Cedric the Cyclist
Cedric Mullins (BAL): 4-5, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Cedric Mullins entered last night’s showdown against the Pirates with a .248/.351/.421 slash. Not terrible, but hey, at least the OBP is decent. Regardless, it got a whole lot better once the night was through.
Mullins flew out in his first at-bat and was on base the rest of the night. He singled on a line drive to right in his second at-bat. With the bases empty in the fifth, he banged a hanging 2-2 curveball from Johan Oviedo into the gap in right-center and it was off to the races. The consummate entertainer, Mullins lost his helmet while rounding second and slid into third to beat the relay. After a groundball double down the right field line in his fourth at-bat, Mullins crushed a 1-1 changeup from Duane Underwood Jr. and sent it 375 feet over the fence in right for his fifth dinger of the year.
After completing the 12th cycle in franchise history, the first since Austin Hays last year, Mullins is slashing .268/.365/.478. He’s also been a bit more selective at the plate, with a career-best 13.5% BB rate backed by a 93rd-percentile chase rate.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Jake Fraley (CIN): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB.
Jake the Rake’s second dinger of the night came off Dylan Floro in the ninth. It wasn’t a moonshot by any means (391 feet, 101.4 EV) but the three-run blast broke a 4-4 tie and proved to be the game-winner. Fraley has been a pretty decent bat this year for the Reds hitting .260 with a .359 OBP. However, he hadn’t shown much power with just a .365 SLG entering last night’s game. His role as a platoon bat makes him best suited as a streamer against weak RHP when he’s at home in the GABP.
Anthony Rizzo (NYY): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Rizzo was the hero last night in the Bronx. His second of the night, a two-run shot to right (398 feet, 108.7 EV), came on a changeup down Broadway from Jason Adam and flipped the game in favor of the Yankees. He leads the team with a .301 average, 20 RBI, and a .887 OPS.
After being shuffled down to the seventh spot in the order, Anthony Volpe also hit one out, his fifth of the year, an opposite-field shot to the short porch in right.
Dominic Fletcher (ARI): 3-3, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI.
Fletcher’s first career home run came on a hanging slider from Ross Stripling hit 425 feet to right-center. The lefty-hitting outfielder was called up on April 30th and has started all but one game since. He’s the younger brother of David Fletcher. Dominic did have a .976 OPS in 22 games with Triple-A Reno this year but his upside seems limited overall, making him probably just a replacement bat for deep leagues.
Owen Miller (MIL): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Miller has been a platoon bat for the most part. He got the start last night against the southpaw Josh Taylor and made the most of it by hitting a home run to left off the righty Max Castillo in the third (403 feet, 102.8 EV). Originally drafted by the Padres in the third round of the 2018 draft, Miller didn’t show much power last year mustering only a .351 SLG in 130 games with the Guardians, but he could earn more of a role if Brice Turang’s struggles with the bat continue.
Josh Naylor (CLE): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB, SB.
Naylor’s fourth of the year came on a 3-2 pitch from lefty reliever Matt Moore and it was an absolute bomb at 442 feet and 110.5 EV. Naylor is really struggling to get good results this year and is running a brutal .204 BABIP. But we’ve seen him be a good bat versus RHP as he hit .283 with a .856 OPS against them last year. Keep an eye on him in daily leagues.
Josh Lowe (TB): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
With the Yankees ahead 4-2, Lowe tagged a 2-1 fastball from Michael King and snuck it just over the wall in left for a go-ahead three-run home run (103.5 EV). He now leads the Rays with a 1.034 OPS. I love post-hype breakouts as much as the next person, but at the risk of having ripe tomatoes chucked in my general vicinity, I do feel like he might be a sell-high based on his PLV metrics. His SZ Judgment, Decision Value, and contact ability have been trending down. It’s also telling, to me at least, that the Rays opted to have Manuel Margot pinch hit for him against the lefty Wandy Peralta in the ninth. Blasphemous, yes, I know.
Christopher Morel (CHC): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Morel is something else, he has that sort of electric talent and personality that makes him hard to miss. The home run was a jaw-dropper hit 429 feet (109.2 EV) to the second deck in right-center on a hanging slider from Jorge Alcala. Morel should get a little bit of run with Nico Hoerner having been placed on the 10-day IL with a hamstring strain. The injury seems minor though as the Cubs didn’t IL him until last night retroactive to May 9th so Morel might not have a long window. Still, he probably should be rostered in the majority of leagues just to see what happens given his defensive versatility. The .400 ISO he posted in Triple-A is hard to ignore but so too is the 30% K rate making him the definition of boom or bust.
LaMonte Wade Jr. (SF): 3-5, 2B, 2 R.
He’s been grooving lately as the Giants’ leadoff man and is hitting .343 with a .452 OBP over his last 11 games. PLV likes him a lot too pegging him with a 70-grade Decision Value. The man knows the strike zone well and is making good-quality swings and takes.
Brent Rooker (OAK): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
The magical season continues. Rooker’s 1.101 OPS still leads all qualifiers. Long after Esteury Ruiz hit his first career home run against Martín Pérez, the lefty Brock Burke challenged Rooker with a 93 mph heater and lost. The result was a walk-off three-run blast to left (408 feet, 110.7 EV). At long last, the Oakland A’s can now set their gaze upon win number ten. Glory, Glory Hallelujah.
Lars Nootbaar (STL): 2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.
Nootbaar started at the bottom of the order last night against the Big Maple, who was surprisingly brilliant in his return. For Nootbaar, the five steals are a career-best and he’s been productive of late hitting .388 with a .489 OBP across ten games this month.
Corey Julks (HOU): 2-3, R, 2 BB, 2 SB.
Michael Brantley’s unclear return date could give Julks an extended look. He’s an interesting bat to be aware of given what he did last season: 31 home runs and 22 steals with a 9.5 %BB and 21.7% K rate in 130 games with Triple-A Sugar Land.
Alex Bregman (HOU): 0-4, BB.
Bregman has undoubtedly been one of the biggest disappointments with an average barely above .200. The underlying power metrics admittedly aren’t great, namely a 28th percentile xwoBACON. But I do think batted ball data can be misleading this early in the season. The more important thing to me is that PLV still believes in the quality of his swings and takes, giving him a 75-grade Decision Value. That and his track record make me believe in him as a buy-low.