Batter’s Box: Steely Dan

After yet another stellar day by Daniel Vogelbach (1B, Seattle Mariners) where he went 3-5 with a run and 2 doubles, does anyone look as smart as my fellow Pitcher List writer Ryan Amore right now? He wrote him up as a deep sleeper back on March 15 and discussed some changes he’s made to his mechanics and his outstanding plate discipline, stating that, “[f]or fantasy purposes, his extraordinary plate discipline makes him a really appealing asset in OBP formats.” Well, through eight games, Vogelbach has five home runs and a triple slash of .500/.621/1.364, and nine of his 11 hits are for extra bases. The plate discipline is exactly how Ryan described it he’s walked in 20.7% of his plate appearances this season and 13.1% of the time over the course of his career in the majors. We can’t go TOO overboard here there’s no way the Mariners keep up their ridiculous offensive pace but Vogelbach as a 25 to 30 home run bat with a strong OBP and plenty of RBI looks more and more possible each day. If you want to learn more about the big man, check out Ryan’s post in the link above (my favorite quote from the piece was, “He’s built like a fire hydrant at 6’0, 250 lbs”).

Jurickson Profar (SS/1B/2B/3B, Oakland Athletics) 4-5, 3 R, HR, 5 RBI. Famous for his multi-eligibility, the mutli-hit, multi-RBI day was a sight for sore eyes, as he had zero home runs and RBI going into yesterday’s contest. He’s been a breakout candidate since about 2013, so it’s amazing to me that he’s still only 26 years old, but the Curaçaoan finally put some things together in 2018. I’m not actually that bullish on him, as I think he’s more of a 15-homer hitter than the 20-homer hitter he was last season, but those in 15-team leagues or 12-teamers with very deep benches should look to him to provide great flexibility on their bench along with 15 home runs and 10 stolen bases.

Tommy La Stella (2B, Los Angeles Angels) 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. He’s a high contact hitter with a soft bat and a good eye, and he won the second base job for the Angels. Those in AL-only formats or VERY deep points leagues can keep an eye on him, as he’s played virtually every day (albeit without much success) and can provide a strong OBP. Everyone else can ignore him, though.

Austin Meadows (OF, Tampa Bay Rays) 4-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, SB. The former first-round pick of the Pirates is off to a great start with the Rays, with three home runs, two stolen bases, and a .308/.386/.564 line through 11 games. He should provide close to 20 home runs and 15 stolen bases when all is said and done this season, and I’m optimistic that he can beat the projections on his OBP (Steamer, ZiPS, and THE BAT all have him finishing below the .320 mark). The only question will be playing time, but the Rays have a few pieces that are less than durable (namely Kevin Kiermaier), and these things have a way of working themselves out. The Rays didn’t make him the centerpiece of the Chris Archer trade to not play him, right?

Jonathan Schoop (2B, Minnesota Twins) 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. He’s one of the most dropped second basemen in ESPN leagues, but we finally saw the power that has made him a fantasy asset overt he past several seasons. He’s tough to get excited about in OBP formats because of the career 3.7% walk rate. His crummy approach (career 41.1% chase rate and 15.2% swinging-strike rate) makes him a less than ideal play in points leagues, but roto and H2H category owners in need of power should be able to find 25 home runs if they are in one of the 38.3% of ESPN leagues where he is on the waiver wire.

Matt Kemp (OF, Cincinnati Reds) 2-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. It’s crazy that through all of the injuries, Kemp still has at least 18 home runs in 10 of the past 11 seasons. He hit his first of the season on Tuesday, and even after a very slow start, the Reds continue to put him out there in left field almost every day. The Reds outfield is a bit crowded with four good players for 3 spots, but Kemp doesn’t seem to be suffering too much from it yet. He’s a boring but consistent producer of power and RBI. He should be owned in most 12-plus team formats, especially if you are starting four-plus outfielders.

Jonathan Lucroy (C, Los Angeles Angels) 2-3, R, 3 RBI, BB. He’s a catcher who plays most days. Don’t get caught up in the old days where he hit double-digit home runs and had plate skills. Those days are dead and gone. This is a mediocre second catcher in deep formats and nothing else.

Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds) 2-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. A popular sleeper for the Reds who finally provided his first counting stats of the year with this outburst. He’s sharing time in left and right field with Kemp and Yasiel Puig and even made one appearance in center for Scott Schebler (though I don’t expect that to happen regularly). You can get excited about him in deeper points and OBP formats, but prepared to be underwhelmed by his final line, which will likely land somewhere around 60 runs, 15 home runs, 50 RBI, and a .270/.365/.425 line. That’s kind of interesting as a fourth or fifth outfielder, but he’s not a “must-own” asset.

