Batter’s Box: The Choi is Mine

Back in late February, my ARCH-NEMESIS Daniel Port wrote a fantastic piece on Ji-Man Choi (1B, Tampa Bay Rays) that explained why the career platoon bat might be something more in 2019. After last night’s performance where he went 2-2 with a home run, three runs, an RBI, and two walks, it’s clear that he may have been on to something. That’s not easy for me to admit, but this was the fifth multihit game of the season for Choi, and he’s been locked in as the No. 3 hitter for the Rays all season after winning the first base job late in the spring. His career 124 wRC+ against righties has been noticed by DFS players and real baseball managers for quite some time now, but because of his poor defense and the fact that the teams he’s played for had a lefty-mashing first base/designated hitter type on their bench, he never really had a chance to play in more than 61 games at the major league level. In the linked article above, Port makes several interesting comparisons between the batted-ball profiles of Choi and Michael Conforto that are worth checking out. He also makes a case for Choi’s floor (a useful back-end first baseman in 12-plus team OBP leagues or a corner infielder in standard 12-plus teamers) and ceiling (a legitimate 27-plus home run hitter in 10-team leagues with a strong OBP). Get excited, folks.

Oh, and one message for you, Mr. Port: “You need to give it up / had about enough / It’s not hard to see / the Choi is mine.”

Clint Frazier (OF, New York Yankees) 3-4, R, 2B, RBI. Injuries continue to decimate the Yankees, affording the young outfielder consistent playing time for the time being. He’s taken full advantage of it as well, logging hits in nine of his 13 appearances with a .333/.347/.622 batting line. He was a fairly highly touted prospect as recently as 2017, and I think he could make some adjustments to get the walk rate up from its current 4.1% to something more like 8% or 9% based on his minor league track record. If he somehow finds his way to 100 games, he could have 20 home runs and 5 stolen bases if everything breaks right nothing to sneeze at as a deep-league fill in. In the short term, he’s made his way into the five and six spots of the lineup, making him a nice fifth OF in 12- to 15-team formats and a useful DFS play.

Brett Gardner (OF, New York Yankees) 1-4, R, HR, 4 RBI. The ageless Gardner is off to a pretty OK start, with four home runs and two stolen bases in his first 17 games, though the .203 batting average leaves a bit to be desired. The xBA and xSLG don’t provide a lot of optimism at this stage, but when all is said and done, a repeat of 2018’s 12-home run and 16-stolen base campaign with a .236/.322/.368 line is very doable.

Paul DeJong (SS, St. Louis Cardinals) 4-5, R, RBI. Yup, he’s still the No. 3 hitter for the Cardinals, and he’s still piling on the hits this is his sixth multihit day of the young season. His ownership is up to 79.3% in ESPN leagues, so you likely can’t take any action if you don’t already own DeJong, but it’s really nice to see that after 81 plate appearances he still has a strikeout rate below 20%.

Kolten Wong (2B, St. Louis Cardinals) 3-4, R, 2B, RBI. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen flashes of promise from the second baseman, but even I have to admit that I’m impressed by the 14.1% walk rate, four home runs, and four stolen bases. What I’d REALLY like to see is a climb out of the seven or eight spot to the top of the lineup so that he can put more of this contact to good use, but it’d be tough to justify moving Matt CarpenterPaul Goldschmidt, the previously mentioned DeJong, or Marcell Ozuna down in the order. The best we can hope for is a move up into the five or six spot, and if he keeps it up, it could happen.

Jake Bauers (1B/OF, Cleveland Indians) 2-3, R, HR, RBI. He’s been demoted to the six/sseven hole in the Indians lineup, but his nice three-game stretch (five hits, two runs, three RBI, and a couple of walks) could help him slide back into the heart of the order. He has just two dingers and one swiped bag so far, but don’t panic it looks like the bat might finally be heating up.

Gerardo Parra (OF, San Francisco Giants) 1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB. He’s piling up the stats over his past four games, but he’s still the No. 8 hitter for a bad offensive team. He’s valuable in NL-only formats, though, for his decent ratios and playing time, but go ahead and ignore him in all other formats.

Brandon Lowe (2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays) 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. The good news? He’s young, exciting, getting a ton of playing time, and is absolutely demolishing the baseball, posting a .300/.358/.617 line in his first 67 plate appearances. The bad news? His xBA of .236 and xSLG of .442 indicate that the regression monster may be coming for him. The beautiful thing about regression is that while we can predict that it should come, we can’t predict when. Enjoy the production now and hope that he makes adjustments to offset the potential luck regression.

Yandy Diaz (3B, Tampa Bay Rays) 2-4, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Seriously, folks how can you not LOVE the scrappy Rays right now? I mean, if they found a way to swap Mike Zunino for my dude Willians Astudillo, I’d probably just move down there right now. Like Lowe, the expected stats are much less exciting than the real ones there’s about a 50-point gap between his batting average and xBA and a 140-point gap between his SLG and xSLG but the gains in his walk rate are promising, as is the consistent playing time. If/when a slump kicks in, I can’t justify owning him in 12-teamers because of the unlikelihood of 15 home runs or five stolen bases, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it while he’s hot.

Adam Jones (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) 1-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Boring ol’ Adam Jones found his way onto a roster and into the one and four spots of an OK offense. That probably means another boring ol’ 25 home run season with a good batting average and 150-ish runs + RBI. That’s worth owning in 12-team standard leagues, though it’s a bit boring.

