If These Walsh Could Talk

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

Jared Walsh (LAA): 4-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB.

Losing a future Hall of Famer could really pay off for the Halos. The rather unceremonious release of Albert Pujols drew polarizing feedback from the baseball community but the immediate benefits to the Angels are hard to ignore. Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of all is now-everyday first baseman Jared Walsh, who appears to be making himself plenty comfortable in his new role, going a perfect 4-4 with a homer, double, a pair of RBI, a walk, and even a stolen base thrown in for good measure. The Angels have been managing to find a spot in the lineup for Walsh up until now, alternating him between right field and first base, but with Pujols no longer on the roster, the 27-year-old should have first base largely to himself.

After struggling in his major league debut back in 2019, Walsh was electric in his ~100 plate appearances last season, finishing with a .971 OPS and nine homers. So far, he’s picked up right where he left off, posting a 165 wRC+ (good for 12th in the league) through his first 136 plate appearances, clubbing his seventh homer last night and stealing his second base of the season (something he hasn’t done since his single-A days back in 2016). Whether this is sustainable or not is a bit less clear. Walsh gets a lot of value from his plate discipline. He posted double-digit walk rates in the minors for several years, albeit with a decent number of strikeouts to go along with them. Strikeouts were a huge problem in his debut 2019 season, but since then he’s been able to get them largely under control, compiling a 13.9% K rate in 2020 and 22.1% so far through 2021.

The sample size caveat is obviously a huge one—Walsh has now seen just 331 plate appearances in the majors, and it’ll take some time for his numbers to stabilize a bit more and show us who he really is. He is not, after all, going to slash .347/.426/.593 forever. But nothing screams regression either. He’s shown off all of these impressive qualities—plate discipline, hit tool, power stroke—before, like when he slashed .325/.423/.686 in AAA in 2019 over 450 plate appearances, prompting his initial callup.

And to be honest, so what if he comes down to earth a bit? He’s currently hitting cleanup behind Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. He’ll likely move when Anthony Rendon returns from the IL, but it’ll only offer more lineup protection. I think even once things stabilize and we get to see a full season of games from Walsh, what we see will continue to impress us. With an everyday role solidified, I think 30+ homers is a pretty reasonable projection for Walsh, with a healthy assortment of counting stats to go along with them. I wouldn’t count on a ton more stolen bases, though. Or probably any.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:

David Peralta (ARI): 2-4, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 R, 1 RBI.

With his league-leading fifth triple of the season, David Peralta is, well, exactly who we expected. He won’t hurt you in batting average and will put up a solid, slightly-above-average statline by the end of the season. Last night’s multi-hit game (both for extra bases) broke a mini-slump of 1-18 in his previous five games. Unfortunately, I just can’t see him getting enough counting stats on a rather mediocre Arizona offense (who, to their credit, have been pretty successful through the first month of the season). He’s worth rostering, but he isn’t going to win you your league.

Khris Davis (TEX): 2-4, 1 3B, 1 R.

With last night’s triple—wait, what? No, you read that correctly: Playing his first game in the outfield since 2019 thanks to the DH-less home ballpark of San Francisco, Khrush smacked his first triple (just missing the long ball) since 2018.  The former Mr. Consistency struggled mightily in 2019, missing his usual .247 mark by slashing a brutal .220/.293/.387, a line he largely replicated in just 30 games last season. Last night marked just his third game of the season, so far collecting a 3-9 line with two strikeouts. It’ll be interesting to see how the new confines in Texas treat the power hitter. If he looks anything like the Khrush of pre-2019, that Rangers lineup—already surprisingly potent—just got a lot sluggier.

Tucker Barnhart (CIN): 2-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB.

It was Pile-Up-On-The-Pirates Day in Pittsburgh as the Reds poured on the offense, finishing the day with 14 runs, including a six-run fourth inning to chase starter Mitch Keller from the game. As such, it’s hard to read too much into Barnhart’s two-double day, though it’s in line with the impressive season he’s had so far, posting a .914 OPS (his season-high, for reference, is .750) through the first six weeks of the season. He’s been selling out for power and so far it’s working—but it’s also come with a brutal 38.1% strikeout rate. Ride the hot streak while you can, but once he starts slumping don’t be afraid to drop him for another hot-hitting catcher.

Bryan Reynolds (PIT): 2-2, 1 2B, 2 BB.

