…but nothing happened! Or at least, not much has happened this season. I was personally all over the breakout we saw from Matt Carpenter (1B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals) last season. He walked 100 times, hit 42 doubles and 36 home runs, scored 111 runs and was in the top three percent of the league in barrel rate, expected slugging and wxOBA. Everything the 32-year-old was doing not only seemed legit—it was legit. I drafted in him MANY leagues this past March (especially in Yahoo, where he is also eligible at second base) and have been stuck with him in my starting lineup ever since. So far in 2019, he has resembled the weakest Pokemon far more than I’d like to see, slashing .227/.334/.401 at the top of the Cardinals lineup. The fact that he’s held on to the lead-off role, has shown strong plate discipline and the fact that he’s already stolen four bases for some reason (his career high is five) have been the faint rays of hope in an otherwise dismal outlook.
On the bright side, June has treated Carpenter slightly better, as he’s hitting .261/.340/.457 in 53 trips to the plate this month. Monday’s 3-4 performance with three runs, a home run, a double and an RBI was his first three-hit game of the season and may be a sign that things will continue to get better for the veteran infielder. Those in leagues where Carpenter is eligible at second base have had the easy decision to just hold him, as his positional flexibility and elite upside are well worth holding on to. He’s also easy to keep in points leagues due to his secure spot in the lead-off role and excellent plate discipline. Those in shallower rotisserie and head-to-head category formats (like a 10-team ESPN league) have it a bit tougher, but perhaps this improvement during June is enough to hold on to him for just a little while longer. If he slumps again and his June numbers don’t continue, it may very well be time to let him flounder away on the waiver wire and/or someone else’s team. I’m still preaching patience for now, though. While I refuse to use a Gyarados joke here, if Carpenter can find his 2018 mojo, that’s the kind of upside we’re talking about.
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Cavan Biggio (2B, Toronto Blue Jays)—2-2, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB. Half of his 14 hits so far this season have gone for extra bases. It’s great to see his power shining through in the major leagues, and his two stolen bases through 19 games isn’t too shabby either. I don’t expect much recovery in the batting average as the season goes on, but those in OBP leagues can continue to expect a solid OBP. I doubt the 18.4% walk rate continues, as sustaining that kind of performance takes truly elite talent, but a double-digit walk rate is likely.
Justin Upton (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, BB. Welcome back to the Show, J-Up! Upton wasted no time showing us that he’s feeling just fine after missing a bunch of time with a a turf toe injury sustained back in late-March. He hit a home run in his first at-bat of the season, and the middle of the Angels order looks much more imposing with him in it. I would imagine that Upton will get time off now and again to rest his toe, but he should be considered a top 30 outfielder going forward.
Danny Santana (2B/OF, Texas Rangers)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, SB. Generally speaking, he’s a backup outfielder who has swung a hot bat and found some playing time. He’ll get some more with Hunter Pence hitting the DL and might continue to hit for average and steal some bases, which would have some mild value in a deeper league. The power is very limited though and he doesn’t walk at all, so if he starts getting cold or if a more enticing option appears on your wire, drop him. He’s outside of my top 100 outfielders, if you’re curious.
Shohei Ohtani (DH/SP, Los Angeles Angels)—2-5, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Over the last three weeks, Ohtani has hit third in every start and slashed .333/.395/.694 with seven home runs and two steals. He’s swinging at fewer outside pitches this season compared to last year and making more contact. I adore him as a hitter and there is a serious conversation to be had about where to draft him next season when he is pitching and hitting. First round? That’s a serious debate.
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI. Back to back three-hit games and multiple hits in six of his last eight starts is a fine example of the promise in his young bat. He’s a top eight second baseman in fantasy and could even push into the top five if he moves up in the order and steals a few more bases.
Jorge Soler (OF, Kansas City Royals)—1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. A 30-home run season with a .250 batting average for an outfielder doesn’t have as much impact as it used to. I’d be slightly more intrigued if he showed the double-digit walk rates he had in 2017 and 2018, but with limited contact ability and speed, he’s just another power-hitting outfielder in a world that’s chock-full of power-hitting outfielders.
Brian McCann (C, Atlanta Braves)—3-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB. He’s not really playing against lefties, but he’s got nearly one-to-one strikeout to walk ratio and an impressive .884 OPS when he does play and is worth a stream when the Braves face a slew of righties in a given week. You can’t set and forget with him, though—he just doesn’t play enough.
Shin-Soo Choo (OF, Texas Rangers)—1-3, R, 2B, RBI, BB, SB. He’ll turn 37 next month, but he’s on pace for 10 steals and over 20 home runs to go along with his impressive .285 average and .386 OBP. Both of those ratios will likely drop 20 points or so based on his history and expected stats, but he’s a solid back-end outfielder thanks to the OBP and steals.
Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—4-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. He’s so, SO good. Every time I say someone is doing something that’s “amazing” or “incredible”, you can assume that Trout is probably doing just as good or better. He’s the #1 player in every format for the next five years, if not more.
Kole Calhoun (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. Don’t be fooled by the hot streaks. He’ll look like a difference maker for you for a few weeks at a time, but will then go into an ice cold slump that kills your production. The power uptick is interesting, I suppose, and he could get close to his career high of 26, but with such a low batting average and very little speed, he’s just another guy in 10- and 12-teamers.
(Photo by David Berding/Icon Sportswire)