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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not: May 4, 2021

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Benny goin’ at it

Andrew Benintendi #16 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his second inning home run against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 23, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.
Andrew Benintendi #16 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his second inning home run against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 23, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Welcome to another edition of who’s hot and who’s not, the weekly column where we take a look at what the Kansas City Royals hitters have done recently. In a long season, players can have hot or cold streaks and fly under the radar while doing so. But not here!

Today, we’re looking at the 10-game stretch from Wednesday, April 21 through Sunday, April 2. We’re also going to lower the plate appearances threshold from 25 to 20. Why? Because I can. But seriously, it’s unfair to not give credit to part-time players who are hitting the ball well. Let’s begin!

Who’s Hot

Andrew Benintendi

  • .419/.486/.742
  • 245 wRC+
  • 0.6 WAR

Carlos Santana

  • .324/.432/.568
  • 180 wRC+
  • 0.5 WAR

Ryan O’Hearn

  • .167/.286/.500
  • 119 wRC+
  • 0.1 WAR

How can you hit .167 and still be hot? Because you’re slugging .500, that’s how. O’Hearn has been walking a lot and hitting for a bunch of power, and when you hit two home runs every six games, that’s gonna work out.

But really, the main story here is that Benintendi is as hot as you can expect a human to be. Walking more than he’s striking out? Check—11.4% vs 8.6%. Hitting for home runs? Check—three in the past 10 games. Hitting for average? Check—.419 is pretty good when league average this year is .235.

As for Santana, well, he’s just a consummate pro hitter and I’m thinking that he is the early favorite to be the Hottest Royal by the end of the year.

Who’s Meh

Hunter Dozier

  • .167/.211/.500
  • 92 wRC+
  • 0.1 WAR

Jorge Soler

  • .222/.256/.444
  • 91 wRC+
  • 0.0 WAR

Salvador Perez

  • .268/.268/.415
  • 89 wRC+
  • 0.1 WAR

Dozier has seemingly been cold the entire year, but he is heating up. Though he doesn’t have a bunch of hits yet, his BABIP is still very low—suggesting some poor luck—and when he does hit, he hits for extra bases. Indeed, last night, Dozier had yet two more extra base hits, which will show up on next week’s edition. Like Dozier and O’Hearn, Soler is channeling the low-average, high-ISO approach.

Remember when Perez was walking a bunch early on in the year? Yeah, that’s gone away. He’s not hitting for much average, and when you don’t do that, it’s nearly impossible to be a productive hitter if you don’t also walk, which Perez is not doing. Still, the power remains.

Who’s Not

Nicky Lopez

  • .091/.333/.182
  • 70 wRC+
  • 0.0 WAR

Michael A. Taylor

  • .250/.294/.281
  • 66 wRC+
  • 0.1 WAR

Whit Merrifield

  • .214/.244/.262
  • 41 wRC+
  • -0.1 WAR

Let’s start with the one hitter in this group who isn’t (or really shouldn’t be) surprising: Michael A. Taylor. Taylor’s career wRC+ is 80, and his cold streak just isn’t all that cold when you consider his history at the plate. On the other hand, you’ve got a player with a longer track record of success who are struggling in Whit Merrifield. Merrifield is barely hanging around league average on the entire season, but he did hit a home run yesterday, so maybe that helps break him out of his slump.

This brings us to Nicky Lopez, who is having one of the weirdest cold streaks that is possible. Despite batting .091—seriously, .091—Lopez is swinging an above average OBP because of a ridiculous walk rate of 24.2% against a strikeout rate of 9.1%. It’s quite an achievement. So why is he in the “not” tier? Unfortunately, there’s more to hitting than just walking, and there’s just so little you can do with an average under .100.

Hot Leaders

  • Carlos Santana (2)
  • Andrew Benintendi (1)
  • Ryan O’Hearn (1)
  • Jorge Soler (1)
  • Nicky Lopez (1)