Grichuk Could Chuck Wood

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

Randal Grichuk (TOR): 2-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 5 RBI.

There were plenty to go around in Oakland, but the hardest-hit ball of the game went to Toronto’s Randal Grichuk, who launched a 109.8 mph dart out of the park in the third inning to start off the Blue Jays’ scoring frenzy that would continue the rest of the game. Ending the game with two hits through five at-bats, including a double, home run, and five RBI, Grichuck sat center stage for the Toronto double-digit run-scoring affair.

Always known as a guy who can hit the ball hard, Grichuk has continued the trend into 2021, maintaining a 45.6% hard-hit rate through his 119 plate appearances. Grichuk has chipped away at his strikeout issues over the years, seeing his K rate decrease each season since 2017, currently sporting a sub 20% rate in 2021. With some pre-season concerns about playing time, Grichuk has quieted those with his .306/.354/.514 slash while seeing regular run in centerfield with George Springer on the shelf.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday:

Marcus Semien (TOR): 4-6, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI.

Marcus Semien set the stage for the Toronto bats early, leading off the game with a 101.4 mph single. The hard-hit ball would eventually be outdone by his 105.1 mph home run in the seventh inning. Semien has now collected a hit in each of his last six games and 12 of his past 13 and his four-hit performance Thursday brought his season-long slash up to .254/.326/.458. Though it may have seemed like a slow burn for Semien as he got used to his new uniform, he’s actually hitting the ball harder with the highest average exit velocity and max exit velocity of his career, while maintaining would be career-high 42.5% hard-hit rate.

Bo Bichette (TOR): 3-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 SB.

Speaking of hard-hit balls, Bo Bichette has joined the chat. With the exception of a bloop single in the fourth inning, Bichette kept his balls on the ground, blasting two of his hits through the infield at a minimum of 105.8 mph. Luckily for fantasy managers, these singles set up his pair of stolen bases on the day, giving him three in the past two days and six on the season. Bichette saw seven sliders on the day and sung at six of them, collecting three whiffs on the pitch along the way. With this game, Bichette has now seen as many breaking pitches in 2021 as he did through the 2020 season and has increased both his whiff rate and batting average, showing his increased aggressiveness against the pitch type.

Brett Phillips (TB): 3-4, 1 2B, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB.

Though Brett Phillips doesn’t play often enough to be truly fantasy relevant, he made the most of this start in centerfield for the Rays. The three-hit performance brought his season-long batting average up to .244, while his K rate dropped to just over 32%. Phillips will need more than one injury in the Tampa Bay outfield to become any sort of regular contributor, and even then it would be questionable.

Mike Zunino (TB): 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Mike Zunino continued doing what Mike Zunino does — hit the ball really hard or not at all. Zunino took eight swings on the day, accounting for his two hits and six whiffs. Luckily one of those swings resulted in a 412-foot solo home run in the seventh inning, marking the first run to be scored for the Rays. Despite these outbursts every now and again, Zunino only becomes an option in two catcher leagues with the recent catcher injuries build-up across the league and should continue to frustrate with his all-or-nothing approach as seen in his 34.8% strikeout rate and 50% timeshare behind the plate in Tampa.

Miguel Rojas (MIA): 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI.

Miguel Rojas isn’t necessarily best known for his hard-hit balls, but made himself known on Thursday as he collected three on the day, including his 403-foot shot in the first inning. Failing to strike out once again, Rojas lowered his K rate to 11.4% on the season, while bringing his season-long slash up to .280/.368/.430. He has increased his hard-hit rate each season since 2016, while maintaining a top 10% K rate, keeping Rojas near or at the top of the Marlins’ lineup for the foreseeable future.

Yordan Alvarez (HOU): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

What more can be said about Yordan Alvarez? I almost left him off the list but thought better of it as it’s always fun to talk about how a pair of 112 mph home runs were only the 3rd and 4th hardest hit and 2nd and 3rd longest hit balls of the game thanks to the fact Giancarlo Stanton was also playing in this game. Alvarez now has collected 13 hits in his last 33 plate appearances, with three home runs. No need to worry about those knees when you spend most of the day simply jogging around the bases I guess. Even after his single in the 8th, Alvarez didn’t leave first base after Yuli Gurriel popped out to end the inning.

Aaron Hicks (NYY): 3-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB.

