Cool Jazz

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday's games.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA): 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB.

Marlins prospect Jazz Chisholm Jr. won the Opening Day second base job and never looked back. Chisholm seems destined to be a star; it is not often you can find five-tool shortstops with athleticism like his. Chisholm is an extremely raw talent, but both his peripherals and the eye test indicate his potential is sky-high. He hit his first career home run on Saturday, crushing a 101 mph fastball off of Jacob DeGrom into the second deck. Chisholm doubled his career home run total last night, going 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB.

Last night’s victim of Chisholm’s three-run home run was Charlie Morton, another high-caliber starting pitcher. Chisholm has what you can’t teach, elite bat speed. He ranks towards the top of the league in several analytical categories. His barrel rate is an eye-popping 27.8. For reference, the MLB average in barrel rate is 6-9%, and anything over 15 is considered elite. Chisholm also ranks in the top 10% of the league in xwOBA and xSLG, signaling a breakout is coming soon.

As you can see, Chisholm hits the ball extremely hard. The issue is that oftentimes he does not hit the ball at all. Chisholm’s whiff rate of 40.4 is in the bottom six percent of the league. So far, this has been offset by his high walk rate of 20%, ranking in the top 5% of the league. However, this early in the season, his walk rate is far more likely to regress than his whiff rate. Chisholm has all of the right tools to be a superstar, he just has to cut down on the swings and misses to make it happen. Still available in most leagues, Chisholm is a good pickup for fantasy managers looking to bolster their infields.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:

Salvador Perez (KC): 2-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

This was the third consecutive multi-hit game for the Royals catcher, and both of his hits in yesterday’s game went for extra bases. Perez opened the scoring with a home run in the third inning and collected his second RBI of the game with a seventh-inning double. Perez is coming off a career season in which he held a BABIP of .375. That statistic indicates he is due for a regression this season. He has come hot out of the gates in the first month of the 2021 season, but his remarkable BABIP of .417 (18th in the league) means a cooldown is probably coming.

James McCann (NYM): 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI.

McCann is the second catcher to make an appearance in today’s column. He earned it by picking up three base knocks, with his eighth-inning two-run home run giving the Mets some insurance late in the game. He is off to a slow start, but hopefully can be sparked by yesterday’s performance. McCann is rostered in about 50% of ESPN leagues. His peripherals are not great, as McCann’s xwOBA of .248 ranks in the eleventh percentile of the league. There is no reason to rush to the waiver wire for him now, but he is someone to keep an eye on if he continues to improve his play.

Alex Verdugo (BOS): 5-8, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. (Combined Doubleheader).

Verdugo improved his batting average from .194 to .273 in a span of 24 hours, leading the Red Sox’ offense in their doubleheader sweep of the Twins. Verdugo was arguably the number one candidate for regression this season, after his actual numbers far surpassed his expected outcomes in 2020. Perhaps today served as a reminder to critics not to take victory laps on players too early in the season.

Bo Bichette (TOR): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB.

Toronto’s budding superstar went oppo-taco twice in yesterday’s win against the Yankees, the second of which walked off the game for the Blue Jays. Bichette’s hit streak now stands at 11 games, and Toronto sits three back of Boston in the division. Bichette is an extremely talented hitter but has struggled to hit breaking balls in the past. He is showing vast improvement in this category so far this season, as his xwOBA facing breaking balls this year is .447, up from .255 in 2020. If Bichette’s early-season success against breaking balls holds true, he is going to be scary good from here on out.

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

The Yankees have been hush-hush about the situation, but I can’t help but feel like Judge is battling through some sort of injury early in the season. He has consistently been pulling up short of fly balls to let them drop and refuses to take any chances on the base paths. All that said, whatever is bothering him does not seem to affect him one bit at the plate. Judge went deep twice last night for his third and fourth home runs of the season, both solo shots. The only thing stopping him from putting up elite fantasy numbers every year is injuries. He has already been in and out of the lineup with a bugaboo that the Yankees will not disclose and has not played more than 112 games since 2018, including last season, in which Judge appeared in just 28 of the team’s 60 games.

Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL): 3-5, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.

Acuna makes another appearance in the column after his second multi-home run game of the season. Acuña put the team on his back against the Marlins but the Braves fell just short, losing 6-5 in extras. Through 12 games, Acuña has hit six home runs and struck out just eight times. He leads all hitters in fantasy points and is the favorite to win MVP in most betting markets. Acuña’s WAR through 12 games is already 1.4, which leads the league. Eventually, his numbers will regress from where they are now, but people who invested a top pick in the Atlanta outfielder have to be feeling pretty good about their choice right now.

Yermin Mercedes (CWS): 3-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.

While the focus in this game may have been on Carlos Rodon’s almost-perfect no-hitter, it was once again Mercedes who provided the offensive spark for Chicago. At the start of spring, it wasn’t guaranteed that Mercedes would even make the team. Now he is off to one of the hottest starts in baseball. His 1.0 WAR ranks fourth in the league, trailing only J.D. Martinez, Mike Trout, and Ronald Acuña Jr.. If you are lucky enough to be in a league where Mercedes is still available, do not waste any time and pick him up now.

Adam Frazier (PIT): 3-5, 2 2B, 1 R, 2 RBI.

Last night was Frazier’s fourth multi-hit game and first three-hit game of the season. Frazier hits at the top of the Pittsburgh order and sees a lot of at-bats, but is a mere replacement-level player on an abysmal baseball team. Through no fault of Frazier, the Pirates are 5-7, tied with the Cubs for last in the division. Frazier is not someone you should be looking to add to your roster at the moment, but he could be someone to keep an eye on, especially because he has also cut his strikeout rate nearly in half from last season.

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