After successfully tallying his fourth multi-hit game over his last five outings in a 5-2 win over the Colorado Rockies last night, it’s fair to wonder whether Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen is to be unconditionally trusted in fantasy lineups once again. Cutch managed a 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI evening, but given that a) his batting average was as low as .206 just a month ago, and b) Tuesday’s game marked his first of 2017 with multiple homers, concern over his lukewarm start to the season might very well be hanging around. He’s got 35 RBI and 36 runs to this point, and a .405 June has his season average up to .255. He’s still on pace to amass mid-20s in homers this year, just as he’s done for four straight years, so why are we doubting him so vehemently? His BABIP is down to .277 so maybe we’re being unfair in such criticism when there’s tons of gameplay left; his strikeout rate is down to 18.5%, its lowest mark since 2014, and his ISO is the best it’s been since the same year, although he’s becoming predictable in pulling more than he has since 2013. McCutchen’s hard contact percentage has been on a gentle decline since 2014’s career high of 40.5%, but it’s still mid-30s. Line drives are slightly down and groundballs are slightly up for him, but nothing looks so drastically out of whack that it appears to be the culprit behind his struggles. He’s suddenly become a liability against cutters and sliders, if that’s a thing you feel like tracking as far as the repertoires of pitchers he’s slated to match up against, but I think he’s going to be just fine and that you shouldn’t give up on him as a viable fantasy OF just because he’s not necessarily regaining his 31-homer, 158 wRC+ form of 2012.
Let’s take a look at what else happened notably hitting-wise around the league:
Eddie Rosario (OF, MIN) – 4-5, 3 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI. Just as it was a fun story for Scooter Gennett to crush four homers in a single game last week, so too was it neat to see Rosario enjoy his first career multi-homer game last night when he sent three out of the park. The AL-Central-leading Twins destroyed the Mariners 20-7, and Rosario’s five-RBI night helped that happen. The bad news is that he only had five homers and 15 RBI going into that game, so he’s not anybody you need to consider targeting for fantasy purposes. He’s averaging .264 and has scored 26 times, which are fine; the reality is he’s nowhere close to being a plug-and-play OF on your roster, given the more productive options that are sure to be available on the free agency market.
Ryan Zimmerman (1B, WSH) – 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Zimmerman had missed three consecutive games with back stiffness, but he returned to the Washington batting order to make Atlanta’s R.A. Dickey look silly with a dual-homer outing. The dingers were his 18th and 19th of the year, and Zimmerman trails only New York’s Aaron Judge in the category league-wide. He also owns MLB’s best qualified batting average right now at .372, and he is an obvious set-and-forget player in your lineup as long as he can stay healthy.
Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, LAD) – 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, K. Not to be outdone by the veteran Zimmerman’s night in Washington, Bellinger distinguished himself last night by hitting two home runs in his second consecutive game. The 21-year-old lefty has taken the league by storm by hitting 17 homers and 39 RBI in just 165 AB since his late April callup. He is making his fantasy owners look like geniuses for taking a chance on his previously obscure name. Although it seemed early on as though he would perhaps get sent back down to Triple-A when Joc Pederson came off the DL, his skill set has convincingly ensured that the Dodgers keep him in the majors where he belongs.
Brandon Drury (2B/3B/OF, ARI) – 4-5, R, HR, 3 RBI. Drury got multiple hits for the first time since May 19, and two doubles featured alongside his homer for an XBH-happy performance. He’s batting .296 on the season and has 28 RBI to his name. The homer was Drury’s eighth, and he almost always bats sixth in the Arizona lineup.
Rougned Odor (2B, TEX) – 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K. It was Odor’s first game with multiple home runs since Opening Day, which had to make his fantasy owners breathe a sigh of relief for the production now that he’s got double-digit jacks. He’s hitting .279 during the first two weeks of June for a .219 average overall. Thirty runs scored balance nicely with 29 RBI, and he’s stolen six bases but also been caught stealing four times. Despite the slow start to the year, it appears that Odor has turned a corner and has a promising remainder of the season in front of him.
Franchy Cordero (OF, SDP) – 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, K. The fill-in for injured Manuel Margot is trying to make the best of his opportunity while on duty in the majors, as last night marked the second straight game in which Cordero homered. Realistically, though, as the trio of homers he’s hit over the last 36 hours are the only three he’s gotten since his May 27 callup, we need to focus on the fact that his time with the Padres is limited to the duration of Margot’s absence. The .327 average is nice, but the 37.5% strikeout rate is horrendous. Cordero has just 12 runs and eight RBI in 52 AB.
Jose Martinez (1B/OF, STL) – 2-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, 3 K. Martinez hit two homers in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Milwaukee yesterday. Since being reactivated on May 29 concurrently with Randal Grichuk‘s demotion to the minors, Martinez is batting just .192 for a .270 average overall. He doesn’t have a starting spot locked up, as Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham currently are ahead of Martinez on the depth chart at RF and LF, respectively. Martinez doesn’t figure to get enough playing time to be fantasy relevant, despite the nice night of work Tuesday.
Dansby Swanson (SS, ATL) – 3-3, R, 2 RBI, BB (IBB). Swanson had his fourth multi-hit game so far this month against Washington last night, and he’s managing to hit .378 in June. He’s picking up the pace after a dreadful start, and he was lingering way below the Mendoza Line until about mid-May. He’s got 27 runs and 29 RBI to go with six homers and a steal. There’s work left to be done on a .224 average, but bear in mind that he’s in a groove after hitting safely in eight of his last nine games.
Keon Broxton (OF, MIL) – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, K. Broxton went yard for the second time in three games, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that he’s having a rough month. Batting just .171 in June, he owns a .235 average overall and scores runs far more often than he nets RBI. He also hasn’t stolen a base since May 18 despite having 10 to his credit. Don’t drop him if you’ve got him, by any stretch, but let Broxton exorcise his demons before trusting him day-in, day-out in your lineup.
Travis Shaw (1B/3B, MIL) – 2-8, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, K. Shaw rejoined the team for the doubleheader at St. Louis after spending several days on emergency family medical leave. He now has 11 homers and 30 runs to go alongside an impressive 44 RBI on the year. He’s stolen six bags and owns a .296 average to make his owners very happy during this breakout year with the Brewers.
Logan Morrison (1B, TBR) – 2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI, K. I still don’t truly understand how Morrison remains so widely unowned. He has a quintessential Crush-Davis-esque résumé of low average and high power that could be working wonders for you. A .238 BA to go with 41 RBI, 34 runs and 18 homers collectively say he has no business being owned in just 41.9% of ESPN leagues and just 39% of Yahoo leagues. The power is there despite him only batting .189 this month.
I feel like you should mention the part where Bellinger hit both HR off lefty specialists, including the one and only Andrew Miller…I’m also sure we are way past the point for discussing whether or not he stays up.
What are your thoughts on Jose Pirela? It is a very small sample size but he has a spot in LF and his first 31ABs have been noticeable to say the least.