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On a wild day of baseball that saw Shohei Ohtani pitch and hit in the same game, Aaron Judge hit two home runs, and the first MLB game in Iowa, many other performances went under the radar. Baseball fans were treated to a wonderful night of oddities and firsts and the following is a breakdown of all of the notable performances from every team and every game that occurred on August 12th.
(50-64) Washington Nationals 1
(58-55) New York Mets 4
Victor Robles, CF: 1-3, RBI, 2B
Robles drove in the Nationals only run in the 6th inning when he rocketed his 19th double of the year down the left field line to score catcher Riley Adams. As he did in this one, Robles has batted leadoff in nine of his last ten games, a streak that began July 31st. Since that date, Robles has batted just .216 with three XBH, though he has gone 6-15 across his last four games (not including the second half of the doubleheader).
Carter Kieboom, 3B: 2-3, 2B
Following the massive exodus of talent from D.C. Kieboom has been given the opportunity to realize his potential with a full-time role. He has finally shown some sustained success after struggling in his first few cups of coffee. Since the calendar flipped to August, Carter has revealed the boom in his bat with a .333/.395/.538 slash line (including the second half of the doubleheader). Hopefully, this is the start of a breakout that bleeds into next season.
Brandon Nimmo, CF: 2-4, R, HR, 4 RBI
Nimmo was responsible for all of the New York offense in this one as his 2nd inning three-run shot and his 4th inning RBI single accounted for all of the runs the Mets scored. The homer, only his 3rd of the year, was a welcome sign considering he has only 17 XBH in 189 AB on the year (not including the second half of the doubleheader). The two-hit performance raised his season-long OPS to .832, which is right in line with his career numbers.
Michael Conforto, RF: 2-3, R
After a career year in 2020, Conforto is having…well, the complete opposite this season. With just a .213 AVG and a .686 OPS, multi-hit games like this one are exactly what he needs to get him back in the groove (he recorded a second multi-hit game in the night-cap). Getting into a groove will be important for Conforto as he will be a free agent following this season. He has been underperforming his xwOBA by a wide margin all year which may point to a return to his career .826 OPS next season, most likely on a new club.
Sean Nolin, (L, 0-1): 3.0 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 51 pitches
Making his Nationals debut after spending many years jumping across different minor league systems, the 31-year old lefty was roughed up by Nimmo and the rest of the Mets lineup. Nolin’s name might sound familiar because he was part of the package the A’s received from the Blue Jays in return for Josh Donaldson. He has pitched to a 3.80 ERA in eleven games (nine starts) for the Nats’ AAA affiliate this year.
Marcus Stroman, (W, 8-11): 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 85 pitches
Wow! A Stroman W? The Mets’ starter has been the victim of the worst run support in the whole league (min. 20 starts) so seeing him come away with a win this season has been surprising. He’s been doing his best deGrom impression (his team must be in on it, too, with this run support) by pitching to a sub-3 ERA while maintaining a losing record. The eight Ks are his most in a start since June 17th. He lines up to face the Giants next Tuesday in a tough matchup against the Majors’ best team.
Aaron Loup, (HLD, 13): 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 15 pitches
Loup continued his breakout season in the first half of the doubleheader Thursday, locking down the 6th after Stroman allowed his first run of the game. He lowered his ERA to a minuscule 1.19 mark to go along with an impressive 42/9 K/BB ratio. The lefty should be available for appearances in the near future as this was just his first appearance since August 6th.
Edwin Diaz, (SV, 25): 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 10 pitches
The Mets’ closer made quick work of the Nationals in the 7th, working around a one-out Kieboom double to preserve the lead and keep the team in the playoff race. Diaz has had some blowups this year but he has proven to be a reliable closer and may have deserved better in the ERA department considering his 2.39 FIP entering this game was significantly lower than the 4.03 ERA he showed up with (he exited the outing with a 3.94 ERA). He is not at risk of losing his job again any time soon.
(50-65) Washington Nationals 4
(59-55) New York Mets 5
Adrian Sanchez, 2B: 2-3, 2 R, 2B
The second baseman has been in the Nationals’ minor league system since 2007 and is getting his fourth taste of the majors this year. After batting .336 in 37 games at AAA, Sanchez has played in seven games so far this year recording a .300 AVG in 21 PA. He may just be filling in for the time being as the Nats transition to a new era of their franchise.
Pete Alonso, 1B: 3-4, R, HR, RBI, 2B, SB
Alonso played hero in the second half of the doubleheader by hitting the walk-off dinger in the bottom of the 7th to win it for the Mets following the bullpen implosion. The home run, his 25th of the season, traveled 109 mph off the bat and was paired with his third stolen base of the season to make it a combo meal. Additionally, he notched his 16th double in his first AB against Fedde. Alonso is one of the premier power hitters in all of baseball with a Max Exit Velocity in the top 1% of the league.
Jonathan Villar, SS: 3-3, R, HR, 2 RBI
Villar played the Robin to Alonso’s Batman, crushing his 13th long ball in the 6th off reliever Tanner Rainey to give the Mets a temporary 4-1 lead. Villar has been surprisingly serviceable to his team this year considering he signed for just $3.55 million in the offseason. The 3-hit performance bumped his OPS to .749 but he has been most valuable to the Mets by staying healthy. He’s played in 94 of the Mets’ 114 games making him one of the most consistently available bats on the squad.
Erick Fedde, (ND, 4-8): 4.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 68 pitches
Fedde kept his team in the game but was ultimately unable to last long enough to qualify for the win. He pitched three scoreless before running into trouble in the fourth where he allowed both of his runs. It looks like he’ll pitch against the Blue Jays next.
Kyle Finnegan, (L, 4-4): 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 11 pitches
Nats manager Dave Martinez brought Finnegan in with the game tied in an effort to keep it that way and send it to extras. He looked on track after getting Jeff McNeil to ground out to first but then gave up the Alonso bomb to send the Mets fans home happy. This performance shouldn’t give Martinez doubts about using him as the closer in the future because this was a non-save situation.
Trevor Williams, (ND, 4-2): 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 52 pitches
The former Cub made his first appearance for the Mets since being traded on the day of the trade deadline in the deal that sent Javier Baez to Queens. Williams made a good impression on his new club and with deGrom being out until September, he might become an integral part of this pitching staff down the stretch.
Trevor May, (H, 10): 0.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 28 pitches
May loaded the bases in the 6th before being removed and watching the lead fade away from the bench. He was lucky to record a hold, which came via a strikeout of Josh Bell before he walked Gerardo Parra to load the bases. This bad outing is uncharacteristic of May. He had allowed just two ER across his last 12 appearances before this meltdown.
Jeurys Familia, (W, 6-2): 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 17 pitches
Familia was also lucky on Thursday evening, walking away with the W because of Alonso’s heroics after allowing all of the runners he inherited from May to score. He struggled with his command, unleashing two wild pitches and walking a batter. He left the game with a solid 3.83 ERA to go with his 6th win.
(67-48) Oakland Athletics 17
(55-58) Cleveland Guardians* 0
Mitch Moreland, DH: 2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, HBP
The A’s designated hitter proved why he doesn’t have to play the field belting two homers, his eighth and ninth of the season, in the A’s rout of the Guardians*. He was a bit unlucky to hit both of his dingers with the bases empty considering Oakland recorded 14 hits and ten walks, consistently filling the basepaths with green and gold. Moreland has not had consistent playing time for the A’s but when he has gotten in the lineup he’s performed to the tune of a .705 OPS.
Matt Chapman, 3B: 0-1, 3 R, 5 BB
Fielding may be his strong suit, but Chapman showed off his discipline by coming one walk shy of tying the major league record for walks in a nine-inning game. The hot-corner specialist has struggled with the bat this year batting just .214 with a .676 OPS so maybe taking a different, more patient approach can get him on a hot streak just in time for the playoffs.
Amed Rosario, SS: 1-4, 2B
Batting second and playing shortstop, Rosario was the lone bright spot in Thursday afternoon’s drubbing. He tallied Cleveland's only XBH against the Oakland pitching staff when he recorded his 19th double in his first AB. He will continue to be a fixture in the Cleveland lineup with his .276 AVG and the pressure that comes with being traded for a franchise icon.
Chris Bassitt, (W, 12-3): 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 81 pitches
Bassitt continued his All-Star season shutting out Cleveland for six innings before turning it over to the bullpen. He has a 3.06 ERA on the year buoyed by the highest K% of his career. He may not be in the Cy Young conversation but he is definitely in consideration for the ace of the A’s. Over his last three starts, Bassitt has pitched 20 innings and only allowed one earned run with a 21/3 K/BB ratio. He’s scheduled to face the White Sox in Chicago next Tuesday.
Eli Morgan, (L, 1-5): 4.0, 3 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 1 K, 72 pitches
After impressing with a 6 IP, 2 ER, 9 K outing against Toronto, Morgan supported his efforts with a 7 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, start against the Tigers five days later. This start was much different as he just didn’t have his best control after walking just three batters total across his last four starts. The A’s capitalized on Morgan’s mistakes and made him pay for all of the free baserunners. He should get a respite in the Twins next week.
(58-56) St. Louis Cardinals 7
(41-74) Pittsburgh Pirates 6
Paul DeJong, SS: 1-5, R, HR, 2 RBI
DeJong launched his 16th homer of the season off Brubaker in the 4th inning following a Matt Carpenter walk. DeJong has struggled to the tune of a below-average 90 wRC+ entering the game and in the process of crushing a bomb against the Pirates, he raised his season-long OPS to .692. He has been much better since the second half started which should help him maintain the grip he has on the starting shortstop role for St. Louis.
Lars Nootbar, PH: 1-1, R, HR, 2 RBI
The man with the incredibly sweet name had himself an incredibly sweet moment when he bashed the first home run of his career shortly after DeJong’s. Nootbar hit his tater in a pinch-hit opportunity which is where most of his future home runs this season will come. With Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, and Tyler O’Neill locked into the three outfield spots, Nootbar is going to have to have a lot more exciting nights like this one if he wants to see more than just pinch-hitting opportunities.
Colin Moran, 1B: 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI
“Red Beard” Moran has not had much of an impact for the Pirates so far but on Thursday he showed glimpses of his power, blasting two dingers and driving in four runs. These two brought his season total to six across just 54 games so he has obviously struggled with injuries that have held back his counting stats. On a rate basis, he boasts a .795 OPS and will bat in the middle of a middling lineup in Pittsburgh.
Bryan Reynolds, PH/CF: 2-2, R, HR, 2 RBI
Following his first All-Star selection in July, Reynolds has continued to rake and did so here, mashing a 9th inning homer after coming off the bench earlier in the game. The home run was his 20th, four more than his previous career high. With over a month left of the season, he should continue to build upon his breakout season and perform as the best player on the Pirates.
Wade LeBlanc, (ND, 0-2): 2.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 30 pitches
It was a bullpen game for the Cards and they turned to LeBlanc as the opener. He was followed by T.J. McFarland, Andrew Miller, Luis Garcia, Genesis Cabrera, and Giovanny Gallegos before Reyes shut it down in the 9th. Everyone recorded a hold except McFarland who was rewarded with the W. Miller was the only one to give up a run but he also recorded three strikeouts in his inning of work.
Alex Reyes, (SV, 27): 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 24 pitches
Reyes was able to shut the door on the Pirates in the 9th, but not before giving up a home run to Reynolds to reduce the lead to just one. Reyes has shined in his new role as closer after rising the minor league ranks as one of the top starting pitching prospects. He’s experienced a few hiccups along the way because he walks too many batters but his stuff is just too overpowering.
JT Brubaker, (L, 4-12): 5.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, HBP, 4 K, 81 pitches
The 27-year-old right-hander didn’t have his best stuff against the Red Birds. He ruined his outing with a poor 4th inning where he gave up three XBH including both of the Cardinals' homers. He gets an even tougher matchup next time at the Dodgers and if I was a fantasy manager, I would stay away from that one.
(69-46) Los Angeles Dodgers 1
(60-55) Philadelphia Phillies 2
AJ Pollock, LF: 1-3, BB, SB
Maybe having one of the most underrated seasons in 2021, Pollock continued it with a solid showing for the Dodgers. The stolen base was his sixth but he pairs his mediocre speed with an OPS at .900 and a 142 wRC+. Both of those marks would be career highs for Pollock whose major problem is staying healthy. He hasn’t appeared in more than 113 games in a season since 2015.
Bryce Harper, RF: 1-2, 2 R, HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Harper continues to absolutely murder baseballs since the All-Star break and has a chance to be in the NL MVP conversation by the end of the season if he can keep up this pace. He’s riding a .981 OPS and 21 home runs after Thursday’s performance but he only has 46 RBI to go along with those impressive numbers. That would be a result of 19 of his 21 home runs being solo shots. Seriously, he has hit 21 homers resulting in just 24 RBI from those hits.
Mitch White, (L, 0-1): 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 59 pitches
Despite rostering four former Cy Young Award winners, the Dodgers sometimes have to run mere mortals out to the mound. White is one of those mortals and he pitched well enough to keep the game close. The offense was the bigger problem anyway, so White did the best he could. Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless 8th with one strikeout to get some work in.
Ranger Suarez, (ND, 5-3): 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 82 pitches
Starting is suiting Suarez superbly and as a result, he has only given up one ER in ten innings since moving to the rotation. The lefty took down the mighty Dodgers and increased his pitch count for the third straight start. As he gets stretched out, it will be interesting to see if Suarez can continue to pitch this well. He’s recorded a mediocre 9/6 K/BB ratio since leaving the pen. He gets a wonderful matchup with the Diamondbacks next.
Archie Bradley, (W, 7-1): 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 22 pitches
Bradley has been one of the most consistently good relievers in the cursed Philadelphia bullpen pitching to a 2.52 ERA. The biggest concern with Bradley this year is that he is striking out less than 14% of the batters he faces after being above 24% the past four seasons. Bradley was preceded by Hector Neris who recorded his fourth hold.
Ian Kennedy, (SV, 19): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, HBP, 0 K, 26 pitches
The new Phillies closer did his job by shutting down the dangerous Dodgers in the 9th. He made it interesting by loading the bases but escaped the jam by getting Billy McKinney to fly out. Kennedy obviously didn’t have his best control Thursday but he met the challenge of pitching against a juggernaut and maintained the Phillies grasp on first place in the NL East.
(70-46) Milwaukee Brewers 17
(52-65) Chicago Cubs 4
Luis Urias, 3B: 5-6, 5 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 2B
Holy moly! Urias had himself a day with a monstrous performance tallying 14 total bases across the contest. The multi-homer game brought his total up to 16 putting him on pace to break the 20-homer threshold. The utility infielder is finally acting on some of the promise he showed as a minor leaguer in the Padres organization. He is slashing .249/.342/.453 on the season, good for an above-average 113 wRC+.
Jace Peterson, RF: 5-5, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2B, BB
Being a career-long journeyman can have its perks. You get to travel the country and see how other organizations are run. You get to learn from all different kinds of people. Sometimes, you even get to have a night like this. Peterson is having a career year for the Brewers and this performance was his best yet. The home run was just his fifth of the year but he boasts an .821 OPS alongside those moonshots.
Manny Pina, C: 3-6, 3 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI
The long-time backup catcher joined the home run derby occurring at Wrigley on Thursday with two blasts of his own, the first of which was a grand slam. Pina will consistently sit in favor of the lefty-hitting Omar Narvaez but nights like these will surely make the Brewers consider him more often as the playoffs approach. His .160 AVG is hard to look at but he’s up to nine homers on the season, tying his career high.
