Batter’s Box: Revved up like Jesus
Well, that’s one way to break out of a slow start. Jesus Aguilar (1B, Milwaukee Brewers), who came into the game with zero dingers on the season and on an 0-16 streak since April 19, went 3-4 with 2 runs, 2 HR and 4 RBI. It’s hard to point to many clear reasons why the quality of his contact is so far below the levels he showed at the beginning and end of last season. His plate discipline and approach numbers seem similar to last season, when he knocked 35 HR and drove in 108 runs. He’s also shown similar ground ball and fly ball tendencies to his breakout season. He did have a prolonged slump in the second half, but we also saw him turn it around in the last month. With no obvious changes to how he’s performing (besides weaker contact), we’re forced to wonder what to do with the top 100 pick we spent on his services. If you’ve been following along, you already know what I’m going to say—you have to hold him. Players struggle all the time. Some may never recover. That being said, the upside of Aguilar, which we saw last season, is far superior to that on most waiver wires in 12-team leagues, and even in deeper 10-team leagues. That 8th pitcher or 7th OF on your bench is much more expendable than Aguilar.
Michael Chavis (3B, Boston Red Sox) – 2-4, 3 RBI. It has only been 35 PAs, but you have to love the .286/.429/.643 line the young Bostonian has brought to the table. Despite being a former 1st round pick, he wasn’t included in most top 100 prospects lists coming into the season due to his high strikeout tendencies and his limited playing time in 2018. Because his hit tool isn’t highly regarded, he’s probably not worth a major roster add in the 10-team formats, unless you have open roster spots brought on by injury, but those in deeper formats can give him a chance as a fill-in until their regularly scheduled 3B/CI is available.
Yandy Diaz (3B, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-4, 2 RBI, BB. He’s still showing excellent plate discipline and hitting the ball really hard. He’s also still bashing balls right into the dirt more often than we would like to see, especially for someone who can hit as hard as he does. While a 31.2% ground-ball rate isn’t terribly exciting, it is a big step forward from 2018. His HR pace is almost certainly going to slow down based on his batted ball profile, but he will still be able to maintain an elevated HR/FB%, much like other hitters with similar profiles like Domingo Santana and Christian Yelich.
Ji-Man Choi (1B/DH, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. He avoided serious injury, which is good, and is still making solid contact when he plays. I’m somewhat concerned about the arrival of a certain first base prospect that I’ll touch on shortly, though, if only because it creates a bit of a log jam at 1B and DH. Interestingly, that prospect is also a lefty, so I doubt this turns into a full platoon.
Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – 1-4, R, HR, RBI, BB. Coming into the season, I said he’d struggle to find regular playing time and that Scott Schebler was a sneakier breakout pick. This is my time to admit that I was horribly wrong and that Winker is a lot better than I thought. 25 HR on the season is probably the cap, based on his power grades, but his awesome hit tool will make him very fantasy relevant, especially in OBP formats.
Nathanial Lowe (1B, Tampa Bay Rays) – 1-4, R, 2B, BB. A favorite of Garlando, one of our prospect gurus, Lowe’s surprise call up has started off fairly well, as he showed off some extra base power and took a walk. He’s more of a dynasty league asset, as I’m not sure how long this trip to the majors will last, but he’s worth speculating on in keeper and dynasty formats if someone hasn’t already beaten you to the wire.
Jose Peraza (2B, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-5, 2B, RBI, SB. Peraza was never going to hit the 14 home runs he had in 2018 again—he got by with an unusually high number of wall-scrapers. He’s probably more like the useful but unexciting 2017 version of himself, a speedster that hits 5 HRs with an OK batting average. That’s useful, but probably not what you paid to acquire him. If that’s true . . . I’m sorry.
Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire.