Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 4/12/24

Breaking down notable hitting performances from yesterday's games.

The Colton of Swat

Colton Cowser (BAL): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, RBI.

Freddy Peralta ran roughshod over the Orioles last night fanning eleven over six innings. He looked indomitable; no one could stop him. But King Cowser (2-3, 2B, HR, R, RBI, BB) had other plans and launched a 2-2 slider from Peralta, a pitch that had not allowed a hit so far this year, into the seats for his third home run (414 feet, 105.1 EV). OK, fine, the home run didn’t mean much as far as the outcome of the game. Still, after tormenting Boston with ten RBI over three games at Fenway Park, Colton Cowser got a solo swat and double against Peralta last night, which has him looking like the hottest hitter on the planet right now.

You might remember the Orioles called up Cowser last July. He struggled and then some, hitting just .115 with just two extra-base hits across 26 games before the Orioles sent him back to Norfolk in mid-August. And now he’s hitting .481 with three dingers and six doubles across a dozen games. How the tides have changed.

Silly short sample size caveat aside, one thing that stands out, aside from the results, is that his swing rate is up nearly eight points relative to last year. He also has just two walks in the early going. Last year, Cowser posted a 16% BB rate in about half a season in Norfolk. Again, it’s really early but maybe Cowser is choosing to be a bit more aggressive. Whatever the case may be, Cowser certainly has pedigree in his favor as the O’s fifth overall pick back in 2021 out of Sam Houston State. The one thing to watch out for, though, is that his contact rate of just under 70% is in the 27th percentile. Most projections also have him with a K rate pushing 30%, so there’s definitely some volatility. Still, the power is real and how can you not be excited about him hitting second last night?

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:

Nolan Jones (COL): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

There it is! Jones finally got off the home run schneid in the fifth inning with a solo shot to right off right-handed reliever Paolo Espino (413 feet, 112 EV). He smoked an RBI double in his previous at-bat in the third, on a fastball from Kevin Gausman high and tight up near the hands. The results haven’t been there for Jones out of the gate as the two hits raised his average to .179. Jones is running a K rate of just over 40%, about ten points higher than last year. However, that seems like a blip considering his contact % is also up about four points relative to last year.

In the same game, Ezequiel Tovar also victimized Espino for his third home run of the season and added a stolen base. He’s off to a fast start, hitting .340 with a .975 OPS. And don’t look now but Kris Bryant plated two runs last night with two doubles.

Elly De La Cruz (CIN): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger mismatch than this man and Chris Flexen. The White Sox right-hander floated an 0-2 changeup with two on in the third and the baseball did not live to tell the tale. The result was a 449-foot blast (110.8 EV) to right that turned the game into a 6-0 rout. Per Sarah Langs, he and Vladdy are the only two players in baseball this season with two home runs over 445 feet. De La Cruz’s fourth home run of the year pushed his OPS up to 1.104, good for eighth in baseball. However, swing decisions remain an issue as his chase rate of 36.1% is in the bottom 25th percentile. Pitchers will be in a whole new world of pain if he improves there.

Shohei Ohtani (LAD): 3-5, 2 2B, HR, R, RBI.

Surprise, surprise, Ohtani had another amazing moment last night. With a 403-foot shot to left-center against Michael King, he tied Hideki Matsui for the most home runs (175) hit by a Japanese player. He’s up to a 1.098 OPS (ninth in baseball). According to Sarah Langs, his 15 extra-base is tied with four others, most recently Bo Bichette in 2019, for the most by a hitter through their first 16 games with a team.

Mark Canha (DET): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Canha’s third dinger of the season came on a high and tight fastball from Pablo López (374 ft, 101.2 EV) in the first inning. He isn’t gonna knock your socks off with big EVs, but he’s a steady hitter with a career .350 OBP. He very quietly leads the Tigers with a .945 OPS thanks in part to a frosty start from Spencer Torkelson.

Nolan Arenado (STL): 3-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

It took 14 games, but Arenado is finally on the board; it’s his first HR since August 29 of last year. He victimized a sweeper from Brandon Pfaadt in his first at-bat, giving the Cardinals a 3-0 lead in the first (424 feet, 104 EV). He later added two more singles, pushing his average to .276, ten points below his career average. The dip in power will be something to monitor as we saw his wOBA drop from .381 in 2022 to .327 last season.

Daulton Varsho (TOR): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

Varsho temporarily gave the Jays a 2-1 lead in the second by socking a 92 mph from Ryan Feltner to the seats in right (370 feet, 102.0 EV). The former D-Back is coming off a dreadful first year with the Jays during which he slashed .220/.285/ 389 across 158 games. He did have a pretty good spring though, hitting .286 with a .808 OPS and eight steals. Varsho’s pull rate climbed to 52.6% last season, leading some to claim that he might’ve been actively selling out for more pop but he claimed that that was not the case in an offseason chat with FanGraph’s David Laurila.

Willy Adames (MIL): 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.

The Brewers were one of the teams that went off last night as they got to Tyler Wells early and then tacked on six earned runs against Jonathan Heasley out of the Orioles’ pen. Adames blasted a fastball into the seats in left from the aforementioned Heasley for his third dinger of the year (399 feet, 105.9 EV). He’s off to a fast start, hitting .265 with a .369 wOBA after posting a career-low .311 wOBA last season. Gary Sánchez (he DH’d last night) and William Contreras also went yard for the Brew Crew in their big 11-1 win.

Kyle Tucker (HOU): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

King Tuck’s first shot of the night came against Dane Dunning in his first at-bat, tying the game at 1-1. Unfortunately for the Astros, his second of the night came with the game already decided, a two-run shot in the seventh off lefty reliever Brock Burke that made it 12-5. He’s now hitting .258 but with a much higher xAVG of .344.

Lawrence Butler (OAK): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.

Butler’s first of the year was an absolute tank off Cole Irvin, a 445-foot shot to right with a scorching EV of 113.8. With the game tied 1-1 in the tenth, he came up big with a walk-off bloop single off Kyle Finnegan. Drafted by the A’s in the sixth round in 2018 as an 18-year-old out of high school, Butler might be someone to monitor for deep leagues. Last year, he posted a .363 wOBA across 63 games in Double-A, while hitting .285 with ten home runs and 13 steals. Hey, someone’s gotta play in Oakland.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter/X)


Ryan Amore

A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club, Ryan Amore has been writing things at Pitcher List since 2019. He grew up watching the Yankees and fondly remembers Charlie Hayes catching the final out of the '96 WS. He appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

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