Tightening the Belt

Catching up on all of Saturday's best hitting performances

Brandon Belt (1B, SF): 2-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Brandon Belt homered twice and drove in three key runs in the Giants’ extra-inning thriller over Milwaukee on Saturday, giving him three in three days following a nearly month-and-a-half injury layoff. Belt now leads ALL first basemen with a 157 wRC+ since the start of last season, and he’s poised to break the 20-homer barrier for the first time ever in his career. His 11th-inning blast last night was San Francisco’s 167th of the season, tying their 2019 mark with two months to spare and putting them in position to break 180 dingers for the first time since Barry Bonds’ final MVP run in 2004.

Brandon Lowe (2B, TB): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB.

Lowe broke out of a 5-for-35 mini-slump in big fashion on Saturday, putting to bed what was at the time a close game with a mammoth grand slam in the eighth inning against César Valdez and finishing the day with five RBI in total, giving him 60 on the season. It’s the first time in his career that Lowe has reached five ribeyes in a single day; he’s reached four on three previous occasions.

César Hernández (2B, CWS): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.

Hernández got the White Sox first hit and run on Saturday before going deep for the second consecutive game in the South Siders’ crosstown win over the Cubs, ironically becoming just the second member of the Sox to reach the 20-homer plateau. The typically light-hitting second baseman is slashing .345/.457/.552 in eight games since his trade to Chicago and will likely continue to play the role of table-setter in the coming weeks, soaking up on-base and run-scoring opportunities with Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert now on the mend.

Matt Olson (1B, OAK): 4-5, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI.

Olson led quite the offensive outburst in Oakland on Saturday, turning in the fourth four-hit game of his career (and second in 2021) along with three runs scored and two more driven in in the Athletics 12-3 bashing of the Rangers. Olson’s hit tool was not particularly highly regarded when he reached the majors, but his ability to make contact has reached a new level this year, boosting his triple-slash to .287/.376/.580, enough for a 161 wRC+ that would probably be getting more attention if it weren’t for a certain Vladdy Jr. playing the same position. Olson seems poised to keep producing runs and likely receive some down-ballot MVP votes as Oakland looks to break through once again this coming October.

Yan Gomes (C, OAK): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Gomes is back in the American League after three seasons, and the A’s will be more than happy to have his bat coming off the bench and backing up Sean Murphy for the rest of the way, as the 34-year old showed he can still swing it with Saturday’s four-RBI effort. Once one of the more promising offensive backstops around baseball, Gomes had settled nicely into a timeshare behind the plate for Washington after his 2018 All-Star campaign in Cleveland; he’s already homered twice and driven in eight runs in just 17 plate appearances since being acquired by Oakland at the deadline.

Adolis García (OF, TEX): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

García his his 24th homer of the season on Saturday, and while he’s slowed down a little from his torrid early-season pace, the pace of the ball leaving the yard when he makes good contact hasn’t changed all that much.

Jarred Kelenic (OF, SEA): 2-4, 2 2B, R.

Kelenic finally appears to be coming into his own a bit into his second stint in the majors, with Saturday’s pair of doubles against the Yankees making for his first multi-XBH performance since he homered and doubled twice in his second big league game. If you squint over the past two weeks, you can see things starting to come together for the 22-year old, as he’s slashing .235/.339/.451 with three homers and 10 RBI over his last 14 games.

Aaron Judge (OF, NYY): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI.

Judge was locked in at the plate during the Yankees comeback win against Kelenic and Seattle, registering three of the game’s five hardest hit balls, victimizing Chris Flexen with a double at 105 MPH and a homer at 107 MPH, though Flexen got at least a bit of a laugh in turning the hardest one of them all into a 112 MPH groundout. Judge’s .879 OPS is still the best on the Yankees, and he appears to be hitting a groove after missing time on the Covid-IL after the All-Star Break.

Kyle Seager (3B, SEA): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.

The only combo meal of the day also came from the Yankees comeback win, though it came in the form of a Seattle third baseman, as Seager’s 24th home run (and second of the series) gave the M’s a 2-0 first inning lead and set the table for his third steal of the season later in the game.

Marcus Semien (2B, TOR): 1-3, HR, R, RBI.

Semien only had one hit on Saturday—neither Toronto nor Boston’s lineup seemed interested in hitting all that much—but it was a big one, sending the Blue Jays home victorious and within just a handful of games of what’s sure to be a coveted second Wild Card spot.

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

Reynolds and his mustache may be playing himself out of Pittsburgh’s competitive timeframe, as the 26-year old came a double short of the cycle and was responsible for all three of Pittsburgh’s runs in their loss to the Reds. The former Vanderbilt Commodore has blossomed into one of the league’s most balanced offensive weapons, positing 119 extra-base hits since the start of 2019 and upping his wRC+ to an elite 146 this season with an outstanding .308/.390/.530.

Jesse Winker (OF, CIN): 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 6 RBI.

Winker led the charge in Cincinnatti’s 11-3 rout of Pittsburgh, falling a triple short of the cycle and leading the day with six runs driven in, the second time he’s done that this year. Winker leads the majors with 225 total bases and has posted an outstanding 149 wRC+ since the start of 2020; Saturday’s win puts the Reds at nine games above .500, and hot streaks from Winker and Joey Votto have helped them creep just 2.5 games back of San Diego for the NL’s second wild card spot.

Brad Miller (1B, PHI): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Miller continues to play the hero for the shockingly resurgent Phillies, with Saturday’s fifth and eighth inning solo blasts helping Philadelphia secure a tight 5-3 win over the Mets and claim sole possession of first place in the NL East. It’s the second multi-homer game in the last month for Miller (he blasted three against the Cubs on July 8th) and fourth since the start of 2020; he’s quietly become a valuable source of versatile power off the bench in the national league in recent years.

Zach Hayes

Zach is based in Chicago and contributes analysis and coverage for Pitcher List and South Side Sox. He also co-hosts the Shaggin' Flies podcast with Ben Palmer, and enjoys reading, Justin Fields highlights, and people-watching on the CTA.

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