Slick Nick

Scott Chu covers the top hitting performances across the league.

Nick Maton (PHI): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 SB.

The 24-year-old infielder had been enjoying a bit of success in his first major league season, but nothing like the display of power and speed Nick Maton showed on Sunday, going 3-4 with two home runs, a steal, two runs scored, and an RBI filling in for an ailing Didi Gregorius.

While his .316 batting average has been much better than I anticipated through 25 games, his minuscule walk rate and 30.4% strikeout rate make it hard to believe Maton can continue to hit for a decent average at the bottom of the Phillies order, but at least there’s a little hope that he could be a 10 HR/10 SB player sooner rather than later.

Oh yeah, and if you’d like even more hitter analysis from yours truly, you can check out my podcast Hacks & Jacks with my co-host Joe Gallina, which, like this article, drops every Monday morning!

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday:

Avisaíl García (MIL): 1-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB.

This was his third home run in his last six starts, and while Avi’s plate discipline will never impress you, the 6’4, 250-pound outfielder certainly has power and speed. Christian Yelich‘s balky back and Lorenzo Cain‘s injury history should give García plenty of chances to play in Milwaukee, and he could definitely push for 20 HR, 10 SB season even if he falls short of 140 games. If nothing else, the widely available outfielder should be on your watch list in all leagues with at least 12 teams.

Lorenzo Cain (MIL): 3-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB.

Since returning from injury in May, Cain has been able to sport a .413 OBP over 46 plate appearances. While there’s been almost no power to speak of (just one double and one home run in nine starts and four pinch-hitting appearances), he’s a good source of ratios, runs scored, and steals in deeper formats—particularly those requiring five outfielders.

Kolten Wong (MIL): 3-5, 3 R.

While Wong does have four multi-hit performances in his last eight games, the leadoff man has very little to show for it in the stat column, scoring just four runs with no home runs, RBI, or stolen bases during that stretch. While we had hoped he could come close to replicating his strong 2019 campaign where he had 11 home runs and 24 steals with a .285 batting average, Wong looks more like a 10 HR, 15 SB guy with a .260-.265 batting average in 2021. That’s still a useful middle infielder in 15-team formats, but everyone else can probably keep their eyes open for a replacement.

Josh Fuentes (COL): 3-4, 1 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Fuentes was on fire during the Rockies’ homestand, going 11-22 with five extra-base hits and driving in 13 runners in just five games. It’s particularly surprising because in the 97 plate appearances prior to last week, he had just 10 RBI and a .472 OPS. While Fuentes should be able to keep a starting role for a little while longer, there isn’t much fantasy intrigue here apart from deep-league streaming when he’s in Coors.

Tim Anderson (CWS): 3-5, 1 2B, 2 R, 1 SB.

Anderson’s strikeout rate is up a bit in 2021, but he’s well on his way to a 20/20 season with a .300 batting average thanks to his elite hand-eye coordination and bat speed. While there will always be things to worry about in his plate discipline profile, I’d recommend you just not look too close and enjoy the ride. He may fall off a cliff in batting average at some point (much like Javier Báez), but that isn’t going to happen in 2021.

Dansby Swanson (ATL): 2-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB.

After writing him up in this column a week ago with the hope that he could be showing signs of returning to form as a top-15 shortstop, he promptly hit .130/.154/.261 over the last six games, including this two-hit performance. While he did manage to score three runs, put up a homer and steal, and drive in five, he also struck out 10 times while walking just once. At this point, I’m looking for a new shortstop in 10- and 12-teamers, and if this keeps up for another week or two, I might even lose interest in him as a middle infielder.

Max Kepler (MIN): 2-3, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

This was his fourth home run in his last nine games, which actually accounts for all four home runs he has on the season. His 1.002 OPS over those nine games is encouraging, but he left the game on Sunday with a hamstring issue and also continues to struggle against lefties. He’s looking more like a 25 HR bat than the 30-35 HR bat he was in 2019, and if he can’t hit for a better batting average, he’ll face extreme pressure from Alex KirilloffWillians AstudilloJake CaveTrevor Larnach, and Luis Arraez for playing time in the Twin Cities. Yeah…it’s a crowded situation.

Jazz Chisholm (MIA): 2-5, 1 R, 1 SB.

Jazz picked up right where he left off three weeks ago, stealing yet another base and picking up two more hits in his impressive 2021. While Statcast suggests some of the batting average is a mirage, it believes in the power. If there’s one area of concern, it’s the plate discipline. He’s struck out in 40.5% of his plate appearances over his last 10 starts and has exactly zero walks, so if or when the batting average luck fades away, he’ll need to start taking more walks to avoid a significant slump.

