Welcome to the Sunday Funday Stat Leaderboard. If you were following my work ahead of my transition to NBC Sports then you might know this as the Samulski Sunday Tribune. It's a new name, but if the same column with just a few sections removed since it's now FULLY FREE.
If you're new to this column, the goal is to present you with the top performers in a few key stats for this week of action. I then try to give some context to some of the names on that list, so we can begin to see just how real this hot week of production was. This way we can together decide if these are players we should be bidding on, bidding BIG on, or maybe trying to trade away or trade for.
I also have a sections of minor league leaders over the last 30 days, so we can see if there are any under-the-radar names that might be worth stashing. So far this season, those leaderboards put us onto Matt McLain , Trey Cabbage , Tanner Bibee , Bryan Woo , Nolan Jones , Maikel Garcia , Dairon Blanco , and many more weeks (sometimes months) ahead of their call-up. That can be valuable insight in redraft leagues.
With that said, let's dive into the leaders from this week. Happy Sunday!
Hitting Leaders (Week of August 21st)
Hard Hit Baseballs
Bryce Harper , PHI - 14 hard-hit baseballs (82.4%)
Alex Verdugo, BOS - 13 hard-hit baseballs (52.0%)
Connor Joe, PIT - 11 hard-hit baseballs (68.8%)
Alec Bohm , PHI- 11 hard-hit baseballs (64.7%)
Michael Harris II, ATL - 11 hard-hit baseballs (64.7%)
Teoscar Hernandez, SEA - 11 hard-hit baseballs (64.7%)
Gunnar Henderson , BAL - 11 hard-hit baseballs (61.1%)
Since the trade deadline, Connor Joe has emerged as the everyday first baseman for Pittsburgh and has regularly been hitting fifth in their lineup. In the second half of the season, that has led to a .295/.400/.500 triple slash with three home runs, 16 runs scored, and nine RBI in 29 games. Over that same span, Joe sports a 12.3% walk rate and 17.9% strikeout rate, so he's showing a good feel for the strike zone and plus contact ability. We saw that in Colorado as well, so this is not a fluke, but Joe is also now in a worse hitting environment and on a poor offense that won't allow him to drive in too many runs. That said, if you're looking for a batting average boost down the stretch, he could be an intriguing deep league option.
This week Alex Verdugo became the only player in Boston Red Sox history to leadoff three straight games with a home run. That's a pretty crazy stat. While we can't expect Verdugo to keep up that kind of power, he is locked back into regular playing time with Jarren Duran on the IL, and Verdugo has been tremendous since getting benched earlier in the month. He's not available in most leagues, but it's time to scoop him up if somebody in your league got impatient.
Just updating Alex Verdugo’s numbers since the benching (8/5):
18 Games - 73 PA
If the Red Sox are going to go anywhere, they need the Verdugo from the first few months of 2023.
This looks a lot more like him. Especially in the… pic.twitter.com/ZLHV16eJ1W
— Tyler Milliken ⚾️ (@tylermilliken_) August 26, 2023
Shea Langeliers , OAK 4 home runs
Marcell Ozuna , ATL - 4 home runs
Aaron Judge , NYY - 4 home runs
Adam Duvall , BOS - 4 home runs
It was a pretty good week for DJ LeMahieu , who hit .412 with three home runs, five runs scored, and three RBI. But those three home runs and three RBI tell you a lot about the state of the Yankees' offense right now. Still, the veteran is hitting .333/.429/.517 in 17 games in August with those three home runs, seven runs, and five RBI. He's also hitting .318/.425/.477 in 31 games since the All-Star break and is hitting lead-off every day for the Yankees with Anthony Rizzo out. If you're looking for batting average, LeMahieu is proving that he can still deliver.
I'm not sure what Mitch Garver needs to do to get more love. He's rostered in just 22% of Yahoo! leagues, but since August 1st, he's second among all catchers in WAR and tops among all catchers in wRC+ and offensive WAR. In August, he's hitting .320/.393/.653 with seven home runs, 11 runs scored, and 15 RBI in 21 games. He's starting every day at either catcher or DH and needs to be rostered in one catcher leagues unless you have one of the few true studs at the position.