Dansby Swanson (SS, Atlanta Braves) 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. He keeps doing it! I’ve written him up a few times already with this hot start, and the interesting detail now is that he’s batted sixth for three consecutive games (and rewarded his manager by hitting two dingers and driving in eight runners). The only thing he hasn’t done yet is steal a base, but we might be seeing a tiny bit of a breakout don’t get too crazy, though, as a breakout for Dansby is something like 17 home runs and 10 stolen bases with an slightly below average batting average and OBP.

Peter Alonso (1B, New York Mets) 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. He keeps doing it too! He’s been everything you hoped for and more, and he looks like the 30 home run bat that was promised. I’m not too worried about the strikeout and walk rates yet, as this is his first look at major league pitching, and I believe he can adjust those in the right direction as the season wears on.

Mitch Garver (C, Minnesota Twins) 4-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. That’s a pretty good day, Mitch. Now get traded or win the lottery and retire so that Willians Astudillo can get more playing time. Even with the strong outing, it’s hard to get too excited about Garver even in the dismal catcher landscape because of the Twins keeping three catchers on the active roster.

Scott Schebler (OF, Cincinnati Reds) 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Yep, all three of the Reds outfielders did good things today. Schebler’s playing time has been quite safe so far as the primary center fielder, so he should be able to hit for power (but not for average) on a regular basis at least until Nick Senzel is ready for his debut. Some may have forgotten that Schebler hit 30 home runs in 2017, so while he’s getting the playing time, he’s a decent play in 12-plus-team OBP formats that start four or more outfielders.

Jorge Polanco (SS, Minnesota Twins) 3-5, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2 RBI. He’s still available in 41.1% of ESPN leagues for some reason, but he’s got 15 home run power and 15 stolen base speed that also comes with good ratios something that many other 15/15 hitters can’t provide. He’s worth owning in virtually all formats.

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Scott Chu

Scott Chu has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. In addition to being a writer and content manager at Pitcher List, he podcasts with Friends with Fantasy Benefits and contributes to Lineup Logic. If you want to chat about baseball, fantasy curling (AS SEEN IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL!!), sports in general, deaf culture, being a twin, or the oddities of having Irish and Korean ancestry, Chu's your guy.

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Comments


Scott Chu

I had a feeling you’d appreciate this, Mojo! Also, you should know that every time I read this username, I think of the nefarious Mojo Jojo, one of my favorite cartoon villains.

Scott Chu

Vogelbach by a mile. Barnes splits time and is mostly valuable as a 2nd catcher in 12+ team leagues who can hit a few HRs and steal a few bags, and also will be splitting time with the ageless Russel Martin. Vogelbach could be special.

Scott Chu

Polanco over Peraza for me — Peraza’s value comes from stolen bases, and in points leagues those usually don’t matter much. I also expect Peraza to fall back into the single digits for HRs. I’d rather have the damage Polanco can do with the bat.

Kepler is a popular sleeper, as I mentioned earlier this week, and his high walk rate plus low strikeout rate makes him the safer play in H2H points. It gets a bit closer if your league doesn’t penalize strikeouts, and it tips to Meadows if you told me they’d get the same number of plate appearances.

Scott Chu

I assumed that the comment was trying to differentiate between Austin Barnes and Matt Barnes, the RP for Boston. If you could start Vogelbach at catcher, he’d have been 100% owned before we even started the season.

Rob

DeJong goes 2-2 with 2 2Bs, and 2 BBs, is slashing .295/.367/.981, and doesn’t warrant a mention??

Scott Chu

It can be tough to talk about everyone I want to cover in each article, though DeJong does warrant a mention here. I suppose it has been a while since we last covered the hard-hitting shortstop. He’s been batting 3rd so far this season, which bodes well for his chances to break the 70 RBI mark for the first time. If he can finally get 120+ games played, this is a solid SS in all formats. The issue, of course, is whether he can play enough to generate the counting stats needed. Batting 3rd will help, though. His batting average has fluctuated quite a bit over his short career due to BABIP (mostly), though it should land somewhere near .250 unless he makes some changes to his plate discipline profile.

theKraken

If he covered everyone this would be too damn long or riddled with mistakes or both! No harm in pointing out nice performances in the comments. Back in the day there was a site called minorleagueball where the author would post some nice lines and the community would post 10X more – it was pretty cool.

Scott Chu

The biggest challenge of this piece, besides coming up with a witty title, is figuring out who should get put in and who should get left out, especially on days when a ton of offenses put up big numbers.

That said, I want to talk about the people you want to hear about. If there’s ever a player you want to see in an article, shoot me a tweet, DM, or message on Discord and I’ll do my best to include them the next time they do something cool!

theKraken

I actually don’t talk about guys I like unless they are already getting attention or it is a guy that the world has turned against (Kemp, Schoop, Sano, Franco, etc). No need to help everyone else out!

