The can of corn made a comeback at Petco Park in 2017. After two years of surprising power — Petco ranked 10th and 19th on the home-run park-factor leaderboard the previous two years — the taters disappeared this year. San Diego’s home yard is the second-hardest park to homer this season, per the park-factor computation. Only AT&T Park is stingier.
But you wouldn’t know it from Wednesday night’s affair. Take a bow, Hunter Renfroe.
Arizona scored a 13-7 victory over the Padres, but Renfroe’s monster game took center stage. Renfroe clocked three home runs into the marine layer, hitting two of Robbie Ray and one off Braden Shipley. Renfroe now sits at 24 homers, not bad for someone who was optioned to the minors a month ago.
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Power is Renfroe’s game, of course. His .470 slugging percentage helps to offset a .234 average and .290 on-base percentage. He’s been dynamic in the platoon advantage (.340/.424/.718, 10 homers in 103 at-bats) but hasn’t figured out right-handed pitching (.630 OPS). He’s also rung up 128 strikeouts against a modest 27 walks. The Padres would like Renfroe to figure things out fairly soon, as he turns 26 in January.
To be fair, Renfroe’s accomplishment came on a night when the ball was rocketing out of Petco. Nine home runs were hit in all, a new park record. The Friars won the Home Run Derby, 5-4, but the Snakes were more timely with their hitting.
Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a power boost, Renfroe is worth consideration down the stretch. The Padres face four left-handers in their next eight games, the platoon edge that Renfroe absolutely crushes. The San Diego slugger is available for immediate delivery in 81 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• Milwaukee’s stomach-punch loss at Pittsburgh was probably the most notable result from Wednesday’s slate. The Brewers couldn’t hold 2-0 and 4-3 leads, eventually losing when Adam Frazier took Corey Knebel deep in the bottom of the ninth. As entertaining as Milwaukee’s season has been, there have been some soul-crushing defeats. This one leaves a mark.
But let’s see the positive side of the coin. Milwaukee might have a star in left-handed pitcher Josh Hader.
The fire-breathing southpaw worked a clean inning Wednesday, striking out two. Hader’s now sitting on a 1.73 ERA and 0.98 WHIP for his 41.2 innings. His control can be wonky now and then — 21 free passes — but he’s also struck out 60 batters. His mid-90s fastball is a plus pitch, as is his slider. If you need ratio smoothing or strikeout chasing in the final 11 days, Hader should be on your radar. I’m rostering him on a few key teams.
Josh Hader, 97mph Fastball for a K…with a bit of a Napoleon Dynamite finish. pic.twitter.com/RG1GSgnpYF
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 16, 2017
The organization has to make a decision on Hader’s future. He was a starter in the minors, and well-regarded enough that Baseball Prospectus ranked No. 19 on their 2017 prospect board. Alas, Hader seemed to lose his way in Colorado Springs this year, perhaps because of the thin air and the hitter-friendly PCL. The Brewers ignored his 5.37 ERA in the minors, recalling him in June and shifting him to the bullpen.
At 23, Hader is far from a finished prospect. He might need a better change-up — a pitch he’s all but scrapped in Milwaukee — if he’s going to hack it as a starter. But in the meantime, every appearance is must-see TV. The heater, the wipeout slider, the hair, it all fits the knockout-reliever profile. And we’ll take all the bagels, and as many strikeouts, as we can get.
• When you think of the Phillies these days, Rhys Hoskins is the player you visualize. He’s been a monster since his recall in August. But there are some other Phils making noise on offense, with modest fanfare.
Aaron Altherr is trying to get our attention, clocking home runs in his last three games. A hamstring injury had him on the disabled list for about five weeks, but he looks fine now. His overall batting profile is entirely ownable — a .281/.351/.539 slash, with 19 homers in 97 games.
Perhaps the DL stint pushed owners off the scent, because Altherr is only rostered in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues. This is a useful player, here to help. Acquire like a champion today.