Batter’s Box: Jorge There

Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire

Did you know that Jorge Soler‘s nickname is “El Yoyo”? It seems appropriate, considering the trajectory of his career to this point. When he came up with the Chicago Cubs, everybody thought he was the bee’s knees. The cat’s pajamas. The (animal)’s (incongruous noun). Then his long swing caught up with him, and for the past two seasons he struggled to stay afloat in the majors.

Now, at 26 years old and with a full-time gig, he seems to be on the upswing again. Or is he? Sure, after yesterday’s 3-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB performance he’s slashing .324/.436/.546 on the year. Yes, he has three home runs over the past week. But most of his peripherals point to him being the same old Soler that burned us once before. His 43.8% groundball rate is the highest it’s been since 2014. His 13% whiff rate and 66% contact rate are below average, and in line with his career averages in those categories. And most of his success to this point has been due to his penchant for killing lefties; his .246 average against righties this season is identical to his career average against them. The increased hard contact is encouraging, as is the fact that he’s chasing pitches out of the zone less than he has before. But I wouldn’t be so quick to assume El Yoyo is on his way up again until I see him go Around the World a bit more. That’s the name of a yo-yo trick. It’s very important to me that you get my jokes.

Alex Gordon (OF, Kansas City Royals): 4-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI – I always thought Alex Gordon looked a bit like a White Walker from Game of Thrones, and now he’s acting like one, rising from the dead this year to throw an icy spear through the hearts of unsuspecting fantasy teams. Sorry, spoiler alert. Gordon is hitting .414 with three homers over the past week. His 15.7% strikeout rate would be a career-low, which is saying something for a guy who has been in the league for 12 seasons, and he’s making more hard contact (38.5%) than he ever has as well. The .355 BABIP will come down, but I’m cautiously optimistic here.

Tucker Barnhart (C, Cincinnati Reds): 3-4, 3B, RBI – It looks like Barnhart is going to benefit from more at-bats thanks to the recent trade that sent Devin Mesoraco to the New York Mets in exchange for the bloated, useless humanoid formerly known as Matt Harvey. He won’t hurt you in any category, and is a solid pick-up in deep and two-catcher leagues.

Adrian Beltre (3B, Texas Rangers): 3-4, 2 RBI – Beltre picked up right where he left off in his first game back from the DL, raising his season line to .330/.381/.451. Beltre is notorious for not liking when people touch his head, but he’s so good at hitting that his teammates will only naturally want to touch his head in congratulations. He must be living in a personal hell.

Mike Moustakas (3B, Kansas City Royals): 3-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI – Is Mike Moustakas the value signing of the offseason so far? He’s now up to 10 home runs while slashing .300/.333/.586, and nothing in his peripherals indicates he’s getting particularly lucky (.283 BABIP, 17% HR/FB). He’s seen a huge jump in hard contact, posting a 46% rate so far after just a 32% rate last year. And last year he hit 38 home runs. So yeah. This is looking very real.

Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees): 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB – Stanton’s early struggles were great for selling newspapers, but I think it’s time we put this story to bed. He’s hitting .296 with five homers over the past two weeks, and now he’s stealing bases like he used to when he was young and named Mike. He’s currently on pace for another 40+ home run season, and that’s the floor.

Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins): 2-5, 3 R – I think we need to seriously consider changing the name of these articles to “The Eddie Rosario Update” because he’s been making daily appearances lately. He’s now batting .438 over the past week with three homers, and seems to be desperate for attention or something. Why else would he keep hitting like this?

Marcus Semien (Oakland Athletics): 2-3, 2 R, BB, SB – A solid performance for Semien, whose three stolen bases now match his home run total. Aside from a spike in his groundball rate this year, his peripherals are in line with what he’s always posted, and he’ll likely challenge a 15/15 season if he stays on the field.

Odubel Herrera (OF, Philadelphia Phillies): 2-4, RBI, SB – Please take a look at Odubel Herrera’s MLB profile picture and tell me he doesn’t look like some kind of human/forest troll hybrid. Whether Odubel is making real improvements to his contact ability, or simply channeling the Earth energy provided by the tree god Gaia, it’s been working. Herrera’s whiff and contact rates are much improved this year, and he’s hitting .358 with four homers over the past two weeks.

