Batter’s Box: Oh, Du Tell!

(Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire)

I could have chosen the easy way out here. I could have looked at the 16-run hurting the ‘Stros put on the Oakland A’s, retitled this “Astros Corner,” and called it a morning. But, you all deserve better. You all deserve the not chalk pick, and that’s what I’m giving you!

And on that note, why is no one talking about Odubel Herrera right now? Before the season, I brought him up to a fantasy buddy (that sounds weird just go with it though), and he said he “just wasn’t an Odubel guy.” So, I guess he’s not into 20 HR/10 SB guys who can hit produce consistently and hit .280? Cool dude. Ok, sure, his line of 19 R/5 HR/20 RBI/1 SB so far may not be the most eye-popping line, but I could sure use that .341/.401/.537 triple slash. How about you? Obviously, that’s not going to last the whole year, but there’s so much underlying value in these steady workhorses. He’s been hot the last two weeks slashing .326/.407/.500, and last night’s line of 2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB just adds to the yeoman-like nature of Herrera’s appeal to me. He’s also pairing that career-low 15% strikeout rate with a usable 8% walk rate, and his contact percentage is just a tick below 80% right now, which would (almost) all be career-highs for him if they hold. While it’s tough to imagine the 15 HR/25 SB guy ever returning, don’t underestimate the value of Odubel in the heart of an improved Phillies offense.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday:

George Springer (OF, Houston Astros) – 6-6, 4 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Springer fell a triple shy of the cycle in the Astros’ rout of the Oakland A’s last night, and he fell a triple shy of being the feature for today’s article as well. What can I say? I set my bar high. Anyways, Springer has really started to heat up as of late recording 3 multi-hit games in his 4 efforts including this 6-hit bonanza. What’s funny is his ISO and BABIP are both under his career average, and so this is probably just the beginning of the good times. Another 30 HR season seems reasonable at this pace.

Kris Bryant (3B, Chicago Cubs) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. KB Toys hit “just” his 5th long-ball of the season in this one, but whatever he’s lacking in power, he’s making up for with good hitting and getting on base. Observe the .290/.412/.561 triple slash as proof. This now makes it 6 games in a row he has hit safely and 2 games in a row with a homerun. Fun fact: if the contact percentage holds somewhere around the 82% he’s at right now, it will be the third year in a row that number has improved. He’s very good.

Nicholas Castellanos (3B, Detroit Tigers) – 3-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB. “Don’t Call Me Nick” Castellanos has gotten a fair amount of ink on the Batter’s Box this year and will continue to do so if he keeps this up. However, his .388 BABIP, among other things, certainly gives me pause especially when considering the .311 average he’s at right now. Something tells me that’s just not going to hold for a guy with a .270 career mark. Still…he’s just 26. Maybe .270 was the old Nick.

Adrian Gonzalez (1B, New York Mets) – 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. A double dong night for the wily veteran! There hasn’t been all that much to get excited about for the Mets’ first bagger so far this year as the numbers continue the steep decline, but he’s already put up far better numbers than last year in less than half the games. He is penciled in as the starting first baseman, but I trust neither his health or production over the course of a full season.

Marwin Gonzalez (1B/SS/2B/OF, Houston Astros) – 3-6, R, HR, 5 RBI. Just about everyone had a big night for the Astros last night, and for a guy who has fallen off big time from last year, this could be just what the doctor ordered. Based on his current 3 HR pace, it’s tough to see Marwin repeating his 23 HR from a year ago. Ah, the outlier year. Oh, and to further bury that expectation, he’s slugging just .211 over the last week and .374 on the year. 15 HR? Maybe.

Matt Adams (1B, Washington Nationals) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB. We keep waiting for the other shoe to drop here, and it’s just not happening. Fat Matt continues to be productive, and he now has 10 HR on the year. That ties him for 3rd most in the NL, and what’s more impressive is he has done that in at least 40 plate appearances less than the 3 others tied with him at 3. He’s absolutely crushing the ball this year with a slugging percentage of .747, and the 40% HR/FB rate is laughable. Sure, there’s regression coming, and xStats thinks so too. However, he currently has an 11% VH rate at the moment. This could be a fun ride.

Alex Bregman (SS/3B, Houston Astros) – 2-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB. A nice night from a guy people are starting to get panicky about. Although the power-speed combo really hasn’t been there at all this year, he’s still walking at a 14% clip compared to his 11% strikeout rate, and that’s helped contribute to the .375 OBP. He’s now in the midst of a 6-game hitting streak, and I’m still not worried. He’s going to be just fine, people.

Jay Bruce (OF, New York Mets) – 2-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB. To own Jay Bruce is to have the patience to ride the ebbs and flows of his bat. Coming into this one, Bruce had been 4/22 with 0 HR, 0 R, 0 RBI and was hitting .182 over the previous 7 games. This, of course, was right after an 8-game hitting streak. Which, of course, was preceded by a dry spell similar to the one he just broke. I think you see where this is going. Following that logic, it’s time for Bruce to get hot again!

