Suarez and Sophisticated

Dylan Burris covers all of Friday's most interesting hitters.

It’s been a tumultuous week across not just MLB but the country at large, and Friday felt no different. The Astros and Athletics canceled their game in solidarity with the social justice movement sweeping across professional sports, adding themselves to the list of games postponed from the last few days. Today was as close to normal as it’s been for several days in baseball, but it was a reminder that things remain far removed from whatever “normal” even means in 2020.

And yet for Eugenio Suárez, it may be the week when things are finally starting to make sense. Heading into last Sunday’s matchup with the Cardinals, he was slashing a woeful .145/.283/.277 with just three HR through 24 games. It’s a painful line for any player, let alone someone like Suarez who hit 49 HR last year (second-highest total in baseball) on his way to compiling a .381 wOBA for the season. It’s also been agonizing for 2020 fantasy owners, who expected a similar slash line with improved counting stats thanks to the offseason improvements to the Reds lineup. With an ADP around 73, at the very least there was an expectation that he would contribute a good number of homers and RBI.

After demolishing Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs last night (3-3, HR, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB), Suárez seems to have finally recovered his stroke. Since Sunday, the Reds third baseman has slashed .364/.417/.955 on his way to collecting four homers through six games, throwing in a stolen base for good measure. It’s been enough to push his season slash up to .190/.309/.419, bringing his wRC+ from a miserable 57 up to a merely-melancholy 95. It’ll take some doing for the 29-year-old to reach the fantasy heights of the past two seasons, but if there’s anything we can count on, it’s that we have absolutely no idea what will happen over the second half of the 60-game 2020 season.

Let’s see how every other hitter did Friday:

Franmil Reyes (DH, CLE) — 3-4, HR, 2B, 3 R, 5 RBI. Reyes plated a whopping five runs and scored three times himself as the Indians dominated the Cardinals in a 14-2 rout. The Franimal finished a triple shy of the cycle for what likely won’t be the last time, as the slugger has zero triples in his 268 major league games. The 25-year-old has really showcased his hit tool this season, hitting above .300 while maintaining the highest SLG of his short career. On an Indians offense that has struggled as a whole, Reyes has been an enormous boon.

Wil Myers (OF, SD) — 4-5, 2 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI. Coors strikes again, as the Padres scored 10 runs on 19 hits, with Myers as the leading contributor. It’s been a great season for the 29-year-old, whose AVG is nearing .300 for the first time since his debut season in 2013. His Statcast peripherals certainly back up the idea that he’s smacking the ball right now, though with his K% as high as usual, it seems unlikely that it’s fully sustainable. In such a dynamite lineup, though, you might as well ride the wave as long as you can.

Clint Frazier (OF, NYY) — 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB. What a difference an hour makes. Frazier dominated the first game of the cross-New York doubleheader, going 2-2 with a double and a homer to score two runs and plate three more, walking in his only other plate appearance. In the second game, he reached base once with a walk, yet struck out his three other times at the plate. On a Yankees squad depleted by injuries, Frazier has settled into the everyday outfield role with great aplomb, putting together a 193 wRC+ over his 11 games of the season. Even once he regresses a bit, he should remain a valuable contributor in real life as well as fantasy.

Dominic Smith (OF, NYM) — 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Opposite Frazier, Dominic Smith was the model of consistency yesterday, smacking a home run in the first game of the doubleheader while chipping in a single and a double in the second game, notching an RBI in both. He showed off some impressive hitting last year but was stuck behind an even more impressive Pete Alonso at 1B; the addition of the DH for the NL in 2020 has given the Mets more opportunities to get his bat in the lineup, as he’s gotten a few DH chances along with quite a few starts in LF. On the season, he’s slashing .333/.419/.744 for an astonishing 205 wRC+, albeit in fewer than 100 plate appearances.

Carlos Santana (1B, CLE) — 2-3, HR, 4 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB. It’s been a rough season for the Indians’ 1B, as he’s posted a lopsided .229/.414/.362 slash line through 32 games in 2020. No, that OBP isn’t a typo—Santana has an absurd 23.6% walk rate in 2020, though as Ben Clemens wrote over on FanGraphs, that can be a bit misleading. With such a short sample size, it’s hard to imagine this is anything other than a cold stretch in an otherwise fairly consistent career, though with such a short season, he may not have the time to truly right the ship. Even with a career-low ISO, Santana is still contributing a solid 122 wRC+.

