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All-In on Alonso

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

Pete Alonso (NYM): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.

 

There’s no question that Alonso is one of the most fascinating sluggers in Major League Baseball today.

Alonso is posting a slash of .285/.363/.556 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI in 240 plate appearances this season. His barrel rate and xSLG rank in the 93rd and 97th percentile, respectively. He also has been on a tear since April (when he posted a .745 OPS), as he has posted OPS marks of 1.009 and 1.220 in May and June, respectively.

Of course, there are concerns with his profile, which also impact his NL MVP candidacy.

Alonso is still a whiff machine, as he ranks in the 35th percentile in whiff rate, according to Savant. While his K rate is still decent at 21.7 percent, it is still up 1.8 points from a year ago. Lastly, his walk rate is slightly down from a year ago, and his average and max exit velocities also have slightly regressed from 2021 (though still very good).

The question with Alonso, with those kinds of metrics, is what his line will look like by the season’s end, especially if he hits a cold streak?

That question though will have to wait another day.

On Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, Alonso put up an absolute show, and made a strong case for the NL MVP, especially against one of the NL’s best pitchers, Walker Buehler. Alonso had three hits, including two bombs and five RBI. Alonso’s performance was a big reason why the Mets beat Los Angeles 9-4, and currently sit 36-19, 8.5 games ahead of the second-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East.

Alonso did strike out twice on Saturday, and that will continue to be something to watch, both for Mets fans as well as fantasy managers who roster Alonso.

But at this point, regular and fantasy baseball fans alike should be “all-in” on Alonso, and his NL MVP candidacy this year.

Because he’s produced a special season thus far and could continue to do so, even despite the flaws.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

 

Juan Soto (WSH): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

 

Soto is definitely a polarizing player for fantasy purposes. On one hand, he is only hitting .232 this year, not exactly ideal for players who play in leagues where batting average is utilized. However, he is posting a .374 OBP and .844 OPS, so he’s insanely more valuable in leagues that incorporate those categories. Nonetheless, has Soto really lived up to his Top-5 draft billing this year? That is tough to say, especially considering the average.

It will be interesting to see if Soto can boost that average to help fantasy managers who roster him in the coming months. On Saturday against the Reds, he made some progress, as he went 2-for-5 and also hit two home runs to boot. More multi-hit games would be welcome from Soto. It could not only help slowly boost up that average but also help solidify his status as one of the best hitters in the game, especially among the baseball crowd who still overly value batting average.

Salvador Perez (KC): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

 

It’s been a rough stretch for Perez, the Royals’ franchise catcher. After a record-setting 2021 campaign, the Venezuelan-born catcher is posting a slash of .190/.228/.374 with an OPS of .602 in 171 plate appearances. May was particularly rough, as he hit .177 and posted a .464 OPS in 81 plate appearances.

Granted, Perez has dealt with some injuries, including eye and hand issues, which ultimately contributed to his lackluster May, and 2022 overall. That being said, Salvy was one of the top-drafted catchers in most leagues, and his paltry line has been disappointing to say the least.

Saturday though was a step in the right direction, as he hit a double, a home run, and had three RBI for the Royals in a 6-0 win over the Houston Astros. Perez is known for going on hot streaks, which happened in the last couple of months in 2021 and fueled his 48-home run campaign. A similar kind of month-long hot streak at the plate would not only be welcomed by a struggling Royals team, but also by fantasy managers who have continued to be patient with the multi-All Star catcher.

Brandon Drury (CIN): 2-4, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB, SB.

 

Drury can be inconsistent, which seems to be typical for any Reds player this season. Yet in deep leagues, he continues to be a worthwhile option. He currently is hitting .252 with a .796 OPS and has nine home runs and 27 RBI in 180 plate appearances. Against the Nationals on Saturday, he had two hits, which included a solo home run, and scored three runs for the Reds in a 10-8 loss at home at Great America Ballpark.

The Reds seem to be in on Drury, as he hit second in the batting order on Saturday and has accumulated 143 plate appearances at that spot in the order this season. He is rostered in 59 percent of Yahoo and 58 percent of ESPN leagues. While he won’t help much on an average end, in leagues that value OBP and OPS, he is way more valuable, and should be immediately picked up, if he hasn’t been already.

Brendan Donovan (STL): 3-5, 2 2B, R, 4 RBI, SB.

 

After a 6-1 loss in game one against the Cubs, the Cardinals split the Saturday doubleheader with a 7-4 victory in game two. Donovan was a huge contributor, as he accumulated three hits, two doubles, four RBI, and a stolen base. Donovan plays in a crowded outfield in St. Louis, but he is slowly gaining steam as an everyday option, especially when he boasts a .315 average, .878 OPS, and 1.20 BB/K ratio in 109 plate appearances.

