The Best Exotic Madrigal Home Run

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

Nick Madrigal (CWS): 3-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB.

It was a rough night for J.A. Happ, who gave up six ER without making it out of the fourth inning last night against the White Sox. While Nick Madrigal’s RBI double in the fourth is what finally chased Happ from the game, it was his previous at-bat that likely took Happ’s night off the rails. In a 1-2 count, Madrigal took a fastball in towards the inside of the zone and crushed it for a line-drive home run—the first long ball of his career. One of the best contact hitters in the game, Madrigal is considerably lacking in the power department (resulting in one of the weirder Statcast profiles I’ve ever seen). You can even see the moment Happ’s soul dies inside.

It was a stellar night for Madrigal, who went 3-5 with a double, a home run, and a walk to score three runs and drive in two more himself. The 24-year-old finished his debut major league season with just over a hundred plate appearances and a higher OBP than SLG. While last night’s power trip has boosted his slugging this season, it’s otherwise looking like more of the same. Madrigal is a force to be reckoned with at the plate, rarely striking out (tied for first in the majors in both K % and Whiff %) and focusing on putting the ball in play. He has the speed to swipe some bags as well, though this season he’s just 1-2 in steal attempts and only stole twice last year.

The basic template for Madrigal is already there: never strike out, put the ball in play, and hope to grind out a bunch of singles, with the occasional double mixed in. He might steal a bit more as he continues to acclimate to the big leagues, but he was never a huge terror on the basepaths in the minors so I wouldn’t expect a whole lot more in that department. I expect he’ll grow into a little bit more power as he develops but he’s never going to hit a lot of home runs. He makes for an odd fantasy player—not a lot of HR or SB, yet a .300 average. His biggest contribution should be runs, but for the month of April, he was primarily batting out of the nine-spot in the lineup. Since May 4th, he’s hit at the top of the order (first or second) more than the bottom and while the results so far have not been great, it’s an encouraging sign for his future run production. As long as he’s hitting at the top of this White Sox lineup, he’ll score plenty of runs—but likely not a whole lot else. In leagues that reward his minuscule strikeout rate he could be extremely valuable while in others, he’s still a decent option at the wasteland that is second base, at least as long as he stays near the top of the order. I wouldn’t count on too many more multi-extra-base hit nights, though.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:

Adolis García (TEX): 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB.

García continues his reign of terror, belting his 11th home run of the season (just two back from the league lead) and adding on a stolen base to complete the combo meal. It’s been—to put it bluntly—a hell of a start to the season for the center fielder, who is slashing .296/.341/.592 through his first 33 games. His Statcast profile adroitly informs us that he is in fact hitting the baseball very hard, which combined with great defense and a Rangers roster should mean he gets plenty of playing time even when he inevitably comes back to earth with the rest of us mere mortals. The biggest problem is the strikeouts—even now he’s striking out a ton and doesn’t walk enough to make up for when the hits stop coming. I think he’s a lock for 20/10 with the potential for more depending on how well he’s able to improve his plate discipline.

Willie Calhoun (TEX): 2-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI.

Speaking of power in Dallas, Willie Calhoun has hit his fifth home run of the year. After some disappointing bouts with injury, this could be the year he’s able to build upon his 2019 success. His K and BB rates are currently at career bests and unlike Madrigal, he’s got some power to go along with his impressive strikeout rate. Similar to García, he’s got a lot of playing time this year for a Rangers lineup that is surprisingly more effective than you might think, and could be a sneaky valuable fantasy player.

Eric Haase (DET): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

The only double-dinger performance of the night belongs to Haase, who made his first start in the outfield. The usual catcher has had a sprinkling of at-bats in the majors over the last several years but has never had any real offensive success—until tonight. Haase is unlikely to be fantasy relevant—even in the minors, he’s consistently supported a strikeout rate over 30%.

Luke Voit (NYY): 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI.

When one home run door closes in New York, another opens. That is the way. This time it was Luke Voit who smacked his first home run of the season, an absolute moonshot into the second deck in left field. It was just Voit’s sixth game of the season after returning from knee surgery. While he went hitless in his first three games, he’s had a multi-hit performance in his last three, culminating in last night’s long ball—the first of many for the first baseman. It’s really not fair how many sluggers the Yankees have.

Will Smith (LAD): 2-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI.

A double and a home run for the Fresh Prince, who scored two of the Dodgers’ three runs on the night. Smith has been great offensively—when he plays. Unfortunately, he’s still locked in a timeshare with Austin Barnes, aka Clayton Kershaw’s personal catcher. Still, he’s contributing with exactly what you want when he’s playing, putting up a 129 wRC+ over 127 plate appearances.

Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 1-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.

Honestly, I just can’t help myself but include Ohtani pretty much every week in this article. He smacked his league-leading 13th home run of the season and walked twice. His strikeouts and walks aren’t exactly what you’d want, but considering he’s clobbering the ball the rest of the time it’s hard to be picky. He’s also stolen six bases on the year. Oh, and he’s sporting a shiny 2.10 ERA with 40 strikeouts over 25.2 IP. Honestly, we talk about him all the time and we still don’t talk about him nearly enough.

Wilmer Flores (SF): 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI.

It hasn’t been the best start of the season for Flores, who is sporting a sub-100 wRC+ for the first time since 2015. Still, there are some encouraging signs for the perenially unappreciated infielder. His strikeout rate is largely in line with career norms and his walk rate is elevated. The biggest issue has been making quality contact—an issue he did not have last night when he hit his third home run of the season. I think Flores will be just fine, though you’re likely not rostering him. He can provide great value when he heats up, considering he’s available in nearly all leagues.

Yermín Mercedes (CWS): 3-6, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

The season of Yermín continues. He’s slashing an absurd .364/.410/.574 on the season, good for a 176 wRC+ (fifth in the league). He’s only gotten one appearance in the field this season (first base on April 20th) but as long as he keeps crushing the baseball it’s hard to argue taking him out of the DH spot. It definitely raises concerns about playing time once he eventually is proven to be human.

Kyle Schwarber (WSH): 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB.

Psst. Don’t look now, but Kyle Schwarber has four home runs in his last eight games. In that time, he’s raised his OPS nearly 120 points. It’s been a slow start to the season for Schwarber but there’s no reason to think he isn’t going to bounce back (in fact, he already seems to be in the process of doing so). His strikeout rate is right in line with his career norms and his walk rate is likely to rise. I think it’s primarily from a delayed start to the season due to the COVID-19 IL and being on a new team—he’ll settle in fine.

Jason Heyward (CHC): 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.

After posting the best (albeit abbreviated) offensive season of his career since his dominating rookie campaign last season, J-Hey has been pretty flat to start 2021. I think both his strikeout and walk rates will regress positively towards his career norms, as will his contact numbers, but I wouldn’t count on him being rosterable in any long-term sense this season, particularly as long as he’s hitting in the second half of the order.


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.

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