Batter’s Box: Flamin’ Hot Vladitos

There are a boatload of reasons why I’m excited that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, Toronto Blue Jays) found success on Tuesday night. First, as a baseball fan, any 3-4 performance with two runs, two big flies, four RBI, and a walk is worthy of excitement and praise. Of course, with this coming from the biggest prospect since Mike Trout, there’s an extra-spicy layer of flavor added to it. I’m also excited that we can finally talk about something else when it comes to the big rookie. The 20-year-old brought the rain and ended his home run drought that lasted 53 plate appearances, so we can stop asking when it will happen. Of course, fantasy owners may still be wondering what they should do with the struggling young rookie, but if this outing is any indication, the answer is to hold tight and give him time to be the special hitter we’ve all seen him be at every level in which he’s played. It’s safe to say that anyone who currently owns him paid a pretty penny to acquire him (in both dynasty and redraft), so there is no opportunity to buy him below his market value. Speaking of that value, it should be made clear that it likely has not changed much despite the slow start. His 11.3% walk rate and 22.6% strikeout rate has given folks enough hope that they’ll likely just hold tight. This was an excellent night for Vladito, his family, and for baseball. It might not be actionable news, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it.

Logan Forsythe (2B/1B, Texas Rangers)3-4, R, 3B, 2 2B, 2 RBI. I was admittedly surprised when I saw that the well-traveled utility man has been slashing .305/.402/.516 through 113 plate appearances so far this season. It was a bit less of a shock to see that his expected batting average sat at .263 and his expected slugging was a decent (but unexciting) .424, so it’s safe to say that luck and the hitter-friendly environment of Arlington have each blessed Forsythe so far. While he’s likely to return to something closer to his career norms (.250/.333/.377), those in 15-team formats should pay attention to any stretches where the Rangers face a slew of southpawshis career .789 OPS against them makes him a useful fill-in during the summer months when your regulars might be on the IL.

Avisail Garcia (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. I don’t have the same love for him that I do Willians Astudillo, but the big free-swinging righty loves to hit the ball really hard. That propensity for hard contact can often lead to games like this. I actually think of him as the outfield version of Yandy Diaz, at least when it comes to batted-ball profiles. The 471-foot dinger he hit in this game was the fourth-longest of any hit this season.

Jorge Soler (OF, Kansas City Royals)3-5, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI. I’m happy to see that he’s hitting for more power than he did in 2018, even if it means he’s taken a step back in his strikeout and walk rates. Soler has 25-home run power in that bat if he can ever stay healthy, but he has never played more than 109 games in a season at any level of his professional career. That lack of durability makes him nothing more than a fifth outfielder in 12-team formats for me, and I’d be more likely to cut him than stash him if an extended IL stint came along. There’s enough outfield depth out there to replace him.

Jake Bauers (1B/OF, Cleveland Indians)2-2, R, HR, RBI, 2 BB. This is an indication fo what excited me about Bauers all winter. He’s hitting .293/.379/.439 since April 14, and I expect the power to come now that he’s remembered how to make contact. I’d be stunned if he didn’t start stealing more bases. He can still be a very useful player in OBP formats, though the batting average is likely to drop to mediocre levels.

Tim Beckham (SS/3B, Seattle Mariners)2-3, R, HR, 2B, RBI. He has a 74 wRC+ since April , so it’s safe to say that he’s slowed down considerably after his blazing hot start. This is to be expected from the former first-rounder, as he’s had his share of streaks and slumps throughout his career. He’s OK to drop in most formats, but keep an eye on him on your watch list in case he heats up again.

Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates)2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB. Yup, he’s still hitting for power. He’s matched his home run total from all of 2018 and should set a new career high this season. As I’ve said before, he’s worth owning and starting in all formats, especially OBP.

Mitch Garver (C, Minnesota Twins)1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. I get asked about this guy a lot, and I’ll keep saying the same thing: He’s a platoon bat who has found some success so far. The Twins have no reason to stop alternating between him and the also-hot Jason Castro, and they’ll also keep working in Astudillo. Hold him for now, but by July, we’ll probably see him for what he really is: a streaming catcher. Note: I recently was informed (thank you, @TheRichardSands) that Garver left this game with an injury to his left ankle following a collision at the plate. He’s going to get more testing Wednesday, but an absence would mean more consistent playing time for Castro and Astudillo.

