Ramón Urías (BAL): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
The Orioles are .500, as their record sits at 47-47 after a huge 6-3 win over the New York Yankees at Camden Yards on Saturday night. While their playoff odds are low (1.4 percent according to Fangraphs), there is no hotter team in baseball at this moment (though one could argue for the Seattle Mariners when it comes to that honor).
Correspondingly, there hasn’t been a hotter hitter in baseball than Urías. In Saturday’s win, he collected three hits and had the game-clinching two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth off of Yankees reliever Shane Greene.
The Orioles’ fortunes in 2022 have reflected closely on Urías’ own performance this season.
In April, Urías only hit .194 and posted a .463 OPS in 71 plate appearances. As for the Orioles, they went 7-14 in the first month of play and seemed destined again to be a cellar-dweller in the loaded AL East.
Since then though, Urías and the Orioles have surged and captured not just the city of Baltimore, but baseball fans as a whole. After a 14-16 month of May, the Orioles went 14-12 in June and currently sit at 12-5 in the month of July. As for Urías, he too has seen an upward progression after a rough month of April.
Urías hit .286 with an OPS of .786 in 98 plate appearances in the month of May. He missed a lot of time in June due to injury, which explains why he only had 19 plate appearances. However, he did hit two home runs in June, which was only two less than the total he hit in April and May combined.
In July, Urías has been one of the Orioles’ catalysts offensively, as he is hitting .372 with a 1.041 OPS in 46 plate appearances. He also had added 14 RBI and demonstrated a judicious eye at the plate. In the month of July, he has only five strikeouts to three walks.
It is still a longshot that the Orioles will make the postseason, barring a major move at the Trade Deadline. However, if they want to continue to make some ground in the Wild Card race, they will need Urías to keep producing at the end of the Orioles lineup.
As for fantasy managers, Urías’ stock is pretty high now, as he is currently rostered in 36 percent of Yahoo Leagues and 10 percent of ESPN Leagues. Fantasy managers would benefit from picking him up if he’s available, especially managers who need help in the middle infield (he has 2B/3B/SS eligibility) and are looking to make a run in the second half of their respective leagues.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB.
The legend of Witt continues in Kansas City as he makes his case to be a dark horse candidate in the AL Rookie of the Year race. Not only did Witt have two hits, but he hit his 14th home run, stole his 19th base, and drove in half of the Royals’ six runs against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night. Julio Rodríguez of the Mariners is still the clear favorite for the award (he was an AL All-Star after all), but he’s been day-to-day due to a wrist injury. One has to wonder if Witt will make up some ground with Rodriguez out of the Mariners lineup.
Tyler O’Neill (STL): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB.
It’s been a rollercoaster year for Cardinals fans and fantasy managers who drafted O’Neill in their respective drafts. He was terrible in April (.529 OPS) and not much better in May (.582 OPS). When he started to heat up in June (.906 OPS), he got hurt and hasn’t done much since returning from the IL in July (.603 OPS). O’Neill took a step in the right direction on Saturday as he stacked the box score against the Cincinnati Reds at the GAB. He collected two hits (including his fifth home run), had three RBI, and swiped his seventh bag of the year. Now let’s see if he can get on a run and avoid injury this time around.
Austin Riley (ATL): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Things to expect: death, taxes, and another solid Riley performance at the plate for Atlanta. On Saturday against the Angels, Riley not only homered but collected three hits overall, pushing his season average to .292 and OPS to .939. After breaking out in 2021, Riley is only five home runs away from his total in 2021 (33), which he achieved in 662 plate appearances. This year? He’s got 28 in 254 FEWER plate appearances. Riley definitely deserves more chatter when it comes to NL MVP this season.
Hunter Renfroe (MIL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Renfroe has always been a huge power, but low-average kind of hitter, which makes him a bit of a dilemma in standard leagues. He will have performances like Saturday where he homers and drives in three RBI. On the other hand, his .251 average and 29th percentile K rate will make fantasy managers cringe. The K’s have dropped month-by-month, as he’s gone from 23 in April to 16 in May to 15 in June to only seven in July. Maybe some average improvement may be on the way in the second half.
Victor Robles (WSH): 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB.
There’s no question that Robles is the ultimate fantasy tease. He’s only hitting .236 with an OPS of .623, but he’s only 25 years old and he had a home run and a stolen base against the Diamondbacks on Saturday! He just needs one more year to put it all together, right? Oof, fantasy managers have been through this Robles debate countless times before and for a couple of years to boot. Just leave him alone on the waiver wire if he’s available.
Nico Hoerner (CHC): 1-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB.
Ian Happ made his first All-Star game, Willson Contreras is the Cubs’ franchise player, and Christopher Morel seems to be the “star of the future” on the North side. That being said, it seems like fantasy baseball fans have ignored what Hoerner has done this year. He is still available in 55 percent of Yahoo leagues and 70 percent of ESPN leagues. And yet, he’s hitting .303 with six home runs and has collected 10 stolen bases on 11 attempts. That’s pretty much what people were expecting from Nick Madrigal during draft season, even though Hoerner was going nearly 100-plus spots later in drafts according to ADP data.
Eloy Jiménez (CWS): 2-3, HR, R, RBI.
The White Sox still lag in the Central behind Cleveland and Minnesota, even after their split today against the Guardians. If the White Sox are to make a run in the second half, they will need the power prowess of Jiménez, who has struggled to stay healthy the past couple of years. In game two of the White Sox’s doubleheader, Jiménez not only garnered two hits but also hit his third home run of the year in Chicago’s 5-4 victory. The average (.211) and OPS (.622) aren’t good so far, but it’s only been 79 plate appearances. The barrel rate (12.5 percent) and average exit velocity (92.4 MPH) are both higher than a year ago. Fantasy managers just need to keep their faith in Jiménez for now.
Carlos Correa (MIN): 2-5, HR, R, RBI.
Correa hit his 12th home run of the year in the Twins’ 8-4 win over the Tigers. He could’ve had his 13th, had it not been for a sensational play by Detroit’s Akil Baddoo. Correa is still producing solid fantasy metrics with a .281 average, 12 home runs, and an OPS of .814. On the other hand, he’s dealt with nagging injuries all year, and one has to wonder how much longer he will be in Minnesota (he can opt out after this year). The Twins probably won’t trade him, especially with them being at the top of the AL Central. But there’s been a weird vibe with Correa this year that makes him more underwhelming than he should be as a fantasy player. How Correa fares in the second half will be worth watching.
Mookie Betts (LAD): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.
Betts continues his assault on the rival Giants, as he hit his 22nd home run of the year. His two-hit performance also helped propel the Dodgers to their third-straight win over San Francisco in this home series in Los Angeles. Betts is one home run from tying his 23-home run mark from a year ago, which took 550 plate appearances in 2021. This year, he has 22 home runs in 201 fewer plate appearances. The stolen bases are still not what they once were (he had three straight 25+ stolen base years in Boston from 2016 to 2018). However, Betts seems like a sure bet for 30+ home runs this year (maybe more if he gets hot), which makes him one of the more valuable fantasy outfielders in the game as of now.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)