We are just about smack dab in the middle of the season. Most teams have played between 79 and 81 games. Ok, so let’s just double every player’s stats to figure out their final season numbers. Unfortunately we can’t just extrapolate, but it’s a fun exercise and we there is sufficient sample size to back it up. Let’s roll right into the this week’s rundown.
I almost led with JDM (see below), then 19-year-old phenom, Juan Soto blasting two more bombs last night. SOTO IS GOD! He now has 8 homers in his first 35 games as a big leaguer! Let’s marvel at his slash line of .336/.446/.621! No, that’s not Mike Trout’s line, that’s a 19-year-old’s slash. I don’t know what to say! Is a 26.7% HR/FB sustainable, probably not with his batted ball profile, but his plate discipline is that of a veteran. In keeper leagues, owners stumbled upon a goldmine. I think he ends up around .290 with 18-20 HR but in redrafts you could probably get a top 25 player for him right now. He could present an interesting sell opportunity. Let me be clear, in keeper and dynasty, you don’t take anything less than Mike Trout if you’re selling. Hell, just hold him in keeper/dynasty.
This just in, J.D. Martinez is good a hitting baseballs! After his 25th home run on Tuesday night, he now has an astonishing 71 home runs in his last 200 games! He’s on pace for 52 homers this year and has been healthy. There’s no better slugger in the game right now than JD. What might be overlooked in his game is his batting average. He hasn’t hit under .300 since 2015 when he hit .282 for the Tigers. This is a guy who understands hitting and launch angles, his high drive percentage is more than double the league average! I wish I had the guts to rank him over Stanton in the preseason, but alas I stuck JD around 15 and Stanton just inside the top 10.
Cody Bellinger has picked up the pace hitting .333 with 4 HR and 8 RBI this past week. Anyone who wrote him off after a poor first two months definitely jumped the gun. Bellinger’s 23rd birthday is next month. Look Bellinger doesn’t have a perfect batted ball profile, he swings and misses a bit too much and hits too many popups. What he does do well is hit for power, he pulls a high percentage of fly balls, so he should still hit around 35 homers this year. It just might come with a .245 batting average. The walks are coming back, so he gets a bump in OBP leagues.
Jesus Aguilar is a monster! He’s hitting .444 with 5 dingers and 7 RBI this past week. How does a 1.809 OPS sound? Pretty, pretty, pretty good. Here’s a guy with a superior batted ball profile to Bellinger. He’s older and slower than Bellinger, but that doesn’t mean the breakout isn’t real. His plate discipline could use some work, so I doubt he hits .300, but .280 with 35+ homers is possible.
Matt Carpenter kind of put that terrible April behind him and is hitting .524 with 2 HR, 5 RBI, and an amazing 10 runs in the last 7 days! Carpenter along J.D. Martinez, Betts and maybe two or three others are the only batters with more than double the league average in high drive percentage. Carpenter is on fire and probably should be hitting .290 with 20 HR right now if he weren’t so unlucky in April and part of May. I don’t love that he’s kind of selling out because his K rate is nearing 25% and he usually can’t stay healthy. If he stays hot the next couple weeks, I’d sell high on Carp.
Jose Peraza is running! Jose Peraza is hitting homers! Peraza is doing it all hitting .320 with 2 HR, 4 SB, 7 runs, and 4 RBI in the last 7 days. Talk about a buffet of statistics. The things to remember here are, he only strikes out 10% of the time and is fast. He makes contact with pitches he swings at in the zone 96% of the time! If he had Billy Hamilton;s speed, he’d hit .325 with 75 steals. But he doesn’t. So I’d expect this type of production going forward. If he’s available, pick him up. He’s like a cheap Whit Merrifield. He should be good for a .270 average with 6-8 HR and 25-30 steals.
Jesse Winker has started to heat up as he’s hitting just under .500 this past week with 3 homers and 8 RBI. That’s kind of a big deal because he only has six HR on the year. I went deep on Winker in an article on the SportsDegens last week. Basically, I Winker has incredible plate discipline and doesn’t strike out much. His power is still developing but he’s increased his launch angle. He’s a must add in deeper OBP leagues and shallow leagues need to start taking notice if he gets every day playing time.