Dexter Fowler (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)2-3, 3 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB. I’m just waiting for his body to fall apart, quite honestly. I hope it doesn’t, and I’m willing to use him at the back end of my outfield in 12-teamers while he’s healthy if I need a fill-in.

(Photo by David Kirouac/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 podcasts with Friends with Fantasy Benefits and contributes to Lineup Logic. 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.

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Comments


Johnny

Mike Trout was not a very hyped prospect actually. Buxton/Sano were prolly the biggest before Vladito, no?
ROS. C. Frazier or Verdugo?

Scott Chu

I’d disagree with you a little there, Johnny. Trout was the #1 overall prospect in 2011 and #3 overall prospect heading into 2012 on MLB.com. He was generally regarded as a 5-tool player and more than one person projected a perennial all star with special skills. The only knock that’s ever been on him was his lack of success in his 40 plate appearance debut back in 2011. We’ve known he’d be special for a long, long time.

As for your question, it depends on your format a bit. Generally, I’d lean Verdugo. He’ll play more and has a very fantasy-friendly approach at the plate. While he has the edge with his hit tool, Frazier has more power. I worry about his health and playing time for this season, though. Ultimately, I think you’d need to be in a 15-team or keeper/dynasty format to be rostering either one at this stage.

Johnny

Thanks! It’s a 14 teamer.
I guess you’re right tho. I was thinking more in the lines of out of high school hype.

Scott Chu

By the way, due to time constraints this morning I wasn’t able to highlight all the performances I wanted to (Franmil Reyes, Jordan Luplow and Kolten Wong were next on the list), but would be happy to discuss them if anyone cares what I think about them. In fact

Scott Chu

Good question, Adam. As much as I love the power potential, he’s a non-contributor in steals and a a neutral-at-best contributor in OBP. Because he can only add value in three categories, I have to say he’s top 40, and even that would require a bit of a change in this season’s walk rate to something more like what he did in 2018 (8.9%).

Scott Chu

He had a nice night, Robert, but I also wrote him up in yesterday’s piece. I try to avoid back-to-back write ups if I can.

Mike P

Hey Scott where do you see Josh Bell finishing up this year? Is he a top 10 first baseman by the end ? Top 6 possibly. We also have to remember first base isn’t as deep as it once was but still. Would you take Bell over Goldschmidt ROS or Rizzo?

Scott Chu

Hey Mike P! In OBP formats, think he’s basically a lock for top 12, as there’s a bit of a tier break right after that. Breaking into the top 10 will be tough, and will require some combination of Pete Alonso slowing down and Joey Votto failing to rebound.

Surprisingly, I already have him in my top 10 for batting average leagues. See, most first basemen get a big boost in OBP due to their high walk rates (and high strikeout rates that keep their average down). Bell does a good job avoiding the strikeout, so he manages to have both a high OBP and a high batting average — a rare feat at first base. I don’t think I can do top 6, though. Top 7 or 8, maybe, but not top 6.

As for Bell v Rizzo or Goldy, it’s a solid no from me. I’ll take the studs. They’re both top 4 ROS in my book along with Bellinger and Freeman.

Swfcdan

Finally Mercado arrives and we all start thinking meh is he worth the wait? Him or Luplow (need speed but dont we all),OBP league?

Also different league, $68 of $100 FAAB remaining, how much to blow on Keston and Riley ? Would take either as I have Muncy with 2B/3B but only going for one as can only drop one player (my good team!). Please help me Chu Chu Choose, thanks.

Scott Chu

Welcome back, Dan!

I’ll take Luplow in OBP. I don’t think Mercado can sustain an OBP over .300 this season due to his limited bat skills and plate discipline. Honestly, in redraft, there would have been more value in Greg Allen. Luplow can take some walks and can contribute a bit more overall. He’ll steal a few bases too, and I’d rather get the 7-10 extra steals Mercado would have added elsewhere.

