Batter’s Box: Into the Voit

On today’s edition of “Don’t Panic, it’s April,” we examine Luke Voit (1B, New York Yankees), who went 2-4 with 2 dingers, 3 runs, 2 RBI, and a walk. Back in January, our own Nick Gerli tackled the 2018 breakout of the new-but-not-so-young Voit and was ultimately convinced that the approach and hard contact we saw was enough to determine that Voit was legit. By the end of play on April 21, the beefy slugger was swatting a pedestrian .224/.344/.408 line with four home runs. It was a cause of concern for his owners, as seen in the various comments and questions about whether Voit should be dropped for various hitters who had a hot start, and generally, we preached patience. Hopefully those owners listened, as he now has three home runs in his past two games and while still not ideal, his line went up to .235/.356/.506. Yup, that’s the power of April two games can bump a player’s slugging by 98 points! The short porch in the Bronx, his double-digit walk rate, and his placement in the middle of the Yankee lineup will lead to plenty of home runs and ribbies, so just hold on tight to the big fella and if you don’t believe me, check out Nick Gerli’s piece linked above. He’s smarter than I am.

Travis Shaw (2B/3B, Milwaukee Brewers) 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Yesterday, I mentioned that his triple slash was .182/.276/.286. Today, it’s .198/.286/.370. That’s still not good, but it’s certainly a lot better after just one day. The two strikeouts weren’t awesome, but everything else was. He has great power, and you need to keep starting him because you don’t want to have all that bad stuff in your active lineup just to see this good stuff happen on your bench.

Yasiel Puig (OF, Cincinnati Reds) 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. Lots of folks anticipated a big boost in production from the former Dodger now that he is in a very hitter-friendly home park and had a guaranteed everyday role with the Reds. It has been a slow start, but this outing hopefully reminds folks that three weeks of data doesn’t suddenly override what we know about a player with 2840 career plate appearances. I know I keep saying it but only because it bears repeating. There’s no reason he can’t do what he’s done for each of the past two seasons (23-plus home runs, 15 stolen bases, .265 average) just because he slumped a bit in April.

Matt Chapman (3B, Oakland Athletics) 1-2, R, HR, RBI, 3 BB. He’s still crushing baseballs, and he’s still walking more than he strikes out … and it’s not actually that close. His 13.6% walk rate is up 4.2 points from his 2018 numbers, while his 9.7% strikeout rate is down 14 points. That’s unbelievable growth, and while it may eventually go up a bit, we’ve seen enough of these incredible results to have a good idea that something special is happening with Chapman. He’s lowered his chase rate, increased his O-contact rate, and lowered his swinging-strike rate, which supports the results we’re seeing. I think I’m ready to move him into my top 10 third basemen (ahead of Shaw, Justin Turner, and Eugenio Suarez), which sounds not exciting, but keep in mind that third base is an awfully deep position at the top. The fact that he’s not quite 26 makes it even more exciting. I doubt anyone is interested in trading him, but if they are, you need to try and acquire him.

Joey Rickard (OF, Baltimore Orioles) 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. He’s Pickle Rickard! Or at least that’s what I want to call him. He’s mostly an AL-only asset, as he’ll bat in the 1 or 2 spots against lefties, but only because the Orioles don’t really have many other options. He’s also an OK punt play in DFS on those nights, but don’t expect a ton here. A best-case scenario is probably 10 home runs and six to eight stolen bases.

Mike Ford (1B, New York Yankees) 2-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. He’s walked a ton in his first taste of the major leagues, and his prospect profile indicates that there’s a little bit of pop in his left-handed bat. The former Rule-5 pick is only getting playing time because of the insane number of injuries plaguing the Yankees, but those in AL-only leagues should grab him for the plate appearances (because you always need more of them), and DFSers can keep an eye on him against righties.

Rowdy Tellez (1B/DH, Toronto Blue Jays) 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. He has taken full advantage of the playing time created by the trade of Kendrys Morales by slashing .259/.333/.552 in 66 plate appearances. His home run last night was his fifth of the season, and even with the pending promotion of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., I think Rowdy will continue to carve out playing time especially against right-handed pitchers. Until the playing time is clear, it’s hard to roster him in anything but 15-team leagues (or maybe 12-teamers with a deep bench and a CI spot), but keep an eye on him because the power seems legit.

Franmil Reyes (OF, San Diego Padres) 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. The real-life batting average and slugging percentage leave a bit to be desired from the Padres’ promising power hitter, but the Statcast data suggests he’s been the victim of bad luck. His xBA and xSLG of .322 and .676 are nearly 150 points above his actual numbers, so go forth and acquire his services where possible, even in 12-teamers. The power is coming, and when it does, secure playing time will follow.

Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals) 2-5, R, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SB. He’d gone 10 games without an RBI (though you didn’t draft him for those), so it was nice to see some ribbies come his way. He’s not a big power hitter, and his weak average exit velocity means Statcast is not a big fan of what he’s doing (.216 xBA, .342 xSLG). That stuff isn’t super important, though he’s going to keep playing, and he’s going to keep stealing bases. 10 home runs would be nice, but I’m mostly willing to bet on the 25 to 30 stolen bases.

