The phrase “post-hype breakout” gets thrown around a lot these days, but that’s exactly what we’re seeing right now with the Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall.
Chisenhall enjoyed a monster game against the Rangers this evening, going 5-for-5 with three home runs and nine RBI as part of a 17-7 victory. He had an RBI single in the first inning, two-run homers in the second and fourth innings, an RBI double in the sixth, and a three-run blast in the eighth.
Chisenhall matched the Indians record with his nine RBI, which was also done by Chris James on May 4, 1991. He’s just the fourth player since 1920 (when MLB began tracking RBI) to amass five hits, three home runs, and nine RBI in one game and the first since Fred Lynn did it with the Red Sox on June 18, 1975. Going even further, Chisenhall is the first player since 1920 to do it while going a perfect 5-for-5.
Once considered a top prospect with the Indians, Chisenhall underwhelmed to the tune of a .244/.284/.411 batting line over his first 203 games in the majors, but something has clicked so far this year. The 25-year-old is batting .385/.429/.615 with seven home runs and 32 RBI through 51 games. He’s proving that patience is required with young players and can sometimes pay off in a big way.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.