I wrote about Yankees SS Didi Gregorius having a solid game at Minnesota in a Batter’s Box last week, and he went on to enjoy an excellent series on the road against Seattle. After posting a 6-12, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB line this weekend, he’s now riding a six-game hitting streak, with four of those efforts featuring multiple hits. Going 8-15 in the Pacific Northwest has inflated Didi’s batting average from .291 to .304 over the course of four days, and the two solo shots he mustered during Sunday’s game lifted his season total to 14 homers. I have a soft spot for what Gregorius was able to do in the fantasy realm this weekend, as his clutch opportunism with a shallow right field wall at Safeco helped me tie my opponent’s 15 home runs for a slim 5-4-1 win in our Pitcher List staff league. He doesn’t actually have impressive hard contact numbers at all, so appreciate the power production you get from Gregorius that much more. He is particularly good against sliders and changeups, so consider that with your BVP research. Gregorius has also achieved 44 RBI and 40 runs over 293 at-bats, and he must be owned in 12-team leagues.
Let’s take a look at what else happened around the league with regard to remarkable hitting performances:
Whit Merrifield (2B/OF, KCR) – 4-10, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K, SB. Ten games deep into a consecutive hit streak and hitting safely in 17 of 19 July contests, Merrifield is on the fantasy warpath right now. He has a .293 average, helped by a robust .338 this month, and Sunday’s homers were his ninth and tenth of the year. A stolen base (16 overall…!) and 6 RBI against the White Sox were excellent additions to a strong weekend at the dish. He’s contributing in all five categories and there’s absolutely no reason he should be unowned anywhere at this point. The .311 BABIP is reassuring, since it indicates that we can expect his success to continue. The only real bone I have to pick with Merrifield’s profile right now is that his HR/FB ratio of 8.8% could ideally be a smidgeon better.
Andrelton Simmons (SS, LAA) – 5-12, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K. Although he weirdly hasn’t stolen a base in over a month, Simmons does have 13 swipes on the year. The good news is that he’s coming off back-to-back games with homers to push his season total into double digits. Currently sitting at 11 with a chunk of the season yet to go, Simmons stands a great chance of surpassing his career-best of 17 from back in 2013 with the Braves. His .292 average would also be the best of his majors career if he can keep that up through the second half. Simmons has 46 runs and 44 RBI under his belt, and frequent readers will know I love seeing that kind of balance. He seems to thrive wherever in the lineup Mike Scioscia installs him, as he’s seen successful outings from the heart of the order (5- and 6-spots) as well as batting third in the final game against the Red Sox. The 2013 NL Platinum Glove winner should end up as a top-5 fantasy shortstop if he can sustain his offensive excellence.
Charlie Blackmon (OF, COL) – 5-13, 5 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K. Friday’s 0-3 outing marked just the second hitless game Blackmon has had this month. Blackmon is hitting .387 in July, a feat that certainly stands his magnificent .328 season BA in good stead. Four homers over his last six games (all at Coors Field) bring his campaign total to 24, and only 11 men across baseball have more RBI than Blackmon’s 69. He is tops in MLB, however, in runs scored: by crossing the plate 87 times through the first 100 games of the year, Blackmon is on pace to eclipse the 140 mark. Let that sink in. For those in points leagues, it’s also worth being aware that his 13 triples also lead the league, and no one else is even close. Start Blackmon every day without a second thought.
Carlos Asuaje (2B, SDP) – 6-17, R, 3 RBI, 3 K. Asuaje’s name has kept popping up in box score summaries as I’ve combed through the league for notable guys to mention over recent weeks, so I figured it was time to feature him with a little spotlight. Over the course of the past month, Asuaje has been filling in for the injured Yangervis Solarte as a full-time 2B in a depleted Padres infield. Since getting the call-up from Triple-A El Paso on June 23, Asuaje has amassed 22 hits over 92 at-bats. Boasting a .328 season average despite being relatively ineffective in the minors this year, he’s managed nine runs, nine RBI and a singular homer. He unfortunately is not a threat for power or baserunning speed, so the modest run production probably means he’s a tough sell for fantasy viability. The average is certainly nice, though, and he’s performing well enough to perhaps hang onto a spot on the 25-man roster even when Solarte gets healthy again. Worth keeping an eye on his stats, but he’s probably not going to do anything groundbreaking that merits an add.
A.J. Pollock (OF, ARI) – 5-11, 5 R, HR, RBI, 3 K. Pollock had a monster game when the D-backs hosted Washington on Friday, coming up just a single short of the cycle. An 0-2 Sunday honestly doesn’t take away from a strong series otherwise. He’s hitting .296 on the season and .286 in July alone. His homer Friday was just his fourth overall of an injury-shortened season. Pollock bats either leadoff or second, so the lack of significant RBI is a little forgivable since he does indeed tend to score a lot himself. He’s a top-30 play when fully healthy and raking, but I’d love to see him rack up some homers and steals to re-inject himself even higher within the elite fantasy stud conversation.
Cesar Hernandez (2B, PHI) – 2-10, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB. Hernandez had been out for over a month with an oblique injury but was reactivated last week to participate in the Phillies’ road series at Marlins Park. Hernandez was one of April’s searingly hot stars in baseball, and while the RBI production has been somewhat meager overall since then, he does have six already in six games this month. The Saturday homer was just his sixth: run-scoring (46) and batting average (.276) are going to be his best fantasy attributes on any given day. If he can regain his early-season form with regard to baserunning on top of those contributions, adding to the six existing steals he’s got would be helpful to owners. He’s realistically a play at your middle infielder (2B/SS) spot or a consistent UTIL play until he truly heats back up, since there are numerous other 2B-eligible guys tearing it up more so than Hernandez right now. Namely, that group includes the likes of Jonathan Schoop, Chris Taylor, Paul DeJong and Josh Harrison. As I’ve noted during the past week, Dustin Pedroia has also been stepping his game up, although injury concern currently surrounds him with a continually sore knee so bear that in mind.
Jonathan Schoop (2B, BAL) – 6-14, 4 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 K. I mean, just look at this weekend stat line. That doesn’t even reveal the fact that, between Thursday and Saturday, Schoop homered in three consecutive games. He now has a magnificent 70 RBI for the Os this year, and he’s scored 59 times himself to boot. With 21 homers now to his credit, Schoop should be able to pass the 30-HR mark without any trouble whatsoever. He is a legitimate top-5 guy at the position despite having been drafted on average as the 14th overall 2B, according to NFBC data.
Melky Cabrera (OF, CHW) – 6-10, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB (IBB), K. Cabrera is batting perhaps the quietest .295 in the league, and with 52 runs scored and 56 RBI, he is a legitimately essential cog in the wheel that is Chicago’s offense. The reason why I say it’s been an under-the-radar bit of work from Melky is that the White Sox are terrible and 12.5 games back in the AL Central race, so his exploits don’t register a lot of real-world hype when the team is losing so often. He’s got 13 homers now, and he’s also enjoyed three multi-hit games in the last week. He’s a sneaky good addition to your roster if you need some help due to injuries or have just been lacking in average.
Carlos Gomez (OF, TEX) – 3-10, R, HR, RBI, 2 K. Nothing too flashy about Gomez’s resume, but the homer was his 13th as he launched his first jack of the season’s second half Sunday. The .249 average leaves a lot to be desired, but his consistency is admirable in that his July average of .246 almost mirrors the campaign number. He’s got a somewhat modest 36 runs and 34 RBI, but that’s over only 249 at-bats. He is a solid mid-tier fantasy play who has tossed in seven swipes this year for your trouble.