Batter’s Box: A Lingering Odor
The 2018 story of Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers) has made him a very frustrating player to own and believe in this season. We know what he’s capable of, as seen by his performance on Monday (3-4, 2 R, HR, RBI). The 25-year-old has dynamic power and speed and has two seasons with 30 home runs and 14 and 15 stolen bases. He struggled mightily to begin the season last season before turning it on in an unbelievable way in June and stayed hot through August. I own Odor in several leagues and am currently anxiously wringing my hands on whether I should cut bait with the young second baseman in leagues where I need a boost.
The shallow state of the position aside, how should someone deal with inconsistent or streaky players in July? On one hand, Odor has more talent and upside than the vast majority of the options available on my deeper 12- and 15-team waiver wires. On the other hand, Odor has been quite difficult to own, as every good aspect (like a .550 slugging for July) comes with a poor one (like a 41.9% strikeout rate, .233 batting average and .242 OBP).
In truth, as much as I love the tantalizing power and speed combination of Odor can bring to the table, owners in most 10- to 12- team formats should probably cut bait. Sure, you can cut him then immediately put him on your watch list (which you might not be using enough, by the way), but at some point, we can no longer sacrifice our current stats for ones that might never come. In 15-team leagues, dynasty leagues, or leagues with massive rosters or benches, I suppose you can keep him around, but those of you in the more standard redraft formats probably can’t afford such a luxury.
In fantasy, “FOMO” (or “fear of missing out” for you who aren’t hip to the modern lingo) is the toughest thing to manage. Players with exciting upside or long histories of success will inevitably struggle, and in many cases your fantasy hopes lie on how smart (or lucky) your adds, benches and drops are with respect to these players. There’s no clear guidance I can provide on this—much of it relies on your intuition, willingness to research and sheer luck. All I can tell you is to ditch your pride, make a call, and do your best. I believe in you.
Hanser Alberto (2B/3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles)—3-4, R, HR, RBI. There’s some sneaky value in deep points leagues here due to his ability to get the bat on the ball and avoid strikeouts (he’s sporting a 9.5% strikeout rate through 316 trips to the plate, albeit with a 2.2% walk rate). He doesn’t really have any meaningful power or speed, but the batting average should stay north of .275. I know that TheKraken (one of our most loyal PL readers, which we greatly appreciate) will appreciate him, but I can’t recommend him in leagues where categories matter—he’s just too big of a drag on everything except batting average.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox)—3-5, R, HR, 2B, RBI. Those expecting better stats than 2018 have been sorely disappointed, though he’s been far from a “bad” player, with eight home runs, nine steals and a passable .266 average and .348 OBP. Those hoping for a second-half surge can’t be too happy with the .711 OPS since the break, but there’s little you can do but continue to start him and hope for the best.
Mitch Garver (C, Minnesota Twins)—3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. He’s now swatted seven home runs and has a .375/.444/.925 line through 45 July plate appearances. He’s right on the border between a streamer and a locked-in catcher, as he’s been streaky as of late and isn’t necessarily an everyday catcher, but he’s well worth playing while he’s hot.
Yuli Gurriel (1B/3B, Houston Astros)—3-3, R, HR, 3 RBI. He has 14 home runs in his last 23 games. For reference, he hit 13 home runs in 136 games last season. None of this makes any sense, but just keep on starting him in all formats.
DJ LeMahieu (2B/3B, New York Yankees)—3-4, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. That’s 15 home runs for the veteran, which ties his career high. As Matt Wallach pointed out in a Going Deep back on July 2nd, LeMahieu has greatly improved against breaking balls and off-speed pitches and it is paying huge dividends for him and the Yankees.
Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox)—2-3, 3 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. His mediocre 2018 looks more like an anomaly than any kind of indicator of his skills, as he already has as many home runs this season as he did all fo last season. He’s striking out a tad bit more and walking a tad bit less (which is also the case for a few his teammates), but he’s hitting the ball with much more authority (…which is also the case for a few of the same teammates). He’s a solid first baseman in all formats due to his 30 to 35 home run power and solid .270-.280 batting average.
Yordan Alvarez (OF, Houston Astros)—2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. His 1.130 OPS is as ludicrous as it is exciting. Tyler White‘s demotion helps further solidify everyday at-bats for the young slugger, who will likely be DH in nearly every game. The real question is whether he’ll get to 20 games in the outfield for that eligibility in 2020. He’s at six games played in the outfield for 2019 with five starts, so he should be able to earn outfield eligibility in Yahoo formats next season—that’s right, it’s never too early to think about 2020 implications. Even if he’s just a DH next season, he’s still immensely valuable.
Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox)—2-3, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, 2 BB. Just your regular reminder that he’s found a new gear and is amazing. He’s locked in as a top 10 shortstop likely for the next five years or more.
Eduardo Escobar (3B/SS, Arizona Diamondbacks)—2-4, 2 R, 2 3B, RBI, BB, SB. Here’s the thing about regression—even if we know it’s coming, we can’t predict when it will come. That’s what makes it such a frustrating topic, after all. As a fantasy owner, the fact that he’s over-performing means one of two things: either that you should try to trade him for top dollar (which is very difficult to do in this day and age), or, well, do nothing and ride it out until the wheels fall off. I recommend the latter unless someone makes an offer that blows you away.
Jason Kipnis (2B, Cleveland Indians)—2-3, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB. The ratios won’t be very useful, but there’s enough power and speed in there for some fill-in value in 12-teamers at a weak second base position.
Oscar Mercado (OF, Cleveland Indians)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2 RBI, BB. I’m going to probably end up eating my words about his limited power, but that’s still my scouting report at this time. Enjoy the power while it’s here, but even when it fades he’s worth owning in most formats for the speed and ratios.
J. D. Martinez (OF, Boston Red Sox)—2-5, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. He’s practically a hitting coach at this point. While he’s not likely to get to 40 home runs for the third season in a row, he is still providing solid power with a solid .287 batting average and .360 OBP. That plays everywhere, even if it’s a bit disappointing compared to 2017-2018. Speaking of 2020 eligibility, he’s made it to 26 games in the outfield, so he’ll remain a fantasy outfielder for at least one more season.
Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Reds)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. After suffering through a dreadful slump, Suarez has come back to life since June 30th, hitting 10 home runs with a .500 ISO in 76 plate appearances. He’s striking out at a rather alarming 35.5% rate, but as long as he’s hitting at all, we’ll take it.
Renato Nunez (1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles)—2-4, R, HR, RBI. Tell me if you’d heard this one before—a slugger you probably hadn’t heard of before with a blah .250 batting average who is going to hit 30 home runs. That’s the era we live in now. There are many guys like this.
Tyler Saladino (SS, Milwaukee Brewers)—1-2, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, SB. He had today’s only combo meal and that’s really the only relevant thing about him for 95% of fantasy players.
Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, Chicago White Sox)—2-4, R, HR, 4 RBI. He continues to be more aggressive at the plate, which is a smart thing to do when you have the kind of power, batting eye and hand-eye coordination that Moncada has. He was a number one overall prospect at one point for a reason, and now we’re seeing why.
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire.