Batter’s Box: America’s Favorite (Will) Son
(Photo by Stephen Hopson/Icon Sportswire)
I hope you all had a very happy and safe 4th of July! Yesterday, noted footballer Jason Pierre-Paul shared a picture of the infamous nub to warn everyone about the dangers of
drinking and playing with fireworks, and now I won’t sleep for weeks. But let’s get back to baseball. I will be the first to admit that I really pushed Willson Contreras before the season. I saw some ascension in his power numbers that led me to believe he would take the next step forward this year and become the #1 catcher in fantasy by season’s end. See? I really did.
Last night’s 2-3, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB was a display of fireworks itself, but he still has a rather modest line of 30 R/7 HR/34 RBI/3 SB on the year. That’s produced a slash of .284/.370/.465 on the year, and while that’s good, I expected more from him to be honest. Ok, so maybe I just expected more power, but the point is, many of his metrics are pointing down. His ISO has fallen to .181 this season, and while both his flyball and groundball percentages are trending in the right direction, his 9.3% HR/FB rate is a far cry from the 25% mark he had each of the last two seasons. xStats is backing up the step back in production this year, and his xBACON of .302 is way down from the .360 range he’s had the last two years. Still, he’s got the increased launch angle to go with his regular marks in hard-hit rate and barrel percentage, so the seeds are sown for increased power in the 2nd half. All in all, I don’t think he will match my expectations, but he should still finish as a top 5 option at the position.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Wednesday:
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves) – 3-5, SB. This makes it 8 steals on the year, but he has just 2 over his last 30 games. Still, you’re getting way more power than you bargained for with him, so it’s all chill. He slumped a bit through the beginning part of June, but he’s turned it back on over the last 15 games hitting .391 over that stretch.
Kole Calhoun (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – 3-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. He’s been just awful this year slashing .180/.230/.275 despite last night’s valiant effort, and this was just his 5th dong of the year. However, he does show some signs of turning it around as he’s now hitting .306 over his last 15 games with 10R/ 4 HR/8 RBI and a steal over that stretch.
Matt Carpenter (1B/2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals) – 3-4, R, 2 2B, RBI, BB. I don’t know who’s playing angrier right now: him or Goldy. It’s like they could hear the constant complaints from fantasy owners all through April and parts of May and decided to tell us all to shut the hell up with their big sticks. Welp, consider our mouths shut! Despite the surge in production over the last month and a half, he’s still hitting just .255, which tells you something about how rough the beginning was.
Jon Jay (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 3-5, R. I normally wouldn’t write about him since he hasn’t produced much at all, but it is the 4th of July we’re talking about today. Jon Jay is a true patriot and helped found this country, so give it up for the D’backs most American player! Don’t worry about him as his line on the year is 19 R/1 HR/9 RBI/1 SB/.223.
Kendrys Morales (1B/DH, Toronto Blue Jays) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, RBI. This was his 8th dong of the year, and he’s been solid over the last two weeks with 4 HR and a slash of .310/.388/.643. He’s just 10% owned at the moment, but he has some power upside and should be owned during a hot streak like this. He’s also been frequenting the 4 spot in the lineup since early June, so that’s a thing.
Tommy Pham (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – 3-5, R, 2B, 3 RBI. What a PHAM-tastic day at the plate! I’ll show myself out. Before I go…I just want to note that Pham decides to have a day like this on the exact day he was shipped off my roster in the Prodigy League. #FantasyThings. Anyways, he’s been slumping over the last 15 games with a slash of just .167/.237/.352, and xStats is backing up the struggles as is the 6% VH rate at the moment.
Stephen Piscotty (OF, Oakland Athletics) – 3-4, 3 2B, 3 RBI. He’s been red-hot over the last 15 games slashing a spicy .320/.404/.640, and he’s on the most added list for a very good reason. We’ve all been waiting for him to tap into his high-upside potential, and while I don’t think he’s reliable for the long-term, you can’t deny these hot streaks. He turned it on in June hitting .303 with his best counting stats thus far, and that has continued into July. Keep juicing that orange!
Josh Reddick (OF, Houston Astros) – 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB. This combo meal puts him at 8 HR and 4 SB, and this power-speed combo makes him rosterable in deeper leagues but especially AL-only formats. He’s been heating up over the last 15 games hitting .375, and even though he’s an Astro, he’s not providing you with the massive counting stats of some his teammates. Still worth a spot if you need outfield depth.
J.T. Riddle (SS, Miami Marlins) – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2 RBI. Big night for him, but that’s about all I can say for him. This was his 5th dong of the year, but his 23% K rate vs. his 3.8% walk rate means I’m probably not rostering him anywhere. That’s led to a .288 OBP for those who are curious. Moving on.
Harrison Bader (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – 2-5, R, 2B, SB. If there comes a time where Mike Matheny can look straight into a reporter’s face and say “Harrison Bader is our permanent guy at (insert OF position here),” then I’m fully on board. That hasn’t happened yet, and so I cannot roster him with confidence at the moment. He has the SB upside to swipe 15 (with regular PT) and a decent amount of pop, so let’s hope he finds his way into the lineup regularly soon.
Shin-Soo Choo (OF, Texas Rangers) – 2-4, R, HR, RBI. This makes it 44 games in a row that he’s gotten on base, which is remarkable in today’s game of selling out for power. Speaking of power, this was Choo’s 16th dong of the year, and it came off of Gerrit Cole. No easy task indeed. He’s currently among the elites in OBP with a .399 mark, but it’s actually not his career-best. That would be his insane .423 he posted with the 2013 Reds.
