Batter’s Box: Bote’s In Spa-a-ace

Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire

So if you happened to be watching the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals game last night, you caught one amazing ending, as David Bote (pronounced “boh-dee”) came in to pinch hit and nailed a grand slam. Now, normally I don’t talk about pinch hit guys from the previous day, but Bote warrants some conversation because he’s quietly been hitting really well while Kris Bryant has been out, slashing .361/.452/.667 over the past month. So how legit is this? Well you may look at his .400 BABIP and immediately say “Well this is all garbage, here comes the regression.” I wouldn’t blame you for that, but a closer look at Bote suggests that some of this is kinda legit. First off, he’s hitting the ball really hard, with a 43.1% hard-hit rate along with a 12.3% barrel rate and an average exit velocity of 95.9 MPH (for reference, Aaron Judge leads the league in average exit velocity at 95.8 MPH). So yea, Bote is crushing the ball. Plus, while he may have an average of .329 along with that really high .400 BABIP, it comes with a .356 xAVG and .435 xBABIP. I’m not saying he’s going to be without regression entirely, surely this is a strong hot streak that will slow down, but Bote is hitting the ball really well, and there might be something worth chasing in some fantasy leagues here. When Bryant comes back, we’ll see how Bote’s playing time shakes out, but you have to imagine they’ll figure out a way to get him into the lineup if he keeps hitting like this.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from yesterday’s games:

Didi Gregorius (SS, New York Yankees) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Gregorius started off the season fairly slow but he’s picked right back up to being the Didi you hoped for when you drafted him, slashing .308/.376/.538 over the past month.

Willy Adames (SS/2B, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 SB. That’s now four-straight games with a stolen base for Willy Adames who’s on a really nice hot streak, slashing .297/.343/.422 over the past month. He’s a really talented top prospect and he’s getting the playing time, so he might be worth a look (though be wary of starting him this week).

Paul Goldschmidt (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Paul Goldschmidt is amazing. Do you remember that .144 May? Nah, me neither.

Daniel Descalso (2B/3B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Descalso’s had some hot and cold moments this year, he’s a ride-the-streak kind of guy and he’s been alright, slashing .275/.463/.400 over the past month, but I’d say let him ride your wire for now except for in the deepest of leagues (or deep OBP leagues).

Jose Reyes (SS/2B/3B, New York Mets) – 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Nice game for Reyes but his playing time is inconsistent and he’s been terrible this year. Nothing to see here.

Rafael Ortega (OF, Miami Marlins) – 2-5, 1 R, 2 SB. Ortega was just called up from the minors on Friday and is likely to just be a fourth outfielder for the Marlins (though it’s worth noting he started in all three games since being called up). He slashed .275/.375/.404 with 12 stolen bases during his time in the minors this year, so he might be someone to keep an eye on in dynasty leagues, but nothing more.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, Milwaukee Brewers) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI. Aguilar’s been incredible this year, he’ll keep being incredible.

Melky Cabrera (OF, Cleveland Indians) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. What is dead may never die, and that certainly applies to Melky. Though it seems like he’s slowly starting to, as he’s been pretty bad this year.

Yolmer Sanchez (2B/3B, Chicago White Sox) – 2-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. A nice game from Sanchez but he’s been miserable lately, slashing .174/.248/.272 over the past month. Avoid him for now.

Adam Engel (OF, Chicago White Sox) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Engel’s becoming notorious for stealing home runs, but not for much else, as he’s been slashing .222/.236/.352 over the past month. He’s ridiculously fast, coming in third in the league in average sprint speed behind only Billy Hamilton and Byron Buxton, but he can’t really make good contact, so ignore him for now.

Ryon Healy (3B/1B, Seattle Mariners) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Healy has had great power this year, but everything else has been pretty bad, and that hasn’t changed as he’s slashing .241/.286/.443 over the past month. There are better power options out on your waiver wire than Healy.

Brian Dozier (2B, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 2-3, 2 RBI, 2 SB. Nice to see a couple steals from Dozier who, coming into this game, had only stole three bases in the past month. Hopefully his average will pick up in the second half.

Travis Jankowski (OF, San Diego Padres) – 2-3, 3 R, 4 SB. Jankowski is absurdly good at stealing bases, it’s one of the reasons I loved him as a late-round pick last year, but he’s been really bad this year outside of his speed, slashing just .237/.308/.271 over the past month. If you need cheap steals in a deep league, I guess he’s not a bad choice, but there are likely better options out there.

Freddy Galvis (SS, San Diego Padres) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 SB. Total stat sheet stuffing game from Galvis who’s honestly been pretty meh this year in the middle of a very volatile lineup, making his fantasy prospects kind of difficult.

Jed Lowrie (2B/3B, Oakland Athletics) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Jed Lowrie might be one of the best stories of the year this year, so great to see him healthy and hitting so well this season.

Ben Palmer

Lifelong Orioles fan (which can be....painful at times) and a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music and watch way too many movies.

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Comments


Jim

Is Desmond worth holding onto for the next 4 weeks in a categories league? I traded for him a few weeks back and he has done miserably. He did next to nothing on his recent home stand, yet he is still ranked favorably here each week.

What is the attraction to Desmond at this point of the year? Wouldn’t Bader, Zimmerman, even Zobrist be a better option right now? Ty!

Ben Palmer

I don’t necessarily have a problem dropping him right now. He’s been awful since the start of August, with a nearly-70% groundball rate and a significantly decreased hard-hit rate. Still, he’s got a .207 BABIP during that time too, so I expect him to get better. But if you don’t have the roster flexibility to wait til he heats up again, I’m fine with dropping him.

Zobrist has a particularly favorable schedule this week.

MaxRo

Hey Ben. Thanks for writing this column. Is a good one stop shop to stay tuned.

For ROS 2B points league. Dozier, Albies and Odor are kinda streaky on/off guys. Which 2 would you keep? how would you rank them?

Thanks

Ben Palmer

Thanks! Happy to do it.

I’d probably keep Dozier and Albies, especially if there’s a penalty for strikeouts. I realize Odor has been hot lately, but I have more confidence in Dozier having a better second half than I do Odor maintaining his hot streak.

theKraken

Don’t most people have good batted ball stats when they are hot? I am not sure that the batted ball stats really tell you anything that stats don’t over a small sample. It doesn’t make it any more sustainable. In his case, the raw counting stats would tell you the same thing – which is that he has been hitting the ball well.

Lowrie was good last year as well. His OPS is almost exactly the same.

Ben Palmer

Not necessarily. If a guy on a hot streak is getting lucky, often you can see that in the peripherals (e.g. he’ll have a really elevated BABIP but his hard-hit rate or barrel rate won’t be all that special/different from career norms).

So (assuming you’re referring to Bote), the fact that he’s hitting the ball as hard as he is is definitely a good sign, and a sign that there’s some real, legitimate skill here. It’s not a guarantee of future success by any stretch (nothing is), but it’s definitely a positive sign that makes him worth monitoring.

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