.

It’s been a fun ride but the fact remains that Matt Carpenter sits as a bench piece for the team with the best record in baseball. There’s always the chance of a regular infielder succumbing to an injury, opening the door once again for Carpenter to return to more every day playing time, but taking the chance on that happening doesn’t make much sense beyond your deepest leagues.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday

Kyle Higashioka (NYY): 3-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.

When your team scores 18 in one game there’s bound to be multiple entrants on this list. We’ll keep it short with just two Yankees and give some props to Kyle Higashioka, who hit a pair of bombs himself on Sunday – his first two home runs on the season and his fourth multi-home run game of his career. The three-hit performance was his first multi-hit game of the season and helped raise his slash from .148/.206/.193 to a whopping .172/.225/.280 on the season. Higashioka and Jose Trevino now have an even split of plate appearances on the season (104), so Higashioka is going to need a whole lot more performances like Sunday to push him back into fantasy relevancy.

Adam Duvall (ATL): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Speaking of players that need to do a lot more to return to fantasy relevancy, enter Adam Duvall. The double-homer night Sunday won’t hurt of course, but in the grand scheme of things, all they did was bump his season-long batting average over the .200 mark for the first time this season. June seems to be a time Duvall enjoys warming up, as four of his six home runs and 10 of his 42 hits have come since the calendar flipped over, keeping in line with his career monthly splits that show June as his strongest month across his nine year career.

Ian Happ (CHC): 3-3, 3B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.

Ian Happ failed to hit double digits in his most recent hit streak, going hitless on Saturday, so he made up for it with a perfect night at the plate Sunday, posting his second triple of the year. It’s the first season since 2018 that Happ has recorded multiple triples on the year. The fifth inning walk helped Happ build upon his now 14.3% walk rate, good for 13th best rate amongst qualified hitters this year, well above the MLB average of 8.3%. Combine that with a sub 20% strikeout rate and an above hard contact rate on the season, and Happ may very well may be able to sustain that BABIP over .300 and continue to build on a pretty positive season thus far.

Hunter Dozier (KC): 4-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Seems as though either Carlos Santana or Hunter Dozier does just enough on any given day to keep power hitting prospect Vinnie Pasquantino at bay. Sunday was Dozier’s turn, recording his 13th multi-hit game of the season and putting up his first extra base hit of the month. Regardless of the hype surrounding the young talent in the Royals’ system, Dozier hasn’t performed to the level that would force the team’s hand – putting up a 119 wRC+ on the season and overall performing consistently all season thus far, slashing .270/.329/.439 through 213 plate appearances.

Richie Martin (BAL): 3-5, 2 3B, 3 R, 2 RBI.

Welcome back Richie Martin. Baltimore brought Martin back from AAA Norfolk on Saturday and he’s started both games since. He’s already recorded six hits, four of which have been for extra bases. His time may not be guaranteed, but his .294/.382/.421 slash through 186 plate appearances in AAA this season forced his return and performances close to this past weekend will keep him here. He may be worth a flyer if you have a desperate need for speed. Though Martin failed to record a single stolen base through the 2021 season, he’s already recorded 17 at AAA this season, some of which could easily be attributed to the pitch clock, but may see a green light at the major league level with Baltimore.

Christian Walker (ARI): 3-5, 2B, 3B, R, 3 RBI, BB.

A homer away from the cycle, Christian Walker did his best Adam Duvall impression and got his batting average over the .200 mark with his three-hit Sunday. Walker has made up for his batting average drain with immense power, recording a 16% barrel rate and 31.4% hard contact rate, well above the league average of 26%. Though it didn’t manifest in this game, Walker’s home run total of 15 gives him the 10th most across the majors. His high hard contact and low strike out rate (21.1%) could help to turn around his sub-.200 BABIP soon enough, helping to raise that slash up from its current standing of just .206/.302/.474.

Jeremy Peña (HOU): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB.

Still a favorite for AL Rookie of the Year, Jeremy Peña continues to make Astros’ fan forget all about their former All-Star short stop. Sunday marked Peña’s first combo meal of his young career as he swiped his sixth base and third in his last four starts. A 20-20 rookie campaign is easily within his grasp.

Christian Bethancourt (OAK): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI, SB.

Another day, another home run for …checks notes….Christian Bethancourt? Sure, why not. Oh, let’s throw in a stolen base while we’re at it, good for four on the season. Over the last three weeks Bethancourt has seen extended playing time at DH, catcher, and first base for Oakland and has rewarded the team with a .364/.378/.727 slash through 45 plate appearances, adding in three home runs in his last four games. If the playing time continues to expand and Bethancourt sticks in the middle of the Oakland line up (he batted third over the weekend), he can easily become one of those unicorn catcher-eligible fantasy players that can volume his way to added production at a position that is typically less than reliable.

 

Adam Howe

Adam resides in Indianapolis after spending the better part of a decade in Oakland, CA and growing up in Massachusetts. He co-hosts the On The Wire podcast with Kevin Hasting, analyzing your weekly FAAB options before your bid deadlines every Sunday.

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