Batter’s Box: Keep Your Whits About You

You need to be ready when a guy comes out of nowhere. As a 27-year-old, Whit Merrifield (2B/OF, Kansas City Royals) had a fairly quiet half-season debut, with two home runs and eight stolen bases in 81 games. Very little was thought of him at the time, as he didn’t have much of a prospect pedigree and seemed like a speedy fourth or fifth outfielder for the Royals. Of course, in 2017, he broke out in a massive way and was even better in 2018. After Tuesday’s performance, where he went 4-5 with three runs, a home run, a triple, five RBI, and a SB, he finds himself second among all second base-eligible players on ESPN’s Player Rater behind only Javier Baez. Merrifield was drafted as a top-40 overall player, so this doesn’t come as TOO much of a surprise for the five-category contributor, but it’s worth noting that doubters were present throughout the past two seasons. Many thought he’d be unable to continue his 2017 successes, and just as many believed it was a bit of a fluke going into 2018. At the end of the first half last season, people pointed to his five home runs and 17 steals and claimed that Whit wasn’t as good as his promoters claimed. Then, of course, he went and hit seven more in the second half and stole 28 more bases in the final 67 games.

I said something to this effect yesterday, but it bears repeating: You can’t always wait until you know for sure that a certain player is legit. You can use scouting and the advanced stats (which, by the way, indicate that Merrifield’s season so far has been mostly legit, though the .545 slugging percentage will likely drop below .500 eventually) to look for glaring issues, but ultimately, you’ve got to use your gut. If you’ve got a feeling that someone is legit, take action. Use the resources (such as our fabulous Discord or the comment section below) at your disposal and make moves. Action is more fun than inaction.

Justin Turner (3B, Los Angeles Dodgers)4-5, 3 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI. On April 25, Turner’s batting line was .250/.364/.284 with zero home runs. Just 10 starts later, it’s .302/.391/.434 with four home runs. I hope you didn’t try to get cute and bench him. He’s no spring chicken, but he still has elite bat skills. Also, for you DFS players out there, he’s a great start against lefties, which he faces plenty of in the NL West.

Robinson Cano (2B, New York Mets)4-5, R, 2 2B. Statcast thinks the elder second baseman has been a bit unlucky in batting average and slugging, so don’t worry yet about the lack of production so far. We know enough about Cano to know that he can hit, and there’s nothing in his profile that suggests he’s lost it.

Pete Alonso (1B, New York Mets)3-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI. He can’t stop, he won’t stop. This was his 11th home run in 31 games, and he’s been the No. 5 first base-eligible player according to ESPN’s Player Rater. The sky is the limit for this kid. His .604 slugging percentage is more than 100 points higher than his xSLG, but I still think he has top-10 potential at first base (which ain’t as deep as it used to be).

Evan Longoria (3B, San Francisco Giants)2-3, 3 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB. The old guy can still hit a little bit, though some of this is likely a result of being in Coors. He might get to 20 home runs, albeit with a low batting average and OBP. That’s a fill-in at corner infield in 15-teamers, probably. Nothing more.

Hunter Pence (OF, Texas Rangers)3-3, R, HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI, BB. His coach said he’d get more playing time, and he has. He won’t keep this up forever, but he doesn’t need to. Hopefully he can keep it up long enough as your fifth outfielder in 12-teamers for you to either find a better fifth outfielder or to get back whoever is on your IL.

Jurickson Profar (SS/1B/2B/3B, Oakland Athletics)2-3, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. He’s been dropped by plenty of owners over the past week or two, but he’s on a nice five-game hitting streak and has two multihit games in a row. If he was dropped in your 12-teamer and you could use his positional flexibility, feel free to add him.

Chris Iannetta (C, Colorado Rockies)2-3, R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. He’s back from the IL and should shine against lefties, especially while in Coors. If you need a catcher this week, Iannetta will face several more lefties and will stay at home through Sunday, so feel free to fire him up.

(Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire)
Scott Chu

Scott has written about fantasy baseball for over 6 years, creating content for DailyBaseballData.com, Friends With Fantasy Benefits, and Pitcher List. As a lifelong resident of the Dirty Mitten (also known as Michigan), he usually cheers for the Tigers, Michigan State Spartans, and any ginger who somehow beat the odds and became an athlete.

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Comments


Saint

Great stuff as usual Scott. Obviously this is a column about bats, but what is your opinion about the following scrap heap of pitches ROS? 12 Team 6×6 H2H QS.

T. Richards, Thornton, Luzardo, Woodruff, Lucchesi, Giolito, Loaisiga, and Duffy.

Please rank your top 3

Thanks again for your thoughts

Scott Chu

I’m going to punt on this a bit, Saint, and say that these are all streamer arms in a 12-teamer. Play the match-ups and avoid committing to any of these guys. I like Luzardo, Lucchesi, and Giolito best long term, but unless I have a VERY deep bench, I’m going with whoever has the softest opponent.

Scott Chu

Nah, just not a believer. I know some people are excited about his power, but I’m not. I think he’ll be a AAAA guy who bounces back and forth as an NL-only flier. They say he changed his swing, but I think all that power will still be lost on grounders. I guess he’s an OK DFS play while he’s in Coors?

Cool Papa Bell

Scott I like the content, you provide good insight and write well. That being said, quit sandbagging man. I get that these articles must take some time and research but 30 teams played yesterday, that is roughly 270 batters that stepped into the batters box yesterday and we only get a recap on 7 of them? Can you look yourself in the mirror as a fantasy baseball fan and say to yourself “This is acceptable, job well done today Scott”. I’m not asking for 30 or 20 recaps but surely there must have been more going on with the other 263 hitters yesterday (approximate)

Scott Chu

In my defense, it was 8 =P.