Maikel Franco (BAL): 3-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Don’t get too excited, folks, because despite hitting in or near the middle of the Orioles’ order all season, Franco has done almost nothing to get excited about. He’s hitting a lot of grounders, not barrelling up the ball, and not making any hard contact. While he has minor value in AL-only leagues for the playing time, he is undesirable in all other formats.

Ryan Mountcastle (BAL): 2-4, 1 2B, 1 R, 4 RBI.

May has been better, as Mountcastle has a .255 batting average and .431 slugging during the month so far, but he still has been fairly disappointing. In most 0-12 teamers, there are just too many good options to replace him with to continue to wait it out, even if you believe in the skills (which I do). He’d move to my bench if I could find a replacement in TGFBI, if that tells you anything.

Willy Adames (TB): 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI.

He’s hitting much better this month, slashing .256/.319/.512 with now three home runs, though he’s still striking out like crazy (42.6%). Adames is worth watching not because he could morph into a mixed league relevant player, but because he’s the most likely to be the next to be sent down in Tampa.

Ian Happ (CHC): 3-4, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

This was about as good of a return from the IL as you could hope for, and a good reason why we don’t apply Nick’s ILH rule to hitters—they tend to bounce back just fine. This was his second three-hit game in his last three starts (though they’re about two weeks apart), and it might be just enough to cling to hope that he can hit another 20-22 home runs on the season. It has yet to be seen if he’ll start running enough to push for double-digit steals, but at this point, we’ll take whatever we can get.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (TOR): 2-5, 1 2B, 1 R.

The third multi-hit performance in a row for Gurriel Jr. is promising, as are the two straight games with a double, but he’s done little else this season to inspire confidence. I’d be ready to move on in 10-teamers and in 12-teamers with only three outfield spots, as even a good Gurriel Jr. doesn’t provide much that you can’t find on the wire in those formats at this point.

Santiago Espinal (TOR): 1-4, 1 3B, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB.

The versatile utilityman has appeared at second, third, short, and outfield in the majors and minors since 2019, and while he’s unlikely to be a fantasy asset at any position in mixed leagues, he’s hit .278 in his first 97 plate appearances with a sub-10% strikeout rate, which is somewhat meaningful in AL-only.

Marcus Semien (TOR): 3-5, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

He’s posted a 1.072 OPS in May and has a hit in 14 of 16 contests so far. I suppose, if you wanted to nitpick, you would complain that he has only one steal on the month after swiping six in April, but the power and production have been so strong that you might not even have noticed.

Michael Chavis (BOS): 2-5, 1 2B, 1 R.

This is the third straight game he’s led off for the Red Sox, and his fourth time in six games. While he’s getting hits in small bunches (it was his third two-hit game in his last five starts), there’s not much to get excited about here except for those in very deep leagues looking for power. He swings and misses a lot (44.4 K% so far) and Statcast is very suspicious of his performance so far (.195 xBA, .336 xSLG).

Odúbel Herrera (PHI): 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB.

The Phillies are desperate for a center fielder, so they’ve turned to the previously-spurned Herrera, who has rewarded their renewed faith with a .351/.429/.568 line over this last 10 starts with strong plate discipline. I’m not overly excited in most standard formats, as he hasn’t been all that relevant in fantasy since about 2018 (and he hasn’t been a mixed league difference-maker since 2016), but those in 12-team and deeper formats needing an outfielder to stream could do worse, probably.

Brad Miller (PHI): 2-5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 SB.

While Miller plays all over the field for the Phillies, he’s still mostly a part-time player who comes in against right-handed pitching. Since the start of 2019, he’s hitting .263/.349/.516 against righties and while he won’t play enough to matter in most formats, very deep leagues and DFS folks can squeeze plenty of value out when the Phillies have a soft slate for southpaw sluggers. They don’t, really, over the next 10 days, in case you were wondering.

Alec Bohm (PHI): 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB.

The four home runs and three steals are just enough to keep me invested, especially since May has been less of a disappointment than April. I suppose those in 10-team leagues with no corner infielder can move on, but everyone else probably ought to just be patient for a little while longer.

 

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Scott Chu

Scott Chu has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. In addition to being a writer and content manager at Pitcher List, he creates content with Friends with Fantasy Benefits. If you want to chat about baseball, fantasy curling (featured in WSJ), sports in general, deaf culture, being a twin, or the oddities of having Irish and Korean ancestry, Chu's your guy.

  • Avatar Big John says:

    Hi Scott-
    I need to grab someone for the foreseeable future… Dylan Moore or Biggio.?
    thanks!

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      Yo Big John! This is a tough one – I think Moore lines up to have a nice series in Detroit, but that Padres series will be rough.

      Biggio is a safer play with two home series against Boston and TB, but the upside is quite a bit lower.

      If I already have Moore, I wait to make a move until mid-week if I can. It’s Moore the whole way if you specifically need SB as well. If you just need overall production, Biggio has better matchups (other than the 3 games Moore has v DET).

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