Batter’s Box: A Skilled Carpenter
Photo by David Berding/Icon Sportswire
On May 15, Matt Carpenter was hitting .140 with a .558 OPS. Panic gripped the fantasy community. Screams of terror rang far and wide. Was he injured? Would his propensity for hitting into the shift doom him once and for all? All hope seemed lost.
But, like another famous carpenter, Matt rose from the dead. Since May 15, Carpenter has hit .313 with a 1.014 OPS and 10 home runs. And his hot hitting continued yesterday, when he went 3-4, R, 2B. There are reasons for optimism here, as he’s cut down on his pull rate substantially this month, going from a 47% rate in May to a 37% in June. This may explain why so many of his batted balls are falling for hits now, since he’s become harder to shift against. His career-high 25% strikeout rate is still a bit of a concern, and hasn’t dropped at all in June, but that’s just nitpicking when he’s performing as well as he has lately. It may be hard to erase all the damage he did to his overall line early in the year, but Carpenter appears to finally be back.
Jake Bauers (1B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays): 4-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI – More like Rake Wowers, am I right? It’s only been 17 games, but Bauers has demonstrated an excellent ability to draw walks and barrel the ball, with a 16.9% walk rate and 47.8% hard contact rate that has contributed to his .978 OPS so far. His power is probably more suited to hitting doubles than homers, but he’s shown double-digit speed in the minors, and could be a solid all-around contributor at 1B and OF.
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves): 3-6, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI – Albies was in a bit of a rut after a blazing hot start to the year, but has picked it up lately, batting .455 over the past week. He’s only homered three times over his last 30 games, so the early power outburst is looking like a fluke, but we never expected Albies to be a 30-homer threat anyway.
Shin-Soo Choo (OF, Texas Rangers): 3-5, RBI – Toot toot, all aboard the Soo Choo Train. For the second year in a row, Choo is quietly putting together an excellent season, with a .285 average and 14 home runs already. I’d be kicking the tires on him, especially in OBP leagues, as you may be able to snag him for cheap from an owner who thinks this is all going to come crashing down.
Wilson Ramos (C, Tampa Bay Rays): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI – That’s now 11 HR and a .293 average from Ramos, who is the #3 catcher right now on ESPN’s player rater behind Evan Gattis of all people. It just goes to show you how unpredictable catchers can be, but he’s rewarding owners who waited on drafting a catcher this year until the later rounds.
Curtis Granderson (OF, Toronto Blue Jays): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB – Playing time may be harder to come by for Granderson now that Randal Grichuk is heating up, but he’s been making the most of it when he’s in the lineup. His 42.4% hard contact and 31.5% line drive rates are absurdly good for a player his age, and as long as Toronto shields him from lefties he should be able to get close to 20 home runs with an average around .250 this year.
Scott Schebler (OF, Cincinnati Reds): 2-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB – A nice performance from Scott Schmo, er, Schebler, who I was a big fan of coming into the year. That’s now 10 homers for Schebler, whose 51.5% groundball rate is super frustrating, because he’s a launch angle adjustment away from being a guy who I think could hit 35 home runs.
Manuel Margot (OF, San Diego Padres): 1-5, R, HR, 3 RBI – Margot was off to a putrid start to the year, but has turned it around. He’s hitting .323 over the past month, and this was his second home run this week. He’s only stolen one base over the past month though, and is up to just six on the year, which is disappointing from a player most expected to steal close to 30 this season.
Kevin Kiermaier (OF, Tampa Bay Rays): 1-4, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB – Kevin Kiermaier is great. You might call me an ad-maier-er. If he could ever tone down the Cirque du Soleil acrobatic performances he calls playing defense, which inevitably cause him to injure himself every year, I think he could hit 15 homers with 25 stolen bases and be a top outfielder. Well, he got the injury out of the way nice and early this year, so let’s see what he can do the rest of the way.
Nick Castellanos (OF, Detroit Tigers): 2-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI -That’s 10 homers on the season for Castellanos, though it feels like he should have significantly more considering his elite 48.5% hard contact rate and 45.5% pull rate. It’s hard to complain about a 29.4% line drive rate when it’s contributing to a .304 average, but if he could just elevate the ball a little bit more, he could become a monster.
Randal Grichuk (OF, Toronto Blue Jays): 1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI – Grichuk has been on one of his patented power streaks lately, cranking seven taters over his last 85 at-bats. He’s cut his strikeout rate nearly in half in June, with just a 17.6% rate so far, but I’ve been fooled one too many times by Grichuk to fully invest. Milk this cow while you can, but don’t get too attached and name it Bessie or anything.
Starling Marte (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates): 1-4, 3 R, BB, 2 SB – Marte has chipped in four steals and seven stolen bases over the past month, but hasn’t been reaching base with the regularity he was early in the year. He has said he’s dealing with a lingering oblique issue, but hopefully it’s not something that will continue to hamper him all season.
Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees): 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB – Judge has one of the highest average exit velocities around (96.2 mph), which is why his subpar 11.7-degree launch angle is so disappointing. He’s up to 20 homers already this season, but just like Oliver Twist, we want some more.
Stephen Piscotty (OF, Oakland Athletics): 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI – Andy Patton wrote an article yesterday about how Piscotty’s been turning it around lately, and look what ended up happening. I highly recommend you give the article a read, and then harass Andy on Twitter for lottery numbers, because the man is clearly clairvoyant.
Rosell Herrera (OF, Kansas City Royals): 3-4, RBI – I’m thinking of including some fake Kansas City Royals in these round-ups going forward, just to see if you can actually tell the difference. Maybe I’ve already started? Is Rosell Herrera real? Yes, yes, he is. He’s shown some speed upside in the minors, but that’s about it. Fortunately that’s all it takes to be a starter in Kansas City nowadays.