Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire
The Tampa Bay Rays have received a lot of flack for releasing Corey Dickerson this past offseason, but in their defense it is said that if you love something you should give it away, and if it returns to you then it’s meant to be. Sure, maybe that was a little misguided by the Rays to do in the world of baseball, where resources are hoarded and the chances of them getting Dickerson back is now essentially zero. But it was something they clearly did out of love. Because they believed in Dickerson, and they wanted what was best for him. And, okay, also maybe because they’re not that smart.
To be fair though, I don’t think anyone foresaw Dickerson taking the steps forward that he’s taken this year. After yesterday’s 2-5, 2 HR, SB performance, Dickerson’s slash line is up to .307/.341/.493 on the season with ten homers and six steals. He’s cut his strikeout rate nearly in half this year (24.2% to 12.7%) thanks to significant improvement to both his contact and whiff rates, and he’s done this while keeping his hard contact rate in line with his career average (32.9%). His plate discipline is still a work-in-progress, as he doesn’t walk and he chases pitches out of the zone 44.3% of the time, but he’s making it work for himself this year, and is looking a lot like the guy he was in Colorado again.
Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees): 3-4, HR – Sometimes I imagine Aaron Judge as a giant beast the size of Godzilla, dressed in judge robes, lumbering through New York City and smashing buildings with his gavel while screaming “Aaron… Judge!” Don’t act like you wouldn’t pay $20 to see a movie based on that premise. Judge is still slightly below his offensive pace from last season, but he’s still a pretty good bet to hit .280 with 40+ home runs and double-digit steals this year, so there’s hardly any reason to complain.
Miguel Andujar (3B, New York Yankees): 3-4, 3 R, RBI – It must be nice to be able to plug a prospect directly into your lineup on a whim and having him immediately become an absolute monster. I’m looking at you, Mets! I’m looking at you, Dominic Smith! Andujar is a doubles monster, with 29 this year in just 86 games, and his contact ability is already an above-average asset for him. I think everything Andujar is doing this season is legit.
Matt Carpenter (1B/2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 BB – That’s now eight homers over Carpenter’s last six games, and the man is now on a historic hot streak. He’s slashing .379/.496/.971 with 16 homers over the last month. He’s posting a 64.6% hard contact rate and 35.7% HR/FB so far in July, which is just off-the-charts insane. Enjoy this if you’re lucky enough to be a Carpenter owner right now.
Javier Baez (SS/2B, Chicago Cubs): 3-7, R, 2 RBI, SB – I think Baez borrowed some devil magic from the Cardinals, because I have no idea how he’s making a 17.9% whiff rate and career-worst 48.3% chase rate work for him this year, but whatever. I still think he’s walking a fine line, but some people do that for a living and it works out just fine (until it doesn’t).
Jose Iglesias (SS, Detroit Tigers): 2-3, HR, 4 RBI – It seems strange that a guy who makes as much contact as Iglesias does would struggle to hit for high averages with consistency, but his high groundball rates (51.9% career) and super-inflated infield flyball rates (18.6% this year) really rob him of a lot of potential hits. He’s an okay fill-in at shortstop in a pinch while you wait for something better to come along, but nothing more.
Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers): 2-4, HR – Another good night for the human-bat hybrid known as Christian Yelich. Yelich has been cruising over his last 15 games, batting .344, and should easily reach the 20/20 plateau for the first time in his career this season.
Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates): 4-4, R, RBI – Pretty suspicious that right as it was announced that Francisco Cervelli might play some first base in the second half, he “disappears.” Of course by “disappear” I mean he hit the DL again, but still, I won’t rule out foul play! Bell is hitting .326 over the past month, which will hopefully convince Pittsburgh to keep him as their everyday first baseman once Cervelli is back. However, he’s hit just one homer over that span, and between his high groundball rate (48.9%) and lack of hard contact (29.6%) I think it’s probably safe to say there’s no power outburst on the horizon, and Bell is droppable in most formats.
George Springer (OF, Houston Astros): 1-4, HR, 4 RBI, BB – Patience, young Springer owners. Patience. I know it’s hard considering Springer has hit just .155 with a .227 slugging percentage over the past month, but nothing in the peripherals indicates this is anything more than a run of bad luck. His .203 BABIP in June has slowly started to correct, and by the end of the year his numbers should be roughly in line with what he posted last season.
Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs): 5-7, R, RBI, 3 BB – What a weird year for Rizzo, whose .337 wOBA is one of the lowest totals of his career thus far. The thing is, everything in his peripherals is the same or better than it has been in recent years; he’s just struggling to get the hits to fall (.265 BABIP) or the flyballs to leave the yard (11.5% HR/FB compared to his career 15.2% rate). Like with Springer, a hot streak can pull his numbers right up to where we expected them to be, so hang in there.
Tommy Pham (OF, St. Louis Cardinals): 2-6, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB – Maybe a breather was all Pham needed. After sputtering into the All-Star break, Pham has gone 8-for-15 since the second half started with a homer and a stolen base and just one strikeout. He’s a streaky player, and the window to acquire him from a frustrated owner is likely closing quick, so pounce now if you can.
Avisail Garcia (OF, Chicago White Sox): 1-4, HR, 3 RBI – Avisail homered in his first game back from the DL, continuing the power display he’s been flashing since the season began. He’s making way more hard contact this year with a 45% rate compared to last year’s 35.3%, but I have a hard time thinking this will last based on his 46.8% groundball rate and bloated 27% HR/FB. He’s also not making much contact at all thanks to an 18.7% whiff rate and 47.2% chase rate. Sell high if you can.
Matt Chapman (3B, Oakland Athletics): 3-5, 2 R – Chapman has been hitting pretty well over the last few weeks, but it would be nice to see the power come around again, as he has just two homers over his last 30 games. Based on the 43.6% hard contact and 38.2% flyball rate, that should hopefully start happening sometime real soon.
Steven Souza Jr. (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks): 3-4, 2 RBI – With all the stops and starts Souza has had this year, it’s easy to forget that just a year ago he posted an .810 OPS with 30 homers and 16 stolen bases. He’s likely available in most leagues, and while I wouldn’t advocate picking him up just yet, keep an eye on him in case he gets into one of his patented grooves soon.
Yonder Alonso (1B, Cleveland Indians): 2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB – Wild Blue is putting his slow early start in the rearview mirror, hitting .289 over the past month with four homers. Expect a shot at 100 RBIs with him hitting in a cushy spot in that loaded Indians lineup.