Frank Schwindel, PH/1B: 2-2, 2 R, HR, RBI, 2B
The newly acquired Schwindel replaced Matt Duffy once this game got out of hand and tried his best to get his team back in it. He has performed well in the minors across three different organizations and is hoping to catch on with the new-look Cubs. The home run, his third of the season and second since joining Chicago, traveled 382 feet off the bat.
Patrick Wisdom, 1B/3B: 1-5, R, HR, RBI
Wisdom continued his season-long power surge Thursday with his 18th long ball of the year. His power has been impressive and is supported by multiple 30-HR AAA campaigns, though he has struggled with the Ks. In 200 AB, he has struck out over 37% of the time and his AVG has been carried by an abnormally high .354 BABIP. Next year may be tough for Wisdom unless he can make some adjustments to his approach.
Brandon Woodruff, (ND, 7-6): 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 74 pitches
Sadly, Woodruff was removed early from this one with an injury, forcing the Brewers to turn to the bullpen earlier than expected. Woodruff has been a Cy Young contender all season so hopefully, this injury isn’t significant. The Brew Crew are going to need him for the playoffs. Hunter Strickland walked away with the win after picking up where Woodruff left off. Josh Hader pitched a maintenance inning in the 8th. He allowed one hit and struck out three batters.
Kyle Hendricks, (L, 13-5): 4.0 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 1 BB, HBP, 3 K, 97 pitches
Oof. Hendricks got rocked by the Milwaukee bats but was forced to eat up innings so as to not overly tax the bullpen in a game that was out of reach by the 5th inning. Hendricks was one of the few Chicago stars to stay put at the deadline so he’ll be counted on to mentor the young pitchers coming up from the minors. Here he was showing those pitchers what not to do. He should pitch against the Reds next Tuesday.
(57-60) Detroit Tigers 6
(38-75) Baltimore Orioles 4
Robbie Grossman, RF: 2-5, R, HR, RBI
RoBBie Goatman, as I like to refer to him, rocketed his career-high 18th dinger of the season during Thursday’s contest against the O’s. I call him RoBBie because he sports a 15.1% BB rate, one of the highest in the league, and he showed why I call him Goatman by being the main cog in the Tigers win.
Renato Nunez, 1B: 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI
Nunez was just giving the legend, Miguel Cabrera, a day off by spelling him at first base, but no one told him he had to hit like him too! He launched a ball to left off Means for his third dinger in just eight games for the Tigers. I guess he wanted to show his old team what they were missing after not tendering him a contract last offseason.
Cedric Mullins, CF: 3-5, R, SB
The Orioles' sole representative at the 2021 All-Star Game continued to stay scorching hot on the season. Mullins totes one of the highest batting averages in the AL and this three-hit performance boosted his season-long line to a robust .322/.387/.549. All it took was for Mullins to stop switch-hitting and just focus on batting lefty for his star to shine. His numbers this year dwarf anything he’s done in the past, even in the minors. He’s already recorded a 20-20 season and has a good shot at 30-30 after swiping his 22nd bag with Manning on the mound.
DJ Stewart, RF: 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI
Watch out, DJ Stewart is getting hot. We’ve seen him hit home runs in bunches before and he’s doing it again. After swatting his eighth homer of the season on Wednesday, the bulky right fielder followed up that performance with two more on Thursday. It may be a good time to grab him in fantasy leagues or to stream him in DFS while he’s hot because he could stay hot for a while.
Matt Manning, (W, 3-5): 6.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 83 pitches
The rookie right-hander pitched well against the Orioles after a tough outing against Cleveland his last time out. The quality start didn’t dent his ERA much as it still sits at a staggering 6.10 mark. His peripherals suggest he’s been slightly unlucky but when you strike out less than 12% of the batters you face, it’s hard to believe in the peripherals. He gets to face Shohei Ohtani and the Angels next time out.
Michael Fulmer, (SV, 7): 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, HBP, 0 K, 26 pitches
Fulmer may not have a lock on the closer role because of All-Star Gregory Soto pitching well this year but he has been valuable at the back end of the Detroit bullpen. He came up as a starter, winning the Rookie of the Year award in his first taste of the Majors, but he’s fought injuries in the years since then. The move to the bullpen this season has not kept Fulmer healthier but it has allowed him to find the form he had during his rookie season.
John Means, (L, 5-4): 4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 79 pitches
Means became one of my favorite pitchers after I watched him throw a no-hitter against the Mariners a couple of months ago. It was the culmination of an incredible start to the season for the lefty and made me feel so good owning him in ⅔ of my fantasy leagues. Since then, it’s been almost completely downhill. He suffered a shoulder injury a couple of starts after the no-hitter and only recently returned and has performed to mixed results. That could be because he returned to a sticky-less pitching landscape. It might take him a couple more starts to get in a groove again but I hope that we might see a repeat of that wonderful game against Seattle in the future. He faces the Rays next after going 5 IP, 1 ER, 5 K against them in his last start.
(70-45) Tampa Bay Rays 8
(66-51) Boston Red Sox 1
Wander Franco, SS: 1-5, 1 R, HR, 2 RBI
Wander the wunderkind has started to pick up the pace recently, tallying at least one run and one rbi in six straight contests. He struggled after an amazing debut in which he launched a ball over the fence. He seems to have finally started to make much-needed adjustments to succeed against Major League pitching. Over those aforementioned six games, Franco has gone 6-26 (.230) with six runs, eight RBI, and two of his five home runs on the season. He sports a 98 wRC+, revealing his league average batting line thus far.
Mike Zunino, C: 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI
With his 8th inning blast, Zunino put the Rays up 8-1 to give his team the breathing room it needed heading into the final two innings. The tater was his 23rd of the year, giving him a great chance to break his previous career high of 25 set in 2017 with Seattle. He currently maintains a career high 127 wRC+. Zunino was the third overall draft pick in the 2012 first year player draft, so he came into the league with lofty expectations. Whacking lots of dingers while calling great games behind the plate is a good way to live up to them.
Rafael Devers, 3B: 1-4, R, 2B
After a breakout 2019 season in which Devers recorded 90 XBH, he took a small step back in 2020. Fantasy managers and Red Sox fans that didn’t doubt his potential have been rewarded with a season that might be even better than his ‘19 breakout. So far, the third baseman is up to 60 XBH with more than a month to go and he has made improvements in other facets of his game. Not only has he raised his BB rate 3% compared to ‘19, but he has also hit for a higher percentage of extra bases with a .283 2021 ISO compared to a .244 mark in ‘19. The new Devers is a legitimate MVP candidate.
Drew Rasmussen, (ND, 1-1): 4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 50 pitches
Rasmussen intrigues if not for the sole fact that the Rays went out and acquired him. Any pitcher the Rays have their sights on interests me a lot because they seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to finding guys who can throw baseballs. This was just Rasmussen’s third career start as the Rays have been attempting to stretch him out. He’s pitched to a 3.81 ERA and a 2.99 FIP since joining Tampa Bay.
Colin McHugh, (W, 4-1): 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 29 pitches
Prior to JT Chargois, Louis Head, and Ryan Sherriff shutting down the final three innings of the game, McHugh was called upon as the bridge from Rasmussen to the rest of the pen. He succeeded in his task and was rewarded with a W for his efforts. This was McHugh’s second appearance since coming off the IL and he should remain a key component of the Rays bullpen corps as a swingman.
Tanner Houck, (L, 0-3): 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 89 pitches
Being a starter in the AL East is tough, especially when you’re a rookie. Going against that notion, Houck hasn’t had any trouble with the juggernauts on the East Coast. He’s performed admirably to the tune of a 2.93 ERA, but even more impressively he sports a 1.84 FIP, suggesting his sub-three ERA is unlucky. The young righty has struck out 44 batters to just seven walks across 30.2 IP and appears to be the next in line to be crowned the ace of the Red Sox.
