Batter’s Box: What light through Yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Yonder Alonso (1B, Chicago White Sox), who went 4-4 with a home run, a double, a run, and an RBI as the White Sox cleanup hitter, is the sun. He probably doesn’t get the love he deserves in OBP and deeper formats. He’s only owned in 8.6% of ESPN leagues and until 2017 had a reputation as a Yunel Escobar-type of player no power, no speed, but plenty of contact and walks. Then, in 2017, he became the poster child of the launch angle revolution and swatted 28 home runs while walking 13.1% of the time. Regression was anticipated in 2018, as his previous career high had been nine home runs in 2012, and Alonso posted a respectable but less interesting 23 home runs with just a .250/.317/.421 line. Coming into 2019, he was seen as an OK corner infield guy in deep 12- and 15-team formats, and most of the buzz about him was actually around his relation to Manny Machado (Manny is Yonder’s brother-in-law). It’s been a sluggish start to 2019 so far, as this was just his third home run of the season, and he’s sporting a flimsy .220 batting average. There are signs of hope, though his xBA is a much more useful .257, and he has more walks than strikeouts through his first 62 trips to the plate. Those in OBP leagues should be paying attention to Yonder, who has shown the patience to post a double-digit walk rate and display useful power in the past and now finds himself hitting in the middle of an exciting young lineup that features a new and improved Yoan Moncada and the towering Eloy Jimenez, not to mention the steady Jose Abreu. A 25-homer season with a .250/.370/.440 line could be in the cards, along with 85-plus RBI.

Scott Kingery (SS, Philadelphia Phillies) 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 5 RBI. He’s still not playing anywhere close to every day, but it was nice to see him slide into the No. 5 spot in the lineup and produce. He’s avoided the strikeout in his limited sample so far, but I can’t get on board with him in anything except dynasty formats I just don’t see a path to 400 plate appearances.

J. T. Realmuto (C, Philadelphia Phillies) 3-5, 3 R, HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI. It’s easy to panic early, even about elite assets such as Realmuto, but hopefully this outing reminds everyone that we’re still early enough in the season that a single game can drastically change the feel of a player’s stat sheet.

Christian Walker (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks) 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Just an FYI that this is his fifth home run and that the hype train will soon be leaving the station after back-to-back three-hit games with a home run. Scoop him up in 12-plus team formats for the power potential if you can.

David Bote (2B/3B, Chicago Cubs) 2-3, 2 R, 2B, RBI, BB. He’s getting more playing time of late and has rewarded his manager with hits in three of his past four starts with five RBI. He’s more of a deep bench guy in 15-teamers at the moment, but if he finds his way into more playing time, he could be on the 12-plus team OBP radar as an injury fill-in thanks to his patience at the plate.

Steven Duggar (OF, San Francisco Giants) 2-5, R, HR, 2 RBI. The home run is nice, as are the three multihit games in his past four appearances, but I’m admittedly a little worried about the lack of walks so far (2.6% walk rate through 77 plate appearances). He’ll need to develop a bit more patience if he’s going to be a deep league asset for stolen bases. I have hope, though, as he posted 10% or higher walk rates throughout his journey through the minor leagues.

Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, Chicago White Sox) 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. The decrease in strikeouts has persevered, but the walk rate is WAY down. I’ve said this before, but I’m not exactly “worried” about that if it means he will swing at good pitches more often. A two-homer day makes me feel better about it too.

Garrett Hampson (SS, Colorado Rockies) 2-4, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB, SB. Hooray! The young shortstop was a staff favorite in the offseason for his ability to hit for a high average and provide 25-plus steals for the Rockies, and his combo meal last night was his first major league home run and his first stolen base of the 2019 season. He’s also been inserted into the No. 2 spot in the lineup for five straight games. The slow start and playing time concerns made him available in 89.6% of ESPN leagues, and anyone in search of stolen bases or a middle infielder should be jumping on this if at all possible.

Jung Ho Kang (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates) 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. This broke a string of seven straight appearances without a hit and was his first multihit game since  Sept. 25, 2016. It’s hard to count on more than 15 home runs and a couple of steals from Kang, but it’s good to see that he’s overcome some of his personal demons. He might be worth tossing on the watch list in a 15-teamer if you think you might be in need of a corner infield replacement (for example, if you own Justin Turner, who is an injury waiting to happen).

“Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

Scott Chu

Scott Chu has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. In addition to being a writer and content manager at Pitcher List, he creates content with Friends with Fantasy Benefits. If you want to chat about baseball, fantasy curling (featured in WSJ), 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


Scott Chu

I sure can, Mojo Jojo. We’ve seen Joc get hot before, though usually not to the tune of 5 HR in 6 starts. He’s leading off against RHP thanks to a career 133 wRC+ against them, and even as the strong side of a platoon, 25 HR seems like a lock, especially after this hot start. Whether or not he approaches 30 will depend on playing time and whether the 26 year old can show growth against LHP (though the Dodgers seem inclined to just bench him against lefties when they can and go with Kike, Pollack, and Taylor in the OF). You have to own him while he’s hot, and hopefully you can sit him while he’s cold. In daily leagues, he’s easier to own for active managers because you can swap him out when the Dodgers face a southpaw, but in weekly leagues it pays to look at the upcoming schedule to make sure he’ll get 5+ games in that week.

theKraken

I have rostered Joc quite a few times and a solid backup is a necessity. If you can sit him while he is bad, then you can kill it in terms of production. The hot/cold streaks are very clear with him.

Chucky

I could use the SBs, as could everyone else. Is it time to give Hampson his shot over the likes of Kiki? Not sure how the return of McMahon will affect Hampson.

Scott Chu

Hey Chucky, welcome back. The log jam will be an issue, but Hampson’s upside is so high that he might be worth adding in 12+ teamers if at all possible. I think the biggest losers on the return of McMahon and Dahl will be Tapia and Reynolds. Hampson can still carve out playing time if he earns it. All of the potential we talked about in the off season is still in there, and very few players can provide the batting average and speed Hampson could as a #2 hitter for the Rockies.

Kike has slowed down a bit after a very hot start, and he’s lost his early hold on the lead off gig (he’s been the #7 against righties and the #4 against lefties lately). He’s cool because you could add him for free and he has some useful flexibility at 2B and OF, but he can’t provide speed — just some OBP and power. If you already have plenty of those, you MIGHT consider Hampson, though I’d probably consider dropping a 6/7 SP or backup OF instead if possible.

Mike P

I know you didn’t cover them in the round-up (because they are not worth covering) but in the world is going on with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo?? They are killing my team right now! Will the sun ever come out 🙁

Scott Chu

Thanks for stopping by, Mike. The short answer to your questions is yes — the sun will come out. You can bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow (or sometime soon) there will be sun, so you gotta hang on til tomorrow (or sometime soon), come what may.

They’re both still taking plenty of walks, and there’s nothing in the Statcast or other data to suggest that there’s some kind of injury in there. As I mentioned above re: Realmuto, all it takes is one or two games to completely change a stat line. Heck, in 2018, Rizzo ended April with a .179 batting average, 1 HR, 9 RBI, and just 4 walks against 15 strikeouts. By the end of May, his AVG was up to .237, and he had 8 HR, 37 RBI, and 22 walks against 25 strikeouts. He ended the year with a .283 AVG and a 4th consecutive 100 RBI season, with the only real “disappointment” being his 25 HR instead of the 30-35 we usually expect. Just give it time.

Scott Chu

Mornin’, Joseph. Ketel Marte has had a surprising early season power surge, and has a secure every day role, but ultimately his upside is a 15 HR/15 SB guy with a good BA and a decent OBP. That’s a good player, but it can’t compare with what Hampson could bring to the table, which is an as good (or probably better) BA and OBP and 25+ SB, even if it comes with a few less HR (10ish is my guess).

Marte’s one advantage is playing time, so if you REALLY need those ABs and don’t need steals, I guess it’s Marte. In every other situation, it’s Hampson for me.

Scott Chu

Beware the Ides of Mitch, Jonny.

