Good things happen when you put the ball in play and not a lot of hitters do it better than Jose Pirela and Eric Hosmer.
Watching San Diego Padres up-and-coming talent Franchy Cordero and Franmil Reyes obliterate baseballs into the stratosphere is fun to watch, occasionally. Simple base-hits are just as exciting, remember Hunter Renfroe‘s Wednesday night’s walk-off? The cliche goes, good things happen when you put the ball in play. A few Padres’ hitters are pretty good at doing that.
Jose Pirela has been a punching bag for Padres fans all season and it’s getting old. Only Travis Jankowski and Eric Hosmer have a higher batting average and on-base percentage than Pirela. He leads the team in hits and runs scored and is second in doubles.
Pirela has yet to hit his first home run and is producing the fourth highest groundball rate in all of Major League Baseball. His hot-hitting teammate, Eric Hosmer, is four spots behind him, sitting with the eighth highest groundball rate. Each are sitting at 56% and 55.5%, respectively. However, both putting up solid seasons in San Diego.
Ian Desmond leads all of baseball with a 64.8% groundball rate and as a result, is posting a .218 BABIP. Kole Calhoun sits in between Pirela and Hosmer and has a pedestrian .185 BABIP. However, Pirela and Hosmer are each among the league leaders in BABIP with .353 and .349, respectively.
Different approaches, same result.
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Both are getting on base through different means. Pirela may be keeping the ball on the ground, however, he is hitting it hard. He ranks in the top 20 in average exit-velocity on groundballs, 90.4 mph.
Hosmer is hitting the ball harder than he has in years, however, Hosmer’s high average on balls in play can be attributed to his line-drive rate. Just over 25% of his contact this season has been a line-drive, according to Fangraphs. His previous high was 23.6%, back in 2015 with the Kansas City Royals.
Unfortunately, outside of Travis Jankowski and Franchy Cordero, no other regular in the lineup has a BABIP over .300 (A.J. Ellis does, but only has 73 plate appearances).
Both Hosmer and Pirela are more than capable of keeping these numbers as high as they are. The question is, can the bottom of the order begin to help move them around the bases?