Khris Davis (OF, Oakland Athletics) – 2-4, R, 2B, RBI. Let’s check in on Khris’ race for 40 HR/.247 AVG: Khris currently has 20 HR and a .239 AVG. Ok. Ok. Not bad! He has plenty of time to bash 20 more HR and raise that average up a couple of points. I like his chances. Anyways, he hasn’t hit a dong in his last 15 games, and he’s hitting just .239 over that stretch. Let’s hope the dongs come back soon.
Eduardo Escobar (3B/SS, Minnesota Twins) – 2-4, R, HR, RBI. This was his 13th big blast of the year, and needs just 7 more to record his second straight 20 HR season. He’s been ice cold over the last 15 games slashing just .157/.254/.294, so hopefully, this gets him back on track. It’s good to see him staying in the middle of the order even after Jorge Polanco’s return.
Todd Frazier (3B, New York Mets) – 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. The Toddfather is now up to 10 HR on the year, and he’s on pace to record his 5th straight 20 HR season. However, it’s becoming the norm for him to hit around .220, and he’s not disappointed with his .222 mark on the year. The power does seem to be a little drained from his bat this year as his ISO sits at .171, and he has reductions in flyball percentage plus career-low marks in launch angle and barrel percentage.
Yasmani Grandal (C, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 2-3, R, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. He’s definitely gotten back to his old plate discipline tricks after posting a disappointing 0.31 mark a year ago, and he’s once again one of the better OBP options behind the dish. The Dodgers have been hot as of late, and Grandal has been a key cog in that hitting .444 over his last 7 games. He will remain one of the top options at catcher moving forward.
Yuli Gurriel (3B, Houston Astros) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. Gurriel has never been noted for his power, and that’s holding true this year as this was just dong number 5. However, he’s going through a “power surge” as he has 3 out of his 5 HR in the last 15 games. Because of the modest power and high batting average floor, he’s useful but only in deeper leagues and AL-only.
Ryon Healy (1B, Seattle Mariners) – 2-4, R, HR, RBI. This was his 17th dong of the year, but he’s still doing his best Kyle Seager impression slashing .252/.283/.474. He has a very good chance to exceed last year’s 25 HR mark, and I’ll bet if he puts his mind to it, he can achieve this feat! He’s dragging you down in OBP leagues for sure, and that 3.9% walk rate isn’t inspiring confidence that changes are on the horizon.
Yadier Molina (C, St. Louis Cardinals) – 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. This makes it 13 jacked dongs on the season as he continues to provide us late-career pop. With health, he should blow past his 18 HR from a year ago and possibly record just his 2nd 20 HR season of his storied career. He does have a career-best 36% hard-hit rate at the moment, and he’s posting his best marks in launch angle and barrel percentage as well.
Jorge Polanco (SS, Minnesota Twins) – 2-3, RBI, BB, SB. Welcome back, cheater cheater pumpkin eater! He’s now 3 games into his season, and this was his first swipe of the year. Last year, he provided modest power with double-digit steals, and I expect him to provide that production again the rest of the way. Check back soon as we get a larger sample size.
Jurickson Profar (3B/SS, Texas Rangers) – 2-4, 2 R, RBI, SB. I think Profar is one of the better feel good stories of the season as the once uber prospect is finally putting it all together. This makes it 8 HR/7 SB on the year, and I could see him challenging for a 15/15 mark if he stays on the field. He should continue to provide this power-speed combo but temper expectations for counting stats in a poor lineup.
Kyle Seager (3B, Seattle Mariners) – 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. He’s being out-Kyle Seagered by his teammate Ryon Healy at the moment, but this was his 16th dong of the year. He’s slashing a poor .239/.289/.448, and that’s even bad for him! He’s posting a career-worst 0.25 BB/K at the moment, and that makes him even less ownable in OBP leagues than standard formats.
Travis Shaw (3B, Milwaukee Brewers) – 2-3, R, HR, RBI. This was his 15th jacked dong of the year, but his average has taken a concerning step back to .244 from the solid .273 from a year ago. His BABIP does sit at .255, which could indicate better days ahead, though. xStats says he’s earned the triple slash so far, so hooray for contradicting myself!
Christian Villanueva (3B, San Diego Padres) – 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. He started strong, which is why he has 17 dongs, but you can’t ignore the horrendous slash of .231/.292/.487. Ok, so maybe it’s just the OBP that’s stinky, but you get it. After hitting .321 in March/April, he’s hit a measly .188 with 50 Ks and just 8 walks since May 1st.
Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-3, R, 2B, 2 RBI. He just continues to hit as his triple slash is now up to .277/.391/.403 on the year. And peep that 1.08 BB/K at the moment! He’s been one of the hottest hitters in baseball over his last 15 games hitting .421 with 7 R/3 HR/16 RBI over that time frame.
Javier Baez (2B/SS, Chicago Cubs) – 1-4, R, 2 SB. What a freaking magician! If you haven’t watched his acrobatic trick stealing home yesterday, go YouTube or Cut4 that bad boy right now. It’s impressive. This makes 15 swipes on the year, and the 16 HR/15 SB mark means he will challenge for 25 HR/25 SB. Keep on swiping!
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees) – 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. Taters Gonna Tate! That’s 21 HR on the year, and his 2nd game in a row with a longball. That’s also 10 HR over his last 30 games as he has been red hot since the calendar flipped to June.