Batter’s Box: Yadi-Nay?
One of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of valuing catchers for fantasy is their playing time. You look at leaderboards that only include qualified batters and you see three maybe four guys that out there almost day in and day out. However, there are way more than four catchers that need to be considered. And sometimes those four won’t be the top four to consider. Take Mitch Garver as an example this season. He’s played in 89 games with 347 plate appearances, yet is second in homers, third in runs, and sixth in RBIs among catchers. On the opposite end of that spectrum, is Yadier Molina who has found a way to get 500 or more plate appearances in every season but one since 2009. He’s been in there day in and day out for so long that this year it may have finally caught up to him.
Molina has had a frustrating season dealing with a thumb issue that cropped up for two weeks at the end of May and then came back in July keeping him out of the lineup another month. That has kept him down to only around 415 plate appearances on the year. But most importantly, the injury may have been affecting his offensive performance. Most notably, in the year of the juiced ball, his power has not been as prevalent as the last two seasons, even with his 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI performance last night. He is hitting a few less fly balls, but his HR/FB rate has dropped to around 7%, the rate it was when he wasn’t hitting over 10 dingers a year. He’s still a plus defensively and will go down as one of the greatest in history, but if his age and injuries have caught up to him, he may no longer have that perennial value floor he offers by playing so many games.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees)—2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Stanton has returned in a big way, demolishing a home run at 111 mph. This was his third game back after missing after three months since a brief return in June from more injuries that kept him out the initial three months. After a lost season, he’ll try to make up for it in the final week.
José Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox)—3-5, R, HR, 2 RBI. Since the start of August, Abreu has put together a strong finish to the season slashing .315/.379/.565 while mashing 11 homers and 13 doubles. He increased his walk rate to a respectable 7% where in the middle months of the season it was as low as 2%. His hard hit rate has especially picked back up in September breaking 50%. This rate along with his barrel rate have been the highest he has seen the past few seasons and are both near the top in the league.
Shed Long (2B/OF, Seattle Mariners)—3-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. The past week and a half, Long has been plugged into the top of the Mariners lineup and he’s been producing. In eight of the ten games he’s been batting there, he has been on base multiple times, but it was only last night that led to multiple scores. With this kind of finish, there is a good opportunity for Long to hold this spot in the lineup for next season as well.
J.P. Crawford (3B/SS, Seattle Mariners)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI. Crawford has been coming up empty recently after returning from a hamstring injury a little over a week ago. Since the return he’s had one hit with a few walks across five starts. Last night’s performance will hopefully keep him going through the end of the season with a string of hits including a late game home run. Even with the change of scenery, it was still a disappointing year for the former first round pick.
Trent Grisham (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, SB. I was debating featuring Grisham today, however, Scott featured him not even two weeks ago. So I’ll refer you back to that. But since that day, Yelich has been sidelined for the rest of the season and Grisham has had to step it up. Since the injury, has not faired well until yesterday. Not including yesterday, he’s slashed .226/.342/.452. But last night he made a splash with a patented Yelich combo meal and finding his way on base four times. We may be seeing plenty of that in the years to come.
David Fletcher (2B/3B/SS/OF, Los Angeles Angels)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. In the year of the juiced ball, someone with over 600 plate appearances found a way to only hit six home runs. Let’s take a look at last night’s dinger. He must have gotten all of it. 88.5 mph off the b at, 342 feet, into the short porch at Minute Maid. Well then.
Ryan O’Hearn (1B, Kansas City Royals)—3-4, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. After an impressive 44 game rookie campaign last season with a 153 wRC+, there was something to look forward to in Kansas City. However, O’Hearn has had quite a rough year at the plate. With an initial stint in the majors up to the All Star break he was hitting below .200 with a 63 wRC+. After a month and a half in AAA, he came back to the majors and has been essentially the same still hitting below .200 with a 60 wRC+. Hopefully the offseason will give him the reset he needs.
Brad Miller (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Philadelphia Phillies)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. The end of the year is popping up some interesting names in Batter’s Box. Miller has been with Philly since mid-June and has been the ultimate utility player, pinch hitting a whole lot while getting the occasional start. With Dickerson out, Miller will be filling in in left field. Despite two 400 foot home runs yesterday, don’t rely on Miller to fill in for your fantasy team in the final week.
Marcus Semien (SS, Oakland Athletics)—3-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB. Here is a man that will be getting a good amount of MVP votes that you would never have expected. He found his way on base six times yesterday including three walks. A big factor in his 2019 success has been his increased plate discipline. His walk rate has increased two and half percentage points while his K rate is down four and half from last season. His O-Swing is down over three points and his Z-Swing is up over two points. He has a better eye and has been getting more and better contact becoming a much better hitter than he’s ever been.
(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)