Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
When it comes to discussing baseball players, I derive a lot of pleasure from talking about their names and how they look. I know that probably sounds like the same mentality that a high school bully might have, but I swear that it comes from a different place for me. It’s not about demeaning the players. It’s about the challenge of finding new, accurate ways of describing their appearance or what kinds of images their names elicit when I hear them. So, for example, Brian McCann’s head looks like a giant wet toe. Lorenzo Cain sounds like the name of a guy who has his own line of marinara sauces. Colin Moran looks like some kinda of undead Norse warrior.
And Ozzie Albies sounds like the name of a hand puppet that teaches children how to spell and count. I know that there’s precedent for baseball players having the name “Ozzie,” but something about pairing it with “Albies” really just creates this mental image of a felt puppet with googly eyes. Maybe that’s appropriate though, because like a hand puppet, Ozzie Albies has been making folks really happy recently. After his 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, BB performance last night, he has seven multi-hit games this season, including four in a row. He’s also homered three times over the past week.
That said, I have to be a bit of an Oscar the Grouch and advise caution here. His 28.6% hard contact rate is pedestrian, and certainly isn’t going to prop up his current 17.4% HR/FB the entire year. He’s also been hitting the ball in the air A LOT (47.9% flyball rate), which explains the power outburst a bit, but is not sustainable. The fact that the walk he drew yesterday was his first of the season is also a bit concerning. However, the contact ability is very real, and he should continue to pile up multi-hit games throughout the year while also helping teach your toddlers how to spell “cat,” so how can we really complain?
Greg Garcia (3B, St. Louis Cardinals): 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 3 RBI
I believe this qualifies as the hitter version of a One Night Bland. Greg Garcia may soak up a couple starts while Jedd Gyorko is on the DL, but just like a movie theater during a blackout, there’s nothing to see here.
Tommy Pham (OF, St. Louis Cardinals): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 SB
I don’t think Tommy Pham appreciated me saying in my last Batter’s Box that his eyeballs were turning to stone. Though in my defense, if his eyes are working so well, why does he have a… 16.4% walk rate this year?! Okay, I take it back once and for all, Tommy Pham’s eyes are not turning to stone. Pham’s 15 runs this year are tied for the most in baseball, and he’s third in stolen bases at the moment with five.
Ben Zobrist (2B/OF, Chicago Cubs): 3-3, 3 R, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 BB
You want to know how Ben Zobrist is still able to produce at such a high level despite his age? Steroids. Lots and lots of steroids. That’s a joke, of course. Please don’t sue me for libel Mr. Zobrist, sir. Zobrist’s current 11.4% strikeout rate is about as low as it’s ever been in his career thus far, and he’ll likely be picking up first base eligibility in the coming week if that’s something you’re into.
Dee Gordon (2B, Seattle Mariners): 3-5, R, RBI, 2 SB
One of these days, my nickname for Gordon will catch on: The Speed Dee-mon. Maybe you could help it along? You know, tell your friends about it and such, casually slip it into conversations? Please? This is all I have.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks): 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI
Well, that whole “Paul Goldschmidt is on the decline” storyline was fun while it lasted. Goldschmidt has now blasted three home runs over his last four games. His hard contact is down, and his strikeout rate is up, so there’s plenty of things to overreact about still if that’s your thing.
A.J. Pollock (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI
It’s been 13 games and A.J. Pollock’s body still works, which is a victory in and of itself. However, you’ll gladly take the three home runs and four steals he’s provided thus far as well. He’s striking out a bit more than usual, but his 32.4% line drive rate and 41.2% hard contact more than make up for it.
Javier Baez (2B, Chicago Cubs): 1-5, R, 2B, 4 RBI
Baez has racked up 10 RBI and four home runs over his past five games. His below-average 66.7% contact rate leaves quite a bit to be desired, but it will likely always be feast or famine when it comes to Baez.
Yuli Gurriel (1B, Houston Astros): 2-5, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI
A nice night for Gurriel, who recently returned from his one-game suspension for being a chucklehead. Gurriel flashed elite contact ability last season, though the jury is still out on where his power numbers may fall this year.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox): 2-5, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI
Benintendi has a 21.8% walk rate and 9.1% strikeout rate this year. No, I didn’t mix those numbers up. I’m not a child, okay? Maybe if you just believed in me for once, GOD. Benintendi has been pulling the ball softly on the ground a lot this season, which is a bit concerning, but batting second behind Mookie Betts all year should keep the RBIs flowing.
Mitch Haniger (OF, Seattle Mariners): 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI
Like Benintendi, Haniger is currently sporting a walk rate (17%) that’s higher than his strikeout rate (12.8%). Unlike Benintendi, however, his hard hit rate and batted ball profile look excellent. Does Haniger have a cool nickname like “Super Benintendo” though? I didn’t think so.
Ian Happ (OF, Chicago Cubs): 0-4, 3 K
After a couple of nights off to clear his head, Happ looked like he might be showing some signs of life over the past week. Then he went right back to being Ian Happ. Just a friendly reminder that you can’t succeed with a 45% strikeout rate, and that if you’re a Happ owner you should calmly ABORT AND RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.
Daniel Vogelbach (1B/DH, Seattle Mariners): 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, 2 K
This is the second night in a row that Vogelbach has homered, and though he’s been striking out 36.7% of the time, his whiff rate so far has been about league average. Ryon Healy will likely be back in the next week or two, so Daniel will have to keep hitting the ball bach, bach, bach, bach, bach, bach if he wants to hang on to some playing time.
Jurickson Profar (2B/OF, Texas Rangers): 2-3, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB
Jurickson Profar: baseball player or Star Wars character? With a name like that, it’s hard to tell. The plate discipline is real, but I don’t see anything in his numbers that tell me he has enough power or speed to be much of a fantasy asset. I’d much rather roster Poe Dameron or Maz Kanata.
Hanley Ramirez (1B/DH, Boston Red Sox): 2-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI
So apparently having two healthy shoulders is an important part of being a good baseball player. Who knew? Hanley has looked great this year, driving in 15 runs already and setting an early pace for that 30/30 season he promised.