Ah, the sweet sounds of summer. Managers chirping. The pop of the bats as they wake from their early spring hibernation. Hitters all going down with soft tissue injuries. Pitchers breaking down with overuse injuries. And of course, Rob Manfred trying to fix something nobody wanted fixed while ignoring the plight of minor leaguers sleeping in their Geo Metros.
Everything just as I remember it from 2019.
As we approach the summer months we’ll undoubtedly start to see some players break out of their early-season funk. Players finding their rhythm, returning from injury, and hitting flyballs into the hot summer air. We will also begin to see who is for real and who is pretending. To start off our hot bat summer, here are a few names that I have noticed around the league.
Kyle Tucker – Over the last month, Kyle is hitting .327/.369/.577 with 5 HRs and 18 RBIs. As the weather warmed up so has he. Furthermore, he has improved his ratios this year with a 7.9%/16.2% BB/K rates, reducing his Ks by 4%. Also, his season-to-date AVG is now in line with 2020 at .268. It’s absolutely amazing because 2020 was .268 and 2019 was .269, so it’s pretty clear that is who he is. There was some concern in the spring (me included) that his long swing would get him in trouble and his average would fall into the .230 range, but he’s made some adjustments to get a bit more compact and has bounced back up to his “career” AVG. The steals, though, have been less prevalent.
Randy Arozarena – Over the last month, Randy is hitting .279/.336/.477 with 5 HRs and 20 RBIs, and 6 SB. Another beneficiary of the warmer weather. Season-to-date he’s on pace for a 25/25 season while raising his BB% to 9% and lowering his K% to 27.8% (23.8% last 30 days). Nice! That makes me feel Raaaaaaaaandy.
Cedric Mullins – He can’t stop, won’t stop. Since June 1, The Entertainer is hitting .452 with 3 HRs and 4 SB. That includes a 14.2% walk rate in that span and 10% on the year, nearly doubling his previous mark over the last 2 years. He’s definitely become a better hitter, but the power stroke is a bit of a mirage. I see his AVG dropping to around .280-290 as the season goes on to fall more in line with his 38.7% Hard-hit rate.
Justin Upton – As Walter said, “If you will it, there is no dream.” Upton has been telling himself in the locker room before each game, “You ARE a leadoff hitter.” Since moving up to leadoff, JUp is slashing .310/.419/.592 with 5 HRs. Is that good? Yes.
Tommy Pham – He has 2 HRs and 5 SB since June 1. After battling some early injuries looks like he’s finally coming alive in the summer by hitting .325 and walking 20% of the time raising his season walk rate to 16.8%, which would easily set a new career-high (previously 13.4%).
Andrew McCutchen – After a slow start I said he was due as we approached summer, and here we are. Since June 1, Cutch is batting .333 with 4 HRs and 12 RBIs. The player formerly known as The Dread Pirate is back and hitting for power with .778 SLG in June.
Adolis Garcia – 16 games without a HR, and hitting .246/.266/.227 during that slump with a 3%/30% BB/K. Yuck. This is also sunk by a 58% GB rate, meaning, his splits have flipped. So we all witnessed the ceiling, and now you are seeing the floor. And if it continues much longer he’ll sentence you to the Gallos. (draining your ratios for spotty home runs.) Unfortunately with him, he also gimps your OBP. I speculated last time it might be a good time to sell high, and it looks like I might have been right. Although, summer has arrived and a bounceback is not unlikely.
Trey Mancini – He’s cooled off a lot recently, slashing .222/.340/.311 since the first of the month. He’s managed 1 HR, but has only produced a .089 ISO limiting his RBI opportunity. He could be getting tired as I feared in his first season back from cancer. He might require some rest, both mental and physical, so he can gain back his strength. Baseball is a marathon after all.
Jarred Kelenic – Sent down to AAA. Welp, Big Gulps huh? See you later. When they called up JK, I guess it was just that. A joke. Dipoto shouts from his pressbox, “I TOLD YOU HE WASN’T READY!” He struggled to get hits but his speed was on display. Hopefully, he can figure out his approach and come back soon.
Jake Fraley – Over the last 2 weeks since starting games he’s hitting .311/.475/.600 with 4 HRs and 15 RBIs, and 3 SB. Someone has been busy? Looking at his minor numbers, his BABIP is slightly high and he’s shockingly on pace with his minor power track record despite his scouting report only giving him a 45 for power. The 28% walk rate however will not stick just like the 33% HR/FB. I see more of an 18% from him, so enjoy the hot streak while it lasts. Digging a little deeper, his power is to his pull side, and all his home runs have come off of RHP. He might be sitting some vs lefties, but if there’s a RHP on the mound I wouldn’t hesitate to start him as his playing time right now is clear with Lewis on the IL and the aforementioned Jarred Kelenic sent down to the minors.
Austin Meadows – Since June 1, he’s got 3 HR and 13 RBIs… good news. In that time, he’s also batting .213, bad news, but a .233 BABIP. Hopeful. He’s not striking out as much 2020, but he’s still at 25% which is above where he was in 2019 by 3%. To recover that AVG he will need to trim down those Ks and get more balls in play or he’ll remain a feast and famine hitter.
Juan Soto – Heating up? 4 HRs and 12 RBIs since June 1. He’s batting .255 in that time, but also limited by a .258 BABIP (career line of .322) despite a .298 ISO. Better days are surely ahead. Now I’m sure you are saying, “That’s great and all, but why is he still at #2 on the list?” I’m glad you asked… If you head over to his statcast page, at the top you’ll be greeted by this:
Is that good? I’ve been told that’s good. I’m fairly certain that having more red than a Ferarri merch shop is good. His current AVG is .266 but his xBA is .309, oh baby. His current SLG is .426 but his xSLG .566, oh baby. And if that’s not enough for you his HardHit% is currently 54.3% (on pace for career-high) and a maxEV of 115.3 mph (also a career-high). All signs point to things turning around for him in the summer. The one hiccup is that his barrel rate is a tad lower, though it is hardly a concern when everything else points to a strong regression towards the previous Dr. Pepper mean.
The ROS Board
|1||Ronald Acuna Jr.||ATL||OF||59.7|
|42||Lourdes Gurriel Jr.||TOR||2B/OF||7.0|
Next week we take a deep dive into what Taijuan Walker has been doing.
If you want more Coolwhip to top-off your baseball experience, fantasy or otherwise, you can follow me on Twitter: @CoolwhipRB.