Holy schnikes! Over his past 15 games, Tommy Edman (2B/3B/SS, St. Louis Cardinals) has been absolutely on fire, with his Sunday performance (3-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, SB) arguably being the best we’ve seen from him in this stretch. Since Aug. 9, he’s slashing .367/.415/.517 with 12 runs, six extra-base hits, seven RBI, and three steals with just a 12.3% strikeout rate and a 7.7% walk rate. He’s a high-contact hitter whom the Cardinals have moved all over diamond (and all over their batting order), though lately he’s found himself right at the top of the order in most games.
I’ve talked about players similar to Edman several times in this column—slap-hitting utilitymen who don’t hit home runs but seem to do everything else (Jeff McNeil, Adam Eaton, Luis Arraez, David Fletcher, etc.), and yet I still feel like these guys aren’t getting their due. In points formats, the case for owning these guys is wickedly simple—they put the ball in play and get on base a lot, and therefore they score plenty of points. They stay free agents longer than they probably should (likely because of a lack of name recognition), but eventually someone notices that they’ve scored more points than anyone else on the wire over an extended period of time, and they get scooped up.
In roto and H2H leagues, though, it can feel a bit more difficult to gauge their value. Z-scores do an OK job at showing the value of ratio contributors (ESPN’s Player Rater is a z-score system, which seeks to put a numeric value on a player’s contributions in each category based on how they compare with other players), but it’s conceptually difficult to see how much a .300 batting average will help your bottom line. Also, for whatever reason, people place an emphasis in the spring on positional flexibility that doesn’t seem to carry over into the actual regular season (you know, when you might actually need it).
Just because the counting stats aren’t gaudy, you can’t sleep on guys such as Edman, especially at this stage of the season when any player can get injured and be out for the rest of the season (we’ll miss you, Jose Ramirez). In the next few weeks, you’re almost certainly going to have to replace a player you were counting on for the rest of the season, and there may not be a great replacement on the waiver wire (especially at specific positions). Guys such as Edman, who can start at multiple fantasy positions and provide better-than-replacement level value at multiple categories, are worth their weight in gold when you’re trying to gain ground (or for those of you at the top, trying to hold ground). They allow you to not only quickly plug a hole in a roster but also open up more waiver wire options, which is critical at this stage of the game. Instead of being restricted to just, say, a replacement second baseman, owning a player such as Edman allows those feeling the pinch to find replacements who play one of many positions, as Edman can fill the immediate gap.
Anyway, before I get to the rest of the hitters, feel free to toss your favorite Tommy Boy lines in the comments. Don’t worry—there’s plenty for everyone.
Anthony Santander (OF, Baltimore Orioles)—5-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. With just modest power and very little stolen base ability, Santander doesn’t jump off of the page as a fantasy asset, but deep-league players could find some decent value in his .286 batting average and the fact that he hits in the heart of the Orioles order.
Kevin Newman (2B/SS, Pittsburgh Pirates)—4-4, 3 R, 2B, RBI, 2 SB. The scrappy middle infielder has been a top-10 fantasy second baseman over the past 30 days thanks to seven stolen bases. The power is very limited, but he makes a ton of contact and hits leadoff against lefties, giving him plenty of opportunities to get on the basepaths.
Anthony Rendon (3B, Washington Nationals)—4-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. As I’ve said before, 2020 will finally be the year that he’s not “underappreciated.” He’s fifth in batting average among qualified hitters, second in RBI, and has a healthy 29 home runs. It’s weird to see a guy take a step forward at age 29 after losing a few pieces in the lineup around him, but Rendon is a monumental talent and is probably good enough to produce in pretty much any scenario.
Donovan Solano (2B/SS, San Francisco Giants)—4-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB. Solano is another guy who has slapped the ball for a high batting average but limited power (and in this case, no speed). His .349 batting average comes with an eye-popping .429 BABIP, but don’t let that scare you too much. That uber-high BABIP largely comes from an insane 35.8% line-drive rate, and his .322 expected batting average indicates that his BABIP is the result of good contact as opposed to luck. He should be able to provide solid batting average going forward for those in deeper formats.
