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Batter’s Box: Put Him On A Cespedestal

There were a handful of closely contested, one-run games Tuesday, and on the other side of the spectrum there were some hitter’s clinic blowouts too. Among the most notable of...

There were a handful of closely contested, one-run games Tuesday, and on the other side of the spectrum there were some hitter’s clinic blowouts too. Among the most notable of batting performances was the cake-taking explosion from a previously quiet Yoenis Cespedes, who went 4-6, 3 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI to spur the Mets to victory over Philadelphia. His trio of bombs came at the expense of both Clay Buchholz and his relief, Adam Morgan, and was the exact demonstration of power and effectiveness fantasy owners had likely been pining and hoping for. Cespedes must have been listening when I called him out in Monday’s edition of Batter’s Box as having been underwhelming thus far this season, and he made up for the past week’s relative inefficacy in a big way. When you draft a guy in the fourth or fifth round after he had a 2016 of 39% hard contact and a 20% HR/FB ratio, Tuesday’s outing is what your fantasy dreams are made of.

Let’s take a look at what else happened hitting-wise around the league:

Lucas Duda 4-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, K. You know it was a disheartening night for Phillies fans when a stellar line like Duda’s wasn’t even the best the Mets order had to offer Tuesday evening. The beefy outing at the plate for the 1B boosted his BA to .333 on the year and he is now tied with Miguel Sano for the sixth-best OPS in the league. This is a pleasant introductory bit of work by Duda to start the year, and although we projected him as just the 23rd most viable guy at the position back in February, he seems potentially poised to greatly outhit that classification.

Marcell Ozuna2-2, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, BB. While the “BB” listed here does not stand for Ozuna’s nickname of “Big Bear,” earning a walk on a night where you go yard twice will definitely help increase one’s OPS. Ozuna is batting .423, leads the league in RBI and is being outdone in OPS only by his teammate J.T. Realmuto and two other players league-wide. Ozuna has slotted in at the 6-spot for four consecutive games now after occupying No. 5 on Thursday. If he keeps this pace going, owners of Giancarlo Stanton would also probably salivate at the idea of him moving up in the order more regularly to assist in the run-scoring efforts for both stars.

Matt Wieters2-3, R, HR, RBI, K. There is already a recurring theme to this Batter’s Box, and rest assured that it’s not my style to mention something cryptically without following through on delivering the intel or my name’s not Teddy Pendergrass. Wieters is one of the pair of dudes clocking a better OPS than Ozuna. Remember when it seemed in the dead of winter like Matt Wieters might never find a home after his stint with Baltimore came to an end? That feels like a distant memory now, as Wieters is registering a .435 BA and he went yard for the first time last night to get that proverbial monkey off his back. Extremely good value for what you did or would pay for him: only owned in 68% of Yahoo leagues and 70.6% of ESPN leagues if you’re hurting because of Gary Sanchez’s DL stint.

Daniel Murphy 4-5, 2 R, HR, 5 RBI. That Murph is the remaining piece of the Top 4 OPS puzzle should come as no surprise whatsoever. The Nats’ cleanup man is hitting .472 right now and more than doubled his RBI count in one night, with plenty more in store for owners. Worth noting that Jayson Werth also went yard for Washington in the 8-3 rout of St. Louis.

Adam Duvall 2-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB, K. Speaking of cleanup hitters, Duvall is anchoring Cincinnati’s suddenly potent lineup right now and he knocked a solo shot off of Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon last night as part of a 6-2 dispatching of the Pirates at PNC Park. An average of .367 to go along with 3 total jacks looks extra pretty next to “8 R, 7 RBI.” Duvall is clearly interested in reprising 2016—in which he hit 33 homers—but perhaps with a more consistent BA.

Michael Brantley 1-3, RBI, 2 BB, K. Brantley’s inclusion here is more symbolic than it is based on statistical dominance. Dr. Smooth was a question mark coming into the season, but he slammed the exclamation point on Cleveland’s home opener with a game-winning RBI single to LF in the 10th to defeat the White Sox. He’s only hitting .250 for the moment, but he’s putting meaningful balls in play when we didn’t even know if he’d be healthy enough to suit up and contribute in the first place. Incredible value based on speculation about injury risk, and the numbers will continue to accumulate for Brantley.

Todd Frazier2-4, R, HR, RBI, 2 K. About damn time he knocked one loose for four bags. Frazier has finally rediscovered where the bleachers are, after 10 painful days of apparently being blindfolded at the plate. The BA of .143 is not encouraging, but recovering from rock bottom had to start somewhere. Stay tuned to see if the homers become more frequent now that he’s maybe shaken the rust off.

Jason Castro 2-4, RBI. Don’t look now, but the Twins backstop is the owner of a .353 average, 6 RBI and the second-best OBP in the league. Kurt Who-zuki, am I right? Moderate production, but he’s reaching base and so is Miguel Sano, who encouragingly precedes Castro in the lineup.

