Bucking Conventional Wisdom

Zach Hayes recaps all of Saturday's best hitting performances

Patrick Wisdom (CHC): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Wisdom gets the first star of the night for his continual demolition of the White Sox, homering twice for the second consecutive day and helping kickstart the Cubs’ 7-0 win over their crosstown rivals — their first of the season. Whether it’s for the Cubs or elsewhere, Wisdom seems to be securing his place as a legitimate major league power threat; he’s already just one homer shy of Kris Bryant’s rookie home run record for the Cubs (26). He’s done it in a fraction of the playing time, too, getting to all that power in just 82 games this year, and only 63 starts.

Ben Palmer covered Wisdom’s breakout earlier this season, and by all indications, he’s the real deal. His maximum exit velocity of 114+ MPH indicates real raw power, and a hard-hit rate over 50% means he’s getting to that power quite a bit. The biggest impediment to his status as a true regular is his 40% strikeout rate, which will be unsustainable at the MLB level unless this 50 HR pace is actually his true talent level, which seems unlikely. Regardless, the Cubs have some time to figure it out, and for the time being, Wisdom is one of the few bats in Chicago’s lineup that pitchers will actually have to approach with considerable caution.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday:

Rafael Ortega (OF, CHC): 1-4, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.

Wisdom wasn’t the real difference-maker in last night’s game, though. That honor belongs to Ortega, whose fourth-inning grand slam ruined Lance Lynn’s day and gave the Cubs an insurmountable 6-0 lead. Ortega has been a small bright spot in Chicago’s otherwise dismal season, slashing .297/.357/.479 in his first extended shot at big league playing time since his debut all the way back in 2012.

Mike Yastrzemski (OF, SF): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

He’s still struggling overall, but Yastrzemski’s second-half power surge continued on Saturday with his 21st homer and 24th double on the season in San Francisco’s 5-0 shutout of the Braves. Though his rate stats are down, Yaz’s power production remains more or less in line with his 2019 breakout, and he should continue to occupy a prime low-pressure position in a suddenly formidable Giants lineup.

Alcides Escobar (SS, WSH): 3-4, RBI, SB.

That’s right, Alcides Escobar! Couldn’t resist the temptation to throw his name in here today, as the one-time centerpiece of the first-ever Zack Greinke trade posted his third three-hit game of the 2021 season last night, raising his triple slash to .288/.344/.373. That’s right, folks. In the year of our lord 2021, having not played a single game in the majors since losing Kansas City’s shortstop job in 2018, Alcides Escobar is an average offensive contributor.

Jared Walsh (1B, LAA): 3-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Walsh had a slump-busting Saturday against the Padres, going three for three with a double, his 24th homer of the season, and a walk in the Angels’ 10-2 blowout of San Diego. The All-Star first baseman has struggled to a .625 OPS since the break but still has a very solid 124 wRC+ after last night’s outburst.

Trea Turner (SS, LAD): 3-3, R, BB, SB.

Just another day at the office for Turner, who hasn’t missed a beat since joining the Dodgers with a 136 wRC+ that’s nearly identical to the 137-spot he put up in Washington. Turner’s 15 three-hit games in 2021 are the second-most in the league, behind only the 16 of Yuli Gurriel and Michael Brantley.

Edmundo Sosa (SS, STL): 4-6, 2 3B, 3 R, 5 RBI.

Sosa had the best game of his young career yesterday, going four-for-six and tripling twice, scoring three times, and driving in five on the night after entering the day with just 13 RBI in 88 games. The last player with two triples and five RBI in a game? Rougned Odor, who did it in his own rookie season back in 2014.

Dylan Carlson (OF, STL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

The more high-profile St. Louis rookie also had himself a day on Saturday, reaching base four times and driving in two in the Cardinals’ blowout victory. Carlson has been a mixed bag in his first full season in the big leagues, but he’s quietly turned it on as of late, running above-average walk and strikeout rates along with nine doubles and six dingers since the All-Star Break.

J.D. Martinez (DH, BOS): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

The JD Martinez comeback tour continued in full force last night with his 10th inning, go-ahead three-run homer to give the Red Sox a much-needed 5-3 win over Cleveland. Martinez had three hits on the game, raising his average to .283 and wRC to 130 despite a slump that saw him entering last night with just five homers and 17 RBI post-All-Star break.

Kyle Schwarber (OF, BOS): 3-5, HR, 2 R, RBI.

It looked for a minute like Boston’s deadline acquisition of and injured Schwarber from the Nationals would be a moot point, but he continued his revitalization of the Red Sox offense last night, hitting his second homer in four games and driving in one. Schwarber has been good for a gargantuan .385/.529/.641 line since returning from injury, and appears to be taking full advantage of Fenway’s friendliness to lefties.

Aaron Judge (OF, NYY): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

It may have been the acquisitions of Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo that kickstarted the Yankees’ incredibly 20-5 August run, but the steadying presence of Judge in the lineup plays as big of a part as any. With last night’s double and homer, his 29th of the season, he and his 153 wRC+ are well on the way to his best season since his incredible rookie campaign, hitting a career-high .295 and reaching the precipice of 30-homer for the first time since that rookie season. His injury-proneness might have dulled the superstar shine on Judge over the past couple of seasons, but a top-five MVP finish that seems increasingly likely might say otherwise.

Didi Gregorius (SS, PHI): 3-4, 3 2B, R, 2 RBI.

It’s been a tough year for Sir Didi, but he appears to be finding his groove in the Phillies’ cleanup spot, doubling three times and driving in two in Philadelphia’s rout of the Diamondbacks. It’s just his sixth three-hit game since joining the Phillies in 2020 after doing so 14 times with the Yankees in 2018-19. A revitalized Didi will go a long way towards keeping the team’s vague playoff hopes alive.

Jorge Alfaro (C, MIA): 2-4, 2B, R, 3 RBI, SB.

Alfaro hasn’t panned out the way the Marlins quite wanted after coming over as J.T. Realmuto’s replacement in their 2018 trade with the Phillies, but he had an on-brand night on Saturday, stealing a base while also cracking a double and driving in three runs. Alfaro has yet to figure it out at the major league level and has just a .628 OPS since the start of last season. That being said, with top-notch speed, and decent enough defensive ability, some patience may still be in order. It often takes a long time for catchers to figure it out with the bat, and if he does, his strength and power would make him a top-five backstop in short order.


Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Zach Hayes

Zach is based in Chicago and contributes analysis and coverage for Pitcher List and South Side Sox. He also co-hosts the Shaggin' Flies podcast with Ben Palmer, and enjoys reading, Justin Fields highlights, and people-watching on the CTA.

One response to “Bucking Conventional Wisdom”

  1. Christian says:

    Any reason to keep Grisham over Naquin or Wisdom?

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