Batter’s Box: Hello Newman
I’ll give you 100 guesses, and I bet you would never get the player with the longest active hitting streak. Actually, you probably got it on the first try. Given the title and the featured player picture. I’m not the best at riddles. But yes, you are correct. It’s Kevin Newman. Actually, wait, that still might have been tough. If you aren’t a Pirates fan, had you heard of this guy before? Anyway, with last night’s game, it has reached 17 consecutive games. Less about the streak, more about who this guy is. Back in 2015, he was selected in the first round by the Pirates with the 19th overall pick. He’s been scouted as a speed guy with an OK hit tool and basically no power. This was exemplified in his Triple-A season last year where he stole 28 bases, scored 74 runs, hit four dingers, and hit .302 in 109 games before getting called up in mid-August. To start the season, he was ranked the Pirates ninth-best prospect, and from a fantasy perspective he would have to really hit, steal, and score to have much value.
Let’s go back to this streak then. While streaking, he has a .390/.434/.584 slash line with three homers and four stolen bases. It continued last night as he went 3-5, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. There is some power, which is nice, but he’s showing off that he can hit and steal a few bags here and there. Before we get ahead of ourselves, this has to come with a high BABIP. It does, and that is at .403. But more notably, it’s with a 57.8% ground-ball rate. These hits are finding every hole possible. He’s fast but not impossibly fast too. These hits will stop finding these holes unless he gets the ball off the ground. Since his call-up and consistent play from the beginning of May, he has about the same level of ground-ball rate with a lower .366 BABIP leading to a solid .329 average. The good things are he’s not striking out, so the ball is going into play leading to more opportunities to get on the base paths. That means more steals and since he’s been leading off a lot recently, more runs. He’ll slow down a bit, but hitting better than .300 in the leadoff spot for the Pirates the rest of the way is possible. That’s not something to ignore.
Joey Gallo (1B/OF, Texas Rangers)—2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB. I love how much Gallo epitomizes modern baseball. He came up to the plate four times last night: home run, home run, walk strikeout. Perfection. However, this year Gallo is trying something different. Instead of hitting .20-something, he is hitting in the .270s. He is swinging a whole lot less. This has lead to a general patience most likely giving him better pitches to hit, and also driving up his walk rate 8 percentage points. He was out almost all June with an oblique injury, so these two homers are great sign of his return.
Starling Marte (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)—2-5, 3 R, HR, RBI, SB. It has been a tale of two Junes for Marte. He started off the month scorching hot batting close to .400 through the 14th. Since then, he has been silenced, batting .129 and striking out over 25% of the time. He broke a big 0-for-14 streak last night with a home run while adding a stolen base. Despite that cold streak, he is still well on his well for his second 20/20 season in a row.
Jacob Stallings (C, Pittsburgh Pirates)—3-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Who is this guy? I’m a big fan of random dudes having big days at the plate. Does this matter much for your fantasy team? Not at all! Unless you are playing in a 20-team NL-only two-catcher league! But not really as he’s the Pirates’ third guy behind the plate, going back and forth from Triple-A to the bigs.
Orlando Arcia (SS, Milwaukee Brewers)—1-3, R, HR, 3 RBI. Arcia is enjoying a nice week, adding his third home run in six games. This is a good sign for him as June is not treating him well, hitting below the Mendoza line with a .190 average this month. Arcia’s value came from a decent power and speed combo at shortstop in his first full season at 22 years old. However, these past couple seasons haven’t built on that, and shortstop has caught up to be a deep position. Arcia should still not be rostered unless the power this past week keeps going.
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves)—2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. After floundering in the second half of the season in 2018, there was concern over whether Albies’ first half had much merit. So far so good with this 2019 first half. Hopefully he isn’t one of those guys who can’t keep it going through out the year. Like Rougned Odor, he only can hit in July and August. That’s it. Is Albies the opposite? He can hit until July? This June, though, he is enjoying a 151 wRC+, picking up for his weak May. His June has been consistent with his expected stats as well, so this is not just a dose of luck after a somewhat unlucky May.
Jason Heyward (OF, Chicago Cubs)—2-4, 2 R, 3B, 3 RBI. I was hyped for Heyward after the first month of the season. He had more walks than strikeouts, and he had a .932 OPS. Things were finally looking up offensively. May was a down month, making us realize there should never be hope again for Heyward. June comes, and he’s hitting the ball well again. Better than the past few seasons. However, he’s striking out much more and walking much less in June than the rest of the year. And he’s getting lucky with a much higher BABIP. He’s a bit too much of a hassle still to consider.
Miguel Rojas (1B/2B/3B/SS, Miami Marlins)—4-5, 2 R, 3 2B, 2 RBI, SB. Rojas is most likely not on anyone’s roster, but he had himself a nice game. He’s one of those players who doesn’t strike out much and makes a lot of contact spraying the ball around the field with line drives and grounders, with barely any soft hits. However, this also means he has no power—like OBP greater than SLG no power. If he could raise his average a ton and steal a whole bunch more bases, then he could be rosterable.
Trea Turner (SS, Washington Nationals)—2-5, 2 R, 2B, 2 SB. Huh, that last sentence I wrote sounds a whole lot like Trea Turner. He’s got his own little hit streak of seven going as well. Most importantly, he has eight steals in his past 14 games. He needs to make up for all those missed steals from his injury! Eighty steals, here we come!
Max Muncy (1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers)—3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. In June, Muncy has continued his strong output from May. However, the past week or so, he’s been a bit more quiet. Last night, he broke out of his mini-slump providing two dingers, one a towering fly ball and the other a screaming line drive barely making it over. Nothing like Coors to help end a slump. Muncy’s June has been special, as he’s improved his plate discipline across the board with more walks and fewer strikeouts. He’s even been a bit unlucky in June, underperforming his expected stats. He has solidified himself as a bonafide offensive threat in the middle of the Dodgers lineup.
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)