Miguel Rojas led off Saturday’s tilt with Washington with a home run, later adding a single and a double. In 116 plate appearance, Rojas’ slash line is .347/.431/.574.
Rojas missed most of the season recovering from COVID-19, after getting off to a 7-for-12 start. He returned to the team on August 21 and has continued his success at the plate.
Rojas went undrafted in NFBC Main Event drafts partially because of the depth at shortstop and the pre-season expectations that the Marlins would not contend. Miami is not only playing well but is sitting second in the NL East, thanks, in part, to Rojas’ contributions at the plate.
The .347 average is high, but not completely out of sync with expectations. In 132 games (536 plate appearances) last year, Rojas hit for a .284 average and had a .331 OBP.
What does stand out about his plate discipline numbers this year is the huge jump in walk rate. In 2018, his BB% was 4.5%, in 2019 it was 6.1% and so far in 2020, it is 11.7%. He has 13 walks and 14 strikeouts this year. Here is a closer look at his plate discipline numbers:
What is interesting is that eight of the nine swing numbers have dropped. Rojas is swinging less inside and outside of the zone. He is taking more pitches; it’s no wonder his BB% has risen! Pitches outside of the zone are not inducing chases and Rojas is better able to work the count. Most importantly, his O-Swing% has dropped. Combine that with his better than average SwStr%, and it is clear that he is good at putting the bat on the ball. His career K% is just 12.3%.
It is difficult to compare Rojas to other shortstops because he has played fewer games, but through his 33 games played, Rojas has a 1.6 WAR (shortstop number 7) and his 172 wRC+ is second best at the position (after Tim Anderson‘s 177).
Few fantasy managers saw this coming, but will it continue?
Miami has nine games remaining (including Sunday’s double-header against Washington) so, for redraft fantasy managers, we only care about the next nine games. We will have to see if his plate approach maintains into 2021 but, for now, it is working and is producing great results.
We may not have been looking at the Marlins during draft season, but now we can see that we have a leadoff hitter on a contending team that is producing. This is exactly the combination we want as fantasy managers and Rojas is a player we should be rostering, whether we expected it at the start of the season or not.
Here are some of Saturday’s top hitting performances:
Tim Anderson (SS, Oakland Athletics)—2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. It is going to be very interesting to hear and read about Tim Anderson this off-season. He has picked up exactly where he left off in 2019 and is among the league leaders in AVG, OBP, SLG. His .399 BABIP last year caused many to believe that his batting average would drop when it, inevitably, fell. That hasn’t happened and he has run a .415 BABIP in his 41 games this year. His two home runs bring him to 10 on the season and he has 43 runs and 21 RBI.
Chris Taylor (2B, SS, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB. Taylor is the ultimate utility man for the Dodgers. He has seen time at 2B, SS, CF, and LF often enough to get 193 plate appearances (49 games). He has put up a very respectable triple-slash (.283/.380/.494) and has seven home runs. Most managers will ignore Taylor because he is a utility player, but that is his everyday role and it has seen him get plenty of opportunities. Taylor is a good way to get a piece of the powerful Dodgers lineup, scoring 29 runs and knocking in 30 RBI. He was a gem of a pick late in drafts and early-season scoop off the wire.
Clint Frazier (OF, New York Yankees)—3-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. We are used to seeing right-handed hitters go the other way in Yankee Stadium, but for a righty to hit an opposite-field home run in Fenway Park is impressive. Frazier’s breakout season continues and he continues to ascend future draft boards. For this year, expect Frazier to continue to play; he shouldn’t be out of the lineup when he is hitting so well.
Jake Lamb (3B, Oakland Athletics)—1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI. Since Arizona DFA’d him, Lamb has turned in a five-game hit streak (7-for-20) for his new team. Oakland took a huge hit losing Matt Chapman to hip surgery, but Lamb hit his second green-and-gold home run on Saturday. If you are looking for playing time in the final week, Lamb has started in all games since signing.
Travis Shaw (1B/3B, Toronto Blue Jays)—1-3, HR, R, RBI. This was supposed to be the season where Travis Shaw was to forget about his 2019 results, refind his swing, and return to his 2017 and 2018 form, when he combined for 63 home runs. He has been better at the plate in 2020 (.233/.307/.397) but has fallen far short of those peak seasons. His home run yesterday was his fifth of the year (in 45 games). He hit just seven home runs in 2019, so there has been an improvement, but he is a play in very deep leagues right now.
Andrew Knapp (C, Philadelphia Phillies)—2-3, HR, R, RBI, BB. Knapp has assumed the primary catching duties while J.T. Realmuto has been DTD with a hip flexor strain. During that time, he has gone 5-for-24 and hit his first home run yesterday (his second of the season). While passable, the Phillies look like they are planning to get Realmuto back early next week, so you can leave Knapp in the free-agent pool. If you are worried about Realmuto, look for other potentially available catchers like Sean Murphy (29% rostered on Yahoo), Jorge Alfaro (31%), and Jacob Stallings (6%). Better yet, check out Dave Cherman’s “Catchers to Stream” article.
