One of the best hitters in the game started the year in the Minors and was optioned back over halfway through. Additionally, he doesn’t appear on the leader boards because of falling short of the minimum plate appearances. Any guesses?
For those who follow the game, a few might know that this player is Keston Hiura.
The slugger has a 1.009 OPS through his first 160 at bats. He also boasts a 1.5 WAR through 43 games. If he qualified, that would have Hiura ranking fifth in OPS. At his pace, he would also rank 25th with a 3.56 WAR if he played the same 102 games as the leader, Cody Bellinger. This would have Hiura sitting just below Kris Bryant and Jeff McNeil and just ahead of Francisco Lindor and Freddie Freeman. Huira’s .325 batting average would have him tied with Michael Brantley for fifth best in all of baseball. His .619 slugging percentage would have him sitting fourth in baseball, just behind MVP candidates Bellinger, Mike Trout, and Christian Yelich.
In the case of total bases, Hiura has 99 in 43 games. If he had played the same games of Bellinger again, he would have 234, which would have him just behind Bellinger and his 246. Basically what this means, Hiura is putting up MVP numbers over a half-season sample size.
Though that is such a small sample size, Hiura has been consistent throughout the season. After strong start to the season, Hiura was optioned back to Triple-A. After coming back with a vengeance, he has taken his game to a new level.
While he has been solid in all counts, Hiura does most of his damage while ahead in the count. He is hitting .429 with a 1.240 OPS in that situation. With the count even, that drops just slightly to .356 with a 1.109 OPS. With this he has been garnering a lot of respect in these situations. Another interesting fact is that Hiura has been green lighted four times in a 3-0 count. He has had three hits, with two doubles, in this situation.
Hiura has also been clutch for the Brewers. In a situation considered late and close, hitting .407 with a 1.404 OPS. This includes an .889 slugging percentage. Additionally, his OPS increasingly goes up depending on the highest leverage. In the lowest and medium leverage, it is .996 and .989, respectively. In the highest leverage, it is 1.092.
Finally, Hiura uses all fields with power. Of his 11 home runs, only three were pulled. Two more were opposite field, and six of them were back up the middle. The numbers are mirrored in doubles, with two pulled, three to the opposite field, and five more back up the middle. Finally, 28 of Hiura’s 52 hits are back up the middle.
While Hiura, who turns just 23 this week, will not likely get the attention nationally that others with larger sample sizes get, he is still putting up comparable numbers to MVP candidates…with this, he figures to be in the talk in the future with a full season of sample size.