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Bringing Down the Haase

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

Eric Haase (DET): 3-5, 2B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.

It’s been a bit of a letdown season so far in 2022 for Tigers catcher/utility player Eric Haase.

In 2021, Haase hit 21 home runs and drove in 61 RBI in 98 games and 351 plate appearances. Granted, he only hit .231 and he struck out 119 times (while only walking 26 times as well). However, with some added utility value (AJ Hinch also put him in the outfield at times last year), there was some thought that Haase could parlay his success last year into some sneaky value in 2021, especially in deep league formats.

Unfortunately, much like the Tigers, who are 25-40 entering Sunday’s games, Haase hasn’t quite lived up to those fantasy “dark horse” expectations.

The acquisition of Tucker Barnhart from Cincinnati this offseason didn’t help, as it pretty much guaranteed him platoon duty behind the plate. That being said, Haase hasn’t delivered at the plate offensively, and as a result, he hasn’t received consistent at-bats for a struggling Detroit team.

Through 36 games and 106 plate appearances, Haase is hitting .212 with only three home runs and nine RBI. His .628 OPS is 117 points lower than his OPS a season ago, and his slugging is 95 points lower than his 2021 mark as well.

A lack of playing time and lack of production has made Haase a “no-go” in nearly every league format so far in 2022. Thus, it makes sense why he is only rostered in two percent of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, as of Sunday, according to Fantasy Pros.

On Saturday, the Tigers blew out the Texas Rangers 14-7, and Haase was one of the catalysts in the seven-run win. Haase collected three hits, including a double and a home run, and had three runs scored and three RBI.

The Tigers rank 29th in OPS, 30th in runs scored, and 30th in home runs this season. To see an offensive outburst like Saturday, from both Haase and the Tigers, is a welcomed sight from frustrated Tigers fans.

It is only one game, but perhaps Saturday could be a stepping stone in the right direction for Haase and could help him find more opportunities in the Tigers lineup. His framing may limit his opportunities behind the plate (he ranks in the bottom fifth percentile in framing according to Savant), but there is potential in his bat (.311 xwOBA, which is 35 points higher than his wOBA).

In deep league formats, for struggling fantasy managers, Haase may be worth a shot, especially if he can get on a hot streak. He certainly will be available.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

 

Adolis García (TEX): 3-4, 3B, HR, 3 R, RBI.

 

The Rangers got beat down by the Tigers on Saturday, but García helped make it tolerable for Rangers fans. García was the only Texas hitter to have multiple hits, and he scored three runs in addition to hitting a home run and a triple. For the year, García has seen his batting average and OPS improve to .253 and .773 respectively. That is a promising sign after he experienced some early BABIP struggles which suppressed his numbers earlier this season.

Tyler O’Neill (STL): 3-4, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB.

 

O’Neill had an absolutely brutal first two months of the season, a disappointment for many fantasy managers who drafted O’Neill in the early rounds. He posted a .529 OPS in April and a .582 OPS in May before hitting the IL in mid-May. Since returning from the IL on June 7th, O’Neill has looked like his 2021 self. Over 48 plate appearances in June, he is hitting .318 and posting an OPS of .831. His two home runs during the month, which included one on Saturday, are as many as he had in April and May combined.

It may be too early to say O’Neill is back, but he should be a priority pickup for fantasy managers, especially if he’s available in your respective league.

Charlie Blackmon (COL): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

 

Fantasy managers keep thinking regression will come for Blackmon, who is 35 years old. It seemed like 2022 would be the bottom-out year, as his slugging went from .576 in 2019 to .448 in 2020 to .411 in 2021. This season, however, he has seen that slugging jump up to .475, and his OPS of .802 continues to be a solid mark and an improvement from 2021. Granted, the average exit velocity is down at 85.6 MPH, which puts him in the bottom eighth percentile of the league. So maybe regression is coming at some point for Blackmon despite a solid first two-and-a-half months in 2022.

But after a home run, double, and two-RBI game against the Padres on Saturday, it probably won’t be coming anytime soon.

