Isaac Paredes (TB): 3-3, 3 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.
Shortly before Opening Day 2022, Tampa Bay made a trade with the Detroit Tigers sending Austin Meadows for Isaac Paredes and draft pick. To quote Sam Miller, ‘LOVE this trade for the Rays. Who’d they give up? And who’d they get?’ You know somehow Tampa will come out on top stealing away Paredes and molding him into a new solid player with plenty of pre-arb and arbitration years remaining. When this trade occurred, I had to be reminded that despite debuting in 2020 for the Tigers, Paredes is still 23 years old! He’s not some washed-up prospect that didn’t make it. He still has plenty of development left, and to get that in the Rays’ organization is promising. He showed off that promise last night with a massive three-homer game, finishing 3-3 with three homers and four total RBI.
The first and easiest thing to do now is to compare his numbers between Detroit and Tampa. I know it’s unfair as he’s still developing and is getting more playing time and experience. In Detroit, he slashed .215/.290/.302 with two home runs over 193 plate appearances. So far in Tampa, he is slashing .2o9/.274/.523 with eight homers over 95 plate appearances. The stand-out there is the power. He’s started to slug and hit more home runs.
However, this goes beyond just the power. He’s barreling the ball at an 8.2% rate (he had just one barrel with the Tigers), and has a nearly 40% hard hit rate. Also, he has not hit line drives in Tampa: 52.1% fly balls and 41.1% grounders, which has resulted in a .154 BABIP. Despite comparable batting averages across both teams, his BABIP with Detroit was .255. This .154 BABIP must go up. He’ll start seeing more liners as well and with his hard hit rate improving that will translate to more hits and not just balls over the fence.
Another notable skill of Paredes is his plate discipline. His contact skills are elite (85.9% contact rate). But he has been swinging at more pitches out of the zone this season, while still keeping it below league average. He is selective with his swings, which could make each swing more meaningful and impactful. That happened last night with three hard hits that all made it over the fence. Two of his home runs had a .250 xBA or lower but he did add a 400-footer as well.
This 23-year-old has been solid with Tampa but I do expect to see continued improvement this season with how he has been hitting the ball. Expect a bit less power with more hits to come.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
Austin Wynns (SF): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
After ending up on the Giants as a 31-year-old, I feel like Wynns has to break out. The Giants traded for Wynns in early June after Joey Bart was optioned to Triple-A to be the backup catcher. He’s had 27 plate appearances so far, and after last night’s solid performance, has a 152 wRC+. He’s been putting the ball in play only striking out 14.8% of the time. However, he’s a journeyman backup catcher with 125 career games played at 31.
Freddie Freeman (LAD): 3-4, 2B, 3B, R, 5 RBI, BB.
Freeman was a homer shy of the cycle, ripping three hard-hit balls for hits and plating five Dodgers for his 40th RBI on the year. Power has been hard to come by for Freeman, even though he has hit two dingers in his last eight games. He’s only at six on the year. His barrel rate is slightly down and his hard hit rate is in line with last season (45.5%). His fly ball rate is even higher than last year. But his HR/FB is at 7.9%, down from around 20% the last three seasons. He is pulling the ball less while seeing more junk (fewer fastballs). So if that is the case he is adjusting and still hitting the ball well. It’s just not going for home runs. I expect a higher rate for the remainder of the season but it will be tough to reach 30 for the year.
Ryan McMahon (COL): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
McMahon was a triple shy of the cycle last night, which is a theme for today as it looks to be the case for a handful of other guys last night. He crushed the ball with three hard hits over 105 MPH, with his home run traveling 436 feet and his double 399 feet (nearly making it two dingers for the night). His 2022 season has looked much like 2021 with slightly less power and steals. Similar slash line but with a dip in slugging. He’s still hitting the ball just as hard but with a dip in HR/FB (another theme!). His walk rate has been excellent but is striking out a bit too much (around 30%), however, with his plate discipline and hard hit rate, a power surge may come with the summer just beginning.
