Batter’s Box: The VerDos and VerDon’ts
The rookie class across the board this season has been legendary. There have been so many players of former big leaguers, stars right out of the gate. Some just step up to the plate and hit dinger and dinger. There are others though that are quietly putting together a solid season helping their team win but not standing out from the pack. At least not until yesterday. Alex Verdugo was always on the list of rookies to watch in 2o19. He’s had a few games in 2017 and 2018 but this year he’s gotten much more consistent playing time after (Surprise!) A.J. Pollock went down with an injury. He’s shown he can stick with it in the bigs with a solid .303/.354/.493 slash line. He’s been contributing in many ways to the Dodgers but hadn’t made a splash until he broke the tie in the 11th last night with a walk off home run. It was his second of the game but only his seventh on the year. He finished the game going 4-6, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB.
Despite that solid line and hitting in the Dodgers lineup, his fantasy value hasn’t been desirable. All the totals, homers, steals, runs, and RBIs, are all mediocre especially for an outfielder. The only thing he’s been delivering is average. One good excuse is he’s been batting mostly in the back end of the lineup. It’s much harder to drive in runs and get driven in while in the eight spot. However, over the past couple of weeks he’s been swinging the bat well and the Dodgers are rewarding him. Verdugo’s batted second in six of the last nine games. Hitting around Bellinger or Turner can only help your fantasy value. I want to see him keep consistently hitting in that spot paying major dividends. Where I think this can help at the top of the lineup is with his contact skills. His K rate is a very low 10.6% (especially for a rookie) so he can get the ball in play and get the runners moving. With a solid amount of playing time in the two hole, I see a boost in runs and RBIs on the horizon.
Todd Frazier (3B, New York Mets)—2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Todd Frazier is an enigma. You just watch this guy swing a bat and wonder to yourself how he made it to the majors, like Hunter Pence and throwing. But something happened in the middle of May, and he’s been one of the best hitters in the league. Since May 16th, he’s hitting .316/.431/.535 with a 161 wRC+. The best part? His K rate is at 15.3%, 6.5 points below his career average. He is laying off pitches out of the zone and he’s making a ton more contact on those pitches. He’s been a legit hitter with a legit eye for over a month now.
Jonathan Villar (2B/SS, Baltimore Orioles)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, SB. It was a rare combo meal night for Villar with one of his better games in quite sometime. He hasn’t lived up to the expectations some had with helping to lock down the steals department. If you are still playing him in the hopes of steals, he’s still dragging down the average a bit too much hitting under .250 and yet has been a bit lucky as his xBA is .230 (pretty much in line with his previous two years xBA as well). He’ll need to turn on his jets and grab more bags to keep his value afloat.
Domingo Santana (OF, Seattle Mariners)—2-3, 3 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. Santana has been carrying a hot bat these past few games with four homers and nine RBIs in his last four games. He’s still been underperforming his xSLG, which has gotten even better in June (.626). Santana has certainly found his 2017 form again after that forgettable 2018 season.
Yasmani Grandal (C, Milwaukee Brewers)—2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Grandal has had quite a last month trying to keep up with Gary Sanchez as the fantasy games’ top catcher. He’s slugged nine homers, with 22 RBIs, while hitting .292/.409/.697. His BB/K is nearly 1.00 as well over this past month. He’s been cutting his K rate down significantly this season.
Dansby Swanson (SS, Atlanta Braves)—2-5, 3 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, BB. Swanson matched his career high in homers from last season with this homer from last night. His breakout season has still been going strong this past month slugging .491 while scoring 27 runs. It’s nice to hit right in front of Freddie Freeman. This success has come from turning a lot of ground balls in to line drives and hitting the ball much harder. This better contact has been even better than his numbers show as he’s been a bit unlucky underperforming his expected stats.
Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves)—2-3, R, 2B, 5 RBI, 2 BB. Freeman is having one of those years. He’s been so consistently incredible but everything that he does well he’s turned it up just a bit further. Striking out less, walking more, harder hits. He could handle off speed pitches a bit better and pitchers are throwing those somewhat more often to Freeman too. Regardless he’s handling the fastballs they do throw with ease.
Trea Turner (SS, Washington Nationals)—2-4, 3 R, BB, SB. His journey to 80 steals at the beginning of the season was sidelined quickly. Missing a month and a half of baseball with an injury cannot help the cause. He’s been back for a while now and finally getting his groove again. Last night’s steal was his fifth in the last ten games. Certainly an 80 steal pace there. He’ll have to make up a few for the missed time though.
Yordan Alvarez (OF, Houston Astros)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. We are still some games away before we can properly evaluate Alvarez’s abilities at the plate in the majors. For the time being, we can all gawk at his power. That’s six homers in 11 games. He’s crushing the ball with a 51.9% hard hit rate.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees)—2-4, 4 RBI, BB. Stanton came back from his assortment of injuries a few games ago and he’s crushed the ball. A couple games ago he had a hit at over 112 MPH and 118 MPH. Last night all three of his balls in play were over 104 MPH. There’s not much else to say as he’s played only seven games all year, but at least we know he can still be Stanton.
Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. Anderson started the season hot and has cooled down a bit since. However, his past month has been decent. He doesn’t have the categorical totals with homers, runs, RBIs, or steals, but he has been hitting .318 with a .511 slugging in that last month. But that has been helped by a .373 BABIP. He literally only has one walk in that whole month span too.
Nomar Mazara (OF, Texas Rangers)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Every time I look at Mazara I hope and pray that he’s figured out his swing. Once he stops hitting only ground balls, he’ll become a star. But til then he’s only going to be good enough. The last two games though he has three homers and those couldn’t have been ground balls! But no, over the past month, he still is hitting 54.3% grounders. He still is good enough and has helped fantasy teams but there’s so much more he could be doing.
Alex Dickerson (OF, San Francisco Giants)—2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI. Dickerson was at it again last night in his second game with the Giants. Nine RBIs and four extra base hits in two games is a nice little streak, but there’s no need to be chomping at the bit to pick this guy up yet.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)