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It’s a Marvelous Night for a Moon-Dansby

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

Or it was a marvelous day for a moonshot. Actually, two of them. Dansby Swanson got the Braves on the board in the first inning with a solo shot off Alex Wood’s sinker. Then he clobbered the second one on a fastball inside from Zack Littell in the fourth inning, finishing the day with 3 R, 2 HR, and 3 RBI. Manager Brian Snitker had Swanson in the leadoff spot for this one, which makes perfect sense considering the shortstop has been hitting .368 in the last month, with an incredible 1.038 OPS.

Many analysts were quick to point out in March that Swanson’s value in 2021 came from his 653 plate appearances. In that time, he managed 27 home runs and a slash line of .248/.311/.449. Now we’re nearly halfway through the season. Swanson is about to eclipse 300 plate appearances, and he’s batting .295/.360/.473. This preseason concern about regression (based on the unlikelihood of reaching this number of plate appearances again) seems quaint. Who cares now?!

Especially in season-long roto, right?

To be fair, many are concerned for weekly H2H leagues more than anything, but Swanson is relevant in this format as well.

The 28-year-old first overall pick in 2015 is having a career year. True, he is 35th in plate appearances, but if he continues to play and get opportunities, this is excellent news. It’s not bad news.

Okay, so he’s also 6th in BABIP (.384), but Xander Bogaerts is 1st and Paul Goldschmidt is 7th in BABIP. Those are great hitters! I suppose the difference is that Bogaerts has a batting average of .335 and Goldschmidt has an average of .339. So regression might not hurt them as much as Swanson.

Still, Dansby is batting .295, and considering the low batting averages across baseball, regression may not hurt as much as other seasons. Plus there is real progress to be found in his batted-ball numbers.

Check out his profile on Baseball Savant from 2021.

Last year, his xBA matched his .248 output, according to Fangraphs and Baseball Savant. The xSLG was also in line with the power output.

Now, look at this year’s rankings by June 23rd.

The xBA improved by more than 30 and the xSLG by nearly 20 (in percentile ranking). A lot of this has to do with his knack for driving the ball more. In fact, he’s hitting line drives nearly 5% more. Add this penchant for hitting more ropes to some of his other improvements, and this is a player continuing to impress as he moves into his peak playing years.

It’s always a marvelous night for a moonshot, Dansby! And we hope you keep hitting them.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday.

 

Cody Bellinger (LAD): 3-4, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, SB.

Bellinger filled the stat sheet yesterday in Cincinnati. He stole a base and homered off Hunter Greene’s fastball in the fourth inning. It was a high-scoring affair that ended with Los Angeles winning 10-5. It’s hard to believe Bellinger hit 47 home runs a few years ago. While this year is actually a better line than 2021 (.213/.276/400), it’s still below average. And yet, here’s a possible 20/20 hitter. This has value.

Alex Bregman (HOU): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Bregman hit a three-run home run off Jameson Taillon in the first inning. He’s had a lot of opportunities hitting from the premium three-spot in the lineup for Houston. Even though Bregman’s batting average is .234 on the season, he’s heating up. In the last two weeks, he’s batting .295, and his xBA is .265. He also has his highest BB% since 2019.

Brendan Rodgers (COL): 4-5, 2 2B, 3B, R, RBI.

Rodgers is on a five-game hitting streak. In the past month, he’s managed a .271 average with 20 runs, 14 RBI, and 4 HR. If he could start to see 600 at-bats in a season, that’s a mighty profile if we extrapolate this month’s numbers: 120 runs, 24 HR, and 84 RBI. He hit .284 last year, so there is a marked difference.

Giancarlo Stanton (NYY): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Stanton’s fantasy managers have no doubt been frustrated by his recent cold streak. In his recent 52 at-bats, he’s hitting a lowly .135. Perhaps last night he hit the reset button as he crushed a three-run blast against Framber Valdez in the first inning. Of his previous six hits since June 7th, four have been home runs. It’s feast or famine at the dish for Stanton recently. He does have his slumps, so hang with him. Last July, he hit .214/.313/.333 in 84 at-bats.

Adley Rutschman (BAL): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Don’t look now, but the 2019 first overall pick at one of the toughest positions in baseball is starting to hit. In his last 43 at-bats, he’s hitting .326 with two homers. He’ll need more time, of course, as he’s just over 100 plate appearances on the season. Rutschman has always showcased patience at the plate. In three levels since last year, he’s never had an OBP lower than .371.

Tommy Pham (CIN): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Pham has turned his attention to smacking baseballs instead of fantasy league mates, hitting .296/.386/.549 in June. He got the Reds closer versus Phil Bickford in the seventh inning with a three-run blast. The 34-year-old’s HardHit% is near the 90th percentile, and he’s hitting the ball in the air more than he’s ever done in his career.