Noelvi Marte , CIN - 3 SBs
Ronald Acuna Jr., ATL - 3 SBs
Elly De La Cruz , CIN - 3 SBs
Matt McLain , CIN - 3 SBs
Geraldo Perdomo , ARI - 3 SBs
There are three Reds in the top five here, which is wild, especially when you consider that their opponents - the Diamondbacks and Angels - are top four in stolen bases allowed per game this season. This Cincinnati team is going to get on base and go. That includes Marte, who has four steals in seven games already despite having just 18 in the minors this season. However, he's also hitting .227 with a 32% strikeout rate, so it's important to keep expectations in check. It looks like Marte will run, but his average won't be high, and he's hitting at the bottom of the order, so he has just two runs scored and one RBI in seven games. There is talent here, but he might only consistently help you in one category to close the season.
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Pitching Leaders (Week of August 21st)
SwStr% (Starting Pitchers)
Zack Wheeler , PHI - 26.3% SwStr%
Spencer Strider , ATL- 25.5% SwStr%
Blake Snell , SD - 22.7% SwStr%
Lucas Giolito , LAA - 22.0 SwStr%
Chris Sale , BOS - 21.3% SwStr%
Aaron Civale, TB - 20.0% SwStr%
Kyle Harrison, SF - 20.0% SwStr%
Merrill Kelly , ARI - 19.8% SwStr%
Eury Perez , MIA - 18.4% SwStr%
Cole Ragans , KC - 18.2% SwStr%
Many people expected Aaron Civale to go to Tampa Bay and become a different type of pitcher. The truth is, that hasn't really been the case. His pitch mix is essentially the same, with a slight decrease in cutters. He has a touch more vertical movement on his curve and a little more ride on his fastball, but nothing that screams "This is what Tampa wanted to fix." In fact, Civale had a better July in Cleveland than he's had so far in August with Tampa. The one discernible difference is that his strikeout rate in the first half the season was 20.7% with a 9.9% swinging strike rate, while, in August, he's had a 22.7% strikeout rate and a 10.6% swinging strike rate. So it seems like we should view Civale as basically the same pitcher he's always been with just a touch more strikeout upside.
Kyle Harrison made his MLB debut this week, allowing two runs on five hits in 3.1 innings. However, he also struck out five to just one walk and posted a 42% whiff rate and 37% CSW against a good Phillies team. He was basically a two pitch pitcher on Tuesday with a four-seam fastball and a slurve accounting for 95% of his pitch mix. While both missed bats, Harrison relied a lot on the four-seamer but it had a 115 Stuff+, which backs up his trust in it.
— KNBR (@KNBR) August 22, 2023
The potential issue going forward is that the slurve had just an 82 Stuff+ and no other pitch graded out well aside from a change-up he threw twice. Now, it's a super small sample size, and we know Harrison has produced whiffs in the minors, but this is also a Giants team that is filled with piggyback starters and doesn't really let their pitchers (aside from Logan Webb ) go deep into games. I'm interested in Harrison long-term, but I wouldn't go crazy with bids in redraft leagues.
I wrote about Cole Ragans after his first start in Kansas City and discussed the changes he was making that seemed to unlock some upside. Then he immediately got demoted in Triple-A, and I assumed I was reading too much into one start. Well, in his six starts with the Royals, he has a 2.08 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 34.2 innings. I was only able to add him in one league by the time he had proven himself. The morale of the story is just that you can do all the analysis you want, but if you don't act on what you're seeing or don't believe enough in your own eyes then somebody is bound to beat you to the punch. It's always better to bet on "your guys" and lose than to wait around to be 100% sure and have somebody else reap the rewards.
Kyle Finnegan , WAS - 3 saves
Adbert Alzolay , CHC - 3 saves
Paul Sewald , ARI - 2 saves
Trevor May , OAK - 2 saves
David Bednar , PIT - 2 saves
Andres Munoz , SEA - 2 saves
Carlos Estevez , LAA - 2 saves
Pete Fairbanks , TB - 2 saves
This person isn't on the rundown above, but Yennier Cano needs to be added in all leagues. The Orioles set up man is currently 62% rostered in Yahoo! leagues, so he's not available in many leagues, but with Felix Bautista on the IL with a UCL injury, it looks like Cano will serve as the Orioles' closer for the rest of the year. If Bautista has to undergo Tommy John surgery, then Cano could be Baltimore's closer for all of 2024, which would make him exceptionally valuable in keepers leagues too. Just make sure to check your league.
