Ray's Ramblings - Bruce, Bellinger, Judge
Jay Bruce has been dealt to the Indians. How does his addition simplify or complicate things in the Indians outfield? Yonder Alonso cannot hit at the moment. Same thing can be said about Alex Avila, who some folks want to add in light of the Willson Contreras injury. Cody Bellinger is getting every single inch out of his talent right now. Meanwhile, Aaron Judge is still hitting homers, but his batting average is cratering. More people should be talking about Cesar Hernandez, but they aren’t. Come to think of it, why aren’t more folks talking about HOF bound Joey Votto?
BRUCE TO INDIANS
Indians Receive: OF Jay Bruce
Mets Receive: RHP Ryder Ryan
*I wrote about how a deal can still be made, even though the trade deadline has passed, in Can Player Still Be Traded?
The deal had been looked at for a while, prior to the trade deadline there were talks, with the Indians finally deciding they need to make the move with Michael Brantley hitting the DL with an ankle issue. "Michael was imaged (MRI) on Tuesday night," said manager Terry Francona. "It's the same ankle he sprained earlier in the year. It's in a little different area. It's considered mild, but it's such a small area and you have to go more on the symptoms than maybe the diagnosis.'' Don’t forget that Lonnie Chisenhall is also out with a calf issue that is taking longer to heal than the team had hoped. "The combination of the two (injuries) provided the opportunity to bring someone in like Jay and get him at-bats," said GM Chris Antonetti in a late-night conference call. "Obviously, if Michael and Lonnie are healthy and unrestricted to this point, we wouldn't have the opportunity to get a player like Jay.” The Indians will pay the remaining salary of Bruce, about $4.2 million, and they send Ryder Ryan to the Mets, who has 49 strikeouts and six saves over 41.1 frames.
Bruce has hit 29 homers with 75 RBI this season for the Mets.
The last five seasons an average Bruce effort has been .245-29-93-80-7.
This season, he’s on pace go to .256-42-109-89-0.
He’s one of the most underrated power bats in baseball.
He should continue to power the baseball with the Indians, as long as his neck is alright.
1 – We don’t know how much time Brantley will miss.
2 – Chisenhall has taken a bit longer to return than expected. It can also be safely said that Chisenhall is by no means a .953 OPS hitter, his current mark.
3 – The Indians outfield really has no power. The outfield has hit 37 homers this season. They need Bruce’s power bat out there, badly.
4 – Bruce hasn’t hit well against lefties, but it’s not like a .763 OPS says he should be benched against lefties.
I see Bruce playing at least 85 percent of time the rest of the way – when the club is whole. At least. If he goes into a long funk, something that does happen, he could lose playing time provided Brantley/Chisenhall are healthy. The real issue for the team is that Austin Jackson and Bradley Zimmer are their centerfielders. The team has used Chisenhall out there, and they could do that with Bradley and Bruce covering the corners, though Chisenhall is far from an elite defensive option out there. My best guess is that Brantley and Bruce should play nearly every day with the other guys battling for work in center.
There was some excitement on Twitter, as folks were hoping that Dominic Smith could be called up to take Bruce’s roster spot. Soon he will be up. Soon. Here is what I wrote about Smith two weeks ago. “Smith is a 22-year-old lefty swinger, who is about six feet tall while checking in around 240 lbs. He’s not exactly svelte, and for a guy his size, there are a lot of questions about his pop and whether or not he will end up producing power numbers worthy of starting in mixed leagues as a first baseman. He’s shown more power this season, but he’s still looked at as more of a gap-to-gap type with a good hit-tool... The bat will play in the big leagues, not much doubt there, but if he ends up being a Yulieski Gurriel type hitter, is that going to excite anyone?” Smith has mashed with a .330/.386/.519 slash line in the PCL at Las Vegas. A notorious hitter’s league, nearly all players post inflated numbers there. With all the strength at the first base position, it’s hard to envision many mixed league scenarios in which Smith will become a must-add upon his promotion.
THIS AND THAT...
Yonder Alonso since July 15th: one homer, .303 SLG, .636 OPS over 22 games.
Cody Bellinger hit four homers in July. He’s already hit five in eight August games. All told, he has a .267/.344/.617 slash line this season in a marvelous rookie effort. Given his 0.64 GB/FB ratio, and the 27 percent K-rate, it’s hard to envision the average going up much. He’s hit .264 at home and .269 on the road. He’s hit .259 against lefties and .270 against righties. As for the power, it’s always been a legit tool. I think we should be cautious in accepting his 31 percent HR/FB ratio against righties, though, since that’s a massive number. His 22.5 percent mark against lefties is also a bit elevated for a lefty swinger. It’s also a concern, at least to me, that he has a 45.7 percent hard hit ball rate. That mark is 4th best in baseball and it’s a rather large number. Can he sustain that level? I would say it is unlikely. Bellinger has been great, but he’s pushing the homer envelope to the point where regression is more likely than not.
Willson Contreras injured his hamstring Wednesday, and it looks like an injury that could knock him out for an extended period of time. To fill the void, folks have been asking about the player who is going to take over for him with the Cubs – Alex Avila. To the folks asking that question I would say: where have you been the last month? Avila has stopped hitting. Not a little bit either. He’s just stopped. Since the All-Star Break, he’s batting .122 with a .190 wOBA. Why would you have any interest in adding him? Don’t forget that, from 2013-16, Avila was a below league average performer with the bat (.216/.331/.354 line over 1,264 plate appearances). It always amazes me how a 2-3 month run of success can wipe out yearrrrrsssss of performance in some folks minds. Don’t turn to Avila as a replacement. For a replacement, check out the August Rankings Update.
Josh Donaldson is finally hot. Over his last eight outings, he’s blasted five homers, driven in 11 runs and posted a .574 wOBA. He’s been so blah for so long, it’s hard to fully trust that he’s “back,” but right now he is flat out mashing.
Cesar Hernandez went to the disabled list and everyone just forgot about him. That was a mistake. In 102 plate appearances since his return, the second baseman has hit .337 with a .431 OBP and a .477 SLG, leading to a .393 wOBA. He’s also scored 16 times with six steals over 21 games. Check out the slash line too. Last season, it was at .294/.371/.393. This year, the marks are .293/.363/.420. Yep, he is what he is, and that’s a strong offensive performer who doesn’t do anything exceptionally well.
Looks like Rhys Hoskins will indeed be called up today for the Phillies to start in left field and bat seventh. I gave my thoughts on him in this Ray’s Ramblings piece.
Aaron Judge is batting .187 his last 22 games and .226 the last 40 games. His batting average is all the way down to .294 for the season, and he still owns a .382 BABIP that strongly suggests his average could fall further still. How about this. In his first 54 games, Judge hit .321. The last 54, he’s hit .266.
Coming into game action Thursday Joey Votto was working on a 14-game hitting streak: .477/.610/.818. He had walked 13 times, while only striking out five times, on his way to a .580 wOBA. Votto extended his hitting streak to 15-games Thursday, as he went 1-for-2 with two runs scored and three walks. He’s a stupendous offensive performer.
Ray Flowers can be heard Monday-Friday, 8-10 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 8 PM EDT PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work on Twitter (@baseballguys).