Nolan Arenado (3B, Colorado Rockies)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. He’ll hit at least 37 home runs, drive in at least 110 runners, and have a batting average above .287 for the fifth consecutive season. I don’t talk about it much in this column as it’s not like you can go and pick him up off the waiver wire, but he’s absolutely incredible and quite deserving of the early- to middle first-round pick you spend on him.
Matt Carpenter (1B/2B, St. Louis Cardinals)—3-4, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. It’s too late to salvage his season, but a September surge could make us consider him as a late-round flier in 2020. This might have been my biggest miss in the preseason, and I’m so mad that my colleague Jonathan Metzelaar was so right on him.
Jose Altuve (2B, Houston Astros)—2-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. His .306/.366/.504 slash line on the season looks very Altuve-like, but it also hides the fact that he slashed just .243/.329/.472 before hitting the IL on May 10. As I’ve said a few times now, the stolen bases are the piece that will ultimately define his fantasy ceiling, but there’s little room for doubt that his bat makes him a top-tier second base option. Also, I feel obligated to remind folks that he’s hitting .357/.415/.684 since the All-Star break.
Josh Donaldson (3B, Atlanta Braves)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. He probably won’t hit close to .300 in a full season again, but the veteran third baseman should get to at least 35 home runs with a .375 OBP at the end of the season and there’s little reason to suspect that he can’t do something similar in 2020. His fantasy value will likely be judged in part by where he ultimately signs, though.
Ryan O’Hearn (1B, Kansas City Royals)—2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB. Good for him, you know? He’s hitting just .171 in 290 plate appearances and is well past the point of consideration in almost every format, but it’s good to see him have a good day.
Mark Canha (1B/OF, Oakland Athletics)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. This piece by Matt Wallach came out a few weeks ago, but it is required reading for those of you who haven’t yet started believing in Canha.
Franmil Reyes (OF, Cleveland Indians)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. After hitting just three home runs in all of July, Franmil has turned the power back on in a big way with five home runs in his past 12 games, including these two late-inning blasts. His low-walk, high-strikeout approach makes his ratios tough to stomach, but he should hit a few dingers in his upcoming trip to Detroit that starts on Tuesday.
Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals)—1-6, R, 2 SB. I am very interested to see if he can build on the 16 home runs he has hit so far, which is truthfully already quite a few more than I expected coming into the season. He’s likely to push for 30 steals on the season, though, which should be par for the course for many seasons to come.
Eloy Jimenez (OF, Chicago White Sox)—0-4, 3 K. It doesn’t always feel like it, but he really is improving his strikeout rate little by little (down to 24.7% for the month). This was a poor example, of course, but hopes should remain high for his future.
Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers)—0-4, 2 K. I just cut him in TGFBI (I’m somehow 14th overall out of like 300 but still second in my individual league—CURSE YOU, SHELLY V!). There are rumblings that the Rangers may bench him, and he just isn’t cutting it. There’s tons of talent here, but it doesn’t matter if he can’t unlock it. He’ll need to rediscover his plate discipline from 2018 if he’s going to be relevant in mixed leagues.
For those wondering, here are the performances I also considered discussing today: Josh VanMeter (2B/3B/OF, Cincinnati Reds)—1-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB (many people’s second-half savior); Aristides Aquino (OF, Cincinnati Reds)—1-4, R, RBI, SB (what a story); Tim Locastro (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—2-4, R, BB, SB (he’s REALLY fast); and Manuel Margot (OF, San Diego Padres)—2-3, R, 2 2B, BB, SB (is he finally a thing?).
And now, without further adieu, your minor league update from Shelly Verougstraete:
Interesting #MiLB stats from yesterday
J.J. Matijevic (HOU AA) 3-4, 1 2B, 2SB 🏃♂️🏃♂️
Jared Walsh (LAA AAA) 4-6, 1 2B, 3HR, 5RBI 💪💪💪
Josiah Gray (LAD AA) 5IP, 9K, 2BB, 1ER 🎩
Cristian Javier (HOU AAA) 6IP, 8K, 2BB, 0ER (Welcome to AAA 🥳)
— Shelly Verougstraete (@ShellyV_643) August 26, 2019
(Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire)