At this point, is it really any kind of surprise that there was a lot of offense and home runs yesterday. Considering the Yankees feasted on Baltimore for two games on Monday, any shock should be completely out of the window. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out around the league to kick off the week:
1) Torres is Getting to be Ridiculous
I’m not sure if ridiculous is the right word here, but what Gleyber Torres is doing against the Baltimore Orioles this season is really something else. This is not to take anything way from Torres, as he is a talented young player who is a useful fantasy option, but he certainly has benefited from facing Baltimore. To be fair though, each of Torres’ teammates, and everyone else in the American League East has had the same opportunity, but he is the one who has truly feasted against the Orioles. Torres got the day started by going 1 for 4 with a home run, and that was followed up by a 3 for 4 performance in the nightcap. Most notable, is the fact that Torres went deep twice. Of his 26 home runs on the season, 13 have come against Baltimore. After driving in seven runs overall on Monday, Torres has now driven in 69 runs on the season with a .283 batting average and 74 runs scored. It’s hard to argue with the body of work, and while facing Baltimore should discount his production, we also shouldn’t hold it against him.
2) Turner Shows Some Power
When we think of Trea Turner, it is always in terms of stolen bases and runs scored, but he doesn’t leave you high and dry in the other categories. Last night, Turner played the role of run producer instead of run creator as he went deep for the 11th time this season. Turner’s three run homer was a critical part of the night for Washington as he went 2 for 5 with four RBI on the season. The shortstop is currently batting .290 with 33 RBI, as his season totals are compressed due to his broken finger earlier in the season. In 334 at bats, Turner has 57 runs scored with 25 stolen bases, and projecting his counting stats over 600 at bats, makes things look the first round player you drafted. Of course though, there is always going to be some measure of concern regarding Turner’s ability to stay healthy.
3) Don’t Forget About Me
With young prospects, talent, and potential abound in Toronto, it is easy for Justin Smoak to be forgotten. Granted the fact that he is hitting .211 certainly doesn’t work in his favor, but batting in the middle of the Blue Jays’ batting order isn’t something we should necessarily ignore. Last night, it was a team effort offensively for Toronto, and Smoak played a part in that with a grand slam. It was the 19th home run of the season for the DH, who went 3 for 5 on Monday with four RBI which brought his total for the season up to 52. Now, it’s highly likely there are better options available than Smoak, but if you need power and can live with the batting average, he might be worth a look. After all, batting behind Toronto’s young phenoms should only serve to benefit him.
4) Grichuk Can’t be Counted Out Either
I know it seems strange, alright maybe I am a little bit, to be focusing on Randal Grichuk and Justin Smoak when the Blue Jays have their share of young, intriguing players, but we have to look under every rock. And that includes Grichuk who hit his 21st home run of the season on Monday as part of a 3 for 5 effort. Power has never been an issue for the outfielder, who after his four RBI is up to 56 on the season, but we can’t say the same thing about his batting average. Grichuk is now hitting .238, and there is a price to pay for power production that, to be honest doesn’t fully stand out from the crowd. However, it is probably better than anything else on the waiver wire.
5) Reyes Shows off the Power
Speaking of dealing with a sub-par batting average to get to power production, we that is a perfect segue to Franmil Reyes. Now, Reyes has more upside than Grichuk, and his power is also more impressive, but they are similar players. In reality, Reyes is just younger and is more exciting with potential, but that is about it. Last night, Reyes went deep for the 28th time this season with a two run shot in the first inning. That brought his RBI total up to 51, but strikeouts are always going to be an issue for Reyes and his .244 batting. Getting regular playing time with the Indians should only serve to help Reyes as well.
6) Ahmed is An Interesting Player
Nick Ahmed is in the lineup as an everyday player mostly because of his glove, but his bat has come around. Yes, we are in the age of offense and power where home runs are common place, but Ahmed has also made some adjustments at the plate to turn himself into a solid offensive option. That doesn’t mean is now someone I would rush to target, but as a waiver wire pickup or a fallback option, you can do worse. Last night, Ahmed went deep for the 13th time this season while also adding his 25th double. He is batting a respectable .267 for the season, and has driven in 61 runs to this point. As a replacement level option, you can do a lot worse.
7) Keller Picks up the Victory
We have to separate the Mitch Keller we saw in the minor leagues from the version of Keller we saw at the major league level this season. After surging through Pittsburgh’s minor league system, it was almost like Keller ran into a brick wall upon his promotion earlier this season. We know he is talented though, and with the small sample size, we can’t even begin to think about writing him off. After being promoted again, Keller took the mound last night, and things were better as he was victorious for the first time as a major league pitcher. The right-hander threw five innings of two run ball, one earned, while scattering five hits and two walks along with four strikeouts. In his fourth start, Keller was also able to bring his ERA down from 10.94 to 7.50. At this point, the only true place for it to go, is down. After all, his career ERA in the minor leagues is 3.12.
8) Bell Is Getting Back
Expecting Josh Bell to maintain the pace he started the season with would have been next to impossible, but he certainly took that to the extreme. At the end of the day, his season numbers are still going to return positive value, as in reality, his recent cold stretch just evened out his performance. Over his last 30 games, Bell is hitting just .214 with four home runs and 15 RBI. Three of those home runs have come this week, as the first baseman (although he was getting a rest as the DH last night) went deep for the 30th time this season on Monday. With his two hits, Bell is still hitting .286 for the season (.320 in his last seven games) along with 95 RBI after driving in two runs last night. If you traded for Bell, his recent slump is not what you wanted to see, but over the past few days, he is showing signs of righting the ship.
9) Duffy Has a Perfect Day
If you are wondering who I am talking about, there is no harm in that, as you likely aren’t alone. Maybe I should preface things by saying that I’m talking about a Tampa Bay player, as they appear to just pull players out of thin air, insert them into key roles, and watch them have success. And that brings us to Matt Duffy who was hitting fifth for the Rays on Monday. The first thing, is that Duffy finally appears to be healthy for Tampa Bay to even have the opportunity to put him in the lineup. Secondly, Duffy reminded us last night, that he can hit; for average that is. He went 4 for 4 with a walk and three RBI, and all of hits were singles. In 57 at bats so far this season, Duffy is batting .298 with seven RBI, and he is a player to keep an eye on as long as the playing time is consistent. Yes, he is sorely lacking in the power department from the corner infield, but if you are looking for someone who won’t hurt you in batting average with the potential for RBI (he was batting fifth last night), then Duffy might be for you.
10) Will He Ever Slow Down
At this point, the only surprising thing, is that Aristides Aquino only went deep once on Monday. Instead of going crazy over analyzing this, let’s just enjoy it. With the pace that Aquino is on, I’m not sure you can properly trade for him, as determining a fair value would be just too difficult. Everyone knows we won’t keep this pace up, but can he? And to what point will it slow, as Aquino currently is at eight home runs and 16 RBI in 35 at bats with a .429 batting average. The power isn’t out of nowhere, as since 2011, Aquino has 124 home runs in the minor leagues, and that includes 28 at Triple-A prior to his promotion. I don’t doubt that he can be a 25-30 home run hitter over a full major league season (of course with the possibility for more), because that applies to a lot of players, some unlikely, across baseball’s current landscape. The problem, is that he is a career .248 hitter, who will strikeout, on average, about once a game. But let’s just put that aside, and watch the show for now.