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Taylor Made in KC

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday’s games.

Michael A. Taylor (KC): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Michael A. Taylor has always been known for his glove, not his bat over the course of his MLB career. Since coming over to Kansas City from Washington via free agency prior to 2021, Taylor has continued to maintain that reputation, as he won his first Gold Glove award last season, but only posted an OPS of .653.

However, in 2022, Taylor has been making his case as a viable outfield option for fantasy managers, especially in deep league formats.

For the season, Taylor is hitting .274 with an OPS of .758 over 51 games and 187 plate appearances. He has five home runs for the year, which included a three-run shot in his three-for-five performance against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday afternoon. For the year, he has scored 22 runs while accumulating 21 RBI.

Now, to be fair, Taylor doesn’t have the ideal fantasy profile, which is why he is currently only rostered in two percent of Yahoo leagues and one percent of ESPN leagues, as of Sunday, according to Fantasy Pros. He only has one stolen base this year, which is not quite the pace he had last season when he stole 14 bases in 142 games. He also has struck out 23 percent of the time this year. While that would be a career-low, it still is a pretty high mark, especially for someone whose power profile can be “hit and miss”.

On the other hand, Taylor is walking 10.2 percent of the time, which would be a career-high as well. At the very least, he is showing that he can get on base when hits are not falling, which has traditionally been a struggle for him historically. He has struggled with injury at times this year, so it is possible that Taylor could be a stolen-base threat again in the second half of the year.

The Royals could (and probably should) be looking to trade Taylor by the Trade Deadline, especially with the club 26-44 and clearly out of the playoff hunt. If he does get traded, his value could jump significantly, especially if he plays in a more hitter-friendly home park, and if he has a manager who is more willing to utilize his speed on the basepaths.

At 31 years old, he is not a long-term option for a keeper or dynasty league, but in a deep league where the position player talent is scarce on the waiver wire, Taylor is worth taking a chance on, even if it may only be for a month or two.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

 

Tony Kemp (OAK): 3-5, 2 2B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.

 

Kemp has been pretty punchless at the plate this year for Oakland, as he is only hitting .231 with an OPS of .611 in 258 plate appearances this year. In addition, he only has five stolen bases this year and has never hit the double-digit stolen base mark in any season in his career. Thus, it’s hard to see where Kemp has value on a fantasy roster, regardless of format. Kemp’s day was nice on Saturday, as he had three hits and a home run which essentially put the game away for the Athletics. However, his home run seemed to benefit from the sudden wind gusts at Kauffman Stadium, as it had an xBA of .050. Safe to say, consider Saturday’s game more of an anomaly rather than a sign of things to come.

 

Pete Alonso (NYM): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

 

It’s a dogfight between Alonso and Paul Goldschmidt in the National League when it comes down to who will be selected by the fans as the first baseman for this year’s All-Star game. Alonso has done his fair share to keep pace, as he is hitting .281 with a .924 OPS, which includes 22 home runs for the year. On Saturday against the Marlins, he continued to fuel his All-Star candidacy, as well as the Mets’ hold atop of the NL East standings, as he hit two home runs in a 5-3 win over Miami. Alonso doesn’t have the high-average profile of Goldschmidt, but few, if any, can match Alonso’s power tool in the National League, which will make this All-Star vote at first base the most intriguing of the season.

 

Wilmer Flores (SF): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

 

Flores is a utility extraordinaire for the Giants, as he plays multiple positions for a team that loves to platoon and has been beset by various injuries. Against the Reds on Saturday, Flores was a huge contributor to the Giants’ 9-2 win, as he garnered two hits, hit a home run, and had three RBI. Flores’ stats for the year are good, but not certainly eye-popping. He is hitting .249 with a .738 OPS and nine home runs in 266 plate appearances. Is he worth a spot in most fantasy leagues? That’s harder to determine, especially for a player who doesn’t have a set position. He still is available in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he may be worth taking a flier on, with the hope that he could provide more value in the second half.

 

Jorge Mateo (BAL): 2-3, 2B, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB.

