Batter’s Box: A Higher Colin

Jonathan Metzelaar recaps last night's notable offensive performances, including big games from Colin Moran, Jose Ramirez, and Yonder Alonso.

Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire

With so many big offensive performances last night, I’m sure you’re wondering why I chose to highlight one as pedestrian as the 1-4, R, HR, RBI game Colin Moran put together yesterday. Well, it’s because there’s a lot to say about Moran. One, he looks like an ancient undead viking that was recently thawed out of a block of ice in the barren arctic climes of Greenland. Two, he’s physically incapable of smiling. Seriously, do an image search for Colin Moran and find me one picture where he’s smiling like a human. Not like a human being electrocuted. Not like Kratos after he’s been impaled by a spear. Like a regular human in a state of calm joy. I defy you to find one.

There’s a lot to say about Moran beyond his physical appearance too. You may have heard whispers about the swing change he implemented last year that unlocked his latent power, helping him set career-highs in home runs (18) and slugging percentage (.543) over just 79 AAA games in 2017. You may have even taken a flier on him in drafts this year, hoping for a big breakout. And to this point, he’s disappointed. Last night’s homer was just his fourth of the year, and he has been benched routinely against lefties.

I’m here to put your worries to bed, because I still think a breakout is coming. The contact ability is already there, as evidenced by his .285 average and 15.8% strikeout rate, which is backed by a .292 xAVG. But I think the power will be coming soon too. I think so because of his above-average 34.7% hard contact. I think so because of his improved 14.4 degree launch angle. I think so because he’s underperforming on his .472 xSLG, and because he’s hitting more line drives and flyballs than he did prior to his swing change, and because he needs this. Colin Moran needs this. Have you seen him try to smile? There is no joy in this man’s life.

Gleyber Torres (2B, New York Yankees): 2-4, R, HR, RBI – That’s the seventh homer of the year for Torres, and his fourth over the past four games. He’s now two away from tying his previous career-high of nine, and he’s just 88 at-bats into the season. So much for me getting to use the moniker “Baby Bombers” ironically anytime soon.

Willy Adames (SS, Tampa Bay Rays): 1-4, R, HR, RBIWilly Adames wasn’t locked in here with Chris Sale, Chris Sale was locked in here with Willy Adames. The first hit of Adames’ major league career was a homer off one of the best pitchers in the game. The Rays have said Adames will be sent down in the next few days when Joey Wendle gets activated from the paternity list but, uh, YEAH RIGHT.

Austin Meadows (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates): 1-4, R, HR, RBI – Yo, what’s up brother, it’s Austin Meadows here. When I’m not hanging ten with my dudes I like to homer in back-to-back games, because I’m totally righteous and my surfer vibes are gnarly as heck. Well, catch you guys later, ’bout to go gnosh on some fish tacos with the local hodads.

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, Cleveland Indians): 1-2, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB – Ramirez is practically hitting his weight over the past two weeks, batting .339 with six homers over that span. Ah, fat jokes, they never get old. Or maybe I just never get old. Mentally. Because I’m an idiot.

Bryce Harper (OF, Washington Nationals): 2-4, R, HR, RBI – Harper did his best Juan Soto impersonation yesterday, and it was his third homer of the week and 15th long ball of the season. The .238 average is uncharacteristic, but everything else has been there for him, and it’s only a matter of time before the hits start falling again.

Scooter Gennett (2B, Cincinnati Reds): 2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, 6 RBI – Gennett is now 14th in baseball in batting average with a .324 mark, thanks in large part to a torrid run he’s been on over his last 15 games that has seen him hit .390 with six homers. His hard contact is up to 40%, a big increase from last season’s 34% rate, and his 14 degree launch angle and improved strikeout rate indicate last season’s breakout may not even be the ceiling for the 28-year-old.

Tony Kemp (OF, Houston Astros): 2-2, 5 RBITony Kemp, father of Matt Kemp, is doing the unthinkable at 58 years old, attempting to break into the major leagues and prove that you’re only as old as you feel. Actually that’s all a lie, Tony’s 26 years old and unrelated to Matt. You should know better than to trust me at this point. Anyway, Kemp hit .329 with 10 homers and 24 steals in the minors last season, and may be worth a speculative add since the Astros seem hell-bent on hiding Kyle Tucker from the world at all costs.

Yonder Alonso (1B, Cleveland Indians): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, BB – The gaps between Yonder Alonso’s average and slugging percentage and his xAVG and xSLG are some of the largest in baseball this season, so a big hot streak seems to be in the cards. His 15 degree launch angle indicates his swing changes from last year are sticking around, and it’s only a matter of time before he improves on his .227/.294/.435 slash line.

Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox): 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBIMookie Betts has a 214 wRC+ this year compared to Mike Trout’s 188. I’ll just leave that there for you to wrap your minds around.

Yairo Munoz (SS, St. Louis Cardinals): 4-4 – I actually time-travel every now and then, and just a heads up, yesterday’s performance by Munoz is the start of a long and storied Hall of Fame career that ends with the Cardinals building a new stadium shaped like his head in the year 2059. In all honesty, Munoz has shown good contact ability and double-digit power and speed in the minors, and may have some playing time coming his way with Paul DeJong on the DL.

