Batter’s Box: Miggy Pop

Scott Chu covers noteworthy offensive displays from Tuesday's games.

I have always and will always love Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers), which made last night’s 3-4 performance with a run, home run, double and five RBI incredibly fun to witness. The home run he smacked off Blake Snell was classic Miggy—reaching down for an offspeed pitch that was below the strike zone and inside, pulling it into the bullpen in left field. It’s the stuff people talk to their grandparents and children and friends about with a Miggy-sized smile on their face while pantomiming the way he gets his hands inside to do this kind of damage.

Miguel has not been, and probably never will be, the guy he was. His body has simply sustained too much damage over the years to allow him to perform the way he wants to. It seems like every day we hear of a new injury nagging him, and even he has become disgruntled at his lack of production. For fantasy purposes, it’s hard to find a place for him in 10- and 12-team formats because of the lack of power at this stage of his career. He can still hit for average and get on base at a good rate, but I’d be stunned if he slugged .450 (something he hasn’t done since 2016). There’s a place for him in deeper formats (including points leagues), but that’s about it.

I know that I usually use this opening to give folks actionable news on someone who is doing something noteworthy, but as a Tigers fan, this has been the first nugget of joy I’ve experienced all season and I just wanted to bask in the warmth of it for a few minutes longer.

Hanser Alberto (SS/2B/3B, Baltimore Orioles)—4-5, 2 R. He can’t hit the ball hard, he can’t steal bases, and he doesn’t walk. That is a troublesome trifecta and prevents me from making any kind of recommendation of his services outside of AL-only formats. He’s a batting average contributor and nothing more.

Garrett Cooper (OF, Miami Marlins)—4-5, 4 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. He’s quietly spent the past three weeks (and 75 plate appearances) in the top third of the order for the Marlins and is slashing .333/.400/.576 with five home runs in that stretch. His plate discipline has been pretty impressive (8.4% walk rate, 17.9% strikeout rate), and the Statcast data shows that his quality of contact supports the results we’re seeing. He was never a highly regarded prospect, but he’s been known to have a decent hit and power tool. He could be serviceable in 15-team leagues where you need a fifth outfielder for a little while, as he should have plenty of playing time in Miami.

Jay Bruce (OF, Philadelphia Phillies)—3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 6 RBI. The devastating injury to Andrew McCutchen is a major bummer, and Bruce won’t do much to soften the blow. The aging lefty has always been good for power, but injuries derailed his 2018 season. The batting average won’t be pretty, but he could top 30 home runs for the sixth time in nine years if he gets playing time in Philly and stays healthy.

Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves)—3-6, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. The power dropped off considerably for Freeman in 2018, and there was concern that he’d revert to the 20- to 25-home run guy we saw from 2011 to 2015 instead of the 30-home run guy we saw in 2016 and 2017. It’s early, but I’m happy to report that the powerful Freeman appears to have returned. He’s hitting the ball as hard as ever, and he’s in the 95th percentile in expected batting average and slugging.

Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians)—3-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. At least ONE Indians hitter hasn’t been disappointing. His injury late in the preseason made him difficult to draft, and there were concerns he’d miss extended time. Thankfully, he was back by April 20 and hasn’t missed a beat. Even with the missed time, 30 home runs and 20 steals are not out of the question.

Dawel Lugo (2B/3B, Detroit Tigers)—3-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI. He was one of the key pieces in the J.D. Martinez trade and finally is getting a look at the major league level. The injury to Jeimer Candelario should keep Lugo with the Tigers a little while longer, but it’s hard to expect much from the 24-year-old. He’s shown excellent bat control in the minor leagues, but he swings at nearly everything he sees and that’s probably not a patch to success for him in the majors.

Pedro Severino (C, Baltimore Orioles)—3-5, 3 R, 3 HR, 4 RBI. Well, he’s hitting the ball hard and is getting time in the fifth spot in the lineup. I have no faith in his skill set, but catcher is a black hole and if you want to take the plunge, I won’t stop you. I doubt we see a whole lot out of him the rest of the way, but if you want to stream him that’s just fine (as long as you’re ready to drop him like a bad habit when he goes back to normal).

Dwight Smith Jr. (OF, Baltimore Orioles)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 6 RBI, BB. He should finish the season with around 20 home runs and 10 steals, though it will come with a mediocre batting average and OBP. That’s got some use in a 15-teamer, though I’d look for more exciting assets in 12-teamers.

Shohei Ohtani (DH/SP, Los Angeles Angels)—2-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Ohtani-san is a monster against righties, so if you can afford to platoon him or need a piece in your DFS lineup, do it. He’s off to a poor start on the season, but I believe in him.

Austin Riley (3B/OF, Atlanta Braves)—1-4, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. I keep assuming that the production will stop, and then it keeps going. A .732 slugging is impressive regardless of sample size, especially when it comes with an unthinkable .716 expected slugging.

