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 southpaws—his 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)