 

Mateo was seen as a deep-league darling, mostly due to his speed and his glove which would keep him at the shortstop position in Baltimore for a considerable amount of time. Unfortunately, the bat hasn’t really come around, as he is hitting .203 with a .583 OPS in 239 plate appearances this season. Mateo had a solid outing at the plate against the White Sox on Saturday, as he had two hits, a home run, and three runs scored. However, he is striking out 31.8 percent of the time and only walking 4.6 percent of the time, which is not an encouraging approach for long-term success. Mateo will have days like Saturday that will entice fantasy managers, but he should be strictly hands-off for managers in pretty much all league formats at this point.

 

Matt Chapman (TOR): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

 

It doesn’t seem that long ago when Chapman was an All-Star at third base in Oakland and a regular threat to hit 25 to 30 home runs in a season. That being said, reality can be cruel sometimes, and that has certainly been the case for Chapman, who is hitting .224 with a .716 OPS in his first season with the Blue Jays. Chapman had a nice day against the Brewers on Saturday, going three-for-four with a double and a home run, with the latter being his 10th of the year. Still, it seems like Chapman is far from the player he was in Oakland back in 2018 and 2019. Chapman may still be a 20-25 home run threat, but that seems to be about the only value he offers fantasy managers at this point.

 

Isaac Paredes (TB): 3-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

 

There may be no hotter hitter in baseball right now than Paredes. The average isn’t great at .232, but he is posting a .867 OPS with 10 home runs in 104 plate appearances. The xBA (.223) suggests that this may just be a hot streak, but there is no question that Paredes is making Detroit reconsider the Austin Meadows trade, which saw Detroit part with Paredes before the start of this season. It will be tough to commit to Paredes long-term as a fantasy manager, especially since the Rays are so prone to use multiple lineups throughout the year, based on matchups. Nonetheless, he’s scorching right now, and for offensive-starved managers, he is worth picking up, even if it may only be a short period of time.

 

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

 

Remember back in April when Swanson was only hitting .216 with a .644 OPS in April? Boy, have the tables turned, as Swanson has been arguably one of the most productive shortstops not just in the National League, but perhaps all of baseball. He is currently hitting .307 with a .882 OPS over 299 plate appearances. He also has 13 home runs, 11 stolen bases, and 43 RBI. Against the Dodgers, Swanson continued his magical June run, as he had two hits, two RBI, and a home run against the NL West’s top team. It’s going to be hard for fans to justify anyone else in the NL at shortstop for the All-Star game this July.

 

Randy Arozarena (TB): 4-5, 2 2B, R, RBI.

 

Arozarena is a bit of an enigma for fantasy managers. On one hand, he has outings like Saturday, where he has four hits, two doubles, and an RBI. He also shows an impressive speed tool, as he has 12 stolen bases for the year. But, he is only hitting .259 with a .724 OPS, and his power tool continues to underwhelm, as he only has seven home runs for the year. And even the speed tool is inconsistent, as he has been caught six times on the basepaths, which is a league-high. It’s hard to justify parting ways with Arozarena, just because the profile is so enticing. That being said, it would be nice if he could turn things around soon, and for a significant period of time as well.

 

Jarren Duran (BOS): 4-5, 2B, RBI, 2 SB.

 

The Red Sox rookie has suddenly found himself at the top of the Boston batting order and for good reason, as he is hitting .319 with a .862 OPS in 51 plate appearances this season. On Saturday, the 25-year-old former Long Beach State product had four hits as well as two stolen bases in a Boston 4-2 win over Cleveland. It’s still a small sample size, but Boston lacks options in the outfield, as Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Alex Verdugo have both underwhelmed significantly this year. The leadoff spot is Duran’s to lose for the time being, and that has to be a good feeling for fantasy managers who either drafted him or picked him up early this season, even though he didn’t break Spring camp with the Red Sox.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien is a high school educator and baseball blogger based in the Kansas City metro area. In addition to writing for Pitcher List, he writes about the Kansas City Royals at his own blog, the Royals Reporter, which can be found at royalsreporter.com.

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