You Don’t Know Jack

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

Jack Suwinski (PIT): 3-3, 3 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.

There’s three good reasons you may have heard about Jack Suwinski and they all left the park on Sunday. The Pirates’ rookie certainly had himself a day to remember, knocking out three solo shots yesterday, including the walk off to lead off, and close out, the bottom of the ninth inning. Suwinski’s night ended with a 3-3, 3 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB line, his third three-hit game of the season. Good things surely do come in three’s apparently.

Batting mostly in the bottom third of the Pirates’ order to begin his MLB career, Suwinski has only recently seen time closer to the middle of the line up, batting in the fifth slot of the order on Sunday. On the surface one could write off the fact that he has had to create his own RBI opportunities, with 15 of his 19 RBI have come from his 11 homers this season. Pittsburg’s 4-7 hitters are slashing .198/.272/.330 with a combined 71 wRC+ on the season, so when you spend most of your time trying to make a name for yourself hitting after that group you’re forced to make your own luck.  While his team hasn’t done much to give their rookie much opportunity to drive in runs, Suwinski himself isn’t exactly innocent either. Leading into Sunday, Suwinski had only produced a .214/.278/.414 slash while striking out three out of every ten trips to the plate. The three shots that left the field on Sunday were three of just 40 hard hit balls through 100 batted balls event and 158 plate appearances, good for a well below-average hard contact rate. The high strikeout rate and low hard contact rate should concern most that his .258 BABIP still has room to decline as more veteran pitchers aren’t going to want to see the young outfielder send their pitch out of the park.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday

Christian Walker (ARI): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

After going hitless in his last four games, Christian Walker climbed his batting average back over the .200 mark with a pair of solo shots Sunday. Despite the lack of batting average, Walker has been able to muster up an above-average wRC+ (113) on the season, thanks in part to 29 of his 47 hits going for extra bases, while only striking out in about 20% of his plate appearances. The .180 BABIP has a lot of room to grow, but keep in mind that his 18 home runs bring that down as they were never in play to begin with.

Robbie Grossman (DET): 2-3, HR, R, 4 RBI, 2 BB.

Well, it’s about time. After recording his first homer of the season on Saturday, Robbie Grossman followed that up with his second on Sunday, knocking the first pitch he saw of the game 383 feet at 100.8 mph. The three-run shot was just Grossman’s sixth barrel of the year, good for a 5.4% barrel rate on the season, noticeably lower than his career high 7.4% rate from 2021, but still a bit higher than his career 4.2% mark. It may be worth noting that Grossman has never played a game with Riley Greene in which he hasn’t homered, so there’s that. Something to think about.

Jerar Encarnación (MIA): 1-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, SB.

Welcome to the show Jerar Encarnación. In his MLB debut, Encarnación opened up the Marlins scoring with a grand slam in the top of the seventh inning on Sunday. For good measure, he ordered a combo meal after taking full advantage of the throwing error that got him on base in the top of the ninth, stealing his first base and ultimately coming around to score off a Jazz Chisholm Jr. double. Encarnación hasn’t exactly made a name for himself on the base paths coming up through the minors, swiping a total of 19 bases in 33 attempts through over 1500 plate appearances, so chalk this one up to trying to make a good first impression in his MLB debut.

Gleyber Torres (NYY): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Now with 18 multi-hit games on the season, including each of his last three, Gleyber Torres has seemingly gotten his groove back. Hitting regularly in the middle of the lineup of the best team in baseball surely doesn’t hurt, and perhaps the lifting of the added responsibility of shortstop has played at least a small part in Torres’ return to productivity. The two barrels on Sunday gives the Yankees’ second baseman 20 on the season, just eight shy of his 2021 total.

Maikel Franco (WSH): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

In most deep fantasy leagues, volume can be more valuable that talent. Enter Maikel Franco, who now has the 4th most plate appearances at third base across all of baseball (267). That’s allowed him to collect the fourth most hits and seventh most RBI at the position, despite putting up a below-average wRC+ (82) on the season. At the very least, the volume makes his above-average batting average go that much further for fantasy rosters.

Christian Vázquez (BOS): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Speaking of volume keeping players fantasy relevant, may I present Christian Vázquez, who has recorded 177 plate appearances at the catcher position, good for sixth most in baseball. With the number of starting catchers dropping like flies in recent weeks, having Vázquez’ regular appearances has done more good than harm, especially when factoring in the .271/.315/.388 slash, which makes that much more of an impact with the added at-bats in play. Sure, Sunday’s home run was just his third of the season and sure, his 33.3% hard hit rate doesn’t show there’s many more where that came from, but at the catcher position, especially in two-catcher leagues, stability and volume can be more valuable than actual production potential.

Sean Murphy (OAK): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Sometimes volume works against you, even with actual production to back it up. Sean Murphy surely put up the latter on Sunday, knocking out his eighth home run of the season and tacking on a double on the day for good measure, good for his 27th extra base hit on the year. Though the three-hit performance helped a bit, Murphy’s overall slash of .214/.289/.405 has done more harm than good in standard fantasy formats, especially when you factor in the 203 plate appearances he’s put up while catching, good for most in the American League.

Dansby Swanson (ATL): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 SB.

Give an inch, steal a pair. Pretty sure that’s how the cliché goes. Either way, Dansby Swanson wasn’t content with just one stolen base on Sunday, giving himself 11 total on the season and setting a career best in the category in just 67 games. The everyday Atlanta shortstop is now on pace for a fine 20-25 season.

Adam Howe

Adam resides in Indianapolis after spending the better part of a decade in Oakland, CA and growing up in Massachusetts. He co-hosts the On The Wire podcast with Kevin Hasting, analyzing your weekly FAAB options before your bid deadlines every Sunday.

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