Yandy Díaz (TB): 3-3, 2 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI.
In an age of baseball being dominated by big boppers ready to launch a pitch over the fences at any moment or swing and miss at record rates, Yandy Díaz has managed to succeed with a profile that couldn’t be further from that leaguewide trend.
After posting a 3-3, 2 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI line in the Rays’ win over the Red Sox on Monday, Díaz’s season stats are up to a remarkable .307/.418/.409, good for a 150 wRC+ and a .371 wOBA. He’s an on-base machine, but that elite tool set comes with a notable lack of home runs. He has just three this season, despite his average and max exit velocities both ranking in the 89th percentile or better.
While the flyball revolution has led to a major focus on launch angle and barreling the baseball, Díaz is content to keep the ball on the ground while still hitting it hard. His 27.9% flyball rate is the lowest he’s posted in any season with 180 or more plate appearances. While that profile may make you think he’s riding an inflated BABIP to his breakout season, he actually isn’t. Díaz’s .339 BABIP is 26 points higher than his career mark, meaning that even if it regresses, it shouldn’t be so damaging that it’ll completely tank his production.
With his incredible on-base skill, Díaz is anchored at the top of the Rays’ lineup. He’s the exact type of player the Rays target and put in positions to maximize their skill, and that’s exactly what’s happening with Díaz. His 10.1% strikeout rate, 4.9% swinging-strike rate, and 13% whiff rate are all career-bests.
Díaz was a surprise snub when the MLB All-Star rosters were announced on Sunday. He certainly deserves to make an appearance at the Midsummer Classic, and will likely be named to the team as an injury replacement in the next few days.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday:
Jake Marisnick (PIT): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.
Marisnick made a triumphant return from the 60-day IL on Monday, ordering a combo meal while helping the Pirates to a 5-1 win in Miami. With Bryan Reynolds hitting the IL, Marisnick is the likely candidate to get the bulk of the playing time in centerfield. He’s never been a bat-first player, so it’s hard to get excited about Marisnick’s newfound opportunity. Prior to Monday’s big day, he was hitting .163/.192/.204 across 52 plate appearances this year.
Leody Taveras (TEX): 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB.
The Rangers won a 10-8 shootout with the A’s on Monday, and Taveras played a huge part. He knocked in or scored half of his team’s runs while also stealing a base. Taveras started the season in Triple-A, but since being called up in mid-June has made a big impression – he’s hitting .317/.333/.476 with two home runs and two steals. Poor plate discipline numbers have always held Taveras back, but through 66 MLB plate appearances this season, he’s posting the best strikeout rate of his career at 27.3%. The walk rate is still a paltry 3% though. Taveras is still just 23 years old, so there’s plenty of room for continued growth. Projections see him finishing the year with about 10 home runs and 10 steals, numbers he could certainly best if he can keep the strikeout rate down. I’m not rushing out to add him in fantasy leagues, but he’s certainly worth keeping an eye on to see if these changes stick.
Luis Guillorme (NYM): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
The Mets won a battle for first place in the NL East on Monday night, beating the Braves 4-1 on the road. Of all the stars in the Mets lineup, the biggest contribution came from… checks notes …. Luis Guillorme? That’s not one many people would’ve predicted, but the Mets utilityman came through when they needed it, doubling off Max Fried in the second inning and icing the game with a solo home run in the eighth. Guillorme’s been ultra-valuable for the first-place Mets this year, posting a .309/.382/.388 slash line while playing all over the infield.
Corey Dickerson (STL): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
After missing over a month with a calf strain, Dickerson returned to the Cardinals’ lineup on Saturday and has started all three games in left field since being activated. Yesterday was Dickerson’s first productive outing since his return, as he put the nail in the coffin of Aaron Nola’s start by pulling a ball over the right-centerfield wall for a two-run home run in the seventh inning. The Cardinals would go on to win 6-1. Dickerson will need to put up a few more of these kinds of days if he wants to become fantasy relevant again – on the season he’s hitting just .196/.256/.308 with three home runs and 14 RBI.
