Batter’s Box: Eager for Seager
Last year, Corey Seager went down far too early with a season ending injury. Drafted in the first three or four rounds, it was a devastating blow for fantasy owners, and sent them scrounging for a shortstop off the waiver wire by the end of April. Certainly not how you want to start your fantasy season. Managers drafted Seager for the .300 average, 25 plus home run power in the middle of one of the best offenses in the league. He was as safe of a bet for close to 100 runs and RBIs as you could ask for in a player. All of that was gone with a snap of a ligament. With nearly a full year of recovery behind him, Seager returned for the 2019 season with a many owners trepidatious that he could return to what we hoped, especially when he missed a full year of development at 24 years old. Now 25, Seager has something to prove.
The start of the season was exactly what we all dreaded, a .236 average with two home runs through the end of April. Was Seager ever going to be the same after missing that full year? Some struggles continued until almost two weeks into May. From May 12th on, Seager has been back to his elite self. In 23 games, he has driven in 26 runs with six homers while batting .341. Last night he delivered four more hits and four more RBIs going 4-5, 2 2B, 4 RBI. Despite chasing pitches out of the zone more often, he is making significantly better contact too (nearly 20 percentage points higher since May 12th). It is too late to buy low on Seager, but if you own him remain confident he will continue to deliver as an elite shortstop.
Let’s look around the league to find the rest of the best of Saturday.
Travis d’Arnaud (C, Tampa Bay Rays)—Game 1: 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. d’Arnaud came through big again in one of his rare starts now that Zunino is healthy again. As there was a double header, they split the duties and d’Arnaud got his opportunity to prove to get back into the lineup. It will still take a lot to topple Zunino out of the starting role so don’t make any quick moves.
Josh Phegley (C, Oakland Athletics)—Game 1: 2-2, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Game 2: 0-3. Phegley has been on a of a cold streak the past week, but his performance after coming into game one did something to briefly end it. He’s been pretty hot and cold this year but has put together a solid performance for a catcher. His 28.5% line drive rate has helped tremendously. That said, there’s most likely a better start out there than Phegley at this time.
Nomar Mazara (OF, Texas Rangers)—Game 1: 2-4, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Game 2: 1-3, BB. I came into this year hoping that Mazara would learn to lift the ball more and stop hitting ground balls over 50% of the time. He has power but it’s hard to show it if he doesn’t hit fly balls. His ground ball rate has dropped slightly from last year but it still remains over 50%. There is some improvement though. And remember, he is still only 24.
Elvis Andrus (SS, Texas Rangers)—3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, 2 SB. Game 2: 0-4. It looks like there is a much younger version of Andrus out there on those base paths. He added two more stolen bases for 13 on the year. On his way to reach 30 for the first time since 2014. Couple that with a solid hard hit rate, and Andrus is back to being fantasy relevant.
JaCoby Jones (OF, Detroit Tigers)—3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI. It’s a great game when the guy in your nine hole crushes two homers and drives in five. Jones has been living in that spot all year, but he is putting together his best year and overall a decent year at the plate. His hard hit rate is nearly 50% and his wRC+ is up over 100. An average hitter in the nine spot isn’t bad, but for your fantasy team, it’s not good. It’s good to note his improvements, but he hasn’t achieved fantasy relevancy yet.
Didi Gregorius (SS, New York Yankees)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. Didi made his long awaited return to the Yankees’ lineup on Friday and delivered two hits. He followed up that game with two more hits yesterday, including his first homer of the year. If you’ve been struggling to fill that shortstop spot and have Didi, plop him right in to that starting spot. He’s hitting in the middle of the Yankees’ offense.
Roberto Pérez (C, Cleveland Indians)—2-4, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Perez has come out of no where this year with some pop, taking advantage of all the playing time Cleveland is giving him. My concern with Perez is his absurdly high 35.5% HR/FB rate. It has fluctuated between 5% and 20% in previous short seasons, so it will begin to start dipping. There has been a decent crop of catchers this season so it may be soon to hop of the Perez train if you are still on it.
Justin Turner (3B, Los Angeles Dodgers)—3-3, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI. Turner is a guy I just assume is hurt. I was surprised to see he’s played in 57 games so far this season. And in those 57 games he is putting together another Turner like year. A BB/K close to 1.00, while batting over .300. His hard hit rate has jumped a few percentage points this season but he’s hitting more grounders and less fly balls. His power has taken a hit. He may be undervalued due to this and could have a more productive rest of season.
Kyle Schwarber (OF, Chicago Cubs)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Just like Turner, Schwarber is having a classic Schwarber year. Low .200s average, striking out close to 30% of the time while walking about 15%, with decent pop. Schwarber never seems to have enough value to play in standard leagues. His average is too low, and his RBI and run totals are always sub-par for an OF. This year is more of the same.
Shohei Ohtani (DH, Los Angeles Angels)—3-5, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Ohtani is DHing pretty much everyday for the Angels, and he is raking. In his last 10 games, he is slugging over .600 with four homers and 13 driven in. He is still maintaining his 50% hard hit rate and a 93 MPH average exit velocity. He is an elite hitter, but the Angels really need him back out of the mound.
César Puello (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—3-4, R, HR, 4 RBI. Puello is just a back up that has been filling in for about a week or so, but he hasn’t stopped hitting. In his seven games, he’s slugging over .800 with four home runs and two games with four RBIs. In a deeper league he may be worth a shot til he stops playing and/or hitting.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)