5,000 Candels in the Wind

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday's games.

Jeimer Candelario (DET): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

After a lengthy rebuild, 2022 was supposed to be the year the Tigers pushed their way back into playoff contention. Detroit’s front office brought in three big-name veterans in the offseason – Javier Báez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Austin Meadows – to complement a team with top prospects on their way to the majors and a pitching staff full of young arms.

Unfortunately, not all plans come to fruition. With just over a week remaining before MLB’s trade deadline, the Tigers are firmly sellers. At 39-58, they have the second-worst record in the American League.

It’s been a disappointing season for nearly everyone in the Motor City, including Jeimer Candelario.

The Tigers’ third baseman entered 2022 coming off two straight years of solid production at the plate. In 201 combined games during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Candelario hit .278/.356/.458 while generating 5.7 fWAR.

At 28 years old, Candelario wasn’t expected to be the future of the franchise in Detroit, just a solid middle-of-the-order contributor who would continue to flourish as the Tigers’ lineup grew stronger. Instead, Candelario crashed hard. In 279 plate appearances this year, he’s slashing a paltry .203/.269/.352 with just a 76 wRC+.

There isn’t a lot of hope for a second-half resurgence for the Tigers, but for Candelario, it’s a different story. A hot month or two could turn his fortunes around, and he’s already gotten things off to a great start.

In Monday’s 12-4 win over the Padres, Candelario posted a 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI line, and victimized three San Diego lefties. He homered against Sean Manaea and MacKenzie Gore in back-to-back innings and then capped things off with a 7th inning single against Tim Hill. All three of his hits came off the bat at 104.9 mph or faster.

In four starts since the All-Star break, Candelario has three home runs, 50% of his total from the first half. It’ll take an incredible stretch over the season’s final months for Candelario to get back to his past numbers, but if the first few games are any indication, he could be well on his way.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:

Jonathan India (CIN): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.

India was a hot commodity in fantasy drafts back in the spring after winning the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year, but injuries have derailed his sophomore season. Monday was just his 43rd game of the year. India knocked in or scored more than half of his team’s runs in the Reds’ 11-2 win over the Marlins. Even after the big day, India’s batting line stands at just .240/.306/.389 with six home runs and two stolen bases. With so few games played, he’ll have an easier time turning around those season-long numbers than most, and he may be starting to do just that – he’s hit three home runs in his last four games. If your fantasy team needs second base help, I like India as a buy-low option.

Bryson Stott (PHI): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 5 RBI.

Looking to stay afloat in the NL East and Wild Card races, the Phillies opened the second half being swept at home by the lowly Cubs. Things weren’t looking much better last night until Stott played hero, hitting a go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth inning off of an A.J. Minter cutter. Without reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper in the lineup, the Phillies need any help they can get, but they shouldn’t bank on getting much more from Stott. The 24-year-old middle infielder is batting below the Mendoza line and has a .268 wOBA.

Tony Kemp (OAK): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Kemp got the best of Astros’ starter, Jake Odorizzi, last night, turning on an inside cutter for his fourth homer of the year in the third inning before doubling home two runs on a splitter in the fourth. Kemp’s three RBI led the A’s to a 7-5 win over their division rivals. Kemp’s notoriously a light hitter, and although there was some fantasy intrigue after he posted a .382 OBP in 2021, his plate discipline skills have taken a major step back. His walk rate of 8.1% is the lowest it’s been since 2017 and is five points lower than it was in his breakthrough 2021 season.

Eric Haase (DET): 2-5, HR, R, 4 RBI.

Haase joined Candelario in taking Manaea deep yesterday, tagging him for a third-inning grand slam that just barely cleared the right field wall at 355 feet. His two-hit day has Haase’s season line up to .249/.308/.450, good for a 113 wRC+ which is even better than his breakout 2021 campaign. Those numbers are extraordinary for a catcher, but with Haase only cracking the lineup about four days a week, he’s hard to roster in fantasy outside of two-catcher formats.