(Photo by Gerry Angus/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 (featured in WSJ), 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


Mike P

I currently own Ketel Marte and he’s definitely the weak spot in my lineup. Should I drop him for Lowe? I know you say he’s going to regress but 5 HR in the first 3 weeks is very nice. Do you see playing time being an issue once Weddle is back? Need a stronger MI

Scott Chu

Welcome back, Mike. The reinstatement of Joey Wendle, which could happen as soon as this weekend, will create a bit of a log jam for Joey Wendle, Brandon Lowe, Daniel Robertson, Avisail Garcia, and Yandy Diaz for 2B, 3B, RF, and DH (Austin Meadows is part of it as well, but he’s hitting so well that he’s probably a bit safer). It’s a little easier for Wendle and Lowe, as they are the two lefties of the bunch, but the log jam is coming. Wendle, Lowe, and Diaz are probably the safest of the group, but who knows!

You’d THINK that I’d be ready to say keep Marte, but even if you get a full season out of Marte, how excited can you be about 12-15 HR, 10-12 SBs, and a .260 BA? That’s cool in a deep 12 to 15 teamer, but in standard and shallow formats, it’s utterly replaceable. Live a little and chase the upside, especially if guys like Lowe are still available on waivers. I’m sure Marte, or guys like him, will always be around to scoop up.

theKraken

They signed Lowe to an extension, so that means they are committed to him. I wouldn’t worry about him getting completely displaced. His track record suggests that he could be for real.

Scott Chu

I agree they are committed to him in the long term, but that contract was mostly to buy out arbitration years for their top 5 prospect. I’m mostly concerned about the short-term, which could see him play less than every day if he slumps.

Chelsa

Hi Scott! Another good article! Upon discovering PitcherList, I read “Batter’s Box” daily. I am managing 2 teams this season. You kindly gave me your 2 cents on my Yahoo team and was wondering if you’d do the same with my RCL team? It’s a 12 team, 5×5, roto, mixed league. Currently in 9th place due to slow starts from my offense and blowups from my SPs. Lagging behind in Ks, ERA, WHIP, Saves and SBs. My team is as follows:

C – Realmuto
1B – Voit
2B – Altuve
SS – Tatis
3B – Descalso
CI – C. Walker
MI – Ketel
OF – Dahl, Domingo, Laureano, J.D. Martinez & Winker
U – Soo-Choo
IL – G. Polanco & J. Wendle
SP – Buehler, Cole, Musgrove, Peacock, E. Rod, Soroka & Toussaint
RP – Doolittle, Ottavino, Seranthony, Pressly & Stammen

Need an upgrade at 3B, Descalso is playing above his head; not much on waivers; should’ve kept Donaldson! Wanted to add Choi, but with Voit and C. Walker, I’ve no room for him. Also thought he was a 3B and not a 1B. Sigh….

Please advise.

Thanks,
Chelsa

Scott Chu

Thrilled to hear you’re digging the content, Chelsa. We’re glad to have you around!

Truthfully, you probably don’t have much need for Choi on this roster, but he’s worth slapping on your watch list. He’s very similar to Voit and Walker, so if either has a prolonged slump or injury, it’s an easy swap. Choi is available in about 97% of ESPN leagues, so you don’t need to take immediate action in a 12 teamer.

J.D. Davis is a name worth noting for your 3B issues. He’s in the top 5% of players in xBA and xSLG and is getting plenty of run for the Mets. He won’t steal many bases for you, but he’s a more promising player than Descalso.

As for your weaknesses — I’ll preach patience. I’m not sure how many SVs you’ll get, but it’s a pretty good RP core. Your starters are good too — they’re just a bit slow to start. You can’t really act on it much yet, so just try to weather the storm. For SBs, I think Laureano, Altuve, Dahl, and Tatis will contribute enough steals to be competitive, though swapping a Ketel Marte for a higher upside guy could help — maybe Garrett Hampson is still available?

Chelsa

Thanks for your reply! Much appreciated. Will keep Choi on my radar. Will add J.D. Davis too! Almost added him then thought he was a platoon player for some reason. Might initiate a trade for Hampson…he was actually drafted! Will keep you posted on that. As for saves, those will be far and few unless a primary closer goes down and 1 of my handcuffs starts closing. Patience is something I need to work on…in fantasy and real life. LOL! Thanks again for your feedback!

Scott Chu

Sounds like a plan, Chelsa! You are quite welcome, and I’m glad you’re finding value in the article and comments. Drop by any time! I’m here for the Monday through Thursday morning editions, while my colleague Jim Chatterton takes over for the weekends.

Mitch

Does Jake Bauers have space in this team:
Luke Voit, Garrett Hampson, Mike Moustakas, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig, Mike Trout, Byron Buxton, Nelson Cruz, David Dahl, Matt Chapman, Xander Bogaerts, Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo
??

theKraken

How is Adam Jone’s production boring? If he were 10 years younger we would be incredibly excited. Just for fun contrast him with Bauers. Jones was free for those that picked him up.

How far did that Brandon Lowe HR go yesterday? It looked like he hit it a mile.

Scott Chu

Jones is only boring because we’ve seen it a bunch of times. Boring, for fantasy, is not bad. Bauers has more OBP and SB upside, which is why I was willing to pay for him (and because Jones didn’t have a secure job until RIGHT before Opening Day).

All 3 of Lowe’s batted balls were 100+ mph — the HR went 409 feet at a brisk 108 mph pace.

Mitch 2.0

Just wanted to say what a phenomenal site and job you all do at Pitcher List!! Thanks for researching and diving into the numbers for us folks. Looking for more “regression monster” point outs, so I can throw them in my possible trade pool. Keep up the great work you all do!

Scott Chu

You’re the real MVP, Mitch 2.0! Glad you’re enjoying the content. Just for that, I suppose we’ll just have to keep creating more!

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