Milwaukee utilityman and renowned 2016 speedster Jonathan Villar managed to erupt Thursday with a 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, K performance that had to make his frustrated yet still somehow patient owners happy. And although both Villar and Ryan Braun rejoined the Brewers midweek after extended time spent injured on the DL, the latter slotted right back into his starting spot in LF while Villar was left on the outside looking in. He no longer has a starting job locked down with the Brew Crew: Eric Sogard has been doing such an exemplary job of playing 2B while hitting .339 through 127 at-bats, so the .220-averaging Villar is no guarantee to get regular playing time right now. Shortstop and the hot corner are Orlando Arcia and Travis Shaw’s jobs to lose at this point. That said, Villar still has considerable fantasy value even if he only gets spot starts until one of the aforementioned infield trio begins to struggle. He has 14 steals on the season as well and can affect a game for Milwaukee with his speed so don’t be surprised to see him used as a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter or both even when he doesn’t get the lineup nod at first. But this development does deal a blow to his stock, and judicious research on when he’s playing and if using him could be risky is going to be necessary if you own him. Great to see Homers No. 7 and 8 from Villar so soon after his reactivation, though. It’s unfortunate to be a Negative Nancy in light of the two-bomb night, but all it basically did is place a Band-Aid on a wound that just frankly hasn’t healed yet. If and when Sogard slumps, Villar has to take full advantage of the at-bats to show he belongs back in the order on a daily basis.
Let’s take a look at what else happened hitting-wise around the league:
Ryan Braun (OF, MIL) – 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI. Speaking of Braun, he also made his presence known in the game at Cincinnati yesterday. He owns a .265 average, and has 23 runs, 21 RBI, and seven jacks to his name. Four steals are added bonuses, and he can be a versatile 5×5 beast if he can stay healthy this time around. Durability concerns are holding what should be a stellar fantasy prognosis back slightly.
Randal Grichuk (OF, STL) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 5 RBI, BB, K. Well, I guess Grichuk got the message. After spending some time down in the minors over the last month, he has three multi-hit games with three homers in five outings. Full disclosure: he went 0-8 on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Diamondbacks, but he has bookended those duds with great hitting otherwise. He’s had 189 at-bats this year, in which he’s now produced seven HRs, 25 runs and 28 RBI with a .233 average. Not an eye-catching résumé at first glance, but the rebirth is something you like to see in a guy who seemed like he was in a mental rut not long ago.
Carlos Correa (SS, HOU) – 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB (IBB). Correa now has a very balanced 54 runs and 53 RBI to go along with 16 homers and a sweet .309 average. This was actually his first multi-homer game of the season, though, which is what makes this newsworthy. He’s one of the best young players in the business and is having a great year, despite a really slow start back in April.
Trea Turner (2B/SS/OF, WSH) – 1-2, BB, 2 SB, CS, broken wrist. To call this injury a devastating gash in the ornate fantasy tapestry we all love to scrutinize is an understatement. Turner’s owners got one last burst of value from MLB’s steals leader in Thursday’s contest against the Cubs, as Turner managed a hit and one net SB before getting beamed by Pedro Strop in the right wrist and having to leave the game an inning later. We later came to find out that X-rays were indeed positive and Turner is going to miss A TON of time with a non-displaced fracture. The positive spin on all this: that type of fracture heals the quickest and thus Turner stands to return for the final month of the season, which means he’s worth the stash to be able to fire him up during fantasy playoffs. A true shame to see this happen. This year has been maddening with all the injuries, am I right?
Anthony Rendon (3B, WSH) – 1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, K. OK, so Rendon has now homered in back-to-back games at a time when Washington fans need something to be cheerful for. He just broke through the 50-RBI mark and now has 16 HRs to pair deliciously with a .298 average. If he maintains this pace, he’d be on track to post career-best tallies of both RBI and HR. I think I’ve been discounting and undervaluing his achievements because of how the homers came in spurts that seem flukish early on, but the fact that he owns the ninth-best OPS in the league means he is a fine asset to own at 3B.
Manuel Margot (OF, SDP) – 3-4, R, 2 RBI, CS. The young CF returned to the Padres’ 25-man from the DL on Tuesday and led off only to go 0-4, 2 K that day in Atlanta. The last two days, though, he’s turned it around with consecutive multi-hit games from the 2-spot. He and Seattle OF Mitch Haniger were two of the guys making headlines early in the season with their efficiency at the dish before they got injured. Haniger has been lackluster in his June return, and now I’m curious to see what kind of spark Margot’s reinsertion into San Diego’s lineup can do for them and fantasy owners who see his upside. The .269 average is nothing to complain about, although 20 runs and 15 RBI are slightly meager for 197 at-bats’ worth of work.
Hunter Renfroe (OF, SDP) – 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. The homer was Renfroe’s sixth of June and 16th overall. His .225 average is a little painful to accept for the significant power you get in return, but nowhere on the level of a Joey Gallo, Mike Napoli or Todd Frazier whose averages make you want to gouge your own eyes out. Renfroe has the cleanup spot for the Padres nailed down for most of his starts, and his game log is speckled with infrequent forays to the 5-spot or 7-spot that you shouldn’t worry about. He’s got 32 runs and 39 RBI to complement his 16 homers.
Joc Pederson (OF, LAD) – 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, K. Pederson’s three-run shot blew the game open against the crosstown rival Angels, and he now has four homers in his last eight games. The season average of .231 is low, but he’s batting .291 in June and has a .709 slugging percentage this month as well. Pederson’s injury-shortened year has allowed him 160 AB in which to produce 24 RBI and score 29 runs. The four-bagger was his eighth. He’s not an exceptional guy to own, but there are ways to make his skills work for you in deeper leagues.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. (OF, BOS) – 3-4, R, RBI. The Boston OF started the month with a .226 average and seemed a shell of his former self. The last 97 AB have seen him execute a dramatic turnaround, as a .340 June has shot his season BA up to .272. Four of his 10 homers have also come this month. The 28 runs are a little low, but cut him a break for some DL time and having to work through some yips; the 33 RBI are acceptable, particularly if he keeps cranking 15 per month like he did in June just now. Wednesday and Thursday each saw JBJ get a double, so his points league appeal is also zooming upward.
Michael Brantley (OF, CLE) – 2-2, R, 2 BB. Both hits were doubles Thursday against Texas, and Brantley has hit safely in his last three outings since returning from an ankle sprain. The .306 average is awesome, but the power and run production could use a boost. He hasn’t stolen a base in a while but has seven on the season so keep an eye out for when he feels ready to start swiping again. Brantley is on pace to push for 70 runs and 75 RBI. While the .349 BABIP is cause for concern about regression, the 37.2% hard contact is tough to have any problem with. He’s safe to fire up every day, as long as you have some more robust power hitters in your lineup.