A Peña For Your Thoughts

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

Jeremy Peña (HOU): 4-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Jeremy Peña hasn’t relinquished his American League Rookie of the Year aspirations just yet. He may have given the wheel to Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez, who did pretty well for himself on Sunday as well, but Peña is surely still in the car. A four hit performance, including two home runs and three RBI, on Sunday is simply the latest reminder of the impact the young Houston shortstop has had as we approach the mathematical halfway point of the season. The Astros still have 83 games left on their schedule, plenty of time for Peña to build on his .348 wOBA and 132 wRC+, both of which stand second among qualified AL rookies. Feel free to venture a guess as to who sits on top.

Though Peña hasn’t made his noise in the hard contact department, where he sits right at league average with a 26.5% rate on the season, you wouldn’t have known after watching Sunday’s matchup against the Angels. Peña collected three hard hit balls on the day, capped with the heroics of a walk off no-doubter at 107 mph off the bat. Peña has collected three of his 17 barrels of the season in just the past two games.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday

C.J. Cron (COL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI.

Someone must have reminded C.J. Cron that he was about to head on a week-long road trip, so he got his home run quota in while he could on Sunday, playing in Colorado. Much like the rest of his team, Cron has been down right benchable (ya, that’s a word) while wearing the visiting jersey, especially when you compare to the production he’s been putting up at home. 14 of his 19 home runs, including the two on Sunday, have come at Coors, along with 50 of his 64 RBI. The time away from home has been comparable, with Cron account for just 39 more plate appearances in Colorado than on his road trips. Keep a look out for Cron to return to this list, as soon as he returns to Denver.

Marcell Ozuna (ATL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Despite collecting a hit in over 65% of his games played this year, Sunday marked just the 15th multi-hit game of the season for the Atlanta DH. Of those game with more than one hit, three of them came with a pair of home runs doing the damage, including Sunday’s performance where Ozuna did what he does well – hit the ball hard and far (when he hits it that is). All four of his plate appearances resulted in a ball in play coming off his bat at 104 mph or faster, two of which left the yard in a hurry.

David Peralta (ARI): 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.

Now with three home runs in his last five starts, David Peralta has truly embraced the strong side platoon the Diamondbacks have utilized him in for most of the 2022 season. With just 39 of his 253 plate appearances coming against southpaws and a .121/.256/.212 slash to show for it, it would seem Peralta has embraced the role while producing a wRC+ against righties on the season.

Edward Olivares (KC): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Don’t look now, but Edward Olivares is playing consistently for the Royals. Well, he’s started in six of their last nine games since returning to the Major League squad, and there’s no rumors of his expected demotion back to AAA. So that’s something in itself. Since his return, Olivares has only mustered five hits, but three of them have left the park, including his second inning lead off solo shot, giving the Royals the lead that they would build on and fail to relinquish throughout the game. With every expectation revolving around Kansas City providing more time for their young player to get the experience at the major league level, Olivares looks to finally have a semi-permanent home in the Royals line up for the remainder of the season.

Josh Bell (WSH): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

When your season slash line is .319/.401/.517, 17 days between home runs can seem like a lifetime. After hitting four bombs in two days in mid-June, Josh Bell has (finally) hit his first homer in over two weeks on Sunday, a 411 foot solo shot in the eighth inning that gave the Nationals the lead. In that 15-day homerless void, Bell still produced a 204 wRC+ thanks to an equal walk and strikeout rate of 12% and a .419/.500/.605 slash through 50 plate appearances. So, there’s that.

Ji-Man Choi (TB): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, RBI.

Despite not playing every day, which shouldn’t be expected while he wears a Rays’ jersey, Ji-Man Choi has put up a productive season. In the last five weeks, Choi has produced a .322/.412/.506 slash through 102 plate appearances, good for a 169 wRC+. Sure, a .397 BABIP may play a role, but a 41% hard hit rate and a 21% strikeout rate may show it may be somewhat sustainable, especially as the Rays continue to utilize the first baseman in the right situations. Daily moves leagues would do worse than rostering Choi and playing him when the Rays do.

Harold Ramírez (TB): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Harold Ramírez has now put up four straight multi-hit performances. Ramírez has picked up a hit in all but 11 of his starts this season, and has now started in eight straight games for the Rays, despite the return of Wander Franco and Josh Lowe to the roster. Ramírez has proven himself a solid hitter on the season, batting .323 in his mostly part time role, but an expanded role with the Rays should give him the ability to build upon his 25th ranked 34% hard contact rate and give him a bit more opportunity to increasing his 5.8% barrel rate so those hard hit balls can start leaving the yard more frequently.

J.T. Realmuto (PHI): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.

You draft J.T. Realmuto in your fantasy league to get the rare speed addition from your catcher, but you don’t necessary expect him to have almost twice as many steals as homers by the midway point of the season. Sunday’s performance gives the Phillies’ catcher six homers on the year alongside 11 bags and marks his second combo meal in the past six games.

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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