We all fall in love during the spring. We plant our flag on guys we believe in, especially the ones that we believe in more than everyone else. Willians Astudillo (C, Minnesota Twins) was that guy for me, and truth be told, he probably still is. He had a pretty solid night at the plate on Tuesday (3-4, R, 2B, RBI), and to his credit, he’s hitting .412 with a .647 slugging percentage since his return to to the Twins’ active roster on June 19th with zero walks or strikeouts (which is just CLASSIC Astudillo). On the season, though, his limited power and playing time have made him very difficult in roster in single-catcher formats.
I will admit that I have rostered him far too long in most leagues and have scooped him up every time he has been dropped. I simply can’t shake my fondness for everything he represents. He’s not a slender man, but he hustles his heart out and has mind-boggling contact numbers. I will go well out of my way to include him in these Batter’s Box articles (like I am doing right now) and usually find myself writing his name in all caps whenever he does anything even remotely positive. I will apologize for his mistakes and then immediately forgive him for them and look for reasons why he will rebound. For example, he’s played at three different positions over the last week (catcher, third base, and right field) and I’m positive that if he gets hot that he can carve out a nearly full-time role for the Twins during the absence of their utility man Marwin Gonzalez. Heck, he might even find regular playing time afterwards if the Twins finally let Jason Castro fall to the wayside (he’s hitting .171/.237/.286 in June) or if an injury were to unfortunately befall another Twins regular (as Gonzalez would likely slide out of right field to cover that spot, giving Astudillo a place to play).
He probably won’t, though. During a recent live chat on our Discord (which you should join), I asked fantastic writer Shelly Verougstraete her unbiased opinion of him and she gave me the correct answer: “I love the idea of him. . . but I don’t think he’s really that great.” It was devastating, but almost certainly true. I love him because I want to love him. This is true of a lot of guys I planted a flag on back in March and April (Matt Carpenter is another example). It’s late June now, and while many of these guys could very easily turn it around and become the player I dreamed they could be, it’s time to start thinking that they (probably) won’t. If you’ve got these kinds of players still on your roster and are refusing to let them go for much better options, I understand. I feel for you. That said, it’s time to look in the mirror and make sure you’re keeping them because you think they’re going to help you win your league.
. . . I’m not going to cut La Tortuga, though. Not yet.
Hanser Alberto (SS/2B/3B, Baltimore Orioles)—4-5, R, 2B. He has almost no power to speak of, but his ability to avoid a third strike and put the ball in play will help him maintain a useful batting average. His expected average is .263, which is 55 points below his actual .318 batting average, but in a 15-team league he should have value as a replacement infielder even if the average drops a bit due to his spot at the top of the Orioles order.
Rafael Devers (3B, Boston Red Sox)—4-4, 2 R, 3 2B, RBI. He’s been the cleanup hitter for the Red Sox for most of the month and has multiple hits in seven of his last 11 starts. He should get to 25 home runs and close to 100 RBI with a .300 batting average by season’s end. As I’ve mentioned before, I think the stolen bases are more of a fluke than something we can expect more of going forward, but the power and batting average certainly are. I’m especially fond of his increased contact on pitches outside of the zone. While that usually doesn’t result in the best contact, it has greatly reduced his strikeout totals and even weak contact is better than none at all.
Jeff McNeil (2B/3B/OF, New York Mets)—4-5, R, 2B, RBI. He has at least two hits in six of his last seven starts and is firmly entrenched in the leadoff role for the Mets. The power and stolen bases will be sporadic and unimpressive, but the batting average and OBP will make him valuable in all formats.
Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins)—4-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI. Just when I thought I had Steady Eddie all figured out, he goes on a power binge in April and puts himself on pace for 35 home runs. He’s slowed down a bit in June, but his combination of power, double-digit stolen base potential, and solid batting average make him a solid second or third outfielder in batting average formats. He’s a little less exciting in OBP due to his low walk rate, though.
Mitch Garver (C, Minnesota Twins)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. He’s outperformed his expected batting average for most of the season (it currently sits at .240), but his power is very real. His 13.2% barrel rate should help him continue to hit the ball a long way, even if he doesn’t hit the ball quite as often as he has been going forward. He’s also got the most certain playing time among the three active Twins catchers, for whatever that’s worth.
Jesus Aguilar (1B, Milwaukee Brewers)—2-4, RBI. The good news? He’s got a .341 OBP in June with five walks and six strikeouts. The bad news? He’s only starting about half of the time and is hitting near the bottom of the order. He’s probably only useful as a DFS play or deep league platoon against lefties at this point.
Tommy La Stella (2B/3B, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, R, HR, RBI. I was wrong to completely dismiss La Stella earlier this season, as he has continued to show impressive contact and decent power after his hot April. I think he’ll be good for three or four home runs a month and is a solid option at the top of the Angels lineup for batting average and modest power going forward.
Amed Rosario (SS, New York Mets)—2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, SB. He’s a major OBP sandbag in leagues that use that category, but in batting average leagues he has plenty of value due to his 15 home run power and 20-to-25 stolen base ability. He should also hit close to .265 as well, which is quite useful in most leagues.
Manuel Margot (OF, San Diego Padres)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. At one time, he was the Padres outfielder we were most excited about due to his combination of pop and speed, but now that he’s a part-time player who hits in the bottom third of the order, he’s easy to ignore in most formats. The outfield got crowded and unfortunately Margot was the ultimate loser.
Chris Taylor (2B/SS/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—2-3, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 SB. He’s hitting .481 with a 1.494 OPS and 12 RBI over the last week as the full time short stop and should be on rosters in most 12-team leagues for his power, speed, and positional flexibility. He’s particularly useful against lefties and finds himself in a nice spot in the order against them.
Ryan Braun (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—3-5, 2 R, 2 2B. He looks like he’s going to do pretty much the same thing he did in 2019 but with a better batting average (mostly due to a rebound in his luck). He’s still on pace for 130+ games, which he hasn’t done since 2016, and a healthy Braun is a useful Braun in 12-team and deeper formats.
Manny Machado (SS/3B, San Diego Padres)—2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Remember when he had poor numbers early in the season and everyone worried? Well, I spent a bunch of time in this piece talking about how it’s time to move on from players who aren’t living up to our expectations, and there’s a good reason I wrote that blurb now instead of back in April.
DJ LeMahieu (2B/3B, New York Yankees)—2-4, R, HR, 3B, RBI. He. Just. Cannot. Stop.
(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)