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Batter’s Box: Onward Christin Soliders

Scott Chu shares his thoughts on a selection of Sunday's batting lines.

Regardless of whether you’re in a deep dynasty league or a shallow redraft, now is the time that most of us start to take long, reflective meditation on the realities of the teams we drafted two or three months ago. At our best, we’re trying to make realistic assessments of the successes and failures of our teams and how to proceed for the remainder of the year. Is it time to go all in and win now? Should we dump excess power bats for some badly needed speed? Will our slumping high draft choices ever recover? Should I add that hot player on the waiver wire, and if so, who should I drop?

While we’ve likely been having these thoughts all season long, there’s something about the calendar flipping to June that makes these thoughts feel that much more urgent and important. By this point, we should have a good idea as to the strengths and weaknesses of our teams. If you happen to be in need of some thump in your lineup, I’d like to present to you a man who had some buzz in the preseason but who has since been a bit under the radar: Christin Stewart (OF, Detroit Tigers).

The young slugger went 3-5 on Sunday with a solo home run, which was his second straight three-hit performance. While he has never profiled as a batting average asset, he has shown double-digit walk rates throughout his time in the minors and majors while also showing 25-plus home run potential. He had a bit of a hot streak back in April that put him on the 12-team radar but lost his momentum thanks to an untimely injury that put him on the shelf for about three weeks. After struggling in his return to the lineup for almost two weeks, he’s turned it on over his past 11 games, hitting .372/.429/.535 in 49 trips to the plate while also showing impressive plate discipline with five walks and seven strikeouts in that stretch. Thanks to this little hot streak, he’s also managed to find himself inserted as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, mostly because of the Tigers’ general offensive ineptitude and the fact that they don’t feature many lefties. He can be a decent source of power and OBP for those in 12-team and deeper formats that require five outfield starters, and those in deeper keeper formats should pick him up if he was discarded earlier this season.

Eric Thames (1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB. The struggles of Jesus Aguilar have opened up a path to sort-of regular playing time for the power-hitting southpaw, and he’s taken advantage of that by going on a six-game hitting streak. He still strikes out a ton (34.2% strikeout rate so far this season), but the walks and power have been impressive. Unfortunately, his performance has come with significant red flags, including a .224 expected batting average and a .418 expected slugging, which are a far cry from the .254 average and .467 slugging that appear on the back of his baseball card this season. He’s not really worth owning in anything but 15-teamers and NL-only formats, but he’s a decent DFS play when a righty is on the mound and his price is low.

Matt Chapman (3B, Oakland Athletics)—3-6, R, HR, 2B, RBI. The power doesn’t surprise me, though I didn’t expect this realistic shot at 35 home runs, but the batting average does. His .272 batting average and .355 OBP are generally supported by the batted-ball and quality-of-contact data and are a big reason why he remains a guy I am all-in on for the rest of the season.

David Fletcher (2B/1B/3B/SS, Los Angeles Angels)—3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB. I don’t think any power is going to come out of his bat, but the unbelievable ability to avoid third strikes (an 8.2% walk rate and a 5.9% strikeout rate?!) should keep the batting average high. He may not get to 10 home runs or stolen bases, but the boost to your batting average and positional flexibility can be an asset in 12-teamers and points leagues.

Yuli Gurriel (1B/3B, Houston Astros)—3-5, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. He’s back into the cleanup spot (mostly because of other injuries) and has a .303 batting average over the past month. The power and OBP are mediocre, but the RBI should come. I don’t like him as a fantasy asset, generally, but he can be a useful corner infielder if you’re desperate for batting average.

Miguel Sano (3B, Minnesota Twins)—3-3, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB. He swings the bat really hard, which is why he has both a .680 slugging percentage and a 35.6% strikeout rate in his 59 plate appearances since rejoining the Twins active roster. The playing time has been a bit erratic, though that has less to do with him than it does the very crowded Twins bench. He’ll need to avoid a cold streak to stay on the field five or more times a week, which can be tough for a guy who strikes out this much.

Myles Straw (OF, Houston Astros)—3-4, 3 R, BB, 3 SB. As you can see, he has a ton of speed. He’s also able to take walks as needed—an important skill for base-stealing. The problem is that he doesn’t really have anything else to offer. He’s tough to recommend in anything more shallow than 15-teams or AL-only, and even then, it’s a short-term play for steals.

Jorge Alfaro (C, Miami Marlins)—2-4, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. I don’t believe in the .278 batting average, but he’ll get as much playing time as any catcher, and that has a little bit of value. I’d probably dump him and stream the position in 10- and 12-teamers unless I needed two catchers.

Brandon Crawford (SS, San Francisco Giants)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. I don’t care about this performance, and neither should you. He’s the definition of replacement level, and there’s nothing in his skill set that you can’t get elsewhere for fantasy purposes.

Kyle Seager (3B, Seattle Mariners)—2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. Read above. Nothing to see here, especially now that the Mariners are awful. Don’t go chasing 2012 through 2017. It ain’t happening.