Donovan should be a regular part of this Cardinals lineup going forward, even when Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill, who both have struggled this year, return off the IL. He is currently rostered in 17 percent of Yahoo leagues and four percent of ESPN leagues as of Sunday.

Jake Cronenworth (SD): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

 

Aaron Ashby struck out nine Padres batters on Saturday in six innings of work. One hitter he couldn’t solve though was Cronenworth, who went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run off the talented Brewers pitcher. Cronenworth has been a disappointment this year, as he is hitting .212 with a .629 OPS in 233 plate appearances.

The tools are there of course, as he showcases good speed and an above-average glove. He also ranks in the 87th percentile in whiff rate, so the potential of his hit tool is evident. Nonetheless, he’s going to have to string more performances like this together, if he wants to be a more serious fantasy option.

Alejandro Kirk (TOR): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

 

The Blue Jays lineup, including Kirk, had a field day off of Twin starter Dylan Bundy. Toronto tattooed him for six runs on eight hits in 2.1 IP, which included two hits and a home run from Kirk. The Blue Jays catcher was identified as a sleeper in a lot of leagues, and he’s lived up to that billing, as he is hitting .307 with four home runs and an OPS of .839 in 158 plate appearances. He is also only 23-years old, which should be a huge win for fantasy managers who roster him in Dynasty and Keeper leagues as well.

J.T. Realmuto (PHI): 3-4, 3 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI.

 

It’s only been two games, but it seems like the Phillies catcher is performing well in the wake of Joe Girardi’s firing on Friday. In the two games since the Philadelphia manager change, Realmuto has been four-for-eight, which included a three-hit, two-RBI day against the Angels on Saturday.

The Phillies are 24-29 and have considerable work to do in the NL East if they want to catch up with the first-place Mets by the end of the season. Seeing a surge from Realmuto, who is hitting .260 and only has an OPS of .733 in 190 plate appearances, would be a step in the right direction.

Frank Schwindel (CHC): 3-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.

 

Is “Frank the Tank” back? Well, he did have an 0-for-4 game in the second game of the doubleheader against St. Louis, which depressed his average to .244 and OPS to .713. On the other hand, Schwindel mashed in game one, with three hits, a home run, and two RBI. He also has been on a tear in June, as he is hitting .421 with an OPS of 1.289 in 24 plate appearances.

Schwindel is always going to be a high-risk option at first base, especially considering his history (or lack thereof) at the Major League level. But, it seems like the short demotion to Triple-A was a wake-up call, and he may be on the right track for a suddenly fun Cubs team.

Cavan Biggio (TOR): 2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

 

For fantasy managers who decided to “avoid” Biggio in drafts, that strategy proved to be a wise call. He is currently slashing .159/.339/.227 with a .566 OPS in 56 plate appearances this year. While Biggio shows patience at the plate (17.9 percent walk rate), his strikeout rate is nearly double his walk rate this season (33.9 percent K rate). He did have a decent day against Twins, garnering two hits, two RBI and a double. However, everyone had a good day against Bundy, who was pretty much throwing batting practice against the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Fantasy managers shouldn’t double-think their decision, even after today’s promising performance. If Biggio is on the waiver-wire in one’s league, he should stay there for a good while longer.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien is a high school educator and baseball blogger based in the Kansas City metro area. In addition to writing for Pitcher List, he writes about the Kansas City Royals at his own blog, the Royals Reporter, which can be found at royalsreporter.com.

  • Art Vandalay says:

    Great article as always. What are your thoughts on Kirk vs. Keibert Ruiz? Keibert’s contact skills are still great, but he’s slumping, seemingly losing playing time, and I don’t think his lack of power in the Nats’ lineup will bode well for his counting stats over the course of the year. Is it worth it to cut Ruiz with Kirk on the wire? I think Ruiz is around .260/15R/1HR/15RBI/2SB last I checked

    • Hey thanks for reaching out Art,

      I have Keibert in a couple leagues and I agree, it’s been a tough start. I was concerned about him a bit at the beginning of the year, and a lot of my concerns have come to fruition in regard to his power. His power was a bit of anomaly in ’21 in the Minors, and I’m not sure that’s going to turn around this year. If you are in a keeper league, I think keeping Ruiz is not a bad play, because the plate skills are still solid. But, I think Kirk is a better buy in a non-keeper league, especially with his power potential, even if he may not get as much playing time as Ruiz.

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