Batter’s Box: Where There’s a Willians, There’s a Way

Willians Astudillo is big, he's bad, and he's batting 1.000. Get the rundown on him and other notables from Sunday in the Batter's Box.

He’s big, he’s bad, and he’s batting 1.000. If you’ve followed our site for any period of time, then you know that a significant portion of our staff has a soft spot for the man affectionately known as “La Tortuga.”

I mean, if you don’t love Willians Astudillo (C/3B, Minnesota Twins), do you even love baseball? He made his season debut for the Twins and managed to go 2-2 with a pair of doubles, a pair of runs, and a pair of RBI. He also had a sacrifice fly and was hit by a pitch to round out his evening. He was all of the things we love about him in his four plate appearances he didn’t strike out, he didn’t try to walk, he hustled his brains out, and he did it all while seeing only eight pitches.

I can’t sit here and tell you that he’s going to win an everyday job or even an every other day job. What I can tell you, though, is that every single time he steps into the batter’s box, you should be watching. He’s unconventional, fun, and everything we haven’t always been allowed to love about baseball.

Jeimer Candelario (3B, Detroit Tigers) 5-6, 2B, 2 RBI. The Tigers already have two wins in extra innings after just three games, which tells us one thing: This offense is not good enough to win in nine innings. That’s not Candelario’s fault though, at least not tonight. Candelario lacks an elite (or even very good) skill but pieces together his sorta-good hit and sorta-good power tools to be one sorta-good player. He’s undervalued in draft preparations as a result of being on a bad team and not being overly special in the box score, but batting lead off for the Tigers means plenty of trips to the plate. And while he didn’t score a run last night, it’s safe to assume that hitting in front of Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera will lead to plenty of scoring opportunities. That makes him a valuable add for teams looking to get a fill-in bat for their corner infield slot just be ready for days like Sunday where five hits leads to just two RBI.

Trea Turner (SS, Washington Nationals) 2-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, SB. Congrats to the Turner owners out there who likely find themselves at the top of their league rankings so far. Everything has gone exactly how owners who spent a first-round pick on Turner dreamed a little bit of pop and a WHOLE LOT of speed. Perhaps his manager really does want him to get to 70 steals, based on the current pace! Turner was a top-15 player last season, and the only way he won’t return top-10 value this year is if he can’t stay on the field.

J.D. Martinez (DH, Boston Red Sox) 2-3, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB.  In his four-game start to the 2019 season, he already has three multihit games and seven RBI. In 2018, Martinez ranked in the 97th or better percentile in exit velocity, hard-hit rate, barrel rate,  xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA. Simply put, he was one of, if not THE best bat swinger in the game. He’s so, SO good at hitting baseballs, and if I were a gambling man (which I am), I would bet on him to be at or near the top in every offensive category that doesn’t require him to run fast (because he does not).

Jay Bruce (OF, Seattle Mariners) 2-4, HR, 2B, 3 R, RBI, BB. That’s just Bruce being Bruce: hit for some power, take a walk, strike out twice, then go home. The times and colors of his uniform may change, but he’ll continue to be the same guy he has always been. He’s the fantasy baseball equivalent of dry toast. He can provide necessary statistical nutrients, but owning him will also make others feel sad for you.

Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) 2-2, HR, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB. To acquire this phenomenal talent, the Brewers had to give up Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison, Jordan Yamamoto, and Lewis Brinson in a deal that was seen as a win-win by most pundits at the time of execution. As it stands today, though, is there really any chance that even the four of those kids combined can match Yelich’s value? He’s just 27 years old, is coming off an MVP season, and began the current season with four consecutive games with a dinger. Seems an awful lot like we’ve got another 30 home run, 20 stolen base season on our hands and another run at an NL MVP.

Carlos Santana (1B, Cleveland Indians) 4-4, 2B, 3 RBI. There isn’t much about Carlos Santana that you probably don’t already know: He has mid-20s home run power, he walks a lot, and he doesn’t strike out much. He’s a much better hitter than his career .246 average would suggest because, well, batting average is, by itself, a poor reflection of a hitter’s talent. While he’ll never hit for a high average, you can probably expect the switch-hitter to rebound from his .229 batting average from 2018 into something more like what he did in his previous two full seasons with these Indians (.259). Should Santana have suppressed stats from a rough start to the season (which sort of looks like a possibility with the rough start of the year for Cleveland, scoring just five runs in three games), he’d make for a nice trade target.

