Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 8/18/23

Breaking down notable hitting performances from yesterday's games

Super CES

Christian Encarnacion-Strand (CIN): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

We saw a rare pitcher’s duel at the Great American Ball Park last night between José Berríos and Brett Kennedy. With one down in the ninth and the game still scoreless, Christian Encarnacion-Strand stepped to the plate having gone hitless in three at-bats with a pair of strikeouts. Regardless, he dug in and crushed a 2-2 slider from Jordan Hicks and sent it 410 feet to left for the walk-off win.

The 23-year-old entered last night with a .693 OPS through his first 100 PA. Again, not much of a sample size (350 pitches) but so far, PLV has graded him with above-average contact (55) and power (55). His swing decisions, though, have been less than ideal (35). So basically, a rookie hitter who has probably been caught expanding the zone a bit too much. Nothing too surprising. You don’t need me to tell you there’s a learning curve involved. Austin Riley comes to mind; he had just a .731 OPS through his first 131 games.

We were very excited for Encarnacion-Strand when got called up after slashing .331/.405/.637 in Triple-A. Billed with terrific power, he looked every bit like one of the game’s next big sluggers. That upside, of course, hasn’t gone anywhere despite the slow start and we saw it last night. It’s very cliche but I do think in the case of rookies having a big moment like this can get them settled in. Hey, maybe that happens with Encarnacion-Strand.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:

Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Schwarber blasted his second of the night off Nats’ closer Kyle Finnegan, a 405-foot shot to center that made it a one-run game. It’s been an uneven year for Schwarber; the 32 home runs are tied for fourth in the majors but he’s also metamorphosed into Joey Gallo with a .182 batting average that’s the lowest among qualified hitters. Of note, Schwarber’s pull rate has climbed to 52.5%, 10 points higher than last year and despite all the home runs, his xwOBACON is also down from .501 to .428.

If you’re really, really hurting for steals in deep leagues, Johan Rojas swiped his sixth; however, Brandon Marsh could be back soon (knee).

Michael Harris II (ATL): 4-5, 2B, 3B, R, RBI, SB.

The triple was actually a pretty nice pitch from Alex Cobb, a splitter on the outside corner that Harris yanked to the base of the wall in right-center. He entered last night’s game slashing .335/.370/.530 since June 2nd (64 games). The results might have been muted somewhat because he was hitting ninth, but with Ozzie Albies on the IL, he’s set up to make a lot of noise as Atlanta’s two-hole hitter. His only real weakness is that he still doesn’t make the greatest swing decisions (40 Decision Value via PLV).

Jorge Soler (MIA): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Soler led off the ball game by smacking an 0-1 curveball from Tony Gonsolin 400 feet over the right-center field fence. He did it again in the third, but that was even better: a towering, 441-foot drive to left. He’s now tied for fourth in baseball with 32 home runs and tied with Rafael Devers for 15th among qualifiers with a .850 OPS. He’s also done it with a very reasonable 24% K rate, down over five points from a season ago.

The Marlins, meanwhile, also got dingers from Jazz Chisholm Jr., Jake Burger, and Jacob Stallings en route to a stunning 11-3 bludgeoning of the Dodgers in L.A.

Ezequiel Tovar (COL): 2-4, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.

After a leadoff walk from Charlie Blackmon, Tovar commenced last night’s demolition of Michael Kopech and the White Sox by blasting a two-run shot to left (397 feet, 99.7 EV). The 22-year-old Venezuelan rookie now has 14 home runs and a .739 OPS, good enough for second on the Rockies. He’s shown to be an extremely aggressive hitter (11.1% swing aggression via PLV) with slightly below-average contact ability (45) and average power (50).

Elias Díaz (12) and Ryan McMahon (21) also homered for the Rockies.

Stone Garrett (WSH): 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R.

Garrett, who debuted last season for the D-Backs, has slashed .279/.353/.477 in 85 games for the Nats. He’s shown average power (50 via PLV) and strikeouts are a thing for him (40 contact ability) but he’s been productive enough to consider in deeper, five OF leagues.

Nolan Schanuel (LAA): 1-4, 2 R, BB.

After just 16 games in Double-A during which he slashed .339/.480/.475 with the Trash Pandas, Schanuel, a lefty first baseman whom the Angels selected 11th overall in this year’s draft, made his debut. I don’t know much about prospects but the fact that he’s up already tells you a lot. Connor Gillaspie (remember him?) was the last position player to debut the same year he was drafted back in 2008.

I’m not sure what to expect but I do feel that anyone hitting leadoff in front of Ohtani deserves to be on the radar. He at least got his first hit out of the way, an opposite-field single to left. Also, if you were hanging on to C.J. Cron this might be your cue to cut him loose; the Angels sent him to the IL (back), and who knows what his playing time will look like if/when he returns.

Julio Rodríguez (SEA): 4-5, HR, R, RBI, 2 SB.

Another huge night for last year’s AL RoY, who is now slashing a fairly decent .405/.443/.676 in August. His 21st home run was a 413-foot rocket to the Crawford Boxes courtesy of a cutter from J.P. France. J-Rod’s OPS of .793 is below last year’s mark of .853, but at the same time, he’s got a month plus to go. He’s also swiped 32 bases, seven more than last year, and in 13 fewer games.

Adley Rutschman (BAL): 3-4, 2B, R, BB.

Rutschman continues to be a huge reason why the Orioles have been so terrific this season. After last night’s three hits, he’s up to a .797 OPS, third among qualified catchers and just one point behind Willson Contreras for second. His power has been a tick below average this year (45 via PLV) but his combination of contact ability (65) and OBP while hitting leadoff make him a game-changer at a shallow position.

Masyn Winn (STL): 1-4.

Another big call-up last night was Masyn Winn, the Cardinals’ top prospect. The 21-year-old shortstop, who hit ninth, picked up his first hit off Joey Lucchesi on a chopper to third base. With the Cardinals playing out the string and planning ahead for next season, Winn should get a long audition. Drafted in the second round of the 2020 draft as an 18-year-old, he slashed .288/.359/.474 with 17 steals across 105 games in Triple-A this year before getting the call.

Ryan O’Hearn (BAL): 2-5, 3B, R, SB.

Ok, the steal was silly but O’Hearn has been a big surprise for the Orioles and given their lineup some added firepower. He’s now slashing .303/.341/.513 across 76 games. There might have been some concern about his playing time when Ryan Mountcastle returned but O’Hearn has also logged 19 games in the OF. As a regular in the middle of a good O’s lineup, he’s absolutely worth a look.

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

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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