Joey Meneses (WSH): 3-4, 2B, HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, BB.
To say that any fantasy baseball manager had Joey Meneses on their radar in Spring Training would be akin to the cadre of Mr. Meeseeks thinking they could get Jerry Smith to shed two strokes off his golf game on the first try.
Until this season, Meneses was a career Minor Leaguer who was playing baseball in Japan back in 2019.
He returned to the states in 2021, playing for both Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester in the Red Sox organization. That said, it appeared after his age-29 season, his dream of playing MLB baseball was nearing its conclusion.
The Washington Nationals acquired him mostly for Minor League depth this past offseason. After all, Meneses was blocked at the Major League level by prolific slugger Josh Bell, whom the Nationals acquired from the Pirates in December of 2020. But as the Nationals dove in the NL East standings, and engaged in a roster purge by the August 2nd Trade Deadline, Meneses finally got his chance, albeit on a rebuilding Washington squad.
Most baseball fans have tuned out on the Nationals, especially in the wake of Juan Soto being traded to San Diego. And yet, Meneses has not just been one of the best baseball stories in D.C., but perhaps in all of baseball over the past two months.
Since being promoted, Meneses has been Washington’s most productive player, as he leads all Nationals position players in fWAR (1.7) since August 2nd. Going into Sunday, he is slashing .332/.373/.587 with 13 home runs and 33 RBI in 225 plate appearances.
On Saturday, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Phillies, Meneses collected three hits and four RBI in the Nationals’ 13-4 victory over Philadelphia. The blowout loss hurt Philadelphia’s lead over Milwaukee in the Wild Card standings (albeit temporarily as the Phillies won the nightcap and the Brewers failed to close out the Marlins in Milwaukee).
Back in late August and early September, it felt like Meneses was simply a “fill-in” on fantasy rosters for the stretch runs of their respective seasons.
Now, he may be a serious keeper or dynasty candidate for this upcoming draft season.
Of course, Meneses has his flaws. His launch angle is below 10 degrees, and he is only generating a BB/K ratio of 0.29, which screams an “over-aggressive” approach that could be more exploited by MLB pitchers with a full offseason of scouting. He also carries a .376 BABIP, which is abnormally high, even for a hitter like Meneses who ranks in the 72nd percentile in Max Exit Velocity, according to Savant.
Nonetheless, fantasy baseball managers have Meneses on their draft radar this winter, which was far from the case at this time a year ago.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday
Teoscar Hernández (TOR): 4-5, 2 2B, HR, 4 R, 2 RBI.
The Blue Jays have already clinched a postseason berth. Now, they are fighting for position in the Wild Card race, as they are ahead of both the Mariners and Rays, as of Sunday. On Saturday, Hernández powered the Jays to a convincing 10-0 win in Toronto over the Red Sox, as he collected four hits, scored four runs, and hit a home run. Hernández is hitting .263 with a .792 OPS this season with 23 home runs, which is a bit down from his All-Star 2021 campaign (.296 average; .870 OPS; 32 home runs).
Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
After blowing game one against the Nationals, the Phillies stepped up in the nightcap, as they beat the Nationals 8-2. Schwarber, the Phillies’ leadoff hitter for most of the year, carried the Philadelphia offense with two home runs and three hits total in the contest. The Phillies slugger continues to not help much on an average end, as he is hitting .217 for the year. In leagues that value OBP (.318) and OPS (.812) though, he remains a solid, though unspectacular, option.
Corey Dickerson (STL): 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.
The Cardinals trounced the Pirates 13-3 in their final home series of the 2022 season (and perhaps final home series for Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright, and Yadier Molina). Dickerson proved to be a standout in St. Louis’ 10-run win, as he collected two hits as well as a home run and four RBI. Dickerson pretty much is a utility extraordinaire in the outfield, but he hasn’t done enough to earn everyday value, as he is only generating an OPS of .705 in 282 plate appearances. At 33 years old, it seems unlikely that Dickerson will be back with the Cardinals in 2023 (he’s a free agent after this year).
Salvador Perez (KC): 4-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Perez left the game due to thumb soreness near the end of the Royals’ 7-1 win over the Guardians. While it seems to be a precaution, Perez did have surgery on his thumb already this year, so one has to wonder if the Royals will shut down Perez to ensure a healthy offseason for the veteran catcher. While he has experienced a bit of a down season from his record-setting 2021 campaign, he still has hit 23 home runs and posted an average of .254 and OPS of .757 in 473 plate appearances this season.
Elvis Andrus (CWS): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.
The White Sox have been eliminated from the postseason, and Tony La Russa will be announcing his retirement, reportedly, on Monday. So there are bigger things to worry about on the South Side of Chicago. However, Andrus has been a nice redemption story since being traded over by Oakland, as he is hitting .279 with a .771 OPS in 39 games with the White Sox. The White Sox will be in better shape when Tim Anderson returns in 2023, but one has to wonder if Andrus will stay around in Chicago as a utility infielder.
Christian Walker (ARI): 3-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, RBI.
Walker embodies the “low-average, high-power” kind of slugger that is slowly becoming more common in the “three true outcomes” era of baseball. In 156 games, Walker has not only hit 36 home runs and drove in 93 RBI, but he is also generating a slash of .238/.325/.478. His OPS is 106 points higher than a year ago, and Walker seems to have solidified himself as the Diamondbacks’ cleanup hitter for years to come.
Kyle Higashioka (NYY): 3-4, HR, R, RBI.
Yankee fans are anticipating home run no. 62 from Aaron Judge, and yet, on Saturday it was Higashioka and Giancarlo Stanton who went yard against the Orioles. It’s been a typical year for Higashioka, as he is only hitting .219, and has just nine home runs in 237 plate appearances this year. That is strictly backup catcher material, and it’s unlikely that he moves out of that role in 2023 if he is still around with the Yankees.
Dansby Swanson (ATL): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Atlanta took over first place from the Mets, and it will be a dogfight between the two for the NL East title as the 2022 season comes to a close (both have clinched postseason berths). Swanson has continued to be one of the better overall shortstops in the National League. He has not just hit 24 home runs (with his 24th coming on Saturday), but he also has produced 95 RBI and 18 stolen bases, both career-high numbers.
Livan Soto (LAA): 3-3, 2 2B, R, RBI.
The 22-year-old Soto has made his MLB debut in the midst of another disappointing Angels season. In his first 14 games, he has impressed. Soto is slashing .381/.400/.595 in 46 plate appearances, and on Saturday, he collected three hits, including two doubles. He primarily played in Double-A this year, and though he hit for a good average (.281), he didn’t show a lot of power (.392 slugging; six home runs in 543 plate appearances). He may be a tempting pickup in keeper or dynasty leagues this winter based on how this MLB stint has gone. However, fantasy managers should wait and see how Spring Training pans out for Soto before making any major roster decisions with him.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)