Delino DeShields (OF, Texas Rangers) 1-4, HR, R, 4 RBI, SB, BB. DeShields can run. DeShields can walk. This is the extent of DeShields’ skill set. Could he steal 40 bases? Yes, if he could stay healthy and find a way to hit .220 or better. That’s a bigger “if” than you might think though as he’s been below that benchmark in two of his four major league seasons. For those in deeper OBP leagues who need steals and a nontoxic OBP, DeShields can help you. Everyone else ought to move along, though there is no bat here, just legs. He consistently is among the league’s worst in virtually every quality of contact metric and plays for a really bad team that doesn’t even particularly seem interested in having him lead off all that often, and when he ain’t first in the order, he’s last. That’s a pretty big deal too as he had 196 plate appearances in the leadoff role and 109 plate appearances in the ninth slot. As a leadoff hitter, he stole 13 bases. As a nine-hole hitter, he stole four.

Nelson Cruz (DH, Minnesota Twins) 3-5, HR, 2B, R, 2 RBI. Just a casual reminder that Cruz can still slug as well as anyone in the league and that being a designated hitter only is not a significant detriment to his value because you needed to fill that spot anyway.

Niko Goodrum (2B, Detroit Tigers) 3-4, 2 2B, R, BB. Many people ask about him because of his multi-eligibility in the infield and outfield, but this is a really raw bat that I don’t think will repeat his fairly miraculous 2018 season. He is, however, one of the cornerstones of my team in the PL Worstball League (which is SUPER fun feel free to follow along on Twitter or view the league on Yahoo). That said, he could get close to 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases if he gets playing time, but like 2018, he’ll need things to shake his way to find open spots.

Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) 3-5, HR, 3 R, RBI. It was a fairly disappointing campaign for Bellinger in 2018, but only because of the immense expectations that followed his spectacular debut in 2017. The 2018 version was statistically inferior to the 2017 version in almost every way (he did manage to swipe a few more bags), but there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a 30-plus home run slugger with double-digit steals and a decent batting average. He’s still just 23 years old, and he hits in the heart of the order for one of baseball’s best teams, which is a pretty promising combination if you ask me.

Matt Carpenter (3B, St. Louis Cardinals) 2-3, HR, 2B, R, RBI, BB. The MagicCarp made a big splash yesterday. I almost made a certain orange and yellow fish our featured image today, but I imagine I would not be allowed to write these anymore if I did that. Carpenter has been discussed at length here at Pitcher List, and you can count me in the camp that believes he displayed a new approach that led to his unbelievable power surge. He identified pitches that he could do damage against and proceeded to obliterate them, leading to a very high barrel rate (which is a very good thing). The biggest thing to watch for is his spot in the lineup that now happens to feature all-world first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. So far, he’s manned the leadoff spot, which will means fewer RBI opportunities but loads of runs scored. It’s a fair trade off, as few batters with his power potential will get a chance to see as many plate appearances.

(Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire)

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.

  • Avatar Crenshaw says:

    Hey Scott, thanks for the recap. I’m a little SS/2B heavy on my bench (12 team points), with Lourdes Gurriel and Hampson. I’d like to keep Hampson (just in case), do i drop Gurriel for an FA? Hanley, Reddick, Morland etc are on the wire, thoughts?

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      You’re more than welcome!

      I’d be unlikely to drop any of those 3 for the names you listed there. Gurriel is the most “droppable”, as he’s got the least exciting profile and what is probably the more replaceable stat line (no steals, 20-25 HR in a full season, mediocre R+RBI, .250 avg or worse), but not for those guys you listed, or even guys in that tier. I’d be chasing more upside if I’m cutting Gurriel. One caveat, though – if he’s truly in a timeshare and can’t get more than 4-5 starts a week, I’d cut him for a ham sandwich unless this is an extremely (15+ team) deep format.

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