A storybook ending
Trevor Story (BOS): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.
I have to confess, I almost forgot about Trevor Story entirely. In case you’re like me he entered last night’s game slashing a dismal .197/ .244/ .299 since returning on August 8th from elbow surgery. That surgery wasn’t Tommy John but a modified procedure involving an internal brace back in January which allowed him to recover a little bit faster.
Anyway, the good news is that last night’s dinger off John Means pushed Story onto the Mendoza line. Really, I don’t think you can look too into Story’s performance this year and take a whole lot away from it given that he’s played in all of 41 games. I think it’s fair to think that he’s still knocking off the rust. If anything, I’m encouraged that he’s got ten steals on 13 attempts.
That aside, Story slashed a career-low .238/ .303/ .434 through 96 games last season, his first with the Red Sox. Maybe that’s not necessarily a surprise considering the shift away from Colorado. Regardless, if you compare his PLV profiles from 2021 and 2022 (I’m ignoring this year) then you’ll find that his power actually went up from 55 to 60 and his contact ability stayed the same at 50 despite the rise in K rate. Story’s OBP/ BA is a little dicey; I think he could end up being a net negative in both categories. But I don’t think you have to squint too hard to imagine a middle ground of 25 HRs and 20 SBs next season with the upside for more and he’ll almost certainly come at a steep discount.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:
Christian Encarnacion-Strand (CIN): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Wow, what a way to end the season. Encarnacion-Strand entered last night’s game hitting .314 with a .829 SLG (!!) over his last ten games. And then he teed off on a 3-2 fastball from Casey Lawrence and sent it 417 feet into the left field seats. CES showcased a .637 SLG in 67 games with Triple-A Louisville as one of the best power hitters in the minors, so this is far from a surprise.
Bo Naylor (CLE): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
That’s number 11 for Josh’s younger brother whose .829 OPS would lead all qualified catchers. This one came against a lefty in Joey Wentz and left the bat with an EV of 105.5. Bo has shown a solid 13.3% BB rate and 22.7% K rate too. Hey, maybe the Guardians will have him hit higher in the order next season.
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
In the seventh inning, long after Carlos Rodón exited stage right with one of the most brilliant performances ever seen in Yankee history, Bobby Witt Jr. entered the record books by swatting a changeup from Keynan Middleton into the left field seats for his 30th dinger of the year (104 EV, 123 feet). He’s now the first Royal in history with a 30-30 season.
Bo Bichette (TOR): 4-5, 2B, 3 R, RBI.
wOBAchette now leads all qualified Jays with a .348 wOBA; Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who went 3-for-4 in last’s night 11-4 downing of the Rays, is second at .341. Still, it feels like a hollow victory considering Bo’s .810 OPS and five stolen bases I think fall well short of what the expectations were heading into 2023. Perhaps a silver lining is that he’s shown improvement in contact ability according to PLV (60 to 70). His power (50) remains unchanged relative to last year. How much of a dip will we see in his ADP?
Yandy Díaz (TB): 2-2, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
On the other side of the game, the Yandy Man blasted a two-run jack courtesy of a hanging yakker from the serial sleeper. And it was quite the shot at 427 feet with an EV of 111. That’s now 22 home runs for Yandy whose previous career-best was 14 back in 2019 (79 games). He’s also rocking a .934 OPS blowing his previous high of .824 out of the water. That’s also third among qualified first basemen. In case you’re wondering: his power on PLV moved up from 40 to 50 this season. So what’s Yandy’s ADP next year as a 32-year-old coming off a breakout year? I have so many questions and as usual no answers. I’m sorry.
Will Benson (CIN): 2-5, 3B, 2 R, RBI, SB.
As mentioned, this game was just silly. But I wanted to mention Will Benson one last time this year because I think he probably gets overlooked with all of the other exciting young talent on the Reds. Still, Benson showed off a really keen eye at the plate with a 65 in SZ Judgment and 65 in Decision Value. He showcased above-average power (55) and went 18-for-20 on SB attempts. And he very sneakily led the Reds with a .358 OBP. I wonder if maybe they put him in a more prominent spot in the order next year. Interesting.
J.P. Crawford (SEA): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.
Crawford is undoubtedly one of this year’s breakouts. His 19th home run of the year blows his previous high of nine straight out of the water. He’s also 11th among qualifiers with a .381 OBP and is T-22nd in runs scored with 94. I’m curious to see if he gets overlooked in drafts next season.
Spencer Torkelson (DET): 2-5, HR, R, RBI.
This was a really impressive shot from Torkelson. He rode a 100 mph cutter from Emmanuel Clase over the wall the other way in left-center (103.6 EV, 390 feet). Another of this year’s breakthroughs, Torkelson’s 31 home runs are T-20th with Isaac Paredes. He’s 13th among qualified first basemen with a .764 OPS.
Christopher Morel (CHC): 2-3, 2B, 3B, R, BB, SB.
Why not end with a rollercoaster? Despite all the ups and downs, Morel is now second on the Cubs with a .499 SLG. The power is electric (65) but the strikeouts are too; although on that note, he did show a little improvement in contact ability this year according to PLV (30 to 35). Until next year.
Image courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis and Aaron Polcare