Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 5/20/23

Breaking down notable hitting performances from yesterday’s games.

All Rise

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

In April, one had to wonder if the significant contract extension was having an effect on Yankees star Aaron Judge.

In 104 plate appearances, Judge only hit .250 with an .823 OPS. That also included only five home runs, 12 RBI, and 33 strikeouts. While it wasn’t bad by any means, it certainly wasn’t what fantasy managers and Yankees fans were expecting after he signed a nine-year, $360 million extension last December.

Nearly a month later, it’s been a different story, as Judge seems to be coming into the 2022 form that made him one of baseball’s biggest stars.

Despite seeing some time on the IL this month, Judge has been on fire. He’s hitting .378 with a 1.402 OPS. He has hit more home runs (seven) in nearly half the plate appearances (57) from the previous month. Furthermore, Judge is still walking at a prodigious rate (11 walks in May) while striking out significantly less (15).

This is the Judge that everyone was expecting when he reported to Spring Training, fresh off a contract that most likely could make him a “Yankee for Life”.

On Saturday against the Reds, Judge didn’t hit a home run, but he put up a complete hitting performance at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

He collected four hits, three RBI, a double, a walk, and probably a partridge in a pear tree (of course, I’m joking with the latter, but one can never know these days with all the dugout celebrations we have seen this year). Judge is proving that even when the long ball is not happening, he can still be an incredibly productive fantasy hitter on a nightly basis.

The only thing that could stop Judge is injury, as he already went on the 10-day IL for a minor hip injury, and he has a long history of struggling to stay healthy during the season. Last year, in his record-breaking year, Judge avoided major injury, as he played 157 games, which was a career-high.

It will be interesting to see if he touches the 150-game mark, especially since he has missed some time in May already. If this hip injury is just a blip on the radar, fantasy managers who roster Judge should feel good that he can replicate what he did in 2022, though touching 62 homers again may be a bit of a stretch.

However, if the hip injury flares up again, that will suppress a lot of his counting stats, which would make him less productive, despite elite averages and Statcast metrics.

For now, though, Judge is healthy, and baseball fans should simply rise and be in awe of the best pure power hitter in the game today.


Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

Ryan O’Hearn (BAL): 3-5, HR, R, 4 RBI.

The difference a couple of games can make. On May 13th, O’Hearn was hitting .208 with a .536 OPS. Two games later, he’s hitting .300 with a .886 OPS. He only has 34 plate appearances this year, so the numbers are going to fluctuate wildly, especially after a three-hit performance against the Jays on Saturday. O’Hearn is pretty much a bench bat for the Orioles, so it’s hard to see him being of much value in fantasy for now.

George Springer (TOR): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.

O’Hearn’s performance overshadowed a solid one from Springer, who collected two hits, three RBI, and his sixth home run of the year. It hasn’t been a great start for Springer, who is hitting .234 with a .647 OPS in 191 plate appearances. The advanced metrics hint at some positive regression soon, and Springer continues to be at the top of the lineup despite his struggles. Fantasy managers who roster Springer should be patient, though it certainly isn’t easy.

Corey Seager (TEX): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

The Rangers have weathered the loss of Seager in the lineup, mostly thanks to Ezequiel Duran. The Rangers are 28-17, two games ahead of the Astros for first place in the AL West. In his third game back off the IL, Seager had his best performance in May, highlighted by a home run, two RBI, and three total hits. Seager and Marcus Semien combined for six hits and five runs scored on Saturday against the Rockies. For the Rangers to keep hold of the AL West, that has to continue to be a trend.

Eugenio Suárez (SEA): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

The Mariners have been a disappointing 22-23 this year, not exactly what Seattle fans were thinking after they made their first playoff appearance in 18 seasons last year. Suarez hasn’t certainly helped things, as he is hitting .231 with a .679 OPS. On the other hand, Suarez’s strikeout rate is down from a season ago, his walk rate is around the same, and his xwOBA of .334 is 27 points higher than his actual wOBA. Whiffing is still an issue (31.4 percent whiff rate), but even that is down from a season ago. Much like Springer, there’s no need to panic for now with Suarez.

Nolan Gorman (STL): 2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.

After a rough rookie debut in 2022 (.226 average; .720 OPS), Gorman has been absolutely scorching for a Cardinals team that has been up and down this season. On Saturday, he hit his 13th home run of the year, which puts him one away from his total in 2022 in nearly half the plate appearances. It’s not just the homers that are up, but everything is looking good on Gorman’s line: .302 average, .391 OBP, 1.031 OPS, and 39 RBI. The sophomore surge appears to be real with Gorman.

Kody Clemens (PHI): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

After struggling in April (.172 average; .709 OPS), Clemens has suddenly put it together in May, which is much-needed for a Phillies team that is three games under .500. In the month of May, Clemens is hitting .316 with a .907 OPS in 21 plate appearances. Granted, the sample size this month isn’t huge, but he could provide the Phillies some punch at the bottom of the lineup, even if it may result in a lot of strikeouts (30.8 percent K rate) in the process.

Yandy Díaz (TB): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Diaz may be this decade’s Justin Turner. After being a line drive and groundball hitter for so long, Diaz has finally made a slight adjustment in launch angle to sensational results. He hit his 11th home run on Saturday, which is two more than what he hit in 558 plate appearances last season. He also is hitting .333 with a 1.054 OPS, and still demonstrating a patient eye at the plate, as he has 23 walks to only 25 strikeouts. The Rays have cooled a bit since their scorching April start, but if this trend continues for the Rays and Diaz, the MVP talk could be quite real by September.

Salvador Perez (KC): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI.

The Royals are bad, but thankfully, Perez is not. On Saturday, he pretty much carried the Royals’ offense. He had three of the Royals’ seven hits and produced their lone run via his first-inning home run off of Lucas Giolito. For the season, Perez is hitting .288 with a .870 OPS and also has collected 10 home runs and 26 RBI in 176 plate appearances. Without a doubt, Perez continues to be one of the top-hitting catchers in the game, even at 33 years of age.

Spencer Torkelson (DET): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

It’s all about perspective with Torkelson, one of the game’s top prospects a couple of seasons ago who just hasn’t put it all together yet at the Major League level across two seasons. The lines aren’t great: .239 average, .668 OPS, and four home runs in 175 plate appearances. On the flip side, compared to his rookie season in 2022, the exit velocity is up, the hard-hit rate is up, the barrel rate is up, and the K rate is down. Thus, it’s not a surprise that his xwOBA is not only up from a season ago, but is 44 points higher than his actual wOBA this season as well. If Torkelson is available in leagues, he may be worth picking up, as he may be due for an offensive surge soon.


Image courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis and Aaron Polcare



















Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien is a high school educator and baseball blogger based in the Kansas City metro area. In addition to writing for Pitcher List, he writes about the Kansas City Royals at his own blog, the Royals Reporter, which can be found at royalsreporter.com.

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