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)