Yoenis Cespedes (OF, New York Mets) – 2-4, R, 2 2B, RBI. Another fine night for the diamond-necklaced outfielder who can’t seem to keep his chains in order. We know he has the talent to jack 25 bombs easy, but health has been the issue for the last few years. Knock on wood…so far so good in terms of missing significant time. You can all come back and blame me when he pulls a hammy today. Anyways, despite nights like this, Cespedes is actually striking out a ton, and contact is down almost 8%, which could explain the less than inspiring .254/.309/.468. He’s better than that, though, and some correction should be in short order.

Michael Conforto (OF, New York Mets) – 2-5, R, HR, RBI. What is this? Mets corner?! I don’t have a lot of nice things to say about Conforto’s season so far this year, and so I’ll just not say anything at all. Next….kidding! I know you guys need more than that. This was just his second HR of the year, and he’s now slashing .198/.347/.309. Almost every metric is pointing down right now from his plummeted HR/FB rate to his drop in hard contact rate to his pull percentage. You have to think he’s more talented than this and he will self-correct to the mean…or the Mets just rushed him back too quickly. The latter is more believable.

Scooter Gennett (2B, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Ah, the outlier season of 80 R/27 HR/97 RBI last year. What a thing of beauty. Anyways, this obvious candidate for regression has looked the part so far, and xStats even says he’s probably riding above where he should be at the moment. He has a VH% of just 3.7 after all. However, that doesn’t mean he’s totally worthless, and you should abandon ship. He probably won’t come close to his production from a year ago, but I’m rostering him as a middle infielder in 12-teamers or larger at the moment.

Ian Happ (2B, Chicago Cubs) – 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI. What the line doesn’t include are the two strikeouts that now bring his K% to a whopping 45% on the year. Sakes alive that’s a big number! And just for fun, here’s a fact: Happ had more strikeouts last night than he had extra-base hits (1) since April 24th coming into this one. Oh, and that’s also just 3 hits total in that same time frame. He’s got the stuff to hit 20 out of the yard, but he’s also got the stuff to tank your average in the process.

Max Kepler (OF, Minnesota Twins) – 2-5, R, 2B, RBI. Well, fasten my lederhosen! It’s another nice night from Max Kepler! The German national is now slashing .274/.349/.487 as he continues to be one of the more underrated, solid contributors not in your fantasy outfield at the moment. He’s somehow owned in just 41% of leagues according to FantasyPros’ consensus ownership values, and that’s probably because he does nothing exceptionally great. Just a lot of things pretty well, but there’s value in that kind of steady production. Kepler is still on pace to match the 19 HR he put up last year.

Leonys Martin (OF, Detroit Tigers) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. I, like many others, screwed the pooch by not buying in early enough on Martin. He continues his respectable season with a .294/.355/.508 triple slash and ALERT ALERT ALERT 2016 MARTIN HAS RETURNED. Ok, so maybe that’s overreacting because he’s not posting another 15 HR/24 SB season mainly because…oh I don’t know…you actually have to steal bases to total 24. Lack of thefts aside, he’s seen big gains in flyball and hard contact this year, and could that be the new Martin joining the launch angle revolution or just a fluke? You be the judge.

Nomar Mazara (OF, Texas Rangers) – 2-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. This brings his jacked dong total to 8, and that means he’s well within the pace to blow past the 20 HR he’s hit each of the last two years. He’s been the lone bright spot for the Rangers this year, and some could argue that’s because he’s only one still standing upright in the clubhouse. He’s certainly found his power stroke over the last 7 days as he’s hit 5 of his 8 bombs and he’s slugging .821.

Anthony Rendon (3B, Washington Nationals) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB. This was just his third game back from the DL, and so this was encouraging to see. He has a lot of ground to cover to fulfill the lofty projections of the preseason from this particular “writer” especially, but I’m not worried. The talent and lineup potential are both there.

Amed Rosario (SS, New York Mets) – 2-3, 2 2B, RBI. “This development is taking longer than we hoped,” said a frustrated homeowner who purchased a yet-to-be-completed 4-bedroom, 3-bath property in the new subdivision right off of Cherry Street  is what Mets fans are probably saying about Rosario, and they’re not wrong. He’s slashing just .243/.275/.330 on the year, and the last week has yielded just 4 hits total with 0 extra base hits, 1 R, and 1 RBI. It’s not been going well for him so far, and I’m not rostering him in any league I don’t have to.

Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins) – 2-5, R, 2 2B, RBI. Now, THIS is a Rosario I can get behind. Steady Eddie continues to make last year’s breakout look legit, and he now has an 8-game hitting streak to boot. Watch out, Joltin’ Joe! Over the course of the said hitting streak, he has 4 HR, 5 2B, and he’s been hitting .433. All of those are impressive things.

Addison Russell (SS, Chicago Cubs) – 2-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. He still has yet to go yard this season, but hey, he’s brought his strikeout rate down to 17%! One thing at a time. His hard contact rate is slightly down, and he’s hitting far more balls to the center part of the field right now. Literally having eyes that work tell us that’s the deepest part of the yard, and therefore, that’s the toughest spot to rack up homers in. You see where I’m going with this. The 20 HR of 2016 feel like an outlier, and I’m not rostering Russell at the moment in anything but deep leagues.

Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. He had cooled off after his hot start returning from the DL, but this should get things going the other direction. Although he’s hitting just .200 over the last 7 days coming into this one, he’s been making the hits count with 3 R, 2 HR, and 10 RBI. I’m a big fan of those who scooped him if he got dropped earlier this year.

Cesar Hernandez (2B, Philadelphia Phillies) – 1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB. Much like his teammate Odubel, I don’t understand why Cesar gets underrated so much. Again, there’s no one category he’s going to blow you away in, but he’s currently slashing .274/.397/.419, and I could not be sounding the OBP alarm any louder. He’s rocking a 17% walk rate at the moment, and based on the career .360 OBP mark, it feels legit. Ok, sure, he only has 10 extra base hits on the year, but he’s definitely going to help keep you average and runs scored up.

Carlos Santana (1B, Philadelphia Phillies) – 1-5, R, HR, 4 RBI. Talk about making the one hit count! I try not to include 1-hit performances anymore, but Santana is heating up, and you need to know about it! He’s slashing just .171/.295/.358, but the last few games have indicated that’s turning around in short order. The track record says positive movement toward the mean is inevitable.

Jake Bridges

Jake is a proud native of Birmingham, Alabama and an avid Atlanta Braves fan. So, that basically means he's counting down the days until Opening Day 2020. Jake's first ever fantasy baseball draft pick was Roger Clemens in the 7th grade (1999), but don't worry, he's allegedly learned a lot since then. Previous writing stints include The Fantasy Report and as a prospect writer for The Fantasy Assembly. He currently writes his ramblings and musings for The Turf Sports and appears on the Sports in Short podcast "Whistle Blowers."

Comments


ESB

Worth continuing to hold Ozuna, or would you recommend dropping him for Suarez?

Jake Bridges

I actually would continue to hold Ozuna. He’s a little under where he should be according to xStats, and the ISO is well below his career average. I think he will catch up at some point. Also, those two are projected to have pretty similar stat lines by season’s end. I don’t think you gain anything by swapping Ozuna for Suarez. However, I would do my best to get Suarez on the roster for someone else.

Jake Bridges

Whaaaat? Go pick up EE right now.

As for Adams, xStats has his xSlash at .272/.393/.620. That’s not as good as he’s doing, but that’s pretty dang good. The VH% is at 13% too, which is beyond elite. xBacon at .371. BABIP at .297. All of that tells me he’s earning this, which is so strange to say about Matt Adams. Welcome to 2018. Let’s get weird.

Maris

Great stuff Jake! In categories league, would you trade Luke Weaver (struggling) for Dom Santana? Thanks

Jake Bridges

I’m usually on the side of obtaining the bat over a pitcher and especially when it’s a young pitcher. In this case, however, Santana’s power struggles, high K rate, and playing time questions make me side with Weaver.

Launch Angle

Thanks, Jake.

Couple questions…what about counting stats for Adams ROS? And EE xStats and counting stats? EE looks like his on the exact same pace as last year at this same time.

Jake Bridges

ZIPS currently has Adams at 35 R/16 HR/53 RBI/.270 ROS. xStats doesn’t do stat projections to my knowledge, but Andrew has Adams with a .256/.300/.462 ROS triple slash. I’ll say 15 HR/40 RBI/.255 ROS.

As for EE, I see absolutely no reason he can’t come close to the 38 HR he hit a year ago. Also, that OBP should jump way up ROS to get back to his career average, which is encouraging. xStats, unfortunately, says he’s earned the struggles in the early part of the year, but again, there should be some positive regression to his norms. Like you said, this is a similar pace to what he did last year. I’m not worried.

theKraken

I’d say Happ is a lock to hit 20 HR. I think he would hit 30 with an everyday job. He also runs a bit and walks. Other young hitters with this starter kit get a lot of free passes but not Happ. Those counting stats that you are pointing at are largely a product of lack of ABs. Many of his games played consist of one AB. In reality, you should probably cut him a lot of slack as he has one of the tougher jobs in MLB – which was formerly Javy Baez’ role. Javy has taken off with a more defined job and I don’t doubt that Happ would follow suit to some extent, but the Cubs are busy trying to prop up other players value at the expense of the usual scapegoats. I think Happ is an excellent buy-low candidate. Its the players that get tons of flack that are the buy-lows, not the ultra-hyped guys having a bad month that we like to pretend are. Is he risky? Yes, but there are also more tools there than a lot of more heralded players and he has never gotten a real opportunity to be more than a utility player.

Jake Bridges

Yes, I agree he would hit 30 with an everyday job, but at what cost to the team? You make it sound like the Cubs are being tough on him. Perhaps. However, the Cubs don’t need to play a guy who strikes out as much as he does to be good. They can be successful without that mess in their lineup. So why give him the at-bats? There’s a reason for the lack of ABs is what I’m saying.

Launch Angle

Jake,
Do you like Schoop or Scooter in a standard 5×5 season long roto league? I’m uneasy about the O’s as a whole.

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