Batter’s Box: H to the Rizzo

“He’s striking out more than usual.” “His hard-hit rate is down.” I’m not going to say that there’s no value in seeing these changes because there certainly can be. What I will say, though, is what I keep saying every single day all of this stuff is potentially temporary. No matter how much people like me keep saying that April stats aren’t the end of the world and that you don’t need to make rash decisions quite yet, we continue to get asked about … well … making rash decisions! Take the 2018 version of Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs) for example: He ended April with a .149/.259/.189 line, good for a 32 wRC+. Yes, 32. Many folks did something very human and natural: They looked for explanations and narratives that explained what was happening. Most of those narratives, though, were not helpful. You see, most narratives we create as outsiders are based on very limited and incomplete data we don’t really know what’s going on in the dugout or behind the scenes. We just see results. Perhaps Rizzo adjusted his swing or changed his position in the batter’s box or maybe he started shoving a seven-leaf clover down his pants, but eventually, he turned it around and posted a very Rizzo-like season (albeit with a few less home runs). Fast forward to the end of April in 2019, and some are quick to point out his elevated strikeout rate, depressed hard-hit rate and .229 batting average. Again, I’m not saying these things aren’t important. I will say that for a guy such as Rizzo, just smile and nod when you hear those things in April (and for a good chunk of May too). Case in point: He went 2-3 with a run, HR, 2 RBI, a walk, and a steal last night, giving him three home runs, six runs, and seven RBI in the past seven days along with a .300/.382/.733 line. He’s a great player capable of great things, and I trust that you’ll remember that before considering putting someone like him on your bench because of a slump.

Carlos Santana (1B, Cleveland Indians) 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. It was only his third home run of the season, but he’s walking as much as he strikes out and is batting a respectable .316/.430/.463. He has been undervalued the past few years but was one of a select few who walked more than he struck out in 2018. There’s a decent argument to be made that Santana is a poor-man’s version of Joey Votto and an even more fun argument that Santana is what we want Votto to be.

Justin Turner (3B, Los Angeles Dodgers) 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. If you had told me that Turner would have one home run in April, I would have assumed it was because he spent time on the IL. Unfortunately, his lack of production has been entirely performance related. You can’t cut him he’s too talented of a hitter so you have to at least take solace in the fact that he’s got a strong batting average and OBP. His xSLG of .420, while unimpressive, is a lot better than his actual SLG of .337, so some luck correction should be in order, particularly with the power.

Eric Hosmer (1B, San Diego Padres) 2-4, R, HR, RBI. His signing is still a bit awkward for the Padres as I’m not really sure they ever needed him, but he’s performing much like we expected his five home runs in April. We haven’t seen a stolen base yet, but a 20- to 25-home run season with five to six stolen bases and a .260 batting average, which is basically what we thought we’d get on draft day, is still a possibility. 10-teamers can look to him to fill a hole caused by injury, and those in 12-teamers and deeper can count on him as a boring but useful starter at their corner infield spot.

Enrique Hernandez (2B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) 2-5, R, HR, 2 RBI. The production has slowed down a bit overall, but he’s still crushing lefties and making the starting lineup against righties. Unless he can turn a corner and become average (or preferably above-average) against right-handers, he’ll continue to be a 20-ish home run bat who is mostly useful in daily leagues where he can be sat against tough righties and left in against all lefties.

Adam Eaton (OF, Washington Nationals) 2-5, R, HR, RBI. Just a reminder that the routinely forgotten about Eaton is a very good baseball player and is a beacon of light in points formats because of his contact ability. Maybe the Nationals won that trade after all.

Jeff McNeil (2B, New York Mets) 4-5, R, 2B, RBI. The aforementioned Eaton may be a good comp for the contact-hitting McNeil. In fact, the more I think about it, they’re VERY similar players from a fantasy perspective. He’s worth owning in most formats now, but just be aware that big home run and stolen base numbers are not in the works.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, Milwaukee Brewers) 1-3, R, HR, 3 RBI. He’s still rocking home runs. I hope you didn’t drop him. This is why you don’t cut healthy top 100 picks in April. I will not stop spreading this message.

Carlos Gonzalez (OF, Cleveland Indians) 1-3, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. He’s batting primarily in the fifth spot, which is really nice for DFS players who can put him in their lineups. There really isn’t much competition for him in the Indians outfield right now, so he’s probably worth a speculative pick-up in 12-teamers if you need a fifth outfielder.

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/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


Kyle

We really not gonna talk about Franmil after his 3/4 2 HR game!!? Nice writeup regardless.

Scott Chu

Good call, Kyle — I actually was going to feature him, then changed my mind at the last second and forgot to put him in a blurb! My analysis would basically have been that we’ve been seeing the power for a while in the Statcast data, and it’s coming out in waves in the box scores. I’ll be sure to touch on him in the Statcast piece coming out this afternoon.

