Isaac Paredes (TB): 3-3, 3 FC, 3 R, 4 RBI.
Shortly before opening day 2022, Tampa Bay made a trade with the dispatch of the Detroit Tigers Austin Meadows for Isaac Paredes and choice of draft. To quote Sam Miller, ‘I LOVE this exchange for the Rays. Who would they give up? And who did they take? You know that somehow Tampa will come out on top by stealing Paredes and turning him into a solid new player with many years remaining before arb and arbitration. When this exchange took place, I must remember that, despite him making his debut in 2020 for the Tigers, Paredes is still 23 years old! It’s not a faded prospect that he didn’t make it. He still has a lot of development left, and getting him into the Rays organization is promising. He showed that promise last night with a massive three-farm game, finishing up 3-3 with three homers and four total RBI.
The first and easiest thing to do now is to compare its numbers between Detroit and Tampa. I know he’s unfair as he’s still developing and getting more time and experience to play. In Detroit, he cut .215 / .290 / .302 with two home runs out of 193 license plate appearances. So far in Tampa, he’s cutting .2o9 / .274 / .523 with eight homers out of 95 plate appearances. The strong point is power. He started shooting and hitting more home runs.
However, this goes beyond mere power. He’s throwing the ball at 8.2% speed (he only had a barrel with the Tigers) and has a hard hit rate of almost 40%. Also, he didn’t hit the line drives in Tampa: 52.1% flying balloons and 41.1% ground-based, which resulted in a .154 BABIP. Despite comparable batting averages on both teams, his BABIP with Detroit was .255. This .154 BABIP has to go up. He will also begin to see more liners and with the improvement in his hard hit rate that will result in more hits and not just balls over the fence.
Another notable Paredes skill is his plate discipline. His contact skills are elite (85.9% contact rate). But this season he has been swinging on multiple fields outside the zone, while keeping it below the league average. He is selective with his swings, which could make each swing more meaningful and impactful. It happened last night with three hard hits that all made it through the fence. Two of his home runs had a .250 xBA or lower, but he also added a 400 foot.
This 23-year-old has been solid with Tampa, but I expect to see continuous improvement this season with the way he hit the ball. Expect a little less power with more hits coming.
Let’s see how the other hitters performed on Tuesday:
Austin Wynns (SF): 3-4, 2B, FC, 2 R, 4 RBI.
After joining the Giants at 31, I feel like Wynns has to break out. The Giants traded for Wynns in early June after Joey Bart was optioned for Triple-A as a backup receiver. He has so far had 27 appearances on the plate and, after last night’s solid performance, has a 152 wRC +. He put the ball into play by hitting only 14.8% of the time. However, he is a blue-collar reserve hunter with 125 career games played at 31.
Freddie Freeman (LAD): 3-4, 2B, 3B, R, 5 RBI, BB.
Freeman was a shy homer of the cycle, snatching three hard-hitting balls for hits and placing five Dodgers for his 40th RBI of the year. Power has been hard for Freeman to find, even though he has scored two dingers in his last eight games. He is only six a year. Its barrel rate is down slightly and its hard hit rate is in line with last season (45.5%). His volleyball speed is even higher than last year’s. But his HR / FB is at 7.9%, down from about 20% in the last three seasons. He is pulling the ball less as he sees more garbage (fewer fast balls). So if that’s the case, he’s adapting and continuing to hit the ball well. He just isn’t going for home runs. I expect a higher rate for the rest of the season, but it will be difficult to reach 30 for the year.
Ryan McMahon (WITH THE): 3-4, 2B, FC, R, 3 RBI, BB.
McMahon was a three times cycle shy last night, which is a theme for today as it seems to be the case with a handful of other guys last night. He dunked the ball with three hard shots at 105 MPH, with his home run traveling 436 feet and his double of 399 feet (making almost two dingers for the night). Its 2022 season is very similar to 2021 with a little less power and steals. Similar cutting line but with a drop in strokes. He is still hitting the ball just as hard but with a drop in FC / FB (another theme!). His walking speed has been excellent, but he’s hitting a little too much (around 30%), however, with his plate discipline and hard hitting frequency, a boost in power could come with the early summer.