Mark Trumbo (OF/DH, Baltimore Orioles): 4-4, 2 2B, RBI – Any of you guys see Trumbo? It’s a great movie about the life of Mark Trumbo, and Bryan Cranston is truly a tour de force in the role. I thought the romantic plotline about Trumbo’s forbidden romance with the Orioles’ mascot was a little strange, but otherwise it hit all the right notes. Okay, fine, I never saw Trumbo, and it has nothing to do with Mark Trumbo, but who wouldn’t watch the movie I just described?

J.T. Realmuto (C, Miami Marlins): 3-5, 2 RBI – Realmuto’s walk rate has been inching up since his debut in 2014, as has his hard contact, which is now at an incredible 41.4%. The 20% HR/FB is likely unsustainable, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see him set a new career-high in homers considering he’s cut down on his groundballs and already has six on the season.

Alex Gordon (OF, Kansas City Royals): 3-4, R, HR, RBI – I wanted so badly to believe the hot streak Alex Gordon went on a few weeks back was real, but he’s gone right back to sucking butt lately, hitting .208 over the past 15 games. His hard contact has plummeted, and his groundball rate is up to 56%, but at least he had a nice night yesterday to ease his pain before he drifts off into death’s cold embrace.

Marcell Ozuna (OF, St. Louis Cardinals): 3-4, SB – There was some hope recently that Ozuna was breaking out of his slump, but he’s hitting just .233 with one homer over his last 15 games. His 50% groundball rate likely means the 23% HR/FB from last year is going to be a career outlier, so adjust your expectations.

Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves): 2-4, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB – So far, Ozzie Albies‘ season has been something out of a storybook. He’s hitting .346 over the past week, and is now up to 14 homers. His previous career-high in the minors was nine. He’s not selling out for power either, as his 9.5% whiff rate and 82% contact rate are both above average. On top of that, everything in his batted ball profile supports what he’s doing; he has 14 xHR and an 11.6% value hit rate. And he’s stealing bases. This man is a superstar in the making.

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer, content manager, and podcaster with Pitcher List. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

20 responses to “Batter’s Box: A Higher Colin”

  1. Andrew says:

    Fun Fact: Tony and Matt are both the children of Shawn Kemp.

    Sad fact: They’ve never met him

  2. QARMY says:

    Just wasted 20 minutes googling Colin Moran hoping to find a normal smile. I quit.

  3. Play Ball says:

    In a standard, season-long roto league using R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG would you take Betts over Trout ROS? Betts’ ISO is way above his norm and his BA is higher than his already career high BABIP which make you think a correction should be on the horizon. But, Trout looks like he’s getting the Harper treatment taking a lot of BB that could impact his counting stats. Analysis sage Jonathan?

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      It’s close. I still gotta go Trout there, but depending on your needs I could see an argument for Betts. I think Betts is the safer batting average asset because of how much contact he makes and how rarely he strikes out compared to Trout. But in the end I think Trout hits 10+ more home runs, and the stolen bases are essentially a wash, so I gotta give him the edge.

      • Play Ball says:

        The last 13 games Trout has gone 0-2 or 0-1 in 7 of those game. Pitchers are avoiding him. I think this is going to affect his ROS counting stats compared to Betts.

  4. theKraken says:

    Its a crazy time for MLB baseball. Every rookie who can hold the job is going to set a career high in HR just due to the environment. Projecting power at this point is almost a waste of time. I don’t even know how you are supposed to look at specs anymore? Sure, the cream will rise to the top over time but the debuts have gotten silly…which is fun.

  5. RTROTA says:

    What is going on with Goldy? Are the underlying numbers saying he is getting unlucky? Maybe I missed the article but I feel like he should be an important player to address.


    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Goldy’s a bit of a conundrum. There isn’t a clear reason why he’s struggling right now, but a couple of things do stand out:

      1) He’s getting WAY more first pitch strikes than he has in years past, and like all hitters, his average goes down when he starts an at-bat 0-1.

      2) He’s struggling badly against pitches 96 mph and above.

      Neither of those things really do much to explain his season to this point, but they do point to a change in how pitchers are approaching him. They also hint that either his bat speed is slowing down, or he’s not picking up the ball as well as he used to, because he has career-worst contact, whiff, and strikeout rates right now. I don’t think he’ll be this bad all season, but he’s never slumped like this, and I wouldn’t expect him to be able to get back to vintage Goldschmidt this year.

  6. Steve says:

    I get that jokes help the article but the blurbs on Meadows and Ramirez provide basically no advice or real analysis. Would be nice to know what you think of their current play, valuation, etc. Is Meadows worth picking up? Holding? Is Ramirez a top 10 hitter? Due for regression?

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      With Meadows it really depends on your league size/format. 12-teamers and smaller I wouldn’t be rostering him. For Ramirez, I think the power is due for some regression, but yes, I’d say he’s a top-10 hitter.

  7. Matt D says:

    14 team points league with QS addition:

    Do I trade Bauer for Alex Wood and either Yelich or Hoskins?

  8. Matt D says:

    14 team H2H Points w/ QS:

    Do I trade Bauer for Wood and either Hoskins or Yelich?


  9. Burt Bunsen says:

    Dammit! I clogged up my roster a few years back with that f*$#@! Scooter Gennett. Now look at him! (Oh, and my final preseason keeper decision this year was “Luke Weaver or Ozzie Albies?” Dammit!)

  10. Play Ball says:

    What about in the R and RBI categories?

    BTW, my outfield currently: Trout, Judge, Springer, Rosario.

  11. Play Ball says:

    What does xStats say about Judge?

  12. Play Ball says:

    What does xStats say about Judge’s BA?

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