Yandy Diaz (TB): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Look, Yandy Díaz may not be the sexiest player from a fantasy perspective.
But from a regular ole’ baseball perspective, he provides a level of stability that most managers would kill for. Despite a few stints on the IL this season, Díaz has put up a 12.9% walk rate alongside a 15.9% strikeout rate, is able to play both corner infield spots, and has a decent hit tool with a career .271 average. If he can put together a bit more of a consistent power stroke (like he did last night with the classic “triple shy of the cycle”), he’d take a huge step in fantasy relevance.
Even so, if you’re in an OBP league he could be worth a look, especially as Kevin Cash continues to play lineup Yahtzee. Díaz hit leadoff last night but has had most at-bats from the cleanup spot. By virtue of his plate discipline and location within one of baseball’s hottest offenses alone, he’s worth rostering for the high floor.
But it’s the power that would elevate his game to the next level. While he doesn’t rank very highly in Barrel% or HardHit%, Díaz has ranked consistently in the top 10% of the league in max exit velocity—he just hasn’t been able to convert that velocity into true power. If he can tweak his launch angle and start elevating those hard-hit balls, he’s got the strength to put them over the fence. Sure, he’s already 30, but if Díaz can make these kinds of adjustments, he’ll remain in the league a while.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:
Adalberto Mondesi (KC): 1-3, R, 2 SB.
Mondesi continues to make up for lost time—through 25 games, he’s already swiped 13 bags. Granted, it comes with a brutally low walk rate and high strikeout rate, but when you factor in the power (six homers in fewer than 100 plate appearances), the ceiling of Mondesi is too high to ignore. Injuries have kept him from significant playing time—if he can take the next step and improve his plate discipline, the implications are huge.
Yoshi Tsutsugo (PIT): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Yoshi has settled into consistent playing time and often hits in the heart of the Pirates lineup. Since joining Pittsburgh, Tsutsugo is slashing .306/.394/.682 with eight home runs in just over a month of play. What’s more, he’s cut his strikeout rate down to 20%. He’s finally starting to show signs of adjusting to major league pitching. If Yoshi decides to stick around in MLB and re-sign this offseason, he could be a sneaky value pick in redraft leagues.
Joey Votto (CIN): 3-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.
Old man Votto continues his dominant season, smashing his 32nd and 33rd home runs of the season. It’s the 38-year-old’s best offensive season in years, but it also comes with the highest strikeout rate of his career by far. If he keeps hitting homers, though, even a “three true outcomes” Joey Votto is plenty valuable.
Austin Riley (ATL): 3-5, 3 2B, R, 3 RBI.
After putting up subpar offensive seasons in his first two seasons in the league, Riley is finally showing off the talent he flashed before. His strikeout rate has stabilized at a high but acceptable 24%, while his improved batter’s eye and plate discipline have boosted his walk rate and overall batting average and OBP. He’s had an up-and-down season but keeps returning to the peaks with performances like he had last night. It’ll be very interesting to see where he ends up in drafts next year.
Ketel Marte (ARI): 3-4, 3 2B, RBI.
Marte has struggled to stay healthy this season, appearing in fewer than 80 games, but what’s encouraging is that when he’s on the field he’s looking much more like 2019 Ketel Marte than the 2020 version. His walk rate has returned to above 8% while putting up a slash line of .327/.387/.542. Sure, the counting stats aren’t there, but that’s an Arizona problem. I’ll be targeting him with enthusiasm in next year’s draft.
Carlos Correa (HOU): 4-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI.
Correa continues his persuasive campaign as he prepares to enter free agency. The soon-to-be 27-year-old shortstop has posted the best walk rate of his career alongside the lowest strikeout rate since his rookie season, all while putting up a slash line of .285/.371/.492. It seems like stolen bases are a thing of the past, but a total of 24 homers is nothing to sneeze at. After an underwhelming 2020, Correa has successfully assured the league that he hasn’t gone anywhere.
Marwin Gonzalez (HOU): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
Back in Houston, Gonzalez has now hit three homers in seven games with the Astros. Unfortunately, there’s not much else. The 32-year-old utility player is a far cry from his 2017 season, and until we see a period of sustained success, I’m staying away.
Salvador Perez (KC): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
I had to include Salvy here as he crushed his 46th home run of the season, passing Johnny Bench to set a new catcher single-season record for homers. Sure, the walk rate is brutal (.317 OBP), but 46 home runs from a catcher is amazing, no matter how much he looks like teammate Adalberto Mondesi at the plate while doing it.
Hunter Dozier (KC): 2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI.
I was high on Dozier coming into the season and looked pretty foolish a few months in. He’s got significant strides to make still, but he’s had a nice September, putting up a .291/.379/.600 slash line. Stuck in the bottom third of a mediocre lineup, I’d need to see more before looking his way in drafts next year, but he could be a worthwhile waiver wire pickup early in the 2022 season.
Juan Soto (WSH): 1-3, 2 R, 3 BB.
Yeah I know, it’s not a wildly exciting stat line, but with guys like Shohei Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., it feels like we’ve forgotten about Juan Soto a bit this year. He’s posting an absurd 21.3% walk rate, striking out less than 14% of the time, and crushing a respectable 26 homers while doing it. As long as he doesn’t have lineup protection he’ll probably just get walked every time, but if the Nationals can surround him with a few more weapons he’ll instantly become much more dangerous.
Lane Thomas (WSH): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Speaking of Soto’s teammates, it seems Lane Thomas might have learned a thing or two from Juan as he posts a walk rate of 14.2%—higher than at any point in his major or minor league career. Thomas has settled in as the everyday center fielder and hits leadoff for the Nationals, and while he doesn’t flash a ton of power or speed, he’s got a bit of each. He’s settling into his first career everyday role with aplomb (148 wRC+ since joining the Nats over a month ago), and if he retains this role coming out of the offseason, he could be a cheap value pick in drafts.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, SB.
Saving the best for last. Few possess the raw power/speed potential of Jazz, as evidenced by his ability to hit two homers and steal a base in the same game. Unfortunately, he’s held back by a rough strikeout rate. Finishing up his first full year in the bigs at just 23 years old, he’s got plenty of time to improve and if he can cut down his strikeout rate, he’s instantly established within the fantasy elite. Even with his flaws, he’s flirting with a 20/20 season (17 homers, 22 bags so far). If the price isn’t too high, he’s worth targeting in drafts next year for the ceiling alone.
Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)