The Big Tuna

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

Yordan Alvarez (HOU): 3-4, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Do you remember that time Bill Parcells almost brought the New York Jets to a Super Bowl? No? Me neither! Yordan Álvarez certainly doesn’t as he was, checks notes, one-year-old. Very good. I feel ancient now. Back to baseball. The Astros’ DH helped key a big win on the road against the Jays last night. With the game tied 1-1 in the third, he committed some left-on-left crime slashing an RBI single off Yusei Kikuchi to give Houston the lead. In the sixth, he shattered Trevor Richards‘ soul by going oppo on a fastball on the outer half, pushing their lead to 10-4.

He got off to a slow start but has since made everyone forget about that by riding a modest six-game hit streak, including multi-hit games in three of his last four. Last night’s three hits pushed the Cuban slugger’s slash to .273/ .365/ .582. I think it’s easy to forget, for me at least, that he’s still only 24 and that we haven’t seen his peak yet.

Case in point, this year, his K rate sits at only 14.3%, a big drop from last year’s 24.1%. And we’re at the point now where K rates are stabilizing (about 50 PA), so that might not move all that much, which makes me think that fantasy managers with Álvarez on their roster could be in for a scintillating summer.

If you like the color red, I would also suggest taking a look at his statcast page. There you’ll find a .446 xwOBA, .344 xBA, .495 xwOBACON, and a 63% hard-hit rate, all in the top 4% or better. One of the things you may have noticed is that Astros’ manager Dusty Baker has run out some unusual lineup iterations.

On that note, we did see Jeremy Peña hit second last night, although that might have been because they were facing the lefty Kikuchi. As an aside, I hope we see Peña, who also homered for the Astros last night, stick at the top of the order because he’s been very productive with a .397 xwOBA and a 21.5% K rate. But in the meantime, at least one constant for the Astros is the 6’5″ lefty from Las Tunas hitting cleanup.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday:


Hunter Renfroe (MIL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Well, it looks like all the Brewers needed to get their bats rolling was a visit from Kyle HendricksAfter popping out and striking out in his first two at-bats, Renfroe tagged lefty reliever Daniel Norris for his first shot of the night, a 389-foot blast to right-center. He later tagged another lefty, this time the former Atlanta reliever/starter Sean Newcombfor a two-run home run that stretched Milwaukee’s lead to 9-1. Renfroe had gotten off to a slow start but has now banged out four home runs since April 19th. Similar to Adam Duvall, he’s a low OBP bat with 30 home run upside.

Christian Yelich also hit one out for the Brewers last night, a 447-foot, no-doubter off Hendricks in the fifth. Sure, he might be a boring veteran at this stage, but Andrew McCutchen has now homered in two straight, and he’s also stolen three bases on the year. The former Pirate has been a regular hitting first or cleanup for the Brewers and is just 19% rostered on Yahoo.

William Contreras (ATL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. 

Just called up to replace the injured Manny Piña and giving Travis d’Arnaud the night off, Willson’s younger brother wasted no time and cracked his first home run of the year on a 3-0 fastball from lefty reliever Brock Burke in the fourth before also victimizing Albert Abreu in the sixth with a 435-foot blast to center. Operating as Atlanta’s backup catcher, Contreras isn’t an option right now. Nevertheless, he’s an interesting name to file away in case anything happens to d’Arnaud. Travis Demeritte also hit an inside-the-parker last night as Atlanta’s leadoff man, with their star, Ronald Acuña Jr. receiving the night off. Demeritte has shown some power with a .271 ISO with Triple-A Gwinnet back in 2019, but he’s not a regular and is safe to ignore.

Ha-Seong Kim (SD): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. 

In his first at-bat of the night, Kim blasted a 2-1 fastball down the middle from Zach Thompson over the wall in left for his third home run of the year that tied the game at two. The righty Kim didn’t do much last year, producing just a .270 wOBA across 298 PA. But he’s been making some noise in his past few games, including last night, his second home run in the past four games. He’s cut down his strikeout rate from 23.8% last year to 19.1% so far this season too. Buried at the bottom of the Padres lineup and after fading out last year, Kim is easy to overlook, but the 26-year-old might be worth paying keeping an eye on, considering he belted 30 home runs and swiped 21 stolen bases in his final year in the KBO.

Kim’s teammate Cronenworth got his slash up to .213/ .341/ .360 with a two-hit night, including a home run. He’s yet another very good hitter who simply hasn’t had a lot of favorable results yet. A .370 xwOBA and .270 xBA point to greener pastures ahead.

