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The Shots Curt ’round the World

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

Curt Casali (SF): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Three hits and two home runs. Not a bad day for a backup catcher.

Curt Casali played a huge part in lifting the Giants to a 7-6 win in Colorado on Monday night, finishing the game 3-for-4 with 2 HR, 2R, and 4 RBI. He victimized Rockies’ starter, Ty Blach, taking him deep twice with one being the furthest hit ball of the day — 438 feet to left-centerfield.

You may immediately think that yesterday was the best offensive day of Casali’s career, but he’s actually hit two home runs in a game twice before, and notably, it happened on back-to-back days. On July 27th and 28th of 2018 as a member of the Rays, Casali beat up on Orioles’ pitching finishing two games in a row with two home runs and three RBI.

As a backup catcher, Casali’s name is one that rarely comes up in fantasy discussions, but maybe that needs to change. He plays a lot more than most backups do, and when he’s on the field he’s performed really well. In 53 plate appearances this year, Casali’s hitting .298/.377/.532. He’s an injury away from being a full-time starter, and his batting numbers are just as good if not better than most everyday catchers. Casali’s had an OPS over .800 in three of his last five seasons.

Now, I’m not saying to rush out and grab Casali. That wouldn’t be wise. He’s still only viable in very very deep two-catcher leagues. But, if you see anything happen to Bart that would cause Casali to take over as the starter, he could return good fantasy value.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:

Anthony Santander (BAL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Santander accounted for all the Orioles’ runs in Monday’s 6-2 loss to the Yankees. He hit two solo shots on the day — the first was a Luis Severino slider that he sent over the right-field fence and the second was an Aroldis Chapman splitter that he tucked just barely fair down the left-field line. The two home run day raised Santander’s season line to .233/.359/.408 with six home runs. He’s not an enticing fantasy option, but Santander does provide some bang in his bat. If you’re desperate for power in a deep league, he could help, but his counting stats will suffer due to Baltimore’s mediocre lineup. He’s currently available in 82% of Yahoo! leagues and 40% of ESPN leagues.

Willson Contreras (CHC): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Contreras hit leadoff for the Cubs on Monday and managed to hit a grand slam in the first inning. How? Well, it was in his second at-bat of the bottom of the first. After doubling to lead things off against Dillon Peters, the team batted around bringing Contreras back to the dish to face Bryse Wilson. The new pitcher didn’t seem to bother Contreras, as he sent the first pitch he saw 422 feet into the Wrigley Field bleachers for a grand slam and his 100th career home run. Contreras is in a contract year and he’s swinging like money’s on the line. His .906 OPS, 93.9 mph average exit velocity, and 116.2 mph max exit velocity are all career bests.

Bo Bichette (TOR): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

If you drafted Bichette in the first round of your fantasy draft, it’s been a frustrating first month and a half. Coming into Monday’s game, he was sporting an 80 wRC+ and a career-worst strikeout rate. Monday was a different story though, as Bichette hit a home run off of a Chris Flexen curveball in the bottom of the first before adding two singles in the seventh and eighth innings. Bichette’s game yesterday wasn’t so good that it’ll make you forget about the slow start, but it’s a nice jumping-off point to what will hopefully be a return to his expected form. Plus, it marked his second three-hit performance in his past five games. One hot streak from Bichette and that 30/30 season fantasy managers were dreaming about back in draft season won’t seem so far away.

Brett Phillips (TB): 3-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

Phillips had the best game of his 2022 season last night, collecting three hits out of the nine-hole in the Rays’ lineup. His big day added up to a 27.3 WPA, but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers downed the Rays 3-2. Phillips has been about what you’d expect him to be so far this season, just a little bit worse. He’s hitting a dismal .185/.254/.338 through 25 games, and if it wasn’t for his speed and defensive prowess, he wouldn’t scratch the Rays’ lineup. He certainly shouldn’t be scratching yours.