Mitch Garver DOES have 3 HR already, and he has an xBA/xSLG of .279/.512 and an xwOBA of .360! That’s awesome! Here’s the thing — Willians has an xBA/xSLG of .332/.576 and a wxOBA of .392 in a similar number of PAs. Both will be frustrating to own while they split time, but Willians is the preferred option. He’s also way more fun.

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt Willians.”

Bruce the Shark

Scott- I’d like to propose a 2 for 1 trade for Chris Sale.
Love to hear your suggestion/advice– Here is my lineup….

Mitch Garver C
Freddie Freeman 1B
Yoan Moncada 2B
Alex Bregman 3B
Fernando Tatis SS
Tommy Pham OF
JD Martinez OF
Juan Soto OF
Eloy Jimenez OF
Nelson Cruz U
Victor Robles OF
Vladimir Guerrero 3B

Miles Mikolas SP
Trevor Bauer SP
Shane Bieber SP
Walker Buehler SP
Yu Darvish SP
Luis Castillo SP
Chris Paddack SP
Seranthony Dominguez RP
Greg Holland RP
Ryan Pressly RP
AJ Minter RP
Pedro Strop RP

Scott Chu

Hi Bruce. You seem like a nice shark, and not some mindless eating machine, so I’ll do what I can to help.

My gut would be to see if you could manage a swap using the hot start of Shane Bieber. I’m not as good at analyzing pitching as some of my colleagues, but Bieber still struggles with mediocre stuff and has benefited greatly from weak competition thus far. I think Bieber plus a guy like AJ Minter would be a nice haul (he got beat up yesterday, but has the closer’s gig in the short term). If this is an H2H league with just SVs and not SV+HLDs, I’d also consider something like Bieber + Holland, who is off to a great start, but he will likely turn back to a pumpkin at some point.

If you’d prefer to move a hitter, a guy like Pham, Eloy, or Robles makes sense — your OF is already quite deep.

Keep in mind, though, that many Sale owners will still be forced to simply hold their asset, as they paid a high price to acquire him. Sale trades either a VERY brave owner who will offer a top 15 SP or a VERY risk-averse owner who wants to dump Sale.

Scott Chu

I’d probably need more context to recommend something like that. Can you provide your league format (# of teams, and whether it’s a Roto, H2H Categories, or Points league, and whether it’s a redraft or keeper/dynasty)? These details will help me determine the replacement level of those guys in your waiver wire and what types of strategies are viable.

Bruce the Shark

10 teams, redraft, H2H (batting typical categories incl.walks, pitching- saves & holds)
I’m interested in possibly picking up Franmil Reyes off wire
So you don’t think Bieber will keep this up…

Scott Chu

Good to know, Bruce! One last thing I should have asked — how many OF do you need to start? Is it a Y! default of just 3 OF with 2 UTIL, or is it more like the CBS and ESPN standard where you need 5 OF and have 1 UTIL?

Scott Chu

Gotcha, thanks! With JD, Soto, and Pham in your OF and Cruz locked into one of the UTIL spots, you’ve got a bit of a log jam with Eloy and Robles. In a format like this, moving a guy like Eloy or Robles plus Bieber might make it work, and I’d be totally OK with that. There will be solid players to fill in at OF or UTIL available all year long on the waiver wire, so the replacement level is very high. When Sale returns to being an ace, he’ll be by far the best SP on your team and will be a much bigger boost than whichever of Eloy or Robles provides as a member of your bench.

theKraken

The lack of BB for Moncada is a good thing here more than not. His problem never was making contact and the swing is perfectly manageable – his problem is that he just took too many strikes. The numbers may tell some other story, but those that see him regularly mostly agree that passivity was always what held him back. Perhaps if he can establish a better reputation, then he can get back a few walks. I watched him a lot last year and I think that umpires were not very hesitant to call strike three if that makes sense.

Scott Chu

I’m inclined to agree, Kraken, though a few more walks wouldn’t hurt in OBP formats (even if it’s a bit greedy to ask). I will be watching closely to see if the approach by opposing pitchers changes as they adjust their scouting of Moncada, assuming he continues to attack close pitches.

Scott Chu

I was exceptionally high on both entering the season, and a rough two weeks can’t erase fairly substantial career numbers.

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