MINOR LEAGUE CALL-UPS
With the minor league season ending and prospects who are called up now still retaining rookie eligibility for next season, we could continue to see a few more interesting players get promotions. I'll just give my thoughts on these guys here and also give a hat tip to some of the main prospect writers I follow who help provide this info. Guys like James Anderson, Eric Cross, and Chris Clegg. I highly recommend you search them out on Twitter.
Everson Pereira - OF, NYY: The Yankees' outfielder is just 2-for-18 in five games with two RBI and a 36.8% strikeout rate. However, he hit .312/.386/.551 in 35 games at Triple-A this year with eight home runs and four steals, so there is some value here. He has pop in his bat and should play regularly in New York. However, he also had a 28% strikeout rate in Triple-A, so don't expect a high batting average to end this season.
Drew Rom - SP, STL: The left-hander had a rough MLB debut on Monday, giving up eight runs (six earned) on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings of work. However, he’ll get another chance on Sunday, remaining in Matthew Liberatore’s spot in the rotation. Rom had two tremendous starts in Triple-A for the Cardinals but had a 5.34 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, and a 100/46 K/BB ratio across 86 innings at Triple-A Norfolk before being traded, so it’s unclear what his true MLB level will be.
Jordan Wicks - SP, CHC: Jordan Wicks was stellar in his debut on Saturday, allowing one run in five innings while giving up two hits and striking out nine. On the day, he had a 36.3% CSW and 16.3% SwStr%, but I'll let Rick, who runs a prospect database called PARSlist explain his tweet below. He's a good follow, so make sure you check out his work if you haven't yet.
— Rick M (@PARSlist) August 26, 2023
Parker Meadows - OF, DET: Austin Meadows ' brother is the first Tigers player with two extra base hits and four walks in their first four games. Through five games, he's now hitting .353/.476/.706 with a home run, four RBI, and a steal. He had 19 home runs and 19 steals in 113 Triple-A games this year but was also hitting just .256, so it's unclear if the batting average can remain high, but there is some power/speed in the bat. Just don't expect a ton of power in that ballpark.
Michael Busch - 2B, LAD: Busch has started in three of the four games since being called up, so it appears that playing time will be consistent as long as J.D. Martinez remains on the IL with a strained groin. While Busch has proven all he can in the minors, he's also 1-for-11 in those three starts, so he's a good reminder that we need to exercise patience with rookie hitters. Given the learning curve and the likely return of Martinez in a few weeks, I think Busch has a short runway of decent but not great production coming up.
Wilyer Abreu - OF, BOS: With Jarren Duran having been placed on the IL with a sprained toe, Abreu should get semi-regular starts in the outfield in the short term; however, he will remain part of a rotation with Adam Duvall, Alex Verdugo, and Masataka Yoshida , so he likely won't see everyday at-bats. The 24-year-old is 6-for-13 (.429) in his first four games for Boston with a home run and five RBI and had been on a hot streak in Triple-A before being called up, hitting .424/.528/.949 in August with 9 HR, 4 2B, and 25 RBI. There's some potential in his bat, but I just don't think there's enough playing time here outside of deep leagues.
Ryan Pepiot - SP, LAD: Pepiot pitched well on Thursday, striking out six in four innings against Cleveland. However, he was also the third pitcher used in the game and will seemingly be used as bulk reliever going forward. He should be worth using in deeper mixed leagues for as long as the Dodgers treat him as a bulk guy, but the likely cap on his innings makes him hard to trust in shallow leagues.
Korey Lee - C, CHW: The 25-year-old catcher was acquired from Houston at the trade deadline for Kendall Graveman . Lee was hitting .255/.309/.275 in 14 games in Charlotte with four RBI and one steal. He will likely serve as Yasmani Grandal’s back-up and will get a chance to start against left-handed pitchers early on, which kind of limits his fantasy value.