by Ray Kuhn
After the All-Star break, we are now back on track and headed full steam ahead towards the trading deadline. Prior to that point, we still have another week of action left, so let’s take a look at what transpired on a busy Sunday around the league:
1) Should We Believe in Renfroe?
We have been down this road with Hunter Renfroe before. The 26 year old outfielder has potential and power, but his results haven’t always matched. Following Sunday’s game, Renfroe is hitting .300 in his last seven games, and showed off that power with two home runs and four RBI. Yesterday with a three hit effort, including his 15th double, while driving in his 26th run, Renfroe showed why fantasy owners continue to keep him on their radar. But should we buy in? Strikeouts are always going to be an issue, 26.8% K rate, but it is a good sign that Renfroe is also walking 9.1% of the time. Don’t invest much, as you can’t expect to see much more than his .249 batting average and he is streaky, but his power potential is worth a flier.
2) Solarte Goes Deep
A .239 batting average isn’t going to get you very far, but 17 home runs with eligibility throughout the infield should garner some attention. After yesterday, that is where Yangervis Solarte stands so far this season. The fact that Solarte bats in the middle of Toronto’s lineup also helps as far as his value is concerned. Solarte had a two run shot on Sunday, and he also added a third RBI, which gives him 51 on the season. Despite struggling over his last 30 games, hitting .210, Solarte does have 14 RBI which makes him a suitable middle infield option in deeper leagues.
3) Sale Cruises Yet Again
Just because we see something similar every fifth day, it doesn’t mean we should discount Chris Sale’s efforts either. On Sunday, the left-hander took full advantage of a lackluster Detroit team and threw six shutout innings to pick up his 11th victory of the season. While he did need 99 pitches to get through the outing, Sale was quite efficient as 73 of those pitches were strikes. That led to nine strikeouts for Sale who scattered just two hits as he lowered his ERA to 2.13. Sale is now up to 13.13 strikeouts per nine innings, and with a 2.11 FIP, he is once again, one of the top pitchers in the league.
4) Polanco Shows Off His Power
At first glance, it’s another disappointing season for Gregory Polanco and his .237 batting average. With a .263 BABIP, there is the potential for some positive regression there as the outfielder is a career .250 hitter with a .285 BABIP. With just four stolen bases so far this season, it appears that Polanco’s days as a base stealing threat are over, but his power certainly has been on display. Yesterday, Polanco went deep for the 17th time so far this season, and the two run shot was part of a three RBI effort; 54 overall. With a .256 ISO, Polanco’s power appears to be legitimate, and with a 12.4% walk rate so far this season (6.6% last season) he is showing the ability to get on base. Even with a spike to his strikeout rate, 22.3% after 14.6% last season, the outfielder still has value. What is clear though, is how Polanco’s approach has changed at the plate this season with his fly ball rate going from 37.5% to 50%. The question though, is whether or not it will prove to be sustainable?
5) Archer Gets Nothing for His Effort
It certainly was an exciting ending to the Tampa Bay game on Sunday, a walk-off grand slam from Daniel Robertson, but Chris Archer’s performance wasn’t too bad either. While it will just go in the books as a quality start, six innings and three earned runs (four total), the right-hander also struck out 13 Marlin hitters. In fact, it really was a typical Archer outing as he also allowed eight hits. With an ERA of 4.30, what you see from the right-hander is what you get. But, with a 3.50 FIP and 3.52 xFIP, perhaps there is a buying opportunity as we can expect Archer’s .347 BABIP to improve. And at the very least, he gives you a quality start just about every time out there, and he is striking out 9.90 batters per nine innings.
6) Kemp Continues to Hit
Entering the season, I didn’t think Matt Kemp would make it through a month with the Dodgers, much less appear in the All-Star game, but the outfielder doesn’t appear to be slowing down. On Sunday, Kemp went deep twice, with solo shots in back to back innings, to bring his total for the season up to 17. Kemp, who also added a single later in the game, is batting .316 on the season with 62 RBI. While we can look to Kemp’s .363 BABIP as a regression point, he does have a career mark of .340 he he is remaining healthy and turning the clock back to his first stint with the Dodgers. Compared to last season’s 28.2% fly ball rate, Kemp’s fly balls are certainly up so far this year (37%), but it isn’t all that far off from his career mark of 35.9%.
7) Oakland Shows Off the Power
Batting average is clearly optional in the middle of Oakland’s lineup, but power is certainly present. Both Khris Davis and Matt Olson went deep twice on Sunday, but they are hitting just .249 and .237 respectively. Both of Olson’s home runs were solo shots, giving him 21 on the season with 49 RBI, while Davis had a solo homer as well as a two run shot which brought his total for the year to 23 along with 67 RBI. Of the, Davis is clearly the better option, especially as a run producer, but both A’s hitters are legit sources of home run production.
8) Healy Goes Deep Twice
Former A’s slugger, Ryon Healy also showed off his power on Sunday as he hit his 19th and 20th home runs of the season. After spending some time on the disabled list earlier in the season, Healy is clearly making up for lost time. The fact that he bats towards the bottom of Seattle’s lineup hasn’t appeared to hinder him either as the first baseman is up to 53 RBI on the season. Both of Healy’s home runs yesterday were three run shots, and there is certainly enough production there to justify his .244 batting average.
9) Domination for Greinke
For all of the concerns about Zack Greinke’s velocity, and you can’t ignore the hard data, the right-hander was able to easily dominate Colorado yesterday. Per Fangraphs, Greinke’s fastball velocity is down from 91 miles per hour in 2017 to 89.4 miles per hour so far this season. Sunday though, that wasn’t an issue as the right-hander struck out 13 batters in eight innings while limiting the damage to just one run on two hits and a walk. Greinke picked up his 11th victory of the season while lowering his ERA to 3.05. On the season, Greinke is striking out more than a batter per inning (9.51) while walking less than two batters per innings (1.67). Both are on par with what we have come to expect from the right-hander, and with a 3.39 FIP, there is no reason not to expect the success to continue this season.
10) Anything Can Happen Any Day
And that, is why baseball is such a great game. On paper, the Texas Rangers and Yovani Gallardo should be no match for the Cleveland Indians. Instead, things went a little differently on Sunday. Gallardo shut the Indians out over six innings, as he picked up his fourth victory of the season. Cleveland managed just three hits against Gallardo, but he also walked four batters and struck out just one. While Gallardo’s FIP is substantially better than his ERA, at 5.19, it should still keep you away. And if that doesn’t, his strikeout (5.20) and walk rates (4.21) should do the trick.
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: