Figuring out Francisco’s Funk

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday's games.

Francisco Lindor (NYM): 3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI.

Lindor has not gotten off to the start many fans may have anticipated when Steve Cohen acquired him this offseason, but there is plenty of time for the star shortstop to come around. Lindor had his best game of the season last night at the plate, going 3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. It was just his second multi-hit game of the season and the first in which he hit a home run. Despite the blowout loss, this game could have served as a stepping stone for Lindor to get back on track.

Most of Lindor’s advanced stats are in line with what he has done for most of his career, so why is he struggling so much at the plate to start the season? The biggest difference in Lindor’s numbers this year becomes visible when evaluating his line drive rate. It is common sense in the baseball world that consistently hitting line drives will lead to offensive success. Line drives mean solid contact and typically have the highest XBA of any contact. Lindor’s line drive percentage sits at 20.9%, the lowest of his career. What were line drives in the past are now becoming fly balls and ground balls. Lindor’s ground ball percentage of 48.8% is the highest it has been since 2016 and his fly ball percentage of 25.6% is the highest its been since 2017.

On the bright side, Lindor’s underlying numbers say he could come around offensively. His K rate of 7% is easily the lowest of his career, half of his career rate, meaning he his putting the ball in play much more than usual. His walk rate is also the best it has ever been at 15.8%, also double of his career rate. These numbers signify that Lindor is seeing the ball well and has the right approach, the results just are not there yet. I believe this is just a cold spell to start the season and that Lindor has a hot streak waiting for him around the corner.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Wednesday

Josh Donaldson (MIN): 4-6, 1 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.

The Bringer of Rain brought a storm for the Twins offense in yesterday’s wild game against the Athletics. Donaldson opened the scoring with a solo home run in the first inning, he would be the first of 25 baserunners to cross home plate in the game. The third baseman would go on to hit three singles after his home run, score two more runs, and bring in another RBI.

Nelson Cruz (MIN): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

The 40-year-old slugger is third among active players in home runs, adding numbers 422 and 433 to his ledger last night. Cruz’s first home run would give the Twins a 4-3 lead in the third inning, and after Oakland regained the lead his second would cut the deficit from 7-3 to 7-5. He would add another RBI to once again give the Twins the lead in the sixth.

Byron Buxton (MIN): 3-6, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

For a time it looked like Byron Buxton would be the hero in the extra innings thriller between Minnesota and Oakland. Buxton laid out to make an incredible catch to keep his team in the lead in the sixth, and then hit a go-ahead home run to break a 10-10 tie in the top of the tenth inning. Buxton’s numbers have been off the charts this year. His .478 BABIP may be a sign that regression is coming, but the young centerfielder’s average exit velocity and hard-hit rate both stand in the 99th percentile of the league.

Seth Brown (OAK): 3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB.

On the other side of the coin, Seth Brown provided a big performance offensively to help extend his team’s winning streak to 11 games. Brown has flashed power in the minor leagues but it has yet to translate to the big league level. Still looking to carve out an everyday role with the A’s, Brown will need to consistently bring this kind of production to the lineup.

Matt Olson (OAK): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

The A’s scorching hot first baseman kept the fire burning last night. Olson picked up three hits, including two home runs off of Minnesota starter Kenta Maeda. Olson has now reached base safely in each of his last seven games, hitting .423 during the stretch. Olson was a prime target for positive regression after a down year in which his average dropped below the Mendoza line. He has done just that in 2021, and his underlying numbers suggest his offensive production will be sustainable for Oakland. Olson’s BABIP is .293, lower than his batting average of .316.

Omar Narvaez (MIL): 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

After a solid 2019 season, Narvaez’s numbers fell off of a cliff in 2020. While his advanced stats showed he may have gotten ahead of himself in 2019, no one expected Narvaez to struggle as he did in 2020. However, a new year has brought new beginnings for the Milwaukee catcher.  Narvaez is batting .396 and is fourth among catchers in fantasy points. The difference between this season and 2019 is that Narvaez’s peripherals back up his improved statistics. Comparing this season to 2019, Narvaez has improved on each of the following categories by at least 90 points: XBA, XSLG, and WXOBA. Narvaez has also cut his strikeout rate in half from last season and nearly doubled his walk rate. Still available in most leagues, Narvaez is someone to keep an eye on.

Jace Peterson (MIL): 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB.

Peterson earned himself a starting opportunity in a banged-up Brewers lineup and made the most of it. The second baseman reached base three times last night, including an RBI single to tie the game in the fourth and a solo shot to give his team insurance in the sixth.  This was Pederson’s first multi-hit game of the season. He is not a player who should be on your fantasy radar, but should be an interesting follow if he can sneak his way into a permanent role in Milwaukee.

Austin Riley (ATL): 2-2, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB.

Riley reached base every time he stepped to the plate in the Braves’ 4-1 win over the reeling Yankees. After a dreadful start to the season, Riley seems to have found something at the dish over the last few games. After earning just eight hits over the first two weeks of the season, Riley now has five hits in his last three games. Riley is owned in about half of all leagues, and if you have him on your team I would not drop him just yet.

Jorge Soler (KC): 3-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI.

Soler has struggled mightily this season, but maybe last night provided the spark he needed to turn things around. Soler had three hits in his team’s 10-9 win, coming up just a triple shy of the cycle. Soler’s strikeout rate is the highest of his career and his power numbers are fading. It is still early in the season, but if Soler does not turn it around soon it may be time to part ways with the Royals DH.


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