Aaron Hicks (NYY): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.

In a wild comeback game for the Yankees, Hicks was a key figure in the 9th inning rally, hitting a three-run home run off Ryan Pressly to tie the score 6-6. Hicks is hitting .232/.344/.288. That last number doesn’t seem to be a misprint. Let me check my notes. Yup. That’s right. That’s the lowest mark of his career, but with that home run, he’s got a  1.013 OPS in the past week.

Yordan Alvarez (HOU): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Another day, another homer for Alvarez. He has belted five homers in his last five games. Alvarez hit –this one off Jameson Taillon in the third inning, though the Yankees would go on to win 7-6. Alvarez is now hitting an absurd .317/.406/.665 with a combined 100 runs and RBI (46 Runs and 54 RBI). There is a reason Houston recently signed him to a 6-year, $115 million extension.

Max Muncy (LAD): 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.

Muncy has struggled mightily at the plate this year, and after this three-hit performance, he’s still only managing a .170 BA. Muncy hit this solo shot off Hunter Greene in the fifth inning, and it was a no-doubter at 434 feet. Hopefully, this is a game to get him back in a groove.

Freddie Freeman (LAD): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Freeman has three homers in June, and he now has eight on the season. He has an .880 OPS, but in the previous 105 at-bats, he’s sporting a .909 OPS, so things are looking even better lately. Freeman hit his home run off Hunter Greene in the top of the third inning.

Ke’Bryan Hayes (PIT): 1-5, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.

Hayes ended his day on a collision at home plate. Reports indicate that he will be fine. Hayes hit a two-run bomb in the third inning. Justin Steele tossed a slider that didn’t quite slide enough. Hayes launched it 411 feet to deep center. Hayes is batting .264 on the season.

Tyrone Taylor (MIL): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Taylor was only at 526 plate appearances in his major-league career heading into yesterday’s game in Milwaukee. The 28-year-old has slugged .410 this year, but he doesn’t walk much. He has ten walks compared to 42 punchouts so far, but he got the Brew Crew back into the lead with a three-run blast in the fourth inning that would make it 4-2.

Bryan Reynolds (PIT): 1-4, HR, R, RBI, BB.

Jack Sparrow has returned as king of the Pirates, hitting a solo shot off Justin Steele in the opening frame and finishing his day by bringing his OPS to .970 in the last month. Compare that to his 2021 OPS of .912, and we might make the argument that he’s terrorizing pitchers at his regular level again. We may be past the time to buy low.

Jon Berti (MIA): 2-4, 2B, R, 2 SB.

If you need steals in your fantasy baseball league, Jon Berti is only rostered in 69% of Yahoo leagues. He has stolen 21 bags on the year, and 17 of those have come since the beginning of June. Berti now leads the league in that category, and with his .286 BA and his .383 OBP, he’s going to continue to have opportunities.

Will Smith (LAD): 1-5, HR, R, RBI.

It was a solo home-run in the seventh inning, adding on to this rout of the Reds with an 8-1 lead at the time. It’s Smith’s 10th homer of the season. He’s definitely on pace to match his numbers from last season. His K% is down nearly 5%, but so is his ISO at .180. But now that we’re firmly in the summer season, let’s see if everything levels off.

Willy Adames (MIL): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

In the fifth inning, Adames drilled a solo shot off Dakota Hudson, which gave the Brewers a 5-3 lead. He’s only batting .211 on the season, but the power is there. He has six homers in his last 60 at-bats. His xBA, according to Fangraphs, is .260 and his xSLG is a whopping .590. Keep plugging him in the lineup.

Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Schwarber homered in his second straight game, reaching 20 home runs on the season. He hit this one off Joe Musgrove in the sixth inning, and he’s now batting .218/.342/.500 on the season. In the last month, that batting average has been closer to previous seasons at .240 with an OPS of .955.

J.T. Realmuto (PHI): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI

It was Realmuto’s first homer of the month, so some might say he really needed that. What’s more is that it was off ace Joe Musgrove in the sixth inning. Realmuto has not been the same hitter as in previous years, particularly in the power department. He’s slugging .347 and he’s a career .446 slugger. His Hard Hit% is down 6% in 2022. But he still offers significant fantasy appeal batting in the middle of a solid lineup in Philadelphia. And summer just started on Tuesday.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Josh Thusat

Joshua is a professor of English, but he's also an avid baseball fan who puts his research skills to work for fantasy baseball gamers. In addition to Pitcher List, Josh writes for FantasyPros. He teaches in the Chicagoland area.

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