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Better Call Paul

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday's games.

Paul Goldschmidt (STL): 2-3, HR, R, RBI.

Was Paul Goldschmidt shoehorned into being the featured player on today’s article so I could make a Better Call Saul pun? Maybe. But there are important things to discuss about the Cardinals’ first baseman.

Goldschmidt provided all the offense in St. Louis yesterday, going 2-for-3 with a home run, run, and RBI. He just barely took Royals’ starter, Zack Greinke, deep in the first inning – Goldschmidt’s home run went 383 feet to left field and had just a .330 xBA according to Statcast. And that was it for the game. The entire game. The Cardinals took down their cross-state rival 1-0.

After his two-hit day, Goldschmidt’s season line is up to .296/.367/.420 with two home runs and two stolen bases. Outside of the mediocre power numbers, that’s a line you’re happy to see from Goldschmidt, and with a reduced offensive environment league-wide it’s hardly surprising.

Goldschmidt’s slow start to the season is well behind him now. Through his first 11 games, his .146/.271/.191 performance left a lot to be desired. Since then, he’s hitting .450 with a .650 slugging percentage. Over that 10-game stretch, he has six multi-hit games.

If you own Goldschmidt and are worried about his lack of power, I get it. He’s now in his age-34 season and his barrel rate and max exit velocity are both notably down from last year. I think it’s more about Goldschmidt still finding his groove – we’re still only about 20 games into the season – than it is about him notably declining, especially with offense down across the game.

I was fully bought into Goldschmidt before the season and still am today. Even in a scenario where his power output does decline, 25 home runs, 10 steals, and a .290 batting average are incredibly valuable at your first base spot.

Need a five-category contributor at first base? Better Call Paul.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:

David Peralta (ARI): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Peralta notched three hits against the April NL Pitcher of the Month in Monday’s contest. He started the game with a 411-foot home run to deep right field off of Pablo López and then blooped two singles into centerfield in the third and fifth innings. Even after a three-hit day, Peralta’s still owns an OPS of just .707. In a 12- or 15-team, five-outfielder league you could take a shot on Peralta, but with a career-worst strikeout rate up to this point, I wouldn’t expect a big return on that investment.

Gleyber Torres (NYY): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

The Yankees won their 10th straight game on Monday, besting the Blue Jays 3-2 in Toronto. Torres provided all of the Yankees’ offense on the day, collecting two hits including his third home run of the year. His impressive showing raised his season batting line to .239/.274/.448. That isn’t overly impressive, but his slugging percentage is nice to see after two straight seasons with slugging percentages of .368 and .366. Torres has started 18 of the Yankees’ 23 games, so if he’s a fantasy investment you want to make, be sure to note he’ll likely only be playing about five games a week. When push comes to shove, he’s the odd man out of the Yankees’ crowded infield.

Luis Robert (CWS): 3-4, R.

Robert singled three times in the White Sox 3-0 win over the Angels yesterday. All three hits came against Patrick Sandoval, a nice sign that things may finally be turning around for the South Side’s young phenom. His batting line is a disappointing .246/.258/.426, but if you roster Robert, don’t worry. He came into Monday with a BABIP of .196, and his max exit velocity, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and barrel rate all rank in the 90th percentile of hitters. Good times are on the way.

Manuel Margot (TB): 3-4, 2 2B, R, RBI.

Margot was a hard-hit machine in the Rays’ 6-1 win in Oakland. His three hits all came off the bat at 108.7 mph or faster. Extra-base hits are rare for Margot, so collecting two in one game is especially notable – his two doubles were just his third and fourth extra-base hits on the season. Margot’s doing usual Margot things in 2022, hitting for a decent average and on-base percentage, but severely lacking in the power department. His .286/.357/.333 batting line isn’t worth a roster spot in fantasy baseball, outside of a deep league stolen base dart throw.

Travis d’Arnaud (ATL): 3-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI.