This article will generally feature 8-11 players (at least when I write it) because, in full disclosure, that’s what I have the time and capacity to write up each day. Many players will do interesting things every day, and I try to pick ones that I have something to say about (and ideally, ones I haven’t written up in the last few days). I’ll do my best to cover as many different players as I can throughout each week, but if you ever have any suggestions or requests about hitters to cover, please feel more than free to hit me up on Discord, Twitter, or in these comments and I’ll make a note to discuss that player as soon as I get the opportunity.

Scott Chu

I honestly wish I could write up more hitters, but I’ve got this pesky “real job” I have to go to most days, not to mention a family and house that require attention. I’ll keep doing my best to get as much content in as I can (today’s piece was on the lighter side).

To compensate, I do try to answer every comment, tweet, and DM about players that folks send me, which usually means 2-4 mini-blurbs on random players.

Jim

Feel free to do better.

Scott and all of PL staff do a great job each and every day!

Matt B

Hey Scott,

I agree with the idea that todays article is a little light in terms of players discussed, perhaps standardizing who you discuss to 10 per day could be the move- this way readers know what to expect and then you can adjust quantity of analysis per player if you’re down on time some days. Cant verify if that would facilitate a solution but I think it would linearize the batters box column and make it less varied from week to week, which would prove useful.

With that suggestion said, i cant imagine the difficulty of juggling all that you do, so just keep up the great work as I am sure everyone who reads this column is, and will continue to be, more than appreciative of your time and effort.

Lastly, what are your thoughts on Austin Meadows value upon returning this Friday and for ROS? (10 tm h2h cat (OPS not avg)

Thanks!

Scott Chu

Hi Matt, thanks for the feedback. I try to stay away from having a standard number for a few reasons, but I’ll do my best to have more days with 10 than I do days with 8.

I’m a big Meadows fan, even though his return will muddy up the Ray’s lineup a bit. He could hit 20 more home runs and steal 10-15 more bases, and should be started in pretty much all formats (including yours). The OBP may not be super great (.320ish going forward?), but everything else will be.

Matt B

Thanks for the response, and great to hear it, I want to believe wholeheartedly he is actualizing a potential similar to what Benintendi was also promised, but I was found myself only being more bearish just because of the small sample size and his .400 BABIP. But, you just pretty much validated his skillset for me now, at least in the counting stats areas. Thanks again and keep up the excellent contributions to such a premier fantasy baseball platform.

Cool Papa Bell

I just want to be clear, this is hands down the best FBB site out there. You guys have helped me scoop up some hidden gems in my very competitive league. I’m just dishing out some constructive criticism. We can all be better. You don’t think Mike Trout and Max Scherzer have people critiquing them? Scott is a FFB writer, he’s got the chops for some friendly criticism.

Scott Chu

I totally get where you’re coming from. It’s one of the primary reasons I try to add more free content via comments, Twitter, and DMs on every question asked.

Gas House Gorillas

Hey Scott- Should I hang on to Eloy Jimenez? My hitting is struggling a bit right now with slumps and injuries, waiting for Vlad and others to start hitting.. Yes I have some youth on this team– Tatis as well!
There are some options on the wire, trying to decide if I should make a move or is Eloy’s upside this season worthwhile enough to stick it out …
thx.

Gas House Gorillas

Just to give you more info for Jimenez decision–
available on wire right now:
Christian Walker, Soler, Winker, Rosario, E.Escobar, Verdugo, F. Reyes, Schoop, Y.Gurriel, Schwarber, Calhoun, Daniel Murph, Clint Frazier, Aquilar, Kepler

Scott Chu

Hi Gas House, Eloy’s slow start has been frustrating, but it sounds like he’s getting healthy soon and it’d be tough to cut him considering what you may have paid. Assuming this is a 10- to 12- team redraft, I’d say Eloy is on the same level as Franmil and Winker based on overall production and potential. I’d probably prefer to cut someone else to add one of those guys (like the last pitcher on your roster) instead of Eloy, though.

theKraken

I don’t think people were too skeptical of Merrifield coming into this year… they certainly were a year ago, but he has nearly 1500 PA coming into this year at a pretty consistent level of production.

I am anxiously waiting to see where Alonso ends up. I like to take notes on the April stars and see where they actually end up. It seems like people are accepting that Alonso is a star based on April which is always a mistake. Most likely, he will heavily regress and people will just give him a pass because of the April/NY hype, but in the end it will be interesting to see where he actually ends up relative to his peers. I don’t claim to know where he will end up but you gotta figure it could end up something like .270 and 33 HR, which is not a star in the juiced ball era – see Eugenio Suarez. To be the guy that he is being built up to be he has to hit at least 40 HR IMO. His pace can slip quite a bit and still get there. On the note of WAR and base-running, which I always find laughable – Alonso has way more base-running value than Suarez…which there is no way that is true. I also find the difference in wRC+ between the two disturbing. Alonso seems to get a lot of credit for 100 points of BABIP – which tells you a lot about wRC+. Those two are an interesting case study in WAR, the underlying methodology and its flaws.

Scott Chu

Fair enough, theKraken. I’d say Alonso’s potential is a lot higher, in terms of power, than what we saw from Suarez (his 33 HRs last season were 7 more than we’ve ever seen before). He has legit pop in that bat, and while 30 HRs wasn’t that exciting for Suarez (though in fairness, he was picked pretty early in drafts this year), it’s actually more exciting to see a 30-35 HR hitter at 1B due to the lighter depth at the position.

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