Brandon Belt (1B, San Francisco Giants): 2-4, R, SB – I know it’s probably more natural to associate Belt’s last name with his ability to “belt” line drives (28% line drive rate this year), but I still can’t help but picture a giant talking belt named Brandon whenever I see his name. Belt is absolutely crushing the ball at a 46.8% clip this year, and his 24 degree launch angle means his six homers are likely right on pace with what he’ll continue to do all season if he stays healthy.

Matt Kemp (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers): 3-6, RBI – Kemp is making 47% hard contact and hitting 30% line drives, so while his .425 BABIP isn’t here to stay, it might not regress as much as you’d expect. He’s hitting .433 over the past week.

Dee Gordon (2B/OF, Seattle Mariners): 3-5, R, 2B, SB – Dee Gordon is hitting .517 over the past week with five stolen bases. No, I didn’t write “.316” wrong. No, .517 isn’t his OPS. That’s seriously how hot he’s been lately, and I don’t appreciate you doubting my proofreading ability.

Danny Valencia (1B/DH, Baltimore Orioles): 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI – The nice thing about owning Valencia in fantasy as opposed to real life is that he can’t face-punch his teammates in fantasy. Valencia has been a fairly useful hitter over the past few years, and is now getting semi-regular reps at third base for the Orioles.

A.J. Pollock (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks): 2-6, R, HR, 2 RBI – Just like his father Jackson, A.J. is a bit of an artist, spraying the ball all over the field in new and exciting ways. Okay, so he’s not related to Jackson Pollock, but wouldn’t it be cool if he was? No? Okay. Pollock is up to 11 homers and eight stolen bases this year and is batting .370 over the past week.

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

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Comments


theKraken

Very much in agreement regrading Kemp’s batted balls. Honestly, I was expecting people to start talking about his BABIP, but he really has been hitting the ball well all year long. From what I have seen, which is a lot of his ABs, he has actually been really unlucky – lots of LD right at OF and lots of very well hit balls around the warning track. I don’t expect him to continue to produce anywhere near this level, if for no reason other than injuries, but he has earned it so far.

Launch Angle

If you had to drop 2 …Schoop, Matt Adams, Buehler? Schoop and Knebel off the DL and need to make room on roster. In a standard, season-long roto league (R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG/K/QS/SV/ERA/WHIP). I prefer to keep four closers to keep pace in saves with a two other teams carrying four.

My roster:
C Perez
1B Freeman
2B Merrifield
3B Arenado
SS Bregman
OF Trout, Springer, Judge, Pollock
UTIL Gordon
UTIL Abreu
BENCH Adams, Schoop

SP Kluber, Severino, Thor, Bauer, Corbin, Pax, Buehler
RP Doolittle, Knebel, Allen, Vasquez

Southern Marylander

I’ve been offered Upton for Schoop straight-up in my 16 team head-to-head keeper league. I don’t think either is particularly keepable at their contract values next year ($15 for Schoop, $31 for Upton), so who helps my team compete this year gets priority.

My only other 2B option right now is Peraza and free agent churn (which I’m not exactly rolling in FA$ right now – each add is $1). My 4 OF and 1 Util spots are being filled by Ronald Acuna (yay!), Scott Schebler (meh), Alen Hanson (who?), Jose Osuna (seriously?), and Jose Peraza (uh oh). Mac Williamson is concussed, Austin Hays is stinking, but at least Dustin Fowler got called up. 2B options are Kinsler, Wong, Hernandez…

Launch Angle

Scooter or Schoop? Scooter is on the exact same pace as last year at this time in AVG with 1 more HR, 4 more RBI and 7 more R. Outside of Machado, the O’s look less than inspiring in all facets.

Chucky

Happ a decent get for Polanco if I was stacked in the OF and needed a 2B or could I put out feelers for Schoop? (Same owner. Schoop cost him SMarte)

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