Batter’s Box: V for Victor-y…in 2019.

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

Juan Soto is an absolute beast. No one can deny this fact. However, let’s not get too caught up with the shiny (but actually legit) new toy and forget all about Victor Robles. Last night, Robles got the start in a crowded Nationals outfield and produced a big night with a line of 4-5, R, HR, 2B, 5 RBI, SB. The combo meal gives him 3 HR and 2 SB in 18 games, and he is now slashing .275/.321/.529 in what’s amounting to his first real taste of the big leagues. That’s very solid, but obviously, you can’t really count on him the rest of the season as it means one of Juan Soto, Adam Eaton or Bryce Harper must go to the bench. The Nationals aren’t playing for anything in 2018, so they have no reason not to see what the future holds in Robles, but there are too many variables at this point in the year. Regardless, and with Harper most likely headed out the door in 2019, Robles should be on the top of your mid-to-late round sleeper targets next year. Don’t sleep on the post-hype sleepers!

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Wednesday:

Rafael Devers (3B, Boston Red Sox) – 4-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2B, 6 RBI. I was very much a part of the hype train coming into 2018 with him, and it’s true that 59 R/21 HR/66 RBI/.244 is a little shy of what I expected. However, don’t give up on him just yet. He did post a 41% hard contact rate, has a decent barrel percentage, and rocked a BABIP well under what he posted in his 58 games last year. The best is yet to come for a guy who is only 21 years old.

Willians Astudillo (C, Minnesota Twins) – 3-5. Baseball’s most interesting man now has a triple slash of .350/.366/.513 with NARY A STRIKEOUT IN THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER. Not a once in 55 plate appearances. In fact, he’s struck out twice all season in his 82 plate appearances. That’s wild. Anyways, he’s hitting .389 in the month of September, and his line drive percentage has climbed 10% since August. He’s a solid option down the stretch for average and OBP help.

Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox) – 3-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI. His tremendous season continues as he has pretty much solidified himself as a late 2nd/early 3rd round choice in 2019 drafts. This was his 40th double on the year, which is top 10 in the AL, and puts him ahead of names like J.D. Martinez and Jose Ramirez. His 10.7% Value Hit rate puts him among the elite in the AL as well. #BennyBaseball!

Edwin Encarnacion (1B/DH, Cleveland Indians) – 3-4, R, HR, 4 RBI. He’s played in just 134 games to this point due to injury but has still found a way to put up his usual big power stats. In fact, last night’s tate gives him 32 on the year, and it means he’s gone 6 of the last 7 seasons with at least 32 HR and 104 RBI. The only time he missed that mark was 2014, and it was only by 2 RBI. The average won’t be great anymore, but he’s found the same fountain of youth as Nelson Cruz in his late 30s.

Travis Jankowski (OF, San Diego Padres) – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, RBI. Do we need a name for a swiper who unexpectedly tates…a magician? A Switcheroo? A Swapper? We will workshop that in the off-season. Anyways, Jankowski is nothing more than a bench outfielder at this point because the Padres are actually kind of loaded in the outfield. A start for Jankowski means one of Franmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe or Manuel Margot heads to the bench.

Adam Jones (OF, Baltimore Orioles) – 3-3, R, 2B, RBI. We all knew the cliff was coming for him eventually, and it looks like we finally hit it. Jones will fail to reach 25 HR for the first time since 2010 unless he bashes like 10 HR in 4 days. The interesting part is that quite a few of the leading indicators for regression are in line with previous years, but xStats uncovers the truth we are seeking. He currently owns a very bad 31% poor hit rate and a .326 xBACON, both of which place him in the “poor” category for hitters. His hits have been just as poor as his team. I had to. Sorry, O’s fans.

J. D. Martinez (OF, Boston Red Sox) – 3-5, 3 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. The Red Sox went in on the Orioles (again) yesterday, so excuse the plethora of Sawx blurbs today. Taters Gonna Tate here as JD crushes his 42nd dong of the year, but it isn’t the most in the AL. We will get to that later. The MVP race in the AL should be a fantastic one.