Finding a decent hitting catcher is always hard in fantasy, so if you gambled on d’Arnaud in your draft, you have to be feeling great right now. His three-hit showing in the Braves’ 5-2 win over the Mets raised his season batting numbers to .333/.354/.508. Health has always been the question for d’Arnaud – he hasn’t played in more than 60 games since 2019 – but to this point, he’s started 16 of Atlanta’s 24 contests. If he can stay healthy, d’Arnaud should have no trouble finishing as a top 10 catcher in fantasy.

Yandy Díaz (TB): 2-5, HR, 2 R, RBI.

Díaz started the game with a bang, launching a leadoff home run on a hanging middle-middle curveball from Daulton Jefferies. The home run was Díaz’s second of the season, which is somewhat of a surprise as he isn’t known for his power stroke. He’s an on-base machine but hasn’t slugged above .400 since 2018. After Monday’s game, Díaz’s slash line is up to .306/.442/.435. The Rays love to mix and match their lineup, but one consistent is Díaz’s presence in the top part of the order. He’s hit fifth or higher in every start this year. If you’re in an OBP or points league, I’m ready to take a chance on Diaz, but in standard 5×5 leagues, I’m a lot less interested.

Mark Canha (NYM): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

Facing a left-handed starter, Canha moved up to second in the Mets’ lineup on Monday. The move paid off big time as Canha’s two hits came against Braves’ starter Max Fried – a first-inning single and third-inning home run. Canha’s now hitting .356/.433/.424 as a Met, and while those numbers jump off the page, take caution in investing too much into the Mets’ left fielder. He’s never been a Statcast darling, but he’s up to 42 batted balls without a single barrel. I don’t think he’ll crash and burn, but a return to his normal career production is likely right around the corner. That’s still an asset in fantasy, but his career OPS of .778 is about 80 points lower than his 2022 mark.

Jordan Luplow (ARI): 2-4, R, 2 RBI, SB.

Luplow began the season on the IL and has started four of the seven games since he’s been back, including the last three in a row. It’s only a 19 plate appearance sample size, but Luplow is off to a strong start hitting .263 and slugging .579. He’s hit the ball so well that Statcast thinks he should be posting even better numbers, giving him a .659 xSLG. Luplow’s a known lefty-masher – he has a career 139 wRC+ versus lefties and a 79 wRC+ against righties. If he keeps up his hot start, it’ll be hard for the Diamondbacks to stick him in the weak side of a platoon. Encouragingly, three of his starts have come against right-handed pitchers. The Diamondbacks’ offense has been one of the worst in the league, but if Luplow sticks in the two spot in the lineup, he could have deep-league fantasy value.

DJ LeMahieu (NYY): 1-4, SB.

Entering the season, the Yankees needed a good consistent leadoff hitter. Spoiler alert: they’ve found him. LeMahieu is quickly putting his disappointing 2021 campaign behind him, batting .296/.367/.432 through the season’s first few weeks. He’s now batted at the top of the Bronx Bomber’s lineup in 10 straight games, shifting between first base, second base, third base, and DH. The pre-season notion that he wouldn’t be an everyday player has been debunked. The days of him slugging over .500 are probably in the past, but he’ll be a valuable batting average and run producer who can shift all over the diamond. If you believed in LeMahieu enough to draft him, congratulations. He’s been awesome so far and I think that continues.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from fantasy leagues to the legitimate defensive prowess of Kyle Schwarber as a left fielder. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

  • Ban the Shift says:

    Thoughts on Tyler O’Neil? His Statcast shows a lot of blue and other metrics on Fangraphs are pitiful.

    • Mark Steubinger says:

      I’m definitely down on O’Neill compared to how I valued him before the season began. I don’t think I’d be dropping him, but I’d certainly lower your expectations. His Statcast numbers are eerily similar to his 2020 season, but he is being hampered by a .214 BABIP which should bounce back. On a positive note, his walk and strikeout rates are both better than last year and are currently at career-best levels for him. So there’s some good, some bad. I think instead of looking at him as a .250 hitter with 30+ homer upside like he seemed before the season began, I’m viewing him as more of a .240 hitter with 25+ homer upside. Still good, but not as good as he was being valued in drafts. If his numbers still aren’t coming up in a few weeks, then maybe he’s worth trying to replace, especially in an OBP or points league.

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