The Pirates apparently had the day off but nobody told Bryan Reynolds. He reached base all four appearances on a pair of walks, a single, and a double, but wasn’t able to do anything with it (the only Pittsburgh run coming on a Jacob Stallings homer). Reynolds has been one of the lone bright spots in the Pirates lineup this season, posting a .851 OPS largely behind solid contact and a good eye, with a walk rate at nearly 12%. Don’t expect a lot of power from him (and unfortunately don’t expect any stolen bases either), but Reynolds won’t hurt you in average while batting second in the Pirates lineup. He could serve as an emergency fill-in but as long as he’s in Pittsburgh I can’t see him accruing enough counting stats to be fantasy-relevant.

Tyler Naquin (CIN): 2-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

The biggest winner of Pile-Up-On-The-Pirates Day was certainly outfielder Tyler Naquin, smashing a three-run homer and an RBI double to finish with the highest RBI count on the day for the Reds. We shouldn’t put a ton of stock into today’s performance alone (as I’ll continue to harp on: It’s the Pirates), but it’s been that kind of season for the 30-year-old. He’s slashing .278/.365/.578 through the first 100+ plate appearances of 2021 and it seems like he’s locked up an everyday role in the outfield, which makes him valuable to fantasy, especially if Cincinnati’s offense keeps hitting like they have been.

Eugenio Suárez (CIN): 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI.

After last season’s dud, a lot of folks were counting on a bounce-back season from Suárez, but so far it has not materialized for the slugger. He’s finally been shifted back to third base and perhaps the move away from shortstop helps him focus on hitting, but it’s been a brutal .134/.224/.319 slash line through the first six weeks of the season. We’ll see if last night’s homer (his sixth of the season) sparks something for the 29-year-old.

Nick Senzel (CIN): 2-5, 1 2B, 1 R, 3 RBI.

Yep, more Reds. Did I mention it was Pile-Up-On-The-Pirates Day yesterday? Since he was first given a shot at the leadoff spot, Senzel has collected 11 hits in eight games, with a homer and a stolen base in that time. He’s on a five-game hitting streak and last night was his fourth straight start in the leadoff position. Coincidence? Well, probably, but as long as it’s working you won’t complain. Senzel should be able to score a lot of runs if he stays at the top of the order and could provide some solid fantasy value, especially once he gets second base eligibility.

Cedric Mullins (BAL): 1-4, 1 3B, 1 R.

Honestly, I just wanted to highlight how incredible this triple was. I don’t think Mullins should get full credit for this one, but it does speak to his baserunning ability. He’s adding two more stolen bases in the last week (a welcome sight for fantasy managers who likely panicked during his nearly month-long stretch without one) and is continuing to see the ball well, exhibiting great plate discipline while making good contact. I don’t think he’ll remain near the top in wRC+ like he is now, but it feels like the breakout is real for Mullins.

Trey Mancini (BAL): 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI.

After missing 2020, Mancini has settled in nicely in his return, putting up a respectable 114 wRC+ through the first 35 games of the season, adding on his seventh home run of the season last night. It seems unlikely he’ll move out of the third spot in the order, and that provides solid fantasy value on its own, even if it is the Orioles.

Pedro Severino (BAL): 3-4.

A frustratingly-empty three-hit game for the Baltimore catcher, but a welcome sight to Baltimore fans and the rather limited group of Severino fantasy managers. It’s been a rough start to the season for the 27-year-old, but this could help get him back on track. He clearly hasn’t been seeing the ball as well, with a career-low walk rate and the worst slash line since he came to Baltimore in 2019. He can provide okay fantasy value when he’s hitting well, so keep an eye out and see if this three-hit game breaks him out of his slump if you’re desperate at the catcher position.


Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Dylan Burris

Dylan has been a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan since 2015. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he devotes most of his non-baseball attention to college basketball.

6 responses to “If These Walsh Could Talk”

  1. larry womack says:

    Who has a better weekend in Coors

    Senzel or Naquin?


    • Dylan Burris says:

      Depends on team needs, but I think Senzel is in a good hot streak right now, and can provide hits, runs, steals, plus potential power in Coors

  2. Mike Honcho says:

    Is Avisail G. too much to give up for Suarez on a buy low?

    • Dylan Burris says:

      I’d do it, though with the understanding it’s a gamble on Suarez. He could end up being a drain on your average without providing quite enough homers to make up for it, or we could see a return to form for him. That said, I like the high-risk/high-reward players a lot! Avisaíl is fine but isn’t exactly going to win you your league.

  3. G says:

    Was hoping today’s title would be “When you Walsh upon a star”

    • Dylan Burris says:

      Man, opportunity missed! That said, I think Walsh will remain a frequent fixture in these pieces for quite awhile going forward, so I’ll get another chance.

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