Jedd Gyorko (1B, MIL) — 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. There were a series of blowouts yesterday, and one of them was thanks to Jedd Gyorko, leading the Brewers to a 9-1 win over the hapless Pirates. Gyorko blasted two solo shots for Milwaukee, striking out in his other two at-bats. Gyorko may not be starting every day, but between 1B and 3B, he gets a fair number of games to go along with consistent pinch-hitting opportunities. When in the lineup, he’s often been given the cleanup spot, and he’s delivered with a .984 OPS, largely thanks to his five home runs. With a path to everyday playing time still murky, he’s not a recommended roster, but could come through with sneaky value if you’re in a bind or looking at a DFS slate.

Eric Hosmer (1B, SD) — 4-5, 2B, 3 R, RBI. The renaissance season continues for the 30-year-old, as he’s putting up the best season of his career and his first season above a 100 wRC+ as a Padre. While he’s always hit the ball hard, he’s elevating the ball a lot more with a career-high launch angle and it’s delivered a huge boost to his power numbers, with an ISO nearly 100 points above his previous high. He’s also boasting the lowest K rate of his career. It’s hard to see him continuing to post numbers this high, but if he can keep elevating the ball he should continue to put up solid power numbers, and hitting cleanup for the most electrifying offense in baseball doesn’t hurt either.

Trea Turner (SS, WSH) — 3-5, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI. The 27-year-old shortstop continues to impress, on track for the best season of his young career. Turner may not be stealing a ton of bases this year (much to the dismay of fantasy players everywhere), but he’s making good contact and elevating the ball a bit more, which has boosted his power numbers higher than ever before. He’s also been striking out a miniscule 13.2%, putting him in the 90th percentile of all MLB hitters. Even if he doesn’t get more aggressive on the basepaths, Turner has been quite valuable as a hitter for the Nationals and fantasy players alike.

Vlad Guerrero Jr. (1B/DH, TOR) — 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI. The young phenom seems to finally be settling into his new role as everyday 1B/DH, as a slow start has turned into a 10-game hitting streak, raising his season slash line to .263/.339/.482. Vlad may not yet be meeting the monster expectations that were on his shoulders when he entered the league, but he’s improved on his rookie season in most ways and is only striking out 14.2% of the time. His 88th-percentile hard-hit rate seems likely to regress positively into power numbers sooner rather than later.

Josh Harrison (2B/3B/OF, WSH) — 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI. The longtime Pirate has settled in nicely to his utility role on the Nationals, posting a respectable .286/.313/.536 slash line through 32 plate appearances on the season. He’s primarily filling in as a substitute or occasional DH, but with such a small sample size it seems unlikely that his 6.3% strikeout rate will be sustainable. He’s bound to regress to his sub-100 wRC+ and doesn’t have everyday playing time, so he’s not recommended as a fantasy option.

Scott Kingery (2B/OF, PHI) — 1-1, HR, R, 3 RBI. The king we’ve been waiting for—the 26-year-old has been ice-cold to start off his third season in the majors, but played hero last night by smashing a three-run walk-off bomb off of Atlanta closer Mark Melancon. It was the first homer of the year for the utility man, who has gotten the lion’s share of starts at 2B with a handful of CF mixed in. He’s been batting at the bottom of the lineup thanks to his awful .134/.194/.194 slash line, but he sure made his only plate appearance of the night count.

Jorge Soler (DH, KC) — 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB. Soler smashed yet another homer last night, bringing his season total to eight. The everyday DH for the Royals is locked into the three spot of the batting order, and has been the most valuable member of the lineup with an .857 OPS on the season, bolstered by a .508 SLG. There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said—while he may not necessarily finish third in homers like last year, his power numbers should be as solid at the end of the season as they are now.

Eloy Jiménez (OF, CWS) — 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB. The breakout season continues for the young LF (and future DH), who is slashing an impressive .322/.352/.652 on the season with 11 homers. Even if the power numbers regress a bit, Eloy will continue to produce dividends batting in a deadly White Sox lineup. At the same time, I’m not sure they will—he’s 90th percentile in most Statcast metrics, including 98th percentile in Barrel%. As long as he continues to hit even close to those peripherals, it’s hard to see the power decreasing too much.

Jesse Winker (OF, CIN) — 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI. Jesse Winker continues a breakout season of his own, leading the league with a ridiculous 205 wRC+ as he slashes .341/.453/.716. The 27-year-old is doing absolutely everything right, and while he’ll certainly regress (unless he’s the next Mike Trout), putting up numbers even close to what he has will continue to provide huge production, especially in a Reds lineup scarier than it has been in years.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login