Batter’s Box: Eugeni-OH!

Scott Chu provides fantasy advice and insight on Monday's top batting performances.

Talk about a slump. From May 27th through June 28th, few regulars were quite as bad as Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Reds). Of the 153 players who received 100 or more plate appearances in that time, none had a worse batting average or slugging than Suarez, who hit just  .180 with a .270 slugging. He was still taking plenty of walks and there was no reported injury or issue that was holding him back, so fantasy owners were left in the dark about exactly what they should do with the struggling third baseman. In fact, I was asked this quite a bit in the comments, and I had to give the only advice I felt confident giving. . .

Wait it out. Eugenio Suarez has been exceeding expectations for three consecutive years now and this bad month, which at times felt like it might never end, was probably just a slump. In today’s data and analytics-driven world, it’s hard for us to accept that a downturn is just a slump. We want to know the details and get the full and complete idea as to exactly what’s happening with a player. In some cases, we can do this and even come out with an answer (like an issue with a certain type of pitch). In many cases, though, the reason why a player is slumping is either so technical that we can’t see it with what’s publicly available or is just a mixture of a bunch of tiny things that it’s too taxing to compile. In either case, all a fantasy owner can do is evaluate the player’s talent and make a gut call, which is exactly what I did each time with Suarez. I was OK with telling folks to bench him, but he absolutely could not be dropped nor should any other drastic measures be taken.

By this time next season, this month might just be a blip on the radar. He’s already got 19 home runs and could very well set a new career high for the fifth consecutive season. Last night’s performance (3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI) was his third consecutive multi-hit game and he has three home runs in his last two games and he may well have already broken out of his slump. How did he break out? Was he turning over on the ball? Did he adjust to a way he was being pitched? Did he fix something in his swing? I honestly have no idea. What I do know is that Suarez has been a remarkable talent for the last several years and I wasn’t about to let a single bad month change my opinion of him. If you believe in a player and history indicates they’ve got talent, then exercise caution and patience during these slumps, even if you can’t figure out why they’re happening.

Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds)—2-3, R, HR, RBI. He’s been demoted into a part-time role and only leads off sporadically at this point which absolutely crushes his value in the shallower formats. The dip in walk rate doesn’t help either. I really want him to be a breakout candidate, but it’s hard to see a path to full-time at-bats at this point. He’s OK to drop in 10-teamers and in 12-teamers that only use three or four outfielders.

Adam Frazier (2B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)—5-6, 3 R, 4 2B, 2 RBI. The slap-hitting second baseman found himself at the top of the order for the first time since June 9th and took full advantage of the opportunity. While it may grant him another opportunity or two in that spot, he’s really not worth much consideration in 10- or 12-teamers and he’s really just a desperation fill-in bat in 15-teamers due to his lack of power and speed.

Colin Moran (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates)—5-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI. He’s slashing a respectable .286/.331/.479 in 251 plate appearances, though his real value is in his performance against right-handed pitching. In deeper leagues, he’s a nice platoon bat who hits in the heart of the order for a decent offense. In a full season, he’d probably get to 20 home runs or so, but that much exposure to lefties would hurt his batting average. If the Pirates ever find a replacement for Jung-Ho Kang (who was at one point meant to be the other side of the platoon but who has been dreadful in limited action), he might find a little less playing time.

Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates)—4-6, 4 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI. He leads the major leagues in RBI by 10 and is fourth on the home run leader board. It’s the breakout we all wanted and then some. He’s hitting .308 with a .381 OBP and should get to at least 35 home runs at this rate. He’s pushing to become a top 3 first baseman behind Freddie Freeman and Cody Bellinger. Is he better than Anthony Rizzo? Quite honestly, he might be. It’s a conversation.

Randal Grichuk (OF, Toronto Blue Jays)—4-5, 4 RBI. Power and a low-ish batting average is what we expected and it’s also what we’re getting. The counting stats should improve as the young roster arrives to the majors and adjusts to the big leagues.

Cavan Biggio (2B, Toronto Blue Jays)—3-5, R, 2B, 4 RBI. The walk rate continues to be strong and the strikeout rate is coming down. That should help boost his batting average, although I don’t ever expect it to be very high. Hopefully his strong plate skills will secure him a place in the top third of the Blue Jays order for years to come.