Luis Robert (CWS): 3-5, 2B, R, 4 RBI.

 

The White Sox have been a major disappointment this year, as they are 31-32 in 2022 despite being a consensus favorite to win the AL Central. One could throw Robert in that category, as he was expected to take another jump this season. Granted, Robert is taking care of things in terms of batting average (.290) and speed (11 stolen bases). However, his slugging is pretty pedestrian at .406, especially when one factors in that he has a max exit velocity that ranks in the 97th percentile of the league.

A big issue is that Robert just hits too many groundballs. His groundball rate is 50.6 percent, a career-high by double-digits. His launch angle is also 7.9 degrees, 5.9 degrees lower than a season ago. The potential is there for Robert to be a real superstar. However, there needs to be an adjustment in his batted ball approach if he wants to live up to that status, especially this year.

Ryan McMahon (COL): 3-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.

 

McMahon’s numbers don’t look great, as he is only hitting .238 with a .705 OPS this season. A big reason is due to McMahon’s struggles on the road. Away from Coors Field, McMahon is hitting .211 with a .583 OPS. At Coors, he is hitting .255 with a .786 OPS. In fact, all five of his home runs have come at Coors, including yesterday’s blast against the Padres.

If McMahon is on your fantasy squad, it would be worthwhile to utilize him when he’s on a homestand and bench him on road trips for the time being.

Manny Machado (SD): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.

 

In April, Machado looked like an NL MVP favorite, as he posted a .386 average and 1.067 OPS. He kept up the look in May, hitting .312 with an OPS of .918. However, in June, he has seen some regression which has hurt his candidacy. He is only hitting .289 with a .854 OPS this month. He is still showcasing the power, has he has four home runs this month, which is the exact number he had in both April and May, respectively. However, the NL MVP race will be tight between him, Paul Goldschmidt, and Mookie Betts. A strong finish to June could be good momentum for him leading up to the All-Star break.

Dylan Moore (SEA): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB.

 

Moore isn’t quite the fantasy “dark horse” that he was a year ago, as he is only rostered in two percent of Yahoo leagues and one percent of ESPN leagues, according to Fantasy Pros. However, in deep leagues that value OBP and OPS, he’s an interesting option. He is currently posting an OBP of .351 and OPS of .723, and also has three home runs and nine stolen bases in only 99 plate appearances this year. The Mariners season is going south quickly, and Moore, with his position versatility, could earn more playing time with his patient approach.

Adam Duvall (ATL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.

 

Atlanta needs help in the outfield, and Duvall’s struggles are a big reason why. For the year, Duvall is hitting .209 with a .652 OPS in 244 plate appearances. He continues to struggle with strikeouts, as his 31.6 percent K rate puts him in the bottom fifth percentile of the league. Additionally, his 5.1 percent regression in barrel rate also saps most of his value, which is tied to power production.

Duvall took a step in the right direction on Saturday with two hits, including a home run, against the Cubs. That being said, with the hot stove bound to heat up soon, Duvall will need to do a lot to prevent the Atlanta front office from making a move for an outfielder by the Trade Deadline.

Ji-Man Choi (TB): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.

 

Choi has always been a favorite in Tampa Bay due to his defense and clutch hitting. This year though, he’s thrown himself into not just the All-Star race at first base, but perhaps the AL MVP one as well. Choi is hitting .293 with a .872 OPS, and he is hitting the ball harder than he ever has in his career. His 93.2 MPH average exit velocity on batted balls and 51 percent hard-hit rate are both career-highs. And he is doing this on a Rays team that is 36-29 and in the thick of the playoff hunt in a tough AL East division.

Choi will need to hit a few more home runs to be more seriously considered for AL MVP honors, as he only has six in 174 plate appearances this year. And yet, there’s a long way to go still this year, and all his batted ball metrics demonstrate that Choi can keep up this pace in the coming months of the 2022 season.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien is a high school educator and baseball blogger based in the Kansas City metro area. In addition to writing for Pitcher List, he writes about the Kansas City Royals at his own blog, the Royals Reporter, which can be found at royalsreporter.com.

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