Scott Chu

Awesome names, but it’s Vogelbach for me. The playing time looks more secure (even after Seager comes back, I don’t see Healy knocking Big Dan off 1B), and the power upside is higher (Yandy needs to make changes to his swing just to do what Vogelbach is already doing).

Scott Chu

Any time, Chris! Feel free to ask all the questions you’ve got here in the comments, on Twitter (@chusephesquire), in our Discord (available through Patreon), or if all else fails, by carrier pigeon (just tell the pigeon to look for a big goofy ginger with a bad mustache).

Christian

In my 12 teamer, should I stick with Voit and Schoop? I let Nimmo go for Tim Anderson earlier this week, and just dropped Barnes to get Vogel, but my primary 1B is Shaw and 2B is Muncy :(. Someone like Renfroe or Laureano could help my inconsistent OF (Piscotty, Haniger, Pham, Jiminez). Thanks for any advice.

Scott Chu

1) I’d probably keep/trade Voit as opposed to cutting him if I could, though he really is a bit of a redundancy with Vogelbach, Muncy, and Shaw all on the roster. I like Voit more than Schoop, if you have to choose one.

2) Renfroe v Laureano is all about what you need — one is power, one is speed. Based on the other guys you’ve listed, it sounds like you need more speed than power (unless it’s a points league), so I’d lean towards Laureano. I’d be OK with cutting Schoop for Laureano if I absolutely had to, because Schoop isn’t going to provide anything you don’t already have and will never get the nod over Shaw in your lineup if both are playing. Renfroe would be the OF version of Voit/Vogelbach/Muncy/Shaw, which is fine in points, but probably not necessary in H2H categories or roto.

theKraken

How am I the first person to point out that Kemp is not good for 15 SB? I am not sure what line you were looking at but I’ll bet you a million dollars that he won’t steal 15 bags – I’ll give you 10-1 odds. He hasn’t stolen 15 bases in a season since 2011. You must have been looking at someone else line haha. It was a funny mistake. I guess that goes to show you that nobody even reads the paragraph about poor Matt Kemp! I appreciate the work – this is always a fun way to start the day.

Scott Chu

But it’s true, no one cares about Kemp other than he’s an additional roadblock to Winker and Senzel. I didn’t even care enough to double check the stats I was looking at!

Dirty

Points league and some nice stuff sitting on the FA market – Suarez, Polanco, Donaldson, Gordon & T Anderson. Thoughts on grabbing one or more of them?

Current lineup:
C – Astudillo
1B – P Alonso
2B – Kike
3B – Ramirez
SS – Story
OF – Springer
OF – Blackmon
OF – Schwarber

Bench
Aguilar
Odor
Tatis

Scott Chu

Great question! I’d say that Tatis is OK to cut in a points league (especially if there’s a penalty for strikeouts), and that Jorge Polanco and Eugenio Suarez are the most appealing FAs of the group.

In most points leagues, guys who generate their value with stolen bases lose a TON of value — so guys like Dee Gordon and Tim Anderson aren’t that appealing. I’d be a lot more excited about Josh Donaldson if I thought he was healthy, but I don’t, so that’s a bummer. If you need folks to cut, I’d start with Tatis, then maybe Kike Hernandez (especially if Ramirez is 2B eligible)

As a final bold statement, if your league penalizes strikeouts, Polanco might be as good or better than Story by the end of the season.

Dirty

Thanks, Scott. The league does penalize strikeouts. I forgot to mention I have Muncy plugged in at UT right now. He has 1B/3B eligibility. Ramirez only has 3B, so no luck moving him to 2B (Fantrax). Kike has 2B/SS/OF so he’s nice to have with a short bench, and until (hopefully) Odor comes around. He’s currently unplayable at the rate he’s K-ing. He and Aguilar are both sub-1 ppg, whereas Tatis is 2.5. Polanco and Anderson are both almost 5ppg, and Gordon 4ppg.

Scott Chu

All fair points! Odor’s upside is high but when he’s not slugging, he’s a painful guy to own.

I’d still focus more on projections than PPG at this point, though. One grand salami can triple a guy’s PPG in a hurry.

Finally, I understand keeping Kike, but if the wire is full of guys like Eugenio and Polanco, you don’t need to worry much about positions – you just need to worry about ceiling and floor.

I like your team! Thanks for asking questions and good luck out there.

Scott Chu

These are similar players in many ways, but give me Franco. He’s showing much improved plate discipline, and while he’s hitting 8th for the Phillies, there are opportunities to get up to the 6 or 7 if he keeps this up for a while.

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