Batter’s Box: Hakuna Machado

Ben Palmer takes a look at some of the best hitting performances from yesterday's games.

(Photograph by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire)

When I was writing my bold predictions, there was one prediction I thought about making but decided not to (mostly because I don’t know that it was bold enough). I predicted that Manny Machado would bounce back to being a top-five player and even garner some MVP votes during his last year with the Baltimore Orioles. So far this season, he’s been making that prediction look very possible, slashing .313/.421/.531 on the year so far, including his awesome 4-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI performance against the New York Yankees last night. Honestly, I think he can go back to being an almost .300-hitting, 35+ home run player like he was in 2015 and 2016. The power was still there last year, in fact his hard-hit rate went up to a career-high 39.5%. All of his batted ball stats were right in line with his career aside from his BABIP, which was .265 at the end of the year. Considering his xAVG was .291 last year compared to the .259 he finished with, all signs are pointing to a major year from him.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from last night:

Pedro Alvarez (DH, BAL) – 2-2, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI. There’s really no fantasy takeaway from here, there’s no way you’re picking up Pedro Alvarez, even if he had a consistent role in the Orioles’ offense (which he doesn’t). Alvarez pinch hit for Danny Valencia in the 10th inning of what ended up being a 14-inning game and ended up hitting the go-ahead grand slam. Once Mark Trumbo comes back, Alvarez’s at-bats are likely going to decline even more, and even at his prime, Alvarez was a power-and-little-else hitter, so there’s not much here.

Didi Gregorius (SS, NYY) – 2-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB. Man this guy is so frustrating. Our own Dave Cherman talked at-length about how Didi’s power just shouldn’t happen by every metric, how Didi is apparently a magician. I’ve talked with him about it on multiple occasions, it’s insanely frustrating. But hey, he’s still going to produce fantasy goodness so good for you if you drafted him. I would expect the power to slow down at some point, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if he just hits 30 home runs this year or something as a big middle finger to all the analytics.

Josh Harrison (2B/3B, PIT) – 2-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB. The Pirates were very productive in their game last night, and Harrison was a good part of that. The Pirates as a whole have been off to a hot start, but especially Harrison, who’s slashing .344/.417/.500 on the season so far. Harrison should be a solid source of both batting average and speed with some decent power.

Starling Marte (OF, PIT) – 2-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB. Marte’s been starting off the year slowly, but it’s obviously still very early. With his performance last night, his batting average jumped up from .227 on the year to .259, and I would expect it to keep rising, especially as the Pirates continuing playing at the level they’ve been playing at.

Colin Moran (1B, PIT) – 4-5, 3 R, 3 RBI. Colin Moran’s been having a nice start to the season so far, slashing .318/.348/.545. There hasn’t been a ton of power, but he’s had just two games without a hit, and his BABIP has only been .316 so far. He was always a high-average guy in the minors back when he was with the Astros, so it wouldn’t shock me to see him keep up a high average this year (though not .300+) with a chance at double-digit home runs.

Dansby Swanson (SS, ATL) – 3-5, 1 R, 3 RBI. I think it’s easy to forget about Swanson for a couple reasons. First, the Braves have a lot of young talent that have gotten more attention than him (i.e. Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna). Second, Swanson played a full year last year and had pretty disappointing results. But the guy is still just 24-years-old, and he’s slashing .370/.370/.556 on the year so far. Obviously it’s early, but the hot start is encouraging.

Carlos Gonzalez (OF, COL) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. I mean, how could I not mention CarGo? Last night’s home run was his first of the year, and he’s been struggling a bit, but it’s still early. Though the fact that he’s got one walk and nine strikeouts so far isn’t exactly encouraging, but he’s still got plenty of skill and he gets to play a lot in Coors Field, so I’m not worried yet.

Russell Martin (C, TOR) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Hey, good for Russell Martin. If you’re absolutley desperate at catcher, Martin might not be a terrible choice, he’s still got solid power and should be a good on-base guy, but generally speaking, there’s plenty of better options out there.

Shin-Soo Choo (OF, TEX) – 2-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. That’s three-straight games with a home run from Choo so far this year. He may be 35-years-old, but he’s still got good power and a really good eye at the plate, which makes him fairly valuable in OBP leagues. He’s also still got a bit of speed, and while he hasn’t stolen a base yet this year, he did steal 12 bases last year.

Jed Lowrie (2B, OAK) – 3-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Lowrie’s always been a guy who can hit for a decent average with a bit of power, and the fact that he’s hitting third in the A’s lineup so far this year is great, but he’s got to stay healthy. He played in 153 games last year, which is encouraging, but he played in just 87 the year before and 69 the year before that. If he’s able to stay healthy, he could provide some decent fantasy production in deeper leagues.

Matt Chapman (3B, OAK) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Matt Chapman is playing like a man possessed to start the year this year, slashing .412/.459/.706 so far. It looks like he’s being more disciplined at the plate, which is really encouraging, having dropped his strikeout rate to 21.6% so far on the year compared to 28.2% last year. He’s going to have a steady place in the A’s lineup, and I’m excited to see what he can do going forward.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

3 responses to “Batter’s Box: Hakuna Machado”

  1. Jason says:

    Why is it so frustrating that Didi hits for more power than metrics say he should?

    • Ben Palmer says:

      I’d highly recommend reading Dave’s article on it, but the gist of it is that the metrics say what Didi is doing is fluky, that it’s unsustainable, and yet he keeps doing it. He consistently hits the ball at a low exit velocity, but juuuuuust enough to scrape over the wall. It makes him nearly impossible to project.

  2. Dave says:

    Shohei Ohtani hit his 3rd home run in three straight games and he doesn’t even get a mention?

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