The speedy young Roman Quinn (OF, Philadelphia Phillies) has started 4 of the last 5 games for the Phillies, going 7/17 with two home runs and three stolen bases in that stretch, including a strong performance on Monday (2-4, RBI, SB). He’s been fighting for a starting job of late, and with the demotion of Maikel Franco, there is theoretically an opportunity in the Philadelphia outfield if he can run away with the job. While I don’t think he’ll secure everyday playing time due to his high strikeout rate, his blazing speed and decent glove should keep him in the lineup at least semi-regularly, even if he slumps a little.
There is no doubt that many folks are looking for categories to strengthen as we enter the thick of the playoff races. A whole lot of people are likely targeting specific stats that seems easiest to make up, and in my experience, stolen bases are often one that has a lot of gain potential due to the scarcity of stolen bases and the fact that the middle of the standings in stolen bases is generally quite tightly packed. In many leagues, 5-10 stolen bases can make a huge difference in the final standings, and guys like Quinn, who have 30 stolen base potential in a full season, start to look quite tantalizing.
I’m not going to necessarily dissuade you from trying to buy a lottery ticket on Quinn. He has a decent hit tool, after all, and managed to hit .260 with 10 steals back in 2018 over 50 games and already has seven in 35 games this year. You want steals? He’s got them! The thing is, you have to make sure you’re not hurting yourself in other categories. It’s easy to identify a guy who is hurting you in batting average, because most fantasy players have some idea of what a good batting average is. But how about runs and RBI? What’s a “good” number for those? These numbers can be tougher to conceptualize, and while the more mathematically-inclined can give you a way to project and find set figures, the far easier way to get an idea at a glance is simply looking at batting order.
Quinn is going to hit eighth or ninth pretty much every time he starts, and while the Phillies aren’t an awful offensive team, they can’t support high counting stats at the bottom of their order. Simply batting eighth or ninth doesn’t preclude a guy from being fantasy relevant, but there are only so many bottom-of-the-order hitters a fantasy manager can hold before the runs and RBI start to crumble. In short, I would encourage everyone to be mindful of not only what stats players provide, but the stats that they do not. I have noticed many a manager lose track of this to their extreme detriment.
Jonathan Villar (2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles)—4-5, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI. He’s been a top 20 hitter so far on ESPN’s player rater thanks to the speed coupled with positive contributions in the remaining categories. His ADP was 78 in the NFBC second chance leagues, which is a fairly decent barometer for what we might expect his ADP to be in the spring.
Marcus Semien (SS, Oakland Athletics)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. He’s quietly been a very useful shortstop in most formats and is on pace for 25 home runs, 10 stolen bases and a .262 batting average. The biggest change has been his place discipline, which he has basically improved every year since his debut in 2013, culminating in an 11.8% walk rate and just a 13.9% strikeout rate so far this season.
Mike Tauchman (OF, New York Yankees)—3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. He’s been excellent filling in as the Yankees primary left fielder since July 14th, hitting .429 and slugging .821 with five home runs and two stolen bases in 17 games. There’s little indication that any of this is sustainable, mind you, but if you’re desperate for short term help in a very deep league, Tauchman’s hot bat could be help.
Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS, Chicago Cubs)—2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB. The slight dip in stolen bases is less than ideal, but he is going to get close to 40 home runs with a .285 or better batting average and 15 steals. That’s a top 10 hitter if I’ve ever seen one. People will always point to his plate discipline as a red flag, but at this point, his hand-eye coordination and bat speed give him a unique skill set that allows him to be hyper-aggressive and successful.
Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—4-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. The NL MVP race is as hot as ever between Yelich and Cody Bellinger. Yelich’s next home run will be number 40 on the year, and he already has 23 stolen bases to go along with them. The 23 steals are the only significant stat advantage he has over Bellinger, so it will be interesting to see if it plays a role in the voting.
Nick Castellanos (OF, Chicago Cubs)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. I still don’t think he’s going to see a huge home run boost due to Wrigley. If he gets a home run boost, it will be because he starts elevating the ball. He’s a fourth or fifth outfielder in most leagues.
Orlando Arcia (SS, Milwaukee Brewers)—3-4, R, RBI. The .277 batting average from 2017 seems like forever ago, doesn’t it? His playing time plus double-digit power and speed will give him value in extremely deep leagues, but that’s about it. He’s only 25, so there’s a chance that he could find a way to recover his contact skills, but I wouldn’t be investing in that potential outcome.
Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox)—3-5, 2 R, 2B. He’s finally back from an injury that kept him out for over a month, but at least we know he’s healthy. He has a hit five straight games and an extra base hit in four straight. He hasn’t stolen a base in quite a while, but it should only be a matter of time. His injury will make his final season line look less impressive than it is, as he should get close to 20 home runs, 25 stolen bases, and a .300 batting average over just 120 games. The batting average isn’t likely to be that high in future seasons, but he’s far from the .240 hitter we saw in 2018.
Brett Gardner (OF, New York Yankees)—3-4, 3 R, HR, RBI. He’s back to an everyday role for the Yankees thanks to a seemingly endless parade of injuries that strike as soon as someone else gets healthy. He’s going to play every day and, oddly enough, has been hitting in the middle of the order over the last few contests. If that continues, he becomes much more relevant in a mixed league.
Bryan Reynolds (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. We aren’t talking about him much, but he’s still piling up the hits for the Pirates. He actually has scored multiple runs in five of his last seven games and is a very underrated play in points formats. There’s very limited power and no real speed here, but the contact ability is very real.
Joc Pederson (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. Against righties in 2019, Joc has a very nice 125 wRC+ and a .867 OPS. Against lefties, he has a wRC+ of 7 (100 is average, in case you forgot) and a .406 OPS. He’s a platoon guy in real life and should be a platoon guy for your fantasy team.
JaCoby Jones (OF, Detroit Tigers)—2-5, R, HR, 3B, RBI. There’s no batting average to be found here, but if you’re in a very deep league and need some pop and speed, JaCoby can be of some service to you. I doubt the batting average will ever come around, but he could be a poor man’s Brett Gardner in years to come if they need him to be for some reason.
J. T. Realmuto (C, Philadelphia Phillies)—1-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB, SB. Injuries, inconsistency and a lack of elite players at catcher means J.T. will once again be the number one catcher in fantasy by season’s end. He should get to about 22 home runs, seven steals and a .275/.330/.465 line when it’s all over, which probably isn’t worth the insane price people paid (especially in single-catcher formats), but in terms of the being the number one catcher, they got what they wanted.
Kole Calhoun (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—0-4, 3 K. He’s hitting .215 since the All-Star Break, but he does have a .506 slugging percentage. You don’t need that, though. I promise you that you don’t. You can get more exciting power elsewhere.
Christian Vazquez (C, Boston Red Sox)—0-4, 3 K. Catchers, am I right? Sigh.
(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire).