Fresh off a laudatory mention in Monday’s Batter’s Box—in which I touted him as a way better option than Maikel Franco as a starting fantasy 3B—Nicholas Castellanos wasted no time by subsequently enjoying a banner night on Tuesday. In going 4-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, K, Castellanos helped secure the 9-3 victory for the Tigers in Kansas City. At worst, Detroit could still split the four-game series if they go on to lose tonight and Thursday, but they’re playing lights-out with plenty of offense right now. After trading J.D. Martinez to the Diamondbacks for three prospects yesterday, it would appear that the Detroit brass are trying to make moves to rebuild and invest in the future. This is probably frustrating for Tigers fans who don’t want to see the team dismantled by a surrendering front office, given that they’re is only five games back in the AL Wild Card race. The players aren’t packing it in at all, however, and now that Castellanos seems even more likely to hang on to the 2-spot in the lineup, his fantasy stock rises as does his value to the team in real life. The RHB is slashing .255/.321/.470 on the season, and with 14 homers already Castellanos needs just five more jacks to set a career-high in a campaign. He’s correspondingly on track to establish personal records for runs and RBI in a season too. He currently has 48 and 54, respectively, more than adequate for you to feel good about starting him as those totals rank in the top 10 among all players with 3B eligibility (double-checked in both Yahoo and ESPN). Castellanos is especially hot right now, having homered four times since the start of the second half this past Friday. The recent production has come on the shoulders of him hitting .340 in July. The 48.6% hard contact and the 7.8% soft contact he’s getting are the stuff fantasy dreams are made of. Own and start Castellanos if you have a need.
Let’s take a look at what other notable hitting performances happened around the league:
Bryce Harper (OF, WSH) – 4-4, 2 R, HR, RBI. Harper fell a double shy of the cycle against the Angels last night, and he’s presently riding a 13-game hitting streak; in other words, he’s reached safely in every July game. This streak has him batting .471 this month for a .337 average overall. God help you if your H2H opponent has him on the roster during this tear he’s on. He’s on pace for 40 homers, 125 runs scored, and 119 RBI, according to Steamer ROS projections. So, basically, the sky is blue and Harper is fantastic at baseball. Carry on, no surprises here.
Chris Davis (1B/DH, BAL) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, BB. That helped. In his first multi-homer game since May 16, Davis likely did wonders to engender trust and loyalty among his fantasy owners with the strong outing Tuesday. Still not a fan of the .221 average, but 16 homers say that Davis could be on pace to set his second-highest career total of bombs in a season if he keeps this up. As long as you know what you’re getting yourself into with Davis—solid power, low average, acceptable run production—he definitely has value. It’s worth noting he’s only 3-18 since the break, so beware what comes with the territory.
Zack Cozart (SS, CIN) – 3-4, 2 R, HR, RBI. Cozart broke his 0-8 mini-slump coming out of the All-Star break to have a very efficient go of things in the series opener against the Diamondbacks. Despite his struggles in the preceding series with the Nationals, he’s still batting .250 in July for a .313 average overall. The homer Tuesday was his 10th of the year, and he’s scored 44 runs and plated 36 in 259 at-bats. He’s an excellent option at SS, as he’s been one of the more productive at the position this year despite a bit of time on the DL, and this is especially important to note at a time when Carlos Correa has just landed on the 10-day DL himself. Cozart is not as widely owned as you might think: Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, Eduardo Nunez and Marwin Gonzalez join Cozart in being SS-eligible guys whom you’d be wise to snag in Correa’s absence if you don’t already have the void filled.
Didi Gregorius (SS, NYY) – 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. Speaking of Gregorius, he had a great game at Target Field. He’s hitting .291 for the season with 12 jacks, and two of his three July homers have come in the last four days. Through 275 at-bats, he’s got 37 runs and 42 RBI for your trouble. He’s hopped around a bit within the Yankees’ lineup, always somewhere in the range including third and the 6-spot. He’s a dependable asset at short, as he usually supplies a bit of power even in the rare times when he’s struggling to hit for average.
Evan Gattis (C/DH, HOU) – 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, K. It’s becoming mysterious to me why Gattis doesn’t get more playing time when he’s this robust at the dish. He’s batting .370 in the month of July, but he’s only been given the starting nod in seven of the 13 games the Astros have played this month. I get that Brian McCann is exceptional as a backstop, and he’s been a decent catcher in fantasy despite getting only 25 more AB than Gattis: my beef is more with Carlos Beltran getting so many more opportunities despite being an empirically worse hitter than Gattis this year. Gattis’ .285 average and 41 RBI alone—in 101 fewer AB no less!—are outdoing Beltran’s .233 and 37, respectively. The Astros are overutilizing the mediocre Beltran at DH when they have a powder keg of a guy in Gattis who’s clearly able to contribute more to both real-life and fantasy box scores, if given the chance.
Hanley Ramirez (1B/DH, BOS) – 2-6, R, HR, RBI, BB. Had to show another DH a little love, especially after Ramirez’s homer gave the Red Sox a walk-off victory over Toronto in the 15th inning last night. His average sits at .257, and he has scored 40 times while notching 37 RBI in the process as well. HanRam is on pace for 25+ homers after hitting his 15th of the year Tuesday, and he could push for 80s in runs and RBI if he can stay consistent. He can be fired up as a really solid UTIL and I would feel fine plugging him into a 1B/3B corner infielder spot if your league has those. I do think better starting 1B exist, but Ramirez is not a liability in any way right now.
Dustin Pedroia (2B, BOS) – 2-7, R, HR, 2 RBI. I know Pedroia’s never been a true power hitter (just one season with 20+ homers), but when he may not even hit 10 bombs this year it must be a little embarrassing to be the pitcher that yields one to him. That man was J.A. Happ on Tuesday, as Pedey launched his fifth of the season. The .307 average and 46 RBI he has are the strongest parts of his hitter’s profile, while four steals are a nice, tiny bonus. Pedroia and DJ LeMahieu have comparable numbers in most metrics, but the latter is blowing his Red Sox counterpart away with 20 more runs scored. There are way better 2B-eligible fantasy options than Pedroia in his 12th MLB season: give me Jedd Gyorko, Chris Taylor, or Whit Merrifield over him any day of the week (with maybe Jed Lowrie and Brandon Phillips distantly next in line).
Chris Taylor (2B/3B/SS/OF, LAD) – 4-5, R, K, SB. I mean, he’s batting .300 with 10 homers, 46 runs, 38 RBI, and 12 steals. And he’s doubled four times and tripled twice in July alone. The guy is a dynamic hitter in a fantastic lineup who seems capable of manufacturing offense wherever he slots into the order. Taylor has shown himself to be a valuable fantasy asset but is not as widely owned as his balanced roto stats might lead you to expect.