D-backs’ Emmanuel Rivera among MLB’s top hitters since joining Arizona

Sep 3, 2022, 12:15 PM | Updated: 12:18 pm
Emmanuel Rivera #15 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a third inning solo home run against the Color...
Emmanuel Rivera #15 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a third inning solo home run against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 13, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks quietly made one of the most impactful trade deadline acquisitions in Major League Baseball by adding infielder Emmanuel Rivera from the Kansas City Royals.

The 26-year-old collected three hits in Arizona’s 2-1 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers Friday night, including the game-tying RBI double to the deepest part of Chase Field.

His heroics upped his OPS to .931 since his D-backs debut on Aug. 3, which is No. 13 in the majors during that time. His 1.3 fWAR in that span is tied with former AL MVP Jose Altuve for No. 15 in baseball.

“He was swinging it well right before he came over as well, so it could just be settling into his big league career, more at-bats,” D-backs hitting coach Joe Mather said this week. “We just kept it rolling.”

Arizona traded pitcher Luke Weaver for Rivera, who had 92 career MLB games under his belt with Kansas City.

The former Royals infielder was hitting below the Mendoza Line (.200) entering July, but he turned a corner ahead of getting dealt. He hit .333 in 17 July games and was batting .237 by the end of the month.

Rivera hit the ground running in Arizona, hitting a home run and scoring twice in his third game. His five long balls since Aug. 3 are second on the team behind Christian Walker.

He has filled a need for the D-backs in the infield and as a right-handed power bat. He’s primarily played third base but is also Walker’s backup at first.

“It was a nice pickup from our front office, has filled a gap for us as a righty bat off the bench and in the situations where he’s started,” Mather said. “He’s started against some righties and has done a nice job.”

His batting average on balls in play (babip) is .315, which is slightly above league average but not extreme enough to believe he is simply finding holes. Rivera is striking out less (18.2%) and walking more (11.4%) with Arizona than he did earlier in the season with the Royals, as his approach has taken form of many of his teammates.

Since the start of July, the D-backs have the league’s best walk-to-strikeout ratio at 0.48.

Mather said a key for Rivera to keep up his success is to stay inside the ball, especially on sinkers.

“Puts work on it every day, sometimes a little just to touch it up, sometimes more because he knows what’s coming,” Mather said.

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