Martín Maldonado has become a staple of the Astros roster throughout the Golden Era. He brings invaluable leadership in the clubhouse, exceptional pitch-calling, above-average framing, a cannon of a right arm to neutralize would be base stealers and an unparalleled ability to guide pitchers through tough spots.
Maldy has always shown an ability to turn around a fastball left over the heart of the plate, but he's not employed by Houston for his bat. A career .209 hitter, Maldy will never be confused with Jonny Bench or Mike Piazza.
Maldy is hitting .213 this year with a .637 line this season. He turned on a Corbin Burnes' cutter last night for a second-deck home run, his third of the season. A big fly from Maldy here and there isn't that unsurprising, but beyond the occasional blast, not much more would be expected of him.
A 105.2 mph single back up the middle in the sixth was just a cherry on top. He drew a walk in the bottom of the 7th, finishing his night 2-3 with a home run, walk and an RBI. What a night for Maldy!
But if you've been paying close attention, this hasn't been that out of the ordinary over the last month. Over the last 28 days, Maldy is hitting .273 with an .811 OPS. Those are the marks of a well above-average big-league hitter. Over the last two weeks, he's hitting .313 with a .968 OPS. Those are phenomenal marks.
He's still not an All-Star caliber bat over 162 games, but his Statcast metrics are far better than last year. His xBA is up from .181 to .216. He carries a walk rate 3% higher than last season. One big improvement has been Maldy's chase rate, which he has cut from 31% to 27.1%.
Maldy finished last season in the first percentile in xBA and xwOBA, sixth percentile in xSLG and strikeout rate, and 18th percentile in walk rate. This season he is in the 12th pcercentile in strikeut rate, 13th percentile in xBA, 15th percentile in xSLG, 17th percentile in xwOBA, and he's all the way up to 52nd percentile in walk rate.
Again, not a Hall of Famer by any means, but a massive improvement from last season.
With José Abreu struggling so badly and Alex Bregman off to a bit of a slow start, the Astros offense needs all the help it can get. Maldy is doing his part to help the Astros offense continue to push runs across the plate.