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Batter’s Box: The Bellinger Escape Plan

A trip to the DL doesn’t often come with such valuable compensatory rewards, but Dodgers OF Cody Bellinger tentatively seems to have avoided assignment back to Triple-A Oklahoma City with...

A trip to the DL doesn’t often come with such valuable compensatory rewards, but Dodgers OF Cody Bellinger tentatively seems to have avoided assignment back to Triple-A Oklahoma City with the injury woes of Adrian Gonzalez opening up a roster spot. He’d been slated to be sent down with the reactivation of Joc Pederson, but since he’s been an offensive firework for L.A. since debuting April 25 the Dodgers are surely glad for an excuse to keep him where he is. With a 5-9, 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, BB, 2 K, SB submission of work against San Diego over the weekend, the youngster managed his first career grand slam Saturday and has four multi-hit games in five May tries. His slugging percentage overall is at .786 and he’s been a delight to watch as he solidifies his case for more permanent stationing in the majors.

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

Aaron Altherr (OF, PHI) 2-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB (1 IBB), 2 K. Now immersed in a six-game hitting streak, Altherr finds ways to affect game outcomes even when he doesn’t start. He pinch-hit a three-run HR B8 Sunday against Washington, his fourth jack this year. That clutch hit manifested the lion’s share of a Philly comeback to end up winning it in the ninth. Through 65 at-bats, he’s rocking a .338 average to go with 16 runs, 14 RBI and three steals. He’s one of the more sneaky, clever adds you could possibly make right now.

Jayson Werth (OF, WSH) 8-14, 5 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 K, CS. Werth was on an absolute tear during the series with Philadelphia. Both homers and the trio of RBI came Sunday, albeit in a losing endeavor, but Werth’s hitting exploits over the weekend have him sitting at .292. He surprisingly hadn’t had any RBI since April 11, which is kind of hard to believe. He has hit second in the order for six consecutive games now, sandwiched between Trea Turner and Daniel Murphy in the lineup; Bryce Harper then gets to come to the dish, and that optimal 3-4 duo will continue to help Werth score runs if he stays put at Spot 2. I’d consequently expect the aberrant gap between runs and RBI to close even Turner can keep reaching and getting into scoring position.

Tommy Pham (OF, STL) 6-12, 3 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, SB. Well, that’s how you make a first impression. Pham debuted with the Cardinals on Friday and mustered two multi-hit efforts in a road series versus Atlanta. He’s taking full advantage of the opportunity afforded him by Stephen Piscotty’s trip to the DL and Dexter Fowler being ailed by a shoulder injury. Watch what Pham accomplishes at Marlins Park this next series.

Randal Grichuk (OF, STL) 6-17, 2 R, RBI, 5 K, 2 SB, CS. The power is lacking, but Grichuk strung together three multi-hit performances against the Braves to complement Pham’s brilliant work. Of the six hits, three were doubles. With that being said, he’s a solid acquisition in points leagues, especially if he can boost his average and hit frequency slightly. For 5×5 formats, he’s a back-end streamer with some upside. I liked the speed he brought to the table on Saturday, and he could warrant consideration if you’re out of options at OF.

Eric Hosmer (1B, KCR) 4-9, R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, K. Hosmer’s BA had dwindled to .192 as of April 24, but then he managed to mount a 10-game consecutive stretch of hitting safely that bumped it up to .270 as of the completion of Saturday’s action. Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Cleveland saw Hoz go 0-1 with three walks to end his hit streak, but generally speaking he seems to have turned it around after rebounding from that mid-to-late April rock bottom. He needs to ratchet up the run production rate for me to be truly excited about his fantasy value, however.

Yunel Escobar (3B, LAA) 4-12, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB, K, CS. He’s a truly wretched baserunner, so the CS doesn’t surprise me. But the fact that Escobar has gotten two or more hits in five of his last seven showings is a good sign. At the end of the day, however, he only has single-digit numbers of runs, RBI and homers while possessing an average of .269. I wouldn’t advise falling for the bait of Sunday’s two-HR game in roto leagues because the lack of run production could hurt you. He does, however, pose some value in points formats.

Sandy Leon (C, BOS) 5-9, 4 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, BB (IBB), 2 K. It’s almost as though the backup catcher in Boston knows they need to step it up, and then the starter begins to struggle. Just days after losing the majority starting job as backstop to Christian Vazquez—meaning he will be catching just two of the five Red Sox SP while Vazquez forms a battery with the remaining three—Leon turned in a strong series against the Twins. Conversely, Vazquez is just 1-14 since the announcement. Leon is still the Boston C to own, but you’ll need another strong fantasy starter for his off-days if the arrangement that entails him only catching Rick Porcello and Chris Sale stays put. His average is .246 right now.