Trevor Story (SS, Colorado Rockies) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 3B, 2 RBI. Taters Gonna Tate! That makes his line 85 R/34 HR/104 RBI/26 SB/.290, and that’s good enough to bump him all the way to the 2nd round in next year’s draft. We’ve seen him smash dongs like this before, and so I’m inclined to believe this is the real Story. He also has an outstanding value hit rate this season, his sprint speed is among the best in the NL, and his hard contact is currently at 44.7%. This is legit, and I’m all about paying up for next year.

Louis Voit (1B, New York Yankees) – 3-5, 2 RBI. There are few better options you could roll with down the stretch as he’s been great for much of the 2nd half. Over his last 30 games, he’s got 11 dongs, a whole mess of counting stats, and a triple slash of .337/.410/.692. He’s also owned in about half of leagues despite the surge, and I urge you to take advantage if that applies to your league.

Willy Adames (SS, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-4, R, 2 RBI. He’s a rising stock for next year, and I will definitely have him among my breakout candidates for 2019. He hasn’t stuffed the stat sheet thus far, but he is slashing .320/.412/.456 over the last month. xStats says he’s been quite lucky over that time frame with a putrid 3% value hit rate, but you aren’t factoring in regression with just 4 days left in the season. You could do worse over the weekend especially if you need AVG or OBP help.

Brian Anderson (3B, Miami Marlins) – 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. I touted him as a sleeper this year, and he came through early in the year with an excellent average. Since then, he’s cooled off quite a bit but still has a solid slash of .273/.356/.400. He has posted some “ok sure fine whatever” counting stats with 86 R (very good!)/11 HR (meh)/65 RBI (meh), and that kind of feels like the player we should expect moving forward. He feels like a very boring streamer next season.

Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox) – 2-2, R, 2B, BB, SB. Another Red Sox blurb! It’s not over yet. Swipers Gonna Swipe as Mookie reached the 30/30 plateau for the first time ever yesterday. He looks the part of the #2 overall pick in drafts next year, and that is 100% justified. Draft away!

Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. And another one. I came into this year thinking that 2016 was the outlier, but it actually may be closer to the real Bogaerts than I thought. His line is now up to a terrific 70 R/22 HR/100 RBI/8 SB/.288, and he’s flirting with a top 5 finish at the shortstop position. He dipped a little in May and June but has otherwise had a phenomenal season as have so many of the Red Sox.

Michael Conforto (OF, New York Mets) – 2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. He’s posted a nearly identical stat line to 2017 albeit with a much lower average and about 40 more games. That’s not the step forward owners wanted when they drafted him back in March. Despite that, he has been rather spicy coming down the stretch with a .287/.379/.635 slash over his last 30 games and a 14% value hit rate to boot.

David Dahl (OF, Colorado Rockies) – 2-4, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. He’s been turning it on the last two weeks with a line of 10 R/4 HR/18 RBI and a triple slash of .322/.365/.576. Injuries are the only thing that has held him back in his brief career, but he’s having a September that makes me think a breakout could be coming in 2019. I will definitely want a few shares heading into next year. He still has immense untapped talent.

Ian Desmond (OF, Colorado Rockies) – 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. He just quietly posted a 20/20 season for the 5th time in his career, and that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough in my book. Despite the accomplishment, his triple slash this year has left a lot to be desired at just .237/.307/.422 for the year. He also has just 1 dong over his last 30 games. I’m looking elsewhere this weekend.

Johnny Field (OF, Minnesota Twins) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Such a great baseball name! It does make 9 dongs on the year for Field, who is seeing his first significant playing time in the majors right now. He’s nothing more than a bench bat and shouldn’t be rostered, but congrats on the double dong day, kid!

Carlos Gonzalez (OF, Colorado Rockies) – 2-3, R, 2B, 2 RBI. Last night gives him 30 doubles on the year, which means he now has at least 30 in each of his last 3 seasons. Take that for what’s it worth! He has been a pretty rough own the last 30 games with just 1 HR/1 SB and a slash of .234/.283/.351. There should be higher upside options over the weekend than CarGo.

