Batter’s Box: The Right Way, the Wrong Way and the Max Muncy Way

Max Muncy (1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers) continues to show us that his power was no fluke. On Tuesday night, he went 2-4 with two runs, two home runs, two RBI, and a walk (and zero zingers back to the mound), giving him 15 home runs on the season. He’s on pace for 36 at the moment, which would put him right above the 35 dingers he hit in 2018. He also has managed to shave a little bit off his strikeout rate (though his walk rate is also slightly down). While the Statcast data indicates his .534 slugging is a tad on the fortunate side (his expected slugging is .474), it’s safe to say that he is going to continue to be a solid power bat with a strong OBP, decent-to-good batting average, and useful flexibility across the infield (though he really stands out at second base).

Positional flexibility is an interesting thing in fantasy baseball. All of us seem to know that it’s good, but it’s incredibly difficult to quantify the actual value of it. For a guy such as Muncy, it can really boost his perceived value because he can be slotted into second base, which is undoubtedly the weakest position other than catcher. Other players, such as Eric Thames (who is eligible at first base and outfield) may not see much of an increase in value in 10- and 12-teamers because of the depth of each position. To help folks make sense of how I value positional flexibility, here are my rankings for eligibility, with the first being most valuable and the last being least valuable in 10- and 12- team formats:

If you have three starting OF: C, 2B, 1B, 3B, SS, OF.

If you have five starting OF: C, 2B, OF, 1B, 3B, SS.

Generally, if a player gains an eligibility that’s less valuable than his current eligibility, his value doesn’t really move. If he gains one that’s more valuable, then his value may increase slightly. If he gains catcher eligibility, it goes WAY up. I hope this helps you evaluate positional eligibility changes going forward.

Anthony Rendon (3B, Washington Nationals)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB. He continues to be one of the more under-the-radar stars in baseball. He’s slashing .320/.422/.655 with 14 home runs, 48 runs, and 46 RBI. He also has a double-digit walk rate and a low 16.4% strikeout rate. He’s the total hitting package (even if he doesn’t steal bases).

Brian McCann (C, Atlanta Braves)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. The Braves are a funky mix of very young and very old players, with McCann being firmly within the latter variety. While he does have excellent plate discipline numbers this season and solid ratios, he simply doesn’t play enough to be worthy of a roster spot in single catcher formats (besides NL-only).

Yordan Alvarez (OF, Houston Astros)—1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. I neglected him in his debut, but he gave me the opportunity to highlight him in his second game by hitting yet another bomb. He has played twice for the Astros since his call-up and is 2-8 with two home runs. That’s quite good, obviously, and the scouting report shows that he has prodigious power that will carry over into the major leagues. I worry a little about the strikeout rate, but he’s shown a good eye for walks in the minors, which will help offset that issue. The only real problem will be staying on the roster. George Springer and Jose Altuve should return by the end of the month, and that means two guys will need to be sent down to accommodate. I don’t think he’ll be their first choice, but with other young players stepping up, he may be sent back to Triple-A.

Eloy Jimenez (OF, Chicago White Sox)—2-3, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. That’s three home runs in four games, and all five of his hits in that stretch have been for extra bases. Don’t look now, but he seems to be breaking out.

Ian Desmond (1B/OF, Colorado Rockies)—3-3, R, BB. The stolen bases and playing time (the two primary sources of his value) seem to have fried up. It’s nice to see his batting average above the Mendoza line, but there’s not enough here for 12-teamers, even if you have five outfield spots to fill.

Giovanny Urshela (3B, New York Yankees)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. He’s making plenty of contact as a bottom-of-the-order hitter for the Yankees, but with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton slated for rehab assignments, there’s not enough here to warrant attention. He might well stay with the big club, but he’ll lose playing time for sure.

Shohei Ohtani (DH/SP, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, R, HR, RBI, SB. I still really like him in daily leagues where you can bench him against lefties. The kid mashes righties pretty consistently and finally got his first steal of the season. The final numbers won’t look impressive, but on a per-at-bat basis, he’s awesome.

Willy Adames (SS, Tampa Bay Rays)—2-3, R, RBI, BB, SB. He’s a scrappy young hitter, but hitting ninth in the bottom half of the order really saps his value. He doesn’t have any loud skills, so I can’t imagine rostering him in any mixed 12-team format. (Thanks for pointing this out, BB!)

Mallex Smith (OF, Seattle Mariners)—2-4, 2 R, BB, SB. He is piling up the steals and hits since being reinstalled at the top of the Mariners order. While the Mariners have played poorly since their hot start, he may be worth a roster spot if you need steals.

(Photo by Chris Williams/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 (AS SEEN IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL!!), 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


Ralph Malph

Hello Scott- I have Franmil Reyes, and Eloy is on wire (5×5 redraft)
I was considering it but my take is that swapping them doesn’t really make my team better as they are very similar? Reyes is already doing what Eloy is starting to do…. What do u think? tx

Scott Chu

You’re not entirely wrong there, Ralph. I’d say Eloy has better batting average upside, but it comes at a cost (fewer HRs). Not sure he makes a meaningful difference for your squad in place of Franmil.

theKraken

I wouldn’t sweat the K rate on Yordan too much. He doesn’t sell out for power and has at least in the minors maintained a good approach. The rates only tell you a bit, the on-field realities are where the real predictability comes from. Sure, the roster spot is a huge question mark but consider how many waves he made in AAA and that he has homered in his first two games. It will be hard for them to not play him in short order. Bad news is that YA has been pretty injury prone.

Scott Chu

I’m far more concerned about staying up than strikeouts. I think he’ll be in the mid-to-high twenties in terms of strikeout rate, but with a double-digit walk rate it shouldn’t be a problem.

Yordan still has options and a service time clock that can be manipulated, while other guys like Tyler White, Jake Marisnick, and Tony Kemp are out of options entirely. Miles Straw and his speed have hit well lately, though in a perfect world it’d be Fisher and Jack Mayfield that go down. Even in that scenario, though, there’d be a log jam at 1B/DH. When July rolls around, we may also be seeing Carlos Correa and Aledmys Diaz back, which will create two more tough decisions for the Astros.

theKraken

Dee is going to push Mallex down to the bottom again is he is healthy, which isn’t a given. He is just a much better hitter and I think SEA has a lot of reasons to try to boost his value. He sure is worth a spot if you play in any form of roto.

Scott Chu

Dee Gordon is back from the IL, but even at the beginning of the year when he was healthy, they chose to put him in the 9-spot (because Mallex has shown the patience to walk, while Gordon isn’t willing to take those pitches). I think they’d prefer to have Mallex at #1, if he will give them a reason to keep him there.

BB

Adames has his issues, but in all fairness, he’s not a nine-hole guy – he has hit eighth twice over the Rays’ previous 10 games, but fifth or sixth in the others (he’s hitting sixth again today).

Scott Chu

That’s a good point, BB—they have moved him closer to the middle of the order a little bit lately. I’m not sure why, honestly, and I’m not sure he’ll find a permanent spot above the 7-hole, but I will made the edit to say “bottom half of the order” as opposed to ninth and added a little shout-out for the assist.

His lack of power, speed, and consistent contact will hamper his value regardless of spot, though.

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