Nothing Gold Can Stay (On Base)

Breaking down the best hitting performances from Opening Day.

Didn’t that just feel good? Baseball is back, along with everything that comes with it. Almost every team made it to opening day, but unfortunately, there was no chance at Juan Soto or Xander Bogaerts making the list today — for fairly different reasons. Perhaps the list would be slightly longer if the universal DH was announced as Yu Darvish requested, but I digress. Today’s list is led by…

Paul Goldschmidt (1B, STL): 4-5, 2 2B, 3 R, 1 RBI.

Paul Goldschmidt (1B, STL): 4-5, 2 2B, 3 R, 1 RBI.

Not all top lines have to have a homer in them, though Goldschmidt thought he might have. The hits just kept on coming as the Cardinals took it to the Reds early and often, led by Goldschmidt’s 103.4 mph home run double in the first. Goldy wouldn’t be deterred after a peer review would take away his long ball, recording a total of five hard-hit balls in the game. Though Goldschmidt made it on base four times on the night, the Reds couldn’t keep him there as he was knocked in three times by three different teammates throughout the game, including new teammate Nolan Arenado who went 2-5 in his Cardinals’ debut.

Every one of Goldschmidt’s plate appearances resulted in a batted ball with at least 101.9 mph exit velocity, including his one ground out. It’s nice to see Goldschmidt crushing the ball early on after seeing his Hard Hit% dip in each of his past three seasons, from 47% in 2017 down to 40.9% in 2020.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday:

Ketel Marte (OF, ARI): 4-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI.

A triple away from the cycle, Marte was feeling good as he returned to centerfield for the Diamondbacks on opening day. With his 400 ft home run and his 107.4 and 101 mph hit doubles, Ketel did what he could on Opening Day to ease the fear that his bat may take a hit as he re-adjusts to the outfield.

Chris Owings (2B, COL): 3-3, 1 3B, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SB.

Owings may have had the hardest-hit ball in Coors on Thursday, but it was his wheels that had fantasy managers excited. For those who took a flyer on the Rockies’ utility fill-in, they were rewarded with two swipes on the night to go with his three-hit performance. It may be worth noting that Owings’ weakest hit ball was hit harder (92.6 mph) than the fastest pitch he saw on the night (92.2 mph).

Teoscar Hernandez (OF, TOR): 3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI.

Continuing where he left off, Hernandez provided the bulk of the offense for the baby Jays on Opening Day as he launched the team’s only home run 437 feet to tie the game at two, ultimately pushing it to extra innings. The Yankees showed Hernandez mostly sliders on the night, with just seven of the 17 pitches seen being something other than, and Teoscar was able to lay off and wait for his pitches to drive.

Eric Hosmer (1B, SD): 3-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.

Hosmer proves he can launch the ball with the best of them now, putting his home run just out of reach at 20 degrees off the bat. He also shows he can continue getting production by drilling the ball into the ground, legging out a double after burying the ball into the ground at -21 degrees. When it’s all said and done, fantasy managers will take the three-hit night from the Padres’ clean-up hitter most days.

Michael Brantley (OF, HOU): 3-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB.

Brantley returns to the Astros’ outfield after flirting with other teams this offseason and showed off his comfort levels with the team he chose to stay with. Though his 376 foot home run may have been an out in a few other ballparks, Brantley still led the game with three hard-hit balls on the night, including his solo line out that lead the game at 109.2 mph.

Nick Castellanos (OF, CIN): 3-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

The Reds may have lost to the Cardinals on Opening Day, but it was no fault of Castellanos as he did his part with the longest hit ball on the night, a 407-foot bomb to bring his team within four runs in the 3rd inning. Castellanos saw his fair share of different pitches on the night, and swung at a majority of them, recording 40% whiffs on the night.

Whit Merrifield (2B, KC): 3-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Manning the keystone once again, Merrifield lead the offensive explosion inside Kauffman Stadium on Opening Day. With his four hard hits from the leadoff spot, Merrifield left the yard on a bomb in the 8th to add extra insurance to the Royals’ victory.

Michael A. Taylor (OF, KC): 3-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.

Not to be outdone, newcomer Taylor made a pretty good first impression on his new team’s fanbase. After hitting the ball 107.7 mph 402 feet in the 3rd inning, Taylor accounted for the Royals’ go-ahead RBI in the 4th with his second hard hit on the day.

Adam Frazier (2B, PIT): 2-4, 1 2B, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB.

Finally, a hitter that put up a good line without crushing the ball. That’s what we like to see.* Frazier failed to cross the 93 mph mark on any of his balls in play, but still was able to put up a decent line leading off for the Pirates on opening day. Frazier saw a majority of four-seamers, accounting for 24 of the 31 pitches thrown his way, so it comes as no surprise all his batted balls came off the pitch.

*It’s not.

Jake Cronenworth (2B, SD): 2-2, 1 3B, 3 R, 2 BB.

Starting at second base and hitting out of the six-spot, Jake showed his worth (see what I did there?) at the plate and on the bases, accounting for 37% of the Padres’ runs scored on the day. Cronenworth stayed patient, as shown by his pair of walks, swinging at just two of the fifteen pitches he saw throughout the game, a simple mix of four-seamers and cutters.

Joey Gallo (OF, TEX): 2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 1 SB.

What, no bombs from Gallo? And he still made this list? Taking three walks and stealing a base to go along with two singles will at least get my attention. Don’t worry, I’m confident the next time Gallo makes this list it will include a hit that leaves the field.

Byron Buxton (OF, MIN): 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB.

The only combo meal of the day deserves a mention. Buxton crushed a two-run shot 111.4 mph and 456 feet in the 7th to go along with his previously stolen base after recording one of two walks on the night.

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.

One response to “Nothing Gold Can Stay (On Base)”

  1. OWNING the OWING says:

    Is Chris Owings worth OWNING or a pickup? 1 game sample size but what’s your thoughts?

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