Batter’s Box: Albert The Great
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
Quick fact coming right out of the gate! I have more fingers than there are MLB players who have hit 600 HR in a career. How does that one taste with your coffee? Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a moment to recognize Albert Pujols who’s 3-4, R, HR, RBI, SB (surprise combo meal!) night helped him pass Ken Griffey Jr. on the all-time HR list yesterday. Oh, and Pujols did it in 4 fewer seasons than Griffey. In fact, Pujols has the most career HR of anyone who has played less than 20 MLB seasons. He now has 17 dongs on the year, and if he cranks just 6 more, it will make 17…yes…17 seasons where he has hit at least 23 HR. The one season he didn’t was one where he suffered a season-ending injury. I’m just rollin’ with the facts this morning!
Hold the phone…what is this? Batter’s Lifetime Achievement Box? No, we didn’t rebrand during the break but thank you for indulging me for a bit. As for his fantasy relevance this year, let’s talk. We all know the end is nigh for Pujols, but he’s certainly not void of usefulness right now. In fact, he’s been blazing hot over the last 7 games with 5 dongs, a .280 AVG and a SLG of .800! Sure, his BB/K rate is at a career-worst, but he’s helping you out as long as that lineup is healthy (Ohtani!) and clicking. I wouldn’t roster with the intention of having a long-term relationship with the future Hall of Fame lock, but you should certainly be trying to take him out for a night on the town or two. He’s just 40% owned, and trust me when I say there will be guys with far worse dates than yours should you choose to pursue this.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Wednesday:
Scooter Gennett (2B, Cincinnati Reds) – 3-4, 2B. He’s driving his little clown car into the second half and showing no signs of slowing down! Surely, he can’t keep hitting .313…right? Surely, he can’t maintain all these good stats with his .356 BABIP…right?! Why does he insist on making me look foolish by not believing in him? I’m so late to this party it’s insane.
Victor Martinez (DH, Detroit Tigers) – 3-5, R, 2 RBI. Goodness, age sure does catch up with these guys, doesn’t it? It was a mere two years ago in 2016 when he clubbed 27 HR and batted .289. Sigh. The good ol’ days. At least it isn’t like football where a guy can be in his prime and a mere 18 months later be laughed out of the locker room. Anyways, Martinez has just 1 dong over his last 30 games, and he’s slashing .238/.288/.320 on the year through 347 plate appearances. You aren’t rostering him in any format. Moving on.
Yadier Molina (C, St. Louis Cardinals) – 3-5, R, HR, RBI. He’s been outstanding over his last 30 games slashing .308/.364/.538. This was his 14th dong of the season, and his second ever 20 HR season seems well within reach. In just 71 games, he’s done enough to be in the conversation for top 5 fantasy catchers. I see no reason why that will change any time soon despite the bumpy road the Cardinals seem to be headed down.
Albert Almora Jr. (OF, Chicago Cubs) – 2-3, R, 2 2B. The value here is coming solely from the runs scored (50)…and his outstanding average (.321)…and OBP (.357). Ok, so Almora has been pretty fantasy relevant, and at this point in the season, this is the kind of guy who can help you make up ground if you have shortages there. I like him in 12-teamers or deeper as a nice depth piece, and I would like him even more if he finds himself at the top of the Cubs’ lineup more often.
Mitch Garver (C, Minnesota Twins) – 4-6, 2 R, HR, 2B, 5 RBI. Who? I know, right. This is a 27-year-old “prospect” with decent power and not much of a hit tool who’s been manning the backstop for a good portion of the year in Minneapolis. In his 209 plate appearances this year, he’s slashed .270/.351/.416, but he’s not accumulating enough counting stats to have fantasy relevance this year. Still, a great night nonetheless.
Randal Grichuk (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B. Last year, he finished with a line of 53 R/22 HR/59 RBI, and he’s on pace to get remarkably close to those same stats this year. Even with the dongs, he’s a tough one to own considering the drag on batting average and OBP as well as moderate counting stats. The increases in hard contact and launch angle are intriguing, but they aren’t going to put more guys on base in front of him. The .218 BABIP further backs up what I’m trying to say here…empty dongs and not much else.
Joe Mauer (1B, Minnesota Twins) – 3-7, 2 2B, 3 RBI. Hey! It’s our old pal, Joe! He’s here to give you a great batting average, solid on-base base percentage and…well…a winning smile! That’s about it. He has been raking over the last two weeks with a .379/.425/.485 slash, and this is the time of year where you are targeting guys for specific areas of need. Mauer won’t bring you much anywhere else but AVG and OBP, but if that’s what you need, sign him up.
Kendrys Morales (1B/DH, Toronto Blue Jays) – 3-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI. There’s no way he matches last year’s line of 67 R/28 HR/85 RBI, but he has been picking it up over his last 15 games. Over that time frame, he has slashed .383/.483/.638. I actually think he could be a sneaky play if you need power in the second half as he has a hard contact at 57% (not a typo) right now, and he’s improved his barrel percentage from last year as well. Yes, that means an improvement over a season in which he almost hit 30 HR. He hasn’t shown it thus far, but some regression to the mean could be in order.