David Dahl (OF, C0lorado Rockies)—2-4, R, 2B, RBI. He has hit in every spot in the batting order and has played all three outfield positions in random order. Everything about his career path explains why we don’t trust the Rockies. That said, he hits second or fourth most of the time in recent games and should continue to be an excellent batting average source with strong counting numbers.

Hunter Renfroe (OF, San Diego Padres)—2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB. He should be locked into an outfield spot now, and he has 30-home run pop. The batting average will be erratic and the OBP won’t help you, but the power will.

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

Scott Chu

Scott Chu is a Senior Fantasy Analyst here bat Pitcher List and has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. He's also the inventor and mascot for Fantasy Curling (as seen the Wall Street Journal) and a 3x FSWA Award Finalist. In addition to being a fantasy analyst, he's a dad, animal lover, Simpsons fanatic, cartoon connoisseur, amateur curler, a CODA, and an attorney.

  • robert danzig says:

    you think Hiura gets enough at bats this week to be relevant in a 12 team weekly points league?

    • Scott Chu says:

      He’s playing at least 5x/week since his call-up and is swinging a hot enough bat to avoid any significant platoon. I see no issues running with him this week.

      • Andy says:

        Many of the Brewers blogs seem to think Hiura is getting sent down on Tuesday to make room for Travis Shaw. Sounds crazy but teams do this all the time with expensive veterans.

        Do you like Chavis or Fletcher this week if Hiura goes back to the minors?

        • Scott Chu says:

          I like both of those guys as much as Hiura this week, Andy, at least for redraft purposes. They provide different things (Hiura has the most speed, Chavis has the power, Fletcher has the ratios), so pick up the one you need most. Chavis is probably the one I want if I don’t have a particular need.

    • Dizzy says:

      Yes. Moustakas broke his finger yesterday.

    • Jim says:

      Travis Shaw has left chat.

  • Jon says:

    Should I make the move to drop Jorge Alfaro for Mitch Garver?

  • Mike P says:

    No love for my man Ketel Marte???

    • Scott Chu says:

      He’s having an incredible season (even with the 4 week slump). Not sure how high I can rank him at 2B or SS yet, though. I still think his power and speed is limited, so the batting average will be key.

      • Mike P says:

        I think we’ve talked about this before but, you think his power is limited? 14 HR through just about a third of the season. He’s the number 1 second baseman in my league right now. You think he’s a good sell high then?

        • Scott Chu says:

          If someone is willing to pay up, sure! He’s tied his career high in home runs with 14, and that’s including minor league seasons. I don’t think he gets to 25 this season, even with this hot start. He also won’t steal 10 bases. He’s a good player, but he’s not going to be THIS good for 162 games. I think most years will be something like a 15 to 20 HR guy with a decent average and 5-7 steals.

          • Stove says:

            To make a statement like this you have GOT to be ignoring the fact that he’s consistently hitting the ball at elite exit velos from both sides of the plate. There’s quantifiable evidence that this isn’t just a hot streak, but a new normal. I’ll let you miss the boat though.

            • Scott Chu says:

              Statcast data cannot distinguish between hot streaks and skill changes. It can only distinguish between good luck and bad luck.

              From April 6 to May 21st (170 PA), he slashed .242/.318/.431 with 6 home runs. The bulk of the damage in that time came in an 8 game stretch between April 24th and May 3rd. Of course, he followed that up with 18 hits and 5 home runs in his last 50 PA from May 22nd to today, slashing .383/.400/.787.

              In other words, I’m hedging because he’s running hot and cold to some pretty significant extremes, and that combined with his mediocre history of production and evaluation of his skill set makes me hesitant to call him a top 100 player going forward. Truthfully, there are several non-injury scenarios where he’s outside of the top 150 ROS.

            • Scott Chu says:

              He’s had one not-very-good month’s worth of data and two unbelievable partial months. Hard for me to plant a flag in that. I keep making this point, but before this recent 10-game tear, he had a .252 average and a .314 OBP, good for a 102 wRC+ on the season, and a lot of that goodness came from a 5-game stretch from March 31 to April 5 and 8 games between April 24 and May 3. That’s 13 AMAZING games and 35 very average ones. I think he’s worth owning, but it has not been a consistent showing of improvement. How many more little runs like this does he have in his bat?

            • Stove says:

              It’s less in-season improvements and more macro-improvements over the last few seasons. Outside of his atrocious first month last year he was hitting the ball pretty similarly to how he is this year, but only from the right side. This year his LHB is catching up. Looking at a couple years worth of data for him it’s pretty clear how he’s improving. But sure, if you’re just looking at a month or two at a time I can see where you’re coming to this conclusion. I wonder if he’s just a slow starter as well – last year’s first month was nothing short of awful.

  • Vinny says:

    Hey Scott,

    Big fan of work which is why I wanted to ask: I’m a big Matt Chapman fan and I recognize it might be a bit of an overpay but am I making a mistake sending eugenio suarez for Chapman in a points league?

    • Scott Chu says:

      Many thanks, Vinny!

      Probably, but not a HUGE one. I like Suarez more, but it’s not by much,

  • John McConnell says:

    Hi. It took me this many hours to realize that “soliders” isn’t a typo. My mind works in giant slow loops apparently.

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