Jack

Preach, Kyle!

Also, Scott: Aguilar is raking now because I dropped him, literally the day before the 2-bomb game. Sigh.

Scott Chu

I think I heard him mention exactly that in his post-game interview, Jack. Said it motivated him. We appreciate your sacrifice for the greater good.

Scott Chu

Thanks, PL SuperFan! Really glad you’re enjoying it (though truthfully, I’d even be happy if you hated it — it’s just cool to know someone is reading it at all).

Firat, if your league penalizes strikeouts, this becomes Hosmer v Jose Martinez (Walker’s K% is likely going to be awfulyl high all year long), and I’d take Hosmer for the safer playing time. Jose has found safe playing time and has been the #5 hitter lately, but who knows when they’ll go back to sitting him multiple days a week for Bader or O’Neill. Also, because of the Goldy addition, they can’t really hide Jose’s terrible glove at 1B.

If you don’t get penalized for Ks, it’s Walker v Hosmer. This is a closer call, but I’d probably go with Walker for now. The season-long concern will be playing time, but on a per PA basis, I think Walker’s power upside puts him above Hosmer, but it’s awfully close and your risk tolerance could give Hosmer the edge. He’s guaranteed playing time and will be useful.

Karl

I’m proud to have traded Hector Neris for Jesus Aguilar in my dynasty league last week 😀

Scott Chu

I don’t necessarily hate that, assuming you have a 1B/CI replacement and need the saves — especially because you likely didn’t spend much to ever acquire Aguilar’s services. The issue I have with folks cutting bait on Aguilar for pennies on the dollar (or worse, for nothing at all) is that in redraft they spent significant draft capital. It’s selling low for no reason.

Scott Chu

Homser if you need a safer play, Vogelbach if you need upside. Much like the Hosmer v C. Walker comparison, the key unknown element will be playing time for Vogelbach. This time, though, Ks aren’t really a factor. I’d go with Vogelbach, but would understand if a risk-averse owner played it safe with Hosmer.

Mike P

Hey Scott….I just picked up Jesse Winker instead of Franmil yesterday. I can still make a switch to Franmil. Who do you like more ROS? Points league where OPS is what most needs to be taken in to consideration. Thanks!

Scott Chu

Hi Mike, great question. In terms of OPS, I think the projections for both are surprisingly similar, with each being something like an .800-.820 OPS player for the rest of the season — they just go about it in very different ways (Reyes with extra slugging, Winker with extra OBP). The only way it becomes a clear-cut decision is if your league penalizes for Ks — if yes, it’s Winker all the way. Otherwise, you’ll have to just make a gut call, because the analytics will keep it very close. Winker’s floor is probably higher than Franmil’s, but the power ceiling is quite different. I’d take Winker right now, probably, but keep an eye out for Dan Richard’s future Going Deep on Jesse Winker — it should be coming out in the next few days or so.

Scott Chu

Really, the only difference I see for these two in their ROS projections is in their OBP — Smoak’s will be better. They’re awfully similar plug-ins, though Aguilar has a slightly higher ceiling while Smoak has a slightly higher floor. If it’s an OBP league, take Smoak for the walk rate. If it’s a BA league, go with your heart (mine would say Aguilar). Aguilar’s upside is higher, and guys like Smoak in BA leagues are usually available on the wire in 10- and 12-teamers.

Wade

Hi Scott,

Looks like you already fielded a few Franmil questions, but here’s another for you. I’ve been having Franmil start every day in a 12-team H2H category mixed league, and I’m not sure if the continual hit to ratios as well as relatively low R/RBI’s (Padres don’t seem to score much), are offset by the occasional weeks where Franmil goes off.

Should I consider benching him for Nomar Mazara or do I just keep hoping he’s going to have a good week? I benched Nomar just in time to miss Nomar hitting 3 home runs last week so I’m a bit torn.

Scott Chu

The Padres offense is off to a slow start, largely due to the fact that most of their lineup consists of young, impatient hitters. Franmil himself is hitting the ball just fine, evidenced by his .311 xAVG and .650 xSLG. He’s just been dealing with some luck issues. Mazara’s .312 xAVG and .536 xSLG is nothing to scoff at either — he just hasn’t been as unlucky as Franmil. These are both starter-worthy OF options.

If I was going to try and determine how to deal with a platoon of these two, it’d be absed on matchups. Mazara is a good play at home and against RHP, while Franmil is a better start when facing lefties. Later in the week, keep an eye on what categories you need to make up ground in. If it’s BA/OBP, Mazara is the safer bet. If you need power, go with Franmil for the weekend (but again, check where they play and who they face).

Wade

Thanks a bunch for such a thorough response. Your articles are always super helpful.

Kev

What’s up with Muncy? #59 on your list and being platooned and dropped in 10 team leagues. Assume you think he will eventually earn this rank?

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