Arraez and Shine

Scott Chu covers the top hitting performances from Sunday.

Luis Arraez (MIN): 3-4, 2B, 3 R, BB, SB.

Since returning from shoulder issues on June 14, Luis Arraez, who went 3-4 with a double, three runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base on Sunday, is hitting .305 and slugging a cool .475 while playing all over the place for the Twins.

While he’ll probably never hit 20 home runs or steal 20 bases, his ability to make consistent contact while hitting near the top of the Twins order makes him especially useful for those in points leagues or just folks in need of a versatile fill-in.

Players like Arraez can be difficult to evaluate in fantasy due to the limited counting stats, but it’s important to remember that ratios are a category as well, and they can be difficult categories to save as the season goes on. Players like Arraez make great additions as your one bench hitter in a shallow league or as a solid fill-in when you have players hit the IL since he’s unlikely to hurt you while you use him and because other stats, like home runs, are easier to scout for and find on wires if you decide you want them later.

The two things I’d add about Arraez are (1) I do think he has more power than his season line indicates, even if he only has 10-13 home run upside in a full season, and (2) his value becomes extremely limited if he ever falls out of the top five or six spots in the lineup, as the batting average becomes even emptier with every spot he moves down.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday:

 

Harrison Bader (STL): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.

He’s made incredible improvements to his plate discipline, cutting his strikeout rate down from nearly 30% coming into the season to just 17% in 2021. Bader’s combination of power and speed should make him something like a top-75 outfielder, even with a less-than-ideal lineup spot and batting average.

Raimel Tapia (COL): 2-4, R, SB.

While he managed to steal two bases, it was otherwise a very disappointing homestand against the Pirates and Cardinals for the young outfielder. He sat twice and managed a triple slash of just .217/.280/.261 for the week, which doesn’t really get it done for anyone in a 10- or 12-team mixed league unless you’re really desperate for speed. That said, I do expect him to finish the season with close to 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases and a .290-ish batting average, even if he’s overall a fairly unimpressive hitter on an unimpressive team.

Jorge Polanco (MIN): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Polanco has been locked in at the plate since the start of June, hitting .288/.344/.486 with five home runs, three steals, and fantastic plate discipline. The 7.4% walk rate and 9% strikeout rate show how valuable he can be in points leagues, and while the Twins may be the most disappointing team of 2021, their offense should be much better than it was during the season’s second half, giving Polanco more opportunities to accumulate counting stats.

Adam Duvall (MIA): 3-4, HR, R, 4 RBI.

It was the fourth home run in five games for Duvall, who seems to be locked into the top half of the lineup for the Marlins. His plate discipline won’t wow you, but the 32-year-old righty has a powerful 1.051 OPS in his last 23 appearances with 10 home runs and as a bonus, three swiped bags. While he’s not a player I’d look at as a long-term fantasy contributor in 10- and 12-team formats, there are worse options for a streaming power bat—especially when he’s on the road.

Dansby Swanson (ATL): 2-4, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB.

There have been faint signs of life in Swanson’s bat over his last nine starts, as he has a 15.8% walk rate, two stolen bases, and four extra-base hits in that stretch while hitting mostly out of the fifth spot in the lineup. I suppose he can be a top-15 shortstop for the rest of the season (he’s been a borderline top-20 shortstop so far), and that probably plays as a middle infielder in most leagues. That said, if you’re in a standard Yahoo league where a middle infield spot isn’t utilized, I’d bet you can stream something as good or better than Swanson if you wanted to.

Jesús Aguilar (MIA): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

In his last 130 games, Aguilar has 21 home runs, 87 RBI, and a .271 batting average. That’s not bad. I mean, it’s not game-changing by any means, but it’s not bad. Aguilar is the type of player who could really benefit from a more hitter-friendly home ballpark and/or a stronger lineup around him (I hear his old team in Milwaukee could use a bat) and is one of the players I’d be paying more attention to if he were to be traded.

Starling Marte (MIA): 2-4, 3 R, BB, SB.

If he stays a Marlin, I think we’re looking at 15 home runs, 25 steals, and a .280 batting average. That should roughly resemble what we had in mind when we drafted Marte, though I have to admit the 13.4% walk rate is a massive surprise considering his career clip is around 5%. Like Aguilar, Marte could possibly benefit from a different team around him, though it would be best if it were a team that was willing to run (Tampa Bay and San Diego are the two contenders with the most aggressive run game, though I’m not sure he’s an ideal fit for either squad). In any case, he’s a top-30 to top-40 hitter for fantasy purposes, and perhaps a little higher if you’re in a tight spot with stolen bases.

Buster Posey (SF): 1-2, 2 R, RBI, BB.

The season keeps going, and Posey keeps hitting. He has 25 hits in his last 20 starts and while the counting stats aren’t quite there, the 34-year-old catcher has been a beacon of hope for fantasy managers who waited on catcher on draft day. A thumb injury sustained on Sunday from a foul ball will keep him out of the lineup today, but x-rays were negative and it sounds like Posey should be back sooner rather than later.

Cedric Mullins (BAL): 2-2, HR, R, 2 RBI.

The American League hits leader swatted his 15th home run of the season on Sunday as a pinch hitter and defensive replacement, continuing his remarkable 30-day stretch where he has 37 hits (17 of which went for extra bases), 38 combined runs and RBI, six steals, and a .359/.427/.699 batting line. Even if Mullins comes back to earth in a big way, it’s hard to imagine him falling short of 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases by the end of the season.

Wander Franco (TB): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI.