Madison Bumgarner just ripped off a couple nice starts striking out 16 batters in 15 IP without giving up a run. Is Mad Bum back? As long as he doesn’t go on some dirt biking vacation during the All-Star break, we should be good. Look I like Mad Bum, but it’s now about a year and a half since we’ve seen dominate Bumgarner. I’m concerned about his K rate in a day and age where everyone and their mother is striking out a batter per inning or more.His .226 BABIP and 83.3% LOB probably come back to earth a little. I think he’s a 3.40-3.50 ERA guy with a solid WHIP and just under K/9.
Lance McCullers is finally tantalizing us with ace-like outings. He’s got 16 strikeouts in his last 13.1 IP with a 2.08 ERA nd a 0.85 WHIP. Speaking of strikeouts, this guy’s got em! His K rate is lower than last year, but WAIT, it’s actually the same! His K/9 is lower but his K% is nearly identical. His SwStr% is better this year and contact against is lower. He may actually be a little bit better than the numbers indicate. If can keep the walks down a bit and improve on his LOB%, he could be a top 15 SP.
Zack Wheeler has looked sharp striking out a batter per inning with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in his last two starts. His velocity continues to climb. He’s averaging 96 mph but in recent starts was sitting around 97 and touching 100 mph. The fastball is good, no doubt, but I’d like him to use his slide piece a little bit more. Opponents are hitting just .186 off it. I don’t see Wheeler as a huge strikeout pitcher which limits his upside, but a K per inning is great if he can limit walks. I’m buying Wheeler in 12 team and deeper leagues.
Shane Bieber graces this article for the second straight week as he’s earned a couple wins with 14 Ks and only 1 ER allowed in his last 13 IP. There’s a bunch of small sample numbers that are way out of whack in both positive and negative directions. What I do know, is his control is solid and his fastball is terrible. Weird! An Indians pitcher with a bad fastball! Never heard of it. Kidding, obviously. The good news for Biebs is that his slider and curve are great, he just needs to bump the usage of both pitches up near 20%. I’d be buying to see if he makes those changes in almost all leagues right now.
Zach Eflin just keeps Eflin’ dominating! He’s compiled a couple wins with a 1.50 ERA in his last two starts. His strikeouts aren’t off the charts, but he’s starting to look legit. His velocity is up and he’s always had good control. I do think Eflin has made tangible progress but I don’t think he’s a 9.0 K/9 type pitcher. I see the K9 dropping to 8-8.5/9 which is still solid, especially with the low walks. I’m concerned that as a fly ball pitcher, he’s only allowing 6.5% HR/FB without a ton of popups. There’s a few rough starts coming, but he’s ownable in 12-team and deeper leagues.
Freezing Cold Hitters
Well, it looks like I’ll be taking the L on Joey Gallo this year. Prior to last night’s game Gallo was hitting a pathetic .150 this past week without a HR or an RBI. Of course, he jacks one last night. For the month of June though, here are his numbers: .135 with 4 HR and 33 strikeouts. I get it, a .172 BABIP is part of the problem but so is only 4 homers and a 40% strikeout rate. It’s a little fluky because he had a 60% hard contact rate with a 50% pull rate but his lowest HR/FB of the season. I still think he reaches 40 HR but he’s dropped in the order and is looking more like a .210 hitter than a .250 hitter.
Oh boy, Tommy Pham is hittless in his last 20 ABs. He’s been straight awful in June and wasn’t great in May. I know you don’t want to hear this but Pham was unlucky in May. So far in June, he’s just been bad. He’s expanding the zone and not being patient. His normally PHAM-tastic walk rate is below 4% and his K rate is nearing 30% for the month. I think he’s pressing and just needs a recharge because he’s still mashing the ball when he hits it. It’s all mental Pham.
George Springer Dinger is not hitting dingers these days, instead he’s only 1 for his last 25! It’s not like he’s flailing, he’s only got 6 Ks in his last 7 games. He’s pretty close to the same player he was a year ago expect he’s not hitting the ball quite as hard, hitting a few more popups and few less line drives. That’s it, though. It’s a simple tweak or one good month and he’s right back where he was last year. I’m holding and if he struggles for the next couple weeks, I might try to buy low.