(40-75) Texas Rangers 1
(61-55) Seattle Mariners 3
Charlie Culberson, LF: 1-3, R, HR, RBI
Dansby Swanson’s ex-teammate produced all of the offense for the Rangers on Thursday with his fourth home run driving in their only run. The Texas lineup managed just one other hit off Gonzales, so Culberson’s dinger was one of the few good at-bats put up against the Seattle southpaw. Culberson should continue to play a super-utility role for the Rangers going forward because he can play almost every position and is good enough with his bat.
J.P. Crawford, SS: 2-4, R, HR, RBI, 2B
Setting the table has been Crawford’s job all year and with six DRS so far this year, he has also succeeded in his job holding down one half of the double-play combination. On top of his superb defense, Crawford has been a league-average batter with a 101 wRC+. He has never finished a season with a wRC+ above the league average mark of 100. The home run was his sixth of the season while the double he tallied was his 25th.
Jake Fraley, RF: 1-3, R, HR, RBI
Fraley belted his eighth dinger in the bottom of the 7th to push the Mariners’ lead to 3-1, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Fraley has been a welcome sight for the Mariners who have struggled to find consistency in their outfield from anyone not named Mitch Haniger. When healthy, Fraley has performed to an .807 OPS and while his .227 AVG is uninspiring, he has found a way to get on base at a 39% clip with the help of his crazy 20.6% BB%. He should continue to receive nearly every day at-bats in the Seattle outfield as long as he maintains his amazing discipline.
Mike Foltynewicz, (L, 2-11): 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 98 pitches
Foltynewicz has had a very up and down season and it has shown with his recent performances. Following back-to-back disasters in which he combined to give up 16 ER in just 5.2 innings against the Blue Jays and Tigers, the right-hander has looked much better across his last three starts. Including this outing, Foltynewicz has combined for 18 IP and just six ER but this was his first outing with more than four Ks since mid-July. He should get a rematch against the Mariners in his next start.
Marco Gonzales, (W, 4-5): 9.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 108 pitches
Gonzales has not looked like the Mariners ace he was the past couple of years but this performance was a throwback to that era. The nine-inning performance was his first CG of the year and dropped his ERA to 4.35 to go with a 1.26 WHIP. He took advantage of a depleted and inexperienced Texas squad and had his best outing. This was the first time all year that Gonzales has struck out more than six batters in a game. Like Folty, he should get a rematch next time out as he’s tentatively scheduled to take on the Rangers again next Wednesday.
(62-54) Cincinnati Reds 12
(59-56) Atlanta Braves 3
Jesse Winker, LF: 3-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2B
As one of the biggest breakouts of the 2021 season, Winker has become one of the league’s best hitters. Despite his heavy platoon splits where he sports a .176 AVG vs lefties and a .351 AVG vs righties, Winker launched a grand slam off lefty Kyle Muller in the 2nd inning. The homer was his 24th and the double his 32nd giving him 57 XBH this year including his lone triple. He is the team leader in OPS at .959 and if he can keep up his hot second half where he has hit .333 with five dingers, he may have a chance to get himself in the running for the NL MVP award.
Tyler Naquin, CF: 2-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI
This dinger was Naquin’s first since July 3rd revealing how much he has cooled off since his crazy start to the campaign. The long ball traveled just 361 feet with an exit velocity of 105 mph and was Naquin’s 14th of the season. With players like Mike Moustakas having returned and others, such as Nick Senzel, on the mend, Naquin might have to fight for his playing time going forward.
Ozzie Albies, 2B: 1-5, R, HR, RBI
2020 was a lost season for the young Braves second baseman as he struggled to stay on the field, appearing in only 29 of the Braves' 60 games. That might be the outlier as he played in 158 and 160 games respectively in 2018 and 2019 and has appeared in 114 of the Braves’ 116 games in 2021. Not only has he played a lot, but he has played well too. The homer was his 20th of the season and brought his RBI total to 76 to go along with an OPS above .800. Albies is clearly one of the premier second basemen in the league.
Vladimir Gutierrez, (W, 8-3): 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 102 pitches
Gutierrez didn’t have to stress too much in this one considering he was staked to a 9-1 lead by the 3rd inning. The Reds hit five homers as a team to back their starter. The run support allowed him to cruise through six frames against an offense that can be dangerous at times. The right-hander worked around seven base runners to record the quality start and, in the process, lowered his ERA below the four mark. He lines up to face the mediocre Cubs next week.
Kyle Muller, (L, 2-4): 2.1 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 72 pitches
The young southpaw struggled early and often in this one. He allowed too many baserunners in the first few innings which led to him getting touched up by the Winker grand slam. Muller had been really solid across his previous appearances, not allowing more than three ER in any of them. Whether it be because of this performance or something else entirely, Muller was optioned back to AAA following this disaster.
(63-52) New York Yankees 8
(68-48) Chicago White Sox 9
Aaron Judge, RF: 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB
The outfielder as tall as the corn stalks at the Field of Dreams, mashed two homers over the wall in the first Major League game played in the state of Iowa. The setting made Judge’s bombs even more dramatic and it was wonderful watching the balls disappear into the green cornfields. After the two home run night, Judge sits with 25 on the season. The homer total may be a far cry from the 52 he hit as a rookie but his 143 wRC+ is his highest since his sophomore season.
Giancarlo Stanton, DH: 1-5, R, HR, 2 RBI
Stanton was the hero for the Yankees for a short amount of time following his go-ahead home run in the top of the 9th off of All-Star closer, Liam Hendricks. The blast was his 18th and would give the Yanks a one-run lead heading into the bottom of the 9th. Stanton hasn’t reached the 25 games played threshold since 2018, so seeing him play in 94 of the Yankees 115 games so far is a good sign. Other than that, Stanton has struggled with a wRC+ that is his lowest since 2016. Let’s all hope for a Stantonian power surge in the final month as he can be one of the most exciting players in the game when he’s hot.
Tim Anderson, SS: 2-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2B
Watching Stanton give his team the lead in the 9th must have given Anderson some ideas of his own. The star shortstop hit his own go-ahead home run in the 9th, but this one ended the game altogether. It was Anderson’s 13th dinger of the year and he pairs those with a .300/.330/.457 slash line. Following a couple of seasons in which his BABIP was above .380, Anderson’s batted ball luck has subsided a bit but he has maintained the ability to hit .300 because of his bat-to-ball skills and his speed.
Eloy Jimenez, LF: 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI
Eloy is back from the dead and hitting like the original ghosts that played at the Field of Dreams. Since returning from a torn pectoral a couple of weeks ago, Jimenez has been on a tear. He’s already tallied six homers in just 13 games with a 1.088 OPS. It seems as though he may be trying to make up for lost time, so a massive surge to end this season wouldn’t be surprising. Especially considering the left fielder is a mere 24 years old and has nothing but time to morph into one of the league’s most dangerous offensive threats.
Andrew Heaney, (ND, 7-8): 5.0 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 77 pitches
The southpaw struggled with the long ball once again, giving up three of the White Sox's four total homers on the night. In three starts since coming over to the Yankees from the Angels at the trade deadline, Heaney has recorded a 4.80 HR/9 compared to a 1.53 mark before the trade. That number is misleading as it is boosted by a 30.8% HR/FB% but because Heaney will be facing tougher offenses and be pitching in smaller parks in the AL East, he will probably continue to struggle with home runs. He’s scheduled to face the rival Red Sox in his next turn through the rotation.
Zack Britton, (L, 0-1): 0.1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 10 pitches
Britton was called upon to shut down the game in the 9th after Stanton gave his team the lead. The sinkerballer was unable to come through, giving up a walk before allowing Anderson to walk it off. Britton was used as the closer here with Aroldis Chapman out with an injury, but this performance might lead manager Aaron Boone to consider Jonathan Loaisiga in save opportunities going forward.
