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.”