With Ages Comes Wisdom

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

Patrick Wisdom (CHC): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB.

Sorry, who?

Coming into the game with exactly 100 career plate appearances, you can be forgiven for not knowing Patrick Wisdom of the Cubs. He did his best to announce his presence yesterday, going 3-4 with two home runs and a stolen base as Chicago took the first game against the Padres. It’s been a short enough career that this single-game performance upped his career OPS by nearly 100 points, taking him from an average 102 wRC+ for his career up to an impressive 125 wRC+. And a stolen base?!

Slow down. The homers were the sixth and seventh of his career, and the stolen base was just his third. He appeared in just 32 games in his debut 2018 season, half of those as a pinch hitter. Since he first hit Triple-A in 2016, he’s been able to improve his walk rate but his strikeout rate has remained high, even in the minors. In his last full minor leagues season (2019 with the Rangers’ affiliate, the Nashville Sounds), he hit over 30 home runs but still finished with a below-average 97 wRC+ for the year, thanks in part to a 27.6% strikeout rate.

There’s some pop in his bat for sure, but an elevated strikeout rate in the minors doesn’t bode too well for the majors. Through his now 104 career PA against major league pitching, Wisdom has a 36.5% K rate—high enough that if he were a qualified player he would rank second in the league, even ahead of his own free-swinging teammate Javier Báez. We’ll have to see how Wisdom is able to adjust as he gets some more at-bats under his belt, but a strikeout rate that high is going to be very difficult to overcome and become fantasy-relevant. Wisdom is likely to remain a fixture of the Cubs lineup as long as David Bote remains sidelined with a dislocated shoulder, so we’ll get to see how he develops. I’d have to see some pretty significant changes in his approach at the plate to recommend him in a fantasy context. But hey, two homers and a stolen base is a pretty sweet statline.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:

Gavin Lux (LAD): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Wisdom wasn’t the only one with a two-homer day. Lux has been filling in at shortstop since Corey Seager went down with a fractured hand. Since he got his first start at shortstop just over two weeks ago, Lux has been on a bit of a tear, slashing .283/.356/.566—numbers that are partially elevated thanks to his big performance last night. However, his splits against lefties are brutal and he rarely takes advantage of his high sprint speed to swipe any bags. There’s a reason he was a heralded prospect, but until he can hit lefties he’s going to struggle to be truly fantasy-relevant.

Chris Taylor (LAD): 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Meanwhile, Chris Taylor‘s stellar season continues. Taylor smacked three extra-base hits—two doubles and a homer—as the Dodgers’ second-best hitter of the season drove in four of LA’s nine runs. Interestingly, he’s showing that the patience he exhibited last season at the plate—leading to the highest walk rate of his career—was not a fluke, as he’s been walking an impressive 13.7% of the time. He has the seventh-highest OBP in the league right now. And he’s going to continue to get plenty of playing time in a stacked Dodgers lineup. If you grabbed him, just enjoy the counting stats.

Dominic Smith (NYM): 2-4, 2 2B.

It’s been a rough season for the Mets lineup, but Dominic Smith has been struggling even more than most. A popular pick of the draft thanks to a strong 2020 performance (164 wRC+ in nearly 200 PA), the slugger has not delivered on his power promise, putting up a brutal .085 ISO. The two extra-base hits were his first since May 12th. The lack of counting stats aren’t entirely his fault (something something Mets), but he’s just not hitting the ball nearly well enough to make up for it. Statcast metrics suggest he might be due for some positive regression based on his expected stats, but it certainly looks like he’s struggling to recreate the magic of his 2020 season.

Pete Alonso (NYM): 2-5, HR, R, 4 RBI.

Reinstated from the IL ahead of Monday’s game, Pete Alonso got right back to work, smacking a two-run single in the third before following it up with a two-run shot in the seventh as the Mets got Jacob deGrom a win. Alonso has been one of the lone bright spots offensively for the Mets, but he’s continuing to have to do a lot by himself. If and when the Mets lineup really starts clicking like we know they’re capable of, the counting stats should come flooding in.

Hunter Renfroe (BOS): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

It’s been a little bit of a weird season for Renfroe so far. He’s striking out less than ever, but he’s also walking less than ever. We’ve always known he had the power, but he seems to be making better contact than previously. Perhaps most importantly, he’s locked into a truly everyday role in Boston. If he can keep seeing the ball well, it’ll bode well for his long-term outlook.

Evan Longoria (SF): 2-2, HR, R, 2 RBI.

The 35-year-old’s renaissance season continues, as he’s putting up offensive numbers akin to his early seasons in Tampa Bay when he was an All Star and receiving MVP votes. He has the highest walk rate of his career, but that might more be a byproduct of pitchers’ concern that he’s absolutely smoking the ball everytime it comes near the plate. I mean seriously, just look at how red this Statcast page is. So far, his Barry Bonds’ impression is working pretty well.

Max Schrock (CIN): 3-4, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

The rare single-shy-of-the-cycle performance from the rookie is impressive but feels a bit less so given the context of the Reds absolutely beating up on the Phillies. The low strikeout rate in his minor league career hasn’t quite translated into the majors, where he’s posted as 25.8% K rate. An awesome night for Schrock, but he’s not on my radar.

Kyle Farmer (CIN): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 5 RBI.

Farmer has compiled around a full season’s worth of plate appearances over his five seasons in MLB and has an impressive strikeout rate and, well, not a whole lot else. It was just one of those games—I wouldn’t read too much into it.

Austin Meadows (TB): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

After a brutal 2020 (injuries certainly played a role), Meadows is looking like his 2019 self. He’s been a huge part of the Rays’ recent success, posting an OPS near 1.200 over the past 15 games. He’s not hitting for average as much as he was in 2019, but he’s made up for it with his career-best walk rate. If you got him at a discount thanks to a rough 2020, you’re reaping the rewards right now.

Kris Bryant (CHC): 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Kris Bryant‘s resurgence continues as the former MVP is looking like his old self. He’s currently fourth in the league in wRC+ at 175, and he’s putting up remarkably similar numbers to his MVP 2016 season. Obviously he’ll return to earth a bit, but it seems like injuries have played a bit part in his slumps, primarily in 2020. He might end up the best value from the draft.

Javier Báez (CHC): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

When Javy is on, he’s on. This is the kind of power he’s capable of, but you’re going to have to continue to endure some incredibly streaky play when he’s not on. Javy has pulled even in the 2021 no-hitter count vs. Javier Báez 2021 BB count as both totals now stand at six. It’s one of the worst K:BB ratios I’ve ever seen, and yet he’s putting up a 118 wRC+. That’s Javy for you.

 

Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Dylan Burris

Dylan has been a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan since 2015. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he devotes most of his non-baseball attention to college basketball.

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