Unlike Trevor Bauer, we aren’t going to take the ball and throw it over the center field fence if we struggle and get yanked. Instead, let’s take at some of the performances that stood out from a busy Sunday around the league:
1) The Average Begins to Climb
So far, Adam Haseley’s second stint in the majors this season is going a lot better than the first. The former first round pick went deep on Sunday for his third home run of the season as is 2 for 4 effort brought his batting average up to .259 on the season. It was Haseley’s third home run in 54 at bats and his two RBI gave him eight on the season. Haseley hasn’t shown much power in the minor leagues, but he is a career .292 hitter with solid plate skills. While he is still batting eighth, the outfielder is getting regular playing time, at least for now with Jay Bruce sidelined, and he could be, at a minimum a short term solution.
2) An Unlikely Lead-off Man
We know that Tampa Bay does some unconventional things with their lineup, and that is how we got Ji-Man Choi batting lead-off yesterday. Choi’s playing time is in question with Nate Lowe around, but games like Sunday will keep him in the lineup. Choi went 3 for 5 with two RBI and two runs scored to bring his batting average up to .260. Included in that was Choi’s 10th home run of the season, and the two run shot gave him 37 RBI. The performance is still nothing that really jumps off the page, but if Tampa Bay is going to turn this into a regular gig, then it will be something that warrants our attention. It is also worth noting, since especially in deeper leagues, the waiver wire isn’t all that attractive at this point in the season.
3) Another Lead-off Home Run
Power isn’t exactly Miguel Rojas’ calling card, but in back to back days, the shortstop has hit lead-off home runs. That brings his total for the season to three to go along with 31 RBI, but what is of note, is his .290 batting average. Over his last 30 games, Rojas is hitting .331, and over his last seven games, the shortstop is batting .364. With just 39 runs scored, Rojas is really just a one category contributor, but the batting average is there, and he is getting regular playing time. Ride the wave for now as Rojas can provide quality at bats in the middle infield while not being a liability.
4) Strasburg Turns in a Gem
Stephen Strasburg just keeps on winning. I know it sounds simplistic, but it is the truth as he picked up his 14th victory of the season on Sunday which leaves him one away from his previous career high. Yesterday, Strasburg shut down a strong Dodgers’ lineup in what proved to be a very good test for the right-hander. Strasburg limited the Dodgers to just one run on two hits while striking out nine and not walking a batter. That brought his ERA down to 3.26 on the season, but his last seven starts truly are impressive. Over that stretch, Strasburg is 7-0 with a 2.22 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 44.2 innings. That is ace level performance.
5) Schwarber Has Himself a Day
When it comes to Kyle Schwarber, the batting average is always going to be an issue and something to deal with. With a 3 for 4 effort on Sunday, Schwarber is still hitting just .228 on the season, and with the explosion of home runs across baseball, you really do have make a decision as to whether or not the batting average is worth carrying. Yesterday, the outfielder went deep twice, a grand slam and an unlikely three run shot, and that gave him 24 home runs on the season. Schwarber is up to 54 RBI so far in 2019, and suddenly his skill set is less unique than it once was, and batting eighth also doesn’t work in his favor.
6) Sano Goes Deep
Miguel Sano played his eighth game of the season at first base on Sunday, and he went 3 for 4 to bring his batting average up to .248. After a rough start to the season, things have been going well pretty well for Sano at the plate, and in his last 30 games, he is hitting .279. More importantly, he hit his 18th home run of the season while driving in three runs to bring his RBI total for the year up to 37. While it’s not an especially attractive stat line, it’s hard to argue with 18 home runs in 202 at bats and that batting average, while still climbing, is not a liability.
7) Another Springer Dinger to Start Things Off
For the seventh time this season, George Springer started the game off with a home run, and the outfielder is now up to 24 long balls on the season. Springer also added two doubles, 14 overall, while bringing his batting average up to .296 on the season. Yesterday’s performance was a good sign for Springer, as he is hitting just .226 over his last seven games. With 62 runs scored and 61 RBI, we clearly know what Springer is capable of, and with Carlos Correa back, the Astros are now at full strength which can only serve to benefit the outfielder.
8) Semien Goes Deep Again
With all of the young and exciting shortstops around, Marcus Semien sometimes gets lost in the discussion. Yesterday, the shortstop went 2 for 3 with two walks including his 17th home run of the season. For a lead-off hitter, granted it is the American League, Semien has an impressive 52 RBI while scoring an even more noteworthy 79 runs. Take that with a .279 batting average and Semien certainly deserves more attention.
9) Thaiss Shows off the Power
Since his promotion, Matt Thaiss has struggled to find his groove, but he has continued to see playing time at both corner infield positions. Yesterday, the rookie came through with two home runs, and the second one sent the Angels home victorious. Thaiss doubled his home run total (up to four) while tripling his RBI total (nine), but he is still batting just .189 in 37 at bats. After hitting 16 home runs in the minor leagues last season, Thaiss was up to 14 upon his latest promotion, and the career .279 minor league hitter does bring some solid plate skills to the table. That makes Thaiss worthy of a low risk investment as long as he continues to receive regular playing time.
10) Yastrzemski Shows Some Bottom of the Order Punch
Finding offensive production in the outfield has been tough for the Giants, but Mike Yastrzemski has been a solid performer since his promotion. Yesterday, he went 4 for 5 with two doubles (11 overall) while driving in two runs. In 182 at bats, Yastrzemski is up to 31 RBI while batting .275. The majority of his at bats, 146, have come against right-handed pitching against whom he is hitting .267. While the sample size is small, Yastrzemski is hitting .306 against southpaws, and it is possible that he parlays that into more of a regular role. After all, he is batting .339 following the All-Star break.