Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire
A lot of people were worried about Nelson Cruz just a few weeks ago. When a player is DH-only eligible, he has to be very good to be worth your time, because he can really screw up your roster flexibility, and in the past, Cruz has been just that. But once a DH-only player starts slipping, it’s understandable to start panicking, especially when he’s 37-years-old like Cruz—I feel like the whole fantasy world is just waiting for him to fall off a cliff. So when he slashed .225/.340/.404 in May, a lot of people started worrying. But that worry proved unfounded, as Cruz has been crushing the ball lately, slashing .310/.410/.461 in June so far, including yesterday’s 4-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 7 RBI performance. So is Nelson Cruz back? Was that awful May just a cold spell? I’m inclined to think yes. Whatever problems Cruz was having in May, he adjusted and fixed them. His strikeout rate went down from May to June and his walk rate went up. At the same time, his groundball rate dropped, his fly ball rate increased, and his hard-hit rate almost doubled. If you were able to buy low on Cruz, good for you, because I think he’s back to being the Nelson Cruz we all drafted.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from yesterday’s games:
Franklin Barreto (SS, Oakland Athletics) – 2-8, 2 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI. The A’s had a doubleheader yesterday, and Barreto started off rough, going 0-4. But in the second game, Barreto went off, launching a three-run home run off of James Shields and then another three-run home run off of Luis Avilan. That’s now three home runs and nine RBI in his past three games, and considering this guy is a top-100 prospect, it’s understandable if you’re interested. Barreto’s been previously unimpressive during his stints int he majors, slashing .197/.250/.352 last year in 25 games with a gaudy 43.4% strikeout rate (which has maintained this season at 42.9%). To be honest, he wasn’t even looking that good in the minors before he was called up, slashing .236/.335/.441. I believe that Barreto will eventually be a solid shortstop for the A’s, but I don’t see him as much of a fantasy contributor this year—he needs to get his plate discipline under control and his hit/power tools need to develop more. However, if you want to take a flier in a deep league based on potential, I wouldn’t blame you.
Odubel Herrera (OF, Philadelphia Phillies) – 4-5, 1 HR, 4 R, 2 RBI. That is now five straight games with a home run for Herrera, giving him a ridiculous .377 ISO over the past two weeks. It’s certainly been an interesting season for Herrera, and while I would like to see more steals from him, it’s hard to complain about the production so far.
Carlos Santana (1B, Philadelphia Phillies) – 2-4, 1 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI. Carlos Santana has been rough this year, there’s no denying that, but I think he’ll get better. He’s got a .224 BABIP on the year despite the fact that his batted-ball profile hasn’t changed all that much (though he does have a pretty awful 18.4% infield fly ball rate). His .224 average comes with a .246 xAVG, so I expect him to improve—and he’s sort of already been doing that lately, slashing .279/.423/.465 over the past month.
Edwin Encarnacion (1B, Cleveland Indians) – 2-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Edwin has been brutal the past two weeks, slashing .182/.250/.273, but thankfully he finally gave you some production yesterday. I am still concerned about his career-low walk rate (8.5%) and his career-high strikeout rate (25.3%) and chase rate (30.9%), which is why I’m not all that optimistic that his average will get better, especially since he’s got a .233 xAVG, but at least the power has been there.
Yonder Alonso (1B, Cleveland Indians) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI. I wrote about a month ago that Yonder Alonso had figured out what was wrong to start the year and was back to being the Yonder Alonso we all hoped he’d be. Since then, he’s proceeded to have a .306/.385/.494 month and he’s still somehow available in 67% of leagues, so go get him.
Jose Peraza (SS/2B, Cincinnati Reds) – 1-4, 2 R, 3 SB. Peraza’s not going to give you any power, but what he can give you is average and stolen bases, which he’s done over the past month, slashing .304/.366/.348 with five steals. Just know that there will be some cold spells, but if you need cheap steals, he’s available in about 64% of leagues.
Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Reds) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Eugenio Suarez has had an excellent month, slashing .333/.429/.625 and now has four home runs and seven RBI in his past six games. I don’t know why he’s available in the 13% of leagues he’s available in, but enjoy him while you’ve got him.
Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI. Bellinger’s been a major disappointment this year, though he, fortunately, grabbed you a grand slam last night. The power has been solid enough, though he’s only on pace for about 20-25 home runs rather than the 39 he had last year, and I’m concerned about his increased groundball rate and his increased poor-hit percentage (24.2% from 20.2% last year) as well as the fact that he has a .202 xAVG. He’s in the coldest of sophomore slumps, things aren’t looking good.
Manny Machado (3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles) – 2-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB. Manny Machado continues his farewell tour and (as an Orioles fan, hopefully) keeps raising his stock value for the Orioles. I would not be shocked if he garners himself a fair number of MVP votes.
Manuel Margot (OF, San Diego Padres) – 2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI. Margot’s been looking pretty sold lately, slashing .333/.422/.486 over the past month. He reportedly made some adjustments to his swing earlier this month and it’s showing, as he’s had a 94 MPH average exit velocity in June. He’s got the starting gig again and is available in 79% of leagues, I think he’s worth a pickup.