Night after night, hundreds of MLB players compete for the chance to be highlighted in the illustrious Batter’s Box column. Sometimes a player swats a home run, and sometimes a player will even steal a few bases. However, only one can make the cut and earn the spot. While I am relatively new at writing the Batter’s Box, someone significantly stood out yesterday.
The Padres showed no signs of All-Star Break layover as they threw a 24 spot on the scoreboard. Included in the offensive onslaught was a magnificent evening by Jake Cronenworth, who finished the evening by completing the cycle. His special event marked the 332nd time in MLB history a player has accomplished this feat. Oddly, the home run would be the only time Cronenworth was able to cross home plate. After falling in many fantasy drafts, the Padres infielder has done everything in his power to supplant himself as a fixture in the ballclub’s extremely talented offense.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday.
Mike Yastrzemski (SF): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB. Yas finished the night with a pair of long balls that brought his total up to 14 on the season. However, his .238 batting average is quite a bit lower than fantasy managers were expected. The most significant issues have been the lackluster split against southpaws, where Yas carries a .294 SLG%. Still, he is crushing RHP and remains a viable option in 12 and 15-teamers.
Wander Franco (TB): 2-6, 3B, 2 R. Given the sluggish start to Wander’s much-awaited MLB debut, his signs of life the dish are very welcoming for all dynasty managers and Tampa Bay Rays‘ hopefuls. While he hasn’t quite taken the league by storm, Franco remains a raw talent that is showcasing an elite-level skillset that will blossom in both the stolen base and home run category for many years to come.
Bryan Reynolds (PIT): 2-3, HR, R, RBI. The Pirates’ outfielder could make an alluring trade piece to several baseball teams looking for added thump in the lineup. Reynolds already set a new career-high in home runs at 17 and showing no signs of slowing down. Even more enticing, among all outfielders, Reynolds sits fourth in batting average and sixth in OBP. I urge all fantasy managers to hold Reynolds and see if he gets moved to a contender, where he could get an added boost in counting stats.
Mitch Haniger (SEA): 3-5, 2B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI. Haniger stuffed the stat sheet last night with a slew of extra-base hits, including his 21st dinger of the season. The outfielder continues to pile onto an already impressive season after taking a full year off due to injury. The break didn’t slow him down one bit, and his 11-for-34 stint in the last two weeks brings his slash line to .265/.317/.503 with a .820 OPS.
Elvis Andrus (OAK): 3-5, 2 R. Elvis’s poor start to the season had many fantasy managers singing the blues. That is, until recently, he found his groove. His three-hit evening raised his batting average to a palatable .284 over the last month of playing time. The turnaround is a welcome sign after a forgettable April that included a .388 OPS. He might be worth stashing at only 7% rostered in Yahoo leagues, especially if the stolen bases continue.
Tommy Pham (SD): 4-6, 2B, HR, 5 R, 2 RBI, BB, SB. Falling a triple shy of his own cycle is Tommy Pham. The Padres’ infielder was every bit as impressive as his teammate, Cronenworth. The fantastic part of Pham’s night is he crossed home plate five times, which was more runs than quite a few MLB teams had on the evening. Nonetheless, Pham needs to remain at any fantasy manager’s forefront because of his power+speed skillset.
Whit Merrifield (KC): 4-4, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI. A perfect night at the plate that helped Whit reach base every time up. No doubt, he was the driving force to the 9-2 victory over the Orioles. While his batting average is down just a touch from his career mark, the .278 batting average, along with an eye-popping 24 stolen bases, makes him incredibly valuable at 2B. He might be getting up there in age but showing no signs of slowing down.
Willy Adames (MIL): 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. Since being acquired in mid-May from the Rays, Adames looks like a much more comfortable hitter in Milwaukee. He is slashing a cool .299/.380/.559 and ranks third in WAR among all qualified shortstops since the acquisition. Additionally, when you consider Adames is only 25-years old, the Brewers might have very well solidified a key infield spot for many years to come.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB. How does one top winning the MVP award at the All-Star Game? Well, I suppose a two HR game is one way. The uber-talented HR power is prevalent as he is on pace for 60 bombs with a .335 batting average. The skies are the limit for this talent, and he is doing everything to make a convincing case as the number one overall pick next season.
Christian Arroyo (BOS): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI. Since a return from the IL, Arroyo has been as hot a hitter as any. His July already has three multi-hit games, and a pair of HRs in that timespan is good news for the already first-place Boston Red Sox. Now, because Arroyo doesn’t make it in the lineup every day, he is much more valuable in deeper formats like daily transactions leagues and AL-only.
Freddie Freeman (ATL): 4-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB. Fresh off his All-Star Game appearance, Freeman wasted no time in adding onto his season. This time, however, was with a combo meal special. The tasting evening included a 107.5-mph shot that traveled 379 feet before ending up in the stands. He remains a must-watch talent that will surely give you plenty of help in any fantasy league format.