(Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire)
Let me start off this beautiful Sunday morning (at least where I am) by congratulating a few of my childhood heroes on their Hall of Fame enshrinement this afternoon. It’s pretty wild that I remember most of the careers of the guys going in today, but that’s what happens when you start getting older. Anyways, let’s get back to talking about dudes who are much younger than me.
Rougned Odor had a monster night last night with his line of 5-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI, and one of those said dongs was of the always exciting, inside-the-park variety. That makes it 9 dongs on the season, and while that may not seem like much, it’s mighty impressive considering the depths he had fallen to in the first few months of the season. In fact, over his last 30 games, he’s slugged 8 of those 9 total HRs and stolen 8 bags to go with it. Since June 1st, a point where he was slashing .204/.252/.301, he’s improved his HR/FB rate 12%, doubled his BB/K rate, and dropped his soft contact rate from 22% to 14%. It’s obvious to see that he’s tapping into the tremendous upside we knew he had, and let’s hope you were fortunate enough to welcome back this prodigal son. I don’t know if he’ll revert back to early-season, poopy Odor, but you have to ride this out no matter what.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Saturday:
Lorenzo Cain (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – 4-5, R. You can’t technically be mad about a 4-hit day, but you’d obviously love something more than 4 singles. Regardless, Cain has been rock solid in his debut season with the Brew Crew as he’s slashed .300/.397/.421 on the year, and that career-best 13.2% walk rate is helping him look like a top OF option in OBP formats. The Brewers only got better with the acquisition of Mike Moustakas this week, so you can start Cain with confidence moving forward.
Trey Mancini (1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles) – 4-4, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI. It’s been a tough season (slash of .229/.302/.377) for the Notre Dame grad after finishing third in AL Rookie of the Year voting a year ago. Statcast is showing a big jump in his groundball rate from a year ago, so it makes sense that he’s smashed just 13 HR this year. He’s also had an almost 10% spike in topped (aka the rate at which he’s swinging over the top of the ball) percentage this year, and he’s seen a decrease in his launch angle from last year. Nothing personal to him, but I do not recommend starting any Orioles besides Adam Jones at the moment.
Elvis Andrus (SS, Texas Rangers) – 3-5, R. This now makes it a 10-game hit streak for Andrus as he continues to play catchup after missing almost 2 months. He’s been pretty spicy over his last 2 weeks bopping 2 dongs, swiping 4 bags, and hitting .311. What really catches my eye, though, is the fact that he’s been slugging .586 over those same two weeks. Come on, secret power!
Francisco Arcia (C, Los Angeles Angels) – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 6 RBI. This is a great story unfolding for the Angels’ backstop as he’s a 28-year-old “rookie” who spent the last 12 seasons toiling away in the minors. With yesterday’s 6 RBI performance, he also became the first player in Major League history with 10 RBI in his first 2 big league games. I wouldn’t trust him enough to roster him anywhere at this point, but Martin Maldonado is in Houston now, and so there is playing time here if nothing else.
Carlos Gonzalez (OF, Colorado Rockies) – 3-4, R, 3 2B. CarGo has been quite good over his last 30 games with a line 25 R/6 HR/17 RBI/.327. He’s also got an OPS of .975 over that time frame, and methinks that 59% ownership is a bit too low for someone that hot. Perhaps the 41% of leagues where he’s on the wire is full of previously scorned
Rosell Herrera (OF, Kansas City Royals) – 3-5, RBI. He was claimed on waivers back in June from Cincinnati, and now he finds himself hitting out of the #2 hole for the Royals. How exciting! Ok, so that lineup is void of talent with Moose now in Milwaukee, but there is playing time and a juicy lineup spot if nothing else. See: Francisco Arcia. He never really flashed much power in the minors, but he did swipe at least 20 bags at three different levels coming up in the Rockies’ system. Take that for what it’s worth.
Jon Jay (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 3-6, R, 2B, 3 RBI. He’s been pretty solid in AL/NL-only leagues this year as he’s scored a mess load of runs and hit .277 on the season. He’s scored 30 of his 58 runs since coming over from Kansas City, but with just 3 HR/4 SB total this year, it’s tough to roster him outside of league-specific formats.
Ian Kinsler (2B, Los Angeles Angels) – 3-3, 3 R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. He’s been a pretty steamy ballplayer over his last 2 weeks of action slashing .364/.435/.564, but he’s not providing that signature power-speed combo he used to with just 2 HR/2 SB over that same time frame. Despite the lack of flashy stats like dongs and swipes, he is hitting well, and he has 5 doubles in his last 6 games. He’s available in 58% of leagues right now and could be an intriguing MI option down the stretch.
Marcell Ozuna (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – 3-4, R, HR, 4 RBI. This was just his 11th dong of the year, and while that’s disappointing, it was almost too easy to see that last year was the outlier in the preseason. This dong was actually his first since June 16th, and he’s been slashing just .246/.289/.305 over his last 30 games. Some are calling for positive regression to the mean, and while that’s certainly possible, I’m not going to be one buying in waiting for it to happen.
Gregory Polanco (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) – 3-4, 2 R, 2 2B, SB. This was just his 5th swipe of the year as his speed has gradually gone down every year from the 27 steals he recorded in 2015. He is experiencing a power surge this year, however, as his 18 dongs put him on track for a career-year in that department. He’s supporting that theory with a career-best 40% hard-hit rate, an uptick in launch angle to 20%, and a career-best 11% barrel rate. 30 HR seems within the realm of possibilities, but 25-27 feels more likely.
Joey Rickard (OF, Baltimore Orioles) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI. It was big night from Rickard, but what did I say about starting Orioles right now? Just say no to drugs…and starting Orioles besides Adam Jones. He’s slashing just .214/.281/.410 on the year, but in Baltimore, having a pulse puts you in a great position for playing time this year.
Orlando Arcia (SS, Milwaukee Brewers) – 2-3, R, RBI, BB. This was just his 3rd game back with the big boys after being demoted recently, and I would probably leave him on the waiver wire for now. He was raking in AAA hitting .341, but he’s looked very overmatched at the ML-level slashing .214/.281/.410. I would monitor him over the next week or so to see if he’s made some adjustments as the Brewers’ lineup should provide excellent fantasy value down the stretch.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox) – 2-5, R, RBI, SB. That makes it 18 swipes on the year for the youngster, and he should easily blow past the 20 swipes from a year ago. With his 14 HR/18 SB on the year, I give him an excellent shot at the 20/25 mark. He’s taken a step forward across the board offensively with increases in hard hit rate, BB/K rate, barrel percentage and general awesomeness.
Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox) – 2-5, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, SB. Swipers gonna swipe! That makes it 4 straight seasons with at least 20 steals for Betts, and it looks like he will challenge for his first ever 30/30 season. If this keeps up (spoiler: it will), the only debate concerning Betts will be whether he or teammate J.D. Martinez deserves the AL MVP award.
Nelson Cruz (DH, Seattle Mariners) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. He had been in a little homerun drought over the last few weeks, but he’s now bashed 3 in his last 2 games to make up for it. Even with his 25 bombs on the season, he’s taken a step back in other counting stats with just 44 runs scored and 60 RBI. That means he will probably fall short of the 90 R, 100 RBI threshold he’s crossed routinely since coming to Seattle. Regardless, he provides a safe power floor.
Eduardo Escobar (3B/SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 2-4, 2 R, 2B, BB. This was a good debut for the newly acquired Diamondback, and he should have no problem blowing past the career-high 21 HR he put up last year in his new hitter-friendly digs. I was high on him before in Minnesota, and I’m even higher now. He’s slashing a solid .277/.341/.516 on the year, and that’s improvement in all three categories from his previous few seasons.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (2B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays) – 2-5, 2 RBI. Buy, buy, buy. Add him now. Listen guys…and a handful of girls…this is now 10 straight multi-hit games. You read that correctly. He’s perhaps the hottest hitter that no one seems to be talking about, and over the last two weeks, he’s slashing .419/.438/.677 with 4 dongs. Yuli’s talented brother is locked in as the Blue Jays’ every day shortstop, and he’s been moved up to the #2 hole in the lineup. Did I mention you should add him now?
Kevin Kiermaier (OF, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-4, R, HR, RBI. This was just his 4th dong of the year as injuries have derailed yet another season of power-speed possibilities from Kiermaier. We know there’s value to be tapped here when he’s healthy, but that’s been hard to come by throughout his career. He’s slashing just .198/.266/.329 on the year, and I’m probably leaving him on the waiver wire for safer options.
J. D. Martinez (OF, Boston Red Sox) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. Taters gonna tate, and that makes 32 on the year. He’s really, really good, and he should finish with something in the 45-50 HR range. Next.
Kendrys Morales (1B/DH, Toronto Blue Jays) – 2-5, 2B, RBI. Listen, y’all. I told you last Thursday why I liked Morales moving forward this year, and I’m sticking to it. Over his last two weeks, he smashed 3 dongs and slashed .354/.467/.604. The full season may not be pretty, but he’s got the potential to provide the power boost you need down the stretch. He’s available in 90% of leagues, and that’s far too low.
Eduardo Nunez (3B/SS, Boston Red Sox) – 2-4, R, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Expectations were high coming off 2 season where he provided excellent power-speed upside, but he’s got just 6 dongs and 4 swipes across 350 plate appearances this season. I’d leave him on the waiver wire for now despite the solid lineup around him.
Eric Thames (1B, Milwaukee Brewers) – 2-4, 3 R, 2B, SB. Show off those wheels, son! Thames has already set a career-high in swipes this year with 6, and that’s all fun and stuff, but you’re not rostering him expecting speed. Sorry if that bursts your collective bubbles. Anyways, he’s hitting 6th in a lineup that only got better this week, so I’m very ok with rostering him moving forward.
Gleyber Torres (2B/SS, New York Yankees) – 2-5, R, 2B, RBI. He made an appearance in both games of the doubleheader yesterday, which means he’s now gotten in on 4 games since returning from the DL. The injury put a halt to an absolutely scorching season from him, so this was nice to see as he works his way back. He’s a must-start as long as he’s healthy, and he’s now been bumped up to 5th in the order with Judge being on the DL until August.
Trea Turner (SS, Washington Nationals) – 2-5, 2 SB. Swipers gonna swipe! It makes 24 on the season, but it’s been tough to say he’s returned his 1st round price tag with that .267/.338/.412 slash. He will need to be ultra aggressive down the stretch to record 40 swipes again this year, and I’m not confident he crosses 100 runs scored or 70 RBI in what’s been a tough season for the Nationals.
Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS, Chicago Cubs) – 1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. Is it time for us to crown Baez the breakout player of the year? I mean, sure, he technically had a breakout last year, but he’s already at 21 dongs and 19 swipes. He’s got an excellent chance at 25/25, and a big home stretch could get him to 30/30. He’s still a bit of a drag in OBP formats with that .327 mark, but you can’t argue with the excellent production.
Yasiel Puig (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 1-2, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. It was his first game back from the DL, and he made it count in this one smacking his 12th dong of the year. He’s technically homered in 3 straight games, and I trust him to continue producing in a stacked Dodger lineup the rest of the season. I would like him more if he hit higher than 7th or 8th, however.