The Timeless Machine

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

When Albert Pujols debuted for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Twin Towers still stood in New York City. The Apple iPod hadn’t come out yet, and the first iPhone was still a good six years away. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Shrek would go on to be the highest-grossing films of the year.

All of this is to say that Albert has been in our baseball lives for a very long time. And last night, “The Machine” did it again.

La Maquina launched a pinch-hit grand slam off Austin Gomber in the third inning, making it a 10-0 game. It was his 11th home run of the season and the 690th home run of his career.

He would finish the night going 2-3 with 1 R, 1 HR, and 5 RBI.

Let’s pause for a moment and take a glimpse at several of the many accomplishments of this 21-year veteran.

Pujols is now 5th all-time in career home runs. He’s just behind Alex Rodriguez (696) and the third place guy, someone named Babe Ruth (714). His career slash line is .296/.374/.543.  His career WAR is higher than Bob Gibson and Joe DiMaggio, just to pluck out a few names to highlight the accumulated value. Pujols is third all-time in RBI (2,185). He’s a 6x Silver Slugger, an 11x All-Star.

This year, he’s actually hitting better than he did in 2013. He’s walking as often, at around 9% BB%. His .258/.335/.479 slash line is better than the 2013 line of .258/.330/.437. That was his second year in Los Angeles, and it’s clear when you look at his career numbers that his best years were in St. Louis.

It has been nice to see him return to where it all started all those years ago.


Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday.

Alex Bregman (HOU): 4-6, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, 6 RBI, SB.

Bregman did it all yesterday: He doubled a couple of times, stole a base, and collected six RBI. Oh yes, and he homered twice. They were both two-run homers. The Astro third baseman has been on fire for a month, batting .343 with a 1.071 OPS in 102 at-bats. Bregman would hit both home runs off Vince Velasquez, one in the 4th inning (a knuckle curve) and one in the 6th inning (a slider).

Bryan Reynolds (PIT): 3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.

Reynolds is starting to look like the guy who finished 2021 with a line of .302/.390/.522. For the last month, he’s hitting .282 with a .913 OPS. His OPS for the 2021 season was .912. Yesterday he hit two home runs. They both came off Red Sox rookie Josh Winckowski in the first inning and the fifth inning. Although Reynolds is starting to reach the loftier power heights from last year, in the Pirates lineup, it has been very difficult to reach the same number of RBI and Runs. In 2021, he had over 90 in each category. This year, it’s closer to 50 in each category. If Pittsburgh ever moved him to another team, he would be a buy-high hitter.

Andrew McCutchen (MIL): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.

Andrew vs. Andrew in this affair, and the Cutch side won. The 35-year-old hitter took Andrew Heaney deep twice yesterday, his 12th and 13th of the season, and his 282nd and 283rd of his career. McCutchen tends to bat in the middle of the Brewers lineup, and he’s hitting .253/.322/406 this year. He’s still stealing bases too. He has eight on the season.

Chas McCormick (HOU): 3-6, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.

Since I just happen to be looking at the McCutchen line above, the 27-year-old outfielder Chas McCormick has very similar numbers this year (slightly lower BA but slightly higher SLG): .238/.323/.426. He drove in five last night in a 21-5 rout of the Chicago White Sox. The home run came in the 8th inning off José Ruiz, giving them a 17-5 lead at the time. McCormick wasn’t a huge home run hitter in the minors, but his Barrel% and his Sprint Speed are both in the 85th percentile. If he begins playing the Astros lineup more often, he’ll probably remain at the bottom of the order.

Willson Contreras (CHC): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Contreras pummeled two dingers in yesterday’s matchup against the Orioles in Baltimore. The home runs came in the 6th inning (against Spenser Watkins) and the 8th inning (against Joey Krehbiel). It’s highly likely that Contreras will reach career highs in homers (if he can hit six more this season) and Runs (if he can get two more this season). The 30-year-old catcher is rocking a .249/.358/.472 slash line, his best line since 2019.

Lars Nootbaar (STL): 2-3, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

If Nootbaar’s name is truly trademarked for energy bars, he looks to be the perfect spokesperson for the brand with his energetic athleticism from the top of the St. Louis lineup. In the last two weeks, he has a .917 OPS. For the season, he’s batting .232/.342/.419. It looks like St. Louis will be playing him every day, so he makes for an interesting add in leagues where you need some magic to happen. He hit his homer last night in the 5th inning off Colorado Rockies pitcher Robert Stephenson.

Yoán Moncada (CWS): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.

Moncada is struggling to the tune of .202/.271/.327 this year, but last night he hit a three-run homer against Astros pitcher Luis Garcia in the bottom of the 5th inning. It was a 95 mph fastball down and in, and Moncada ate it up. The third baseman has seen time batting 5th, 6th, 7th, and 2nd in the lineup. In the last month, his batting average is .181.

Yandy Díaz (TB): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Diaz, unfortunately, left the game last night after suffering an apparent knee injury while running the bases in the seventh inning. Before this turn of events, he started the game by launching a home run in the first inning off Max Castillo. His Hard Hit% is in the 83rd percentile this year, but he struggles to barrel the ball. He’s in the 17th percentile in that stat, leaving him with only seven homers on the season. Still, his OBP is .384, which is good for 7th in the entire league, just behind Aaron Judge’s .393 OBP.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR): 1-5, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.

Vladdy went to the opposite field with his home run of Montas in last night’s date with the Yankees in New York. This was his 26th home run of the season, and watching his poise at the dish can be surprising when you remember that he’s only 23 years old. On the season, he’s now hitting .282/.352/.509 with 145 combined Runs and RBI in nearly 500 plate appearances.

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

Last night’s game was a perfecto for Renfroe. He went 3-for-3 with a homer off Andrew Heaney’s fastball in the 5th inning. In the last month of play, he’s managed a .900 OPS to go along with eight home runs in 91 at-bats. The cleanup hitter for the Brewers has a Barrel% in the 89th percentile, so he still possesses that light-tower power. Nevertheless, he has 21 home runs on the season, so he might be hard-pressed to reach the mark of 31 homers that he set last season.

Nathaniel Lowe (TEX): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Did you know that Nathaniel has a .967 OPS in the last month, to go along with a .346 BA and five homers? Did you know that in his last 24 at-bats, he has a 1.142 OPS? Did you know that he hit a three-run homer off Zach Logue yesterday in the fifth inning, his 17th of the season? Did you know he now has a slash line of .289/.341/.465? Did you know he’s only 60% rostered in Yahoo leagues if you need a first baseman for the stretch run?

George Springer (TOR): 5-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI.

Well, he didn’t hit a homer last night, but I can’t leave out this 5-5 masterpiece by Springer. His second at-bat saw him reaching out to poke the ball into centerfield to plate an RBI, which shows you the kind of hitter George can be. He tends not to overswing at pitches. He keeps his hands back. If he looks overmatched, he can still do damage because he’ll focus on simply getting the bat head on the ball. Oh, did I mention Springer just came back from the injured list four days ago? He’s now batting .267/.343/.477 on the season with 18 home runs, 64 Runs, 51 RBI, and 10 SB in 352 at-bats.


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Josh Thusat

Joshua is a professor of English, but he's also an avid baseball fan who puts his research skills to work for fantasy baseball gamers. In addition to Pitcher List, Josh writes for FantasyPros. He teaches in the Chicagoland area.

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