Lance Lynn, (ND, 10-3): 5.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 105 pitches
Lynn clawed his way through five innings, struggling with inefficiency while averaging more than 20 pitches/inning. He should’ve walked away with a W but following the blowup in the 9th, he had to settle with a no-decision. Despite this uninspiring performance, Lynn still holds a 2.26 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP to go along with 137 Ks in 119.2 IP. He was followed by Michael Kopech, Aaron Bummer, and Craig Kimbrel before Hendricks took over. The three relievers that pitched before Hendricks all recorded a hold. Lynn should get the Oakland A’s in his next outing on August 18th.
Liam Hendricks, (W, 7-2): 1.0 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 27 pitches
The Aussie and former Oakland Athletic may owe his teammate, Anderson, some sort of gift after he bailed him out from the L Thursday night in the cornfields. Hendricks was called upon to shut down a three-run lead in the 9th and secure the win for the White Sox. He gave up a two-run shot to Judge before giving up a second two-run shot to Stanton. He was able to finish out the inning but nights like these might give Kimbrel more save chances in the future.
(62-52) Toronto Blue Jays 3
(58-58) Los Angeles Angels 6
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., PH/LF: 1-2, R, HR, RBI
The younger brother of Astros All-Star first baseman, Yuli Gurriel, Lourdes Jr. came off the bench Thursday night when he replaced Corey Dickerson. He hit Toronto’s only long ball of the game, his 14th in 2021. Gurriel didn’t perform well in April and July, but a strong June and a great start to August have helped in turning around his season-long .267/.299/.442 slash line. He still has two more years of contractual control, so he should remain a fixture in the Blue Jays lineup for at least the next couple of years.
Jared Walsh, 1B: 2-4, 2 RBI
In his second game back from the IL, Walsh was slotted into the three-hole in the lineup and knocked his first extra-base hit since recovering. He has been amazing all season even with his struggles against lefties. After Albert Pujols was released, Walsh has had a hold on the everyday first base job in LA and should maintain that if he can build on his .834 OPS.
Jose Berrios, (L, 8-6): 4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 93 pitches
Berrios underperformed for the first time as a Blue Jay, giving up all six of the Angels' runs. The Angels knocked four doubles off the recently acquired righty and forced him out of the game before he could finish the 5th. Trent Thornton replaced him in that inning and gave up an inherited run. He was followed by Cy Snead and Connor Overton. All three didn’t give up an earned run across the final 3.2 frames. Berrios gets the light-hitting Nationals in his next start.
Shohei Ohtani, DH (W, 7-1): 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 99 pitches
1-3, R, 2B, BB
Ohtani did things only he can do against the Jays. He scored on Walsh’s two-RBI single in the second following his walk. On top of batting leadoff, he started the game! He held the dangerous Blue Jays offense at bay with a quality start and an even 1.00 WHIP. By beating Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the baby Jays, Ohtani has proven himself as the clear-cut AL MVP frontrunner because of his efforts on the mound and at the dish. Ohtani exited the outing with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.017 OPS (169 wRC+) and is scheduled to pitch against the Tigers in his next start.
(66-51) San Diego Padres 3
(36-80) Arizona Diamondbacks 12
Jake Cronenworth, SS: 3-4, RBI, 3B
Filling in for the injured Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, Cronenworth provided one of the lone bright spots in the game for the Padres with his multi-hit performance. Among those three hits was a triple, his sixth of the year. Cronenworth has backed up his breakout 2020 in which he finished third in the race for NL Rookie of the Year with an impressive .831 OPS in 2021 while filling in all across the diamond. What more could you ask for from a trade throw-in?
Josh Rojas, SS: 4-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2B, BB
Rojas returned from the IL on Tuesday but didn’t reach base until Thursday. He exploded for four hits including his 23rd double of the year and reached base a fifth time with a walk. Batting leadoff may seem like an awesome lineup spot, but when it’s on the Diamondbacks, run-scoring opportunities are hard to come by. If the DBacks can perform close to the way they did on Thursday, Rojas should benefit greatly from his position in the lineup. He sports a .271/.358/.439 triple slash in 378 PA.
Carson Kelly, C: 4-5, R, 2 RBI, 2B
The other four-hit performance in this matchup came from the Arizona catcher. Kelly was hot out of the gates, batting .340 with six HR in April but has dealt with a myriad of injuries since then. He may finally be heating up again as he has batted .321 with two XBH in August after tallying just six XBH across the last three months.
Yu Darvish, (L, 7-7): 2.2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 74 pitches
The Japanese right-hander was removed early against Arizona with lower back tightness after giving up five ER and failing to escape the third inning. The injury obviously bugged him as he struggled to contain a DBacks offense that is possibly the worst in MLB. If he can make his next start, it would be against the Rockies in Coors, so maybe fantasy managers wouldn’t mind if he skipped a turn in the rotation.
Matt Peacock, (ND, 5-7): 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 29 pitches
Caleb Smith, (W, 4-8): 5.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 78 pitches
Peacock opened for Smith allowing him to face the bottom of the Padres order upon insertion into the game. Smith apparently appreciated having the opener as he was able to shut out the Padres for 5.1 innings on his way to a win, his fourth of the year. It’s unclear whether or not he will remain in the rotation going forward but this outing is a step in the right direction if he wants that job.
(51-64) Colorado Rockies 0
(74-41) San Francisco Giants 7
Connor Joe, LF: 1-3, BB
The former Giant was the only Rockie to reach base twice in the contest. After playing for and failing to stick with four organizations, Joe looks like he might have finally found an organization to stay with, at least for the short term. He’s performed well with limited playing time with an .836 OPS in 124 PA.
LaMonte Wade Jr., RF/LF: 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI
A ninth-round pick of the Twins in 2015, Wade hadn’t performed up to expectations in the majors or the minors until this season. He latched on with the Giants and they’ve maximized his potential by rarely letting him face left-handed pitchers. He has responded with a 132 wRC+ and 15 home runs. He will remain a fixture atop the Giants lineup versus righties.
Curt Casali, C: 1-3, 2 R, RBI, 2B, BB
Casali filled in for former MVP Buster Posey as he usually does every third day so as to not overwork his catching counterpart. Casali hasn’t done anything exceptionally special, but he handles the pitching staff well and contributed an RBI double on Thursday night. Look for him to be back in the lineup in a couple of days.
German Marquez, (L, 10-9): 4.0 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 81 pitches
Wouldn’t it make sense that a pitcher who can consistently survive Coors Field and the thin air of Denver would pitch even better by the bay in Oracle Park? Well, to Marquez, it makes no sense at all because he has always struggled against the Giants. He has put up a 7.19 ERA in 14 career starts against San Francisco and it just appears that they have his number. Marquez is the ace of the Rockies, so look for him to recover in his next start at home versus the Padres.
Logan Webb, (W, 6-3): 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, HBP, 8 K, 91 pitches
The 24-year old right-hander continued his second-half surge against the Rockies in SF. He didn’t even need all of the run support he got from his offense because he was able to shut out the Rockies for six innings to record the quality start. He lowered his post-All Star break ERA to a minuscule 1.91 mark alongside a 32/9 K/BB ratio in 33 IP. His performance pushed the Giants to five games above the Dodgers for 1st place in the NL West and the Giants maintain the best record in the Majors. Webb is tentatively scheduled to face the Mets on August 17th in his next start.
Breaking Down the Starling Marte Trade to the A's
Jake Crumpler | July 28, 2021
The Oakland A’s swung a major deal for one of the Major League’s top outfield talents early Wednesday morning when they sent young lefty pitcher, Jesus Luzardo, to the Miami Marlins in exchange for former All-Star, Starling Marte. The trade signifies the A’s willingness to go all-in for their upcoming playoff push as they sit six games back of the Houston Astros in the division and only one game ahead of the Seattle Mariners for the second Wild Card spot. For the Marlins, they part ways with a player who will become a free agent at year’s end and land a former top-five overall prospect in return. Let’s see how this trade breaks down for each side and how it might affect these teams and players going forward.