Jake Cronenworth (SD): 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Cronenworth reached base in four of his five trips to the plate in the Padres’ 6-5 win in Colorado last night. He personally victimized Rockies’ starter José Ureña, collecting each of his three knocks against him with all of them being hard hit. After a slow start, Cronenworth’s season numbers are up to a touch above league average – .241/.334/.389 and a 109 wRC+. After hitting 21 home runs last year, he only has eight over halfway through the season. Cronenworth’s hitting the ball in the air more than he ever has before, but a 46.5% flyball rate doesn’t work when your barrel rate (5.1%) and average (87.6 mph) and max exit velocities (108.6) are all at career-lows.
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC): 6-9, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, 3 SB.
After a disappointing start to his rookie campaign, Witt has delivered on all of his prospect hype. His six hits in yesterday’s double-header action were a microcosm of the success he’s enjoyed this year – he had three hard-hit balls and stole three bags. Through his first 343 career plate appearances, Witt is hitting .252/.297/.453 with 12 home runs and 16 stolen bases. The low OBP will hurt you in some fantasy leagues, but showing 30/30 upside as a 22-year-old rookie has Royals fans and fantasy managers dreaming of his superstar ceiling.
Nolan Jones (CLE): 2-3, 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI.
All Jones does is hit. In his first 13 MLB at-bats, the 24-year-old right fielder has seven hits and eight RBI. Yesterday, he collected two hits off of Lance Lynn and helped his team to a big 8-4 win over the division-rival White Sox. Jones lacks eye-popping power or speed, but that didn’t stop him from being a big contributor in the minor leagues. In 108 plate appearances in Triple-A this season, he posted a .311/.417/.500 slash line with three home runs and four steals. He’s available in 79% of Yahoo! leagues and 95% of ESPN leagues if you want to roll the dice on Jones keeping his red-hot debut rolling.
Vinnie Pasquantino (KC): 4-7, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.
Witt wasn’t the only rookie who made a lot of noise in the Royals’ double-header sweep of the Tigers yesterday. Pasquantino belted the second home run of his career and reached base another five times. Since debuting on Jun 28th, Pasquantino has a .213/.362/.362 batting line. That doesn’t scream, “Add me!” in fantasy, but his 18 home runs and .948 OPS in Triple-A make him an intriguing target if you need corner infield help. He’s rostered in 22% of Yahoo! and 7.7% of ESPN leagues.
Josh Smith (TEX): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Smith is much more of an on-base and speed player than a power threat, so it was only fitting that his first career home run was of the inside-the-park variety. The ball only traveled 271 feet, but it counts all the same as if he had hit it 500+. The homer raised Smith’s triple-slash line to .238/.375/.317, not good enough to be universally relevant in fantasy, but good enough to become the Rangers’ primary third baseman and leadoff hitter. The only way you can justify adding Smith to your fantasy team is if you’re in a very deep OBP or points league.
Franmil Reyes (CLE): 3-4, 2 R, RBI, SB.
Reyes got off to a dreadfully slow start to the 2022 season, posting a 53 wRC+ and .241 wOBA through May 24th when he was placed on the IL with hamstring tightness. After missing nearly a month, Reyes returned on June 21st and has put up a much more typical .270/.286/.554 slash line with five home runs. Reyes is one of the game’s best raw power bats, so the stolen base yesterday is just the cherry on top of his recent success.
Xander Bogaerts (BOS): 2-3, 2B, R, RBI, BB, SB.
Nights like Monday are seemingly commonplace for the Red Sox star shortstop. He’s now hitting a stellar .315/.393/.455 in route to what will likely be a huge payday this winter if he decides to opts out of his contract. Bogaerts may not have won the fan vote to be the starting shortstop on the AL All-Star roster, but he does still lead his league’s position group in fWAR (3.4), wRC+ (139), and wOBA (.370).
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)