Taylor Ward (LAA): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Mama, there goes that man. Lucas Giolito didn’t get the memo and hung an 0-1 curveball to Ward, who promptly deposited it into the seats in left for a leadoff home run, his fourth in five games. The Angels’ unheralded leadoff man is now slashing .404/ .517/ .830. And he also has more walks (11) than strikeouts (10) in 58 PA. In 2019 with Triple-A Salt Lake, Ward crushed 27 home runs while hitting .306 across 512 PA. The writing was on the wall!

Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 2-5, HR, 3 R, RBI, SB.

He’s no Ward, but this will do just fine. Ohtani crushed his home run in the first, a 419-foot towering flyball to left-center, on a 3-1 fastball from Giolito. In the eighth, he hit a single before swiping second and scoring on a double from Jared Walsh. The latest combo meal pushes the reigning MVP to four stolen bases and four home runs on the year as the Angels continued their early-season surge in a 5-1 win over the White Sox.

Anthony Rizzo (NYY): 1-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Rizzo continues to rake and now leads baseball with nine home runs. Last night’s was off a lefty too—Kris Bubic. In just 87 PA, he’s almost halfway to his total of 22 home runs in all of last year. The last time he hit more than 30 home runs was way back in 2016, so this current pace would be a remarkable resurgence for the former Cub if he can keep it up. Hey, if Joey Votto can have a career year at 37, why not Rizzo at 32?

Josh Naylor (CLE): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.

The Guardians and Athletics combined for 17 runs last night. In the top of the seventh, with the Athletics ahead 8-7, Naylor swatted a two-run shot to right-center that flipped the game. The 24-year-old lefty has been a regular for the Guardians hitting in the fourth-sixth spots and is slashing .317/ .333/ .512. Billed with 70-grade raw power via FanGraphs, the former Padres prospect might be worth an add for those in deep, five OF leagues.

His teammate, the lefty Andrés Giménez, also got into the scoring action last night, drilling a grand slam on a 3-2, 96-mile-per-hour fastball from Frankie MontasThe former Met was a popular late-round target in drafts last season for speed but didn’t pan out as he hit just .218 across 210 PA. He’s been a regular this season, hitting mostly lower in the order, although he did hit sixth last night. Given his speed potential, he’s certainly worth keeping an eye on in deeper leagues.

Justin Turner (LAD): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Turner is one of what seems like dozens of very accomplished hitters that are really struggling out of the gate. He came into last night’s contest slashing a dreadful .206/ .257/ .254. The veteran third baseman got the Dodgers started last night by turning on a 90-mile-per-hour fastball from the southpaw Tyler Alexander and launching it over the wall in left, staking the home team to an early 2-0 lead. Hopefully, this gets him going. Given his track record and the fact that he’s hitting fourth/fifth for the best lineup in baseball, he’s an interesting target to explore as a potential buy-low.

Sean Murphy (OAK): 1-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

The fantasy realm needs more catchers. Murphy has answered the call and continued his handiwork last night with a three-run jack to right-center off Aaron CivaleThe righty from Wright State now leads all catchers in RBI with 14.

Victor Robles (WSH): 4-5, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI.

Saving the best for last! Queue the It’s Happening GIF. No? Alright, fine. The four-hit night pushed the former top prospect’s batting average to .216. And a quick look at his statcast page reveals a 12.8% hard-hit% and .238 xwOBA, conjuring up images of rolled-up newspapers and garden hoses galore. Washington does have a three-game set at Colorado coming up, so if you’re desperate in a deep, five OF league and just need a bat to fill out your lineup this weekend, he could be a placeholder add.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)


Ryan Amore

A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club, Ryan Amore has been writing things at Pitcher List since 2019. He grew up watching the Yankees and fondly remembers Charlie Hayes catching the final out of the '96 WS. He appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

4 responses to “The Big Tuna”

  1. Rocky says:

    Isn’t Kim’s PT in question due to CJ?
    Seems like Kim is platooned regularly vs RH
    Regardless would you drop Espinal for Kim?

    • Ryan Amore says:

      That’s a good point about Abrams because you’d figure they’d want to get him some ABs too, right? But anyway I get the feeling that the Padres give Kim a legitimate chance to be a regular player. There was an article in the San Diego Tribune today that referenced Melvin’s assurance in PT being key to Kim feeling more comfortable in year two. Melvin even said he was “playing fantastic right now” So I don’t think Kim is in a platoon right now. Think I would stick with Espinal for now – he’s been good too! But I’d be very tempted to make the switch if Kim keeps it up given his great track record in the KBO

  2. Anonyman says:

    Since when is Andres Gimenez a switch hitter?

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