Assuming this other league is redraft, I probably would spend $10-$20 (based on my knowledge of my league mates’ tendencies) for Hiura, but would be hesitant to bid more than a buck or two on Riley — I just don’t see much playing time coming his way. I may not be the best guy to ask, though — I tend to let others spend big on the rookies. I’d look for Garlando, Brennan Gorman, or one of our other dynasty folks if you want some affirmation on these two. They’re great prospects, I just don’t know if they’ll be big impacts in 10- and 12- team leagues this season.

Hope this helps!

Swfcdan

Wow personalised comments too, very impressed! Yeah I didn’t stash Mercado just had my finger on the pulse waiting for his call, so a bit disappointed with his first showing. Maybe I was overrating him a bit.

I’ll bid hard on Keston and soft on Riley then, Hiura does seem like fantasy gold at 2B.

Glad I found this site, a lot of great writers here.

P.S. As a Brit and UK resident am I the first one on here?

Scott Chu

I’m a man of the people, Dan! Glad you dig the site. I believe we have one or two folks from across the pond in our Discord channel, but you’re certainly one of the first fans we’ve picked up from Britannia! I’ll try to make sure we don’t lose you.

Jack

good stuff as always, Scott!

unrelated: would you drop Eaton for Mallex Smith, who is due to be called back up from Tacoma any day now? yes, I could use steals esp with Mookie Betts suddenly not stealing bases this year.

rest of my OF is undroppable: Betts, Gallo, Winker, Senzel (who also has 2B eligibility), Franimal.

Scott Chu

Thanks Jack!

I really wouldn’t want to do that, Jack, because I think Eaton is a very underrated asset in a lot of formats. I actually rank Eaton above Franmil due to his high batting average and positive contributions to every category except RBI. The one case I MIGHT consider it is if it’s a 3 OF format, but even then, how often woudl you really put Mallex in the lineup?

The difference in steals between Eaton and Mallex is probably somewhere around 10-12. Is there any other way for you to grab those steals elsewhere? Otherwise, I’d probably prefer to drop a backup infielder or SP than Eaton.

Jack

It’s a good problem to have. My IF is also pretty loaded, with Story, Bogaerts, Schoop, Amed Rosario. Jesus Aguilar could be dropped with me also having Goldy and Gallo but for now I’m holding (after having dropped him once before and just grabbed him again now that he has some nice consistency going, plus the timeshare fear between he and Thames mostly gone).

I hear you on Eaton being a solid contributor, and he’s at the top of a decent lineup too. I guess the fact that it’s an OPS league and that I need steals make me look at that swap for Mallex as an upgrade without considering the risk as seriously as I should.

Scott Chu

All very good points, Jack. Sounds like you have this under control! If there’s one thing I’d add, it’s that adding slugging percentage to the equation significantly hurts the contributions of both Mallex and Eaton, as neither packs much punch. If there’s someone I’d cut/move, it’s probably Schoop. Put Senzel in that spot instead. Schoop’s value is purely power, and you have plenty of it with the guys in your lineup. He’s not really moving the needle for you.

theKraken

There is no reason Jake Bauers should be starting in MLB. He doesn’t bring anything that a hundred other guys don’t. Power – not so much. Average – no. Defense – no. Base-running – no. You could give a hundred other players his opportunities and they would out-produce him. Opportunities help though… I can’t imagine why anyone would need to roster him. You can do better if you are holding him. I would think you could stream better.

Scott Chu

I’d consider that an overly harsh valuation of the former top 50 prospect. It has been a bit of an up-and-down start to his career so far but he’s shown a bit of pop (15 home runs), a bit of speed (8 steals) and decent on-base skills (13.3% walk rate and a .321 OBP) in his first 135 games as a major leaguer. I think there’s even more in there, like a 20 home run, 15 steal season with a .340 OBP. It’d be a little tough to get there this year, but a little heat could help him if he can unlock more of his tools. He’s a solid starter in the corner outfield, though he shouldn’t be at 1B very often.

I’m OK with cutting him in shallow 10- and 12-teamers if there’s something better on the wire, but if it’s a 5 outfield format with a CI, he’s at least watchlist worthy.

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