Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis has been gradual in his full resurrection back from first the DL and then an icy cold morgue where he was apparently storing his bat. Anybody who watched his 5-13, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 3 K series against Kansas City this weekend would probably agree that he’s back on the right track. A .268 May has seen his terrible start almost become a figment of our imagination, as the average is at .242 and rising. The 19 RBI and five homers are reasons to be hopeful, especially when you realize 18 of the 19 and all the jacks have come this month. After falling into temporary fantasy irrelevance upon his attempt to work through the injury-induced rust, he’s bordering on being a dependable option once again.
Let’s take a look at what else happened notably hitting-wise around the league:
Neil Walker (2B, NYM) – 5-15, 4 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K. After an abjectly terrible April that saw him bat .195, Walker has turned it on resoundingly this month. He’s hit safely in six straight and has managed multiple hits in three of the six, which is the punctuation on a .266 average overall. His counting stats are nudging toward the 30s after decent production, and he’s suddenly looking a little more viable than just a placeholder in a roster. The six HRs are a little scant for two months’ work, but the fact that he’s even capable of a double-homer game like Friday night is a true calmer of nerves. In summary, Walker is not a fantasy superstar, but also not a blatant liability like he appeared to be early on.
Devon Travis (2B, TOR) – 5-12, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 K. Another guy who has had a very successful couple of weeks in an effort to dig himself out of a truly abysmal hole is Travis. It’s taken a 12-game hitting streak to repair the damage done by what was a sub-.100 average at points in April: 10-77 in baseball’s opening month likely had him vehemently unowned across leagues of any format. He might have had a heart-to-heart with Mama Travis that inspired this recent rash of hitting effectiveness because Mother’s Day was when he turned things around with the first of three straight multi-hit games. Fast forward to this past Friday, and he’s knocking in a grand slam and notching seven total bases. The average is up to .252 after a brilliant .360 in May alone. I’d like to see a little more from him RBI-wise, as the slam obviously accounts for four of his mere 19 on the year. While Travis is hot, he could be a decent play in daily fantasy or points leagues especially. Keep an eye on the repertoire of pitchers he’s due to go up against, though, as he is positively terrible against sliders thrown his way and cannot be trusted if that pitch is used a lot.
Christian Yelich (OF, MIA) – 5-11, 3 R, RBI, 2 BB, (1 IBB), 3 K. Over a two-series stretch against the Astros and the Dodgers, Yelich was an uncharacteristic 2-24, and I was waiting for him to awaken from his mini-slump. That seems to have happened, to an extent, as he has since hit safely in four consecutive games and has thus halted the decline of his average that now sits at .268. This is still underwhelming for his highly-set expectation bar, but at least be advised that he’s snapped out of the mid-May funk that likely had fantasy owners entertaining the idea of a ledge jump. Only 17 batters in MLB have scored more runs than Yelich’s 32, so that had to have been at least slightly encouraging during the rough times.
Justin Bour (1B, MIA) – 3-12, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 2 K. Saturday was unkind to Bour’s bat in its stopping his eight-game hit streak, but he punished the Angels on Friday with a three-run shot off RP Jose Alvarez B6 to put the Marlins’ lead at an insurmountable level. He has hit .329 in May and .277 overall. Bour is locked in as Miami’s 5-spot hitter—with an occasional appearance at cleanup—and is surrounded by generally productive hitters. Marcell Ozuna often precedes him in the lineup and has the 20th best OBP in the league, so that bodes well for Bour’s RBI count if he can stay successful at the dish.
Melky Cabrera (OF, CHW) – 6-15, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K. Cabrera hasn’t been spectacular at a time when Avisail Garcia has been mashing like crazy, but he did have a really solid bit of work this weekend against Detroit. If you’ve been watching a lot of AL Central ball this year, though, this storyline shouldn’t surprise you. After this four-game homestand against the Tigers, Cabrera is now 14-36 on the year against them. Literally greater than 30% of his 2017 hits have come at the expense of the Tigers pitching staff, which is bonkers. He’s not an elite OF option, but he tends to do well against division rivals so stream him if you need him.
Nick Markakis (OF, ATL) – 4-10, R, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K. After a more-than-adequate showing at AT&T Park this weekend, Markakis is a guy I’ve decided is having one of the quietest .300-plus seasons in the entire league. He’s scored 26 runs and hit 24 RBI, and I really only have beef with him having but one homer. If your strategy is to install serviceable guys to win certain categories they’re doing well in, Markakis presents a great average that’s among the top 35 in the league and won’t let you down in the counting stats realm. I want more power, which the 36.4% hard contact should hopefully help arrive. Until then, I can accept him as he is as either a good UTIL or a backup OF.
Mike Moustakas (3B, KCR) – 5-13, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB (IBB), K. Cleveland righty Josh Tomlin held the Royals in check on Sunday, but Moustakas was a nightmare against other members of the Indians pitching staff on Friday and Saturday. He’s got 13 homers overall and is thus on pace to accomplish a career best in the metric. The .254 average isn’t great but the slugging and 26 RBI definitely more than make up for it.
Andrew McCutchen (OF, PIT) – 4-11, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 3 K. The four-game hit streak is fun if you’re a Pirates fan, but Cutch hasn’t been consistent enough thus far to really trust. The .213 average is brutal, and he’s basically a step behind middle-tier OF in every other statistical category. You’re probably interested in shopping him with a potential turnaround as your prmary selling point, and I basically am here to make you feel better about that approach. He’s just not on the same level of fantasy superiority as he was once was.
Tommy Pham (OF, STL) – 5-11, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB. If you need a four-game hit streak that belongs to a more effective surprise, Pham is your guy. Since his call up on Cinco de Mayo, he’s batting .333 with 12 runs and 14 RBI to complement five homers. That is what’s known as “not too shabby.” Unfortunately, his playing time is probably limited because he may not have a spot on the roster when Stephen Piscotty is back and healthy/ Keep him in mind for dynasty and maybe daily fantasy purposes based on recent performance.
Zack Cozart (SS, CIN) – 6-13, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K. He should be a no-brainer to own at this point, with a .350 average and pushing toward 30 runs and RBI. Five homers are a bonus on top of a BA that could win you matchups.
Domingo Santana (OF, MIL) – 4-11, 3 R, HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB (1 IBB), 3 K. Santana is having a pretty monstrous May: hitting .333 with six XBH to go along with 14 runs and 15 RBI. He’s sitting at .270 overall and seven homers is nothing to be upset about. Three of his four steals came in April, which is puzzling to me, but he can be relied upon as a diversely contributing starter OF regardless.
Cameron Maybin (OF, LAA) – 4-11, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 SB. In just two games against the Marlins, Maybin came up big in a way the Angels are going to need him to keep doing: a sprained thumb could sideline demigod Mike Trout so the helm will need to be manned by the rest of the rather anemic order in Anaheim. The steals made for 12 on the season, and his average is a passable .247 to go along with a robust 29 runs. Three homers and 12 RBI aren’t great, but the work put in with SB and runs might be sufficient enough to consider popping him into a lineup every now and then.
What’s up w/ A. Diaz? Would dropping him for Cozart come back to bite?