Activating Cruz Control

Dave Swan breaks down the top-hitting performances from yesterday.

Time catches up with everyone; unless you’re Nelson Cruz, then you laugh in time’s face. Not only do I think so, but the Tampa Bay Rays have the same mindset. The Rays acquired the ageless wonder on July 22nd for pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman. There isn’t much left to say about the power output from Cruz. Over his 17 year career, Cruz touts 437 HRs with multiple 40-plus seasons. Added to the gaudy HR total is over 1200 RBI and a career .878 OPS. Yeah, it’s safe to say the man knows how to swing a bat.

In his first game with the Rays, Nelson Cruz went 1-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB. His deep shot over the fences helped lock up a 10-5 victory over the highly-discussed Cleveland ball club. He now tallies 20 HRs on the season and carries a .914 OPS over to Tampa as they make a run at the playoffs. The Rays were not entirely void of thump in the lineup, but you can’t overlook the ability of a veteran presence like Cruz in the heart of that lineup. Will Cruz be the final piece needed to bring home a title? Again, only time knows.


Let’s see how the other hitters did Friday.

Jack Mayfield (LAA): 1-4, HR, R, RBI. The HR was the second in as many games for Mayfield and the third in his last five games. While the added thump in the Angels lineup is excellent, the 30-year-old journeyman utility infielder should not be on your fantasy radars. Instead, consider him a flash in the pan, giving the injury-riddled Angel’s offense a much-needed short-term boost.

Andrew Vaughn (CWS): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI. Last night’s solo shot was the only scoring for the Chicago White Sox. However, in his last month, Vaughn touts a .329/.361/.605 slash line with five dingers. With uber-talented battering mates like Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert eyeing a return to the big leagues, Vaughn could see even more production as the lineup around him gets healthy. He remains one of the top-hitting prospects in all of dynasty and should be rostered in way more than 34% of Yahoo leagues.

Pete Alonso (NYM): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. New York Mets fans can rejoice as the HR Derby curse doesn’t seem to be stopping Alsonso. The meaty first baseman jacked his third and fourth HR since the break to raise his season-long total to 21. Additionally, Alonso has kept the power while dropping his strikeout rate by five points, helping maintain a .262 batting average. If he can keep up the plate discipline gains, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to see 40 HRs by season’s end.

Bryce Harper (PHI): 2-3, 2B, R, BB, 3 SB. Harper usually makes headlines for his hair or his power at the dish. However, this night was reliant on the speed he wields. Even in what seems like a quiet season, the colorful Phillies outfield has swiped 11 bags while sending 15 HRs over the bleachers. His power and speed combination should solidify Harper as a potential top-10 outfield for the rest of the season.

Robinson Chirinos (CHC): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Since signing the 37-year-old backstop, Chirinos is 6-for-16 with three long balls and four extra bases in total. Will this keep up? Not likely, as Chirinos is a career .232 hitter but does showcase a .762 OPS over ten seasons. He is only fantasy-relevant in NL-only leagues.

Daulton Varsho (ARI): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI. We have all waited with bated breath to see if Varsho could figure things out at the highest level. Well, we might very well be seeing things blossom before our eyes. Over the last two weeks, Varsho has had a pair of stolen bases to go along with three HRs. A catcher with speed and power is incredibly rare to find, and you should be running to the waiver wire since he is available in 87% of Yahoo leagues.

Pat Valaika (BAL): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. While he may only be hitting .196 with four HRs on the season, two of those dingers came last night. The special evening helped lock down a win for the Orioles, as they outscored the Nationals 6-2. Even though Valaika gets regular playing time, he shouldn’t garner the attention of the fantasy world. 

Rafael Devers (BOS): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI. Devers continues his destruction of pitching and remains one of the leading candidates to win the MVP award. The pair of HRs raised his total to 21 and gave him an impressive .939 OPS on the season. Also, the five RBIs are the most of the night but move him into a tie with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the most in the MLB with 79. Simply put, his talent is elite, and he remains one of the most exciting hitters to watch in 2021.

Harrison Bader (STL): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB. The Cardinals outfielder is a defensive whiz but can also swing the stick quite a bit as well. After an extensive layoff due to injury, Bader now has eight extra-base hits in his last 67 plate appearances with a .304/.403/.574 slash line. Somehow, he is only rostered in 7% of leagues, so any fantasy manager in five-OF leagues needs to stop what you’re doing and go pick him up.

Tyrone Taylor (MIL): 1-3, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB. In the 65th plate appearance of the game, Taylor caught ahold of one and drove the ball 401 feet into the bleachers. The occasion was only Taylor’s eighth dinger of the season and helped bolster his RBI total to 30. For fantasy managers, don’t waste your valuable roster spot on Taylor as he doesn’t start regularly, and I would consider this just an excellent day for Taylor.

Adam Duvall (MIA): 2-4, HR, R, RBI. Duvall is making his power known in Miami by crushing everything in his sights. In his last month, the Marlins’ outfield swatted his 22nd HR of the season and slashing .313/.356/.612 with a .968 OPS. The dinger marks his third since the break, and outside of a sub-optimal batting average, there is no reason Duvall should be rostered in only 60% of leagues. If you need HRs and RBI, Duvall is a must-add for fantasy managers.

Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Dave Swan

Dave Swan is an avid Chicago Cubs fan that enjoys all aspects of fantasy baseball-especially DFS. He would trade his right arm for a GIF library of Greg Maddux pitches. Swan's baseball thoughts are available at @davithius.

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