I’m sure you were panicking. At the end of play on August 6th, Matt Chapman was hitting .196/.255/.373 with a 34.5% strikeout rate and just six runs and four RBI in 13 games. You were floundering. You toyed with the idea of doing something drastic. This IS a “sprint season” after all, right?
Well I hope your senses took a hold of you. In his last four games, Chapman has seven extra base hits (including four home runs), six runs scored, and 10 RBI. That sad .627 OPS is now a healthy .939. Last night, he had his best game yet, going 3-6 with a triple, two home runs, three runs scored, and a whopping six RBI. All is well in the world after a mere four games.
Yes, I am once again trying to tell you about the dangers of overreacting. I keep hearing people talk about how you have to act faster than you normally would, and it’s true. It really is. That said, you need to do it responsibly. You don’t worry about Matt Chapman because of 13 games. While you’re at it, don’t cut Gleyber Torres, Jonathan Villar, Rafael Devers, Jose Altuve, or any of those guys, either. Can you bench them for a day or two? Sure, I guess, if you think you have something better. But be careful. I hope Matt Chapman wasn’t on your bench for the last four days, for example. These types of players are supremely talented and are the type who, in a weekend, can still turn around their entire stat line.
When we say “it’s a sprint,” we’re more talking about the guys you might have otherwise watched for another week before adding, or the guys you might have let stay on your bench for a few days before finally cutting. In the short season, go ahead and just make that move. Those guys on the edges of your roster need to be cycled rapidly—you don’t have a ton of time to wait. But the stars? The legitimate all-stars like Matt Chapman? Just wait. It’s painful, but just wait. The ship probably isn’t sinking. Just like a rough patch can tumble you down the standings in the early going, a hot weekend can rocket you to the top. Be aggressive, but please don’t be rash. If you’re not sure if you’ve thought something through, post a comment and I’ll be happy to let you know if you’re totally off your rocker.
Asdrubal Cabrera (2B/3B, Washington Nationals)—4-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI, BB. Cabrera has quietly put together a seven-game hitting streak for the Nationals and continues to play just about every day moving around between first, third, and DH. Since joining the Nationals on August 6th of 2019, he’s slugging .608 with a 160 wRC+, putting him in the top 10 in baseball for batters with at least 50 games in that time.
Dylan Moore (SS/OF, Seattle Mariners)—3-4, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB. He’s now hit second in five straight and has back-to-back games with a home run. The 28-year-old probably isn’t this good, but hey, if you need a fill-in because of injury or postponement, go ahead. This is the kind of thing that “sprint season” applies to.
Niko Goodrum (2B/SS/OF, Detroit Tigers)—4-4, 2 R, HR, RBI. The Tigers keep winning games, and part of the reason why has been the strong performance of their versatile leadoff man. He’s striking out 38.6% of the time and has only walked once in his last nine games, but as long as he continues to pile up hits, he can be a useful bench bat to cover or injured players or postponed games in 12-team and deeper formats.
Kevin Kiermaier (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—2-5, R, 2B, 3 RBI, BB, 2 SB. He’s prone to cold streaks and has historically struggled to stay on the field, but when Kiermaier heats up he can provide plenty of power and speed. He’s an excellent watch list candidate for 12-teamers and as a plug-in for managers in deeper formats.
Manuel Margot (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—4-4, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB, SB. On the plus side, he’s playing more than I thought he would, especially after such a slow start. On the down side, even this four-hit night couldn’t raise his batting average above .200 and he still doesn’t have his first home run of the season. With Tampa having plenty of options in the outfield and DH, and Margot struggling and batting near the bottom of the order, he can be safely dropped in most formats.
Kyle Seager (3B, Seattle Mariners)—2-5, R, HR, 4 RBI. He’s tied for second in the league in RBI with 18, but even more impressive for him has been the plate discipline—he has as many walks as strikeouts through 74 trips to the plate. We’ve seen him be streaky before, in fact, he had a similar three week stretch back in 2019. What we haven’t really seen is this approach at the plate, and that is what has me interested. Keep using him until further notice.
Travis d’Arnaud (C/1B, Atlanta Braves)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. He is still playing most days, he’s still batting in the middle of the order, and he’s still crushing the ball. I still consider him a top-10 catcher for 2020 and he’s still out there in roughly half of leagues. Stop stalling and go get him if you’re having catcher problems.
Ketel Marte (2B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—4-6, 3 R, 2B, RBI. Arizona as a whole has been a little sluggish offensively to start the year, but Marte has not been the problem. We haven’t quite seen the big power boost from 2019 show up yet, but the consistent contact has me encouraged that it’s only a matter of time. I took too long to believe in him last season so I’m not about to stop any time soon.
Shohei Ohtani (DH, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Look, he can hit. The shoulder and arm stuff will now be a big question mark for at least two or three seasons until he shows he can stay healthy, but the bat is real. In daily formats, he should be fired up against every right-handed pitcher he faces. Really, unless the Angels are facing a slew of strong lefties, he’s worth starting weekly as well. I suppose we might not see some of the stolen bases we expected, but the power is there and the ratios will come up soon.
Austin Slater (OF, San Francisco Giants)—2-3, R, HR, RBI, SB. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know anything about Austin Slater that I didn’t just look up right now. The fact is that he has three steals and three home runs over his last four games. His history suggests some of the speed might be real, but that the power is suspect. In a deep league where you need to stream a fifth outfielder, you could probably do worse than see if he stays hot against the Astros, A’s, and Angels over the next week. These three teams don’t exactly have imposing rotations, so why not?
Nick Ahmed (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks)—3-4, 3 R, RBI, BB, 2 SB. This was a big game for Ahmed, but he’s still struggled on the season as a whole. Because he’s only shortstop eligible, I can’t really recommend him in most formats due to the depth of that position and Ahmed’s limited power, speed, and contact ability. He’s more of a super-deep/NL-only play for me.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire