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Minnesota, We Have Kiriloff

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

Alex Kirilloff (MIN): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB.

In case anyone was unaware, Alex Kirilloff has arrived. The Twins’ top prospect made a push for increased jersey sales with his Friday performance, going two for four with a pair of home runs, four RBI, and a walk on the night. Kirilloff continued doing what he does best thus far and that’s hit the ball really hard. The hardest-hit ball of the night came in the first inning as Kirilloff blasted a 106.1 mph blast 404 feet that was ultimately brought down in front of the wall in dead center by Michael A. Taylor.

The rookie would not be deterred, however, finding the seats with his next two at-bats, including a three-run shot to left-center in the third, and a 416-foot shot over the head of Taylor in the fifth inning. All four of his batted balls came off the bat at least 94.6 mph, including his two home runs at 104.5 and 105.5 mph respectively.

Through his first 31 plate appearances, Kiriloff now sports a 60% hard-hit rate carried by an average exit velocity of 93.9 mph. He now has more barrels (6) than hits (5) and his xBA of .378 and early BABIP of .136 shows he’s been a bit unlucky in the early goings as seen through his .167/.194/.400 slash line. Kiriloff’s bat has always been his carrying tool through the minors as shown by his .317 batting average and 16% strikeout rate through his time in the minors. Injuries have been the only thing holding him back, including missing the entire 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. Though providing rest via the DH is less of an option in Minnesota, Kiriloff can play some first base, as he did on Friday, to keep him out of the outfield grass from time to time while keeping his bat in the middle of the Twins’ line up, which is where we should continue to see it play for the foreseeable future.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:

J.D. Martinez (BOS): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Just Dingers Martinez strikes again, adding another pair of home runs to his league-leading total, now sitting at nine on the season. Martinez wasted no time in this one, going yard in his first two at-bats, including a 440-foot shot in the third inning that left the bat at 107.9 mph, the longest and hardest-hit ball in the game. Migraines or not, J.D. Martinez won’t be stopped.

Aaron Judge (NYY): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.

Keeping with the theme of the evening, Aaron Judge went yard twice including a 436-foot blast in the third inning. After being held out of the lineup to start the past two games, Judge returned in a big way in the Yankees blowout win over the Tigers on Friday and is now 7 for his last 20 with three home runs and seven RBI in that span. Those Statcast sliders are as red as they get.

Alejandro Kirk (TOR): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB.

Joining the Friday two-homer club was Alejandro Kirk, with his fourth and fifth inning bombs traveling a combined 864 feet. Kirk only recorded one whiff on the 22 pitches he saw throughout the game and continues to build on his patient approach as seen in his 13.6% strikeout rate and 9.1% walk rate so far this season. Though Kirk hasn’t impressed as much as many hoped after what he showed in 2020, with more nights like this he could easily see more playing time for the Blue Jays over the struggling Danny Jansen.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (TOR): 3-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI.

Gurriel capped off his three-hit night with an 8th inning dinger that looked like it traveled a lot farther than the recorded 395 feet. I guess that’s what happens when you play your home games in a stadium without outfield bleacher seats. The night marks back-to-back games with a long ball – his first two of the season – for Gurriel, who could use the momentum heading into May as he tried to forget his first month of the season that ended with a .224/.256/.316 slash.

Teoscar Hernández (TOR): 2-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.

Returning from his time on the COVID-19-related IL, Teoscar Hernández wouldn’t be left out any longer as he blasted a 427 foot shot in the sixth inning of the Blue Jays’ slugfest over Atlanta. It was Hernandez’s second home run on the season, though keep in mind he’s only played in eight games thus far. Perhaps this weekend he’ll collect his first walk of the season to go with the dingers.

Dylan Moore (SEA): 2-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB.

Well, this was a welcome site from Dylan Moore, wasn’t it? For those fantasy managers who decided to ride it out with Moore, they were rewarded with a nice little combo meal to end the month. His 393 foot home run in the second inning was Moore’s only hard-hit ball of the game and his first hard-hit ball in the past five days. The pair of hits brought his batting average up to .132 on the season, and his .200 xBA isn’t instilling confidence either.

Tyler O’Neill (STL): 3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB.

Tyler O’Neill also ordered the combo meal on Friday, collecting his fifth home run and second stolen base on the season. O’Neill has started in seven straight games for the Cardinals since his return from the IL and looks to be entrenched in left field moving forward. O’Neill started the season with just four hits in his first 29 plate appearances before hitting the IL. Since his return, he’s gone 9-for-28 with a walk, four dingers, and a pair of stolen bases. Not too shabby.

Joey Votto (CIN): 3-4, 2 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.

Joey Votto is on a mission it seems. All three of his hits Friday came off the bat over 100 mph, including his 429-foot home run in the third inning, which was just his second hardest-hit ball since 2015 (his hardest-hit ball came earlier this same season). Votto now has a modest four-game hit streak, going 5 for his last 12 after collecting just two hits through his previous 24 at-bats.

Kris Bryant (CHC): 2-3, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

Bryant caps off his month with his seventh home run of the season, collecting 6 total bases on the night to go along with his pair of walks. Both of Bryant’s hits came off the bat over 100 mph, bringing his average exit velocity up to 88.5 mph on the season. Bryant has doubled his barrel total from the 2020 season with 10 on the year while finishing the month with a  .452 wOBA, which would be the highest of his career thus far.

Carlos Correa (HOU): 4-5, 2 2B, 1 R, 1 RBI.

Correa’s four-hit game was his seventh multi-hit performance of the season as he ends the month with a slash of .303/.352/.495. Six of Correa’s last 13 hits have been for extra bases and his current 14.8% strikeout rate would be the lowest of his career. Correa did more damage later in the game with both of his hard hits coming in his final two at-bats.

Michael Brantley (HOU): 4-5, 3 R, 1 RBI.

Michael Brantley continued to do what he does best – just hit. His four singles bring his batting average up to .345 on the season. His increased line drive rate paired with a decrease in ground ball rate may indicate this production will continue, but really there shouldn’t have been much doubt with Brantley. Health has been the only concern with the Houston outfielder for a few years now.

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.

2 responses to “Minnesota, We Have Kiriloff”

  1. Tommy says:

    Trying to decide whether Lourdes is worth holding onto in 10-team/redraft. His statcast is really underwhelming and his expected HR rate is imo not very impressive. Thoughts?
    I need to (hopefully) activate Soto in the coming days and Gurriel seems like my “weakest” player on the roster.
    Or I could drop Loaisiga (sv+hd) but he seems really promising or are my priorities out of whack here?

    • Jack says:

      Gurriel is one of the streakiest hitters I’ve ever seen, Tommy. Not saying I don’t agree with you as a fellow owner in a 10-team, but I’m holding for the inevitable hot streak, at least for now.

      As for Lux, he’s history.

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