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)