Batter’s Box: Willie or Won’t He

Jim Chatterton discusses Friday's top hitting performances and if Willie Calhoun will become the hitter we've hoped for.

Not all hyped prospects are immediate success stories. You see plenty of call ups that struggle out of the gate and take a bit longer to find their place in the majors or even fizzle out not making much of an impact at all. Willie Calhoun has been a bit of a tease himself popping in during the 2017 and 2018 seasons making little to no impression. Calhoun made his way to the Texas Rangers in the trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers in 2017. That year he was dominating AAA and has continued to do so in the Rangers’ system. However, whenever he’s been called up to the show, things haven’t fallen his way. Scott Chu featured him back in May when he was first called up. He gave a solid six game appearance but hurt his leg landing him on the IL for a bit. He struggled after his return and was sent back down to AAA. Yet another tease.

On July 25th, Joey Gallo went down with a broken wrist, opening a permanent spot for Calhoun to step into for the remainder of the season. The Rangers called him up, and he’s been starting in left field since. From July 26th on, he is slashing .264/.31o/.583 with a 119 wRC+. He has hit 13 homers in 155 plate appearances. Those are solid power numbers. Also, he has been cutting back on his strikeout rate. He always was strong in AAA with not striking out, hovering around a 10% strikeout rate. However, in the majors it would pop up closer to 20%. This August it was down to 14.4% and so far in September it is below 10%. A difficult aspect about his batting style has been his power nature. He’s pulling the ball over 50% of the time while hitting over 50% in the air. His BABIP of .227 since the break is not much luck but the how he hits the ball. Yesterday, that power came through with two homers just under 400 feet but enough to clear the wall in the right field. He finished the game going 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. It wouldn’t surprise me to continue to see those style home runs for him as he hits for a lower average but a decent HR/FB.

Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox)—3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. Moreland missed a ton of time in the middle of the season with a couple of injuries. He’s been back pretty much full time since July 23rd but he has sat a few games here and there with some pinch hitting appearances. Over that time he’s slashing .289/.372/.434. He somehow only has two homers in that span yet has 15 on the year. If he can pick that power back up he could be someone to consider.

Tommy Edman (2B/3B/SS/OF, St. Louis Cardinals)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Here’s another random Cardinals rookie that will find a way to be a star player. It’s happening less often nowadays but I always have that expectation. Edman has put together a solid rookie season in about 70 games where he’s been replacing various hurt players around the diamond. Lately, he’s been filling in for the struggling Carpenter. Since August, he is hitting over .300 with 24 runs scored. He has a solid contact rate rarely whiffing making for a classic Cardinal pesky hitter.

J.T. Realmuto (C, Philadelphia Phillies)—2-5, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Realmuto took advantage of Edwin Diaz crushing a 415 foot homer to tie the game in the 9th. He is currently on a roll with three straight games with a homer and four straight with an extra base hit. He’s enjoyed a much improved second half where he’s hitting as Phillies fans expected. He cut down greatly on ground balls and started hitting them in the air.

Ketel Marte (2B/SS/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Would you believe before the 2019 season started that Marte would be in the NL MVP conversation at the end of the year? And then even after his April and May? He has been annihilating the baseball in the second half. He is slashing .371/.448/.674 since the break with an 11.3% walk rate and a 12.8% strikeout rate. Throughout the year both of these rate stats have kept improving drastically. He’s become an elite hitter.

Eugenio Suárez (3B, Cincinnati Reds)—3-5, R, HR, 4 RBI. They call him Eugenio Aristides Aquino Suárez now. In his last 11 starts, he has socked eight home runs. Since the All Star break, he’s hit 22. That is in only 51 games. So what’s going on? He’s barreling the ball at a much greater rate than earlier in the season. He has been outperforming his expected stats but they are much improved on the earlier part of the year.

Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, SB. The King of the Combo is back for more before the season ends. He is three steals away from the 40/30 club and needs six more dingers to reach 50. He slowed down a bit in August, hitting over 50% grounders while each other month had been around 40%, but he’s picking it up again in September. It’s not like he was hitting poorly in August as he slashed .306/.398/.541. It’s just he lacked the power that he’s been showing off since last year.

Yasmani Grandal (C/1B, Milwaukee Brewers)—2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI. Grandal’s second half has not been what fantasy players are looking for down the stretch and into the playoffs. However, he looks to be turning things around. After only one hit in a seven game stretch, he’s had a solid last four games with three home runs and a double. He has been more patient in the second half, increasing he walk rate to nearly 20%, but he’s hitting ground balls at a rate 13 percentage points higher than the first half, while a lot less of his fly balls are going over the fence.

Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. Anderson missed a bit over a month with an ankle sprain returning in the end of July. He had a solid start to his season with a 121 wRC+, 11 homers, and 15 steals before going down. With an ankle injury there is no telling if those steals will be able to come back. And since the return, that’s been the case. However despite only one steal, he is raking. He’s sporting a .361/.375/.555 slash line. He most likely will take a big step back as his BABIP is well over .400 and he strikes out at a 20% rate.

Mauricio Dubon (2B/SS, San Francisco Giants)—3-4, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. He was in a small little trade that sent Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black to Milwaukee at the deadline. And he was called up from AAA with the Giants about a week ago. In his seven starts he has collected four extra base hits including a homer off Kershaw. He should be non-factor for fantasy purposes.

A.J. Pollock (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—3-4, 3 R, 3 HR, 3 RBI. We’ll close this Batter’s Box off with a nice surprise. Is the surprise that Pollock is actually playing again? Or is the surprise that he hit three homers? Or is the surprise that all of them were solo shots? Well, he has been playing since the All Star break so that’s not much of a surprise. The biggest surprise for me is his slash line since the break: .297/.354/.588. That does include last night’s show but even without it, he’s still been respectable.

(Photo by George Walker/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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