Carlos Gonzalez (OF, Chicago Cubs)—1-3, R, 2B, 2 RBI. I’m amazed that he’s on yet another team. That’s all I wanted to share. Please don’t add him or do anything rash.

Franmil Reyes (OF, San Diego Padres)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Every time I try to temper expectations, he hits a few balls into orbit. I still think 35 to 40 home runs is the cap, but it becomes more and more of a sure thing each day.

(Photo By Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire)

Scott Chu

Scott Chu has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. In addition to being a writer and content manager at Pitcher List, he creates content with Friends with Fantasy Benefits. If you want to chat about baseball, fantasy curling (featured in WSJ), sports in general, deaf culture, being a twin, or the oddities of having Irish and Korean ancestry, Chu's your guy.

  • Nick F says:

    Miggy pulled that ball into the bullpen. Haven’t seen him pull one in a hot min.

    • Scott Chu says:

      Yeah he did. Not sure why I said opposite way – I guess it’s sort of a habit when talking about Miggy. I’ve made the edit. Thanks for catching that, Nick!

  • Mike P says:

    Who finishes with the most Home Runs in the NL?

  • Mike P says:

    I’m in a real predicament when Tatis Jr. comes of the IL. My roster in my yahoo league will be full and I need to drop someone. The only viable canidates to drop are Dansby Swanson, Josh Donaldson or Paul Dejong. (Yea not easy choices). I’ve tried making trades but people won’t trade. What do you think I should do here? Of those three guys which two finish the strongest. Points league where OPS counts for the most.

    • Scott Chu says:

      I think the odd man out has to be Dansby, Mike. While he’s had a nice breakout, his power upside doesn’t resemble what the other three can provide. I have him right behind Tatis, with Donaldson and DeJong at the top. You might consider holding all four somehow, though if there’s truly no other options, Dansby is the guy I rank lowest among these four. If your league penalizes strikeouts, Tatis might drop to the bottom, as he could flirt with a 30% strikeout rate all season long.

      • Mike P says:

        Hi Scott. Thank you for the advice! I know it’s a really tough choice. Our league does penalize for strikeouts but it is a keeper league so I basically have to keep Tatis Jr. (understandably.) I would love to hold on to all four if I could but can’t because shortstop is so deep and Donaldsons trade value is basically existent till he hopefully gets hot. Swanson was a pickup when Tatis Jr. went down and he’s been great but I may have to drop :(

        • Scott Chu says:

          That’s really the issue — SS is really deep, and most contending teams will have at least one guy already on their roster better than Dansby. A rebuilder might give you SOMETHING for him, but it wouldn’t match his value. You don’t wanna let an opponent get better for free, but at least 1 or 2 of these guys will be bench clutter for you. I can’t imagine starting Dansby over the others unless he’s in Colorado or something.

          If I needed to buy time to trade one of them (any of them would be fine to trade based on your strength at the positions), I’d probably cut one of my streaming starters or an OF.

  • Jack says:

    FRANMIL NATION! :)

    • Scott Chu says:

      The Padres are going to strike out 15 times a game, BUT THEY’RE GONNA HIT SOME DINGERS, BABY! WOO!

  • Frankie says:

    Was really looking forward to another update on A Garcia. He is crushing and maybe the most underrated player in the game? I rarely read or hear about him in columns like this and I’m looking forward to that changing. He has been a revelation for my team after losing J Upton early on.

    • Scott Chu says:

      He was originally on my list to cover today, but with so many players with multi-hit games and a bit of a time crunch, I had to make the cut. I find myself covering him 2-3 times a week (he was actually the topic of the very first piece I wrote for this site last year), but the truth is, Frankie, that there isn’t much of an update to give. He’s big, hits the ball REALLY hard, and he’s doing a better job getting the ball off of the ground (which was his biggest issue in the past). I’m glad to see him return from his hamstring injury, and I think he can provide power and batting average with a handful of steals.

  • Stevek says:

    Hi Scott. Good column, always enjoy it. Picked up Austin Riley while Hunter Dozier was on DL. Hopefully he’s coming back next week and someone will have to go. Options are Adam Eaton, Michael Conforto, Domingo Santana or of course Riley. What do you think?

    • Scott Chu says:

      Thanks Stevek! It depends a little on your format, but Domingo Santana is the guy who stands out to me. He’s slashing just .226/.299/.415 since the start of May with just 4 HR and 1 SB, and his overall numbers are being buoyed by his explosive start to the season. If it’s a 10- or 12-teamer that uses batting average, he’s the clear choice. He can hit some home runs and steal a handful of bases, but the batting average won’t be good and he’s not walking like he did in his 2017 breakout.

      I like Eaton for ratios (besides slugging) along with runs and 10+ steals, and there’s no way you can cut the other two.

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