Miguel Cabrera (DET): 1-2, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB.

A 12-run outburst is a good way to get multiple players mentioned in a Batter’s Box article. Cabrera joined the Tigers’ offensive onslaught by reaching base three times and hitting the 506th home run of his career.

Jeremy Peña (HOU): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.

Peña’s stellar rookie year continued last night, as he reached base three times and collected two extra-base hits. The Astros’ shortstop is up to 15 home runs, six stolen bases, and a .265 batting average in his first taste of major league action. Julio Rodríguez and Bobby Witt Jr. may be getting all the AL rookie attention, but Peña’s stellar play shouldn’t fly under the radar.

Rafael Ortega (CHC): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

A first-inning single against JT Brubaker snapped Ortega’s 29-at-bat hitless streak dating all the way back to July 6th. Ortega followed up his skid-stopping hit with a solo home run in the third inning of the Cubs’ 3-2 win over the Pirates. The Northsiders are using Ortega as the strong side of a leadoff platoon with Christopher Morel, but despite hitting at the top of the order most days, Ortega doesn’t carry much fantasy value – he’s hitting .232/.327/.348 on the season.

Kyle Farmer (CIN): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB.

Farmer reached base three times in the Reds blow-out win yesterday. This year marks the fourth straight season Farmer’s cut his strikeout rate – it’s down to a career-best 16%. His strong plate discipline skills mask an otherwise mediocre offensive profile. He’s hitting .258/.331/.387 with six home runs and four steals. His 99 wRC+ is the best mark of his career, so he’s not someone you’ll want to target in fantasy.

Trayce Thompson (LAD): 2-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.

Thompson has bounced all across the league throughout his baseball career, and his second stint with the Dodgers is so far proving to be one of his most successful stops. In 95 plate appearances this year, Thompson’s slashing .262/.347/.464 and has a 14.3% barrel rate. While he hits the ball incredibly hard, Thompson’s main issue continues to be that he doesn’t hit the ball often enough – his 34.7% strikeout rate would be the second highest rate in the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. Despite that flaw, the Dodgers seem content to run him out every day. Monday was his seventh consecutive start.

Michael A. Taylor (KC): 2-4, 3 RBI.

You can’t stop Michael Taylor, you can only hope to contain him. His two-hit day pushed his hitting streak to five games and led the Royals to a 7-0 win over the scuffling Angels. Since Taylor’s returned from a bout with COVID-19 on June 4th, he’s hitting .308/.364/.458. The batting line is nice, but his lack of power and speed keep him off most managers’ fantasy radars. Taylor swiped 14 bags in 2021 but has just one stolen base this year. He’s rostered in 1% of both Yahoo! and ESPN leagues.

Ty France (SEA): 3-3, HR, 2 R, RBI.

France had a perfect day at the dish, knocking three hits and reaching base a fourth time after being hit by a pitch in the Mariners’ 4-3 win over the Rangers on Monday. France just keeps chugging along in his most productive season to date – he’s hitting .312/.382/.485 with 13 home runs, 51 RBI, and a career-best 153 wRC+. The Mariners are looking to finally snap their 21-year playoff drought, and France is doing everything he can to get them to the postseason.

Josh Rojas (ARI): 2-4, RBI, BB, 3 SB.

Three stolen bases in one day?! Rojas boosted his season total up to 11 bags with his strong showing yesterday to go along with a .279/.352/.408 batting line. Although Rojas isn’t even halfway to his career-high in plate appearances, he’s already set a new best for stolen bases and I don’t think he’s going to stop running anytime soon as he has yet to be caught stealing. With that hard-to-find stolen base skill, a good batting line, and multiposition eligibility, it’s a shock to see Rojas only rostered in 55% of Yahoo! and 45% of ESPN fantasy leagues.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from fantasy leagues to the legitimate defensive prowess of Kyle Schwarber as a left fielder. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

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