Batter’s Box: Where There’s Smoak, There’s Fire

So Justin Smoak, remember him? Of course you do. Everyone loved him forever and he ended up being a huge disappointment. Well, now it’s time to talk about him, because he’s...

So Justin Smoak, remember him? Of course you do. Everyone loved him forever and he ended up being a huge disappointment. Well, now it’s time to talk about him, because he’s been playing really well lately, batting .283 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs on the year so far. He continued that on Monday night, going 2-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. So what’s going on with Smoak? Well, there’s actually some reason to be optimistic. Smoak’s always had good power, and so far this year, that’s still been there. His exit velocity, his launch angles, and his hard hit rate are all very good right now. What’s different is his plate discipline. His strikeout rate has gone way down, as has his whiff rate, and that’s what’s interesting. He’s still chasing balls, actually a bit more than last year, but he’s whiffing and striking out less. It’s important to remember that this is Justin Smoak, and disappointment is very possible, but what he’s doing so far is interesting, and as long as he’s getting playing time, this could keep up. I’m interested, and if you’re in a deep league, he’s worth a speculative add.

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

Kevin Kiermaier (OF, TB) –  2-2, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. A popular preseason sleeper (one I liked a good bit), Kiermaier has been disappointing, though he’s been turning it on a bit lately, hitting .271 with two home runs and eight runs and RBIs each over the past 15 games. He might go 15/15 with a .250 average. Useful, but nothing exceptional.

Lonnie Chisenhall (OF, CLE) – 1-2, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Second straight game with a home run, good for Lonnie Chisenhall.

Jose Altuve (2B, HOU) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Altuve’s a stud, not much news there.

Yuli Gurriel (3B/1B, HOU) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI. A real nice night for Gurriel, who’s been struggling the past couple weeks. I’ve seen him get dropped in some leagues, and I’d advise against that, he’s still a useful third baseman, and if he got dropped in your league and you need a corner infielder, you could do worse.

Justin Bour (1B, MIA) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Four home runs in the past week for Justin Bour, that’s seriously impressive. Power hitters can be streaky, and Bour’s on a hot streak, grab him and enjoy.

Freddie Freeman (1B, ATL) – 1-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. I’ve gotta figure out some version of Nick’s “aces gonna ace.” Studs gonna stud?

Adonis Garcia (3B, ATL) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB. Garcia is somewhat intriguing, but his horrible average keeps him from being relevant in just about any size mixed league.

Jake Lamb (3B, HOU) – 2-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. Lamb has really been killing it this year, congrats to you if you invested.

Yasmany Tomas (OF, ARI) – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Tomas going what he does best: hitting home runs.

Jeff Mathis (C, ARI) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Nice night for Mathis, but he’s batting ninth in Arizona for a reason: he can’t even hit the Mendoza line hitting in Chase Field.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIL) – 3-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Aguilar has been playing well recently and he’ll keep getting regular at-bats while Ryan Braun is out and Travis Shaw is slightly hurt. He’s worth a temporary add.

Jose Abreu (1B, CWS) – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Finally Jose Abreu is starting to heat up, hopefully you didn’t give up on him.

Kole Calhoun (OF, LAA) – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI . Before this game, Calhoun had just two hits in his past six games. Things have been rough for him, mostly thanks to his increased strikeout rate and drastically decreased hard hit rate. I’m hopeful he’ll turn it around and salvage his fantasy season, but I don’t think he’s who we thought he’d be at the beginning of the year.

Mike Trout (OF, LAA) – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Four straight games with a home run, no doubt Trout’s the best player in baseball.

Martin Maldonado (C, LAA) – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Maldonado’s made some decent contact this year, but there’s really nothing there in the counting stats to make him worth owning.

Stephen Vogt (C, OAK) – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. It’s about time Vogt was useful, he’s been a massive disappointment this year. At this point, unless you’re desperate at catcher or in an AL-only league, he’s best left alone.

Khris Davis (OF, OAK) – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Davis’ average has finally reverted back to what it’s likely going to be, in the low-.200s. He strikes out every third at-bat essentially, but he’s got 40-home run potential.

Nelson Cruz (OF, SEA) – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Cruz has been great and will continue to be great as long as he’s healthy. I kind of wish the Orioles had kept him.

Kyle Seager (3B, SEA) –  1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Only three home runs on the year for Kyle Seager. Confusing? Well that 6.5% HR/FB rate might explain it. 

Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. It’s been a disappointing year for Renfroe, a popular sleeper in the preseason, but Monday night was a solid performance, and with any luck, maybe he can turn things around. The power is legit, he’s just gotta stop striking out so much.

Corey Spangenberg (2B/OF, SD) – 3-5, 1 RBI, 2 SB. If there’s one thing that’s attractive about Spangenberg, it’s his speed. Unfortunately, he’s in a platoon and doesn’t do much else than steal bases, making him only worth owning in NL-only leagues.

Buster Posey (C, SF) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. The dude is batting .375 on the year right now, that’s amazing.

Eduardo Nunez (SS/3B/OF, SF) – 2-4, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB. A nice little statsheet-stuffing night for Nunez. He’s got awesome speed, and that’s why you own him, cause there’s no power and the average has been pretty mediocre.

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.

4 responses to “Batter’s Box: Where There’s Smoak, There’s Fire”

  1. TH says:

    hitters gonna hit?

  2. chrish011 says:

    A beasts gonna beast. Studs will stud. In studs we trust. You guys should hire me.

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