Aaron Hicks put up his fourth multi-hit performance of the season, raising his slash line to just .202/.298/.354. Of course the potential is there with Hicks, as it typically is every season, but the wear and tear of the season takes its toll early and often with the former first-round pick, and his recent burst should not be fully trusted.

Martín Maldonado (HOU): 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI.

Maldonado is one of the few catchers seeing close to every day playing time, despite a 39.5% K rate on the season, to which he did add to in this one. Luckily, he also threw in three hits, including a two-run home run in the 9th to act as insurance for Ryan Pressly. Of the 16 pitches Maldonado saw, 13 were fastballs resulting in his two whiffs on the night, which is more in line with the trends he saw in 2020 (60.5% fastballs, 28% breaking balls, 11.5% offspeed) than what he’s been seeing thus far in 2021 (50.3% fastballs, 41% breaking balls, 8.7% offspeed).

Franchy Cordero (BOS): 3-5, 1 2B, 3 R, 1 RBI.

After going two for his last 39, Franchy Cordero connected for three hits on Thursday, all coming off the bat over 104 mph. To say the “marquee” trade target for the Red Sox has struggled since moving to Fenway would be an understatement, but Cordero continues to see semi-regular time at the bottom of the Boston lineup. With a new injury to utility man Enrique Hernández, Cordero may even see more playing time to figure things out before a more drastic move by the Red Sox would be in order.

Francisco Lindor (NYM): 1-3, 1 R, 3 BB.

Francicso Lindor got a hit. That’s it. That’s the tweet.


Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Adam Howe

Adam resides in Indianapolis after spending the better part of a decade in Oakland, CA and growing up in Massachusetts. He co-hosts the On The Wire podcast with Kevin Hasting, analyzing your weekly FAAB options before your bid deadlines every Sunday.

7 responses to “Grichuk Could Chuck Wood”

  1. Felix Millan says:

    Hi there-
    Someone in my league dropped Lourdes Gurriel. I have Escobar at 2B who’s been pretty productive thus far. Lourdes obviously has not. Is it worth trying to swap them?

    It’s hard to gauge what’s going on in the league right now as the MLB overall average is .233
    I get the feeling some of the these guys are going to be meh all year.
    thx for your thoughts..

    • theKraken says:

      You know these players are not prepared. How could they be when everything is limited/closed? How much BP do you think these guys have seen? I would say a small fraction of a normal year. I would say that is what is going on this year. Pitchers throwing bullpens is closer to a useful game skill than whatever hitters are doing -I think that is what we are seeing at the moment. IMO, defense is historically atrocious and the pitching is probably worse than it has been in years and the hitters are still helpless. This is what baseball looks like without team practice.

      • DB says:

        If you’re cool w/ only LF eligibility, a good add would be Benintendi (KC) if he’s not rostered already. I’d rather have him than either of them. The average is spiking, and the speed’s already there. Boston can be a hard place to play, and KC’s giving him free rein to do everything he’s best at.

        Kaufman’s not a great hitter’s park, and there’s some really great pitching in the division, but hitting 2nd in that lineup w/ an almost constant green-light on the basepaths can be extremely valuable… and there’s power there that will eventually show up, at the very least outside of his home park.

    • DB says:

      The peripherals aren’t there for Escobar, ( I already dropped him,) and as someone who has often rostered him in previous years going back to the Twins, I can tell you that you can hang on to him for hot streaks, but the cold streaks can be long and painful.

      Gurriel has better potential, but he’s only qualified at LF, not 2B in ESPN, and with Bichette, Semien, and Biggio holding down the MI, I doubt he’ll get that eligibility any time soon. I’d also worry about playing time because of Springer coming back, Montoyo, and injuries.

      2B’s really shallow, so it could go either way, but ROS, I expect you’ll get more AVG and speed from LGJr, and he could go on one of his XBH streaks and pull off a lot of RBIs in THAT lineup. If you’re simply after power, playing time, and like the 2B/3B eligibility you’re probably better off w/ Escobar, but Gurriel’s probably going to be the better overall column-filler IMO. Dunedin (and the AL East in general) is a great place to hit, too, just don’t expect a ton of runs out of him if he stays where he is in the lineup, (and he probably will.)

  2. Bob Saget says:

    Damn was hoping even a mention of William Contreras. Should be any young dude hits a homer.. he’s in this

  3. theKraken says:

    What is with the exit velocities? It really doesn’t matter how hard a single was hit… it really doesn’t matter for a HR either. The idea is that it legitimizes things I guess. Nothing is more legit than the real outcomes.

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