A Day Like No Other

Breaking down the best hitting performances from Opening Day.

With only seven games on the Friday slate you’d think there may be less offense to talk about, but with over half of those games combining for double digit runs scored there was plenty of impressive hitting lines to talk about. Leading it off was…

Yermín Mercedes (CWS): 5-5, 1 2B, 1 R, 4 RBI. Serving as the White Sox’ DH, Mercedes took advantage of his time and made a play to stick in the spot as long as the Andrew Vaughn left field experiment works outs. Through 5 plate appearances, Mercedes was shown a wide array of pitches and wasn’t afraid to swing at any of them, going after 8 of the 15 balls thrown his way and recording just one whiff on the night. Though only one of his five hits registered as a hard hit, Yermin stayed consistent with an average exit velocity of 93.2 mph while making the most of his opportunities knocking in each of Adam Eaton and Yasmani Grandal twice on the night.

Mercedes, originally a Rule 5 pick up by the Chicago in 2017, has done nothing but hit as he climbed through the White Sox system. Through his 2 years in the White Sox system prior to spending the 2020 season at the alternate site, across high A and AAA Mercedes logged 37 home runs and 144 RBI through 797 plate appearances, while keeping a K% well below 20% and a double-digit walk rate. He did all this in his mid 20’s however, so keeping in mind he may have been a bit older than his competition should factor in a bit. However, this fact remains that even with two options left, Mercedes sits comfortably on a good White Sox roster in Chicago and could find himself with more opportunities to shine as he did on Friday.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:

Jose Altuve (HOU): 3-3, 4 R, 2 BB. It wasn’t always pretty, but Altuve made the most of his leadoff position on Friday as he put himself on base five times on the night, giving teammates Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, and Kyle Tucker ample opportunity to knock him in to score. Altuve got all three hits off four-seamers, failing to make contact with any secondary offering presented. Though his first two hits failed to cross the 81 mph threshold, he did end his night with a scorching 105 mph single in the 9th. So that’s nice.

Eric Hosmer (SD): 3-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB. Yes, I know Hosmer made the list yesterday. I’ll make sure to ask him to calm down on Saturday to avoid the three-peat. In the meantime, Hosmer continued what he started on opening day, launching a 107.8 mph bomb in the 3rd, sandwiched in between his two hard-hit singles on the night. Batting cleanup after Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado should continue to provide Hosmer ample opportunities for more 3 RBI games like this one.

Yuli Gurriel (HOU): 3-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB. With two hard-hit balls of his own on the night, including his solo shot in the 4th inning, Gurriel combined patience and power to provide a full stat line on the night. His teammates did not provide the same support as they did Altuve, as Gurriel himself was the only one to knock himself in with his home run while he was left stranded on the bases on four separate occasions on the night.

Will Smith (LAD): 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI. With four hard hits on the night, Will Smith led the Dodgers’ offensive explosion. Through 21 pitches, Rockies’ pitchers failed to record a whiff against Smith as he pummeled three balls over 360 feet each. With Austin Barnes possibly missing some time after being spiked on his hand, along with offensive production like we saw on Friday, Smith may see some expanded playing time moving forward.

Corey Seager (LAD): 3-5, 1 2B, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB. Batting second for the Dodgers, Seager did his job, getting on base 4 times on the night and giving his teammates opportunities to knock him in. They obliged as Seager crossed the plate three times on the night, This should be a common occurrence for Seager as long as he stays near the top of that potent Dodgers’ lineup.

Michael Brantley (HOU): 3-5, 3 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI. Another back-to-back appearance on this list, Brantley is more than deserving. With five hard-hit balls on the night, including the hardest-hit ball of the game (a 106.7 mph double in the 3rd inning), Brantley continued to build off his hot start to the season. All of his hits came off fastballs, which wasn’t too surprising as he was only offered six off-speed pitches through his five plate appearances.

Alex Bregman (HOU): 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB. Bregman was aggressive at the plate tonight, swinging at 6 of the 10 pitches he saw throughout the night. The aggressiveness translated into three hard-hit balls, including his 101.3 mph home run in the 3rd inning. It was nice to see Bregman show signs of life to start 2021, as his hard-hit rate has dropped in each of his previous 3 seasons, from 39.9% in 2018 to 33.6% in 2020.

Jose Abreu (CWS): 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB. Abreu matched teammate Yermín Mercedes‘ four RBI night but consolidated it into one swing as he cleared the fence for a 385-foot grand slam in the 3rd inning. The reigning AL MVP is no stranger to racking up RBI for his fantasy managers, as he’s crossed the 100 RBI mark in 5 of the 6 full seasons through his career thus far.

Manuel Margot (TB): 2-4, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. After starting the season opener on the bench, Margot was plugged into the 7th spot of the lineup, much to the chagrin of those who thought he may sit closer to the top. Margot still produced as if he was in the two-spot, collecting seven total bases off his two hits and hitting the ball over 100 mph three times on the night, including a 108.2 mph triple in his final at-bat.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA): 2-3, 1 3B, 1 R, 1 BB. Margot wasn’t the only one to hit a 108 mph triple in Miami on Friday. Jazz (can I call you Jazz?) recorded two 100+ mph hits of his own. The Miami starting second baseman will look to build off this performance as he fights for the coveted NL Rookie of the Year award.

Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

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.

2 responses to “A Day Like No Other”

  1. Barry says:

    Good stuff Adam. I like Mercedes’ C eligibility. Your thoughts on swapping out S. Murphy for him in a 12 Team H2H 1 C categories league.

    • Adam Howe says:

      With Murphy’s injury history and current wrist situation I’d be willing to give Mercedes a try out, if he has C eligibility in your league for sure. Worst case he cools off, loses playing time and you start streaming your C position from other guys on the wire.

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