Ty France (SEA): 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
After losing a nine-game hitting streak Sunday, Ty France returned with a vengeance Monday evening, going 3-5 with a double and a homer, two runs scored, and three RBI as the Mariners routed the Rays.
France has been locked in at the plate lately. In fact, over his last 28 games, France has recorded a hit in all but four of them. He’s slashing .321/.366/.482 over that period, with 10 extra-base hits (four of them homers) and a shiny 138 wRC+. It’s awfully reminiscent of what we saw last season, where France slashed .305/.368/.468 across 155 plate appearances, finishing the short season with a 132 wRC+. Our own Matt Wallach wrote a fascinating piece during the offseason on France’s bizarre Statcast profile, and while a lot of those numbers have stabilized and regressed to the mean a bit, France has certainly proven that he belongs in a major league lineup with a 126 wRC+ on the season.
The 27-year-old has cut his strikeout rate down to under 17%, and while he remains below league average in walk rate, there’s certainly still time to improve as he continues to get used to major league pitching. His power numbers will never exactly wow you, but you can certainly do worse with someone who won’t hurt you in batting average (or strikeouts, depending on format). What’s more, he’s locked into the heart of the ever-improving Mariners lineup (typically hitting third or fourth), which provides a decent source of counting stats. He’s not a sexy fantasy pick, but there’s a lot of value in consistency.
Over the past two seasons, France has close to a full year of games with 140, which gives us a pretty decent snapshot of what to expect moving forward. If he can bump up his walk rate a bit or improve his power stroke, he’d take a huge step forward in fantasy value, but even as it is he’s a solid utility option or bench bat.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:
Randy Arozarena (TB): 2-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.
Speaking of proving 2020 was not a fluke, Arozarena has been doing his best to do just that. While he of course isn’t matching his incredible postseason performance, Arozarena has settled into an above-average—if inconsistent—offensive contributor. He’s slightly improved his strikeout and walk rates from his admittedly small-sample 2020, and he’s settled into a nice power/speed mix that makes him incredibly valuable. If there’s a cause for concern, it’s that he hasn’t successfully swiped a bag since June 17th, but he should still finish the season around 20/15 in HR/SB which is quite useful from a fantasy perspective.
Alex Dickerson (SF): 2-5, 3B, HR, R, 4 RBI.
In our third look at 2020 standouts, Alex Dickerson has not quite been able to replicate the success of last season, one where he put up a 150 wRC+ in 52 games. He hasn’t been playing every day but has struggled with strikeouts, is walking less, and is having less success making contact at the plate. In a competitive lineup like the Giants, he’s unlikely to be fantasy-relevant this season.
Eduardo Escobar (MIL): 2-2, 3B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB.
What a day for Escobar in his fourth start since being traded to Milwaukee. He reached on all four of his plate appearances, with an RBI triple and three-run homer complementing a pair of walks. He has a good chance of staying near the heart of the lineup even when Christian Yelich returns, and while he’s not an offensive juggernaut by any means, that position alone should yield some decent counting stats over the rest of the season as long as he remains relatively consistent at the plate.
Odúbel Herrera (PHI): 2-3, HR, R, RBI, BB.
A solid night for Herrera, reaching on three of his four plate appearances and slugging a solo homer. While he’s striking out less than any other time in his career, there isn’t a whole lot else to get excited about for Herrera, aside from consistent playing time (for now). At the moment, there’s no reason to roster him in fantasy.
Carter Kieboom (WSH): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Now this is interesting. Success in the minors has never translated into the majors for Kieboom, as the top prospect has had major league playing time over the past three seasons now. With the recent Nationals’ fire sale, however, Kieboom is likely up for good and will have guaranteed playing time even if he struggles. It’ll be interesting to see if this is the moment that the 23-year-old is able to make that next step. If you’re looking for a lottery ticket for the latter portion of the season, you could do much worse than Kieboom.
Amed Rosario (CLE): 3-4, 2B, R, RBI, BB, 2 SB.
Rosario had a busy night, reaching base four times and swiping a pair of bags. In New York, he was never able to prove to be much of an offensive weapon and so far this season that remains true, but he’s slightly improved his walk rate and still hits for decent average. If you’re desperate for steals he’s not the worst choice as he won’t hurt you too much in batting average, but he won’t provide a whole lot else.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.
After breaking free of his chains after a rare day off Sunday, Vlad returned to the lineup yesterday and got right back to work, crushing his 34th home run of the season. While Ohtani has the edge in home runs, Vlad leads the league in wRC+ and has been an absolute force at the plate this season. Good luck to pitchers having to face him for the next 15+ years.
Lewis Brinson (MIA): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI.
Brinson has never been able to live up to his hype, but got the Marlins going early on Monday, smacking a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning. He’s never had any sustained success at the major league level, but there’s always a chance this is his time to shine. It probably isn’t, though.
Ryan Mountcastle (BAL): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Finishing a triple shy of the cycle, Mountcastle has developed his power stroke this season, even if his overall offensive production has declined after his breakout rookie 2020 season. He’s still valuable at the low-end of a 12-teamer or as a fourth/fifth outfielder, and has nine hits over his last four games (four of them for extra bases). Locked into the third or fourth spot in the Baltimore lineup, you could certainly do a lot worse.
Cedric Mullins (BAL): 2-5, HR, R, RBI, 2 SB.
As the president of the Cedric Mullins fan club, nights like last night are music to my ears. Already at 18 homers and 20 stolen bases, Mullins has a good shot at 25/25 and with a big surge could even flirt with a 30/30 season. What’s more, he does it with such a lovely consistency, batting .322 on the season with a solid 8.6% walk rate. His hot start has just… continued, and there’s no reason to think he shouldn’t keep on keeping on. Even with inevitable power/speed slumps, he’ll provide a solid batting average and decent run production hitting leadoff for the Orioles.
Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)