Victor Reyes (OF, Detroit Tigers)—2-4, R, RBI, SB. Reyes has put up a solid season (.290/.324/.420) and is now a fixture atop the Detroit’s lineup. Reyes joins Willi Castro (.333) and Jeimer Candelario (.312), as the Tigers with a batting average over .290 in more than 100 plate appearances. Reyes picked up his seventh stolen base (nine attempts) of the season yesterday. Next year will be his age-26 season, so consider him as a late batting average, and stolen base contributor with a good chunk of the Tigers’ runs scored, especially if he retains the leadoff spot.
Garrett Cooper (1B, Miami Marlins)—2-5, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI, BB. Cooper missed time due to COVID-19 but has put up some very good numbers in his 26 games this season. Slashing .292/.382/.539, Cooper hit his fifth home run of 2020 and now has 34 runs+RBI. His BB% has risen from 7.8% to 10.8% and his K% has dropped from 26.1% to 19.6%. His 8.8 Brls/PA (36th of players with >50 BBE) and 13 Brls/BBE (45th) show that he is hitting the ball hard; both are higher than last season (6.2 and 9.6, respectively).
Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates)—2-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI. Since his promotion on September 1, Hayes has given Pirates fans a reason to have hope in their team’s future. It is nice to see the system’s top prospect hitting .310/.385/.603 in his 65 plate appearances. His home run on Saturday was his third of the season. Granted, it is a small sample, but his 95.9% Z-Contact and 7.4% SwStr% indicates that he should be able to get the bat on the ball and take advantage of his speed.
Travis d’Arnaud (C, Atlanta Braves)—1-3, HR, R, RBI, BB. Ratios of .336/.400/.566 in 160 plate appearances from any player would be impressive but from a catcher it’s transcendent. d’Arnaud was drafted as a second catcher in leagues where he was drafted at all but is fourth in WAR (1.5) among catchers. Last night’s home run (his ninth) puts him third in baseball behind, you guessed it, J.T. Realmuto and Gary Sanchez. Look for d’Arnaud to be drafted as a top-ten catcher next year even though his health has always been a concern.
Robinson Canó (2B, New York Mets)—3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI. That’s nine home runs for Canó so far this season (he hit 13 in his 107 games last year) and he has been a nice surprise, slashing .331/.373/.570. If he can maintain those ratios, they would be among the best of his career. Speaking of the highest of his career, Canó has his highest Z-Swing% (78.5%) and Swing% (56.1%) and his highest SwSt% (10.7%). While more aggressive at the plate, he has also dropped his K% from last year from 16.3% to 13.7%. He is not getting fooled at the plate and the hits keep coming.
José Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox)—2-4, HR, R, RBI. José Abreu can just plain hit. He has a .330/.374/.646 line this year and, after leading the American League in RBI in 2019, he currently leads baseball with 52 RBI in 2020. As long as he is healthy, count on him to put up elite numbers and take the age discount.
Kole Calhoun (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—2-4, HR, R, RBI. Managers with Kole Calhoun on their roster are rising up the standings this week. Calhoun has gone 10-for-22 with six home runs, and 12 RBI this week. He now has 15 bombs this year and his 67 Runs+RBI leads the team. He is hot at the moment, but he has also seen his share of cold stretches this season; his season total .231/.345/.550, even after his scorching week.
Randy Arozarena (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI. Arozarena is averaging a home run in every ten plate appearances this year. The problem is that he only has 50 trips to the plate. After his recall from the team’s alternate site, Arozarena has been a part of the Rays’ rotating lineup. It is frustrating for fantasy managers to roster him (and other Rays) in a weekly league without regular opportunities.
Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins)—2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI. Rosario’s 2020 counting stats are right in line with his 2019 production if they were extrapolated to a full season. His .253 batting average, however, is much lower than last year’s .276. His plate discipline looks similar as well except when it comes to his lower Swing% (down 7.2%) and lower Z-Swing% (down 10.9%). Rosario is taking more pitches this year and has bumped up his BB% from 3.7% to 8.8%.
Shohei Ohtani (DH, Los Angeles Angels)—2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. It has been a miserable year for Ohtani. After a forearm strain ended his year as a pitcher, Ohtani hasn’t hit well, posting a .200/.294/.378 line. His home run yesterday was his sixth of the year. He has stolen seven bases, which is some consolation, but it is unlikely that managers have continued to run him in their active lineup. His early-season Statcast numbers were promising but they have declined to put him 45th percentile in Exit Velocity, 58th in Hard Hit%, 29th in xBA, and 36th in xSLG. It’s probably best to wait until he gets a fresh start next year.
Leody Taveras (OF, Texas Rangers)—2-4, HR, R, RBI, SB. Taveres was called up on August 24th and has a modest .231/.314/.396 line. He had his first combo meal on Saturday, socking his third home run of the year and stealing his fifth base. He looks to be entrenched as the Rangers’ leadoff hitter and could do so for quite some time. If you are desperate for steals, you could add him as he will continue to play out the season as part of his development.
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire.