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.
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)