Batter’s Box: Brian Helps You Win Good

Jim Chatterton provides his take on the top hitters of Friday's games.

What if your last name was Goodwin but you never were on a sports team, or any team for that matter, that was successful. You could never scrape together a win. But there you are, with the last name Goodwin, never having a good win. But there’s Brian Goodwin. Good enough to get drafted by the Nationals at 22 years old with a decent mix of power and speed. Now he’s on the Angels accruing less wins, but he’s doing his best to live up to his name. Now imagine you have that kind of last night but play backup to Mike Trout. When Trout is out and he steps into the center field role I can imagine the immense pressure he faces. Luckily his start last night was over Justin Upton relieving some of that pressure leading to a fantastic box score of 2-6, 4 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB over the course of a 15 inning marathon.

Brian Goodwin has been more than a backup this season as he handled left field while Upton was out for the beginning of the season. He held his own in the first half of the season with a 105 wRC+, but right before the All-Star break, he was hit by a pitch in the wrist sending him to the IL. Since returning from the IL, he has been stellar showing that he is a Goodwin. He’s slashing .301/.368/.680 in those 114 plate appearances. He’s slugged eight home runs and 13 doubles. Interestingly, his strikeout rate has spiked into the 30s while it had been in the mid-20s earlier in the season. He’s making less contact out of the zone and his swinging strike rate has bumped up a small amount but not much else has changed there. He also hasn’t been hitting ground balls, sending only 20% into the dirt while 57.8% of his batted balls are fly balls. His hard hit rate has also spiked to nearly 50%, so combining those has definitely contributed to his success. This kind of success does not seem sustainable through the end of the season especially with that large number of fly balls. But if he continues to smoke the ball as he has since the All Star break, he can continue to get on base.

Nicholas Castellanos (OF, Chicago Cubs)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. There is almost too much talk about Castellanos on the Cubs now. As of now, this deal has been the best bang for the buck. He hit two more home runs last night pushing his total to 11 with the Cubs. He also has not hit in only five of the games he’s played with the Cubs. His hatred of the Tigers’ home park is well documented so getting out of there must have been especially freeing.

Michael Conforto (OF, New York Mets)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Conforto has matched his home run total from last season in 29 less games, while also essentially matching his other totals. He’s been hitting more line drives and fly balls than last year while swinging at pitches in the zone more often. He’s also making more contact on pitches out of the zone which has helped him cut his strikeout rate a bit. Those changes have been even more prominent this past month.

Todd Frazier (3B, New York Mets)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI. With J.D. Davis excelling, Jeff McNeil returning, and the potential return of Brandon Nimmo as well as the Big Foot-esque sightings of Jed Lowrie, Frazier has to be worried about losing playing time. Since the All-Star break, he is slashing .195/.250/.384 including last night’s two three-run homer game. Even with a game like this, there is not a reason to roster this guy even if there were no danger of losing playing time.

George Springer (OF, Houston Astros)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, BB. Whenever I’m looking at leaderboards this season, I see Springer’s name near the top. Then I notice he has 20+ less games played than everyone else and I get frustrated. When someone is having a career year, it should be a full season. It’s like something was taken away undeservedly. This is Springer’s first season with an OPS north of .900 and it’s .955. He has a hard hit rate eight points higher than last year.

Tyler Flowers (C, Atlanta Braves)—2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. The Braves just nabbed Francisco Cervelli as Flowers has been struggling this season. But I want to put out a poll for all you readers. Who is older? Flowers or Cervelli? I completely missed that Flowers was an old dude. He’s a couple months older than Cervelli! Cervelli did hurt his leg the other day so he’s day to day. I would expect the two of them to split time but the way Flowers has been playing, I wouldn’t recommend either of them for fantasy purposes.

Mallex Smith (OF, Seattle Mariners)—3-5, 2 R, 3B, RBI, SB. There’s only one reason to own Mallex Smith—it’s the stolen bases. And he’s doing his job this year. In 28 fewer games than last year, he has only two less stolen bases this season. Despite missing a chunk of time in May, he still has over six steals each month with nine so far in August. He still firmly owns the top spot in the league despite the amount of games played.

Jonathan Villar (2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles)—2-4, 3 R, 2B, BB, 3 SB. Another stolen base boy, Villar nabbed three last night in the rout of the Royals. Villar is still six steals away from Smith’s lead despite adding two more than Smith. At least Villar is able to contribute in other ways as he has 20 dingers on the year and has an OPS just over .800.

Pedro Severino (C, Baltimore Orioles)—4-6, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, SB. Not everyday do you see a catcher swipe a bag, but this is Severino’s third on the season. That stolen base and the rest of his stats might not have been that impactful as he’s been having a rough second half. He missed some time due to illness but his August has been much worse than the rest of his season. His wRC+ for August is 41 while no other month has been under 100. He hasn’t been lining the ball as much nor is he hitting the ball as hard.

Hanser Alberto (2B/3B, Baltimore Orioles)—5-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI. Is that a third Baltimore Oriole’s player in the Batter’s Box? How many players do they need so we can call it batting around? Hanser smacked five hits last night showing off his contact skills. Seriously, this guy has a strikeout rate less than 10% and a walk rate less than 3%. Since the All-Star break, he’s even taken a point off the strikeout rate to add it to the walk rate. He’s been slashing .351/.377/.556 since then as well. He swings at everything but if you have a 95% contact rate on pitches in the zone, why not?

Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox)—3-7, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Betts is still dialing up that run total but his August has been less than desirable for a first round pick. These two homers are only number four and five for August, while he only recorded one stolen base on the month. Additionally, his strikeout rate is up while his walk rate is down for his first month of the season with a BB/K not close to 1.00. After a promising return to 2018 form in July, his August has been right back to early 2019.

Brandon Belt (1B/OF, San Francisco Giants)—3-5, 3 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Brandon belted a 343 foot home run at a 38-degree angle with a .030 xBA last night for his 16th dinger. But a home run is a home run so we’ll take it. In his first full season in a while, Belt has put together the weakest season of his career with a sub-100 wRC+. In the second half, he has struggled with plate discipline and his walk rate has dropped over five points and his strikeout rate jumped a few.

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire)

Jim Chatterton

Jim has written for Razzball and now is a part of the Pitcher List staff. He is a Villanova alum and an eternally optimistic Mets fan. He once struck out Rick Porcello in Little League.

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