Batter’s Box: The Shohei’s Not Over Yet

Jim Chatterton explores Saturday's best hitters and uncovers where Ohtani's power has gone.

We are in the midst of a power outage. The light just flickered and there are hopes of it coming back on. But it’s been months now and Shohei Ohtani has shown almost none of his power prowess. The player who during his rookie season, while also pitching, slugged .564, now has a .444 slugging in the second half and only three home runs. Last night’s 400 foot home run was his first since August 18th. The 3-5, R, HR, 2B, 5 RBI, SB performance was greatly needed in the hopes to bust out of the power slump he’s been in all second half. He is hitting far less fly balls than last year on the season (a nine point drop) but he’s hitting more fly balls in the second half. His biggest issue is the 9.1 HR/FB ratio, far less than his 28.3 career average. How does this happen? This decently long stretch of almost 200 plate appearances, almost a third of a season, isn’t exactly a small sample size for him. He’s been making almost no soft contact over this span as well, however, his hard hit rate dropped to the low 40s during July and August. It is usually closer to 50%. His August barrel rate was also nearly half of his career average of 14%. Despite this loss of power, he’s still been a valuable fantasy player showing off his speed with three triples and eight stolen bases in the second half. The home runs will return, and yesterday may have been the start.

Matt Olson (1B, Oakland Athletics)4-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. In almost 200 fewer plate appearances, Olson has matched his home run total from last season. He’s hit fewer grounders and more line drives, picking his average up a bit. His hard hit rate has been above 50% for the second year in a row. In the second half, he’s changed his batted ball profile significantly, hitting nearly a third of his hits as line drives, ground balls, and fly balls, where as he usually had been hitting a majority fly balls. This has driven up his average greatly while also maintaining power as he’s crushing pitches.

Harold Castro (2B/3B/OF, Detroit Tigers)4-4, 2 RBI. Castro is a free swinger that can make decent contact. He lives putting the ball on the ground and finding his way to first. But in the first half his line drive rate was almost 35% and that has dropped below 20% during the second half. Yes, he can scatter a bunch of hits every few games but a player in the Tigers lineup with no power is virtually useless in fantasy.

César Hernández (2B, Philadelphia Phillies)3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. Hernández is playing as often as he normally does this season but it hasn’t come together the same way. He has not yet broken 10 steals and hasn’t done the same for home runs. Last year was his only season north of 10 dingers but in a year home runs are dropping left and right that is surprising to me. He is swinging a lot more than last year and making more contact which has led to his lowest strikeout rate of his career. But all of these stats don’t make up for him batting in the back of the Phillies lineup where he isn’t able to reap much of his production.

Wil Myers (1B/OF, San Diego Padres)3-4, R, HR, RBI, SB. This guy was one of the more consistent 20/20 threats of the past few seasons which always has bumped his value. However, things have fallen apart for him so far this year even when batting in the refreshed Padres offense. His strikeout rate is seven percentage points higher than last year and ranks first in strikeout rate among hitters with 400 or more plate appearances. However, in the past week he’s stringed together a seven game hit streak with a 15% strikeout rate, three homers, and two stolen bases.

Mitch Garver (C, Minnesota Twins)2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB. These two homers put Garver at 28 on the year in only 81 games. He has 22 less plate appearances than last season with 21 more home runs. And since August Garver is still hot. Eight home runs in 83 plate appearances with a 158 wRC+. He’s been one of the most productive catchers all season despite splitting a good amount of time behind the plate.

Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)2-2, R, 2B, RBI, 3 BB, 3 SB. And just like that he did it. It felt like only yesterday I was telling you all he was three steals away from 40/30. Wait, it was? He just stole three bags in one game? And he hit a walk off double? Wow.

Yoán Moncada (2B/3B, Chicago White Sox)3-4, 2 R, RBI, SB. Last night was the fourth multi-hit game in a row for Moncada. He has been getting his sea legs back after coming back from his hamstring injury near the end of August. He started off strong with a couple of home runs but hasn’t done much until the last few games. After returning he was striking out nearly twice a game, but over the last week he has struck out only twice in total.

Marcell Ozuna (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)1-3, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB. Ozuna injured his hand sliding back into a base on a pick off in late June and returned to action in the beginning of August. He has been underperforming since the return slashing .246/.341/.458. His BABIP is relatively low .271 given his line drive and ground ball rates. It has been a tough ten last games for him as he only has three hits, two of which are home runs. I expect most things to improve for Ozuna as the year closes out.

Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers)3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI. July came and went and Odor flourished with his best month this season. He subsequently fell off a cliff in August slashing .144/.278/.268. I don’t understand him at all. Now it’s September and he’s stringed together a few solid games. I can’t imagine dealing with Odor on my fantasy team again. So just don’t.

Edwin Encarnación (1B, New York Yankees)2-5, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Edwin took month off with a broken wrist but he’s back in time for the playoffs. In his first four games back he’s already clubbed two homers. What do you expect from possibly the most prolific home run hitter of the past decade? He now has eight straight seasons of 30+ home runs. Incredible.

Jorge Soler (OF, Kansas City Royals)2-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB. It was just a few days ago Soler broke the Royals’ single season home run record. Now he’s just piling on. Since the start of August, he has 13 homers with a 174 wRC+. In the second half, he’s also learned a bit of plate discipline. He’s improved his walk rate almost 10 percentage points while cutting his strikeout rate by eight. Only a few weeks back, Ben Palmer wrote a Going Deep piece on Soler’s season. Check it out!

(Photo by Juan DeLeon/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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