Freddy Galvis (SS, Toronto Blue Jays)—3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2B, 2 RBI. The double-digit speed will be tough to achieve this season, but he could get to 20 home runs for the first time since his breakout in 2016. He has been the picture of durability for basically his entire major league career and has some minor value in very deep leagues due to his consistent .250-ish batting average and playing time.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (2B/SS/OF, Toronto Blue Jays)—3-4, 3 R, 2B, BB. Remember all that stuff I said about slumps? A lot of the same applies to hot streaks. Since his return on May 24th, he has an unbelievable 1.151 OPS and his 199 wRC+ in this stretch is 10 points higher than any other hitter. His slugging is 112 points higher than Mike Trout‘s, which is a pretty good indication that (a) he’s crushing the ball and (b) he’s playing out of his mind. That said, if he’s even two-thirds of the hitter he’s been for over a month, he’s a very good player.

Ji-Man Choi (1B, Tampa Bay Rays)—2-3, R, 2 RBI, BB. He’s one of my favorite DFS plays when facing a righty due to his double-digit walk rate and very reasonable 20.4% strikeout rate. He doesn’t quite play every day and probably can be ignored in 10- and 12-teamers, but if you’re in something deeper and notice that the Rays face some soft righties for the week (like the Orioles and Red Sox starters), feel free to fire him up.

Kevin Kiermaier (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. The batting average and OBP will probably keep hurting you, but he already has 10 home runs and 14 stolen bases so far this season. He hasn’t played in more than 105 games since 2015, so have a contingency plan in place, but he has a decent power-speed mix that can be quite useful at the back end of your outfield.

Keston Hiura (2B, Milwaukee Brewers)—2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI. It took a little while, but he’s back and should start most days at second base for quite a while. The strikeout rate is still very alarming, especially when compared to his minuscule walk rate in his 85 plate appearances for the Brewers, but hopefully some time and seasoning will help him bring the plate discipline to a reasonable place. Until then, though, don’t count on consistent production in batting average or OBP.

Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. He looks more and more like the consensus second overall pick in 2020 drafts. If he decided to retire from baseball at this moment, people who drafted him in the second round would have absolutely no right to complain, as his 30 home runs, 18 steals, and .330/.428/.711 batting line have already paid dividends on the investment they made. I’m not ready to anoint him as the number one yet, but it could feasibly happen before drafts begin for 2020.

Evan Longoria (3B, San Francisco Giants)—2-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. I felt compelled to mention someone from the west coast so here you go. He’s not interesting and shouldn’t be rostered outside of NL-only leagues. His only other fantasy relevance at this point is in late DFS slates as a pivot when he faces a weak lefty.

(Photo by Jay Anderson/Icon Sportswire).

Scott Chu

Scott Chu has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. In addition to being a writer and content manager at Pitcher List, he creates content with Friends with Fantasy Benefits. If you want to chat about baseball, fantasy curling (featured in WSJ), sports in general, deaf culture, being a twin, or the oddities of having Irish and Korean ancestry, Chu's your guy.

  • Avatar Aaron says:

    This long time Suarez owner sold at the very bottom. He stopped striking out the day he was off my roster. You’re welcome.

  • Avatar Ro says:

    Suarez was hit by a pitch in his hand at the of may. Could have been the reason.

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      I wish it were that simple, Ro. Weirdly, he got a hit the very next game and then his only multi-hit game in that slump was the game that followed (that HBP was on May 29). I have to believe that with the extent of his struggles, the Reds would have IL’d him if they suspected any issues. It’s also not as though he gradually improved throughout the slump. He was just really bad for the whole thing.

  • Avatar WheelhouseWreck says:

    Hey Scott. I have Kiermaier in a daily league. I’m looking to only play him against catchers that are more successful to run on. Do you know where I can get this info on catcher’s caught stealing ranks/stats? Thanks!

  • Avatar TruthInNumbers says:

    Can we talk about Eugenios expected stats though? How do you reconcile his .437 xslg and .331 xwoba with someone who is supposed to be elite at the plate? For his career, he’s had exactly one season where his xOPS was above .805

    Whats to say his ONE good season wasn’t the fluke? The expected stats tend to say thats the case.

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      The expected stats really just confirm that he had a really bad month and that we’ve only had 3 months of baseball, just like how his .517 xSLG in 2018 confirmed that he hit the ball really well last season. This is a young hitter who has improved in nearly every facet of his game for several consecutive years who is now in the midst of what should be his prime. Expected stats can’t tell us what WILL happen, only what SHOULD HAVE happened already.

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