Three homers by a single batter on a day when no other player in the league hit more than one is a guaranteed fast track to being the featured guy in our hitting recap. That’s exactly what 1B/OF/DH Kendrys Morales pulled off yesterday in an 11-8 win over Baltimore by going 4-5, 4 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI. The trio of swats brings his homer total for 2017 to 25, and he’s upped his BA to .253 with Thursday’s showing even though it had been lingering in the .240s over the past couple weeks. Morales is a switch hitter but is drastically better for average as a RHB against southpaw pitching (.352, as compared to .223). The caveat there is that 19 of his 25 homers have come against righties, so you kind of have to pick your poison with Morales based on the pitching matchup. He’s either power or BA, and you have account for what he’s liable to do situationally relative to the rest of your lineup to really harness his fantasy value properly. Morales has hit at cleanup for the majority of the year, but he also has 38 appearances batting fifth and 10 at the 3-spot with the latter two positionings. Yesterday’s batch of awesomeness was with him batting third, if you were curious. Regardless of where he slots, he’s got 70 RBI and 60 runs, so there’s ample production happening and he definitely warrants more ownership than the sub-60% he’s sitting at in Yahoo and ESPN leagues for the rest of the season.
Without further ado, let’s get to some summaries of other solid hitting performances from Thursday:
Trea Turner (2B/SS/OF, WSH) – 3-4, 2 R, RBI, SB. Turner doubled and tripled yesterday on the road against Milwaukee and he now has back-to-back games with a steal since getting reactivated from the 10-day DL Tuesday. With 37 on the year, he’s a speed demon and a run-scoring machine atop Washington’s lineup with a .282 average. Turner must be deployed every day like the elite talent he is, especially given that he is now obviously and legitimately healthy and wasn’t rushed back prematurely.
Gregor Blanco (OF, ARI) – 3-4, 2 R, RBI, SB. He’s usually utilized by Arizona as a PH more often than as a full-on starter. For that reason, the solid nights of baseball he can occasionally have are tough to get truly excited about in a fantasy context. Before the three-hit effort Thursday, he’d gone only a stagnant 5-38 throughout August so that just reinforces that you want to stay away from acquiring Blanco for your team.
Greg Bird (1B, NYY) – 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. Well, consecutive games now with a homer bodes well. I wrote about Bird yesterday as someone who’s being written off because of his awful start to the year pre-injury, but his power needs to be taken seriously as he gets back in the thick of gameplay. You’re missing out if you just assume he’s bad at baseball based on 60 poor at-bats from over four months ago.
Jonathan Villar (2B/3B/SS, MIL) – 3-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, K. Three straight games with multiple hits for Villar, so one’s hoping he has actually turned a corner that sees his playing time increase and his spot in the lineup rise when he starts. He still doesn’t have a starting job amid the work being done by Eric Sogard, Neil Walker, Orlando Arcia, and Travis Shaw, so that’s obviously a concern. His second-half BA of .284 is encouraging for sure, but Villar’s season average of .238 and steals count of 23 have both disappointed owners who expected him to perform at even 80% of what he accomplished last year (.285, 62 SB). But he was really mashing in August, with a .364 . Similar to what I mentioned with Morales being a switch hitter in the introductory paragraph, Villar is not an either-or kind of hitter: what I mean by that is that he gets it done for both average and power way better against RHP batting left-handed, so it’s much easier to make up your mind about which of Villar’s starts you should get amped about.
Randal Grichuk (OF, STL) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, K. Nothing bonkers about Grichuk’s résumé, but he’s been a steady producer for St. Louis in a decently crowded outfield all the same. He homered yesterday and Wednesday, and that has managed to get his RBI creation back on track after he had plated just one in his last nine games. So, with 14 runs, 13 RBI and five jacks in all of August, Grichuk presents acceptably streamable .250s stuff as perhaps a fourth OF on your roster. There are definitely worse options out there, no doubt.
Alex Bregman (3B/SS, HOU) – 2-4, 2 R, RBI, K, SB. Sign me up for the 39-113 (.345) Bregman managed over the course of August. He stole five bases throughout the month for 15 total, and he has been on an XBH tear too with six doubles, three triples, and five homers over that same span of time. With a more focused scope on the last two weeks specifically, Bregman has cranked out 10 multi-hit performances from Houston’s 2-spot and is worth every bit of late season deployment you can throw his way.
Jon Jay (OF, CHC) – 4-5, 2 R. Jay, much like Blanco for the D-backs, is only a starter for the Cubs several times a week. Joe Maddon utilizes him well as a real-life asset, as Jay is a very efficient .291 hitter when he appears in the starting lineup. But the reality is that 53 runs for the year as a part-time leadoff guy is the other bright spot of his hitter’s portfolio, and 20 of those runs came in August so he’s been productive. Jay just doesn’t play often enough to be in your lineup all the time, however. He would admittedly be a wonderful play in DFS formats when you keep track of his usage or if you’re patient enough in a deep league to have him occupy a bench spot on his off days.
Scooter Gennett (2B/3B/OF, CIN) – 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. An RBI double and a four-bagger for two more RBI comprised a great night for Gennett against the injury-riddled and unfortunately horrendous Mets. Gennett was a B+/A- type of utility infielder during August: five homers is a decent but not eye-popping output, but I’ll take 20 runs and 22 RBI over 101 AB any time. His season average of .287, 23 bombs and plating 81 ribbies from Cincy’s 5-spot collectively mean Gennett is absolutely more than capable of assisting you as playoffs near. I was a doubting Thomas when he had that insane four-HR game in June, but he’s more than proven himself as a key contributor for the Reds and in fantasy. I’ll be interested to see where his ADP ends up when we prepare for next season, since I’m sure many will blow his .320 BABIP out of proportion as a factor in his 2017 success.
Reasonable to conclude that Jake Lamb is virtually certain a 1st half hitter. His dismal second half in 2016 was blamed on a hand injury. Im trying to come up with a reasonable excuse for 2017. Having a hard time, can you help me out?
With regard to LHP he faces, he’s actually been marginally better in the second half than he was early on. You just have to know to bench him against southpaws, especially on the road, in roto formats so he doesn’t drag your team’s batting average down. He’s still a great asset to own, but the root of his issue is not hitting well with RISP (.216 second half versus .274 first) and that’s probably why he lost his stranglehold on the cleanup spot. Lamb just has to mash his way back to his comfort zone at the 4-spot and then hopefully he’ll regain his form all over again.
I drafted out a REALLY long reply and accidentally clicked out of it. In summary, Lamb is getting really unlucky in the second half as far as BABIP and stuff outside of his control (i.e. defense/fielding, calls on the field, balls twisting foul when it’s windy, etc.). He had a .332 in the first half as compared with a .241 in the second when .300 is your standard of normal fortune. His second half hard hit rate is 32.2%, so producing legitimate contact is not a concern. His HR/FB ratio since the break is just 13.7% so yeah that is a bit low for my taste, but again, taking stock of the contact/BABIP perfect storm and realizing he’s not at fault for some of the flyballs not leaving the park makes it easier to accept.