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Playing Time Analysis : A breakdown of playing time – hitters who are seeing more of it.

My daughter just turned 10 months old. My wife and I just took her to her first Mets game and it was a success! Lindor, Alonso, and company entertained us with a 5-4 win over George Kirby and the visiting Seattle Mariners. 

That little tidbit has nothing to do with opportunities or playing time, but I wanted to get that out there! 

Now, a great opportunity is for the one who knows when to seize it. Sometimes the opportunity is fortuitous (a trade), other times unfortunate (injury or demotion).  

Here are five players who are taking advantage of unexpected playing time and seizing the moment. 

Brandon Drury (Cincinnati Reds) 3B/2B/OF (53% Yahoo, 51.3% ESPN)

Drury’s playing time expanded as Jonathan India disappeared off the face of the earth (I’m still a fan!) due to a hamstring injury.  

He’s earned his lineup slot (batting 2nd) by putting together a fantastic run over the past few weeks, hitting seven homers and knocking in 25 runs while scoring 22 times. His batting average may not excite you at first glance (.240) but he’s certainly smashing the ball with a .240 ISO, .481 SLG, .348 wOBA and more importantly, a 118 wRC+.

Whether or not Drury stays his hot remains to be seen, but I recommend sticking with him until he cools off (unless this truly is a breakout). Things will get interesting once India does return, but chances are Drury will find a place in the lineup no matter what if he keeps hitting. 

Tyrone Taylor (Milwaukee Brewers) OF (5% Yahoo, 3.7% ESPN)

Come on down, Tyrone!  After Hunter Renfroe went down with an injury, Tyrone stepped in quite nicely. 

From May 22nd through May 27th, Taylor hit .381, with an OPS of 1.105 and two home runs, knocking in eight. 

He is making the most of his playing time lately even with Andrew McCutchen back from the IL. Feels like a hot streak, unlike Drury, who has pretty much locked himself into the lineup. 

He’s been batting 6th mostly, but slotted in at the cleanup spot on May 28th. 

Edwin Rios (Los Angeles Dodgers) 1B/3B (5% Yahoo, 1.1% ESPN) 

Edwin Rios is a beast. I don’t know how else to describe what he’s been doing in such limited playing time. He’s sporting a .279 BA, a 145 wRC+  with an ISO of .279(!). Rios has 6 HR, 16 RBI in just 72 PA. That’s absurd and super exciting, but I need to dampen the excitement a bit by informing you that all this comes with a 38.9% K rate (that’s 28 strikeouts in 68 official ABs). 

His place in the Dodgers lineup has been earned regardless – he’s mashing and that’s what matters most. The interesting thing is that Dave Roberts doesn’t seem to know where he wants him to bat – Rios batted 4th on the 25th, 5th on the 26th and 9th on Friday, the 27th. 

Christopher Morel (Chicago Cubs) 3B/OF (11% Yahoo, 3.5% ESPN)

Morel wasn’t really talked about much as a prospect, but he is surely making his mark right now at the major league level. He homered in a pinch-hit at-bat and is slowly becoming a fixture in the Cubbies lineup, hitting .313, with an OPS of .968 and a wRC+ of 171! 

He’s even chipped in two SB to go along with his two home runs and four RBI.

He’s batted leadoff most of the week, which can lead to healthy run totals (especially if he continues to add some stolen bases). 

William Contreras (Altanta Braves) C (46% Yahoo, 18.4% ESPN)

The younger brother of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras is beginning to make his mark in the majors. He’s got 7 HR to go along with 12 RBI in just 58 PA so far. Atlanta seems very eager to fit him into the lineup even with Travis d’Arnaud by inserting Contreras into the OF or at DH. 

His wRC+ is an outstanding 202(!!), which is accompanied by a .460 ISO.  Like Rios, Willam has been a monster at the plate. 

The lineup slot has been unpredictable as Contreras hit 2nd on Tuesday, May 24th, but since then he has seen time in the 6th or 7th slot. 

It is very likely none of these players were on your draft lists at the beginning of the season, but more importantly – these won’t be the only players out there gaining playing time and value. Many more will come. 

Thanks for reading, 

Eliezer V

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