Is the Eduardo Escobar experiment done? Here’s what I’ll tell you, the power is legit. He’s got a very high launch angle with very good hard contact. However, his plate discipline is trash. He’s swinging out of the zone more than 40% of the time and is swinging 54% of the time. As a result, pitchers are not throwing him as many strikes, his zone rate is down to 40% and his K rate is up to 25% in June. Cold stretches are coming but I do think he hits 25+ homers this year but at a .250ish average.
Brandon Belt just hasn’t been the same since he lost an organ last month. He did homer the other night but otherwise is hitting just .208 with 2 RBI this past week and .229 the last two weeks. It’s too bad because we were finally seeing the Belt breakout much like my pants at Thanksgiving. The good news for Belt owners is that he’s hitting the ball harder, so that’s not an issue. He’s not pulling the ball as much which has decreased his power production. I think he bounces back and if he struggles up to the All-Star break, I’d buy low.
Whit Merrifield is hitting .273 this past week which isn’t bad but without any speed or power. He actually hasn’t homered in the month of June and has only stolen 2 bases in the past 2 weeks. Did anyone think he was a 20 home run hitter? I didn’t think so, the 19 last year is going to be his career high. Look, the walk rate is up and his strikeouts are below average. He hits for a solid average and is on pace for 32 steals. You should be happy, he’s probably a .280 10 HR, 30 steal player.
Freezing Cold Pitchers
Corey Kluber had a rough start against the Cardinals this week. A 6 ER outing without getting out of the 2nd inning is very un-Kluber like. I didn’t realize that Kluber had given up 16 HR on the year already! He only gave up 21 last year and never more than 22 in a single season! Kluber is giving up a lot more hard contact than he typically does and that justifies the home runs. He’s also getting less swings and misses and is allowing a career high 90% zone contact. The thing is, he never walks anybody and his LOB% is over 80% for the second straight season. Maybe Kluber isn’t a 2.30 ERA with a 0.85 WHIP pitcher this year but he’s still a stud
Remember when Dylan Covey was a thing? I do but only because I streamed him a couple times and the results were good! Covey hadn’t allowed a home run in his first four starts this season. In his last two starts, he’s allowed 5 homers! In those two starts, he’s got a 17.05 ERA with and allowed 17 base runners in only 6.2 IP! I hope you weren’t owning him, he was a decent streamer, but now we can forget about Covey for the time being.
Ahhh Nick Pivetta. He got smoked by the Nationals (again) giving up 7 ER in less than two innings. He’s now given up 15 ER in three starts against the Nationals. I won’t make many excuses for Pivetta, he’s been giving up far to many homers this past month (8 to be exact). That combined with his normally good control has put some crooked numbers on the board. Check this out though, as bad as he’s been since 5/27, his K/9 is 11.7 and his BB/9 is 3.82. Not bad, the walks need to come down oh and by the way his BABIP in that time .391! I’m cautiously optimistic with Pivetta and still holding in 12-team leagues.
Eduardo Rodriguez how now given up 9 ER in his last two starts where’s he’s given up 18 base runners in only 10 IP while only striking out four. E-Rod has also be BABIP’d a bit but he’s also struggling with strikeouts since his 9 K performance against the Mariners. I like E-Rod but he’s coming off a major injury and there will be some bumps this year. He’s basically the same pitcher he was a year ago. He’s introduced a cutter to his pitch mix which is decent but he doesn’t have a dominate pitch right now. I think he’s a 3.75-4.00 ERA pitcher this year but think he can be much better in the future.
Jose Quintana can’t seem to get on track, his last two starts weren’t complete garbage, he’s got a 6.10 ERA in 10.1 IP. However, he’s given up a whopping 16 hits and 5 walks in those 10.1 IP! This is killing me as a Cubs fan because other than Lester pitching way over his head, this pitching staff is on the rocks.For Q, it’s walks, walk, walks. A 10.7% BB rate isn’t going to cut it. His previous career high was 7.7%, and that was last year. What else, soft contact down, HR are up and his fastball is getting smoked to the tune of .288/.382/.477. Last year the numbers off the fastball were .215/.263/.333. This isn’t a buy-low and owners can’t drop him, he’s a vet, let’s hope he figures it out.