Jason Heyward (OF, Chicago Cubs) – 2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI. This brings his line up to 67 R/8 HR/55 RBI/.272 on the year in what’s been yet another ho-hum season for Heyward. He’s usually replacement level, and he did not disappoint this year. He’s slashing just .204/.278/.347 over the last two weeks with just 1 dong and lame counting stats. No thanks.

Spencer Kieboom (C, Washington Nationals) – 2-3, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB. This 27-year-old “prospect” hasn’t produced much in his 137 plate appearances this year. However, he has been quite spicy over his last 7 games slashing .357/.526/.571, and those short spurts of production are all we are looking for at this point in the season.

Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians) – 2-5, R, HR, RBI. Taters Gonna Tate, and that gives him a robust 37 on the season to go with his 23 SB. He is locked in as a 1st round pick heading into next year, and he should be well worth the price. He has proven himself with the power-speed upside by now, and you should feel great grabbing him early next season.

Trey Mancini (1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles) – 2-4, 2 R, 3B, 3 RBI, BB. He posted nearly identical counting stats last year except for about 20 less RBI, but it’s still consistent nonetheless. He’s really turned it around in the 2nd half as he went from a 79 wRC+ in the first to his current 117. He increased his hard contact almost 10% and has bumped up his line drive rate as well in the 2nd half. I like him as a depth piece in most formats next season.

Adalberto Mondesi (SS, Kansas City Royals) – 2-5, 2 R, 3B, 2 SB. That’s 2 more swipes, which means he now has 28 in just 273 plate appearances. His xBacon is currently at a phenomenal .371 and his value hit rate is among the elite at 12.3% as well. It ain’t just the swipes he’s bringing to the table! His rise has been nothing short of meteoric, and he’s been going in early mocks among the top 75 players. Are you ready for that price tag?

Jose Peraza (2B/SS, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-4, R, HR, RBI. The 14 HR/23 SB definitely exceeded my expectations for the year, especially the tates, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to bump him up my draft board just yet. Paul Sporer pooped on him as a mid-round target for next year, and I think I tend to agree. xStats says he should have literally half the HR he currently has, and his poor hit rate is at a hideous 34%. This doesn’t feel legit at all.

Jorge Polanco (SS, Minnesota Twins) – 2-4, R, 3B, 3 RBI, BB, SB. Suspension ate up most of his season, but he’s returned to his power-speed upside ways since coming back. He now has 6 HR/6 SB on the year, and 1/3 of that production has come over the last two weeks. He’s also been slashing .333/.391/.524 over that time frame as well. You could do much worse over the weekend.

A. J. Pollock (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, 3 RBI. That makes it a career-high 21 HR on the year for Pollock, and he’s slugging .720 over his last 7 games with 3 dongs. Enjoy this little power surge to end the year. I will be valuing him towards the end of my top 25-30 outfielders next year.

Khris Davis (OF, Oakland Athletics) – 1-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. KHRIS DAVIS CHECK: 47 HR with a .249 average. Friends. He has just 4 days to pull that average down to its rightful place of .247. I believe! Anyways, Davis has been a top 10 OF all year, and his line is now up to 97 R/47 HR (leads the MLB)/121 RBI/.249. If it weren’t for the poor average, he’d be in the AL MVP discussion.

And with that, my tenure doing the Batter’s Box for the 2018 season has come to a close. I just wanted to say thank you to all of the readers out there for supporting all of us here at Pitcher List. We would literally not be doing this if it weren’t for all of you out there. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings!

Jake Bridges

Jake is a proud native of Birmingham, Alabama and an avid Atlanta Braves fan. So, that basically means he's counting down the days until Opening Day 2020. Jake's first ever fantasy baseball draft pick was Roger Clemens in the 7th grade (1999), but don't worry, he's allegedly learned a lot since then. Previous writing stints include The Fantasy Report and as a prospect writer for The Fantasy Assembly. He currently writes his ramblings and musings for The Turf Sports and appears on the Sports in Short podcast "Whistle Blowers."

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