Justin Smoak (1B, Toronto Blue Jays) – 3-5, BB. He’s really turned it on over the last 2 weeks bashing 5 HR and slashing .350/.426/.683. He’s been hot in July after hitting just .200 in June with a mere 3 HR. Also, for you OBP folks out there, his nearly 15% walk rate has helped him along to a career-best .366 OBP at the moment. You may have already missed the buy-low window, and with many of his power metrics in line with last year, he could be in for a big second half.
Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – 3-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 4 RBI. Taters gonna DOUBLE tate! This brings him up to 28 dongs on the year to go with his 19 SB, and he’s just the best there is. To quote American hero David Pumpkins, “ANY QUESTIONS?!”
Khris Davis (OF, Oakland Athletics) – 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI. It’s time to check in on Khris Davis’ pursuit of pulling what I’m dubbing…a Khris Davis: 40 HR, .247 AVG. He’s done it each of the last two years, and why not make it 3?! He’s currently at 27 HR and has a .253 AVG. Lookin’ good, Khris! This makes it 5 tates over the last 7 games for this tater.
Adam Duvall (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. It was a real Duvall Ditty for Adam last night. If you do not catch this reference, and especially if you are from Jacksonville, FL, go YouTube the “Duval Ditty” right this instant. You’re welcome. Anyways, Duvall has now cranked 15 tates on the year to go with his 61 RBI, and is it impossible to think he ends with 25 HR and 85 RBI? I don’t think so. Anyways, his triple slash is dog poop, so I get it if you can’t afford the hit on AVG.
Ryon Healy (1B/3B, Seattle Mariners) – 2-3, R, HR, RBI. He’s now cranked 21 dongs on the year, but he has to stop looking up to teammate Kyle Seager as his idol. He’s literally doing his best impression right now with a terrible OBP, a poor BB/K rate, and a load of empty dongs. He is off to a good 2nd half, however, with 2 HR and 7 RBI in just 11 plate appearances. I’ll give him that, but THAT’S IT!
Whit Merrifield (2B, Kansas City Royals) – 2-5, 2 R, 3B, RBI, SB. Lit (not a typo) Merrifield now has 19 swipes on the year, and it would appear he will make a run (get it?) for 30 swipes this year. As expected, his power has tumbled this year, and the 19 dongs from last year seem like a distant memory. However, he has maintained a steady K rate to go with his doubled walk rate from a year ago, and the .369 OBP is something we can all get behind. The near .300 batting average doesn’t suck either.
Jorge Polanco (SS, Minnesota Twins) – 2-5, 3 R, BB. That makes it 83 plate appearances with zero dongs so far, but he only had 13 in 544 plate appearances last year, so it’s chill. Remember, he’s playing catchup after his suspension, so I won’t be too critical of his decent but literally powerless slash of .270/.349/.365. It’s too late in the fantasy season to be patient, however, so I’m more than likely dropping in all but AL-only leagues.
Carlos Santana (C/1B, Philadelphia Phillies) – 2-3, R, 3B, 3 RBI, BB. He’s been pretty tough to own in anything but OBP leagues this season, but he’s been especially ratchet over the last 30 games hitting just .188 with 4 HRs. But, like I said, it’s all about the OBP format with him as he has a .354 mark over that same stretch of games. Despite the average, he’s produced quite well with a line of 57 R/15 HR/60 RBI in a surprisingly relevant Phillies’ lineup. Roster if you dare in batting average leagues. Or if you’ve got both Mike Trout and Jose Ramirez.
Tucker Barnhart (C, Cincinnati Reds) – 1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Did you or a friend recently lose Gary Sanchez until late August? Need a catcher? Might I present for your streaming consideration Mr. Tucker Barnhart of the Cincinnati Red Legs? He’s got a modest line of 33 R/6 HR/31 RBI and is currently slashing .249/.330/.359. Those may not be all THAT convincing, but he’s also working with career-best marks in hard hit rate, launch angle, and barrel percentage. It’s like the lights coming up at the bar, and you’ve gotta think fast. You’ll do. I’ll call the Uber.
Bryce Harper (OF, Washington Nationals) – 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. That makes it 25 dongs on the year for Harper, but he’s still batting a crummy .216. The good news is he’s on pace to post his second-highest HR total of his career! I mean…what can you do here? You’re not benching him. It is what it is.
Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers) – 1-3, R, RBI, BB, SB. That makes it 3 swipes for him over his last 7 games, and he’s rapidly becoming the Odor of old. Or at least tipping his cap to who he used to be. That’s a weird thing to say about a guy who is literally just 24, but you get what I’m saying. Exactly one month ago, he was hitting .227 and chillin’ on the waiver wire. Since that point, he’s been a monster and has a slash of .312/.384/.541 over his last 30 games. Welcome back, Rougie!