This was his first game with an extra-base hit since his debut, and after an ugly little 0-18 skid, Franco has a hit in six straight games. The uber-prospect definitely belongs in the big leagues, and his blend of power, hit tool, and speed is truly extraordinary. If I rostered Franco in a redraft league, I’d be extremely hesitant to sell unless I received an offer of something like a top-50 to a top-75 overall player. I don’t necessarily project him as a top-75 overall player, I just respect that he has that kind of upside.

Austin Meadows (TB): 3-4, 3 2B, 2 RBI.

The .242 batting average may be a bit of a disappointment, but the so-far healthy Meadows is on pace to hit around 30 home runs this season despite the current cold streak over the last 30 days (just two home runs with a .375 slugging in that time). The plate discipline looks closer to what it did in his strong 2019 than his weak 2020, and while it may come with some streakiness, I’d peg Meadows as a top-30 outfielder for the rest of the season.

Gavin Lux (LAD): 3-4, 2B, 2 R.

While I’m still a fan of the overall skills with Lux and am pleased that his plate discipline metrics indicate he isn’t totally overmatched, the production is not what anyone was hoping for this season and if you’ve been holding him in shallow mixed formats, it’s OK to move on.

Eric Hosmer (SD): 2-5, 2B, R, 3 RBI.

I discussed this on this morning’s Hacks and Jacks Podcast as well, but before you get too excited about what Hosmer did in 2020 and wondering if this is a return to that, let’s make sure we are clear on the fact that 2020 wasn’t actually a special performance by Hosmer, even by his recent standards:

Hosmer, as he has been for some time, is a solid defensive first baseman with decent contact skills and 15-20 home run power. That’s not a fantasy contributor in 12-teamers.

Jake Cronenworth (SD): 2-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 BB.

With 139 major league games under his belt, we may have a decent idea of what Cronenworth is—a David Fletcher/Luis Arraez-type utility man with a bit less batting average but with as much home run power as the two of them combined. By the end of the season, he should have close to 20 home runs with seven stolen bases or so and a .275 batting average.

Manny Machado (SD): 2-2, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, 3 BB.

He’s just a top-four third baseman in fantasy doing what a top-four third baseman in fantasy does.

Chas McCormick (HOU): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

While the 30.3% strikeout rate leaves a lot to be desired, his .306/.357/.500 line over the last two weeks is not too shabby, to say the least. Statcast isn’t overly impressed with McCormick, though, and while I like the hot streak he’s been on, it’s hard to recommend him as anything but a flyer in 15-team formats until he shows the kind of plate discipline he showed off in the minor leagues.

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

The hits seem to come in bunches for Haase, and he sure had a bunch over the weekend, smacking six hits (four for extra bases) with three home runs (including an inside-the-park round trip) six runs scored, and eight RBI. His outfield eligibility is totally superfluous, as his value is as a fantasy catcher, but he’s a decent one to stream thanks to his mostly everyday role and spot near the middle of the Tigers lineup.

Akil Baddoo (DET): 2-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI, SB.

Baddoo has now hit at the top of the lineup for the Tigers in each of his last nine starts, and in that stretch, he has 12 hits, 10 combined runs and RBI, and five stolen bases to go along with a .324 batting average and .390 OBP. The speedy outfielder remains available in 74% of fantasy leagues and should be rostered by any manager looking for a fourth or fifth outfielder who can provide ratios and speed.

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

He’s been quite brutal over the last 30 days or so, despite strong plate discipline, with a .230 batting average and .284 slugging. While he does hit in the middle of the order and has the ability to go on a hot streak or two that’s worth rostering, his general lack of power makes him more like a back-end corner infielder in deeper leagues than anything else.

José Abreu (CWS): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

The .250 batting average is lower than we’d like to see, but boring ol’ Abreu should threaten 30 home runs and clear 100 RBI much as he did in 2019. It’s not the AL MVP he was in 2020, but it’s still a heckuva first baseman.

Jeff McNeil (NYM): 2-3, 2 R, BB.

Yes, you can cut him if you want to. He has contact upside and versatility, but he’s shown little of it in 2021 and he’s not so good that you HAVE to hold him.

 

Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Scott Chu

Scott Chu has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. In addition to being a writer and content manager at Pitcher List, he creates content with Friends with Fantasy Benefits. If you want to chat about baseball, fantasy curling (featured in WSJ), sports in general, deaf culture, being a twin, or the oddities of having Irish and Korean ancestry, Chu's your guy.

  • Avatar larry womack says:

    Hi Scott,

    How do you feel about CJ Cron. I’ve been holding him hopeful that he would produce some big HR totals but so far has not showed up and looks like he could move into a platoon.

    It’s not like the wire is very great-I currently have Mancini in CI-I could move him to first and add Arraez, LaMonte, Villar, Slater, Didi(would go into Mi and move McNeil(having faith he turns it around- to CI), or even Iglesias with the same move.

    Also who do you prefer at catcher, Zunino(Currently have in spot-hate the AVG) or Stassi or Gomes.

    Thanks Scott always look forward to your reviews.

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      Hey Larry!

      1) I think you’re probably in streaming territory there, but I’d rather have Arraez based on talent. McNeil is close too, if you think he can come back and hit for some power.

      2) These are all streamers to me, but if you have Arraez, Zunino’s AVG is a bit easier to swallow. I’d be going week by week in this spot! Zunino and Stassi have the best matchups, and Zunino’s at home the whole time, so I’d lean that way.

  • Avatar Mike Honcho says:

    With 1 bench bat slot available and both H.Bader and Arraez FA’s in my 12 teamer, which one do I grab?
    Seems Arraez based on 2B,3B,OF eligible is easier to deploy than OF only.

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      Two very different players! Bader is the guy if you need dingers or steals and don’t care if your AVG tanks. Arraez is the safe and steady pick. Bader also is just a lot streaker than Arraez.

      Most of my teams need more Arraez than Bader, but it’s a very contextual question.

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