Josh Donaldson (NYY): 3-4, HR, R, RBI, BB.

Donaldson’s time in the Bronx got off to a rocky start as he was slashing just .182/.308/.345 through his first 65 plate appearances. Since then, he’s turned things around in a big way. He reached base four times last night — he hit a home run, singled twice, and also worked a walk. Since that sluggish start, he’s hitting .305/.406/.525 across 69 plate appearances. The time to buy low on Donaldson looks to be over, but if the fantasy manager who rosters him in your league hasn’t been paying attention recently, they may not realize just how strongly he’s rebounded. The overall numbers are still a bit disappointing, so if you need third base or corner infield help and think you can land Donaldson in a trade, I’d do it.

Avisaíl García (MIA): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

García may have taken his talents to South Beach this offseason, but it seems like the bag carrying his offensive talent was lost somewhere in transit. “The Decision” jokes aside, it’s been a forgettable start to García’s Marlins career. Even after his two-hit game yesterday, his OPS is still just .574. After coming off a career year in Milwaukee where he hit 29 home runs, his three big flys so far have been a disappointment. There is good news for García and his fantasy managers, though — the bag holding his offensive talents may have finally been found! Over his past nine games, he’s hitting .333/.351/.500 with two home runs. His slow start has his roster percentage below 50% in both Yahoo! and ESPN leagues, so if you’re looking for someone who can bring the power while stealing some bases, García may be your guy. When things are clicking, he’s an undervalued five-category contributor. Just be careful in points and OBP leagues because his lack of plate discipline really hurts his value.

Ian Happ (CHC): 3-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB.

After a red-hot finish last year and continued good results at the plate through the season’s first month and a half, it seems like Happ has finally found sustained success at the big league level. He reached base four times last night in the Cubs’ 9-0 domination of the Pirates, and he’s doing just about everything he can to help the Cubs and your fantasy team except hitting for power. His slash line is up to .282/.405/.388 and both his walk and strikeout rates are at career-best levels. He’s shown promising power potential in years past, so let’s hope his 5.4% barrel rate is just a temporary setback and he can get back to his career 11.5% rate soon.

Whit Merrifield (KC): 2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB.

Merrifield is having just about the worst possible start to a season that you could imagine. His 32 wRC+ entering play Monday was the third-lowest among qualified hitters, dragged down by a .193 BABIP. After Merrifield collected two hits and a walk yesterday, it looks like he may be starting to turn things around. He now has a seven-game hit streak and is batting .400 with two home runs and two stolen bases over that stretch; four of those seven games have been multi-hit performances. Even with his abysmally bad beginning of the season numbers, Merrifield’s stolen base upside is so high that he’ll be difficult to acquire in a trade. If you do want to try to get him, now is the time. Act soon before it’s widely known that he’s seemingly pulling out of his slump.

Eli White (TEX): 2-5, R, 2 RBI, SB.

Monday marked White’s third straight game batting in the leadoff role for the Rangers, and he rewarded manager Chris Woodward by collecting two hits and stealing his eighth base of the season. White’s best skill has always been his speed, but this year his bat is showing up too. He has a .256 average and .373 OBP through 25 games. White’s walking way more than ever before — currently at a 17.4% clip which is more than double last year’s mark — and if he can keep getting on base and stick at the top of the order, he’ll be a valuable speed asset in fantasy. That’s a very big “if” though, so proceed with caution. In deep leagues, he’s worth a look, but I wouldn’t expect him to be a season-long contributor.

Luis Robert (CWS): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Robert played hero for the White Sox last night, hitting the game-winning two-run home run off of Scott Barlow in the top of the 10th inning.  The young centerfielder now boasts a .308/.345/.477 batting line with five home runs and six stolen bases. Robert can do it all. If you were lucky enough to draft him, sit back and enjoy the show.

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from fantasy leagues to the legitimate defensive prowess of Kyle Schwarber as a left fielder. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

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