Nolan Gorman (ST): 4-4, 2 FC, 2 R, 4 RBI.
I don’t like how St. Louis has two Nolans in their lineup. And both are powerful hitters. The Gorman variety clubbed two 107-plus MPH homers and added two singles for a night of four RBI. This 22-year-old rookie has been awesome since he got the call in mid-May. He is cutting .280 / .350 / .516 with six dingers. He hit the ball with a 45% hard hit rate while he barely hit the ball on the ground (under 20% ground ball speed). I can’t imagine his line transmission rate staying in the 1930s, so expect a drop in hits with his .370 BABIP on a 32% K rate. But the power is real and will remain.
Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 3-4, 2 FC, 2 R, 8 RBI.
Ohtani collected all he could with a 438-foot 113.5 MPH bomb in the ninth inning of a tie before falling to the Royals in extra. He added a 111.5 MPH 423 foot dinger at the start of the game with two sacrifice flies. He collected eight total points batted for the night, taking home all but three of the Angels’ points. He may not be at the same pace as his season as last year’s MVP, but he still has 15 home runs, 45 RBI and seven steals with a 130 wRC + as he throws to the tune of a 3.28 ERA. Another 30/20 season could easily happen. He has reduced his strikeouts a bit but he also walks a lot less (less than 10%). His success rate is still high (46.6%) but not over 50% like last season.
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC): 3-5, 2B, 2 FC, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.
Staying with the Angels-Royals game, Bobby Witt Jr. was seen slamming the ball across the court with four hard-hitting balls, three of which ended up for extra bases. He had a 392-foot dinger in the first and a 396-foot dinger in the ninth. Witt fully recovered from his struggles in April. He had a 55 wRC + in April, but it was really only the first two weeks of the year that he was fighting. Since April 21, Witt has been cutting .264 / .312 / .500 with 126 wRC +, 10 homers and nine steals. He’s still 22 and he’s in his first year, but he’s showing solid growth and can easily be a fantasy superstar.
Carlos Santana (KC): 4-5, 2B, FC, 2 R, 5 RBI.
Carlos Santana, another player with a triple cycle shyness he has decidedly could have pulled out (only a triple from 2019), have a great night at the plate. Four hits including a home run and five RBI have easily made his best game so far this season. He’s having an interesting year, beating .210 with a .347 OBP. He is walking at an alarming speed of 17.3% with a K rate of just 13.3%. He hasn’t hit higher than .214 since 2o19, but he still has plenty of base. The potency of him also disappeared after 2o19 with ISO around .125. His age is proving, making him difficult to fit into the imagination.
Matt Olson (ATL): 2-5, 2 FC, 2 R, 5 RBI.
With Freddie Freeman having a game, it’s only fitting that Olson gets past it. Olson crushed the ball with four hard-hit balls, two of which made it past the fence. He once he was crushed to 432 feet while the other came to 362 feet. Plus, Olson isn’t showing the same power as his season of nearly 40 home runs last year, now with just 10 bombs. He has cooled down in the last few weeks after a good start to the year. In June, his slash line is only .221 / .302 / .429 and that includes last night’s strong performance. His BABIP was much lower despite a lower ground ball speed. His hard hitting rate in the last 50 battles has also risen to its highest all season. He is perfectly fine.
Jared Walsh (LAA): 3-6, 2B, 3B, FC, 2 D, 2 RBI.
Another player just shy of the cycle and this time it’s just a single, just a little single. Walsh scored three extra base hits and added a hard knock to the ground. Double him was squashed to 112 MPH. I feel like Walsh’s season has been stifled a little by Taylor Ward and all the other insanely similar names that the Angels have in their day-to-day lineup. Walsh is the powerful first baseman who crushed 29 dingers last year and led in 98 runs (he’s crazy). He cut .277 / .340 / .509 last year and kept it with a .261 / .308 / .482 this season with 13 dingers and 40 RBI. As of May 4, Walsh has released a .284 / .324 / .562 bar with 11 home runs for a 149 wRC +. I haven’t heard a single thing about him all year, so I’m glad this game has appeared today.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)