Starling Marte + ~$4.6 million to the A’s
Jesus Luzardo to the Marlins
Oakland A’s Updated Lineup
LF Mark Canha
CF Starling Marte
1B Matt Olson
2B Jed Lowrie
RF Ramon Laureano
DH Mitch Moreland / Stephen Piscotty
C Sean Murphy
3B Matt Chapman
SS Elvis Andrus
Marte, 32, comes over from the Marlins after batting .305/.405/.451 with 7 HR and 22 SB in just 64 games this year. He missed a significant amount of time earlier in the season when he was placed on the 10-day IL with a left rib fracture on April 18th. He’s recovered quite well from the injury and was drawing trade interest from multiple teams. Marte found his way to the Marlins during the shortened 2020 season when he was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for lefty pitcher Caleb Smith, righty Humberto Mejia, and lefty Julio Frias. This came just a few months after the Diamondbacks had acquired Marte via trade from his original team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, for right-handed pitcher Brennan Malone and young shortstop Liover Peguero.
The speedy outfielder should slot right into the top of the Oakland batting lineup as possibly their best hitter not named Matt Olson. Marte owns a career 117 wRC+ (where 100 is league-average) including a 140 wRC+ this year, and is a solid defender in center field with 3 Defensive Runs Saved, a 7.5 Ultimate Zone Rating/150 defensive games, and 5 Outs Above Average, putting him in the 94th percentile among outfielders, according to Baseball Savant. He also owns two Gold Glove awards for his outstanding work with the Pirates in 2015 and ‘16. He makes plays in the outfield using his elite speed where he ranks in the 83rd percentile, according to Baseball Savant, with a Sprint Speed of 23.8 feet per second. Current center fielder, Ramon Laureano, should slide over to right field to accommodate Marte and could fit in well on that side with his elite arm. The realignment of the outfield could lead to more efficiency and effectiveness by having elite fielders at all three positions and allowing Laureano the opportunity to show off his laser arm more often.
The newly acquired outfielder has also made major improvements to his plate discipline this year allowing him to become a better and more complete hitter. After taking a walk in 5% of his plate appearances leading up to this year, Marte has taken a new approach to the batter’s box. By dropping his Chase Rate and his overall Swing Rate by over 5% each, Marte has been able to see more pitches out of the zone and in turn, has upped his Walk Rate to a career-high 11.6%. This newfound plate discipline places him in an elite territory with his Walk % in the 83rd percentile after ranking in the 9th and 4th percentile in 2020 and ‘19 respectively, according to Baseball Savant. Rarely do we see players make such drastic improvements to their plate discipline, especially in their 30s, but these improvements should allow Marte to be even more of a force on the basepaths with his game-changing speed as he gets more opportunities.
In addition to the outfielder, the Marlins are sending the A’s $4.5 million in salary relief, or the remaining pro-rated salary for Marte in 2021. This sets the A’s up to keep adding to the team with no financial setbacks but forced them to give up greater prospect capital in exchange for the salary relief. They had previously traded for Chicago Cubs lefty reliever, Andrew Chafin, to bolster the bullpen behind Lou Trivino and Jake Diekman. Overall, this trade looks great right now for Oakland as they get a star outfielder who adds depth to their lineup, above-average fielding to their outfield, and game-changing speed on the basepaths. The main concern is that Marte is only assured to remain with the A’s through the final two months of the season and will have the option of signing with other teams in the upcoming offseason. The A’s won't be able to offer Marte a qualifying offer in his first year hitting free agency because of the trade, which makes the loss of Luzardo sting immensely. Marte will likely sign for upwards of $50 million and will price himself out of the A's pay range. Ultimately, this trade will only truly pay off for the A’s if they can make a deep run towards the World Series during this year’s postseason.
Miami Marlins Updated Lineup
SS Miguel Rojas
2B Isan Diaz
1B Jesus Aguilar
RF Adam Duvall
3B Brian Anderson
C Jorge Alfaro
LF Lewis Brinson
CF Magneuris Sierra
The Marlins’ Major League team doesn’t change too drastically with the subtraction of their best offensive player in Starling Marte not only because they are out of the playoff race already, but also because they have so many players ready to fill in. The Marlins are a team on the rise and have many young outfielders looking to take Marte’s spot and perform well enough to remain with the team during their next postseason run. Either way, Miami’s general manager, Kim Ng, got a steal when she swooped Jesus Luzardo, a young left-handed pitcher, from the A’s for an aging veteran and an expiring contract.
Luzardo, 23, has struggled this year to the tune of a 6.87 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, and 40 Ks in 38 innings of work (6 starts and 7 bullpen appearances). He began the year in the A’s starting rotation and pitched relatively well up until his placement on the injured list (IL) with a hairline fracture in his left pinky finger, an injury that resulted from hitting his hand on a table while playing video games. When he returned, Luzardo wasn’t his old self and wasn’t stretched out to perform as a starter anymore. He worked as a swingman out of the bullpen upon his return from the IL but wasn’t the same pitcher he was prior to the injury. He was demoted to Triple-A at the end of June after posting a 9.90 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in the 10 innings he pitched out of the bullpen after his return. At Triple-A, Luzardo was destined to get stretched out and rejoin the team for the playoff push but continued to struggle mightily with his control and being incredibly hittable, posting a 6.52 ERA in 29 innings across eight starts. The Marlins are hoping a change of scenery can bring out the potential Luzardo has shown in previous seasons.
Speaking of Luzardo’s potential, he reached as high as #12 on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects in 2019 and reached the fifth spot on Fangraphs version of the list. He was selected with the 17th pick in the 3rd round of the 2016 first-year player draft by the Nationals and was traded the following year to the A’s along with Blake Treinen in exchange for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Luzardo’s breakout year was 2018 at Double-A where he pitched to a 2.29 ERA in 78.2 innings with 86 Ks after dominating High-A with a 1.23 ERA across 14.2 innings of work. He made his major league debut in 2019 pitching exclusively out of the pen but performed exceptionally well with a 1.50 ERA and 12 K/9 in 12 innings. He followed up his debut season with his first “full” season in 2020 where he was able to make 12 appearances including 9 starts and pitched to a 4.12 ERA with a 1.27 WHIP in 59 innings. He had been seen as the ace of the future for the A’s entering the 2021 season but has cast doubt upon his fans with his performances and fluky injury history.
His repertoire speaks to success with a mid-90s four-seamer and a sinker that travels just as fast. He utilizes the two fastballs a combined 60% of the time and pairs them with a nasty mid-80s curveball that he throws around 20% of the time. His fourth and final pitch is a changeup that also travels in the mid-80s with a 20% usage but gets soft contact on swings with an Average Exit Velocity of around 82 mph. The Marlins will most likely keep Luzardo in the minors while he stretches back out and figures out his performance issues.
When he does eventually get called back up to the Majors, he will join one of the league’s best up-and-coming pitching staffs. The Miami rotation already boasts multiple exciting young starting pitchers including multiple All-Stars in Sandy Alcantara (2019) and Trevor Rogers (2021). Luzardo will join Alcantara and Rogers, who share the mound with Pablo Lopez and a multitude of young pitching prospects, in a rotation that could be the best in the league in a couple of years. With Sixto Sanchez making his way back from a shoulder injury, the future is incredibly bright for the Marlins. They will not only have star power in the rotation but will have unlimited depth with all of the serviceable young pitchers they have been producing and showcasing in the Majors this year. Luzardo isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2023 and won’t be a free agent until 2026. He is currently being paid the league minimum and has three more minor league options remaining. The Marlin’s return for Marte is exceptional because of the controllability and potential residing in one of the league’s upcoming aces.
