Batter’s Box: It’s Been Lit, Pham
Tommy Pham (OF, Tampa Bay Rays) came out of nowhere three seasons ago and continues to produce, including Wednesday’s stellar hitting performance (5-6, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, SB). This is his third consecutive season as a high-level fantasy asset and is his second 20/20 season in the last three years.
Pham is an interesting case for the remainder of the season, as he’s on the record as saying that he’s playing through several injuries that would normally sideline him were it not for the Rays being in the playoff hunt. He’s a hard guy to bench based on what he’s done so far this season, but in the short term, can you bench him? On one hand, he has the injury concerns, but on the other, he appears to be playing quite well in spite of them, slashing .336/.421/.518 over the last month. His next two series against the Red Sox and Yankees aren’t necessarily ideal from a hitting perspective, and both teams have done a fairly decent job checking runners at first base to prevent steals.
This is the inherent difficulty with providing hitting analysis for one or two weeks. The sample sizes are small, and unlike starters, the matchups they face are more fluid. I’m not sure what options most people have on their bench to replace Pham if he ends up missing a day or you don’t like his matchup and injury situation, but the replacements I could suggest would only be temporary. Ideally, if Pham shows signs of slowing down, you’d let him rest on your bench until the Toronto series. That said, most people probably don’t have a spare outfielder with Pham’s upside just waiting for a chance to move into the lineup.
I’d advise you all to look closely at the upcoming schedules and see if you think there are exploitable matchups available (keeping in mind that a starting pitcher is only about 60-70% of the PA a hitter has on any given night). There are no magic bullets as hitter analysis generally requires larger sample sizes because you only get 4 (maybe 5) chances for a hitter to pay off while starting pitchers generally get several innings to produce. Good luck out there.
Yasiel Puig (OF, Cleveland Indians)—4-5, RBI. His .368 batting average in September is great, but the lack of power has been a bit frustrating for fantasy owners. Luckily, the Indians have one of the softest hitting schedules to finish out the season, so keep plugging Puig into your lineups.
Bo Bichette (SS, Toronto Blue Jays)—3-6, 2 RBI. In 208 plate appearances in the major leagues, he has a .316/.361/.580 line with power and speed. His plate discipline hasn’t been ideal, but it’s far from bad. He may have ups and downs as a young player, but he’s looked 100% as advertised based on what we’ve seen so far.
Starlin Castro (2B, Miami Marlins)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, RBI. Miami has one of the toughest schedules the rest of the way, so if you’ve been riding the consistent Castro up to this point, it might be time to hop off the wagon. He’s going to catch the best of the Nationals and Mets rotations which are not matchups I want to rely on.
Austin Hays (OF, Baltimore Orioles)—3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI. He’s shown solid plate discipline in his first taste of major league action since 2017 and might be worth a look in deep leagues for the final part of the season while the Orioles are at home.
Brandon Nimmo (OF, New York Mets)—3-5, R, RBI. I’m still really high on this guy (compared to his current price in 2020 mocks) due to what we saw from him in 2018. I’m gonna keep saying it, but write this guys name down on a sticky note somewhere. He’s going to be a solid value.
Kevin Pillar (OF, San Francisco Giants)—3-5, 2 R, RBI, SB. He continues to be a solid (if unspectacular) fantasy outfielder in standard formats due to his power and speed combination. His hot streaks have made him probably seem better than he is, which is a fourth or fifth outfielder in 10- or 12-team leagues. He has a nice upcoming series at home against the Rockies, but otherwise I’m not too excited about him for the rest of the season.
Jonathan Villar (2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles)—3-6, 3 R, HR, 2B, RBI, SB. Facing only the Mariners, Blue Jays and Red Sox for the rest of the season means that Villar is going to get plenty of plate appearances against sub-par pitching. He’s also on a six-game hitting streak with at least one run scored in each of those contests as well as back-to-back games with a home run and three steals during this stretch.
Pete Alonso (1B, New York Mets)—2-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. 50 is coming, folks. He’s just one dinger away. He was pretty cold for a week or so, but he’s now got three straight games with two hits, so it’s safe to say the slump is over.
Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—2-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. He’s probably the NL MVP runner-up at this point and has absolutely ridiculous this season. He’s part of the top five picks for 2020 along with Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna Jr., Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich.
Yuli Gurriel (1B/3B, Houston Astros)—2-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. The unbelievable second half continues for Gurriel, who just hit his 30th home run, which is particularly impressive considering that he had a total of 34 home runs in his 311 career games prior to 2019. You simply must keep starting him for the rest of the season, but with his breakout coming as a 35-year-old, he’ll be difficult to value in 2020 drafts.
Garrett Hampson (2B/SS/OF, Colorado Rockies)—1-4, R, 2 SB. A strong ending to the season is just what we need to believe in him again. I just hope it helps the Rockies brass believe in him as well.
Bryce Harper (OF, Philadelphia Phillies)—1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB. He may always be overrated in standard leagues compared to OBP leagues because of his name value and upside, but he’s still been a top-15 outfielder in leagues that only use batting average. His ISO has been considerably better in the second half and I’m still bullish on Harper for 2020.
Wil Myers (3B/OF, San Diego Padres)—0-4, 3 K. Well, he’s on an 0-8 skid with 7 strikeouts and one walk. Go ahead and cut him, folks. There’s not enough upside to merit further consideration.
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)