Batter’s Box: Look at me. I’m the Chapman now.
To get compared to a perennial MVP candidate after your rookie season comes with a lot of pressure, especially when he was your former high school teammate. Matt Chapman took that pressure and cooked in it and emerged a star in 2018. The comparisons to Nolan Arenado first came because of how he handled the hot corner. Chapman has now established himself as possibly the best fielder in the entire league. The comparisons do not stop at third. Chapman has come to establish himself as an excellent hitter. He was great offensively last year but has made excellent strides to improve this aspect of his game in the first month this season. Notably, his K% is over 10 percentage points lower, getting his BB/K ratio to nearly one. Outside of the improved plate discipline, Chapman is hitting the ball as well as last year which got him 137 wRC+. These improvements were shown last night as he went 3-6, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. The comparisons to Arenado will continue as they race for their first respective MVPs.
The real story to come out of the A’s game from yesterday was Josh Phegley and his absurd performance. He finished the evening going 4-5, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 8 RBI. That’s right, eight RBIs! The more remarkable achievement was that only one came on the homer which was a solo shot. How do you even get to eight runs batted in? I’ll show you. In the second, Phegley cleared the bases with a bases-loaded double (that’s three). In the third, he drove in Davis on a single (that’s one more). In the fourth, he cleared the bases again with another bases-loaded double! He had seven after just four innings! The cherry on top came in the ninth on his solo blast. If only the bases were loaded again. Phegley has hit well in his 25 games so far this year. He’ll definitely keep seeing the playing time.
Friday was chock full of catcher offense! Let’s take a look at how the rest of the catcher cohort performed.
Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs) — 3-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Rizzo continues his hot streak adding another homer and a three-hit game. That is now four homers in the last five games. He’s been known to have some struggles to start the year but April is now behind him. Rizzo’s plate discipline and batted ball profile have stayed consistent compared to years past so far as well. He looks to be the Rizzo we all know.
Gary Sanchez (C, New York Yankees) — 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. It took a couple of games after returning from injury for Sanchez to settle back in. He now has four homers in the eight games since his return and ten total in his 18 appearances. The main contributing factor? All he does is pull fly balls. He has a 60% fly ball rate and a 50% pull rate. I feel like pitchers could learn to exploit this, but for the time being, he’s making great contact and still has an xSLG of over .800.
Mike Zunino (C, Tampa Bay Rays) — 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. Oooo a catcher that can hit over 20 home runs! It’s so shiny! Zunino is one of the more frustrating fantasy players out there. He has the power potential but squanders everything with no other hits. Half his runs are scored via his own home runs. This year is plenty more the same. A few homers coupled with a sub-.200 average. His HR/FB is about 10 percentage points lower than usual so his home run volume may start to increase.
Kurt Suzuki (C, Washington Nationals) — 2-4, R, HR, 2B, RBI. Another catcher? That’s three in a row! One strategy I mulled over this offseason was owning the new catching duo in DC. Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki. The Nats pulled a fast one on us fantasy players taking two reasonable starting options and making it impossible to own either. But why not own both? You get one guaranteed full-time catcher that can hit okay! But, no, my league was nowhere nearly deep enough. Suzuki at least has been performing well. It isn’t top tier but he’s kept up his pace from last season where he was very ownable. It just comes down to enough playing time.
Jean Segura (SS, Philadelphia Phillies) — 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI. First things first, it is always scary when a speed-first player hits the IL with a hamstring injury. The Phillies played it safe and kept him on the sidelines as long as he needed. Segura has shown value outside of his speed this year which helps. He’s kept his batting average well above .300 which helps to supplement his run total at nearly a run a game. As the second hitter in the Phillies lineup, there are plenty of bats to knock him in behind him.
Josh Donaldson (3B, Atlanta Braves) — 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI. When do we get to declare Donaldson is back? It’s so hard to make the call when he’s still missing a game here and there with that calf. He’s walking more and hitting the ball a good bit harder. His average exit velocity is at a nice 94 MPH. I’m excited about what he can do if he remains on the field for an extended period of time.
Evan Longoria (3B, San Francisco Giants) — 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. It’s disappointing to me as a baseball fan that I forgot Longoria was in the league this year. Once he moved to the Giants, he escaped my mind. Hitting seemed to escape Longoria as well. Some of it could be playing in Oracle but he did start his offensive descent in his final year with the Rays. This year, however, he’s driving the ball better than he has in a while with a 46.4% hard-hit rate. Does this mean he’s ownable? Not at all. But I hope he rebounds and makes me think about it.
Stephen Vogt (C, San Francisco Giants) — 3-3, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Vogt came into this 11 inning game late to spell Posey behind the plate. Vogt had just got called up and had his first opportunities. He slugged a double and then hit the game-tying homer in the ninth. With a 790 wRC+ nothing can stop him. But seriously, if he does get playing time at catcher, he could be one to consider if you need to swap your catcher out.
Derek Dietrich (1B/2B/OF, Cincinatti Reds) — 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI. Derek had a diet rich in three-run homers yesterday. Get it? Diet rich? Dietrich? He does hit righties a bit better than lefties and he showed Giant’s starter Beede that was true. Dietrich is off to the best start of his career. He has cut down on strikeouts and is hitting the ball well.
Jorge Soler (OF, Kansas City Royals) — 3-3, R, HR, 2 RBI. Soler has been an interesting player this year going through pockets of great success and struggle. Every few games he’ll have a multi-hit game with a home run and then go 0-5 with five Ks. I am mostly worried about his strikeouts for any future success and would want that to change before considering him at this point in the season.
Ronny Rodriguez (1B/2B/3B/SS, Detroit Tigers) — 2-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI. This fun super utility player has really kicked it up a notch with the chance to play after a few injuries to the Tigers’ starting lineup. If he keeps getting plugged in here and there in the lineup, he has a chance to keep up what he has started. Keep an eye on him.
Rafael Devers (3B, Boston Red Sox) — 2-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. Huzzah! Finally! His first of the season. Now that that is out of the way, and the monkey is off his back, hopefully Devers can keep that power going. The rest of his game has been pretty solid; an increased walk rate and decreased strikeout rate while hitting around .300. His main issue is grounders. He’s been pounding the ball into the ground. Once he can get some lift again, he’ll start turning the power around.
Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B, Colorado Rockies) — 2-2, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. McMahon came in later in the game to pinch hit for the pitcher and then swapped out Garrett Hampson. The fantasy rivalry between the two is strong. Hampson started the game with a couple of singles and a walk, but McMahon came with the power. They both have been struggling but McMahon has the playing time at the moment.
Ketel Marte (2B/SS/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) — 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. There was a strong Marte contingent here at Pitcher List as the season began. Marte started strong, faded a bit, but now is back on a hot streak. He now has three multi-hit games in the last four outings including three home runs. He’s cut down on grounders and is hitting the ball in the air much more frequently, a good sign for continuing his power. There is a chance he finishes as a 20/20 candidate.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)