Yadier Molina (C, St. Louis Cardinals) 3-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, SB. The old guy is still swiping bags. I don’t know how it is that his knees even still work after this much time behind the dish, but I love it. I’m not worried about his slow start, and even if I were, is there really a catcher out there you’d want to replace him with? Hold tight and see if those achy old bones can turn it around as the weather warms up.

(Photo by Mark Goldman/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


Derek

I just traded Voit for Adam Eaton in an OBP points league… His BA, soft contact, and strikeouts concerned me. I’m not convinced he sticks in the middle of the lineup when everyone comes back, and Andujar is taking reps at 1B. Thoughts on this?

Scott Chu

Hi Derek, good points. I think in most points formats these two are pretty close, but it depends on how the scoring deals with SBs and Ks. If it penalizes Ks by 0.5 points or more, I’m on board with this. I’m also on board if SBs are worth more than 1 or 2 points. Eaton’s high contact approach helps him a lot in points leagues while his uninspiring counting stats is held against him in roto and H2H categories.

Scott Chu

As for Andujar taking reps at first, that probably has more to do with versatility and flexibility than anything else. When you get hit by injuries like the Yankees have, you can’t be too careful. Also, in the long term, Andujar probably has to get off the hot corner — he is not a strong fielder (and even that description is a bit generous).

Derek

In this league, Ks are -.8 and SBs are 2.1, but also singles are 2.2 and solo homers are 7.7. Its a unique point system, but it typically rewards Eaton-like players. Do you think he sticks in the top of the lineup when Turner is back? Runs should be aplenty, and even if he gets bumped down to 5 or 6, the RBIs should be there.
Andujar taking reps at first, just as DJ has, MAY be precautionary, but it may be another way to get Andujars bat into the lineup, especially with DJ and Andujar looking more impressive than Voit so far.

Doug B

Eaton was hitting ahead of Turner before the fracture I’m pretty sure. One of the reasons I wouldn’t trade Mallex Smith for a relatively balanced offer very early on was because he, Merrifield, and Lorenzo Cain were the only three major SB threats batting lead-off at the time. I doubt Turner’s going to lead-off when he gets back. He may end up there eventually, but they’re probably going to want to protect that finger for a while longer (read: less SB attempts,) so there’s even less of a desire for him at the top of the order. I think as long as Eaton’s getting on base at a decent clip, the spot is his.

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re: Andujar: They’re considering 1B, but they want him at 3B if his health allows him to play there. LeMahieu is more of a threat for playing time to Voit than Andujar, who they’ll DH and replace with LeMahieu when CC’s throwing his cutter in to righties and forcing soft contact toward 3B. The health of his shoulder making throws across the diamond is the only real consideration that would lead him to playing 1B at all. THAT’s why he’s taking reps there. Until Voit showed up last season, 1B for the Yankeees was a offensive production black hole, Adujar was a butcher @ 3B and they STILL didn’t plug Adujar in there, even then. They didn’t even consider giving him reps there. They believe in Andujar @ 3B, they believe in Voit @ 1B (particularly their analytic department,) and I say this as an obsessive Yankee fan for 40 years that pays very close attention to everything they do. Voit CLEARLY will drop in the order as health increases, simply because of the immense amount of talent on the DL, but he’ll still have plenty of RBI potential with those guys moving him back being such talented players.

Scott Chu

I’d try to get him back if you can, Jim! The playing time is certainly a possible issue (for both of them, really), but the power is very real.

Doug B

Awww, man! I grabbed him in every one of my leagues over a week ago because of the xStats and having such a good time owning him last season. SD’s OF is a clusterduck for fantasy, but I have very few worries about Franmil’s prospects there. Even if Franchy Cordero comes off the IL raking, he’ll eat more time out of the others’ playing time, especially in CF. Go grab him back if possible, especially now that Murphy’s off the DL (for now) in Colorado. McMahon’s going to deal with some timeshare issues at 2B (not many, since Hampson didn’t really do much w/regular playing time.)

Chelsa

Hi Scott. Another informative article as always! Thanks for all of the analysis that you do! It takes a lot of time and effort, which I and the PitcherList faithful appreciate!! I dropped C. Tucker in my 10 team, roto, 6×6, keeper league for L. Voit. Do you think it was wrong to swap speed for power? Could use both as my team is lagging behind in SBs, AVG, RBI, HR and Runs. My revised team consists of:

C – Alfaro
1B – Rizzo
2B – D. Murphy
SS – Tatis
3B – Machado
CI – Voit
MI – McNeil
OF – Acuña, Dahl, Pederson & Trout
U – H. Dozier & Shaw (appears to be awakening!!)
IL – Andujar & S. Kingery
NA – Eloy (bereavement leave)
SP – Bieber, Boyd, Fried, Lucchesi & Musgrove
RP – Colomè, Neris, Pressly, Smith & Treinen

Please advise.

Thanks,
Chelsa

Scott Chu

Hello again, Chelsa! Glad the article is helpful to you. I’m all about swapping Tucker for Voit, as the upside is a bit higher and more likely for him than it is for Tucker. Voit can provide a boost in HR, RBI, and OBP, and I think he’ll keep this job for the foreseeable future.

Scott Chu

Hi Ferg — That probably depends more on your needs than anything else. I’d rather have Bauers than either, but both McMahon and Franmil have upside. In a vacuum, I’d go with Franmil over McMahon.

Matt

I swapped Voit for Yandy a few weeks back and idk if i made the right decision. I am a huge Voit fan too

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