Batter’s Box: Tim’s Up

Jonathan Metzelaar recaps yesterday's notable offensive performances, including big nights from Tim Anderson, Ozzie Albies, and Maikel Franco.

Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire

The movie The Matrix is about a young hacker named Tom Anderson who stumbles upon a hole in the fabric of reality that not only lets him see things as they really are, but empowers him to become an all-powerful being capable of extraordinary feats like dodging bullets, stopping time, and transforming into an old woman? I don’t know, it’s been like 15 years since I watched it.

There are parallels, though, between the Tom Anderson of that movie, and the Tim Anderson of the fabricated pseudo-world we’re all currently living in. Mainly, a young man’s growth from lowly Average Joe to omnipotent god. After yesterday’s 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, SB performance, it’s clear that Mr. Anderson is no longer the whiff-happy, raw prospect we once knew. He’s now up to 13 home runs and 15 stolen bases on the season, and he seems to have made some real changes in his approach. For one thing, his launch angle has gone up from 7.1 to 12.8 degrees. This has helped him cut his groundball rate from 52.7% last year to 42% this season. Even with the subpar 30.2% hard contact he’s making, more balls are going to leave the yard purely has a result of the increased launch angle. What’s more, his walk rate is currently 7.7%, which doesn’t sound like much, but is more than three times higher than the 2.1% rate he posted last year. He’s a guy who clearly has elite speed, as evidenced by his 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts, and that should help him pull his BABIP up from .278 closer to his career .333 rate. All that being said, by the end of the year we could be looking at a 30/30 shortstop with an average around .250. Who will also probably look great in sunglasses and a leather trenchcoat.

Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves): 4-5, R, RBI – Ozzie’s full name is “Ozhaino Jurdy Jiandro Albies.” I’m glad he settled on just “Ozzie,” because if he hadn’t I’d have a serious case of carpal tunnel syndrome considering how often he’s appeared here in Batter’s Box. Albies has really cooled off over the past month, not stealing a single base and hitting just. 223. A large part of the issue probably comes down to luck: he has just a .171 BABIP so far in June despite hitting the ball harder than in any month prior. He’s too talented a player to keep this up, so just ride out the cold spell.

Maikel Franco (3B, Philadelphia Phillies): 4-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI Maikel Franco is easily my least favorite Franco brother, and that’s really saying something. He has a path to reclaiming the full-time third base job now that J.P. Crawford is back on the shelf, and he’s hitting .389 over the past week, but his groundball rate, which has always been a bugaboo with him, is at a career-high 52%. That’s going to continue suppressing his BABIP and, by consequence, his average and power totals.

Brandon Nimmo (OF, New York Mets): 3-5, 3B Brandon Nimmo now ranks eighth in baseball in wOBA, ahead of Aaron Judge, Manny Machado, and Nelson Cruz. It’s too bad he’ll never get the recognition he deserves since he plays for a small-market team like the New York Mets.

Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Reds): 3-4, R, 3B, RBI – Suarez had as many total bases in this game as he has syllables in his first name, which is no easy feat. He’s now up to an incredible 58 RBI despite playing on the Cincinnati Reds, and his 16 home runs and .304 average are super impressive. He’s just 26 years old, and it’s seeming like the best may be yet to come.

Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants): 3-3, R, 3B, 2 2B, 3 RBI, BB – Crawford missed some time while going on the paternity list, and may have to go right back after giving birth to triplets in this game. Sorry, that’s a weird mental image. His average is up to .313 on the year thanks in large part to career-highs in line drive rate (27%) and hard contact (37.6%). Oh, and a .361 BABIP.

Adrian Beltre (3B, Texas Rangers): 3-5, 2 R, HR, RBI – Beltre is making the most hard contact of his career this season, which is not an easy thing to do when you’ve been in the game for 16 years. His absurd 30% line drive rate is also a career-best, and while he is making slightly less contact and striking out more, things still don’t seem to have started to trend downward for the 39-year-old.

Nelson Cruz (DH, Seattle Mariners): 3-4, 2 R, 2B, BB – This guy is in Cruz control now. I guess you could say he’s putting opposing pitchers in a half Nelson. Oh god, these jokes… am I dad? Cruz’s average is up to .481 over the past week with four homers, and he’s hit 13 over the past month.

David Peralta (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks): 2-4, R, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI, BB – Fellow Batter’s Box bro Ben Palmer had a great article about the excellent season Peralta has had so far. I won’t spoil anything, but the man has made some adjustments to his approach, and they appear to be working.

Yadier Molina (C, St. Louis Cardinals): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI – He’s just weeks away from turning 36, yet Molina is posting the best hard contact (46.5%) and line drive rates (25.7%) of his career. He’s now up to 11 home runs on the season and is still posting a stellar 13.7% strikeout rate. Even after losing some time to injury, this could be an excellent year for Molina.

