Batter’s Box: Grandpa’s Boy

Jim Chatterton details the best hitters from Friday's games, and how to live up to your legend of a grandfather.

This season is all about the new generation of baseball families. We have Vlad Jr.Cavan BiggioBo Bichette… wait that’s just the Blue Jays roster. We also have the other Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr. These players have all come up this season to show that they are worth more than the name on their jersey and that their play stands out far beyond a famous father. But there’s one other player that debuted this year with a legendary baseball name. Mike Yastrzemski, grandson to baseball great Carl, came up in late May and has done much more than hold his own. How can you live up to the name on your back when it’s from a player that compiled over 90 WAR for a single team? First, it’s probably good that he plays across the country for another team in the other league. Second, he’s on pace for more WAR his rookie season than his grandpa.

It’s going to take a whole lot more than just a good rookie season to touch anything close to what Carl accomplished over his career (especially since Mike’s 28) but that should not tarnish the excellent rookie campaign Mike is constructing. Last night, he added the best game of his young career going 3-6, 3 R, 3 HR, 4 RBI. He has kept this type of performance going during the second half enough for the Giants coaching staff to move him from the back of the lineup into the two hole, where he’s been for nearly three weeks now. Since the All-Star break, he’s started a campaign to make himself a second-half All-Star slashing .303/.356/.672. The first notable difference is his increase in line drives. He went from 17% in the first half to 25.6% in the second. From July on his hard hit rate has been around 44% and he’s been barreling hits at a rate of over 20% in August. This is far beyond anything in the earlier months where his barrel rate stayed around 7%. He’s cut his strikeout rate from the first half to the second half by over eight percentage points as well. He’s helped to keep the Giants alive and in the hunt. And with this improved play, he can be an asset down the stretch in fantasy as well.

Jose Ramirez (3B, Cleveland Indians)—3-4, R, HR, 2B, RBI. There it is. Back to back 20/20 seasons from Ramirez. That’s why he’s a first-round pick. He can trip over himself all he wants but by the end of the season, he still finds a way to be 20/20 and flirt with 30/30. Just think about that. Ramirez still may finish 30/30 even after the abysmal start he had.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, Toronto Blue Jays)—2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. Here’s another highly touted pick to start the year (not as high as first-round but underperformed initially) that has been raking for a while now. If you owned both Vlad and JoRam, are you too far gone to make that playoff push because, if you’re close, boy do they make your team look good now.

Bryce Harper (OF, Philadelphia Phillies)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. August 13th the Phillies fired their hitting coach and brought on former manager Charlie Manuel to replace him. August 14th, Harper hits two home runs. August 15th, Harper hits a moon shot for a walk-off grand slam. August 16th, Harper hits an oppo three-run shot. That’s four homers in three games after the hitting coach turnover. Coincidence? Who’s to say?

J.T. Realmuto (C, Philadelphia Phillies)—3-4, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Wait, hold on. Realmuto had a two-hit game on the 12th and the 13th with a home run on the 13th. But that was with the old hitting coach. Anyway, he still has added a couple more homers and a couple more multi-hit games. He’s returned to form post-break, with eight homers slashing .301/.341/.602. Leaving Miami gave a promise of improved power that hasn’t materialized, but that has changed the past couple of months.

Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox)—3-4, 2 R, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI. The last couple of seasons, Benintendi showed much promise to be close to 20/20 with around 90 RBIs and runs batting close to .300 every season. That is all hard to keep consistent year in year out, but a 25-year-old in the Red Sox lineup with those numbers has staying power. The only hope he’s provided this season is his average. However, his production has gradually increased as the year has progressed alongside his hard hit rate and his line drive rate.

Dexter Fowler (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)—3-6, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. Fowler’s been on a roller coaster of a season at the plate. He started out hot, every hit dropping. Then he cooled for a few months and has started to pick it up again. August has been his time to shine. He’s striking out less and walking more while increasing his fly ball rate by close to 10 percentage points. He’s brought his hard hit rate back up to over 30 in July and August as well. However, his production has only come in small bursts and has not been valuable enough for standard leagues.

Kolten Wong (2B, St. Louis Cardinals)—4-5, 3 R, HR, RBI. Speaking of hot starts, Wong was one of the biggest names in April. He poofed away come May, but since the break, he’s been one to keep an eye on. Since the All-Star break, he is slashing .383/.459/.511. You could call him Molten Wong. This is with a high BABIP, mediocre hard hit rate, and over 40% ground ball rate. He’s also still hitting in the back of the Cards lineup, limiting any necessary counting stats for fantasy purposes. I expect this hotness to cool off soon.

Kevin Pillar (OF, San Francisco Giants)—2-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB. I was diving into Pillar’s stats and noticed when he was dealt to the Giants. Do you remember this happening in early April? I don’t. I knew it wasn’t at the deadline, but this happened only a few games into the season. Regardless, Pillar has been hitting the ball non-stop for a couple of weeks now. And he added a couple 400-foot bombs last night.

Nick Ahmed (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. I don’t believe I have written about Ahmed yet this year in the Batter’s Box.  It is always nice to get a fresh face in here. Especially when he’s having the best offensive season of his career so far. He currently is firmly at 100 wRC+ on the season, with career bests in BB/K, average, OBP, SLG, and ISO. Both his hard hit rate and barrel rate are the best he’s had as well. This past week has been a boon for him with four dingers in his last six contests.

Wilmer Flores (1B/2B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks)—2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Flores came off the bench last night ready to unload. He hit two homers showing his team that he can still play. He suffered a broken foot earlier this year and has been back now for about a month. He’s only playing in a limited capacity off the bench but since his return he is slashing .333/.385/.563. And of course, he still eats lefties for breakfast.

James McCann (C, Chicago White Sox)—3-4, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. McCann worked through some struggles in July after the break, striking out over 40% of the time. But once August rolled around he was back to his new 2019 breakout season self. He cut that strikeout rate down to 21 and has been spraying plenty of hits around adding a couple of homers and nine RBIs over that last three games.

(Photo by Larry Placido/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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