Nico Hoerner (CHC): 4-5, HR, R, 4 RBI.
The Cubs boat raced the Dodgers 13-0 in an afternoon game at Wrigley Field. And once again, right in the thick of things was their leadoff hitter, Nico Hoerner. He picked up his first hit of the day in the second inning with a bloop single into right that gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead. It was a nice piece of hitting on a pitch high and tight from Julio Urías. He added another single on a hard-hit (103.9 mph EV) liner to center that chased Urías from the game. He then got thrown out trying to steal his 10th bag of the year.
In the fifth, with two runners on, Hoerner turned on a 0-1 changeup from reliever Andre Jackson and sent it 375 feet (98.5 mph EV) into the stands in left for his first home run of the year. He hit a single in his final at-bat. The four-hit day raises his average to .365, the fifth-best in baseball.
Hoerner’s penchant for contact is well-known, but this year he’s taken it to a new level with a career-low K rate of 7% and 70-grade contact via PLV. The only thing he hasn’t done is hit for power: he still doesn’t have a barrel this year. But he has otherwise done everything you want from a leadoff hitter with an almost even K/BB and an xAVG in the 96th percentile. He’s also been more patient this year as his swing and chase rates are both down a few points. And then, of course, what everyone notices are the steals as he’s almost halfway to reaching last year’s total of 20. Not too bad for a guy who is also in the middle of a 17-game on-base streak.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Jarren Duran (BOS): 2-4, R, RBI.
Duran’s now started in five-straight games since being recalled this past Monday. Last year, he struggled and hit .221 with a .646 OPS. But he could be worth noting in deep leagues given his speed as the 26-year-old stole 18 bags in 63 games last season in 63 games with Triple-A Worcester. He’s on a five-game hit streak.
Josh Lowe (TB): 2-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI, SB.
Lowe is still being platooned as he sat out this past Tuesday against Nick Lodolo, so he might be a tough player to roster in shallower formats. Still, he’s been very productive. Last night he picked up his fourth stolen base and is now hitting .373 with a 1.163 OPS. He struggled a ton with strikeouts previously but so far, so good, this year as his K rate is still only 16.4%. His 55-grade contact via PLV supports the gains. We’ll see if it sticks as the power and speed is easy to spot given his minor-league numbers (14 home runs and 25 steals in 80 games last year with Triple-A Durham).
Joey Gallo (MIN): 1-1, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB.
After a career-worst .637 OPS last season across 126 games with the Dodgers and Yankees, Gallo is off to a promising start. Last night’s home run came in his first at-bat, a 386-foot line drive to right (112.6 mph EV) off Trevor Williams. So far, PLV has him tracked with an 80-grade strike zone judgment backing the potential return to form.
Trey Mancini (CHC): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Again, the Cubs blasted the Dodgers yesterday as they chased Julio Urías in the fourth. Cody Bellinger got his revenge too, hit his fifth home run, and is now hitting .301. Mancini’s second of the year came off the aforementioned Urías in the third, a 368-foot solo shot to left-center (100.9 mph EV). The former Oriole is still just hitting .246 with a .619 OPS but hopefully, this can get him going. Patrick Wisdom also hit his ninth of the year and is now second in the NL with a 1.072 OPS.
Joey Meneses (WSH): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.
One of last year’s waiver-wire heroes, Meneses hit 13 home runs with a .930 OPS across 56 games with the Nats. Last night, he finally hit his first dinger of the season. The 409-foot shot to center (103.7 mph EV) off Tyler Mahle in the seventh helped to spark a 3-2 come-from-behind victory for the Nats. He’s hitting .227 with a .599 OPS but a hard-contact rate in the 89th percentile could provide a silver lining.
Mauricio Dubón (HOU): 3-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI, SB.
Dubón has been an early-season surprise. He’s now hit leadoff for the Astros in six-straight games. There’s not a lot that stands out in his profile other than a ridiculously low 4.3% K rate but simply put, he’s worth a look given his current role in a loaded lineup. He’s up to a 15-game hit streak. Last night, he hit a single in the ninth off A.J. Minter and scored on what ended up being the game-winner from Yordan Alvarez, his fifth home run of the year.
Gabriel Moreno (ARI): 3-4, R, 3 RBI.
Billed as one of the best-hitting catchers in the minors, the former Blue Jays’ prospect is starting to percolate. He hit his first home run of the year on Tuesday. Last night, his eight-inning single off reliever Luis Garcia plated two runs. He hasn’t hit higher than sixth, but I feel like that might be changing soon.
Brandon Belt (TOR): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI.
Belt’s final year in San Francisco was derailed by injuries as he was sapped by a bad right knee. The Blue Jays signed him to a one-year deal. So far, he’s off to a slow start, but he gave the Jays a spark last night with a two-run dinger off Domingo Germán in the sixth and added a two-run double in the eighth off right-handed reliever Albert Abreu. Given his track record (career .838 OPS and .359 wOBA vs RHP), I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 35-year-old Texan have some big nights, but his role as a platoon bat probably keeps him off the radar in most formats.
Ryan McMahon (COL): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
Aaron Nola would have blanked the Rockies if not for this man’s first-inning dinger, a three-run, 408-foot blast to center (106 mph EV). Unfortunately, he also made the last out of the game against José Alvarado as the Rockies lost 4-3. McMahon’s barrel rate is in the 94th percentile but he’s also whiffing at a 35.1% clip, which would be a career-high. The Rockies return to Coors Field next Friday for a three-game set against the D-Backs.
Alex Verdugo (BOS): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Home runs in back-to-back games for Verdugo. That’s not something you see too often. His third of the year came in his second at-bat against Freddy Peralta, a two-run, 366-foot dinger to right (98.3 mph EV). Masataka Yoshida (.594 OPS) and Triston Casas (.556 OPS) have struggled badly out of the gate leaving the Red Sox lineup with a lot of holes. But they’ve at least gotten a lot of production from their leadoff hitter who is now hitting .341, fifth in the AL.
Image courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis and Aaron Polcare