Matt Kemp (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers): 1-1, R, HR, 4 RBI – Everything’s coming up Kemp this season, and yesterday he rubbed it in our faces by hitting a pinch-hit grand slam that raised his home run total to 13 and his average to .323. You think you’re better than us, Kemp? Just because you’ve got the cars, the money, the women, the fame, the athleticism, and the dreamy hazel eyes? Well you’re right! You are better than us! At least stop reminding us!

Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins): 2-5, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI – Rosario cannot be stopped, and is hitting .350 with eight homers now over the past month. He’s lifting the ball more this year, cutting his groundball rate down by 10%, and while I still don’t love the plate discipline or the fact that he struggles against fastballs, I can’t argue with the stellar results so far.

J.T. Realmuto (C, Miami Marlins): 2-4, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB – Real(muto) talk: could a case be made for J.T. as the #1 catcher next year? He’s hitting .308 now with 10 homers, and has shown double-digit speed upside in the past (though he’s stolen just one base this year). Food for thought.

Mark Trumbo (OF, Baltimore Orioles): 1-3, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB – When Mark Trumbo says something that doesn’t make any sense, is it considered Trumbo mumbo jumbo? More importantly, when he hits .346 with four homers over the course of a week, like he’s doing now, is it time to pay attention to him again? I’m not sure another 40+ home run season like what he did in 2016 is in the cards, but his hard contact is up to 41.2% at the moment, which is a career high, and an 11% increase from last year. I’d be snatching him as a speculative add and seeing how the next week goes.

Paul Goldschmidt (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks): 1-3, 3 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB – I would really like to take a look back at some of the trades involving Goldschmidt that happened this year prior to this insane run, back when people were panicking over his terrible start. He’s hit .347 for the past month with 12 homers, and has brought his average all the way back up to .264. If we’re nitpicking though, the two stolen bases are still a huge letdown, and he’s going to have to run wild in the second half to challenge 20 again.

Mitch Garver (C, Minnesota Twins): 3-4, R – Garver flashed a little pop in AAA last year, hitting 17 homers in about half a season while hitting .291. None of that potential has shown itself in the majors this year though.

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer, content manager, and podcaster with Pitcher List. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

8 responses to “Batter’s Box: Tim’s Up”

  1. Josh says:

    How much confidence do you have in the measurement of hard hit percentage? It’s my understanding that the calculation is a proprietary algorithm, so not a whole lot of transparency there. The methodology also changed in 2010, so for the note on Adrian Beltre above, almost half of his career stats on hard hit rate were measured differently unless historic stats were remeasured under new approach. It seems like everyone is having career years or “growth” in hard hit rate, but I’m skeptical of how much of it is truly skill driven vs. how much is attributable to tweaks in measurements or improved quality of data.

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      That’s a really great point, and something I hadn’t considered, though I had noticed an uptick in hard% pretty much across the board this year. It’s especially problematic when you notice substantial differences between the numbers being reported by sites like Fangraphs and Baseball Savant. Do you have a source for the 2010 change in methodology you mentioned? I’d be interested in looking into it more.

      • theKraken says:

        I would bet you that the main component is EV. I doubt it is rocket science. There is every motivation by everyone involved to fudge the numbers upward… HR were used to create excitment, but that can’t last forever without asterisks… a made-up stat like EV and every derivative stat can be manipulated at will. There is no meaningful baseline or consequences to juicing the data. Think about how hard places like FanGraphs fought against the idea of juiced balls for a second… and that was easily demonstrable in the form of HR.

  2. Upton Funk says:

    Neo is also only 6 or 7 days older than Trea Turner! Don’t see why this can’t be the new norm for him, with room for AVG improvement given the low BABIP and improved approach…

    Can you tell I have him for a buck in my keeper league?

  3. Jamie says:

    I’m tired of Polanco sitting most days with no resolution in sight. He’s actually been hitting better but only starting 2-3 games a week. In a 12 team H2H categories keeper league, can I drop him for Trumbo? Or Gerardo Parra? Manny Margot? I had such high hopes, this makes me sad. Thanks!

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Definitely. I think if you want similar production to what you were expecting from Polanco, I’d roll the dice on Margot, who’s been heating up lately. I’d drop him for Trumbo too. I think I might hold him over Parra though.

  4. theK says:

    I think the Anderson growth is just the increased walk rate – probably nothing more than that along with ABs. He is really new to baseball and was always pushed really aggressively. Good to see him making a few adjustments his year – there is a lot that he still needs to learn – sky is the limit though. I could see him having a giant year someday…

  5. Launch Angle says:

    Albies or Scooter ROS and why?

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