Owen Miller (MIL): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB.
The NL Central-leading Brewers got the better of the red-hot Astros last night, taking down the defending World Series champions 6-0 in Milwaukee. Owen Miller led the way for the Brew Crew, finishing the game with a 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB line.
Last night was just another notch in what has been an incredible start to the season for Miller. Through his first 106 plate appearances, he’s slashing .347/.368/.525 with three home runs, 15 runs, 10 RBI, and five stolen bases.
Miller’s strong showing has earned him an everyday role in Milwaukee. He’s started primarily at second and third base but has also appeared at left and right field, first base, and as the designated hitter. That kind of multi-positional eligibility paired with his strong results may pique your interest in fantasy leagues. While I don’t think it’s a bad idea to jump on board Miller’s hot streak, I wouldn’t do so expecting it to continue throughout the year.
You may recall Miller being one of the hottest commodities on waiver wires in the early going last season. In March and April 2022, Miller posted a .400/.466/.700 batting line, good for a 227 wRC+. From May on, those numbers collapsed to just .222/.278/.305 and a 65 wRC+.
That hot start feels an awful lot like what we’re seeing again this year. Miller hasn’t changed his underlying metrics much. His strikeout rate and barrel rate have both improved a bit, but each of his walk, hard hit, line drive, and fly ball rates are all down. Miller’s success in Milwaukee seems to be very BABIP driven—his .386 line is top-20 among all hitters with at least 100 plate appearances.
Miller is available in 87% and 97% of Yahoo! and ESPN fantasy leagues, so if you need help at pretty much any infield position, you could try to ride out this impressive stretch. At the very least, he’s getting consistent playing time in a home park that boosts home run numbers quite a bit.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR): 3-6, HR, R, 6 RBI.
The Blue Jays became the first team to score 20 runs this year as they absolutely demolished the division-leading Rays. Guerrero collected two RBI singles early in the game before crushing a grand slam in the ninth. The home run came with Rays’ first baseman/outfielder Luke Raley on the mound, but at the end of the day, whether it’s a garbage time homer against a position player or a clutch home run against a Cy Young winner, the stats go on the back of the baseball card all the same.
As you can imagine, a lot of Jays had big nights in their 20-run outburst. George Springer collected four hits including a triple and homer. Danny Jansen had two doubles, a home run, and three RBI. Matt Chapman ordered a combo meal, homering and stealing a base.
Paul Goldschmidt (STL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
The reigning National League MVP was up to his usual antics, hitting two bombs and leading the Cardinals to an 8-5 win in Cincinnati. He’s doing his best to defend his hardware, slashing .293/.404/.521 with nine home runs and seven stolen bases.
Matt Mervis (CHC): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
Mervis hit his first Wrigley Field home run last night, taking a Tylor Megill changeup the other way as the Cubs beat the visiting Mets 7-2. Chicago’s heralded first base prospect hasn’t taken the league by storm with an 82 wRC+, but he has just 55 plate appearances under his belt. The Cubs DFA’d Eric Hosmer last week, so that should open plenty of playing time for Mervis. If he’s still sitting on your league’s waiver wire or someone dropped him due to his slow start, I’d happily pick him up and see if he starts to figure out big-league pitching.
Juan Soto (SD): 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB, SB.
Soto ordered one of the league’s four combo meals last night. He stole his fifth base of the year in the fifth before launching an Erasmo Ramírez‘ sinker 441 feet to center field in the seventh. The Padres have underperformed this year, but certainly not due to Soto’s 150 wRC+.
Matt McLain (CIN): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
Shortstop is rife with exciting young players these days, and McLain is the most recent prospect looking to join those ranks. He hit his first MLB home run last night off of Adam Wainwright, a player that made his debut when McLain was just six years old. Cincinnati’s young shortstop has taken to his new competition quickly, slashing .259/.375/.481. He’s striking out an unhealthy 40.6% of the time so far, but that should come down given more time. McLain posted a 1.184 OPS in 173 Triple-A plate appearances before his call-up, and as a power and speed threat, he should be rostered in at least 12-team and deeper leagues.
Jake Cronenworth (SD): 1-2, HR, R, 2 RBI, 3 BB.