Analyzing My Home League Draft
Jake Crumpler | September 10, 2020
Back in late July, before baseball fans knew of the chaos that was to occur in the upcoming season, my long-awaited 10-Team home league draft took place. I had prepared as much as I could with rankings for every position leading up to the original March Opening Day but had to adjust most of my rankings once the season got postponed. During that time I spent as much time as I could perfecting my rankings and studying up on strategies to help me win my league in this sprint of a season. In the end, I believe my hard work has paid off as I sit in first place with less than 3 weeks to go.
I thought it would be a fun idea to go back and analyze the draft that has me in the position I sit today and to project what my team might have done in a full season. I will be going round-by-round and analyzing each pick for the short season and a long season. Some notes about my home league:
10-Team Total Season Points Redraft League (Snake Draft)
Daily Roster Moves and Player Acquisitions (1-Day Waiver Period)
26 Man Roster: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF (5), CI, MI, UTIL, P (9), BE (4), IL (2)
Batters: R (+1), TB (+1), RBI (+1), BB (+1), HBP (+1), K (-1), SB (+2)
Pitchers: IP (+1/out), H (-1), ER (-2), BB (-1), HB (-1), K (+1), W (+5), L (-5), SV (+5), HD (+1)
Games Started Maximum (85 starts for the shortened season)
Now that we all understand the rules I was working with, let’s dive into the draft.
All player stats as of 9/10
Jacob deGrom, P (Pick 4)
48.0 IP, 3-1 W-L, 1.69 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 70 K, 164 Pts (20.5/start)
With my first pick, I knew I wanted to go with pitching unless both Gerrit Cole and deGrom got drafted in the first three picks. Only Cole was drafted, so I didn’t have to think about my pick too hard at the time. Looking back on this first-round selection with 2020 hindsight (ha) I still feel like I made the right choice as deGrom has avoided injury and been a top 10 SP all year. I definitely could have gone with Mookie Betts or Mike Trout, who went with the fifth and sixth picks respectively, but I was scared away from Trout because of the birth of his first child and I wanted to stick to my plan of getting a starter in the first round. They’ve all returned relatively similar value with Trout at 154 Pts and Mookie at 168 coming into today, but with the dearth of starting pitching available, I think deGrom was the correct choice.
deGrom is easier to project than the following draft picks following his back-to-back Cy Young Award-winning seasons. With his fastball velocity up 1.5 ticks and his Ground Ball% up to 49.5% from 44.4%, he’s looking even more dominant than he has in the past two years. This has led to a FIP of 2.03, which backs up his stellar ERA, and an xwOBA against only .029 points higher than his wOBA, revealing that his low BABIP (.267) isn’t just a case of good luck. With the way deGrom is going right now and considering his recent track record, I would have expected him to finish either #1 or #2 at SP (depending on if Shane Bieber could maintain his outstanding start to 2020), scoring around 600 points (567 in 2019), and winning a third straight NL Cy Young.
Bryce Harper, OF (Pick 17)
119 AB, .261/.419/.487, 27 R, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 7 SB, 127 Pts (3.4/game)
Heading into the second round, I wanted to follow up my deGrom selection with an elite outfielder because of my five empty outfield slots and the fact that neither Max Scherzer nor Justin Verlander fell to me here. At the time, I was deciding between J.D. Martinez and Harper with my next best option being George Springer. I chose Harper because I felt as though he had more upside than J.D. in a shortened season because of the peak we’ve seen him produce at back in his 2015 MVP season. This was no knock on J.D. as I had him ranked right behind Harper, but I wanted that top 5 batter upside that Harper brings to the table in an OBP league. Turns out I made the right choice. J.D. has completely lost his ability to hit this year, sporting a .689 OPS with a paltry 70 Pts (1.8), both stats that pale in comparison to Harper’s output.
Looking at Harper’s underlying statistics reveals that his performance has not been supported by luck and that he may even be able to return to his August production once he breaks out of his current slump. His xwOBA sits in the top 6% of the league at .423 which is .046 points higher than his wOBA suggesting his batted ball profile should be leading to better production. He also cut his K-rate by over 8%, upped his BB-rate by 6% and he is walking more often than he is striking out. His improved plate discipline is ideal for an OBP-oriented points league and I think that Harper could have had a monster year if he had gotten the chance to play it out. I would project him for a 500+ point full season (461 in 2019), including his 7th All-Star appearance and possibly a run at a second NL MVP award if he could catch up to Mookie and Fernando Tatis Jr.
Ketel Marte, OF/2B (24)
162 AB, .290/.324/.407, 17 R, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 89 Pts (2.2)
The third round did not reap the same rewards the first two did. I wanted another top-tier outfielder to pair with Harper but Marte just ended up being the wrong choice. His underlying metrics from 2019 painted a picture of slight negative regression but I didn’t expect his power output to revert to his pre-breakout form. Looking at the players drafted after him in the 3rd round, I think I would have rather taken Trea Turner (1.036 OPS, 165 Pts) or Freddie Freeman (1.048 OPS, 171 Pts) and just forgotten about my plan to take only outfielders and starting pitching early.
Marte’s production hasn’t been horrible, I’ve had him in my lineup every day that he starts, but he wasn’t worth a third-round pick. His metrics on baseball savant also point to his production remaining static through the end of the season. He rarely strikes out (11.0 K%) but he never walks (2.9 BB%) and he hasn’t been pulling the ball nearly as much as he did in 2019. His new approach has kept his AVG close to his 2019 output but the cost is his barrel-rate being cut in half and a nearly 200-point drop in SLG. Marte also just hit the IL making it harder for him to turn his season around with fewer than three weeks remaining. I think Marte has the ability to keep doing what he’s been doing this year but he needs a change in approach to counter the adjustment pitchers have made on him. I think he would have had a similar line to Adam Frazier’s 2019 season if the season had been played out. Frazier batted .278 with 10 HR and 345 points last year and I think Marte would have matched that production if continued to play every day through the end of the season.
Clayton Kershaw, P (37)
41.0 IP, 5-1 W-L, 1.98 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 44 K, 136 Pts (19.4)
I was super pumped to get the opportunity to draft Kershaw here in the fourth because I expected a massive rebound in a shortened season making him the ideal #2 SP. This pick immediately looked like it was going to come back to bite we as Kershaw was scratched from his first start hours before Opening Day. Kershaw returned healthy, though, and his work at Driveline in the offseason paid off as his fastball velocity jumped 1.6 ticks, getting rid of any doubts I had. The three pitchers off the board after Kershaw were Luis Castillo, Patrick Corbin, and Chris Paddack, all pitchers who haven’t lived up to their draft position, making me feel even better about my pick.
Who knows if Kershaw would have been able to stay healthy for a whole season so we’ll disregard any hypotheticals regarding his health. His increased fastball velocity makes me confident he can continue to overwhelm batters with his arsenal and his increased GB% also indicates an ability to get soft contact and trust his defense. On the other hand, Kershaw’s 3.28 FIP is not bad but it hints at possible regression to his ERA while his .194 BABIP and nearly 90% strand-rate suggest he’s been particularly lucky so far. I could see Kershaw posting a very similar line to the one he posted last year but with a slightly lower ERA because of the improved velocity and defense behind him. Last year, Kershaw scored a (nice) 469 points leading me to project him for around 500 points in a full season.
Josh Donaldson, 3B (44)
40 AB, .250/.392/.525, 8 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 34 Pts (2.6)
I had Donaldson as a player to target entering the draft so I went out and got my guy when a run of pitchers arrived in the fifth round. To put it simply, it didn’t really go well. Donaldson got injured after just 22 at bats with his new squad and just returned from the IL a week ago. Not the ideal outcome with such a short season but hopefully Donaldson can help me with that final push to the finish line. Batters drafted after Donaldson but before my next pick included D.J. LeMahieu and Whit Merrifield, two players that have performed much better than Donaldson. LeMaiheu would’ve been my choice if I had a do-over but I think the difference wouldn’t be that huge in a 162-game season.
