Batter’s Box: Mr. 2000
In 1999, Albert Pujols was selected in the 13th round of the MLB draft at 22 years old. 20 years later, he would be recognized as one of the greatest hitters in baseball history as he surpassed the 2000 RBI threshold, joining only Alex Rodriguez and Hank Aaron. Pujols completed this journey with a home run, going 1-4, R, HR, RBI. It has been a rough road at the tail end of his career, making it seem more and more unlikely that many career achievements he deserves may be just out of reach. Pujols has kept playing through these difficulties and has delivered again. He now stands with many greats at the 2000 RBI mark, the 600 home run club, the 3000 hit club, and with a career .300 batting average. The last one still has a chance to teeter away though as the season progresses. Regardless, his remarkable career has locked him into the inner circle of the Hall of Fame.
But this is a fantasy-related recap post! Who cares about a storied career? Is Pujols even rosterable, or should we ignore this old guy, leaving him to decay on the waivers? Pujols has had a curious past few seasons with a sub-100 wRC+ but still pacing for mid-20s home runs. His 100-RBI season in 2017 didn’t make too much sense with how he was hitting, yet you can’t ignore that many RBIs in fantasy. Pujols still has the comparable plate discipline to the previous many seasons with an elite strikeout rate, yet it’s how he’s hitting the ball that is failing him. More pulled soft contact results in easier to field batted balls into a shift, resulting in more outs. There’s no chance he can beat anything out either. However, Pujols has a sub-.200 BABIP, pushing his batting average close to .200. These numbers are both about 40 points below where he was the previous two seasons. He should be performing better than his current results, but his expected outcomes are probably not enough to consider him for a roster spot.
Let’s look at the rest of the games from Thursday to uncover the next 2000 RBI hitter.
Jordan Luplow (OF, Cleveland Indians)—2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Luplow delivered his first two homers of the season last night, both traveling more than 42o feet. The game finished after six innings, so who knows what else Luplow could’ve done the rest of the game? Luplow’s starting in center field as Leonys Martin is out, but once Martin is back in the lineup, Luplow most likely won’t have enough playing time to consider.
Tommy La Stella (2B/3B, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. La Stella continues his strong hitting and his ridiculous strike out rate. He has only six strikeouts in 105 plate appearances. This was also his third multihomer game of the year. That’s why they call him “Two Homer La Stella.”
Kris Bryant (3B/OF, Chicago Cubs)—1-2, 2 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB. Bryant has been delivering over the past week. He’s found his power, hitting four homers in the past five games. He’s also showing major patience with 11 walks in the past nine games as well. He’s making major strides in May and looks to have turned the corner with his shoulder.
Tyler Austin (1B, San Francisco Giants)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI. Austin has been a Giant for about a month, and he came through big time for them with two homers and six RBI. Both went beyond 400 feet, and one even traveled 441 feet. Austin mostly has been pinch hitting but got a chance to start yesterday. He may get a few more starts, but we’ll have to wait to see how he performs before making any moves.
Mark Reynolds (1B/3B, Colorado Rockies)—2-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. Classic Rockies move bringing in an aging former slugger plugging up a potential spot for their young prospects. Reynolds did some good yesterday with a homer. He is mostly only coming off the bench, getting a start here and there, but he still can’t hit above .200.
Eugenio Suárez (3B, Cincinnati Reds)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, RBI. Suarez is following the path of Bryant with a super hot last week after a rocky start. He’s added four homers in his past six, but he’s still striking out a good deal. Suarez hasn’t had the same success against breaking and offspeed pitches as he did last year. He can’t seem to hit anything but fastballs now.
Gregory Polanco (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)—3-4, R, HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI, BB. Polanco returned two weeks ago and has kept up his second half performance from last season. He’s batting at the top of the Pirates lineup doing big damage with Josh Bell. Polanco will be a strong outfield candidate for the remainder of the season.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B, St. Louis Cardinals)—3-5, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. The Cardinals enjoyed a 17-run slugfest, however, no home runs were hit. Goldschmidt enjoyed a big three-hit night as he looks to break out of his slump. He’s swinging quite a bit more and also whiffing at strikes more often, bumping up his strikeout rate. Goldschmidt usually has early season struggles but still is an elite hitter.
Yadier Molina (C, St. Louis Cardinals)—3-4, 3 R, 2B, 2 RBI. Molina is one of the few perennial must-own catchers. Somehow his Cardinal magic keeps this man alive and healthy while still catching at the ripe old age of 36. He’s found power over of the past couple seasons and keeps delivering in most fantasy categories. He still has plenty in the tank.
Howie Kendrick (2B/3B/OF, Washington Nationals)—2-5, R, HR, 4 RBI. The Nationals are in an interesting position with Kendrick. He’s been spotting Rendon while he was on the IL, but now that Rendon is back, they need to find him a spot. Kendrick’s been knocking the ball around too well to keep him on the bench. Carter Kieboom was sent down and Matt Adams was placed on the IL, so Kendrick still has room to play every day.
George Springer (OF, Houston Astros)—3-5, R, HR, RBI. I was down on Springer coming into the year as he’s on the other side of his prime and has been gradually declining in almost all fantasy categories. He’s delivered in all of them so far this year. He’s past half his home run total from last year and almost at his stolen base total from last year. Springer has been crushing the ball this year with a 57.1% hard-hit rate. He’s back to an elite status, and any concerns of his continued decline should be ended.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)