Discovering the Higgs Boson

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

Kyle Higashioka (C, NYY): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Listen up, CERN—the elementary particle has been sighted in Dunedin, FL and you didn’t even need to spend all that money on a Large Hadron Collider. I’m referring, of course, to Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka who smacked not one but two home runs to finish with 2-3 with three RBI on the night. Higashioka provided all the offense for New York in this one, teeing off on Blue Jays’ starter Robbie Ray for a two-run tater in the fifth to give the Yankees the lead and adding on an insurance solo shot in the eighth.

If it seems a bit unfair for the Yankees to have two slugging backstops, relax. This marked just the second start of the season for Higashioka and just the 11th and 12th long balls of his career (yet remarkably his third multi-homer game). While he’s improved offensively each year since he debuted in 2017, he’s still slashing a combined .199/.236/.423 over his career 212 plate appearances. And despite his growing role as Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher, he’s unlikely to pull too much more playing time from Gary Sánchez. Barring an injury to the Kraken, Higgy wouldn’t have the plate appearances to be fantasy relevant and isn’t enough of an offensive force to be even if he did get the playing time.

But hey, multi-homer games are awesome!

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:

Grayson Greiner (C, DET): 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.

What’s that? A catcher hitting a home run that is definitely available on your wire? Settle down and stop salivating. Tigers’ backup catcher Grayson Greiner belted a home run of his own off Astros’ starter Zack Greinke, adding on an RBI single to drive Greinke out of the game in the fifth inning. However, like Higgy, Greiner is locked into a backup role behind Wilson Ramos and doesn’t scream “offensive potential” anyway—through over 400 career plate appearances, he’s got an even worse slash line than his counterpart in pinstripes: .196/.263/.310. So don’t overreact here, either.

Akil Baddoo (OF, DET): 2-3, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI.

Save all your overreaction for this guy. Since we chatted last Monday, the Tigers’ phenom continues to set the world on fire, smacking a home run (a 450ft monster to center field) and a double and tacking on a sac fly for good measure. Through 21 plate appearances, his career is off to a wild start, showing off his power/speed potential. He’s currently slugging 1.000 on the season (yes you heard right, that’s his slugging, not OPS). Sure, he’ll come down to earth eventually and I suspect his strikeout problem will soon make itself known to the world, but he’s absolutely locked in and tearing the cover off of the ball right now. If he’s still available in your league, grab him and ride him while he’s hot, but in a redraft league I’m anticipating a pretty serious slump (probably sooner rather than later) as pitchers start to figure him out. That said, his ceiling is clearly pretty darn high.

Shohei Ohtani (DH, LAA): 3-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Despite all of the coverage, I still feel like we don’t talk about Shohei Ohtani enough. While he was scratched from his last planned start on the mound with a blister issue, his hitting has had no such roadblocks and he’s continuing to demonstrate why his Statcast hitting page is littered with red. He had two doubles yesterday, bringing him up to a .333/.366/.744 slash line on the season so far, including three homers and two stolen bases. Whether his pitching is going to be consistent enough to be valuable is a bit murky, but clearly Joe Maddon is going to be slotting Ohtani into the lineup as much as possible.

Ramón Laureano (OF, OAK): 2-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 SB.

Laureano continues his strong start to the season, reaching base three times yesterday and making the most of it, scoring twice and swiping two bags. He’s leading the league with seven stolen bases on the season and possess that tantalizing power/speed combo that fantasy managers covet so much. He struggled a bit in 2020 (didn’t we all?) but appears to be well on his way to a bounce-back season and with a strong lineup around him fantasy managers should continue to reap the rewards.

Mark Canha (OF, OAK): 1-4, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SB.

Oakland A’s leadoff man… Mark Canha? Don’t laugh, Canha’s elite on-base skills make him perfect for the role. Since 2019, he has a combined .393 OBP. Like Laureano, he’ll benefit from the strong lineup after him and while I don’t expect to see a ton more stolen bases (this is just his eighth in that same stretch) when you get on the basepaths as much as he does he’s bound to steal you a few more this season. While much better in OBP leagues, Canha still provides sneaky value even if he’s not the flashiest while doing it.