Donaldson’s sample size is too small, even for this shortened season, to analyze his underlying metrics so we’ll move on to the next round.
Marcus Semien, SS (57)
148 AB, .216/.275/.358, 19 R, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 3 SB, 66 Pts (1.9)
Semien is in the same bust boat that Donaldson and Marte are in and that means I’ve selected three busts with my first four batters. I was especially in on Semien being from the Bay Area but my loyalty did not pay off. Semien struggled to begin the season, started to turn it around, and then missed about a week while his team had a COVID scare and he struggled with side soreness. Ultimately, this has led to a subpar season after a breakout season last year. Tim Anderson and Corey Seager were selected in the eighth and tenth rounds respectively and I think it would have paid off to wait even longer to select a shortstop. Seager is killing it this year sporting a .960 OPS and 136 Pts while Anderson has 120 Pts in only 140 AB. Carlos Correa, drafted in the ninth round, hasn’t had the best year but even he would’ve been an upgrade over Semien as he currently stands with 85 Pts.
Semien’s production, or lack thereof, seems rooted in the loss of the plate discipline he improved last year. He’s striking out more than he ever has, he’s walking less than he has since 2015, and this has led to him becoming a liability in a points league. His 17th percentile Hard Hit% seems caused by an increase in his launch angle that has led to more pop-ups and weekly hit fly balls. His wOBA is nearly identical to his xwOBA making me nervous to roster him even for the last three weeks expecting a turnaround. It would take a major change in approach from Semien for him to start impacting the ball and making pitchers work. His production in a full 2020 season might be similar to Willy Adames last year when he had a similar plate discipline profile to Semien and finished with 247 Pts.
Marcell Ozuna, OF (64)
161 AB, .304/.396/.609, 27 R, 13 HR, 37 RBI, 141 Pts (3.3)
Ozuna has been one of my best batters all season and his draft position was well worth the price. I have been buying into Ozuna for the last couple of years because Ozuna’s underlying metrics suggested he was getting unlucky in his two seasons in St. Louis. This year he has avoided being struck down by batted ball luck and has returned to his Miami Marlins form. He’s batting fourth every day for a deadly Atlanta Braves lineup, continues to rip the cover off the ball, and he even returned a 20 Pt game on September 1st when he blasted three dingers against the Red Sox.
Ozuna is looking even better than he did back in 2017 when he blasted 37 home runs with a 143 wRC+ as he’s already up to 13 homers on the year and a 158 wRC+. He’s backing up his performances by nearly matching his xwOBA with his wOBA and being in the fourth percentile in AVG Exit Velocity. He’s striking out slightly more than his worst season but he’s counteracted that by walking at a career-high 13.4% rate. I think 450-475 points would be in reach for him in a full season at this pace.
Sonny Gray, P (77)
42.1 IP, 5-2 W-L, 3.19 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 56 K, 116 Pts (14.5)
I went looking for my third starting pitcher in the 7th round but I got sniped by my little brother when he swooped Corey Kluber from me. Thanks, bro! This allowed me to wait for a round and get Sonny Gray as my SP3. This selection looked like it was going to be one of the best picks in the draft when Gray began the season on a tear but he’s recently cooled off and is looking a lot more hittable.
He seems to be building off his comeback 2019 season with the Reds by striking batters out at a career-high rate and reducing his HR/9 to his rookie season levels. He’s even underperforming his FIP and making it clear that the changes he’s made since coming to Cincinnati aren’t just a fluke and are here to stay. Gray has the ability to stick at the pace he’s been going at but I expect some negative regression coming as he hasn’t been looking great recently. His 437 points last year seem like a reasonable benchmark for him to match one again in a hypothetical full season.
Kenley Jansen, P (84)
18.1 IP, 3-0 W-L, 1.96 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 25 K, 10 SV, 116 Pts (5.8/appearance)
As relievers started flying off the board in the previous rounds (Josh Hader, Kirby Yates, Liam Hendriks) I figured it was time to choose an elite one for myself. Relievers are incredibly valuable in this league because of the games started limit so getting a few solid closers is essential. I owned Kenley last year so I had some reservations on drafting him but his work at Driveline in the offseason gave me some hope so I took the risk...and it paid off big time. Kenley has been one of the top closers this year and the only closer with more points than him right now is Hendriks with 137. Relievers are tough to analyze especially in such a short season but because Kenley has such an elite track record, I expect him to be awesome for the rest of the season. This was definitely a successful round.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B (97)
112 AB, .330/.461/.500, 22 R, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 102 Pts (2.9)
The Cardinals were the second team to face a COVID quarantine this season but that hasn’t stopped Goldy from returning to his pre-St. Louis level of production. I felt great getting Goldy this late in the draft and I feel even better now that he shook off his rough debut season with the Cardinals and has returned to being one of the best first basemen in the league. Jose Abreu was drafted 3 picks before I got Goldy so I didn’t have a chance to get him while Yuli Gurriel went in the 11th Round and neither of these players make me regret getting Goldschmidt where I did.
Goldy’s plate discipline this year has been ridiculous as he is walking almost 5% more than he’s striking which has aided him in his bounceback. On top of that, his performance is backed up by the minuscule .011 difference in his wOBA and xwOBA. He’s not striking the ball like he used to with a diminished exit velocity and Hard Hit% in the 37th percentile but his improved discipline is holding off the regression in his bat. He may have been able to have a 425-450 point full season.
Justin Turner, 3B (104)
117 AB, .282/.384/.410, 17 R, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 1 SB, 85 Pts (2.7)
Turner has had a pretty solid season for the Dodgers this year and as my primary third baseman (because of the Donaldson injury) he’s been more than serviceable. I wanted Turner here because he’s been so consistent since breaking out with the Dodgers and he’d be batting in the middle of possibly the deadliest lineup in baseball. He went on the IL as soon as I got Donaldson back and I’m hoping he’ll be at full strength for the stretch run.
He has lived up to the value he’s provided in recent seasons and seems primed to build on his wimpy home run total when he returns from the IL. Turner has severely underperformed the majority of his expected stats so a hot stretch in the second half of a full season isn’t out of question. Turner easily could have matched his 372 point total from a year ago with a full season’s worth of playing time.
J.D. Davis, OF/3B (117)
139 AB, .266/.380/.410, 19 R, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 78 Pts (2.0)
Davis was another player I was targeting heading into the draft because of the solid expected stats he had backing up his mini breakout last year. He hasn’t fully lived up to the hype he had going into the season but he has been good enough to remain on my team for the whole season so far. He’s walking a lot and doesn’t strike out too much but he hasn’t been impacting the ball like he did last season. His launch angle has dropped from 10.6 degrees to 4.1 degrees suggesting that Davis hasn’t been getting the ball in the air enough which would explain his low home run total. Although his production has been good enough for me to roster him, I think I would’ve gone elsewhere if I had a redo because he hasn’t been the impact bat I was expecting to get. Cavan Biggio, drafted with pick 129, would’ve have been a much better selection having dual eligibilty at 2B and OF and outperforming Davis by 42 fantasy points.
Zac Gallen, P (124)
55.0 IP, 1-1 W-L, 2.29 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 60 K, 141 Pts (15.7)
Gallen was one of my favorite pitchers after his rookie season so I was on a mission to obtain at least one share of him in my leagues. His electric arsenal, excellent ratios, and ace-like strikeout numbers had me coveting Gallen like a Mike Trout card in MLB The Show. He has continued to perform like an ace this year and has taken my rotation to another level affording me the luxury of not having to worry about my starters too much. Gallen’s pinpoint control has led to him walking just 0.98 batters per 9 innings and has allowed him to take a massive step forward in his progression. He’s outperforming his FIP by more than a full run but I think even with some regression he’d be in for a 400+ point output in a full season.