Dustin Pedroia (2B, BOS) 3-14, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, K, SB. Pedey clearly prefers a spot in the top two of Boston’s order. Since the revamp of the lineup to slot him higher up as leadoff or following Mookie Betts, he’s hit safely in five straight and that stretch has included his first two homers of the year. The steal was a cherry on top of a palatable start to May for fantasy owners.

Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS) 7-15, 5 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB (1 IBB), K, SB. He was a nightmare for Minnesota pitching over the weekend, as Benintendi posted multi-hit games through the entire series. The steal was his third on the year, and his BA has not dipped below .300 since April 16. If he could continue to harness his power to provide homers more often, owners would be even happier than they already are.

Ryon Healy (1B/3B/DH, OAK) 4-7, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB. Sealing a walk-off win for the Athletics with his B9 two-run HR heroics Sunday, Healy has now successfully gone yard and tallied multiple hits in his last three games. The cleanup man has a .257 average to go along with a .478 slugging percentage on the year now after this strong start to May, and he’s starting to make owners breathe easier for their April trouble.

Yonder Alonso (1B, OAK) 5-12, 3 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K. The Cuban 1B has truly turned it on during the last two weeks. Alonso is hitting .409 in May, he also went 5-16 during the five contests Oakland played on the road to conclude April. The 14 runs and 24 RBI have seemed to creep up on us: five and 10 of those, respectively, have happened during the last six days. But he’s not as much of a flash-in-the-pan hitter as that might initially sound, since a .311 average and nine HRs on the year should appear respectable to even the most ruthless of fantasy scrutiny. He’s available in 68% of Yahoo leagues and 76.1% of ESPN leagues. This could be a sly move in general to pick up Alonso if you need suddenly-reliable depth, but it could also certainly be an upgrade for owners of Adrian Gonzalez or Lucas Duda who are scrambling to generate offense while injuries stack up.

Giancarlo Stanton (OF, MIA) 5-13, 4 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, BB, 3 K. This is the kind of composite weekend line a bat like Stanton’s should be posting on the regular. Finally in double digits for HRs on the season after a great road series at the Mets, he’s slugging .633 in the month of May.

Starlin Castro (2B, NYY) 5-16, 3 R, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 3 K. This stat line is way more impressive if you take out the 0-8 clunker that happened during the unplanned doubleheader 18-inning showdown Sunday. Despite that, he still a) hit into a fielder’s choice to plate Aaron Hicks for the game-winning RBI and b) owns a magnificent .367 average so far this month. Castro has been one of the best fantasy 2B league-wide thus far this year.

Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS, CHC) 4-13, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 K, SB. Eight of those 13 AB came in a Sunday night 18-inning thriller at Wrigley that the Yankees would go on to win, but Baez came through for Chicago and fantasy owners the best he could with the homer and the steal. He was an unsuccessful pinch-hitter Friday. The .261 BA would really look a lot more appealing in general if Baez could have provided more than seven each in runs and RBI up to this point in the season. But it’s kind of a paradox: he’s one of the Cubs’ weaker bats recently so he’s been relegated to a spot low in the order, which hurts his chances to pick up the run production. C’est la vie.

Billy Hamilton (OF, CIN) 7-13, 7 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SB, CS. In a rare display of consistent XBH excellence, Hamilton helped his average improve drastically during a three-game homestand against San Francisco. Multi-hit performances on Friday and Saturday—and coming up a homer short of the cycle in Game 2—means he has the ability to flash brilliance in something other than stealing bases. Hamilton is hitting .355 in May.

Kendrys Morales (1B/OF/DH, TOR) 5-11, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 K. Morales doesn’t score many runs himself, but Friday’s three-run outing helped his season count increase to 12 overall. The 20 RBI are awfully appealing, especially when linked to a .246 BA on the year that’s only seen improvement with a .320 stint in May so far. He had a slow start to 2017 but is now theoretically on pace to hit more than 30 homers.

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.

  • the Krakken says:

    The low run and RBI totals are pretty much set in stone for Baez. He hits either in front of or after the pitcher when he plays. He has been better than many of the Cubs bats that get the choice lineup spots – I wonder if that will ever change. I doubt it will as Madden seems to have his mind made up.

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