Salvador Perez (C, KC): 4-4, 1 R, 1 RBI.

For all the flack the Royals got for locking up Perez for as much as they did, the backstop is showing off why he’s such a valuable hitter. While he didn’t get much in the way of counting stats to show for it, Perez smacked a single every time he came to the plate last night. Salvy was electric last year and is one of the more consistent fantasy catchers as long as he can stay healthy. Hitting third in what is a surprisingly decent Royals’ lineup, he should get as good a shot at counting stats as any other catcher.

Brett Phillips (OF, TB): 1-2, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 SB.

I’m not saying you should go running to your wire (because he’s certainly on it), but Brett Phillips should provide sneaky-good value as long as Kevin Kiermaier remains out—mainly because he costs next to nothing in most formats and can occasionally throw you a day like this one. Extrapolated to a full season, he’s got roughly 10/15 potential but his bat just isn’t good enough to be consistently fantasy-relevant even when he’s in the lineup. Still, the odd stolen base or extra-base hit is nice. Once Kiermaier returns, though, playing time will be hard to come by for Phillips in that Rays’ outfield.

Wil Myers (OF, SD): 3-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 5 RBI.

It seems like the Wil Myers resurgence from last year is indeed real, as the 30-year-old keeps on mashing. He’s up to an impressive .395/.422/.767 slash line on the young season including five homers, tied for most in the league. What’s more, he’s hitting within a lineup is deadly even without phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. After a few down years, Myers seems a lock to return to his 30-HR days and will accumulate some nice counting stats to go with them.

Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF, ATL): 1-2, 1 3B, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 SB.

The savior that Atlanta was promised shows no sign of breaking that prophecy. If there’s a knock on Acuña it’s his walk rate, and he laughed at you for even thinking about that last night as he walked not once, not twice, but thrice, scoring twice (including on a sac fly to… the second baseman?) and swiping a bag in the process. His one hit of the night was a triple. There’s no need to talk about fantasy relevance here—if you’re lucky enough to have him on your team, just enjoy the ride.

Keston Hiura (2B, MIL): 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 SB.

After a brutal hitless streak to start the season, the Brewers second baseman is quietly heating up, going 4-12 in his last three games with a double, a home run, and a stolen base in that time. He’s down to one strikeout per game rather than two, and brought his OPS up to .414 on the season. It’s not amazing and if you drafted him for full price you’re still feeling quite antsy, but hey, it’s something, right? I still have some significant concerns about Hiura long-term, but there’s no way he’s this bad.

Garrett Cooper (1B, MIA): 3-5, 1 2B, 3 RBI.

Cooper got to play hero for the Marlins last night, belting a two-run double in the eighth to tie the game and delivering with an RBI single in the 10th to score the winning run. The Marlins’ first baseman gets overlooked a bit due to the rather lacking lineup around him, but he’s been a solid hitter since becoming a semi-full-time player back in 2019, slashing .279/.346/.458 with 22 homers across what is roughly a full season’s worth of games. He can hit the ball hard which isn’t always as evident in a pitcher’s park like in Miami, and as the Marlins’ young lineup improves, he should see a corresponding boost in counting stats. There’s a lot to like about Cooper’s profile and I think he’s worth rostering as long as he’s able to get a roughly full-time role (which, to be clear, will be tough without a universal DH).

 

Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Dylan Burris

Dylan has been a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan since 2015. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he devotes most of his non-baseball attention to college basketball.

  • Avatar Captain Caveman says:

    Rest of season- Laureano or Margot?

    • Dylan Burris Dylan Burris says:

      Laureano! Margot *might* end up with more SBs by the end of the season (depending on how much playing time he gets in that Rays outfield, which won’t be an everyday role once Kiermaier is back) but Laureano should produce more in every other category, and hopefully give you a decent number of bags as well.

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