Andrew McCutchen 2-4, BB, K. Is he turning it around? Tuesday accounted for one-third of Cutch’s hits on the year thus far, and the .214 BA reflects the struggle he’s dealt with. He’s underachieving greatly, but he gets to try his hand against Amir Garrett in the Reds SP’s second big-league start Wednesday. My eyes are peeled to see which McCutchen is going to show up for an idling Pirates team.

Starling Marte, 1-5, R, K, SB. Quiet night for the leadoff man, but the first steal of the year was a nice consolation prize for owners. He’s hitting .333 currently.

Jose Peraza 1-5, R, SB. Similar remarks for Peraza as what I said for Marte. He’s only hitting .250 but this was Steal No. 3 on the season, which means he could be on pace for upwards of 50 by the end of the year.

James McCann 1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI. He’s a .235 hitter thus far from the 7-spot, but this was his third homer on the year. At a time when the aforementioned Sanchez is injury-stricken and Russell Martin doesn’t have a hit in 2017 yet (!), you might be shopping around for a catcher who won’t cost you your H2H matchup this week. McCann could fill in nicely for you if you’re lacking a viable guy at the position.

Kendrys Morales 3-4, R. Perhaps finding his stride after a low-BABIP-plagued start, his BA has ballooned to .286. When the power production starts coming in thunderously due to his monstrous hard contact, you’ll perhaps be able to look back and see that Morales started to turn it around in the early days of Week 2.

Troy Tulowitzki 2-3, 3 RBI. Not where he needs to be yet, with an average of .185, but the RBI are a sigh of relief at least. Also encouraging is the fact that both hits were doubles and that one of them came in a two-out situation, so Tulo is just trying to put his nose to the grindstone for this Jays team.

Domingo Santana 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K. Signs of life? Santana has been one of the biggest early disappointments, an assertion that’s underscored by a .500 night only increasing his season average to a middling .182. But he was instrumental in securing victory for the Brewers and follows XBH-happy Travis Shaw in the order and could thus be in position to start plating RISP more often.

Keon Broxton 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI, 3 K, SB. Also off to a slow start has been the speedy Broxton, but getting Homer Numero Uno and his second steal on the same night is cause for mild celebration. Still need more in the BA and RBI department to make him a feasible fantasy threat but with the rash of injuries sweeping the league, you never know when you might soon need depth.

Manuel Margot 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, 2 K. The rookie’s got four multi-hit games in the last five Padres contests. Buy while you can before he becomes a household name or live to regret when an opponent snags him.

Carlos Gonzalez 1-4, R, HR, RBI, K. Finally, CarGo has gone yard in 2017. BA of .188 has me dry-heaving, but at least he’s got something to show for his efforts last night.

DJ LeMahieu 0-4. If you’re going to post a .188 BA, at least give me a stolen base after getting HBP or a sac fly RBI? No? Nothing? OK, then.

Charlie Blackmon 1-3, R, HR, RBI, BB. The Bearded Wonder has a .229 average, two jacks and 6 RBI now. Not enough for my taste, but he’s doing far better now than the infuriating first week he had, as he’s four games deep into a hitting streak.

Nolan Arenado 1-4, R, HR, RBI, K. Solo shot from Arenado provided the game-winning margin of one B7. It was his third of the year, and he’s notching a gorgeous .324.

Yunel Escobar 3-4, R, BB, CS. The Halos’ 3B has a .455 average from leadoff in 33 AB. Yowza. Horrendous baserunner though.

Jonathan Lucroy 3-5, R, HR, 3 RBI. Still just languishing at .250 but at least he has a home run to his credit now. Still greatly underperforming as a consensus top-4 catcher to start the season, in a year where the Realmutos and Wieterses of the world are storming the barn.

Elvis Andrus 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI. Solid stuff from the Rangers SS, who’s posting a .308 average right now.

Nomar Mazara 2-5, R, K. BA is still melting faces at .414.

Jake Lamb 2-3, 3 RBI, BB. Lamb’s T3 triple plated three dudes at once. Clutch work by the .286 hitter.

Eduardo Nunez 4-5, RBI, SB. Still co-leading the league in steals, along with…Brett Gardner? Nunez has the .389 average to make you starry-eyed as well, though.

Andrew Todd-Smith

Journalistically trained and I have written for SB Nation. Fantasy baseball & football nerd, and there's a solid chance I'll outresearch you. I live in Columbus, pull for Cleveland and could learn to despise your team if you give me reason to. Navy veteran and wordplay addict with an expat background.

  • Cody says:

    Would you drop Calhoun or Kiermaier for Margot? If so, which one gets the boot? I also have Brad Miller, Drury, and Owings; however, I would prefer to keep them on my team for position availability, but would like your opinion if they are droppable for Margot as well? And which one would you drop? 9 team h2h standard points with Ks being -1.

    Thanks. I love that y’all are keeping up with hitting now.

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