Batter’s Box: London Calling
Grab your fish and chips, we are heading off to London to watch some baseball? The Red Sox and Yankees played the first ever MLB game in London displaying all the new features of 2019 baseball; tons and tons of home runs. None of the starters seemed comfortable as they both were kicked in the first inning. Michael Chavis helped Boston remove Tanaka from the game with a three run shot to center. Chavis added another homer later finishing the game going 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, BB. Chavis is another rookie in this year’s fantastic class that has had a solid start to his career. But it hasn’t been without its ups and downs.
Chavis was a first round selection in 2014 with a ton of power hitting over 30 homers in a bit over 120 games in the minors in 2017. He’s shown comparable power to start this season with 14 home runs in 62 games. However, as a power hitting rookie, he has been prone to the strikeout with a 33% strikeout rate. Chavis had cooled off a bit in late May into June after a fast start, but since June 11th he has hit in all but one game. Over that span he is hitting .314 while slugging .529 yet he still has not had control over his strikeout rate. With this streak and the start of his season, he has shown glimpses of impressive hitting. However, as the season has progressed, his expected stats keep dipping lower and lower. He’s hitting the ball less hard while also swinging and missing at more pitches in the zone as he is particularly struggling against the fastball. This is a normal learning curve for rookies but don’t let the recent success fool you. Chavis is still continuing his struggles, they are justing getting masked by some luck. If you are holding on to him still, it may be time to sell high if there are willing buyers.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the players from that London game since all of them seemed to hit the cover off the ball.
DJ LeMahieu (2B/3B, New York Yankees)—4-6, 2 R, 2B, 5 RBI. It is no secret anymore that Coors had no hold on LeMahieu. He’s having his best offensive year in his first year out of Coors and is even leading the league in hits. Many have come in the last few weeks as he is currently riding a 13 game hit streak as well as a five game multi-hit streak. He has 15 hits in his last five games. As usual, he’s been making a ton of contact, but this season he’s been attacking more pitches both in and out of the zone. He’s putting the ball in play and the hits are falling.
Luke Voit (1B, New York Yankees)—4-4, 2 R, 3 2B, RBI. Voit had a bit of a scare in London after pulling into second with his third double of the game. He was pulled with a lower abdomen injury but seems to be well enough to stay off the IL. Voit owners will be pleased he stays off the IL as he has a .959 OPS in June. And with Judge and Stanton returning, Voit will be hitting amongst them making for plenty of run scoring and RBI opportunities.
Didi Gregorius (SS, New York Yankees)—2-5, 3 R, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. Speaking of Yankees coming off the IL, Gregorius has been back in the lineup now for nearly a month but has played in 16 games. He hasn’t done too much until the last few games as he’s had 2, 3, and 2 hits in the last three games respectively. With a crowded infield in New York, Gregorius could see himself the odd man out more than others.
Renato Núñez (1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles)—2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB. Nunez enjoyed himself a fantastic May. He was crushing the ball. However, June put a stop to that. In June, he is slashing .215/.319/.443. He’s been making worse contact with lower hard hit rate, hitting more grounders, and swinging and missing more often. Sometimes mediocre players have hot streaks and sometimes great players have slumps. Hopefully a day like yesterday can get him back to the way he was hitting in May.
Neil Walker (1B/2B/3B/OF, Miami Marlins)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. Walker always seems to be decent enough and his season with the Marlins is no different. He just came off the IL missing about a month. But his season so far he’s produced a 115 wRC+. On the Marlins however, he hasn’t shown much power and the run production is limited. We’ll see how he does after returning to the lineup, but it’s hard to own any Marlins batter in standard fantasy leagues.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers)—3-5, 2 R, 3 RBI. It’s not often a player shows up in Batter’s Box hitting only singles, but a vintage Miggy was driving guys in yesterday. And that’s all Miggy has been this year. He is hitting .300 on the nose, but only has a .087 ISO. That is by far the lowest ISO of his career. His hard hit % is down and his HR/FB is down almost seven percentage points from the last two seasons. His average upside is great, but there’s not much else impressive with Miggy right now.
Max Kepler (OF, Minnesota Twins)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. After a bit of a scare getting hit in the arm with a pitch a few games ago, Kepler is back to his home run hitting ways. With the second home run yesterday, he has set a new career high, and it’s before the all star break. He’s hitting the ball harder than he ever has and he’s handling fastballs so much better than previous seasons. Additionally, he’s been consistently producing each month this season.
Nelson Cruz (DH, Minnesota Twins)—4-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2B, 5 RBI. Cruz was out for a few weeks of May, his only sign of aging. How old is this guy? 38? What aging curve? Cruz laughs in the face of aging curves. Since returning from the IL, he’s slashing .306/.404/.647 with a 171 wRC+. Eight homers in 21 games, as well as hitting right the middle of the ominous Twins lineup. Cruz is defying his age helping the Twins defy the AL Central.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, San Diego Padres)—3-5, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. The Padres had quite a night yesterday, led by the rookie Tatis. This 20 year old has been unstoppable since returning from the IL back in the beginning of June. He is batting .382 with a wRC+ of 201! These numbers have been supplemented by an astronomical .522 BABIP. Be aware a lot of this success is due to luck as the BABIP indicates as well as his expected stats. In June, Tatis’ expected average is .249 with an expected slugging of .481. I’m additionally concerned with his 29% K rate. He may be a great sell high candidate in a redraft league.
Manny Machado (3B/SS, San Diego Padres)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI. Machado picked up everything Tatis was putting down in last night’s game with a pair of dingers. Machado has turned up the heat in June as these two homers have brought him to nine total in his last 14 games. He has continued the improvements he made in May into June but now luck has been on his side. His barrel rate has increased into June with a decrease in hard hit rate.
Franmil Reyes (OF, San Diego Padres)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB. Reyes joined Machado with his own pair of homers. Nearly half of Reyes’ hits are home runs with a 34.8% HR/FB rate. However, he is barreling the ball better than almost any player with one the hardest average exit velocities in the league. Additionally, his BABIP is relatively low at .245, but he also is not hitting a ton of fly balls. I would expect his BABIP to increase the rest of the year with more singles and doubles but with less homers.
(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)