Yesterday’s batting line was really a quintessential Cronenworth performance. He’s settled into being a 15-20 homer bat with a good enough eye to hover around a .330-.350 OBP. Cronenworth’s walk rate is up to a new career-high at 14.2%, but weirdly that’s come with him swinging more often while making less contact than ever. That’s a dangerous trend for a batter whose batted ball metrics have become mediocre, and while I’m not panicking to move away from Cronenworth, he’s probably worth shopping around if you can find a taker willing to pay a fair price.
Michael Conforto (SF): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
I’m surprised I haven’t seen Conforto generate more conversation in the fantasy community. Last night he took a Jorge López knuckle curve the other way, placing it just over the left field wall for his 10th home run of the year. Shoulder surgery kept Conforto off the field in 2022, so given that he’s probably still shaking off some rust, I’ve been impressed with his .219/.324/.445 slash line. He’s anchored in the middle of San Francisco’s batting order, and his numbers will probably just get better. His .226 BABIP would be a career-low by 50 points and I think he’ll probably cut his 27.1% strikeout rate down as he reacclimates to playing every day. He’s available in 92% and 66% of ESPN and Yahoo! fantasy leagues and is worth a look if you need outfield help.
Josh Jung (TEX): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Jung homered in his third-straight contest yesterday as he continued his campaign for 2023 AL Rookie of the Year. He’s slashing .268/.316/.492 with 11 home runs and 33 RBI as he helps to power one of the game’s best lineups. Like a lot of power-heavy players, Jung strikes out a lot—currently at a 30.1% clip—but with his hard hit rate, xSLG, and barrel rate all in the 80th percentile of hitters, he makes up for the swing and miss in his profile.
Byron Buxton (MIN): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.
The last of the day’s combo meals belongs to one of baseball’s premier power/speed threats. Buxton hit a first-inning home run then knocked a fourth-inning single and stole second base. The swipe was Buxton’s fifth of the campaign. That doesn’t seem like a great pace for someone with his wheels, but it’s been four years since we’ve seen him reach double-digit stolen bases. Let’s hope he can stay healthy.
Christopher Morel (CHC): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Morel simply cannot stop hitting home runs. Yesterday was his fifth straight game with a big fly, tying the Cubs’ franchise record. He’s just the fourth player since 1901 to hit nine home runs in their first 12 games of the season, joining a pretty great group of players—Mike Schmidt, Larry Walker, and Luis Gonzalez.
Jason Heyward (LAD): 2-4, HR, R, RBI, BB.
The Dodgers are unbelievably good at working with players to maximize their output, and they’re doing exactly that with a 33-year-old Heyward that looked pretty washed up his last few years in Chicago. Heyward is only playing a few days a week, but his .227/.343/.477 slash line comes out to a 125 wRC+ which is his best since 2020’s abbreviated campaign and the best full-season mark he’s posted since his rookie year in 2010. Without an everyday role, he’s hard to use in fantasy, but if you can get him in your lineup when the Dodgers are facing a right-handed starter, he’ll probably crack the starting nine.
Harrison Bader (NYY): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Bader won a third-inning matchup against Kyle Bradish yesterday, launching a 1-0 sinker over the right-field wall. It was the fifth home run of the year for Bader in just 73 plate appearances. He started his first full season in the Bronx on the IL, but since returning has been a big part of the Yankees’ recent surge. He’s slashing .290/.315/.565 hitting out of the five-hole. His 137 wRC+ would easily be his best performance over a full season. He’s available in 75% and 47% of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues and has a chance to put up a 20/20 season while accumulating a good amount of RBI.
Elias Díaz (COL): 3-4, 2B, R.
Díaz got the better of the Marlins’ pitching staff yesterday, collecting three hits in the Rockies’ 5-4 win. At 32 years old, Díaz is having the best season of his big league career, hitting .333/.391/.489. Like most Rockies’ hitters, if you can get him in your lineup during the team’s homestands, you’re going to be pretty happy with the results. The Rockies play at Coors Field the rest of this week, so if you’re looking for a catcher option, Díaz should be near the top of your list if he’s available.
Great article Mark! I was hoping to see Soler highlighted here, he’s been crushing! Thanks for your work
Thank you! Soler made my early draft of the article but ended up getting pushed out as I was trying to narrow it down a bit. Brett Ford covered him in Monday’s piece, though! https://www.pitcherlist.com/fantasy-baseball-daily-hitting-recap-5-21-23/
He’s putting up career-highs in Pull% and Barrel% which should allow him to keep accessing that massive power he has. Fingers crossed he stays healthy and puts up another 40+ homer season. Thanks for reading!