Wrapping one’s head around Houston OF George Springer’s offensive tear of late is pretty difficult: he has logged multiple hits in eight of his last nine games. EIGHT multi-hit games in nine tries. Not to mention that twice in the last four days has he accomplished multi-homer outings. His 7-15, 4 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 K weekend is evidence to suggest that pitchers are taking their chances with Springer, hoping to fan him rather than walk him as a safer route, and he has punished their boldness with power. As a result of this recent barrage of balls hit in play, his batting average has leapt from a pedestrian .231 to a solid .280. His 43 runs trail only the totals belonging to Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt, and 16 homers have him tied with seven guys for the third-best mark in the league.
Let’s take a look at some other notable hitting performances around MLB from the weekend:
Ryon Healy (1B/3B/DH, OAK) – 6-12, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, K. Healy’s season average is sitting at .278, which owners can feel more than good about when it matches up nicely with 28 RBI and 23 runs scored. The dual-homer showing from Saturday boosts his HR count to 11 on the year, and Oakland really needs him to keep generating at the dish if they are to clamber out of the AL West basement.
Chris Taylor (2B/3B/SS/OF, LAD) – 3-9, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 3 K, 2 SB. Saturday saw Taylor exhibiting versatile fantasy brilliance with a grand slam and two steals. He’s happened upon playing time in L.A. by virtue of both Logan Forsythe and Justin Turner having struggled with injury thus far this year, and the .318 average he’s posted over 129 at-bats is choice. Taylor has seven homers, 23 RBI and 26 runs to go along with three SB overall. His positional flexibility makes it more realistic that his bat could stay in the lineup even when Turner returns if it does indeed remain hot.
Travis Shaw (1B/3B, MIL) – 3-10, R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, SB. Shaw’s Friday and Sunday were unproductive but he absolutely killed it on Saturday, with his 10th homer and fifth steal featuring most prominently in the performance. He’s been a great asset for Milwaukee and fantasy owners alike this year, tallying a .292 BA to go with 40 RBI and 26 runs. Note, however, that he was deactivated today for several days of paternity leave so factor that knowledge into the setting of your early-week lineups. Hernan Perez and Eric Sogard are the guys who will be relied up to man third in his absence.
Josh Donaldson (3B, TOR) – 3-12, 3 R, 3 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 2 K. He’s been back from the DL for just eight games, but Donaldson has managed to homer four times in that span. His fantasy owners are enjoying some much-needed relief after getting him back, and the series he had against the Yankees is exactly his bat is always worth the wait. Donaldson is hitting .279 on the year and has 10 runs and 10 RBI.
Lucas Duda (1B, NYM) – 4-11, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 2 K. He had multi-hit games Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Duda accomplished the exact same feat a week prior, so the odd 0-4 day—like he had yesterday with Luis Severino posting a quality start on the mound for the Yankees—can be dismissed without worry. The concern about how he would do after a trip to the DL to end April and begin May is gone now, but at just 21 RBI and 15 runs, he could stand to produce more. His Friday homers were Numbers 9 and 10 on the season.
Danny Valencia (1B/3B/OF, SEA) – 9-10, 7 R, HR, 6 RBI, BB. With nine hits over the last three consecutive games, Valencia has inflated his batting average from .247 to .283. That’s a far cry from the .181 April he had. Taylor Motter, filling in capably for an injured Jean Segura, got more playing time around the field even upon Segura’s return because Valencia had been so ineffective. He’s now at 26 RBI and 22 runs. The five HRs are obviously few and far between, but Valencia is showing he can perhaps be viable as a backup corner infielder or fourth OF on your roster. The BABIP of .338 won’t last, but his walk rate is up and his strikeout rate is down so that’s a plus. Even though his chase rate is slightly higher, he’s swinging less overall and also making contact on 10% more stuff outside the zone so there might be a method to his madness after all. Valencia should be watchlisted at a bare minimum to see if he can stay hot.
Mike Zunino (C, SEA) – 5-11, R, HR, 10 RBI, 4 K. It’s a bummer to have to criticize a guy not 48 hours after he hit a grand slam, but before that outing on Saturday, Zunino had just four RBI on the entire year. He missed a chunk of May after being optioned to Triple-A Tacoma, so that fact should hold more weight than the fact that he came up with a clutch bomb. You probably are already deploying a catcher with better stuff than what Zunino’s .216 average, 11 runs scored and two homers offer you, and that C probably has more upside too.
Denard Span (OF, SFG) – 7-13, 5 R, RBI, 2 BB, K. Span got at least a hit in every one of the three games the Giants played this weekend against Philadelphia, but don’t be swayed by the 5-6 night he had on Friday. Going into that contest, he’d closed May with an 0-11 stretch and he was batting .231; the offensive burst Friday deceivingly ticked his average up to .260. He hasn’t homered since May 24 and has just three total. The DL admittedly claimed him for about three weeks back about a month ago, so some of the counting stats need to be taken with a grain of salt. However, 16 runs and 11 RBI at this point probably aren’t enough to have him be consistently competitive on your behalf.
Adam Lind (1B, WSH) – 4-12, 4 R, HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K. It’s difficult to argue that a .338 hitter with 20 RBI shouldn’t be valued highly in fantasy baseball at this point the season. But the fact that Lind has accumulated these numbers in just 65 at-bats has me torn: Lind is the clear backup 1B to Ryan Zimmerman, so the lack of playing time makes me leery of considering his viability despite his relative productivity with the looks he’s gotten. He is a backend streamer at best, even though he’s hit safely in his last six games. The issue is that Washington only deploys him when Zimm needs rest or when the matchup makes sense given Lind is a LHB.
Lorenzo Cain (OF, KCR) – 6-11, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, K. Cain hit his third homer of the season Saturday, and he now has scored 22 times. He hasn’t stolen a base since May 21 but has 12 SB all the same and is batting .273. I’d like more than 14 RBI, but this series against Cleveland definitely helped his cause.
Adonis Garcia (3B, ATL) – 6-15, 2 R, 2 SB. Garcia had been on the DL with Achilles tendon soreness since May 16 but was activated for the weekend series at Great American in Cincinnati. He has a .253 average to go along with 17 runs, 16 RBI, four homers and four swipes. Rio Ruiz performed well in Garcia’s absence, and the Braves could end up platooning the pair so be mindful of this and monitor the starts for each.
Adrian Beltre (3B, TEX) – 5-11, R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 K. Beltre hit his first homer of the year on Friday in just his fourth game back from a brutally long time on the DL to begin the year. Counting stats are tough to extrapolate so soon into his 2017 campaign, but hitting safely in every game to create a .391 average and four XBH does indeed bode well.
Zack Cozart (SS, CIN) – 4-13, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K. Cozart has started to bring the power lately, accruing four homers in his last five games to bring his total to nine overall. His phenomenal 2017 continues: the Reds SS is batting .344 and has remarkable symmetry between his 32 runs and 33 RBI.
Albert Pujols (1B/DH, LAA) – 1-9, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 3 K. Pujols became just the ninth player in MLB history to hit 600 home runs on Saturday, putting a poetic exclamation mark on the achievement by doing it with a grand slam. It’s a big milestone, and how he reached it is a microcosm of what his true fantasy value is this season. He has an acceptable batting average that has been hovering in the .240s for over a month now, he’s capable of solid and clutch power with nine homers, and his 42 RBI have only been outdone by 10 men in The Show. But he scores runs himself far less often, notching only 18 this year. When using Pujols, you need some high average hitters and some aggressive run-scorers to compensate for his deficiencies.
Carlos Beltran (OF/DH, HOU) – 5-14, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 3 K. As older DHs go, Beltran is essentially a poor man’s Pujols at this point in the season in offering more balanced run production and less power. He has seven homers, 27 runs and 22 RBI to go with a .255 average. He should be on pace to deliver 19 homers and could push for 70 each in runs and RBI.