Nolan Gorman (STL): 4-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
I don’t like how St. Louis has two Nolan’s in their lineup. And they are both solid power hitters. The Gorman variety clubbed two 107 plus MPH homers and added two singles for a four RBI night. This 22-year-old rookie has been fantastic since getting the call in the middle of May. He is slashing .280/.350/.516 with six dingers. He has been crushing the ball with a 45% hard hit rate while barely hitting the ball on the ground (under 20% ground ball rate). I can’t imagine his line drive rate staying in the 30s, so expect a dip in hits with his .370 BABIP on a 32% K rate. But the power is real and will stick around.
Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 8 RBI.
Ohtani mustered all he could with a game-tying ninth-inning 438-foot 113.5 MPH bomb before eventually falling to the Royals in extras. He added a 111.5 MPH 423-foot dinger earlier in the game with two sacrifice flies. He gathered eight total runs batted in for the evening, driving home all but three of the Angels’ runs. He may not be on the same pace as his MVP season last year but he still has 15 home runs, 45 RBIs, and seven steals with a 130 wRC+ while pitching to the tune of a 3.28 ERA. Another 30/20 season could easily happen. He’s cut his strikeouts a bit but also is walking much less (under 10%). His hard hit rate is still high (46.6%) but not over 50% like last season.
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC): 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.
Sticking with the Angels-Royals game, Bobby Witt Jr. was seen crushing the ball all over the field with four hard-hit balls, three of which ended up for extra bases. He had a 392-foot dinger in the first and a 396-footer in the ninth. Witt has completely bounced back from his struggles in April. He had a 55 wRC+ in April but really it was just the first two weeks of the year he struggled. Since April 21st, Witt is slashing .264/.312/.500 with a 126 wRC+, 10 homers, and nine steals. He’s still 22 and in his first year, but is showing solid growth and can easily be a fantasy superstar.
Carlos Santana (KC): 4-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
Carlos Santana, another player with a triple shy of the cycle which he definitely could have pulled off (only one triple since 2019), had himself a fantastic night at the plate. Four hits including a home run and five RBIs made easily his best game so far this season. He’s having an interesting year, batting .210 with a .347 OBP. He is walking at an alarming rate of 17.3% with a K rate of just 13.3%. He has not hit higher than .214 since 2o19 but he still gets on base plenty. The power has also disappeared after 2o19 with ISOs around .125. His age is showing, making him difficult to roster in fantasy.
Matt Olson (ATL): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
With Freddie Freeman having a game, it is only fitting that Olson outdoes him. Olson crushed the ball with four hard-hit balls, two of them sailing over the fence. Once was crushed 432 feet while the other made it out at 362 feet. Olson is also not showing as much power as his near 40 home run season last year, now with only 10 bombs. He has cooled down the past few weeks after a strong start to the year. In June, his slash line is only .221/.302/.429 and that is including last night’s strong performance. His BABIP has been much lower despite a lower ground ball rate. His hard hit rate over his last 50 batted balls has climbed to its highest all season as well. He is perfectly fine.
Jared Walsh (LAA): 3-6, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Another player just shy of the cycle and this time it is only a single, just a little single. Walsh roped three extra base hits and added one hard hit ground out. His double was crushed at 112 MPH. I feel like Walsh’s season has been a bit drowned out by Taylor Ward and all of the other crazily similar names that the Angels have in their lineup day in and day out. Walsh is the power-hitting first baseman that crushed 29 dingers last year and drove in 98 runs (that’s wild). He slashed .277/.340/.509 last year and has kept that up with a .261/.308/.482 this season with 13 dingers and 40 RBIs. Since May 4th, Walsh has posted a .284/.324/.562 slash with 11 home runs for a 149 wRC+. I have not heard a single thing about him all year so I’m glad this game popped up today.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)