Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire
In fantasy, there are some players that you just never find yourself rostering. It doesn’t have to be for a rational reason, either. Maybe they play for a team you hate. Maybe they remind you of someone who was a jerk to you in high school (I’m talking about you, Greg!). Just like when your mom used to force you to eat your veggies, you adamantly refuse to partake, even though you know it would probably be good for you.
For me, one of those players is Joey Gallo. High strikeout rates are just a huge bugaboo for me, so I never end up valuing Gallo as highly as most others in drafts. However, I’ll be the first to admit when I’m wrong about something, and after yesterday’s 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI showing maybe it’s time I reevaluate my thoughts on Gallo. His 12 homers are tied for second-most in MLB, but that’s not a shock. What is surprising are some improvements he’s made in other areas. For one, he’s lowered his strikeout rate from 36.8% to a much more palatable 31% thanks to improved whiff and contact rates, and all those stats have now seen improvement in three consecutive seasons. Perhaps more interesting though is that he’s now spraying the ball evenly to all fields after pulling it nearly half the time in seasons past. For a lefty with a tendency to lose lots of hits to defensive shifts, that’s great news for his batting average, which sits at a career-best .223 despite a .233 BABIP. Maybe Gallo is a player that my cold, hardened heart can learn to love.
Gorkys Hernandez (OF, San Francisco Giants): 4-5, R – I know Gorkys is a perfectly normal human name, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that he’s not actually a Muppet. Because Gorkys would also be a great name for a Muppet. Hernandez is now batting .296 on the year, and the four hits yesterday were great, but wouldn’t they be better if he was a bear puppet wearing a fedora?
Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins): 4-5, R, HR, 2B, 5 RBI – Rosario is now batting .367 over the past week. He’s pulling the ball in the air more than he did last year, and hitting the ball harder than he ever has (35% hard contact), which means he may be able to eclipse the career-high 27 homers he hit in 2017.
Andrelton Simmons (SS, Anaheim Angels): 4-6, R, RBI – After yesterday’s four-hit performance, Simmons now leads all of baseball with a .357 average. His groundball rate has dropped for the fourth consecutive year, and he’s hitting the ball 10% harder than he did last season. His seven-degree launch angle will likely hold the power output back, but at just 28 years old there’s a chance Simmons is only getting better.
Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox): 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 2 RBI – Anderson is kind of like the speedy version of Joey Gallo, in that he’s a guy with a high strikeout rate that I’ve never believed in. Except, Anderson already has six homers this year in addition to his 10 stolen bases. So now he’s apparently a power threat too. I guess this is just going to be the year that I’m wrong about everything.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox): 3-5, 2 R, 3B, 2B, RBI – Weak-hittin’ ANDREW BENINTENDI doesn’t seem to realize that a 20% hard contact rate and 43.6% pull rate are a recipe for trouble when you’re a shift-prone lefty. America deserves better. SAD. It was a nice night for Benintendi, but I’m keeping an eye on his peripherals over the next few weeks, because I am slightly concerned.
Nicholas Castellanos (3B/OF, Detroit Tigers): 3-5, R, 3B, 2 2B, RBI – Ever since Castellanos rebranded himself as “Nicholas” instead of “Nick,” things have been looking up. Maybe that’s the key to Dippin’ Dots finally taking that next step and claiming its rightful title of “Ice Cream of the Future.” I still believe in you, Dippin’ Dots! You just need to rebrand! What was I talking about? Oh right, Castellanos. His 32% line drive rate and 47% hard contact make me think the .392 BABIP isn’t going to regress that much.
Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI – It was a nice night for Crawford, but the fact is that his contact and whiff rates have taken a big step back this year. Nights like yesterday may be few and far between for Brandon, but here’s hoping he finds a way to be successful so he can score a big contract and afford some better hair product.
Ryon Healy (1B/3B, Seattle Mariners): 3-6, R, 2 RBI – Even though he doesn’t know how to spell his own first name, we can forgive him now that he’s hit .345 with four homers over the past week. Healy’s groundballs and strikeouts are up though, and he’s sporting just a 1.7% walk rate, so I wouldn’t expect the hot hitting to last much longer.
Matt Kemp (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers): 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI – The Kemp formerly known as Fat is now slashing .330/.362/.557 on the year with five homers, and has been one of the Dodgers’ best bats this season. Now all he needs to do is start dating Rihanna again and it’ll be like he never left the year 2011.
Andrew McCutchen (OF, San Francisco Giants): 3-4, 2B, RBI – McCutchen is hitting .450 over the past week and finally seems to be cashing in on his absurd 50% hard contact rate. He’s sporting the best walk rate of his career (16%), and his .243 average is sure to rise by leaps and bounds in the coming weeks. I’d be buying now while his perceived value is low.
Nick Markakis (OF, Atlanta Braves): 3-4, 2B, RBI – Who is this man? Markakis is hitting .354 on the season with six homers, and I think he may be some kind of psychic vampire, feeding off the youthful energy of young teammates like Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, and Jose Bautista.
Alen Hanson (2B, San Francisco Giants): 2-5, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI – Alen Hanson was Mmbopping the ball all over the place yesterday. Come on, I’m a 90’s kid, did you really think I’d pass up an opportunity for a Hanson joke? Alen’s slashing .292/.320/.625 while filling in for Joe Panik, and has shown an intriguing power/speed combo in the minors. He’s definitely a guy worth taking a look at in deep leagues.
Mallex Smith (OF, Tampa Bay Rays): 2-2, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB, SB – Mallex is hitting an even .333 over the past 15 games with five stolen bases. His .410 OBP pairs with his elite speed like a Chianti pairs with a fine pasta ragu. I don’t actually know if that last sentence is true or means anything.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Toronto Blue Jays): 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI – Alex Fast and I discussed Teoscar on the award-winning On the Barrel podcast last week, and we determined that everything he’s doing this year is legit. He’s posting a 16% value hit rate and a .296 xAVG, and will likely go 20/20 by season’s end. Buy if your league’s Teoscar owner isn’t a believer.